Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Halloween Figurative Language

For Halloween, I wanted to do something somewhat fun! I knew my kids would be crazy that day so I decided to forgo any whole-group instruction. Instead I settled for Halloween Figurative Language Houses! A couple of weeks before the spooky holiday, one of my moms sent in these black, foam Halloween Houses with stickers to decorate them with. I knew I wanted to incorporate them somehow! What better way than creating spooky figurative language! Since we have been learning our types of figurative language, I thought this would be a fun way for me to assess my students knowledge of fig. language. Before I let their creative juices flow, we went over each type of figurative language and I had a volunteer give us an example of each. Then I told them that they could decorate their houses however they wanted, but their figurative language had to be written on the front of the sheet. They could do however many onomatopoeias that they wanted to, but I would only grade one plus they had to come up with another type of fig. language to write. Then they had to write what type of fig. language they wrote on the back of the paper. Some did great, some did not! Guess that's pretty much how it works all the time. Ha! I took pictures of all of my kids, but I don't want to put them up here for their sake. I took a picture of what they looked like outside of my room. Some have fallen off, but you get the picture. I think they turned out pretty cute!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Doin' the Shuffle

My family is commonly known as the "Slam-a-fords." We are a VERY loud family. We slam back doors, drawers, microwave doors, etc. We are loud when we put the dishes and silverware up, we yell across the house to each other, and we always know when one of my family members enters our house. We are just a loud family. I attribute this to my dads side of the family!

Due to the fact that we are a loud family, our loudness is such a comfort to me. I love coming home and hearing all the sounds of my house. I can be sitting anywhere in my house whether it be my room, the kitchen, upstairs, etc, and know the exact minute that my dad opens the back door. He has such a force to opening it, and then he slams it shut. He is announcing he is home in his own unique way. Jordan has also formed his own unique way of entering our home and so has Jacob. It makes me feel comfortable and happy to be a part of a family who expresses themselves so loudly. It's like we are all yelling, "Lookout world! Here we are!"

Not only does my dad open and shut things loudly, he also has a certain way that he walks with his slippers on. I can hear my dad walking across the house because of his slipper "shuffle." He drags the heels of his feet so the bottom part of the slipper drags on the floor and makes a loud "swish" noise. I often lay in bed at night, and I know exactly what my dad is doing just because I can hear all of the noises he makes! The TV is turned all the way up, then I hear his ottoman being shoved out from under him and scrape along our hardwood floor. I hear his slippers "shuffle" on the hardwoods and then on the kitchen tile. I hear the freezer door open while he shoves stuff around to get to the ice cream. I then hear the cupboard door open, a bowl clang on the counter, and the cupboard door slam shut. I hear the drawer open and a spoon clang onto the granite countertop, and the drawer slam shut. I then hear the ice-cream plop into the bowl, then the water come on while he rinses the ice-cream scoop. The freezer door opens once again and then slams shut. I hear the spoon clang into the bowl and the slipper "shuffle" resumes as he walks back to his chair. It is so comforting to hear the sounds of my family, and I love hearing him in his nightly routine.

Just before he heads to bed each night, I hear him get up from his chair once again. I then can hear him walking back to my room, and I know what is coming up. First he stops at Jacobs room and tells him he loves him and goodnight. Then I see his head peak in my room to tell me he loves me and goodnight. I always smile when I hear those loud "shuffling" footsteps headed back towards my room because it is one of my favorite parts of my day. It makes me feel loved, comfortable, and secure. I love knowing that my dad still takes the time out of his night to come wish his 15 year old son and 22 year old daughter goodnight.

My dad is a very special person. He puts his family before everything, and it is evident in so many ways. My dad is a man of few words, but as I have always said, actions speak louder than words. He has never missed anything that is remotely important to any of us (minus my 10th year old birthday-ha!). He has been at horse shows, piano recitals, basketball games, powderpuff games, sorority functions, birthdays, etc. He never misses a thing. He always lets each of his kids know that we mean more to him than anything.

This post was very random, but I am so very thankful for my earthly Father. Words cannot express how much I love him. Thank you, Daddy!! I love you!

Restaurant Review: Sombra

I decided I wanted to write a review on the new restaurant, Sombra. I love food and I love talking about food, so I decided to go ahead and combine those together! I am not getting paid or doing this in any type of "official" capacity. This is just my opinion on the new place in town!

When you walk into Sombra, you are embraced by old world Mexico. The restaurant has a certain charm that is easy going and makes you feel comfortable. I love the way they have embroidered dresses hanging on the walls, and I love the low wood beams throughout the place. The warm colors they chose portray a Mexico that is untouched by the Mexico that we know- vacation spots and drug cartels.

They have a full service bar which serves wine and liquor that is primarily made in Mexico and South America. Their Margarita is one of the best I have ever had, hands down. I have only had the pleasure of drinking the House Margarita, but they offer several other choices as well. The tequila they offer goes down smooth and has no bad aftertaste or "bite". The bartenders seem to know their business, but they come off a bit high and mighty. I have not had the chance to try any of their wines, but a friend of mine enjoyed the Cono Sur Pinot Noir from Chile.

They offer a full menu of many different options from traditional Mexican to more contemporary Mexican. Off of the appetizer menu, I have tried the cheese dip, guacamole, and quesadillas. The cheese dip was delicious! It is very rich and different from any other cheese dip you will find in town. The guacamole is good, but honestly can't compete with the guacamole at Babalu in Jackson. The quesadilla is delicious only because of the seasoned meat. The grilled chicken and steak are grilled to perfection and have so much flavor. The quesadilla is very plain, which I like although I know some people like theirs filled with vegetables. The quesadilla is under the appetizer menu therefore it is not very big and does not come with any sides. To me the portion and the price don't add up for the quesadilla.

My favorite entree I have eaten has been the Chimichanga with shredded chicken. They offer it with ground beef, but the shredded chicken is the way to go in my book. This entree is served with beans and rice which are good, but they aren't outstanding. I do like the fact that they use farmers cheese in the beans, because it adds a different and unique flavor. The Chimicanga is huge and can easily fill you up. I have also tried the Steak Fajitas, Tacos al Carbon, and Tortilla Soup. The fajitas are delicious, but they do not come with shredded cheese, which I found a little odd. The marinated skirt steak melts in your mouth while your taste buds will burst with flavor! I just wish they included a little more meat with the entree. I ate the Tacos al Carbon with grilled steak, and again, the steak was melt in your mouth good. However, on my plate there were only two tiny tacos and then a ton of rice and beans. To me it is more important to have a good portion of the main dish verses the sides. I have also eaten the Tortilla Soup. I will be honest with you, it was the worst soup I have ever eaten. I actually had to send it back. On the menu it says "prepared table side", so I was very interested in seeing how exactly they prepared it at my table. I was sadly disappointed. They brought me a bowl filled with tortilla strips, chopped avocado, chopped chicken, cheese, and some type of chewy item that looked like dried olives (but tasted nothing like olives). My waiter then poured a lukewarm, salty, brown broth on top of the mixture in the bowl. I was not impressed by the dish and was a little hesitant to taste. The soup was too salty and did not have much taste. The menu seems to have several good items, but several not so good items as well. It really just depends on what you get. My hope is that the owners and chefs realize that they are a new restaurant, so they might have to change up their menu a bit to better serve the community. The portion sizes are not so great, but the prices are not terrible. When my friends and I go, we feel like we have definitely eaten enough and have spent an O.K amount of money. However, when my family goes and my dad and brothers get food and are still hungry when they leave, they don't feel like they have received their moneys worth. Overall, they have great potential with their menu, and I hope to see them expand on that potential!

My biggest complaint with Sombra right now is the service. It seems every time I go there is always a wait, but there are plenty of tables open. I guess they do not enough staff working right now to keep up with the influx of customers. The first time I went to Sombra, I had a question about an item they placed on my table with my appetizer. The waiter had no idea what is was and told us his "guess." The waiter was very friendly about it, but to me if you own a restaurant you need to train your staff on what you are serving your guests! The staff seems to be running around and they don't seem to focus on their tables very well. The servers I have had did not check on our table regularly and have even short changed my friends and me. I am hoping this issue will resolve itself over time, but I sure hope it changes quickly!

This might be a funny thing to comment on, but one thing that really bothers me is the size of the tables and the size of the menus. They decided to go with oversized menus, but they have smaller tables. Therefore the menus take up so much room. They are cumbersome and are hard to use!

Overall, Sombra is a really fun place to go to. It has a fun atmosphere that can lighten your spirits. They seem to have a few chinks to work out, but they have great potential. We have needed this type of restaurant for so long, and it is exciting to see all of the new changes around town! Sombra would be a great place to meet someone for drinks, have dinner with friends, etc. I do not think my family will be going together any more just because of the portion sizes.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my review! Like I said earlier, this was written strictly as an opinion. I hope you get the chance to go so you can experience Sombra for yourself!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Positive Polly

After my series of "Debbie Downer" posts, I figured it was time for me to stop being a "Negative Nancy" and write some things that are positive in my life! They are in no particular order, just things that I am thankful for that make me happy.

1) I am thankful that I am living at home where I have a constant support system.

2) It makes me happy to know that my brother is having the time of his life up at MSU.

3) I love that my kids are sweet and funny.

4) I'm thankful that I am still living in Madison and not stuck up in the Delta all by myself. That would be miserable.

5) I love to see the different personalities in my students that have come out over the past couple of weeks. One little girl is a fashion diva, and always looks so cute. I wore a necklace to school the other day that is a replica of a French design. She said, "Ms. Stentiford, I love your necklace! It looks so European!" I love seeing how God designs each of our personalities, talents, and interests and how they develop at such a young age.

6) I'm thankful that I have the best friends in the world.

7) It makes me happy to see my kids interacting with each other outside of the classroom. The majority of my students are boys, and 5 of them played on the same baseball team this summer and are BEST friends. I swear they talk more than any group of girls that I have ever seen. They are ALL boy, and hit the grass running at recess.

8) I love Friday hugs with my kids.

9) I'm so thankful for my church family at HPC.

10) I'm thankful for my friends that I made at MCE. They have made my life so much better.

11) I love the fact that I am living at home and get to spend time alone with my brother in 9th grade. I know that usually older siblings leave the house and miss their younger siblings growing up. I treasure the moments we spend together. He is learning to drive, and we have a great time in the car together. My parents can't go to "Meet the Jags" night tomorrow, so I get to go support him. I know that if I lived in another town or state,then I wouldn't be able to do things like this!

12) I'm thankful for the blogging community. It has been a great outlet, and I love going to other teachers blogs to read their words of encouragement or advice.

13) I'm thankful that I'm at a school that is not worse than it is. I could be in a MUCH worse situation, and I praise Jesus that He put me at BGS.

14) I'm thankful for the teachers on my team. They are so great. They are so encouraging, and it helps more than they know!

15) I'm thankful for the advice that Anna Morgan gave me- to take time off when I need it. Teaching is just a job! :) I am taking one day off in Sep to go to the beach, and 2 days off in Oct. to go to Portland to see some of my family. I think that it will just about kill me right before and right after my trips, but I'm glad that I'm taking these breaks for my sanity! :)

16) I'm thankful that I have my sweet Mama. She has been amazing, and I don't think I could have managed the first few weeks or manage the rest of this year without her.

That about sums up what I am thankful for these days! :)

Read, Pray, Rest

Today in church this morning, I felt that the sermon was directed just towards me because it was exactly what I needed to hear! In a time where I am busier than I have ever been and more anxious than I have ever been, I needed to hear how important it is to read my bible, give my fears/stresses to the Lord, and rest in fullness of Christ.

To me it seems that all my posts have had a "debbie downer" feel and I really hate that, but the point of me writing this blog is so that I will always remember how I felt during this first year of teaching. (Please don't feel bad if you want to stop reading!!) I want to look back and remember how hard it was and (hopefully) compare it to how much better it is in the future. I have had so many people give me encouragement, and that has been wonderful. But at the same time, it really bothers me when I have all of these people giving me advice and telling me how I can do my job "better." Do they not realize that I am doing the best that I can with the time, money, and resources that I am given? Do they not realize that everything they are saying to me, I have already said to myself a million times? Do they not realize that they are making me feel even worse because I know that I should be doing more, but it's not physically/mentally/emotionally possible? No, they don't realize any of that, so I take their advice and plaster a smile on my face. I know that they mean well, but what I really want is someone who will listen and just be their for me. I am so thankful that I have Amy, who is also a first year teacher and one of my best friends. When we talk, my heart is refreshed because everything she says, I feel the same way! It is awesome to have someone who knows exactly what I am going through and exactly what I am feeling. I have had others who have done exactly what I wished- they listened to me, loved me, and just encouraged me. A huge thank you goes to- my Mama, Rebekah, Amy Dubose, Lacey, and Dr. Mulhollen. I remember conversations that I have had (or at least comments through Facebook), and I really appreciate all that you have said! :)

I had considered not writing this on my blog because I didn't want to be "dramatic" and play for people's sympathy, but I decided to write it so that I will remember it. This past week I had an anxiety attack in my sleep. It was absolutely horrible and nothing like I have ever experienced. For those of you out there who deal with anxiety attacks on a daily basis, you have my prayers! I woke up at 3:30am shaking, shivering, sweating, feeling like I was going to vomit, and it hurt to move. I was so confused at what was going on because I was in between a state of sleep and being awake. It felt like my nervous system was being attacked. I thought maybe I had the flu, but I didn't have fever and it felt different than that. I then started having vivid nightmares about different things happening at school. It was like I couldn't wake myself up enough to stop the nightmares, and I couldn't stop any of the symptoms. It felt like I was this way for about 3 hours, but in reality it was probably only 3 minutes. I then fell back into a fitful sleep and woke up that morning looking terrible, but really not sure what had happened earlier that morning. At school I was telling a teacher about this bizarre experience that I went through, and she immediately told me that I had an anxiety attack because she got them all the time as a 1st year teacher. As she started explaining, it made more sense to me and I agreed that I had an anxiety attack. I do not think that there was one specific instance that brought on the attack, I think it was more the fact that I have been in a state of anxiousness for weeks. I have never had anything like this happen before, so it is all new to me. I am very much a Type-A personality, I like things in order, I like to be good at what I am doing, and I like to feel good about the job I am doing. Well that pretty much has gone out the window! I feel like I am doing a horrible job. I am doing everything that I can possibly do, but it is only the bare minimum. Do you realize how horrible it feels to know that you are only doing the bare minimum, but there is no way to change it? Well to me its the worst feeling ever. I am trying SO hard and doing everything I can do, but it is not enough. I am terrified before the beginning of each week. I go to work and am going a mile a minute until the kids leave, and then I am doing stuff for the next day. There is no time to be creative, to do much differentiating instruction, to pull kids for one-on-one, etc. Honestly, my kids do a lot of worksheets right now (which I HATE, and I know its a huge NO-NO in the teaching world), but it is all I have time to do because I have a million other things that I am figuring out. I am not really sure how to stop this process.

Thankfully people that I talk to tell me that all of this is normal, and that as a first year teacher you can't do much else except the bare minimum. I do believe that I am doing the best that I can, and I do believe that my kids are getting a better education than some. Do I want to be feeling anxious and stressed out all of the time, NO, but I do know that it will get better. I can do my part by putting my trust and fear in the Lord, and I know that I will have peace. I do have exciting times in the classroom when my kids are learning and doing what they are supposed to be doing. In my heart I know that I am doing exactly what I am called to do, and that is going to have to be enough for me right now. :)

If you read all of that, you deserve a medal!

I will leave you with some funny things that my students have said or done:

-"Ms. Stentiford, I want to give you this rock necklace because when I saw the rock, I thought of you!"

-On Wednesday, two of my girls got in trouble while they were in library. I had them both write apology notes to the library teacher, Mrs. Watley. When I looked over one of them, this is what I saw:

I am sorry for what I did. I won't do it again.
From, K

I cracked up when I saw that she addressed it to "Watley" and not "Mrs. Watley!"

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Once again, this post will be a hodgepodge of my thoughts lately! I haven't written anything in a while purely because I wasn't exactly sure how to process everything. First, I want to thank everyone who has called me, text me, facebooked me, or left a comment on one of my posts. I read all of them, and I appreciate them so much. My soul is refreshed and encouraged daily!

We are now into our 3rd full week of school, and I can't believe that so much time has gone by. I feel like I have learned a TON, and I am constantly changing my perspective in the classroom. There is still so much that I do not know, but there is so much that I am figuring out. I think I have written this before (HA!), but one of the biggest changes at my new school is the lack of team teaching. Yes, we plan as a team and we are all friendly, but it is completely different than team teaching. I have learned (and am still learning) how to be completely independent of others and completely dependent on myself. I had my first big breakdown last week, and sweet Amy was there to invite me to dinner so I could sit at her house and cry! We made dinner and watched Friends, the perfect way to change my day around. There wasn't one specific thing that happened, I just all of a sudden felt like a steamroller had hit me. If you are are a teacher, then you know what I mean by "there is so much STUFF you have to do!" There are papers to grade, parents to call, tests to type, homework to plan, centers to plan, lesson plans to complete and type out, school paperwork, weekly newsletter to type, filing old papers, keeping yourself (and the students) organized, differentiating instruction, ETC. I can usually handle it and deal with the stress, but I just got worn out last week. I have to learn how pace myself, and this week has been much better.

I would like ask all of you to please pray for the Lord to give me patience and grace to show to these babies! I truly do LOVE my students and think they are precious, but oh my goodness can they frustrate me. They have absolutely NO idea how to read AND follow instructions, and they are constantly asking me the same questions 25 times a day. I know it doesn't sound bad, and you might think "oh then just make sure that you speak all of the instructions and write them down". I do BOTH of those things for everything that we do. I am learning at what pace these students learn at, and so it is a constant balance of keeping them busy, but not overwhelming them. So please pray for me to speak with the love of Jesus because goodness knows I need it and they need it. :)

I have titled this post "Independence" for two reasons. I already mentioned above that I have had to adjust to being on my own in the classroom. I am also learning how to be independent in my everyday/social life. To take you back a few years..I graduated with a high school class of 10. 8 girls, 2 guys. Throughout college, I stayed close friends with several of those girls. At Mississippi State, I lived with 3 of my close friends, 2 of which I graduated high school with. We did everything together, and I loved every minute of it. The Kristin you see with her best friends and the Kristin you see in a big crowd of people that she doesn't know is completely different. My mom likes to say that I have a "stone face" when I am in a social situation with people that I do not know. I am not forward, bubbly, won't go introduce myself to others, etc. It's really weird, and I know it's because of all of my insecurities. Well being back in Madison, I have had to learn how to live my life without my best friends with me at all times. Last semester was a really hard adjustment, I'm not going to lie. (This post is going somewhere, I promise!) I also was having difficultly figuring out where I wanted to go to church. Through a series of events, the Lord put on my heart for me to go to Highlands which I was thrilled about. They have put together this new group of young adults who are all in their 20's, singles and married, but no one has kids. I have had to learn to be myself right off, I have had to walk into a room full of people that I don't know without my friends, and it has been great. I pray SOOO hard before social settings that the Lord would give me peace and a sense of security. Because I have given my fear to my Lord, I have been blessed with this amazing peace and it has been so fun. I have loved getting to know new people! I feel like I am in the perfect place because Highlands is my home church so I feel comfortable, but I am meeting all of these new people.

If you read all of that, then give yourself a pat on the back! I know it was a lot, but I wanted to write down all of my thoughts before I forgot them. I hope that everyone is excited about this 3-day weekend coming up. Goodness knows I am! We are headed to a friends lake house, and I can't wait for some fun in the sun.

"Now faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see." Hebrews 11:1

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Survival Mode

I have survived my first full week of school! I feel that since I came out alive, then I can face the rest of the school year. This week was wonderful in so many ways. Each day got better and better. My students are sweet and hard workers, the other teachers have been encouraging, and most of all- I SURVIVED! :) I never felt discouraged or that I couldn't do the job. I just feel like I can't be a great teacher right now and that bothers me. I expect things out of myself that I cannot reasonably achieve. I go into the other teachers classrooms and see their centers, KWL charts, etc and cringe because there is none of that in my classroom, and I feel like I am failing as a teacher. But I honestly cannot be doing anything else. I am trying to keep my head above water by just doing what I can. I plan for the week ahead, but am changing things day-to-day. I see things that aren't working in my classroom and so I will change it for the next day. I feel so bad for my students because I keep changing routines and procedures around on them- poor dears! People keep asking me if I am a strict teacher, and I have to say yes and no. Yes because I expect my students to behave, but no in the sense that I feel bad for them since I keep changing everything up on them! I try to be a little lenient because I know it's hard on them. (I know this post is all over the place. Please bare with me!) I keep telling myself that it's only the first week and things will keep getting better. Each week means a steadier pace, an easier routine, and it means that I will keep figuring out what works best for me and my classroom. I don't feel like my students are learning anything, and that makes me feel horrible! I really do feel like I am doing my best- it's just not enough! AH! So frustrating! :) Many people have told me that the first year is awful, that I am feeling normal, that at the end of the year the students really will do well and graduate to the 5th grade, and that the 2nd year is a little bit better, and the 3rd year is when you feel like a seasoned teacher. I am so thankful to have this job, and I am thankful to be at the school where I am at. I know I am there for a God-ordained reason, and am excited to see how He works in me and through me this year. My prayers is that my students see the light of Jesus Christ shining through me even when I am frustrated and frayed!

On a different note, I am excited to say that I am a new small group leader for the 8th grade girls at my church. I grew up going to HPC, and loved the youth group. I have so many memories that involve youth friends and lots of trips! This past year I had been praying about where I would go to church when I moved back to Madison. Through a series of events, the Lord has put on my heart to stay at my home church. There is a new Sunday community group for people in their 20's which I am thrilled about! This weekend we had a 1 night small group leader retreat, and it was deja vu! My old youth pastor is now the pastor of youth and families, and he lead the retreat. It is such a wonderful feeling to know that I grew up in this church and had wonderful people invest in my life. I hope that I can be one of those "special people" for the 8th grade girls! Even though sometimes (or all the time) I feel like I am back in 8th grade and not an adult with a real job! HA!

I am now laying in bed (at 8:15pm), and I am about to turn out the lights! Here's to a new week!