A Couple of Catholics

A blog about faith, intentional living and the joys and struggles of married life.

Category: Everyday Happenings

Finding Peace When Making Difficult Decisions

Have you ever had to make a tough decision? The kind of dilemma that completely overwhelms all your thoughts for days on end. Well, I recently did.

That afternoon, I walked out of the conference room feeling bewildered. How could I leave? I couldn’t understand why I felt that the Holy Spirit was saying, “Your work here is done. Go use your gifts elsewhere.”

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Musings on Motherhood: Curse of the Breast Pump

I’m sure that there are lots of embarrassing and awkward moments that motherhood will bring, but so far pumping in public has taken the cake. As other mothers who have nursed can empathize, the first few times you nurse in public are quite uncomfortable.

My experience has been no exception. Yes of course there are nursing covers to aid with modesty and I always use one, but really who are we kidding? Trying to get some squiggly baby to nurse while smothering them with a sheet is hardly ideal. Plus, there is the self-consciousness that comes with the whole ordeal. I mean really the only thing keeping the entire world getting a free peek at your breasts is a thin, flimsy parcel of fabric. Oh and the nursing covers they sell…it can’t be any bit conspicuous. Nope. It has to be some bold pattern covered in bright pink flowers (at least mine is).

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Musings on Motherhood: Sweaty, Swollen and No Place to Sit

There isn’t much in the world that still surprises me. Admittedly, I am a fairly cynical person by nature. That being said, there are a few common courtesies that I would have assumed others would be privy to during this pregnancy. Now before I sound like a total diva…allow me to explain.

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Musings on Motherhood: Diaper Aisles Exist to Make You Cry

While some women may revel in the process of creating a baby registry, swooning over all the cute and little clothes, scanning every item that fits their fancy. I had quite a different experience. I started out hopeful walking into Buy Buy Baby that fateful afternoon with every expectation it was going to be one of the more enjoyable parts of this pregnancy. After all what isn’t great about creating a formalized list so the world will know what you want other people to buy you…because just straight up asking for stuff, well that would be rude. Little did I realize how much I had greatly underestimated the power of pregnancy hormones. Continue reading

Musings on Motherhood: Pregzilla Strikes!

It’s no secret that pregnancy has its ups and downs, yet when others describe their own journey toward parenthood the not so glamorous moments seem to be conveniently forgotten. I haven’t decided if this is some sort of inexplicable amnesia that mothers are blessed with post labor, or if people really are under the guise that pregnancy is just a magical time. News flash ladies…it ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Of course there is that one beautiful benefit at the end of nine months you get to cuddle up with and dress in cute clothes, but I’m not there yet. So in the meantime I figured I would humor you with some of my favorite humiliating and downright awkward musings on pregnancy and motherhood thus far. After all, everyone loves a little dose of self depreciating humor from time to time.

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Be a Great Teacher: 7 Tips for a New Teacher

As I am now over half-way through my first year of teaching, I reflect back to some of the best teaching advice I’ve received so far. Middle school can be a treacherous age as students sift through hormones and changing bodies toward adulthood, but let’s not forget those blessed souls who are courageous enough to teach them. I am among this crazy breed of people who have chosen this avenue as my life’s work. I don’t just want to be another average educator. I’m striving to be a great teacher. So here it is…some of the best tips I’ve received so far on how to be a great teacher. The following tips are from the brave men and women who have gone before me in this wacky career called teaching.

1. All great teachers cried a lot their first year.

Well, that is good to know considering I had emotional breakdowns on average once to twice a week. Don’t believe me. I’m sure that Pat would be more than happy to vouch for me on this one. While I have become slightly more in control of my outbursts this semester, they still seem to creep up much more often than they did at any other phase of my life.

2. Great teachers realize it matters, but it doesn’t really matter.

Let’s be real here people. I am making a difference, but the beginning and end of these kids’ lives are not hinged on my teaching skills or lack thereof. Yes, what I am teaching (religion) matters and it is important that the students learn. That being said, I have quickly realized that I am not going to reach all of them no matter how hard I try.  I will drive my fragile little soul to madness before I am able to successfully engage each and every one of my 150 students in each and every single one of my lessons.

Even so, if I can engage each student once or twice this year and get them to question/think about issues they never have before than job well done. The best I can do is the best I can do and somehow I will need to learn to be okay with that.

3.  Great teachers are not faint of heart.

We can’t expect everyone to get why we have chosen to pour our heart and soul into this profession and these kids. In fact, it sometimes takes a conscious decision not to scream at someone who tells me, “Oh you’re a teacher, must be nice to get off work at 3:30 and have summer vacations.” If they only knew the strife and personal turmoil teachers go through for their students. My personal favorite summation of teaching is as follows:

“If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job.”

4. Great teachers never quit.

Top Catholic teaching tipsSomeone once told me “don’t even consider leaving education until you’ve been in it for at least three years.” I would be lying if I said it hadn’t crossed my mind once or twice in the past five months. At the same time I realize that anything worth doing takes some effort and hard work. To be a great teacher it is going to take at least a few years just to get the hang of all that teaching entails: managing a classroom, getting comfortable with the curriculum, planning engaging lessons, etc. So until I really feel like I’ve hit my stride I won’t even consider leaving this profession. Plus, if the looming cloud of $20k in graduate school loans for a degree in education doesn’t motivate one to continue in a profession I don’t know what does.

5.  Great teachers don’t take it personally.

Kids can be cruel. We all can recall back to childhood days of being picked on and teased on the playground, while my students don’t pick on me (at least not to my face) they have done and said things that at times really can cut deep…probably without even realizing it. So although it may be easy for me to get focused on hurt feelings, I must remember that I am the adult in this situation and sometimes being the adult means sacrificing my wounded pride and brushing it off…even if only for appearances. More often than not the kids don’t realize how much their words or behaviors can hurt another (even a teacher). So hike up your big-girl pants, princess and move on.

6.  Great teachers enjoy the awkward.

This may not necessarily apply to all teachers, but anyone who has ever taught middle school knows how true this is. Adolescence is an awkward age to say the least. Students may come in late and grumbling under their breath about you one day, then tell you that you are their favorite teacher the next. Just the other day in fact I had a student asking me to be his valentine and showing his affection by giving me a ring pop ring…yes I am serious. While this sort of uncontained ball of hormones may intimidate some, those who are truly called to this line of work learn to sit back and enjoy the free entertainment.

7.  Great teachers love the kids.

I’ve only failed if I’ve failed to love the kids. This is so true. The students aren’t going to remember me for how much I taught them, but rather how much I loved them. Lord, may each student who walks into my classroom feel important, loved and respected by me.

Well, there it is the best I’ve got so far. I learn more and more about these students and this profession everyday, may I always keep a spirit of learning and humility for as long as I teach.

Got any other advice for a first year teacher? Post them in the comments below.

 

Opportunity to be Grateful

As a young lady who recently ventured through the jungles of singledom myself, my heart goes out to all those good-hearted women and men searching for their vocation and trying to date. It can be rough out there. Dating is hard enough, but trying to date as a Christian in a world that is consumed by sex, money and selfish desires is a beast all its own.

Just the other day I was on a plane heading to one of my missionary teammates’ wedding when I overheard a gentleman sitting next to me complaining to his friend that “sometimes I just like to go out without her, have a few beers with the guys and check out other women.” He was speaking about his long time girlfriend, who he wasn’t sure he wanted to marry.

Now before I pick this apart, I must say that I do agree with half of his statement. Men should be men and be able to have man time without feeling guilty. I believe the same to be true for women. At its best, this type of fellowship can make us better people. I think back to some advice a professor once gave me. He told me that as a woman you can tell a man when he is not being a good man, but you can not teach him how to be a better man. He can only learn that from other men and vice versa.

With that said, this man’s overall attitude toward his girlfriend saddened me. It was obvious by his comments that he viewed relationships in a completely different light than I do. At one point later in the conversation he advised his friend, “marriage is when two people can be together, make the least amount of compromise and still be happy.” Of course because compromise would mean we take the risk of actually becoming more selfless creatures.

Now I’m not trying to bash this guy. After all who knows the experiences he has had that has brought him to his current opinion on this point? Either way it is this type of outlook that our world seems to grip so tightly, that disheartens me and at the same time reminds me how incredibly blessed I am to have found a man like Patrick.

He is a man who loves God more than me, a man who cherishes me and might be more anxious than I am to plan our wedding. What a gift, a completely undeserved one at that? But for as much as Pat loves me and as incomprehensible as that love can be at times I know that God loves me more, which is super crazy.

This is my hope for our culture that all may know the love of Christ and let that love dictate their relationships with others. Praise God for good men and women, healthy relationships and opportunities that remind me how blessed I truly am.