Sunday, April 26, 2015

i used to be tan.

After spring break, everyone came back sporting their nice, new tans. Now, I used to be the tanning queen back in the day. And who cares if it was fake? I was tan. And I equate tan with healthy. I tanned all the time in high school, making the trip to the tanning salon at least 3 days a week. After high school I still went, but it wasn't quite as often. And then once Ty and I started dating (and I ran out of money) I figured I didn't need to impress anyone with my tan-ness anymore, and I could grace the world with my pastiness.

The last time I went tanning was in the month leading up to my wedding. It was blissful to end the day baking in a pool of my own sweat to end up with a nice summer glow in the spring.

And here's now. I prefer the above, honestly.

I really wish I could start tanning again. But I figure I'm probably only about 5 or 6 years away from getting some crows feet, so I don't really want to speed up that process. And then there's the whole skin cancer thing. I suppose it's better to be cancer-free and pale as a ghost.

However, in the summer months I am determined to rise above "pale as a ghost" and make my way to "faint tan lines."

Until then,

xoxo, wife.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

becoming more grown up daily.

I'm the first one to admit that I'm not good at doing things that most people do on a daily basis. One of those things is driving. Now, I'm a decent driver...but I've never driven more than 1.5 hours alone.

I recently wrote about being given the opportunity to attend a teaching conference in Indianapolis. One of my colleagues was going too, and I assumed we would ride together. I also assumed she would drive, since she's one of my superiors. When she mentioned that she was staying in Indy after the conference for dinner with a friend, my first thought was, "You mean I have to go by myself?!"

Insert shocked-face.

But I was instantly excited. Because I've always been driven places...I've never gone anywhere on my own. Not only did I have to drive there, but I had to NOT GET LOST!

Confession: Every time I go somewhere new, I have to turn around at some point due to a wrong turn, driving right by it, getting off the wrong exit, etc. Every time. I've never gone somewhere new without making some kind of mistake.

So I left incredibly early. Because I knew I'd get lost, even with my GPS.

But guess what? I didn't! Clap your hands for this pathetic girl, because this is a pretty big deal. I hit some construction and traffic on the way there, but didn't make ONE mistake!

The conference was about 5 hours long, and I learned a decent amount, especially about how gifted/talented students are identified. I spent some time talking with my colleague after. And then it was time to head back home. My GPS detected a lot of traffic, so it calculated a different route to take me home...she said it'd save me 25 minutes, so I was all for it. I ended up having to drive on a pretty major highway, but I still did it! No mistakes on the way home either!

The construction traffic was worse on the way home, though.

I sat in this exact spot for about 15 minutes. We went at a top speed of 7mph for a 3 mile stretch. It took a LONG time. But I had my music and some snacks to keep me occupied.

I feel like a total loser, but I was really excited to tell Ty about how well I did haha! This is something that normal people do all the time: travel a few hours alone. But since I've never done it, I'm proud that I did it with no mistakes. 

And even though I left at 5:45am and didn't get home until around 6:45pm, I was still WAY less tired than I normally am after a 9-10 hour day of work. It's amazing how much energy 21 kindergartners can suck out of you in a day. But I'm looking forward to continuing to learn about gifted/talented education and using what I learn to do the best I can as I transition into my new position for next year. 

And after my phenomenal drive yesterday, I'm feeling awfully grown-up and capable.

xoxo, wife. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

opportunity knocks.

I don't usually like change.

But when new opportunities arise, it's good to step up to the challenge sometimes.

At the beginning of the school year, I was talking with a colleague about our new High Ability (gifted/talented) program. I had no interest in it, but came up with a few ideas that she took and ended up using with the kids in the program. She then approached me and asked if I'd like to be on the High Ability Team because my ideas were so good. Again, I wasn't really that interested, but I figured it would look good on my resume, and a monthly meeting or two wouldn't be too bad. So I agreed.

After a few months, I was approached with an opportunity to go back to school to get a license in Gifted/Talented education. We had gotten a grant from the state that would completely pay for the classes as long as the school was in-state. I love to learn and figured, you can't really turn down a free education! So I applied and was accepted in March.

I will be taking online classes through Ball State University beginning in May. I will take 2 classes this year and two next year. 

I figured that was about it.

Until we learned a few weeks ago that our school is restructuring for the upcoming year. Instead of having single-grade classrooms, all teachers will be teaching 3 levels. K-2, 3-5, and 6-8. That means I'll have kindergartners, first graders, and second graders in my classroom. Students will stay with me from kindergarten until they go to 3rd grade, so I'll have the same students for 3 years. The only new ones will be the kinders each year. 

That was a lot to take in. I still have my reservations about it. But after 4 years of teaching kindergarten, I'm ready to take on something new. So I've decided to rise to the challenge and face it head-on. After finding out about all that, I was approached about teaching the High Ability K-2 class. So all of my students will be the "smart" kids. And now it has come full-circle. The classes that I'll be taking will prepare me to teach the students I'll have next year. The team I decided to join in August will help me plan projects for my students who are bored by the traditional work in class and need to be challenged. This thing I wasn't even interested in at the beginning of the year is now going to be my job in the coming years! And the more I dig into it, the more excited I become. 

I'm also getting professional development opportunities. I'm going to Indianapolis this next week to attend a conference on High Ability education. I'm going to another training in June to learn about a language arts curriculum geared toward these learners. There will be more opportunities for me to go to things in the future as well (and all paid for by my school!) I'm excited about what I'll be able to do with these kids. It'll be much more work...and I'm not looking forward to that part! But we'll be able to dig really deep into topics they're interested in, rather than just teaching the standards set by the state. We'll all learn together.

So no...I normally don't like change. And I'll be completely honest and say that this change makes me nervous. But it's a change I'm looking forward to!

xoxo, Mrs. Miller

Saturday, April 18, 2015

on my heart.

If you haven't read it yet, please take a minute to read this article: I Wish My Teacher Knew. A teacher at a low-income school (very similar to mine) gave her 3rd graders this prompt and was humbled by the responses.

I read the article last night. And ever since then, my students have been weighing heavily on my heart.

In my 4 years of teaching kindergarten, I've been told many things. 5 year olds are pretty candid. Sometimes I'm the only person they feel like they can talk to. I've actually heard the following:

- I don't have a pencil at home to do my homework.
- My dad/stepdad/mom is in jail.
- I don't know who my daddy is.
-Me and my mom and my brother live on my aunty's couch 'cause we don't have money for our own house.
- I don't like me because my mom doesn't like me.
- We don't have a lot of money for food.
- If you flip my card, my mom's gonna hit me with the extension cord when I get home.

The majority of my students come from single-parent homes. Those single parents have to work multiple jobs to make sure they have enough money for food and bills. That means my kids don't see their parents much. I have several students this year who have parents in jail. I have a student who's father committed suicide. One of my little girls told me just yesterday that her mom moved to Atlanta this week, and she doesn't know when she'll see her again. There is a current CPS case open for another one of my girls. I have two students who are sent home with bags of food for the weekend, because they don't have enough food to eat when they're not at school. I have a student who wasn't at school for 3 weeks because they were hiding from the dad. And that's just this year.

I think about my students constantly when I'm not at work. I worry about them. I pray for them.

It's hard, because sometimes I get frustrated when students fall asleep every day in the middle of math because their parents were up screaming all night. When they come to school in August and know NOTHING because their parents never cared enough to work with them. When they seem distracted. When homework never gets completed. When permission slips aren't turned in. When I try to call home and phone numbers are disconnected. When a parent comes to conferences and is clearly on drugs. When they wear the same ketchup-stained uniform shirt every day for a week. I get mad sometimes...a lot actually.

But then I think about what my kids are going through. About WHY their homework is never finished. About WHY they are distracted. About WHY phone numbers are disconnected (because their parent's can't afford the phone bill so the phones are shut off.) About how they move constantly because they can't afford rent and keep getting kicked out of their apartments.

I think about how hard it is for me to focus when I'm tired. When I have to skip lunch to get some work done, so I'm hungry. I get cranky. I get irritable. And I'm 27. This is reality for the majority of my students. And I cannot fathom what they are living on a daily basis. Worrying about whether they'll eat dinner that night. If their mom will wake up in time to drive them to school. If their clothes will get washed so they don't get made fun of. If they'll get to visit their brother in juvie soon. When they'll see their dad again. If their parents even love them.

All these reasons are why I try my best to let my students know they're loved when they're in my care. From the time I greet each one of them by name with a smile in the morning, until that hug before they leave. Sure, teaching is important. And I love that part. But I strive to stay focused on making sure they feel special while they're with me. Because children matter. It's hard to not get caught up in all the test scores, teacher evaluations, and education reform. But in all that chaos, our kids are becoming invisible. I refuse to let that happen in my room.

And why do I always call them "my kids?" Because for 10 months out of a year, they ARE my kids. They ARE my family...and I love them just like they were my own. And once a student has been in my class, he/she will always be one of "my kids," and that's just the way it is.

xoxo, Mrs. Miller

Monday, April 13, 2015

spring break 2015

It was a rather uneventful spring break this year. Which is A-okay with me. I've read lots of things about introverts in the past year, and the one thing they all say is that introverts need ample time to rest and rejuvenate, whether at the end of the day, week, or during breaks from work. So rest and rejuvenate I did!

I started off last week with some spring cleaning. Like...DEEP cleaning. I swear our kitchen hadn't been this clean since we moved in! After these pictures, I also cleaned off the front of the refrigerator...too many things on there. Now it's pretty much empty and surprisingly made our kitchen look bigger! I also cleaned Ty's coffee maker and blender...which he apparently NEVER cleans. Yuck!

Tuesday I was feeling a bit under the weather, so I spent the day hanging out on the couch, watching tv, and researching some changes for the upcoming school year.

Wednesday I met up with one of my good friends to snuggle her sweet baby. She was a preemie, so she's 3 months old and only 10 pounds! So sweet!

Thursday I met up with my Mom for lunch and a quick trip to shop for Ty's birthday next week. Then it was back home to get some stuff done around the house.

Friday I dropped Abby off at the groomer, and had some free time to go shopping. I was in the market for a new shower curtain. After almost 5 years, I was ready for a new one. The challenge was: I only wanted a curtain...I didn't want to get all new towels, rugs, trash can, etc. I swear I was in the bathroom section at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for about an hour. All the ones I wanted were $50, and I knew Ty wouldn't like them. But I finally decided on one...AND it was on clearance. Bonus!

Here's the "before" of the bathroom. I loved this shower curtain...but as time went on, it just wasn't as white as it once was.

And here's the "after." I had no idea how much merely changing a shower curtain could change the look of a bathroom. I kind of love it. (And the steam from the shower has taken care of the wrinkles by now.)

I also stopped at Hobby Lobby. I think I could move in there and live quite happily. I was there for what seemed like ever, but only left with a few items. I got some new place mats for our kitchen table and something else for my gallery wall above the couch. Now I'm just waiting for Ty to hang it for me...I don't do well with hanging things myself...

Then it was time to go pick Abby up from the groomer. Whenever she comes back, she acts incredibly feeble and pathetic. So we spent the evening cuddling together until Ty came home from work.

Over the weekend, I did my yearly closet clean-out, and got some things ready for Goodwill. Did some more deep cleaning in the bedroom, and tried to get the hang of curling my short hair with my flat-iron...which is surprisingly easy.

And that's about it. Ty told me that he kind of wished my job was to stay home and keep our house immaculate all year, haha! (That tells you just how much I apparently slack during the school year!) Don't worry dear...9 more weeks and I'll be a full-time house-wife for 2 months!

As much as I loooooove my time off, and as much as I dreaded getting up and going to work today, I was incredibly happy to see my little ones and hear all about their weeks. I got especially mushy when they told me how much they missed me! Only 38 more days with these babies...can't believe how much time has flown!

xoxo, wife.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

lydia's 3rd birthday

Why, hello Spring Break. It's about time you showed up. I didn't think March could get much longer...but it did.

Ty's brother and sister-in-law came up here for the weekend to celebrate Easter and my niece's 3rd birthday. It had been awhile since we'd seen them, so it was fun to get together and hang out. Lydia is at such a fun age, and I had lots of fun playing with her. 

We also had an Easter egg hunt, which I didn't get any pictures of. It was pretty chilly, and I had a I just kind of wandered around behind everyone and watched until it was time to go back in. 

Then my sister-in-law crafted a plan to get the kids to spray silly sting all over Ty's mom. It was pretty funny!

I didn't get any pictures from Easter, but it consisted of going to church, going to a restaurant with my family, playing games with Ty, and just hanging out.

It was a good Easter weekend, indeed.

He is risen!

xoxo, wife.