Monday, February 3, 2014

On Student Loans.

So, there you are, just swimming along, being awesome, minding your own business, patting yourself on the back for making it halfway through your first year of teaching without any major catastrophes….

And then one day you check the mail. It would appear that someone named Sallie Mae has sent you three notices inquiring about your intent to pay back the money you frivolously borrowed early in your college career so that you could buy Ramen Noodles and gas for your Dodge Neon. “Nothin’ but a thang” you said, as you signed documents of unknown origin in the financial aid office “I’ll be making big dollars with my fancy Bachelor’s degree in four six years from now…” 


Your younger self obviously didn’t plan for car payments, insurance, medical bills, phone bills, and the credit card bill you ran up the summer after you graduated when the aforementioned student loan money stopped showing up in your bank account (what’s that all about…?!)

Anyways, now all of a sudden you’re delinquent to the tune of $327.18 and currently have -$496.00 in your checking (that’s another story…). Also, you’re still eating Ramen Noodles, except now they’re the Kroger brand (not even the real thing!) You panic. You cry. You gorge yourself on Hershey's chocolate and Tudor's biscuits. Then, you put on your big girl panties and call this Sallie character.  

Fortunately, there are no late fees where student loan repayments are concerned, so technically upon realizing I was delinquent, I wasn’t really in as much trouble as I originally thought. The amount due ($327.18) was actually two months worth of payments, which meant that my monthly payment was roughly $182 (still more than I could afford). While I’m still no expert on the complication of loans... Here’s the good news: 

Sallie Mae seems to be a nice lady. You have options.

Deferment (aka: don’t do this if you ever plan on buying anything bigger than a flat screen TV).

Forbearance (aka: also don’t do this...although it’s a better choice than deferment).

Graduated Payment Plans (this nifty option allows you to pay a set amount each month, which increases every two years).

Income Based Payment Plans (this is when you pay what is determined by Sallie as an ‘affordable’ payment...based on your current income. It’s usually very cheap but usually the entire payment goes towards’s like running in circles).

Teacher Loan Forgiveness (this option is only valid after teaching for five years — you can apply to have $5,000 worth of your loan forgiven [or $20,000 if you have a math or science degree].

In my infinite wisdom  After I consulted with my mom, I opted for a graduated payment plan, where $15 monthly goes towards the principle of my loan (and the other $75 would cover accrued interest). Which means that I can continue to feed my EOS and nail polish habit.

In all seriousness, I'm proud to say that for the last two months I've done what I thought was impossible: created and followed a budget. While it really hurts to pass by Sephora and not purchase a single thing, I'm excited to know that I can have Sallie off my back in a little less than 36 months. I never thought I'd say that financial responsibility feels really good. 

I’m expecting to receive a letter in the mail any day that says “welcome to adult hood”… 

Happy Monday (and happy student loan paying!),


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Merry Christmas from Target (and other post-Christmas funsies)

So. Maybe you heard about the Target debacle. If not, let me recap this sad story: 

Multi-billion dollar retail store, loved and adored by many, skimps on security, allowing the identities of millions of loyal patrons to be compromised, subsequently ensuring that said patrons are in serious debt over the course of the biggest American holiday of the year. 

This is a true story, ladies and gentlemen. Worse? Your girl got the short end of the stick….all because I’m in love with the bullseye! 

A few weeks ago I was dawdling on my lunch break at work and decided to check the state of my finances. Upon investigation I noticed that I had roughly $1000 worth of fraudulent charges on my credit card for….wait for it….. Tanning bed visits, used auto parts, and AA&T Trac Phone minutes. Serially?

So, I called my credit card company who issued me a new card, reimbursed the charges, and all was happily ever after (you rock, Capital One!) Until December 16, when, upon awakening from my slumber I discovered that my checking looked like this: 

This was my face: 

It’s now exactly 11 days later and after seven calls to the fraud services department and a two hour visit to my local branch, BB&T has finally decided to get their act together and reverse the charges that were made for Trac Phone minutes, and a Dish satellite bill among other things… but only after they tried to tell me I was responsible for the overdraft fees incurred as a result of the fraudulent charges.  Wrong.

Listen, identity theft is no laughing matter. To say this has been a nightmare would be a major understatement. Thankfully it’s all straightened out and I’m now in the positive again; however….the moral of this story is that BB&T has the worst customer service, and I need to start using cash. As for Target, their CEO, Mr. G. Steinhafel, is offering customers a 10% discount on purchases this weekend as a result of their trouble. Gag me, Gregg. 

In other news, post-Christmas days brought the wonderfully precious wedding of my sweet highschool/lifeguard friend, Arielle. Both the ceremony and the reception were held in a local coffee shop in Fayetteville, NC that she and her new husband decorated themselves. So. Sweet. They are absolutely precious together! Congrats Cody and Arielle! 

First dance

My handsome date

VCA ladies with the bride

What has the post holiday season not brought? Paper grading and other miscellaneous school “stuff”. I really had a plan for organization over break...but, obviously, a plan was as far as it went. Luckily, teachers in my county have an entire day devoted to planning on Thursday before students come back on Friday. It’ll all get done then, right?

It also hasn’t brought a playoff spot for the Steelers. Maybe next year.


Hope your post-holiday days are spectacular. Savor the last few minutes of 2013 -- do fun things. Laugh :)


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Thankfulness

Imagine this: you’re standing in front of The Top Thrill Dragster (a very huge roller coaster, FYI). You’re terrified, because, well, frankly, many things could go wrong (not the least of which are losing a limb or getting stuck mid-loop, but I digress…). You want desperately to ride because you’ve driven five hours to do so and all your friends are hounding you. Reluctantly, you proceed to stand in line for hours so that you can experience a 20 second, 100 MPH rocket ride at a 90 degree angle.

You wait in line (for six years, more or less) and out of nowhere, you’re in the front. It’s your turn. Then, you’re strapped in, panicking, not sure what to do with yourself. Mouth watering, eyes watering (hey man, I’m NOT crying….), lump in your throat, delirious from the horror about to ensure. And then, 3,2,1, takeoff! 

In a frenzy, you blink (half because you’re scared and need an excuse to close your eyes, and half because it’s a bodily requirement or something) and before you know it, you’re stepping off the ride. 

That moment when you’re walking back through the rat maze after the ride, scolding yourself for keeping your eyes closed the whole time, still walking a bit crooked because inertia is funny that way, already debating whether or not you want to risk life and limb again because it was exhilarating and the most thrilling and exciting thing you’ve ever done, but at the same time mentally and physically draining….that’s exactly what it feels like for a first year teacher to make it all the way to Christmas break. 

(This, friends, is the best metaphor you’ll ever read….revel in it….)

(Okay, that’s enough reveling)

Making it to Christmas break is a huge milestone. I left the building Friday feeling a bit euphoric: I’m at the halfway point! Just when I thought I might like to throw in the towel because one too many people forgot their homework,  surprise, Jesus was born so I get a break and stuff. Yay, Jesus! 

Seriously though, I'm so grateful for a break. The last week of school I literally felt like I was physically dragging myself to work (the hilarity of that image gets me every time...) In the past couple of months I have felt so stretched thin with responsibilities and requirements, and still trying to be an awesome teacher that I haven’t really let myself attend to thankfulness. I’ve been caught up in "busy stuff"... I feel like there’s always something that demands my time and attention (we all know how bad I am at grading essays…), and the everyday wonderment and excitement about the little things seems to have taken a back seat.  I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t even have time to participate in the November thankfulness series that made appearances across news feeds nation wide (although I do try to find something to be thankful for every day), and even more shamefully, I admit that I might have even fallen into the trap of becoming a bit grouchy with responsibility (don’t act like you’ve never done it!) 

Christmas break though has helped me to refocus my thankfulness — to take the time to remember all of my blessings and to truly delight in them. Even in spite of all the complaining I feel like I do because of the daily grind, I am overcome with thankfulness for each and every day and the struggles presented therein. Somedays the struggles are  minuscule (I’m still having copy machine issues, in case you’re wondering….), and some days they’re a bit bigger, but I am breathing and working and living and loving. For these blessings, I am thankful. 

Currently, I’m sitting in my mom’s kitchen, listening to the sound of her metal spoon stir our Christmas Eve dinner, my brother engrossed in a Duck Dynasty iPad app, my dad wrapping last minute gifts, and my sweet doggies resting as peaceful as the baby Jesus in the manger. Tonight I am thankful. For these people and their constant support — their constant words of encouragement on all of those days when I thought I might be a failure. For the past five months and the lessons they’ve born. For sweet, smiling, seventh graders and their enthusiasm about, well….everything. For my health. For passionate teachers that give the rest of us baby ducklings a ray of hope. For sweet new opportunities and possibilities. I am thankful. 

And to think, all of this was made possible by a King in a straw bed. Revel in his love….that’s the REAL blessing this Christmas. 

Wherever you are this Holiday season, take a minute to be thankful. Forget the paperwork sitting on your desk, the goals you have to meet, the meetings you’ll attend after the new year….and focus on this exact moment and the blessings that have made it possible.

With love,


But the angel said to them: "Do not be afraid for I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, The Lord.” — Luke 2:10-11

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Recap: Yes, I'm still alive...

Guuuuyyyyyys! I feel like it has been forever since I’ve updated you all on the wonderful world of 7th grade. The past few weeks have been so busy, but also so fun! Here’s a recap: 

The last week of October was spirit week at school. I had ENTIRELY too much fun participating in character day. I made my own costume (courtesy of Pinterest) and paraded myself around as Wonder Woman. Ignore the fact that I’m the same height at my students….

Also, we had “‘Merica” day. You can see it too well, but I was highly pleased with my Etsy shirt that says “Hakuna some freedom: it means ‘Merica”…. It doesn’t take much, doesn’t take much. 

And, Pink-Out day for breast cancer awareness. Special to me because my sweet aunt was diagnosed a few weeks ago. I fully believe in the power of prayer -- it moves mountains. Pray with me?

Sprit week festivities also brought the death of my iPhone, which prompted this survey as Friday’s bellringer. Good thing my principal didn’t visit. I did in fact purchase the Galaxy S4 because I promised my students that I would buy whatever they chose. I also promptly returned in 24 hours later. I’m an Apple girl...don’t judge me. 

I rearranged my desks. As I type this I’m realizing that I probably post too much about my seating situation. (Mental note that readers probably don’t care…)

I got a second job. Still not entirely sure how I feel about this. I’ll let you know after Black Friday (during which I’m working ten hours straight).

I got new glasses. Kind of. I got them last month. Go with it. 

I also had a bulletin board mishap. I diligently worked to arrange the letters to say “public service announcements”. I came in the next morning to this unfortunate occurrence: 

Curse you, gravity. 

I spent two whole planning periods building this bad boy. Merry early Christmas :)

And also, my mom enabled my Pinterest addiction by sending me an Elf on the Shelf. She's basically the best and I love her for it.  This was my Instagram post to my kids: 

And, I went to a fantastic concert. That’s Toby Mac. 

So anyways, that's the run down. I hope that you all have a fabulous Thanksgiving. Find something to be thankful for... not just tomorrow, but everyday. The fact that you and I are both breathing right this second is proof not only that we have something to be thankful for, but also that a loving God cares for us immeasurably. Soak it in.

Peace & Love,


Monday, November 4, 2013

Tuna for Breakfast

Well, the honeymoon is over. Don’t act like you don’t know what I mean. 
In early August I was setting my alarm for 5AM, and stopping at Starbucks for breakfast every morning. I felt kind of sad on Friday’s because it meant I had to go two whole days away from my students. And, I had the most awesome stash of school supplies. Ever. You’d have been jealous….just saying. 


I stopped taking showers in the morning so I could sleep until 5:45, I eat left over tuna for breakfast, and yesterday when we ran out of tissues in the classroom, I handed a student a two week old napkin from my purse for his nose blowing needs...And I’m working on my campaign for four-day weekends. 

Now, maybe you’re thinking these aren’t good things to admit (and you might be right…so don’t judge me). But, the thing is, I’m just being honest. Don’t get me wrong, I still love love love my job with all my heart. Seriously. Here’s the thing though: when the honeymoon is over and reality sets in, life gets a bit more difficult.  You start to realize that it’s not all happy, mushy, ooey-gooey goodness all the time — the sparkles are gone and the newness has worn off and you’re left with hard work.  And when the warm fuzzies have packed up and gone home, hard work can make a person feel like a real failure. 

Last week I had a rough few days. I didn’t show up for a meeting because I forgot about it, I jammed the copy machine three one day. I snapped at a student because he asked for paper. I was late everyday but Tuesday. And the list goes on. By Thursday I found myself with my head in my hands feeling defeated. That little voice of doubt crept in and began to feed me the same old lines: “You’re not good enough. You don’t deserve to be here. You aren’t qualified for this position. You’re a terrible teacher. This is too hard for you...” blah, blah, blah... I’m ashamed to admit though, that I bought in rather quickly. 

The enemy’s tactics are covert like that. He’s sneaky. He shows up in my doubt until my thoughts about myself and others become contaminated, he twists kind words into suspicion and uncertainty, and he distorts my perception. He doesn’t shout big lies, he whispers little ones. It can be a hard road until you learn not to believe everything he says. 

I’m still learning, but I hope that by reading this you might understand what I’ve recently started to grasp myself: that relying on my own ability is a recipe for disaster. On my own I’m not good enough. I’ll never measure up.  But, thankfully, Jesus so sweetly reminded me this week that my value doesn’t come from measuring up to the teacher across the hall. It doesn’t come from being able to navigate the overly complicated copy machine control panel. It doesn’t even come from having a “perfect” day in which I don’t lose my temper or become frustrated by well meaning people around me. It doesn’t come from anything I can accomplish on my own. My worth comes from the God who loves me even in my hot mess...the God who cleans up my hot mess. In his eyes, I am already worthy. Even on my particularly crummy days. My worth isn’t anchored to any of the tangible things that the world says I need or have to accomplish; it comes from the knowledge that I belong to a Father who loves me where I am, and yet refuses to leave me where he found me.

So, even if you jam the copy machine. Even if it takes you a month to grade 70 essays. Even if you eat fish for breakfast, trade your morning shower for thirty extra minutes of sleep, and occasionally show up late (well, you should really probably try not to do that last one, but you get my point…). Even in all of these shortcomings, in Christ, you are good enough. You are not a failure. You have worth. 

Believe it.  

“As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one…” Romans 3:10

“...but despite all this, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us.” Romans 8:37

Saturday, October 12, 2013

October Currently!

Farley's currently linky is my fav and I told myself I wouldn't miss it this month (...I told myself a lot of other things that never came to fruition either, but that's another story). So, here it is. Better late than never.

Listening: Right now I'm seriously jamming to Audrey Assad. Her lyrics are so beautifully written and convey a real sense of human-ness. I love that her songs meet me where I am and still encourage me to be better. I've had this part stuck in my head today: 

You are a shelter for every misfit soul
we are the four walls, oh but You're the cornerstone. 
You're the solid rock that we are built upon. 
All this time like a vagabond, a homeless stranger, I've been wandering
All my life You've been calling me to a home that I've been needing
I'm a broken stone
lay me in the house You're building. 

Loving: My sweet parents called me on Friday morning to tell me they were coming to visit for the weekend. It was perfect timing because all week I have been missing them and considering taking a personal day to see them -- sometimes a girl just needs her mom and dad! We just had a fabulous late breakfast/early lunch and now my mom and I are heading to the mall a bit later. Such a perfect Fall Saturday :)

Thinking: A very sweet student of mine lost her father earlier this week. I have been heartbroken for her ever since I heard and can't quite get her out of my mind. I can't imagine losing someone so precious to me...especially at twelve years old. I want so badly to fix this awful situation for her...but I can't. If you remember, say a prayer for this sweet girl -- that this situation wouldn't make her bitter but that God would wrap her up in his arms of love and shower her with peace as she faces this storm. 

Wanting: So, I have an empty space on my wall above my cabinet in the back of the room. It's not that big of a deal, but every time I look at it I wish I had something colorful to fill it with. I've always wanted to make some Crayon art and I'm thinking that it would look so cute perched there. Here's the space: 

Notice my cute little paper lanterns! I literally sat on top of the cabinet to hang them ... it was very scary. But, I love them and I need something else in this corner! 

Needing: Alright, confession -- I have had more than seventy personal narratives on my desk since Monday (...of last week). Every time I sit down to grade them I get occupied with a million other little things. But, the last day of the first nine weeks ended yesterday and grades are due Monday at 3PM. Soooo, I'm going to have to make myself. This feels like homework. What's wrong with this picture?

Trick or Treat: I love Halloween -- I think it's so fun -- but, I'm not sure what I'm doing this year. I live in the country so I don't have anyone to pass candy to.  Can I take my dog trick or treating?! 

Hope you're all having a spectacular, relaxing weekend. If you don't hear from me by next week then know I've probably been eaten alive by my mountain of work that is yet to be graded...


Monday, September 30, 2013

Can I go to the Bathroom? (and other annoying questions...)

It never ceases to amaze me that as soon as I really get into a lesson someone has to go to the bathroom. I always fall for it too: I think the frantic waving hand in the back of the room is a signal for “hey, I have a really great question!”, so I get a bit excited….but alas, not so. He just wants to know if he can go to the bathroom. It’s so frustrating! At the beginning of the year I implemented a bathroom sign out sheet — I have the roster for each class taped to the corresponding class cabinet along with 4 slots for the date. Each time a student needs to go to the bathroom during instruction time, they have to write the date. When all four slots are used they can’t go until the following nine weeks. 

I took to highlighting “used” passes at the end of the day when I noticed that some students were being a bit sneaky by erasing the date and re-writing a new one rather than using a new pass. 

This method seems to work pretty well because I told my students on day one that I wouldn’t extend passes, meaning “when you’re done, you’re done!” How do you handle bathroom issues? Do you let students go at will or do you have a system? Do you think that 4 per nine weeks is too many or too few? I’d love to hear from you!

And now a list of other seriously irritating questions (and answers): 

What time is this class finished? 

Seriously? The schedule is posted on the wall. But, because I know you’re lazy: it’s over at the same time it was yesterday and the day before and everyday for the last eight weeks. So sorry I’m boring you….

Can I go to my locker?

No. You may not roam the halls under the guise of needing a pencil from your locker. Borrow mine. Don’t chew on it. 

We had homework?

Fingernails on a chalkboard. Irresponsibility bothers me. So much. 

It’s Monday so we can only go up from here, right?! :)