November 21, 2014

High Five on Friday 11.21.14

Happy Friday All!

I am happy to say that I’ve got coffee in my hands and leggings beneath these pants to stay warm today! I believe that my fellow Midwesterners and I have started to embrace that fact that Winter is here… it’s early but it’s not going anywhere so we’d better get over it quick!

This past week has been an amazing one.

Collage Nov 21 2014

  1. I graduated from my Associations “Emerging Leaders Institute” last week at our regional conference. For the past year I have been flown around the country to leadership trainings in Chicago, Washington, DC, and Minneapolis, MN. I got the opportunity to Advocate for students on “The Hill” while strengthening my leadership abilities, and building a network of supporters across the Midwest.
  2. As I said in my opening statement, Its cold here in Iowa and across the Midwest! I thought this ecard was a nice little take on how to deal with the cold Winking smile
  3. I was selected by one of my students to attend their induction into the National Honor Society as a “Mentor of Character” this past week. Humbled… above and beyond. I am always proud to see my students achieve great things. There is hope is this next generation of leaders.
  4. I put some final touches on my kitchen. You can see them in the post here.
  5. I joined a 5 day challenge called “Praying Boldly for Your Marriage”. I always feel like when people first see that I post, re-tweet, or share something pertaining to marriage that they may have a thought that my marriage is on the rocks. With social media I feel like everyone paints a false picture of life to be rainbows and butterflies. My marriage is strong and we are happy but praying can help it continue to grow and strengthen. Whether you are religious or not I believe we can all relate to this statement below.

    “Being married is incredibly difficult. Being married is amazing. Being married can seem impossibly hard. Being married can seem incredibly beautiful. There is no other person who can frustrate me the way my husband can. There is no other person who can make me feel as loved as my husband can.”



Have a great weekend! Stay Warm!

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November 16, 2014

Country Kitchen


Welcome to my kitchen! It’s taken two and a half years but I finally have the kitchen that I’ve always wanted. A quaint county kitchen with a hint of charm.

When we first moved to this house we did not have a kitchen that was anywhere near what I had envisioned. It was straight out of 1970. The cabinets were a laminate cream color with faux wood trim, the counter was a mustard yellow, there was old tile backsplash behind the range, and the hardware was old and tarnished.  

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Right away we took care of the counter by purchasing a Rustoleum Kit. You can see that project here. I get that a lot of people are into retro but I got some negative comments in the past for covering up the yellow and here is all I’m going to say. This is my kitchen, not yours, I bought it, and that’s that.

After we covered the counter I decided to remove the cabinet closers above the regular kitchen cabinets. Opening them up and added corky wine bottles with some other touches added some nice touches to the area.

Last winter I decided to paint and get new hardware for the kitchen. The bottom cabinets kept a pull while the top cabinets were replaced with a knob by filling the holes with wood filler. In order to complete this project without losing my mind, I did a quarter of the kitchen at a time. It took about 2 weeks overall.

I also decided to cover up the old tile with tin tiles. It was easily done by placing it with double sided tape over the old tile. I spent the extra money on tin trim to make sure it doesn’t look half done.

The final two touches came this weekend when I decided to get rid of the curtains that came with the house and replace them with fabric roman shades I made myself. I also have been dreaming about a butcher block to add to the space for over a year and found this one at Ikea.The kicker was I had to wait 6 months to drive the three hours to Minneapolis to pick it up! Ikea shipping is out of this world!

So here it is a newly refreshed kitchen for around $800. (Our original quote for new counter tops and cabinets was $4,900)

  1. Counter = $250.00
  2. Tin = $50
  3. Primer for cabinets = $40
  4. Paint for cabinets = $40
  5. Misc= for painting = $30
  6. Hardware = $150
  7. Fabric for curtains= $60
  8. Butcher Block Island = $199








With a little elbow grease, some patients, and a little Pinterest your money can go a long way. The only others things that I would love to change in this room is the laminate flooring and the brown kitchen sink.

Until then…

What would you change in your kitchen?

October 30, 2014

The Struggle of First Gen Students

Today my feelings went on a rollercoaster of a ride. I absolutely love working with first gen/low income students in helping them on their paths towards college and as rewarding as it can be it can also frustrate the hell out of me. This is my third year working with these same students and I feel like I’m at the point in the year where I’m saying, “I told you this your sophomore year, why didn’t you listen to me?” “Yes, your cumulative GPA is awful, I told you to stop goofing off.”

My frustration started last Friday, the day prior to the October ACT in which many of my students had signed up for. They had their tickets that I printed for them, they had their practice test that we gave them previously, they their calculators, their pencils…

10:03am Friday: Text from student one “I don’t have a ride to the ACT.”

                         My Though: ::: You’ve known about this test for 2.5 months! :::

                 My response: “So, ask around school and find someone taking the test to ride with…”

10:07am Friday: Text from student two, “I can’t take the ACT tomorrow, can I change the date to December?”

                         My response: “It’s going to cost you money to change the date being that it is the day before.”

                         Student two: “That’s fine, how do I do that?”

                         My response: “Call ACT”

                         Student two: “What’s the number?”

                         My response: “I don’t know it by heart, go on the website and find the number.”

                         Student two: “What’s the website?”

                         My thought: “Your joking right?”

                         My response: “”

With the frustration already wearing on me I entered the school today to help during the school’s college application day. During period 1 and 2 I had two students that had signed up for the ACT and didn’t go. Then by period 3 another. By period 4 I was so frustrated that I started telling my students that our meeting on Tuesday was not going to be filled with Rainbows and Butterflies… that was the nice way to put it.

I was dead set on ripping these kiddos a new one. You want to go to college but you wont take the steps to get there? You sign up, but then you make excuse after excuse. You waste my time and effort any only ask for things when they are most convenient for you.

Then came 6th period and I was working with another one of my students to submit a community college application. She wanted me to look it over before submitting it which I was happy to do. We then realized that the program she wanted was at a different campus location that she did not want to go to. I don’t blame her, its in the city even further from anything she is use to. I asked the community college advisor to come over and help us figure this out and she started explaining to the student that she can take “Prerequisites”, “General Ed”, and then, “Core courses” later on and that this path here will give you a “certificate” while this one here will give you an “Associates Degree”. As she continued talking my student was nodding like she understood everything the lady was saying then thanked her for her time. The advisor walked away and I could see tears in the students eyes start coming. I knew that the entire conversation went completely over the students head. These terms like Pre-Req, Gen Ed, Core, Certificate vs AA… she was lost before the first word was said.

The struggle for our first generation students is REAL. They have no one to talk about college about at home and if you come from parents who never went to college you are having to explain to them 95% of what you already don’t understand.

I told the student to give me a sheet of paper and I started walking her through semester by semester what her college schedule would look like. Eventually in year two she may have to drive the extra 20 minutes to the city to take a course twice a week but at least the first year she could get the basic courses done. I told her that she needs to be honest and that if she still doesn’t understand that its okay but she needs to have it explained differently.

I rode home with a completely different mentality of how I wish to proceed on Tuesday with my Seniors.

“Motivate don’t Deflate” - “Support them because you may be the only one willing to.” – “Be frustrated with the process and not the student” -- “Look at the depth of the situation and not the surface”

I know we need to keep students accountable. I am certainly disappointed that my students skipped out on the ACT exam and I wish they had more regard to the planning and money that goes into it.

If I take a step back from my own feelings what I begin to feel is the need to become an even bigger supporter in their lives. Maybe the ACT isn’t right for those students. They aren’t ready. They need to be at the community college before they are ready to leap to the state school and that’s okay.

As a society we cringe at lower class citizens and point fingers. We say we want to end the cycle of poverty but these students don’t get the additional support they need to succeed and end up back where they came from.

I’ve decided to put some time in before this Tuesday to come up with the most inspirational, motivational, supporting talk of my life with them thus far. It’s time to say that, “Being scared of failure will only lead you to despair.”  “Your worth in this world is not placed in the value of how others see you but in how you value yourself in this world.” “Stop being afraid to SUCCEED.” 

I’m on a serious mission… 



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