Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chocolate On My Mind...

...And other things too, but we'll start with chocolate! I've been craving chocolate all day and it's driving me absolutely crazy. My house is chocolate-free at the moment...correction, it was chocolate-free until my dad brought home some scrumptious-looking two-bite brownies! I am resisting. Must...Resist...Temptation! They look so good, and they're just sitting there, sad and lonely, saying "Eat me! Please, please eat me in all my chocolaty goodness!" and then " know you want to." At least, that's what my chocolate deprived brain has decided.

Other things. I have an overactive needs to knock it off and let me live my life in peace without the constant chattering and "what ifs". Whew, it's exhausting! It reminds me of when I was working at the nursery school with half a dozen children standing around me. They all want something, but they're talking at the same time so you can't make out what any of them is saying. One at a time!

Also, I have been busy, busy, busy slopping ModPodge all over the place, slapping down scrapbook paper, and punching holes with my Crop-A-Dile "Big Bite"...and still getting a kick out of the name (I know it's cheesy, I just can't help myself). So far, I am pleased with my results, using up supplies I've had lying around for a good four or five years, and overwhelmed by the endless crafting possibilities. I decided to go ahead and add a couple more protective coats of ModPodge, so the pictures will have to wait until tomorrow when everything is dry. They are simple, but they appeal to my love for relatively easy, quick, messy, fun projects to take my mind off of things for a while!

And, because I can't help myself and it continues to crack me up every time...

If you've been having a long week, I hope this put a smile on your face and a spring in your step! I discovered Dinosaur Train while touring with the college Symphonic Band. It was on TV in our hotel room and we thought it was hilarious. I distinctly remember singing the words "Wahhhooooooo, we love to chew! That's what we do, we love to chew!" repeatedly despite funny looks from those who apparently had NOT yet discovered the magic of "Hungry Hungry Herbivore!"

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Française et Américaine

The past couple of days since I've been home from camp counseling have definitely been a challenge. I drastically switched environments from a place where I was constantly active and in a position of authority (I miss those kids!) to a place where I feel I have relatively limited freedom. Not only that, I walked into a half French speaking household. This can mean only one thing...relatives are visiting. The first question everyone asks...don't you speak French? My answer: I can understand it, and I can speak it if I have to.

I went from being a camp counsellor to visiting with my French grandmother who only speaks a language I don't least, not on a regular basis. My French is rusty, my brain is about to explode (or implode...not sure which one), and my mother and "mamie" drive me batty whenever they get together. Do I love them both dearly? Yes. Can I stand them together in two-week doses? No. Also, my mother has started accidentally switching languages when we go shopping or out to eat. Though I will admit it's amusing, it's also a bit embarrassing when she starts speaking to the Bob Evans waitress or Walmart clerk in French.

For those of you who would like to tell me how lucky I am to have grown up with a French mother, it isn't that I'm not grateful for my French heritage or that I don't appreciate the language opportunities I have had. I just never fell in love with the French language...I fell in love with English. The complexity and beauty of English have always thrilled me. Where the English language spoke to me, French never did. While I think my dual citizenship is super cool, I will never identify myself as French. I am a PROUD American...a heart-thumping-out-of-my-chest, freedom-loving, anthem-singing, loving, patriotic American. Nothing will ever change that.

And now for something completely different...

While there are foreign-language-speaking relatives present and I have no social life, two things tend to happen. First, I have a lot of bonding time with my dad (who never learned French beyond basic phrases). Second, I have a lot more time to do things I've been meaning to get done because I'm required to "visit" even though everyone's sitting around the house in relative boredom. This means time to finish projects, start new ones, and hopefully take pictures and post my creations! It also resulted in a strange conversation with my dad in which we decided to eliminate contractions from our conversation...and created some rather odd sounding sentences.

Anyhow, yesterday I became the proud owner of a Crop-A-Dile II "Big Bite". BEST NAME EVER! When I talked about going to JoAnn's to buy one (they had the best price AND it was 40% off) my dad decided that I was, in fact, in desperate need of a crocodile cutout. Though I am now tempted to go buy a crocodile cutout, I am rather pleased with the actual result of my project using my new Crop-A-Dile! It's incredible...I can't wait to punch more holes and try setting eyelets, grommets, and snaps! I know, I'm nerdy...but I LIKE being nerdy so it's okay! If the weather/light is good I will take pictures and post them tomorrow.

And now for something completely different...again!

I know this is entirely random, but since it occupied my mind for at least (if not more than) a couple hours yesterday I thought it was worth mention. The dance scene in The Mask of Zorro is INCREDIBLE! I love the music, the dance is captivating (and oh-so-sexy), and I couldn't stop watching it on YouTube...over, and over, and over again. The whole movie is amazing and I have a couple other favorite scenes, but I must have watched it AT LEAST fifty times. I remember thinking...I won't have truly lived until I dance like that! Did you know that Zorro is also a musical?!?! I will be looking into this. Yes, I am also a theater geek.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Word Of The Day: Pedagogy

As promised, the story of the education student who didn't know the word "pedagogy"...brought to you by Facebook chat! If you are an education student reading this and do not know what pedagogy means please LOOK IT UP! It's an essential addition to your educational vocabulary!

Person 1: So, one of my coworkers just finished her junior year in AYA Math Ed at *insert name of college*

Person 2: Nice!

Person 1: Yeah, except *insert name of other college* is better. Case and point: I have previously relied on her to be my education buddy.

Person 2: Well, yeah...that was obvious!

Person 1: Because let's face it, I need one, otherwise I have nothing to say to the world.

Person 2: Education buddies are important. They're my favorite people!

Person 1: And we were discussing the table graces we sing before meals. There are poster that have them written out which we have, in previous summers, not used. But our boss wanted us to get them out and use them. *Anonymous* asked why we were taking time during training to do so. I said, it was important because not everyone has been to *insert name of camp*. Besides, "it's good pedagogy!"

Person 2: Haha.

Person 1: Anonymous: What's that?
Person 1: What's what?
Anonymous: Whatever that word was you said.
Person 1: Pedagogy?

Person 2: Hahaha.

Person 1: Anonymous: Yeah...never heard of it.
Person 1: How are you an ed student and you've never heard the word pedagogy?!
Anonymous: I dunno...I don't know all that theoretical stuff.

Person 2: My ed soul is cringing.

Person 1: Person 1 (mentally): What expletive can I use that will not be offensive? MUST TELL *INSERT NAME HERE*. Text message was sent moments after.

Person 2: Wow...

Person 1: Yeah

Person 2: *Insert name of other college* is looking better and better. :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dear God

During Christian Education at camp one day the children were asked to write a letter to God, thanking him for all the things they were grateful for. It was the one activity with my kids I remember passing up (besides swimming three times a day). It wasn't that I didn't want to write it, I just knew that I had a lot more to talk to God about, a lot more to work out in my head, and a lot I was still so unsure of. I am not a person to whom faith comes easily, but I also believe that nothing worthwhile comes easily. I had a lot I needed to get off my chest and that letter seemed like the perfect I wrote it while watching the kids at the pool. I wasn't going to share my letter, but looking over it, I realized that I may not be the only one asking these questions and facing these problems. Here it is:

Dear God,

I know I have a lot to be grateful for, but it's hard to know where to turn when my faith journey has been so just doesn't come easily to me. It never has, and sometimes I feel like the harder I pray and the times I need help the most are the times my prayers go unanswered. Maybe you ARE there guiding me, maybe there IS a reason, maybe you're preparing me for something wonderful. I just don't know how to build a relationship with you, and sometimes I'm not even sure I'm ready...but I think I am.

Lately I've started to differentiate between "knowing" and "believing". I know that life has thrown me obstacles I thought were nearly impossible to overcome. I know that after overcoming those obstacles I felt close to you for the first time. The trouble is believing that you are there for me, that you will stand by me through the good times and the bad.

I keep asking why. Why me? Why do you let me suffer through the pain and self-doubt? Why am I here? I have to wonder if someday everything will make sense, if all this suffering leads to happiness and clarity. I wonder what role the people in my life play and whether or not they're here to stay. I have so much love in my heart and sometimes I wonder if I've given it all away. I don't know how to save some of that love for myself, to learn how to love myself when I know who I want to be and what I want to believe...but I don't believe that she exists in me.

There are times when I feel like there is so little in life that I truly believe. I believe in beauty, in the little things, in the validity of both logic and emotion, in love...even if sometimes I don't believe in them for myself. I feel so weak and helpless, and sometimes I wonder if I need to redefine strength. Maybe I see weakness in the things I cannot change when I should be looking for strength in the things that I can. But how do I do that? How do I teach myself to "believe" without undermining the way I "feel"?

I have a thousand questions, a thousand doubts, a thousand emotions. And then I wonder...Why is there a smile on my face when there aren't tears in my eyes? Why is there always hope when I don't feel hopeless? Why are there always people when I'm not alone? Will I ever use that knowledge to heal rather than escape? I always ask you for strength, but this time I'm asking for a different kind of strength...the strength to live life to its fullest and live without regrets, to let go but love the memories, and to open my heart and mind to change.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Big Elephants Can Always Use Scrambled Eggs

I am back! I only wish I had had a computer and internet access at camp so that I could relay each day's adventures to all of you, but alas, no such luck! I have survived a fabulous week at camp with seven (mostly) fabulous nine and ten-year-old girls. We got off to a rocky start, but things calmed down and we ended up having a wonderful time! There were moments where I just wanted to pack them up and take them home with me. They made me smile, they made me laugh...and sometimes they made me want to cry tears of frustration. Does it make me a horrible person to think that nine and ten-year-old drama is amusing? I understand that a fear of bugs or a stupid comment from a fellow camper is very real to them (and I'm sure I felt the same way when I was ten), but after all that I've dealt with in the past year I can't help but smile a little. Their world is so very different from my own.

I learned so much about the children, about classroom management, about life, and about faith during the few short days I spent with my campers. It's incredible what children are capable of; it never ceases to amaze me. They are capable of such depth and understanding on issues that even adults struggle with. I know that I learned as much or more than the girls I was responsible for, even if I understood the lessons on a different level than they did (simply because I see the world differently and have the experience to back it up). There were moments of inspiration, life lessons learned, and new understandings even for me...every day. I know that I have grown as a person and that camp quickly reminded me of so much that I had forgotten about life and living.

I'll try to keep this relatively short, but there are a few things I learned at camp that I'd like to share...a bit of wisdom (errr...silliness) I've picked up along the way.

1. The word "fart" is still hilarious...especially when your counsellor says it. Also, I thought boys were always the ones who made fart noises. Apparently I was mistaken. I may have been a rather unconventional counsellor...but if the prospect of hearing me say "fart" gets them to do what they're supposed to, I'm all for it!

2. Bugs are fine during the day but terrifying at which point you must follow the bugs with your flashlight until they go away, thereby attracting more bugs (despite warnings from your counsellor that the light ATTRACTS the bugs).

3. Nine and ten-year-old girls talk about boobs. These conversations are particularly amusing coming from a cabin full of flat-chested girls...I'm pretty sure I was the only one there who could justify wearing a bra.

4. Big elephants can always use scrambled eggs. Remember that.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That

Life has, as I'm sure you've gathered, been pretty hectic lately...but the bulk of my cleaning adventures have come to a close. I am resigned to the fact that the cleaning and sorting and reorganizing will never truly be finished, but my clutter is now consolidated (in the form of about three garbage bags and a couple of boxes) in the corner of my room. The deep cleaning will have to wait a week until my camp counseling duties are finished. Also, I believe a thorough dusting is in order...I can't believe I've been breathing in this crap (well, now I can...the sneezing and itchy eyes gave it away)! The fact is, I'm happy to at least be able to walk across the floor in the dark and not stub my toe! Yippee!!!

Unfortunately, having spent the majority of my time cleaning and doing monotonous housework the past few days, I haven't had much else to talk about. Well, besides camp...which I am sooo excited about! In fact, tonight I'm finishing up camp paperwork and packing. That also means fun camp stories when I return (children always do find ways to amuse us adults)! My point: now that I've gotten my life relatively under control I can start focusing on all the other things. I wouldn't want you to think that ALL I ever did was housework (in fact, I tend to do housework far less than I should).

Whew! So now that I got all that off my chest, here's what's coming stories, craftlifting (some great ideas that I've been meaning to try out but just haven't had the time), recipes (both tried-and-true and experimental), the story of the education major who didn't know what "pedagogy" meant (NOT ME...just wanted to clear that up right now), adventures with French relatives, a baby shower (again, not mine), and bonding with Holly and Parker (my cousin and two-year-old godson). I'm sure I'll be adding to that list, but for now I think I'll see if I can get started on that craftlifting!

Thank God It's Friday!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

One Of Those Days

Sooo...yesterday after posting a comment about how much I needed to get back in a classroom, an old high school friend wrote back and told me that the local childcare center is hiring. Keep the opportunities coming! The only problem is that I have so much to do this summer. I'm leaving to be a camp councilor in three days, my grandmother is coming to visit from France, and I desperately need some time with my cousin and godson! I'd LOVE to have the job, and I could use the money, but visiting family is still more important to me. I don't want to apply for a job when I'm going to be gone the following week...and when I get back from camp I don't want to ask for a week off after only having worked for a week or two. But it's such a good opportunity! I'd love the experience, a chance to do what I love, and an income never hurts either.

Besides that, I'm relatively uninteresting and uninspiring today. The cleaning process continues. I can now see the floor, so that's progress, but I have a lot more to accomplish today if I'm going to be ready to leave for camp and have company over as soon as I return. If I can get my mess consolidated (from three rooms down to one) I'll be able to live with it until I get back. That's definitely doable. I apologize for the short post and lack of picture, but today is one of those get-the-housework-done days where there just isn't much going on. I promise plenty of crazy stories in the near future! ...and some crafting and lots of pictures when I finish cleaning!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Aching For The Classroom

I want to teach; I need to teach! I've found sooo much inspiration this summer, so many new and wonderful and creative ideas that I desperately need to try out in a classroom. Granted, if someone handed me a classroom right now I would be feeling a combination of excitement and pure terror...but I NEED to get back in a classroom. It's just one of those things I can't live without. My life functions better when I'm around children, when I'm teaching, active, and engaged. I'm happier, and I definitely learn something every day...the students make sure of that.

Teaching is the one thing that unites the five-year-planner and the free-spirit. I get the organization and structure but also the creativity and the flexibility. I have discovered that organization in the classroom doesn't have to be blah, boring, and utilitarian. It can be anything you want it to be! It can be creative, festive, brightly-colored, and quirky (if that's the way you want it). I realized that, just looking around the classroom, every teacher is sharing a piece of him or herself. They are sharing their memories, experiences, and personality. They are creating a learning environment...a place where they feel comfortable and where their students feel comfortable learning. The easiest way to do that is to be yourself and make sure your classroom reflects that, and reflects that your students are an important part of your life.

That having been said, there is a distinct possibility that I will have my classroom designed well before I get that little piece of paper stating that I'm allowed to teach in the state of Ohio...or have a job for that matter. I may have hall passes made, filing systems in place, binders organized, spreadsheets created...and spruced up clipboards ready to be filled with lists, charts, and lesson plans. I'll use that as incentive to finish my cleaning and something to do this summer before school starts and I can get back in a classroom!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Back To Roasting Marshmallows

So, the turning my life around...more of a gradual swivel than a quick 180 degree turn. However, I now have a deadline for finishing the work, cleaning, and sorting that has been piling up around here! Sunday. I have to finish everything by Sunday. By Sunday I must not only be done cleaning, sorting, packing, and unpacking, I must have my bags packed and ready to go because I'm going to be a CAMP COUNCILOR for a week!

Two of my favorite people are working there this summer and it turns out they didn't have enough councilors for next week. Soooo...knowing that I love children, have previously had a background check (a requirement for observing and teaching in schools), and am currently unemployed, I was contacted. Yippee! Strangely enough...I've never been a camp councilor before. Strange because I've taught in classrooms, worked in a nursery school, babysat, and pretty much everything else involving kids, and yet being a councilor is completely foreign to me.

I am both excited and terrified at the prospect of being in charge of up to ten girls somewhere between grades 3 and 8. Seem like a wide range to you? It did to me too. Being responsible for children in a classroom is one thing; being responsible for children outside, running through the woods, and jumping in lakes is quite another. Who knows what I've gotten myself into, but I'm sure it will be an experience to remember! It will also, undoubtedly, give me something to write about for days and days...and days.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ready To Tackle The World...Or Not

I woke up this morning, ready to get out there and get motivated and turn my life around. It was a good plan, in theory. If it were more effective in practice then my life would be darn near perfect by now. I'm usually good at getting things done and keeping busy, just not the things that really need to get done. It's easy for me to keep things clean and stay on top of work...unless I get behind.

This is why I hate moving. You pack everything up and then, when it's time to unpack, you have a thousand other things to do simultaneously. Then the mess gets progressively worse and every time you feel motivated you take one look at the pile of boxes left to unpack and sort, sigh, and sit back down. And if you're me you don't get to any of the things you want to do because you just can't concentrate when everything's such a mess (or find a darned thing)!

I still, however, manage to find plenty of things to do. One day I cleaned out the fridge, another I caught up on dishes. I filled out paperwork, sorted laundry, studied a book on the history of the Middle East, wrote a to-do list (ahhh, the irony), made some important phone calls, and today I baked brownies. In fact, I've done just about everything there is to do besides what I NEED to do. How convenient!

I think today is the day. Today I embrace the fact that in order to make things cleaner they must first get messier. I accept the fact that it won't all get done in one day, but it also shouldn't take weeks...nor do I have weeks. I understand that there are still other things I need to get done but that they will be easier to accomplish when it no longer looks like I've been the victim of a natural disaster or home-invasion gone wrong.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New Beginnings

Sometimes we get so caught up in dreaming, that we forget what it is we really want. Our lives change and we assume that our dreams and our passions stay the same when, in fact, they are ever-changing. Don't believe me? There was a time in my life when I was confident I was going to be a chin doctor...not just any doctor, a chin doctor. That might have been the dream of a toddler, but not of the 21-year-old college student. I'm not saying that we don't have things we will always be passionate about, just that there are things we won't be.

Sometimes I wonder if my dreams are mine or the dreams of someone else. People change me. They influence me, my decisions, maybe even the way I think and the way I want to live my life. And sometimes I look back and I'm not sure why I'm doing what I'm doing and how exactly I got where I am. There are no logical explanations. I'm at a crossroads in my life where everything just is and there's no telling where it will take me.

Logically, I know that this is when I'm supposed to live life to its fullest, to dream big and travel far. The insecurity of "not knowing" is when you have the greatest potential for exploration, and it is what we do with insecurity that separates the cowards from the courageous. I have two options: sit at home and wait for life to happen to me or take life, run with it, and see where I end up. I choose running...and NO regrets!

Emotionally...(well, you knew it was coming) I wasn't sure I was ready to let the free-spirited, restless adventurer loose again. As much as I feel like I'm ready for a fresh start I cling to the past, and every time I think I've let go I realize it just keeps creeping up on me. So here it is...I'm human. I'm laying it all on the table and starting over.

1. I was in love and I got hurt, I'm still hurting, and I'm gonna keep hurting for a while. But this time...I'm going to be honest with myself, I'm not going to wait to be happy until it all "goes away", and I'm not going to let it stop me from being open to love and friendships along the way. I understand that only time can heal those wounds, time and my relationships with family and friends. I'm hurting but I'm still strong...and I'm allowed moments of weakness. I'm allowed to wallow when I need to as long as I get back up again.

2. I was in a car accident. I busted my face and my lip, had whiplash, dental surgery, my own personal pharmacy, bumps and bruises, felt like I'd been run over by a bulldozer, and had a concussion with short-term memory loss and the inability to concentrate for more than about ten minutes at a time. It made my semester a living hell, studying a nightmare, and finishing out the semester nearly impossible. I did it. I'm not afraid to get into a car and I finally practiced driving and got my license. Did I think about it? Yes. Will it stop me from living my life? No.

3. I'm not sure what to do with my life and sometimes that makes me feel like a failure. I'm not always the person I'd like to be, and I'm not always the person people expect me to be. I feel trapped. I want to be free, see the world, explore. Unfortunately, I am two personality extremes...the five-year planner and the free spirit. These two have been trying to reconcile for years and it's an ongoing battle. So far, the five-year planner is life doesn't fit into boxes, there's too much life and not enough boxes!