Wednesday, July 29, 2009

la segunda

When I was searching for a job, there was a lot of disappointment. I lost track, quite possibly on purpose, of the number of interviews I had without a job offer. (I do not count the offer from my former high school journalism/newspaper teacher/track coach who's now a principal... that was too easy.)

My job opened on May 15, which is the last day a teacher can resign and be let out of their contract without paying the district. I initially went to interview for an 8th grade position, but that morning the 6th grade teacher resigned. I'm fairly certain that they were planning to hire me before I even got there; the assistant principal has known me for years, and I'm sure that helped. I left the interview at about 10:30. By 10:50, they had offered me a job. Which one depended on who else they hired.

I very much wanted to teach 8th grade - now I know better.

My second year of teaching starts in T-18 days. I cannot wait. I love, love, love my job.

Of course, it's easy to say that now, when the anticipation of the new year is fresh, but the nerves have not yet set in. It's a simple thought, when my expectations for and confidence in myself are unreasonably high (it is my second year, after all!). It's effortless to think of the wonderful parts of my job when the not-so-wonderful parts have faded from memory. (That's why we still get summers off - so we'll forget parts and come back again the next year!)

With what other job could I get acquainted with such wonderful kids?

At what other job would I get such lovely messages on my board?

(In case you can't read it, the board says "Mrs. Kohlman is awesome and a good b-ball player. Love, Sophia. P.S. You rule!")

And honestly, where else would I get to know such amazing co-workers?!

At my school, we are fortunate enough to have administrators who realize the importance of collaboration. Three days a week we have team time, where all the grade level teachers meet to discuss concerns and upcoming events. The other two days, we have department, which for me is sixth grade language arts teachers. But really, these times (at least for my team and dept.) are not just meetings; they are times to relax, to seek advice, to de-stress, to vent, to share little stories. Both of these were invaluable to me last year. If I had not had such patient, understanding people around me and purposeful time with them, I might not have made it through the year intact.

So, in 18 days we'll all go back - 21 days for students. Sure, I'll spend plenty of time at school between now and then. I will hang posters and take them down and move them. I'll spend way too much money at Superior School Supplies and Target. My plants and candle warmer will find a safe home on some bookshelves from my parents' house. I will send copies to central copy, and double-check them when they come back. My already-organized folders and binders will be organized and re-organized. I will make a flip chart about me for the first day of class. Lesson plans for the first couple of weeks will be sketched out. I will be obsessively prepared.

But none of that will really matter much on August 20.

The teachers will be excited, ready to get back into the school routine, full of stories of summer projects and trips and family time. The kids will be nervous, but trying to hide it, some better than others, unsure of how they fit into this new space. Hesitant about where to go and how to open their lockers. They will be searching for smiles, for comfort in this new place.

All that will really matter that day is that I love, love, love my job and the kids can tell.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Family Lovin'

This weekend I got a great reminder: my family is so cool. (And I'm not saying this only because I just found out that they read my blog.) We were in Minnesota for my cousin's wedding. We got to spend time with my aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins. How fun they are.

I wish I could explain the family dynamics. But I do not have time for such things. I can only say that I would not trade them. Other families cannot possibly be so wonderful. Sorry.

My sisters and I are not the type to go shopping and out to eat or get manicures or have "sister days" together. We just don't do the typical girly things - never have, probably never will. We shopped and ate together at the Mall of America. It was fun.

My cousin, Andrea, and aunt, Ellen enjoyed the warm pool at the groom's dinner. Andrea does improv. She's that person who's funny without trying. My most vivid "Andrea memory" from childhood was when, once or twice, we called her "Apple Juice," because her initials are A. J. She wasn't amused.

My cousins' daughters showed off their dolls to Grandma. The dolls all got their ears pierced and had their hair done the morning of the wedding at the American Girl store. Halle, Ashtyn, and Avery were so excited.

The ceremony was simple. And beautiful. In a sculpture garden, in front of an amazing wealth of flowers in full, perfect bloom. Sarah officiated.

The little kids (the next generation) are rather... um... attached to Daniel. I think Halle's words were something like "Let's pull his fingers off!"

Grandma was so excited to be at the wedding. She and Grandpa flew; he enjoyed teasing the rest of us about our long car ride. A year and a half ago, Grandma was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. It was a year of exhausting treatment (for the whole family) before the dr. finally said "remission." Now, she looks fantastic, especially for 85. I love the expression on her face in this picture.

I danced the night away... but I was only comfortable with my moves when there were others under the age of 10 involved. Halle and Ashtyn were more than willing accomplices.


Monday, July 13, 2009

A word of thanks

The next two-ish weeks will be a little wild for us. Thursday we leave for my cousin's wedding in Minnesota (where the highs will be 74, 76, 78, and 81). Sunday we return. Tuesday is a Royals game, then a few days in Lyndon, then a weekend in Omaha to see the zoo, more baseball, and shop. (Obviously our day to day existence is pretty tame.) So, I might not be around here for a while. We'll see.

Anyway, on to my story...

Our church, Hope Mennonite, partners with Mennonite Mission Network to support missions efforts around the world. Recently we were given the chance to partner with a woman who serves in Ukraine and Russia. Mary works at several theological schools, but is mainly working towards starting a master's program at Odessa Theological Seminary (at least, as I understand it...).

Mary shared in church on Sunday. What I remember best was that there is a saying in Russian, greeting and goodbye, that translates to "Thank you that you are." She said it sounds better in Russian, but I'm not sure it can.

Those words are so beautiful to me. "Thank you that you are." Because, it is enough that you simply exist. You do not have to do more. You do not have to be better. You can just be. And that is wonderful enough for me to thank you.

Some days I feel awfully inadequate. I fail. Or I think I fail. And then I exaggerate my failure. After all, I'm human.

I have to admit that I'm editing this post with a heavy hand. I spent a long paragraph or two listing my inadequacies. But if the point is that being is wonderful, then I should not dwell.

But then... "Thank you that you are." I am enough.

So... I need to say it, too.

"Thank you that you are."


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bare feet...

Thanks to my wonderful husband and Uncle Greg, I can now walk through my house without shoes! Hooray!

I may be biased, but my house looks really good right now (and will look even better when the baseboards are back on and the transition pieces are down in the doorways - but minor details, comparatively). You can get a reminder of the "before" here. I've already forgotten, but I still can't believe I live here:

And the rug works, too... but I'm sure it doesn't look nearly this good if you don't remove the bag before display.

Now all we need is to move our tv back up (and to run a cable line to the wall where we want it) and get some furniture - and Monday it comes! I'll post more pictures when things get put together.


p.s. and if anyone has suggestions for the big, empty wall in the living room or over the fireplace, just let me know... I was thinking maybe my black and white wedding photos?!?! I have a lot of random home decor; I'll have to experiment.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Humbly Proud

I grew up knowing that "pride goeth before a fall." I even have an uncle that (dare I say it?!) is due for a big fall any day now. For as long as I can remember, I knew how much he annoyed everyone else, so I made sure to be the opposite. I spent a lot of time apologizing for my mistakes and even sometimes for my accomplishments - or just ignoring those.

But, a few years ago, a wise woman told me that it's okay to be "humbly proud" - you know, tell people about it without being a snob. It's better than putting yourself down; I'm working on it. So here it is... I am "humbly proud" of myself...

Brad's birthday was yesterday. I made a cake. Though I am well-versed in basketball, Christmas, and Easter egg cookies, this was my first attempt at decorating a cake. I used too much frosting, and it's a little sloppy. But I did it.

He was in awe. He kept saying, over and over "I got a Ken Griffey Jr. cake!" (The autograph is KGJr., copied from one of Brad's baseballs.)

I am also humbly proud of my husband. He spent almost his entire birthday installing the wood floor. Brad and Greg are almost done! It's sooo close to looking like a house again! Greg is coming back tomorrow.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ode to... the Go-Mart Cup

A newfound guilty pleasure of mine: styrofoam cups from my friends' gas station (Go-Mart). Not the drink I buy (which depends on my mood - I don't have "my" pop), but the actual 20-oz., brightly decorated, styrofoam cup. They used to be plain white, which I liked a little better, but I can deal.

Guilty because I know how terrible styrofoam is for the environment. Pleasure because styrofoam doesn't sweat and I'm supporting a locally-owned business - that happens to be owned by someone I work with.

Every few days, Brad or I will end up at Go-Mart for a special treat (yes, we're five)... I will inevitably keep rinsing and refilling my cup for days on end (tea, water, gatorade, it doesn't really matter), until the lid cracks or I get a new cup. I actually drink more when I have a Go-Mart cup; I think it's the straw. It's strange, I know.

In other news...

Here is my first (successful) square for my quilt. The entire top, except the border, is cut out, and now almost all of the stripes are sewed together. I was sick of just sewing the stripes, so I moved on to piecing one block. I think it looks pretty darn good, for my first (well, second) attempt. The first try didn't turn out so well, I learned a few things, and then made another!

Brad's 24th birthday is tomorrow... I have big plans for the cake. So far, so good. Hope the decorating doesn't flop! He keeps saying, "Well, I'm almost a third of the way dead." Um, yes, because you really spend your entire life dying. Who thinks that way?!

And... the first, and possibly only, products of my container garden. The cherry tomatoes are doing quite well. I guess I did have a bell pepper that got bruised by hail. Tragic.


Monday, July 6, 2009

The Fourth

Royals game... Friday night

Our neighbors' shows... Saturday night

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Not me...

You know those houses that are always neat and tidy and clean, no matter what random and awful time you happen to drop by unexpectedly? The ones that could be a model home?

My house will never be one of those houses.

Sure, it will be fairly clean, and most things will be put away, but there will always be those stray books, or the shoes I've been meaning to put away, or the fact that the vacuum has been neglected, or the pile (err... mountain?) of mail on the counter.

And I have to thank my mother for that. Seriously. Growing up, our house was never one of "those" houses. That was okay: great, in fact. We lived there. And it showed.

My mom showed me (unknowingly, of course, and when she reads this post, she's gonna laugh) that there are better things to do than make sure the house is clean.

Like read a book.

Like play piano. (Which I'm dying to do these days, but I don't have one... yet!)

Like spend time with your family.

Like garden. Or play outside.

Like exercise.

Like cook a good meal, or bake some bread, or mix up a batch of cookies.

Like sew?

Yup, sew. Me.

Since the piano is not a possibility, lately I've been feeling drawn to my sewing machine. I gave up on a teeny, tiny wall hanging. I want results. Results I can see.

So I found this pattern (The House that Jack Built) in a book from my grandma, Fat Quarter Friendly. I found pretty black and white fabric at JoAnn's. I especially love the wheat print.

This afternoon I cut out all the pieces. We'll see how far I get. (I'm hoping that, by posting it, I have a little extra motivation to keep going!) I'm excited to start piecing it. After tomorrow's Royals game, Saturday's fun in KC and Lyndon, and maybe relaxing on Sunday?!