Looking Forward to August

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I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I cannot believe how quickly time is passing! It seems like just a few days ago I was heading out of my classroom to begin my maternity leave, and now I am pulling materials together for the first weeks of the school year.

I definitely want to appreciate everything that is in store for our little family, and August is going to keep us on our toes.

What’s in store for August

Baby Boy’s 4-month check up
Back to school for my husband and myself AKA
My return to teaching since March 3rd
Birthdays upon birthdays! 14 big ones in our family (Who knew November was so sexy???)
The return of football, preseason
Family pictures with my parents
Bad Moms movie night with my girlfriends
A family visit with an aunt and uncle we haven’t seen in a few years
A massage appointment for this mama thanks to my godmother
July was fabulous, but I’m always eager to start a new month because it inspires me to try, try again at achieving goals.

Family Goals: Spend more time with each other than in front of a screen.

I know that his is qualitative, not a quantitative goal unless I literally keep track of minute-to-minute time spent. I do know that I will be gone from the house more than I ever have before since Cliff was born so it will be important to make each moment, each hug, each snuggle count. Nobody wishes that they would have watched one more episode of TV or checked Facebook one more time when they calculate their valuable moments. I may have less time, but I will be better quality time spent with my family in this upcoming month.

Health Goals: Keep everything in check and hit the gym daily.

I have reached my body composition goal by being able to fit into my khaki capri pants for work. It’s a dull goal, but now I just want to maintain that achievement. I can accomplish this by sticking to my 80/20 diet (80% healthy, 20% cheat food) and getting to the gym. I am grateful that I enjoy working out, mostly afterward, and it’s not a mental mountain to climb.

Professional Goals: Take in every day, remain present, and then become reflective.

Ask anyone who has been working full time for some time if they would like an extended period of time off, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would turn you down. I will not insult stay-at-home parents and call my maternity leave/summer break a vacation because trust me, I worked! But what I will say is that this time away from the classroom reminded me why I love my profession, why I believe it’s my calling, and refocused me on my objectives: support student learning through innovative and whole-child instruction. I want to work with students, their parents and my colleagues to support their educational advances. Money, power, and titles were not why I chose to become a teacher, and I have forgotten that in the past few years, allowing what I thought I was “owed” to taint my opinion of what I do and what I contribute. I was able to conduct a two-week SAT English study camp this summer, and it was just enough to remind that I love my job.

Cooking During the School Year

There’s no denying that if you’re someone who loves to cook, you’re going to enjoy the process of meal planning, looking up recipes, and the actual process of assembling a meal.  And then there are people like me who really despise the whole process.

I enjoy looking at finished meals, but I don’t enjoy anything else about getting from picture to final product.  This becomes a real issue when it comes to heading back to school.  During the summer, I keep fairly busy, but I can come and go as I please in the kitchen, plopping ingredients in the crockpot with little forethought.  Going back to work on Wednesday has caused me to pause and reevaluate the way meal preparation will go heading forward.

One of my August goals was to preplan meals in advance.  I have been pretty good about this, but now that the 8:00-4:00pm schedule is about to hit my husband and I, it’s important that I change my approach.

Things to consider:

  1.  Dinner planning is easy: crockpot to the rescue
  2. I can’t really do leftovers because microwaves are not easily accessible at my school
  3. I will be the only one who is bringing a lunch because my husband’s new school provides lunches to their staff (lucky!)

Dinners:

An absolute MUST in planning meals is Pinterest.  I simply search “Easy” “Crockpot” “Recipes” and the rest is history.

 Crock Pot Chicken Gyros

Honey Chicken Sesame Chicken

Teriyaki Chicken

Orange Chicken

And I’m planning on A LOT of leftovers!

Lunches:

These meals need to be smaller, piecemeal, and require only refrigeration at most.  I’m so glad I invested in a mini fridge for my classroom!

Stock Items:

  • Yogurt
  • Kashi Granola Bars
  • Cheese Stick
  • Whole-wheat wraps
  • Whole-wheat crackers
  • Apple Slices/PB

Recipes:

“Bunny Veggie Wraps”

SO MANY IDEAS!!!

The Rosie Project and Back to School

16181775 (via Goodreads.com)

An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.

My Review: I was initially drawn to this book because of its title; it contains my middle name and what self-centered person wouldn’t want to read a book that may have a connection to themselves?  Regardless, that was about where we Rosies parted ways.  This was a sweet book, an easy read that kept my attention for the 8ish hours that it took for me to finish it.  I completed the last few chapters while waiting for my highlights to set in the hairdresser’s chair at my local salon.  I enjoyed the narrator, Don the quirky and rigidly entertaining professor who approaches emotional situations the way that most people complete 1,000 + pieced puzzles: look for clues for what is an acceptable fit.  Simsion’s direct and light-hearted writing style made the story enjoyable, and despite being a little too predictable, it was a the perfect story to read before jumping back into denser titles, such as “Beowulf” and my weekly reading assignments for CI7010001: Improving Instructional Effectiveness.

My Rating: 

Three Star Review

Back to School Days

Am I ready?

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Of course we all would prefer to be able to set our own schedule, filling it with only the bits and pieces of life that we love, but that’s not realistic.  I’m not dreading going back to work, or even back to my masters program coursework, but I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t put up a little bit of a fuss.  Trying to get teenagers to enjoy dissecting and analyzing a text for its deeper meaning when all they want to do is destroy language through texting and emojis.

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If all I did was look at the negatives about going back to school, I would barely be able to drag myself out of bed.  Not only is it my responsibility to my family to help provide a good life for us, but there are more things that I am looking forward to than dreading.

1.  Seeing my students…most of them.  And I’m sure they’re looking forward to getting back to their routine as well.

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2.  Reading some amazing essays and poetry and novels with my students and watching them discover the literature for the first time.

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3.  Fresh starts.  I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting about my instructional practices, pacing, assessments, etc since being on break.  With the beginning of the 2nd semester two weeks from now, I will be able to start implementing some of the changes that I think will provide a greater learning opportunity for both the students and myself.

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4.  April 25, 2014

That date marks the University of Cincinnati’s graduation ceremony.  It will also mark the date in which I will officially be done with my masters degree.

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