Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What's Up April

Can you believe it's already the last Wednesday in April? I feel like this school year has flown by. It's hard to believe there's only a little over a month left!

Anywho, since it is the last Wednesday of April, I am joining MelShay, and Sheaffer and a whole lot of other bloggers for this month's What's Up Wednesday link-up. 

 


Every month we answer the same few questions based on how things are currently going in our lives. 

The questions are...

 

What am I eating this week?

I made some "Southern Caviar" earlier this week. This dish is so incredibly simple to make and it's packed full of delicious goodness. I need to blog this recipe soon. 


Add a Pinch's Southern Caviar Dip
FYI - This isn't my picture. Mine was so not as pretty as this one. But it looked similar ;)

What am I reminiscing about?


My dad... Last Wednesday was the 2 year anniversary of his death. It's so hard to believe that he's been gone 2 years. Lately I've been doing better. But sometimes the grief still just catches me by surprise and totally takes my breath away. I so miss that man!



What am I loving?

I'm loving we have the day off from school next Friday :)

I'm kidding a bit there. But actually, I must say I really am loving my class. This squirrely crew has been a fun one. I love their love of reading. I love their eagerness to learn new things. I love their contagious laughter and their silly antics. I've loved watching them grow this year. I've just honestly loved being their teacher. I'm blessed! That's for sure.

What have I been up to?

Prepping for our Elementary Camp which is a big event for our Elementary students. It has consumed my every "free" moment lately. My hope and prayer is that our kids have the times of their lives AND that they draw closer to God in the process :) 

What am I dreading?

I posted the picture below this past weekend. I'm so dreading having to say goodbye to my sweet, squirrely crew at the end of this school year...


What am I working on?

Just the usual parts of the job in the classroom...

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What am I excited about?

The 4th Grade teacher and I have been working with our students to plan a Living Wax Museum, which our students will put on next week. Our kids have been working so hard, and for so long, on this. I can't wait to see the finished product. It's going to be great!



What am I watching?

Over Easter weekend, I was sick and in bed the majority of the time. Then I had to stay home from work on Monday because I was still sick. So binge watching The Nanny over the course of this past week seemed like a good choice to pass my time. I've seen every episode in the past. But I had forgotten what a funny show it was...




What am I reading?

I snagged a copy of The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom from the clearance shelf at a bookstore over Spring Break. The info on the back looked good. I'll be reading it this weekend. Let's see if it's as good as it claims to be :)

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What am I listening to?

Nothing new - Anyone have any suggestions for me?

What am I wearing?

I bought this shirt while in the States. Isn't it fun?


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"my y'all is authentic"

W
hat am I doing this weekend?

Elementary Camp is Friday after school. And since we're not scheduled to end until 8 pm, and I'm in charge, which means I'll be staying late for clean-up and making sure everything's closed up and all of our kids get picked up on time. But even though it'll be a long day/late night for me, I know that it is definitely going to be fun and exciting, so I honestly can't wait! Then Saturday, I'll do a little lesson prep and such in my classroom. And Sunday there's church and a get-together with our AG "family." And if I'm lucky, a nap will be thrown in the mix at some point over the weekend :)

What am I looking forward to next month?

May is crazy in the life of a teacher. There's lots of end of year activities and stuff like that. My class and another class is putting on a special program for our parents, which will be a lot of fun. My class is responsible for a chapel service towards the end of the month. And there'll be the usual gearing up for the end of school. Although, Elementary kids don't get out 'til June 2nd though. So it's not the complete end just yet... :)

What else is new?

Not a whole lot...

And then each month, there's a special question to answer. April's question is...

What's your favorite Spring/Summer shoe?

Image result for i'm a flip flop kinda girl

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

New Special Ed. Class Q & A #3

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Back in November, I shared about a dream of mine that had recently come true. If you missed that post, you can click HERE to check it out. 

The super short version of that post is... God gave me a dream to create a class at my school for students with special needs, deemed so "severe" that they are unable to function 100% of the time in the "regular" (general ed.) classroom. 

Anywho - About a month later, I wrote another post in which I answered a few questions (which you can read about HERE) about the class. Then last month, I wrote another Q & A style post (which you can read about HERE) about the class. 

And then I had big plans to wait 'til June to do another Q & A post. But after traveling to the States last month, sharing my heart for this class, I realized there are more than enough questions to answer now and still have some left over for June too.

How many students will you have?

As of now I'll have 4 students. Although, at the rate things are going, it's possible that this number may change before school starts in August. So who knows? :)

Can we see your classroom?

You can see the BEFORE picture. The AFTER won't be ready 'til August. But you can be sure that I'll post all sorts of fun pictures when everything's ready.



Anywho... By this summer, the piano, tables and chairs, and other random supplies being stored in there will be gone and this empty room will be filled with all sorts of goodness to make this empty space an awesome Special Ed classroom. I can't wait!
How can we donate?

Click HERE and follow the prompts to donate to my AGWM account. Or if you'd prefer to send a donation via check through the mail, email me at enichols85@gmail.com and I'll tell you how to do that. All donations made this way are tax deductible, by the way. 

If you'd prefer to send actual supplies, email me and I'll get you a list of what I still need/want to buy for the class, so you can help with that.

What made you want to teach Special Education?

I remember seeing kids with special needs in school. I remember seeing how they were treated (both good and bad). I had relatives receiving Special Ed. services too. So I saw what they went through. Then I remember, just as if it were yesterday, sitting in my Intro to Education course and thinking... This is what I want to do. So I went and changed my major because by doing so, I'd be qualified to teach Elementary Education and Special Education. And you know what? I have never once regretted that decision!

You're just teaching, though. How is that considered missions?

Ironically enough, I hear this question quite often. Missions is not a one-size-fits-all kind of job. Every single missionary is not out there standing behind a pulpit or building churches deep in the bush somewhere. Missionaries are also providing medical care, translating the Bible, digging wells, helping widows start their own businesses, running English centers, managing store-front businesses, and yes...even teaching Special Education to an amazing group of kids in Dakar, Senegal :) 

Honestly, I understand the confusion. I, too, used to think that missionaries only did one thing. But then my eyes were open to how broad the definition of missionary can be. Yes, it's someone who's promoting the Kingdom of God. That's true no matter what. But how they go about doing that is different from person to person from country to country.

Are you ever going to leave Senegal and come back to the States to teach?

If God tells me to, I will. 

But until then, I'll be here in Dakar doing what I love - and more importantly, what God has called me to do. I love teaching at Dakar Academy and honestly, can't imagine leaving. But y'all... I'm here because God said to come here (and stay here). 
Will you be back in the States this summer?

Yep! I'll be in the States for part of the summer. I'm planning to stay a couple weeks after school gets out to set up my new classroom. Then as of now, the plan is for me to head back toward the middle of June and stay 'til the 1st of August.

But weren't you just there. Why go back? 

I'll be traveling around Alabama (and beyond if I'm invited), speaking, and doing a bit more fundraising. Also, I'll be able to bring back the rest of the supplies I purchased for the new class, but wasn't able to bring back with me at the end of Spring Break.

What do you wish more people knew about students with special needs?

These kids need the same as any other kids... They need to be loved. They need to be accepted. They need to be appreciated and valued. They need to be taught. Sure, they may act/walk/learn/hear/see/communicate/whatever differently than others. But they're human beings - just like you and I. 

What are the most amazing AND the most difficult parts of teaching Special Education?

One of the most difficult parts is dealing with naysayers which, unfortunately, happens ALL. THE. TIME. Other difficult parts include all the paperwork (especially in the States). It sometimes seems like it's unending. It's difficult dealing with uncooperative general ed. teachers and administrators, who don't really understand Special Education. But the absolute most difficult part is watching your kids struggle. Unfortunately, many of our kids struggle a LOT, which is so very painful to see. But that's why Special Education exists. We exist to give these kids the help they need to succeed.

But I must say... The amazing parts definitely outweigh the difficult parts. You get to teach amazing students. ...all the while, you get to prove society wrong because you're showing society all the amazing things your kids CAN/are ABLE to do. You get to see "lightbulb" moments more often than general ed. teachers. You get to see change/growth more often as well, because there are a zillion little things you're measuring. Yes, it's a hard job at times. But it is so incredibly worth it. 

How can we be praying for your new class?

Help me pray for all the details that still need to fall into place before school starts in August. Help me pray for wisdom and guidance in planning for teaching this class. Help me pray that I'll be able to buy the last of the technology, books, and other supplies I need for this class (things I hadn't orginally planned on, but have realized are necessary as time's gone on). Help me pray that I serve the students I'll have next year (and beyond) to the best of my ability. And last, but most certainly not least, help me pray that God would use this class as a tool to further show His love to those around us.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Would You Rather

If we have a free minute or two during the day, I'll usually pull out some trivia questions or something like that. But lately, my 5th graders have been on a Would You Rather kick. So in the spirit of randomness and fun... I thought I'd answer a few Would You Rather's on the blog today.

Would you rather be locked in a room that is constantly dark for a week or locked in a room that is constantly bright for a week?

There's no question. I'd choose the room that's constantly bright. I'm not a big fan of the dark. Plus, I can totally sleep in a bright room. If I'm tired enough, I'll go to sleep.

Would you rather live in a place where it was always hot or live in a place where it is always cold?

Honestly, I'd prefer the cold. But considering God allowed me to be born and raised in a place that was super hot and then called me to a place that was equally as hot, and sometimes hotter, I've come to realize that living in a cold place probably isn't going to ever happen. And you want to know something? That's okay with me :)

Would you rather live in the city or the country?

My ideal home would be on a farm, somewhere out in the country, but with a not-so-terribly-far commute to the city. That way, I'd be close enough to the city if I needed something. But I'd be far enough away from the city, that I could enjoy the peace of country living. In my eyes, it would be the best of both worlds :)

Would you rather read the book or watch the movie?

That's an easy choice. Book over movie any day...

Would you rather never eat sweet foods again or never eat salty foods again?

I'd cut out the sweet stuff for sure.

Would you rather always be late to events or always be early to events?

I hate hate hate being late to places. My dad instilled in me the concept of "If you're early, you're on time. If you're on time, you're late." And that's stuck with me to this day. So I would most definitely choose to always be early.

Would you rather be invisible or be able to fly?

 If I could fly to the U.S. and see family any time I wanted, that'd be nice. But I guess I'd probably have to pick being invisible. I could have so much fun with that one :)

Would you rather go back to age 5 with everything you know now or know now everything your future self will have learned?

This one is kind of tough. I could honestly see the merits of choosing either of those options. I really don't know which one I'd choose...

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

2 Years


It's been 2 years.

It's been 2 whole years since my dad passed away. 

Yet, it feels like just yesterday. 

It was a Sunday. 

...which in a way, seemed fitting. 

After all, Sunday was usually my dad's most favorite day of the week. 

He was a pastor and loved the ministry. He loved sharing the gospel with anyone who'd listen. In fact, he delivered his last sermon just a week before, from his hospital bed. He was so weak, fading in and out, but the Spirit moved mightily.

My sweet dad had been suffering for quite some time. We had hit the painful point where we prayed that God would either heal him here on earth or, in His infinite grace, take my dad on home to Heaven. That's part of the joy in knowing someone's relationship with Christ is solidified. You know that where they're going when they die is far better than the life they're living right now. After all, as Christians, Heaven is our ultimate home.

But I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt.

It was, and still is, the most intense pain I've ever felt in my life.

I lost one of the people I loved most in this world. 

I lost a hero. I lost an inspiration. I lost an advice giver. I lost an encourager and a supporter. I lost the one who was always up for a spontaneous roadtrip. I lost the one who'd print out and go over directions with me to make sure I knew exactly how to get to a new destination. I lost the one who'd pretend fight my mom to be the first one to hug me when I returned to the States from Senegal. I lost the one who'd quickly turn away as I walked towards the security line at the airport, but slowly enough that I always saw a tear fall from his eye. I lost the one who'd send emails full of Bible verses, which were just what I needed to read at just the right time. I lost an amazing prayer warrior.

But most of all...

I lost my dad.

I once read a quote which said...

 "Grief is like the ocean. It comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it's overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim."

And here we are 2 years later and I can honestly say this quote is still true. 

Grief is a bizarre thing. It typically doesn't stay with you 100% of the time. It comes and goes. Sometimes it's barely even there, not noticeable at all. And other times... At other times, it crashes like an intense wave, knocking your feet out from under you.

And you know...

I do so miss that man. And it is so hard to think of all the things my dad will miss. It's hard to think of a future that will continue to not include him in it. 

But at the same time, I know that there is a bittersweet tradeoff, so to speak.

When my dad got to Heaven, he was, for the first time in over 10 years, free from the issues that came with taking dialysis, free of taking medicine, free of sickness and pain. I wouldn't dare wish him back here. Heaven beats out this crazy earth any day. 

So I'll continue to ride the waves of grief.

I'll continue to rejoice in the good times and the bad. I'll continue to thank my Heavenly Father for providing the comfort and peace that can only come from above. 

And more than anything...

I'll continue to remember one of the most amazing men that ever lived. 

My sweet Daddy

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday's Letters

Today I'm joining Kristin for her monthly Little Letter link-up, where we write "letters" to all sorts of things, sharing a bit about our lives at the moment.


Dear Spring Break, You were packed full of speaking engagements at churches and schools, shopping trips to various stores buying supplies for next year's class, and time spent with family. You were quite the whirlwind trip. Thanks for working out so well! You may have been crazy busy, but you were definitely enjoyable. 

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Dear Nieces, Oh sweet sweet girls... I love you two so much. You have no idea how proud I am to tell people that I'm an aunt. I love that God gave me the gift of aunthood. I may not have children of my own. But you two fill my heart with so much love and pride. What an incredible blessing you two are in my life!

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Dear Mom, I miss you so much when I'm in Dakar. You really are my best friend. I am so very grateful for the time we had together while I was in the States. Thanks for being my roadtrip buddy, sermon/speech judge, advice giver, and so much more. Thanks for always supporting and encouraging me. You have no idea how much you mean to me. I love you!

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Dear Professional Development Day, I was a little concerned about how you'd go earlier this week. After all, I landed in Dakar less than 12 hours before you started and I had major jet lag. But you know what? You actually went so much better than I was expecting. And  Thanks for being the perfect amount of time and accountability I needed to get a bunch of computer work done. 

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Dear 5 Days, You're how long it is until the 2nd anniversary of my dad's death. It's crazy to think it's almost been that long...

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Dear Easter Goodies, I bought you while I was in the States and couldn't wait to share you with my 5th graders. Thanks for bringing a smile to their faces. ...which, in turn, made me smile :)


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Dear Google Translate, You're not always the most accurate. But sometimes you do what you have to do to help a child understand in class. Thanks for being such a helpful tool in class. I do definitely appreciate it.


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Dear Discussions in Bible Class, You have been pretty awesome this week in 5th grade. I've loved hearing the amazing level of understanding held by my 5th graders. They're such intelligent, deep thinkers. I've loved it!


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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Coffee Date

Today I'm joining Erin for her monthly Coffee Date, where we grab a cup of coffee (or whatever non-coffee-drinkers like myself prefer) and chat about whatever we want...


If we were on a coffee date, I bet you'd laugh at me. I'm drinking water, not coffee in this travel mug. I did have some Dr. Pepper this morning. But I'm trying to stick to a rule of no caffeine the rest of the day. Jet lag can be a pain in the you know what. So I'm trying to make sure I'm tired at night and will sleep :)

If we were on a coffee date, I'd probably brag about that cup in the picture above. It supposedly will keep cold drinks cold for 24 hours and hot drinks hot for 6 hours. ...both of which are perfect for teachers! And I bought it at a Publix back home for next to nothing thanks to it being on a clearance shelf. So it was even more of a score!

If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you that I had an awesome time in the States. Yes, it was crazy busy. But God really blessed me while there. And I really enjoyed myself. I may even blog about it later in the week. 

If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you that I actually thrive on routine and consistency in life. I love having a day off every now and then. But I do so much better when on a schedule. I guess it's a good thing I'm a teacher, huh? :)

If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you that I've got lesson plans written, activities prepped, copies made, and even a fun treat ready for my 5th graders tomorrow. But I'm struggling with arranging their desks. You wouldn't believe the amount of thought that has to go into classroom desk arrangement. Seriously... It's crazy.

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If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you that the 2nd anniversary of my dad's death is in only 8 days. It's interesting how I can go long whiles and be totally fine. But then other times... Other times it hits me like a ton of bricks and takes my breath away.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you that this may just be my new favorite picture. I was reading a book to my nieces the other day before telling them bye. Seriously... Is it not the sweetest picture? :)


If we were on a coffee date, I'd probably comment on how it seems like this year is just flying by. It's already the 101st day of the year. That seems crazy to me. It truly seems like 2017 just started!

If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you that I was having phone trouble, but thankfully got it fixed this afternoon. I'd also tell you that I never realized how often I use my phone to call/text/use data (without wifi). It's a little sad actually... But honestly, every single time it was work related. It wasn't even for "fun" stuff (games, Facebook, goofing off, etc.). 

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If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you that I've got some fun Easter themed stuff planned for my kiddos this Friday. I love Easter and I love teaching in a school where I share all about the goodness that is the true meaning of Easter.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What's Up March

Today I'm linking up with MelShay, and Sheaffer for this month's What's Up Wednesday post. That means it's the last Wednesday in March. It's also Spring Break for me so let me insert a celebratory WOOHOO in right about now :)

 


Every month we answer the same few questions based on how things are currently going in our lives. 

The questions are...

 

What am I eating this week?

I arrived back in the States 3 1/2 days ago. So I've been enjoying some good ol' Southern home cookin'. Is there anything better? I think not :)



What am I reminiscing about?

I was sitting in the Atlanta airport, watching planes taking off and started reminiscing about the very first flight I made to Senegal 7 1/2 years ago. It honestly seems like just yesterday. God has moved in such awesome ways in that time. And I can't wait to see what he has in store for my future in Senegal.



What am I loving?

It's SPRING BREAK!!!

What have I been up to?

My students did their Civil War Project presentations the 2 days leading up to Spring Break. I loved seeing their unique, creative sides come out!



 

What am I dreading?

Next month will be the 2nd anniversary of my dad's death. They say it gets easier as time goes on. I just don't know about that... It still hurts so very badly :(


What am I working on?

I'm working on raising funds for and awareness of the new Special Ed class I'm starting next year (which you can read about HERE) at my school. I'm actually in the U.S. the rest of this week and all of next week and will be speaking at quite a few schools and churches, spreading the word about this awesomeness and sharing my heart and passion for the incredible job God is blessing me with.

What am I excited about?

See above :)

Past that, I must say I'm pretty stoked to be able to hang out with my nieces (and the rest of my family too). I may not be here long, but a little time is better than no time :)

What am I watching?

I used up the last of an iTunes card from Christmas and downloaded a season of Guy's Grocery Games and totally binge watched half of it on the way back to the U.S. 



Guy's Grocery Games

What am I reading?

I didn't just watch tv on the plane/in the airports coming back to the States. I also read The Zookeeper's Wife, which was such an incredible book. I highly recommend it!


What am I listening to?

Nothing new - Anyone have good recommendations?

What am I wearing?

Not flip flops. That's for sure. Closed toe shoes have been in the major rotation since being back in the US, thanks to all the rain and semi-cold temps.

What am I doing this weekend?

My brother and his family are coming over this Saturday for dinner. Then I will be in Florala, Alabama on Sunday sharing my heart for that fabulous group of kids God's allowing me to teach next year. If you're near Florala, and want to hear me speak, I'll be at First Assembly Sunday morning and Liberty Hill Assembly Sunday night. And I'll probably be hanging out by the lake in between time :)

What am I looking forward to next month?

Elementary Camp - a super fun event for our elementary kids at DA. I can't wait :)

What else is new?

I finally got around to ordering my 2016 Photo a Day photo book from Shutterfly. I waited 'til they had a Free Book special going on and ordered it then. Plus, they had 40% off deal going on. So not only did I get a free book. I also got 40% off the shipping.