Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An update...

Life has been anything but normal lately, and it seems like an eternity since last Wednesday, the day the decision was announced to close down a school with a long history, a lasting impact, and a large following of resilient, courageous fighters from so many walks of life.  I reminded Beau that it was just a week ago that I sat at a parent meeting, desperate to make sense of a plan that seemed so wrong on so many levels, and we both agreed that it seemed like forever ago since then.  And while the morale and motivation of the entire university is at an all-time low right now, people keep going.  They keep fighting.  And the longer I live through this disaster, the more I realize just how amazing people can be.  

If you live close enough to read our daily headlines in the Waterloo Courier, you know that to write about this chapter of my life right now would be next to impossible, especially when it seems I'm using all my writing time these days to write legislatures/presidents/board of regents/resumes/cover letters/lesson plans... But, I also know this story is important to my life, one way or another, and that someday, I'll reflect.  But for now, I'm settling for fragments.  Because that's just about all my mind can do right now.

The fragmented pieces of my week...

1.  Life is raw right now at school.  I've seen more teachers break down in front of their students this week than I have in the 20+ years I've been a student.  My friend, Megan, started crying at the white board yesterday during a lesson on the quadratic formula.  The morale is low, yet, I feel closer to my colleagues than ever before.  

2.  It's all about the little things.  A family who supplies Panera bagels in our conference room, hoping the cream cheese will raise the spirits of the faculty, or the mid-stride hug from an elementary teacher walking her class to the library.  

3.  When a faculty votes 'no confidence' in their leaders, they mean business.  

4.  I've debated wearing sweatpants to school every morning this week.

5.  My student from France interrupted class the other day to ask us if we have 'unemployment' in our country.  Except, since she couldn't pronounce the word, she searched it on and played the voice recording of the word over and over again to make sure we got it.  She said when she told her mom about our school crisis, her mom replied that it was unfortunate since our country didn't believe in 'unemployment.'  ;)

6.  I've thought long and hard about future professions I might explore - everything from a sales associate at Express, to a stay-at-home-mommy, to a professional party planner.  I've decided each would encourage me to spend much more than I'd bring home.  

7.  Last year, our school was headed to Des Moines to watch our boys play in the State Basketball Tournament for the fourth consecutive year; this year, our students are headed to Des Moines to meet with legislatures and lobby for their school.  

8.  On Monday, Beau and I traveled to Hampton to visit Beau's Grandma J for the last time.  Beau said he always knew he'd be there when she passed.  It was an emotionally exhausting day, yet there's peace knowing she's in Heaven with her arms around her husband - something she's waited for for nearly half her life.  

9.  When life sucks, there's nothing better than babies and warm brownies.  Check that.  Warm brownies with ice cream, fresh raspberries, and whipped cream.  Thanks to Cruz showing off his love of bacon, and Gina's amazingly wonderful brownies, we felt comfort amidst our sadness.  Because as the amazing Sherman Alexie says, "when it comes to death, we know that laughter and tears are pretty much the same thing." 

10.  I think Cruz can sense life has been a little out of the ordinary lately, so, he's sought to bring some routine back to our lives.  The last three mornings in a row, he's woke up around 5 am, requesting 'Me-mo,' otherwise known as 'Elmo.'  And every morning, while I drag myself out of bed to shower, Beau and Cruz curl up in front of the TV and watch some Sesame Street.  

Hoping I can see this forest through the trees soon :)     

Saturday, February 25, 2012

C & H

It turns out, I wasn't the only Jorgensen who had a sad day at school on Thursday.  Cruz's best friend moved up to the 18 month room at daycare and left Cruz to hold down the fort in the Scooter Room.  I guess she wasn't too happy on leaving Cruz after nap time, and while she cried from the other room, Cruz sadly stood by the door wanting to see his friend.  Funny how such little people can feel so much...

And since I miss out on all these stories of Cruz's first true friend, Heidi sent me a picture she captured of the two of them on one of their last days together.  And if this doesn't melt your heart...

I LOVE this picture. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Blue Jeans and a Good Hair Day

Inspired by Gretchen Rubin's book, The Happiness Project, I know there is pleasure to be found in writing what makes one happy - even if it's just one sentence (or photo) a day.  Thus, starts a Friday ritual of mine - to document the good in every day, through words and pictures.   

"5 years. 365 days. 1825 happy moments captured."

I almost refrained from completing my 'blue jeans' post this week, because 1) quite frankly, this was one of the worst weeks in my memory, and 2) I'm a little exhausted from trying to save my school.  But, I realize tonight as I lay in bed, covers up to my chin, trying to reflect on the three longest days in the history of my professional life, that those tiny details of happiness are the most important when they're strewn through the hardest of days.  It's like that out of the blue kiss from Cruz on the walk into daycare means a whole lot more when you're facing unemployment.  And amidst the roller coaster of emotions this week has caused, there has been so much good sprinkled through the anger, frustration, and sadness --- like good in the form of an end-of-the-day dance party in the English Office thanks to Andrew's salsa video, or a note left on my desk that says 'We love you, Mrs. J,' or bonding on a whole new level with one amazing group of colleagues (aka, lunch with Shelley two days in a row, why not three?).  Because if I've learned anything this week, it's when something you love is put under attack, you stay really present to these moments that will forever leave an imprint on your life.

Oh yea, and you fight like hell, too.    

Saturday: Putting Cruz to sleep. He went down super easy tonight to the sounds of my humming and softly rubbing his temples. Nothing more peaceful than this picture.  The calm before the storm...

Sunday: Charly’s 2nd birthday party. A beautiful February day, yummy egg bake and birthday cake, painting pottery, and Cruz riding behind Charly on her brand new trike! He put his arms around her waist and held on just like he’s supposed to. Charly was thrilled!

Great Grandma is one popular lady!


Monday: The Little Dump Truck. Cruz’s favorite book right now, and the only book that doesn't get boring reading over and over (and over again).

Tuesday: When all else fails, spend an hour on Pinterest. What a day!

Wednesday: Seeing a group of over 600 pull together just one hour after President Allen announced he was going to attempt to close our school.  600 wise, dedicated, and relentless fighters who have one chance to raise their children.  The passion and persistence was inspiring to me as a new parent, and when I wasn't sobbing, I was ready to stand firm in the fight that was about to take place. 

Thursday: Believe it or not, the snow. At 3:30, I received a text from Beau--- “You should take pictures of this snow.” For the first time all day, I looked outside my windows and it was gorgeous.  Big, plump snowflakes fell in a still sky and seemed to put a blanket on the ugliness of the day.

So, for just a few minutes after school, we forgot about the stress and played.

Friday:  A show-stopping rally walk to campus in support of Quality Teacher Education, aka, Price Lab School.  And...the hope I felt afterwards.

Hoping for happy things (and award winning chili) this weekend.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Because sometimes...

...the only thing that can ease the aftermath of one of the absolute worst days of your life is this:

A cheeseburger and frosty mug at Toads, giant storybook snowflakes you could actually taste on your tongue, and a walk down Main Street with one VERY excited little boy.
That's been one of my mantras - focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.
-Steve Jobs

Someday, I'll reflect on yesterday, but I'm not there yet.  I'm convinced I'm floating aimlessly through the stages of grief, however, I haven't identified where that is exactly.  All I know is that my mind has been in about a million directions the last week and nothing seems to add up.  The only thing I haven't questioned is the complete lack of transparency in, and confidence I have for the president of UNI.  I undoubtedly believe he has forever changed the future of his so-called 'premier K-12 institute for teacher education.'  What a shame... 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

No words today.  Just this smile...

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3: 5-6

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Please Help...

Tomorrow night, we find out the fate of our school.  A school that has provided a home, a community, and for some kids, a second chance at success in an education system that has failed them.  A school that touches nearly every single teaching major in UNI's prestigious College of Education, including 1,000 preservice teachers and 20,000 contact hours each year.  A school that believes in innovation in education, quality teacher preparation, and service and outreach to other schools in the state.  A school that mentored me into a model where teaching for excellence isn't the ideal, but the expectation.  A school that taught me to try new things, constantly reflect on my practice, and listen to my students.  
And since the news of UNI's proposed budget cuts broke in the papers last Thursday, it's not the people in charge who have taught me, but the students whose very identity is at stake.  Because when the floor is collapsing from under their feet, they don't just sit back and let it crumble.  They do something about it.  They send tweets to Jason Glass, the Director of the Department of Education, asking questions and voicing concerns.  They stay at school on a Friday night until 7:00, creating videos of teacher education students voicing their support for our school.  They spend their weekends researching our school and writing a petition - a petition that after just 24 hours, has over 1,000 signatures from supporters all over the world.  They partner with a UNI student who decided to change the content of his final lesson on his last day of his field experience to focus on the importance of understanding the First Amendment, giving students an opportunity to voice their concerns, and helping them write letters, comments, and editorials to various naysayers.  They wrote letters to University President Ben Allen, telling their own stories of how Price Lab changed them - a student who was so bullied at her first school that their parents feared for her safety; a student who was headed down the path of dropping out at a school that had given up hope, and is now considered one of our leaders; and a student who realizes that his life might look a whole lot different if it wasn't for a school that allowed his single mom the opportunity to attend college and give her kids a good education at the same time.  

As I sit here tonight with this pit in my stomach, I sift through the countless comments that have surfaced the last few days and am struck by one of them:

The argument has been presented that there is little need for the Price Lab School because the Lab School is unlike a typical classroom. This argument is being presented at a time when the majority of Americans believe their school system is in a state of failure. Why then, would one advocate training the next generation of teachers in the same system that so many consider to be failing?

One of the strongest arguments for Price Lab School may be that the format is unlike the average school. Experimentation with new teaching methods, technology, and curricular strategies is where many of the educational changes needed for the 21st century are first presented. The majority of successful educational philosophies, strategies, and changes have occurred in lab schools from Pestalozzi to John Dewey and continue in laboratory schools around the world today.

I can think of no stronger way to have an immediate effect on education throughout the entire state of Iowa than giving pre-service teachers a quality experience with innovative and cutting edge curricular strategies that they may immediately take with them to the various schools they will become a part of in the future.

-Scott Greenhalgh

Additionally, I find it admirable that the NU students are brave and bold enough to take a stand and proudly state who they are and give ownership to their comments with their full names. Interestingly, one can contrast that to the many detracting “adults” who hide in anonymity.

I'm so proud of our students and proud of Price Lab School.  Although we may not have the support of the people who make the decisions, we have the support of the people who know and have been impacted by our near hundred-year mission.  
Help get the word out by signing the following petition.  It only takes a second.  And if you are a UNI Teaching Grad and have been positively impacted by Price Lab, write to Ben Allen (, and share your story and the impact PLS has had on your teaching. 

Click here to sign the petition.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Blueberries for Cruz...

Definitely his fruit (or food) of choice these days.  Saturday, he ate almost a pint of them.  I put them in a little bowl for him, which he proceeds to dump everywhere.  He prefers to scoot around on his knees and eat them off the floor, I guess.


I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when Cruz threw up his pint of blueberries all over my brand new quilt.  

I wanted a quilt that looked 'worn,' but was thinking more along the lines of grass stains and sidewalk chalk.  Earthy stuff.  Not throw up.

Happy Monday :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Blue Jeans and a Good Hair Day

Some days, that's all it takes.  Those little things every day that makes us smile, or sometimes, just make the day a little more bearable.  The mornings where I begrudgingly drag myself out of bed, and tiptoe across the icy cold bathroom floor after a quick shower, only to take a sigh of relief when I remember it's Friday.  I throw on my favorite pair of jeans and instantly feel ready to face the day.  Or the simple fact that some days, a good hair day is all it takes to make you feel like a million bucks.  It's the simple pleasures and everyday comforts of this life that are perhaps most important, yet often the most neglected.  

Inspired by Gretchen Rubin's book, The Happiness Project, I know there is pleasure to be found in writing what makes one happy - even if it's just one sentence (or photo) a day.  Thus, starts a Friday ritual of mine - to document the good in every day, through words and pictures.   

"5 years. 365 days. 1825 happy moments captured."

Wednesday: A pair of dress pants that didn’t fit a month ago, a new lime green scarf from a thoughtful colleague, and a box of chocolates, purchased for myself after a long, ‘funk’ day at work.

Thursday: After waking up nearly an hour after my usual time, my morning was a little rushed. I got to school late, sunk in my office chair and quickly checked my email. And, love to my husband, I had an email that said:

If it's any consolation for your morning rush, I think you look hot in a pony tail

Friday: The sound of Cruz’s giggle as Beau and I took turns jumping from behind corners and ‘scaring’ him. I’m convinced that giggle could move mountains.

Saturday: Adult conversation and maple crusted pork medallions at Cu for Valentine’s Day. One of the best meals I’ve had in a long time.

Sunday: Frosted sugar cookies and a lazy afternoon in our basement cave.

Monday: Breaded tenderloins and a girls’ night.

Tuesday: Love Day. The look on Cruz’s face and the way he crossed his legs when he sat in his Anywhere chair for the first time.

Wednesday: Playing pirate finger puppets with Cruz.  He knows exactly how to get them on his fingers and does this sweet little voice as he mimics them to talking to each other.  It's the cutest thing. 

Thursday: A new book to read.  Thanks, Mom, for the recommendation, and thanks, Amazon Prime, for your free two-day shipping. 

Friday:  My students made me proud today.  More to come...

Mesmerized by the neighbor boys playing 'ball.'

This profile makes me melt.

Feel free to play along and link to your own 'Blue Jeans and a Good Hair Day.'  Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Spreading the Love

Call it what you will – Valentine’s Day, Love Day, or Single’s Awareness Day (as my students were calling it), but I am a sucker for February 14th. I’m not sure if it’s because it falls smack dab in the middle of one of the coldest, most depressing months of the year, or because it’s a day to get away with things like eating an entire box of chocolates, sending really mushy emails to your husband, or buying Mylar puppy balloons much bigger than Cruz himself, simply to see the look on his face when he walks into the living room. It’s a little extra-ordinary snuck in between a bunch of ordinary – a chance to celebrate the greatest gift of all – whether it’s with your best friends and a round of daiquiris during a girl’s night out, your parents and siblings crowded around a heart-shaped pizza from Papa Murphy’s, or over a fancy dinner, a bottle of the good stuff, and a few candles to set the mood with the love of your life. It’s a day to celebrate love --- what’s not to love about that?

Yesterday, I brought my first hour Film as Literature students home-baked, heart-shaped sugar cookies (because everyone knows the way to a student’s heart is through food). We told stories of Valentine’s Day - of secret admirers and high school crushes, and ended up watching failed marriage proposals on youtube!  One student shared her story of getting dumped on Valentine’s Day in 8th grade (after, and I quote, “I played with his heart that entire year”), and another student shared the story of how his step-dad proposed to his mom. Our conversation and their honest ability to open up only reconfirmed why there should always be room for fellowship in the classroom.

After school, I made a quick trip to Hy-Vee to pick up the necessities: Ghirardelli chocolate chips and strawberries for fondue, that giant, life-sized puppy balloon I was eying for Cruz Man, and wine for my colleagues. I laughed at the sight of my cart, as well as the sight of the stressed, but smiling Hy-Vee florists, all dressed in pink, with rose stems coming out of their ears. I brought my balloon home, staged it next to Cruz’s present just so, and set my camera so it was ready to capture his reaction when he first caught glimpse of his lute. Needless to say, he was a fan…

Cruz got to celebrate Valentine’s Day with his friends at his very first Valentine’s Day party. We worked hard on his treats and this morning, he walked into his classroom, proudly ready to present his work to his teacher. In his festive Snoopy shirt, he looked like Cupid himself…

And there I melted into a big puddle on the floor.

Saturday, we made two different Valentine’s for friends. The toddler-friendly version, and the adult version.

I bought Hy-Vee out of their glass Strawberry Crush bottles. Found a cheesy black and white of Cruz Man, and added a speech bubble through Photo Bucket. Paired that with some leftover ribbon from our wedding and ended up with a simple and cute Valentine to bring to all of Cruz’s daycare girls. 

The second was easy. I needed something that even one year olds could eat, and couldn’t resist the adorable heart shaped marshmallows.

Last night, Beau and I started a new tradition of pizza on Valentine's Day night.  When we got home, we topped it off with chocolate fondue.  We ended the night with new books from Grandma and Great Grandma and one very tired little Valentine.

Another Valentine's Day for the record books.  Here's hoping the love of yesterday (or the sugar high) is enough to carry me through the rest of the work week :)



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...