Who and What

My name is Hailey and my grandfather is a farmer. I'm the 7th generation to live on the family farm, and my babies (when the time comes) are going to be the 8th. My husband and I are even renovating a trailer on my grandparent's farm so we can move back to the family farm sooner. This blog encompasses the things that are important to me. These things are:

~Special Education
~ADHD, including my own battle with it over the years. It's now my superpower.
~Farm Life
~Equal rights for women.
~Goal setting
~Fitness and health
~Financial Stability
~Personal Happiness

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

52 Lists Project Week 8: My Favorite Things

My second favorite Sheltie. Sage comes home this weekend. 

So, technically the topic this week was supposed to be favorite albums. But while I enjoy music, my knowledge is pretty limited. So I decided to make a list of my favorite tangible things instead. Some of these are horse things, some are household items, some are foods and some of them are just plain random.

  1. Old Navy Jeans. They always seem to fit right, I can always find them at Goodwill, and they LAST. I am hard on jeans, so I know. 
  2. Ariat Boots. Comfortable and durable, not to mention very cute. 
  3. Kong Dog Toys. Virtually indestructible and very stimulating, these are a great thing for dogs of any age. 
  4. The Cavalier. A tiny hole in the wall of a restaurant in Lynchburg with the best fries you've ever had. 
  5. Ovation Helmets. Lightweight, comfortable, high quality and best of all, the helmet hair isn't terrible. 
  6. Clowndog, the stuffed animal I've had since I was a kid that looks far more like a bunny at this point. 
  7. JC Penny's Leggings. I'm not even sure they have a brand name beyond that, but they are made of soft and breathable jersey cotton. 
  8. Kindle. I love mine, and I'm yet to meet anyone who doesn't like theirs. 
  9. Tutus. Really, is there anything cuter than a tutu? 
  10. Tide pods. A little more pricey, but we waste a whole lot less of them.
  11. Stubben Leather Dressing. It makes saddles feel like butter and it smells like BACON!
  12. Audiobooks of any kind. It makes my drive to and from work a lot shorter.
  13. Bold Beef Ranch, a farm in Virginia owned by a former classmate and produces consistently high quality beef. 
  14. Utz White Cheddar Popcorn. No exactly health food, I know, but if I have an addiction, this is it. 
  15. Hobby Horse Hair Nets. They stopped making these, but they were amazing for keeping your hair together at horse shows. 
  16. Teachers Pay Teachers. A great website for finding resources on almost any topic. 
  17. Brother sewing machines. Mine is a small and inexpensive one, but for what I spent on it, it works great.
  18. La Caretta, a small family owned Mexican restaurants in my hometown. 
  19. Chocolate mousse. 
  20. American Girl Dolls. I grew up playing with these. They're a little on the pricy side, but their customer service is unbeatable and they work to create an educational aspect to their product. 
  21. Playmobile. Another great kids toy, perfect for almost every age and imagination. 
  22. Wacoal bras. Gentlemen, I apologize. Ladies, go buy 10 now. They're worth the investment. 
  23. Elf on the Shelf. One doll, so many possibilities. Plus ours scares my sister and while I'm grown, I'm definitely not grown up. 
  24. Duct tape. Enough said. 
  25. Creme brûlée. 
  26. Emersion blenders. Soup, smoothies, milkshakes, sauces. The possibilities are endless and it takes up almost no cabinet space. 
  27. Bandelino and Qupid pumps. Comfortable and practical, these shoes are a great deal at a reasonable price. 
  28. Anything made by Apple. I'm continually impressed by the quality and longevity of their products. 
  29. Pinterest. I confess, I have a slight obsession, but I use it as a tool to teach, dress, and create. 
  30. Family Fun Magazine. It's a great resource for teachers and parents alike. 
  31. Thrift stores, particularly ones that are locally owned. 
  32. Converse sneakers. I don't think I'll ever stop wearing these. 
  33. Kitchen Aid Mixer. I use mine at least once a week. 
  34. Aveeno soap. It is amazing and has noting in it to irritate my skin. 
  35. Carhart coats and gloves. These are the best thing in the world for life on the farm.
  36. Appletinis, my personal drink of choice.  
  37. Skull Candy Headphones and Earbuds. The earbuds are some of very few brands that I find comfortable, and the sound is great.
  38. Little Dickens, a bookstore and teacher supply shop in Lynchburg. My grandmother actually worked here for a while. 
  39. Fitness magazine. It's a good mix of a variety of types of fitness.
  40. Food Network Magazine. I have yet to make anything out of one of their issues that isn't delicious. 
  41. Jillian Michael's Workout DVDs. Efficient, quick, and without tons of extra side chatter. 
  42. Hondas. My husband and I have a Fit and a CRV and we love both. 
  43. Chicken and broccoli casserole. Best comfort food ever. 
  44. Pink roses. 
  45. Rosemary, which I love to cook with, but also adore the scent of. 
  46. Pear lotion from Victoria's Secret. I don't wear it, my mother does, but its smell reminds me of home.
  47. Fiskars scissors, punches, paper cutters, etc. 
  48. Fresh Market, which is the BEST grocery store ever.
  49. Disney movies. 
  50. Biore pore strips. Usually I can't afford them. I'm obsessed.
  51. Morgan horses. How many Morgans does it take to screw in a lightbulb? One, and he'll rewire your house too. The same goes for my last favorite thing…
  52. Sheltie dogs. 
Just call me Oprah! What are your favorite things? 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

5 Truths About Being an Adult With ADHD

I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was seven years old. I was technically considered gifted, but some things, like keeping my desk organized and remembering homework were completely lost on me. Over the years, I have learned how to make ADHD work for me, but there are still daily struggles. Sometimes it's funny and sometimes it's frustrating, but it's a piece of me. Here are 5 truths about being an adult with ADHD.

  1. You WILL get treated like a criminal every time you go to get your meds. This is what getting my meds looks like:
    1. Step 1: Ring, Ring!  Receptionist: "Dr. Robert's office, may I help you." Me: "I need to have my script rewritten." Here is the part where I can tell if the receptionist is new or not, because if they are, they tell me that they don't do that. Me: "Yes you do, if its a controlled substance such as ADHD medication." I then get handed off to someone else. They ask for my date of birth, name, etc. They tell me they will call when it is ready. They NEVER call, so I call them back a few hours later. On a good day, its been written. On a bad day, my doctor is out of the office and I have to wait. 
    2. Step 2: Once it is written, I go pick it up from the office. I then drive it to CVS. I give them my name, the script and a pickup time. If everything goes well, I pick it up in a few hours. However this is not always the case. 
    3. Step 3: Option 1, I go pick it up, show my ID, sign a piece of paper and get my meds. Option 2, I get a call a few hours later saying they didn't realize but they were out. The inexperienced pharmacy tech tries to fax it to another pharmacy, but doesn't call me back when it doesn't work to tell me to come get my script to take somewhere else. (I should have known better, since you can't fax scripts for controlled substances.)
    4. Step 4: I show up at the other pharmacy, they look at me like I'm crazy and I call the other pharmacy, only to be told of their error, which I then kick myself for not catching. By this point it is 9pm at night and I can't get it until after work tomorrow. I complain to both managers, but to no avail. 
    5. Step 5: Go a day without meds, park in a handicapped parking spot by mistake, forget my lunch on the kitchen counter, miss important details at a staff meeting and become generally frustrated. 
    6. Step 6: Finally pick up meds and promise myself I will never allow this to happen again. 
  2. You find yourself having to defend your decision to take meds. There are two sides to this fence. Some people feel meds are chemicals, that they turn people with ADHD into zombies, and that you can manage without them by training yourself. While this is true, my life on medication is much easier. To each their own, but please don't judge me for doing what is best for myself. Here are some tips for coping with people who question your decision. 
    1. Remind them that you are an adult and have made the decisions you feel are best for you, regardless of what side of the fence you fall on. 
    2. If you're against meds but struggling, B6, B12 and Niacin can be used as alternative therapies. 
    3. Stimulants, such as caffeine don't work the same way on our brains, and result in a semi calming effect. Be mindful of this when consuming these things. 
    4. Consider counseling, even if its only a few times. It can help you to process things and learn alternative tools for managing your ADHD. 
  3. Timers, day planners, checklists and organization tools are my best friends. However, I have to be careful not to rely on too many things at once. One to do list in one place is best. Here are tips for using these tools. 
    1. Make only one to do list. 
    2. Decide on 3 things that MUST be done for the day to be a success. 
    3. Identify your maximum amount of time you can spend on a task and still maintain productivity. 
  4. It's a little bit of a super power. I'm a SPED teacher, so my ADHD allows me to identify my students needs more readily. I have really good organizational skills that I have forced myself to learn and those come in handy. Plus I have wickedly good multitasking skills and can focus on something that interests me for a long period of time. Some ways to use ADHD to your advantage.
    1. Don't hide it, but be mindful as to how you present it to people. 
    2. Don't get over focused on a task to the point you let other things fall by the wayside. 
    3. Know your strengths and weaknesses and take advantage of them as much as possible. 
  5. Creativity abounds in your mind. However, you have to remind yourself to finish tasks that you start. Here's how you can use your artistic spirit effectively.
    1. Write down your ideas and remember none of them have an expiration date. 
    2. Keep your creative space organized. 
    3. Break down tasks into smaller steps. 
I'm not saying every day of my life has been easy. There have been days where I was so distracted I wanted to scream. I had some teachers who thought I'd never finish high school. However, I fought the downsides, embraced the upsides and turned it into my super power. Getting my Master's in Special Education was one of my proudest moments, and I hope many more kids will learn to be ADHD super heros. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

52 Lists Project, Week 6: Ways to Show Love

One of my goals recently is to who love and kindness to others daily. Here is a list of ways to show love to others.

  1. I can make care packages and send them to those away from home. 
  2. I can give hugs.
  3. I can remember and acknowledge people's birthdays. 
  4. I can give compliments frequently and sincerely.
  5. I can put love and positive energy into everything I create. 
  6. I can accept love from others. 
  7. I can demonstrate patience, even when frustrated. 
  8. I can apologize when I make a mistake. 
  9. I can put away my cell phone when I'm with family and friends.
  10. I can say thank you.
  11. I can listen.
  12. I can give advice, when it is appropriate. 
  13. I can tell the truth. 
  14. I can include people in my plans. 
  15. I can exhibit forgiveness.
  16. I can promote the small businesses of other. 
  17. I can show up for my friends. 
  18. I can write letters. 
  19. I can keep communal areas clean. 
  20. I can help others identify problems and come up with solutions. 
  21. I can keep the commitments I make. 
  22. I can be there when others stop showing up. 
  23. I can open my home to others. 
  24. I can share my love of cooking and food with the world. 
  25. I can teach someone something new. 
  26. I can bring someone coffee. 
  27. I can share the things I make. 
  28. I can volunteer for a cause I believe in. 
  29. I can sit down and have a conversation without distractions.
  30. I can ask what people need and give them what they ask for. 
  31. I can take on less desirable tasks. 
  32. I can inspire others to be considerate.
  33. I can set a good example. 
  34. I can share things I love (music, movies) with others. 
  35. I can keep negative thoughts to myself. 
  36. I can work to remedy my flaws.
  37. I can smile. 
  38. I can write my blog.
  39. I can keep trying, even when I fail.
  40. I can hold myself to a high standard. 
  41. I can ask others how they are doing. 
  42. I can work to preserve happy memories. 
  43. I can be open to new ideas. 
  44. I can be punctual. 
  45. I can tell people I love them.
  46. I can be genuine.
  47. I can allays put my best foot forward. 
  48. I can try again.
  49. I can respect myself and my own beliefs. 
  50. I can hold doors open. 
  51. I can give others second chances. 
  52. I can respect the desires of others. 
The world can always use a little more love. How do you give yours? 

5 Truths About Farm Life: Love It or Hate It, This is Reality

I love living on the farm. We moved out of our apartment for many reasons, but going back to the farm might well have been the biggest one. Its a highly romanticized concept, and I will admit that there are some dream like qualities to where we live. But there are also things that smack you in the face and teach you about life in a harsh way, but yet are still somehow beautiful. So, for better for worse, here are five truths about farm life:

  1. Animals are dirty. Remember all those movies here the horses are running and they're all clean and shiny. I call shenanigans! My horse, Libby, is lovely, and was a national champion in 2007. Currently she is covered in an inch of dirt, burs (I keep brushing them out, and her pretty silky mane lasts 10 seconds before she goes to find more), and has chin hairs that rival the men of Duck Dynasty. Oh, and getting them clean gets you very dirty. In other words, you can be clean or your horse can, but you need to pick one. 
  2. You are NEVER on your on schedule. I know, you think farmers work for themselves. Actually, we work for mother nature. Hay must be dried for several days without rain before it can be baled, cows go into labor at 2am during a thunderstorm and the horses escape when you are late for work. We adjust. 
  3. Animals die and we move on quickly. I love my animals. My first horse died a few years ago, and it was a very sad day on our farm. But life and death are both a part of farm living, and we have very short term grief. A couple of weeks ago our barn cat became very ill, and we put her down without much thought for other treatments. We don't spend money on animals without fairly solid outcomes. Call us cold, but that is the reality. She was a very loved barn cat, but she was still a cat, not a person. It was sad to bury her, but there is also some joy in knowing that we will be able to give another stray a home, just like we done with her. Additionally, we don't tend to dwell on death. The horses still need to be fed and the garden still has to be tended, no matter how sad we are. 
  4. Everyone knows how to do a little of everything, everyone pitches in, but not everyone is a master of everything. I can fix a fence, throw a hay bale, and take care of a horse with a cut leg. My husband can patch a pair of pants, calm a spooked horse, scrub water buckets and cook. However, although we can both do these things, it turns out much better if we flip those respective lists. 
  5. If you dress nicely to go to work off the farm, you have two sets of clothing. My teaching clothes and my farm clothes rarely cross paths. Barbed wire gashes, grass stains and threadbare knees don't seem to be accepted at most office jobs. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

7 Fun Things To Do This Weekend (That cost under $30)

I keep trying to have a plans free weekend, but since that isn't working, I'll stop trying and just embrace the idea. Here are 7 things to do this weekend (specific to Lynchburg, but I'm sure you could translate them) that won't break your piggy bank.

1. Go volunteer at the local animal shelter. Its fun, you'll feel good, and the dogs and cats will get attention, exercise and much needed socialization. Just don't bring one home.

2. Check out the Lynchburg Beer and Wine Festival. It's a lot of fun and there are tons of craft vendors as well as Wineries and Breweries out for business.

3. See The Little Mermaid at Liberty University. Now, if you know me, I know you're thinking, Hailey, did you really just go to the dark side? But I saw Mary Poppins there in the spring and it was FABULOUS.

4. Take a picnic to the Old City Cemetery, and listen to the Bawdy Ladies of Lynchburg lecture. It's about prostitution (sounding more like myself now?) in Lynchburg in the 1800s and 1900s and is truly a fascinating presentation.

5. Skip the crowds and hike or bike the Blackwater Creek Trail. It's kid and pet friendly and I think the weather will hold.

6. Go to one of the local farmer's markets or check out some yard sales, before winter sets in and these aren't an option anymore.

7. Come to my place for an old fashioned hay gathering party. Hey, if you have to pick up hay, you might as well have fun too!

Any suggestions for local events? Comments welcome!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

My World Explained: A poem by Sarah Kay that captures the very essence of teaching, womanhood and life.

Every once in a while, you hear or read something that explains life so perfectly, you turn it over and over in your mind for hours, days and weeks afterward, as you would a smooth stone. The action is absent minded, yet the worn surface brings you peace and understanding.

Yesterday, as I sat in my classroom attempting to finish my lesson plans, I tried to find inspirational speakers to listen to online. It has been hard, recently, trying to learn the ins and outs that come with the miracle that is being a new teacher. On the one hand, I love my job, my students and my life, but on the other hand, I have never been so tired, physically, mentally or emotionally, in my life.

Through a series of random clicks at the end of youtube videos, I stumbled across this incredible young woman, who spoke in a voice so loud, so powerful it made me feel both weak and strong at the same time. She recited a poem called "Point B" and every line in it was a piece of my truth. I like to write my own things, but sometimes you have to share the wonder that is the mind of another human being. Here  is Sarah Kay's "Point B", however, I have written my reaction in italics.

If I should have a daughter…“Instead of “Mom”, she’s gonna call me “Point B.” Because that way, she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me. And I’m going to paint the solar system on the back of her hands so that she has to learn the entire universe before she can say “Oh, I know that like the back of my hand.” This first part, where she talks about point B, that's my mother all over. And the part about the solar system is something I wish every parent would teach their child, because the world is broad, vast and beautiful and we are just tiny observers to much of the wonder. 

She’s gonna learn that this life will hit you, hard, in the face, wait for you to get back up so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air. There is hurt, here, that cannot be fixed by band-aids or poetry, so the first time she realizes that Wonder-woman isn’t coming, I’ll make sure she knows she doesn’t have to wear the cape all by herself. Because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers, your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal. Believe me, I’ve tried. This is what it means to be a SPED teacher. It is hard, you get kicked from what seems like all angles at times, but you keep getting up every day because there are not enough bandaids, or kind words, or super heroes around to fix all that needs fixing. And you never have enough hands, plugs or duct tape to fix all that is broken in the world, but you still go in every day and try to catch what you can, even though you know that 99% of it will slip through your fingers like hot grains of sand, stinging as it falls. Even though you had a first grader tell you they don't have hot water and a third grader tell you he got move to yet another foster family, and all you want to do is hug them and tell you how much you love them, you have to teach the damn lesson. And yet, at the end of the day, you have that one coworker and friend, the one who tells you how awesome you were, or what you can do to get better, or tries to figure out what our hands together could catch and remedy, and that person helps keep you going. 

And “Baby,” I’ll tell her “don’t keep your nose up in the air like that, I know that trick,you’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail back to a burning house so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire to see if you can save him. Or else, find the boy who lit the fire in the first place to see if you can change him.” What teenage girl doesn't this apply to? What woman doesn't want to fix , and heal and change the life of another, even if it breaks her in two. 

But I know that she will anyway, so instead I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate and rain boats nearby, ‘cause there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix. Okay, there’s a few heartbreaks chocolate can’t fix. But that’s what the rain boots are for, because rain will wash away everything if you let it. My daughter will know this, should I ever have one. That there are somethings where we cry, eat chocolate, dissolve into a fit of giggles and move on. But some things, we never get over, so we instead protect ourselves with something sturdy and practical so that the good things don't get washed down the storm drain when it thunders. 

I want her to see the world through the underside of a glass bottom boat, to look through a magnifying glass at the galaxies that exist on the pin point of a human mind. Because that’s how my mom taught me. That there’ll be days like this, “There’ll be days like this my momma said” when you open your hands to catch and wind up with only blisters and bruises. When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly and the very people you wanna save are the ones standing on your cape. When your boots will fill with rain and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment and those are the very days you have all the more reason to say “thank you,” ‘cause there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s sent away. We MUST appreciate the human mind, even and especially those that think differently. And we must try to catch the wind, to taste freedom, and touch things greater than ourselves. But we must also know that failure is a part of life, and that blisters and bruises come with stories that make us interesting. Each time I meet someone with a seemingly flawless exterior, I can't help but thing how boring their life must be. My scars are a map of places I've been, experiences I've had and pain I've grown from. And there are days where those you are trying to help will sabotage you and step on your cape, but you can always take the cape off, run, and go find one of the many backups you have stored in your closet, because you, like the ocean or beautiful and will keep trying over and over again to grasp the shore. 

You will put the “wind” in win some lose some, you will put the “star” in starting over and over, and no matter how many land mines erupt in a minute be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life. I have vowed to train myself to think more like this. My sunny exterior is a choice I make, not daily, but hourly and minutely, although technically this is not a word in the way I am using it. 

And yes, on a scale from one to over-trusting I am pretty damn naive but I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it. We live our lives in fear that we will destroy what is fragile, but in this fear, we risk missing out on some of life's sweetest experiences. 

“Baby,” I’ll tell her “remember your mama is a worrier but your papa is a warrior and you are the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more.” So many of us settle and accept, but I know the world has more to offer than it is currently giving, and I will ask and ask again, until I feel that I am getting to live in the world I deserve to be a part of, although I know it will mean I will lose my voice many times and continue to have to ask in spite of it. 

Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things and always apologize when you’ve done something wrong but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining.
Your voice is small but don’t ever stop singing and when they finally hand you heartbreak, slip hatred and war under your doorstep and hand you hand-outs on street corners of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother. I will apologize for my screw ups, but I will not apologize for being who I am, nor for being intolerant of all the injustices in the world. And I will sing, badly and off key, of things that contain beauty, wonder and heartache and scars, so that the world never forgets that I have a voice and that some of what I say might be worth the efforts of their ears. And for anyone who thinks I am difficult, that I am fiercely stubborn, that I go too far in my battle against all is wrong in the world, please allow me to introduce you to my mother, who is a greater warrior that I will ever be. 

This woman is only two years older than me, and yet my life has grasped all that is my life with incredible precision and detail, and in only a very few limited words. She is one of my overnight heroes, and I am grateful she is in the world. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Dose of Reality: 5 Truths of Being a New Teacher

Since blogging every day has been difficult, I thought I'd try a few shorter posts here in the mix. One of my personal goals this month is to consistently tell the truth, even when it isn't as shiny and pretty as I'd like it to be. I thought I'd do a mini series of blogs this month called "5 Truths," and each time I'll posts 5 truths about some aspect of my life or another. Today's topic: being a new teacher.

  1. You will lose sleep. Lots and lots of sleep. Everyone talks about how hard college and grad school are, but I slept during those (my social life wasn't much to speak of, but that's another topic). I have slept less in the last month than any other part of my life, excluding last year when the meds they put me on for CPS gave me crazy insomnia. 
  2. You will adore your students and coworkers. You may even adore your boss. Paperwork, however, is a monster that grows quietly and preys on new teachers, sucking out their souls. 
  3. You will be asked to teach things you haven't though about or used since you finished the grade you are being asked to teach it to. You will make mistakes. Use them to grow and to help your students grow. 
  4. There will be days where nothing, literally, nothing, makes it out of your mouth correctly. Laugh at yourself and move on.
  5. Sometimes a ridiculous backup plan will keep you sane. Face it, there are days where you just feel like running for the hills, and you can't help but ask, what the heck did I get myself into. Have a backup life plan, preferably one that is slightly ridiculous while still being semi reminiscent of something you could actually do. For example: my backup plan is to become an artisan hippie. I will perfect my rock climbing and hula hooping skills, get certified as a fitness instructor, and sell my crafts like a maniac. 
Anything you'd like to tell or hear the truth about? Share away! 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

52 Lists Project Week 5: Things I am Grateful For

I have been trying to have an attitude of gratitude here recently, and I have been doing a better job. This week's 52 lists project is things I am grateful for, tying right in with my goal.

  1. My husband, Brad. Ladies, be jealous; gentlemen, take notes. Being a new teacher is insanely hard and exhausting. Brad has kept up with laundry, cleaning, made sure I have eaten, taken care of animals, fixed things in my classroom and run some truly bizarre errands (hey honey, I need 5 giant bags of fruit loops!) without question or complaint. 
  2. My grandparents. We are lucky enough to have them next door. It helps them out some, but really, we're the lucky ones. My grandmother consistently tries to feed me, my grandfather keeps us in fresh veggies, and when I called him a few minutes ago asking him to let the dog out, it had already been done. 
  3. My mother. This is the person I call when I'm stuck with a student, when I'm having a bad day, or when I need a second opinion. She believed in me always, taught me to work hard and to treat others with kindness. 
  4. My father, who taught me to take care of people, spent 10 years driving me to horse shows, and showed me what is important in life, as well as what it means to be a man, husband and father. I would never settle for anything less than his standard in a person.
  5. My parents as a unit. They feed us weekly, help me with the horses so I can work late, and push me to be my best. 
  6. The rest of my family. My aunt and uncle sent me flowers my first week here, my other aunt has given me advice that I feel has been incredibly helpful to me as a new teacher. 
  7. Friends. In the last few months, I went from not having a social life at all to telling my husband, "not this weekend, not next weekend, but the weekend after, NO PLANS. I just want a day to myself." I have made more friends in the last month than I thought possible, and I feel that I really fit here at BES. 
  8. My job. It pays great, I fit well, and I believe in what I'm doing. I know I have a ton to learn, but I also know that there are plenty willing to teach. 
  9. My master's degree…and the fact that I can take just about every class I want to online for the foreseeable future. 
  10. Pets. I've loved taking care of my parent's dog, Gypsy, over the last few weeks and in another three we get to bring our puppy, Sage, home. 
  11. Books on tape. They make the long drive to and from work pleasant. 
  12. Rock climbing. I'm still not very good, but I get a little stronger each and every time. 
  13. My Happiness Project, that led me on this blogging journey, and is helping me to enjoy life a little more every day.
  14. Good food. That's really about enough said on that topic. 
  15. The Reading Specialists at BES, who answer all my questions, explain things until I get it, and drop off the books I need in my room with insane speed. (Seriously, the longest I've had to wait is two hours.)
  16. My mentor and coteacher, who makes life in the first grade fun and wonderful. 
  17. My students. My first graders beg me not to leave to go teach 4th grade math and call me a princess, all my students hug me, my fifth grader says "yes ma'am" so politely it makes me a better person, and my motley crew of 4th grade math students genuinely tries their best, and is making improvements. 
  18. The church that supports our school. We get a lot of free supplies. 
  19. Kind friends and strangers. I've had numerous other things donated to my classroom over the last month, simply because people are kind. 
  20. Rafe Esquith, one of my teaching heroes, whose books inspire me to fight through the though stuff and be the best educator I can. 
  21. My friend Kelly, who keeps her horse with me, and takes over feeding duties when I need her to. 
  22. The wealth of information I have access to, both for teaching and for the rest of my life. 
  23. Music, and its amazing power to capture and explain the many conundrums and joys of life. 
  24. Horses, and the opportunity to have learned from them over the years. 
  25. Good teachers, in every aspect of my life. 
  26. Bad teachers. I really have the desire to hunt down the algebra teacher who told me I'd be lucky to finish high school and thank her. That one statement pushed me to prove her wrong, and I'd say a master's degree does it. I also remember that when I am frustrated with a student, and it reminds me to be careful with my words. 
  27. My little business and the dream it represents. 
  28. The broad world view I was exposed to from a young age. 
  29. One more seat at the dinner table. Growing up, there was ALWAYS room for more at our dinner table, regardless of religion, race, sexuality, beliefs, or walk of life. This open generosity is one of the best life lesson I have had. 
  30. My hometown. Sure, its a little backward in some respects, but there's culture, a decent job market and some damn good places to eat.
  31. My confidence and self respect. I had lost this for a while, but I'm starting to regain it, and I'm truly thrilled to discover I feel good about myself again.
  32. My body. I'm not a size two, and I doubt I will be in the near future, but I can swing a 50 pound hay bale with ease, manage a horse, pull myself up a rock wall, and I think I could throw a punch or two in a bar if necessary (though since I don't go to bars, and I'm more of a love than a fighter, I think this is unlikely).
  33. My willingness to gain knowledge from unlikely places. Listen to a six year old. You might learn  a lot about life. 
  34. My previous job. Was it my dream, no. But it gave me perspective, experience, and a heck of a toolbox. 
  35. Pinterest. Maybe its cheesy, but I get tons of teaching ideas off of it, and its a fabulous resource for SPED teachers. 
  36. Natural beauty. In people, in nature, in ordinary everyday life. 
  37. My continual drive to be a better person. 
  38. Slowly but surely, I'm getting the hang of the aspects of my new job. I'm walking out tonight as prepared for tomorrow as it possible, and with a little done for Thursday as well. 
  39. Laughter, and its continual presence in my life.
  40. Consistently being around people I am comfortable enough to be myself around. 
  41. Having strong female role models throughout my life. 
  42. My sister, and knowing someone as brave as she is. 
  43. My home. It's location, its appearance and the way I feel in it. 
  44. The overall health of my family as a whole.
  45. My little classroom, and how at home I feel in it. 
  46. New life. As of January, Brad and I will have had the privilege to welcome three little boys into the world as part of our family, and I am certain they will all grow to be men that make the world a little better. 
  47. The power to make up my mind to be happy. So many people either can't or don't know how to make this choice. 
  48. Family history. The fact that I know it, live it, and am working to preserve it. 
  49. The path Brad and I are on to be debt free by thirty. 
  50. ADHD. No, seriously, a therapist once asked me if it ever bothered me. I laughed and told her it was my super power. 
  51. The creativity of others, and the joy that is to be had in it. 
  52. My life. It is wonderful in all aspects. 
Smile, laugh and tell me what makes you grateful. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

52 Lists Project: My Current and Future Dreams

I know I haven't been great about the blog lately, and I have definitely skipped the 52 Lists project here recently. But I'm in the process of trying to get back on track, and so, here is Week 4 of the 52 lists project: my current and future dreams.

  1. Reclaim my weekends. I love my jobs, but I can't wait for the time when working on the weekends just to stay above water is necessary. 
  2. Climb a 5.10 on the rock climbing walls at Rise Up. I'm loving this new sport, and I love that I can feel myself getting stronger and braver each week. 
  3. Get a new horse. I love Anna and Libby, but Libby's retired and Anna just isn't quite right. 
  4. Return to the horse show circuit and do well. I miss riding competitively and being good at it. 
  5. Volunteer regularly with an organization. I'm not sure which one yet, but I miss being actively involved as a volunteer. 
  6. Have a well trained dog. We've picked her out, her name is Sage, and we can't wait to bring her home, but we also want her to be well behaved and awesome. 
  7. Become debt free. We're still working on this, and though we have a long way to go, with hard work and luck, we should be debt free before thirty. 
  8. Build our own home on family land. 
  9. Get down to my ideal weight.
  10. Learn to hula hoop well. I'd actually like to get certified as a hoop dance instructor.
  11. Take up a second fitness activity on a regular basis. I'm thinking hot yoga at the moment, but I change my mind a lot. 
  12. Take two riding lessons a month.
  13. Learn sign language. 
  14. Develop a better understanding of small business management.
  15. Write a nonfiction book.
  16. Write a novel. 
  17. Travel internationally.
  18. Visit all 50 states. 
  19. Ride internationally. Horseback riding in Ireland? 
  20. Grow my craft business to making a substantial amount of money each month.
  21. Have babies.
  22. Continue to grow my cooking skills and take a cooking class. 
  23. Start a book club. I really want to do a children's lit club. I'm thinking I may try to get this one off the ground over Thanksgiving or Christmas break. 
  24. Build a barn suitable for boarders.
  25. Go on a cross country road trip. Who wants to join me? 
  26. Complete one truly insane trail ride. 
  27. Go to Disney World as an adult. 
  28. Take a wine tour of California.
  29. Run a half marathon.
  30. Take a wine tour of Italy. 
  31. Become a mentor teacher. 
  32. Have 1,000 blog followers.
  33. Visit a dude ranch. 
  34. Get down to 115lbs. (Or 125 with badass abs.)
  35. Get farm in excellent working order.
  36. Have beautiful and functional fencing. 
  37. Swim with dolphins.
  38. Watch the horse portion of the Summer Olympics. 
  39. Host a Pinterest party. 
  40. Donate 1,000 craft items to charity. 
  41. Write a children's book. 
  42. Go on a spa weekend. 
  43. Camp on the beach. 
  44. Watch the filming of a TV show. 
  45. Get an adult AMHA membership. 
  46. Learn to ride sidesaddle well. 
  47. Get additional tattoos. 
  48. Visit NYC and see a Broadway show. 
  49. Visit Australia. 
  50. Zipline. 
  51. Stay in a treehouse hotel. 
  52. Gamble in Vegas. 
I'm in an adventurous mood today, so my goals seem more adventuresome than usual. What are some of your goals? 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I'm Only Just Starting to Fall for My Husband: Our Old Fashioned Take on Love

For those of you who know me, you know I have the most incredible husband there is. Brad helps on the farm, has made tremendous sacrifices for the good of our little family, supported me through grad school, career changes, a truly bizarre health crisis and is just an all around nice guy.

My husband and I have a love story that is somewhat unique to say the least. We met in the sixth grade and were good friends all through middle and high school. He's in the background of just about every set of photos from birthdays and school functions. But we didn't even start dating until after our sophomore year of college.

My mother urged me to date him for years. If you want to get really technical, you could call it an arranged marriage, complete with a two horse dowry. If I'm being completely honest, I started dating him more out of curiosity and friendship than some great burning passion. Frankly, I'd had enough of the latter kind of relationships, thank you very much, and figured I didn't have much to lose by trying something different. Not exactly romantic, but I did love him as my friend.

I say I am only now starting to fall for my husband, truly and repeatedly fall head over heels for him, for a multitude of reasons. The main one is probably that I am actually getting to see him regularly, since he changed careers about six months ago. This allows me to see him in a more consistent light, and I have to say, I like the view. I have gotten to see him fixing things in my classroom, and offering to do the same for my fellow teachers. He has brought me dinner, kept the house tidy as I put in the long house that are required of a new teacher, urged me gently out of bed on the days I needed to get to work early, allowed me to sleep in when I've needed to, run countless errands, helped me to make new friends and just been an all around great human being. Additionally, I think I've been running on extra crazy lately, but he never looks at me like I'm nuts. Furthermore, he's pushed me to be healthier, happier and more patient.

It seems today that people are very determined to feel some sort of passionate, burning love before they get married. I love my husband now and I loved him when we got married, but that heat, for us at least, has always been more of a smoldering ember than a raging inferno. The thing is, raging infernos have a way of burning themselves out at a rapid rate. However, the last embers linger on long after the flame has died. I believe in love that comes the old fashioned way, without the intense heat, but with the warmth of friendship and mutual understanding. I find myself suspicious of relationships that ignite too quickly, and often question how long they will last before buying themselves out. (And yes, I am going to run this fire metaphor into the ground.) I wish everyone a love reminiscent of glowing coals.