Friday, July 26, 2013

Jonathan's Adventures

Over the last couple days I've realized that the whole world now knows what I've been up to since moving to Wichita, Kansas, but no one has any idea what happened to Jon. I'd love hate for everyone to think that I'm the most interesting person in this family (but let's face it, most days I am, unless Bing has a crazy moment), but Jon is interesting, too! We've been through quite a lot since moving to Wichita, and it hasn't just been me that has all this exciting news. I am, however, the one who blogs (Jon does have a blog, go check it out and tell me when was the last time he posted...yeah, I think I'm a little bit better at this...)

So I actually totally will be short loooong with this, because I can't be very verbose seem to shut up about something I know very little about. ;)

So Jon moves to Wichita without me. Remember this? 7 long and terrible months a part (which just made me love him more). He graduated and got this great job with Cargill! See this post for more info! It was awesome, cause he had to travel A LOT during the first few months with Cargill, and I was in graduate school, in Colorado, living with my awesome Bro- and Sis-in-Law. So even if I had been in Kansas, I wouldn't have seen much of my husband. I've heard stories of this time. Jon's second bachelorhood. Just him and the dog. People tell me he had a whole pantry cupboard full of candy and I needed to get a move on and get out to Wichita to get some real food in my house! FYI, that cupboard is STILL full of candy.

I don't know a whole lot about what went on when I was not living here, but Jon and I talked on the phone or Skype every single day. You see, we have this commitment to read scriptures together every day. We started this when we were newly engaged, and haven't missed a day since. It's one of those things that brings us so close as a couple, AND it's very difficult to be mad at someone while you're reading the word of God, so it also mends arguments! Another post on that later. We also pray together, but that is soooo awkward over the phone. I can't explain it, it just IS. Anyway. I moved out to Wichita in January. See this post for more info.

So how is Jon now working for Beechcraft? What happened? Well short (I can't make anything short, I'm so sorry...) story is, he was laid off let go (see this clip from Emperor's New Groove) from Cargill, got a new job in record time at ViaChristi Health, working in business development and decided that he'd like to go back to school to get his Masters. So May 2012, Jon started his MSGM with Thunderbird School of Global Management, AND an MBA with Indiana University. YES! Two degrees at the SAME TIME. He is awesome, but not crazy, so just so you are aware, it's actually a dual degree program. :) He is expected to graduate December 2014. So we only have a year and half left!

So that Summer of 2012 was pretty interesting. Jon had been working for Via Christi for a couple months, just started a new Masters program, and I didn't have a job lined up for next school year. And you all already know this, but I DID get a job at Martin Elementary, and after I had a job, Jon and I made the leap that we had been contemplating for a year or so, and applied to be host parents. See this post about Charlie!

So here we are; both in newish jobs, Jon in school full time, Mallory FREAKING OUT because your first year teaching at a new school is crazy, and a new person coming to live with us. Everything happens for a reason though. And this last year was amazing. I can't even express how blessed we are. All I know is God is good, and he loves us.

Jon was asked in the Fall of 2012 to interview with Beechcraft. He wasn't looking for a new job, he didn't apply for it, but THEY found HIM. And then they gave him an offer which we couldn't refuse. We prayed about it, we fasted about it, and Jon went to work for a new company. We love Beechcraft! Jon has really enjoyed working there, and when he's happy, I'm happy.

So the real adventures come with Jon's schooling. Because he's in this program, he has to gets to take week long classes in other countries around the world. He had signed up for one in Prague, Czech Republic (like there's another Prague that I would be talking about...haha) and instead of just going for a week, we decided to make a sweet vacation out of it and tour around Europe. Jon has another one of these classes in February (Lima, Peru, this time) but I don't think I'll be able to go. Too much time off work for me.

Through all of this, and especially looking back on it, I can see the hand of my Father in Heaven in my life. He has always poured out blessings upon me, and my family, and I am so grateful for his hand in my life. If you are struggling seeing the little things that God does for you each day, I encourage you to keep a gratitude journal. I started doing this and wow has it opened my eyes. Even on the worst days, I can always think of three things to be grateful for. Also, this works really well for prayers. Write down three things you're grateful for, three things you'd like to ask God to bless you with, and then pray over those things.

So, I think we are almost completely caught up. Stay tuned for VACATION POSTS! Because I know that everyone started salivating the moment I mentioned Europe, I promise there will be pictures, and details. Oh, did I mention we also went to Brazil this summer? You'll just have to wait and see!

P.S. Why doesn't anyone comment? Seriously, I love comments! If you want details about Europe/Brazil, then you need to comment. Thank you!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Role of Mother

I'm NOT pregnant. Just thought I'd get that out of the way. ;)

This post is not about becoming a mother in the traditional way, though that is the eventual goal. Jon and I have always wanted to have kids, and we still do. For many reasons, we decided to do something a little non-traditional before becoming parents

I've always believed that you can be a mother without ever having to give birth. Though that, and adoption, are more traditional ways of being a mother, you can be a mother to people who are not your actual children. My last post, about being a teacher, is just one example. I feel very motherly towards my students, so much that I usually refer to them as "my kids" and their parents as "my parents." I also work with the youth in our church (ages 12-18), and I used to work with the primary aged children (4-12), and have felt like a mother to many of them in some capacity. My mother-in-law can never replace the woman who raised me; my mommy. But, she DID raise my husband to be a wonderful man, and has treated me as her own daughter for the last 5 years of our marriage (and even before we were married) and I call her "mom" not Brenda. My sister, Courtney, has also been a sort of mother to me, as I was a newly wed and trying to figure all this wife stuff out, she helped me tremendously in teaching me how to be a wife, and what to expect from marriage. My friends' mothers who have been involved in my life also deserve a shout out, my teachers from elementary school on up to college, and my colleagues at work, who have helped me find my role as a teacher, mentored me, and bought me chocolate. All women are mothers. We have this in our nature; it's a part of us. If you haven't actually had a child, you can be a mother. So I think of myself as a mother, too.

Nevertheless, nothing could have prepared me for the last year. Jon and I decided to skip the baby years, the toddler years, and all the years in between and try to raise a teenager. :) We decided to become host parents to a foreign exchange student from The Netherlands in July of 2012. We looked through lots of profiles, and found it very difficult to choose who would become our daughter. But we found her, and I'll never regret that decision. She arrived at the end of that month, and we were so excited to have her here!

Charlotte's Arrival - July 2012

Charlotte was our first experience having someone else live with us, someone else to take care of (other than the dog and Jon; because, let's face it, he's just a grown up boy), and someone to call our daughter. Of course we didn't replace her family or her parents, but I like to think that she will always think of us as her family, too. I know that we will always think of her that way.

Derby Hats - Kentucky Derby Party - Spring 2013

It is a difficult thing to open up your home to someone you've never met before. It can be trying, for you and for the other person. Trying to mesh two different cultures, styles, habits and quirks is a lot like getting married again. It's a shock at first, but you learn to get along, learn how to interact with each other, and become family. Our family, will certainly never be the same again.

Fried Oreos - Kansas State Fair - September 2012

I don't pretend to be Charlotte's mother, but I do hope that I've made a positive impact on her life. I hope that she looks back at her time with us this last year as a good experience, as something that helped her to grow into the young woman that she is. I hope she remembers us, the good memories and the bad, and I hope that she continues to grow and learn from her experiences.

Fun in the Snow - Snow Days - Winter 2013

I hope she looks at Wichita, Kansas as her second home, and as a place she is always welcome. I hope she remembers all the fun we had, and the tears we cried together. 

Scary Ride - Kansas State Fair - September 2012

I know I was not a perfect mom. In fact, I was pretty terrible at it. I tried really hard, though. I tried to make the right decisions. I worried about her and prayed for her and wanted her to succeed. I know I could have done a better job, but I think that recognizing our weaknesses can only make us stronger.

Boulder, CO - Winter 2012

One of the best things about welcoming another person into your home is that you get to learn so much about another culture, another language, and another people. Meeting Charlotte's family was amazing. Talking with them about their daughter, sharing experiences and insights, and creating lifelong friendships was just an incredible experience, especially when we got to visit them in The Netherlands this summer.

Red Lobster - Meet the Parents - Spring Break 2013

And watching my host daughter graduate from high school was just the icing on the cake. I'm proud of her accomplishments and achievements, I'm proud of how much she has grown over the last year, and I'm proud to be her host mom.

Charlotte's Graduation - May 2013

I'll never forget my experience this past year. I've grown so much! I've grown to appreciate my own mother, as well as appreciate my husband and of course this special person who jumped into our lives one year ago. You'll always be a Hummer, Charlie. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Family Pictures - Spring 2013

So here's to a new year, a new experience, and another shot at being a mom. This year will be different, not better or worse, just different. We miss you so much Charlotte. We can't really express how amazing it was to have you with us this last year. Thank you for taking a chance, and being our host daughter. We love you.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Teacher's Journey

Hello friends, family, and other people who might have at one point read this blog. I'm back, and based on what has traditionally happened, this may be my last post for another two years; hopefully not. I'm going to give you the short version of what has been going on. Lots of changes, lots of time. Almost exactly 1 year and 11 months ago was my last post. So I will begin there (and I promise, it will be quick terribly long, but worth it...)

August 2011, I started working at Stanley Elementary as a Para like my last post explained. I felt very discouraged at first. I wanted to be a teacher, and I didn't understand at first why that wasn't happening. I know now how much I needed this experience at Stanley. It is what truly formed me into a teacher. I. Loved. This. Job. I almost want to go back to being a para...that's how much I loved it. (Teaching and being around children, without the planning and the meetings! Too bad it doesn't pay very well.) My responsibilities were to help out in a particular Kindergarten class with about a 60% ESL population. My other responsibility was to shadow a student who had difficulty following the rules, and liked to throw tantrums. My first day on the job, (I wish I had blogged about this two years ago) I lost him. He ran out of the classroom, out of the school, and I ran to catch him. I did, thank goodness, but this little boy didn't just run away that day, he ran straight into my heart. It didn't matter how frustrating it was, or how much I cried because it was so difficult to handle, I'll never forget him. I'll never forget the way that he changed me, it is because of him that I am the teacher I am today (sorry, spoiler! I did eventually become a teacher!)

I love everything about those kids, and teaching them gave me the direction I needed, put me on the path to really want this. It was so difficult. I can't adequately express how difficult it was, but it was also the most rewarding. The small progress I made seemed like a triumph and I was finally fitting into my role, and loving it. I found myself wanting to change the way that the teacher of the Kindergarten class did things, but I had no power to do that. I was worried about not having a teaching job yet, but I just kept telling myself that this was exactly what I needed.

Fast forward to January 2012. Still a para, (now one without a gallbladder, long story that does not contribute to the point of this post), and still in the same room. I was approached by my principal. They had an opening for a long term substitute in first grade. The teacher had retired unexpectedly, and would I take that position. I debated. I loved my position, my kindergarten class. This would be much harder, and not much more pay for the hours I would work. Would it be worth it? I prayed. I read my scriptures. I talked to Jon. I talked to my parents. I talked to my colleagues. I eventually decided that this was my chance. If I wanted to be a teacher, this was my shot at doing what I wanted to do!

I accepted. In February I began another life changing position. I took on what was dubbed to be "the most difficult class" in the school. They had been through 3 different teachers already! Why would I be any different? My first day teaching these kids, we sat in a circle and I told them they could ask me anything they wanted and I would answer truthfully. One child asked, "Are you going to leave us?" I choked up at that innocent question. A child who had obviously been hurt by other teachers leaving her. I answered truthfully; "I won't leave you. Next year in second grade you'll have a different teacher, but I'm not leaving until the end of this school year." I kept my promise.

I can only describe the next month of my life as difficult horrifying hell. I suppose I'm exaggerating a bit, but I seriously questioned my decision to take on that class, and my role as a teacher. I inherited a disastrous mess of a room, which only got messier as I was busy with two jobs, my family and trying to retrain a class of 16 terrors. Terrors who had gotten away with doing anything they wanted to for the last two months.

I. Cried. Every. Day. For two weeks, every time those kids left the room for specials, lunch, or recess my eyes would let out the frustration, pain and stress I felt from teaching. I even cried in front of them once (but I made it seem like something else made me cry...) How could this be enjoyable? Was this really what I wanted? I put together rules and expectations and, of course, consequences for breaking those rules. ALL of them broke my rules and pushed my buttons, and so I had to follow through with my consequences. Office referrals, lost recesses, and time outs galore. But in the end, it was worth it. The last two months of teaching were amazing. The bonds that I made with these students will never be forgotten. Even now I tear up when I think of my first real class. My first parent-teacher conferences. My first babies. I love them so much my heart can't hold it all. They taught me so much those four months. They taught me what it truly means to be a teacher.

And at the end of that year, I learned that I wouldn't be returning to Stanley next year. I was not technically a teacher in the district, so other teachers had preference over me. I was majorly bummed out, but I knew what I needed to do. I sent out applications like crazy, knowing now that this really was where I was meant to be, and knowing that I had what it took to be a great teacher. A colleague once told me that you can learn to do lots of the things that teachers do. You can learn to plan lessons, you can learn how to control the classroom using behavior management techniques, and you can learn how to teach so that the kids really do learn! But there is one thing that you cannot teach someone, and that is how to love teaching. How to love your students. Love them so much you'd do just about anything for them. That is how I feel. I'm definitely an imperfect teacher, but I LOVE my kids.

I had several interviews that spring and summer of 2012. A few in Wichita, one in Maize, one in Derby. And then I had one in Andover. When I got the call for Andover, (and a FIRST GRADE position) I thought NO WAY! This is the most sought after district. High test scores, well behaved students, and good pay. There are teachers who have taught for years in Wichita who have applied for jobs in Andover year after year and don't get called. You have to know someone to get a job there. I called up a friend of a friend who teaches there and asked her EVERYTHING about Andover. She answered my questions and helped prep me for my interview. It was time.

The interview went really well. Oddly enough, nothing that I had discussed with this Andover teacher had come up in the interview, but I poured my heart and soul into it, just as I had done with the other interviews. I only remember telling them about my experience as a long-term substitute, and how it had changed me as a person and as a teacher (I even teared up a bit, I can't help it!). I remember focusing on my love of teaching, and my love for those children. I left feeling great, and got a call 5 hours later offering me the job. And guess what? I didn't know anyone in Andover. I had no ties to this district. :) Go me!

I was on my way to another interview (my principal laughed about this later; she told me I didn't seem too excited about it...maybe cause I was distracted driving to another interview...haha) and once the shock wore off, I accepted. Then I called Jon to tell him and ask him what to do about the other interview. ;) I don't think I did very well, as I interviewed in Derby, but I did try to do a good job. I was just too dang excited about my job offer!

In August 2012 I became a first grade teacher at Martin Elementary. I was so nervous for Orientation, and Meet Your Teacher Night, but I found that the last year of being a para and a substitute really helped me gain the skills I needed to be a great first year teacher. It was an adjustment teaching at a school that was 3% free and reduced lunch, rather than Stanley; 97% free and reduced lunch. These kids didn't need me as much as my other students, and they had so much more advantages which made teaching much easier. I found myself looking for ways to challenge them and changing things up as I went along. But those 20 kiddos ran straight into my heart as well, and I did what I do best. I loved them. I put my heart into teaching them, just like I promised I would in my interview.

Later I asked my teammates why they chose me. They told me many things, but ultimately it was my experience with that first grade class at Stanley that stuck with them. They said that they knew immediately after I left that I was the one. I love those ladies so much, two of my best friends now. We've been through a lot together as a team. And I will miss them so much this year!

I'm still working at Martin, but this year I will be a Kindergarten teacher. I will miss First Grade, I will miss my teammates, I will miss my classroom (I had the *perfect* classroom set up....), but I'm excited to share my love with the new children who will be entering my life. Teaching is not for everyone. Don't let someone tell you that it's the greatest job or the easiest job, because it's not. But when you are called to do something in life, you don't have a choice but to accept, and I was called to be a teacher. I don't know what the future will bring, especially as Jonathan and I have kids of our own. I don't know what jobs I will have over the years, but I can tell you this much. I will always be a teacher. There are certain parts about yourself that you can't change, and this is one part that I never want to change.

Bring it on Kindergarten!