Side Hustle

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Teaching is my passion. It’s been a roller coaster ride of emotion, but I always seem to find my way back to a place where I am truly happy with what I do. One of the reasons that I got fired up about creating my own lessons and assignments is my discovery of Teachers Pay Teachers, a place where educators can buy and sell units, worksheets, quizzes, tests, etc. At first, I just used it as a way to save time by not reinventing the wheel when I needed to spice up a stagnant lesson. It’s so much easier to pay $1-$5 (my personal spending limit) on a ready-made assignment than to spend the time to think up and type out my own.

Then my job changed, and I was going to be teaching two grades that I hadn’t for the past few years, and I had the freedom and autonomy to decide what I wanted to do with my classes. Enter TPT. I realized as I was writing these new units that I could put them on TPT and maybe make a few bucks on the side. Well, I made over $100 the first month that I started selling products. It’s not much, but it was pretty exciting each time I would hear the cash register chime on my phone. Aside from the money, the best thing that happened was that I got excited to be creative and think outside the box about what I was teaching. That used to be the norm for me, but I had gotten away from that, simply using what was already available.

It’s been almost a year since I began selling, and sometimes I only make $20 in a month, but it’s passive income from something that I was going to be creating anyway. I’m excited to try some new ideas in the coming year, and see if I can really ramp up the creativity and interaction in my own classroom!

You can visit my store here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Johnstons-Ela-Gems

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Friend or foe?

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I’m not a good friend. I’ve realized this recently, and honestly, it came as a bit of a shock. I thought I was a great friend. Here is my thinking: If there is an issue in your life that involves several different people from different areas in your life, then the common denominator is you. Enter self-scrutiny.

Now, I know I’m a dark, twisty, sarcastic weirdo, but hey, I’m a hoot. And I know that I’m kind of a homebody, but I’ve been branching out a lot in the last year (read actually leaving my house). I recently had a holiday get-together, and people came, but not as many as I would have thought. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the flu going around, maybe people just get too busy around the holidays and I should have planned it for another time. There are a multitude of perfectly acceptable reasons why people didn’t or couldn’t come. Maybe it’s just low self-esteem? Nah!

Now I will say I was pleasantly surprised by some of the people who did come, and we had a wonderful time. I got to see some people I hadn’t seen in a while, but when you have to throw out large containers of bloody marys and sangria, clearly you over-estimated the attendance at your event.

Friendship gets harder in adulthood. Work, kids, spouse, illness, napping- all these things can prevent the best laid plans from happening. I know that I am guilty of a three year, self-imposed hibernation brought on by depression. It’s a miracle I have any friends at all after that one. I guess I just want to know what I can do to reignite the friendships that have stagnated over the years.

I’m not whining, even though it probably sounds like it, I am genuinely interested in the solution to my problem. Do I reach out more? Less? Have more opportunities for friends to get together? Simply call or text more? Seems easy enough, right? I should take my own advice, but I’ve never been good at that, even when I know what I should do. I can sure come up with a sarcastic comment about it!

Who is that old lady in the mirror?

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Who is that old lady in the mirror?

Have you ever stumbled into the bathroom in the morning, bleary-eyed and uncaffeinated, only to look up and not recognize the face staring back at you? Yeah, me too. I don’t know if it’s because we are actually having a winter in Texas this year or what, but my skin looks horrendous. Don’t even talk about the fact that my birthday is a month away. Just don’t.

I have more trouble with my skin now than I ever did when I was a teenager. And I’m such a cheapskate that I’ve been using baby soap and Cetaphil as my beauty regimen for years. Now I’m actually contemplating making purchases like lip serum for $60. What?!? Hey, I might have to go there. TJ Maxx has all kinds of fancy shmancy beauty stuff, and it’s discounted. I’ll probably start with some of that.

The weird thing about this is that I just made the decision not to color my hair and see what happens with the grays. And I’m okay with it. It doesn’t bother me. Yet. There are some gorgeous women with gray hair, and I think I could pull it off. Maybe. Maybe if my skin didn’t look like an ad for needing Proactiv or Clearasil I’d feel more confident about the grays.

There is a slight chance that all of this is a way for me to deal with the fact that my oldest daughter is beginning her last semester of high school, and every time I think about her going to college I can’t breathe. I could be focusing on my face because I can fix that, and I can’t make her stay with me forever. I can’t wrap my head around what it will be like when she goes off to find her own life in a few short months. Don’t get me wrong, I’m THRILLED for her. She has done some really hard work in the past year to get to where she is, mentally and emotionally, to make the decision to spread her wings and go away to school. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

But…

She’s so little.

😦

Back on the wagon

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Most of you know that I began a journey toward physical and mental health in May of 2016. I used the Atkins diet to help me with both because it is the right plan to help balance blood sugar and combat sugar crashes due to hypoglycemia. A great side effect is weight loss (one of the more pleasant side effects).

Recently I began to realize that I have become re-addicted to sugar as I haven’t been sticking to a strict plan because I don’t want to lose anymore weight. I know, what an awesome problem to have, right? Y’all, this sugar thing is no joke. Right before I got back on the wagon, I was craving sugar all day long. All I could think about was sweets. And it doesn’t help that my wonderful students gave me quite the array of chocolate and baked goods for Christmas. I had to eat them. I don’t want to hurt the kids’ feelings!

So as soon as I returned to work on January 2nd, I was determined to detox. I find that can control my food environment WAY better at work than at home. I have been meal planning for the last month and a half, so I just started planning my work breakfasts and lunches as well. Yesterday, I got to work in the kitchen pre-making all my food for this week. I made Cauliflower Breakfast Muffins (photo and recipe included below), tuna salad, and a Sausage and Cabbage Skillet meal (photo and recipe included) that fed us last night and made me 3 lunches for work. Never mind that I almost destroyed our kitchen in a sugar detox rage when I realized we didn’t have any mushrooms for another recipe I had planned to make. We’ll just concentrate on the positive.

I’m beginning this week with high hopes that no one brings cupcakes (like they did last week) or brownies to work. Hopefully I can spare my sweet family anymore sugar rages, but I make no promises.Cauliflower Breakfast MuffinsHere’s the recipe and the link if you want to save itKielbasa and Sausage SkilletI’ve included this link as well. Enjoy!

I need some catharsis

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What to do, what to do. I had a pretty horrid experience last night that is making me wonder if I have truly gone over the edge. Maybe my 3 readers can help me decide if I’m nuts. Last night, my youngest daughter had freshman orientation at the high school she will start next week. My older daughter will be a senior. A bit of backstory, this is the high school that I used to work at. I was there for 3 years teaching English and coaching cheerleading. When the second high school in our town was full, they needed to shift some people around to accommodate changing student populations, and they sent me back down to the middle school I had worked at previously. I was CRUSHED. I had worked for 10 years to finally get the job there, and I would have happily worked there until retirement. I questioned my worth as a teacher, and even as a person, when all of this went down.

So try to imagine going back up there with both of my kids to enroll them in the school that, in my view, threw me away. It SUCKS. I didn’t have to do much for my oldest because she isn’t a school spirit kind of girl. Don’t get me wrong, she’s in varsity choir and did yearbook for two years, so she is involved, just not in things I need to be up at the school for very often. Enter my little one. She made the dance team her freshman year. Which ROCKS. It will give her an immediate identity in that school, which is so important. It also means that I have be up at the school quite a bit more often than I have in the past.

It hurts.

It makes no logical sense. I love my job now more than I ever thought I could love a job, and I know I am where I am meant to be. But the resentment runs deep, my friends. When the AP that helped get rid of me pretended not to know me last night, when my daughter’s schedule wasn’t right and the counselor was kind of a jerk, when I realized we had waited all this time for her schedule, and she still wasn’t going to know where her classes were, well I just lost it. Full on tears of complete frustration. I despise that school, and it’s where my kids go. I know it hurts me more than it hurts anyone at that school, and I know it’s not right for my girls. I know all the logical things, but my darn emotions don’t care about logic, no matter how loudly I yell at them.

I’m hoping that writing about this brings me some catharsis about this topic. It can’t hurt, right?

Summers off? Ha!

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Have you ever dared to say these words- “You’re lucky you’re a teacher. You get the summers off”?  If so, you should be throat punched. Or maybe you need to know what most, not all, teachers do during the summer.

For the first week, we try to sleep in, but our internal clocks won’t let us, so we still wake up at the butt crack of dawn. We try to relax on the couch to un-fray our nerves from the last week of school, but we can’t really sit on the couch without feeling guilty about all the things we “should be doing”. Like cleaning, grocery shopping, entertaining our kids who are also on summer break. You know, parental stuff. Or, we should be planning the curriculum for next year because we won’t be teaching what we have taught for the last ten years, instead, we will be teaching two new classes, so we have get ready. Oh, and we’re moving classrooms, so we had to bring home all of our “school junk”- as my hubby likes to call it- so we really need to go through that and purge some of the materials we have had for 157 years and never touched. But do you know what we think when we contemplate doing any of this?

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No, no, no, no, no…

So, of the 8 weeks we get for summer break, a couple are probably spent in some sort of professional development, maybe we go on a vacation with our family, and the other time is spent prepping, and planning, and combining, and curating, so that when we return, we have a chance to maintain our sanity.

Now, let me clarify. I LOVE my school. I am PUMPED to be teaching new classes because I get tired of hearing myself talk about the same things over and over. I am OVER THE MOON about my new room, and I have probably spent WAY too much on my vision for the new space- think flexible seating, coffee shop atmosphere, black/gold/silver/gray- it’s going to be so beautiful…I hope. So I have assigned many (okay all) of these tasks to myself. I could wait until we return to work on July 31st, but that is NOT how I roll. I am a planner extraordinaire, and I DO NOT fly by the seat of my pants if I can help it.

I guess I’m just trying to say that most teaching professionals that I know never stop working, they just aren’t in front of students for 9 weeks in a row. Instead they are anticipating the time when they will be in front of students again, and they want to make it as smooth a transition back into the school year as possible.

So if you see a teacher, please don’t utter that phrase. It’s insulting. It’s false. And it’s rude. Just say thank you, and maybe buy them a cocktail.

Are they ready?

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As of next Thursday, my husband and I will have a senior and a freshman in high school. What? When did this happen?

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Celebrating the tiny one’s 14th birthday

I’ve been thinking about this craziness for some time. My husband and I have talked extensively about the fact that we only have a couple more years with our girls under our roof. It’s TERRIFYING.

Have we prepared them? Have we sheltered them? Have we given them too much? Have we not given them enough? Can they make it in this crazy world, or should we move somewhere that lets you have basements in your house? Texas bedrock doesn’t allow for basements, and my hubby and I aren’t moving to another state, so that’s out. Let me just say, our girls are wonderful in many ways. They make good grades, they don’t do crazy stuff (that we know of), they like to spend time with us…and all of that is great. But have we instilled common sense? Do they have a good work ethic? Can they keep themselves safe? Is this world going to be harsh to them? I can’t answer those questions with any certainty, and it is maddening.

Our oldest hyperventilates at the thought of anything resembling adulting and HATES driving. Our youngest is convinced that she wants to move far away for college, and she is ready to drive NOW, even though she’s got a couple of years before that’s an option. Polar opposites, as usual. Sometimes I wonder how they could grow up in the same house with the same parents and end up so vastly different.

All of that aside, I’m not confident that either one of them will be okay because this world is MESSED UP. Have we given them the strength of character to make rational decisions in the face of pressure from others? Can they keep their living space clean enough to avoid contracting a flesh-eating virus? Can they navigate the grocery store and keep themselves fed? You think I’m kidding. I’m not.

And I did this. I guided them to this, right? Well, my husband and I. So WE, we did this. Did we cripple them by giving them too much of this and not enough of that? It’s keeping me up at night, this anxiety. And I can’t fix whatever I should fix because, number one, I don’t know what to fix, and number two, I only have a year to do that for the oldest. Not enough time. Never enough time.

You know what I can and will do? I will LOVE them. Fiercely. And if that means pushing them outside the comfort zone we have created so they can start to make their own decisions, then so be it. If it means that they get mad at me because I’m making them do things they don’t want to do, fine. I have to do this. I have to give them everything I can before they go out in the big, bad world.

I wish parenting came with a manual.