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:

Watley,
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

Independence

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!

Monday, August 8, 2011

2011 Classroom Tour!

I have always been interested in classroom decor. Even when I was a student in the classroom, I felt like I could know the teacher based on how he/she decorated his/her room. Needless to say, the past four years I have spent dreaming about what it would be like to have my own classroom! I knew that a classroom library and reading center would be a crucial component in my plan. I have always loved to read, and I feel like it opens up so many doors to people. I also knew that I would want my classroom to be organized and non-cluttery. Well as a teacher, it is very hard to be non-cluttery because teachers have so many materials. As a first year teacher, I am sadly lacking in math manipulative and teaching materials, but I hope to add to my small collection very quickly. Hope you enjoy the tour and get a small glimpse of life in my classroom! :)



^ The classroom library and reading center is what you see when you walk straight in the door! There can be no more than two students in the reading center at one time, unless they are browsing.



^ This is to the left of the library/reading center. Thanks Amy for helping me make the valence and all of my pillows! The project turned out great. :) I have 3 student computers, and I am very thankful for those! The boxes on the table are going to be where the students put handouts, worksheets, white boards, etc. That table will also be where they turn in homework, quizzes, tests, etc.



^ This is the view from my desk, which is in the back left hand corner. The board in this picture will be my main teaching board. I don't have a Smart Board, but I have a overhead and computer projector! The books under the board will be distributed to students on the first day, I just didn't have anywhere else to put them! I will hang up the "classroom rules" sign above the board in the middle of the other two signs up there. The rules need to be front and center. Ha!



^This is the view when you walk in to the left. I have the class calendar, rules, procedures, etc on the blue part. I will write homework and morning work on the white board. The school is implementing a "traffic light" behavior system and the students names are magnetic, so it had to be on one of my white boards. I have the cupcake that my mom painted, and I have each month printed out on fun colored paper. I will write the birthdays for that month and then stick it on the cupcake canvas! I thought it was a fun idea that is a little different than other classrooms.



^This is my desk! I positioned my desk at a place where I would be able to see who is entering and exiting my room, and so that I can see all stations around the room.



^This huge piece of furniture was left by the previous teacher, and I am so thankful for it! It is positioned to the right of my desk area. All of the white baskets are the students "cubbies". Each basket has a number that correlates with a student. Their books will be kept at their desks, but I need a place where they can put their "overflow" materials.

I hope you have enjoyed the tour around my classroom. I have had so much fun setting it up, and I can't believe that we have open house on Tuesday and then school starts Wednesday. Time is flying!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Just Keep Swimming

Remember Dori on Finding Nemo and the song she used to sing? "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming." Well that is how I feel right now. I am trying to swim, but I am stuck in the deepest part of the ocean and I can't see the light just yet! I know that this year of teaching is going to be incredibly rough, but I also am still young (and inexperienced) enough to think that I can change the world. Well maybe I know that I can't change the world, but I can certainly change the minds of my 4th graders. I have dreams for my classroom. I hope that it can be a fun place where my kids can be themselves, but I also want them to learn. I want them to be focused, and I want them to get what I try to teach them. I want it to be an atmosphere that is encouraging and not controlling. Again, I know that that this is an extremely idealistic point of view. I am enough of a realist to know that my dreams will most likely be crushed, and that this will be the hardest year of my life. I want this blog to be a place where I can write my feelings out. I want to remember my highs and lows of this year.

Today was the first day that I was able to go to my classroom!! It was exciting, yet discouraging. Exciting because I now have my very own classroom. I have been working towards this day the past 22 years of my life. From the time I was young, all I wanted to do was be a mommy and a teacher. I know without a shadow of a doubt that the Lord has called me to this profession. With His will and guidance, I know that I can be a great teacher. However, as a first year teacher I am obviously completely unprepared for this year. Those of you who know me, know that I am a planner to the extreme. I am a big picture thinker, and I love to think ahead. But I literally cannot see the big picture. I have so many questions that cant be answered by another teacher, they are answers that I have to learn for myself by going through the motions.

I came home today and sat in my moms bed and cried for the 1st time. (I'm not really sure that it bodes will for me to have already cried before I even begin my job!) I cried because I am extremely overwhelmed. I know that I don't have enough instruction materials, I have no idea of how to even begin that first week of class. Do 4th graders know their multiplication facts? If not, how do I even begin to teach that?! What is a word that is too hard for them to spell? Is Charlottes Web ok to begin reading with them the 1st week of class, or do they need to work up to that book? Where do I want them to put their supplies? Do I want to have my makeup folder by the door or by my desk? What do I put in the supply cabinet? Do I put all of the students supplies or my supplies? Where do I put the reading center? What math manipulatives do I need to buy? How do I go about buying them? As you can see, I have many questions. On top of these questions are about 1000 more (just ask my poor mother, she sat and listened to all of them).

I know that this year is going to be an incredible year in so many ways. It will be incredibly difficult. It will be incredibly exciting. It will be a year of incredible growth as a teacher and in my walk with the Lord. I know that Jesus will continue to sanctify me throughout this process. I am so incredibly excited, but also incredibly terrified!

These next few weeks I will continue to swim through the deep water and be gasping for breath. But I do know that the light will come soon, and all I have to do is just keep swimming!

"For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver." Psalm 66:10

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Family Vacation!

Our 2nd annual family reunion is coming up in just a few short days. All of my moms' side of the family are heading to Galveston, TX for a week of fun in the sun! Last year we went on a 7 day cruise to Cozumel, the Grand Cayman Islands, and Jamaica! Here are a few pictures from last year.












This year we will be staying in Galveston and hanging out at the bay house. Since we can't all sleep at the bay house, we are staying at the Diamond Beach Resort! It is absolutely beautiful. It has three pools and a lazy river that I am sure to enjoy. Since Pops lives on the bay, we will be able to see all the 4th of July fireworks that go off in Gavleston, Kema, and Houston! It will be a great show. We are planning a girls shopping day in Houston and a family trip to Schlitterbahn, which is an awesome water park in town.

All of the cousins are so excited, and we are so thankful for our time together. The Lord has blessed us with a close-knit family, and they are priceless. I know that it will be a week filled with laughter, fun times, and many memories! My moms sister, Bonnie, lives in Oregon so we don't get to see their family as often as we would like. Marie also moved out to California, so we don't get to see her often anymore either. Even though it's only once a year, we cherish our time together. I am so happy to know that I not only call my cousins my family, but my friends as well. There is nothing that we would not do for each other, and for that I am certainly blessed!

I am flying out tomorrow and will arrive a few days before the rest of the crew gets to the island. I am going to help Nana and Pops get ready for 26 people to bombard their house! We have lots of errands to run and grocery/Sam's Club shopping to do. I am looking forward to my last week of vacation because when I get back its time to get a head start on the school year!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Praise the Lord!

As I put on Facebook earlier, I am now an employee of the Yazoo County School District. I am beyond thrilled! The school that I am working at was my top choice of schools, and I am so thankful to be working there. I found out while I was in Switzerland (how cool is that?) that they wanted to offer me a 4th grade position. It was the only place where we had Internet 24/7, so I was able to communicate with the principal very quickly.
Once I got home, I called the school to make sure they had emailed the right person! HA. It was just so hard to wrap my head around it while on the trip. I talked with the principal and she encouraged me and said that she was excited to have me. This past week I was able to see my classroom and meet two of the teachers who I will be working with. There are four 4th grade teachers, so thankfully I will have 3 other teachers as my support system!
I am slightly (ok maybe extremely) overwhelmed! I am not sure what I need to do for preparation, and it is not something that the other teachers can just tell me to do. They were able to answer my questions, but it seemed with every answer I had more questions! I didn't want to be annoying so I tried to keep my questions down to a minimum. If you know me, then you know this was not easy! I am a planner, and a "big picture" girl. Right now, I am not sure what to be planning for and I have no idea of any type of "picture" of how the school year will go.
I am very excited to start looking at the curriculum and frameworks. I also can't wait to decorate my classroom! My mom has given me some great canvas paintings over the last few months, and I can't wait to put those on my walls to spruce up the place a bit.
I am over the moon about teaching, but I am also terrified! I know that I will mess up, but I will put my heart and soul into teaching those precious children. God has given me a gift of loving children, and I want to do all that I can for them. I am praying for my students right now. I know that they will be in my classroom for a reason, and I hope that I can show the love of Jesus to those kiddos. I know this year will be rough (for many, many reasons), but I am confident that I can do the job. I loved student teaching, and I am excited about having my own classroom.

Thank you Jesus for my job!!!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rome

Rome was really great. Out of all of the Italian cities that we went to, it was the most "city" like. It was very Americanized and was extremely touristy. We arrived in Rome around 4pm. We had to wait on the street for about 45 minutes for someone to come let us in our apartment. The area that we stayed in was not unsafe, but we felt like it was because we were targets with all of our stuff sitting on the street. It was like we were yelling "3 girls are staying ALONE in an apartment with all of their stuff!" Not good. Anyways, someone finally came and she spoke no English. We got on an elevator that was probably installed the year that elevators came out and rode to the 5th floor. (Note-we used the stairs the rest of the trip.) The lady showed us to our apartment which was not great but not terrible. We decided that we needed some food and we needed to go explore Rome a little bit! I suggested that we try our key to make sure that it worked and we knew how to use it before everyone went out of the apartment. Thankfully we did that because we literally could not get our key to open the door. All 3 of us tried to open it for like 45 minutes. We then spent another 45 minutes trying to communicate with a company who only has Italian speaking employees. We finally got in touch with someone and they said that a man would come by around 8pm to let us in our apartment. We were exhausted, frustrated, and starving. We decided to leave and go get dinner from a nearby place and then go back to the apartment at 8. Well the only place around there was a a place that is not even a restaurant. Imagine an American gas station but without having gas. That is where we ate. It was disgusting. We were all pretty discouraged and very unhappy. BUT we sat there for a few moments and then we all decided to change our attitudes! WE WERE IN ROME!!! So we laughed (sorta) and reminded ourselves that we would one day laugh about that night. We split a pizza and decided to really go eat after we figured out how to get in our apartment. Long story short (kinda) the man let us in, and off we went to explore! We found a nice restaurant a couple of blocks away and had dinner. We walked back at like 10pm, and we didn't quite feel very comfortable. We basically ran back to our apartment, ran up the stairs, and locked the door! We got ready for bed, promised to readjust our attitudes (again) for the next few days and hit the hay.

The next morning we stopped by a coffee/pastry shop and then headed to the Colosseum! It was an incredible experience. Aside from communion in Westminster Abbey, this was my favorite touristy thing that we did the whole trip. Knowing the history that had happened in the colosseum, especially what happened to christians in there made the whole experience very real. I have read A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers a million times, and the way that she brings the colosseum to life is vivid. When I walked into the colosseum I pictured what she had written about and I was in awe. I almost felt bad to take a picture and smile inside of there because so much evil had gone on in the arena. I was moved to tears at one point just because of the emotions that were running through me. We then headed to the Roman Forum and Capital Hill. We stopped by Mamertine Prison which is where Peter and Paul were held in jail.

We saw the Pantheon and we loved that area of town. If you are heading to Rome, then stay in that area! It had lots of quaint restaurants and a fun atmosphere. We got gelato from Giolitti's which is Rome's most famous and oldest gelato place! It was AMAZING. I got a pistachio and chocolate cone the first time and then a chocolate and cinnamon cone the next time. They also put a dollop of fresh whip cream right on the cone. Delicous! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. We walked by the Spanish Steps and there were tons of people sitting on them. They were also a lot smaller than what I was envisioning.

Rome was a great city, but I would not necessarily want to go back. There are other parts of Italy that I would want to go back to and lots of new places that I want to go to. I am so thankful for the opportunity to go, and I will always remember my time in Rome!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Italy!

I wrote this post on my phone, so I am sure that there are lots of errors! It's
not very detailed either.
 
Italy has been amazing! We have eaten the best food, met the best people, and it's cheap. My kind of place! We started out in Monterossa, which is part of the Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terre js a 7-mile part of the Italian west coast, and is made up of 5 very small towns. We stayed in the one most North. We arrived in Monterossa around 4, and we were greeted with a beautiful view of the mediterranean sea in front of us, and mountains behind us. It was the perfect vacation spot. There were lots of Americans and visitors, but it felt authentically Italian. We walked around the town, and then went to dinner. I ordered a caprese salad and pesto pasta. Amazing! The tomatos in the salad were the best I have ever had. They were fresh and a vibrant red. The mozzerella was tender, salty, and yummy. The pasta was not overpowering with basal in the pesto, but just the right amount. We then headed out for some gelato!
 
The following day we hiked through the 5 towns, starting in Monterossa. The first two hikes were hard, but oh so worth it! We walked through small Italian farms on the sides of the mountains, and we had the view of the ocean the whole time. After our hike, we headed back to Monterossa. We pretty much bought out the town! Ha. I bought some wine from that region, evoo, pesto, and the cutest coffee cups! We decided to go get some wine. In Italy when you order wine, they bring you olives, potato chips, and peanuts. All very random, but delicous. We stayed and ate dinner there. We then headed back to pack up! 

We arrived in Florence the next day, and checked into our convent! Ha. We stayed in the convent, and it was so cute. The nuns were so sweet. We have enjoyed Florence! We have all bought lots of leather items, including a great purse that I am so excited about. Yesterday we went to the Academia to see Michealangelo's David. It was impressive, and he was a lot bigger than I thought he would be. We then went to the Uffuzi Gallery. We were told that it takes 2 hours to go through. It took us 20 minutes! 

We are headed to Rome later today, and we are excited. I think that the buildings we see there will mean the most to us because we can relate to the history a lot more. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Climb

Today was our last day in Switzerland so we decided that we wanted to go See a few of the mountain towns that Rick recommends. Our plan was to take the train to Lauterbrunnen, hike to Murren and walk around, take a cable car to Gimmelwald and walk around, then take a cable car to Schlithorn train station, walk back to Lauterbrunnen, and then take the train back to Interlaken. In my mind, I'm thinking that it's a lot of walking. I was reassured by our hotel people who said that the hikes were not bad. I also refused to think about it because then I wouldn't do it. If you know me at all, then you know that I am a non-hiking, non-outdoorsy, and non-strenuous activity type of person. 
We arrive in Lauterbrunnen and purchase our lunch. We follow the signs to Murren. The signs point us straight up a mountain, excuse me, an Alp. I thought to myself that maybe this was just the first little bit, it soon became obvious that my wish was not so. The entire hike was uphill. I really wish that someone could have heard the thoughts going on in my head today. It went a little something like this- "I am going to kill Rebekah and Martha for making me do this. I do NOT want to hike up an Alp. I cant do it, I think I might die. Oh crap. I'm having a panic attack, I can't breathe, Lord please help me. Kristin do not say anything out loud or you will regret it. Ok I have 2 ways to do this. The hard way, which is what I have been doing, or I can rely on the strength of my Savior. Ok Jesus, I need help. I can't do this alone, I think I might pass out. Jesus, this mountain is like my everyday life. I have to conquer my sin everday, but I can only do it through you. Please help me to be positive. I'm thankful for these girls that I am with. They don't make me feel bad for slowing them down. They are encouraging and sweet, even though they made me do this. I'm about to pass out, I can't do another step. Kristin, do not get discouraged and do not listen to Satan. Focus on Jesus. Take it one step a time." That is the whole cycle of thoughts that kept going through my head the whole time we were hiking.  Just trying to keep it real! :) Thankfully I was able to give my struggle to Jesus, and he enabled me to conquer that mountain! Towards the end, I was no longer discouraged or defeated. But I still knew that there was no way that I could do anything else today. Thankfully by this point, we were all laughing at ourselves and the never ending mountian. They were ahead of me and I yelled out, "There is no way that y'all are making me walk anymore today! As soon as we get to Murren, I  am getting on a train, cable car, or freaking milk truck and getting back to Interlaken!" They of course bust out laughing. We took our last steep hike, and thankfully hit level ground. Then it started raining. We walked quickly upwards town, and found a lovely little hotel restaurant where we ordered tea, coffee, and lots of water! We got our energy back up, and we walked around town where we were greeted with the most beautiful view of the mountains. We had reached the end-point, and every aching muscle was worth it. We were able to appreciate Gods creation in a deeper way because we had climbed the mountain. 

What we did today is so significant and I can relate it back to my life so well. Life is about climbing a mountain, but the only way to get to the top is through Jesus. What a cool thing to be able to experience in Switzerland. I can't look to the future and get discouraged. When I looked up the path and saw that there was no end in sight, I would start to panic. We can't look ahead and make decisions based on what we see or don't see. Jesus knows what is ahead, and He is the only one who can guide you.

We are so thankful for our time in Switzerland. Being here has given us time to process our stops in the busy cities of London and Paris! It has been peaceful and very relaxing. Tomorrow morning we head to the Cinque Terre in Italy. We are staying there 2 nights, then 2 nights in Florence, and 4 nights in Rome. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Disclaimer..

I am re-reading my posts for the first time and want to apologize for all of the misspelled/misused words! I am usually on a time crunch because we have to buy Internet time over here. I am usually trying to fly through the blog, and never have time to read over my posts. Just want to explain why there are errors all the time! :)

Thinking...

For when two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." This morning I was reading Matthew, and this was one of the verses that I read. This is a very common verse that I think we all quote at somepoint in our lives. Last night the 3 of us were talking about this verse, and it was perfect that I read it this morning. While being on this trip with my friends, I have felt the presence of the Lord at every turn. He has kept us safe, but he has also revealed himself to me in ways that I don't think about while at home.
While seperated from my "normal life," I have had plenty of thinking time! This trip has given me time to reflect on different things in my life. Rebekah was talking about this with us, and she gave a good example. She said that she was laying in bed the other night, and usually she would have the TV on, facebook up, checking twitter on her phone, etc but that night she couldn't. She was on her own, with God. She was able to verablize what I had been thinking. This trip has given all of us quality time with not only each other, but with Christ.
While being surrounded by different cultures, different scenes, and beauty all around us, it gives me cause to fall on my knees in worship. Our normal life is so busy, and full of things that don't really matter. Time flies by, and it is hard to take a breath away from all of the busyness. While being here in Europe, I have had to put my faith and trust in God in many ways. I am always thankful for my friends, but this trip has led me to be thankful in a different way.
We have observed several different types of people at the places we have been at, and there is always at least one person we see that is traveling alone. Can you imagine? Backpacking through Europe by yourself? I surely cannot. I love being able to share this experience with another person. These people that travel alone often strike up converstation with random people and become friends with everyone. That is great, and I am not saying it's bad. But for me, I think it would be very shallow and very depressing. While with my friends, we have been able to discuss things that are on our hearts. We encourage each other, we hold each other accountable, and most of all we base our friendship on Christ.
While I was taking a nap, Rebekah and Martha met 3 people who were all traveling alone and had met yesterday. Rebekah and Martha said that it was fun talking to them, but for the entire hour not one word of Christ came out of the conversation. When I think about all of the conversations that the three of us have had while on this trip, I am grateful for Christian friends! Almost all of our conversations lead back to the Lord. How fortunate we are! I know that my friends will understand what I am thinking. I know that they understand that I sin, they sin, and we all sin. They get me. I cannot imagine not being with at least one person who understands me.
I am awed by the beauty of friendship that Christ has bestowed on me and my friends. I am very blessed and am thankful that He chose to give me these girls (plus many others at home)!
I know this post has been very long, and I hope that I am making some sense out of it all. To end on a good note, I wanted to share with you a few more funny stories from the trip!

In Paris, we ate crepes with nutella quite a few times. A crepe is basically a very thin pancake, and we ususally had ours filled with nutella. Nutella is best described as a "chocolate peanut butter." Well we were sitting at a crepe making place, and Rebekah comments, "He just put white Nutella on the pan." Martha then proceeds to look at her like she is crazy and say, "That is one of the dumber things that you have ever said!" It was hysterial. The man had been putting crepe batter on the pan to make a crepe! Rebekah did not understand how a crepe was made, and thought that you could have a "white nutella." Which you cannot. That girl makes me laugh!

I can't remember when this happened, but I think it was in London. We had just arrived, and we were confused on how the currency thing worked. We were at our first store, and the man gave Rebekah her total and then asked her for the money. Well Rebekah proceeds to hold her hand out (that was filled with money) and says, "Take however much you need becuase I don't know how to do this." Thankfully the person did not take not take all of her money, but took the appropriate amount. Martha and I of course freak out and yell at her for doing this. Rule No. 1 is that you do not do that!!!!

When we arrived in Interlaken, French was still filling our minds. While on the train and walking through town we would still say "Merci", "Bonjour", etc. Well Rebekah says "Por Favor! Oh I didn't even get to use that one while we were in France." We of course look at her and bust out laughing. Por Favor is Spanish!

We were talking to the lady at the hotel this morning trying to figure out a good trail that we could walk on. She shows us on a map, and tell us to stop in Neuhause which to me sounds like "My house." I thought oh wow, her parents must own a cafe over there. Thankfully I did not say this outloud becuase she was just saying the name of the town. Yes Dutch is hard to translate!

We have had a wonderful day of hiking and walking around town. Interlaken is beautiful, and we are so glad that we get to rest and relax here. We are taking a day trip up to the mountains tomorrow.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Whole New World...

..literally. We just arrived in Interlaken, Switz. and it is AMAZING. We arrived and it was like a breath of fresh air. No one was trying to rush us/run us down, we looked lost (obviously) and 3 Swiss locals asked us if we needed help. We were shocked. It is absoultely beautiful. Our room looks out over the Jungfrau Mountains, and we have our own private balcony. Big Bertha (that was one of our roomates in Paris, yes we gave her that name, no it was not her real one. but it was appropriate) is no where near us, and we have no worries of having any other roomates!
The train ride here was gorgeous. We traveled through both French and Swiss countryside. We are so happy that we are spending the next 3 nights in this beautiful place, and we plan to relax and chill out! I will update soon!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Recap 2!

We have safely arrived in Paris! First, I will fill you in our last afternoon in London.

After trecking through the cold and rainy weather in the morning, we decided to head back to our hotel. We did some laundry and laid around. It is so fun being together again, and we often act like little girls! We stayed in bed for a while and just talked, talked, and talked. Martha commented that, "Clearly, I am made to live in America" when we realized that our apartment in Rome has no airconditioning. That girl just cracks me up. After resting a bit, we headed out to explore Victoria. We walked along back streets and soaked in the London culture. We had tea and cinnamon croissants at a local cafe, and hung out with our good friend Rick Steves. Rick Steves has been invaluable this trip. He has given us tons of advice through his book Europe 2011. We planned out where we wanted to head out the rest of the trip. We decided to cut our days in Paris and Interlaken short, and spend a few more days in the Tuscany part of Italy! After tea, we had dinner at this great little Pub. It was much better than the day before. We then went and saw Wicked. It was just as wonderful in London as it was in New York. They spoke in Bristish accents which was really cool. I will admit that I got goosebumps and cried during several of the songs.

The next day, we took the EuroStar to Paris. We were expecting to be under water for almost the whole time, but it was actually only about 20 minutes. We sped through the French countryside and it was unbelievable. Thankfully we talked with a girl from Germany who sat beside us on the train. She had lived in Paris for 6 months and gave us some great tips. She told us which train to take to our hostel, and we are glad she did becuase I don't think we would have made it here. The metro system here is terrible! We arrived at our hostel. It is a little different than where we stayed in London. We are sharing a 5-bunk bedroom, so we have roommates. We were quite delerious yesterday, and just thought the whole situation was hysterical. Thankfully I think this is the worst place that we will stay in.

That afternoon we headed towards the historical part of Paris. We went to Notre Dame, which is beautiful. The architecture is amazing! We walked around the Latin Quarter, and then saw St. Chapelle. We rode the metro to the Eiffel Tower area, and spent some time walking down Rue Cler. Rue Cler is a wonderful little street North of the Eiffel Tower. It is filled with market shops and lots of cafe's. We sat down at a cafe and ordered some wine and food. We then stopped for a delicious pastry, and took a River Cruise. We decided to see how busy the Eiffel Tower was, and the line wasn't long at all. We got there at the perfect time, around 9:30pm. It was still light outside while we were up the Eiffel Tower, but when we came back down it was dark. We were able to see it all lit up, and were entertained by the dancing lights! We really felt like we were in Paris!

Yesterday we went to the Lourve and the Orsay Museum. The Orsay was great becuase they had a ton of Monet paintings, and he is my favorite. We decided we wanted to get out of the touristy part, so we headed east. We walked, and walked, and walked! We ended up in the Bastille area, and loved every minute. We sat at a cafe and ordered a bottle of delicous French wine, and ordered a cheese platter. We watched people go by and out our snack. We then walked some more, and walked by a delicous looking chocolate shop. We had to stop in! I bought the most delicous Chocolate Gnache and a Cafe Au Lait! Yum! We tried to rent some bikes, but it really wasn't worked out for us. We then walked back to the city around Notre Dame where we sat by the Seine. We bought some bread, hummus, wine, and water for dinner and spent about 3 hours down by the river. It was declious, cheap, and relaxing! This was my absoulte favorite day in Paris!

Today we went to see Versaille. We are idiots and purchased a 2-day museum pass that expired yesterday, so we had no ticket into the actual building. We walked around the outside and viewed the gardens which are incredible. It was very pretty, and a lot bigger than I was expecting. This is where Marie Antoinette lived and where the Treaty of Versaille was signed which ended World War I. It is so cool to see all of this places that have impacted history. Parisians are extremely laid back, and the thing-to-do is to sit at a sidewalk cafe, face the street, and stay there for hours with wine, cheese, and bread. We are total Paris people! Ha.

On a side note, it is so wonderful to actually experience Europe. If you know me at all, then you know that I love to read. Well many books that I read are based in Europe or the characters travel there Well I was reading a book yesterday, and they visited London in the book. It was so fun to be able to know and visualize what they were talkign about!

Tomorrow we are headed for Switzerland. It is a 6 hour train ride, so we have a long day tomorrow.

Paris is wonderful, but it is very toursity. Thankfully we have not had to stand in many lines, but I do not like all of the tourists!

I want to leave you with a couple funny stories. They might not be funny to you, but they were pretty hysterical to us!

While we were at communion at Westminster Abbey, we were of course really nervous. We had never been to an Episcopalian communion service and we had no idea what do to. Well to recieve the bread and wine, you have to stand in a semi-circle and the priest gives it to you. Well I am of course the first one who is in line. I didn't really know how to take it, and thankfully the 2 priests sort of demonstrated for us. Well when priest number 1 fed the bread to priest number 2, priest number 1 ate it like a dog out of the other priests hand. Of course I start freaking out thinking this is how you do it. I was like no way, I will put it in my mouth myself. So I take the bread, and then the priest gives me a sip of wine which was pretty awkward. So after it is all done, we leave the Abbey feeling pretty reverent and relaxed. That afternoon we start talking about communion. Little did we all know, but we were all thinking the same thing! We were all so scared, and they looked to me to know how to do it. After it was all said and done, it was an awesome and hysterical experience. They took the bread from the priest, and then the priest gave them a sip of wine. I am pretty sure we were supposed to take the goblet ourselves. Ha. So funny.

Yesterday we were trying to rent bikes to ride around Paris. They have a machine that takes your debit card information incase a bike doesn't come back. Well Rebekah put her card in there, and it wouldn't come out for like 5 minutes. We were FREAKING out!!!! Thankfully it did come out! Sadly, we couldn't get any of the machines to work. We are dumb Americans. Ha.

The first time that we tried to get off the metro was so funny. In London, the doors open automatically. They do not open automatically in Paris. The metro came to a stop and Rebekah stood at the door. Well she waits for a few seconds and then literally starts freaking out saying, "Ah! Ah! Ah!" She then thought that she needed to get to the other side of the train, so she turns around and starts asking people to move. I was cracking up and then Martha calmly hits the exit button and the doors open. I am sure that we provided tons of information for the locals on the metro!

While in Paris, we have tried to fit in as much as we can. Not really working out for us. While buying tickets at St. Chapelle, the ticket lady said "Merci!" and I responded with "Beaucoup!" I of course thought I was so smart and French, but I thought that I might have gotten it wrong. Which I did. I am pretty sure that "Beaucoup" is not a response, but goes along with "merci". While we were at a restaurant, Rebekah wanted to thank the waiter, so she said "merci!", but it sounded exactly like "mercy!". Ha. We are such southeners! We all had a good laugh with our pronunciations.

Hope you can laugh with us! :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Recap 1

Whew! We finally made it to London, and we are having a fantastic time. I will start from the very beginning of our trip! (As I post this, it is 1:25pm London time and 7:25am USA time)

On Monday, we all met at the Jackson Airport at 10:30. After saying goodbye to our parents and Amy, we thought that we were headed out of town. Wrong! We went to our gate, and we saw that our flight had been pushed back 2 hours. We went to go find a Delta worker, and we became friends with LaToya. She informed us that there would be no flight to Memphis that day due to a mechanical issue on the plane. The best that she could do would be to put us on an American Airlines 6:20pm flight to Dallas and a 9:55 plane to London. We decided to stay in the airport in case another flight became available. Well lo and behold, the 6:20 flight was cancelled. They put us on a 7:25pm flight to Dallas with hopes that we would make our 9:55pm flight to London. Well after sitting on the plane for 30 minutes outside of the Dallas terminal, we missed our flight that night. They put us up in a Super 8 motel. It was disgusting, and I will forever hate American Airlines after all of this! We slept for 3 hours, and then headed back to the airport. After changing planes in Chicago we were finally London bound! The silver lining in all of this is two-fold: 1) we each were given 4 drink vouchers for the plane ride back; 2) we have not suffered from jet lag becuase we arrived at night in London! LaToya (our friend at Delta) emailed me to inform me that Delta would like to extend our trip by 1 day, since we missed a whole day due to their error. Yay! We are now flying back on the 20th, instead of the 19th.

When we arrived in London, it was 11:45pm. Instead of trying to figure out the bus/tube late at night, we decided to catch a taxi from the airport to our hotel. On our way to the hotel, a police escort passed by us. We like to think that we were in the presence of royalty!! :) About 30 minutes and 60 pounds later, we arrived at our hotel! It is so charming. We are staying in a section of London called Victoria. Our hotel is so cute, it is part of a white building and it has a black door and red flowers in the window flower pot. The owners are Indian, and they are very nice. We all slept great, and were ready to explore London the next day!

On Wednesday, we started our day by purchasing Oyster Cards which get us onto the Tube. We headed to St. Paul's Cathedral in East London. After that, we walked to the Tower of London. It was not at all what we expected. It was more of a castle, than an acutal tower. In the past, many executions (including Anne Boleyn) were held here. In the TofL, the crown jewels are kept! It was so much fun looking at them, and they are beautiful. We then hopped on a river cruise and headed west on the Thames River. We got off at Westminster Pier and walked across Westminster Pier. We were greeted with a jaw-dropping view of Big Ben and Parliament. After taking about a million pictures, we headed to Westminster Abbey. The line to go inside was extremely long, so we viewed it from the outside. The church was so beautiful. They still had press stands and other things set up from the wedding! We ate lunch at a pub not far from the Abbey. English food has not impressed me so far! From there we headed to Trafalgar Square where we went inside the National Gallery. Trafalgar Square reminds me of Columbus Circle in New York. We then walked to Picadilly Circus and Leicester Square. It really reminded me Times Square. It was dirty and had many different kinds of people. While here, we purchased tickets to go see Wicked!!! We then walked to Covent Garden, which we all thought was a real garden. We were slightly confused when we never came across a garden! It is just another section of London. We headed North of Covent Garden, and we really enjoyed that. We got away from the hustle and bustle, and saw a more residential area. It was very calm and peaceful. We then went to Regents Park. We loved that!! We found out later that this is where the majority of 101 Dalmations was filmed. We walked around and relaxed. We had sat down under a tree to rest for a few mintues, and when we got up Marthas' head hit a branch and broke the branch! It may not be funny to you, but it was hysterical at the time. Ha. We then headed back to our hotel to change for the night. We ate dinner at Wagamama's Noodle Place and it was delicious. We walked around Jubilee Park which is near the London Eye, Parliament, and Big Ben. To see all of those sights at night was great. We headed back to our hotel for the night!

We started off today with communion at Westminster Abbey. It was byfar one of the neatest things that I have ever done in my life. We entered through the entrance that they used for the Royal Wedding which was awesome. We saw the place where Kate and William were married, and we also saw her boquet! It was a beautiful church. They led us past all of that, to a smaller chapel to have communion. The chapel was completely made of stonework, and it was gorgeous. The service was very reverent, and it was a great way to start off the day. We then went to buy our EuroStar tickets for tomorrow so that we can go to Paris! It started raining, and that was no fun. We bought some lunch things at a small market and we carried those to Buckingham Palace. We were there to watch the changing of the guards, but they cancelled it due to the rain. We stood under a tree outside of the Palace and ate our lunch. So fun! We were soaked and freezing, so we headed back to the hotel from there.

Yesterday the weather was beautiful! Even thought it was chilly and windy, the sun was shining all day. Today has been a little different. It is freezing and wet. We are happy that we had least one beautiful day in London! I have felt this surreal feeling the whole time that we have been here because I do not feel like we are in another country! They all speak English and we can easily get around. There has been no "culture shock" yet. London reminds me a little bit of Chicago, but on a larger and grander scale. It is a city enriched in history, yet modern at the same time. It is very clean, and people seem to take pride in their city.

We have had a great time, and we can't believe that we have only been out of the country for 2 days. It seems like it has bee weeks! I am so blessed to be able to be on this trip, and it has been worth every penny spent. Tonight we are going to see Wicked, and I can't wait. Martha and I have seen it on Broadway, but Bekah hasn't seen it yet. She knows all of the songs because I sing/play them all the time!

We are headed to Paris in the morning, and I will update you as soon as possible! Thank you for praying for our traveling and safety. Please continue to pray that the Lord would put His angels above us! I have a cold, so I hope that goes away quickly. We can all praise God because my back has done great this trip!!! It has only bothered me a little bit, and I am in the least amount of pain that I have had in months. God is good!!!

(sorry for any typo's or incorrect grammar...i'm not editing this bec
--
Kristin Anne Stentiford

Monday, May 2, 2011

Please Pray

Please pray for safe travels to, during, and from Europe! With Bin Laden being killed, we have to be extra cautious while we are in Europe. My dad (and I am sure Bekah and Martha's dad) has given me a long talk about making sure that "my head is on a swivel" while I am over there! By nature, I am a very aware/cautious person. We know that we need to locate US Embassy or Consulate in every city that we go to. We are not going to let fear stop our trip! I am praying, and I know that others are praying, that Jesus puts angels over us to guide us and watch over us on our trip.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's finally here!!!

We leave tomorrow for our long-awaited trip! We are so excited to begin our journey, and I am not quite sure how I am going to be able to sleep tonight. For those of you who do not know my friends who I am going with, I have put a picture of the three of us below.

We are a bit sweaty due to it being football season and living in the south. These lovely ladies and I will be conquering Europe together, but we will miss Amy (pictured below)!

Since Amy wants to go with us, she fashioned a "Flat Amy" doll. If you are familiar with "Flat Stanley," then this is what she basically made for herself. She has requested that we take a picture with her in every city, so we will do just that. She is coming to send us off at the airport tomorrow morning, and I am so glad that she will be there.

Our plane departs at 12:04pm, and we fly to Memphis. From Memphis we head to Detroit. From Detroit we head to LONDON baby! Woohoo! As soon as I am able, I will get to a computer and blog about our trip so far.

Next time I type, I will be typing from a computer in London! :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Itinerary

Itinerary for the trip!!

Monday, May 2nd-travel day

JAN (depart 11:40am) → MEM (depart 1:45pm)) → DTW (depart 6:50pm) → LHR (arrive 7:40 am)

Tuesday, May 3rd- London
Wednesday, May 4th-London
Thursday, May 5th-London
Friday, May 6th-travel to Paris
Saturday, May 7th-Paris
Sunday, May 8th-Paris
Monday, May 9th-Paris
Tuesday, May 10th- travel to Interlaken, Switzerland
Wednesday, May 11th-Switzerland
Thursday, May 12th-Switzerland
Friday, May 13th-travel to Cinque Terre
Saturday, May 14th -Cinque Terre
Sunday May 15th-travel to Rome
Monday May 16th-Rome
Tuesday May 17th-Rome
Wednesday May 18th-Rome
Thursday May 19th-travel day

FCO (depart 10:20am) → BOS(depart 1:35pm) → MEM (depart 7:25pm) → JAN (arrive 8:25pm)

Excitement!

Today was such a good day. My mom and I ran errands together, and I had a great time spending time with her. Even though I am living back at home, I feel like I hardly ever see my family! Especially with my back hurting because after school I go lay down to ice it.

I had my appointment with Dr. Hirshman at 9, and my mom wanted to go with me. I am so thankful that he is my doctor because he seems very knowledgable and wants to avoid surgery at all cost! On Tuesday, I had a MRI so he wanted to talk with me about those results. I have two bulging disks, but he said that I might have a tear in one of them. During my trip, he wants me to continue doing my physical therapy stretches. He also told me to get up every 30 minutes on the plane ride and train rides to walk around. He prescribed me a stronger pain medication to get me through the trip. After the appointment, we went to Buffalo Peak. We were a little early, so we stopped at Maison Weiss! We found some great items (including an adorable Tory Burch top) on sale. It was an unexpected find. We ran a few more errands, and then had lunch at the Thai House. I had to stop by the bank to talk to them about going out of the country. Money stresses me out, and I am very anxious about this aspect of the trip. After talking with my bank and with my grandfather, who travels a lot, I feel a little bit better. It was a day full of errands, but it was so great to be able to spend time with my sweet mama.

My back has felt much better this week. Wednesday was the best day, and I felt very little pain all day. It did get a little worse on Thursday because I had a job interview in Yazoo City, so I was in the car for about 1hr 15min. Sitting irritates it, so it has felt pretty bad since then. I am hoping that it stays at the pain level that it is right now (which is about a 4) and that it doesn't get any worse during the trip. Thank you for all of your prayers! I have felt everyones prayers, and I have had a more peaceful spirit this week. I am very thankful that my back is doing better! Please continue praying that it doesn't get any worse.

I am an official graduate of MSU! I was supposed to "walk" at graduation tonight, but since I wasn't able to my family went out to dinner to Babalu in Jackson. We had a great time, and it was fun being all together. These past four years at MSU have flown by, and I am so thankful for my time at that school. It was exactly where the Lord wanted me, and I am thankful that I made it the whole 4 years! Ha.

I can't end this post without mentioning the Royal Wedding!! I recorded it last night, and I haven't had a chance to watch the full wedding. I have seen clips throughout the day, and of course I have seen THE dress. Wow! Kate looked absolutely beautiful. She had that Grace Kelly look to her, and she looked stunning. It is so fun to be apart of this moment in history. I never really understood why so many Americans mourned the loss of Diana, but I completely understand it now. If something were to happen to Will or Kate, I would be devastated! It is so fun to be a part of this moment, and I can't wait to pass along my love for all things royal to my daughter!

I am so so so excited about our trip. For the past few weeks, all I have been able to think about when thinking about the trip is anxiety about my back. I have had a peaceful feeling all week, and I know that is due to all of your prayers. I know that I may be in pain, but I know that the Lord will not give me anything that I can't handle. I have missed Rebekah and Martha this semester, and I am thankful that we get to spend a full 20 days together. We get along so well, and there is no doubt in my mind that this will be the best trip of my life!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What A Day!

Today has been such a wonderful, yet bittersweet day. It was my last day at Madison Crossing, and my last day as a MSU student. The day was filled with happy and sad tears. I have so enjoyed my time at Crossing, and I was very sad to leave my awesome students and wonderful team of teachers!



This morning I surprised both of my classes with bringing them donuts. They were happy! :) We then spent the day laughing together and having fun. The kids are going to New Orleans on a field trip on Friday, so they are excited about that as well. After lunch, the kids (and teachers) threw me a surprise party. I was blown away by the thoughtfulness of my students and my parents. A couple of the moms had set up a wonderful buffet of chips and dip, cookies, cake, etc. The students showered me with presents! I think that I could set up my classroom with what they gave me.





I feel honored and blessed to have been apart of their lives. The teachers that I am leaving behind are some of the best people that I know. They have inspired me, encouraged me, and have truly become forever friends. We are going out to dinner tonight one last time as a team, and I can't wait to spend one more night with them. Thank you Madison Crossing for allowing me to grow and become the teacher that I am today. I can now enter my first year of teaching with confidence, grace, and poise. I am so looking forward to what the Lord has in store for me in the next year, but I will never forget the teachers and students from this time of my life.


A huge thank you goes out to all of my students!