Monday, June 27, 2011

Vacation in Flroida

So Tyler and I took our last trip this past week as a couple without any children, and while some may call it a "babymoon" to us it was just vacation, at least that's what we thought.

We went to sunny Naples, Florida as we have for the past 4 years now, and we had such a great time! Usually, when we make the trip we plan several outtings like snorkeling in the Keys or a sunset dinner cruise or visitng one of Florida's many theme parks to ride as many roller coasters as we can, but this year most of those types of adventures were just not going to be possible since I'm pregnant and it's extremely hot in Florida at this time of the year. In addition to all of this, we've been working like crazy getting the baby room ready, finishing up the school year for me, and just trying to keep up with the pace of life, so when people asked me if I was excited about our trip, I knew the answer that they wanted to hear was, "Yes! I can't wait!" but truthfully, I was a little uncertain of how this trip was going to go. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that this trip was just as wonderful as the others. In fact it might have been more special for us, because we were able to be alone and catch up on life that had flown past way too fast in the past few months. We left Florida feeling much more connected and closer as a couple which is always helpful when you're getting ready to have a baby together. It was an excellent trip and while we didn't go do any crazy things like ride roller coasters or snorkel in the Keys, we talked, we laughed, we ate (alot), and we just enjoyed being a couple, which was more meaningful to me than anything else.

OK, so I guess you could call it a "babymoon" after all...

So without further ado, here are some highlights from our trip:

Most nights we went out to the shore to watch the sunset. I think this might have been our favorite time in Naples. Some nights we walked the shore line, others we sat on a bench and just watched the sun go down, and one night we went to the pier to get some incredible pictures.

I'm 30 weeks pregnant here.

A couple of nights we went out to the pier to watch the sunset. We saw all kinds of things like dolphins, pelicans, seaturtles, crazy fishermen catching sting rays, and of course beautiful sunsets!

The condo we stayed in that's owned by Tyler's grandparents. We're so grateful that they allow us to stay here each year. It's such a beautiful place!!

Our falcon friend that kept watch over us from the top corner of the condo each day.

Notice there is no one on the beach, this was the norm almost every day we were there, so it felt like we had a private beach all to ourselves. It was wonderful!!

Of course we saw dolphins!! But new this year for us was seeing a sea turtle while visiting the pier! It was so amazing!! Tyler said his favorite part of coming to Florida aside from time together was just being reminded of how awesome our Creator is and enjoying seeing God's creation all around us.

There are so many beautiful houses in Naples. This happens to be my favorite! It's so wimsical!!

One day we visited Naples Zoo and another day we went to a Nature Perserve to see alligators, but we only saw one alligator at the swamp, so going to the zoo made up for not seeing many animals while we were in the swamp.

Yes, the bird was eating a telephone book. It was his breakfast! We also got to see lots of monkeys as we rode the boat that took us around the islands they had set up for each group of monkeys. I thought this was such a unique feature of the zoo!

This was our bench to watch the sunset most evenings.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Leaving is so Bittersweet

So this past week was officially my last week as a teacher. I'll be going back at the beginning of the year for a few days until the baby is born, but I won't have a classroom or students, I'll basically just be an aid to a new teacher to help him get started. It was a very bittersweet week. I am thrilled about my new role as mommy that I will be taking on in a few short months, but as I packed up my room and said my good-byes to my students I was struck with how much I will miss being in the classroom on a daily basis. I won't miss the chaos, stress, testing, and paperwork/grading but I am definitely going to miss the interaction with students and seeing them learn new concepts and achieve success. This week I had students write me notes in a yearbook I was given as a parting gift, students brought me gifts for the baby, and offered lots and lots of hugs and well wishes. I did really well with all of this until graduation day.

Glenvar is such a unique place when it comes to tradition, and as graduation dawned, we headed out to the football field surrounded by the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains to wish farewell to our senior class. I was fortunate enough to be sitting in the shade of the water tent rather than the blazing sun in my black cap and gown, but as the bagpipes (yes, bagpipes) began to play and the band marched onto the field followed by my co-workers and the senior class, tears began to fill my eyes as I realized this would be the last graduation I would attend as a teacher at Glenvar. As stressful as teaching can be at times, there are so many wonderful moments that happen that make my job so worth it, like when a kid who hated reading tells me he has just finished the third book in a series that he found at the bookstore after I encouraged him to find something he liked to read to help build his skills, or when a kid who struggles to read comes running in my room to tell me he passed that SOL finally, or when a girl who has worked her heart out all year to become a better writer turns in an essay that blows me away and she thanks me for helping her to strengthen her writing skills. It's those moments that make you feel like you're doing something right and good with your life. But it isn't just the teaching, it's the relationships with the kids that I'll miss. Like one girl who had a really rough year with her family and would come vent to me about it, or one boy who was questioning his decision about college, and we sat for half an hour and discussed the pros and cons of his decision and even talked about where God was in his decision, or even one sweet couple who had a baby only a few weeks before I was due, and we would compare notes about the pregnancy and planning for the baby. While there were always students who presented challenges, it was those other moments that made everything worth it. And while I know without a shadow of a doubt that God's plan for me now is to be a full-time mom, I can't help but wonder who will stand in the gap with these kids when I'm gone and what will happen to them in the future.

Someone once said to me that while I didn't have a child of my own yet, I did have children and lots of them! She was so right, I had over 400 kids, and I am going to miss each of them on some level, and I pray that God does great things in each of their lives! I hope that in some way I made a slight diffference in each or their lives, but even more amazing is what each of them taught me! I hope that these experiences will help me to be an even better mom. I am so ready to be fully invested in my one child's life now as he will be completely dependent on me, but I will never forget my time as a teacher and the many students I met along the way and the relationships I developed as a result. I'm so excited about what the future holds, and while I'm sad to say good-bye I know that God has great things in store for me and my family in the next few years!

Farewell GHS! I'll miss you!