Sunday, July 27, 2014

So you have a middle schooler!

If this is your first time stepping into the wonderful world of being a middle school parent, let me be the first to welcome you! If you believe the ‘word on the street’, then you’re probably terrified about what the next 3 years hold. If you’re looking at this kid, wondering what happened to your baby, don’t fear- they’re not that far away.
I’ve been teaching middle school for 10 years, and here’s the truth: middle schoolers are the jam. They’re figuring out who they are, and I get to be a part of that journey with them. Middle school years are the weirdest of your life. You are literally stuck in the middle.

When I tell people that I teach middle school, their immediate reaction is either extreme gratitude that I provide this service to our community or extreme disgust that they’re friends with someone who chooses to spend time with these mutants. But the reality is, I LOVE middle school students. They make me laugh, wonder, rejoice, and even sometimes cry.

If your child is just starting middle school, or you’re flabbergasted at the ridiculousness of your 13 year old, the journey doesn’t have to be terrible. Here are some tips at making these 3 years a roller coaster rather than a haunted house:

Embrace the weird.
This is the weirdest your kid is ever going to be. So when they come home and decide that they’ve decided to become a penguin tamer, don’t panic! Power up that Google and help them figure out the best way to become the best dang penguin tamer in the country! Middle school students have amazing dreams- most of them are still innocent enough to believe childlike dreams, but now they have an acute awareness of the adult word- so the ideas that spring in their heads will blow your mind. Embrace those things!

Embrace the change.
I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve had a parent tell me that their child “didn’t used to be this way”. When they’re failing classes or getting in fights with friends, it’s hard to see that this change is a good thing. But, if you really look for it, you’ll see that all of these changes are working together to make them adults. Instead of lamenting the changes, embrace them. If they’re no longer interested in one thing, help them find their new passion. Talk to them to find out why it’s changing- they may not even be aware of it, so be patient with them. These changes are going to happen. Celebrate them!

Embrace the village.
The old proverb ‘it takes a village’ will never ring more true than these middle school years. Teachers and coaches and friends and boyfriends and girlfriends and that weird kid’s parents will all be a part of your child’s village. If you hide from them, they will destroy you. You have to go on the offensive. Seek them out. Know their hearts. Respect your differences and similarities. Invite them over for tacos. Take them to the fair. Make them Christmas cookies. Talk to them. Ask them questions. Listen intently. The more you know your child’s village, the more connected you’ll be to your child.

Embrace your kid.
By 7th grade, most kids are pretty embarrassed at the idea of hugging their parents in public. Do it anyway. If they know that you’re not going away and you’re not going to stop hugging them, then they rest easy, knowing that their number one fan is still their mom and dad. They may seem tough and distant and completely independent, but your baby isn’t all that far away. Hug them. A lot. It means so much to them, even though they’ll probably never tell you that. 

And don't worry. They'll be ok.

So will you. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My decision to stay in the classroom

My decision to stay in the classroom:
I keep running across blog posts and articles where teachers are sharing the stories of why they're leaving the classroom. I completely understand their position- this job is harder than I could have ever imagined.
As a 10 year veteran, here is why I'm getting ready to head back to my 8th grade classroom in August:
If not me, then who?
If I'm not willing to suffer through 5 sets of standards in 10 years, then who will? Who will listen to my students share their hopes and dreams? Who will stand by them when they make big mistakes? Who will rejoice with them when they see their hard work pay off? Who will speak truth into their lives? Who will show them that books are awesome? Who will show them that learning matters?
If not me, then who?
I'm going back. Not because I believe in the standards. Not because I believe in the past, current, or future government program. Not because these new standards are going to make or break our education system.
I'm going back because I love students. I love them more than standards. I love them more than language arts. I love them more than my own free time. I love them more than my own money.
And everyone knows, it's not the standards. It's not the supplies. It's not the curriculum design. Everyone knows it's the teacher.
So, in a few weeks, I'm going back. Back to my classroom. I don't plan on having my life changed by standards or programs or supplies. I plan on investing in the lives of students, so that they will know how much they matter.
Because, if not me, then who?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

just the good ol' boys

Growing up in the South, I'm pretty sure that watching The Dukes of Hazzard was a law. Right behind drinking sweet tea and going to church. It's just something that you did. When I was little, I watched the Duke boys constantly. I vividly remember playing Dukes of Hazzard on my swingset with my brother. He and my cousin would take turns being Luke and Bo, but, like every well-bred southern girl, I was always Daisy.

Long before there was Team Edward and Team Jacob, there were Luke and Bo. You had to make a decision. Blonde or brunette? Reliable or rebellious? Thoughtful or trouble? John Schneider or Tom Wopat? You had to pick sides.

Fast-forward to Tuesday night. I was working at the tanning salon when in walks John Schneider. Be still my heart. I thought I was going to have a come apart, but I kept it together as much as possible. I chatted with him for a few minutes- finding out that he's in Atlanta playing a judge in a pilot for Oprah's network. He needed to get a tan before he started filming. When he finished tanning, I asked him to take a picture- which only confirmed and solidified my eternal love for Bo Duke.

"That's just a little bit more than the law will allow."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

fear and heartbreak

I doubt I can offer any words of wisdom or comfort in light of the mass murder of innocent children and adults in Connecticut this past Friday. I was at work on Friday when I started reading about what was happening. I would read a little bit, and then cry some more about the whole thing. Students would ask me why I was crying, and I didn't want to be the one who told them, so I just told them that there had been a shooting. I couldn't imagine being the one to tell 12 and 13 year olds that little kids had been murdered at school.

However, now they know. And they're coming back to me tomorrow.

My heart is heavy tonight as I think about seeing my students tomorrow. My heart is heavy thinking about the thought someone hurting them. My heart is heavy thinking about their fear of being at school. My heart is heavy thinking about parents who will bury their children this week. My heart is heavy because there are Christmas presents hidden in closets that will never be opened. My heart is heavy because there are children who lost their mothers. My heart is heavy because teachers died doing their job.

I cannot fathom what Friday was like at Sandy Hook Elementary. I cannot fathom the fear that the children and adults felt. I cannot fathom the pain as they watched their friends and students and teachers die.

I love my job. I love my students. Even the ones who drive me absolutely crazy and make me want to punch a wall. I would protect them without hesitation. I just don't think I'll ever have to.

But last Friday, teachers gave their lives for their students. Teachers lost their students they loved.

My heart is heavy.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

everyone loves a shutout

Since I've been an adult, my dad hasn't really liked going to Alabama football games. He loves to watch them, but he hasn't liked going to them. Too crowded. Too hot. Too cold. No replay. Etc.

Until this fall.

We somehow convinced him to take us to the Mississippi State game. We went a tailgated. We froze.

It had been about 70 degrees the day before and I had NOT packed appropriately, so my parents and I stopped at the Target in Hoover on our way over, so I could buy a new outfit. (I think I looked ok considering...)

It ended up being a GREAT day- huge win over Mississippi State.

Dad has decided he loves going to games, and we're going to the Iron Bowl if we have tickets or not. So, this past Saturday morning, we hopped in the car and headed over to Tuscaloosa.

It was a GREAT day. Our seats ended up being AWESOME.

There's not a whole lot to say about Auburn, but:
  • They are terrible at football.
  • Where are all of those fans who were "all in" two years ago? Because, seriously? I saw about 3 people in Auburn gear the entire time.
 Also. I LOVE beating Auburn. There's really nothing better. But. Beating them when they can score ZERO points??? GLORIOUS. Absolutely glorious.


Monday, May 21, 2012

every. freaking. day.

A guy friend of mine was recently complaining about how high maintenance his beauty regime had become because he had to trim his chest hair. Now. While I do not have to trim my chest hair (because I like to look like Burt Reynolds obvs), I will NOT listen to a man complain about how much it takes him to look good. So, I asked a simple question: How many products- besides shampoo/conditioner- do you use on your hair every day?

His answer: Um, does washing my head with body wash count?

Boys kill me.

But in all honesty, I love a good hair product, so I thought I'd share my (almost) daily hair routine and product list! I have a LOT of very fine blonde hair. It's fairly straight, but it'll be a little wavy if I just let it dry. Not cute wavy. More like "hey you slept on your wet hair and it dried that way"-wavy. 

My current shampoo is Bed Head's Color Combat Dumb Blonde Shampoo. I am not very loyal to shampoo. I tend to jump around, but I like Bed Head's products a LOT. I tend to try whatever is on sale at Ulta.
 When I bought this shampoo, I bought the conditioner too. UM. Hated it. It felt like GLUE. Some people like really thick conditioner, but I do NOT. I hated it so much that I ended up giving it away to a friend. My friend Rachel mentioned how good the Suave Professionals line was, so I thought I'd try that. (Especially since I had just given away a $16 bottle of conditioner.)  I ended up buying Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion Smoothing Conditioner.

I've liked it a lot. My hair def feels more healthy when I use it. Without feeling like glue. Which is good. Obvs. When I get out of the shower, I wrap my hair in a towel. I know you're not supposed to do this, but I always have. And I HATE wet hair touching my skin, so I have to do something. I use a comb before I start adding products. When I was young, I would literally dry my hair and go, but as I get older, I find that my hair just doesn't do right if I don't use products. Also. I am a TOTAL sucker when I get my hair cut. I am totally the person that buys the products that the stylist uses. Smooth move, hair stylist.
The first thing I spray on my hair is John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Controlled Lightening Spray.

This is a fairly new product. I just found it this past fall/winter. I have naturally blonde hair, and it always lightens to an almost white in the summer sun. But for the past few years, I've had to highlight it in the winter because it just looks so dingy. My mom would literally pull it through a cap for me about twice a year. But this past year, I found this stuff and I just spray it on every day and my hair color looks PHENOMENAL. It still looks natural and not dingy at ALL. Yay!

The next three products are to help my hair look smooth but still have some volume. I use
SUPERSTAR™ Queen For a Day Thickening Spray- just lift a few sections and spray.
 It sprays more like hairspray than foam, so I like it a lot. I learned how to best apply by watching this:

Isn't she the cutest thing? I've never used Aquage, but I've heard good things! Maybe one day! The last two products are a part of the S-Factor line. My hairstylist explained that the "S" stands for smooth, sleek, shiny, sexy, and all other good S-words. Which I think is really funny! The first is  BODY BOOSTER™Plumping Spray.
Real talk. The best thing about this product is that it smells DELICIOUS. I swear, that fact alone makes this product worth it. But it also makes my hair full without being poofy.
AND. Last but not least is SMOOTHING LUSTERIZER Defrizzer & Tamer.
This is probably my favorite thing on earth. It does exactly what it says- tames and defrizzes. My hairdress applies it before and after drying, but I'm on a budget here, so we have to make wise decisions.

Then I dry!
With a paddle brush.
And a gigantic round brush.
Sometimes I straighten.
Let's be honest.
Not much.

So there's my hair routine! What's yours?

Monday, April 9, 2012

don't mess with me. or Texas.

For Spring Break, I flew out to Temple, Texas to visit my cousin Katharine. Her husband is in his residency- and they have two children. These are all my Instagram pics from the week-- if you don't follow me on Instagram, you should! My username is camismith

Because I somehow missed it in highschool, I finally caught up with the rest of the free world and read The Catcher in the Rye. I really liked it!

 This is Nate and I sharing tortilla chips at Chipotle. He's hilarious-- he's 18 months old. such a sweet boy!
 At lunch at Rudy's one day. They had GREAT bar-b-q. I had the brisket. My favorite fact was that they didn't serve the meat on a plate, but a piece of paper. It was EXCELLENT.

 Went to the Bell County museum in Belton. It was really cute. Will liked the water pump :)

  One day we went to Austin to visit the Capitol. Had so much fun- love this kind of nerdy, history stuff!

The only complaint about my entire trip was that my flight out of Killeen was delayed for two and a half hours. Ugh. 

But other than that, I had a BLAST!
God Blessed Texas.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


On Sunday night at church,  my friend Caroline and I were talking about going to Passion this week. Because I am normally back in school this week, I hadn't even thought about going, but Caroline told me that our friend Rachael wasn't using her ticket for the first two sessions, So the plan was for me to check her in and use Rachael's wristband. While I was in line to get the wristband, my BFF Adam called and told me that he got an extra ticket when he checked in. 

Long story short, I got to go to Passion all week. It was INCREDIBLE. I had pretty good seats the whole time because I sat with people who cared. There were 45,000+ people in the Georgia Dome. All of them desiring to bring glory to God.

There were a ton of things I loved about the week. Most of all, I loved being immersed in Jesus. It's been a long time since I've been spent that kind of time immersed in God's word or focused on Him. It was SO needed.

Another favorite part was my family group. Because God orchestrated so much for me to be there, I kept trusting that He had ordained all of it, so I begrudgingly went to small group. I was anxious about being too old, too out of touch, too ugh.  But. God planned that too. My group was great. I loved meeting with them and praying with them. I love that I genuinely want to pray for these people and keep in touch with them.

On the last night, each person was given a candle and instructed to wait outside until midnight to light them. Then, while we illuminated our candles, the statue in the middle of the plaza was illuminated as well.  The statue and our candles were to be a symbolic gesture to stand up against human trafficking in our city, the country and the world. There are 27 MILLION people currently enslaved in the world- and Passion raised money all week to help stop it. The goal was to raise a million dollars- but in God's way, He blasted through that number. They raised THREE MILLION DOLLARS in 4 days. Mind blowing.

In our small group, we answered the question, "What is the one thing you want God to do in your life?"-- I had to think about it for a while, but my final answer is that I want to become to enthralled with the greatness of God that my sin looks foolish. 

So, I'm praying that for myself. If you're interested, I'd be happy for you to pray that for me, too!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

puppy fun

Parker's haircut

Playing outside.

Playing with Millie!

My sister and her puppy, Punky.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Smith Family Christmas

Our Christmas card this year:

I got a new camera from Santa, so I've been a picture taking fool. I don't really know what I'm doing. I've read a lot on Kevin and Amanda's blog, Improve Photography, and other various places on the internet. I have taken about 150 pictures, but here are a few! I'm still learning, so be nice!

Parker! He got a haircut the next day!

My Aunt Cam has this awesome handmade beaded fruit- love them.

My sister's boyfriend surprised her with autographed Alabama pictures. She was PUMPED.

weird coloring. but I kinda like it. Have no idea what I did to make this happen :)

me and Parker

I love taking pictures of flowers. These are in my parent's yard. In January. Good grief.

Mom's turn for an iPad Christmas!!!

My sister being SO EXCITED about the book I gave her. Love Peter Pan!

Dad's new coffee container!

Honestly? Kinda impressed with myself for this one. Only post-production was cropping.

My parents' neighbors' house. Love their lights. (I was playing with my tripod at this point.)

This pic kinda blows my mind bc it was pitch black dark outside. Once again, only post-production was a small crop

My sister in her new red jacket.