Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Back to School

 You know you're a teacher when you see the school supply display in Walmart and you feel a little bit excited, a little bit nostalgic, a little bit apprehensive, and a lot of panic that the summer has gone way too fast and you were planning on doing so much, but it's nearly over, and now there is no time for that, so you start to cry a little bit in front of everyone at Walmart. Seriously though, I still get excited when I see school supplies. New school supplies mean a whole new start. Which is my favorite part of education. Each year is a new start.

Currently I'm not a classroom teacher. I used to teach English - which is why I ask you to ignore the long run-on sentence that started this post. Then I was a librarian because I love reading. (Side note: Literacy is vitally important for children's development. You'd be amazed at how much research there is about it, so read to your kids, Internet. Read to your kids.) Now I'm a mentor teacher for the University of Missouri. Which means I get to help new teachers, and right now those new teachers are working on getting their classroom set up. Which reminded me of the days when I would spend hours decorating and organizing my classroom, so I thought I'd share my old classroom with you.

My favorite thing in my classroom was my refrigerator door. I told Gma that I wanted an old fridge door, and within a month she'd found a refrigerator at a garage sale for $5. My dad took the door off for me, and made it to where I could mount it on my classroom wall. My students would hang assignments they were proud of on it. (Before I had a refrigerator door, I had a bulletin board where I just outlined the door, and turned my magnets into push pins.)
This is what it looked like without papers all over it.

I painted these one summer for my classroom. I don't take the time to stencil or outline; I just freehanded them in pencil, then went over it with paint. They aren't perfect, but it worked. Recently, I've taken to using an old overhead projector to trace quotes so they are a little neater. 

I collect lunch boxes, so I displayed them in the back of my room. The READ letters come from Hobby Lobby. My favorite part of this photo, are the hanging baskets. Those come from Walmart. They're meant for dish drying, but I used them as turn-in trays.

This was the front of my classroom. See the SMART board? It could roll in and out of place, so the whiteboard was still able to be used. I loved it.

And this was my agenda board where I wrote our activity and homework for the day. I made the letters and laminated them, so I could write and erase each week. 

So that's my old classroom. Although I do kind of wish I had Pinterest back then. I feel as though my classroom would have been at least 30% cuter had I been able to steal all the cool stuff I see there. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Let's be ladies.

"The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different type of a woman." This is one of my favorite quotes. It comes from Elisabeth Eliot's book, Let Me Be a Woman. I first read the book when I was in college and leading a Bible study about Biblical Womanhood for a small group of girls. Since then I've probably read it half a dozen times. I hand it out to girls like it's a basket of muffins welcoming them into the adventure of being a woman. Because it truly is an adventure. I wish we could curl up in the rocking chairs on my front porch and have this conversation, because I want to hear your side of it. What does it mean to be a lady?

Heaven knows there have been countless books written on the topic, all giving advice that does nothing but make your head spin. Television and movies portray the entire spectrum from the independent, no-nonsense women to the weak, puerile bimbos. Some women love sports, while others cringe at the letters ESPN. Some can cook, while others need to have Pizza Hut on speed dial. Some cry at movies, while others can watch the saddest Hallmark flick completely stone faced. And that's the beauty of it. We're all so completely different and mixed up in our own way, and both sides of the spectrum are lovely and beautiful.

I'm a girl. My creator chose to make me a girl. It wasn't a coin toss. It was purposed, and I'm so grateful for it. Growing up as a girl is definitely tough. I once heard someone say that when you're graceful, people say you lack personality; when you're serene, people say you're boring; when you're confident, people say you're arrogant; when you're feminine, people say you're too girly. There is no right way to be a girl. Women deal with being too much and too little all at once mainly because we're trying to be a certain type of woman. We're told to be skinny, have curves; keep your hair long, cut it off short; have a successful career, stay home with your kids; learn to cook and clean, don't fall into gender stereotypes. That's why I love that Elisabeth Elliot quote so much. "The fact that I'm a Christian makes me a different kind of a lady."

If I place my idenitity in the fact that I'm a woman, I will be forever lost and reading women's magazines to know whether or not red nail polish is in or out. (Who am I kidding? Red nail polish is always in.) I have to place my identity in the Lord, and let Him shape me into the woman he purposed me to be. That means that I have to let go of what others are telling me and just be. Song of Soloman 4:7 states, "You are all together beautiful, my darling." And it's true. Every piece of your heart is beautiful, and however you choose to live out being a woman, it is beautiful. God made you a girl, and you don't have to put on a stitch of lip stick to prove it.

For me being a girl means a bathroom counter cluttered with hair products and having a slight lip gloss addiction.  It also means loving football, and being thrilled that Mizzou is now in the SEC, simply so I have good reason to dress up for game days. I can do as Fritzgerald said in The Great Gatsby, and "be a beautiful little fool", or I can be intelligent and charming all at once. I can put down hardwood floors and have made good use of a sledge hammer (much to my father's chagrin). I can make a cream cheese frosting so tasty that it will make your toes curl, but I've never been able to hula hoop or turn a cart wheel like the other little girls could. I don't mind sleeping in a tent, but by golly I will be putting a table cloth out for supper. My feminine side flourishes by building a home where everyone who enters it feels welcomed and leaves full of something sweet whether it be tea or pie. That's me, and thankfully that doesn't describe the other women in my life because we're all so unique.

Go out and  be a lady, however it looks for you. Embrace the fact that you get to curl your hair if you feel like it or throw it up in messy bun, and either way, I promise you, it's beautiful. God made you a woman, therefore you are the essence of beauty. Therefore you don't have to try; you just have to be.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Morgan's Maternity Photos

You all have met Morgan & Eric here if you don't remember. 

I work with Morgan, and we share birthdays, and we run errands together after school, and sometimes we go to Jose's for espinaca dip or Zio's for chicken cannelloni, but I have to say that I'm quite mad at her right now because she is taking the first quarter of the school year off to take care of her new baby. I don't understand how she thinks maternity leave is more important than visiting my office at the end of the day to vent about the crazy things that happen in education. I don't know how I am supposed to survive the beginning of the school year without her, but I guess I'll manage if I have to. (You better bring Jon Ryan up to visit often to make up for it, Morgan! Starbucks won't hurt either - hint, hint. )

Anyway, she makes a pretty Momma, and Eric makes a dashing dad to be. Take a look for yourself.

And yes, she is doing yoga near the end of the slide show. The two of us used to Jazzercise together, and I got a better workout from laughter than the class, so I can just imagine her doing maternity yoga! I feel like that could be a great SNL skit....