Rainy day reflections

I’m sitting here at Barnes and Noble, drinking an iced coffee and eating a pumpkin muffin. Today it’s raining all day, but it feels like fall, and that is something to be celebrated. Jonathan encouraged me to steal a couple of hours away this afternoon (sweet man!). I should be working on guided reading lesson plans, which is purportedly what I came here to do, but instead I want to return to my long-neglected blog.

I haven’t been writing for a couple of reasons: 1) I forgot how much creativity good teaching requires. I also forgot how tired I am by the end of the day. After Jonah is asleep and I have time to myself I haven’t been able to muster the energy or creativity to write anything. 2) I have been deliberating on what to write publicly about my job. More on that below.

We’ve been in Atlanta as a family for a little over a month now. For the most part, the transition has been a dream. For example:

  1. We absolutely love our new home. We are settled in and about 97% of the way unpacked. The house is such a blessing for our family and so much more than we could ever have afforded or expected to have on our own without family support.
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    Our backyard view
  2. Jonah has transitioned amazingly well to my mom watching him during the week. He didn’t seem to really be phased by the change. He absolutely loves his Nonni and looks forward to going to her house. At the same time, he talks often (every day or two) about all of the family we left behind in NC. When Jonathan’s parents visited over Labor Day, Jonah picked back up with them as though we had never been apart. I like to think that his heart is big enough to hold love for the multitude of people who inhabit his world.14262843_1607457612887825_1594653374_n
  3. Jonathan quickly and easily got a job working from home that he will likely be able to continue once he starts school in the spring.
  4. We think we have found a new church home here.
  5. I’m loving my job. If you remember, during my job search I got a very, very strong sense that this job was the one that was right for me, though the others seemed to make more sense practically. I haven’t been disappointed.

As I mentioned above, I’ve made the decision that the wisest course of action is not to talk about my job in detail on the blog. This may seem like CYA (cover your …), but my school system tends to get a fair amount of attention, and I’m just trying to be smart. Here are the important points:

  • I feel more effective than I ever have as an ESL teacher. The time away from the classroom in an administrative role made me a better teacher.
  • I feel respected. I’m not a novice teacher anymore. It’s nice to have people come to me for help instead of it always being the other way around.
  • I like working with almost all older students. Upper elementary, baby!
  • Many days I am home at 3:30. That is something I never would have predicted when we decided to move to Atlanta.

6. I feel a great sense of balance in my life since we moved. Jonathan and I are getting         more date nights out and quality time together than we have since Jonah was born. Being home earlier in the afternoon means more time with Jonah. Even though I’m now commuting 25 minutes to work, I’m actually spending less time in the car than I did this previous year between taking Jonah to and from daycare, going to and from tutoring, my in-laws house, etc.

This will have to be all for now. Thanks to everyone who hung around and waited for a new post from me! I promise it won’t be this long until the next time I write. In the meantime…enjoy fall!

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6 Resolutions for Life in a New City

Yes! You read that right. In less than a month, we are moving from this…

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to this.

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10 points if someone can tell me what this picture makes them think of…

Pretty much my whole side of the family–parents, siblings, grandmother and now aunt–lives in Atlanta. My parents have been trying to convince us to move there for pretty much the whole time we’ve been married, and we’re finally doing it! Even though we could have moved before now, many factors are now converging to make this the right time. We’re going to be moving in to my grandmother’s house two doors down from my parents, while Grandmommy will be joining the crowd over at my parents’ house. My mom is going to watch Jonah full time. Financially this move is a no-brainer.

I’ve moved a lot in my life–if my count is correct this is number 14! But this one feels different. As far as we’re concerned, this is it: home forever. Atlanta is big enough, diverse enough and with enough opportunities and resources that we see no reason to ever move again.

So I’ve been thinking about goals I have for my life in the new, big city that will most likely be our permanent home. Here are six things I will and won’t do in our new town.

  1. I will be intentional about finding friends sooner rather than later. I wasn’t so great about this in Greensboro. With work + family + pups + miscellaneous responsibilities, my life is pretty full already, but I still need friends–not just long distance, but in person. Spending time with friends is good for me. It’s part of taking care of myself. 
  2. I will invest in activities that I enjoy. I’ll be okay with spending a little bit of money to do fun things, both with my family and by myself. (Like yoga! I’ve got to get back to it!)
  3. Jonathan and I will have a regular date night. Since money will be a little looser and there will be a multitude of potential babysitters around, this will actually happen on a regular basis.
  4. I will walk the dogs every day–and I’ll make Jonathan help me! Our yard is going to be much smaller so this won’t really be optional, plus it’ll be a good way to make sure I get daily exercise.
  5. I will not let work consume my life. It took me a while to find this balance in Greensboro, and now that I’m contemplating teaching again (easiest job to find from a distance) I need to make sure that I maintain that balance.
  6. I will not spend more than 20 minutes commuting to and from work. This is important as everyone knows Atlanta’s traffic is legendary. I’ll be miserable if I’m spending my whole day in the car.

(In case anyone is wondering about our plans to become foster parents, that is on hold for now due to the move. It is something we still want to do in the future).

Other people who have moved to a new city/state recently…any goals/ideas/positive changes for post-move?

Honeysuckle

Last week I discovered honeysuckle growing deep in our backyard. If you’re wondering how I could possibly be unaware of something growing in my own backyard, then you a) haven’t seen our yard, and b) probably have a very different attitude toward yard maintenance than Jonathan and I do. In our defense, our backyard is large, partially wooded and rather unkempt. I actually love it when I’m not stressing about what the neighbors think. It’s very private and quiet, and it feels like we are hiking in the woods rather than in the center of the city.

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Jonah and I have been spending lots of time outside as the weather has gotten warmer, which led me to the honeysuckle discovery last week. I brought it up to Jonah’s nose to let him smell it, and showed him how to pull out the middle stem to eat the honey from inside. He was a fan and kept handing me blooms like the sweet boy he is.

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When I was 16, I wrote my first ever piece of writing that was just for fun and not for any kind of school assignment. The essay was called “Honeysuckle,”and I posted it on the still-existing fanfiction.net (ha). I wish that I could find a copy. I remember that this piece was about May, about driving around my hometown in a big white truck with a boy I liked, about not knowing what would happen next but being young and full of possibilities and living in the present.

Most people have probably heard about how of all senses, smells have the most profound connection to memories and emotions. I have a deep, visceral reaction every time I smell honeysuckle. It takes me back, to school letting out and the feeling of a full summer ahead of me with few responsibilities, to watching my brother’s baseball games on summer evenings, to being allowed to go out at night with friends for the first time, to summertime community theatre musicals, to kissing in cars in out-of-the-way spots with high school boyfriends, to returning home to Jackson after my car accident, to high school graduation and the beginning of college. To my wedding.

Honeysuckle means home. It’s where I’ve been, and it’s where I’m going. Smelling it takes me back to the best moments of my childhood and young adulthood. Life is beautiful like that.

 

What smells are nostalgic for you?

10 Everyday Things That Are Hard to Do With a Toddler

The toddler years can be kind of hard, guys. I’m sure this is no surprise to anyone but me. As one new to this stage, I am quickly learning that toddlers are tiny tyrants who rule their parents’ lives. While I was sleeping, my sweet, easy baby became a rough-and-tumble toddler, and Jonathan and I are having to adjust how we do some basic things as a result.

Jonah is 17 months old now, and during his waking hours he rarely stops moving, making noise, being on the verge of a tantrum, or trying to get into everything within arm’s reach. He really is so much fun, but including a toddler in activities of daily living makes everything approximately twice as difficult. I wish I would have appreciated the ease with which I accomplished simple tasks while he was a baby who slept all the time.

Here are 10 things that are especially challenging:

  1. Getting ready

Little man is not a huge fan of mama not giving him undivided attention while in the shower or getting dressed for work. No matter how I try to entertain him in the mornings, nothing seems to work. He usually alternates between tugging on the bottom of my shirt and playing with trash that he grabs out of the bathroom trashcan.

2. Feeding the dogs

For some reason my child is obsessed with dog food. He likes to pick pieces up and either try to eat them or hide them in various places around the house (including in my lunch–a story for another time). Why? Who knows.

3. Going anywhere quickly

It’s surprisingly time-consuming to gather all the necessary paraphernalia that accompanies Jonah whenever we leave the house. I’m constantly going through a mental list: Diaper bag? Check. Diapers and wipes? Check. Extra outfit? Check. Sippy cup? Check. Child wearing appropriate clothing and shoes? Check.

4. Walking

Jonah, we can’t walk in the street! We can’t walk in the neighbors’ yard! We can’t walk in front of cars! I’m sorry you’re upset, but mama has to pick you up to keep you from getting killed. Ugh, you’re so heavy.

5. Using the dishwasher

If it were up to him Jonah would happily play with all of the knives from the dishwasher. So opening this is pretty much no-go while he is awake.

6. Using the bathroom

When mama goes to the bathroom Jonah goes to the bathroom, too. And throws everything in the bathtub, and takes everything out of the bathroom cabinets…

 7. Doing any errand that doesn’t involve a drive-through

Every parent has probably experienced this: The overtired little one is finally asleep in the car, but you have to get out of the car to get something from inside a store. What are you supposed to do?

8. Eating in a restaurant

You know what Jonah is not a fan of? Sitting still and quiet in a high chair and waiting around for food.

9. Eating in general

You know what Jonah is also not a fan of? When you are eating something that he wants. And he’ll let you know it. “Mine!” “Mine!” “More!” And don’t even think about giving him something that he doesn’t want. He sucks the flavor off it, takes it out of his mouth and throws it on the ground.

10. 4:00-7:00 pm

These are the witching hours on days when good naps have not happened. It’s too late to take a nap, too early for bedtime, so Jonah says to himself, “Why, I think I’ll just cry on and off for two hours. How does that sound, everyone?”

But…look at this face.

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Even though navigating everyday life with my son comes with its fair share of challenges, my heart wants to burst with love whenever I look at him. And that makes it all worth it.

7 reasons 2016 will be better than 2015

Thank the Lord 2015 is over. For realz, I have never been so happy to see New Year’s Eve. 2015 was very, very tough for Jonathan and me. A new baby and unemployment simultaneously will do that to you.

BUT! 2015 is over! Hooray! Here are 7 reasons I have decided that 2016, and since it’s about to be my birthday, my 28th year, will be better, in the arenas of marriage, work, family and my personal life.

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  1. I will do my part to argue productively. 

Hubs and I got into some bad patterns this past year that we’re working hard to break. We fought more than ever before, and not usually productively. We pushed and pulled and raged and drove each other crazy. But we got through it and now I think we’re on the other side.

2.  I will choose joy.

Joy is my word of the year. In 2016 I’ll do my best to look for the good in all situations, and respond from a place of joy rather than worry, anger or bitterness.

    3.   I will advocate for myself and my ideas.

One thing I love about my new job is that I’m getting the opportunity to lead for the first time. When I was teaching I always felt that I knew less and was less experienced than everyone around me, so I stayed pretty quiet and didn’t speak out much. I was a leader in my classroom but not with other adults. In my new position, I get to be the expert, and I’ve gained a lot of confidence. In 2016 I will continue to believe in my own ideas.

Along the lines of advocating for myself, I also need to make more money in 2016. Money isn’t everything, but it is something.

   4.  When I am with Jonah, I will be 100% present.

I will be the master of my phone rather than the other way around.

   5.  My family will be in church every Sunday and community group most weeks.

When things get difficult, church activities can be one of the first things to go. Barring sickness or being out of town, we’ll be there every week.

   6.  I will make/keep my home a beautiful, functional, restful place.

I’ve realized that I feel amazingly better when I can come home and like what I see around me.

 7.  I will read more. I will write more.

The Grapes of Wrath, among other books. I’m on a Steinbeck kick!

I’m really looking forward to this year. What are your goals/resolutions for 2016?