the tested teacher

Tests have always given me anxiety.

I remember cramming for math tests and physics tests in high school.  Not really knowing how to study, but staring and my crappy notes and homework and trying to read the gobble-de-gook that was the textbook.

My hands always got clammy as the test was handed out as I prayed that something looked familiar.

It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was pulling all-nighters in college studying for tests in my Gen Ed classes or my Spanish classes.

Even when I knew that I rocked at the subject and could write great essays and discuss literature with gusto, the TESTS came close to giving me hives.

It was the lack of control over what to expect.

It was the not knowing if what I prepared was the right stuff.

I took notes, I studied the text, but did I know it well enough to not just pass a test, but rock a test?

I was never sure.

I very much preferred take home tests.  Even better were projects or papers to demonstrate what I learned.  How I would apply it to my current life.

I guess I haven’t changed much.

Today I was issued an unexpected test.

As you know, I went back to work this week.  Teachers reported Tue-Thur this week, and next week the students will be back.  I was given my schedule, assigned a classroom in the new high school, and I’ve logged a LOT of hours since last Thursday getting ready.

I spent two full days last week building my classroom from a bare room to nothing short of awesome.  This is the third classroom I have been in in 10 years and it is BY FAR the best as far as layout, room, technology, decor, etc.  I won the jackpot of rooms.  It was formerly a computer lab, so it is quite large and it has AC (something 95% of the building does NOT have).  I covered the walls in a great mixture of American Literature/English class things and Spanish things.  I put up an American flag.  I created areas for grades, missed work, due dates, viable teaching/learning objective…all things I had to sort of half-ass in my other rooms.

Nothing about this room is half ass.  It is full awesome booty, people.

I had a great schedule: four sections of Spanish 2 and one section of English 11.  I had a nice afternoon prep and I was one of the very few who did NOT have to share her room during her prep.

I smiled big every time I came in the building.

I felt blessed.

All while this has been going on, I have been busy keeping up on #SheReadsTruth.

I have been finding MANY passages about letting go of worry and fear, being a quality leader, making good choices, etc.  I have been furiously copying down verses and making notes trying to fill my heart and prepare myself to be the best possible teacher and co-worker and employee that I could possibly be.  I want to be a light to those around me.

And then today happened.

Today I was called into the principal’s office and told that due to low class sizes and the need for another Spanish teacher at the Junior High for two hours, two of my Spanish classes would be combined with our other Spanish teacher’s classes and I would be headed to the Junior High for the second half of my day.

I would teach two sections of Spanish 2 and one section of English 11 in the morning at the high school.  Because of the change in schedule, someone would now be in my room during my planning period, and during the last two periods of the day while I was out of the building.

It felt like time stopped.

I was handed a test I wasn’t ready for.

Or was I?

I had read the text and taken furious notes about not worrying.  about not giving in to being brought down. about being a good example…a light…for others.

Why did I do the studying if I didn’t think I would be tested?

My first reaction, of course, was to worry.

That is how I am hard-wired to react. So much of my classroom is filled with personal items, will the teachers I share with respect that?  Will the students?  Will all the traveling take away from my precious planning time?  I only have so much time after school before I have to run off to get the boys, would there be time?  And the big one…will this affect my teaching assignment/room assignment from now on?  Will they do this to me again next year, and consequently decide someone who is only there part doesn’t need such a big, glorious room?

But then I had to stop.  I had to.  I was on the verge of a full on anxiety attack (and I didn’t have my “emergency meds” with me).

I started to slowly count my blessings:

  • So many in my schools have to travel and do not have any room to call their own. I have two.
  • The room I am sharing at the junior high is just me and the french teacher, and we never overlap, so i can go there to plan in peace.
  • My planning hour, lunch, travel time totals almost 2 hours in the middle of the day.
  • I can schedule myself so that I am at the Junior High during the lunch my teaching bestie has lunch (we were separated this year, much to our horror)
  • I get to see how both buildings run
  • I will get to know almost 60 of the freshman, so they will know a teacher (and I will know them) when they come to the high school next year.
  • I will have to step up my game to show Ideserve the awesome room I have at the high school.  That I do amazing things with and for students and their learning with that space and SHOULD have it next year…full-time!

This will be ok.

It is not ideal, no.

I have allowed myself to be sad and disappointed and completely useless today since I got home from work.

Eddie and I watched a movie and ate popcorn before dinner.  Charlie and I laid on the floor and giggled for 30 minutes.  I shut my work email and ate dinner at the table with my boys while Cort was at class.

Tomorrow is a new day.  A gift, as my friend Trisha reminded me.

Tomorrow I will take control of this new schedule and really sink my teeth into doing amazing things this year.

Because I am being tested.

And I’m going to ACE this mother.


ps. It does not escape me that my ability to clearly think about the Bible passages I have been studying is possible because I sought help for my the issues I have been having with depression and anxiety.  Without my new meds, I am positive I would not have been able to clearly recall or care about the lessons I have been absorbing each morning let alone apply them.


Hooray for Wednesday…and another Sluiter Nation Recruit!  Don’t know what the mess a Recruit even is?  Check here for the 411 (do people even say that anymore?)
This week’s Recruit is one of my very first bloggy friends.  Her name is Grace and I truly believe it was grace that brought her to me.  She was in the first wave of people to find Sluiter Nation after I admitted I suffer from postpartum depression.  She does too.  She blogs about it at Arms Wide Open.  She and I very quickly bonded over our little boys, our ppd experience, the fact that she lives in Mexico and I wish I could visit and practice my Spanish, and just trying to make it through this life with a smile.

She is probably one of the most beautiful souls I have ever “met”.  So here she is, sharing something very close to me…


I remember.
Nights and days passed without sleep. I was imagining what it would be like to not exist. To simply vanish.
I remember.
In the mornings I was hysterical. My husband tried to rationalize with me. He was slowly sinking into himself, and me? I was disappearing.
I remember.
It got so bad that he took me to Urgent Care.
“We need help. She has lost her ability to sleep. She is going crazy.”
I frantically told the doctor I could only take something safe for breastfeeding. I cannot stop breastfeeding. I cannot hurt my baby. I cannot take medication.
I remember.
We left with a prescription for Valerian Root. An herb.
I took it and cried. I felt nothing. I paced the cold tile floors. I hid from the shadows. I stared into the streetlights. I slowly disappeared.
I remember.
I ventured out to a playdate.
By now I was on a strong sedative to survive. No more herbs. No more homeopathic droplets that vanished from my body like fingerprints on a steamy shower door.
I remember.
Somehow the evil words emerged. I don’t remember how they oozed into the conversation like poison. Postpartum Depression. Anxiety.
“I just don’t understand it. I have never felt anxiety about being a mom. I want four kids! Or maybe I’ll just keep having kids until we have a girl!” She said matter-of-factly.
I remember.
I slowly disappeared.
And that night I tossed and turned and tears peeked out from the corner of my eyes, quickly stifled by the little white pill I reluctantly swallowed.
I remember.
I told my psychiatrist it wasn’t really getting better. I still had anxiety almost every single night when it was time for bed. My bed was my trigger. I couldn’t shake it. I confided in him what my husband had earlier told me.
“You have to just get better. You have to.”
I remember.
He pulled out his prescription pad and wrote me another pass. Another pill. Capsules this time. Green and Blue.
“You’ll be back to yourself in no time at all. I give it four months. Tops.”
I remember.
August came and went. September was washed away with the rain.
I wasn’t better.
And even more…I slowly disappeared.
Today, Two years later
I have a 3-year-old beautiful boy and new life in my womb. The tiny kicks remind me I survived. I am healthy. I am happy. I am present. I am mom. I cannot imagine my life any other way.
I am proof that this, too, shall pass.


Sigh.  Grace is such an inspiration.  You should follow her on twitter and read her blog.   Here is a sampling of her lovely…

Her recent thoughts on our babies growing up…stages.

On being a boy mom…times TWO…the reveal.

On healing from depression…a heart melting kind of love.

See?  Beautiful.  Thank you, Grace, for always being you and for being such a lovely friend.

“no” is an answer

Oh I believe in miracles…

I believe in a better world…for me and you.

Oh..Oh I believe in miracles…

I believe in a better world…for me and you.*

Dear Lord, please heal Cort’s dad.  Take the cancer away and make him whole.


Dear Lord, please let this bleeding be normal and NOT a miscarriage.


Dear Lord, I want to be a mom so badly.  Please help my body know what to do.

Not yet.

Dear Lord, please don’t make me go through another miscarriage.  I am too weak.  I can’t do it.

Yes, you can.  And you will.

Dear Lord, please save me from being on the “cut” list for work.


Dear Lord, please help Cort keep his job in these hard times.


Dear Lord, please make these demons leave my head.  Please make me the mom others think I am.  Please help me fix this crazy.

No.  You can’t fix yourself alone.

Why, Lord?  Why us?  We are good people and hard workers.  We try to be like Jesus and love people and give of ourselves.  WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO US?


Lord, I want to turn my back!  I want to do this alone.  I think you must have lost your “plan” for us somewhere.  You have left us!

Go ahead and try.

Lord, this is our plan…please oh PLEASE let it work.


Lord, I can’t be in charge.  I can’t make anything work right.  Just please handle it for me.  Please let me find someone who will love me for everything I am RIGHT NOW.

Here is Cortney.

Lord, I can’t make things better with Cort’s dad.  He is going to die.  Please let me know what to do to help Cort.

I will strengthen your shoulders and pad your hugs.

Lord, he lost his dad and his appendix and now he is alone in the hospital.  What do I do?

Stay with him.  I’ll be there too.

Lord, I only have one try left.  I can only try once more.  Please bless us with a child this time.

Here is Edward Steven.

Lord, please help me keep my job.  My family needs me to provide.

You will teach Spanish.  You can also teach at the college.

Lord, I can’t change myself.  I need help.

Here is Cortney.  Here is your family.  Here is an internet full of support.  Here are your friends.  Here is your doctor.  Here is Celexa.  Here is a therapist.

Lord, what will we do?  Unemployment runs out in August.

Here is a job for Cortney.

Sometimes the answer is no.

But sometimes?  The answer is yes.

No matter how many times you falter.  He will save some “yes’s” for you.

This week?  He finally said YES to Cort’s job prayers after many, MANY no’s.

We are blessed.

*lyrics from “I believe in miracles” by Pearl Jam

If you also believe in miracles, please pray for our nephew(s)/niece(s) in Ethiopia.  Our siblings were dealt a GIANT “no” this week in their adoption process.  Please read about it here.

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And don’t forget to shop my Thirty-One party!  Ends this week! (go to “my events” and shop my party–Katie Sluiter).