Lessons learned

Well, Friday was my last day of school. I cannot believe I made it through this first year of teaching alive. I must admit, despite all the craziness and stress of this first school year, I can’t believe how fast it went. I feel like I just met many of my students for the first time, and now they are moving onto eighth grade and I am getting a new batch of students. It’s absolute craziness.

I also cannot believe how much I learned this year. I think I probably ended up learning more than I taught (whoops). So many people warned me that this year was going to be a learning/play-it-by-ear year, and I have to say, they were 100% right. I thought it would only be right to share what I have learned in my first year of teaching. Honestly, this is more of a reminder for myself than for any new teachers out there or anything like that, because, as I discovered the hard way, with teaching, you really just have to experience it for yourself to truly understand it. Anyway, here are some of the things the 2008-2009 school year taught me:

  1. 7th graders can be some of the funniest, most creative, wittiest, kindest, and smartest human beings on the planet. There was never a day that passed that one or more didn’t cease to amaze me in some way.
  2. 7th graders can also be the most stubborn, foul-mouthed, meanest, and laziest human beings on the planet. There was never a day that passed that at LEAST one of them didn’t test me, sass me, or make me rethink my career choice in some way.
  3. There is a HUGE difference between being an organized person and an organized teacher. The former does not translate into the latter. I am an organized person. I discovered very quickly, very early on, that I was not an organized teacher. Part of my summer is going to be spent turning into one.
  4. It is much, much, much easier to start off the year being mean than to be nice. I started off this year being too nice, and paid for it the rest of the year. I plan on starting next year being much more GRRRR in the beginning, and slowly easing off (if my students earn it).
  5. Despite what people say, 7th graders are not young adults. They are big kids. They need to be reminded to raise their hands, not to wrestle in the building, when it is an okay time to sharpen their pencils, and to put their toys (yes, toys) away during class.  You can give them responsibilities and privileges, but they have to earn them. Some of them will earn them right away. Some of them never will.
  6. It is easier to find a needle in a haystack then to get middle schoolers to read silently for 30 minutes, even when you let them choose their own reading materials!
  7. As much as you hope to change lives and make a difference, in the first year of teaching, you are literally in survival mode. I often came to school inspired by my fellow teachers and co-workers, not by the students. I am hoping this will change.

This year has been an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs in a way I did not expect way back in August. However, I can also say that, despite the breakdowns and frustrations, I am sincerely looking forward to next school year. But, I am also looking forward to summer, summer, summer . . . so I’ll start looking forward to next school year in about two months, okay?

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Sorry, it’s been a long time. Life has gotten away from me lately, and I haven’t had the time or the will to blog. Let me give you a quick recap of my life so far:

1. Summer has officially begun. We took the boat up to the lake two weeks ago and went boating for the first time this weekend. It was a lot of fun.

2. This week Jason and I will have been married for one year (our anniversary is next Sunday). We’re planning on going to Washington, D.C. for our anniversary weekend. Should be lots of fun.

3. Also this week is the last week of school, meaning that on Friday I will no longer be a first-year teacher. Yay! I’m planning on being at Milton again next year, so let’s hope the second year goes a little more smoothly than the first.

4. Last week Jason and I played hosts to my parents. They came up for an extended Memorial Day weekend (Friday-Wednesday) and it was so nice to have them here . . . although it is nice to have our house back to ourselves!

5. Also, in some sad news, yesterday my texted me to tell me that their (our) cat, Harper, died. She was 13 years old and have had some thyroid and muscle issues. But, honestly, I’m a little bit devastated. Jason and I were with his siblings and their significant others stopping at some wineries when I got the text. I finished the wine tasting that I was in the middle of when I got the news, and then immediately proceeded to the car and started crying. Jason and I left early because I wasn’t in the mood for any more wineries. I am not a cat person, but Harper was the first cat we had that I was there for from the beginning. I was 10 years old when we picked her out from the SPCA, and I always joked that we got her for my birthday since it was during my tenth birthday weekend that we got her. I am sure my family is devastated right now as well. My sister was especially close to Harper, so it’s going to be rough couple of days (weeks? months?) for them.

In fact, I am starting to get choked up now so I will just leave it at that. Hopefully I will have time to blog more now that summer is *almost* here and I will have more spare time. Also, I am planning on starting a new project that I’m hoping to launch here in the next few weeks, and I’m excited about that.


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Who doesn’t like free stuff?

So many of the blogs I read host free giveaways. Usually they are giving away some awesome things. Most blogs you only have leave a comment, but some you have a few more steps. Right now, one of the blogs I read is giving away the following:

il_430xn_68254792I think this would look fabulous on my dining room table or on my baker’s rack in the dining room, so I am signing up for the giveaway. I’ve already done step one, now for the following steps:

2. Link to this post on the blog: http://theletteredcottage.blogspot.com/2009/05/coastline-contest.html 

3. In the same post, also link to Grace’s Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=7044601

I just need to  leave on a comment on the blog, and voila! I’m entered for an awesome giveaway. (Pssst, P.S. You can always enter by clicking on step 2 above!)

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Cinco de Mayo

Tomorrow is May 5, or in Mexican tradition, Cinco de Mayo. While I haven’t celebrated this day since Spanish class in high school, I am finding myself excited for tomorrow to come. “Why?” you may ask. Well, it’s simple . . .

Because after tomorrow, there is one month of school left. ONE MONTH.

That’s right, from now on, when people ask me how soon until school is over, I can officially say, as of tomorrow, “Less than one month.”


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Oh my goodness, I found these beauties on one of my favorite blogs, The Nester, and holy cow, I think I’m in L-O-V-E!


Gah, I love it all! I commented on the Nester’s blog for a giveaway, and I am really crossing my fingers on this one. Although, my birthday is coming up in two days. Hmmm . . .

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Easter Weekend

What a great long weekend! We spent the weekend with my parents in Georgia at their new house, and I gotta say, I love the warm weather of the south! Leaves were on the trees, temperatures were in the 60s/70s all week, and despite the tornado warnings Friday night, the weather was pretty great the whole time. It made it hard to come back to PA weather yesterday.


Rundown of our trip: we (my husband, my sister, and I) spent Thursday driving – we left about 5:15 a.m. and got to my parents around 6:00, with only two stops. Not too shabby. Needless to say, Thursday night was spent relaxing. After a late breakfast at IHOP, Friday was a day of shopping, because there is SOOO much shopping to do down there. We went to the outlets, and to a great store called Parsons.My mom got my sister and I some late (her) and early (mine) birthday presents while we were shopping too. Then we made a quick run to the grocery store for stuff for dinner.



My dad had Good Friday services, and just went he left, tornado warnings were all over the state left and right, so my mom, husband, sis, and I spent the evening preparing for a tornado. We’ve had tornadoes in Pennsylvania before, but my parents’ house in GA doesn’t have a basement, so it was a new experience for us in that regards. We had to hang out in the hallway, since it was windowless and centrally located for a while. And despite the danger looming outside, we still had fun. 



Saturday we slept in and then did a bit more shopping. I discovered Hobby Lobby, and am insanely jealous of my mother now for all the awesome shopping. We went to Macaroni Grill for dinner (yum!), one of the area malls, Barnes and Noble for my hubby, and got gelato for dessert (double yum!) at a local gelataria. 

Sunday was Easter, which meant church and lots and lots of eating! We sat on the deck for a while, enjoying the sunshine and 70-degree temps. Then we all took naps after lunch and just hung out. It was a very lazy, and well-needed, day.





Also, my parents were dog-sitting for some members of their congregation, so in addition to their two dachsunds and two cats, they had two other dogs at their house! Good thing we didn’t bring Molly and Baxter this time – it would have been a circus! And of course, I couldn’t resist taking some pictures of all the furry friends).





Monday morning we had breakfast at IHOP (yes, again), and then the three of us packed up and headed home. We got back at about 8:15 last night, and then I had to run to the grocery store quick for some staples: bread, cereal, and milk. Overall, it was a great weekend. And the good news is, my parents said they were planning on coming up to visit over Memorial Day weekend, which means I don’t have to wait until July to see them again like I had previously thought! 🙂

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A home for all those books

I promised that once I had pictures uploaded on the computer, I would update my blog with some of the pictures. Since we just finished the second shelf last weekend, I thought I would share our bookshelf project.

Back story: a few months before our wedding, a friend of ours who is (as we call him) a “master woodworker” asked us what we would like him to make for us for a wedding present. Being the genius that I am, I suggested some bookshelves for the large amount of books my husband and I have. So our friend made them for us, but since we wanted to paint them black, he left them unfinished for us to do the painting. 

We got one of the bookshelves a few months after the wedding (I think he’s a procrastinator) but we didn’t paint it for a few weeks. We got the other bookshelf about a month ago (yeah, he’s a big procrastinator) and painted it last weekend. And honestly, for a can of paint and a can of primer, some brushes, and a few hours of elbow grease, I thought they turned out pretty darn well.










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I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it!

Look what I found in our front and back yards this evening:


p4050016p4050018 The flowers have been making an appearance for the past few days, but the buds on the tree were a new discovery for me as of ten minutes ago. Gah! I am so excited! There are times in the deep throes of February and March when I think that I will never see another flower or leaf on a tree again . . . and then April arrives and I am ecstatic.

And now here I sit, in our new comfy chair, with the sun porch door open, day light still illuminating (although somewhat dimly) the house, and my hubby spent a day doing outside work at my in-laws. Does life get any sweeter?

However, if you take a look at the first and third pictures, you will notice that we have plenty of yard work in our near future. Time to get out the rake and start hauling the mulch soon, I guess!

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How did I do?

Alright, time to take a look at my March goals and see how well I did. Don’t hold your breaths:

My March Goals:

  1. Spend at least 30 minutes cleaning after work every day, BEFORE t.v., computer, etc., Monday-Thursday (I figure I have some leeway on Fridays). – Kind of, sort of. Some days I slacked, and some days are really good. I’m going to try to redo this one in April.
  2. Go through my clothes and donate the unwanteds to charity. –  That was a big NADA.
  3. Read at least five books (this will also benefit my March’s book blog – February’s will be posted soon). – I got three read fully and two almost finished. So I didn’t quite make it. Boo.
  4. Have a great (not just good) day at work. – No. And I don’t see this happening any time soon.
  5. Walk the dogs at least once a week. – Yeah! Finally one accomplished. We even bought Molly a new harness to make our walking easier.
  6. Cook something from scratch at least twice. – Nope.
  7. Host a dinner party. – Another nope.
  8. Get all my lesson plans for the rest of the year done (this could help number 4, as well). – Almost. I have about one week of unaccounted school time – I just need to figure out what to do that last week of school.
  9. Cut back my internet time to 30 minutes a day (yikes!) – school work doesn’t count. – Yeah, I’m not so sure about this one.
  10. Figure out a better way to organize our recyclables in the garage. – I did figure it out – just haven’t put it into place yet

Alright, 20% fully completed is not a good number, although I guess I did get a lot of partially completeds in there (but they still don’t count). I need to work a bit on this. I’m going to think of my April goals and get back to this. Let’s hope April goes better than March!

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House hunting

No, no, no, we’re not looking for a house again (although it has been a year now since we’ve been house hunting!). But my husband’s brother and his fiancee are looking for a house right now, so I can’t help but get in on the action. And while I love our house now, I know that some day we will outgrow it. It is not our “forever house,” even though it is a perfect starter home.

However, I think I have found our forever house! Well, the plans for it, anyway. I’ve been really drawn to craftsman style houses lately, and in my recent googling, found this following beauty:


Yep, I’m just slightly in love with this house a little. It has a great layout, it’s big but not TOO big, has the right number of bedrooms, and it has a FRONT PORCH (which I have been dying for). I’m tucking this baby away.

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