A More Effective Quitter

Oh hey… Guess what!

I’m not dead.

Honestly guys, I don’t know what happened. One minute I was stuffing jalepenos in my pants and the next thing I know it’s been nearly two months since my last blog post.

Some of you may not know but I’m a teacher and this year I’m teaching a new grade… again.

So mid-summer I started getting back to work. Since then it has been a juggling balance between spending time with my kids (because the working mommy guilt has set back in) and getting my job done. So the last two months have looked like this…

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There were several times within the past few weeks that I felt compelled to write a blog post. Every time I sat down to write one something else came up. My life has been absolute madness lately. Wildfire season kicked in right about the time that I started working again. Brent has had to work a ton of overtime to cover the guys who have headed out all over the country to fight the wild fires. This week alone he’s on a four day bender.

This blog is a pretty good measure of how much time I’m getting to myself. When I make my health (both mental and physical) a priority I write often. If I’m struggling with making myself a priority the blog suffers.

So… that’s what happened.

In the latter half of the summer I spent a lot of my “time off” moving into another classroom and planning my lessons. I felt guilty when I wasn’t out living it up dog days style, but then I would feel anxious and irresponsible for not preparing for the school year. After spending an afternoon in the classroom I just couldn’t bare to come home and sit in front of the computer to write a blog post while Penelope was begging for me to pay attention to her.

It just felt wrong.

Then school started and the madness really began because Brent was working and I was working…

I’ve been doing a fairly good job of cooking healthy food ahead of time so that I could have healthy lunches. I also rode my bike to school when I could and went for a few sunrise walks with my friend.

One time I actually took the initiative to wake up early and go to a spin class at 5 o’clock in the morning. That didn’t turn out so great…

I came to class pumped up and proud of myself for actually getting my ass out of bed. I positioned myself in the middle of the class where I could see the instructor but wasn’t up front and center. Five minutes into class a lady walked in and hopped on the bike in front of me. Apparently she was meeting a friend. The ladies chatted a bit while we did our warm ups and then they chatted a little louder when the music got louder and then even louder as they really got into what “Pissed them off!” The whole time peddling casually while I tried to listen to the instructor who was telling me to pump up the resistance. Every time the music got loud they got louder. Every time the instructor tried to tell us a witty story during the “down hill” portion they talked over her…

I looked around to see if I was the only one who was irritated by it. By the looks on the faces of the people around me I wasn’t. The instructor was looking at them and I was looking at her urging her to say something… but she didn’t.

Finally after 40 minutes of enduring it I snapped…

“EXCUSE ME!” I blurted out before I actually knew what was coming out of my mouth“Will you please stop talking?” I added in a calmer tone trying to makeup for the bitch that suddenly erupted from my body.

Both women looked back at me and then at each other like I was completely out of line.

“It’s annoying,” I added with finality.

They stopped talking for a while and the other spin class patrons gave me secret smiles glad that someone finally said something. I tried to ignore that it actually happened and get back to my work out but the ladies kept looking back at me and talking about me so that I would hear them in mean girl fashion.

I just stared at them every time they looked around at me all the while thinking, I’m a middle school teacher you can’t intimidate me, I confront assholes on a daily basis.

When class slowed down we were supposed to do stretches. They ignored the stretches the instructor prompted us to do and instead opted for stretches that gave them the opportunity to give me more dirty looks. Finally I had enough and said, “You know, I’m sorry if I came across as a bitch. It’s obvious that I’m not a hardcore athlete, but I woke up at 4:30 this morning to get my vagina murdered by this hard ass seat. And I didn’t do it so that I could hear you bitch about your ex husband.”

They turned around and left me alone the remainder of the time. And I came to the conclusion that it might be best if I didn’t do early morning group fitness…

Despite these efforts over the past few weeks, my pants are still tighter from being in survival mode last year. And they were tight the year prior to that from being in survival mode while I finished my master’s degree and did my student teaching.

I can’t spend my entire teaching career in survival mode while my pant sizes slowly creep up.

Since I’ve started working, my morning runs had slowly been replaced with morning lattes. And when I got home from work my workout clothes were replaced with pajama pants. The weight started to creep up five pounds at first, then ten, then… well, I don’t even know really.

At some point I’m going to have to start from scratch and post my weight with a picture. I haven’t done that yet for three reasons…

1. I’m pretty sure it’s going to hurt my feelings and I will ultimately punish myself for my slip in the health department by gaining another ten pounds.

2. Bridget used to be my before and after photographer. But I don’t feel like it’s a good idea to have her do that anymore since she’s gotten older. Girls are sensitive to these matters and I’m not sure I’m sending her a positive message by obsessing over my weight and then having her take pictures of it.

3. I’m afraid some weirdo is going to steal my before and after pictures again. In fact, I’m pretty sure my face is still lingering out there in google land pushing some weird diet pill. (Still creeped out by that by the way.)

In fact, I was tempted to stop blogging because of it.

BUT I can’t quit writing this blog. I haven’t finished what I’ve started…

I’m one of those people that always wants to quit when the going gets tough, but then I’ll change my mind and decide not to quit.

You could define this as tenacity, but I’m actually more sure that this is just another case of me not being able to follow through properly.

“I quit!… Ugh, nevermind.”

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I don’t know what it is, I just can’t stop trying even if I’m really bad at something.

For Example:

I’m horrible at spelling, yet I’ve earned the right as a Language Arts teacher to issue out spelling tests.

I was a terrible student growing up. In fact, I hated school. I quit college twice, once because I didn’t know what I wanted to be and another time to move to Colorado and get married… only to end up going a third time and finishing with a Master’s Degree.

I was a slow reader as a kid and had a hard time getting into books. My eyes used to twitch when I read. Now I’m known by name at all of the local bookstores within a 15 mile radius of my house because I’m obsessed with reading and known by many as a book nerd.

I’m a “weight loss blogger” whose pants are probably two sizes too tight…

Yeah…. we’ve gotta keep working on that one.

You know, life would be so much easier if I was a more effective quitter. OR maybe I’m just really attracted to contradictions.

So, what are we gonna do about it? I’ve seriously got to figure out the balance between life and work. (If you haven’t noticed yet, I’ve tried this several times.) I’m not just talking about balancing time between my students and my kids. That’s important but I’ve also got to throw in focusing on time with my husband, and focusing on myself and developing who I want to be. That’s four things that need to be up in the air at all times and I won’t rest until I learn how to balance them all.

My plan is to write a blog post at least once a week because this is how I check in with myself mentally. In fact, I kind of forget you guys are there sometimes. Hence, some of the awkward blog posts. (Sorry ’bout that.)

Actually losing weight takes focus and I’ve got to actually focus on it… even if I am SOOOOO tired of talking about it. Honestly, I would really like to quit writing this blog, but I can’t until I figure out how to not gain five pounds every time I’ve had a stressful day.

Until then, I guess you’re just kind of stuck listening to me describe the effort it takes to keep my thighs from eating my shorts. Good luck with that.

Captain Hook Adventures

You know what? Monday’s usually suck but today is a great day!

I know this because I woke up to find a hot air balloon hovering over my backyard. (It’s my good luck charm.) It must have been a Happy Birthday hello to my sweet Penelope who turns three today!

As you could tell from my last post, things have been super busy as of late. The trend continued through the weekend but the focus of my efforts was trained on spending quality time with my girls instead of planning lessons and grading papers.

The guilt of being so focused on work somehow landed me on the couch on Friday night watching “Ouija” with Bridget.

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I hated it. At one point I screamed so loud I made Bridget scream, not because she was scared of the movie but because I startled her. Brent came in and out while we were watching it and made the special effort to make fun of it just enough to really get on Bridget’s nerves.

Then he took it upon himself to try to creep her out by writing “Hi friend” on every shiny surface he could find using dry erase marker. We would randomly find them throughout the entire weekend. Bridget acted like she was annoyed but you could tell that she thought it was funny.

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(You would have to see the movie to understand.)

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When Saturday arrived Penelope woke us up at 6:00 with her daily proclamation of… “The sun woked up! It’s time to wake up now!” This is usually followed by, “NOW! Wake up NOW!!!”

…and that’s when she ceases to be cute.

I didn’t fight her too hard because there was a lot to be done for her birthday party that day because up until that point I had done nothing in preparation for the event. Seriously, I had invited a few friends over last minute, but other than that nothing had been bought or prepared. Therefore, there was a lot on the “To Do” list for that day…

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Her party was a smorgasbord of themes. It was a garden, pirate, princess, super hero party and it was divine!

Brent had spent hours beforehand putting together a little garden house for her birthday present, to be located between our two garden beds. It took him hours to complete but the final product was adorable!

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Despite the lack of preparation on my part, the party was a smashing success! Indulge me as I bombard you with photos…

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I think the cutest part was when Bridget and her friend led the little kids on a treasure hunt adventure…

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It pretty much entailed leading the kids on a wild goose chase, enticing them to do weird things along the way until they found a box of goodies.

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It was like The Goonies minus the criminals and skeletons… and curse words.

The next day when we woke up we all looked like this…

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(Baby hangover.)

Despite the fact that we were all exhausted Penelope decided that she needed to be potty trained. It was my intention to take on this endeavor this summer as soon as school let out, but she had other plans. She insisted on wearing her underwear. I can’t deny a woman on a mission so we went for it.

Therefore, I spent my Sunday like this…

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Luckily, she chose the venture when the weather was nice. When I got sick of cleaning up her messes we went outside to pee play.

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(Doesn’t she look like she belongs in a Little Golden Book?)

It was so beautiful outside with the blossoms and the green grass. After I got Penelope ready for bed, I took her on a bike ride to see if we could find the signs of spring…

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We ended up finding Captain Hook in a tree. This entailed sprinting around the neighborhood narrowly escaping his over exaggerated efforts at catching us.

Sadly, I woke up with sore calves and hamstrings. I think it’s time to amp it up in the gym.

When I woke up on this Monday I couldn’t help but feel fulfilled after a weekend like that. Then I stepped on the scale…I weighed in at 198.4. I think a few more Captain Hook adventures around the neighborhood are in order. Luckily, the birthday celebrations are over and I’ve got six weeks before school lets out to trim down for summer.

I’ve also got a toddler trying to take a dump in my kitchen while I cook dinner so the odds of me losing my appetite at any given moment are in my favor… Silver linings folks, silver linings.

Squeeze it in another day

Well hello folks, I’m writing you this post in the midst of the making of dinner.

Bridget so graciously offered to take Penelope outside to play while I cooked.  (I made her do it.) This dinner takes twenty minutes to make so that’s all of the quiet time I’ve got.

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I’m making spicy mango chicken sausage with black beans and cilantro lime rice. Delish!

Brent’s schedule at the firehouse has been landing in the middle of the week… and it’s killing me.

That means I’m a single parent for three mornings, two nights and the days in between. Juggling that with swim practice, grading papers, laundry, grading papers, cooking dinner, grading papers and dealing with my angelic/demonic toddler along with my angelic/demonic preteen and I’ve got my hands full.

There have been so many times in the past few days when I just wanted take a minute to say hello and write a blog post. But then duty called in one form or another and I had to put it aside.

Kind of like when I stopped writing this post to serve dinner…

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Or that other time when I stopped writing this post to take Bridget to swim team practice, and then go for a run…

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and then stop running so Penelope can slide at the park…

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and then back to the run so that I can make it to the bookstore in time for Penelope to squeeze time to play with legos before I head back to the pool to pick Bridget up.

Phew! You get the idea.

FYI- it’s already four hours later.

I wanted to write posts to brag about how awesome I was at making good healthy choices throughout the week.

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And then I wanted to write a post to confess all of the unhealthy choices I made during the weekend…

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I also wanted to write a post about how good I look in my skinny jeans noting the fact that nobody would have any idea it was like squeezing a ten pound sausage in a five pound casing unless they tried to hug me around the waist, therefore breaking the illusion. (Sad, but true.)

At one point I wanted to write a post about how I lost more weight and was so proud of myself and then I wanted to amend that post with another post explaining how I gained that weight back over the holiday and during my husband’s birthday.

(For the record I have no idea how much I weigh at this point.)

Then I was tempted to write a post to show off the awesome figurative language scavenger hunt I made up for my students and brag about the ahhh-mazing poems they wrote. (Even though nobody cares about that because this isn’t a teacher blog.)

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But I don’t have time to write because I’ve got papers to grade…

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Maybe we can squeeze it in another day.

They’re not pigtails… they’re cat ears (Week 4 weigh-in)

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Is it just me or did January just fly by?

Before I knew it, it was time to take my monthly pictures again. I found myself standing in my friend, Andrea’s living room again wearing those tight yoga shorts that emphasize every physiological flaw in my derriere. (Which… for the record I would never wear to an actual yoga class. Nobody wants to see that down dog.)

In other words, I had been dreading this day all month long. I am fairly certain the result is going to hurt my feelings.

I took my “before” pictures shortly after Christmas and I still haven’t seen them. Taking before pictures isn’t that big of a deal because you are supposed to look like crap. (Even if it is your second round of “before” pictures.) But today was my first progress picture.

What if you couldn’t see the progress?

I couldn’t help but feel nervous when I pulled up to Andrea’s house.

When I asked her to take these photos for me I thought I would be super comfortable with it since I talk to her about anything/everything. But somehow when I looked up at her, masked by her super expensive camera, I couldn’t help but feel the awkward 13 year old that will forever remain embedded in my soul start to make an appearance. I just kind of froze in front of the camera forgetting to flex my ab muscles in an attempt at not sucking in my gut. I couldn’t help it I just felt self-conscious and in my frozen stupor I just let it all hang out.

I haven’t felt that self-conscious in a long time. Over the years I’ve kind of adopted an attitude of self acceptance. I really like who I am and I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter if you agree but as far as I’m concerned… I’m pretty awesome.

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But for some reason, today, when I donned those ugly shorts all of the confidence vanished.

Everyday when I see my middle schooler’s roam the halls emanating their prepubescent self-aware-but-not-really-aware awkwardness I can sometimes feel myself silently willing them to love themselves. Why can’t you see what I see?! I will silently scream at them.

Yet, there I was today trembling in my booty shorts…

What gives?

I still haven’t seen the results of those photos. Andrea is taking the time to add a watermark to ensure that my pictures don’t get stolen again. I’ll be posting the result sometime this weekend. Honestly, I don’t mind putting it off while she edits them. I will pretty much do anything to stall on that 🙂

When I weighed in this morning I had no idea what to expect. This week was all over the map. On Saturday I woke up in the worst mood. I just couldn’t shake it. So instead of glaring at my family all day long I decided to head outside for a nice long run to see if I could improve my spirits. It was really cold outside but the time to myself was worth all of the shivering.

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After that run I quickly realized that I was in such a rotten mood due to the fact that I was exhausted. For the rest of the day I was completely useless. I had the hardest time keeping my eyes open. For the remainder of the day I was only capable of snuggling under blankets and watching movies. I didn’t even have the energy to eat and subsisted off of homemade popcorn and earl grey tea.

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I kept trying to caffeinate myself awake, but even that didn’t work. I started to worry that I was seriously getting sick or that I was pregnant because I hadn’t felt that fatigued in a long time. I went to bed at seven that night.

The next morning I woke up just as the sun made its appearance. As the sun streamed through the windows the fog had lifted and I was ready to make up for lost weekend time.

We started off the day with big sticky bowls of oatmeal and headed straight for the book store in remembrance of our old farmer’s market/ book store excursions we used to take when the weather was warmer. The farmer’s market isn’t ready yet, but the book store always is…

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In the mean time, Penelope has decided that she is a pirate named Jake. (She got this from the cartoon Jake and the Neverland Pirates.) While we were at the book store she made friends with a little boy and their introductions sounded like this:

Boy- “Hi, my name is Ezra. What’s your name?”

Penelope- “I’m Jake!”

Boy- “Uh… Jake is a boy name and you are a little girl.”

Penelope- “I’m not a girl. I’m a boy.”

Boy- “But you have braids, so you are a girl.”

Penelope- “They’re not braids.”

Boy- “I mean pigtails, you have pigtails so you are a girl.”

Penelope- “Those aren’t pigtails. They’re cat ears.”

Boy- “Oh (?)…”

After an hour they were best friends, so I ended up exchanging phone numbers with his mom. We went home just long enough to fill up on some chicken harvest soup and headed out again to play at the park and fit in another run…

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It was absolutely beautiful outside! The kids were giggling, the dogs were barking and the kites were dangling in the air. We just couldn’t bare to go inside… so we didn’t.

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We stayed to chase remote control cars and feed the ducks. The whole time Penelope introduced herself as Jake to all of her new friends. We didn’t dare go inside until the sun slipped behind the mountains.

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It was beautiful for the remainder of the week. After work we went on family bike rides and I was even crazy enough to go for a sunrise walk and talk with my friend Andrea on the same day that I had parent/teacher conferences. Fifteen hours later when I got home from work I was super tired, but decided the sunrise was worth it.

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I felt a lot of mommy guilt for working so much, so when I got home from work yesterday I snuggled the girls and watched more movies. Penelope was super clinging and fell asleep on my chest. As we lied there I could feel her temperature creeping up. You could tell that she was feeling under the weather, so I didn’t leave the couch all evening. That night we all tucked in and watched Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

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Later that night when I tucked her into bed I kissed her forehead and said, “Good night Penelope.”

She said, “I’m not Penelope.”

“I’m sorry… Goodnight Jake.”

“I’m not Jake. I’m Sherman.”

“Okay, good night Sherman.”

She whispered, “Goodnight Mr. Peabody.”

She was feverish all night and I had to get up a couple of times with her throughout the night. I felt tired and hung over this morning when I woke up. I stumbled into the bathroom and stripped down for the weigh in. I had no idea if I would lose any weight. I was trying to be as quiet as possible so that I wouldn’t wake Penelope up. The scale creaked under my feet and read 200.4. So close to being under that dreaded 200 pound mark! I’m down 1.6 pounds from last week and eleven pounds in a month.

Who knows, maybe we will see a difference when I get my photos back.

As I stepped off the scale and started to put my clothes back on I heard a little voice across the hallway say…

“Mr. Peabody! I’m awake now!”

“Okay Sherman… I’m coming.”

😉

What Not To Say on a Job Interview

You may or may not know this about me, but sometimes I say stupid stuff. Weird things pop into my head and if I’m not careful they come spewing out of my mouth at the strangest times. Those who know and love me have grown to find it endearing, funny even. Those who don’t know me can tend to think that I am… well, weird.

Most of the time when I’m around strangers I can get a handle on it. I’m fully aware that some people can only handle so much personality from one person. Yet, when I’m nervous like say… at a job interview, sometimes there is no telling what I’ll say.

That being said, let me share three phrases with you that should never be said while you are trying to convince someone to give you a job.

1.) “Oh! We’re role playing?!”

2.) “Yeah… I werked it 😉 ”

3.) “You know what? I’m gonna cheat… I’m cheating!”

Unfortunately for me I was feeling a bit off the morning I went in for my final job interview of the summer and ALL of those things were said at one point… including the winky face. As soon as I got back into my car after walking out of the school I was tempted to bang my head on my steering wheel over and over again. I didn’t though, instead I gave myself an internal scolding, “Nina! What the hell is your problem?!?!” and then I scolded myself again for finally being able to keep my thoughts in my head where they belong versus out of my mouth where they don’t.

Earlier this summer I had gone on a few interviews for Middle School Language Arts teaching positions. I got rejected once, offered one job (that I turned down), and then offered another opportunity to teach as a long term sub. The school that offered me the long term sub position told me to go ahead and apply for other jobs throughout the summer knowing that I had this offer to fall back on if necessary. (I’m pretty sure it was my consolation prize.)

Brent and I decided that since I was still on the fence about working full time again I should just go for the long term sub position. Penelope is still little and I know how time intensive teaching is, especially during your first year.

I was resolved on this decision, but then I stumbled upon a dream scenario. Part-time teaching at two schools within walking distance to my house, one of which Bridget is going to attend. I would teach two classes in the morning at one school and two classes at the other. I would have plenty of time throughout the day to finish all of my work so that I wouldn’t have to bring it home with me at night. I didn’t know whether or not I should apply for it. After all of the drama my summer entailed I was late turning in my teaching license and I didn’t think I would receive it on time for teaching at the beginning of the year.  I didn’t want to apply for this job and not get it because I was an idiot and didn’t take care of things  when I should have.

I debated and debated… I had been feeling pretty low after the surgery I didn’t think I could handle the rejection that I was sure to endure. But then for some reason on the last minute I submitted all of the required elements to apply and just waited to see what would happen. What did I have to lose? Worst case scenario I would gain more interview experience.

Shortly after, I got a call for an interview then my hopes started to soar. This was after all a unique job that was uniquely perfect for me, it was almost like it was tailor made.

I found myself becoming increasingly excited about the prospect of getting this job.  During the weekend I tried to mentally prepare myself for the interview by having the most relaxing weekend ever. On Saturday morning Penelope and I went on our usual morning bike ride and came across our beloved hot air balloons.

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My friend/neighbor, KJ took this picture.

When Sunday rolled around Brent and I took Penelope for an early morning hike.

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It was so beautiful I couldn’t believe that we waited so long to take our first hike of the summer!

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Then, I remembered that we had to carry a monkey on our back so I figured that was the reason for our delay.

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After the hike we got back in time to eat breakfast before heading out for our Sunday Funday farmer’s market/book store routine.  We sampled some fruit…

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and then read some books…

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… then went home and sampled some more fruit.

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After nap we went to a friend’s house for some yard games followed by a visit downtown Littleton for some food truck fun and a glass of wine. It was great!

Then someone decided to have a toddler fit and threw my phone against the wall and broke it to pieces… little shit. I was going to need that to hear back about my interview. It really bothered me and kind of ruined the mood for the day.

I was still irritated about it the next morning. Instead of taking my phone with me I took my computer and left early in order to get a coffee and decompress before the interview. It actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. When I showed up to the school I sat across from someone else who was also interviewing for the same job. She had two huge binders sitting in her lap and looked super prepared. My first internal reaction was, “Shit! I should have done that too!” Then as I looked through the interview questions the secretary gave me I dug through my laptop and found a power point that I had made during my student teaching that correlated perfectly with an answer I had to give.

Ha! Take that super prepared applicant!

As I sat in the office waiting for my turn to interview I began to get even more nervous.  Then my thoughts went back to my broken phone sitting on my kitchen counter and I got irritated. Before I knew it, it was my turn and I was still feeling a little off. So what did I do? I overcompensated…

My personality was turned up ten notches instead of five and I said things I would never normally say in an interview. I sat there with two principals and two other teachers and I just put on a show. The more they laughed the more obnoxious I got. After having to role play a teacher student conference with one of the other teachers I just sat back and said, “Well… that was awkward. I must have left my Mary Katherine Gallager at home.”

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(Click here to see a reenactment of the interview.)

Turns out I didn’t leave Mary at home at all…

A few hours later I got a phone call from the school. But I missed it because my phone was in shreds. I got it repaired that night and tried to call the principal back who had left his cell number but didn’t get a response. On the voice mail he said that he just had a few more questions to wrap up the process.

I kept wracking my brain. What did he want to know?!

“So Nina, can you tell me why you are such a weirdo?”

No, I have no idea.

“Do you normally behave this way in front of people?”

No… okay fine. Yes.

I had to wait until the next morning to find out what he wanted to ask me. I was out on a walk with my friend power pushing Penelope’s stroller. I was a bit confused and out of breath when I answered. And then the questions came…

“Hi Nina, do you want this job? Because if you do it’s yours.”

YAY!!!!!

I was so excited! Brent was at home packing for our family vacation to Minnesota when I called him to share the news. Then I got even more news…

“You’ll have to start this Monday at 7:30 in the morning. We have an orientation you will have to attend.”

Our flight wasn’t schedule to come in until noon on Monday. After a few more calls it was determined that if I really wanted this job I would have to stay home from my trip.

So this morning I woke up early and dropped Brent and Penelope off at the airport in the rain. I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I went to one of my favorite coffee shops from my college days.

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That’s where I am right now, among the hipsters writing my blog and drinking an over sized coffee.

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I keep feeling like I need to hurry home, but then I realize no one is waiting for me. I don’t know what to do with all of this freedom. It makes me think of the afternoons I spent between classes pretending I wasn’t a suburban housewife.

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Who knows I might just have to channel a little Coco Robicheaux while I have the chance…