Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sun-kissed Spontaneity

Hello there, readers! So this week I’ve been on spring break… My LAST spring break as a college student--- HOLLA! Anyways... This time off has been the perfect opportunity to turn my brain off of autopilot and get back to me. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE teaching. But teaching isn’t just planning fun lessons and encouraging your students to be the best students they can be. Teaching is making a million tiny decisions for 18 little humans ALL DAY LONG while mustering the energy to be friendly and enthusiastic from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm. As rewarding as it is, it’s much more exhausting than it seems and before long, your brain switches to autopilot. You go through the motions, you make basic survival decisions for yourself (when to eat, when to sleep, etc.), but you unintentionally neglect your own bliss. Well, not this week. This week has been all about doing the little things that make me happy and getting recharged for the final stretch before graduation. I enjoyed a couple of days at our local Strawberry Festival, painted my nails, got my hair cut, went shopping, read a WHOLE book that wasn’t meant for ages 8-12, and enjoyed a spontaneous day of fun with a lovely friend of mine whose blog can be found here.

After driving out to Tampa to meet her, we sat down to decide what we wanted to do. It seemed terrible waste of a sunshiny day to stay inside, so we racked our brains for an outdoor activity. Finally, I had a light bulb moment and, after doing a little bit of online research, we set out on our little adventure--- a trip to the USF Botanical Gardens. Even though both of us have been attending the university for at least 3 years, neither of us had even taken the time to explore this local gem. However, after learning that it was just $1 for students, it was very hard to pass up and we were excited to enjoy the fabulous Florida weather… 80 degrees and nothing but friendly clouds in the blue, blue sky.

We spent a good two hours following dirt trails and traipsing through lush greenery, bamboo clusters, and bold-colored blooms. The gardens were quiet and peaceful with nothing but the sound of birds chirping and our own conversation to interrupt the silence. Here’s a little of what we saw…

After leaving the gardens, we stopped at Cracker Barrel for a refreshing salad and a bottomless glass of sweet tea. Then we continued our day of sun-kissed spontaneity sitting by the pool of her apartment complex, enjoying some much needed catching up. Needless to say, I headed home with rosy cheeks and an even rosier outlook on the upcoming weeks. I think that some of the best days are those that are totally unplanned... I’d love to hear what you did over spring break! Did you have any free-spirited, spontaneous adventures?

Always, Amy

Saturday, February 18, 2012

18 Little Valentines

As you know, this past Tuesday was Valentine’s Day. To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of this particular holiday. It’s nothing personal, I just feel like it’s a painfully generic holiday. Think about it--- unlike Christmas and birthdays, Valentine’s Day doesn’t require any creativity or originality in showing someone special how much you care. It seems as though February 14th causes everyone to go out and select the exact same roses, chocolates, and stuffed animals. Call me crazy, but I like to know that some time and thought went into selecting something perfect just for me. Even when I was in elementary school I felt this way. I used to open up by box of Valentines, organize them into piles of each unique card, and purposefully select a card for each of my classmates, bearing in mind both the picture and the saying on each card. Call me a weirdo, but it was a whole process for me. And as I was getting my Valentines ready for my 18 second graders I realized that nothing much has changed.

For my 18 little valentines, I settled on a Dr. Seuss theme. They LOVE Dr. Seuss these days, and I can’t say that I blame them. He’s always been one of my favorites, too. Happily, I found Dr. Seuss valentines at Walmart and then stumbled upon Dr. Seuss bookmarks at a craft store. To complete each gift bag, I added a pencil, a fun-size package of M-n-Ms, and 3 Smarties. Then I tied each bag with red satin ribbon and made blue nametags using my Cricut. Each bag is unique, with a Valentine and pencil selected for each child based on their personality. Not only were these gift bags cute, they were affordable too! Each bag cost less than a dollar. Plus, I still have plenty of bookmarks and valentines left over for future students.

As it turns out, Valentine’s Day is about a hundred times more fun and exciting when you’re an elementary school teacher. We worked fun valentine activities into each subject area, sang charming Valentine’s Day songs, surprised our lunch room aid with a heart-shaped box of chocolates, exchanged cards and sweet treats, painted red glittery hearts on the kids’ faces, and had a wonderful time. My 18 little valentines had the sweetest smiles on their faces as they plundered through their valentine holders, laughing and sharing with each other. This was by far the best Valentine’s Day! How was your Valentine's Day?

XO, Amy

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Good Day

Today was a good day, and there’s no better way to describe it.

I woke up to the sun shining and a happy song streaming through my radio. My breakfast
consisted of chocolate milk and a banana that had reached its optimum level of ripeness. I saw Beauty and the Beast in 3D with my mama, and loved every enchanting second of it.

I was able to add a few more pieces to add to my teaching wardrobe.

I found this lovely addition for my room.

I started a list of ‘Nifty Ideas for the Classroom’ in my Tinkerbell journal, which I think is highly appropriate since good teaching requires faith, trust, and a little pixie dust.

All of this, and there's still a little time before Monday morning starts to creep in… I don’t know about you, but I plan on squeezing every last ounce of goodness out of today.

xoxo, Amy

Monday, January 2, 2012

Looking Forward

January 1st. When you get right down to it, it’s just a day. Just another date on the calendar… There isn’t much separating it from January 2nd, or even April 14th for that matter. But in our world, January 1st is possibly the most inspiring day of the year. The day to look forward with hope. The day to vow your unwavering commitment to accomplishing personal goals. The day to set out on a journey toward becoming a better version of yourself. The day to dream big.

For dreamers like me, January 1st is the perfect excuse to devote time to doing exactly what you love most… Imagining all of the possibilities that the new year could hold. While the events of a year are, for the most part, out of your control, the progress of yourself as a human being is totally and completely up to you.

My goals and dreams for 2012 aren’t outrageous by any means. I’m not wishing to win the lottery or to be the achiever of world piece… Although I wouldn’t object to any of those happenings, I prefer to set new year goals for myself that A) are worthy of my time, B) are possible to achieve within the time constraints of a year, and C) don’t require divine intervention to accomplish. So here are my simple, but worthy goals for 2012.

1. Make time for myself a priority.
I am guilty of being a compulsive workaholic while school is in session. To make matters worse, I am a self-admitted perfectionist. While this means that I am a very driven and dedicated student, I often find myself exhausted and drained from giving everything I have to other people. I think that if I made more time for myself to create, to relax, to explore, and to just have fun, I would probably accomplish a lot more than I ever dreamed of, and enjoy the journey.

2. Stay positive.
This is actually a continuing goal from 2011. It allowed me to evade the infamous end-of-semester meltdown that I would typically fall victim to, and it allowed me to open myself up to new friendships when it seemed like old ones were crumbling. Staying positive, and forcing myself to see the light on the darkest of days, was the best thing that I ever did for myself. I think it is absolutely worth sticking to for many years to come.

3. Graduate from college.
Yes, readers, in May I will FINALLY be graduating from college with a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education. I will actually begin my final internship in just a couple of weeks, and I couldn’t be more excited. Up until this point, it has seemed like an endless cycle of courses and exams and textbooks. But now, I’ve finally reached the final stretch. I will finally be able to take the lead in teaching a group of eager students. I will finally be able walk across the stage and claim my diploma. And that pivotal moment is just a few months away. Pardon me while I squeal and do a little happy dance…

Okay, I’m ready to continue.

4. Have a classroom of my own.
Since I will be graduating in May, I will have the rest of the year to get an official teaching job. This means that I will have a classroom and students of my own. I remember playing school when I was a little girl. My little brother, stuffed animals, and dolls were my students. I made worksheets with paper and markers, graded those worksheets with a coveted red pen, and excitedly wrote on my chalkboard. It’s amazing to me that within the next year I will probably have a REAL classroom and REAL students. I. CAN’T. WAIT.

5. Volunteer my time to others.
I think what I love most about teaching is the fact that I’m putting my time and effort toward helping children learn and find their way in the world. In between teaching, though, I often spend my time working on MY homework, or worrying about MY problems. Even though I do need to make time for myself, I think that it’s good for the soul to put effort into making life better for others. There’s always something you can do for someone. You just have to pay attention to the world around you and be kind. Kindness is the greatest legacy one can leave behind.

6. Get into better shape.
To be quite honest, I HATE exercising. Well, to be more accurate, I HATE running… And I’m intimidated by a gym. I don’t know how to use have of the equipment found in a gym and the other half looks like a torture chamber. However, I do like walking. And I tried a dance cardio workout last night that turned out to be a lot of fun. I am determined to make being healthier and getting into shape more of a priority. Finding fun ways to accomplish this will be a challenge, but I’ve always liked a challenge.

So, those are my goals. As simple as they may be, I know that working toward these goals will make my life richer and help me to grow as a person. I can’t wait to share my progress with you over the next year… And I also can’t wait to encounter all that is still unwritten.

All my best, Amy