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Sunday, February 27, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Well, here we go again. I thought I was done with school and studying, but I've decided to go for yet another piece of my education and certification. Next month I will be taking the test for Middle Grades Language Arts/ Reading. Why I am doing this? Just to see if I can.
To be serious, I found out this week that I am highly qualified to teach Junior High Language Arts, but I don't yet have the Highly Certified designation. The only logical step is to go for it. Why not take a chance if I have the credits to give me the opportunity?
The school I am REALLY hoping to get a job in has students from Kindergarten through 8th grade. It only makes sense to be able to apply for any position that may come available. Through substitute teaching I have come to really enjoy the Junior High School aged students. They can be a big pain, but they can also be a lot of fun. Has my dream of teaching 5th grade shifted? To be honest, I'm not sure. I think I will be equally happy being a classroom teacher in anything from 4th through 8th grade.
Starting today I will be in study mode, trying to brush up on the knowledge that I am sure is locked away somewhere in my brain. I am not confident I can pass this test, as many of the Language Arts classes I took were in the first round of college I attended. That was back in the 1990s. I AM determined, however, and I've proven that determination can take a person a long way in life.
A year ago in March I sat down for the most nerve wrecking 8 hours I've experienced in my life. I took a test that gave me the right to call myself a teacher in the state of Arizona. Three weeks from today I will be sitting in the same building taking a similar test. This time I will be proving my ability to teach Junior High Language Arts. Wish me luck!
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
I have finally come to realize that the upcoming job search is causing me some serious insecurity. Those of you who know me personally can attest that I don't handle insecurity well. I get grumpy, I become easily frustrated, and I become a big bundle of nerves and tears. Well, at least I have finally figured out why I want to cry every time I turn around lately!
Why is this hunt for employment any different than the multitude of times I've scoured "want ads" in the past? I'm thinking that it is simply because this time I really WANT the job I am going after. It isn't just something I will apply for because I saw an ad in the paper and it sounds interesting. Teaching is something I've work for (might I add worked VERY hard for) and is my chosen career. What will happen if, God forbid, I should not be hired for next school year?
Here are some things that I know:
1. Several teachers have told me that I will be excellent in the front of a classroom
2. Several teachers have complimented my lesson plans and preparation
3. Several teachers have said they would love to co-teach with me
4. Several teacher have told me that I have creative and innovative techniques
Why, then, do I worry so much? I wish it were as easy as saying I'm not going to worry. All the "self-help" talk about positive thinking isn't going to help in this situation. I think I need to see some forward movement in order to start building confidence. Unfortunately we are a couple of weeks away from most districts posting jobs for next year. I guess, until then, I will continue to try to keep busy and not think about the future.
I know that I don't interview well, and I am nervous about my resume. Although it is well written, my resume is not as strong as it could be. I wasn't a camp counselor from the time I was 12 years old, and I really didn't hold any jobs working with children. Talking positively about myself has never been a strength of mine, and speaking of strengths.... how I am going to answer that question in an interview?
The biggest fear, I have noticed, is the transition from being a stay-at-home mom to a full-time working mom. Student teaching gave me a nice glimpse into that life, and it was HARD! So many nights I would go to bed at the same time the girls did. I had the life of a teacher down pat, but the wife and mother parts didn't necessarily fare so well. My wonderful husband took over so many of the responsibilities that I felt he really got the short end of the deal. I'm hoping that it won't take too long to find a groove and settle into a different type of life.
Another worry I have is how to get to the gym. During student teaching, that part of my life was pushed to the side as well. Again, I hope that once we fall into a pattern, exercise will be easy to add in.
These are all silly worries, really. The real worry is will I be good enough to get a job? I am not young any more. Will that be a disadvantage compared to the cute newly graduated 24-year-olds? My style is not as bubbly as some of the new teachers, either. Will I come across too harshly? Lastly, will the frustrations I am feeling as a substitute teacher carry over into my "real" classroom?
No job is perfect, so I don't expect teaching to be anywhere near flawless. In fact, just the opposite is true. I am well aware I am walking into a career that has some major negative factors. Teachers deserve to make more money, they work many hours they are never credited for, and there is a lot of pressure. Knowing this I am still very excited to begin this journey. The question is: Will my future employers be as enthusiastic to embrace my imperfections?
What is something that has caused you insecurity recently? Did it all seem silly once you got past that?
Monday, February 21, 2011
If you live in the Mesa, AZ area you MUST try Alpine Valley Bakery! This outlet supplies breads and other baked goods for stores such as AJ's Fine Foods, Sprouts, and Sunflower. At any of these locations you will pay around $3.59 for a loaf of bread. At the outlet I can pay as little as 50 cents for the same loaf.
Today I picked up 7 loaves of bread (thank goodness for the freezer Daniel purchased when we replaced our refrigerator), a package of hamburger buns, 2 loaves of dessert bread (one pumpkin and one lemon poppy pound cake), AND two loaves of sugar-free blueberry loaf cake. What did I pay? A grand total of $10! I don't know about you, but that spells a GREAT deal to me!
The bakery uses quality ingredients, and even their white bread feels nice and heavy and is not a big ball of sugar. The normal breads I've looked at don't have any added sugars, though there is in the dessert breads. That is to be expected.
The only downfall I've found is the hours of the bakery. Thank goodness for school breaks. They are only open Monday through Friday from 8 AM until 2:30 PM. This makes buying bread difficult for anyone on a standard work schedule, but I do take advantage of my freezer when I have days off. And, I take advantage of my mom and dad also shopping at the same bakery as well! I can ask them to pick me up a few loaves if I am running low and don't have a day off coming up.
Here is the link for anyone interested in going:
When I went to actual bakery's website I found out they will do gift baskets, too. Of course, you wouldn't get the "day old" pricing like at the outlet, but this would make a fantastic gift for a loved one. If you do food gifts, they should be good quality and as healthy as possible.
Have you found a great deal on a local store near you? Share it with us here.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Sunday has been the one day of the week I've designated as a lazy day. I don't expect my family to get up and dressed by any particular time, and I don't push myself to do the same. Though I usually do get dressed and get ready for the day fairly early, I don't beat myself up if I don't. I also don't push anyone to worry about exercise or any other type of schedule. I have come to truly believe that being lazy should be a part of a healthy lifestyle.
I know it sounds counterproductive to schedule lazy time, but it really does work for me. I give myself the permission to relax and do the things I was to do around the house. Surprisingly, I usually get more cleaning and other household chores done during this time than throughout the other days of the week. The difference is that I do it on my time and in my own way.
A lot of Sundays we wind up at my parents house, which is a fun time to share together. We usually bring over something to add to what my mom is cooking for dinner, and we share an evening meal before getting ready for the week ahead. If, due to my dad's work schedule, we wind up doing this on Saturday night, we often light a fire in the fire pit and sit around gabbing. This is our favorite way of letting go of the week before and again preparing for what is to come. The weeks that we don't get to see my parents feel different. It is strange how a little "tradition" such as this one can become such an important part of life without even realizing it.
Today we are heading to Mom and Dad's house for chili dinner. I am trying a new recipe that I found on the Fitness Magazine website. It is for Crunchy Baked French Fries. You can find the recipe here:
Potatoes are one of my favorite foods, so I really can't wait to see how this turns out. I was excited to find out that, " A small spud packs about 130 calories, no fat, 18 percent of your daily vitamin C intake, and more potassium than a banana." There is a debate as to the healthiness of white foods including potatoes, but I choose to go with the idea that all foods fit into your diet in moderation. I'm not too sure about how moderate I am with potatoes.
Daniel is not feeling well today. He hurt his foot on Thursday and is still feeling the pain today. So, we are definitely hanging around the house until we head to my parents' house. I'm hoping we'll watch a couple more episodes of Brothers and Sisters, I'll get some chores done, and the girls will clean their bedroom. Then again, if none of that gets done, I'm not going to cry. Saturday was errand day. That was the day to be the responsible adult and mother I am. Today is for me.
What do you do to ensure relaxation in your life?
Friday, February 18, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Since our family is Valley of the Sun members at the YMCA, we get to visit any of the surrounding YMCA gyms to workout in. Today I did not get called in to sub, so I decided I was going to get in an extra workout. We haven't yet tried the Tempe YMCA, and they had a dance class that sounded promising, so I decided to go there.
I discovered another important factor to getting in a good workout. I MUST feel comfortable in my surroundings. From the moment I walked into the Tempe YMCA I was uncomfortable. The lady at the front desk made me feel extremely unwelcome. She didn't seem to like the fact that my home YMCA is Mesa. Apparently my questions were distracting her from folding the towels she had in front of her. She clearly saw my big gym bag, and one of my questions was the location of the locker room. Did she bother to tell me the lockers there are not traditional? No, she let me get all the way to the locker room only to turn around and come back to request a key. That, too, was a big problem for her. Customer service is definitely different at various locations.
I finally got my belongings stored away and ventured out to locate the treadmills. I was about 20 minutes early for class, so I thought I would warm up with an easy mile run. The key I had to pin to my shirt was really frustrating me, though. I would much prefer to have lockers that did not require me to carry something extra. Every step I took shook the key, making a pinging sound against my upper leg. Grrr!!! After 5 minutes the beating of the key against my clothing was annoying the daylights out of me. Yes, I AM very sensitive to how I feel while I am running, and this did throw me off.
Cutting the treadmill run short at less than half a mile, I decided to slowly put my iPod away, hit the bathroom one more time, and make my way to the aerobics room. When I was in the locker room someone was calling out, "Hello. Is anyone there?" It was coming from the direction of the showers. I answered, "Hello!" Boy was the lady mad that I interrupted her conversation! Here I thought she might need assistance after hurting herself in the shower, and it turns out she is on her cell phone yelling at whoever is NOT answering the phone. So much for being a kind and considerate person! I've noticed that I've been getting a lot of dirty looks for trying to be helpful lately.
Feeling like I just didn't fit in there, I left the Tempe YMCA. I was going to head home because I was frustrated, but I didn't want to give up on myself and the workout I wanted. So, after hitting the bank to make the deposit that needed to be done today, I drove 15 miles in the opposite direction to the Ross Farnsworth YMCA. There was a Zumba class that started at 10:00. I arrived much too early, but the lady at the desk gave me an admission ticket anyway, and told me to have a great workout. She did this with a smile. And, you know what? I DID have a great workout. I really think it was because she made my experience something I was comfortable with, and she made me feel like I belonged.
I warmed up with an easy mile jog, then I put my things away before joining the Zumba class. The songs were different than what I am used to, but the workout was as good as ever. One thing about Zumba, the hips sure do get used! Tonight I am going to a Yoga class with Daniel. I hope we do some hip stretching!
Our comfort zone makes a big difference in what risks we are willing to take. For me, I was not willing to try a new class while also feeling like an outsider. What risks have you decided not to take based on a "gut feeling?"
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Since I have finished school and have cut back on my volunteer hours, I have rediscovered a love of reading. I probably get to read about an hour a day on average. I joined a group for readers that has a monthly challenge. I enjoy the challenge because it gives me ideas on new books to try.
The challenge for the month of February was to read any book by the author Julie Kenner. Her books are very different from those I normally read. I picked up a book called "Demons are Forever" from the Confessions of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series. It was great! I really enjoyed reading something new and finding a new author. After finishing the "Demons are Forever" I found out this was the third in the series so I ordered the first one from the library.
I have also picked up a book from a series I've been reading for quite awhile. The book's name is "Faithless," and the author is Karin Slaughter.
Now I have a decision to make. Which book should I read? I started "Faithless" yesterday on the way home from the library (Daniel was driving). So, I guess I'll start there. That's the problem with a love of reading, though. There are so many books to choose and not enough time to read!
What are you reading today?
Friday, February 11, 2011
Well, I tried something new and that was the goal. So, in the long-run I have accomplished that goal. The sad part is that I REALLY did not like belly dancing. It is WAY too girly for me, and while it is a nice hip opener, it really isn't much of a workout. Let's put it this way, I didn't take a shower after class and I came home to sit on my new couch.
Amber joined me for this class, and I was so impressed with her. She told me 10 minutes in that she wasn't enjoying herself, but I told her she had to stick with it through the class. That is the rule I set for myself, and I didn't want to leave to take her to the children's area. Without a complaint or a pout Amber finished the class, doing her best to follow the moves and be a good student. I have to say that it was a difficult challenge for me to stay in class, so I can't imagine how bored she was. Part of working out and being healthy, though, is having a healthy mind. Part of a healthy mind is self discipline. Amber did well in that area last night!
I have found that I enjoy a workout that makes me feel strong. I am not a fancy girl, and the moves that were made in belly dancing made me feel like an elephant. I do well in classes that use powerful moves or that are not quite as graceful as the belly dancing was. Maybe that's why I enjoy running so much. Each time I run I feel the muscles throughout my body getting stronger or carrying me farther.
At any rate, I am glad I tried something new. It took 3 weeks to build up the courage to go to that class, and now I can say I've been there and done that. What is something you've done that you found you didn't enjoy?
Thursday, February 10, 2011
I set a new record for myself yesterday! I ran a 5K (3.1 miles) in 40 minutes and 12 seconds. This is almost 2 minutes off my best time to date. What an incredible run!
Music really does make a difference. Around the 2.25 mile mark I started thinking I was going to give up and walk. I had a stitch in my side, my knee was not feeling perfect, and I just wasn't having a happy day. I did slow down for a little bit, though I never brought the speed under 4.0 miles per hour. I started flipping through my songs, got to one of my favorites, and was able to pick up the pace to somewhere between 5.0 and 5.5 miles per hour. The rest of the run was focused and done knowing that I was going to beat my previous record. I just didn't know it was going to be by that much!
The first mile is now becoming easy. I won't say it is without effort. Every run I do requires serious effort. But, I now have no doubt in my mind that I can make it through the first mile. This is a big step for me. I may still be at a jogging pace in the eyes of some more intense runners, but I'm happy with it.
Tonight I am hoping to try the belly dancing class at the YMCA. I'm hoping to have the courage to actually make it there. It sounds like a lot of fun, and it is supposed to burn a lot of calories. I just don't do well with new things. I'm also not comfortable moving my body the way I have seen belly dancing portrayed. I guess there's no better way to get comfortable than by just doing it!
We learn best and improve more when we are slightly uncomfortable with what we are doing. What will you do in the next week to bring you out of your comfort zone?
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Zumba class was a hoot! Who would have thought that I would ever be caught in a dance class doing moves that I once thought only pole dancers did? Seriously, this class was a mix of hip-hop, belly dancing, some kickboxing, and a whole lot more. For once I actually believed the instructor when she said that it didn't matter if we kept up or not. The idea was to just be moving and having fun.
There was a lot of laughing, clapping, and smiling through this class, and I don't know that we ever noticed how hard we were working out. At the end of class the instructor was drenched in sweat, and I think everyone needed a good shower. That's my kind of workout!
I read an article today that said Zumba can burn up to 500 calories per hour. I'm sure I didn't burn near that amount because I spent a lot of time just trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. I figure if I burned half that amount, though, I'm happy. We will definitely be back next week!
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Today the girls and I are trying something new. We are going to a family dance/ exercise class offered at the YMCA. It is called Zumba. For those of you who haven't heard of it, Zumba is a cardio class that has it's roots in Salsa dancing. It is supposed to be an incredible workout and a lot of fun.
To be honest, I am a little nervous about taking this class. I don't have very good dancing skills, and I'm afraid I will not be able to keep up. Having the girls with me, however, will be an inspiration and should help to make the class more fun. At the very least the girls will be able to laugh at me later in the day. Both of my daughters want to try some dance classes, so this will be fun for them.
I'll let you know how this class turns out. If nothing else, it gets us out of the house and starting our weekend right with a fun trip to the YMCA. If this doesn't work out, though, I'll be hitting Gentle Yoga next Saturday morning!
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
I can't believe what a big difference brands of vitamins can make. Daniel and I had started buying Apex brand multivitamins and calcium supplements when we were members at Pure Fitness. I loved the way I felt when I took those vitamins, and I could tell they were making a difference for me.
When we quit the gym we couldn't buy their vitamins anymore. It never really occurred to me to try to purchase the vitamins on-line. I thought I was stuck and could not get them. We bought some other brand of vitamin at Wal-Mart. I did not feel this vitamin did much for me. We tried a second brand with the same results. There really is a big difference in brands of vitamin.
Since I had such great results with the Apex vitamins, I considered joining Pure Fitness just so I could buy their product. Daniel pointed out that we should try to find them on-line. Lo and behold, they were available through Amazon.com. The best part? They were half the price I was paying at Pure Fitness! This morning I ordered the multivitamin and calcium we first started with months ago. I can't wait to start taking them again!
There is a big difference in supplements. Some of the brands you can buy at the store have a lot of fillers and "junk" in them. This, apparently, doesn't agree with my body. I get crampy and don't feel my best. For me, the Apex vitamins are well worth waiting for in the mail. The price I found on Amazon is comparable to what I've been paying at Wal-Mart, so it's a win-win all around. Don't give up on vitamins if you aren't feeling your best. Keep trying to find what will work for you!
I really believe that in weight loss, the first pound is the hardest. It takes real effort to make a conscious choice to eat right, to exercise, and to stick with it. For all the people who have made this life-style change, I applaud you.
This, of course, includes myself. I am proud that I have continued my journey, even though there was a rough patch. I wanted to exercise throughout December and January, but physically I could not. The eating part could have been better, but I'm not going to beat myself up about that.
I have lost the first pound again, and I personally find that to be the most difficult. Once I see the scale moving I get motivated. I get excited to watch it move and to see the results of my hard work. Those first couple of weeks are tough, though. One begins to wonder if the time at the gym and the effort of cooking and eating different are really worth it. Today I get to celebrate that downward slide on the scale. The first pound has been lost, and I am officially back on track.