Monday, July 25, 2011

Back at it again

Hi ho, hi ho...it's back to work I go!

Today I started back to work after a wonderful 7 week break and can officially call myself a second year teacher! Wahoooo! Year one was challenging, stretching, amazing, and a great experience. I learned on a steep learning curve and threw together some last minute lesson plans. It is amazing how quickly time flies (after all, the summer certainly did), and it's unbelievable that I'm preparing my classroom for a second year of teaching.

I'm very excited to welcome this year's geniuses into my classroom. I'm ready to open minds and help students look at their world in an inquisitive way. I love this quote from Albert Einstein, "Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid."As a history teacher, I've been asked how I teach history and how I decide what to cover. Well - the state of Arizona tells me what to cover, but within that, I actually have a lot of freedom. I've determined that I'm more concerned with whether students understand the concepts behind an event than whether they memorize every minute detail of that event. Of course, there are certain big dates I think they should know, but overall, I'm more concerned with whether they understand what the Bill of Rights does for them than whether they know the exact date Bill of Rights was ratified (December 15, 1791 in case you were wondering, a while after the Constitution was written in 1787).

I've seen incredible growth in myself as a teacher over the last year. I find myself looking for teaching moments everywhere I go and in whatever book I'm reading. Truthie Ruthie: I even took my World History book on vacation with us last weekend. But, I don't ever want to get complacent. I want to continue to challenge myself and continue to refine my teaching. I would love for my last year teaching to notably be my best.

Being the list maker and goal setter I am, I've been working on some goals for this year. Some of these won't mean anything to you, but I figured this was a good place to document them.
  1. Work on classroom management. Refine my policies and procedures, and stick to them!
  2. Increase the number of projects I have my students do. This one is bit more tough because I only have my classes for a semester and there is so much material to cover. But, I know they will remember it much better if we do a project!
  3. Work on differentiation within my classes.
  4. Don't be afraid to skip sections in the book - with only a limited amount of time, I need to realize it's ok to skip sections that don't pertain to the standards or offer pertinent knowledge.
Is anyone else making career goals for themselves? Or have advice on any of my goals? I'd love to hear them!

Monday, July 18, 2011

One Year Later

Yesterday, Jon and I marked an important milestone. One year ago, we had our first official date.

July 17, 2010 - Jon picked me up right on time. I had been so nervous getting ready (I really wanted it to go well!). We had been joking during the week about NCAA 2011 coming out and playing that for our date. First, he took me downtown Mesa to Sweet Cakes, a very cute little place and we got dessert (yes, before dinner). You know it's going to be a good date when you get dessert first! Then we went to dinner at Macaroni Grill (the way to this girls heart is definitely through carbs!). Then we went to As You Wish - Jon knew I was a crafty chica and thought it would be perfect! It definitely was. Jon painted a helmet bank, one side IU, the other Indianapolis Colts. All through football season last year, he turned it so the team that was playing was facing out - I think he thought it would help them win. And I painted a little flowerpot that reads, "So many seeds, so little time." After As You Wish, I definitely wasn't ready for the date to end, so we went to Jon's house and watched Tommy Boy. Rather...we attempted to watch Tommy Boy. We started it, and it stopped. So Jon cleaned the disk and we tried again. About an hour into the movie, it wouldn't go any further. So Jon took me home, vowing that we would finish the movie at some point. (We finished the movie on our last surprise date before getting married - Jon recreated our first date for our last date as a non-married couple)

One year later, we've been married for 44 days, bought a house together, traveled to a foreign country together, flown across the country for me to meet his family for the first time, and had plenty of adventures along the way. One year ago, I had just graduated college, was eagerly searching for a job, and just starting to date Jon. It's been a busy year (first year teacher, buying a bank-owned home, planning a wedding), but I wouldn't trade a moment of it for anything! It's amazing to look back and see all that I've experienced and accomplished over the last year.

A great big thank you to my family and friends who watched all this happen, experienced it with me, encouraged me, and cheered me on. I am so blessed to have such a fabulous support system and feel grateful to the people in my life who enhance it on a daily basis.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Our happy little family

If you ask my husband if he's a dog or a cat person, he'll reply no (or neither, or some response to let you know he doesn't do pets). It's not that he doesn't like them, he just doesn't see the logic in them. And there really isn't. They are just cute, fluffy, fun additions to the family. So, when we were dating, I made it very clear that I had a cat who was coming with me. If you want Allison, you get Precious too. And he slowly accepted that and came to terms with it.

The day after we got back from our honeymoon, we drove to my mom's house and picked up Precious and her few possessions. Precious rode on my lap all the way to the new house (a whole mile!) and meowed pretty much the whole way. She kept looking back trying to figure out what was going on. The first day, Precious went to work dusting, I mean hiding in every nook and cranny of our home. She discovered she could fit behind the washing machine, then hid behind the dryer when I started to do laundry. That night I'm fairly certain she didn't move an inch.

Slowly, Precious has adjusted to Jon and Jon has adjusted to Precious. I knew we would be good the day I came around the corner to find Jon cradling Precious and petting her. It was further confirmed when I found her laying on Jon's stomach, not letting him up to do anything. She usually jumps into my lap when given the choice, but these days it's taking her longer and longer to decide whether to pick Jon's lap or mine. And of course, she's finding favorite spots around the house as well. Like this one.
And now that the bean bag chair is in its permanent location (right by the window with the sun coming in, I think Precious loves it even more! We probably won't be the family with more than one dog running around or pets in every child's room, but for now, we have our cat. And we are happy with that!

Friday, July 8, 2011

To cut or not to cut

That is THE question. I have a very back and forth relationship with my hair. My philosophy is: It always grows. So I often cut it short, only to decide I want to be able to wear it long, grow it out, only to get sick of it, then cut it short. And the cycle runs over and over. Last May, right before graduating college, I cut it short. And loved it! Then Jon and I started dating, and it became apparent that it was heading somewhere. So I started growing my hair out because well, I'd always known I wanted it long for my wedding.

Fast forward to 2 weeks before the wedding. I was at my mom's house, and caught a glimpse of a picture with my hair short. And I kinda wanted to cut my hair again. I put the thought out of my mind, because it was 2 weeks before the wedding, and quite frankly, I wasn't about to do anything drastic like cut 7 inches off my hair!

But now...it's a month after the wedding...and I'm kinda thinking about cutting my hair again. I've even found a style I like.
Sorry that picture is ginormous - I couldn't figure out how to make it any smaller. So for the past week, I've been engaging in a debate with myself: to cut or not to cut. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a compulsive pro-con list maker. So naturally I've been coming up with pros and cons for cutting or not cutting my hair. Normally, I'm not quite this indecisive, and I know that within a year, my hair could grow out to the length it is now. But I still can't quite make up my mind. Does anyone else have crazy hair debates with themselves and go to extremes when figuring out a style?! Or am I the only crazy one?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fireplace Finale - and shower curtain surprises!

Well after a week, it's done! Hooray - the fireplace is finished and it looks great! It's a great shade of grey, called Anonymous. If you are thinking about painting anything block or brick, be prepared it will take much longer than you anticipate and you will be much more sore than you ever thought possible.
The fireplace grate was previously black with gold handles. With the magic of high heat spray paint, it's now white and contrasts nicely with the fireplace. I used high heat spray paint so it can stand up to the heat of all the fires we'll have in our fireplace...or not. I am still thinking through the actual function of the fireplace. There are a couple candles in there now (from the previous owners) and a whole lot of ash. Next time I'm feeling super adventurous, I'll get out the shopvac and clean that out. Until then, the fireplace cover can hide that mess.

I also finished the fireplace cushions. I only got enough fabric for 3 cushions, even though I bought 4 pillows. As I was making the cushions, I had the brilliant idea of making a shower curtain for our hall bathroom with the same fabric. (Plus that would allow me to get a little extra to make the fourth fireplace cushion.)
Close up of the fabric

After hunting around in the red tag fabrics, (and nearly panicking thinking someone had bought the rest of the fabric) I fount it! And it was still an extra 50% off. This morning, I made my shower curtains, extra long shower curtains. The tile in the hall bath goes higher than usual, and the tension rod was situated above the tile. Rather than simply move it down, I kind of liked the idea of adding drama by having an extra long shower curtain.
There are still plenty of projects to last me the rest of the summer, but I'm feeling accomplished and the house is looking quite lovely!

Monday, July 4, 2011

One month in

As of today, it's been a month since Jon and I got married. I can't really say since we said, "I do...." since well, we didn't actually say it. I'm sure by now, everyone knows that something goes wrong at every wedding. We were fortunate, thanks to the very diligent planning of our wedding coordinator (my mom wrote an ode to her here) and lots of hardworking individuals, there were approximately two things that didn't go according to plan. I can't really say they went wrong because I don't consider it that way. I think it's pretty funny, and it didn't stress me out or take away from our wedding celebration in any way.

First, hot sauce got added to the queso. We had a burrito bar for dinner. In the process of making queso (which sounds cooler than Velveeta and Rotel), two bottles of hot sauce got added to the mix. Ooops! I heard it was a little on the spicy side, but still delish.
Yum! Burritos!

Second, we didn't actually say, "I do...." That part got forgotten...probably in the excitement of adding the poem Jon wrote for me to the ceremony. Yes, Jon had our Pastor read the poem he wrote for me a few months back during the ceremony. It was a total surprise - a totally GREAT surprise!
We're still officially married - even without saying, "I do!"

So, what have I learned from being married for a month? A lot. Most important thing? I like my husband, a ton. Like, I really really really like him. He makes me laugh, smile, and enjoy life! I love my husband, and I love learning new things about him and having him by my side. Marriage is definitely an adventure...and an adjustment. Learning to live with another person has been interesting, but we like each other which totally helps! During premarital counseling, we were told that we should really like each other. Not just love, but really really like. I couldn't agree with this bit of advice more. It has been so important for Jon and I to like each other and to just enjoy spending time together. I can think all those little quirks that might otherwise get on my nerves are just plain cute because I really like him. I can make a lunch (and enjoy it) every day and remember to put in a treat because I like Jon. Jon can remember to lock the door (I might have a slight case of door locking neurosis) because he likes me. And in taking time to do those little things for each other, we know that we are loved as well.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Just in time for another weekend

Just in time to start another weekend, I thought maybe I should post updates from last weekend's projects. We started in the family room and eating area. You can see where the cabinets had been before they were taken down and out by Jon and his family.
And the other side (and my wonderful husband doing a share of the sanding)
So there was the business of spackling, sanding, chipping away at the glue residue, and me realizing we needed to add some texture back on the walls before we even got to the good stuff. I went to the paint store bright and early Saturday morning to start on this project. After Jon got up, we went to work taping...and taping...and taping some more. Then we started priming...and priming...and priming some more. We rewarded ourselves with a trip to Ikea after all the priming was done, which turned out to be a reward indeed! Saturday night while Jon was playing in a cornhole tournament (Midwest beanbag toss basically, pretty fun stuff!), I decided to start painting the color on the walls: a light grey ('Porpoise' to be exact). By the time Jon got home, I was nearly done with the entire area!
Then there was the business of the fireplace. Monday, I taped and primed the fireplace. It took almost all day, and I was exhausted at the end of the day! The next morning, I went to get the gallon of paint for the fireplace to discover that I had accidentally ordered an extra gallon of the wall color, and not actually ordered the fireplace color. So I went to Home Depot and found a color that I liked even better for the fireplace. And I started painting it after dinner Tuesday night...and that's as far as I got. I promise we aren't trying to be super modern and cool, I just haven't finished it. This fireplace is kicking my butt! I'm loving the color and I'm really excited to finish it (it's on this weekend's to do list), but it's HARD WORK.
I also painted the trim around the windows to match the freshly painted, crisp white baseboards. The pictures aren't great because of the time of day, but trust me, they look great! I'm hoping to get the trim around the door painted this weekend to match.
And lest you think the family room got all the attention, here's my husband's handiwork in the Indiana Room. As a proud Hoosier, my husband had to get a large IU logo on the wall. We ordered some vinyl tape to put the court lines on the floor this week, so the Indiana Room is coming along quite nicely as well.
I'll leave you with the IU fight song in honor of my husband, the Indiana Room, and of course, the Hoosiers.