It feels like we've done hundreds of first days of school. And our professional status certainly came in handy today. It's always been one of my favorite days of the year but it was a whole new beast today with me headed back to the classroom as well. To be honest, it was hard for me to focus at all on my girls, I've been so singularly focused on my own preparation. But miraculously the morning went off without a hitch.

Tessa is riding the bus for the first time as she heads off to middle school and I wasn't even there to see her off. She is amazingly responsible when it comes to time and she got herself out the door on her own to the bus stop while Dave and I took Sylvie to school. Made me a little weepy thinking of her so grown up.

I was prepared for (but not necessarily anticipating) a rough morning for Sylvie. She loves school but new situations are not always easy for her. She had asked us to walk her to class (3rd grade now!) and I was fine with that. But the minute we hit the front doors she saw her best friend and tore away. She came back when she remembered she had left us in the dust, but she didn't seem to want or need any parental company so we gave her a hug and left her to do her thing. Makes me proud to see her gaining confidence.

The new found minutes in my schedule were all for the better since it gave time for me to arrive at school in plenty of time to take a breath and organize myself for the day. High school doesn't start until 9:00 here so even with dropping off Sylvie and my medium commute I arrive an hour before school.

All three of us girls had a great day. Tessa said the bus was full of scary 8th graders, Sylvie was mad that her play scape is under construction, and I am pretty sure I'm going to lose my voice by the end of the week, but we were all smiling this evening so that is a win.

The girls on their way this morning.

Dave and the girls in front of his brand new truck, another first in the house considering we haven't bought a new car since I drove home my CRV back in 2000.

And a few pics of my classroom I took last Saturday. Why yes, that is my clock collection making a reappearance. After leaving our Phoenix home the clocks had a diaspora of sorts. Makes me happy to see them reunited. I added some new ones too, look closely on the left and you can see my new favorite Math clock. I'm pretty sure I'm already known as the "clock lady" at school. Well, that and the "pink/purple hair lady". (Funny story: my department chair actually has purple hair too. I was worried about covering it up when I was job searching, but I'm pretty sure it got me the job in the first place.)

And for no related reason, a shot of the beautiful sky this morning. Good day all around.

Full heart


I feel the strong need today to express my gratitude. I have been so completely overwhelmed the past few weeks and today at church felt like the eye of the storm, a few lovely hours of peace and quiet before the real crazy starts. Sitting in church, my mind was filled with dozens of instances of help, support, and love that I have benefited from, both physically and emotionally. I am a fairly (cough, cough) independent person in nature and it's not always easy for me to admit that I don't have all my ducks in a row. But this transition to teaching is truly kicking my trash at the moment and all of the support I have received has meant to world to me, meant I can truly sink myself into what I know to be my right chosen path. Whether it is the crazy logistical support and understanding that I've required from my generous family, notes and messages of encouragement from loved ones far away, or just admiring and encouraging words from neighbors - it has truly kept me afloat. Not to mention my new colleagues who have witnessed my daily meltdowns and have been incredibly patient and supportive. What a time to make new friends! They are surely getting a massively skewed version of my personality. (For those of you who know me well, rest assured that I am being hyperbolic and the meltdowns have been completely Amber-sized. Just lots of sarcasm, complaining, fast walking, and perhaps the beginning of an ulcer. No actual tears - yet.)

I was also vividly reminded today of many of the reasons that I chose to make this change. Which is exactly what I needed today. I feel so strongly about this avenue of involvement. I don't necessarily believe in fate or one "right path", but I do know that this choice was confirmed to me by my Heavenly Father in a way that left absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is what I need to be doing. What I need to keep in the forefront of my awareness is that none of it will make a difference unless I do it with joy. I am excited for tomorrow. I am excited to meet new people, all 173 of them.

Happy Place


Here is the picture I hung in my classroom near my desk just yesterday afternoon. A happy place of sorts. Amazed?

I also hung one of my new favorite sayings, "A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor". I was considering just "Chill out, Amber" but thought this was a little more subtle. It's feeling good to finally settle into my classroom but the list of things to do seems to be increasing exponentially as the clock winds down and I'm learning that these teachers are overly fond of meetings. Breathe.

All the Names


All the NamesAll the Names by José Saramago
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a book that I definitely need to read again. There are some deep and tangled thoughts that I haven't completely sorted out. There is so much to think about solitude and destiny and what it means to be an individual.

What I loved:
The ideas. Saramago's writing style is very unique and while it was intriguing, it wasn't what kept me moving through this book. I was intrigued by the main character and his strange move through destiny, but mostly it was the ideas he unearthed along the way that I loved.

What I learned:
This isn't the type of book that I picked up interesting tidbits about a culture or point in history. The take-away was definitely the atmosphere and the thought provoking ideas.

View all my reviews

Today I learned

That a) I chose the wrong new career if I really wanted to escape Institutional Research. Meetings. Goals. Accountability. Measures. Only this time with people who really don't know what they're talking about. And b) even when I'm the new kid I'm gonna voice my opinion in a meeting. It's like a disease.



I am annoyed that the previous post has a sideways pictures and they are out of order. But I am trying out the blogger droid app rather than my usual post by email and I am too lazy to get myself to a computer and fix it. That is the level I'm operating on. Deal.


I'm not the only one with new haircut fever. Tessa has been dithering for months about cutting her hair and having her bff with her made it easier. This is her first cut (except trims) since kindergarten. Good way to start middle school!


I'm feeling the need to pause for a moment and reflect on how I'm feeling here in my first week. But reflect is a word highly overemployed in new teacher boot camp world and I am sick to death of it. I am overwhelmed. Near exhaustion. Having fun. Meeting great colleagues. Excited. Terrified. All of the above. I cannot imagine being ready for school just over a week from now, but I know myself well enough to know that I will be. I will make this happen.



Often I go back and read words I have written, that others have written, to see if they are still true. And even though circumstances change, contexts change, I change- the words that reflect my true self hold fast. Unmovable. That is something I cherish and gives me immense strength and comfort... Know it...



Last day of unemployment for yours truly. That calls for candy!

Check it!

And a higher resolution video here.

Lessons from my crazy day


Today was my day for stepping out of my bubble.

I got a haircut and jumped back into the world of bangs. Usually my hairdresser and I discuss *at length* my options but today I think she was feeling rushed because all I did was compliment her on her awesome bangs and mention that I was thinking of something similar and next thing I know she had snipped of a whole chunk. Lesson: sometimes it's good to just jump in without over thinking. Hair grows. Change is good.

I went roller skating for the first time in, oh, two decades. It is not as easy as I remembered. I did not fall down but certainly not for lack of trying. Lesson: it's okay to look ridiculous, no one dies. Oh, and it's more fun when I go fast and make smooth moves with my arms :-)

I hijacked my entourage (as I now fondly call my family) and we went for donuts. Lesson: Donuts are yummy. No need for a deeper meaning.

I went with friends to a flying trapeze class. It was way harder than I expected. But also totally fun and in the end completely doable. The first time I flew the sensory overload was so complete that I could not process the instructions the guy was calling out to me. Simply could not register the words he was shouting. But each time I went (four in total) more information sunk in until my body finally connected all the pieces. It was thrilling. Lesson: This was a big take away for me and where I'm at with teaching. I am so overwhelmed with the hundreds of details that I'm having a hard time putting one foot in front of the other. But I know that if I stick with it each day is going to go smoother than the last as I'm able to process more of the experience. I know I can do it.

There may or may not be video of the knee hang catch thingy I did. I cannot promise it will find it's way onto this blog :-)


I loves me some new haircuts.

Here we go


My teacher showed this graphic in class Saturday and it made me laugh. It illustrates a teacher's attitudes towards teaching during that difficult first year. The funny part is that I feel like I go through this cycle multiple times per day. I can go from energized and confident to overwhemled and terrified within the space of minutes. I think when it comes down to it I have a lot of confidence in my ability to figure it all out eventually, it's just the eventually part that stresses me out. Teaching is such a strange profession that you are supposed to show up on day one with all your ducks in a row and everything completely figured out. That is just crazy. CRAZY! I never appreicated how incredibly much goes into a well formed classroom management plan. The actual teaching of Math is the least of my worries.

Speaking of my class Saturday, that was also the end of my heavy rotation of class attendance and I'm thankful for that. I still have one Thursday and one Saturday per month and some homework to complete, but hopefully it will be more of a support to meet with my teachers and cohort-mates rather than just busy work. I have come to greatly enjoy the camraderie and have made some great friends. Three other teachers from my cohort are at my same school and that is a big comfort to me. It is wonderful to have some friends in my corner that truly understand this crazy roller coaster.

Starting a week from today I'm back at work for real. (Not like my summer of unemployment has been a walk in the park. I have yet to have one single day of blissful boredom. All I wanted was one!) Three weeks from today is the first day of school and when the real test begins. At least for this five minutes I'm excited.

Great to be Eight!

I know it's totally cliche to be aghast that my baby is eight years old, but that's just the way I feel. It's pretty fabulous too. She is an awesome girl in more ways than I can count. She is smart and sweet and organized in so many ways similar to her mama (for good and for bad). She has so much love inside of her.

We spent her birthday at the pool, a matinee at Alamo Drafthouse, and a little shopping. She had originally been wanting (begging for!) a pair of Toms (shoes) for her last gift but at point of sale she changed her mind and we headed to the Lego store instead. I'm kinda glad she's still at an age to choose toys over clothes. For her celebration with friends she had her first sleepover and requested another cupcake cake, this one I thought turned out pretty cute. My favorite moment of the part day was when she came over to me and dramatically announced, "Mom, you are NOT the host of my party! Tessa is the host of my party!" Which if you know anything about me and my dislike of party planning and/or hosting you'll know that was a-okay with me. Tessa pulled off her duties with flair. I am only necessary to bankroll and supply the operation.

So happy birthday to my beauty! Eight years ago that day was one of the best days of my life and every one since has been blessed by my Sylvie.

Vacation 2012

I keep waiting for a non-overwhelmed, non-busy day to write a little travelogue to accompany our vacation photos, but I'm not sure those exist for me any more. Hopefully my "moment of the day" posts gave a rough outline of our doings, and that's just going to have to suffice. It was a lovely, relaxing trip filled with family and mountains. The drive did not kill me and that is a fairly big deal as I am a big ninny about car trips.

We drove from Austin to Evanston, Wyoming where we stayed with Dave's dad. That is a good jumping off point to visit lots of Utah since it is just on the other side of the Wasatch front. We also took a little detour on our way home and visited Mount Rushmore which was a first for me and well worth the extra hours in the car. I enjoyed Mount Rushmore well enough, but I was completely enchanted by the Black Hills of South Dakota. Incredibly beautiful. Two weeks all in all and it was great to get away from the stress of my year for a short window.

I've got all of the photos on a google album here. (Still not sure what my cohesive photo archiving solution is, but google seems to be winning out lately.)



I buy school supplies!



We had a loooong day at the dentist and the library and piano lessons and me all the while trying to get a handle on my classroom plans (coming so fast!) so this evening I decided to erase all of that with tootsie rolls and some games with my girls. Fun.