Tuesday, August 28, 2012

still here.

I'm still here.
Still managing to keep my head above water.
Some days it's harder than others. =)

The kids are doing great.
Gretchen has stopped crying at daycare.
Lawson has made some friends and runs around like crazy at recess.
Sophie loves her teacher and her class. She made friends on the first day.
They are both doing great in school and all the staff tell me how sweet they are.

My class is great. Kids are the same here and there.
It's just everything else that is different.
Way more paperwork/grade entering/record keeping and way less plan time to do it in.
I don't love that.

Change is just hard. Really hard sometimes.
And we've had so much change. So, so much.

But we're doing okay.
Missing our old life... especially after we went back for a visit this weekend.
But also knowing that this life will be really happy someday.
Hopefully someday soon.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

pork. {and a tailgating giveway!}

I don't love ham. At all. Not even a little bit.
So when the KS Pork Association contacted me about doing a post and a giveaway for them, one of my good friends laughed. 
The good news is... pork includes way more than just ham. Whew. 
And... there is a really awesome giveaway! And it just might include over $800 worth of goodies and 4 tickets to the KU/KSU football game! Just keep reading! 

Scott and Jennifer are the farmers that I was paired up with. Aren't they cute?
They have a sweet little love story about her going away to college... him coming to work on her parents farm... her coming home to visit and realizing that her dad had hired a really cute guy to manage the hogs... but then she went away to experience life in the big city. After 4 years she decided life in the big city wasn't really what she wanted, so she moved back to the family farm and fell in love with the cute guy her dad hired. Apparently there is a country song, "The Farmer's Daughter," that even though it wasn't written for them... it could have been written about them.

Scott and Jennifer have been working with their family (her parents, her brother, his wife and 3 boys) to share a little bit about life in the country. You can check out some of their videos here: 
(My favorite is the one about the Farmhouse Kitchen Table. "Mom is the glue of the family." I love that.) 

Jennifer is a teacher by day (at the college level though, so just a bit different than 1st graders) but she helps out Scott and the rest of their family on their family farm in the evenings. I'm pretty sure she has way more energy than me. (Although she did say that she was on "sensory overload as a sub in the K-3 grades. So many questions to answer, so many stories to hear and so many things to do, try; explain, re-expalin, watch and touch.") Yep... sounds about right. =)

I asked Scott what Jennifer does that it most helpful for him. (I'm trying to prepare for my future role as "farm wife.") Jennifer's dad talks about the importance of the farm wife in one of their videos, too. Funny... both of their answers involved the wife being close to a cell phone/computer/the internet to be able to look up parts and equipment for part runs. So it sounds like I should quit my job and stay at home by the computer, right? Isn't that how you're understanding that? =)

I also asked for their input on designing a perfect farmhouse. (Planning ahead, here!) Jennifer confirmed my desire for a big mudroom right when you come in the house. And a laundry room nearby to contain all the dirty clothes. (I'm thinking a big mudroom/laundry combined. This is on my must have list for our future farmhouse!) Jennifer also suggested a big kitchen with plenty of room for a big farmhouse table. (Again... if you haven't watched the Farmhouse Kitchen video... go watch it now. And then learn how to make bierocks. And ham and cheese pockets. And pork pizzas.)  

Scott and Jennifer also shared with me the pros and cons to raising kids on the farm. Actually... they really just shared pros. The only con they had from their experience was that neither of them really learned to swim. Sophie is a fish and Lawson and Gretchen both love to go swimming! So I'm pretty sure we'll continue to make swimming lessons a priority, even when we are out on the farm.  Jennifer sang the praises of being involved in 4-H ("I’m certain that 4-H is what made our family unit so strong and gave us ‘kids’ the passion for being involved in agriculture.  As kids growing up on the farm, it was empowering to know that we were being helpful and had a purpose on the farm. We had specific chores to do and were responsible for the outcome - good or bad.  We had some hard lessons to learn when we were young, but that made us better adjusted to the hard lessons that life threw at us when we got old.") (Lawson is excited about being involved in 4-H someday and Sophie is thrilled. She might just be in it for the clothing modeling, though. Of course.) 

I've heard several people lately talk about the work ethic of most Midwestern farm kids. Jennifer confirmed that...  "it turns out that I  learned non-farm work was ‘easier’ and I was pretty successful in all of the ‘off-farm’ jobs. My employers often commented that I had a finely developed ‘work ethic’ that comes from being raised on the farm and knowing how to work hard! Sure, it is very possible for city kids to develop a good work ethic, too, but I think that being raised on the farm sure helped in our cases!!" A good work ethic is something I desperately want for my children. For me, it ranks right up there with being kind. So, so important and one of those values that too many kids nowadays don't seem to have. If living on a farm can help instill a hardworking attitude and work ethic in my kids, then I am all for it! (I'd be more for it if some friends could come live on the farm with us, though.) =) 

{Can you see all the purple in this post?! (It doesn't show up super well.) There's a reason for that!! Keep reading!}

Now the fun part... 
I was given the recipe to Scott's favorite pork meal: Autumn Glazed Pork Chops.  (No ham! Whew!) As soon as I saw cranberries in the recipe, I knew I needed to invite my mom and dad to share them with us. They love cranberries! (Plus, it was my dad's birthday last week and I was a loser daughter and got him nothing. Except some blog fame over his sweet flower note, I guess.) =)

The recipe looked pretty simple (which is good... I like simple.) 
Autumn Glazed Pork Chops

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
4  boneless pork chops, 3/4-inch thick
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup apple cider, OR juice
1/2 cup whole cranberry sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Cooking Directions
Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick coating. Heat over medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of chops with pepper. Brown chops 2-3 minutes on each side in hot skillet. Add apple cider. Cover tightly; cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until internal temperature on a thermometer reads 145 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a 3-minute rest time. Drain off juices.
In a small bowl combine cranberry sauce, honey, orange juice concentrate, ginger and nutmeg. Pour over chops. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until heated through.

The only problem I had was that my skillet wasn't really big enough for 4 pork chops. But it wasn't a big deal. I just had to cook them a bit longer than the recipe says. (In hindsight, I realized an electric skillet would have worked really well for this. But we're not sure where our electric skillet is. Or if we even still have one. Darn frazzled mommy brain.) 

One of the biggest benefits of the night is that it forced us to clean off our dining room table. Our new kitchen has a table that's big enough for us to all sit at, so we usually eat out there. Therefore, the dining room table has become a catch-all, cluttered mess. But not this night...

Sorry little cows... it's a pork night here!

The pork chops were yummy and really easy! (That's two things this momma shoots for in almost all her meals!) And the kids ate them! Yay!

Now for the really fun part... the giveway! 
All you need to do is visit the Kansas Pork Association's Facebook page. (Click on those words.)  
Follow the super easy steps there and you will be entered into a drawing for the Ultimate Kansas Tailgating Giveaway! 

(And for those of you who don't live in Kansas... go ahead and enter. You can keep the grill, the lawnchairs, the cookbook, the grilling utensils, the thermometers, the cooler, the brushes, the BBQ and rubs, the apron and the $50 worth of pork coupons. I'll take the KU/KSU tickets off your hands for you.) =) 

This is a sponsored post on behalf of The Kansas Pork Association. I was compensated for my time and ingredients but all opinions are my own. (Crazy, right? They paid me to feed my family a meal!)
Click on these links to read about other KS pork farmers and their favorite recipes: 
* Dine and Dish
* Kansas City Mamas 
* Gimme Some Oven
* Amy's Finer Things
* Super Jenn
* The Rusted Chain

Monday, August 20, 2012

happy words.

"I made three friends today, Mom!"

Oh, that makes this momma's heart so happy.

Thank you so much for all your prayers.
Keep 'em coming. =)

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Sorry, readers. You are going to be my free therapy for awhile. 
Feel free to skip this post if you don't feel like reading more emotional ramblings. =) 

I lost track of how many times I got teary today. No actual tears until I got home (thank goodness for that! They flowed pretty freely this evening though.) But there were several near-tear moments during the day today. Plus a few moments of major nauseousness. Yuck. (Just stress, I'm sure. But still... yuck.)

* A super sweet voicemail from a friend early this morning after she read my blog post from last night. Just telling me that I'll be okay and that she's praying for me. Thank you, Kristi. (I was actually relieved that I missed your call though when I heard the message. I would have been way more than just teary if I had talked to you in person!) 

* Sweet texts, emails and blog comments from friends... just telling me that they're thinking of me and praying for me. 

* A sweet care package sent from my sister. Just something that she thought might help make the mornings/breakfast a little easier. 

* A sweet Facebook post from my favorite neighbor... who finally came home from a trip and now I'm not her neighbor anymore. 

* A well meaning comment from someone at recess... "Look at that cute little red-head, sitting over there playing by himself so nicely!" I know she meant well and I know that's what she saw... but I saw a cute little red-head sitting over there by himself... because he had no friends to play with. And I tried to imagine him just sitting by himself at recess last year. But I couldn't do it. Because I never saw him just sitting at recess last year. 

I was telling that story to one of the other teachers after school... and trying not to cry. A quote from the movie, "Stepmom," popped into my head. Julia Roberts (the stepmom) is saying to Susan Sarandon (the real mom) "Their whole life's happiness is wrapped up in you." I realize they are talking about a very different situation than we are dealing with here, and that the quote maybe doesn't connect with anyone but me right now, but it made perfect sense at the time. 

I was telling Corey last night (during my meltdown) how hard this whole situation is for me as a mom. The tears at daycare... seeing nervous faces in the hallway... seeing my happy-go-lucky kiddo sitting alone on the playground... the messy/cluttered/unorganized house. Those things alone would make me an emotional mess. Throw in the new school, new classroom, new curriculum, new colleagues... and you have one o.v.e.r.w.h.e.l.m.e.d. momma. I know he has a lot of stress in his life right now, too. He's figuring out all the ins and outs of his new job and dealing with all the father/husband/provider stuff. I'm not sure if it's just because I'm the mom, or if it's just because I'm more involved first hand with the daycare/school stuff. Either way... I'm a mess right now.  A big ol' emotional mess. 

Lawson called his best friend this evening and they talked on the phone for almost 40 minutes. It was seriously the happiest and most spirited he has been all week. I loved listening to his side of their conversation. I think he must have been using up all his words he hasn't used at school this week. He was so smiley when he went to bed. 

But then he gave me the phone and said that I could talk to Miss Gina. There was a reason I had made him call himself. Pretty sure I was crying 30 seconds into our conversation. 

I am so blessed. I know that. 
I have amazing friends. Here and there.
I have an amazing family. 
And I still have no doubt that this was God's plan for us. 
I know it will work out. I know it will get easier. I know it's going to be okay. 
But it's still really hard. 

And even though he's not going to love that I'm posting this... I want to remember this. 
The distinctive handwriting... the yellow legal paper card... the perfect flowers... I need this documented forever...

You should be really amazed that I could read this without crying. Trust me... it was pretty close.

first day.

I miss my cute chalkboard door. 
And of course, since I think of these things the night before... I had no cute alternative. 
But they're still cute kids... 

Sophie and I might have heard all day how much we look alike... (we still don't see it, though.)

There will be a big chalkboard in the farmhouse somewhere.
So hopefully we'll have cute first day pictures again next year. =)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


We survived the first day of school.
And it was good.
For all 3 of us.
I'll post pictures from this morning at some point.
Right now I'm too exhausted from emotional meltdown #2.

(Sorry, Mom... I may not have been completely honest on the phone. And I kind of think you knew that.)

Today was good. My kids were good. Sophie and Lawson's day was good. It really was.
But it's just a lot. A lot of change.
And it's only been 30 days.
I knew it would all hit me at some point.
And it did. It hit me hard.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

ready enough.

It's not perfect... but I'm ready enough.
Crazy amounts of work done this past weekend.
So thankful for my amazing mom. She was a huge help to me. I couldn't have done it without her.

This was Thursday...

And after Meet the Teacher Night on Monday...

First day is tomorrow.
(Did you catch that? First day of school is WEDNESDAY, but the Meet the Teacher Night was on MONDAY. Our first actual workday? This afternoon. Crazy.)

I met 13 of my 22 kiddos last night.
Yes... 22. Biggest class I've ever had.
Not sure what happened to the whole "small class sizes" that was supposed to be an advantage here.
But I have a para for almost the entire day. Which should be awesome.

Tomorrow is a half day. Which is also awesome.
I'm sure I'll be fine. I always have too much planned for the first day anyway. Even when it's a full day.
1:00 will come really quickly, I'm sure.

Not sure when the emotions will all hit me. I was teary off and on this afternoon. Just feeling overwhelmed, I think. And grateful for how supportive everyone here is being. I'm very blessed.
But missing my old colleagues. A lot. Missing all the familiar little faces in the hallways.
Feeling nervous for Sophie and Lawson.
And I've been shown too many inspirational video clips the past two days. Facing the Giants... Dangerous Minds... Dead Poets Society. Some of those clips would make me teary on a normal day.

Thinking of so many faces tonight and knowing that I'll be missing so many of those faces tomorrow.
And missing the hugs.
But trying hard to focus on the faces that are here.
And to be thankful for the smiles.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

still here.

We're still here. Still doing okay.
Still only one emotional breakdown for me so far since we've been here. (A month on Tuesday!)
I might have had a partial meltdown on Gretchen's first day at her new daycare. Didn't prepare myself for those tears and the clinging frantically to mommy moment.
Still working like crazy to get my classroom ready.
Nearly there.

We've been trying to squeeze in some fun amidst all the craziness.
I have taken so few pictures. Seriously unlike me.
It's been a crazy, overwhelming, exhausting month.
But there have been some fun moments...

Coming home from a nearby waterpark. All 3 kids fell asleep. We had so much fun.

Stopped by a little local hole in the wall before we left town. So yummy.

Playing at the park and lunch with some of Corey's high school buddies. It's been years since we've seen a couple of these guys and their families. 

We spent that same evening reconnecting with some of my high school friends. Two of us moved back here this summer and we're both starting new teaching jobs. 6 out of the 10 people here are teachers. A couple others joined us later... two guys I hadn't seen since graduation! So much fun to reconnect. 

There was also a really fun night riding carnival rides at the fair. But no pictures.
Fun nights at VBS and a swim party. But no pictures.
Fun days playing with across the street friends. And new friends. But no pictures.
And a fun lunch date with friends. There's a picture on Facebook.
And a fun afternoon parade. Pictures will come at some point.
Classroom pictures coming soon. You'll be amazed. The janitor was sure amazed when he stopped by last night. =)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


So far this week I have gotten an "Oh my Lord..." and a "Holy Cow..." when someone walked into my classroom. And they weren't saying that because they were impressed by my classroom. =) 

Moving a house and a classroom both in 3 weeks has been a lot of work. We had 12 years worth of stuff in our house and I had 13 years worth of stuff in my classroom. I'm getting pretty tired of unpacking boxes and figuring out where to put things. At school and at home.

Everything along this wall (minus the green bookshelves) has had to find a home in this new classroom.  And this new classroom has very, very little storage. Not good when you're moving this much stuff into an already full classroom.

I miss a lot of things about my old classroom. The storage... the cubbies... the tables... the patio... the door that opened into Leah's room.... Leah... Abby. I definitely miss them the most.

I miss our reading curriculum, too. It seems strange that I am nervous about teaching WITH a manual, but I am. 13 years of teaching and I have never had a teacher's manual for reading. This will be very different.

I spent the first few days I was there just going through the cabinets and cleaning/organizing. I filled up a couple boxes full of things I didn't think I would need. (12 Bingo games?? Really??)

The TV/VCR/DVD player has been handy for my little helpers. We won't make this a daily habit after school, but it is definitely going to be nice for some days!

Slowly, but surely, I'm making progress. I might not really look like it, but I am. It's that whole "It has to get worse before it can get better" situation. This picture actually looks pretty good. It's much worse in there now.

This little miss is going to visit her daycare for the first time tomorrow morning. Having a few hours with just the bigger kids should help. Should is the key word there. Thursday I'll have some time up there alone.

My new staff is super sweet and helpful and kind and so, so encouraging. (Although I'm still a little nervous about disappointing them. It should make me feel good when someone says they've heard AWESOME things about me. Instead I just wish they would lower their expectations a bit.) =)

My husband and good friends keep reminding me... the "Oh my Lord..." and "Holy cow..." people don't know me well yet. They don't know that I work best under pressure.

And based on how the other classrooms in my building look... I should be feeling some pressure.