First Week Feelings

If you haven’t had a chance to contribute to our Book Club discussion on “The Spark” please join in here!

Since this is my third (or fourth) contract of the year I feel like I am well versed in the feelings that come with that first week in a new classroom. Different schools, different subjects, different students… same feelings!

As you probably have guessed, I really love this teaching thing. I put my whole heart into it, I am passionate, and the endless challenges and opportunities that come with teaching are something I thrive off of. So why is it that every time I’m in a first week I don’t feel the same passion? Why do I feel confused and nervous? Why does my normal happy self give way to frustration so easily?

20140330-181201.jpgNow don’t get me wrong, there were many moments of excitement and joy. Overall, the week went well and I am happy in my new job. But I also know that I’m not the only one who has felt those confusing, negative feelings and sometimes the best thing we can do is talk about it. These are some of the reasons I think the first week is a roller coaster of emotions.


The key to good teaching is good relationships. It is why I do the job that I do. It is why I love to teach. In the first week the relationships don’t exist yet and just like that is tough for students it can also be tough on the teacher. It is hard to be the teacher I want to be without the key ingredient of relationships. So, yes, I know that this part takes time. And yes, it can’t be rushed. But that doesn’t mean that I can stop feeling the way I feel. It just means that those feelings are normal and they will always exist. I think this is the most crucial reason that teaching in the first week doesn’t feel right to me, and I think it is even more difficult when you come in part way through the year and the class dynamics are already well under way.


What do I love about planning curriculum? The creativity the goes into it and the inspiration I can pull from it. I love project based learning, I love critical thinking, I love investigation and building curiosity. In the first week there is so much to do in terms of building relationships, learning where students are at, looking at work samples, etc. that all of my favourite parts in planning curriculum get swept under the rug. The passion I have is still there it just can’t be unleashed quite yet.


I simply cannot stand alone as a teacher. I need a community of other educators. I thrive on that community. In the first week, no matter the support that I get (and I received a LOT of support!) I still don’t have that sense of community yet. Already I have met some amazing teachers that I think I will connect with, but we haven’t really connected yet. Overall I know that the school I am at will be a good fit, but I don’t fit in yet. I feel lost and confused when it comes to a lot of the day to day and, no matter how supportive everyone is, I won’t feel totally comfortable until the haze of confusion is gone. I’m shy, I’m “slow to warm”, and it is hard to feel myself without a community. But, by taking my time to make connections I know that I will feel better about the strength of those relationships. This community building will take time but once I’ve built my community it will be a strong support network.

So relationships, curriculum, and community aren’t present enough for me to feel comfortable yet. They aren’t strong enough for me to be my most passionate self yet. But I can hold tight to the fact that I know what I need and that those key factors will build. I cannot erase the uncomfortable feelings, no matter how much I’d like to sometimes. I cannot rush the process because if it was easy then it wouldn’t be meaningful. And I know in nine weeks when I’m leaving this contract I will look back on this first week and wonder why I was so confused. I might laugh at how worried I was in the first week. And I will be sad to leave the community that I will have built.

The first week is long, tiresome, and uncomfortable, but it is necessary for all the good that will follow.



Book Club: The Spark by Kristine Barnett

Welcome to our first online book club meeting!

BookClubWe hope you enjoyed reading “The Spark” by Kristine Barnett and we thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments with us here today. Before we dive into the questions please take a moment to read through our online book club guidelines:

1. Please read other comments before adding your own to create a dialogue (unless, of course, you are first!)

2. Check back once or twice (or more!) to add to the conversation.

3. Keep all comments and discussions respectful – We love differences in opinion!

You may respond to any or all of the questions and add your own thoughts and opinions as well. Use the comment section to start your reply to the questions.

  • First off, did you enjoy the book?
  • Did you gain any insights that will have an impact your teaching/parenting/childcare?
  • What are your thoughts on Kristine’s persistence, efforts, and determination?
  • What do you think about making important decisions based on maternal (or teacher’s) instinct?
  • As a teacher, what part(s) of this story were most relevant to you and your practice?
  • What audience do you think would benefit most from reading the book?

Thank you for participating! The next book will be announced on Friday so stay tuned.


Guest Post: 21st Century Learning from the Student Perspective

We have a special post today from a student who has started blogging this year with an introduction from her teacher. If you can, please take a moment to comment and engage with this inspiring post from Kaitlyn – She has a question for you at the end!

I am honoured to introduce Kaitlyn Champoux, a grade six student in my Advisory class. We have been working on developing digital literacies and becoming active digital citizens this year by sharing our learning on Twitter and through individual student blogs. It has been exciting watching global connections forming through interacting with other classes and teachers using social media! Students are encouraged to write on topics of interest to them, and also to participate and post challenges to each other to extend our thinking or perspectives on other topics. The opportunity to write for a wider audience has made the writing process and exchanging feedback an authentic experience. The connections my students are making are memorable and meaningful. As a classroom teacher, the best thing to arise out of student blogging has been the willingness of the students to share the learning that occurs outside of regularly scheduled school hours!

Heidi James

Hi my name is Kaitlyn and I am 11 years old. I love to travel and I have 3 dogs. I just started blogging this year! Dance is a part of my life. I have been dancing since I was 2  and I love it! I do Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Body Rhythms, and Line dancing.


I decided to write about this topic because my teacher was talking about 21st century learning skills with us because we do challenges on our blog. She was telling us about what every skill means and these are the ones that were the most important to me. I also chose this topic because it sounded like a challenging level. In my life I make my learning fun, I do that by making my learning a game with levels. Each level is how to make me think and learn more.

Twenty-First Century learning is important to me because I still have a lot of years left in school. I will have to know these skills for jobs that will be invented in the future. These are the skills that I think are most important for students to have.

  • Imagination is a whole other world beyond life, if you include imagination in your learning it will help you think outside the box and imagine different solutions
  • Collaboration is important because if you can work well together in a group and accomplish something that is a way better experience compared to doing your work alone
  • Believing in yourself is important because if you believe in yourself you can accomplish anything you want to
  • Determination is when you let nothing get in your way. If something is hard, you deal with it and you make sure you are always doing the best you can as a Twenty-First Century learner
  • Self-regulation is when you regulate yourself and if you’re not concentrating on your work you move to a different spot in the room and if you’re so frustrated with someone you take a walk to the water fountain and calm yourself down. In order to learn to the best of your abilities you must be able to regulate yourself
  •  Adaptability is important when you are a Twenty-First Century learner because if something happens you have to deal with it and react in a calm way. You think of what you can do to help fix that situation or if your teacher takes out your favourite block in the day, you simply say “ok” and you deal with it. Another word for this is called is being flexible.
  • Effective writing is when you can write from your heart and if you can include emotions in your writing it will get to the readers’ emotions and that’s the best type of writing you can get.

Thank you for reading, I hope to be a guest blogger again sometime.

Question: What skills do you think are the most important for students to learn?


Please leave Kaitlyn a comment by clicking on the word bubble up top!




So Hip it Hurts

The grade 8s at my school have an awesome field trip lined up for Friday.  We are going to be visiting Camosun College’s Interurban Campus and we will be touring through their trades program.  Each of my students was able to choose a trade they want to try out (carpentry, cosmetology, plumbing, etc.) and then, once the hands-on experience is over, we will all get a tour through the entire campus.  This upcoming  field trip makes me pretty happy because I am the CAPP (career and personal planning) teacher for all the English track grade 8s at my school.  We’ve been preparing for this field trip for several weeks now and I think most of my students will really enjoy it!

To supplement our epic Friday field trip we are going to finish the day off with a Skype call to my good (non-teacher) friend, Allison.  Allie and I have been friends since we were nine years old and in rhythmic gymnastics together.  Allie and I also graduated from high school together.  Allie also stood by me when I got married.  Meet Allie:


I don’t think I have any photos of us that aren’t jumping pictures…we are kind of awesome at those.

 Anyhow, Allie is pretty cool, but what makes her extra cool in the eyes of my students is the fact that she works for Herschel Supply Co.

Herschel is a company that designs and manufactures backpacks, so naturally, being a teacher, I am into this kind of thing.  Now, these backpacks aren’t just your regular ol’ backpack.  These backpacks are hip.  They’re so hip it hurts.  I will admit though that I didn’t even know of Herschel before Allie started working for them. 

Photo cred: Herschel Supply Co.'s Instagram feed.

Photo cred: Herschel Supply Co.’s Instagram feed.

Several of my students own Herschel bags and I also have a Herschel bag that I use as my main school tote.  Because Herschel is a well-known brand in my class, it only makes sense that my students and I talk about my “cool friend Allie who works at Herschel” at least once a week.  This is usually how the conversation goes:

Student: “Hey Mrs. Alleyn…cool Herschel bag”.

Me: “Thanks! I like your Herschel bag too…especially because it’s camo”.

Student: “Yeah, it’s pretty cool. So, have you talked to Allie lately?”

Me: “Yep – we text every day, actually”.

Student: “Sweet”.

That’s pretty much it. (Grade 8s are cool, so it’s important they don’t take too much interest in the teacher’s cool accessories).

I see right through my students’ charade.  My students think it’s cool that I know cool people like Allie.  The fact that I know someone who works at Herschel gives me a tiny bit extra hall-cred among the 13/14 year olds I’m surrounded by every day.  And yes, I am definitely using my friendship with Allie as leverage to score whatever cool points I can get because it can sometimes be a tough gig being cool in grade 8, no matter if you’re the student OR the teacher!

Today Allie and I dreamed up a lesson in which Allie will Skype in with my class on Friday after our fun CAPP field trip.  Allie is going to talk to my students about her job and what exactly she does there (she’s in charge of all Herschel’s online stuff and their social media).  Allie will also answer any questions my class might have about working in the world of design, fashion, social media, marketing and the like.  It’s important to me that my students know more about what kinds of creative careers and professions exist beyond high school and university.  Everyone knows that there will always be teachers, doctors and lawyers but, in my opinion, it’s a bit trickier to find real, applicable information about jobs like Allie’s.  I think our conversation with Allie will be the perfect culmination to our day of CAPP!  I’ll report back next week.  Until then, feel welcome to check out the blog Allie writes for Herschel Supply Co. right HERE.

What other kinds of engaging and useful CAPP lessons/field trips have you all experienced/taught?


Teach it Tuesday: The Great Plastic Round Up

I received this book to read and review from my dad back in the early fall and ended up using it with my class at the time in our science unit.


It is published locally on Vancouver island and the group that put it together does school visits and local events as well. The idea behind it is to use drama and fun to address the issue of the garbage patch and the need to clean up our shoreline.

Although the book itself is probably more suited for grades 4-6, my grade 8’s enjoyed “story time” and we used the book as a starting point to brainstorm ideas. If I had more time in that class I think it could have turned into a neat buddy project with younger students.

Here is the lesson I did, but again, if I had more time this would have been turned into something bigger and more in depth.

1. Introduce the book:

I gave the students some background about the organization and got them to tell me what they already knew about ocean pollution- many of them were already familiar with the garbage patch.

2. Read the book:

I read the story out loud, stopping at a few points for questions and discussion to keep them engaged.

3. Discussion:

We talked about the meaning of the book and similarities/differences with other books on the topic of pollution and environment. It was great to hear their perspectives about the book and what age group they think it would be best for.

4. Project Planning:

In small groups they came up with a plan as to how they would use the book to create a project for a grade 4 class. This was the best part because every group pulled information from the book in such a unique way – and the groups of students who I thought might not engage had the best ideas too! The ideas ranged from doing a garbage clean up at the beach to creating boats to race out of recycling/garbage and then sorting it into proper receptacles after. I really wish I had been able to stick around and help them put a plan into action because their ideas really were awesome!

We covered this in a 45 minute block so it worked pretty well as a lesson in general and I highly recommend the book.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. I was given this book and asked to do a review and, as always, all opinions expressed our my own.



Welcome Back Teaching World

So our Spring Break ends today and we are back at this teaching thing starting tomorrow morning. Even though we took a break from blogging about “teacher things” there has still been a lot of teacher things going on in both our lives because it is who we are. Heading back into the schools tomorrow makes this a perfect time to share with you what’s been happening in my teaching life.


First off, I got a new job! As of tomorrow I will be teaching grade 8 full time at the middle school that Karley was at last year. I will be there until the end of May teaching English, French and PE. I am really excited for this new opportunity and a little nervous for my first week with another new class. The good kind of excited~nervous though!

This new job also meant saying some goodbyes. Both my other contracts this year have been at the same school and I loved it there! I know that good things are ahead but it’s always sad to say goodbye to a special staff and some amazing students.

Another big change in my teaching life is that I made the decision to upgrade my education. My program was a 4 year degree program but I graduated with a bunch of people who completed a 5 year program. So in our province this puts me at a category 4 on the salary scale. Now I don’t care too much about salary but I do know that one day I will want to do a masters program so I feel like now is a good time to do these extra courses I need to do. I chose all online courses so that I can still manage the rest of my life (teaching, running, social life, down time). The integrated program I’ve chosen is based on the theme “multicultural and minority education” the courses I get to take for this are right up my alley with things I want to learn about and ways in which I want to improve my teaching practice.

I wish everyone the best as you had back into schools tomorrow (or good holidays if you are still out on break!)


Teachers’ Time Out – Pieces I Love

In my short teaching career I’ve found that whenever I have long breaks from school I fairly easily morph into what I like to call “Hausfrau mode”.  Hausfrau = house wife. Let me be the first to admit that I’m not the most consistent house wife on the planet when school is in; however, during school breaks is when I often win “Wife of the Year” style awards (self-nominated, obviously).  I absolutely adore Hausfrau-ing when I’m not working.  I love being home.  I love staying home.  I love cooking good food at home.  I love cleaning up my home to make it look nice. I love decorating our home to make it look nice.  I love brainstorming ideas for our home, so long as I’m not the key player in making those brainstorms come to life because I’m terrible with a hammer.

I love these homey things as much as I love traveling, which is a weird phenomenon…who loves staying home and equally loves going away?  I’ve kind of always been this way, but my Hausfrau instincts have been in full force since we moved into our house last spring.  Basically, I am the most boring 26 year old there is, but I don’t even care.  Home is my happy place.

This morning as the sun (finally!) spilled through our glorious, big windows I looked around and took a deep breath.  It’s at this point in a break from school that I start to feel anxious.  I don’t want to go back.  I’m so relaxed right now.  Term three is going to be crazy busy and crazy fast and just plain ol’ crazy.  These are the things that go through my mind.  I know the second I step foot into my classroom on Monday I’m going to fall in love with my job and my students all over again, but for now, I’m clinging on to these little home-moments somethin’ fierce.

In my frantic state, I took a moment of meditation to conjure up all the pieces of my house I love the most and then I took myself on a little house tour (with my phone and my coffee) to capture these love-filled-pieces.  Here they are, in no specific order:

I love our reading nook.  These days, mostly the cat uses this area.

I love our reading nook. These days, mostly the cat uses this area.

I love our little solarium window.  The seeds love the window, too.

I love our little solarium window. The seeds love the window, too.

I love this pillow from Urban Barn.  A constant reminder that I also love to travel.

I love this pillow from Urban Barn. A constant reminder that I also love to travel.

I love our white, textured walls.  I especially love our beautiful piece of artwork created by our longtime friend, Diana Zoe Coop.

I love our white, textured walls. I especially love our beautiful piece of artwork created by our longtime friend, Diana Zoe Coop.

This frame, also from Urban Barn, holds our wedding photos.  Love how the sunlight streaks across them.

This frame, also from Urban Barn, holds our wedding photos. Love how the sunlight streaks across them.

Love our detached workshop where we can build and paint and create for our home.

Love our detached workshop where we can build and paint and create for our home.

Love this scraggle-taggle plot of garden immensely.  It will look better in a few month's time, I promise.

Love this scraggle-taggle plot of garden immensely. It will look better in a few month’s time, I promise.

Most of all, I love this haggard Duck-in-Flight tie hanging rack.  It came with our house, along with many other random things like the cast iron utensils pictured here.  We've tried to give the duck away to a few people but no one wants it...we can't figure out why.

Most of all, I love this haggard Duck-in-Flight tie hanging rack. It came with our house, along with many other random things like the cast iron utensils pictured here. We’ve tried to give the duck away to a few people but no one wants it…we can’t figure out why.

And while right now all I want to do is stay home, I’m pretty excited to get back into the classroom and wrap up the year with my grades 8s.  Cheers to all you teachers who may just be finishing, or are midway through, your well deserved spring break.  I hope you are all rested and refilled with joy and passion for your craft.  Bring it on, Monday.

What is/are your favourite place(s) in your home?  Any other diehard Hausfraus out there?


Teachers’ Time Out – Food Prep

As you may remember from this post, I have started making big batches of breakfasts that I freeze and then grab and go in the morning. It was a great system that lasted for about 6 weeks (pretty good I think!) but then I didn’t make any more so it just fizzled out…

Until today! I’m back on the food prep bandwagon today with a few new ideas.

I made the same breakfast burritos as before…

12 Burritos filling up my freezer for quick and easy breakfasts!

12 Burritos filling up my freezer for quick and easy breakfasts!

And I slightly re-vamped the quinoa egg cups because I wanted them to have more egg (I used 9 eggs for 12 cups with the same veggies/salsa/quinoa and added some shredded cheese on top because I forgot til the last second – Phew!).

The finished product - Yum!

The finished product – Yum!

I ventured into snack territory with some homemade fruit roll-ups. (Recipe from Momables)


Strawberry Fruit Roll Ups… They are delicious but I don’t know if they are worth the insane amount of time they took in the oven. Maybe if you have a dehydrator…

Finally, frozen lunch ideas were next on my list. We are pretty good about having healthy snack items and leftovers around for lunches so it’s usually easy to throw together a lunch but I thought that it would be nice to have something a bit different once a week for lunches.

I started with an idea from Averie Cooks (via Pinterest) and then changed it up a bit to make it fit my needs…

Lunch Pockets – 8 Servings


  • 2 packages – Pillsbury multigrain croissants
  • 8 tbs – Cream cheese (I used light plain cream cheese)
  • 8 tbs – Salsa
  • 1 Avocado





  1. 20140320-182948.jpgOpen a package of Pillsbury multigrain croissants and lay them on a flat surface.
  2. Spread cream cheese over croissant (avoiding the edges).
  3. Chop avocado into thin slices (1/8 of the avocado on each croissant) and lay over top of the cream cheese.
  4. Top with a tablespoon of salsa and then cover with a second croissant cover from the second package of croissants (you may have to carefully stretch the dough to fit).
  5. Use a fork to press the edges together – Lesson learned the hard way on forgetting this step!
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes (until the outside is crispy).
  7. Let cool and then enjoy or freeze to enjoy later.


Teachers’ Time Out – Cambodia

During our Spring Break we thought we’d post about other things going on in our lives besides teaching.  So far we’ve posted about crafts, running, gardening, seeking happiness, etc.  Today’s Teachers’ Time Out post is about something that I used to be really involved in UNTIL I started teaching and it has to do with the beautiful country, Cambodia.DSC05651

A handful of years ago, Joel and I spent four months backpacking through South East Asia.  Upon embarking on this trip I didn’t expect or intend to come back a changed person, I just wanted to explore another corner of the world with the man I loved.  Little did I know, South East Asia had a different plan for me.

Our entire trip was incredible, but one of the most remarkable places we traveled through was Cambodia.  I could write for days about Cambodia and the rats, smells, terrible guest houses, pollution and congested traffic.  Instead, I’m going to write about “Let Us Create”, a children’s art program that caught my eye whilst strolling along a beach one day.

When I stumbled upon Let Us Create (formally known as the Cambodian Children’s Painting Project) the program was a tiny NGO, situated on a beach in Sihanoukville, Cambodia in a shack that didn’t have walls and doubled as a bar by night.

DSC05456 - Copy

All kinds of kids would show up to paint and create at the centre.  Children were fed and given free dental hygiene if they enrolled in the program.  More importantly, children were given the opportunity to use creativity and artwork as an outlet or an escape from their daily lives.   Children were able to make a small income from their artwork by selling it to tourists, saving half the money in a bank account (created by LUC) and taking the rest of the money home to buy food, etc.  Let Us Create was somewhat of a safe-haven for these children, many of whom were (still are) being raised by their older siblings.  What you may not know about Cambodia is that in certain areas of the country the affects of the genocide in the 70s are still visible, palpable, obvious.  A whole generation of people, who would now be parents, is essentially missing.

We spent some time at Let Us Create and I made a point to connect with the then-coordinator; I had a feeling like Let Us Create was going to be part of my life for a long time.

We commissioned some art work to put up in our Victoria condo.  I also bought some pieces for my mom and grandma.

We commissioned some art work to display in our Victoria condo. I also bought some pieces for my mom and grandma.

Fast forward six years.  It’s been a while since I’ve been in Cambodia, but the country still resonates with me on a daily basis.  Since early 2008 I’ve been coming up with ways to raise money and send it back to Let Us Create. I started fundraising for LUC by purchasing boxes of the children’s artwork, selling it for a greater price here in Victoria and then wiring the funds back to LUC.  I did this many times and the results were always pretty incredible.

UVic’s Faculty of Education was extremely gracious and generous during my initial vision of hosting an art event.  Before I was even a student in the Faculty of Education (becoming a teacher was merely a pipe dream!) the Faculty sat down with me, including the Dean, and heard what I had to say about my experiences in Cambodia.  One phenomenal woman, Crystal, took me under her wing and we set off to create this amazing week-long art event in the Wilfred Johns Gallery, situated in the Faculty of Education’s building.  The event eventually happened once I was well on my way to becoming a teacher and the space and refreshments were provided by UVic; I sent over $2000 back to Cambodia after that one event.

Special thank you to Super Save Disposal for the initial donation that really launched this event!

Explaining to some fellow cohort friends what Let Us Create is all about.

Explaining to some fellow cohort friends what Let Us Create is all about.

I am still totally grateful for my dear friend, Leanne, and my husband, Joel, who helped me set up the gallery for HOURS.  The event wouldn't have come together if it wasn't for them.

I am still totally grateful for my dear friend, Leanne, and my husband, Joel, who helped me set up the gallery for HOURS. The event wouldn’t have come together if it wasn’t for them.

Following the big Wilfred Johns gallery show I continued to raise funds for Cambodia, but on a somewhat smaller scale.  I hosted a few coffee shop style events and sold some of the children’s artwork on the side.  One Christmas, while still completing my B. Ed, I managed to convince my amazing cohort that we should use our “MacLaurin Festival of Trees” event (another long story) to raise money for Let Us Create.  The MacLaurin Festival of Trees wasn’t my idea, but the cause was, so I took charge.  Actually, come to think of it, I don’t think my cohort had any other options – I was pretty adamant that Let Us Create was going to benefit from our fun times.  Thanks for being ever so patient with me, guys.

Some amazing friends and classmates all pitched in to create Christmas tree ornaments in the form of tiny canvasses.  Thanks everyone for your help! *note: spot Meaghan!

Some amazing friends and classmates all pitched in to create Christmas tree ornaments in the form of tiny canvasses. Thanks everyone for your help! *note: spot Meaghan!

Our glorious art-themed tree! We didn't "win" the competition between other trees, but we did send a decent chunk of money to Cambodia.

Our glorious art-themed tree! We didn’t “win” the competition between other trees, but we did send a decent chunk of money to Cambodia.

Joel and I also included Let Us Create in our wedding.  Before the ceremony in Mexico, we held a big reception style BBQ in our hometown for 180 people.  Yes, 180. We set up artwork from Let Us Create and gave people the option to donate to LUC instead of buying us a gift.  That idea raised enough money to purchase a scooter for a Cambodian family and helped them set up their own family-run business.  Thanks to our family and friends for supporting LUC in our married name!

Artwork set up at our pre-wedding BBQ.

Artwork set up at our pre-wedding BBQ.

I also had the honour of representing Let Us Create at my dear friend’s debut art show.  Elyse is an incredible artist – she always has been.  We’ve been friends since we were nine years old and she stood by me when I got married.  Check out her website, specifically her page about Bokeh Blue, HERE.

PS – of course we had to take a bathroom selfie at the event.

Best of friends doing cool things together!

Best of friends doing cool things together!

And THEN, because why not stop a good thing?, I became a yoga teacher.  I’ve taught a few Cambodia-inspired classes, again donating all the funds to Let Us Create.  The video below is an event I held in my hometown over the Christmas holiday in 2012.  The people in the video are all family or long time friends, so I know they won’t mind that I’m posting this.  Thanks to Camille Martens, my dear friend and head coach of Okanagan Rhythmic Gymnastics, for donating her gym space to us.

In addition to buying the scooter for the family (mentioned above) all these fundraisers, the larger events and the smaller initiatives, have helped support the education for 11 Cambodian students.

Some people might argue that sending money to a developing nation isn’t the best way to help, whereas others would support this idea 100%.  I’ve definitely tossed around the idea of going back to Cambodia and volunteering for a month or two (an option that is now available through LUC), but this kind of extensive travel just isn’t conducive to my life right now.  Creating and hosting these events is a huge time investment – something I don’t have a lot of since I started teaching in contracts in early 2013.  However, like many families who feel compelled to give, Joel and I continue to support LUC when we can.  This past Christmas we gifted our parents with a donation to LUC in their name, covering three month’s rent and food for a family.  Our priorities have changed a bit over the years; now that we own our own house we felt donating the funds to support food and rent for a family would be a testimony to our parents’ financial support over the years.

My biggest dream (and I’ll be bold enough to publish it on the internet) is to travel to Cambodia with my husband and our future children, once they are school aged.  I would love to take a year off from life in our safe, wholesome little corner of the world and live in Sihanoukville while volunteering with my family at Let Us Create.  Acts of service, such as this, fuel my fire and passion for life.  One day this dream will become a reality, but until then I’ll continue to volunteer for the precious children at Let Us Create from afar…it’s the very least I can do.

If this post interests you, feel welcome to check out Let Us Create’s amazing program HERE.  The program has grown tremendously since I was in Cambodia six years ago; it’s pretty amazing to know that we have been a tiny part of the change.


Teachers’ Time Out – 10 Reasons Why I’m Happy

So if you aren’t in the mood for over the top cheery, sunshine and rainbows you probably want to stop reading right now. You also may want to avoid me for the next while. Why is that? Because I am just so genuinely happy right now in my life! This isn’t to say that I was unhappy before or anything but the past few weeks I have just felt happy and grateful every single day.


1. Running

I just started my marathon training program two weeks ago and it has been going so well. Also, I’ve started running without music (or podcasts) this past week and I’m really enjoying it. I always ran with music because I figured it was just what you do but I hate having earbuds in during a race – I’m one of those crazy runners who has a smile on her face through most of the race because I LOVE the energy of everyone out running together. So I figured it was time to start training without music and for some reason I find I’m pushing myself harder and feeling much better mentally because of it.

2. Vacation Days

This next week I have absolutely no work to do! I ran a Spring Break Camp last week which was a lot of fun but this looming week of freedom has kept me in great spirits and now that it’s here I feel giddy about the idea of doing whatever I want each day!

3. Travel Plans

Now if you know me in real life you probably know that I’m a bit of a dreamer… As in if we talk about “maybe going somewhere” in the next while I spend 3 hours looking up places to stay and things to do… It’s a bit obsessive and ridiculous honestly haha. But Ryan and I are starting to plan a trip to Indonesia and it’s no longer just a “maybe” so my reading and researching is definitely coming in handy! I’m really excited to travel to a new country and it’s also the first trip outside of North America that Ryan and I will be doing together!

4. Good Books

I tend to go through phases of reading but for the past month or so I’ve really made sure that I carve out time in my day/week to read for pleasure and it has been great! I have finished a bunch of books that I have been wanting to read and it is definitely a great escape from my busy mind.

5. Warmer Weather

Now I know it isn’t summer weather yet but we have had some beautiful, warm sunny days the past week – I even got a sunburn! (Keep in mind that I’m a pale, freckled Irish girl so I always get sunburned and it’s not like it was bathing suit temperatures). I really love where I live all year round because we are close to everything and just a 5 minute jog to the ocean path I run on most days but in the summer this place is the best and I can’t wait for another season in my paradise.

6. Amazing Friends

I have a great group of girlfriends from childhood that is still very close. Some of them I have known since preschool, others from elementary or high school. There are 9 of us that hang out on a semi-regular basis (not everyone is in town still but I see everyone a few times a year). March is birthday month for this group (three friends have birthdays within 4 days!) so we always get together more in March and it’s so nice! I really love that we have all moved on with our lives and branched out lots but we have such a good, fun, supportive network to come back to whenever we can.

7. Finances

Honestly I never thought this would be a reason I was happy… Without going into too much personal detail, it’s hard to try to pay off student debt with a new job that isn’t exactly guaranteed work. Money has been one of those back of my mind stress-inducing things for a while now and I’m finally in a place where I feel good about my finances. I don’t think I knew how stressed it was making me until I felt the relief of not needing to worry.

8. Health

I have been really paying attention to what I am eating these past few months and it is making a big difference! I have been working out lots (pretty normal for me) so I have been making sure that I have enough energy to keep going. I also have been allowing myself treats and not stressing over that. Also, I have only been sick *knock on wood* twice this year and I think that eating well and exercising is a big part of that.

9. My Family

It seems that everyone in my family is going through this really good/happy time right now too! There are a lot of exciting things that are coming up for each of us and it makes me so happy to see everyone excited about new opportunities. Happiness must be contagious and I don’t know who caught it first but we all seem to be feeling good!

10. Schedule

To go along with finances – this is the first time since high school that I haven’t worked more than one job! Now I still do babysit, tutor, and pick up the occasional shift at my old job but I don’t have any regular shifts to be at and I can usually say no to those other jobs when I’m too busy. I think this has been a HUGE part of me feeling happier and just like the finances, I didn’t even know the stress relief until it was gone. I have way more time to spend on all of those other things that make me so happy!

What are you happy about these days?