Saturday, September 29, 2012

Safe in Albania

More has happened in my life the past few months than I care to share with the internet. But, I have come out of it on the other side and I'm moving forward with my new life and new job in Tirana, Albania.

I decided to make a fresh start with a new blog, which you can find here.

Here's to new beginnings, and being grateful for the chance to have them.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cue That Ole Timey Rocky Music

I wanted to post some pictures of the festivities I mentioned, but unfortunately every single one had my last name or a student's last name. So, enjoy this picture of me cuddling a student's pet wallaby the last week of school.
As of last Friday, I finished my internship. I also cried the entire week prior, and was showered in love and hugs and sweet cards and letters and surprise going away parties from students. I have diligently saved all of said cards and letters and will be scanning them and saving them forever and ever amen.

To say that my last week was a roller coaster of emotion would be an understatement. On the one hand, yes, it was incredibly stressful and I was ready to not work so hard for free- absolutely. I was also over the moon to know that this process, which started in January of 2011, was finally finished. On the other hand, and both feet, and all 20 toes and fingers, I was really sad to leave the students. I adore them, no doubt. The growth I have seen in them this year has been amazing and I'm so proud of everything they've accomplished.

I had put off a pretty tedious and vital task until the Saturday after my last day. I had to upload virtually all of my grad school assignments from the past year to a website aligned with Colorado's educational standards so that the CDE could verify that I had demonstrated competency in each standard. Thankfully Bobby helped me with the organizing and uploading and it only took us 2 hours. It's all been signed off on so now the final step is for me to submit my official "Hey, Colorado? I've done all this work to become a teacher, can you take a look at it and give me a license?" request. I've already ordered my transcripts for that purpose, and I submitted my leave of absence form to my college for the fall. Let's get real- I need a break and I'm not interested in starting another grad class in the same month that I move to Albania, start a new job, and begin the process of figuring out my day to day work life.

This past week I've been tying up loose ends, crossing off things on my seemingly interminable to-do list, and making plans for my upcoming road trip. Tomorrow morning we're getting up early to hike Horsetooth, so for now I'm cutting this reunion off short. Bobby has booked our ridiculous No Plane-ia to Albania trek, but that's another topic for another post. I'm also still trying to figure out what I'm going to do for a blogging space as we travel around. A part of me is considering starting a new blog altogether, but I'm loathe to leave this one behind, so I may just take it into more of a travel blog direction. Fair warning, a huge portion of traveling and teaching will be paying off student loan debt, so there will be more personal finance things thrown into the mix, too. I'm also just still so leery of blogging after stumbling onto some pretty intense snark sites that a part of me is afraid to ramp up the blogging again. I think people who blog sometimes think that everyone blogs, or knows about it, but in reality it's still a relatively small sub-culture and far flung spaces of the internet can collide in really harsh ways...

Whoa, sorry. That was a weirdo ramble upon which to end this post. Here's another picture of that wallaby.
I'm cute and have nothing to do with internet snark sites

Saturday, April 28, 2012

So. Hey, guys.

Wow, I left for about two months and Blogger got a facelift! The new editing interface is nice- clean, uncluttered, Mac-ish. I see what you're doing there, Blogger ol' gal.

Let's see. I've so far survived my second and last semester of student teaching, and I have (consults calendar) exactly 4 weeks left of my year long internship, counting from this coming Monday. Even better, my full time grad school experience ends this coming Monday, so I get to enjoy these last 4 weeks with my students without stressing about my own homework as I hassle them for theirs. Bonus.

Speaking of students- next year I'll be enjoying teaching students in....

Tirana, Albania!

At the beginning of March I stumbled across a posting for a position in Albania, and after researching the country and the school (rave reviews from all former employees on international teacher's boards) I applied. It was about a month long process full of detailed e-mails with a kind and incredibly helpful director, and at the end of it I had a Skype interview. Within 30 minutes, I was offered the job. This was the first weekend of my Spring Break, so it was a nice cherry on top of the much-needed break. We're leaving Colorado August 1st and I don't have to be in Albania until the last week of August, so we have some... interesting travel plans in the works. More on that later.

This weekend I'm wrapping up the grad classes, planning my To Kill a Mockingbird final unit, and getting ready to cry my eyes out when I attend graduation for the kids I've worked with all year. Bobby is selling half of our possessions on Craigslist already, and I have a 5 week long solo road trip planned out for my Farewell, Family Summer Tour.

A huge part of the reason I've been so absent, though, is that there have been some rough times health wise in my family, and my Great Granny passed away in early March. She was sick for a while before, so we were able to go down and say our goodbyes, but it was truly awful and I'm still dealing with it. I still don't think it will fully sink in until I come home from Texas this summer and I'm not able to stop halfway to spend the night and share some time with her in Hillsboro, Kansas. I'll go into more details at a later time, but right now it's still fresh and I'm still dealing with it.

Who can say when I'll check back in- it might not be until after May 25th, when school is over. Right now I have a good balance of work, school, and life and I don't know where blogging fits in. There has been some drama around blogging recently that has definitely made me skittish of even blogging here on my piddly little personal blog, and I'm still trying to figure out if I want to move forward with an idea for when we're living overseas. We'll see. For now I just wanted to drop in and say hi.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

So Far, So Good

I read this book in January, and I loved it. I can't wait to see the movie- I had no idea they were making it until I saw this ad in a theater.
 This semester has been better than last in every single area of my life. I'm doing a much better job of maintaining a good work/life balance, I'm able to work out thanks to not having a broken foot, I know what to expect and I'm comfortable at my school/with my students, and I see the light at the end of the tunnel to keep me going- what's up, May 27th!!

I figured I'd recap how January went in terms of my 3 Main Goals. The above pretty much covers One and Two, so I guess I'll go into a little more detail about Three. In January, I lost 6 pounds towards my goal of 18 pounds. I didn't count calories or obsess over anything, I just went back to eating mindfully and working out. Speaking of the latter- holy shit I was out of shape! It reminded me of how I work out primarily to be a fit, healthy, strong person, not just to "be skinny, yay!" Being able to tackle a hike, or go on a long bike ride, or do a hard yoga class, or go snowshoeing without feeling as though my heart is going to hummingbird out of my chest and explode in front of my face- that is why I work out. I love lifting weights and seeing myself get stronger each week. I look forward to the random crazy poses in yoga that challenge my flexibility, balance, and strength. I truly enjoy a brutal interval workout in spinning that makes me question whether or not my legs can even keep moving, and then they do. I think that Goal Three has probably been the foundation for making Goal One and Two so much more doable: I have more energy and I'm in a better mood, and (totally obvious observation alert) what do you know, that makes life in general a lot easier. As to the GoodReads 52 books in 2012 goal, I'm about 2 books ahead right now, and I'm finding, as I did last year, that having this goal is great for curtailing mindless internet surfing.

January pretty much zipped right before me before I could blink, and it's strange to think that I have only 4 more months left before I am a certified teacher with only 4 classes left towards my second master's degree! Our lease is up the end of May, and we're not sure yet if we're staying in Colorado through the summer until I find a job overseas in Aug/Sept, or if we're going to spend the summer bouncing around the U.S., road tripping and visiting friends before I take up said overseas job. I'm hoping for the latter, but that depends on job situations out of our control. For now I'm just enjoying teaching, getting myself back into shape, and having dedicated free time to spend with Bobby and our friends, actually having a life outside of school/work.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Snowshoeing and Sunrises

Just a collection of cell phone pictures from my mornings on the way to school and our weekend snowshoeing trip. No editing or fancy filters, kind of grainy, but I like 'em.

School is going well, teaching is great, and I've been reading a lot lately. All in all, life is good.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Oh, Right...

A perk of leaving my house at 7 a.m.- sunrise as captured on my cell phone, no filters/editing

I suppose I never did the follow-up post to my 2011goals in review post. I know we're almost an entire month into 2012, but I figure I'll get these goals nailed down for posterity, so I can either revel in victory or toil under shame, depending upon how they work out.

As I mentioned, I think a huge issue last year was my glaring oversight in not making pre-grad school and during-grad school goals. This led me to decide that I would make a set of goals that were specific to January 1st- May 31st. That encompasses my entire second semester of grad school, plus all of my student teaching, plus the end of our lease here in Colorado. What happens come June 1st is truly completely up in the air. A lot depends upon where Bobby is working by then, where I might be working, where family members are in the U.S. and where we might be visiting them, etc. There is a possibility we may go month to month and stay in Colorado through August, maybe not. Basically, the only logical thing is to plan from January to May because that is the only thing I'm sure of at the moment. I'm also taking into consideration how much of a brutal, stressful time suck grad school+ student teaching is (something I had no idea about last January) which led to a significant paring down of any goals. In fact, I only have 3, as follows, in no particular order:

1. Work/Life- specifically Work/Relationship- balance: A lot of the particulars of this goal are personal to my, well, personal relationships, but let's just say that last semester was a big stressful wad of no social life and little to no fun/going out. This isn't good for me, or the people who put up with love me. Therefore, I set up my weekly schedule so that I do absolutely no lesson planning/homework on Friday night after school, all day Saturday, and Saturday night. This gives me two nights a week of guilt free, I'm not worrying about homework freedom. It also averts the problem of letting fear of finishing a project interfere with needed downtime, which I wrote about at length. Plus, it gives Bobby and I a guaranteed date night, or time for hanging out with friends, or making random day trips to Boulder/Denver, etc. And I get to stay out late/sleep in, because homework/lesson planning are not even options.

2. Graduate School and Student teaching: My goals here are simple and straightforward: successfully complete my student teaching (with all the reviews and lesson planning and grading and after school work and professional development that entails) and end the semester with another 4.0 in all of my grad classes. Come May I will have 27 hours towards my graduate degree and have all of the necessary training for my certification. I've kicked ass for the first half of this journey, and I want to finish strong.

3. Health and Fitness: Return to my former level of fitness and lose the 18 pounds I gained while on crutches. I know a lot of people think it's terrible to focus on a scale, but facts are facts: before breaking my foot, I was incredibly active and ate whatever I wanted, in moderation. After breaking my foot, I wasn't active at all, and I turned to food for entertainment/stress relief. There were several times when I wasn't hungry at all, was physically full, but was so bored and stressed that I would knock back dessert and sweet coffee and sodas because it was the only fun to be had when one is chained to a chair with a broken foot doing 5 hours of homework. I am not saying that everyone who gains 18 pounds does so because of inactivity and eating poorly, but for me, that is clearly the case. Further, only 1 pair of jeans fit, none of my professional slacks fit, and half of my button front shirts do not fit. Further still, in only two weeks of going back to my previous activity levels/eating habits, I have dropped 6 pounds. I'm not counting calories or obsessing, I'm just returning to my previous lifestyle of frequent, fun activity and eating mindfully. I went snowshoeing- one of my favorite activities- last week and was so out of shape that I had to stop after every single hill, no matter how moderate. This is not a feeling I enjoy, at all. I want to be fit again. I will be fit again. My specific goals in this arena are to do the following, weekly: 2 hours of cardio, 2 hours of yoga, and two sessions of weightlifting (full body, free weights). This schedule is necessary for my sanity in order to counteract all the time I am forced to sit for hours on end as I commute and lesson plan and do homework and grade papers.

4. Read 52 books in 2012: This is the only yearlong goal I'm making, because I can do this wherever I am in the world. I love using Goodreads to keep up with this easily, and it definitely motivated me to turn off the internet and pick up a book instead.

Really, 1-3 Jan-May goals all come back to this: organizing my time wisely. I'm trying to avoid the trap of feeling pressure to get homework done, not wanting to do it, forcing myself to sit at the computer, and then wasting 3 hours on the internet as I try to avoid said homework. If I can structure my weekly schedule more realistically/efficiently, I can easily have time for a social life and working out, and still be successful in school and student teaching. So far, it's going well. I think just keeping a laser focus on these three areas will keep me sane over the next few months, not to mention give me a lot of happiness and stress relief, too.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year's!

This was Martinelli's Sparkling Apple-Cranberry. I highly recommend it for all the perennial DD's like me out there.
New Year's Eve was really the perfect kind of laid back but still fun and social night- exactly what I look for in a NYE experience. We picked up our friend, Matt, for a late dinner and then headed to a house party hosted by Bobby's co-workers. Lauren was one of those thoughtful hosts who made appetizers, put up pretty lights everywhere, and generally made sure we all had a good time. I only knew Bobby, Matt, and one of their co-workers, Christy, and it was fun to hang out with new people and talk to random strangers. We were up and out until 3 a.m. and unfortunately I woke up at 8:30 this morning, but if that's my only complaint I'm doing okay.

We spent New Year's Day eating a late breakfast at Whole Foods before getting a much needed pile of groceries to replenish the pantry that has been barely used all fall and early winter. Laundry and house chores and a 3 hour nap followed while Bobby picked up snowshoes- weird, this is a carbon copy of last year. It's 10:30 p.m. right now and I feel so terribly sleepy and fuzzy headed/dizzy that I can't even imagine how crappy I'd feel without said nap. I just finished making this soup on Jenna's recommendation, and I'm keeping myself awake by blogging while I wait for it to cool enough to food process- fascinating stuff, I know. Trust me, forming semi-coherent thoughts is about all I have right now, witty/interesting is a frill that requires more sleep. The first day of 2012 goals have gone well so far, but I'm much too tired to blog about that, so another time.

Tomorrow morning it's back to the grind with a 6 a.m. wake up before heading to school to plan and prep all day. I'm actually, in a weird way, kind of looking forward to getting back into a routine of school and teaching, if only because I'm looking forward to May when I will finally be certified. I have a feeling the next 5 months are going to be stressful, rewarding, overwhelming, and busy. They'll probably also fly by, if last semester is any indication.

Ok, off to food process and then drop from exhaustion. Merry fabulous 2012!