Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reflections on the New Job...SO FAR!!! :-)

As I posted previously, I am taking a year leave of absence from the teaching in the SBCSC and one of the things that I am doing during that leave is working as the Children's Minister at Living Stones Church. I started the job full-time on September 7th (although I have been doing it part-time since March) and I really LOVE it!!

*I LOVE that I have a job that is very flexible...If Anna is sick, I don't have to worry about calling a sub, writing lesson plans, etc. If I need to run an errand or pick something up that is needed for the job, I can just run and get it without waiting until the end of the school day. I can also do some of my work from home which allows me more time with Anna.
*I LOVE that I get to work with 3 other great people every day who were already friends long before we ever started working together.
*I LOVE that I have a super cool office where I can keep my stuff and am in the process of making it "look like me."
*I LOVE that I get to work with 90+ of the best volunteers and 200 of the best kids in the world.
*I LOVE that I get to work with a volunteer team of 7 people who help me plan and figure out how we are going to reach the 11, 814 children that live on the South Side of South Bend. LSC Conservation Officers Rock!!
*I LOVE that I am actually getting paid to do ministry. Given the church background that I grew up in, I never thought that it was an option for me because of the view that particular tradition has on the role of women in the church. (As a disclaimer, I am not interested in bashing the church tradition I grew up in, nor am I interested in getting into any kind of debate on the role of women.)
*I LOVE that I have a break from the stresses of teaching in the public schools...high stakes testing, lack of funding, union issues, etc. (Not that there aren't unique stresses that come with working in Children's Ministry.)
*I LOVE that Anna gets to come to work with me on Sundays and that I have a direct role in what is happening with her spiritual development at church.
*I LOVE that I get to use my skills and educational background in a new and creative way!!
*I LOVE that I have more time to devote to not only the Children's Ministry, but also the Junior High Youth Ministry. It is pretty cool to work with kids from birth through 8th grade. :-)

That is a lot of LOVE going on! However, there are a couple of unique challenges as well. Probably the biggest thing for me so far has been getting used to not working in a school environment where there were 60-70 employees and 400 kids milling around. With the exception of Sundays, that is not the case with this new job. There are 4 people (including me) who work at the office during the week...soon to be 5. As I said before, I love these people and working with them but it is a big change. We all have our own offices and things to do so it can get a little lonely at times. In fact, the other day I was at the office by myself for a while in the afternoon because the others were at various meetings, etc. After a while, I was hoping that the UPS man or someone would stop by just so I could have another human to talk to. :-) However, I am certain that anyone who goes from a school setting to an office setting has similar experiences. I am sure that, in time, I will probably grow to LOVE this part of the job as well!! :-)

I have been asked if I miss teaching. My answer is that I definitely miss all my friends, co-workers and students, but that I do not miss the actual teaching part. That alone tells me that I made the right decision. It just confirms for me that I needed a break from all the stresses of teaching and needed to jump into something that I LOVE!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I Need to Get Off My Butt and Get to the Gym!!

The title of my blog basically says it all...I have been very lazy about exercising for the past year and a half (or longer.) We have a membership at the YMCA that has a very nice cardio room and lots of fitness classes. If that weren't enough, we also have Wii Fit, tons of exercise DVD's, a medicine ball, an ab ball and various weights right here at the house. And yet, I do not use them on a consistent basis.

I have a ton of excuses, with the biggest one being Anna. I sometimes feel like I already spend enough time away from her that I do not want to leave her more time to go to the gym or take time away from her at home to exercise. I have recently realized that this is just ridiculous. First of all, at the YMCA, they have childcare where she can play while I work out. Secondly, I realized that I need to leave her to exercise so that I won't leave her permanently because I have not taken care of myself.

So anyway...I am committing to MAKING myself exercise at least 3 days a week from this point on. There I said it...and am putting it out there in the blogosphere for the world to see. Maybe by publishing this I will actually get off my butt and get to the gym. :-)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Homemade Cleaners...Attempt Number 2

In May, I posted my goals for the summer. One of my goals was to experiment with making my own cleaning products. I have been somewhat successful in meeting this goal and tried 3 different types of cleaners. I already posted about the toilet cleaner out of baking soda and lemon juice. We have continued to do that and really like the results. Making these cleaners is really easy and I love that it saves money and I am limiting Anna's exposure to certain chemicals. I do have several other recipes that I will try as time allows.

In June, I attempted to make Liquid Laundry Detergent and Dishwasher Soap. (I know it is now September and I did it in June...but just now getting around to blogging about it.) :-)

Let me start with Liquid Laundry Detergent. I made a 2 gallon tub of this and have about 1/4 of the tub left. We probably do 8-10 loads of laundry per week so it is definitely cost effective. Our clothes seem to be as clean and fresh as when we were using store bought laundry detergent. A couple of notes on this the Fels Naptha Soap and Arm and Hammer Washing Soda can be hard to find. I found the Fels Naptha Soap at Kroger and the Washing Soda at Martins. I am guessing that you could probably buy it online. Grating the Fels Naptha Soap was probably the hardest part, but the whole thing took about 30 minutes to make even with the soap grating. I have also heard that you can use Lava soap, but haven't tried it. Anyway here is the recipe:

1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm & Hammer WASHING Soda
1/2 bar of Fels Naptha Bar Soap
1 gallon of purified water (or rain water)

Fill a pot with 1/2 gallon purified water (or rain water) and bring to a simmer. While the water is heating, grate the soap with a cheese grater into the pot. When the soap is fully dissolved, add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir until fully dissolved. Fill a 2 gallon container with remaining 1/2 gallon warm water. Pour in soapy solution. Fill the rest of the container with 1 gallon cold water. Stir and let sit for 2 days until it congeals. Use 1/2 cup per load or 1 cup for hard water. Can be used in high efficiency machines. If clothes are extra soiled add some OxyClean.

Dishwasher Soap-This was super easy to make, but I have not had as great of results as I would wish. We often have a little residue on our dishes after running them through the dishwasher. This could be an issue with our dishwasher or the hard water that we have in the house.
Anyway, this is the recipe:

1 1/2 Cup Borax
1 1/2 Cup Baking Soda
1 Cup Table Salt

Mix Together in a plastic container and use 1/4 cup per load. Use white distilled vinegar as a rinse aid