Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A New Way to Do Things

Since I became a Mom three years ago, I have struggled with feeling like I can't do everything at the level I would like.  If I am the teacher I want to be, I feel like I am failing my family and when I am spending time with my family, I feel like I am failing my students.  There are simply not enough hours in a day. The other night I tweeted out a question: Can I be a good teaching only working 7:30-4?  I have only been a mom for three years which means I still remember being able to stay at school late most nights and going in on weekends.  During the no kid time in my life, that schedule was manageable, but it is no longer is possible. 

A few people responded to my tweet and the overall consensus was that I worked too much before kids and it is possible to still be a good teacher and not work crazy hours. One person did say that it is not possible to be a good teacher without working crazy hours. I know work life balance is a struggle for many people.

I have come to the conclusion that I cannot be the teacher I was before I had kids.  I have time to dedicate towards working on school projects that is not taken up by family. I am trying to find ways to be more efficient with my time and to spend my time doing truly valuable projects. One issue that compounds the lack of time for me, is lack of sleep.  I have young children, who do not always sleep when I want them to.  Lack of sleep and lack of uninterrupted time makes getting work done more difficult. 

This school year I am focusing on creating systems to help me get work done more efficiently and to make time for myself, so can be the best for those around me. I may not be able to stay after school until late, but I can use the time I do have more effectively by having an organized list of tasks to accomplish. I am also learning to prioritize tasks for when my kids are awake and when they are sleeping. It is a work in progress. 

How do you balance life and work?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Third Grade Computers

This spring I volunteered to organize curriculum for Third Grade Computers.  My district does not have a computer teacher at the elementary level and the new schedule setup includes greater computer lab time for each class. I taught computers at a previous school and I enjoy building websites, so I volunteered to set everything up for the classroom teachers.  

In May, my husband accepted a new position which requires our family to relocate this summer. I did not want to go back on my word, so I made time to start building a website for 3rd Grade Computers.  It is not completely done yet, but I had a lot of fun creating it and I hope it is something my former coworkers and other teachers find helpful. Right now I prefer Weebly for building websites.  I have used it for my personal website/blog and for my other class websites.  I know Google Sites recently came out with an update but I have not had time to explore the new setup.  I would love to hear your thoughts on the new Google Sites.

Students have computers every other day throughout the school year.  I tried to setup the website so the classroom teachers who teach the class could pick and choose and do things the way they think will work best.  The general idea is to do keyboarding and blogging on a regular basis with other projects: Digital Citizenship/Media Literacy, Google Slides, Google Sheets, Google Sites, Google Maps, Coding and Games.

Third Grade Computers

Mama, Why You Upset?

The other day while in the car I was talking to myself and fuming about something. I honestly don't even remember what I was upset up.  In the grand scheme of life it was small and inconsequential, but in the moment I made it into a life altering issue. Then a small voice from the back seat made me aware of the errors of my way.

"Mama, Why you upset?

Simple question right.  There are so many simple answers: my phone is going to die, we are late again, I'm tired, someone is being a bad driver, someone was rude, the plane is late, traffic is a mess.... My exact reason for being upset in that moment escapes me (clearly it was life altering and important). 

"Mama, Why you upset?

In that moment I realized that I did not want to admit to my three year old (or to myself really) why I was upset.  I have clean drinking water, I am safe, I live in a land of freedoms and opportunities, I have a caring family, I have healthy children who are growing and learning, I have a supportive husband who puts up with me, I have wonderful friends who are always there, I have access to books/YouTube and endless learning opportunities and I have my faith.  In the grand scheme of things, those are far more important than my phone battery being dead or my computer not working quickly enough or Kiddo 1 not going to bed when I when I want her to.

Lately I've been an emotional mess. Sleep deprivation has really taken its toll. Having two young kids who do not always sleep well has really messed with my schedule. For the first time in a year, my husband and I went golfing. It was four hours away from my kids and although I truly love them it was amazing! I left the house that morning cranky because once again we were running late (which I feel we always are), but I came home from the course smiling and a good mood. 

What changed? I didn't get anymore sleep. I had some free time which helped me relax, but at the core, nothing was really different.  My outlook changed.  My perspective changed. One speaker I listened to lately made a great point when he explained how reality is the story we tell ourselves. What we perceive becomes our reality, but we can change what we see and the stories we tell ourselves.

Emotions can be fickle. I've heard many speakers say you should not live based on how you feel in a given moment. The theory seems sound but it can be such a struggle. When I feel angry I want to be angry. I don't want to remind myself that everything is okay and I just need to relax. It's so easy to get sucked into that emotional place and live in the emotion of the moment. Today was a great reminder that living life this way is not the most beneficial. No one wants to have a boss who is only nice when the business is doing well, or a spouse who is only kind when they are happy or a person who is only kind when things are going well. The same is true for our emotions.  I will not always feel like doing something or being a certain way, but being controlled by my feelings and emotions is not a stable way to live a life.

"Mama, Why you upset?

I don't want to answer this question from my three year old with because my phone is dead.  My energy is better used for beneficial outcomes. 

Remembering Mrs. Northcutt

Last summer one of my coworkers passed away after battling cancer.  I had the pleasure of working with Mrs. Northcutt for one year.  Her smile filled a room and she was a great balance of positive energy while still staying real.  She cared deeply for her students, coworkers and family and her decisions always focused back to those groups of people.  In the year since her passing, it has become even more evident that she left a huge impact on those around her. The memorials and activities in her memory show her lasting legacy.

One thing that she wanted was a Buddy Bench for the playground.  This spring a Buddy Bench and a rock with her name were installed at the Dillon Playground.  The morning of the dedication was rainy, but many people braved the weather to remember Mrs. Northcutt.  One of my favorite stories from the dedication was one told by our principal.  The bench and rock had been installed a week prior to the dedication and some students had started placing dandelions on the rock. At first a few teachers thought the students were being disrespectful, but soon we all realized that this was the way these students were paying respect to their former teacher.

I have heard many Life Coaches say you should write your own obituary.  What do you want people to say?  What do you want people to remember.  These are the things we should be focusing on everyday. These are the things that really matter. Mrs. Northcutt was and is a great reminder that relationships are what matter.  That is her legacy.

No More Band-Aids

Over Spring Break this year I planned a night away at a hotel for my husband and I.  It was partly a graduation present to him for finishing his masters, but selfishly it was also a present for myself.  I needed sleep! (I still need sleep!) Since Kiddo 2 was born last August, it has been a jumble of night feedings, late nights and early mornings.  If Eight Hours of Sleep were on my To Do List, it has not been checked off in months.  I never realized how important sleep is until I was not getting quality or quantity sleep. I now understand why sleep deprivation is a torture technique.

For one night we got to be childless.  Kids were safely dropped off at my parents house.  We got to go out to eat at non-child friendly places.  I got to eat my food hot (I never realized how big of a deal this is until I had kids) and I did not have to leave to take a toddler for a break. Plus, the best part... I got to sleep.  8+ glorious hours.  I didn't have to wake up for crying and there was no toddler crawling into my bed at 3 AM.  It was wonderful! 

These two days away were great, but I realized after being back in my "real" life that this trip away was just a band-aid.  It did not really fix anything.  It was necessary, it helped and I got the necessary sleep for one night, but it did not fix my problem of not getting enough sleep.  Breaks like these only fix things if they are routine and my bank account cannot afford for me to spend a night at a hotel weekly or monthly.  Like most parents with young kids, sleep is at a premium in my house.  This night of sleep was needed, but it did not fix the fact that I went back to a house with two young kids and a schedule that does not allow me much sleep.  The real solution is fixing the schedule and that is far more complicated.

I realized we/I do this in other areas of life.  How often do we put a band-aid on something instead of really taking time to fix the issue?  Changing jobs instead of fixing a relationship or breaking off a friendship instead of fixing the relationship.  The list could go on and on.  We hide from the real issue in favor of covering it up with a band-aid.  Band-aids are usually less painful and they are easier.

Truly fixing things is complex, it takes time and energy.  First you have to get a clear diagnosis of the complete problem.  In the case of my lack of sleep, it is impacted by many different issues.  Mainly the fact that my children do not routinely (or in the case of Kiddo 2 never) sleep through the night or go to bed "early".  The reasons why both of these happen are numerous and both have their own issues that impact them.  None of this is simple to figure out or fix. A night away is a quick and easy band-aid solution for the problem. It does not change the overall situation though.

Band-aids are helpful and necessary sometimes, but it is vital that we look past the quick solution and focus on the core issues.  What band-aids are in your life?  The big one in my life right now (besides sleep) is my issue with Facebook (post about my thoughts on this coming soon).  My solution at the moment is to deactivate my account.  This is a band-aid though and does not truly solve the underlying issues.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Missing Out

It has been a slow process but I have finally learned a life changing lesson.  
I will always be missing out on something.
Due to my husband's work schedule and his Masters Program, taking care of the kiddos and our house has mostly fallen onto my shoulders.  A few weeks ago he offered to take Kiddo 1 to the Children's Museum, but we had not been there before and I did not want to miss that experience with her. Everyday it feels like I have to choose between spending time with my family and getting school work done.  At the end of the day, I don't want to miss experiences and memories with my kids. So, I pile more things on my plate and I sacrifice sleep in an attempt to get everything done.  For months now, I was convinced that if I just figured out how to do this working mom thing better my life would be easier.  I just needed to figure out a better schedule or be more organized or not sleep as much.  Last night was a moment of clarity for me.
I will always be missing out on something.
Once again (for the third night this week), my husband had a school event, so entertaining the kiddos was all on me.  At times I feel jealous that he gets to be out of the house.  I know he has work, but sometimes I would love to have time to get work done and not feel rushed or be on a time limit. For me, time to get work done and not feel rushed is fleeting and I envy that he has so much more of it than I do.

Last night was honestly one of the best Friday nights I remember in a long time.  Pick up did not go as quickly as I would have liked so we scratched going to the library and headed straight home.  Kiddo 1 and I started our Friday Fun by making a blanket tent in the play room. We have made tents in living room and in her bedroom, but never in this location.  It was something new and fun and she was very excited about it. She loved clipping the clothes pins everywhere. We made homemade pizza for dinner and Kiddo 1 had a blast putting hand fulls of cheese on her pizza and spicies (pepperoni) on mine. After dinner we made popcorn and she insisted on putting the corn into the popper by the handful.  We played Disney Yahtzee and ate our popcorn inside the tent. I was impressed she lasted twenty minutes playing a board game.  We "played" with Kiddo 2, called Nanna, had ice cream for snack, watched Tube (YouTube) and went to bed without much of a fight.  Kiddos and I were all asleep by the time my husband got home.

I know there is nothing special about any of these activities, but they are wonderful memories that I have with my kids.  I have these memories and my husband misses out because he is at work.  Yes, there are times I would love to be in my classroom working or to go grocery shopping without wrangling 2 kids, but last night showed me that these moments are important. 
 I will always be missing out on something.
Sleep, time for myself, time for my family, time to get work done or time to clean.  Something will always be left undone.  It's up to me to pick which tasks get my energy.  There will always be something left on my list.  I will never be completely done.
I will always be missing out on something.

Sunday, March 5, 2017


I recently finished the book 'The Magnolia Story' by Chip and JoAnna Gaines.  One things that the authors talk a lot about is how they would spend time dreaming.  They dreamed about what their life would look like, what their business would look like and what they wanted to do with their life.  They dreamed all the time.  In many ways it sounded like visualization and I know from listening to the work by Joshua Medcalf (T2BClutch) that this can be a powerful tool. Sometimes I just need a kick in the butt or a gentle reminder about a tool or idea.  Reading this book gave me that gentle reminder.  I also realized that I spend so much time trying to survive the day that I don't spend enough time dreaming about life.  I am trying to dream more. Trying to be intentional.  When I dream about my life it is split into three categories: Family/Friends, Professional and Personal. 

I dream about ...


  • Being a happy person; smiling and full of positive energy.
  • Being filled with beneficial self talk.
  • Having strong relationships with my closest friends.
  • Having strong relationships with my family.
  • Being intentional with my words and actions.
  • Being a spiritual person and spending time in Bible Study and Prayer.
  • Having a positive impact on my students.
  • Leading by example.
  • Feeling organized.
  • Being happy and sharing the joy of music with the school/community.
  • Reading books.
  • Learning something new everyday and getting better.
  • Being Happy.
  • Finding peace in the balance between home and work and self.
I am a firm believer that we need to be intentional with our thoughts and words. Days go by fast and without being intentional, we risk loosing time and wondering where the days went.

When is the last time you dreamed about your classroom or life?