Sunday, June 27, 2010

State of The Our Union: The First 90 Days

This Saturday marked 3 months of marriage marital bliss - the first 90 days. I figured it was a good time to look back and reflect just a little.

Many well-meaning people ask me all the time - 'So how's married life?' I am sure, most of the time, it is the courteous question to ask - very similar to the 'How are you?': polite to ask but they don't really want to know.

And honestly, I don't always want to tell. Again, I know they are well-intended and are assuming it has been marital bliss. But it is funny - because lots of people will tell you that the first year can be the most challenging, but when people ask how married life is, they just expect you to say 'It is so awesome!'

To complicate a very simple question even more, I am the kind of person who hates to answer, 'Fine!' 'Great!' to the 'how are you' question if my ENTIRE life is not fine or great. Most of it might be, but if there is even just one area that is not, I feel I am being dishonest by saying 'fine' or 'great.' That's just me- black and white, all or nothing. Can make life a little difficult. So I feel a little internal obligation to elaborate (not that I always do - I just feel it), even though the question really does just require a 'fine' or 'great.'

Anyway, I digress majorly. So, the 'How's married life?' question. The first 90 days:

In general, it has been great. I love living with James and having someone around to share a house with. Even with the hard stuff, I like my life so much more being married than single. Single life was good but I just prefer this - as do most people who marry; otherwise, they wouldn't marry. Duh.

It is definitely more work - more laundry, food shopping, cleaning, juggling schedules - and I can't really slack off like I would when I lived alone. But I like doing those domestic kinds of things, so I don't mind.

I have learned a lot about James by living with him, even though I feel like there haven't been any huge surprises. More like - he likes to fall asleep with the TV timer on or a CD or tape playing (usually the Bible or a sermon). He hates having the covers over his feet because they need to 'breathe'; he sometimes has a little bit of RLS (restless leg syndrome - real or imagined I'm not sure, but very real in our house) so settling into sleep is usually a production.

He doesn't eat dinner like regular people. Doesn't require dinner, doesn't always like to have it. So, I figured one of us would be cooking dinner every's not as regimented as I thought.

I've learned what particular foods he likes to have in the house: potato or white bread, not wheat; never light mayo or half-and-half; shrimp and cheese-and-crackers are a favorite snack to keep in the house; white albacore tuna in water, not oil.

He likes to keep his toothbrush in the shower, he does not like to sit in the backyard at night with the lights on (doesn't want to disturb the neighbors). He likes the lines in the carpet when he vacuums, and sometimes he will re-vacuum after I do it because I didn't do the lines right.

These have been some of the fun discoveries.

It has been fun to be able to go away together. We didn't live together before we were married and we saved sex for after marriage, so we didn't really travel together while we were dating.

But it has been fun to plan some short weekend trips. We went upstate Memorial Day Weekend to go mountain biking and we are going camping this weekend for the 4th of July. It is so fun to pack and buy supplies and plan all that together (oh yeah - I definitely learned to have the route planned out AHEAD of time...even if he says he knows where he is going. I should know the route too - it is the job of the co-pilot, so I am told!).

Our relationship itself hasn't changed a lot - but in a way, it has - and it is. The commitment is deeper, and the ripple effects of our decisions (and moods and behaviors) are a lot closer now. The reality is sinking in that we are each other's family now and the first loyalty is to each other - not to our former families, former friends, former hobbies...although those are still in our lives. It is just that we didn't make a life-long covenant with any of these people or things, but with each other. We are one now. Everything we do affects the other.

I feel like we are a little clumsy in adjusting to this reality - we are all creatures of habit so it takes getting used to this - but I am sure in time it will be more natural.

Of course, there are always miscommunications - most of the time the disagreements are results of misunderstandings or not communicating clearly. So, I am having to learn better ways to adapt my communication in a way he understands. Men and women are so different so I feel like I am always taking mental notes when I notice something.

I am also learning that change happens slowly. I tend to be a pretty flexible and can adapt fairly quickly; change takes a little more of a "process" (his favorite word) for James. So even the pace of our adjustments is different - and I am sure the male/female traits are a part of that - so I have tried to keep that in mind too.

There have been other issues we have had to deal with that have made the first 90 days a little challenging and not exactly the way I imagined it would be. We are working through it, which is good, but there were times when honestly, I felt a little sad because I would say to myself, "We shouldn't be dealing with this kind of stuff in our first few months of bliss!"

But who is to say that? Everyone is different - every couple and everyone brings different issues and baggage to the table (myself included - and we all have it). Everyone's relationship and timetable looks different.

So I have had to grow up a bit too, and not act like a spoiled girl but a mature wife and support and encouragement to my husband. Which, by the way, is the whole point...not just to have all of my expectations fulfilled. This is life. This is marriage.

And probably the biggest thing I have learned is this: it's all about me.

Before you freak, this is what I mean: It is all about me - me growing and developing into a more mature, Christ-like person, a quality human being. It is all about me in the sense that I am responsible for myself and how I act and how I choose to change and grow - and that I cannot force that on someone else.

I cannot control James or what he does or doesn't do - how he chooses to grow and change - or even if he chooses to grow or change (He does both, by the way, but my point is that I can't force him). I can only control myself. It is up to me to choose how I handle my emotions, my upset, my state of mind, and what I perceive as right or wrong. It is up to me and God to handle my part of the relationship - and it is up to God and James to handle his part. It is not for me to micro-manage him just so I can arrange my life to be exactly what I want it to be.

I could write more about all this - and probably will at some point - but one bit of advice that I was told I would need to incorporate every day (and they were right) is this:

Always keep giving, always keep forgiving. Give and forgive.

And getting that one down has taken me at least the first 90 days.

So, my final thoughts on the first 90 days: Marriage is wonderful and can be all it is cracked up to be - but it is not for the faint of heart.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Yes, finally. The school year is O.V.E.R.

Graduation tomorrow....

But it was right down to the wire. I've debated whether is it professionally ethical or not to include pieces of emails I've gotten from my students just so you could read for yourself the insanity of what this week has been...but I decided that might somehow be a breech of confidentiality.

Needless to say...

Anyway, I have been so negative about the end of this year so I don't want to dwell on that anymore. I am just ready to look ahead to summer.

As you may have read, the past 12 months have been insane, and I am so excited to just enjoy a little...

So, some things on my to-do list for the next 2 months, in no particular order:

1. Fitness: I need to get in shape again! Ugh! I have been eating my frustration! Six point six pounds heavier since the wedding and that has got to go! So, I am planning to mountain bike with James, go walking outside, get back to the gym - and ZUMBA classes! I have heard great things about Zumba and I am psyched.

2. Nesting: We are moved in but the house isn't totally home yet. I haven't had a chance to decorate, hang pictures, curtains, paint, etc. So that is on my agenda - to get organized and make this home. I am not the picture of domesticity when it comes to cooking or gardening, but I plan to try to make some advances in that area: healthy cooking and planting some flowers in the yard.

3. Spiritual: I haven't involved myself in a good Bible study in almost a year or so - and I am feeling it. I have been 'getting by' spiritually, and I am feeling the void of not having that closeness with Jesus. So, I want to get back into a solid, regular quiet time - and hopefully do another really good Beth Moore Bible study. Those have always been great for me.

4. Marriage: I feel like I have a lot to learn about what it means to have a godly marriage and to be a godly wife. There are a few books about it I have been wanting to read: Sacred Marriage, Love and Respect, Boundaries in Marriage. I have a few others that have been given to me as well that I would like to read also. So I want to spend some time reading and in prayer about what this new role means and what it should look like.

5. Blogging: I am excited to be back on the bandwagon and I want to give some time and energy to really thinking through what I am hoping this blog will evolve into.

6. Friends: So many friends I haven't seen and want to catch up with! Some former students I have been wanting to have a cup of coffee with - and BBQs! I love them!

7. Professional: Give a little (very little!) thought to some professional development - really, just reading some classic novels that I haven't read to see if they might be good to teach in the future. I am going to stay away from curriculum for most of the summer. I need a break.

8. Fun and Relaxation: First summer as a newly-wed! This may be the only time in our lives that James and I can enjoy our freedom like this. I definitely want to make time for us, to do some day trips and make each day special, to make our marriage a priority. We have a beach close-by, which we both love. We have been blessed by our surroundings and I think it is fully honoring to God to enjoy this gift.

My goal for the summer is really just to make

PS - Hi to any friends visiting from New Friend Friday at The Girl Creative! A great place to visit and make new friends! And TGC is my sister :)

New Friend Fridays

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Angry Teacher Rant

I am so DONE!

On a typical day, I love my students, I love my job...but yesterday, I felt like I hated them. I am serious. In my mind, every one of them was lazy, apathetic, superficial, had no character, no work ethic. You would not have wanted to be inside my head yesterday - it was not pretty.

I've complained all semester long about grading their thesis papers. Grading these things are the bane of my professional existence, but I put a TON of time into assessing their rough drafts...going over it with a fine-toothed comb, marking every grammar error, error in development, organization, weak thesis statements, lack of name it.

It is so FRUSTRATING to get their final drafts and compare them to the rough drafts. Do you know what they fixed???? The commas, the periods, the capital letters, the spacing...anything that did not require THOUGHT and only mistakes the I POINTED OUT.

Anything that required them to THINK or DO MORE WORK they conveniently left out.

"You need another example here. Develop this paragraph a little more." I got nothing.

"How is this information tied to your thesis? Make a connection."Still nothing.

"Repetitive. Keep all like information together." Did they move it? Of course not!

"Too much quoting. You need to paraphrase." Do you know what was there? SAME.EXACT.WORDS.

Just to name a few.

In fairness, I did get some great papers. I do have students who work hard, take pride in their work and have an excellent work ethic.

But it just made me sad how many students don't. Shoddy work. No effort. They check out during class, do their work incorrectly, and then have the gall to ignore the corrections I MAKE FOR THEM!

They have been doing these kinds of papers since 9th grade. I don't get it.

The seniors need to get a 75 on their thesis in order to graduate. Some got a 70 or 75, and instead of just making all the corrections, they calculatively determine what they needed to do to get the 3 or 5 points needed to pass. That's it.

I was going over a paper with a student about what needed to be done to fix her paper, and she said, point blank, " Just tell me what I need to do to get 3 points." "Well, really, it would be best to..." " No, honestly, I just want the 3 points."

OK, summer vacation is more for the teacher than the student. Case in point.

You would not want me teaching your kids in this frame of mind. Look for a rebuttal in the future about how wonderful my students are and how motivated and enthusiastic and how bright....

But just not today.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I See It...

...the end, that is. The end is in sight.

We finished classes on Monday....NYS Regents and finals this week and next...and then....done.

I am so looking forward to....just....breathing....

I was talking to my mom on the phone, filling her in on my summer plans, and as we talked, I realized the past 12 months have been a whirlwind. Almost entirely, nonstop.

About this time last year, I had to finish up school a week early because I was going on a trip to Morocco. So, I had to get my classroom cleaned out and my grades in a week early. That was crazy.

Then, I was in Morocco for almost two weeks.

About two weeks after I got back from Morocco, James proposed.

Enter: wedding planning mania.

When we decided on a March wedding, the wind speed starting picking up.

September, I'm back teaching - and planning a wedding:

Getting the dress...

finding a church (ours was being used for the Easter Passion Play)...

finding a reception site....

picking the dresses, flowers, and color schemes...

picking the invitations...

By November, enter: house hunting.

I am teaching, planning a wedding, and looking for a house.

By December, I am teaching, planning a wedding, getting the house inspected, finalizing the mortgage, going to contract...

I don't even think we took a break for the holidays. Maybe Christmas Day.

By January, I am teaching, prepping for the NYS English Regents (a brutal 6- hour-4-essay test), planning the wedding, closing on our house...

....and just about going crazy.

By February, on top of all that, we are moving James into the house...

packing up my apartment,

planning our honeymoon...

and now wedding planning stress is in full swing...

picking the tuxes...

going over the guest list and tables...

finding the right favors...

Throw in a few hair trials, make-up trials and bridal showers....

Honestly, there are no words.

Another month or so of this...constant motion right up until the night before - making and setting up the centerpieces....

And finally, it arrives:

March 26, has all been leading up to this. It was all worth it.

April...we had our honeymoon, which was super-relaxing...but a degree of stress, only in the sense of the newness of and getting used to each other.

When we got back, I had to move all the rest of my stuff out of the apartment and into the house, unpacking, buying furniture, settling in, adjusting to a new routine and a new role as a wife...

And go back to work and catch up on everything I put off while I was....well,....see above.

By May, I am super-stressed at work - the normal end of the year crunch, on top of all my back-work I didn't do while planning the wedding, figuring out what job(s) I'll be working for the summer, applying and training for those jobs....

Not to mention that in order for two students to graduate, I have to find an additional 21 hours in my life to privately tutor them.

...which brings me to today - June 17.

I see it.

The end is in sight.

Classes are done.

I can do my grading in school instead of bringing it home every night.

I can take a few minutes to blog while my students are re-taking the regents.

My summer schedule is mostly worked out (3 different jobs, mind you, but when I leave at the end of the day, I leave) and I am actually seeing vacant blocks of time in the near future that aren't booked with something that has to get done.

This whirlwind of a 12-month time period is just about drawing to a close, and honestly, I couldn'

There have been these huge, monumental life changes in the past 365 days that I haven't even really had a chance to fully contemplate, dream about - or even really fully enjoy.

But, that is what is on my agenda for the next 75 days....