My first official photo shoot

Happy Friday, readers! Some of you know that I have always been interested in pursuing photography, but I’ve never really had the resources to follow through with it. Well, for our wedding, Brian’s aunts got together and bought us a Nikon DSLR off of our registry and we’ve excitedly embarked on a journey of exploring photography. Brian is interested in macrophotography and nature shots, while I’ve always been interested in portraits. After doing a few shots to get my feet wet, like our Christmas cards and birthday pictures for my best friend’s daughter, Brian saw how much I really enjoyed this type of photography.

After what I’m sure was much research, because that’s the kind of guy Brian is, he bought me some amazing Christmas presents in the form of backdrops and lighting sets for better quality photos. So today, we had our first official shoot for our niece Aviana, who is turning one year old this weekend! We had so much fun with the cake smash and the balloons and only a few meltdowns that were silenced with candy and Baby Shark. I won’t be posting the official photos here, because I want Jennifer to have the honors, but I would like to share some behind the scenes action that Jennifer captured. Enjoy!

Getting the “studio” all set up. Some day we won’t be in a tiny apartment, but we make do with what we’ve got here.

I’m so blessed to have a supportive husband. Thankful that he helps me get the settings just right before the birthday girl stepped up. Time management is important with littles!

Ruger was pretty sure the photoshoot was for him. I can understand why, since, you know, we always take pictures of him.

Ruger was also very disappointed that that delicious looking cake wasn’t for him. I am very proud of him though for being such a good dog throughout the whole ordeal. Mama’s boy!

Here’s the three backdrops we used throughout the hour and a half long shoot. Numerous outfit changes as well, Aviana was such a beautiful model!

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We all knew this post was coming…

Hello, readers and welcome to 2019! For whatever reason, this year people seem to be extra negative about resolutions. I, however, will set them like I do every year, and I’ll share them to hold myself accountable, and hopefully I’ll succeed. For 2017 I had 3 goals: grow in my faith, complete a 30 day yoga challenge, and blog regularly. Well, 1/3 for 2017 wasn’t awful. Last year I also had 3: grow in my faith, work on my anxiety and depression, and get physically healthy, and I bumped it up to 2/3 completed. So this year, I added a few more. Nothing crazy, and only a few that I have to do solely on my own. I actually stumbled upon a blog post about Christian New Year’s Resolutions that has a great free printable to help you align your resolutions with your priorities, and that helped me shape mine for this year. So, without further ado, my 2019 new year’s resolutions.

1. Faith. I know, it’s been my number one resolution for the last few years, and it will continue to be because I know I can constantly grow and learn more about my faith. 2018 was a great year for Brian and I spiritually. We were baptized together went through premarital counseling, got married in our church, consistently go to small group, and even began volunteering with children’s ministry. So I have a few specific goals for my spiritual growth in 2019. I want to read through the New Testament this year, and I want to memorize 12 scripture verses. I have a wall calendar from Our Daily Bread that breaks that the Old and New Testament reading plan for each day in order to complete them in a year. As for the memorization I plan on picking a verse each month and writing it anywhere I can; on the bathroom mirror, post it notes, etc. Let me know your favorite verses in the comments!

2. Marriage. Maybe you’re asking what could possibly be resolved in my new marriage. I’m not a follower of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra. Contrary, I am under the belief that everything important to you needs constant care and attention in order to thrive. So my goals for my marriage this year are to pray together every day, to read through our couple’s devotional (thanks Kevin and Melissa), and to do a hobby together. We pray together often, but I’d like us to be more intentional with our prayers. As for the hobby, I think photography is a good place to start, since we’re both starting at the same level 📷

3. Relationships. Next up on the list is my other relationships with friends and family. I’m not going to lie, I’m fairly busy, and sometimes it’s hard to prioritize my time effectively. My goal in this area is to spend time with people at least once a month, and this doesn’t include things like my small group or work functions. I mean, I want to get coffee with friends, or go to the park with my sister-in-law. I also, want to work on being open about my struggles when I have them, and not default to “I’m fine” when someone asks about them.

4. Health. Back again for the 3rd year in a row, my nemesis… physical health. I think the best way to make progress in this area is to be very specific with what I want to achieve. So, my goals are to drink water everyday, because let me be real there are times when I can’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve had a glass of water. Secondly, I’d like to exercise at least 3x a week, with one of those being weekly walks with Brian in the park on Sundays.

5. Work. I set goals for myself all the time as a teacher and sometimes I succeed and sometimes it’s back to the drawing board. I would like to read at least one professional development book a quarter, and I would like to move my summative eval score from effective to highly effective. I know what I need to do to make the jump, and part of it involves reading some professional development books. Here’s to becoming a better educator this year!

In all seriousness, whether you like setting resolutions just to say you did it, or maybe you think it’s a waste of time, I hope that you achieve your goals this year, and I pray that God moves in your life and that you let Him. I pray that you watch for His works even when it feels like He isn’t. Have a great one, everybody!

My Top 10

Yesterday, during the church service, our pastor spent our time together listing the top ten ways God has been at work in our church and our community. It was a refreshing opportunity to reflect on the past year, and it has inspired my blog post for this evening. I would like to share with you the evidence of God’s presence in our lives this year (in no particular order). Feel free to comment any ways that God has been active with you or yours!

10. I left the school where I was teaching for the last 2 years, and while it was hard to say goodbye to my amazing friends, I know it was for the best.

9. My new school is amazingly supportive and is helping me become a better educator every day.

8. In addition to the professional development from my new school, Brian and I have also made some amazing friends here as well!

7. This year, our first niece was born and she has grown into an amazing almost 1 year old, and Jennifer is a wonderful mother!

6. 2018 was also the year I watched my best friend celebrate her 1 year anniversary of sobriety. And even though I know it hasn’t been easy for her, her testimony of God’s influence is one that inspires me every day. Here’s to many more years, Brooke!

5. Also this year, my dad went through some pretty scary health issues. With prayer, good doctors, and amazing support from friends and family, he hot through it, and was able to walk me down the aisle for my wedding in October. While he isn’t 100% yet, we continue to pray for God’s hand in his life.

4. This was a huge year for our spiritual growth as a couple as well. First of all, we were baptized together in March and it was a great experience to openly confess our love of Jesus.

3. Also, we have continued our activity in church community groups. The Monday night group that I go to with Brooke, and the Thursday night group the I go to with Brian have both given us the spaces to explore and ask questions about our faith and we have made some fantastic friendships because of these groups.

2. Brian and I are very excited that this year we began working with Awana ministries together as well. It warms my heart to spend time with my husband and be an adult in the kids’ lives who can help them explore and grow in their faith.

1. Lastly, we got married this year! We’ve been together for 8 years now, but I can say that these last few months of married life have been the most amazing months of our entitled relationship. We have grown together and learned to lean on God together when times are tough. I am blessed to have Brian as the leader of our home.

This is a very short list of the things God has done for us in 2018, but it’s nice to think back on it all now as we wait for the new year to roll in. Wherever you are tonight, and whatever you’re doing, I hope you take some time to think of the good things that this has brought, even if it seems small. God bless you and your family as we leave a time of reflection and head into a time of renewal ❤️

Christmas Photos

Hello, readers!

Christmas 2018 has been amazing, and we’re almost a full week into break. The first half has been great. We have spent a lot of time with friends and family and are blessed to have so many amazing people in our lives. I watched It’s a Wonderful Life for the first time, and cried like a baby. In addition to all these fun Christmas things, I’ve also had the chance to practice my photography more. Here’s our Christmas pictures for the year. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

What I did today

I have an on again/ off again relationship with this blog, don’t I? In my mind I love the idea of having something to talk about that is worth sharing with you all. I do have a blogging challenge I’ll be starting in December that I’m hoping to keep up on but until then, I’ll share our adventure from today.

Brian and I have been on break all week. It’s a pleasant change from last school year when we had Wednesday to Friday off. Brooke helped me clean the apartment on Monday and I graded all my students essays on Tuesday. In preparing for my first time hosting Thanksgiving, I decided we should take Ruger and head up to the mountains. We invited Jennifer and sweet Avianna, as we’re not in their neck of the woods often, and they joined us after lunch. What a beautiful day it was! Cooler temps, but the sun was shining. Enjoy!

Finale! Week 8 of 8 ❤

This post is week 8 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer blog challenge for educators! The final prompt for this challenge is: how will you keep reflecting?

This challenge has actually been really helpful for me in reflecting on my teaching. Of course I was motivated by the chance to win a gift card, because hello… classroom supplies! Honestly, though this has been fun and I think my goal will be to do weekly blogs during the school year as a reflection.

Week 7 of 8

This post is week 7 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer blog challenge for educators!

The prompt for this week is: share your favorite strategies for instruction, organization, and planning.

I think the best strategy for these 3 things is honestly collaboration. It is so hard to teach in a school where you feel isolated from your colleagues. Luckily, I have worked in an amazing school that has showed the joys of collaboration and in that I have learned some awesome techniques for instruction, planning, and organization.

Challenge: Week 5 of 8

Disclaimer: I thought about this prompt for a few days and this is the first one that I didn’t immediately know how I was going to answer. So, this post is not the greatest, but for the challenge’s sake… here it goes.

This post is week 5 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Challenge for educators! The prompt for this week is “How do student summer experiences influence your start of school planning?” I’m a little confused by this prompt, because since I don’t know my students summer experiences prior to them telling me during the first weeks of school, so that doesn’t influence my start of school planning.

I will say that it influences my relationships with students as I’m getting to know them throughout the year because I learn what they’re interested in and can establish a positive rapport with them. Sorry! I know this week’s post is kind of sucky, but I struggled with this prompt #ohwell!

What I Want You to Know: Self Image

So, as I was scrolling through my various social media today, I couldn’t help but notice something. All day I’ve been thinking about it, and I finally decided to write it out before bed, so that I’m not up all night. This is a long one, so bear with me, and if you make it all the way to the end give yourself a high five– I would.

One of the projects I did this year in school was a monthly newsletter for my students. It had important dates, reminders, motivational quotes, the learning focus for the month; I worked really hard on it each month. I even got creative and used colored paper for certain months, like green for March and orange for October and so on. Every month I would be so excited to print them off and divide them up to pass out, and every month I would be disheartened that students crumpled them up, made paper airplanes, or just threw them out. Sure, there were kids who read them and appreciated my effort and took them home to their parents, and regardless of the amount of them that were tossed out I still plan on making them for my future classes. Once, though, I was upset by the ones being thrown out and I asked the students how they would feel if something that they worked on and created and were proud of was neglected and tossed in the trash. They didn’t answer.

Recently, Brian and I were gifted an amazing starter camera for us to learn photography together. So far, Brian has learned all about aperture and ISO and I have learned that nothing is sacred and Brian will take candid pictures of me whenever he gets the chance. It was frustrating at first to look at the pictures. Look at my acne, my hair is funky, I’m not sitting up straight. I didn’t even think to appreciate how he sees me and loves me. Here I am doing the same thing to myself that I try so hard to convince my girl friends and my girl students not to do. I hear things all the time, “let me see that picture” and “oh no, delete that”. I’m always so confused, especially by my middle schoolers. Love yourselves, you’re awesome! why can’t you see you like I do? Yet, 24 hours after receiving this awesome camera, I found myself literally saying the same things to Brian, and I’m snapped back to my insecure high school self. Overly editing every picture before I post it. Making Brian confused because he sees me in a way I didn’t see myself anymore. I had worked so hard to learn to love myself, especially after I found my relationship with God, and here I was, throwing it all away. Tossing it in the garbage.

To tie this all together, at some point today I had a thought that wouldn’t go away. I remembered the frustration I felt every time a student took my newsletters and discarded them, and I couldn’t help but think of how upset it made me. To have something that I created, and put time and effort into, thrown out. I feel like this is how God must feel everytime we think something bad about ourselves, or say something self-deprecating. Genesis 1:27 says that God created us in His own image, “male and female, He created them.” How frustrated He must be that He put so much thought and effort into each and every one of us, just for us to throw it all aside.

But I want you to know about self image is that you are created to be you. Each one of us has the unique thumbprint of God. Psalms 139: 13-14 says, “for You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” Say that to yourself; you are fearfully and wonderfully made. So let people take candid pictures; stop seeing those imperfection you put on yourself. See yourself as God sees you, and thank Him.

Week 4!

This post is week 4 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators! The prompt for this week is: How are you a leader among your peers? How are you a follower among your peers? This is actually I difficult prompt for me because I can’t really put my finger on a specific trait I have when I’m leading or following.

An example of a time when I was a leader for my peers is when I planned field trips for our team. The challenge at doing this was delegating tasks. The problem I have as a leader is I’d like to control everything and plan everything myself even though I know that’s not possible. So something that I tried really hard on this year when leading my peers was to delegate specific jobs to help get things done in a timely manner with less stress. And anyone who has ever planned a middle school field trip knows about stress.

Anytime that I’ve need to follow my peers’ leadership I try my hardest to do whatever tasks I can to the best of my ability. I used to try and acvept any task that was asked of me because I thought that is what was expected, but as I’ve grown I have learmed that I shpuld only accept tasks that I know I will be able to complete with 110% effort given, because it’s better to complete fully one task than to half-attempt five.