Saturday, July 9, 2016

Summer School

After spending nine summers advising at orientations in Texas and California, I enjoyed my summer off last year. I was starting to plan our summer of swimming, library trips, and travel when a fork in the road appeared. I took that fork in the road and found myself back in school for a teaching credential. This means student teaching for summer school. I am out of my comfort zone, but I am learning so much. I am team teaching a 5th/6th grade combination class with a STEM theme. We are covering computer science/coding, hands-on math, animation, and engineering. So far, my highlight has been learning about binary and then turning around and trying to teach it. It was neat to see the kids get it and build on their learning. My coursework is online, so I have to keep up with readings and assignments. I just have one more paper to finish this weekend for my third module.

A 4th grader programmed this robot disco.

The beebots are really neat because they can work with a range of ages. The older students programmed and raced them through more challenging courses.

A colleague taught about patterns earlier in the program, which helped the students see the patterns in binary code.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Names and Jobs

As I walk across the blacktop at my son's school, I am not sure which name I will be called. I hear, "Hi Miss Sara," "Hello Mrs. Grafton," and "Mom" all in the course of one day. My roles at the elementary school have evolved over the last two school years.

When Alex began kindergarten, I left my full-time job at a university. My original intention was to go back to college/university work part-time. During Alex's kindergarten year, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the school and work as a noon aide to oversee the kindergarteners during lunch. When I asked Alex's kindergarten teacher what to have the kids call me, we settled on "Miss Sara". One of my grandmothers called me Miss Sara, so it is a familiar name. I enjoyed the opportunity for the kids to be less formal with me as a volunteer and noon aide.

Also during Alex's kindergarten year, the principal wrote in the school newsletter about the shortage of substitute teachers in our district. The teachers are pulled out of the classroom for meetings and trainings, which has caused an increased need for substitutes on specific days. To substitute in California, you need to have a bachelor's degree in any field, pass a test (the CBEST), and pass a background check. I went through those steps last August to obtain my 30 Day Substitute Credential. By September I was employed as a substitute teacher. I walked into new classrooms as "Mrs. Grafton" or "Mrs. G" for the younger grades (kindergarten and transitional kindergarten).

Based on need, I also signed up to work as a substitute instructional assistant. This position allowed me to help kids in our special days classes and students who are mainstreamed into the general classrooms. Some of these students already knew me as Miss Sara, so I wasn't going to have them call me a different name.

Substitute teaching is not an easy job, and it has helped me think on my feet. I have worked in classrooms from transitional kindergarten (when most of the kids were still four years old) to fifth grade at 5 different schools in our district. It is a flexible job that still allowed me to volunteer in my son's first grade class as "Miss Sara." I have met so many friendly teachers and staff members who have helped me out in new environments and in new situations. I've has some rough days, some smooth days, and everything in between. As a substitute in my own district, kids may recognize me outside of school at the grocery store, restaurants, and the library. It is always nice to hear a "hi" from them.

I worked full-time at universities for ten years, so the draw to work there again continued. I know that I want to work in education, and I spent this school year exploring various options. I applied to a couple of academic advising jobs in my area. I found a position that I was interested in after an in-depth interview process, but I was not offered the job. I interviewed for another position, but I turned down the offer. It was a good job, but it was not the right fit for me anymore. During March and April of this year, the ball had started rolling in another career direction for me.

As I was exploring options for future full-time employment, I considered pursing a California Teaching Credential. I found an online program and attended an information session in early March. My original intention was to apply for Fall 2016 if it seemed to be a good fit. It turned out that I still has time to apply for Summer 2016 and begin the program sooner. Around the same time, I was approached about the need for a long-term substitute in second grade at my son't school. The job was for 27 days and my credential allows me to work for up to 30 days in one classroom. Over the course of the school year, I had spent time in a variety of second grades classes and was enjoying this grade level.

There were some restless nights, tears, and uncertainty, but the puzzle pieces fit together by May. On May 2, I took over a second grade class for the remainder of the school. I have the opportunity to teach 22 bright and inquisitive students. I explained to them that I've had multiple roles at the school, so that's why they call me "Mrs. Grafton" while some of the first graders call me "Miss Sara." On May 4, I started the CalStateTEACH program to earn a K-8 Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. I had not been a student for 12 years, and the last time I was in school was before marriage and having my own child.

I am taking a few minutes to write out this journey before I get back to studying, lesson planning, grocery shopping, and laundry - my new normal for a Sunday.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016 Goals

Happy New Year!

The start of a new year makes me reflect on my life and goals. I have shifted more from resolutions to goals. I have also been thinking about my habits.

With the start of a new year, I want to try this daily tracker to work on my daily habits and goals. I am going to try to track 4 daily habits that I want to strengthen:

1. Counting my calories (I really like the Lose It app.)
2. Drinking one healthy smoothy a day (I get in more fruits and veggies this way. My preference is to have a smoothly for breakfast.)
3. Doing daily activity (I am going to be quite broad on this one. It can include a bike ride, walking the dog, an exercise DVD, going to the gym, etc.)
4. Flossing (Because I hate having extra dental work done!)

I am also staring off the year by reading Gretchen Rubin's latest book, Better than Before. I have been listening to her Happier podcast and am familiar with some concepts from the book. (I quickly have realized that I am an Obliger in her 4 Tendencies model.)

Another thing that I will be tracking in the new year is my reading. My friends shared this 2016 Reading Challenge, and I am giving it a try. I like the balance of structure and flexibility with the challenge. I gravitate towards nonfiction books, but then I will slow down and get stuck not finishing a book. I also enjoy fiction and love getting lost in a good novel. There is a risk of "ignoring" my family when I get engrossed in a novel.

As in past years, I continue to look for ways to simplify and declutter my life. I am looking forward to see what 2016 has in store!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Five Frugal Things

Wow... It's been a while since I posted! Maybe I will write a more in-depth update, but for now I will start with Five Frugal Things.

I have been reading some frugal living blogs, which reminded me that I like blogging about things other than just cards. I have been reading The Frugal Girl and The Non-Consumer Advocate, who regularly posts her list of Five Frugal Things. Here is my list:

1. I sewed the holes in Alex's socks to get some more wear out of them. His feet have been growing like crazy, so he may just need bigger socks soon.

2. I returned a $44 pair of designer jeans to TJ Maxx since they would have needed alterations to fit well. I found a $6 pair of almost new crop jeans at Goodwill instead. These are actually a good option for fall since it is still hot here.

3. I continue to check out books from our library instead of purchasing books.

4. I am still driving the first car that I bought in the fall of 2002. It runs well, but it is not looking as good these days.

5. Even better, some days we ride our bikes around instead of driving.

I found a couple of new-to-me blogs this week to add to my frugal reads. I recommend the Frugalwoods and 1500 Days.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Craft Updates

In June, I started a separate paper crafting blog at to post my cards, projects, and updates from Stampin' Up!.

In July, I joined the design team for the Stampin' Stylin' Inspiration blog. I am honored and excited to join my first paper crafting design team. I am contributing about 4-5 projects per month to this blog. The team is very talented and the blog includes new inspiration 5 days at week.

I will still post general family and personal updates and ideas to this blog. I also post to Instagram and Pinterest.

I am really enjoying my time with Alex this summer, and I hope that you are having a good summer!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Meatless Monday Recipes

It is barbecue season, and we attended 2 recent events with grilled hamburgers. It was so easy to bring along some veggie burgers for the grill! Everything else being served was already vegetarian, and I enjoyed these get-togethers with friends.

I tried 2 new recipes recently. This quinoa salad from Mind Body Green was delicious for dinner, and the leftovers were great for lunches. This vegan chocolate pudding from Minimalist Baker is really rich and easy to make.

Have a great week!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Meatless Monday: CBLT

The first tomatoes are ripening from our garden.

I wanted a vegetarian BLT, and I made a batch of coconut bacon. The recipe is from Joyful Vegan, and I really like it. I do have to carefully watch these in the oven so they do not burn.

Here is my yummy "CBLT" made mostly with ingredients from the farmers' market and our garden.