The Morning Battle

Every morning I face a battle.

It doesn’t need to happen.

In fact, there is a very clear winner of the battle.

And yet, there isn’t.

This battle is a constant one from September-June.

I want to let the winner win.

But that would lead to defeat inevitably.

So I take my hair tie

And I attack the mop on my head.

Because hair left down in kindergarten will almost definitely end up with lice.

 

Parent/teacher/student connections

Tonight was our late night parent teacher conference. I had 11 conferences between 3:20pm-8:00pm. Not much time in between each one, but just enough to reflect on my own conferences from when I was a child.

My parents were very involved with my school life. I was smart and I did well academically, and I was polite, respectful, and appropriate socially. But my dad wanted to make it known that things were to stay that way. Every year he would speak with my new teacher and tell them that if there was ever even the slightest issue with me then they were to call him “as soon as possible” (he knew my mom would go soft on me…even though I’m a total daddy’s girl)- he made the illusion that he and my teacher were all buddy-buddy (when I was younger, this worked. I was scared to get in trouble because I knew my parents would be upset. As I got older I was able to roll my eyes and smile because I knew he was only doing this because he wanted the best from me.).

I feel so lucky to have grown up with parents like him and my mom- parents who cared, truly cared, about how their child was doing in school in all aspects. They attended every.single.parent.teacher.conference. They attended every.single.night.that.ever.involved.parents.coming.in. My dad would even occasionally call my teachers throughout the year just to see how my day went. He’d stop in sometimes too. Back then it was kind of (really) annoying. But now I am so grateful to look back on those times- the times I went in to conferences with them and felt so proud sitting next to them while my teacher spoke highly of me. I felt happy when my teachers would tell my parents how well I do and how helpful and polite and respectful I am. I was proud; I made my parents proud. It felt so good to not only know that I was doing well, but to actually prove it, show it, and be praised for it in front of my parents- kind of like an “I told you so” – but in a really confident and respectful way.

Tonight, I had 1 student show up with the parents. The rest of the parents came alone. It made me think; next year I want to ask that the students come with their parents to conferences. I want the child to sit there with their parents/guardians while I tell them all of their strengths; and I want to present any weaknesses together. I want these children to know how much I adore them and how wonderful I think they truly are- I can tell them that on a regular basis, but I know how much it meant to me to hear it from my teacher while I saw between the two people who I wanted to please the most- my parents.

One word.

One word to describe my body: disgusting

I’m an extroverted individual. With that comes a sense that I am confident, comfortable, and secure with myself.

While I have my moments of feeling those things, it doesn’t come naturally, and more often than not, I have to have a real good reason as to why I should feel so great.

I’ve struggled with body issues as far back as elementary school. I have never been “skinny”. My hair was many stages of uncomfortable and my clothes never fit totally right, but I had friends and generally enjoyed myself.

I got to middle school and was surrounded by girls who tried too hard to look good (with bodies they were born with because who really WORKS for their body in 7th and 8th grade?). They wore skimpy clothes, too much make up, and started doing things like plucking their eye brows and sticking out their chest.

When I hit high school I knew I was at the end of my friend line. I was the last pick. I was the “Duff” for those of you who have seen the movie (for those of you who haven’t Designated Ugly Fat Friend). How did they do it? These girls looked so…good…. 

I played sports. I ate semi-healthy. I didn’t wear make up and my hair was still super awkward, but overall I just felt…weird.

College. Where everyone is accepted. I should have felt happy…I “fit in”. But now when everyone accepted and embraced me, I rejected myself. I hated my stomach. I hated my arms. I hated my legs. I hated my face.

I finally had total control over my body. I worked out whenever I could. I ate the best I thought I could. I hid my body and finally just left my freakin’ hair alone (it was still awful…I just didn’t have time to care). I wore make up and tried so hard to look like someone else’s definition of sexy and beautiful. 

I went through stages of working out like crazy and going hungry, to working out like crazy and eating anything I wanted, to working out only when I wanted to and restricting food, to working out only when I wanted to and eating anything I wanted to….

I never got skinny. Looking back, I also never got overweight.

It wasn’t until I met my boyfriend, Zach, that I finally started working out and eating for my health vs. looks. He encouraged me to become stronger for myself. He encouraged me to become healthier for myself. He wanted me to be strong, healthy, and most importantly happy (which means eating ice cream for breakfast on Saturday mornings)- because if I’m not happy, what kind of life is that? And if I’m not healthy I won’t have a long enough life. And if I’m not strong, I can’t protect myself. He showed me the ways I could (and needed) to take all of this pent up insecurity and turn it in to self confidence and comfort.

I’m still not completely comfortable with my body. But I am strong. I can run 3.1 miles without stopping, and I am training for a marathon next summer.

I still wear make-up, but only enough to cover my dark circles and give myself eyelashes (because God forbid women have natural eyelashes while men always seem to have long, flawless ones!).

My hair is still a life of it’s own…I guess some things will never change. (At least I embrace it now…most days).

I’m still a huge work in progress. I still have to work on the whole confidence thing- you know, stop saying “I look so much better in black yoga pants!”

The video below really hit me. They way we women speak about ourselves is disgusting. It is my hope, my goal, that we can create a world of positive body image for girls and women alike. If there’s one thing I learned growing up with self confidence issues is that it’s not just for girls who are overweight- it comes from all shapes and sizes (and ages!).

Please, make sure the women in your life know how beautiful they are. How strong they are. Remind them of the amazing things their bodies can do for them. Remind them that beauty and confidence come from their attitude and the things that they do in this world.

And most importantly- remind YOURSELF of those things.

 

The World According to Jenna

The World According to Jenna

My boyfriend has already titled the book we are going to write (though the name “Jenna” may change….:)). I’m a loud, tempered, Italian- and along with that, very opinionated. The book idea came up one day when I went on several rants about the way things should be. And it was further confirmed that this needed to happen when we realized all I ever do is express my feelings on how I think people should do things (ahem…Zach….), or how I think things should be done, or how I think certain things are silly and unnecessary, and things I don’t think people do enough of. Here a couple of examples for chapters (forewarning- I give my blunt opinions.)

Wedding Photography

“Wow babe! Look at the picture of the way we set up our tables! Let’s get this one blown up and have it hang in our living room so we can remember the table cloths and how many chairs were at each table!”

“Let’s get the picture of the guest book so we can remember who was here! We could just actually look at the guest book, but let’s get the picture so we can have something to remember the moment!”

I get it. Weddings are special. I’ve never had one, and who knows if I ever will, but I’ll tell you what- I don’t want to pay a photographer for a bunch of pictures that capture the kind of linen I chose, what my buffet style selection of food looked like, and what kind of pens were used to sign the guest book.

People. Scenery. That’s what I’ll want. Please, spare me the dainty little details. I don’t need pictures to remind me of my champagne glasses.

Kid Shoes

BY YOUR 5 YEAR OLD SLIP ON OR VELCRO SHOES FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS SANE I CAN NOT SPEND HALF OF MY DAY TYING SHOES UNTYING THE KNOTS THEY TIE IN THEIR SHOES WATCHING THEM PUT THE LACES IN THEIR MOUTHS OR UP THEIR NOSES OR IN THEIR EARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You get the point.

Clearly this book would need some solid work. It will be my job to rant and Zach’s job to put it all together coherently and satirically. We’re really excited. We’re buying voice recorders. One for me to rant to when he’s not around and one for him to carry around so that when I go on one of my rants he can capture it.

This will be fun. 🙂

Beach hair

The best hair, is beach hair.

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I never used to think that. I always hated my curls. I hated the way the humidity would take my 30 minute straighten job and turn it in to a frizzy mess. I hated the way my hair would look so big

Now, I love it. It is when I feel the best about myself. I love the way the salt forms the curls. I love the way the humidity can either make them super curly, or a little looser. I love the way the wind blows them and gives my hair serious volume.

I feel confident, sexy, fun..I feel free and adventurous.

However, during the winter months this style is almost impossible (even with Not Your Mother’s Sea Salt Spray). It’s super hard to maintain when I’m not constantly drenching it in the ocean and letting it air dry with the windows down on at 40+mph (though over 65 and I can look like a troll :)).

Or maybe it’s just a feeling thing. Maybe it’s not so much the actual hair as it is the feeling I get during the time my hair looks like this.

I don’t know. But whatever it is, I can’t wait for. Beach hair is the best hair.
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Ohh, parents! This one’s for you~

Parents- I’m talking to you. What do you want to see on your child’s report card? What type of information do you want their teacher to tell you? And how do you want it reported? In language that you struggle to understand or have to Google? Or in basic/blunt statements- “Your child can read at grade level”? Do you want pages and pages of abstract words trying to define your child with numbers or letters that you barely comprehend? Or would you rather a short synopsis from your child’s teacher describing their academic and social behavior, highs, and lows?

I’m completing my report cards for my kindergarten students and I am frustrated, annoyed, and disappointed. I strongly dislike filling these out for many reasons. I don’t think they accurately portray the child’s strengths and weaknesses, I don’t think it is parent (or even teacher) friendly, and I don’t like the ambiguity and vague nature of the descriptors.

In “The World According to Jenna” (a book that my boyfriend and I hope to write and publish someday- that’s a post for another day), I would grade my kindergartners on the following:

Can they recognize/write their letters?

Do they know letter sounds? (___/___)

Can they recognize sight words? (___/___)

Do they demonstrate the following skills needed to succeed reading at intended grade level?

Use picture to tell a story

1-1 matching

Decoding skills (beginning/middle/end sounds)

Etc…(you get the point)

What level are they currently reading at?

Can they write a sentence?

Can they write multiple sentences?

How high can they count?

Can they count by 5s/10s? (how high?)

Can they recognize #’s 1-20? (can they recognize more?!)

Can they write their numbers?

Can they add within 5?

Can they subtract within 5?

Can they add within 10?

Can they subtract within 10?

…you get my point. The “basics”. And the language- parent friendly, am I right? Currently our report cards say things like “Applies grade-level phonics skills to decode words” and “Writes using basic print concepts.”

To us (teachers), it’s easier to understand- we hear those terms on a more frequent basis and we use those terms when creating goals and providing our administration with information- all because those terms are “correct” and “more professional”. But what about those who don’t know what those terms mean? Does a report card filled with that language appeal to parents who don’t hear that language? And does it even really paint an accurate picture of their child’s abilities?

I’d love to write a paragraph about each child to their parents. That paragraph would be filled with their child’s strengths, sprinkled with a few things they need to work on, and topped with their behaviors and personalities that I see in the classroom. I want the parents to know that I see the whole child. I observe and teach the whole child, not just parts.

I hate filling out report cards. But report card time means conference time; and I love mid year conferences.  I get to shower the parents with their students work, growth, and funny stories. I can explain everything I want to (within a 20min time period) and hope that the parents feel confident in knowing where their child is academically, socially, and emotionally- again, it’s all about the whole child, not just the “school stuff”. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Where my 20-somethings at?!

I am 25. Right smack in the middle of this “20-something” ride in life.

I live on my own, but still call my mom to remind me how to cook chicken. I pay my own bills, but still ask my dad to take me school clothes shopping (a tradition we had every year since I was in kindergarten). I can do my own laundry, but once, I went a few loads only washing with fabric softener- my boyfriend had quite the laugh when he tried to do laundry at my place one day and found out that’s all I’d been using.

I have far too many blankets for one woman to acceptably own. I eat way too much rice for someone who spends hours on Pinterest. I trick myself in to thinking I’ll actually to yoga at home by keeping my yoga mat in the middle of my living room floor (complete with 5-10lb free weights in case I get real ambitious thoughts). I pretend that I know how to keep clean yet I constantly forget to buy bars of soap and end up washing with shampoo and conditioner. I like to think that I can handle danger, but I still sleep with a full set of Christmas lights plugged in. I try to budget $50 or less a week in groceries but I spend at least $20 on things like dark chocolate M&Ms, pre-made fruit and yogurt cups, and my favorite baked cheddar chips. I complain when I go to the gym every night and still look and weigh the same, then I remember I live off of rice, dark chocolate M&Ms, fruit and yogurt cups, and baked cheddar chips. I act like I’m tired enough to sleep for 12 hours straight, yet I spend a good portion of my night scrolling Instagram and reading Buzzfeed articles.

I enjoy the perks of living on my own, but I miss my mom cooking dinner every night. I love having a place to escape to when my overly extroverted self gets tired, but I long for the days my sorority sisters lived within 5 minutes from me. I still want to play intramural soccer, dance in talent shows, and gossip with my girlfriends, but I don’t have the time and access to all of that any more. I want to take trips and adventures, but schedules never match up and the thought of leaving the couch and Netflix seems daunting to some.

20-something. I’m not quite the adult that my kinders believe I am. I put chips in my sandwich (ahem- “playing with my food”), I throw fits when I’m tired or hungry, I light up with I see ice cream, I love running around in the grass barefoot, I like to be taken care of, I hate being told what to do and I want to take naps in the middle of the day.

20-something. I’m not quite the adult my parents think I should be. I don’t always get my oil changed exactly when I need to, regardless of how many times they remind me. I don’t know how to do my taxes, no matter how many times they’ve showed me. I still need constant reaffirmation that I’m cooking something right, even if I’ve sent them 10 pictures of what it looks like. I still need their vote of confidence before I make any sort of “big” decision (yes, that includes their approval of that cute dress I want to buy or the a-okay that eating pizza after my work out isn’t a total waste).

20-something. I’m still the 6 year old who loves to color. I’m still the 10 year old who loves to learn. I’m still the 14 year old who loves to gossip. I’m still the 17 year old who wants to be old enough to stay out past 9pm, but young enough for daddy to still give her an allowance. I’m still the 19 year old, who’s rebelling against the rules and seeking acceptance of her peers. I’m still the 21 year old who loves to go out. I’m still the 22 year old who’s scared to leave her 4 years of comfort and friends and start a career and a life of her own.

20-something. I can not explain you. I can not define you. I don’t want to. You scare me and you excite me and I’m not sure if I want you to end or if I want to stay here forever. I love the options you give me but hate the restrictions (why can you only get in free when you’re under 9 or over 65?). You’ve got me growing and changing, living and learning, crying and laughing.

I’m an “adult”. As in “I pay my own bills but I still say righty-tighty, lefty-loosey to figure things out”.