Toasted Coconut Porter

This post is part of my month-long quest to cut out junk food.  Check out the first post here.

Breakfast- Leftover fajita steak and veggies (Feeling: Happy because it is a good, protein and veggie-filled meal.  Ate it in the car on the way to work.)

Lunch: Amy’s Organics Enchilada meal (Feeling:  Tense, because I am only twenty minutes away from parents-teacher conferences.  They have not given us the report cards yet, and I know parents will be knocking down my door any minute. I always end up loving PTC, but the pre-game leaves me twitchy.)

Dinner: Plowman’s lunch at The Box Bar in Plymouth.  This meal comprises of two sausages, a pretzel, and assorted cheeses.  I have noticed that when you avoid things with fries and pop, a whole part of the menu that one may never consider opens up.  I also enjoyed a Paw Paw Toasted Coconut Porter (DE-LISH!)   If you live in the Metro Detroit area, The Box is a fantastic place with more types of beer than you will ever be able to drink and great food.  The company was also pretty stellar, as our friend from Midland was visiting.  Downtown was abuzz with people eating on the street and families playing in the square.  (Check out the pictures that I linked to Plowman’s lunch.  I could eat like that every day and love my life!)

Victories:  In downtown Plymouth there are two wonderful dessert places: Just Baked (where I got my wedding cupcakes!) and Kilwins, which has the best scoop ice cream around.  Even though one in our party got a cupcake, I was happy with a taste of his gingersnap cookie.

I rate today: 7/10  The nacho cheese that came with the Plowman’s lunch wasn’t exactly gourmet and I tasted that gingersnap.  However, I did avoid snacking after work, and fries and pop at the restaurant, so I consider today a win.

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Paw Paw Toasted Coconut Porter- Tastes like dessert!

Ps. In the spirit of Outonawalk, I even got out on a nice stroll with my husband around sunset.  Hello spring!

Button-bursting Realization

Sometimes in life, you have a “WTF” moment. I had one yesterday sitting in my new doctor’s office.  I was wearing a dress that had at one time belonged to my sister when she was working on a beautiful island vacation spot as a hostess.  Over that summer, she shrunk out of that dress, as there were no cars allowed on the island so she had to walk everywhere.

I, on the other hand, have been growing into it.  And growing.  And Growing.  Growing until I was sitting on the doctor’s exam table, with a mirror to my left, seeing myself sitting sideways in all of my near-button busting glory.

Now, I’ve been priding my self on my new gains in self-esteem.  I really give myself credit for being able to break away from the diet culture that has plagued me since middle school.  I refuse to count calories ever again.  I refuse to be told that fat is bad for me and low-fat carbs are healthier.  I’ve moved past that, and, society has begun to move past that.  (Check out these guys if you don’t believe me, check out Mark Sisson and Tom Naughton to name a few.)  On top of that, I have a husband who relentlessly lets me know that he loves me and lets me know that I am beautiful, and that has been healing.

But, the sacrifices I’ve made for my mental health have been affecting my physical health.  Though you cannot tell me that I am not beautiful anymore, you can tell me that there are things I need to clear up with my health.  So, this month I’ve decided to ditch the junk food and blog about it.

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Classroom Makeover, Round Three (After!)

Welcome back for the big reveal!  Check out my “before” post here!

First: I had to clear out all of the junk…

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Ta-da!  It doesn’t look like much, but it isn’t supposed to be.  This is the open space that I will use for drama!

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The north side of the classroom before…

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…and after!  I’ve opted for cooperative learning tables this year.  Each table is named after a famous author!

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I started with the table signs hot-glued to the tables.  However, I have now moved them to strings hanging above the tables.

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So I can keep tabs on both sides of the classroom, my desk area is in the middle.  That old-wall stripe had to go!

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I painted the wall green, and added a clause in my syllabus about not crossing the tape line without my permission.

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The desk that I inherited was originally black, but it was pretty dingy after years of tape and dings.  So, I used some chalkboard paint, and drew my name on with some sidewalk chalk! Also, I hot glued my “Work Hard and Be Nice” sign to the front of a super-dated file cabinet.  The result was an inviting work area!

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I have inherited two air conditioning units (one for each side of the room,) and fortunately for me, they both work!  I came up with the idea last year to use this space as my word wall, so I added some chalkboard paint…

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…and voila!  On the top portion of the unit, I write “Cool Words,” (get it!?) and use all sides of it for vocabulary!   Also, on the left hand side is a board for student work!

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Moving on to my classroom library!  I am a big proponent for a print-rich English classroom, so I make it a point to have a classroom library.  This year, I have a lot more space, and my collection has nearly doubled, thanks to our Scholastic Bookfair dollars!  Notice the cupboard doors.  You guessed it, they are chalkboard, too!  I use the doors in my classroom for class schedules.  Each class has their own door, and students copy down their homework from their assigned door.

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I make sure to stamp the inside cover of each book with my teacher stamp, and there is a sign out binder.

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Because I have moved rooms several times, I have inherited a good deal of teacher signage.  Below the book area, I have made a display of different genres.  Thank you to whichever teacher left these behind for me!

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I made these signs for my clock…

“Time will pass, will you?”

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I have also made a board in the front of my room for Common Core objectives.  I haven’t posted them yet, but I purchased a great set of Common Core posters for this board from teacherspayteachers.com.

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We are required to have a “data wall” in our classrooms.   So, I put my own spin on it!  I use fabric for my boards (a tip given to me from a teacher friend!)  My “Wisdom Wall” will feature student grades and other data.

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Finally, my doors.  The bottom portion is the same as my accent wall in my desk area.  The top portion is chalkboard paint.  Middle Schoolers are pretty forgetful sometimes about work that is due.  I use this space as a before-class reminder to grab any work that is due, and post any classroom news.

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So, there you have it! I am still primping and improving, but I am very happy with the result!  Welcome to Mrs. Curley’s room!

Classroom Makeover, Round Three (Before!)

I am now beginning the third school year at my school, and I am settling into my third classroom.  The joke is that I am the “classroom fairy,” I make a room over, and I get moved.  However, this move is particularly exciting!  I am now the proud tenant of a room previously occupied by my English teacher predecessor, who had enough clout to have a wall knocked out, and her room made into a double room.  Not only am I teaching 7th and 8th grade English this year, I am also teaching Drama, so the extra room has been a great resource!

Now, down to the fun stuff!  Here are the befores:

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This room was previously used for a special needs class and a latchkey program, and the previous English teacher left a lot of her stuff and it was never cleaned out.  So, I had a LOT of work to do!  This is the north side of the room…

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…and this is the south side of the room.  You may notice the random school furniture, including desks, tables, and lunchroom tables.

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This is a glamour shot of the things that I moved from my old room.  Check out the re-vamp of my old classroom here: Before and After 

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Notice the line where the wall used to be.

Obviously, this room was in need of some TLC!

Click here for the “After” post!

In the Presence of Maya Angelou

Yesterday, Detroit Public Schools held a session of their teacher’s symposium that featured none other than Dr. Maya Angelou.  Normally, I would bring a random notebook to my professional development workshops, but yesterday I brought my diary to take notes.  This morning, I felt that some of the quotes couldn’t stay tucked away for my own eyes, but should be shared with my friends and colleagues.

So, for your eyes’ and soul’s pleasure, here are some quotes from Dr. Angelou’s talk on August 22nd, 2013 at the Detroit Renaissance Center Marriott:

(She was brought out on a wheelchair.  We later looked up her age: 85.  She greeted us and told us that she would treat us as if we were on her porch having a chat.)

“God didn’t just but the rainbow in the sky; he put it in the clouds.”

“I will not be used, misused, or abused.”

She then told us a story about her half-paralyzed uncle, Willy.  He had taught her her timestables when she moved away from home.  Later, she met a man who had been taken under Uncle Willy’s wing and given a job in his store.  His mother was blind.  He later went on to be the Mayor of Little Rock, and owed his start to Willy.  After this story, Maya asked us: “How far is your range of influence?”

“I used to be a writer who taught, now I am a teacher who can write.”

She then told us about Ms. Flowers (who is part of the section of “I Know why the Caged Bird Sings” that I teach to my 8th graders!)  Maya was mute after being raped at a young age, and Ms. Flowers, the most elegant black woman in Stamps, Arkansas, made Maya read every book in her school’s library.  To this she said: “O can’t say I understood them, but I read them.”

“It is a blessing to be a bridge over troubled waters” -Maya’s reflection on the “Men of Vision” vocal performance.

“Being a teacher is being a teacher all of the time.”

About respecting students: “Be wise and be kind.  If you are threatening, they will close up.”

On respecting diversity: “Nothing human can be alien to me.”

On talking about her accomplishments: “I don’t waste any time on modesty.”

I know that this talk was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be in the presence of a great person.  The gravity and conversational quality of the talk was gripping and inspiring.  I am thankful to have been a part of this with my colleagues and friends!

Finally, I will leave you with Maya herself:

Outonawalk… with my husband

They say that the most important thing in a relationship is communication.    Right around dusk, we set out to walk around Newburgh Lake, which is very close to our apartment.  Because of this habit, we have had four miles worth of talking time nearly every night. The trail entails paved and unpaved surfaces, woods, open lake views, and even some meadow-type areas.  Really, it’s a perfect, compact little hike.

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(One nice thing about going on walks with my husband is that I have a built-in photographer!)

Ben and I have really taken on a good deal projects as a couple.  Both of us are tying to eat better (we’ve cut out a lot of grains and sugars from our diet), and we’ve made sure to make exercise a bigger part of our time together.  Actually, it’s like getting back to our roots, because one of the first things that we did as a couple in college was wake up at the wee hours of 7am (an early hour for many coeds) and hit the gym.  That said, we have both lost a bit of weight, and it has given us a solid hour-or-so to talk and catch up on the day without the hindrance of a computer screen (admittedly, we both love our laptops a bit too much).

Also, if you like my blog, you can thank Ben for encouraging me to write more.  What a guy!

 

My God Tantrum

Summer break.  Finally.  Time to breathe and reflect- both of which are things that I have not done either here or in my paper journal for quite some time.

To begin this post, I want to make a confession: a few months ago, I gave up on God.  Thanks to my habit of paper-journaling, I can pinpoint the moment to the exact date.  It happened March 3rd, 2013.  I think it began as a “HEY LOOK AT ME GOD, I AM THROWING A TANTRUM” moment.  Sure, a lot of us entertain the thought of abandoning our belief in God.  Mine was more of a protest for attention that morphed very quickly into the real thing.  It was so easy that it was scary.  

It was almost uncomforting how comforting it was.  There were so many things that burdened my mind: the poverty of the area of which I work, the inequality that still persists (no matter how many people want to insist that we are a post-racial society- these people I find very sheltered), coupled with the day-to-day struggles of a new teacher, doing battle with a mostly-defiant 8th grade class, and a new marriage.  I blamed God for his refusal to change these things.  

For some reason, taking the religious weight off of these issues allowed for a relaxing breath.  I’ve been told my whole life that these are things that a good Christian MUST worry about.  Confound the day-to-day struggles of a new teacher with the mental burdens of religious urgency, and I was crushed.   

I am easily agitated and depressed.  The only things that kept me going were the devoted love of my husband, and the strong connection that has progressed with my colleagues.  

Thankfully, there was a tiny ember in my soul that hasn’t gone out yet, and I am gently using this break as a time to fan it back into something warm.  Not necessarily religiosity, my friends who have unwittingly stumbled into a conversation about faith with me know that my faith is nowhere near a “thebibleistheonlytruthyouwilleverneedjesusismyboyfriend*insertpeoplegrouphatedbychristians*sareallgoingtohellamen” kind of faith

That part of my soul that was so burdened has emerged as a stronger muscle.  Yes, the cliche’ is true:  what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.   My soul isn’t dead yet- so it must be stronger.  

There is so much more that I want to write about this topic, but I know that blog readers have short attention spans.  Perhaps I will continue later, but in the meantime, here is are some pictures from a walk that I took with my mom yesterday at Mayberry State Park in Northville:

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This path-of-life sure is a winding one…

Enneagram Obsession

For those who know me more personally, they know that I am a freak about the Enneagram.  A few summers ago, I was part of a magical team at SpringHill camps, and our program director opened my fellow counselors and I up to the Enneagram as a team building exercise, and we have been hooked ever since. I have never really be into astrology or personality tests, they have all seemed pretty random and never seemed to really “get me.”  

Here is how the Ennegram got me:

My program director (trying to figure out my “type”):  “Do you easily get depressed?”

 Yes.  How did you know that?

Program director: “Do you feel melancholy more than others around you?”  “Do you see the world in artistic terms?”  “Do you feel uncomfortable until the area around you aesthetically pleases you?”   “Do you spend a significant amount of time in solo activities like journaling?” 

Yes. Yes. Yes. Uh huh.  How did you know?  

Program director:  “You are probably a four.”  Actually, three out of the four people on our team that summer were fours (the other was a care giving two).

Now, I know that I am speaking a foreign language, but quite simply, there are nine personality types.  But, the beauty of the enneagram is that your personality is not stationary.  Just like a normal person, your personality can shift to other “types” when you are “healthy” mentally, and when you are “unhealthy” mentally.  

Before I muddle up everything, take a test:

http://www.9types.com/newtest/

or http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/English/dis_sample_36.asp

(I would take both, to see where you fall.  I had to take the test a few times and talk it out with a friend who knew her stuff to figure out that I was indeed a “four.”)

Then, the fun begins!  Explore the types that you scored the highest in to see which one fits with you.  Usually, the type that you actually are will scream out to you: “HOW DID YOU KNOW THIS ABOUT ME!?”  

Enneagram Four

Then, take a look at these resources and click on your type to explore!

http://www.9types.com/descr/

http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/

Also, if you are interested in how the Enneagram will affect your approach to diet and exercise, I just discovered this little gem:

http://weightlosssuperpowers.com/enneagramtypes/

 

Have fun!  And, I would love some comments telling me which type you think you are!  

Three Things that I Love

It is the twilight of my Spring Break, and I spent it doing three things that I love.

1. Walking. 

2. Spending time with my husband. It is about a three mile walk to and from Family Video, depending on which route you take.  We’ve made the trip several times since the weather has gotten nice!

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3. Feeding my love of Downton Abbey.  I have gotten Ben hooked, and we scored disk two of season two from our local Family Video (they only have one copy of each disk, so we snatch it up!)  I’ve been patiently waiting to watch Season three as he catches up!

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Look at him loving Downton! 

 

26 Years Old: What I Do Well and What I Want to Learn

I’ve been in a funk lately.  I have a feeling that it may have something to do with a quarter-life crisis,  if those are real.  For about a year, my mind has more easily slipped into gloom-and-doom than my usual default optimism.  I’ve found that as I have entered into the quarter-century of life life, I’ve had to work a lot harder to achieve equilibrium.  I’ve never been a worrier, a cynic, or even a realist.  However, I am finding that these things, in moderation, have been a good addition to my personality as long as I keep them in check.  However, one things that always lifts my spirits to the plane of optimism is setting goals for myself.  Over and above this, I want to also make a list of things I have accomplished in the past two and a half decades of my life.  So, here it goes:

Thing I have accomplished:

Bachelors of Education Degree in English, Religion, and Speech- Yes, it took a while, but I have two majors, a minor, many school involvements, and study abroad under my belt because of the time I spent at CMU.

Marriage- and not just marriage, we are cultivating something that we intend to last.

World Travel- France, Spain, Thailand, Cambodia, Uganda, and Rwanda. (Okay, Canada counts, too.)

A Secure Circle of Family and Friends- I am not a person who is easily friends with everyone that I meet, so I am proud to have a close circle of people who really care about me.

A Career- It has been a shaky start, but I am really beginning to find positive identity in my role as a teacher.  Also, I think I am darn good at it!

Things I’ve Done and Want to do Better:

I Can Cook- Case in point, I finally got closer to perfection in my quest to be a better strawberry rhubarb pie maker (it is my husband’s favorite dessert).

I Have Religious Knowledge-  This has always been a fascination for me.  Right now, I am in a HUGE questioning period and my faith-o-meter is reading pretty low.  However, I am happy that I’ve cultivated a questioning and inquisitive heart when it comes to Christianity.  Also, I love studying other religions want want to continue doing so.

I Have a Growing Appreciation for Beer-  Four years ago, I wouldn’t touch the stuff.  Now, through experimentation and the encouragement of my friends and husband, I am in love with craft beers and have even gone to a beer tasting dinner.  I would like to gain more knowledge in this area.

I Can Write-  I have kept a steady stream of journals since I was in elementary school.  I can safely say that I can write decently and use it as a tool for expression. However, there is always room for improvement.

My Love for Walking-  I am not sure why I am so in love with walking.  It may be something mystical passed down from my mother’s love of nature.  I have never been “athletic,” but I have always had slow-and-steady endurance, so walking just seems to fit me well. I am so soothed and motivated by long walks, and I seem to encounter the best adventures when I am walking.

I Can Sing and Hold My Own on Stage-  Though I am not very good at reading music, I can sing well and I can easily lend my voice at church or whenever there is a need for it.  Also, I can get up in front of a group of people and be mildly entertaining (improv helped with that, and I do it every day when I teach!)

I Finally have some Video Gaming Skill-  Even though my passion is limited to the Fable series of Xbox games, I can finally say that I am not totally inept at gaming.

I Can Drive-  This is a shout out to myself ten years ago, when 16 year old me could finally drive on her own!

Healthy Eating- I’ve been constantly educating myself since I was a teenager.  However, I’ve let a lot of the good habits I’ve established in the past to lapse as I’ve gotten into my adult life.  My goal is to continue building what I know and continue practicing good choices.

Things I want to be:

I want to be a hiker-  I want to move past simple walks and really get into backpacking.  I was first bitten by the backpacking bug this summer on Isle Royale, and I want to continue building my skills and endurance.

I want to be better at grammar-  Yes, I am an English teacher, and I have struggled with remembering the labels for everything.  I can “DO” grammar very well, but once you start talking about gerunds and participles, my brain glazes over.  I consider grammar the “math” of English, and I am not good at math.  So, my goal is to better my English abilities by re-teaching and retaining grammar rules.

Write a Full-length Story-  A novel?  A chapter book?  Something like that.  I am good at writing non-fiction short stories about my life, because I practice in my journal every day.  I want to expand and write something fiction and longer.

Non-specific craft-  I want to learn how to make something with my hands.  More specifically, I want this to be something that I can make money off of in my spare time.  I will leave this ambiguous for now.  However, two ideas are learning how to sew Renaissance clothing, or learning how to whittle with the woodcarving knives that my grandma left for me (I would love to continue her legacy.)

Well, there you have it!  I hope that I can look back on this post and add more accomplishments to the top and place some tick marks next to the ones “in progress.”  Also, I hope this served as some sort of inspiration to my readers, to not only set goals for yourself, but also remember that there are some goals that you’ve already accomplished that deserve some recognition.  Okay, time to go live day one of my 26th year!  In light of my marriage accomplishment listed above, I will leave you with my favorite wedding photo:

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With out powers combined….!