Overdue Update

Apologies for the long delay between updates! Winter, such as it was, is over and spring has sprung bringing new life and all manner of growth.  The most obvious of this is our crop of baby goats who are gamboling and frolicking around bringing smiles and joy to all who see them.

tripletsBudiesIMG_0146We have baby chicks as well – not as photogenic as their cute stage has passed and they are into that partially feathered awkward stage. Our grown up chickens, led by our surprise Easter Egger Rooster, are happily exploring the new buds and bugs and laying more eggs than we can eat.

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I’m enjoying spring break (despite cool and cloudy weather) as are two of my kids. The third is thoroughly dissatisfied and professes herself “Bored!” as we have no plans to go anywhere (such as Florida where ALL her friends have apparently gone). I explain again that public school teacher’s cannot afford Florida vacations – at least not new (single parent) school teachers, but still feel guilty that staying home sleeping in until 7 AM, catching up on my reading and doing spring cleaning is sufficient for me.

Once school starts again (Monday) I will be very busy with teaching, coaching the science team for academic bowl, and taking part in two leadership teams – the STEM initiative team and our CLASS team. Although both of these (and volunteering as a judge for the regional science fair and the eCybermission Competition (an online science fair)) take a fair amount of time and are uncompensated, they are something I enjoy and a validation of my contribution to our school. That I was asked to take part in the teams also reassures me – I will probably have a job next year!

My oldest daughter is doing well in college and is busy with classes, and working backstage at the Musical Arts Center part-time. Because her scholarship only pays for room and board the first year in college she has applied to be a Resident Assistant in the dorm next year and we are waiting to hear if she’s got the job. If not she may have to return home. She’s also volunteering at a therapeutic riding school as part of one of her courses and has been accepted to study abroad in Italy this summer. While I hope she can have this experience, it hinges on whether she can get a scholarship or save/raise enough money to cover the travel expenses. I’m hoping to sell enough baby goats to be able to contribute towards the trip (we are also hoping to set aside money to have our air conditioning hooked up before summer as the forecast is for a hotter than usual year).

I have several professional development workshops/classes scheduled for the summer and will be trying to complete the computer programming class I’m taking online through Harvard University. Our new science standards have a substantial computer and engineering component and I’m trying to stay ahead of the demands that we anticipate. I had my science classes participate in the Hour of Code earlier this year and found programming to be a lot of fun (the Harvard course is somewhat more taxing) so I’m hoping to have the opportunity to teach in this area.  The current plan is that each science teacher will have the chance to teach a STEM class once we are up and running next year.

On the home front, although we experienced a mostly mild winter we had a combination cold snap and power outage that resulted in our outside water pump freezing and cracking.  This was the second water pump failure so after much thought and consultation we opted to remove the essentially useless dishwasher in the kitchen and install a new pump in the house in that space. It was awhile before I could save the money for this so we’ve been hauling gallon jugs of water for several months – water that we heat on the stove to wash dishes and hair and that we pour into the toilet tanks in order to flush them. I’m happy to say this situation is now close to being resolved and before long we will once again have running water (as long as we have rain to fill the cistern).

Looking ahead, this summer I hope to put the porch on the back of the house, install some sort of deck/patio in front, have a thriving vegetable garden and plant some screening evergreen trees.  And maybe, as much as I’d love to  spend time relaxing with my family, look again for a second job to help us keep our heads above water.  I finally got a small raise (about $55 a month) but the mid-30k salary that a new school teacher makes in Indiana is still not equal to our expenses. I keep telling myself we are making progress even if it is baby steps but honestly I feel too old to be taking baby steps!

That about catches you up – I hope those of our readers who are still checking in from time to time are doing as well or better than we are!

 

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Happy Holidays!

From our funny farm to yours!  Our goats thought you’d like to hear their favorite album!All silliness aside – our best wishes to all our blog readers and supporters! We appreciate you and hope you have a wonderful holiday and the best new year!

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Onward

On my birthday, my depressing, uncelebrated, one year older and no farther ahead birthday I drove in to school to prepare for the week and feed the classroom pet. I was listening to the local NPR station and at the time they were playing the Ted Radio Hour and the theme of the show, “Just a Little Nicer,” was compassion.  Four or five short bits, all examining compassion from a variety of perspectives. The show was the perfect antidote to the blue funk which had bedeviled me – thought provoking, intelligent dialogue with some very learned and articulate people.  Although I didn’t hear the entire show, I heard enough to get me thinking about how bogged down I’ve been in anxiety and worry and second guessing myself.  My thoughts have been turned excessively inward and at the same time filtered through a damp morass of negativity.  Listening to people talk about compassion – which I consider to be a key virtue of humanity and an attribute I value highly in myself and attempt to model to my children – against the backdrop of my swampy thoughts made me realize just how much I’ve strayed from the path I’d like to be on.

I was both too caught up in myself and too hard on myself to the point of neglecting my health and appearance. I became tired and fat and frumpy. I could hardly take care of myself when I didn’t care for myself.  What’s more I was neglecting other relationships as well. I’m far too critical and short tempered. As I thought it over I came to realize that I need to think both more, and less, of myself.  I need to value and care for myself much more than I do and to see the positives and successes as well as the negatives and failures. And I need to turn outward and practice more compassion towards others.  This seems to happen every so often – I just get tired and lose the ability to be strong and resourceful and collapse inward. Then I have to figure out how to get back up again.

To that end I’ve resolved to make changes to my diet, cutting out harmful things and eating more healthfully, to begin an exercise practice that provides some stress relief as well as physical activity, and to find a cause outside of work and home to which I can contribute in a way that satisfies me.  I don’t imagine it will be an easy change to make – habits wouldn’t be habits if they were easy to break – so I’m looking for supportive people and groups to help me.

Coincidentally today my principal confided that he’s put on a bit of weight in the past year and several of us at work have decided to support and challenge each other to make healthier lifestyle choices beginning when we return from the holiday break.  Thank you to supporters who have purchased some of the fitness oriented gifts I had on our Amazon wish list. I’m looking forward to putting them to use over the break while I try to create new habits that will sustain and energize me while I continue to face our significant challenges!

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