It has been a whirlwind of a week.  I have had one situation come up after another.  Everything from kids having a meltdown to finding out my flight leaves two hours before I thought and needing to take a half day off at the last second.  It’s been nuts.

Everything has, as usual, turned out just fine, but I have miles to go before I sleep.  I am teaching my three most difficult classes this morning, all while getting all of my classroom animals home with families for the break AND making sure I get all my students’ work posted in the hall for the Open House I won’t be here for.  Then, I rush home and grab my bags to go pick up my mom from babysitting her godson so that we can barely make it to the airport in time for our flight.

After that, though, we are on our way to my grad school visit!  The campus is simply gorgeous and I cannot wait!  I’ll get to see old friends and meet new ones and this school has a daily rota of services in which all residents are required to participate.  This sense of tradition and ritual is something my life is thoroughly steep in, so I’m really excited to start my Spring Break with this time of centering and change, focused entirely on me and my relationship with God.  Now all I have to do is figure out what focus I want my degree to have!

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I’m Bad at This

There are a lot of things I’m good at.  I’m good at my job.  I’m great at technology.  I’m good at studying and learning.  I am bad, very bad, at consistency in projects with no accountability.  Like this one.

However, my mental health is in a great space, today, so here I am!  I’ve been working hard on finding my way, lately.  I’ve made two grand plans for the summer and had to cancel on both.  (In fairness, I cancelled the first plan in favor of the second and cancelled the second in favor of my mental health.)  However, I have now gone to a summer with literally a single week of free time to a summer which is startlingly open.  I don’t know what to do with myself.

As I noted in my last post (four months ago – ugh), I thrive on busy-ness.  I also noted that I crash and I crash hard.  I have been going-going-gone all school year long and there has been SO MUCH good done!  We’ve done some truly remarkable curriculum writing, I’ve totally reformatted the Science Fair, we’ve chosen and (finally, today!) ordered a 3D printer for the lab, the youth groups have been thriving, and I have applied for grad school.  It truly has been a beautifully productive year.  And that is one of the reasons I’ve had to cancel my participation in Grand Scheme Number Two: a parish trip to Malawi.  I am devastated, but if I had continued on with my plans, I would have been a wreck by the end of the summer – right in time to start it all over again.

On the other hand, my only current plan is to take four or so days to go to a small town a few hours south of me and spend my time in an old mission in monks’ quarters with nothing but books and a journal.  And that’s a pretty great way to recharge.

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Where I Live

I have four projects I’m working on due this week.  One of them involves having a sub for the day, which means writing sub plans for a lab where I have to completely understand background knowledge and be able to explain it to kids in five different grade levels and keep it interesting and engaging, but explained first to an adult.  It’s chaos.

But this crazy cocktail of intelligence (I’m not bragging, it’s not something I work at, it’s just something I was given) and mental illness means that if I am bored, nothing gets done.  If there’s chaos, however…  This is where I live.  This is where I shine.  I’m rocking this.  The only problem is, I can only rock it for so long, before I burn out.

The other problem with this is, I’m working so hard on work that I’m not working on supporting myself.  That isn’t healthy and it isn’t productive.  So, here’s my commitment: I will work on myself this week.  That’s what my spare time is for.  I’ll use the organizational energy this crazy-busy week has given me to plan how to best take care of myself when this crazy week is over.  And that will make it easier when I crash.

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Bless me, readers, for I have neglected my blog.  It has been two weeks since my last post.  In the intervening time, I’ve thought about posting three times but put it off because I am lazy.  Don’t worry about penance, though, because I started in-service for school last week and the students came back this week.  As one of my teammates said, “I must brace myself: Kindergarten is coming.”

It’s been a thoroughly exhausting and completely satisfying two weeks.  I have been so desperately busy getting things ready for my students, whether that’s the physical work of putting the furniture back in order and rearranging shelves and supplies or the mental work of coming up with new and improved lesson plans and recreating the science fair in a way that improves it without completely confusing my students, that I have had very little time to reflect on myself and my life at all.  However, as so often happens, this focus outside myself has made me more and more content with who I am and what I am capable of.

Yes, these two weeks have been incredibly trying, but I have survived them.  As they say on Welcome to Night Vale, I too have survived.  I have survived everything up to this moment.  And where I go from here is to a brighter world, where I control my future and my present.

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Cottage Food!

I’ve been living here for a week, now, and the adventure is starting to settle into more of a fun one and less of a challenge that just won’t quit.  We’ve got the air conditioner running over the bed, so I sleep nice and coolly, I’ve got consistent wireless internet, and I’ve managed to make a small kitchen work!

With such a small space, there’s no room for a stove or oven and I haven’t had a chance to borrow one of the extra hot plates from my lab, yet, so for now I’m working with things from the fridge, a rice cooker, and a hot plate.  So, there will be frequent adventures in cooking occurring here.  Lucky for me, today’s adventure was a total success!

I made salsa chicken burritos with queso sauce (well, ONE burrito.  And the extra filling for, like, six more) from this website.  I switched a couple of things up, though.  I put the corn and beans and one can of salsa in the crockpot first, stirring them up til they were well mixed, then laid the chicken breasts on top, then poured in the second jar of salsa on top of the chicken.  The salsas I chose were one with a good garlic flavor and one with a good dose of lime, to complicate and deepen the flavor.  I cooked it for seven hours, shredding the chicken at around 4.5, but it could’ve been done a bit later, if I wanted to cook it a bit longer.

When it was done cooking, I put it in a burrito, which was still warm (I didn’t say the air conditioning worked miracles!), with some shredded cheese and guacamole, and covered the whole thing with queso.  Let me tell you, kids, when I put that down on the table with a margarita, I got really excited about living out here.  There’s really something to be said for taking back some control and homemaking in a space that’s your own.

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The End of an Era

I’m so sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted (again!).  Between two mission trips, lots of professional development courses, and one BIG move, there’s been a lot going on.  It’s no excuse, but since you’re here to read what’s going on in my life and in my head, that’s what’s been going on!

I’m sure that at some point, I’ll tell you about the mission trips I went on this summer.  Both of them were challenging and remarkable, as all mission trips always are.  I learned a lot on both.  But the two things most on my mind right now are my move and the fact that school is starting in just two weeks!  (At least, for teachers.)

These two things sound like they’re only related in that they both contribute substantially to the amount of stress I’m feeling at any given time, but they’re actually more similar than that.  You see, both things are full of hard, uncomfortable, unpleasant, but ultimately good and necessary changes.

This year, my school has decided to standardize the lessons we teach across all five science labs.  This was a great move, because it means that we are collaborating on lessons, we’re giving the students a more standard experience across campuses (we have a fair number of students who move schools within the district when their family buys a new house), and we are able to come up with a unified idea for how the lab should function.  This is frustrating to me, because I tend to think of the science lab as a chance for the kids to be challenged above and beyond the teaching standards for their grade level, to force them to think about concepts that the state thinks they’re not ready for (they are.  I know because they understand the concepts when I teach them), and to give them a chance to push the boundaries of how their minds work.  But, the administration of the district wants us to keep our concepts consistent with the grade level standards.  No more pushing to higher concepts.  No more freedom to switch up the lessons as I see fit.  But that doesn’t mean the benefits of the standardized lesson plans go away.  In fact, having the entire first semester planned in the first week of summer means that I have the entire next two weeks to rehaul science fair and prepare for all of the extracurriculars I do during the school year!  And that’s nothing to sneeze at.

My move to my parents house has worked very similarly.  There have been a LOT of issues.  I’ve got air conditioning that doesn’t work, internet that doesn’t work, and too much stuff for too small a space.  But that doesn’t mean the benefits have disappeared.  I’m saving SO MUCH MONEY!  I’ve got a yard for my dog to run around in!  My cat and I sleep in the same bed without having to worry about the dog worrying the cat or the cat worrying the chinchilla!  And I’ve got a waterproof case on my iPad, so I can spend my last two weeks of summer freedom working on science fair and my extracurriculars in the pool!  So, if you need me…  That’s where I’ll be.

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Moving The Burrow

I have lived for two years in a truly beautiful, wonderful apartment.  It has been my first foray into independence and I have loved every second.

That’s not to say there haven’t been challenges.  There certainly have.  Between power outages and smoke machine snafus, it’s been one heck of an adventure.  But I truly have felt this two-bedroom, perfectly-sized, gorgeous apartment turn from “the place I live” into “my home.”

That’s part of why this summer will be a challenge to me.  This summer, I move back into my parents’ house for a couple of months while I look for a house.  You heard right – my wonderful parents (my incredibly strong Marmee and my unflappable Dad) are helping me make the downpayment to buy my first house.  AH!  It’s terrifying.  I’m building up credit and applying for grants for teachers and learning about how mortgages work and OMIGOSH BEING AN ADULT IS TERRIFYING.

I definitely want to do this.  Definitely.  I want a yard where I can grow things and raise bees and where my dog can play and I want to be able to paint my walls and tile my own floors and build and create my own space.  However.  This process of change and of creating a new life for myself in a space I own and am responsible for that costs more than I will ever see in one place is so terrifying to me.  I will owe people money!  Lots of money!  What if I don’t have the money?!

One of the most comforting things anyone has said to me, throughout this whole process was Señora (an old family friend, who we met when she was my elementary Spanish teacher) told me that she is scared every single time she buys a house.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work out, but being scared is just part of it.  And if that woman, an unshakable pillar of unchanging confidence, is scared every time?  It’s okay for me to be scared, too.  I just have to not let it get to me.

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