Summertime Snuggles and the Final Jennyfromtherox Blog

And once again…“I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Ahhh….take a deep breath. It’s summer again…almost. Three more workdays. Teachers only: no more students, no more testing, no more long days. I’m so ready for my much-needed break with my 8 month bundle-of-joy baby boy.

Summer is always such a time of renewal for me. I’m able to get back in touch with my best self and my relaxed, creative side. This summer will be even more exciting since it’s my first summer with Jacob!!! I have SOOoooo many things I want to do this summer, but my #1 goal is to soak it all in…all the sweet baby giggles and morning cuddles, the relaxed hour-long cup of coffee, the days where we do nothing but play and nap, and all the new “first” moments that seem to be happening every other day now.

I get about 18 of these summers at home with my little man, and I want each one to be as memorable as possible. So, I decided to give up on this little blog of mine that has been a way to cope through all of the changes in my life the last few years. It’s time for me to live in the little moments, note to myself all of the thoughts running through my head as a new mom, and capture the struggles and the sweetness in my own private ways…through pictures and social media posts, of course. I’ve been meaning to blog regularly for the last 8 months, but I’ve been a little busy to say the least. And I’ve actually felt guilty! Not because I thought I had fans out there holding their breath in expectation of my next blog post, but because it was feeling like an incomplete obligation I’ve put on myself for some silly reason.

So, what’s our plan for the summer??

Making crafts, trips to the library for story times, visits to Greensboro Science Center, picnics in the parks, movie days, playdates, lots of reading, time with family, pool days with friends, and a little travel…to Boston this month and hopefully the beach July/August! Basically I want to relax and enjoy my 2 months off with Jacob before he gets an inch taller or an ounce more independent and curious.

Personally, my Jennifer-only bucket list just includes me getting a hair cut and going kayaking. I don’t need much to be happy. And I might drink too much once or twice and go on a date or two. I might be a mommy now, but I’m still Jennifer.

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On Becoming Mommy

So, I did it. Yes! I became a Mommy. And it’s the best feeling in the world. He’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. So, what have I been up to? Obviously life has been busy. But let’s back, back, back it up just a bit.

What were the lows of becoming a mom? Honestly the last 4 weeks of pregnancy and labor and delivery were damn traumatic. Not one of my mommy friends had let me in on the insider secrets of what it was REALLY going to be like. Bitches. (I still can’t believe women go through this regularly…often more than once! I’m still scarred. There’s got to be some other way of doing this, ladies.) The worst parts…excruciating, unbelievable hip pain while walking, sitting, standing, or lying down and not being able to sleep for longer than an hour at a time. Pregnancy-induced carpel tunnel which caused pain in my arms and wrists and numbness in my middle three fingers on both hands the last 6 weeks and lasted until 8 weeks AFTER birth. Ridiculous swelling in my feet and legs the last two weeks (but I know I was lucky to only deal with it that long). Prodromal labor (strong contractions that didn’t build) that lasted over 3 days straight before Jacob’s arrival. Back labor which was the most incredible pain I’ve ever felt…vicodin and muscle relaxers didn’t even take the edge off. Then, cervical swelling….dilation reversal (no one told me in childbirth class that you can go from a 7 to a 4!)…C-section…incision infection and draining. Ugh. You get the drift. Everything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong. And now the mommy tummy, but that was expected.

What went right? I completely understand that I am soooo lucky in some ways though…My skin didn’t break out. My feet didn’t grow one size larger (Yay, I can still wear all of my shoes!). I wasn’t an emotional wreck through pregnancy; In fact, I hardly even cried at all while pregnant. I didn’t swell up until the very last two weeks. I only ever threw up two times. I only peed my pants two times when I sneezed, and I was at home both times. I don’t pee my pants now when I jump, laugh, or sneeze! I never got one stretch mark which is crazy because I was as big as a house. And I lost almost all of my baby weight by 3 months…that was 46 pounds, people (and all of it plus a couple pounds by 4 months)…only everything is shaped different than it was pre-baby, so I’m working on that now.

And of course, the most important thing that went right…the highest high of pregnancy, labor, and delivery was that my baby boy  Jacob was brought into this world safely and was healthy and well and kicking and screaming and beautiful which made all of the icky, painful, horrible parts of pregnancy and labor worth it, even the mommy tummy souvenir. He made me a momma like I’ve wanted for so long. He’s just perfect. I was in love with my little guy from the second they placed him on my chest, and he looked at me, completely alert, as if to say, “So YOU are my mommy!?” He is the best thing I’ve ever done with my life.

So, now life moves into a new normal. Because the first three months were NOT normal. I got to stay home with my little man, cuddling for hours a day. I soaked in every moment of October, November, and December. I relished the time with him over Christmas, creating new traditions and falling more in love with him every day.  And I’ve been alright on my own…even as a single mom. I had thought I would need my mom to stay the first week or two with me, but I only let her stay over one night after coming home from the hospital. I just felt like I had it. And Jacob is such a blessing and an easy little guy. He is such a content, happy baby who loves to sleep for long stretches at night. And I know I’m one lucky momma because I haven’t gone without sleep since I had him. My parents were a huge help and came by basically daily for the first 6 weeks or so to hold the baby and help me with things around the house or even just to give me a break to take a shower or run to Target. Before I knew it the three months were coming to an end. I had figured out how to juggle caring for baby, keep my house clean and dishes and laundry washed, and even take care of myself (or at least remembering to eat). Baby and I were in a solid routine, and it was time to leave him to my mom to care for during the day. And back to work I went.

Now life and being a mom feels really real. It breaks my heart to leave him in the morning, but momma’s gotta work to pay the bills. And I’m proud to have a job that can support us both. I work all day and come home to be mommy all evening and night. Our weekends are all about relaxing together, reconnecting with friends, and preparing for the week ahead. I usually think much more about feeding Jacob than feeding myself, and I’ve watched way more Sesame Street than This is Us over the last month. This little boy comes first in all of my plans and thoughts, and I’m still figuring out how to be the best mommy I can. How to mesh my old life with my new one, the single-gal Jenn with the new mom Jenn. I give myself a break and go out with my girlfriends once a month because I need a way to relax and release. And I feel guilty every minute I’m away from him until I see his little smile again. He is the sunshine in my life.

So, what’s next? I have so much I’m excited for…travel and vacations with my baby boy; all the new foods he’ll be trying; the rolling, sitting up, crawling, talking, and walking that’s to come; him sleeping in his crib! And for myself…who knows? My life doesn’t stay uneventful for long. As if baby isn’t enough to keep me busy, I’ve always got something up my sleeve or on the horizon. I’m honestly so satisfied with my life right now….my home, my career, my family. Who knows….Maybe dating and love next? I guess we’ll see.

Thanks for reading my update. I had several people ask me…”What happened next? Did you have the baby? How have you been?” That’s what sent me to my laptop to type up a blog. Hopefully, I’ll be back soon with something exciting!

 

Pregnancy Thoughts So Far

2017 has flown by so far. That’s what happens when you find yourself pregnant with a New Year’s baby! On January 1st I couldn’t think of a single resolution for the year. My life was feeling pretty complete and happy. But within a few weeks, I discovered the little life growing within me, and my goal for the year became obvious: to grow a healthy little baby and get through pregnancy and delivery with as much grace and as little stress as possible. A year from now I’d be a momma…something I’d dreamed of for years but thought wasn’t in the cards for me anymore. The timing was a huge surprise, and some parts of the situation aren’t ideal, but baby has felt like the most amazing gift.

So, what has pregnancy been like this year? Or at least my pregnancy so far? Here’s a peek back at first and second trimester.

First trimester recap:

I don’t even feel pregnant. Maybe I’m really not…but within a couple of weeks of finding out about my little blueberry, all I could think about was my next nap and how much I really didn’t want to vomit. And then I immediately bloated 2 sizes overnight and couldn’t fit into any of my pants. And then I felt very, very pregnant. I had a scary hemorage early on, then found I had a scary uterine fibroid growing rapidly, but both scary problems seemed to resolve themselves and aren’t issues now. The rest of first trimester flew by with excitement (and a little concern) about sharing the good news, 3 ultrasounds where baby looked like a bunny then a biscuit then a tiny baby, daily naps, a ton of Bojangles fries and cantaloupe (the only foods that didn’t make me want to puke most days), and finally DNA testing that would tell me the gender of my little one…it’s a BOY! Let the celebration and name-search begin!

First trimester lows: extreme fatigue, daily nausea, gas and constipation (just being honest!), medical complications, anxiety about telling people about the babe, and modifying my social life from fun late nights out downtown to early dinners with friends…and dessert (trading my choco-tini for a chocolate brownie sundae).

First trimester highlights include: my last night out downtown with the girls (suspiciously ordering “cranberry on the rocks, no vodka”), telling my parents about the bun in the oven, ultrasounds–seeing and hearing baby boy’s heart beat, receiving a crib and mattress as an end-of-first-trimester present from my British BFF Natalie, and buying baby a blue bear lovey when I found out he’s a boy.

Second trimester recap:

Can I get away with wearing leggings to work today? I don’t think I can wear real pants anymore. Ever. By 13 weeks, I was feeling huge! The bloat was real, and to me I looked obviously preggers, even though I’d only gained 5 pounds. By week 14, my nausea disappeared as well as my fatigue. I didn’t have the energy BURST I had read about and expected, but I wasn’t falling asleep all day. And I could eat anything I wanted, except chicken and salad which still sounded pretty gross until about 20 weeks; but French fries still sounded like the best idea ever. That salty/savory craving sent me to Bojangles so MANY mornings for a country ham biscuit (add tomato) and tea that the employee at the drive through (Kendra) knew my order.

Second trimester probs: headaches and dehydration, but mostly belly aches…stretching, round ligament pain, bloating, gas….you name it. My tummy just hurt all the time and felt heavy like a bowling ball for about 8 weeks of this trimester. Oh, and then I found out I didn’t have a job for next year (but then I did, so it’s ok!). Major concern of 2nd trimester: trying not to gain more than .5-1 pound each week, so I won’t go over the 25 pound max my doctor gave me.

Second trimester highlights: choosing a baby name, starting to plan a nursery, healthy 19 week anatomy scan (baby Jacob is getting big!), having a sweet mini-shower from mine and Paige’s Wednesday night Bible book study group, winding down the school year and getting a job the last week, and FINALLY…finding that easy part of pregnancy where you feel pretty normal and not in so much pain and discomfort on a daily basis. Perfect time for me to take a trip…and I had a blast in Boston for a week with one of my oldest friends/sister/ride-or-die Lianne.

And that brings us to the third trimester…which I’m currently just a couple of weeks into. Some days I feel awesome, some days exhausted and like I’m going to pass out. Some days I’m loving pregnant life; most days I’m counting down the days, ready for it to be over, so I can hold my little boy in my arms. Best things about third trimester so far: No school means I can relax and finish the nursery. At least I’m over the in-between phase and definitely look pregnant now, so I can rock the bump more confidently these days. I can eat regularly now…back to enjoying healthier foods most days, but still indulging in some treats as well of course.

And only 10 weeks to go. That’s really not that long! People have asked how I’m doing, and I’m great…soooo happy with my life and the way things are right now, so ready to begin this next adventure. I feel like my dreams are all coming true which might sound strange to some of you because I’m single. But I’ve had my dreams come true already in the romance department, and I’ve had that end and don’t necessarily feel like it’s the most important thing in life anymore. But I’m ready to be a mom which was my next big dream in life anyway, and I’m excited or it to finally be happening. So, I’m truly happy, not emotional, not lonely, just absolutely thrilled. And I don’t feel alone in any way: This baby has so many people who love him already. My family and friends are so supportive and loving. I feel blessed and grateful every day. This baby is a blessing.

 

 

 

What to Expect When You’re…Divorcing

I feel like a blog post is necessary. I’ve been gone for awhile…

So, this is my final post looking back over the last year and 5 months or so. I’ve reflected plenty…I’ve been through the stages. I’ve moved forward, and I’ve got my daddy’s last name back! Although, I’ve been “single” for awhile, a couple of months ago, I became officially unmarried and unattached. More than ever, my sights are set on my future, and I mean that in such a new, big way!

But to celebrate and wrap up my divorce being finalized, I’ve compiled a list of What to Expect When You’re Divorcing. Similar to the oh-so-popular tome What to Expect When You’re Expecting, but for those who are divorce-curious or on the mend themselves. List to be followed by a rather short, extremely personalized “What NOT to Expect When You’re Divorcing” list.

What to Expect When You’re Divorcing

  1. You can expect ups and downs, highs and lows. Obviously. You’re the only one who can determine if you dwell on your highs or your lows. You CAN choose to be happy.
  2. You will try to hold on to some parts of your past, so it doesn’t feel like a complete waste. And I’ve decided that’s okay for me to do. I have some great coupled-up travel memories that don’t make me sad to think about, and they remind me that I had a good friend for those years, if nothing else.
  3. You will become more strong and independent than you ever thought possible. And determined. And resilient. And hopefully graceful. Even if you felt pretty disposable a year ago, you will remember your worth as time passes.
  4. You can expect to act like you’re 25 again some days, and that’s okay too. We all need to continue to feel young and carefree some days. And at this point in your life, you REALLY need a reminder that you’re still young and sexy and fun. But all things in moderation, you’ll learn.
  5. You will probably enjoy your time by yourself more than you dread it. And more than you expected. If you let yourself.
  6. You will wake up a year later with PMS and cry in disbelief like it just happened yesterday. It happens. Then you’ll drink a bottle of champagne with your girlfriends and be okay.
  7. You will probably lose weight right off the bat (“trauma-trim”), then plump back up a few months later. Inevitably.
  8.  You will say goodbye in your heart…over and over and over again. You will say goodbye to old traditions at holidays. You will say goodbye to family as you miss them more and more. You will say goodbye when you leave. You’ll say goodbye again when your ex hurts you again. Somewhere along the way, you’ll think for a second about rebuilding a relationship. Then you’ll say goodbye again as you’re reminded why things turned out the way they did and who that person really is.
  9. You can expect that you’ll get through it. You just will. Even when you thought at first that you couldn’t breathe without him. It’ll get better, and you’ll get through it. This too shall pass…
  10. You’ll probably have days, months, or even ultimately decide that being single is the MOST fun… Why haven’t you been having a blast like this all along? You might even try out a new, sticky, weird relationship that you aren’t ready for, and quickly be reminded that single was much more fun! And that’s okay. You do your thing, and one day in the future…at the right time, you’ll be ready for love again.
  11. And lastly, you can expect to sign the divorce papers with a bittersweet tear in your eye. Happy for that phase of life to be over. Sad for that phase of life to be over. Ready to keep moving forward though.

What NOT to Expect When You’re Divorcing

  1. You should probably NOT expect to wrap up your divorce, settle into your single-gal life/hometown/new house/new job, and then unexpectedly discover you’re…pregnant! Nope, that would NOT be what to expect at the end of a divorce. But these things happen. Apparently. Because some people just can’t have a normal life like everyone else has.

So, my next big adventure? Having a baby boy in September. Of this year. Like in 6 months.

Should Jenny from the Rox blog about pregnancy and mom-things? Hmm… Thoughts?

The Littles

Wow… I’m constantly reminded and amazed at how quickly things can change.

One of the biggest changes in my life lately has been my descent from the big leagues of high school (not to mention, a really tough high school where I was cursed at and threatened regularly) to the sweetest elementary school gig ever.

In case you didn’t know, I made a major career switch from being a high school English teacher to being an elementary school English-as-a-Second-Language Specialist. Goodbye, classes filled with 30-some 15 and 16 year olds, raging with hormones and anxious to display their independence and resistance to conformity. Hello, precious littles! My new babies are only anxious to hold my hand, give me hugs, and learn new English skills every day. It is beyond refreshing to teach to little groups of 2 to 5 students at a time who come to me (sometimes running, always smiling) with hugs and excitement about what we are going to do today! This morning the first little boy I picked up from his classroom lit up when he saw me open the door, ran over to me (neatly pushing in his chair first), and said, “Oh, I’ve missed you so much!” To say I’m enjoying my new set-up would be an understatement. I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this. (And making the same thing even!)

On top of that, my elementary schools (I visit a second elementary school two mornings a week) are so sweet with the warmest, most supportive staff. And I’m back in Mebane which just feels like coming home. I’m just down the road from my EA home of the last 8 years. Teaching ESL is amazing so far. I love working with students with different cultural backgrounds, and I love how eager they are to improve their English skills! Okay, I’ll stop. Just excited to be heading in a direction in my career that feels right for me!!

Day one on the job

Day one on the job

 

 

Aging Gracefully (I hope)

I’m another year older. And this time, I feel it. This year has been a whirlwind of changes. Change isn’t always bad though, it’s just…different.

One year ago, I put on a happy face for my birthday, but in reality, I was scared for the days that would follow. I was terrified for November to come. I was afraid of how my whole life was going to be flipped. I prayed. I relied on my family and friends. I tried to think logistically and not so much with my heart. And I did what needed to be done. I moved on.

And surprisingly, everything went okay. The world didn’t stop turning. I woke up in the morning, put on my lipstick, and attacked my day. Just like I said I was going to. I was stronger than I thought I could be. And I barely let myself look back…except for a few reflective blog posts, I guess.

I moved over an hour away to my “city-girl apartment” that I will always think of and smile. My 10 months of living downtown was such a throwback to my early twenties and such a blast! Of course I wouldn’t wish separation on anyone, but if possible, I would almost recommend every thirty-something gal to take a year back in time to pretend you’re Carrie. To remind yourself that you are still fun and spry and not living a dried up, mundane life. Sure, I was a bit careless and irresponsible, but I threw myself the little party that I needed to get through. And it was fabulous. 😉

my solo, single-gal apartment

my solo, single-gal apartment

How can you be sad when you wake up to this view, looking out in Downtown Greensboro?

How can you be sad when you wake up to this view, looking out in Downtown Greensboro?

And then one day, I felt like settling down. And I thought I’d look into houses where I could feel more…at home. I figured that my loft lease ran out in a few months, and I’d get a jump start at looking at what’s on the market. But you know, when I get an idea in my head, I can’t help but jump in head first. I started looking at houses on a Thursday. I looked at about 7 or 8 over the next few days. I fell in love with one on Tuesday, and I made an offer on Wednesday! Before I knew it, I was buying a house!

my sweet new home

my sweet new home

Yay! I'm a homeowner. About to unlock MY house after closing on it!

Yay! I’m a homeowner. About to unlock MY house after closing on it!

Welcome home!

Welcome home!

And here I am today…relaxing in one of my favorite places to be…on my own little front porch, stretched out on my bench, sipping coffee on this cool morning, and typing out a much overdue blog post. Thinking about how blessed I am. And wondering who will be raking up the enormous amount of leaves in my yard. I don’t even own a rake. Seriously. I can’t even imagine me raking. How much is a leaf blower? I’ll figure it out.

I’m another year older. My life has not taken the route I had planned when I was 23; that’s for sure. I’ve experienced more heart break than I thought I would. I didn’t think people could be so cold, and I’m anything but cold. So, it’s hard for me to understand. But I did want my life to be an adventure, and it has certainly been that. And I expect many new adventures in the near future. 

Everything in my life has changed in the last year. My home, my family, even my hair and my car! I changed jobs to find a fresh start. Now, I’m changing jobs again Monday! (A good thing…more on that later.) So many people that I loved were taken from me, many that I haven’t even spoken to once over the last year. And of course it still breaks my heart. But I can’t help but think how I have been so covered by grace throughout these changes: the grace of God, of my family and friends, of the universe who seemed to be looking out for me. Things couldn’t have worked out better, given the circumstances. I know I have someone looking out for me, because I could have curled up and withered away. But I was given strength to keep going, and I was shown favor in my endeavors. And I’m happy. I’m SO happy. I’m not bitter and scorned. I don’t struggle through each day; I laugh far more than I cry. My life is filled with joy and peace. 

My good friend Yalitza bought me the most beautiful sign for my birthday to hang in my new home. It reads, “Grace changes everything.”

Can't wait to hang this on my wall!

Can’t wait to hang this on my wall!

What an important reminder! I was instantly struck by the truth of it. There is hardly anything you can count on as inevitable in life, other than that everything can change when you least expect it. That’s basically what makes something living…it changes, everything changes. Relationships, people, surroundings, finances, love. But Grace changes everything. It covers and protects. It heals and surprises you. It keeps your chin up when you think you can’t make it through the day. It wraps you in its arms and warms you on the coldest nights. God’s grace can be felt every day. You can find it in the most unexpected places. And I’ve tried to show as much grace as possible in a year that was hard to be graceful. I may not have done it well some days, but His grace was still there for me, even when I slipped.

I’m one year older, but I think I’ve grown wiser recently. I hope I have fewer lessons to learn in the coming year, but whatever is thrown my way, I hope I can show the same grace I’ve been shown. By God and by the precious people in my life who have loved me, no matter what.

 

Looking Back and Quotes That Grew Me

I can’t believe it’s basically the end of summer. This is my last week to sleep in until 8 and drink my coffee until 10. Spend my afternoons shopping or reading magazines. Watch movies until midnight or go to sleep by 10. My last week of summer to do whatever I want.

I have a tendency to be sad at this time of year, and then I remind myself: We must go back to school if we ever want Christmas to come.
Childish, I know. But it works for me.

This summer was different. I was living alone for my first summer in 8 years. No family vacations, no country club pool 3 or 4 times a week. No summer journals and art projects with the girls. No Mayo or Hyco Lake, no Lakefest, no family of my own this year. It’s been different.

I’ve been thinking a lot today about the mess things were last school year, especially last fall. And now it’ll soon be fall again, and things look so different from last year. Looking back, I still can’t put into words how I felt last fall. There are some days where I think I’m still processing what happened. You can never prepare for such a drastic change in your life, especially when things are seemingly “fine.”

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Looking back at past blogs, I described myself as shards of glass on the floor. Broken. And that’s how I felt. Like it was going to take a long, long time to put myself back together. And I found that what was most broken was my sense of worth and value. I cried those first few weeks, trying to understand what happened and make sense of it in my head, but I couldn’t. Because it was a senseless thing that happened. And the word that popped up most in my head was “disposable.” I knew I had done nothing wrong, but still I was being tossed out, thrown away. Trash. Like something that had been used up and had no more value. It felt like everything was pointless, and my existence was hardly even necessary. The one person I loved most just didn’t want me anymore. It’s the toughest, darkest, most desolate feeling in the world. I can conjure up the feeling right now. It’s the coldest place on earth.

I’m so blessed for amazing family and friends…who picked me up, cried with me, prayed for me, and even bitched and drank with me. Life continued, and I was surprised by how quickly I started to heal and move forward.

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And so I did pull myself together… I kept a firm belief that I need to create a beautiful new life here in this new situation…because there is a lot left of this journey. And because I AM valuable and worthy of more than what I was even being given. And the more time distanced me from my old life, the more I saw how damaged that life was. And it became easier and easier to settle into my new single-girl life.

I tried several different things to make me happy this year. I kept a positive attitude. I’ve made the most of the situation by enjoying my space and new apartment and freedom. I drank too much and ate unhealthy, delicious foods. I spent tons of time with family (who will always love you and be there for you) and with friends (both new and old, who understand me more than I ever thought anyone could). I kept these quotes in mind:

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And these days, I seem to be doing alright. I might need to heal a little more. Don’t we all? I have days where I’m still in disbelief, confusion, and anger over how it all went down. But I do feel completely whole now.  And I’m not just getting by, I’m sort of winning. And starting to think about the next chapter in my life and plan for the future.

So, big upcoming changes… I’ll be teaching in Guilford County this year at a brand new (to me) school that I don’t even know much about. And I got a new, short hair do to try to boost my professional game a bit.

And (this is a biggie!) although I love my downtown, city-gal apartment, I decided to look for a place that will feel a little more like home….somewhere I can settle down. And I’ve decided to buy a house!! (Because if I wait around for a man to make my dreams come true, I could be waiting awhile. Time to take matters into my own hands.) So, I’m buying a house by myself. My own sweet, little home. In my hometown. That will be mine! Because I’m buying it! Yay! I’m super excited!

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Next up: True love? You’d think I’d be tainted, mistrustful, and scorned, but you should know I’m a romantic at heart (and could never stay away from men for too long). And there’s nothing as magical in this world as love. I’m definitely giving love a chance in my life again. So……. maybe there will be some funny/weird/interesting date stories coming soon. I’m building up the courage to share. We’ll see…

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Summer Inspiration

Ahhh, it’s summertime again. Mmmm, breathe deep and take it all in. My favorite time of the year, summer means two months of renewal and simply feeling like the best me.

“I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”- F.Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Obligatory summer breakfast shot, photo-bombed by Oliver Kitty.

Obligatory summer breakfast shot, photo-bombed by Oliver Kitty.

Every summer morning, I get to relax with my coffee and toast, read my newest magazine, Pinterest projects and recipes I’ll never make, watch HGTV, and be reminded that I am a complete person on my own, outside of my identity as a teacher, colleague, daughter, etc. All the labels seem to fall away, and I’m just Jennifer again.

“I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.” – L.M. Montgomery

What inspires me this summer?

My neighborhood, where I can walk downstairs for coffee and the best bagels or cheesecake in town.

Living here has made me so happy.

Living here has made me so happy.

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The view of my neighborhood, looking up Elm St.

The view of my neighborhood, looking up Elm St.

Color has always inspired me. Although my favorites could change tomorrow, I’m still in the mood for some pink, indigo, aqua, and gold. Some of my inspiration:

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My own apartment, where I’ve included some of these shades in my palette (but kept a neutral foundation, so changing things up is easy and inexpensive).

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And eating healthy again (after straying from my healthy recipes for several months): with an incredible focus on avacado. Haha.

Salad with dried cranberries, walnuts, avocado, and feta cheese

Salad with dried cranberries, walnuts, avocado, and feta cheese

Avocado, fried egg, and hot sauce on toast....my favorite breakfast toast these days

Avocado, fried egg, and hot sauce on toast….my favorite breakfast toast these days

Salad with strawberries, pecans, and feta

Salad with strawberries, pecans, and feta

My favorite salad dressing this summer

My favorite salad dressing this summer

Black bean fajitas with avacado (obviously a summer favorite), lettuce, cheese, light ranch

Black bean fajitas with avacado (obviously a summer favorite), lettuce, cheese, light ranch

What inspires you this summer? What healthy meals are you preparing? Hope you’re having a great summer…off to the pool for the afternoon!

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.” -John Lubbock

Leaving the Nest

I fell into teaching in an unconventional way. I didn’t grow up wanting to be a teacher. I didn’t even go to college to be a teacher. I majored in English partly because I was in love with my college poetry professor and he suggested I do so. I figured I’d work in magazines and dreamed of a job with Southern Living. I went back and added education when I decided magazine editing was too boring and lonely of a life for me. Well, teaching high school English certainly hasn’t been boring.  And I just wrapped up my TENTH year! My, how time flies! I truly can’t believe it.

My tenth school picture and the only one I'm willing to show ANYBODY

My tenth school picture and the only one I’m willing to show ANYBODY

I was so blessed and fortunate to find an amazing school my third year of teaching. Eastern Alamance became a home to me for eight years. The staff became a family to me over time; my amazing principal, a father figure. This school year was different from previous years. Everything in my life changed so drastically in the fall, and my school home and family were the only consistent things that got me through the year. Honestly, I don’t think I was the best teacher these two semesters. My mind was too clouded, and some days I was just getting through until that 3:20 bell. But my colleagues always offered listening ears, and most of my students showed more kindness and patience than I deserved. Honestly, I think I leaned on the kids more than they leaned on me this year. I think they poured into me more than I filled them with fresh knowledge and skills. They knew I was struggling some days, and they showed me so much love, encouragement, and compassion–reminding me how wrong people are to stereotype all of today’s teenagers as self-absorbed and disrespectful.

Yes, this photo was staged for a brochure I had to create (lol)

Yes, this photo was staged for a brochure I had to create (lol)

And now, I’m leaving EA for a new chapter in my life, and I couldn’t be more nervous. Everyone is congratulating me on my new job in Guilford County, but I’m more apprehensive and scared than excited right now. Because I’m leaving a place that feels like home for…the unknown. Of course there are perks. That’s why I decided to leave, right? I’m shortening my drive 30 minutes each way, saving myself an hour in the car each day, along with that gas. I’ll be making a little more money which will definitely help things now that I’m on my own. But it was hard to remember these reasons for leaving as I said goodbye to my friends around campus, and I couldn’t help but worry if I’ve made the right decision as I drove away from Mebane…a community that has been so welcoming and warm to me.

Walking around EA with a smile on my face, caught by a photography student

Walking around EA with a smile on my face, caught by a photography student

Ultimately though, it’s time. I’m back in Greensboro, I’m not going anywhere, and I need to get my life together here. I need a clean slate at a place that doesn’t hold quite so many memories. I need a fresh start, so to Guilford Co. Schools I go! Goodbye, Eagle’s nest. Goodbye, yearbook babies (past and present). Goodbye, room A-8. Goodbye, colleagues. Goodbye, social committee chair duties (who would like to take over S.C., by the way?). 🙂

I thank God for opening doors for me and giving me an opportunity to make the move to a school where the staff seem close and comfortable with each other. And maybe they will be a new family to me. And I can’t believe I’m starting my 11th year of teaching! I’m planning to challenge myself in new ways this coming year and grow as an educator and a person.

I never thought I’d find such comfort in EA’s motto: “Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle.” It’s corny, but I do. And I’ll truly hold EA in my heart as a special place.

teaching

Single Gal’s Ultimate Playlist

I left one HUGE, important thing off of my last blog post. One more essential of a fabulous, single gal’s apart:

The Ultimate Girly Music Playlist

My musical tastes have varied greatly over the last six months as my moods have swung and swung and swung. So, I thought I’d share a little about that journey…if for no one else out there but a few girls I know who are having a rough time of it themselves.

So…of course you’ll need different tunes for the various moods we girls go through in general, even when you haven’t just been trampled to death in some heartbreaking scenario. I’ve mentioned before that I rocked out to Taylor Swift’s 1989 album and Miranda Lambert’s Platinum for the first month or two after moving to Greensboro. They were completely safe, mostly because they reminded me of nothing from my past at all, and therefore, they played on repeat…over and over.  And I tearlessly belted out every word.

Until I couldn’t hear those songs anymore. And then I went through some other musical phases, mostly moving away from country into more upbeat pop, rap, and R&B. Here are some of the fun and crazy songs I’ve been listening to over the last 6 months. Some of these are fresh hits, and others date back to 2008 and 2009, and they still just make me wanna dance. Click on any link to watch the YouTube video described.

Post-breakup songs to listen to after you’ve healed a little bit:

“Hanging On” by Elie Goulding  (This is a hard one. Not for the freshly broken hearted.)

“Elastic Heart” by Sia  (This feels a little angry to me, but it sounds like moving on to me.)

 

Other songs that remind me mostly of nothing, in a good way, and make me feel kind of badass-ish:

“Roses” by The Chainsmokers  (*No, I don’t smoke weed.)

“Gold” by Kiiara

“Sail” by Awolnation

“Bad Girls” by M.I.A.  (An old song that has LONG been my theme song that often plays in the back of my head.)

 

Songs for when I’m feeling sexy and thinking about moving on: 

“Beating Heart” by Elie Goulding

“Simple Things” by Miguel  (*Like I said, I don’t even smoke, but the song feels sexy to me and gets stuck in my head…)

“Dangerous Woman” by Ariana Grande

“White Iverson” by Post Malone

“Pillowtalk” by Zayn  (*Be warned: Video is super weird and shows a flower sprouting from a woman’s vagina, but Zayn looks HOT in it.)

 

And lastly:

Ridiculous (and kinda dirty) Songs to Dance Around the Apartment to When You’re Getting  Ready to go out with the Girls:

“Swing” by Savage  (I don’t even know where I found some of these old songs, but this one was in the film Knocked Up…)

“Booty featuring Iggy Azalea” by Jennifer Lopez  (*Note: There is a LOT of booty in this video. Watch at your own risk.)

“Birthday Cake featuring Chris Brown” by Rhianna  (*Note: There’s some strong sexual content in these lyrics, but this song gets me hyped up to go have some fun and dance!)

“Stiletto Pumps in the Club” by Crime Mob  (This song is so old!!!)

Other songs I’ve had on repeat so far this year:

  • Anything by The Weeknd
  • “Body” ft. Jeremih by Dreezy
  • “Formation” by Beyonce
  • “Kiss it Better” and “Needed Me” by Rhianna
  • Several songs by Fetty Wap
  • “Back to Sleep” by Chris Brown
  • “Wonderful ft. The Weeknd” by Travis Scott
  • “High for This” by Elie Goulding
  • “Hide Away” by Daya

What songs heal your broken hearts, help you feel tough as nails, or pump you up for a night out? Comment me with your faves.