Saturday, November 11, 2017

I Have a Plan... Not Really

I am a planner. I am not sure when it started, but most of my adult life has included me meticulously planning everything. When I am going to clean, what I am going to do and when I am going to complete tasks.  I like having a plan. I know life does not always follow my plan, but I like to have one none the less. It gives me a feeling of control over my life and the craziness that it often includes.

My kids mock my plans. I mean, not to my face, but I feel like they mock me.  I plan to get up early to have a few hours to work while the rest of the house sleeps and Kiddo 2 wakes up at 5 AM. I decide to stay up late and Kiddo 1 decides to stay up all night.  I love getting up early. I love completing my to do list (or most of it) before 8 AM, but having 2 young kids makes this almost impossible. This desire to plan and keep a schedule and having two young ones who constantly disrupt it, is the biggest challenge for me as a mom. It is a constant source of stress and frustration for me.

How do you deal with it? I consider myself a patient person and I try to go with the flow, but when it comes to my house and schedule at home, I am terrible at it! 

This morning I was getting frustrated with Kiddo 2 who had been fussy for over an hour and would not give in and go back to sleep. The poor kid was not feeling well so I needed to give her a break and relax a bit. I found myself feeling annoyed so I made myself read a Bible Study on my phone. I made myself do something productive. A few weeks ago I had found a Bible Study on the YouVersion Bible App called "Overwhelmed by my Blessings" and it seemed like it was written specifically for me. A few lines from the devotions stood out to me. 

"You're going to have to decide to accept that (the situation) and do the best you can."
Embracing our situations and circumstances is not a one-time event. Life throws us curves each day."
 "Here's the key: we don't receive His grace until we humble ourselves and admit that we can't do it on our own, no matter what 'it" is."

I have been trying so hard to control everything: 2 kids, 4 schedules, 2 schools, a house, private lessons and everything else that comes alone with being a mom, wife, friend, sister, daughter and human being. Over the past few weeks I have been slowly coming to terms with the fact that I cannot do it one my own. As a person of faith, I need God at the center of my life. I need Bible Study and prayer and time for reflection and meditation. I have been given many reminders of this, but I am a creature of habit (a bad one in this case) and I am slow to change. Change clearly needs to happen. I am tired of running late, be cranky, being angry and stressed. This morning my three year old asked me why I am always angry. That was a punch in the gut and yet another reason to work even harder at making things right.

It is time to try something new. It is time to trust. It is time to stop thinking I can and have to do everything myself. It is a time to make time for what is truly important, which for me is my faith. Being centered in whose I am. It is time for prayer, Bible Study, meditation and reflection. This is my new focus from now until January 1st and then I will reassess on the progress. 


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Reflections from a Tired Mom

Sleep deprivation has shown me parts of my personality I have never seen before and parts that frankly, I am not proud of. I get angry and frustrated about little things and I am not always able to stay focused in the moment. Being a mother has also magnified feelings and concepts I have struggled with my whole life. 

I have never been popular and as a kid I always worried about being accepted. Wondered if I was good enough.  I have realized as an adult that I never really out grew these feelings. I learned how to supress them and most of the time they don't bother me, but they are still there. I want help at home but than I feel inadaquete because I was not able to take care of everything by myself. I fear any mistakes at work because they will make me look like I don't have my act together, like I am not good enough at my job, like I can't handle everything. 

Being a mom and a wife has made me confront these issues. I think it is a common mom thing to feel like we have to do everything. I want to be the best mom, wife, housekeeper and professional. All at the same time. As young girls, we are told we can do and have it all. The reality is there are only 24 hours in a day. We are supposed to sleep for 8 and we work for another 8 which leaves us with 8 hours a day for family, friends and self. I don't know about you, but I expect to accomplish way more in that 8 hours than is physically possible. We can have a lot, but sometimes one area has to have lower expectations so we can accel in another area. I really struggle with this concept. 

I just finished listening to the book 'The Wisdom of Sundays' by Oprah Winfrey and one of the points that really stuck out to me was the philosophy that when we are frustrated it is because that issue causes us to feel or think something. It is not about the actual issue, it's how that issue makes us feel. I see this ring true in my life. Often when I am frustrated it is because I am feeling unappreciated. I may get upset because my daughter made a mess or my husband didn't put something away, bit that is not always the full story. 

I don't know what the anewer is but I know there is no magic bullet. I also know that self care is vital for my well being and for those around me. Being a mom and a wife have taught me many lessons. I usually learn them the hard way but I am trying to put these lessons into practice and to not continue making the same mistakes. 

- Write things down, have a system you can trust and do not rely on your brain to remember anything. 

- Look past the frustration or anger and look at the feelings and the why.

- Take control of your schedule (as a mom this has been the biggest struggle for me.)

-Reach out and talk to people. 

-Make time for yourself: pray, read the Bible, read a book, exercise, take a bath, meditate, take a nap. These are not luxuries or a sign of weakness. Take care of yourself! 

- A crazy you makes your world crazy. Control as much as you can and focus on those areas.

- You get what you focus on. 

-You are not your last mistake.

-Focus on gratitude.

-Journal, get your thoughts out of your head.

As much as I hate being told this, it is a phase, it will get better and keep breathing. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Other Side of the Table

Since having kids, I have always been interested and slightly worried (ok, very worried) about life on the other side of the table. I am used to being the teacher, now I have to be the parent. I find it is sometimes a hard balance. When I had my first child I was under the delusion that I had years before I would have to be the "parent" at school. I should have listened more closely when people said that the years go fast. Just like that my oldest is in preschool and we have our first round of Parent-Teacher Conferences next week!

Sometimes being a teacher makes having a conversation about my own kids easier. I get it, I live it everyday. Other times, it makes it harder. It's too easy to put myself in their situation and feel frustrated because they did not handle it the way I think they should (read: the "right" way.) My youngest has a milk protein sensitivity. I had no idea what that even meant or that it even existed until she was 5 weeks old. I had heard of being lactose intolerant, but I had never heard of a milk protein sensitivity. Thanks to Dr. Google, I quickly learned what it was and treatment options. In my daughter's case, it is simple. She eats dairy and she gets a rash on her face and has a stomach ache. The treatment is easy too. Don't eat dairy. Easy is relative though. The concept of not eating dairy is easy, the difficulty comes in when I look at food labels and realize that dairy is in a lot. It is in things that seem random (Kroger graham cracker sticks, but not in Kroger graham crackers) and not in things that I think would be logical (it took me 8 months to figure out Oreo Cookies do not contain milk. That was a great day!)

Kiddo 2 started a new daycare around the time she was eating mostly table food. This made her milk protein issue more challenging because she was eating more food. When we were signing her up for daycare, it was always the main point of emphasis. We wanted them to fully understand that she can have NO dairy. This means someone has to read EVERY food label. Her daycare assured us it would not be a problem.

I had a feeling from day one that they did not fully understand the fact that no dairy means no dairy. It does not mean no milk, ranch or cheese. It means no product that is made with milk or milk protein. Kiddo 2 did not seem to have a reaction and because I did not have any evidence (and I hate confrontation), I did not push the issue.  I hate confrontation and I don't want to accuse anyone of not doing their job. A few weeks ago Kiddo 2 managed to grab a few cheese crackers and a few days before that she snuck some cheese pizza. I was notified both times and didn't want to make anyone feel bad, so I did not make a big deal about it. Again, I am a teacher, I know mistakes happen and I know attention gets divided when kids are involved. After the pizza and cheese cracker incidents, Kiddo 2 developed a rash and it has stuck around for weeks. Which was my first piece of evidence that they were giving her food she should not be eating. After a few days of contemplation, I finally built up the nerve to talk to the director who assured me she did not think Kiddo 2 was getting anything with dairy. In my opinion, there are so many things wrong with the statement "I don't think" when it comes to dealing with allergies. I realize my daughter has a mild reaction in comparison to people who have life threatening allergies, but there is no "I think" allowed. Either she is getting food with milk or she is not getting food with milk.  There is no grey area.

This morning I was given my second piece of evidence when I saw  a teacher give her a breakfast bar. I know from experience that most breakfast bars and granola bars contain milk. I can only eat certain brands now and those are usually the expensive organic ones, which I was pretty sure the daycare was not buying. The teacher was extremely apologetic and made it seem like a simple error or not checking the label. I don't want to make anyone feel bad or point out mistakes, but my child cannot continue to be given food that gives her a stomach ache. I wrote about this experience in a short Facebook post and was given some great advice. Thank you Anne and Tori! Now I get to go from parent to teacher mode. I get to teach. I get to education her daycare about milk protein sensitivity and I get to be an advocate for my child. 

It is not easy. These are hard conversations. Being the parent has given me a view from the other side of the table and I see that both sides struggle with similar challenges. I still believe we both want the same thing. We both want the best for our kids and our students. We both want our kids to be successful. My journey to being the parent is just beginning. I have been the teacher for nine years, but this is my first year as a parent. It is a learning process and I know I will make mistakes. The focus needs to stay on our kids.

I want to believe the best of people. I want to believe that they are doing their best at their job and taking care of things. Sometimes it is hard to give this trust, but I find it is easier to believe good things are people. 

Lessons Learned: 
1. Reflect and calm down.
2. Talk it through with other people.
3. Do not let anger get in the way.
4. Do not point blame.
5. Focus on solving the problem.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Failures in Blogging

I have spent a lot of time over the past few weeks freshening up my blog and switching back to Blogger from Weebly (post about that transition to come soon.) As I was setting up my Blogger account I was reading some of my old blog posts. My Blog is a constant reminder of my failures. As a perfectionist, this bothers me.  I have often thought about deleting many posts or deleting the blog all together and starting over. What would that mean though? What would it symbolize.

Over the past six years, I have tried many things: blog challenge, fitness challenges and reading challenges to name a few. I tend to expect too much from myself and my schedule and I end up short on many these challenges. The lessons I have learned from these challenges come from trying and not from always being successful. 

It is hard to be reminded of my failures. Pushing the delete button gets rid of the physical evidence of the failure, but the failure is still there and pretending that I am perfect is not being honest to myself. I have written many lame posts and I have tried to do too much with too little time. It is a process.  It is learning. Seeing many old posts reminds me about where I started and how far I have come.

I think this is why I am so insecure about people I know following me on Twitter or reading my Blog. I worry about saying something stupid and people I actually know seeing it. It is different when a random person sees it, but it becomes personal when it is someone I know. I prefer to live my life in isolation, not open to criticism or opinions. I need to step outside my comfort zone on this one. The first step was simply starting. Now I need to actively share. Master one thing and move on to the next.

What challenges you to step outside your comfort zone?

Professional Google Account

I am currently in my ninth year of teaching and I have taught in 6 different districts (I currently work in two districts and I have relocated states three times.) I love Google tools and I have found them to be very useful during my career. It allows me to work without always having a stable home computer. I have also learned the hard way how time consuming it can be to change documents from one account to another. This is especially true when I have left a district and my account is deleted, so I am on a short time table to get things organized while also dealing with all the normal end of the year tasks.

I have made this mistake twice and I vowed I would never do it again.  This summer I encountered a different problem: my personal Google account was maxed to capacity. This year I found myself once again using my school Google account to organize my files because I did not have room in my personal account. As I brainstormed ways to fix this (I also have the issue of working in a school that is not a Google School this year, which presents is a new challenge), I came up with the idea of creating a new Professional Google account solely to organize my professional documents: pictures, videos, lesson plans and documents.

I was all set to create a new Google Account when I remembered that I still have my old Google Account that is under my maiden name.  I decided to use that account instead of creating a new one.  This account is going to be used solely for professional documents.  This way I do not need to worry about taking up space in my personal account for professional files. Also, I won't have to worry about transferring my files to another account if I were to leave my current school.

How do you keep your files organized? 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Go To Sleep!

Not to be a broken record, but I hate bedtime.  I despise it! It is stressful and makes me feel like an inadequate parent. It is hard and it's a constant battle to stay calm and stay patient. People keep telling me I need to enjoy the snuggles and bedtime stories and I try. I really do, but I just want to sleep.

Lately, I have started going to bed after I get Kiddo 2 to sleep. This allows me to get an hour or so of sleep before Kiddo 1 wakes me up so I can put her to sleep. She has decided that Daddy does not know how to run her feet correctly. I never knew I was a master foot rubber and back scratcher.  Tonight, Kiddo 2 woke up as I was trying to get Kiddo 1 to sleep, so I went and tried to get K2 back to sleep. To my amazement, Kiddo 1 stayed in bed and fell asleep on her own.  Miracles do happen! Kiddo 2 is teething or accidently drank a kid's milk cup at daycare or is having a reaction from pineapple or something. It's not always easy to figure out what is wrong with toddlers. Regardless of the reason, it has caused her to wake up 3 times in 4 hours. So my dislike of bedtime was multiplied tonight. 

I know I should treasure these moments when my kids snuggle up with me and when Kiddo 1 tells me she loves me way much as I rub her back. I know these moments are going to be gone before I know it. I know one day they will not want to sit in my lap or give me hugs or want me to touch them. One day, oh, one day they will fall asleep on their own. One day I will get sleep again. I know all of this, but it is so hard to enjoy the moment. It is hard to enjoy the snuggles and not resent the fact that I just want to sleep for more than three hours at a time. It is hard to enjoy the bedtime stories when I just want to have time to myself or clean the house or get work done. It is just hard! Instead of focusing and treasuring these moments, I let my frustration distract me.

How often do we as teachers do this in the classroom? How many moments do we miss in the classroom because we let our frustration get in the way? Why do I have to remind a student to get in line quietly, be kind to their classmates or stay in their spot? Why didn't they listen the first time I gave the direction or explained the project? Why...? I should be focusing on these moments with my students instead of letting my frustration steal my time with them. As a music and PE teacher, I only see my students 1-2 days a week. Our time together is short and the school year goes by quickly.

Today at the Keynote for the Indiana District Teachers Conference, George Couros said that your everyday is your legacy. Everyday we are building memories with our students and our families. What do you want to remember? The nights of frustration because your kids won't sleep or the goofy moments reading books and the sweet moments of snuggles? The light bulb moments when things click for your students, the acts of kindness or the everyday frustrations? I know what I want to remember. I don't think there are many who want to remember the frustrations.

It is a process. It is a struggle. Everyday and every night, I am going to be intentional about enjoying the moment with my kids and my students. They deserve it and I deserve it.

Action Steps (These are steps I have found useful to help me stay in the moment and enjoy the little moments with my kids and students.

1. Breathe: I hate when people close to me tell me to just breathe, but it really does help.

2. Pray: Prayer helps me stay in the moment.  Plus it gives me something to do besides have angry conversations in my head.

3. Put my phone away.

4.  Smile and be present.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Teaching Goals 2017-2018

Since reading 'Burn Your Goals' by Joshua Medcalf and Jamie Gilbert, I have tried to limit my use of the word Goals. In theory, they are a good idea, but I am more focused on how I am going to make them happen. This year I am teaching at 2 schools, a Catholic School and a Lutheran School. For the first time in my teaching career, I had to create goals for the school year. Each school uses different criteria so I have slightly different goals for each school.

What are your goals this year? How are you going to ensure that you have the tools in place to achieve them?

Lutheran School
Create unit assessments and self assessments using Google Forms for all 10 Physical Education Units and use this information to give students specific feedback about their progress.

Strengthen parent communication. Post to Bloomz weekly and send home a monthly newsletter.

Catholic School
Domain 1: Purposeful Planning
1.3 – Develop Standards-Based Unit Plans and Assessments
1.4 – Create Objective-Driven Lesson Plans and Assessments

I will create five Unit plans and assessments that are objective driven and based on standards for each grade.

Domain 2: Effective Instruction
2.8 Create Classroom Culture of Respect and Collaboration
2.9 Set High Expectations for Academic Success

Expectations will be posted and reviewed weekly. Student choice will be incorporated into at least one lesson per a month for grades 5th-8th.

Domain 4: Catholic Identity
4.5 Participate in Prayer and Support of Vision and Mission Statement of the School

I will participate in daily classroom and individual prayer and read through the entire Bible this school year.