Wednesday, August 19, 2009

good-bye summer...almost. :)

one week from today, i will be done with my first day of my fourth year as a first grade teacher.
and even though i know i will be tired and wishing for lazy summer days in a few short weeks, i am so ready to get back in my room, working with kiddos and having a purpose for every day.
you see, summer is both a blessing and a curse.
at the end of the year, summer vacation (and a break from my beloved kiddos) cannot come soon enough and i anticipate all the sleeping in and free time i can enjoy. but after a few weeks, the sleeping in makes me feel lethargic and the free time seems to drag (trips to target + netflix dvds lose their appeal...who knew?). add to this a dearly missed husband who, unfortunately, had to travel for work during six of the eight weeks i had for summer break. i don't mean to complain, but after being part of a 'we' for the last five years, solo vacations just aren't as appealing.
as i have gone back to campus, the inevitable 'what did you do this summer?' question surfaces. and, with the exception of my wonderful trip to belize at the end of june and a short trip to monterey, my summer was pretty quiet. nothing big, nothing grand...just living life in everyday, regular ways.
the end of summer signals a change from my everyday, regular summer routines. it brings new challenges: a fresh school year, a classroom to decorate, lessons to prepare, twenty-plus students to meet/train/mold/teach.
i know myself and i know that in three weeks time, i will be griping to my family and friends about the crazy attitudes and wild misbehavior of my future first-grade kiddos.
but today, one week away from a new school year, i am eager and itching to get down to what i love - working with kiddos. :)

p.s can you all do me a favor when the griping commences? remind me of this wistful post about the joy of being back to work. i might need a reminder soon :)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

lazy blogger. :/ plus belize. :)

i have been remiss in posting and updating this blog.
my initial purpose for this blog was to document things as they happened, so i could go back, look on it later and remember.
as you can, that has not been done very well.
so, as a way of reintroducing myself to the blogging process, i am going to be lazy and post the contents of an e-mail i sent about a missions trip i went on to belize.
my hope is that this baby step (finally posting!!!) will motivate me to fill in the gaps from february to now. :)
for now, enjoy reading about belize...and there will be more to come.


I hope this e-mail finds you all well and enjoying your summer. It's hard to believe I've been home from Belize for almost a week and even harder to believe that just two weeks ago we were finally on our way to Crooked Tree! I just wanted to take an opportunity to share with you all about our whirlwind week where we were kept busy with opportunities to serve and show God's love to the community of Crooked Tree.
First of all, I wanted to thank you for all of your prayers – they were absolutely heard and felt. Our flights and all traveling went smoothly, our health was good (except for a case of mild dehydration and one puffy mosquito-bitten eyelid), our students stepped up and became leaders and our team worked hard all week long (despite tired and overheated bodies). It was a truly pleasure to serve and have some fun with this group of people.
Before I dive in, you all need to know that Belize is an absolutely beautiful country. We were lucky to be able to experience some of the different parts of Belize – the busy-ness of Belize City, the slower pace of Crooked Tree, the quiet calm of the jungle surrounding the Mayan ruins and the relaxed pace of island life. This country is full of such natural beauty – fruit trees everywhere, green plants, blue skies, clear waters – and I feel so blessed that I was able to see a little bit of it all.
Amidst the natural beauty and the crazy heat, we were given so many wonderful opportunities to serve and love the people of Crooked Tree. Since I don't want to write huge run-on sentences about our experience, here is a bulleted version of how we lived down in Crooked Tree. During our week-long stay, our team:
met and developed friendships with the Praying Pelican staff (Amy, Joy, Jesse and Mike) and Churchill (the elder at the Church of the Nazarene)

*slept on air mattresses (and in some cases, the floor!) in buildings on the church grounds
*ate the most fresh and delicious food prepared for us by the wonderful Carrie (chicken, rice, beef, potatoes, beans, fresh fruit, fresh fruit juice – all of it amazing)
*took cold 5-minute showers and enjoyed every single minute of it
*applied layer upon layer of sunblock and bug repellent (with DEET, of course)
*experienced nature, including cows/horses roaming the dirt roads, bats in our bedrooms, fire ants at the dinner table and frogs hiding in strange places
*drank bottle after bottle of purified water, which was necessary because...
*Belize is extremely hot and humid for us Californians and we were, to put it gently, glowing all week

Finally, and most importantly, our team was so blessed by all of the wonderful opportunities to serve and love the people of Crooked Tree in the name of Jesus. We went down there to serve them, but we all came back with stories of how the people, especially the adorable children, touched our lives as well. While we were down there, our team:
*played with children at an orphanage in Belize City (A funny story from our visit to the orphanage - for all the High School Musical fans out there, Cory (a boy on our team) reminded the little girls of Troy from the movies and they followed him around asking him about Gabrielle and asking him to sing for them. For the rest of the week, Cory was either called Troy or Zac. Funny that kids everywhere love that stuff. :))
*primed and painted the Crooked Tree Church of the Nazarene
*attended and helped lead church services with the congregation of the Nazarene Church
*cleaned up the homes and yards of elderly church members
*talked with village residents (and enjoyed the delicious goodies they shared with us – fresh mango and coconut, homemade lime juice, and lots of cashews, which are grown all over Crooked Tree)
*painted the house of an elder from a neighboring church
*led sports ministry for the children of Crooked Tree (we taught them ultimate frisbee and they taught us cricket)
*shared our personal testimonies in front of the church congregation (a BIG deal for our eighth graders, but they did an amazing job)
*helped a team from Tennessee with Vacation Bible School
*developed relationships with the adults and children of Crooked Tree (so much so that we're already considering next year's trip!)

After a busy week of hard work in the community, we were lucky enough to conclude the trip with an overnight stay on Caye (pronounced Key) Caulker, an island off the coast of Belize in the Caribbean Sea. During our brief trip, we snorkeled, saw the second largest barrier reef in the world and swam above sting rays. Some of my braver travel companions reached down and touched them. I did not, but giggled and shrieked nervously as they swam around me. Our island trip also included driving golf carts around the island, some requisite souvenir shopping, more delicious Belizean food and the luxury of air-conditioned accommodations.
Again, I want to thank you all for your support and prayers as we journeyed down to Belize. God provided for us and took care of us, so I know your faithful prayers were heard. It was an amazing trip and I will never forget the people we met, the things we did and the way of life down in Belize. I'd love to go back again, maybe next year. :)

Love, Jill

P.S. Since I was a big worrywart and didn't want to lose/break/damage my little digital camera, I brought down some disposable cameras. I was promptly made fun of by my team members (who did not worry like I did and brought their nice digital cameras) and they have promised to get pictures to me ASAP. Once I have them on a CD, I'll post them online somewhere so you can all see what we saw. :)

Friday, February 20, 2009

25 random things about me :)

i think i was officially the last person on facebook to do this survey. after reading and enjoying other people's lists, here is mine for the few people who read this but are not on facebook. :)
happy friday, friends. :)


1. my pinkies are curved, like boomerangs. they amuse my husband.
2. my dad and i share the same birthday. (and even though i'm probably too old, we're going to disneyland for free to celebrate!)
3. i am in my third year of teaching first grade - and i think teaching little kiddos might stick. :)
4. almost every day for the last 2 and a half years, i have eaten a bagel, berry-ish yogurt, an apple and a diet coke for lunch. somehow, i'm not sick of it yet.
5. i love, love, love to do crossword puzzles...but can't always finish them, so i ask my smarty-pants husband for help. :)
6. i love to take recipes and tweak them to make them unique or work with what i have on hand...this only works about 75% of the time.
7. i love to wash the dishes - but hate to empty the dishwasher. luckily, my husband doesn't mind as much. :)
8. similarly, i love to do laundry and smell the dryer smell (my favorite!) - but i hate having to put the clothes away.
9. i'm bummed when matt has to go to korea for work - but i love being able to load up our netflix queue with all the girly stuff i want.
10. studying abroad in london was one of the best experiences i have ever had - great friendships, fun travels, amazing city.
11. i married my husband on our two year anniversary (which also happened to be mother's day).
12. i've always worn flats/low shoes because i was taller than most of my friends. having a 6'4" husband is helping me grow out of that.
13. serving with the people in children's ministry at fbcslo are some of my most fun memories of college.
14. i derive great joy and fulfillment from organizing and finding a place for everything in our house.
15. i have a ridiculous number of greeting cards (sorted and organized by content) that i have purchased throughout the years because i thought it was cute/funny and would be perfect to send to someone someday.
16. i love gummy bears. (i blame london and the constant presence of haribo)
17. i am a very heavy sleeper and have been known to sleep through both (yes...both!) of my alarms.
18. i love to read and have a growing stack of books to read, but i don't make enough time for it.
19. i get motivated to exercise...but then think about where should i run?, do i have time to shower?, is my ipod charged?...and i lose all momentum. :/
20. i wish i could speak spanish more fluently.
21. i have a black thumb and have 'successfully' killed the rose bushes, lilies and camellias that were alive when we moved into this house.
22. i'm eager to start a family...but am thankful to have a wonderful husband who keeps me in check and reminds me that babies cost money.
23. i am tickled by 'spring scape', the theme on my google homepage. mr. frog and lady bug are too cute - and yes, i named them. :)
24. my favorite color is orange. a student once told me that was not okay because i am a girl. orange a boy color?
25. my life is infinitely blessed and full of hope. my God is good. :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

reasons why...

...i am smiling today. :)

first, and the major reason for my ear-to-ear grin, matt comes home tomorrow morning - after 20 days in korea. so excited to have him home and have a whole weekend of relaxing and enjoying being together again.

while having matt gone has been no picnic, having no work/school this week made it a little better. thanks to some of our former presidents, my district gives this whole week off.

because of the week off, i have had lots of free time. with this free time i have been able to:
*sleep in until i wasn't tired - nothing crazy, but being in bed at 8:30 feels like a luxury. :)
*read books (for fun!)
*watch lots of gilmore girls on dvd
*spend the weekend with my mom and dad - great concert, yummy meals, good wine, awesome displays of wii tennis
*hang out with some great friends - aimee, amy, nard-dog, sarah and andrea. :)
*make myself yummy (and fairly nutritious) meals
*listen to new music given to me by my hip dad - fleet foxes and the national are currently in constant rotation
*catch up on old podcasts that have been in my ipod for 6+ months (oops...), some of which made me laugh and cry in the same hour

needless to say, i am relaxed, happy and feeling pretty good. all i need now is my matthew, and it'll be perfection. :) well...almost perfection...i still need to clear matt's side of the bed after using it as my books/clothes/magazines/blanket holder. ;)

hope this weekend brings you plenty of things to smile about, friends. :)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

one hundred days.

tomorrow marks the one-hundredth day of school for my little arbuckle scholars.
one hundred days of!
they are giddy about all things 100 (it is shouted with glee when we count to 100 daily).
and, to be honest, i am a little excited, too.
reaching 'milestones', even little ones like this, make me reflective and provide a perfect opportunity for me to observe and consider all that has happened.
honestly, these little kiddos never cease to amaze me.
one hundred {school} days ago...
...they were timid and shy.
...they knew the ABC's and some of the sounds.
...they could count to 30...maybe...on a good day.
...they knew thirty words by sight.
...they were completely dependent on me...for everything.
...they tattled like crazy.

tomorrow, one hundred {school} days later...
...they are vocal and familiar (mostly in a good way). ;)
...they know the ABC's, all of the sounds and some other things i throw in there to mess with them (you know, long vowels, diphthongs, digraphs, r-controlled vowels...the list goes on and on).
...they can count to 100...maybe...on a good day. :)
...they know at least 100 words by sight.
...they are becoming more and more independent (hooray for a precious few minutes of free time!)
...they still tattle like crazy (baby steps, right...).

at the beginning of every year, i am repeatedly shocked at what these students enter my classroom with...but i am even more shocked at how much they leave with on that last day of school. the hundredth day is past the halfway mark of the school year and it's hard to believe that in 80 {school} days, these kiddos will be moving down the hall to second grade.
sure, they make me crazy and question what the heck i'm doing some days. but all in all, they are amazing little people and i'm excited to celebrate 100 days of first grade fun with them tomorrow. :)

happy 100th day/wednesday, friends. :)

Friday, January 02, 2009

in 2009...

this holiday break has gone by in a blur. christmas time with both families, wii time everywhere, fun time with friends, busy time working on the house and a little bit of relaxing time thrown in there somewhere. it was vacation, after all. :)
it's hard to believe i have to actually go back to work on monday.
and teach the kiddos something (long o, i think).
and wake up before 9:00.
and not wear my jammies 'til lunch time.
i know i shouldn't complain because i am fortunate to get two weeks off - but wow did it go fast!
and it's crazy to think that another year has come and gone so quickly. i'm reminding myself it is 2009 because i know i will need to be reminding my learning lions that it is a new year...which will probably make their full, little brains want to explode.
every year, i make a mental list of all the things i should do/want to do/need to do and decide that those things should all be my resolutions. as you can imagine, having too many goals becomes a little overwhelming and they're all soon forgotten by mid-january.
so, this year, i've been trying to think of how to sum up what i want to accomplish in 2009. sure, there are still a million little things to accomplish (house projects, healthier diet, relationships, work, students, exercise, spiritual growth). but instead of focusing on each one and getting down on myself for not getting it 100% right, my goal is to appreciate and acknowledge the positive at any given time - to find the joy in every-day life.
rather than complain about a half-painted room or a partly finished bathroom, i will try to be happy that i have a house to live and play around with - and remember that we will finish it when we finish it.
rather than get frustrated at work, i will try to focus on the enthusiasm and perseverance of my kiddos - and remember that my job is to support, nurture and guide these students at their pace, not mine. :)
rather than get annoyed by someone i care about (matt, friends, family, coworkers), i will try to focus on all the reasons why i care about this person - and remember that whatever is bothering me now will probably not matter tomorrow.
rather than fret or worry, i will try to first seek God and know that He is in control. i will try to offer up my worries to Him - instead of complaining to the first available ear.
i think, i hope, this goal is managable for me. as the year progresses, i'm sure i'll ramble on about how i'm doing with acknowledgig the positive, instead of the negative.
i have a feeling 2009 will be a wonderful year...and gone before i know it.
happy new year/friday/weekend, all. :)