Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall Theme ~ Fill in the Blank Friday

Happy Friday!

I loved the "Fill in the Blank Friday" post for this week by The Little Things We Do. To go along with my love of this season I thought I would do this fun post!

Fill in the Blank Friday

gorgeous fall street right near where I work

1. Nothing says Fall like the changing leaves. I love all of the colors, especially the bright yellow trees. When the light hits them just right they can look golden. So exciting to see so many colors this time of year!

2. My favorite autumnal tradition is decorating the house. I love dressing up our fireplace mantel with our bronze colored sash (from a cousin's wedding!) and using a few other items to spruce it up. I also put up some of our paper decorations on the walls and spread around our other cute "trinkets."

3. My favorite Fall treat is PUMPKIN PIE!

4. Fall makes me think of nesting because it is a cozy season. This particular season in my life I have been feeling a lot more in tune with making a house a home - guess it is just from all the craziness of this year and wanting home to feel good. I also look forward to the day of living on my own and creating my own space! .... And Pinterest is to blame for some of this ;-)

5. Autumn free form association, go! Golden/yellow leaves, multicolored trees/leaves/vegetation, school, produce stores, pumpkins & patches, corn mazes, hay rides, fresh cool breezes, bronzey & sometimes golden light from the sun (such a funny angle it is at this time of year), family time, Thanksgiving, pies, lots of food, blankets, tea, oh yeah -- running.... 

6. My go-to outfit in the Fall is um, truthfully I don't have a go-to outfit for any season (working on that- anyone want to style me?! I have improved but...).... though I will say I love my flats, dark bootcut jeans, and layers - always a sweater of some sort. The Northwest is so unpredictable!

7. My favorite Fall holiday is (Halloween or Thanksgiving) without question, Thanksgiving. When I was in my undergrad days I really gained appreciation for this special holiday. 1) because of the FOOD... yes, I did eat well at college but let me tell you, family food tasted so wonderful to me during those years  2) getting a chance to catch up and relax with extended family members. To this day I feel pretty much the same about Thanksgiving but I focus more on family than the food. I also understand more and more how much I have to be thankful for. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Little Treasures in a Quiet Thursday

Today has been a good day, a really good one. Nothing outrageous has happened today but it has been a day filled with several little blessings. I love simple days like this.

My day started off with a run around where I live-- I changed some things up and had a pretty decent run overall. I love being outside and connecting with my surroundings. This was a lovely partly sunny day, but as most days are now, the air was thick and damp feeling. While that type of coolness tends to make me sweat more, I really it. That feeling lets me know that I am in the midst of another wonderful season.

After my run and the hours before going to work, I took care of some items such as finances. For the past three months I haven't been watching money as closely, which means I have been spending more. Since today was pay day for subbing and tutoring, I made sure to take care of sorting the check amounts into my savings accounts. While calculating my sub check I was confused with the amount I got and what I thought I should be paid. Happily, it was because of getting more versus less ;-) When I got my pay stub in the mail today I saw that I get 28 cents more per hour! YAY!

Once I figured out my money situation, I decided to make a much needed purchase online - my Maid of Honor dress. I expected to get a particular dress on Kohl's, but when I looked at it this afternoon I noticed that my size was sold out. For a second, I panicked because I have been trying to find a nice red dress. So, I crossed my fingers and searched the website again. I came across a classy red dress (an even better red color too) and with 3/4 length sleeves, which will be good since the wedding will most likely be in December. When I decided to get my dress, I was happy to see that it was on sale $63 versus the original price of $90. AND shipping was only 99 cents!! AND, AND, AND.... yes it gets better folks -- since I had the option of using a promotional code I decided to hunt online for one. I Googled and found a great website called Retail Me Not and it listed several promotional codes for Kohl's. I tried a few codes and eventually one of them worked (SMS2828, 10% off of everything, good till 10/22!) and I saved 10% on my dress (saved $6.30!). With all that said, I only paid $57.69! Not bad for a bridesmaids dress and hopefully one that I can wear for other occasions. Now, think positively that it will fit! ;-)

As for the rest of the day, I had work in the evening that ended up being pretty good even with the challenging kiddos. I feel very thankful to have this job as it gives me good teaching experience and I love that I don't have to deal with drama among co-workers. It's a professional workplace and I appreciate that very much.

Coming home was lovely - it was a good evening with all the ladies. And oh the happiness, my sister baked cookies! She is a cookie queen :) Yum... She made a great batch of chocolate chip!

Overall, very good day. Lots of goodness and blessings - on a fairly quiet and low-key day. It's the little things in life that count...

Hope your gray days are filled with sunshiney treasures! Big or small, hope you feel uplifted.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sauvie Island on Sunday

"There is nothing quite like a fall day. The cool crisp air, pumpkins in the fields, and playing in the leaves. The smile on your face can warm any chilly day." -- Unknown

I am falling so deeply in love with Autumn-- yes, pun fully intended. ;-) I am really okay with this season being here this year. I have had very little trouble transitioning from Summer to Fall. The only part I miss the most is the abundance of sunlight. The mornings are darker longer and the nights come faster. Ah... the changes. It is comforting, however, to know that while I am losing some sunlight, someone else in the world is gaining a few more rays each day. I hope they are soaking up every ounce of that happy sunshine! 

While the Southern Hemisphere is experiencing the opposite season, I am thoroughly enjoying everything that comes with Fall -- as I do every year: the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures. I feel like my senses are more engaged during this cozy season. Perhaps it is because it is the harvesting season. We don't have the abundant source of goodness anymore, but we have its products, the beautiful bountiful produce. 

On Sunday, the 16th, Leonor, Mom, Sarah, and I went to Sauvie Island to get our hands on some of these treasures, one of them being pumpkins. :) I was so happy to go out and do a Fall activity! Sauvie Island is a neat place located between the Willamette and Columbia River. On the island there are many farms, and one of them has a giant corn maze (this year's design featured the Portland Timbers symbol). We didn't have time to go through it and there were also tons of people out at this particular farm. We mainly went to see what we could see and to get some items from the produce store. We enjoyed walking around, saw the animals, went to the gift shop (of course- didn't buy anything though) and the store. It was a beautiful Fall day, the sun cast a nice bronzy look the land. Mmm.. Lovely day. I'm thankful we got to get out and about!

Visiting the animal barn - say hi to Cream Puff and Oreo, the sheep! I was amused with their names of course ;-)
You would pick us right?! ;-)

LOVE the big bins of produce! So colorful!
Check out these awesome gourds! We picked out a few for decorations. I love these quirky things!

Gorgeous red pears

Our pumpkins, such happy decorations.
Wonderful time at Sauvie Island - I highly suggest visiting there if you are in the PNW or are thinking of visiting in the Fall. I want to go back and do that corn maze!

Happy Fall!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Arrivals & Departures

Oh, it has been a busy season so far. I was on such a writing kick there for a few weeks and now it has dwindled a bit. My schedule isn't super crazy but it is slowly progressing to be that way. Starting at the end of this month I will be doing my ESOL practicum for three full-time weeks. I am looking forward to learning from my mentor and gaining more knowledge on teaching students with language needs.

Anyhow, while my own personal life hasn't been too hectic, there have been lots of coming and going for people in "my" house (seems funny to write that phrase now, I am looking forward to the day when I really have my own house!).

Shortly after my mom arrived back from Singapore, my sister left for Georgia to see her boyfriend. He is in basic training right now - it was Family Weekend. They had a great time seeing each other, but it also made the goodbye difficult. Exciting news though: they are engaged! On October 8th, Dustin proposed :)

Courtesy of my sister & her cell 
The timing is questionable as to when the wedding will take place - as we do not know exactly when he will be back. Sarah is hoping for Christmas time. We shall see! This will be a big transition for them when the time comes. I hope my sister will be happy with her decision to be an Army wife.

Sarah returned home on the 10th, and within a few days our Costa Rican friend, Leonor arrived. She is here doing volunteer work for the Partners of the Americas. Unfortunately, the director that she works with here is a bit disorganized so she hasn't been able to do too much. Leonor will be here until November 3rd. Certainly interesting having her here- she was here earlier this summer for Granny's 100th birthday party, and then we went back with her for about two weeks. This visiting time is a little more challenging, simply due to the timing of when she is here and well, ya know how it is when you have spent a lot of time with someone.... ;-)

So there has been lots of arriving and departing around here. Lots of changes!

While all this has been going on Fall's colors have gotten richer and crunchier. Today is one of those wonderful clear warm Fall days. I had a pretty good run too, but I will save that for another post. :)

Hope that you are enjoying this season ... or whatever one you may be in!

Friday, October 7, 2011

C25K Redo: Dealing With It

"You can't get much done in life if you only work on the days that you feel good." -- Anonymous

When you've had 3.5 hours of sleep, been up since before the crack of dawn (from taking your sis to the airport), tired, physically not 100% (oh womanness!), feeling "blah" from the low hanging gray clouds, chilled from the Fall air and dampness from earlier passing rain, and all you can think about is the warmth and comfort of your bed.... 

Running was pretty much the last thing on the list in this case. This was not something I desired to do on this Fall day. Not only that but I knew I had a tough workout ahead (Week 6, Day 2):

- 10 minutes of jogging/running
- 3 minutes walking
- 10 minutes of jogging/running

Truly, it isn't that horrible of a workout but on a day like this, it seemed a bit much. 

Somehow I managed to get myself out of my snuggly bed and peeled away from the TV (I have taken to watching the "Today" show sometimes in the mornings). I changed from my already bodily-heated PJs to cool feeling exercise clothes. I put on three layers on the top and my long pants. Wrestled my hair into a ponytail, brushed my gunky feeling teeth, and pushed my feet into my shoes. Set the timer for 5 minutes of a brisk warm up walk and away I went on my route (after visiting with Cheese of course).

I huffed and puffed as I forced my legs to produce movement. Soaking in the freshness of Autumn air (today's scent had nice light touch of classic Fall smoke- the farmer burning kind), I started to feel more lively and hoped my timer would beep so I could switch to running. Ah...

I decided to run on the high school track since it provides a nice landing for my flat feet, and that way I am distanced from the cars (dislike the smell of pollution, yuck). Truthfully, I have a love-hate relationship with that big circle. Some days it feels like a oversized hamster wheel! 

Today wasn't too bad though my legs felt like they were being dragged and pushed through layers of molasses. They felt stiff and sluggish. There wasn't much I could do but move my arms in hopes they would carry me along (I recalled my high school Cross Country coaches saying, "Keep those arms moving! They will pace your body!"). 

The idea of giving up was a bit tempting, I will admit, but only for a fleeting moment. This little hole of mental weakness was quickly covered up when I realized that I can't just wait around to feel inspired or motivated. Some days I will just have to take care of business. My running won't always be what I want and it may just suck. Today was pretty much one of those- not stellar but still worthy enough of a Dr. Suess sticker on the chart.

You learn to just deal with it. Tis true, running teaches you a lot about life ;-)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Teaching: What if we talked about those BIG words?

Over the past few years, my teaching focus and philosophy has changed. These views I have will continue to change as I go through various experiences and situations. Currently, I am a beginning teacher. I don't have my own classroom yet but hope to one day. So much of my thoughts come from substituting, grad school coursework/discussions/readings, classroom observations, and discussions with professionals.

With that said, while I don't have years of experience, my thoughts on education are still valid.

This topic which I am writing about has been on my mind a few times here and there. Right now it is at the forefront of my mind.

I think teaching is a wonderful responsibility and sometimes extremely overwhelming. There are so many limitations on teaching these days. I won't bother to list them as that will detract me from the purpose of writing today.

While there are numerous stressors and difficulties in teaching, I wonder what would happen if we dug a little bit deeper.

Many schools have good solid rules like: be safe, responsible and respectful. There are also many schools and districts, which adhere to the PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention & Supports) model. This is a good system that consists of 3 tiers of behavior management (to learn more go to this site I think these systems and rules are important for encouraging positive behavior and preventing negative ones.

However, my concern is that kids don't really "get it." I am not pointing out blame, as I know for a fact that there are hundreds and thousands of incredible teachers pouring their hearts out every day. What I am saying is that, I am worried that some kids don't see the real meaning in following rules.
As I said, we need to dig deeper. We need to show students the roots of these rules and their purpose. We need to talk about the BIG words because those are why the rules were created in the first place. Right?

What big words am I talking about?


Yes, these are what we need to be talking about. There are others of course. Not only do we need to start the conversation with students, but we need to keep it going. This means we enforce the meanings of these words constantly and consistently.

I don't think that this is an unrealistic idea. I think it is a big idea, after all, these words are rather "meaty."

Speaking of which, an image on Pinterest via Flickr has it right about integrity, " doing the right thing even when nobody is watching." Oh yes, that word has layers.

A conversation with these big words can start any day at a any time. We do owe it to each other. Really. The reason for digging deeper is so that these children can look at each other in the eye and see human beings.

We owe it to the homeless man on the street, the lonely lady walking by herself on a blustery day, the child who is always left out, the child who is shy but needs a friend, the boy who only has one pair of sneakers... We owe it to ourselves because we are all unique individuals who have hopes and dreams. We owe it to our neighbor who has skills that we may not possess. We owe it to each other because each person has value and until we go beyond just following rules, we will continue to be invisible to one another. That's what need to teach kids.

How do we do it?

These big words can be discussed in classroom meetings, journal time, during read alouds, through problem solving situations, and daily activities. Another great way is to get kids involved with the community outreach. Words are better when they're put into action. There are many other good ways to go about this big conversation!

We also need to remember one simple thing: Kids learn from the adults around them. They are watching us, we are leading them.

It is a big idea. It's high expectations too.

I strongly believe it can be done. We just need to get out the shovel and start digging.

Image was found on the blog- that is linked to the picture. Not sure where they got it from. I take no credit for this image.

Monday, October 3, 2011

C25K Redo: Halfway There

  1. a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage: the progress of a student toward a degree.
  2. developmental activity in science, technology, etc., esp. with reference to the commercial opportunities
  3. created thereby orto the promotion of the material well-being of the public through goods, techniques or facilities created.
  4. advancement in general.
  5. growth or development; continuous improvement: He shows progress in his muscular coordination.
  6. the development of an individual or society in a direction considered more beneficial than and superior to the previous level.
  7. Biology. increasing differentiation and perfection in the course of ontogeny or phylogeny.
  8. forward or onward movement: the progress of the planets.
  9. the forward course of action, events, time etc.
  10. an official journey or tour, as by a sovereign or dignitary.
I am making progress!!

I am thrilled to say that today was my first day running without walking. Not only that but for 20 straight minutes (okay to be technical I did 21 because I hit the button on my timer accidentally). That's right, I have made it to Week 5 and completed it. Bring it on Week 6!!

The run today was challenging, though surprisingly better than the previous workout, which consisted of this:

(Workout 2 on Week 5)
-- brisk 5 minute warm up
-- 8 minutes jogging
-- 5 minutes walking
-- 8 minutes jogging

I think the reason why this workout and others have been harder is due to the fact that the heart rate changes so much. That's probably the point I am guessing.... Ah ha, so there is wisdom in some of these seemingly torturous days. haha Nah, it isn't that bad but there have been a few rough workouts.

Anyway, I am happy with being where I am and the condition of my body. I love that I am making progress. That's a good active word.

Part of my joy comes from learning how to be flexible in achieving my running goals. As a I mentioned a couple of days ago, I was recovering from a seasonal cold and didn't feel too great. Since I lacked energy I didn't run for nearly a week. That was pretty much what happened last year... but this time is different. I had to tell myself: "So you're sick for a few days, when you are better get back on the plan!" So I did and I am picking up where I left off. Am I running every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (like I wish- so organized!)?! No. Am I running exactly 3 days per week and following the program to a T? No.

Sometimes I run 4 straight days in a row, other times I don't run for 3 days. When I run varies.

That's the joy though. I am doing it regardless of everything else. When something is a priority, you really do learn how to make it happen. Not new news either, but this is something I want ingrained into my brain. I thought I understood last time how to follow a plan and stay determined. Obviously not.

So, I didn't do so well last time but I am trying again! That's the beauty of plans and goals-- if we really want to get somewhere we have to make adjustments around the road blocks and unforeseen hurdles. We may have to veer a bit to the side, jump higher, or crawl on our bellies... doesn't matter. The point is that we keep on going the direction to where we want to be.


(Now on a side note: If I could just apply this to every area of life, like reading the Bible consistently I would be a much better human being. Hey... this is a start right?!)