Thursday, December 1, 2011

Teacher Ramblings

So, I'm torn.  I was planning on implementing a new positive behavior reward system that included time reserved in class for "free time" like getting on the computer, playing games, and allowing time for fun "centers".  (If you aren't and educator and don't understand what I mean by "center", it is simply a little station in the classroom where you have a display or some sort of activity for students to do.  For example, one center I was going to put out is called "Make Your Own Origami" in which the student is provided with origami paper and an instructional book, and they can make their own origami shape or animal.  (My students fold paper up in all weird ways as it is...may as well show them how to formally do it.)  Centers are just supposed to be hands-on learning activities for students that would only take 5-10 minutes to complete.  The idea is to have a few up around the classroom for a month or so at a time for students to visit.)  So I have about four newly developed centers that I want to use.  But the problem with implementing these fun centers and other fun free-time activities is that my students are just completely terrible and I don't think they deserve any of the fun stuff!  They are completely out of control, and we are behind schedule already for this 9-weeks.  So why should I (#1) take time out of my own schedule to develop these fun activities and (#2) reward these students with fun activities when I face extreme discipline and behavior problems every single day?

But then I think about this article that I read early this semester in my research class that talks about students' anxiety levels and how they influence their productivity levels.  It seems like kind of a "well...duh" once you think about it, but the article goes much more into detail.  This article really made me think about how I interact with the kids and if I increase or decrease their anxiety levels.  I would say that I probably increase 98% of the time.  Which is sad.  A lot of these kids are anxious enough as it is without a teacher yelling at them for not bringing a pencil to class.  So this is a big reason why I've been trying to yell less in class and have less of an attitude when interacting with the kids.  (It's just so hard to find a balance because one the one hand, I want to say, "No, screw you guys, you're little jerks so why should I be nice to you?" but then, of course, on the other hand, I think "Wow, these kids have pretty rough lives, perhaps I should lighten up a little."  But then I do, and they just walk all over me...)

So back to the center dilemma...I wasn't going to put the centers out until behavior improved and students deserved it.  But then I think about the few (and I mean, few...) good students I have in each class who do deserve these fun activities.  Why should they be hindered and punished because of their classmates' behavior?  Therefore, I am going to put the centers out in the morning.  BUT, only the well-behaved students are allowed to participate.  The rest will have writing prompts to respond to or grammar work.

I truly believe that if I can make these students comfortable in my room and get through to each and every one of them, letting them know that I am here for them, I will see a major improvement. I've already had it happen to one girl.  She and I got into it good the other day.  We've really been going round and round since my first day, but it just exploded the other day.  She was defiant and extremely disrespectful, so when she smarted off to me again after several warnings and other discipline actions, I had to follow through with my threats, so she got a referral and was sent to the vice principal.  Her grandfather was called in the next morning for a parent conference, so I had to explain to him what she was doing wrong in class and why she got in trouble.  Then she and I had a little talk, and I told her that I was here for her.  I was teaching at this school to encourage her and help her succeed in life.  I told her that I can only do so much and that when I am constantly confronted with defiance and disrespect from her, I can't help her.  Then I told her I knew that deep down she was a good girl.  She's actually an excellent writer, and I told her I thought so.  By then she was crying (most do during parent conferences), and I had her look me in the eye and I told her that we were starting fresh.  And she has been excellent in class since then.  The past two days have been unreal.  No defiance, no disrespect.  She's even been participating in class.  She's still a little rough on the edges, but I really think our talk had a good impact on her.

I hope to have more instances like this with my students.  Well, maybe not the parent conference and crying part, but times where I can just get them away one-on-one and let them know that I care.  And that I want to help.  I've been thinking about incorporating conference time into this free time for centers and other activities.  I could pull kids aside one at a time and discuss their grades and behavior with them.  So we'll see.  This is such a crazy learning experience and this whole thought process I just typed out in this post is what I go through every single day.  I am constantly thinking about what I could do differently to improve my classroom.  I try one strategy one day, and if it doesn't work, I think up something new for the next day.  If it does work, I keep doing it and think about other similar things I could do that would work.

So tomorrow, I try the new strategy of learning centers, free-writing time, and student conferences.  (Of course, that's if I can get them quiet...) I hope it goes over well.  I'll keep you posted! :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another day in paradise...

I really suck at this blogging thing.  I'm not even going to do the whole "starting today, I'm going to start writing more!" declaration, because I know it will probably be another month before I post anything again. ;)

I open up Blogger this evening because I am worn out and just feel like there's something in me that is just dying to get out.  (Plus, it is just another way for me to procrastinate and put off doing my homework just a little bit longer.)  I can't focus on anything.  I'm edgy all the time.  I can't relax or sleep (except when it's not time to sleep, of course).  So here I am.  Putting words together.  Hoping whatever is inside of me will just express itself already so that I can move on.

I am so exhausted.  Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  (Isn't it interesting that spiritual exhaustion is the only one that can be revived by doing more things relating to it?)  Every day this week, I have come home and  have no energy to do anything.  I either zoned out or took a nap for an hour and a half, and then I find anything and everything to do to put off doing work a little bit longer.  And considering how much I have to get done in such little time, that definitely can't be happening.  I'm in complete denial mode.  I feel like I'm a stubborn child who just folds her arms, pouts, and says, "No! I don't wanna!"  I just want to walk away from it all sometimes.  If I don't think about it, it will all just go away and fix itself, right?

I think "overwhelmed" is an understatement.  I have to get some energy if I want to survive the next three and a half weeks and pass my classes and keep my job.  Sometimes I really don't know if I can make it much longer at this job.  It's so wearing, in all aspects of the word.  I love teaching.  And that's why I'm having such a hard time with this job, because I don't get to teach very often.  All I do is discipline and go crazy.  Every single day.  I can't go one class period without having to raise my voice.  I've tried just not letting it get to me (all the talking, disruptions, smacking, defiance, etc.) and just stay cool and calm, but it gets to a point where they are just completely out of control and the only way I can get them in control is to scream so they can all hear me and know I'm serious.  And by the time it's gotten to that point, I'm already severely pissed off, so I end up just screaming a lecture at them for five minutes.  Sigh...  Anyway...I'll move on and stop venting on a tangent.  I love teaching.  But I don't love this.  Don't get me wrong, I've had some good times.  But the bad times far outweigh the good.  Far far outweigh.

So I don't know...I'm not giving up (mainly because I don't have the guts to confront the principal and actually quit, admitting that I failed and just can't handle it).  But it's really really hard.  And I'm not going to lie and say it isn't.  Every day I leave near tears and think, "I'm not so sure I want to do this anymore...".  But it's a job, and if I can survive it, it's really going to have amazing impact on my career in the future.  I know that when thinking big picture, it is totally going to be worth it.  And I know that I don't have to do this forever.  And I know that I don't want to do this forever.  I'm thankful for my experience here and I know I always will be, but I know that I'm not cut out for this for the long run.  So I need to just appreciate and be thankful for the time that I do spend here, and take comfort knowing that I will be led wherever I am meant to go.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"If" by Rudyard Kipling

We have this poem displayed in our bathroom down in Louisiana.  I cannot tell you how much of a comfort it is to me.  I read it every single day while I'm in the bathroom getting ready, and now I have almost the whole thing memorized.  It is my favorite.  It seems like it speaks to me no matter what I am dealing with in my life.  It offers constant encouragement, reassurance, and peace.  It helps me take a deep breath and remember that, like Job, I am ok no matter what happens, and I will always be grateful.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

*Interesting side note, the plaque in our bathroom doesn't have the last line on it.  Hmmm...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

All Day Teacher Training = A Welcomed Break

I found out last night that I would be in teacher training all day today which, to be honest, was like the hallelujah chorus to my ears.  The past week has been rough, so a day spent away from my students was a welcomed break.  I felt bad for that sub, though...

The day was surprisingly nice.  The training was informative and helpful, albeit a little generic and boring at times.  And it was nice to get to hang out with some of the other teachers all day.  I'm finally getting to know some people, and I've almost learned everyone's name.  I'd come close to saying that I might just have myself some teacher friends!  ;)

I am thankful to finally start to feel more comfortable at the school.  I'm getting used to the routine and all of the various policies and rules.  I know who everyone is and who I need to talk to for help or advice (and whose advice not to take...).  Two new teachers have been hired on since me (crazy, right?!) - a math and an ELA - so I'm not the "rookie" anymore.  The principals and other teachers are starting to respect and trust me more, as well as the students.  It's a daily struggle, but they are starting to realize that I'm not going anywhere and I mean business.  My classroom is finally all settled (for the most part), and my teaching and lessons are getting into a routine and more organized.  I'm definitely feeling more confident. :)

One a side note, I take two PRAXIS tests this Saturday - English Content and English Pedagogy.  (I take a third in January - Principles of Learning and Teaching 7-12 Grade.)  I have to receive a qualifying score on both in order to get my teaching license and keep my job, so there's just a little bit of pressure. ;)  I feel prepared and ready, though, so hopefully it will go well!  I'll keep you posted!


Oh, and PS - Surprisingly, the sub said the day wasn't too bad.  I had to come up to the room a few times, and they seemed fairly controlled.  I was really taken aback by how the students treated me when the sub was there, though.  They all acted like they LOVED me, super friendly, doing what I asked them to...crazy.  I even had one student, who normally acts as though he utterly loathes me and my class and that smiling or saying anything nice would just shatter his existence, was all concerned first period when he saw a sub because he thought I was leaving. I could tell by his face that he was genuinely concerned.  I was so shocked, I called him out on it.  "What do you care?" I asked in confusion.  "You act as though you completely hate me!"  He just laughed (which I've never heard him do unless he's in the hallway with friends or joining in on the class while they laugh at me as I get angry...) and went, "Nah, Miss Allen, you're cool!"  Sigh...I swear, it feels like I'm in the Twilight Zone sometimes... :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I Got a Job!!! :)

I finally have a minute to sit down and talk about my new job!  To get everyone up to date, I started Monday as a 7th grade English teacher at Carroll Junior High (an inner-city, all black school) in Monroe.  This school got a 69.2 (out of 120) on their school report card and is in their second year of being on academic watch.  On the plus side, the school’s goal last year was to raise 10 points, and they raised 14 points, giving them “Exemplary Academic Growth” status.  It’s exciting, yet intimidating to teach here.  It’s exciting because due to their progress from last year (and just knowing that the district has their eye on them), everyone is energetic and working together.  But at the same, it’s intimidating because my principal is breathing down my neck, making sure I’m implementing differential instruction and doing all the things she needs me to do.  And I know that I need to be on top of things 100%.  So balancing that plus trying to figure out how to handle these kids, plus creating new lesson plans, plus surviving grad school, plus still adjusting to life in La equals a busy and exhausted Kim.  Hence not posting in two weeks.  But despite the stress, I’m really pretty good. :) 

So…what.a.week.  Whew…

I found out last Wednesday, that I’d for sure be starting this position. I’m technically just a long-term substitute for now because I am only certified through sixth grade, due to my degree and Indiana license in being in elementary ed.  But I found out that all I have to do is take three Praxis tests, and then I could get my Louisiana license in English and be certified to teach 7-12.  (Which I'm fine with because it's something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while since it would make me eligible to teach any grade, K-12 and beyond.)  So I take the first two Praxis (English Content and English Pedagogy) on Nov. 12, and then I take the final one that is required by Louisiana (Principles of Learning and Teaching 7-12) in January.  They might be able to give me a temporary license after I take the two English tests so that I can be certified by the end of the year.  Otherwise, I have to wait till I take the one in Jan., get the scores back in Feb., then apply for my license and hopefully have it my the first of March…which will suck.  There’s also the possibility that a different teacher who is already certified and experienced could apply for the position and get hired.  But that’s pretty unlikely just do to the environment of the school.  Once these kids are warmed up to a teacher and the teacher has the class in control, you don’t want to lose that.  These kids have already had 4 different teachers - one for the first 9 weeks (who was apparently asked to resign), one sub for one week, one sub for the next week, and then me), so as long as I’m doing well, I don’t foresee them getting rid of me and hiring someone else.  As long as I get certified.  So now I have to start studying for the English Praxis (which I hear is quite challenging) that I take in three weeks…I have to remind myself to breathe when I think of that sometimes…

So anyway, back to my week.  I went in all day last Friday to observe and just get to know my way around before being left by myself.  Then I started on my own on Monday.  It all went surprisingly well.  I definitely had my rough patches and had multiple times where I thought I was going to lose it, but overall, it went a lot better than I had expected.  Even some of the other teachers were impressed with how I was able to control the classroom.  It ended terribly on Thursday, though.  The kids were completely out of control (it was homecoming weekend and the had a pep rally in the morning and parade in the afternoon…) and there were a few times where I just sat back in awe and had no idea what to do…  But I survived without my students making me cry or me slapping any of them in the face... ;)  But it is definitely a completely new atmosphere, and I'll have to admit that I'm suffering from a bit of culture shock.  There’s about six other white teachers and one sole white student (I kind of feel bad for him…), but other than that, all teachers and students are black.  Some of the (black) teachers were talking to me yesterday and said that I need to start talking “like a black woman” to get the kids in control, haha.  So it looks like I’ll be brushing up on my Ebonics. ;)  Seriously though, when I think about how I act towards those kids, the things I say, the attitude I use, how loud I get, it doesn’t even feel like it was me.  Surely, that loud, mean, strict teacher wasn’t me… But that’s how I have to be with these kids, at least for now.  It’s so out of my element, though. I don’t think anyone has ever heard me as loud or as mean as I got with these kids. But then there were one or two moments where I said a cheesy joke or was acting really goofy and some of the kids genuinely smiled or laughed.  I look forward to more moments like that.

I’m faced with the challenge of developing a classroom that keeps students engaged and interested every second.  I also have to be strict and mean not to let the kids walk all over me, while deep down wanting my classroom to be a more positive place.  For example, I really don’t care if they get up and throw something away in the middle of class or need to run to the restroom to get a tissue…but I can’t let them know that yet. ;)  I don’t want to be the mean, strict teacher, but I can’t be the easy-going, fun teacher until they learn to respect me.  So I've been coming up with a lot of creative ideas to use with the students to help with discipline and academics.  I'm considering this past week as just a nice trial run, and now that I know more about the students and what I'm up against, I'm starting fresh on Monday with a more developed plan and system.  We had a professional development day yesterday, so I got to chat with a lot of the teachers.  They said that these kids pride themselves in running teachers off.  So I know they are just trying to test their limits and see how far I’ll let them go.  But luckily, the other teachers have been so great, giving me ideas and saying that I can send misbehaving kids to them anytime.  I really have a nice support system that I think I'll be relying on a lot this next week.  I just need to make the kids realize that I am here and I'm staying here.  They aren't going to run me off.  And they need to know that I'm not putting up with any of their crap. ;)  I’m excited to start the new week and get into a routine with the students. 

No matter how stressful, out of my element, exhausting, or hopeless I feel at times, I'm also filled with passion and enthusiasm.  This is why I'm a teacher.  These are the kids whose lives I need to inspire and positively affect.  I know I can do this.  It's (no doubt) going to be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but I know that I can and will do it.  And I'm going to do it well.  I just see so much possibility here!  I know that deep down those kids are good and just need a little love and encouragement.  Once they see that I am here to give them that, then we're going to have a great classroom environment.  But then again, I've always been an optimist. :)  

And even though she already was, Erin Gruwell is officially my hero.  I basically want my life to be like Freedom Writers...
Non-teacher related, life is going just fine down here in Louisiana!!  Phil has been here since Wednesday, and John and Ryan got in last night (they'd been doing installs in Shreveport all week).  They're staying with us for the weekend and then heading back to Shreveport for more installs next week.  So it's me and four boys for the weekend...should be fun times!  Ryan and John are cooking dinner (steak and potatoes), so I can't complain! :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

More Photos of Our Fun Satuday!

So I got on Dustin's phone and found some more pictures I'd like to share.  I was excited that he got a good one of this guy:

 I didn't get a good shot of the emu, so I'm glad he did.  I love emus...such odd little birds.

Pretty shot of the river-walk.  Dustin uses the "Hipstamatic" app on his phone, so his pics look all cool and trendy.  Perhaps I need to start using it more...

Relaxin by the river.

Pretty buildings down town.

Fair!! What a good shot, good job, Bu!

The city of Monroe has their own portable stage...pretty sweet!

Hmmm...something's not quite right here... ;)

Ok, that's all.  Just wanted to share more pictures with you.  Love and miss you all!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Exploring Downtown Monroe and Ark-La-Miss Fair and Livestock Show

Dustin and I had a fun day today.  We decided to go explore downtown and walk along the river.  Downtown wasn't as exciting I was hoping it to be, unless we were just in the wrong area or something.  The riverwalk was super pretty, though!  I remembered to take lots of pictures today!

There's this pretty river-walk area in downtown Monroe (by the way, for clarification, West Monroe is on one side of the river, Monroe on the other).  It's such a pretty, relaxing place, and you can see TONS of turtles playing in the water.  I can't wait to bring the boys here.  And I hear they decorate this all pretty at Christmas time.  I can't wait!! 

Bu on the river.

Pretty building.

That was pretty much our extent downtown.  Then we headed to the local art gallery, Masur Museum of Art.


It's in a historical home, which is absolutely gorgeous.  I wanted to take more pictures inside, but you know how those art gallery folk are...they don't like you taking pictures. ;)

This is the view from the back of the museum.  It sits right on the river (obviously...).  Pretty!

After our sophisticated visit to the art museum, we decided to head down the the Ark-La-Miss Fair and Livestock Show and get our fair share of gluttony.  The fair itself was great.  Lots of fun rides and LOTS of good food.  We got some BBQ, potato salad, and baked beans for lunch (how could we not?) and then we got this for dessert:

Now, I haven't really been to any fairs lately, so maybe they've been doing this for a while and I was  just not aware.  But they add TOPPINGS to the funnel cakes.  All sorts of toppings.  Strawberries, Banana Cream, Milkyway, Reese's, Cinnamon, Chocolate, Caramel (are you drooling yet?), and Bavarian Cream, which is what we got.  It was heaven.  Complete glutton heaven.  Sadly, we were unable to finish the entire thing.  I think we got a little over half way done and realized that we would be fat terrible people if we ate any more. ;)  But to whoever thought of putting Bavarian Cream on a funnel cake, I thank you.  You are brilliant.

Then we headed in to the exhibit hall/petting zoo.  We had SOOO much fun!  When we got up this morning, we had no idea we'd hold an alligator by the time the day's through.

They had typical fair animals - donkies, ponies, goats, ducks, piggies, rabbits, chicken and chicks, an emu...  But this guy was definitely the star of the show.

He was only about four feet long and 50 pounds, but still...he's an alligator.  He's about five years old and due to getting hit by a car when he was a baby, he won't get much bigger.  This little guy was there, too.

He's about a year old, and when full grown, will be about 13 feet long and weigh almost a ton.  Blows. My. Mind.  He was super cute, though!

We were chatting with the people working, and though only the little one is supposed to be held, they said we could hold the bigger one if we wanted (because we're awesome like that).  But we had to wait for the little petting area to clear out and all the kids to leave.  I wasn't brave enough.  He may not be that big, but he squirms a lot and is super strong.  But Dustin decided to take on the challenge.

He felt like a man...

I also got to hold a snake.  I've always loved snakes.  It's so crazy to feel their muscles move when they squirm.  Amazing creature, I say.

I fell in love with these little piglets.

They were running crazy all over the pen, and then they both just ran to a little spot and burrowed in next to each other.  Adorable.  There were tons of people around, but they just passed out.  Cute lil piggies.

After visiting our animal kin, we just chilled and listened to some music before heading home.

I'm terrible at taking self-photos, but you get the idea. ;)

And thus concludes our fun day!  We came back to the apartment, took a nice long nap, then grilled some chicken for dinner, and getting ready to cuddle for a movie.  GREAT Saturday!

And I won't brag about how it was in the mid-80's and beautiful all day...but it was... :)



Thursday, September 29, 2011

We had a nice weekend in Indiana, and we headed back down here on Tuesday.  Things are still just plugging right along!  We have two potential contracts that should be finalized by next week, so that's exciting.  One is the guy whose proposal Dustin did all my himself, so of course that's a nice confidence booster. :)  Dustin is meeting with some advertising reps this week from the local TV station, and he should be filming a commercial next week!  Pretty fun and exciting.  Don't mention it to Dustin too much though; we don't need his head getting any bigger. ;)

I'm loving this community more and more every day.  They have three local publications that come out: Ouachita Life, Louisiana Health and Wellness Today, and Delta Business.

We've been reading all three to try to learn as much as we can about Monroe/W. Monroe.  Ouachita Life is similar to Terre Haute Living.  It's nice to be able to read it and get to know more about all the local shops and businesses here in town.  Today is a great publication that discusses healthy living habits.  Dustin's already met with the editor of Health and Wellness Today, and he is very happy that we're here.  He talked about us potentially having our own column in the magazine where we would discuss renewable energies and green living!!  That would be so fun!!  I've always wanted to have my own column somewhere, but nothing is set in stone yet, so I have to be patient. ;)  Delta Business is pretty self-explanatory.  It discusses the business climate of the twin-cities (Monroe/W. Monroe).  Even though business is by no means my forte, it's still be a nice read just to get to know what's going on around here. 

I'll tell you one thing, this place is BOOMING.  The economy here is incredible, and the community just keeps expanding and expanding.  It's in national top ten lists for the housing market, and the schools here are phenomenal.  It's a really exciting time for the community.  Everyone is filled with this energy and enthusiasm to make this place the best it can be, so we couldn't have come here at a better time.  Everyone we talk to about the business is so excited that we're here, and they want us to get involved as much as we can in community happenings.  We even went into a local music shop (owned by an adorable couple) last weekend and started talking about School of Rock.  The wife was so excited to hear what we've been doing, and she said she'd love to get something like that going here.  She said that kids come into their shop all the time drooling over the guitars and that she wishes she could do some sort of fundraiser to raise money to buy them all guitars.  But then she didn't know who would teach them all to play once they got the guitars...that's where we'd come in. :)  This is something that wouldn't happen for a while since getting OPS up and going here is our number one priority, but it's exciting to know that when we do decide to do that, we already know another couple who wants to get involved.  YAY!

Dustin and I have spent a lot of time just driving around, going through neighborhoods, and just getting to know the area.  There are SO many nice neighborhoods with BEAUTIFUL houses, and lots of land for sale as well.  Depending on how things go over the next few months, we're thinking about possibly going ahead and buying or building a home down here.  With how great the housing market is, I know we'll be able to get a great deal.  And with how much the community is expanding, we know we'll have no problem selling the house if we end up only being here for a couple of years.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the apartment here, but it'd be nice to be able to get all of our furniture down here, and (most importantly, of course) get the puppies down here. :)  I miss them a lot and feel like such a terrible momma when I leave them. :(   (I know...I'm ridiculous...)  But of course, we're continuing to take things one day at a time.  We have faith that everything is going to work out perfectly for us, whether that means we go back to Terre Haute in a month or we stay here for a decade.

I'll be honest, the past week was pretty rough.  We were both stressed beyond belief and homesick, and part of us wanted to just forget the whole thing and just go home.  But we aren't giving up.  We know that we have a lot of responsibilities here and that in order to succeed, we're going to have to sacrifice a lot and work our butts off.  And of course, all of that brings on a lot of stress.  But I feel that we are stronger now after having a bad week, and we're ready to get things done!  We are no doubt going to have our fair share of trials down here, and there are going to be bad weeks when we just want to forget it all and go home.  But we can't lose faith.  Many things in life that are hard happen to be the things that are the most rewarding and worth it in the end.  So that's what keeps us going. :)

Time to get some homework done and keep this productive day going!  Love you all!!!

Not the best pic in the world, but here's one of our billboards in town! :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Worky Worky Work

Dustin drove a total of ten hours about a fun workday. ;)  One of their installs is having some equipment issues, so he had to go out to the site (which is an hour and a half away) and fix some things, and then when he got home, he found out there was something else wrong (a dud panel).  So he had to drive out there again, get the bad panel off the roof, drive home, and then we both left to go to the main OPS office in Stonewall, La (which is two hours away) to get a new panel.  Fun fun. ;)  So today is being spent getting caught up on some office work.

As promised, here are some pics of the apartment!

 Living Room (pardon the mess)


Kitchen (which I LOVE!)
 Dustin thinks I went a little overboard on decorating the fridge
...but I don't think so. :)
  Bedroom (nothing fancy...but to the left is a big walk-in closet, so I'm happy.)

So this is our home for the next few months!  It's a really nice complex, and we're very thankful to be able to stay here.  We're still looking around for places to rent, but we aren't stressing too much about it.  We know that the perfect opportunity will arise at the perfect time, so we're just focusing on our work and taking it all a day at a time!
Love you all!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Beginnings...So, of course, we need a new blog. ;)

So, I decided to start a new blog completely devoted to documenting our adventure down in West Monroe.  I'm going to try to give updates a few times a week, even if they are a paragraph long saying, "Yes, we're still doing good" and "No, we haven't killed each other yet." ;)

The past week has been crazy busy.  Dustin headed back down here last Tuesday, and then I came down on Thursday (after spending two straight days doing nothing but homework and packing).  We spent the weekend getting settled in the apartment.  We didn't bring any furniture down, but we brought all of our clothes and other necessities.  We got Dustin's office set up (in the dining area), and we got all unpacked and settled in.  We printed off a ton of pictures, so, as promised, those cute little blonde-haired heads are all over the place.  We got some simple furniture and decor, but it's helping make the place a little more homey.  I have strict instructions to not "girly" the place up too much, so I guess a few candles and pictures frames will have to suffice. ;)  I"ll get some pictures taken tomorrow and post them.

As far as the business side of things, we're plugging right along.  Dustin gave his first proposal by himself today, so that was exciting.  Dustin's doing a great job of getting his name out there and getting to know people in the community.  I get so proud when he comes home from a meeting beaming.  He really loves what he does...and it shows.  I love that man... :)

As for me, school is starting to take over.  Lots of reading and lots of writing (who would have thought for an English major, right?).  But of course, I love it.  Dustin and I are getting into a routine (which includes exercising in the gym at the apartment complex!), so that's helping. 

We'll be home this weekend for the Wilkinson wedding (I can't believe my Brooke is getting married!!!), so we're excited to see everyone.  I'll keep everyone updated of when we'll be home next, and we'll do our best to see as many people as we can while home.  We also love to Skype! 

I know it's not an enthralling update, but I'm pooped and still have the last several chapters of Hoot to read tonight for my young adult lit class (I guess I can't complain too much when my homework is to read fun novels, huh?). 

Oh, I'm going to try to do a cheesy "pic of the day" kind of thing to give some visuals of our new life down here.  Here's the first pic of the day:

My Nightstand 

I've always loved having nice, cute, organized nightstands.  So of course, a nightstand was the first thing I bought when I got down here.  After donning it with all the bedroom necessities (inspirational books, jewelry, smelly candles, love), I really started to feel more at home.  Now, if I can only talk the guys into letting me bring Izzy down here...