What I hope to achieve in 2016

Oh yes. Resolutions. Chantelle wrote about affirmations and while I like that idea a lot, I’m sticking with resolutions. Because I have a long list. A very long list. You know, once you start to write them down, they just keep coming. And you can’t let out any of them anymore – they all seem just right for 2016.

resolutions 2016

 

I think most of them are really manageable. Many of them ask for a little mind shift, but no shaking of foundations. The areas I want to improve are diverse enough to keep me motivated – I don’t want my resolutions to take over, I want them to fit in as smoothly as possible. And then be persistent of course.

Fasten your seatbelts, here they are:

 

Food: 

* keep working on menu planning – including organic veggie boxes and do a once-a-month non perishable online groceries purchase
* eat more greens and raw veggies, and more fruit. I’m always preparing for others, but my own intake isn’t that great actually
* drink more water, try to drink more tapwater

House and Garden:

* don’t go overboard, but try to have a variety of fresh greens available (spinach, lettuce, rocket,…) to help me push through with my salad-quest
* stay on top of the cleaned out office and maintaining my Kon-Mari’d dressing (to my big surprise, it hasn’t been messy anymore since I reorganized it that wat, same goes for my son’s wardrobe)
* try to declutter the attic
* have a focus room each month, try to install good habits and practices there

Parenting:

* reduce television time for my Little Boy, paying extra attention to incorporate one on one play time after school.
* try to teach him some independence when it comes to putting clothes on
* less yelling (I’ve been disappointed in myself on that point last year, and I really want that to change. I’m in charge!)

Marriage:

* find a good babysitter or an arrangement with LB’s godfather, so we can sneak in a few date nights.
* try to stay on the same page when it comes to finances and priorities.

Work: 

* try to go with the flow, working with what comes up in the classroom rather than trying to stick to what I had planned. Take the time to use input from students and transform it into lessons.
* Deepen my faith, by doing some personal bible reading at least once a month. I know it’s strange to put it under ‘work’, but my job is what inspires me in that one.

Hobbies:

* read at least ten good books (literature – not only fantasy)
* write two decent songs
* keep the birthday card mojo going (I had that started since September – as I was home from work, I wrote birthday cards to the colleagues I didn’t see. All of them loved it so much to find something in the mail!)
* write at least once a month to my penpal in South-Korea and post at least 5 post crossing postcards each month
* take pictures every day, as many as possible with my DSLR camera, and once a month, order prints!!

Health:

* find a way to finally exercise. Try to go to yoga class regularly and find a more intensive sports.
* lose enough weight to have a good BMI again (no I’m ever so slightly overweight – which was shocking to me…) I would be happy with 5 kilos if I can maintain that.

 

Rhyme all that with my word for 2016: SIMPLE. Yes. Non of the goals I mentioned are very high level. They all need some work, but it is not a challenge from hell. They’re about being consistent, defining my self, living my life to what I believe will be the fullest.

Do you have plans for 2016?

Back to basics

Oh well, seems blogging every day is not really my thing. Lately I’ve been pondering how I could keep this blog alive without sacrificing too much time – I will be working fulltime again in only ten days, so the evenings will be filled with family time and probably a little preparation work too.

There is something else that was occupying my mind too. The reason I had a hard time coming up with new content, feeling stressed about what I should write, was because I gave in to the one thing that always kills my mojo in the long term: writing for a public rather than myself.

back to basics

 

Why is it that in the end there’s always that tiny but powerful urge to shine? Is it vanity? Pride? What does it matter in the end? To be applauded by people you don’t even know? And what for? For something you wrote to please them? Or at least, something you posted because you hoped it would have that enormous amount of page views?

Not that it was working anyway – and of course I know blogging only works if it’s about connection. Finding a way to connect yourself with readers. But I once started blogging for me. An online journal. A little place on the web to vent. I don’t know when that changed. Because when asked about blogging goals, I still mention ‘to connect’ first.

I recently wrote about redefining simple. Maybe I should do the same when it comes to blogging. Going back to the roots, putting myself out there. Maybe it will be more self centered. But on the other hand: it will be more me. And my search for what I truly find important and how I can value that.

Christmas is a good start. I wish you all the best for this beautiful tradition of how greatness can be found in humble things . The miracle of the every day.

Wishing you the best…

 

Because the night

I have memories of my mother working in her home office at the strangest times when I was little. Sometimes I wondered if she maybe just slept at under her desk table. But now, I mostly wonder how she managed to get school work done with four children. And I know the answer: she survived on way too less sleep.

night owl early bird
When I went to bed at 21.30, she was there. When, an hour later, I just had to use the bathroom one last time (don’t get me started on trying to fall asleep with even the slightest possible hint of an idea that you have to pee), she still was there. If, for the same reasons, I got up really early – like 5 am: yes, lights in her office were on. And when I had to get up at 7am to get ready for school: oh yes – my mother was typing and grading and all that stuff.

My father is a teacher also, and he is a real night owl, but I don’t recall him doing that. He did a lot in our household (cooking, washing, cleaning, repairing, caring for the little ones,…), but probably my mother would have done still just that tad more. And, I think my mother is more of a perfectionist than my father is.

So here I am – teaching myself. I was prepared to do the same, but apparently I need my sleep more than she did (no that’s a lie: I make it more of a priority than she did). After a horrible year, working at 3 schools at the same time, having recurrent migraines and feeling as if every piece of me was failing me, it was my boss who told me to stop wanting to do it all. He’d encourage me to trust in the lessons I had on hand and sometimes come a bit less prepared.

I took his advice to heart. And since my son was born, I try to do as much as possible in the hours I am at school. Because I don’t want to give up my nights. I don’t care to get up at 5am each morning, to do some grading, to prepare all the stuff for everyone that day, then go to school at an early hour to drink my coffee with colleagues and start my day chatting and doing some prep work. But I try not to grade myself asleep. Even with my procrastination issues, it works fairly well.

That makes me an early bird then. My poor night-owl of a husband.

 

 

This post was written in response to the wordpress daily prompt Because the Night

Confessions of a teacher

I did not plan to not have a post ready for today. But my preparation work for school yesterday night took, of course, way more time than I had anticipated, even if most of the material was already written and it only needed a few tweaks.

teacher confession thrive

 

And while I was looking for the right image, playing around with the layout of my course materials, examining ways to share content with my students, I felt wat I have always felt doing all of this: I am born for this job.

As long as I can start with a relatively clean slate, and not have to work through mountains of procrastinated tasks like grading of giving extensive feedback… there is nothing in this world I’d rather do for a living than this. I like the preparation work, that’s my need for creativity and in-depth study of a subject that comes along. The challenge of coming up with new ways or just shaving the rough edges to create a tried-and-true lesson plan – it works for me.

Sometimes the teaching itself is disappointing, but then again: it answers to other parts of my personality. The classroom is my natural habitat. I can be nervous in front of new groups, or groups that I have a difficult relationship with, but once I have the opportunity to pass on what I absolutely want to pass on – nothing can stop me. I love how good questions challenge me. I love how funny situations create an atmosphere of trust and cosiness. I love how sometimes I can convince one of them to just sit it out and discover ancient texts for what they really are. I love the discussions about subjects I don’t know nearly enough about and how they encourage me to keep my eyes and hearts open.

I can honestly say: most of the times, I thrive as a teacher because of my students. And while I’m a bit sad that my parental leave is over, I know for sure that I will love going back to that other place where I belong: in front of a class.

Meet the queen of procrastination

Maybe I can just stop here. I mean, the fact that, way too late at night, I’m stil whipping up a blog post for tomorrow morning about a topic that I know all too well, just says it all. Why now? I had already decided more than a week ago to write about this. I even had plenty of time to do so. I mean, I have been online so many hours, procrastinating on other things, that it makes completely no sense not to at least have typed a post.

procrastination lists

 

Tomorrow I have a task on hand that I could have done two months ago. Maybe I even should have done it then. My paternal leave is going to end in two weeks, from January on I’ll be fulltime in front of the class again. I have had four months to slowly prepare classes, take a head start, all while having enough time to do all the other things I absolutely love and are more self or family centered.

Yeah.

I do know how I can counter that hopeless tendency to postpone everything until the very last minute. Lists. Beautiful, checkable lists.

The perfect list is actually a collection of lists. A collection of handwritten lists, to be precise. Nothing is more pleasing to the eye than the same handwriting, regular enough to be coherent, but playful through the white spaces lists entice.

It’s also not too long and consists of specific tasks, all doable. You have to be able to cross them off. You even have to be able to start on the tasks you planned for the next day, even just because of the killer mood it gives you.

So if you excuse me now, I am going to make a list. I have four months to catch up in 3 hours tomorrow… :)

Tuesday Tunes – wedding dance

Aaaah, the wedding dance. I love a good romantic song but if I have to dance on it… I’d prefer something with a little more rhythm in it. And it has to be happy of course.

My first choice was this one:

 

 

But I got vetoed by my husband (boooh). It still makes me happy though. The magic, the voices in such great harmony… And: it is a waltz! We had taken a few months of dancing classes and waltzing was something my husband was quite good at. But alas…

 

It became this one:

 

We had so much fun with it! We took an extra lesson right before the wedding and made up a glorious jive. It was most certainly something our guests had not expected and for my husband nerves that day only faded AFTER that dance (poor guy, it must have been around 10 pm ), but we nailed that thing.

And it’s still my happy dance.

What was/would be your choice?

Pumpkin lasagna

Disclaimer: I do not create recipes. I improvise. When something actually really works, I try to write it down, so I could recreate it later. Which, to be honest, I often forget, unless it was a very quick win.

Lasagna. While I do appreciate a good one, I hated the fact that there was so much work involved. Making two sauces. Cooking dried pasta sheets and separate them before thy would all stick together.  So I never ever made lasagna and always went for store-bought. Which was good, but classic.

And then there was pumpkin season. And a whole lot of cheap pumpkin. And fish fillets – plaice. Not very much of it. Some leek. And inspiration. One has got to love inspiration. Not hesitate when it strikes. So I bring to you: my first lasagna ever. With pumpkin béchamel sauce. Ta-daaaa!

pumpkin béchamel lasagna

First, roast some (a lot of) pumpkin. I cut it in cubes, place it on my baking tray and roast with just a little vegetable oil, pepper and salt.

When roasted, make your sauce: a classic béchamel (you know: equal amounts of butter and flour, cooked until you have that hazelnut smell, and then add milk bit by bit and whisk whisk whisk!) When it’s almost done and not too thick (it has to make your pasta cooked), stir in two thirds of the roasted pumpkin. Stir well. Season to taste.

Prepare the extra ingredients: cut leek in small strips and cook/wok. Do the same with the plaice, but leave it raw. Flatfish is thin enough to cook during the time the lasagna is in the oven.

Boil water for the lasagna sheets. Spread out kitchen towels where the sheets can be put apart once they’ve met the boiling water for about three minutes.

Layer your lasagna: Sauce, pasta, leek/fish/rest of the pumpkin. Repeat. End with pasta covered by sauce. Put in a 200°C oven for about 30 to 40 minutes.

If you plan to blog about it – try not to eat it all before the picture. And if you want some for lunch the next day (excellent idea!) – give precise instructions to your husband. Very precise. As in: eat these leftovers and you’ll spend the night on the couch. Alone.

That will do the trick.