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Fired Up Friday: Full Disclosure

Today’s “Fired Up Friday” is a post dedicated to all of the teachers who “do it all” or actually, who don’t do it all.  Hear me out.

Remember that sweet post about Lincoln’s first day of school.  Well here’s what you didn’t see, in the photo below.  Also, just so you know, after that glorious first day, he screamed and cried the entire day for the next two days of school.  He’s just now getting used to school, but he still cries terribly at drop off and clings to my neck for dear life.  When his teachers pull him off of me, I sprint for the door.

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The amazing Whitney English wrote this blog post today titled “Death to Doing It All”.  It really resonated with me because, as she says, we don’t do it all.  I remember when I was a teacher and single and even when I was then a wife (not even having any children yet), my schedule was as follows: I would wake up at 5, get ready, drive an hour to work (yes I did this every day), worked with 20 precious 7 year olds, stayed a little after school to prepare and plan, drive an hour home, get almost home and think “I cannot possibly think about making dinner”.  And I’d swing by Chipotle right as I got off my exit.  By the time I ate, showered and said hello to my husband, it was 9 pm.  And I was hitting the pillow… hard. I would never have described myself as “doing it all”, but it sure looked that way.  I couldn’t imagine how teachers with children felt!

And then I had a baby!  Luckily, I had a baby in June, so I didn’t have to worry about trying to do it all during the school year.  Yes, I took a maternity leave and had the year off from teaching.  But when my sweet baby was 4 months old, that’s when I had the idea to start C. Jayne Teach (and I also ran that little Etsy shop on the side that I previously mentioned).  I had a lot of people ask me how I “did it all” while having baby such a short time ago.  I just smiled and laughed.  But little did they know, that that was hardly the case.  Full disclosure here: I barely scraped by some days.  I had a really hard time after Lincoln was born.  I cried… a lot.  I had an extremely difficult time nursing and ended up exclusively pumping for 9 months.  That means for roughly 280 days of Lincoln’s life, I hooked myself up to a machine, seven times a day for 15 minutes each in order to feed my child (that’s 1,960 times for those of you who are counting and around 29,400 minutes of my life).  I stayed up late learning Illustrator on Lynda.com and taking care of a baby and (admittedly) left little time to spend with my husband.  I attended conferences (drove to and from Atlanta in ONE DAY for Making Things Happen to get back to be with Lincoln) and learned as feverishly as I could about this new business of mine.  I would have “business meetings” and vendor calls, all during nap time (which changed daily).  And I even had a plate of tacos dumped on my lap in the middle of a lunch meeting with my accountant (by Lincoln not by the accountant).  Here’s the thing though… I wouldn’t trade those difficult moments for anything in the world because it made me stronger as an entrepreneur, as a mom and as a wife.  And I won’t say life is easy peasy now because, well, that just wouldn’t be real, but it is pretty good.  We have a routine, I am able to run a business from my home and teach classes at a University here in town.  And I’m even able to cook dinner some nights!  But I still don’t do it all.

So to those of you who see me as a teacher, a professor, an entrepreneur, a wife, a mom, a friend and you think I have it all and do it all.  Thank you.  But I am as human as the next person.  I want you to be a little less hard on yourself.  You are doing an amazing job.  You are a fabulous ______ (teacher, parent, spouse, friend) and you rock.  I know not every day is good, but you have some great ones too – you do!  And tomorrow is a new day.  (And if you need me to remind you of that each morning, I will… that’s why I created the pep talk mug!  :))

As Whitney says, in response to the question, “How do YOU do it?”, I would like to propose a more productive conversation: tell us about your awesome. Tell us how you do the important stuff. Tell us how you do what matters. Tell us how you found your balance. Tell us what your strengths are. Tell us what lessons you learned. Blog about your awesome loudly. Because the world needs your expertise, your passion, and the lessons you’ve learned. The world needs your AWESOME. The world doesn’t need to know how you do it “all”. The world needs to know how you do that one little thing really, really well.”

So, how do I do what matters?  I focus on my core.  I focus on making decisions every day under the mantra “always make each day count“.  Whether I’m designing something new to help teachers in their classroom, meeting with a student from one of my courses, or taking Lincoln to the park, I’m always trying to make the day count.  I take the little victories amidst the times that I fall down.  (Case and point: Lincoln had a HUGE meltdown on the floor of the Verizon store as I’m trying to purchase a new iPhone today.  I stood in line for 45 minutes and I was NOT leaving before that phone was in my hand.  So I gave him my keys to chew on and a piece of a doughnut that they were giving away… because of course he threw the grapes and healthy snacks I brought with us all over the ground.  BUT little man ended up taking a four hour nap in the afternoon, which totally made up for that meltdown.  And I got to spend time learning my new phone and doing a little finalizing some Christmas products!  Victory!)

And focusing on my core goes for all of the products and original lesson plans in my shop too.  They’re all designed around what matters.  They all have a piece of my beliefs in them and a purpose for your classroom.  The desk pads are to keep you organized, and keep lots of little lists from cluttering up your desk.  This frees up more space for you to work with your students!  Because how many times do we skip reading groups because the table is just too messy?  Guilty!  The rubber stamps are meant to help you easily label your supplies so you don’t have to worry about lending them out and sharing with your students or colleagues because now you know they’ll find their way home.  And we all know about the Teacher Anchor.

So I want you to go into this weekend and into next week and all the weeks following by knowing that you’re AWESOME.  Who cares if you did it all?  Did you make today count?  Did you spend your time making decisions in your classroom and your home based on your core?  Well then, I’d say that’s a pretty good day.

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Fired Up Friday: Side Hobby

So it’s no secret that I love paper products and I love good design.  Before I started C. Jayne Teach, I had started another side business where I created custom prints and invites on Etsy.  That shop is The Little Prints and it still exists in the land of Etsy.

I started my love affair with paper when I was about 12 years old.  I would design posters and invitations on The Print Shop on my home PC.  Most of the time I would print out these posters on my printer, laminate them, and hang them in my room.  I had an affinity for fonts and bright colors.  When I “grew up”, I continued my love of paper by telling everyone that I was going to start a little paper shop one day.  Throughout my life, paper played a huge role.  I thoughtfully chose our wedding save the dates (that were featured on Brooklyn Bride) and wedding invitations and honestly it was one of my favorite parts of the process.  I also designed our wedding thank you cards that have now been pinned over 1,000 times on Pinterest (yay to Paperfinger for the gorgeous calligraphy).  Since our wedding, I’ve dedicated so much heart and thought into our Christmas cards each year, often thinking about them six months in advance.  Our 2011 Christmas card was where we announced our pregnancy to everyone but our immediate family.  So it was only natural that while on maternity leave, I decided to parlay my paper love into a little side hobby.  I never lost hope of that little paper shop, but now it just lives on the internet and not in a brick and mortar space.

The Little Prints has had much success, mainly with the prints inspired by our time at our alma mater, Miami University.  As I started designing for C. Jayne Teach, I realized that I was able to marry my love of paper and my love of the classroom by designing and executing paper goods that help teachers stay organized and focused in the classroom.  It truly is two passions of mine that have come together and I honestly say I love every bit of my new path.  But, I still love all paper for all occasions.  I love designing the perfect birthday party invite or a sweet save the date.  I’ve even dabbled in wedding invitations.  But for now, that side of it just remains a hobby that fires up my heart. And I’m so grateful for that.  It allows me to use the other part of my creative brain and helps to inspire the projects I do for C. Jayne Teach.  I’m so grateful that I’ve turned this side hobby into something that brings joy to so many other people when they receive their birth announcement or bridal shower invite.

I currently take custom invite orders for family, friends, and referrals only (which is why the shop looks so bare at the moment), but if you have a project in mind, don’t hesitate to contact me through my Etsy shop.  Below is just a small sampling from the 25+ custom orders I’ve done already.  I just love creating something that is unique and fresh and encompasses the vision that someone has for their home or their event.

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What side projects fire you up?  Maybe it’s crafting or sewing or cooking or running.  Whatever it is, take time to do it this weekend.  Refresh that creative side of your brain and tap into that place that brings you so much joy.

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Birthday Book Club!
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Did you know that right now, Donors Choose is matching donations dollar for dollar?  YES!  So whatever you donate is doubled on the SPOT.  That’s amazing.

Another amazing thing (or person rather) is my friend Sarah Svarda.  I’ve talked about her before but Sarah is the school librarian at the Discovery School and she is amazing.  She’s not only a fabulous teacher and librarian but she also is a contributor for Scholastic.  (She has some amazing ideas on her blog and on her newsletter she writes each month, so be sure to check them out.)  Sarah is one of those teachers who is constantly learning new things, collaborating with other teachers, and helping you be a better teacher.  That’s what she did for me.  I LOVED going to work and discussing the latest in children’s literature with her.  (Remember yesterday how I said to surround yourself with positive people in the work place?  She was one of those people for me)

Anyway, each year she hosts the Birthday Book Club for students at our school.  During their birthday month, the children get to choose their own specific library-bound book to celebrate their birthday. A special name plate is placed inside the book, celebrating the child’s birthday and their book selection. The books are taken home for the first time by the birthday child and then the books are returned to the school. All of the birthday books are kept in circulation in our library so that the whole student body can appreciate them. Each title has been hand-selected by Sarah and is quality, award-winning literature. After each child hand-selects their favorite birthday book club book, their name is inscribed on the bookplate in the book and the child is the first to check out the book and take it home. The children are very excited about sharing their birthday book club selection with their families. The birthday book club is a great way to keep the library current and inspire a love of reading in our kids!  And I just love the idea of the kids doing something special that doesn’t involve a cupcake (although I did appreciate all those birthday cupcakes… especially when I was pregnant!  But I digress…)

So anyway, Sarah is currently looking for more funds for her birthday book club and she’s posted a project on Donors Choose.  And right now, Donors Choose is matching donations with the code INSPIRE, so make sure you enter it each time you donate!  I think there is nothing better than helping out other teachers and students in need.  I personally will be donating the entire proceeds of the sale of the LAST Teacher Anchor to Sarah’s project.  And yes there is ONE left.  I encourage you to help out in any way you can.  Even if it isn’t to this project, look up one in your area and donate now.  With the match program, it’s like giving out FREE money!  And who doesn’t love that?

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Fired Up Fridays: A Midwestern girl visits a very Southern home

Yes I know it’s Monday, but I had to post this after the weekend.  You all know that I believe in doing things outside of school time that light your heart on fire.  You need to re-charge your batteries and not focus on school work when you leave.  That’s why I created the Teacher Anchor (which there are only 6 left of!!!) to help teachers focus on school when they’re there and family and friends after school.  You can see what I mean in the video here.  So I’m getting back into blogging about Fired Up Fridays this week!  And I encourage you to make your own fired up list this week… you can download a FREE list from my TpT store here.

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This week I wanted to focus on two things that light my heart on fire: spending time with encouraging people and visiting cool things in your home city!  Back in March, when I attended Making Things Happen, I met Victoria and MeredithMeredith lives here in Nashville and we’ve gotten to be friends since.  Victoria lives in Texas and came to Nashville this weekend to hang out and visit some friends.  Both of these ladies are so encouraging to me.  Meredith is also a business owner (and is responsible for most of the gorgeous images you see of the product line) and Victoria was an education major who allows me to bounce all kind of fun shop ideas off of her and her teacher friends.  So spending time with them is something that fires me up.  It’s so encouraging and positive to surround yourself with people who support you.  I have made a conscious effort to spend more time lately with people who are loving and positive and less time with the people who bring me down.

This is especially applicable in an education setting.  You know there are those teachers who are constantly negative about the lessons you do or the projects you take on.  Some of them may even be your friends!  But I’ve found it’s best to keep a little distance and not let them get into your head.  Find teachers who you can collaborate with, who make you laugh, and who think that your new ideas are exciting and wonderful!

This brings me to the second thing that fires me up – going out and visiting Nashville!  It is so refreshing to get out and be a tourist in your own city.  Whether you live in a small town or NYC, go out and visit what it has to offer!  I’ve lived in Nashville for 6 years now and still discover new things all the time.  So while Victoria was in town, she and Meredith invited me to the Southern Living Idea House.  Now, being a Midwesterner, I had no idea what the idea house was or even that it is currently located in Nashville!  (For those of you “Northerners” reading this post, the Southern Living idea house is a concept home that they build each year in a different southern city.  They design and decorate it as the quintessential southern home.  Then they photograph it for Southern Living magazine and you can tour it for a few months!  You even get an idea guide that gives you the resources to purchased everything you see in the home, from the furniture to the paint color on the walls.)

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Meredith took the photos while we toured the house and the complete tour is now posted over on Victoria’s blog, but I thought I’d highlight a few rooms that fired ME up and got me bugging my husband to build a southern farm house.  🙂

I didn’t know I loved front porches until we moved to the south.  I don’t know where our family will settle one day, but I can assure you that even if it is back in Ohio, there will be a huge front porch on our home.  This home had 2,000 square feet of porch space (as you can see only part of it in our group photo above).  Whoa.  And I could have sat all day on the covered porch or on that porch swing.

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Next up, the kitchen.  Open, inviting, airy, and I love the dark green color everywhere!

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This home will eventually be turned into a boutique bed and breakfast.  With six bedrooms that were each decorated exquisitely, I want to be the first to sign up to stay here!

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Everything in the home was so beautiful.  I plan on visiting again when it’s decorated for the holidays!  As I said before, go visit Victoria’s blog to see all the complete photos from our tour and if you don’t live near Middle Tennessee, take your own virtual tour here.

And make your own fired up list now!  Then try to do something from it every chance you get.  I make a new list with each season because what fires me up in the summer is very different than what fires me up in the fall.  It can be something as simple as drinking a pumpkin spice latte or something as exciting as going to an Ohio State game, but I know that this is an important part of what keeps me rested, energized, and ready to tackle each day.

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The FIRST day of school.
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I’ve had lots of first day of schools.  Actually I’ve had 27 “first days” when you count them as a student and as a teacher.  But this one was different.  This was my first as a mama.

I realize that Lincoln is only one.  I realize he’s only going to a two day a week program.  But it’s still “school”.  It’s still the first time he’s been in a structured learning environment for an extended period of time.  So it counts.

I laid out his outfit the night before.  We packed his bag together and read a special school story the night before.  In the morning, we had a relaxed breakfast, followed by lots of laughter and some first day pics on the porch.  It was so wonderful!  I had imagined how this moment would go in my head and I was anxious about the drop off.  I thought that he would cry and cling to my neck, much like I did to my mom some 27 years ago.  I thought I would cry and have to be comforted by my husband.  I thought that while Lincoln would have fun, he would be awaiting our arrival that afternoon, ready to go home.  Boy, was I wrong.

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When he got to school, I got his things unpacked and we washed hands.  Then I put him down and watched as he walked up to where other kids were coloring.  I bent down to give the grand goodbye and…. he pushed me away.  Actually pushed me and gave me that “c’mon mom” look.  So I thought, well maybe he doesn’t realized I’m leaving yet.  So I lingered for a minute and then I called to him and waved, “Bye Lincoln!  Bye Bye!” to which he turned, looked at me, then looked right back down at what he was doing.  What?!?!  This is not the “cling to your neck, tears flooding out, traumatic” goodbye!  I mean, I was glad that it wasn’t that, but a little let down that he so nonchalantly would let me leave!  I figured it would set in after I was gone.  So I just prepared for the pickup.

I got there a few minutes early and saw him through the window, sitting on the floor and playing with a baby doll.  As soon as I walked in and he saw me, he instantly burst into tears because he didn’t want to leave!  What?!?!  I thought FOR SURE he would leap into my arms, so excited to see me again.  But he didn’t.  And to be honest, I was sad.  I wanted him to need me.  To show me he missed me.  To be sad for me, not to be sad to leave school.  I was a little irritated even.

But when we got home, I rocked him a little before his nap.  As he lay on my shoulder, I thought about how grateful I was that there were teachers who love him and a place that he loves so quickly.  I was so grateful that he wasn’t sad, even a little bit.  I’m grateful that I didn’t have those painful feelings as I have to turn and walk away from my crying child.  And I realized how blessed we were.  For so many reasons, but mainly because we have a happy little guy and a place to visit a few days a week that he can grow and play and learn.

He fell asleep on my shoulder and it was then that I finally got it.  I thought about all of those students I had throughout the years who loved school.  Who loved the environment we had created together that was happy and safe and fun.  Really fun.  And I thought about all those emails, hugs, and thank yous I received from the parents of my students over the years.  Thank you’s for making school a place that their child wanted to come every day.  Making school a place that they were happy to be at… and fostering learning in the process.  Before this day I just took the compliment and patted myself on the back.  But now I got it.  And I was overwhelmed with emotion and pride when I think about Lincoln going to a place that he loves just as much.  And I felt a tremendous amount of gratitude to those people who allowed me to be a part of their child’s life.  Because those relationships we had created in the classroom have always been special to me as a teacher.  But now as a mama, they mean even more.

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