So Long, Sweet Summer

As a teacher, summer has been over for about a month now. As a human being (and according to the calendar), the curtains of summer are drawing closed this Thursday.

Either way, I have some thoughts to share as the transition from summer freedom to autumnal mayhem continues to build (or begins, depending on which way you look at it).

This summer was great. I accomplished a lot what I set out to do (as seen here) such as traveling, developing my Stats course, taking pictures, and working out consistently.

This summer, I fell in love with lifting free weights. It was scary in the beginning as the free weights area is typically 95% dudes. But I love the freedom that it offers; I can do so many things with a set of dumbbells versus only being able to do one exercise at a time on the machines.

I got to travel quite a bit this summer, too. I began the summer going home to Western NY for our friends’ wedding and to see friends and family, then I went to the Poconos with my high school friends in July, and then Tom and I went to Virginia to celebrate our birthdays and anniversary all in one trip. We also spent the last couple weeks out with my in-laws in Long Island which is totally traveling and feels like a vacation. I went to the beach a couple times and hung out with friends quite a bit. [Check out my Instagram for pictures]

Volleyball started the day after my birthday and by then I was really excited to get back into having a set daily routine. The following week was the start of teacher meetings and classroom setup. I had been in my school at least 10 times over the summer to get work done, so it kind of felt as if I had never left. We then had students the week of Labor Day and that was a rush of stress and excitement for sure.

The following week (last week), we had 2 days of school and then we went on our annual retreat with all of the students. In past years, the 9th and 10th graders went to a Quaker conference and retreat center 3 hours north of the city while the 11th and 12th graders went to a summer camp 2 hours north of the city. My first year teaching at my school, I went with the upperclassmen, and last year I went with the lowerclassmen, so I had been to both places and had my opinions about both.

Last year, we all realized that there was no way we could continue going to the 9/10th retreat center because we just had too many people squeezing into the place. I was in a committee meant to plan the retreat and we decided that all four grades would go to the summer camp this year. I was pumped. I loved my experience at the summer camp and couldn’t wait to go back.

And this year’s retreat didn’t disappoint. It was frustrating and exhausting at times, don’t get me wrong; teachers spending 2.5 days with their students is not a bed of roses. But this place made for such an amazing time; from the ropes courses and the various sports courts/areas, to the delicious (in comparison to the retreat center) food, to the beautiful weather, and of course just being in nature, I had a fantastic time and can’t wait for next year’s retreat.

Retreat 2016
                               Post sunset first night; Sunrise second morning

This weekend was spent recuperating, catching up on sleep and alone time (with the exception of Tom), and preparing myself mentally and physically for the first full week of school. Not only do we have classes all 5 days (haha that sounds so dramatic but the past 2 non-full weeks have left me feeling totally wiped out) and I have 3 volleyball games to coach.

And as I’m sitting here writing this, I am in awe of how I am less anxious and worried about everything than I usually am this time of year. I tend to go through major problems this time of year: both of my Crohn’s flare-ups happened during this time of year, I went to a doctor for anxiety and sleep problems 2 years ago (my first year teaching full-time), and I just tend to have a low self-esteem regarding my teaching abilities and an overall low sense of self-worth during this time of year. It’s a lot, all at once, and I get a little [read: very] emotional when I’m tired.

And yet, here I am, feeling capable and ready to take on this week. I think it helps that I have become accustomed to working a bit on weekends: I have grown to like going to Starbucks for a few hours on Sunday mornings to get ready for the week and set my mind at ease while enjoying a PSL and a bagel.

>>Side note: I’m reading a book for school called Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do and it’s all about stereotype threat. While in line getting ready to order, I realized that I was feeding a stereotype threat as a white female ordering a PSL. I felt like maybe I shouldn’t order it because that would make others confirm said stereotype…but I didn’t care and ordered it anyway.<<

I hope to continue on with this feeling and not wake up at 2 a.m. with overwhelming anxiety such that I cannot fully fall back to sleep until my alarm goes off at 6 a.m. It happens sometimes.

I hope to continue to pump myself up and stay on top of things to aide in this general feeling of well-being and happiness.

I hope to continue making gainz in the gym and make it a priority even with school. I didn’t go at all this weekend because I pulled a back muscle (are you ready for this?) while pulling my shirt over my head to get dressed on the last day of the retreat.

Yeah. It’s embarrassing. I was up a bit early, getting ready for a morning run with the cross country team, and as I was pulling my shirt over my head, I felt a sharp pain, couldn’t breathe fully, and couldn’t move or find a comfortable position. I ditched the run, took some Aleve, and am still feeling a bit sore in that spot tonight. I’ll blame it on the uncomfortable mattress in the bunk and on playing tennis without warming up first. Getting dressed must’ve just exacerbated it.

So anyways, I hope you’re soaking up the last bits of summer (although, according to weather reports, we’ll be enjoying summer weather for at least another 2 weeks) and have a good transition to fall and all that it offers. Cooler weather. Sweaters. Boots. Excitement for the upcoming holidays. And pumpkin everything.

Stress and Journaling: An encouragement to write

I’ve been literally filling journals with my thoughts, problems, prayers, memories, joys, and tears since I was able to write somewhat cohesive sentences. I have a few short entries from when I was about 5 years old in a little diary with two little bears on the front of it. Back then, my problems were so simple – one such entry was from 1996, and I wrote “I will never forget my bum bum hurt.” Bless my little heart. And bum-bum. It was nothing a little Preparation-H could have solved. You can read more entries from that diary here.

Journals Bookshelf

From ages 6-12, I would occasionally write but I think I spent more time playing outside (in the street because we were rebels…and lived on a tiny side street that everyone complained should have been a one-way), watching movies and TV and the like. My writing really picked up when I was 13; eighth grade was when boys started showing interest in me, so naturally that was something exciting to write about.

But with that came frustration and heartache as I realized that these boys were not really giving me attention because they liked my good-natured heart, were intrigued by my silly personality, were ensnared by my sense of humor, or because they wanted to be that knight in shining armor that Disney hyped me up for. Nope, these guys [read: high school boys] were only noticing me and showing interest with hopes for physical pleasure. And when they didn’t receive what they wanted, they swiftly moved on to someone else who would gladly give it to them.

So at that time, most entries were about boys, friends, and my life. As high school progressed, my writing became more frequent, the entries became longer, and my ability to write became more fluent. I know that many entries probably reiterated the same feelings over and over – it was my way of dealing with issues because I was not one to lay my burdens on others or tell secrets to friends. I was always close to my mom, but I didn’t want to put my (seemingly) silly, high school level complaints and issues on her; she had enough to deal with already. I know she was always willing to listen and offer advice, but I just could never bring myself to tell her at the time it was bothering me.

So my journal became my friend and confidante. Yep, I know that sounds super strange and quite pathetic, but at the same time, I am now able to look back at how I was feeling for more than 10 years of my life. Not many people can say that, so I think that’s pretty cool. I can go back and see the crazy rollercoaster that has been my life, with lots of ups and downs, knowing that everything in those journals has miraculously led me to where and who I am today. Cheesy, but whatever.

To make my entries and writing more fun (or maybe personal?), I started to write each one in a different color. There was never any pattern or set rotation; I would simply pick a color that I hadn’t used in awhile, maybe the color of the shirt I was wearing, or a color that matched my mood. Many entries are on the sad or frustrated (even depressed, if I looked back at it now) side and were, therefore, in black. Those were days when I honestly felt I had no one else to turn to, so I needed to write my feelings on paper in order to get them out of my head. It was therapeutic in a way.

ALL the journals

I have many memories that I can look back at and know exactly what day they happened. Lots of high school memories with friends, my high school boyfriend, my mom. Then there was college – a lot of difficult ones take place then. The time after college was probably the most depressing of all – that’s when I was still dealing with the emotional impact of the break-up of my long-term relationship, leaving the safety and comfort of college and the new friends I had made, still unsure of things with Tom who moved away after college, trying to figure out a job situation, dealing with my Mom moving into a nursing home, and living in a house all alone at the age of 22. Whew, it stresses me out just thinking about it.

So anyways, I want to encourage anyone reading this to write. If you’re dealing with a hard time at work, at home, at school: write! Even if it’s just a temporary way to let your emotions out, jot ideas down, get your thinking juices flowing (weird phrase, but okay): write! Even if you don’t think you’re a good writer: write! You don’t have to have a poetic flow or use crazy big words or sound sophisticated at all – it’s for your personal use, your eyes only, so who cares? Get it yet? WRITE for goodness sake!

Now, obviously there are other mediums in which you could let your stress out: music, video, sports, other exercise, cleaning, organizing, etc. Part of the reason I have this blog is to share my ideas and get some emotions (whether silly or serious) out of my head! I still write in my journal every now and then, but this is the place where I can share ideas so that I might help others in the process. When I need to get something out and I don’t have Tom to talk to at the moment or if it’s something I want to remember, I write it in my journal.

I also want to encourage you to seek out someone that will sincerely listen to your hardships without judgment or criticism. I know it’s not easy – I know I could have confided in my Mom for these things, but back then I honestly thought I had to figure things out on my own and keep her from unnecessary stress. I have since learned that it is important to hear and share ideas with others because collaboration is an awesome thing!

Talk to a parent, a friend, a pastor, a teacher, anyone who you are close to and whom you can confide and feel comfortable with. Someone who won’t judge you or criticize you, but will also not beat around the bush and throw a bunch of fluff into their advice. Honest but truthful, caring but not judgmental. I know, I know, easier said than done.

Yes, you’re more likely to get an answer you don’t want to hear. Yes, it’s hard to be vulnerable with people and show real emotions. But it’s so healthy to let your feelings out instead of letting them fester inside of you; I’m 99% sure that my Crohn’s flare-ups were caused by my inability to let out my emotions. Honestly, the stress of keeping things in literally started eating away my insides. Gross. I’ll stop now.

So your assignment is to go (you guessed it) write; you can always open up a Word or Google doc, but I prefer handwriting journal entries. Either buy a composition notebook from the dollar store or one of those fancy journals from Barnes and Noble. Even a napkin will do! Just grab something to write with and something to write on, and start writing! Don’t force it but write what’s on your mind. Let it flow. You can sing that to the tune of Frozen. You’re welcome.

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In my classroom this week: “Can of worms”

Sometimes, it’s important to take a break from the academics for five or ten minutes and focus on outside stuff that students are dealing with, see others dealing with, or have genuine questions about (that’s the beauty of having the freedom to create your own curriculum!).

In my opinion, flexibility is a super important quality to have as a teacher. I wasn’t born with it, believe me; it took work, but I’m so glad I’ve gotten better at it! And I’m not talking, like, physical flexibility, like touching your nose to your knees or anything like that. I’m talking about flexibility in planning and time and such, if you didn’t pick up on that. Rigidity is necessary as a foundation (having a routine, knowing when it’s time to re-focus, etc), but can be the biggest enemy of the teacher.

Anyways, my students and I talk about a lot of stuff, math being number one, obviously. But I like weaving in real-life stuff, letting them discuss issues in the country or world around them, hearing their opinions, giving my own, and just allowing them to have a safe space to talk about school and non-school things.

However, because I am their teacher and not their friend or older sibling, I make sure to keep it on the “school-appropriate” side as well; I can’t make them feel too comfortable!

In the past, my classes have discussed race, religion, sports, politics, and things that have happened in their lives. When asked, I have also shared the story of how I met my husband, how he proposed, and what my college experience was like.

My Math in Everyday Life students tend to ask the most questions and get the most off-topic because they have the most need of discussing and being made aware of math and non-math concepts, phrases, and other everyday occurrences than my other students in Algebras I and II. They also make me more cognizant of the words I use and the tone in which I use them, which helps me to become a better teacher in the long-run.

This week, we were discussing budgeting, a part of our “money” unit. I asked my students (comprised of freshmen, a junior, and a senior) what kinds of expenses they might have to pay when they are out of school (including college, if they choose that route) and living on their own. They brought up the usual – apartment/house, bills (electricity, water, gas), food, and extra expenses (clothing, movies/theater, etc.).

One student then raised her hand and asked, “What about kids?” I reiterated that we were focusing on their personal expenses post-school and pre-children; it’s just them on their own with a job. “That’s a whole ‘nother can of worms,” I joked. They all chuckled but gave a kind of confused look.

“Have you ever heard that expression, ‘A whole ‘nother can of worms,’ before?” I asked. They all shook their heads.

I was wondering why we were talking about worms,” one said.

Oh boy. I explained that it just meant I didn’t want to bring in a whole other situation into the mix. They would have enough to worry about after school living on their own without bringing children into the mix. They nodded, but it was obvious that they didn’t get the connection between a can of worms and having a baby.

I mean, I’ll admit it is a very strange phrase, and I couldn’t find the origin or history behind why the heck ‘can of worms’ was chosen over pretty much anything else. I did, however, look up images of them for a possible featured image. They all made me a bit grossed out and queasy, so I decided to use that white board design from my student instead. But I digress.

Another great conversation happened on Wednesday; four or five times a year, we dedicate an entire school day to a different topic and organize workshops in-school or off-campus field trips surrounding each topic. Usually it’s something about social justice or history, but this week we focused on math (yeah!), specifically the powers of 10.

Towards the end of the day, we watched a 45-minute long video called The Blue Planet. During the movie, a student whom I have never taught or interacted with very much (other than the usual “Hi, how are you?” in the hallway) was in my group and openly asked questions about the concepts discussed in the movie. He mostly asked about certain weather phenomenon:

  • Can we see tsunamis from space? Answer: Not unless it’s super clear and the satellite camera is zoomed in closely. I also Googled images and there aren’t any real pictures, although that would be super cool!
  • Can we have earthquakes here in New York? Answer: Of course! Usually the earthquake starts elsewhere, but it has reached NYC – this actually happened a couple years ago!

And I was able to correctly answer them all! I honestly surprised myself in my ability to answer him, bringing my knowledge up from the depths of dusty high school cobwebs and past/current events. I Googled stuff after I answered, to make sure I wasn’t misleading him and the other students in the room. And, by golly (another strange phrase), I was right!

It’s funny and a little scary when the kids think I’m a genius. Another co-worker explained to his math class why we get tired after we eat – a lot of our blood goes to our stomach and our energy goes toward digesting the food we just ate. The students were blown away at this new knowledge and how much it made sense; they told him he was so smart and that he knows everything. He assured them that he didn’t know everything but they weren’t convinced.

I’ve had the same reaction and, though it feels good to feel smart, I am by no means a genius! I wonder if this is what my mom felt like when I was growing up and was amazed at the amount of stuff she knew and could explain to me. I was always in awe of the stuff my mom told me, and the fact that she could do the majority of the crosswords in the newspaper without consulting her crossword dictionary was incredible.

Most of all, I love the times when my students blow me away with their knowledge or ability to think and reason critically. When they make connections from what they have learned to new material, or when they are able to express their thoughts and opinions in a clear and concise manner (especially when it’s difficult for them to do so in math), those are the best moments.

Granted, it doesn’t happen all the time or even every day. Some days I wonder if they’ve remembered anything I’ve taught them. But it’s on the days when they make those connections to new concepts, have their “oh my gosh, that makes sense!‘ moments, or ask those questions that make me think about how and what I have learned in the past (can of worms, anyone?) that make it all worthwhile.

Ultimately, I hope I’m doing a good job in helping my students become well-rounded, knowledgeable citizens so that, when they leave my classroom, they will be capable of managing the world around them, of asking questions and finding answers, and contributing to the betterment of our world.

End the cheesiness already!

My first semester as a full-time high school teacher

What a whirlwind couple months!

If you had asked me five years ago (during my first semester at SUNY Geneseo) where I thought I would be in five years, there is absolutely no way I would have had any inkling it would be where I am. My roommate Becky and I were too busy annoying the obnoxious girl next door, making our room into “A Little Girl’s Mind” for my art class, and getting used to living together.

I would never have imagined living in New York City with a teaching job that I enjoy as much as I do. I wouldn’t have said I would be married to an amazing guy like Tom, or that I would’ve received my Master’s degree (let alone from Columbia U).

It’s so cliche, but I don’t care. I have been blessed beyond my wildest (within reason) dreams or (realistic) expectations. I mean, I can think of crazier things to include in my wildest dreams, but I am much more of a realist (like Iggy Azalea, duh).

But anyways, I love my coworkers, I love my students, and I love waking up and going to my job. Sure, Mondays are usually difficult, and 6:15 comes way too quickly most mornings, but I have never had a job that I was actually happy and excited to go to every day. Until now. [Disclaimer: I also love my friends, family, and my husband and our future puppies and kitties and children and so on, but that didn’t fit so much seeing as this post is mostly about my job.]

From my first job as a newspaper deliverer at 12 years old (that lasted a couple months), to serving at Dunkin Donuts (for a year during college), cashiering and supervising at Walmart (4 different times over the course of 4 years because of college), and my two long-term substitute jobs (7 weeks and 10 weeks), nothing has been as satisfying as my full-time, first-year teaching job.

And I know how rare and wonderful that is. I’ve heard so many teachers complain about their first year(s) being hell and beyond stressful. Yes, of course I’ve been stressed and sleep-deprived and run ragged some days/weeks, working 12+ hour days, taking work home, and learning how to work with each student and each coworker individually.

BUT. Overall, I am completely content at this point in time and feel like I’ve been successful for my first semester of teaching. I’m actually contributing to the lives of young people, and I’m hoping they take at least one positive thing away from my time with them, whether it’s math-related, life-related, a sense of humor, or higher self-worth (or, bonus, all of the above).

Holliday is the Best

And not only that, but they’re contributing to my life as well – they make me laugh, but they also challenge me and make me think and re-think my ways, both in and out of school. They make me a better person…just don’t tell them that, or they’ll get big heads.

It wasn’t always this way, especially in the beginning of this school year.

I worked at my current school last year as a student’s personal aide, so I already knew all of the staff and most of the students (except, of course, the incoming freshmen this year). In that sense, it was a little easier getting more acquainted with my coworkers because I had already interacted with them and gotten to know them last year. They invited me out to happy hours on Fridays even though I wasn’t technically part of the faculty.

And we still go to happy hours every week – sometimes, we don’t all go because we all have our rougher-than-usual weeks where we would rather just go home and crash at 6 pm, but that’s completely understandable. But I love that our faculty is such a close-knit community. Even within our school system, the elementary and middle school faculty don’t seem as close as we at the high school do. Yay for community!

As easy as it’s been to incorporate myself into the faculty, it wasn’t as easy among the students. I think they still saw me as ‘that girl’s aide’ and couldn’t see past that to see me as a competent and college-educated math teacher. But I think we’ve gotten past that because the amount of trust and respect I’ve gained since September is significantly higher. I mean, check out the amount of chocolate and cookies I got from them yesterday!

Teacher haul

The last two weeks were especially stressful with meetings, covering fellow teachers’ classes, and scrambling before the upcoming break. And now we’re off for 2 whole weeks for winter break. Ah, the perks of being a teacher.

Rambly post: Update on life (in a neat list)

Wow it’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted anything on here.

But I have some pretty stellar excuses:

  1. I got married (Aug. 16)
  2. I then honeymooned in Montauk for 4 days (Aug. 18 – Aug. 21)
  3. I turned 25 on our ‘leave Montauk, travel back to Brooklyn, and pack for upstate reception’ day (Aug. 21)
  4. We flew upstate for my second wedding reception (Aug. 22 – Aug. 24)
  5. I started my new teaching job (still in ‘meetings all day’ phase) the following week (Aug. 25 – Aug. 29)
  6. My friend flew down and stayed with us this past weekend (Aug. 29 – Sept. 1)
  7. We all went to our other friend’s wedding that Sunday (Aug. 31)

If you’re interested and not tired just from reading all of that, I’m going to address each point in a little more detail now! So come on, let the updating begin!

1.   Our wedding: Our rehearsal dinner and wedding days were both absolutely perfect; honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing…except for my mom’s ability to be there in person. Luckily, we got both the livestream to work as well as our GoPros, so she got to watch the livestream that day and I showed her the GoPro footage the following weekend! You can watch our vows here if you’re interested!

Everything was just fantastic – the weather was perfect, the girls looked beautiful, the guys looked dapper, our vows were wonderful (people clapped!?), the decorations were phenomenal, the food was delicious, seeing our friends and family was the highlight, as was dancing…I could go on and on.

I’ve already posted a bunch of pictures on Facebook that my father-in-law took that day and they’re great so I can’t wait to see our photographer’s pictures! (Update: Click here to see our photographer’s pictures!)

2.   Honeymoon: Between our ocean-view B&B suite (and hence the beach right across the street), the gorgeous weather, the amazing food (my first lobster roll!), our amazing sunset sail, seeing the Montauk lighthouse, and being able to call Tom my husband (eeeek!), I was sad when we had to leave. I think we should make this a yearly thing, maybe call it “Anniversaries at Montauk”?

Montauk collage

3.   Turning 25: It happened. I can now rent a car without any extra stupid fees. I also belong to a new category whenever I take surveys and have to state which age range I fall into. Cool?

4.   Upstate reception: The second reception was a much more low-key shindig, so it was great sitting and visiting with friends and family. Plus, my mom had such a great time visiting with everyone. I’m so glad she got to come and see her friends and family (and me, duh), but as much as I enjoyed it, I’m honestly much happier that she came and enjoyed it. It was good for her to get out of the nursing home, be in a pretty dress, have a glass of wine, eat great food, and talk to old friends. She was tired and her ankles were swollen the next day when we visited to say goodbye, but she seriously seemed brighter and happier.

Reception #2 Family shot

5.   Work: Since returning from wedding-palooza, I’ve been spending all my days at work, learning about technology, students, and emergency procedures, all while also trying to plan lessons, put in supply orders, get a bite to eat, meet with colleagues, and decorate and organize my room (and, let’s be honest, my life).

Phew. And that is why I am currently sitting on my couch with a glass of wine, just relaxing after a long day. And school hasn’t even begun yet.

Okay, it’s not that bad – I’m so glad I got this job because I already knew all of the teachers (except this year’s new-hires) and administration from last year, know most of the students (again, except for the new ones), and am genuinely happy to be a part of such a great team of human beings.

I definitely want to try to chronicle my first year as a full-time teacher, maybe writing once a week as a reflection of my teaching, things that happened, lessons that worked/didn’t work, classroom set-up/decor, etc. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I’m working with pretty much an empty slate at the moment! The room was mostly unused last year, only housing one English class and me while I sat on my computer doing grad school homework or watching YouTube.

All of the posters in these pictures have been taken down, I’ve ordered a few math posters, a number line, and also acquired a small bookshelf. Hopefully it’ll start looking nicer when the posters and student work get put up.

classroom

At this school there are no Mr. So-and-so’s or Ms. What’s-her-name’s; we all go by our first names. So it’s cool because changing my last name to Harrigan won’t be throwing anyone off (except me because I’m still getting used to signing documents and saying it out loud); I’ll still be Holliday and no one will have trouble finding me on the email list or phone directory.

I’ll admit this was a strange concept to me when I first encountered it last year as a student’s private aide. My main thought was ‘Doesn’t this create a lack of respect towards the teachers and staff?’ But now that I’ve been involved with the school for a year and have seen how much respect these students have, I honestly don’t mind that they’ll call me Holliday instead of Mrs. Harrigan.

6.   Friend visited: Our friend Courtney came down this weekend and stayed with us because we were all attending our other friend Erika’s wedding in Long Island. Courtney and I went to see Aladdin on Broadway and it was fantastic! We stayed after the show to meet and take pictures with some of the cast members! She also brought with her The Lego Movie, so Tom and Courtney and I watched it. I will forever have The Lego Movie theme song stuck in my head.

7.   Friend’s Wedding: Erika’s wedding was great – she was beautiful (obviously) and I had so much fun dining and dancing with so many college friends, some of whom we haven’t seen in quite awhile. It was also Tom and my first wedding together as a married couple!

Okay, I’m done talking now. Until next time, cheers!

Summary by Statistics: Moving Out of My Childhood Home

I went upstate (western New York) Tuesday to pack up my belongings since we have to sell my childhood home. You can read a little bit about that here. In that post is a link to another post featuring a bunch of pictures of me when I was younger…go take a gander!

Along with me were my fiancé (gah, still getting used to that!) Tom, his mom, and his aunt, so we had plenty of man and woman power. Instead of recapping every detail (seeing as so much happened within the span of two days), I figured I could just give you some of the highlights through numbers. Ahh, math.

So here we go with the stats from this trip:

42 total trip hours from the time we left Long Island until we returned

12.5 total hours spent in the truck (Tom’s aunt drove, and I think it’s an F-150 with an extended cab)

13 total hours spent packing, throwing stuff away, and taking things to donate

4 coffees consumed (I’m usually a once a day type gal)

0 meltdowns on my part (Although I did get impatient and/or frustrated at times, there weren’t tears or outbursts)

7 full truck-loads taken to Salvation Army and My Sister’s Closet for donation. These included:

  • 1 little red wagon
  • 4 boxes + 3 garbage bags full of clothes
  • 43ish Barbies
  • 4 garbage bags full of bedding and towels
  • 1 purple body suit and pair of purple tights (these were my mom’s back in the day. Check out the picture of me in them 2 years ago…when I first stumbled upon them)247732_10150192670801526_3595493_n

2 full boxes of food donated to a church pantry

3 overflowing boxes of paper/cardboard to recycle

25 total garbage bags full of garbage/unwanted/old stuff. These included:

  • 2 garbage bags full of old pillows
  • 20ish year old “artwork” from school – we’re talking moldy candies in the shape of an H
  • 10 bowling trophies
  • 2 boxes of Flutie Flakes
  • 1 box of Kelly Krunch

4 friends stopped by to say hi while I was in town (here is a picture of Tom, Courtney, and me at dinner on Tuesday).three amigos

1000+ stairs taken (up and down)

7 boxes + 1 large wooden trunk full of stuff I brought back to Long Island

My mom came to the house on her scooter to go through her own stuff; she made a dent but still has plenty of work to do. But for what she got through, we ended up bringing two boxes full of her “keep” stuff to the nursing home.

It was great that she got to get out of the nursing home and see the house after 2+ years. Plus, she finally got to meet my future mother- and aunt-in-law! And eat pizza and donut holes! And see my ring in person!

Overall, this process has been much smoother than I ever expected or anticipated. I still have a few odds and ends that had to be left at my house because the truck was seriously packed to the brim. So another trip upstate is in the cards sometime within the next couple months. I am so thankful for all the well wishes from friends and family, as well as all of the help from Tom and his family.

Above all, I have been thanking God each and every day for all the blessings from the past 8 days (birthday, engagement, new job, and now the move); honestly, it’s all Him. I mean, I got to end the trip with a beautiful and coveted Geneseo sunset. What more could I have asked for?geneseo

Well, maybe an escalator or elevator in my house. But I digress.

Saying Goodbye?

I got some crushing news this weekend from my mom.

“I’m selling the house,” she told me.

Cue heart sinking, gut twisting, jaw dropping, eyes widening, so on and so forth.Sitting at Mom's Desk

I don’t want to write too much about it since I already wrote a post about my childhood home. We had a conversation about the house 3 weeks ago and it had been settled that she would keep it until I was certain that I had a place to go after graduating this December. But things change, government agencies suck, and here we are getting the proverbial rug ripped out from under us. I have been slowly preparing myself mentally and emotionally for this, but I still wasn’t and still am not 100% ready.

Although things are not set in stone as of right now (Mom’s speaking with a lawyer this week to see if there are any other options) I was hoping to get some ideas about having an estate sale, packing stuff, storing stuff, etc. Being over 300 miles from home, it will take a lot of prep work to organize an estate sale, so if anyone has any suggestions please share them. I’m not sure if getting some sort of estate sale service is worth it, but I’m open to learning more about them.

Also, since I currently live in a dorm room, ideas about storage spaces would be great appreciated. This will probably be happening within the next 4 weeks (before the fall semester starts), so I’m going to be scouring (read: frantically looking) for thoughts and ideas.