Eight Straight

“Every morning we wake up with 1,440 minutes in our bank account. God gives us the lottery of time.”

This Gospel reflection was the perfect message to listen to the night before I started my eight year of teaching. As much as I love everything about summer, I was not dreading the beginning of the school year. I happen to love the energy this time of year. However, I did need a reminder of my purpose and my priorities. As I listened to Father Mike’s podcast Sunday night, it set the tone for my school year.

My time is not my own. God gives me 1,440 minutes per day. There are no rules on this gift, but he does ask that I use it wisely and invest on things that last.

My career is a calling. I truly believe that because I listen to God’s vocation and follow his plan, I am fulfilled to my very core. I definitely put in more than 40 hours a week, but God gives me the time. In fact, God gives me 168 hours per week. Who am I to say no?

Are you investing your time in something that will last?

Back On My Bike

After a procedure at the dermatologist, I was stitched up and told not to run for at least two weeks. Of course this came at the end of the summer, and I was beyond bummed to be told to “take it easy”.

IMG_1758I spent my last two weeks exercising on my Schwinn. It’s a basic bike I bought years ago, and most of the gears are now broken. I also couldn’t ride two days in a row because the seat is awful. Again, how do people ride RAGBRAI?

Even though these were not the workouts I wanted, I tried to ride leisurely and enjoy the routes. Sometimes I rode to the library to pick out a new book. Other days I rode the trails late in the evening when it was almost too cool to be out in shorts and a tank top.

It wasn’t how I wanted to spend my last weeks of summer, but it did encourage me to take things easy and enjoy the scenery.

Dr. John took the stitches out, and I enjoyed my first long trail run in awhile this morning. It was great to lace up my Brooks and work up a sweat. Unfortunately, I’ll be back for another procedure too soon, and the healing time period will begin again. They assure me they just have to take a little more. At least I’ll have some bike routes ready.

Nuzzel

NuzzelTeachers report back to school tomorrow.

One tool I will use this year to keep me in the loop with news outside of my classroom is Nuzzel.

Nuzzel takes news being shared the most on your social media sites (Facebook and/or twitter) and sends you an email of the most shared stories. I linked my account to twitter, where I follow mainly educators from around the country. Each day I receive an email from Nuzzel compiling what these respected leaders are sharing. It even tells me who shared the articles and how many times the articles where shared with those I follow. When time is limited, this helps me weed out other twitter stories and focus on those that people have already deemed important.

I’ve already found this great literacy blog through Nuzzel: Blogging Through The Fourth Dimension.

I learned about Nuzzel here from Jonathan Wylie.

White Water Park

IMG_1741Question: How do teachers spend the weekend before school starts?

Answer: Packing a cooler of cold drinks and hitting the water.

Manchester did not disappoint. From the Chuong Garden Chinese food beforehand to the perfect rafting weather, it was a great way to wrap up our summer break.

IMG_1745Tubes and kayaks can be rented right by the water. (Tubes were $10.) We were lucky enough to score a table in the shade to enjoy between rounds. If you haven’t checked out Manchester’s White Water Park, put it on your calendar before the leaves begin to change.

Four Seasons

IMG_1734I worked in the same classroom for seven years. It was spacious and the home of 17 iMacs. It was my home away from home. There was just one thing missing: windows. My classroom was located on the inside of the building so I didn’t have any natural light. I only found out it was raining or snowing from the buzz of my students coming from another class. While this may seem like a small detail, I knew I needed natural light in my day. There are just too many times I arrive at school when it is dark and leave when it is dark.

This year, I have a new classroom located just across the hall from my old room. It is full of natural light, and I will get to experience all four seasons. I still get to use the iMacs across the hall for my classes that need the computers and their programs, but I don’t have to feel stuck in a cave all day.

While living in the City of Five Seasons, I should be able to at least experience four.

*My classroom is not yet decorate. Great wall hangings and color to come.

Summer Reads: 2015

BooksThis summer allowed me to log a lot of pages.

Listed in order of read

Which would I recommend? Big Little Lies was my favorite. I liked it so much it received its own blog hereAll The Light We Cannot See was really great, but a little drawn out. It’s a very long historical fiction book that takes place in France during World War II. The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind is a quick, easy read. It’s a story of inspiration and hope. All the Bright Places is a YA  story that is not left on the pages once you read it. The characters come to life and it’s hard to forget about them and how they see the world. You’ll get emotional reading it. Since You’ve Been Gone is a fun YA beach read that reminds every teenage girl that there is nothing more important than a best friend.

Even though I head to school on Monday for inservice week, grading papers won’t start for a few weeks. I plan to read Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman while I pretend summer isn’t over.

Happy reading, friends!

DuHawk Weekend

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Loras girls’ weekend was an absolute success! I can’t tell you how much love and respect I have for these women.

IMG_1725Although Anne couldn’t make it from California (we missed you more than I can explain), five of us were able to coordinate our schedules for an entire weekend together. While I did show them a few highlights of Cedar Rapids, including NewBo restaurants and That One Cupcake Place, most of our time was spent lounging around and catching up.
We realized it had been SIX years since we were all in the same location (Kathleen’s wedding). Yes, six years! We had plenty to talk about!

Thank you for visiting, ladies! Your friendship is such a blessing to me. I’m glad we’re already planning next year’s reunion location. IMG_1726

Mini Garden

IMG_1692Before I try my green thumb at a full garden, I decided to just grow tomato plants this year. My count was up to seven tomatoes the last time I checked! I can’t wait to eat them knowing they grew right outside my kitchen door.

I love tomatoes and growing them requires minimal care. What other vegetables are this easy to grow? Maybe I’ll plant a variety next spring.

The Gift of Time

In my mind, August is not the end of the summer but rather the beginning of fall. I will report to school at the end of next week to help with new teacher training, and fall will be in full swing.

Gateway MarketThankfully I’ve had a great summer. One of the things I love about having the summer away from my classroom is the opportunity to take off and spend uninterrupted time with friends I don’t get to see during the school year. Last week I spent a day in Des Moines with my friend Paige. She took the day off work, and the two of us sat at Gateway Market for hours and hours. We were lucky enough to score a table outside in the shade. The fish tacos were good. The lemon poppy-seed muffin was even better. The conversation was beyond great.

While some back-to school-shopping was included in this trip, it really wasn’t about accomplishing anything that day. It was just about spending time together. Summer gives me the gift of time.

Wednesday = Date Day

My favorite day of the week this summer is Wednesday. Somehow John has been able to take every Wednesday off since our Hawaiian vacation. I guess all of those hours he put in over the winter are paying off while I’m home to enjoy the time with him.

IMG_1638Our traditional weekday date includes brunch at Riley’s. This might be my favorite restaurant in Cedar Rapids, and I’m so exited to get one in Marion soon. I always order breakfast (garden omelette, hash browns, wheat toast, and coffee), but someday I’ll branch out to the lunch/dinner menu.

I also recommend this ridiculously good cinnamon apple pancake with slices of apple baked within. It was impossible to consume with my eyes open. It was that good.