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: “www.act.org”

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… 


October 29, 2014

Project Weekend Overview

{Wrote this on Monday and forgot to push the publish button!}

I cannot believe how sore my body is right now from completing three home projects this weekend. Yes, three! I know, we are a little loco. G and I decided that this weekend would be a good time to finally re-floor the Master Bath.

Fo’ Real though… who puts carpet in a bathroom?

bathroom before Collage

Then with having a day and a half off from work on Thursday and Friday I decided that I wanted to utilize my time into finishing two other projects that have been on the list for some time now.

  1. Repainting (again) the mudroom
  2. Finish panting final 4 kitchen cabinets
  3. Tile and grout the master bath

Project 1: The Mud room

It wasn’t horrible looking… I had already fixed that mess the first summer we lived here in 2012. We went from:

This… Hello 90’s Sponge Paint


To this: Quick Fix

Painted Sponged wall and all trim in the room white with exception to the windows. The color on the wall is a periwinkle, again not awful but not our taste. You can also see the ceiling, door, and windows are cream color.

Before mudroom Collage

As I have said before, we bought a great home but it wasn't exactly to my taste. I don’t believe you should have to live in a house and “deal” with looking at rooms that you dislike.

I’ve wanted to use a grayish toned paint in our home but was too afraid until now. I thought it would be a great color for the mudroom. I also wanted to finish painting the ceiling, random off white garage entry door, and windows white to match the rest of the room.

I have most of my photos on my camera that need to be uploaded to my computer. Here the only decent iPhone photo I have of the mudroom once completed. I will be sure to show some better photos later.


Project 2: Paint Kitchen Cabinets

I had 4 cabinets left over from painting them back in April/May? I don’t have photos at this time but want to do a completely separate post on , How to Paint Laminate Kitchen Cabinets.

Project 3:

G and I went to Menards two months ago and purchased 12 x 12 Vinyl Tile self adhesive groutable tiles. They were having a huge sale and with some gift cards we had on hand we paid $0 out of pocket. SCORE.

On Friday evening I was finishing up painting the ceiling of the mudroom so G got started ripping out the carpet and pulling up staples and carpet nail trim. This post would be too long to get into details so I will post soon about our experience using these tiles. For now you can gawk at how lovely this turned out… I still am.


bathroom before Collage


Bathroom After Collage


It certainly helps having two full baths in the house since you can see there is still no toilet. We will be putting that in tonight now that the grout has had 48 hours to cure.

I can’t wait to show more details on each project!

How you done some projects at home lately?

October 22, 2014

You Have Time

Recently I bought a book for a friend and myself to read called, "The Best Yes" by author Lysa TerKeurst. I heard her preach in a podcast that I listen to and thought she did a great job of conveying God's word through every day life experiences/difficulties as a woman. I then was speaking with my friend about life situations we were going through and thought Lysa's book definitely spoke to us both as we are trying to navigate through marriage, life, family, and faith. 

"The Best Yes" is a book that helps women realize the weight of their decisions and how we often forget that it's OKAY to say no to many things so that later you can say YES to the things that need your time the most. I am the worst person at saying No. Part of my personality is that I want to please people and sometimes take it so far that I forget that I am saying Yes for that person and not for myself. It's not a bad thing, being there for people and helping is a wonderful trait to have until you become so overwhelmed that you can no longer function as a normal person. 

In the first Chapter Lysa speaks about time. There are 168 hours a week and 24 hours in a day that we devote to family, work, church, friends, chores, hobbies, etc. Then there is that list of "Wants" that we never quite get around to. You know... our list, New Years resolutions, things we want to accomplish. 

My List: 

Go running 3-5 times a week
Travel to Hawaii & Europe
Go to see P!nk in Concert
Make new friends
Go on a Mission Trip
Coach my future child's soccer team

These are all things on my list that may happen over the spand of my life but many of those things on my list could happen now and I simply choose to waste my time filling it with other crap. To really see where my time was going I took Lysa's "You Have Time" Quiz.


Here are my results:

My weeks mainly consist of Work and Sleeping. 
Work = 40 hrs per week on average
Sleep= 8 hrs a day x 7 = 56 hrs 

72.3% or 96 hrs a week goes towards two things that I have to do. I need sleep and I need to work for money. 

Where does the other left over time go? Eating, Church, Family, Errands, Personal Hygiene, and "other". 

As you can see in the bar graph on most all days I only use around 20.25 hours out of a 24 hour day. Which amounts to 141.75 hours a week out of a total of 168 hours.

I waste 3.75 hours every day. 
Which leads to 26.25 hours a week.
Which is around 116 hours a month. 
And 1,376.75 hours a year!

Where does it go? I know exactly where it goes. 

TV time. Social Media. Here Blogging. But really if I'm being honest... mainly TV. 

Does TV fulfill me? No, but I enjoy it. 

Monday: Big Bang Theory
Tuesday: Intervention
Wednesday: Stalker
Thursday: Project Runway
Friday: Whatever chick flick is on 

But... LBH here. (Let's Be Honest) 

These TV shows that I enjoy watching or that I look forward to are 30 minutes to 1 hour long. I could still manage to accomplish watching them and still have time left over for other things. The rest of my time goes to TV that I don't even enjoy or look forward to seeing, it's just on and I'm tired so I watch. 

I've realized with this exercise that "I Have Time". 

I can plan better meals to eat at home to make cooking fun again. I can absolutely use that time to work out a few days a week. I can plan more house projects that I will actually put aside the time to do. That sewing machine I have can get dusted off. 

I am excited to continuing reading along so that I may grow and become better at saying No to the things that aren't My Best Yes.

I encourage you to take the less than 5 minute Time assessment Tool over at TheBestYes.com to see how much time you have to devote to the things you would like to get out of life.


I would love to hear your results and maybe some of the things you would like to accomplish with the "extra" time that you have left over during the days/weeks.  


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