Sunday, December 30, 2007

Servers are Complainers are Servers

I'm working on not complaining as much.

As a server (Yes we use this word not waiter or waitress), it seems inevitable that at some point every server will become a full-fledged complainer. Nothing will satisfy an experienced server.

Things servers complain about:

-Not enough tables
-Too many tables
-Not enough money
-Bad table sections
-Food comes out too slow
-Food comes out too fast
-Too many tables with not enough people
-Bad tips
-"Campers" (people who "camp out" for an extended period of time)
-Tables of two (never usually a money maker)
-Tables with kids
-Kids who order chocolate milk (we have to stir it up and make it ourselves)
-Parents who let their kids order, thinking it gives them some sense of responsibility, but really they just get shy and take ten minutes to order
-Not enough tables
-Sunday afternoon customers (are the stingiest tippers...because all the money went to tithing???)
-Not enough money
-Getting a whole bunch of tables at the same time
-Other servers are lazy
-Big parties who all order only water (Double complaints for lemons in the water!)
-Staying on the clock at not having enough tables

-Don't want to be at work, but don't make enough money....hmmmmm....


The list could go on and on. Basically, servers are never happy. I include myself in this list, though I am working hard to not complain. Complaining among servers festers and builds upon each other, and is not helpful. So I write this mostly to try to commit to making an effort to being positive.

Time to head back to work.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Vacation

We're home! Or did we just get back from "going home for Christmas?" I'm not sure where or what to call home, but either way, we're back in Pennsylvania.

And back to work. Our flight home from Portland took us to Seattle (with a four hour layover), and then to San Francisco, and with a delayed flight of over four hours, we finally slipped into bed around 5 am, almost 24 hours after we left Oregon. We slept in until 3:00 and I had to be at work at 4.

It was really good to be in Oregon. Michael and I had forgotten how much it rains in Oregon! We were blessed to see so many of our friends and family, many of whom we weren't sure if we would get to see.

One of the highlights of our trip was spending a day in Newberg, Michael's hometown and our college town, as well as where we got married. We spent a good amount of time at Chapters, our FAVORITE coffee shop, and actually ordered drinks twice while we were there, just to savor the coffee we so dearly miss. (Sidenote: We really miss good northwest espresso-especially Stumptown at Chapters.) Besides having amazing coffee, Chapters is the place to be in Newberg to just "run into" people. We ended up seeing many friends that were just stopping by for their own cup of joe. We also went over to Newberg Friends Church and got to visit with some of the pastoral staff (we worked as interns there during our senior year of college).

We were able to connect with some of our friends from Twin Rocks and Salem as well.

And of course, it was great to see both of our families, including a niece and two nephews.

It was good to be home for Christmas, especially because we aren't really sure where we will be next Christmas, and when we will get to visit out there again.

Michael doesn't start school again until January 14th, so he'll be working some and enjoying his break, while I will begin subbing again next week. And, trying to get our Christmas (New Year?) letter written! (We didn't get one out last year, so we'll see what happens).

Monday, December 17, 2007

More reading

Books I've read in the last few weeks:

"The Kite Runner" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns" both by Khaled Hosseini-These are both excellent! I can't wait to see the movie that came out last weekend.

"Divisadero" by Michael Ondaatje (author of "The English Patient")

"Blood Done Sign My Name" by Timothy Tyson

"The Road" by Cormac McCarthy (Kind of slow and depressing, an Oprah's Book Club selection)

"Catch-22" by Joseph Heller (I've started this one three times and finally finished it!)

"The River Why" by David James Duncan

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wintertime in Wayne

I haven't posted in a while, mostly because Michael has needed the computer non-stop for the last few weeks to finish a crazy amount of papers and projects for school. And I've been really busy teaching all day and working at the restaurant a lot.

Some highlights over the last few weeks:

-I haven't been enjoying substituting too much. (I sub every single day). It's much better than working in the restaurant, but being a sub is nothing like being a teacher and having my own room. As I've said before, subbing is more like "glorified babysitting," and I feel like I have to be stern and don't get to enjoy the students like I did last year student teaching. I find myself missing my students from last year. Only a few times have I actually had the chance to "teach," and lead class discussions, and those have been really good days.

-We went to Colorado for Thanksgiving and saw our brand new niece. It was really fun to be around family after being in PA for a few months, away from family and friends. Being around a brand new baby was therapy for me, though I had mixed emotions all weekend. I am so, so thankful that my bro/sister-in-law finally have a healthy, sweet, adorable baby girl. So thankful, in fact, I was moved to tears throughout the weekend. I think I also found myself in tears at times knowing my turn is yet to come. But I think it helped me be more at terms with our own timing. So thanks, Tim and Amy, for letting us be there to experience those first few days with you.

-The high school I sub at was recently ranked 79th in the nation by World News Report. Over the last few weeks seniors are applying to colleges and hearing back if they got into their school(s) of choice, among them Ivy League schools and very elite schools. I have a hard time relating, since I don't remember being too nervous about getting into school-the league of schools is much different. It's such a different world here in so many ways.

-I had my 25th birthday last week. I feel old, although I did have a teacher ask me for my hall pass a few weeks ago. And I had a student tell me he thought I was a student when he first walked into class.

-This Tuesday Michael and I celebrate our 3rd anniversary. It's been the best year for us by far. Lately we've noticed how much fun we have together, and have grown so much closer this year. We are so excited for what the year to come will bring.

-We got our first real snow fall here, and I loved every second of it!! (Except the few seconds when I almost slid into a brand new Chevy Suburban while getting used to driving in the snow/ice).

-We're headed home to Oregon tomorrow for Christmas and to see friends and family, and we have been looking forward to it immensely!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tomorrow we're headed to Colorado for Thanksgiving. We have reason to be extra thankful this year, as our brand new niece entered the world last Friday. We are excited for a break and to be around family.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Real Life on TV

The other day my mom told me about an episode of "Brothers & Sisters," a show I have never seen. In the episode, one of the characters has a miscarriage, and then a D & C (I had a D & E). I decided to watch it...

The beginning of the show started with the excitement of having just discovered the pregnancy. Because I knew what was going to happen, I kept waiting for the sad event to happen. She went to the OBGYN and had an ultrasound. I felt like in a way I was reliving my own experience, except she had no idea what was about to happen, and I did. The doctor looked at the screen, expecting everything to be fine, and then adjusted the screen, staring at it more closely for a few moments. At this point, the woman sensed something was wrong.

I remember watching the face of my ultrasound technician, laying there at 1:30 in the morning. She looked for an extra amount of time on the screen, while Michael and I both held each others' hands and our breath in anticipation. Deep down we knew the news was bad, especially as we studied her face and saw in her eyes a hopelessness as she spent extra time searching the screen for some sign of life.

The doctor on the show then told the woman, "I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you, but I can't find a heartbeat." Those were the same words we heard that night, and the memory of it hit me all over again.

Later in the episode the woman admits she can't bring herself to drink a cup of coffee. That would somehow validate the truth that she no longer needs to be aware of what she eats or drinks-I remember going through that same thought process. At the end of the show, after her surgery, the woman said to her mom, "I think I just need to be sad for a while." Only someone who has experienced that kind of loss can understand the true depth of those words.

What I've learned through this whole process is that there are times when I just need to embrace the sadness that washes over me. Sometimes the sadness hits as a direct response to something, like seeing a pregnant woman or a brand new infant or getting an email from a pregnant friend. But sometimes it's a bit more subtle, when it's just a "normal" day, yet somewhere deep down I feel a little empty, like a piece of me is missing.

I've noticed that the sad moments have decreased in frequency, though they still happen. And I think as time moves on, they will continue to decrease in amount though not always in intensity. Part of me knows that these sad moments will never completely disappear, and truthfully, I don't want them to.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Back in the School Environment

Since I started substituting I have been very busy. I've been glad to get called almost every day, and mostly in the same building which is only a few minutes from our apartment. After only a couple weeks, though, I'm already realizing how different this is than having my own room with my own students. I don't have nearly as much of an opportunity to build relationships with students.

The other day I was subbing for a study hall and a student asked to go to his locker. He came back a little while later and reeked of cigarette smoke. He had been working really hard on his math homework. Then he sat talking to a friend telling him how his parents keep making him take drug tests, and he's figured out how to get around them, and how if they find him taking drugs again they are sending him to a rehab/boot camp place in Utah.

And of course, he didn't think I could hear a word he was saying, as all students think teachers, especially substitutes, are deaf. I sat there frustrated, knowing there was no real point in confronting him or doing anything about the fact that I suspected that he was smoking. Not to mention, he could care less. He obviously had bigger problems. The thing that killed me was that if I were his regular teacher, and had built a relationship with him, I would have felt more compelled to do something. He seemed to care a little about homework- he was sitting there working on his math for most of the period.

I don't mind substituting. One of the big perks is that I read all day. Usually I pass out a worksheet for the students to work on, or they watch a movie. Most teachers just make the lesson plans super easy for a sub, so I am more like a glorified babysitter for high school (and occasionally middle school) students.
So, I have read a lot of books. In the past week I've read the following:

Barack Obama's "Audacity of Hope"
"The Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier" by Ishmael Beah
"The Five People You Meet in Heaven" and "For One More Day" both by Mitch Albom
"Child of the Jungle" by Sabine Kuegler

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Coping

My emotions have been up and down lately. Last weekend at church during a baby dedication I found myself completely fine as the pastor shared a few words, and the moment he stared praying I began weeping uncontrollably. I may be entering a depression stage of grief, because I find myself sad beyond words. I zone out and stare off into space, and my heart feels heavy. Michael senses my sadness, and wants me to be open to talking about it with him, but truthfully, I have no words. The only thing I find myself being able to verbalize, is "I'm feeling sad today," which is usually followed by a bout of tears.

It's been good to process with our friends that I posted about the other day, who recently had a miscarriage. Knowing that someone else is going through some of the same emotions at almost the same time is helpful, somehow, because it simply validates everything I'm feeling. And, she understands the struggle to deal with everyday life (as everyone else moves on) in the midst of grief.

It's been five weeks. In some ways it feels like it just happened, and in other ways it feels like an eternity ago. Michael and I have continued to dialogue about our future, as we keep thinking about post-graduate school. The internship he is required to have next fall could be just that-a three month "internship" where we would leave after it's done-or, it could be a full-time job that is more long-term. And I find myself trying to figure out how a baby will fit into the picture-or rather, when.

I still see babies and young children at work and hear myself automatically thinking, "I want a baby of my own." And I also want to say to these mothers, "I hope you are cherishing every second with your little child, because you are so lucky to have a healthy baby." Sometimes I think more deeply, "Well, maybe they have had a hard time too. I don't know their story."

And then I find myself looking around, wondering how many others are grieving some kind of loss, but are forced to carry on with life, pasting on a smile and going through the motions of every day life.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Busy

I haven't had much time with the computer because Michael usually has it for school. Plus, our "free" internet is no longer available in our apartment, so we are limited that way.

I've been busy lately, with interviews and working. Yesterday was my first official day substituting! It was anti-climatic, because all I did was push play on a DVD player for three periods. Today I have another interview with a district much closer, and I have a third interview next week, in a district that is a block or two from our apartment. I think three districts will be good for now. We'll see what happens, though I had to turn down a sub job this morning because of my interview today.

Last weekend we went to New Jersey to see Oregon friends. I'll post some pictures of our apple-picking adventure later.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Shout outs to the in-laws

Today was a good mail day.

I finally received my Pennsylvania Teaching License in the mail!! I've spent the last couple hours putting together my application packet for a local school district, and tomorrow I am going to sign papers with the other district that I am already hired in. We received a new copier/printer from Michael's brother Nick in the mail a couple weeks ago, and it has already proved to be extremely useful. For every position I apply to I have to make multiple copies of clearances, forms, and certifications. Usually I have to run to the store and make copies, but here I am at midnight making copies from home. It's awesome. (Thanks again Nick!)

The other exciting piece of mail came as a result of a previous post in which we had just discovered that this area of the country has no maple bars. My mother-in-law sent us a package today with maple bars! We are so excited, and can't wait to show our friends this Northwest treat. (So, thanks Bev!)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Please Pray

We found out today that our friends who were due a week before we were had a miscarriage today. Because they were further a long they are going into the hospital tonight to induce labor. Please pray for them.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Processing

It's been three weeks since the miscarriage. I've been keeping myself very busy, and have been surprised how emotionally drained I feel when I finally stop and breathe. The devotional book I'm reading has talked about how this can be a coping mechanism, I just didn't think I was busy for the sake of being busy. I'm noticing though, that it seems to help keep my mind not focused on the grief.

Today I met with my doctor who performed the surgery at the hospital. I'm back to "normal," and everything is fine (at least physically).

Lately what's been hard is realizing how far along "I would be." One set of close friends is about a month further along then I would have been, and another couple is about a week further along. As I get updates, and realize they are beginning to "show" or even feel the baby kick, I am reminded of what I am missing out on. And I also realize that I will be making these comparisons in my head throughout the rest of their pregnancies, if not even longer than that.

I also just found out that my brother and his wife are expecting in June. I am very excited for them, especially because of the grace God has shown in completely restoring a broken relationship between us, not to mention seeing them go through the process of dedicating their lives to the Lord. It's been a direct, tangible answer to a lot of prayer. This is their second child, and I am so excited to get to be a part of their lives for this pregnancy. I know they were somewhat hesitant to share their news with us, because of our recent loss, but I am so excited for them. I did find myself calculating that this would have meant our child would have had two cousins within six months.

It's hard knowing that my grief process is so different from those around me. Months from now when I may be still feeling the loss acutely, others may barely remember. But that's ok. Whenever anyone asks how I'm doing, I almost always reply, "Just taking it one day at a time." Because that's all I can do.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's About Time...

My Pennsylvania Teaching License Application has been officially approved, and according to my status on the Dept. of Ed website, they have issued me my license and sent it in the mail!!! That was yesterday, so I should get it by Friday.

Finally!

Children's Footprints

Some children come into our lives and go quickly.
Some children come into our lives and stay awhile.
All our children come into our lives and leave footprints-
Some oh so small;
Some a little larger;
Some, larger still,
But all have left their footprints on our lives; in our hearts,
And we will never, never be the same.

Doreen Sexton

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Starstruck

Tonight at work a man and woman walked in and asked for a corner booth. A few minutes later I walked by and recognized the guy: it was RYAN GOSLING!!

I walked to the back of the restaurant and asked a couple other servers. We all were pretty sure it was him, though he had a thick, bushy beard. I'll be the first to admit...we were absolutely starstruck. "The Notebook" is one of my all-time favorite movies, which Ryan Gosling stars in, and ever since that movie I've always tried to watch his movies. I actually texted Michael from work because I knew he knows how much I like that movie and Ryan Gosling!

Every server except one was a girl, and some were acting like complete schoolgirls. (OK-all of us were). We decided to leave him alone for most of the night, and thought that maybe we'd ask him for a picture as he was leaving. I took the opportunity to take him his pizza plates and pizza stand, just so I had an excuse to talk to him and see if it was really him. As soon as he said "thank you" I knew it was him.

The last bit of confirmation came when he paid the bill, and his credit card said R Gosling. So, we had the manager ask him for a picture as he walked out the door and a group of ten or so of us servers took pictures with him. He was very friendly. When we asked him if we could take a picture, he said, "sure, as long as you don't think I'm Ryan Reynolds." We all laughed. I guess he gets that a lot?? He also told us we smelled good, because one of the girls had put on perfume! He told us he is filming a movie nearby. I came home and looked it up. The movie is "The Lovely Bones." Sounds like an odd movie, although I heard the book was really good. The book's setting is right near here, around Valley Forge National Park (which is only a few minutes away), and they are filming there as well.

Well, that was my moment with a movie star. I know he's just a person, but I was amazed how easy it was to get caught up in the hype of being near a super star.
I am going to post the picture as soon as I get it.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Grief

Michael bought me a devotional book, "Grieving the Child I Never Knew." I have only worked through the first few days of it, but it has already been a good resource for me. It asks me tough questions, and it prompts me to journal, which is my way of processing just about everything.

Yesterday's section told the story from 1 Kings 3:16 where two women have come to King Solomon. One woman claims the other's baby has died, and has switched their babies in the night. Solomon, in his wisdom, asks for a sword. He then proclaims that they will simply cut the baby in half, to share. The real mother immediately cries, "no, let her have the baby. Just don't kill him!" The other mother says, "yes, if I can't have him neither of us can." And Solomon knew the first woman was the real mother.

The point of the devotional was to empathize with (but not condone) the woman who stole the baby. She wakes up in the middle of the night to find her baby is not breathing. She panics, and aches to hold a real, living baby again. Maybe she just wanted to hold the other baby for a minute, or maybe she was disillusioned somehow. Who knows? But the point is that she ached so badly for the loss of her child that she wanted to hold a real, alive baby. I believe this was her defense mechanism. She just didn't know what to do with her sudden, deep grief.

As I read this story I remembered that a few nights ago at work I served a couple who had their 10 1/2 month twin girls with them. They were beyond adorable-happy, sweet, and smiled at me every time I came to the table. I began talking with the couple, asking them about their experience with twins. I have always had an acute interest in twins since I had a twin who died before birth. Eventually, somehow, as they encouraged me to try to start having kids sooner than later (they were probably at least ten years older than me and felt that their age made the pregnancy more difficult), I ended up sharing with them about my recent miscarriage. And I found myself aching to hold their little precious ones.

As I read this account in 1 Kings, I related to the woman's desire to be comforted in her grief by holding a baby. And I look forward to the next baby I will get to hold and hug and be reminded of God's grace.

Give Thanks in Everything...

One of my biggest struggles over the last two weeks has been patience. I've already written about this some, but as I read through my journal entries over the last week, I realize it's a constant theme.

Some days I feel like the girl on Willy Wonka, who gets everything she wants when she wants it. I have wrestled with God over this, at times feeling like the girl, thinking "But I want it NOW!" I felt like I was ready for a baby, and my need for immediate gratification causes me to feel impatient that MY timing wasn't the right timing.

I do think in other ways, however, I am realizing all the areas I need to grow, and am learning to be thankful for this unexpected opportunity for growth. I also feel like Michael and I have grown so much closer already through this shared experience, and I will be forever grateful for the way he's handled this, and the way we are grieving and coping together. The Lord has been so good to me to give me the gift of my husband.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Kitty

Last night Michael and I were walking home from our friend's home around the corner. As we rounded the corner onto our street we heard a tiny kitten's meow. We looked and saw a little gray kitten huddled near the wheel of a car. It saw us and immediately came towards us, meowing as it walked. We could tell it was sick-the meow was weak and scratchy. It was obviously lost and not doing too well.

We both stood there and watched it, wishing there was something we could do. I've always had a soft spot for kittens and puppies-I love the little babies.

I thought about my experience with most cats, and realized they usually don't run right up to humans like this one. It started to get close and we realized we probably should keep our distance since it could be aggressive or have a disease (though it probably just wanted human contact/food/loving).

We started to walk away, and it continued to follow us, rather closely. We walked more quickly, and so did it. Finally, we crossed the street. It started to follow us, and then stopped in the middle of the right lane. It seemed as if it sort of just gave up.

I didn't want it just sitting there. It was 10:30 at night and not too many cars were out, but still. We were going to keep walking, hoping it would turn around, when we saw headlights.

Michael turned back towards the kitten, trying to wave to the car to slow down. (Or, probably trying to get the kitten to move). I stood on the side of the road, just watching the cat, hoping that in the last moment it would move. It didn't.

Michael had told me to turn my head and not watch, but I couldn't help it. The headlights didn't slow down and suddenly we heard the loud, sickening thud. I screamed and started balling, almost hysterically.

The car pulled over. The guy felt so bad, especially because I was crying so hard. (He thought it was ours). I had watched the kitten, after the car passed. It had been drug a few feet. It tried to stand up, but was obviously injured and limping. It fell and tried to walk a few more times. Eventually it made it off the road and disappeared into the bushes.

We felt so helpless. We walked home, and I continued to cry hard. I'm pretty sure I was crying as hard as I cried on Friday night on the way to the ER. I just couldn't stop crying. My stomach hurt and I was close to hyperventilating.

We got home and I continued to cry. Michael hugged me and eventually I calmed down. He finally asked me, "this isn't just about the cat, is it?"

And it wasn't.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Thanks

Michael and I are learning to take one day at a time. Sunday I felt like I was doing well, emotionally and physically, and then Monday turned out to be a much tougher day. I found myself crying throughout the day, and feeling a bit more soreness and pain.

Michael has been so absolutely wonderful: cleaning, running errands, taking care of me, crying with me, talking/processing with me, and somehow fitting in (a little) time for homework. I am so blessed to be married to such a wonderful, loving, caring man.

I am so grateful for the flowers, notes, emails, and even chocolate covered strawberries in the mail! We feel so supported and uplifted in prayer, especially for being in such a new place so far from "home."

A new friend here in PA sent me this verse over the weekend:

"...but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." John 9:3

This is my prayer, that this whole time will be a testimony to God's love and grace in our lives.

Today I was listening to a song, and I realized that the words are also my prayer, that my life is not my own, that even this little one now in heaven was not really mine, but a gift from God, and that it's ok if I don't have the strength to be strong, as long as I'm willing and asking for help.

Our biggest prayer request is that we can continue to release the expectations we had been holding on to: dreaming, planning, and expecting our life to change in April 2008. Also, as we realize our timing is not God's, we also are realizing that due to our schedule to be overseas in a year we may have to wait much longer than we'd like to try again, and that will be yet another lesson in patience.

Here's the song I heard today:

Please take from me my life
When I don't have the strength to give it to you, Jesus

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Chapman Baby in Heaven

There's no easy way to write this. I could wait, but I don't see any reason to.

Friday night after I got off work I continued to have worsening symptoms, so around 10:30 Michael and I went straight to the ER. We were both crying a lot, because we knew something was seriously wrong, and we had an idea what it could mean.

They admitted me to the ER, took my blood, and eventually did two different kinds of ultrasounds. They couldn't find a heartbeat. We were officially miscarrying.

Obviously we were/are heartbroken. We sat there and cried for a while. Eventually they took me back to my other room and did some more examinations and tests. The OB-GYN on call strongly suggested that we have a procedure done to clean everything out, to avoid any risk of infection. They gave us the option of staying in the hospital over night and fitting me in on Saturday, or waiting and coming back in on Monday morning. We decided to stay overnight and just get it all taken care of.

Around 4 AM they were able to find us a room on a different floor. Michael slept on the floor. We rested, or tried to, as doctors and nurses (and even a chaplain in training) came in and out of our room all morning.

They finally came to get me around noon. Most of the morning I had been doing pretty well, just realizing that this is all in God's hands, and feeling a peace about it. I actually had three dreams on Thursday night where I had a miscarriage in each one. I think I had been slowly preparing myself for this possibility this week. As I lay in the Pre-op room, it really hit me that what they were about to do was going to make this really final. Michael and I sat there crying until the doctor finally came and took me into the operating room. The last thing I remember was laying on the table, crying and shivering, as the anesthesia kicked in. I woke up crying, and didn't stop for quite a while.

Thankfully, I am recovering quickly. I have almost no pain, just a little bit of soreness. I was released by 5:00 yesterday. We have been so blessed by Michael's classmates and their spouses who have been making us dinner and praying for us constantly.

We are at home resting. Pray that we will continue to grieve and heal and process all of this. Also, Michael has come down with a cold and is having a really hard time concentrating to get any school work done. He has already been feeling behind after being gone last weekend for a wedding, and now all of this.

We plan on just taking this week to rest. My work told me to just let them know when I'm ready to come back.

We trust that the Lord is going to work through all this. We trust His timing.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Scare

This morning I woke up and was having some weird symptoms for the pregnancy. It's one of those times where everything could be totally fine, or it could be the beginning of something really bad. So, I got a little worried.

After waking Michael up and talking about it, I got back in bed. I laid there crying for a little while, and praying. I have thought lately about how many people have miscarriages that don't deserve it (not that anyone ever does), but there are always stories of couples who are so loving and caring and would be amazing parents, and for some reason can't get pregnant, or keep having miscarriages.

And as I lay there praying, I found myself pleading with the Lord. Because really, who am I to think that I should be so special as to have everything just turn out wonderful? A lot of God-fearing people have big heartaches everyday. So I found it difficult to know what to say to God. I mostly just asked him to protect my baby, but His will be done.

I called my doctor's office and the nurse staff suggested I get my blood drawn today and again on Monday. Thankfully our health insurance check cleared today, so we are officially covered and good to go.

I HATE getting my blood taken. Michael left work early and came with me. Now we just have to wait until next week to make sure everything is ok. Meanwhile, I just have to monitor myself and rest. Oh yeah, and work for the next five nights in a row.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Appointment

I scheduled my first OBGYN appointment today...Monday, October 8th!

I'm excited to have the appointment, but bummed that I have to wait almost 3 weeks.
By the time I have my appointment I will be officially through 12 weeks.

I guess I have no choice but to continue to have patience, but it's really hard. With so many thoughts in my head, and pregnancy stories of both good and bad, I'm just ready to get in to the doctor and relieve all those anxieties. It all comes back to trusting the Lord because my hands are completely tied right now.

Update

Still working on my teaching license. I sent in paperwork to my Graduate School in Salem and as soon as they receive that and send it back to PA I should be good to go.

I'm definitely ready to start substituting during the day. I've been working the lunch shift at the restaurant and it often feels like a waste of time. I'm still earning money, but for the amount of time I'm there, and how much I make, I'd rather spend the day in a classroom. Not to mention I want to get back to interacting with high school students in that setting. I work with a few at the restaurant, and could even teach at their high school, but it's not the same at all.

We sent in our first payment for health insurance. I'm planning on calling today to see if they received it. As soon as they do, I can (finally) book our first doctor appointment. I'm still anxious about it. I like to read this pregnancy website, and there's a section for women all due in the same month. As I read the April messages, I have realized how many women have already had two appointments by this time. I am in my tenth week right now, and if I can get an appointment as early as next week I'll be in the eleventh week already.

Most of my symptoms are gone, I still feel tired easily (is it pregnancy or that I'm working a lot?), and occasionally feel a little nausea, but other than that, I don't even feel pregnant! I know I should be counting my blessings, a lot of women suffer with morning sickness for many weeks or months. I think once I actually get to the doctor and verify that I'm really pregnant I will feel more reassured.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The blog world is quite the community.

After posting my last blog, I spent some time reading some other blogs, and I found myself connected to a blog of this amazing woman.

I decided to start reading from her first posting in July 2006 and read forward. She was diagnosed with Leukemia in July 2006 and has posted updates throughout the last year.

I found myself crying at different points throughout the blog. She was not much older than me, having just turned 26, and having just had a baby less than two year ago. I have been thinking a lot about all the possible roads life can take us. Preparing for a baby has caused me to think about this a lot. There is no guarantee that anything will turn out how we would like it to. I could have a completely healthy baby, or I could have one with any kind of sickness or disease, or I could end up not having one at all. This can be so scary, and so awe-inspiring at the same time. (Awe-inspiring because I know God is sovereign in everything we go through).

And then there are all the things that could happen to me or my husband, or any other family member.

I am reminded to get on my knees in prayer and thank God that my family is healthy and safe...a blessing I often take for granted.

By the end of this blog-the last posting was two days ago-I was sobbing uncontrollably. What a legacy this woman has left for her child, her husband, and the hundreds of people who have read her blog.

Wa-Wa


When I think of a convenience store, I think of a grungy 7/11 where I would only go to buy packaged items or maybe a slushy. Never would I buy a hot dog or coffee, or any other "prepared" item.

Here in the metro-Philly area there is a phenomenon that happens to be a convenience store, and it's known as Wa-Wa.

When we first got here we would drive by all these Wa-Was and wonder what they were. The sign has a goose of some sort on it, and the parking lots are always full, especially during lunchtime.

About a week after we moved here I read an article in a local paper about this chain. It said that for out-of-towners, Wa-Wa probably seems a strange name and a strange place. But to locals, it is the place to be! I also learned that Wa-Wa is the local Native American word for Canadian Goose, hence the goose on all the signs.

This is not your ordinary convenience store. They make sandwiches and wraps (Subway-style, to order) of all sorts. They have "award-winning" coffee with a variety of flavors (everyone I work with at Bertucci's loves the coffee at Wa-Wa). They have all kinds of Wa-Wa brand food and drinks. Some Wa-Was are also gas stations.

Our first food experience with Wa-Wa occurred last week. We had heard that Wa-Wa has excellent milkshakes, and as I was craving some kind of cold dairy dessert, we thought we'd give it a try.

We walked over to the milkshake station. We assumed it would be much like getting a slushy: pick the cup size, place it under the spout, and push the button to dispense the milkshake into the cup.

We couldn't find cups, so we grabbed a Wa-Wa employee who was stocking shelves nearby. He showed us the proper way to get a Wa-Wa milkshake:

1st- Pick a flavor from the assortment of already filled cups in the mini freezer below the counter. I chose strawberry and Michael chose a coffee-ish flavor.

2nd- Take the lid off the cup. The cup is about 2/3 full and frozen solid.

3rd- Place cup in the milkshake holder/dispenser.

4th- Choose desired thickness (Choices are Extra Thick, Regular Thickness, and Less Thickness) and push button.

5th- Watch as the machine sucks up the cup inside, dispensing milk while simultaneously stirring the shake to the appropriate thickness. (You can't see this part, but that's what the Wa-Wa worker told us was happening).

6th- Pull out shake and enjoy!

I thought my shake was INCREDIBLE!! Michael wasn't as happy with the coffee flavored one, but thought mine was fantastic. We're slowly becoming "locals," though because of the the Oregonians in us we still don't carry umbrellas when it rains.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

We Moved...Again!

Yes, we moved again. When people ask us why we moved, I feel a little dumb saying it, but it was mostly because of an odor.

The apartment complex we lived in had an extremely high concentration of Indians living there. And many/most of them cook with curry-a lot. We were on the third floor, and walking through the hallways and stairwells every day got tougher and tougher.

Every time I came home I would have to pull out the keys, brace myself for the stairs, and draw in a huge breath. I tried running up the stairs holding my breath, but running meant I needed to draw in breath more quickly, and the wave of curry and other odd smells would hit me like a brick. It got really bad when the smells started to seep into our bathroom and bedroom vents.

I have not had typical morning sickness (so far!) during my pregnancy. I would feel nauseous often, but the only two or three times I got sick enough to sprint for the bathroom was after coming home and getting through the hallway to get to our apartment.

I've noticed since we've moved already I rarely feel nauseous now. It's glorious!

Michael was going to bring a few people home from his cohort who had trucks to help us move. When I opened the door, 10 of the eleven walked through our door! I was so amazed! They had about a two and half hour break between classes, and they all came to help. We had our entire apartment empty and loaded within an hour, and had it all unloaded into the new place within another 45 minutes.

They were all such troopers, especially because of how humid it was, everyone needed showers before they headed back to class.

I was very blessed by this group's willingness to help us out. It's been a fun group to get to know, and I can tell many of these people will be lifelong friends.

Michael and I are very happy to be in our new place. Instead of being in a complex with hundreds of people, we deal with the landlord directly, who rents out the rest of the building to an insurance company and a nail salon. We also have our own laundry now, instead of having to walk to the opposite end of the building to pay for laundry. We have tons of extra space, and were able to upgrade the number of bedrooms, all for about the same price as our last place.

Just another way God has provided for us here in Pennsylvania.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ode to the Northwest Pastry


As we have been getting to know our new friends from Michael's program, and talking about similar likes and dislikes, we found out some terrible news this week.

Maple bars are no where to be found! We had NO IDEA that maple bars are only found in the Pacific Northwest. We spent ten minutes trying to explain to our new friends what a maple bar looks like, and better yet, tastes like, and they stared at us with blank expressions on their faces.

The best part is that this particular friend we've met, who is from New York, has an older brother who lives in our own hometown of Newberg, Oregon. (It really is a small world!) So, we called up his brother and wife on the phone to ask them if they knew what a maple bar was. We had convinced our friends that in Oregon, anyone and everyone knows what a maple bar is. And of course, they knew exactly what we were talking about.

The brother decided to do some detective work and found this website.

This is where I learned that there really are no maple bars near us. I had no idea that maple bars are "ubiquitous in Oregon and Washington, to be found at gas stations, grocery store bakeries, convenience stores, etc."

So, if anyone comes to visit us, we may have to request an order of maple bars to share with our East Coast friends.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Thankfulness

I probably shouldn't be, but I am amazed at the way the Lord continues to bless us and provide for us.

For the last few weeks I have been pretty stressed about money, finding a job, and very important on my list, figuring out health insurance. I have been, and still am, very anxious to have my first doctor's appointment. I just want to make sure everything is OK with the pregnancy.

As we have been realizing how our checkbook has depleted, with no way to refill it, I found myself looking through Craigslist to find a job. As I already mentioned, I got a call and was hired rather quickly. Meanwhile, I am still working on substitute applications.

The night after I was hired I was looking online and found out that this restaurant offers full benefits for all employees, and right away! A lot of companies offer benefits to their employees, but often the employees have to wait a few months, or must be working a set number of hours to be eligible. But here, I am required to enroll within 30 days and there is no minimum number of hours I must work!

I truly feel like the Lord led me to apply to this job, even though I had no idea about these benefits. Now, our pregnancy will be covered-because it's through a group policy my pregnancy is not a pre-existing condition!! I am so, so thankful for this. The burden of trying to find insurance was suddenly just taken care of.

I plan to work as a server for as long as I can, and hopefully, when I can't do that anymore, I can work as a hostess until the baby comes.

The Lord has truly provided for us. What a huge answer to prayer!!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Betruccis Brick Oven Pizza

I got a job!


No, not a teaching job. I'm still waiting on that. But we had already decided that I would try to work an extra job in the evenings and on the weekend while I can.

So, I found an ad on craigslist for a serving job at a local restaurant. I emailed them and received a call first thing this morning. I went in and was hired within five minutes! So, I start orientation and training tomorrow. It's great because it is super close to us. I think it's the closest restaurant we live to, less than two blocks away.

Now, if only my teaching license would arrive...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Worries

It's been a stressful few days for me. I've been continuing to apply to more teaching jobs as they open up, but there aren't many. It still looks like substituting will be the best bet. The only problem is that I still don't have my PA teaching license. I applied for it over two months ago and it is still being reviewed.

The other issue lately is health insurance. We've started to look in to what is available for us, because it's pretty likely I won't be getting any with a job now. And, it turns out, that pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition when you are trying to get individual health insurance. This means we've only found two carriers who will even talk to us about insurance. We've also looked into benefits we could receive, since Michael is in school full-time and I'm still unemployed.

If you think of it, pray these details can be worked out. I'm anxious to have my first doctor's visit, and anxious to find a job. I still trust the Lord that these things will all work out, but timing is everything.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Park Here

The first weekend we were here in PA we went to Maryland for the weekend to visit my Aunt and her husband. We were less than 5 minutes from the destination, and I had to use the restroom...badly...so we had to stop.

We finally found a grocery store to pull into. And this was the sign we parked under. Apparently they are common all over Maryland, but it was a new one for me!


Monday, August 27, 2007

Trust

Michael is at his first day of school. It's definitely been a long time coming and we were both very excited for today to arrive. Normally, the night before school starts is always a restless one for me, and this one was no exception. This is funny, since I'm not even the one going to school.

We went to our first church here in PA yesterday. It was OK, but I think we will keep looking.

Even so, the message still spoke to me. The pastor started off the sermon by telling a story about "Tim and Terri," a couple who had lost a baby at birth, twice. The story hit close to home, both because we're pregnant and because of how similar the story was to another family member.

The bulletin asked for prayer for a little 2 year old boy who had been found drowned in a pool and in a coma. During the sermon the pastor shared that this little boy passed away on Friday.

The bulk of the sermon was on Zechariah, the second-to-last book of the Old Testament. The main point was that in this book this prophet is announcing that God will fulfill all his promises to Jerusalem, and to not give up. Regardless of our situation, do we really trust God to be all that He promises? In the midst of heartache and loss, can we trust Him?

I've been continuing to realize how much I need to trust the Lord in this pregnancy. It's easy to get caught up in the statistics and all the stories of what could go wrong. Instead, I need to trust. Not just trust that everything will be OK, because it may not be, but trust that the Lord is sovereign above all else.

I also realized if I really wanted to worry about what could go wrong I would be preoccupied for the rest of my life. Having a baby means that from this point on, anything could happen to my child, whether pre-birth or as an adult. The little boy found in the pool was a reminder that even if we make it to birth, there will always be something that can happen.

Again, do I trust Him?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Some Big Little News

We're all settled into our apartment. We got all the furniture we need and feel very organized. We have a place for everything...I think this is the first time in my life I can really say that and know it's true. I think part of the reason for that is that we got rid of anything and everything that we don't use or knew we wouldn't need before we moved here. So, we are organized and ready for the year to start. It feels like it's our home now, not just an apartment we live in.

Michael starts school on Monday. Yesterday we went over to the main campus and walked around. It's very pretty. It looks like someone's estate from many years ago that was turned into a college campus. We also had fun walking around the downtown area of our town. There are a lot of shops and restaurants, and a movie theater.

I still don't have a job. I'm not terribly worried. I am applying to substitute in the area, and that should give me steady work for the year, from what I hear.

Last but not least, Michael and I were waiting a little while before we posted anything, but the time has come. I'm not really sure who has or hasn't heard, but Michael and I found out that we are expecting a baby in April!

We found out the day we arrived in Philadelphia. We are super excited. The truth is that we had decided a few months ago that we would start trying. We decided we'd love to have a baby before we left to go overseas, and that would mean we had a small 4 or 5 month window to try to get pregnant. The average 25 year old couple takes 6 months, so we just gave it to God and decided if we didn't get pregnant it wasn't the right timing.

We didn't tell anyone that we were trying, partly because if we didn't get pregnant no one would be disappointed but us. Also, we liked the element of surprise. Having been married 2 1/2 years people are always asking us when we are planning on having kids. We've had to slough it off lately and say, "oh, it will be a long time for us still, probably a couple years, until we figure out what we're doing in life." The funny part is that our own family barely believed us when we called them, because they all honestly believed it would be a long time.

So, to anyone we told that to, I must apologize for that little, white lie! :)

I wanted to post this because there are thoughts and emotions that go along with this that I find myself thinking a lot, and may end up blogging about from time to time.

Mostly, I have to admit, I have fear. There are so many things that can go wrong that I am learning I must trust the Lord in this daily. The first few days after we found out, I was having some sharp pains, and I got really worried. Praise the Lord for the internet, because within a few minutes I was able to look up my symptoms and find out that what I was experiencing was 100% normal. I started crying in relief, because all the worst possibilities had shot through my mind.

We are very excited about this big step. It is hard that we will be doing this far away from our family, but we took that into account a few months ago. We're just learning that we must turn to Christ daily for direction.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

more pictures

We posted a ton of pictures on our other blog, including pictures of our apartment.

We're "Home"

Well, we're here. We will probably post more pictures later today of other parts of our trip. The trip itself went very smoothly. We were very fortunate not to have any car trouble or flat tires.

The first day of the trip I told Michael I had a lump in my throat, somewhere down deep. I felt as if I needed to cry but couldn't. I think the reality of leaving family and friends behind had hit, but it was deep inside. We are so excited about this step in our lives, but also a bit sad.

I thought through various people we have been interacting a lot with over the past year, and realized how much we will miss those interactions.

On the last night of our trip we stayed with relatives of Michael's in Dayton, Ohio. They had lived in Newberg and moved to the midwest 22 years ago. Originally they thought they'd only be gone for 5 years or so, and here they are 22 years later having moved even further east. It got me thinking about Michael and I, and how we have no idea how long we'll be "gone," or if we've moved to our new home indefinitely (being not the northwest).

For a few days before we left I was joking with some of my friends, telling them that they may never see me again. They didn't really like me joking about that, and I realized in a way it was my coping mechanism because I really wasn't sure how long we'd live far away. Sure, we'll come back to visit, but that's a whole different ballgame.

Either way, we're here now, and we'll take it one step at a time. We both have a huge sense of trust in the Lord that He will provide for us as we need, in His timing, and meanwhile, we must continue to be patient.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Link to our trip

Michael and I have been posting our trip pictures and updates on our mutual blog. Check it out by going here.

Monday, August 06, 2007

"All our bags are packed and we're ready to go..."

We're not leaving on a jet plane, but we are leaving in our Subaru.

As we packed today we decided we just had a couple boxes too many, so we rented a small U-Haul trailer that ended up fitting everything we wanted to pack, including our Christmas stuff, which we had decided wouldn't fit. I am very excited about that, especially because we may or may not be leaving PA for Christmas, and if you know me at all you know how much I LOVE decorating for Christmas almost as much as I LOVE Christmas.

We were packed and ready to go by dinner time. We had run most of our errands, the car was ready to go, and the house is very empty, besides a couple camping chairs and card tables (which are also packed and returned to their rightful owners).

As we are preparing to leave physically, we are also preparing mentally and emotionally. We are excited, nervous, sad, curious, and ready.

In case anyone is wondering, we did get our other car sold today, Praise the Lord!!
And, our housing is basically confirmed except one fax we are waiting for from Easter to send to the apartment complex. Of course, anything can happen, but we feel ready.

We figured out our basic route today, subject to change of course, and at this point plan on arriving to our apartment complex next Monday afternoon. I'm especially excited about spending a little time in Yellowstone and Jackson Hole, as well as seeing Mt. Rushmore.

We'll do our best to post pictures or blogs along the way. Keep us in your prayers!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Bad News and Good News

I got a phone call from PA this morning, but not from the apartment complex. (I'm still waiting to hear from them). It was the school that I was planning on interviewing with when we got to PA. The principal called to tell me they already filled all three of their social studies positions. I was pretty bummed. I cried a little, and then decided that that just means God has something else for me.


***

I just wrote that paragraph and then got a call from the apartment complex. They said everything looks good. All we have left to do is send a copy of Michael's financial aid (showing that he's taking out lots of loans) and that will be plenty to show our income verification. We have the spot reserved, and she called me and wanted to assure me that everything is set (she sensed my anxiousness and wanted to relieve my stress). As soon as Michael can send his financial letter she can send us all the information about our apartment.

This morning I had coffee with a very good friend from high school. We were talking about following God in obedience, and trusting God each step of the way, even when we can't see the whole picture. She said something about how God keeps us informed on a "need to know" basis, and I thought captured the idea well. God only reveals as much as He thinks we need to know, and then wants us to trust Him with the rest. So, I didn't get this job, but that's OK, because I trust that God will provide. Maybe it will be teaching, maybe I'll be working at Starbucks! Who knows? Only God does. And I am trusting this whole apartment hunt process as well.

Well, I am going to go try to pack our kitchen!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

God does have a sense of Humor

We spent the day continuing to pack. We are getting worried about fitting everything into our small traveling space. I have a feeling Monday will be a lot of packing, re-packing, un-packing, etc.

We got a call today from the apartment complex. They hadn't finished looking at everything, but they thought it looked good. They will be calling us tomorrow morning. My phone rang at 6:30 AM, (9:30 in PA). I knew it would be ringing early because the girl we've been working with on this apartment had a meeting at 10 and said she'd call before that. When I got back into bed after taking her call, I thought to myself, "God has a sense of humor." Here I am praying for patience, and what happens? God gives me another "opportunity" to have patience: I have to wait another 24 hours!

Tonight we had a Good-bye Potluck/Picnic at a local park. It was fun to have friends and family from around come say goodbye. One set of very close friends who we went to Fox with, and lived with in Alaska, and are just very, very close to, came, and it was the last time we'll see them. They have a little boy who just turned one, and they refer to Michael and I as Uncle and Aunt. And, his little brother should be born in a month (I had planned on videotaping the birth if we weren't moving). I am TERRIBLE when it comes to goodbyes, I ball my eyes out, and needless to say this was no exception. Throughout the last couple months, every time we'd start to talk about leaving my friend and I would both tear up, and we'd have to quickly change the subject. So, it was a sad moment. Sad, yet exciting, knowing that each Goodbye is one step closer to our next adventure.

The hardest part is not knowing how long we will be gone. We have a lot of connections in the Northwest, and that is the hardest part of leaving, but maybe it helps us at the same time to know how much support we are receiving.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Letters from WW2

One week until we leave.

Today Michael and I had lunch with his great Uncle Harold and Aunt Betty. Harold was in the army during WW2 and had a whole bunch (70) of letters he had written home during the war. I borrowed them and sat at Chapters all afternoon and read through them all. Fascinating! He kept saying that they were nothing, but to me, there was a lot of rich history and so many stories.

Tomorrow morning early we find out if we got the apartment we applied for. We are hoping and praying, as I learn to be patient.

On another note, Michael's sister and I went to the brand new Ikea that opened in Portland yesterday. I had never been to one and needless to say I am sold! I always assumed they were expensive but was really pleased with the prices, and all the stuff they had. I wasn't sure if there was one in Philly, but Amy emailed me today to tell me she found 3! One is 10 minutes from Michael's college. I can't wait to shop for our new apartment, especially at Ikea.

Monday, July 30, 2007

"It wasn't tragic, just really, really terrible"

That was our motto at the end of Tween Camp.

That, and "No one Died."

I haven't posted in a while because life has been crazy. Michael and I directed Tween Camp, the junior high camp at Twin Rocks. It was one of the most exhausting, tiring weeks I've ever experienced. We had to deal with everything from a head lice break out, to kids piercing themselves, many calls home to parents, pink eye, and so much more that I can't even list. Needless to say, we came home from the week so tired we slept for two days straight!

I was also really sick during the week. One day I skipped beach day to rest, and my phone rang. I listened to the message and it was an assistant principal from PA. I called her back and she asked if we could do a pre-screening interview over the phone. I sounded like a FROG! But, it must have gone well because I received an email a few days later and have an in-person interview set up for when we get to PA.

We just got back from Michael's family reunion in Newberg. It was fun to hang out and meet some new faces, and reconnect with old ones. It was a good time to share with family Michael and my next step in our journey and to receive encouragement.

We leave one week from today. The latest stress has been housing. Most of my young adult life I've realized that I am an impatient person, and God is constantly trying to teach me patience. This is yet another example. We're having issues finding housing because we have to have income verification, which is hard to do when I've been in school all year, and Michael's been working two part-time jobs, and he won't be working and I will be. I got my hopes up a lot about one place, and that door got slammed shut. We found another place, and will find out on Wednesday morning if we meet the minimum requirements. It would be really nice to have a place to live so we could have an address to forward our mail to.

We have a long to-do list to finish in the next week. Here's a sampling:

-Pack
-Buy a hitch/install hitch on car
-Sell Jetta
-Figure out route to PA
-Pick up Trailer
-Pack
-Find an apartment
-Switch utilities
-Forwarding address
-Change oil in car
-Michael finish school work
-Michael finish editor job
-Pick up diploma from Willamette
-Pack up car and trailer
-Clean the house

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Poor Will Always Be Among Us

I am reading The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. It's fascinating. It's a book about the meatpacking industry of the early 1900s. It describes what life was like, especially for immigrants, working in the meat packing and other poverty-inducing industries.

It explains in detail some of the horrific truths, such as human beings falling into the steam vats and disappearing, becoming part of the soap produced from the lard. Or the chemicals and bleach and moldy meat that was not fit for eating, that was all poured into the sausage bins, not to mention the rats and rat droppings, and dirty water, and much more disgusting articles, all thrown into the same bin. And, some would be labeled "premium" and cost more, though it was all the same meat.

It also describes the extreme poverty, and the lack of rights people had. The story focuses on a family from Lithuania that buys a "brand new" house (15 years old) and signs a contract with multiple hidden fees, interests, etc., and are eventually kicked out. Every person in the family must work, down to the children. They are working for mere pennies a day, in the worst working conditions imaginable.

As I've been reading, I've thought about Michael and my current process of trying to go through our stuff, getting rid of what we can't take with us to the East coast. I have realized how fortunate we are to have stuff to get rid of. And I think about this abject poverty that is so heart breaking. The crazy thing is this poverty still exists in our country and in our world. Obviously working conditions and food sanitation laws are improved, but there are still so many in need. This is part of what Michael is looking to do within his Masters program: figure out how to help people in poverty learn to sustain themselves in less-than poverty conditions.

We (our country, the world) have come so far, but at the same time, there are many needs. We know Jesus said there will always be the poor among us, but what does that really mean? And what can we do about it?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

T minus less than 2 months!

Time is ticking away.

Today I sent out 4 more job applications, as well as my application for my Pennsylvania License. Now it's a matter of time for my license to come in the mail. I jumped through all the hoops: Fingerprints while we were in PA, Criminal background check, Child Abuse history, FBI Clearance, Physical exam, application, transcripts...it was a lot of paperwork, but finally I had it all and was able to send it in.

It was a process though. Everything seemed to go wrong today. I forgot my OR License, and I was planning on working on it all this morning in Tualatin while Michael was working (we stayed in town to take friends to the airport last night). Then I rushed home to make the copies I needed and the copy machine at Safeway wouldn't work right (it printed out 11 x 14 documents), so we had to stand at the counter and cut them down. We were trying to make it by 5:00 to the post office. Well, as we neared the post office the road was blocked due to construction. So, I got out of the car and walked to the post office.

I got there and realized I didn't have enough postage on my documents. But it didn't matter anyway because the pick up was at 4:00, and the next one was at 8:45. I forgot my wallet and phone, so I had to walk back to the car to get money from Michael.

All that to say, I will be happy if one of these applications turns into a job.

On a different note, I have been enjoying my summer so far. I joined a local gym in town and work out every day. It's been great. And I've read 4 books in less than a week. Summer vacation is awesome! This is the first summer in years I haven't had a job, though preparing to move is a job in itself.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I'm Official!



Today I packed up my desk at school, turned in my badge, key and parking permit, and was home by 10:30 AM. Tomorrow there is a teacher breakfast that I will go to, but after that I'm done, because all my grades are finished!!

And, my teaching license came in the mail today!

I am officially certified to teach in the state of Oregon.

Now for Pennsylvania...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The End

Today was my last day with my students. It was bittersweet. I am happy that I'm done, but it was sad to see my students (most of them) go. Especially after reading more letters today. They are very endearing.

Instead of writing a bunch of excerpts again, I thought I'd tell stories of some individual students.

There was a group of boys in one of my classes that would be considered on the "fringe." One of them was expelled for a while this semester due to drug-related offenses on campus, another one has a Parole Officer because of vandalism charges (and who knows what else?). These guys rarely missed my class. One of them informed me that my class was "by far" his favorite class, and the other one said he learned more from me than from any other teacher and that students love me. Needless to say the comments from these two were a little surprising/unexpected. One of the girls in my class who tended to sit with this "fringe" group said that last semester these guys skipped a lot and that I made students, including them, actually want to come to class.

In my other class, there was a group of guys who were absolutely obsessed with WOW (World of Warcraft) - Online video game. At certain points in the semester there would be tension in the class because I was constantly having to split this group up because they NEVER stopped talking...about WOW. By the end of the year, we had a fun teasing relationship. These group of guys had some of the best comments in their letters. One boy in particular, who I've been working with all semester to keep his grade up, lingered around my desk at the end of class wanting to know if I had read his letter. This student, as well as many others, had written that they were disappointed on the first day of the semester when they found out I was teaching. But, this student, as well as others, said he was really glad to be in my class. And, he wanted me to know that I am his favorite teacher.

Then there was the comment from a student who literally chose to do nothing all semester, but always came to class, and barely passed class with a D-Minus:

Dear Mrs. Chipple,
I didn't hate your class. I know that doesn't seem like a very great compliment, but I assure you it is. You wouldn't even believe how much I hate school...Not very many teachers give students as much freedom to use their creativity as you did and I really, really appreciate you for that. I enjoyed Mr. W's class more than yours, but don't feel bad because he's my favorite teacher. At first I was a little annoyed to have a student teacher, but you weren't too lame. In fact, you're way better than the majority of teachers out there. I truly mean that. Have a good life.


Well, you can't win them all!

I'll end with the two most significant letters.

One was from a student who I wrote about in February. I had called his dad to tell him he was failing, and the dad chewed me out, saying I was "un-motivating" and boring, and that's why his son was failing. well, This student wrote that after he got used to me as a teacher he began to enjoy the class more and more. That was a big deal to me.

The other student, who I had also called home a few months ago because of a failing grade, changed as well. I knew that at the beginning of the year this student had a hard time with me, I felt he was testing me as a young, female teacher. Well, by the end of this semester things had improved a ton. In fact, during our review game last week he dominated. He told me that he was "sketchy" about me at the beginning of the semester, but said now I am his favorite teacher. Furthermore, he said this class was his best class, with pottery as number two.

I am still reflecting on many of these letters and comments, as well as the semester overall. It's been a huge learning experience and I am still figuring out all the things I have learned and will continue to take with me in my future classrooms.

One thing is that I am less excited about the possibility of only substituting next year in PA, because the chance to really build relationships with students is not there.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

From Students

I thought I would post a few more excerpts from student letters from today. Of course, to me these are more meaningful especially considering the story of the individual student. A few of these made me cry as I read them, knowing the student's full story:

You are a nice teacher and there's not many teachers like that.

I usually don't like history but you made it fun.

You are good teacher and you actually seem like you care.

Some teachers are intimidating, but not you! Mr. V is one of my favorite teachers, and when I found out he was having a student teacher this period, I was sad and upset. But on the first day, I changed my mind. I was glad you were my teacher. You have become one of my favorite teachers.

I actually learned something in this class even though my grade doesn't show it...Thanks for the experience and trying to help me get my grade up an I appreciate it and also you have been the coolest teacher at high school I've ever had, more than California and in Oregon, so thanks for that Mrs. Chapman.

You're a good teacher and you're easy to talk to and you keep your word.

I think you really helped me a lot in a subject I'm not too good in.

You were my hottest teacher and was a plus to even come to class...I hope I have another cute teacher like you.

I thought I'd include the last one for a chuckle!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Journal Entry

An excerpt from my journal from this morning:

It's the last week of school...Finals week. I can't believe it's almost over. We're watching Karate Kid in US history. 1980s.

It's kind of weird that I only have my classes one more time after today. It gets me wondering if any of my students have learned anything, or been affected by this class at all. I think about how it would be cool to see what it would be like to have these students for another entire semester. But I do wonder...

Has this class affected these students at all?
Did they learn?
How did they feel in the class?

I'm hoping that the letters they write me along with the final will give me at least a minor glimpse into these questions.

Most of my failing students have brought their grades up, but there are a few that will still fail.

There are some students I will miss, though I have to say there are less from one class than my other two classes. For some reason I just haven't quite connected as well with one of my classes. I'm still amazed how I can feel like a different teacher and a different person in each class, even if it's the same content or level. Time of day and personalities affect the feel of a class a lot.


One of my students came up to me in the hallway in between classes this morning to tell me that he did well at a tournament he participated in this weekend. We had been talking about it in class, and he wanted me to know how he did. It was nice to know that he cared that I cared. Those are the rewarding little moments that make teaching a blessing.

On another note, I just found out that a guy I went to high school with overdosed on drugs this weekend and died on the way to the hospital. The crazy part is his younger brother died a few years ago in a car accident in town. It's amazing to think about how many people we interact with over the course of our lives. And to what effect?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Real Work

I've been reading a book called "Teacher Man," by Frank McCourt. He also wrote "Angela's Ashes," and "'Tis." All of these books are memoirs about his life as an Irish immigrant.

I picked the book up because of the title, and it's supposed to be an inspiration to teachers. It's been really funny to read some of his struggles as a high school teacher in Manhattan in the 60s, and to compare them to some of my own experiences.

His professors told him that you should never reveal any personal information about yourself, or tell stories to you students. But what they don't teach you in Teacher School is what to do when students start throwing sandwiches during class (McCourt picked it up and ate it), or what to do with the student who is unruly in class, but you know if you call home he will probably come to school the next day with some bruises.

He describes how students, especially high school students, are experts on teachers. They have been in school for ten years or more, and can read a teacher from the second they walk in the door. They know if you are afraid, confident, scared, and they know who is in control.

And his students would ask him, "Did you ever do real work, not teaching, you know, but real work?"

Real work. If they only knew.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Students

Today is the high school graduation, and I had 8 students who had to take the final this week, either seniors or juniors graduating early.

For part of the final I wrote a letter to my students asking them to write me back, telling me what they thought of the semester, and to give me any advice or other feedback.

It's been fun to read the letters, and I'm really excited to read all the rest next week during Finals week.

One student wrote that I am one of her two favorite teachers of all time. This same student also wrote that she remembers the first day of the semester when my "voice was shaking" and I was "playing with" my hands a lot, and that now I'm very confident and has loved my class. I wrote in her yearbook, and she emailed me and said it made her cry!

Another told me that I shouldn't change a thing in my class, that she loved everything about it, and learned more in this history class than any other class she's ever taken.

Another student said that normally she takes the final and stares blankly not knowing anything, and she took it and realized she had learned a lot this semester!

All my students wrote that they loved the projects I assigned and just really enjoyed the variety this semester.

All of these comments were rewarding to read and made me excited about continuing to teach. I will post more comments next week after Finals. Only one week to go!

Today I officially applied for my license, so I should receive it within a week or two.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Hope

I was just watching Oprah. The episode was about a family who was in a limo going home after their sister got married. They were hit by a drunk driver head-on who had been driving 70 m.p.h. the wrong way on a major highway for over 2 miles (and had had at least 14 drinks in his system). One of their little girls was killed instantly, her head completely severed. The mom actually sat on the side of the road as her parents, husband, and kids were peeled out of the limo, holding her daughter's head in her lap. I can't even imagine! The driver of the limo also died. This on the night of a wedding. The couple who got married (aunt of the little girl) said her marriage has been rocky from day one because it started with a death.

The second story was about a grandmother who accidentally backed up over her 3-year old grandson.

The third story was a mother who fell asleep at the wheel and drove into a lake, and her 3 youngest (out of 6) children were killed.

The thing that stuck with me through the show, especially during the first two stories, was the lack of hope the families had. The limo family said that their family has been completely destroyed, and that they wish they could all die, except that their are still 3 other children. It was so sad, because they just sat there basically saying their marriage, holidays, and other relationships are now non-existent, and always will be. They said that everyone around them seems shallow when they talk about their problems, and that they will never be able to relate to others, when they have dealt with this.

The grandmother that killed her grandson was so bitter and angry at herself for making a "mistake," and was basically punishing herself. She said she had looked up the definition of forgiveness (to pardon) and decided she could never pardon herself for what she did.

The redemption came in the third story. The first two had happened two years ago, where this story happened 16 years ago. She was on the show to give the other families some hope, and to encourage them to try to move on.

All of the situations were extremely sad, but I kept thinking about how these people seemed to not know Christ. There is hope in Christ even through tragedy. Our family (the Chapmans) experienced that last summer, and the difference in the grieving process is remarkable. Though we were all sad, we haven't soaked ourselves in bitterness. Not to say that it hasn't been heartbreaking and difficult, but, we have found hope in the future and in God's sovereignty.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Job Hunt

Today I had my last official meeting with my supervising teachers. Yesterday was my last Willamette required presentation. So, I'm officially done and can now apply for my license!! CRAZY!

Obviously, I'm not done teaching, but I only have two weeks left with that as well. My students are doing projects and getting ready for finals, so I feel like I am done planning "lessons."

Today I got my first job rejection. I had interviewed for a job when we were in Pennsylvania, and I found out today that they hired someone else. It's ok, it's just been a frustrating process trying to look for jobs. The system in Oregon is so much easier because the application process is very centralized, but in Pennsylvania it is very random and hard to find jobs.

I have a feeling I won't find one until August, or, I may just end up having to substitute for the year. It would be fine, but not ideal.

It's also bittersweet because the school I've been student teaching at has a social studies position open, and they've made it pretty clear (repeatedly) that they would be thrilled if I wasn't moving and would apply for the job.

Speaking of jobs, I am trying to decide if I should try to find one for the summer. I can only work for 6-7 weeks, with a week of camp and a family reunion in there. So, I am not sure if anyone would hire me for that amount of time.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Graduation!

I'm graduating tomorrow! It's a little anti-climatic because I have to teach for another month, (and have a few more University obligations) but, it's still exciting. Yesterday I picked up my cap and gown and hood. I came home and tried them on for "practice." It was the first time I really felt like I am graduating on Sunday.

Today I am cleaning the whole house since we have family staying with us next weekend for Nick and Lindsay's wedding. It's amazing how quickly a house gets messy with two very busy people who come home and have to work and study all night.

Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Trust

I have been stressing about finding a job in Pennsylvania. Partly because while we were there I interviewed for a job and haven't heard from the school. I have been looking online for jobs, and haven't found too many, but have applied for a few.

The other day I spent some time working on looking for jobs when I was supposed to be working on schoolwork. When Michael found out he told me I need to just stop looking for the next couple weeks and focus on school, and graduation. It was a good reminder.

It made me think about how we had decided to spend the month of April praying about our future, and how we felt that those prayers were completely answered. I realized I haven't been committing this job hunt to prayer, and I need to trust that the Lord will provide in His timing.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Evacuation

Today's Fiasco:

In my US history class, projects titled "The Legacy of Vietnam" were due today. The second group of the day did a project on Napalm. They had created a video that was supposed to show the effects of Napalm (which translates to high school boys lighting anything they can find on fire).

All was going fine until the "jar" came out. This student had asked me if they could use this as part of the presentation. My first clue should have been here, when the student's grandfather was hesitant to let him bring this "jar" to school.

"It's mostly acidic, and will clean up with water," said my student.

"Ok, that should be fine," I replied, stupidly. (Chalk it up to my inexperience?)

After the video came the jar: filled with a substance the students created to simulate Napalm. Yes, red flags went up in my mind. When the lid came off and the styrofoam came out, I still hesitated to stop them. As the boys started shoving the styrofoam in the jar (which immediately dissolved), I was still more anxious.

Suddenly, that last piece of styrofoam went in a little too quickly, and SPLASH! went the "napalm" all over the table. The room filled with a familiar odor.

"What is really in that?" I asked.

"Mostly acetone, sawdust...and gasoline."

This was the point in which I really started to freak out. GASOLINE!! ARE YOU KIDDING? And the odor was getting stronger! "Clean this up, now!" I started getting nervous about the whole thing.

I walked across the hallway to look for my supervising teacher, who wasn't around at the moment. I walked back into the room and the smell hit me hard!

I opened the window to the room, and told my students to step into the hallway. I know that if they had stayed in their much longer students were going to be getting really sick. I started making phone calls, tracking down my supervising teacher, the student center, and the custodian.

I sent my students to the library, because I realized the room was not safe. The smell started to linger into the hallway.

The custodian was able to focus extra air through the vents into the room, thus diluting the air quickly. I took my students from the library down to another classroom to finish the presentations. By the end of the period, the smell was gone, and only my fears and stressfulness remained.

At one point during the whole mess of getting students out of the classroom and to the library, one student approached me with the need to talk to me. I told her it wasn't a really good time (as I was freaking out in my head, but trying to stay calm), and she said, "but it's about what just happened." She proceeded to tell me that what had just happened was illegal, and was obviously very upset by the whole situation. Immediately I knew she would probably be going home and telling her father about the incident. (The same father who believes that the attack of 9/11 wasn't the work of terrorists, but was planned by George Bush who needed a way to begin a war in Iraq.)

After talking to my supervisors about the whole thing, I feel a lot better, though I am still afraid that I will show up to school on Monday with a list of parents who've called and complained that I allowed gasoline in the classroom. Fortunately my teacher talked to the right people to cover all the bases.

My supervising teacher made me feel a lot better when he told me about how during his first year of teaching he had an assignment/project due during which in one class period he had to evacuate the room due to an aeresol spray gloss (because everyone was sneezing and coughing), another student had to get stitches, and something else happened that I can't remember (something to do with the fire alarm?)

As he pointed out, this was one of those few moments of high school that many of my students will remember for a very long time. Well, at least my class will be memorable for something.

Monday, April 30, 2007

flying and my ears

I'm at home sick.

When I was little I had tubes in my ears twice, and I have a lot of scar tissue on my ears. Sometimes when I fly my ears ache so terribly that my eyes start watering and I get very plugged up. And it hurts TONS. This happened last night flying home. My ears stayed plugged, and even when I got home and got in bed, my left ear was still plugged.

Well, this morning I woke up with my entire left side of my face plugged. And I have gotten progressively worse throughout the day.

So, I skipped track practice, a job interview (wasn't really planning on working there), and even one of my last night classes.

But, we had an amazing time in Philadelphia. Now my focus is to just push through the next 6 weeks of school. I graduate in less that 2 weeks!!!!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Phili Tourists

Today we did the whole tourist-thing in Philadelphia. We went to Independence Hall, saw the Liberty Bell (through the glass-we decided not to wait through the long line), and went to an old Friends Meetinghouse.

We were planning on spending time with one of my old roommates from college, who recently moved to New Jersey. We have been emailing back and forth for a couple weeks, making plans. Apparently, our reference to spending time in the city, and her reference to spending time in the city, meant different things. We were calling each other back and forth today, making final plans before they were going to take off and meet us in the "city."

Suddenly, she called me back and said, "when you say the city, are you meaning New York?" This whole time we were planning, "the city" to her and her husband meant New York City, and we meant Philadelphia.

So, we were all very disappointed to realize that it would be unrealistic and expensive to try to get together after all.

So, Michael and I just spent the day walking around the city.

It's been a fun trip, though we are both exhausted. We came back here to our room, and Michael is totally out on the bed! It's only 8:30 (5:30 back e did find a Starbucks today. And had Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches. Yum!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Quakers and Coffee

I had a job interview today. It went really well. I am really excited to see what happens with this job. I know I need to look at other places, but I've been really excited about this school. I found a few other openings in the area right before we came out here, so when we get home I will keep searching.

The people here at the University have been great. They've been driving us everywhere (including to my interview and back), taking us to dinner (and paying for it), and have been extremely helpful and willing to answer questions and just get to know Michael and I.

We've had some funny experiences/conversations as we mention our affiliation with the Friends Church around here. Out here, everything is named Quaker. The first coffee shop we saw in the airport was called "Quaker Coffee." But, as many know, the Quakers out here are unprogrammed and not Christ-centered.

During my interview today, which is at a Christian school with a very strong spiritual emphasis, the principal noticed my home church was listed as "Newberg Friends Church." He asked me the name of the Christian camp I worked at (he went to college in the Northwest), and I said, "Twin Rocks Friends Camp." At this point he said, "I see you signed our Statement of Faith. Do you have any problems or concerns with it?" I realized he was extremely concerned with the Friends association, assuming that I was not a Christian. It ended up being a wonderful conversation in which I very clearly explained that I am a Christian, and that the Friends in the Northwest are much different than the ones he is familiar with.

We've had similar experiences with most of the people we've talked to, except one professor who had a really good understanding of Quaker-dom. It's been interesting having to explain and clarify as soon as we say "Friends" or "Quaker."

The other thing about this area: NO COFFEE SHOPS!

Actually, they do exist, but no one drinks it like in Oregon. Even the on-campus cafe didn't have any coffee options, not even plain old black coffee...on a college campus!! And we have been STRUGGLING, with the jet-lag and redeye flight. I asked some students and a professor where the closest coffee shop was to campus, and they had no clue. Amazing.

Tomorrow we are going into Philadelphia to do some site-seeing. First stop: Starbucks.

My First Phili Adventure

So, Michael and I are in Philadelphia. We have some good stories of the trip already, and we've only been here since Thursday morning.

We took a Redeye from Portland and arrived here at about 11 AM. We took the train from downtown Phili to the Seminary, where we are staying for the weekend. Public transportation is great, but it was expensive! For taking a short train ride, and having to switch once during the trip, we had to pay $20!! Crazy!

So, after we arrived to the University, we spent some time with an admissions director, ate some lunch, and then Michael and I split up. He went to attend one of the MBA classes, and I went on an adventure to get my fingerprints taken for my teaching license. (For my PA certificate I have to get a whole bunch of background checks, FBI Clearance, child abuse history clearance, and I had to get fingerprinted while I was here).

I had found the directions online, from the train station to the building. So, I set off. I was running a little late, so I found myself jogging to the station. I ended up on the wrong side, and had to run up and around, over a bridge, and back down, to get directly across to the correct side of the tracks.

I had no problem figuring out where I needed to get off the train. The directions seemed simple: Get off the train, walk up the road, cross road x, turn on road y, etc.

Well, as I started “walking up the road,” I realized none of the roads were the correct ones. I started walking by a college campus, (there are over 80 colleges in the area!!) and saw a woman in her 60s or so walking off campus. I asked her where Lancaster Avenue was located, and she told me I was on the opposite side of town. (We figured out that the terrible directions were written without knowing that there was only direction off the train, and thus I should have gone in the opposite direction off the train).

The woman offered to drive me to the building. So, I hopped in her car and we headed across town. We finally found the correct road (I NEVER would have found it by myself, and I needed to be there within the hour. Those directions were terrible!) and started looking for the address number. I saw the number, and decided to just jump out of her car. I thanked the woman for her kindness, hopped out, waited for the crazy traffic, and crossed the street. Apparently, without realizing it, the name of the road had changed, and I was at 950 Country Line instead of 950 Halverford.

So, I started walking again. I figured that if I just walked up the road it would turn into Halverford. After ten minutes I saw a mailman and asked him, and he sent me back the OTHER direction.

Eventually, the road changed and I was able to find the building I needed. I probably ended up walking for a total of 30 minutes. Not too bad, though I had thought it would be a 10-minute or less walk from the station.

At the fingerprinting place, I realized that I had forgotten my confirmation registration information. The short, spunky African-American woman told me no problem. I told her I was here from Oregon. She looked at me, confused, “Oregon, you mean like the state of Oregon? Girl, you came all the way over here for this?” She was hilarious. She told me if we hurried, no one would come check on us, and we were finished in less than ten minutes, though she kept looking over her shoulder to make sure no one was going to come in and “bust her” for letting me fingerprint without the right paperwork. (She did find me in the system, so I’m sure it was fine.)

As I was leaving I asked the woman at the front desk how to get back to the train station. There are two different lines that run through the area, the 100 and the R. I told her I needed the R-line, and she sent me down the street. After at least 20 minutes, I found the station, only to realize that it was the 100 after all.

By this time I was getting pretty tired of walking. Fortunately it wasn’t raining (yet) and I was really enjoying the walk: the trees and all the old brick and stone buildings around here are awesome!

I kept walking down the line. I figured that since I had clarified with the receptionist that I needed the R line, that maybe it was just a bit further down the way. I also knew by now I was no where close to the station that I had gotten off at, and guessed that this must be the next one up. After some more time of walking I decided to ask for directions. I walked into a medical building and spoke with the receptionist. She said, “you’re walking?” Yup! Well, she gave me the directions, and sure enough it was to the next station up. It was a long walk past a couple more colleges (on College Street). But this was the most beautiful part of the whole walk. I finally made it to the train station, and realized the round trip ticket I had bought was a waste. Since I had walked all the way to the next station, I was in the same “zone” as my destination, and therefore didn’t need a ticket. Oh well.

It was a great day for a walk. I arrived back at the Seminary more than two hours after I had left. I spent less than 20 minutes on the train, 10 minutes fingerprinting, and the rest of the time walking. Not terrible, though I realized how out of shape I am!