Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Bittersweet 2009

I have been thinking about this post for awhile now, as I think about the past year. I will always remember 2009 as a bittersweet year. I had the best day of my life and the worse day of my life. I experienced the worse failure and one of the best triumphs of my life. All within one year. So here it, in all honesty, holding nothing back, 2009:

At the beginning of the past 3 years I have gone down to Florida to do the breast cancer walk with my grandma. I loved spending time with her, taking a break from the cold and sharing in the special event. I almost didn't go this year because of student teaching, but I made it down very last minute. I am glad I did.
Breast Cancer 5k Walk in West Palm Beach, Fl.
Me, Grandma, Mom, Uncle Tom and Judy

In January I started student teaching. I went into this experience with high hopes and much excitement as this would be the last part of the teacher licensure program at The University of Richmond. I was ready to graduate and become an art teacher. My first placement was at a title 1 elementary school in a rough part of town. Most of the students came from broken homes with parents who did little parenting. 95% of the students were on free and/or reduced lunch and breakfast. To say the students were a challenge is a huge understatement. To make matters worse my cooperating teacher who I was working with had never had a student teacher before. Instead of helping me (which I desperately needed) she watched old episodes of Lost on her laptop. This experience ended up being horrible, I couldn't get the students under control, I couldn't get them to listen to me and I couldn't keep up. I am not pushing all the blame on my cooperating teacher or my supervisor from UofR, which was my first response. I could have done a lot differently as well. I was planning a wedding and working a part time job at the same time. I didn't have enough time and energy to put into student teaching, I was being pulled in 200 different directions. By the end of the first placement I was ready to move onto high school. I would be working with a different population of students both demographically and developmentally. This did not come to be, as I was pulled from the program. I can't believe I am writing this, but yes I was told in a meeting with my supervisor and field placement director that I would not be moving onto my second placement. I was shocked, confused and angry all at the same time. I just remember crying and feeling like the biggest failure ever. I couldn't believe it. I was told I could finish student teaching in the fall if I did some observing and retook a class over the summer. After a lot of soul searching I decided I wanted to finish the program. I told UofR that I wanted to complete the program and do all the extra work that was involved. At that point I was still not 100% sure I wanted to teach, but I wanted to give it another try. I felt God had called me to teaching, and now looking back I can see how this experience will make me a better teacher. I can see I was becoming a teacher who did the bare minimum and was not passionate about her subject or students. This was definitely a wake up call, and I am finally at a place where I can truthfully say I am glad this situation happened. It took me a long time to come to that place, where I could look back and take positive things away from that school. For a long time I was bitter and mad at my cooperating teacher and supervisor for not stepping up and helping me more. For not being a good example of what a great teacher is. But, I have learned from this experience, it will always be with me and I will always remember the type of teacher I want to be because of it.

I soon switched from teacher to wedding planner. At this point I had about a month left until I got married. I had my bridal shower and bachelorette party, both were fantastic.
Bachelorette Party

My Bridal Shower

On April 4 I married my best friend. It was the best day of my life. I know that is cliche, but it's true. All of the most important people in my life were there. I looked and felt beautiful and everything was perfect. We ended up having great weather, sunny and warm. I definitely had a fairytale wedding. We got married at our church and had the reception at The Dominion Club. I couldn't have asked for a better day.

Me and Clarke, Our Wedding Day

After our wedding we went on our honeymoon to Martinique. This was amazing. We stayed at a Club Med resort, which I highly recommend. Our room was right on the beach and the food was so great. We did have some trouble getting there, with a detour to Puerto Rico. Someone on our connecting flight from Miami to San Juan brought a knife on the plane. I guess they found it somewhere, so everyone had to deboard and they searched the plane. By the time that was done and we got to the San Juan airport we had missed our connecting flight to Martinique. There was only one flight that left from San Juan to Martinique everyday, so we were stuck in San Juan, Puerto Rico for a whole day. We were pretty bummed but it ended up being fine. Once we got to the resort in Martinique it was great. This was definitely one of the best trips of my life.
Martinique, Our Honeymoon

We also moved into our apartment. We waited until we were married to move into together, so this was really exciting.
Our First Place

In May I got my hair cut off. I donated 10 inches to Locks of Love. It was a big adjustment, but I am glad I did it. I think when my hair grows out I will do it again. Me and Clarke also got to go to the Outer Banks with his family. Althought it was really cold and windy we still had a good time and managed to get some beach time in.
Me and Clarke, Outer Banks

Over the summer I retook a classroom management class, went camping, made it down to Florida again and went to Baltimore and Roanoke. I also learned how to play golf. Well started to learn. I still have a long way to come, but it's fun and I really enjoy it. I have noticed a lot of similarities to gymnastics in golf. The controlling of your body and discipline is needed in both sports. I also like that this is a sport I can play for the rest of my life, unlike gymnastics.
The Hollows Golf Course

Roanoke Star

Baltimore, Inner Harbor, Visiting Dad

At the end of July we got Betty. It seems like we have had her for so much longer than just 5 months. I can't imagine not having her, she has really become a member of our family.
Betty, The Day We Adopted Her

Also towards the end of July I went to Florida yet again. My grandma, who I was very close to had been sick for some time. My aunt decided to throw her a surprise birthday party, her birthday was the week before. My dad came from Baltimore, my whole family came from Virginia and my cousin came from Maryland. All of her children and grandchildren were there. She said it was the best day of her life, I bet about 100 people were at her party.
Grandma's 78th Birthday Party

After the party we went back to her place and spent some time together. About 20 minutes after we left we got a call saying she had passed away. This ended up being the worse day of my life.

I was very close to my grandma, and loved her very much. I miss her so much and wish she was still here. She taught me so much about life, God, perseverance, love and family. She helped me become the person I am today. I still can't believe that she is gone. She overcame a lot in her life as she had four different types of cancer: breast, lung, colon and liver. She never gave up hope and had the most positive attitude throughout all of the chemo treatments. She lived every day of her life to the fullest. She had an amazing faith in God. She never stopped trying new things. She loved her family so much and was the glue that held us all together. This was a really hard time for my family, and I know we are not over it. I probably gained about 10 pounds that month, just eating out of sadness. I honestly don't know when I will be able to talk about her without tears coming to my eyes. All I can say is I am so grateful for having her in my life. I don't know many people who were as close to their grandma as I was. I am a better person for having her in my life.

In the fall I finally finished student teaching. I was at my high school placement and I absolutely loved it. I had the best cooperating teacher ever. I went into that placement scared to death of teaching. I was so unsure of myself, unsure if teaching was for me. Throughout my 2 months there God confirmed that teaching is my calling. I was made to be a teacher. I have such a heart for young people and a passion for sharing art with them.
Page's Clay Vessel

In October me and Clarke went apple picking at Carter's Mountain. We also went to Rocky Mount and Clarke played his great uncle Bob in the ghost and more tour. My sister in law Melanie played her great aunt Anna. I took pictures.
Melanie, Clarke and Me in Rocky Mount

Our first holiday season as a married couple was great. We spent Thanksgiving at my mom's and did Christmas with both families. We were busy, but it was nice to have so many people to share it with.
Thanksgiving at Mom's

Christmas Eve at Clarke's Parent's House

I also just turned 26. It is my lucky year, 26 on the 26th. I went to Dave and Busters with my friends and of course Clarke to celebrate.
Lori, Me and Rebecca at Dave and Busters

So there it is, 2009.
A wedding and a funeral.
 Failure and success.
Joy and pain.
All rolled together.
A bittersweet year.

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