1 for ME.

Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics shared a big truth this morning. Well I don't know if you'd call it a truth, but it wasn't a free teaching product, or a link to a product for sale on TpT, or a lesson plan, or even about anything in her classroom. It was about how when school had started in the fall she felt like maybe she had lost a small piece of herself - that part that we as teachers seem to put first. Aha. I felt so validated reading this. Maybe I am not a bad person. Maybe I am not a bad teacher. Maybe I just, somewhere along the way, lost a little bit of myself.

I've thought a lot about it this year - the stress, the exhaustion, the physical pain. I can't say I used to be calm. I don't know that me and calm ever mixed. However, there were things that made life calmer - walking, swimming, yoga. What happened to that? If I'm to make excuses I can answer that - time, money (gym), etc. We could go around in circles. The truth though is that it is all just a vicious cycle.
So we tell ourselves, maybe tomorrow. Well, tomorrow is here. And if I'm to be honest, I couldn't tell you the last time I've gone for a walk, or swum a lap, and sadly I can tell you the last time I took a yoga class (it's far to long to be mentioned because I know the month and year my friend who taught it moved away). 

Yet, if I took an hour or two out of every afternoon (or even just two or three times a week) to go do one of these things, might I feel better? Maybe. Maybe the 25 pounds I've lost would be for healthy reasons and not other reasons. Might a little bit of my creativity come back to me? Goodness I can only hope!

Gosh I miss my creativity.  I used to say I was going to create so many items for my classroom. Now I look at all of yours and have no clue where to start. Seriously no clue. 

In terms of other years, emotionally, financially, and physically 2013 hasn't been too bad. True there have been some moments that could have been better. There've been a few months where I have still lived paycheck to paycheck (not nearly as many as in the past - and the point is, I'm doing it). In the grand scheme of things, even my dr. visits have been far and few less. Even the doctors visits come with taking care of yourself and being your advocate. I sit there with my paper full of medications and questions - I am not ashamed. Goodness knows we pay enough to insurance these days that we all deserve more than 5 minutes. 

We can use new year's in whatever ways we see fit - December 31st, or birthdays, or school years, or the beginning of football season, or baseball season (this obviously depends in which part of the country you live). It doesn't have to wait for a certain time or just one time a year, but we can't put it off either. The point is we have to take care of ourselves. No one else is going to. You can't put it off til tomorrow or the next day. Before you know it you're almost a month away from turning 32 and still renting a one bedroom apartment ;) 

So my 1 for ME is 1 hour just for me every day - taking a walk, watching my General Hospital (guilty pleasure - love me or leave me), being crafty, spending time with friends, but absolutely nothing school related. It will be a challenge for sure. Maybe y'all can hold me to it. 

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13 in '13

I look forward to this Linky party every year. So without further ado: 

13. Favorite article of clothing:

My Lizzy zip up sweatshirt from Evy's Tree. I actually have two other sweatshirts from her as well. A lot of her items are now sold out, but her spring items are supposed to become available in January. I could live in them. They are so unbelievably soft. 

12. Favorite movie you watched:

The sad thing is that I cannot even remember going to any movies this past year (oh, I did think of one from this past spring - The Heat with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy) - 
two weeks ago I took my nieces to see Frozen (cute) and last night I saw Philomena (very good). 

11. Favorite TV series:

My friend got me into this show, and Schmidt absolutely cracks me up. 

My other show is Parenthood. I took a step back from it last season, but I am a big Joel and Julia fan. 

10. Favorite restaurant:

I don't have a favorite restaurant because my appetite comes and goes like nobody's business due to medication. I just eat when I'm hungry. One of the places I have tried this past year, and I am fortunate enough to have one in walking distance from me, is called Farm Burger. 

9. Favorite new thing you tried:

Chopping all of my hair off! I've done this before from time to time, but it had been about three years or so since I had done it to this magnitude. Towards the end of September I just really needed something that was going to make my life a little bit easier. Everything else had been so stressful, I needed a timesaver. Knowing I had the appointment scheduled, I just told K to go for it. She normally doesn't like to because she knows I always try to let my hair get long and never wind up making it, but we did it and everyone loved it. It's already grown out so we'll see what happens next. 

8. Favorite gift you got:

In my family we don't do huge gifts. We never have. If there is something we absolutely need throughout the year, we find a way to make it happen (like my car down below). My mom still asks for wish lists and sometimes I give her one and sometimes I don't. The truth is, there is nothing I need. Chanukah this past year was right at Thanksgiving. A lot of places were having mattress sales, so I happened to start looking (it seemed only right since I had had the same full size mattress since graduating college and moving to NYC 10 years ago). I kinda decided it was time to grow up. So with a little contribution towards a new mattress, I am proud to say I now sleep on a queen size pillow top.

7. Favorite thing you pinned:

I love this quote from Amy Poehler because of all it entails. It is everything I have learned about myself as an educator and person in the past year. Ever since this past January I allowed myself to open up to the idea of coaching and collaboration. Everything that has come after has made me and my days better. I have become a better teacher. I have gained an amazing and true friend. Best of all, I am continually challenged. There is no greater gift. 

6. Favorite blog post:

I couldn't decide between two. The one above I wrote for myself and my friend. I grew a lot last year and this speaks to that. 
The below is about my journey as a teacher and also how I had grown to where I was then. They were both written last school year. I wish I had known then how much I would miss what I had. Those were the good days - in both posts. 

5. Best accomplishment:

Going back to number 7, when my friend L and I began collaborating, we began teaching Science and Social Studies Fridays. For any of you who may have paid attention to the few blog posts I have written this school year, she and I are no longer allowed to work together this year (I feel the need to clarify - she coaches the upper grade levels and things have gotten strict, so our time has been limited). Likewise, in the beginning of the year I was also not given permission to continue with Science and Social Studies Fridays. Again, towards the end of September I went an pleaded my case. I was given a few days to prepare and do one completely on my own (which I knew I could do, though I hadn't in quite a while, let alone at all with this group of students). Despite getting slightly sick towards the end of the day sue to nerves and stress, I did it - and well. I've been allowed ever since to continue doing it and I am so glad!

4. Favorite picture:

This is me - fun and unfiltered. My friend and I had walked 5 miles on a nice spring afternoon and then decided we had earned a Krispy Kreme donut - that one was cookies n' creme filled. 

3. Favorite memory:

The above is professionally, from one of my students at the end of the 2012-2013 school year. That class was truly amazing and I still miss them dearly. 

Below is personally, my first huge purchase of my adult life - a brand new car. I had been driving my mom's old 2002 Acura MDX since I had moved back from NYC. While it had done it's job well for 11 years, the transmission was beginning to go and we would be putting more money into it than it was worth. I picked out a very pretty 2013 Honda CRV. People still tell me she smells brand new, though I don't smell it. I absolutely love her. 

2. Goal for 2014:

Budget. Budget better!

1. One Little Word:

12 months. 52 weeks. 365 days. It's a long time. A lot can happen. I used to have the greatest memory. I used to remember everything. Now, even writing this post was difficult. I couldn't remember what movies I had seen, what blog posts I had written. What I do remember are the times that were a little bit hard and the times that were a lot of fun. I remember the people who were there for all of it - the ugly cries, the loud laughter, the coffee, just silent for a minute, the dinners, the occasional hug. 
I don't remember it all. But I'm going to trust in the process, and trust in the people who accept me just as I am. 



I know it's been a while. I'm coming back this week, so I figured I would start by linking up with Farley. Hope everyone had a nice and meaningful Thanksgiving.  


I Tried Carrying the Weight of the World (a photo dump, stitch fix, and randomness)

...but I had to let that go!

Here I sit, inputting grades. Rather, avoiding inputting grades. Tomorrow is a teacher workday. We have reached the end of our 1st 9 weeks. Where did they go? Report cards go home at the end of this week. I can't believe it. Nine weeks. In a little over two months I am 20 pounds lighter, less a lot of tears, down one student (so my total is 25 at present), and down one intern. Shockingly the latter two losses actually have me breathing a tad easier this weekend. It has definitely been a stressful 9 weeks, and this culminating week was no exception.

I had been feeling a pain in the side of my stomach. I didn't say anything about it. Probably because in my heart of hearts I knew what it was. Just in case though, they sent me for a CT scan. I thought I'd make it to school for half a day, but my veins don't like to cooperate so after being poked and prodded and drinking nasty stuff, I took the whole day, came home and tried to rest.

from my mom after I got home from the dr. 

Another fun pick me up was that my Stitch Fix arrived while I was resting. Do you know about Stitch Fix? If not, you should. At first I was skeptical. My friend tried it and after seeing some of the cute items she got, I gave it a go. Here's how it works: 
1. You fill out a style profile
2. You pay a $20 styling fee, which if you keep an item (they send you 5 items) the $20 goes towards what you decide to keep. *if you keep all 5 items you get 25% off. 
3. They mail it to you (with a prepaid shipping return for anything you don't want). You have 3 days to decide. 
4. It's that easy. It comes right to you. You try it on at home. 

So I did one last May and I will say I was not impressed. I wanted to be, but nope, I didn't keep anything. I didn't do it again for a while. My friend did another one right as school was starting and she said "I can't wear this top but you can." She was right. I kept the top and get compliments every time I wear it. So I did one for myself again. 
Here are those pieces that came last September: *disclaimer, my apartment has terrible lighting, so please forgive me*

I loved this top when I saw it. But, I also knew it was okay if it didn't work on me, because it was super perfect for my friend. 

A little too big in the arms for me. I kept it because, I was correct, my friend wanted it. 

I wanted to like this, but it was a tad too tight if I moved my arms. It went back. 


This was cute and I has pinned something just like it. The material, however, was too clingy - and in all the wrong places. It went back. 

 Red wrap dress from 41 Hawthorn. I love this. I was nervous because wrap dresses are sometimes difficult on me but it worked on my smaller self. Kept it.  

This sweatshirt is NOT stitch fix, it is from Evy's Tree and it is the softest thing ever! 
 And now for this past week's (October's) Stitch Fix: 

Loved this, though I did go back and forth, but I kept it. I even wore it to school on Friday with jeans, and had to be somewhere nice for dinner and dressed it with nicer shoes. 

I wasn't so sure about this dress at first, especially since it is October and it is a tank top dress. However, after my medical stuff and getting the news that I will have some medication to make me hot, so I went with the dress. Kept it. 

I wanted to like this. I did like it. I asked for an aztec print cardigan. BUT - it's acrylic = itchy. It's heavy = bulky. Unfortunately it's October here in Atlanta and some days are still in the 80's. I couldn't justify something this heavy right now. I did ask them to try again but lighter weight. 

If you like some of what you see, you should give it a try (I'm not being paid to say this). It gets better with each one, but you are not committed to any length of time or any amount of "fixes".

And as far as the rest of school and life goes, I'm grateful for coworkers who provide these reminders. Here's to a better 9 weeks ahead. They'll definitely be more stylish.

Lessons Learned
I'm not perfect. It's okay. 
Not everything gets finished every day. It's okay. 
There are bad days and good days. 
Things could be worse. 
It's the friends who love you at your worst that are everything. Honor them. Keep them. Appreciate them. 
At least you can look good every day, and if not - LAUGH. 


Say What You Wanna Say

Truthfully, I'm not sure what I want to say.
School's been hard. And stressful. And long. 

I miss myself and the teacher I used to be, who had energy and was constantly creative. I've been pushed this year and made to feel like I am constantly being watched. It's not just me, it's everyone. Somehow, I keep coming back every morning (and super early). 

After a couple of breakdowns, a lot of weight loss, and a few steps of courage to ask permission to teach the way I used to last year on Fridays after being told 'no' once previously (L and I were able to co-teach science and social studies Fridays), I've begun to take steps backwards to what I know is best for me and my students. It's helping me move forward.      

I absolutely know why it takes a village - it's for the teachers. To anyone who thinks they can do it alone, then call me weak right now - but I am better because of coaches and coworkers who grace my days. Blessed would be an understatement. 

Yes, the days that go well make it so easy to see why I am doing this and so easy to appreciate every process I have gone through (the professional learning, collaboration, growing) to get where I am. But am I where I want to be?

When things and people change and you constantly have to reprove yourself it gets tiring. The stress is unhealthy, on so many levels. But, then I see the kids. Kids who are now in 4th grade and I've known them since 1st. I'm reminded that I wanted this job, at this school. I wanted it badly, and not so long ago. So how do you know when and if it's time to walk away?

I don't have the answers.

I have health insurance. 
I have a job. 
I have my own place to live. 
I have my own car. 
I have coworkers who have become friends. 
Four years ago I didn't have any of this. Two years ago I still didn't have some of these things. 
I don't know how the remainder of the school year will go or what's in store. I don't know where it will take me. For now, I'll still be grateful for this as well: 


Gone, Gone, Gone (the one in pictures with a reveal)

And so gone is summer, and preplanning, and even the first week of school. That's right, week one - down! It's in a haze for me. A lot of what I knew is gone. My administration is new, my room is new, the rules are new. Everything. I've woken up every morning feeling sick to my stomach. I'm fine once I get to school. My kids are sweet and cute. I know there's still a lot to do in my room, but I'll leave you with what I have:

  So this is how it all started out a few days before preplanning when I was told I could get into my room but alas, they forgot and hadn't cleaned my carpets yet, so they were trying to do that in a mad dash, hence the huge fan. 

trying to lay out a few desks - but where to put 27?!

It was easier to focus on decorating - my word wall, which several other teachers have now copied and made their own. So cute! My famous rocking chair. My library that still needs labeling.

My baskets and helper board (its the side of my filing cabinet, which I took as the biggest compliment when my friend told me she forgot it was a filing cabinet) - the jobs are on glasses of milk, and their names are on choc. chip cookies. My math units are organized in tubs above the cabinets. 

My awesome alphabet from Kristen @ ladybugteacherfiles!

My little corner of the world, which I will have to take some better pics of because I have some more of Kristen's great labels over there. All of my coworkers have asked me about that great wooden shelf - if anyone remembers me talking about my awesome coworker/coach friend from last year - it's hers. They tell us not to move furniture without them doing it, but shhh, she wanted some stuff of mine and vice versa so we traded. I think my saving grace this year is that she now only two doors down from me. 

And right when they come in the door, my pennant banner I have had since my first year, "Ms. Cohn's smart scoops!" and some of my favorite motivational quotes. 

Lessons Learned:
We all need someone to catch us and put us on our feet
There will always be uncertainty
Close your door and TEACH - teach your heart out
On the first day of school - get 'em fed and get 'em home <-- an email from a former AP
Have a friend who will make you leave on time. You need people like that! 

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