Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My "Math Journey" and Colorful Pens

It is my last semester of college before student teaching *insert freak out here*!! I am so excited to be a teacher, and know that I will never "feel" ready, but seriously, how can it be that one year from now I will: 
               A: be Courtney Falk
               B: be a college grad
               C: be teaching (hopefully)

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness (quiz: what musical is that from...answer at end of post).

I am in a really random mood tonight. It could be because I am feeling a bit stir crazy being cooped up in Kappa with 6+ inches and counting falling outside my window. Anywho, where was I...Ah, so it is my last semester and I am in a class for teaching teachers how to teach math (say that 5 times fast) our first assignment was to write a three page paper called our "Math Autobiography." Initially I thought this was going to be the silliest assignment of my life because we had to "think back to our earliest memory of math and write about our journey from there to today"--but I actually got really into it and it was quite fun. It was just a creative free write so we could use our own writing style, voice, etc and I had a blast going down memory lane with math--who knew?

So if you are in the mood for a little light and humorous reading, continue on and read my essay...though I will warn you, it is long. Otherwise just skip ahead or stop reading all together, I won't be a matter of fact, I won't even know!!  :)

Math and I have had a long journey, a rocky road, and I don’t mean the delicious ice cream treat with nuts and marshmallows. Let me take you back to where it all began, kindergarten. My earliest memories of math involve “color by number” sheets, graphing with M&M’s and celebrating the 100th day of school with a special project where you had to make a project with 100 of something and practice counting that high with your family. My twin brother made an igloo with 100 sugar cubes, I made a windsock with 100 get the idea. Fast forward to  second grade—math and I are still on good terms at this point. First of all in second grade we got to be “world travelers” everything was integrated thematic learning and we studied many different countries from various continents. In this class everything was fun because it was built around the theme. Instead of doing addition from math books we got to create a homemade good and practice bartering then adding and subtracting at our makeshift African market. When we “traveled” to china we got to go outside and measure how many of our soccer fields it would take to stretch as far as the great wall. It was fun and exciting and you even forgot that you were doing math. 

Third grade comes along and math wasn’t quite as enthralling as it was when we were in other “countries” but things were still going well.  We had one Friday a month where we would have parent volunteers come in and we would all go to the cafeteria. They would each set up a table to practice a different math skill. We practiced using calculators, addition, subtraction, word problems, puzzles, games and more. It was a math fair of sorts,  something fun and different that we all looked forward to. As the third grade year progressed, our teacher began handing out sheets of timed multiplication problems where we would have what seemed like a blink of an eye to complete problem after problem. These tests were quite anxiety producing for me. You see, if you did not finish all of the problems on the quiz you had to stay at that level until you could pass, but if you succeeded then you could advance. And let me tell you, “everyone who was anything” in the third grade popularity chain was in the “advanced” group. I did quite well on these tests most of the time, mostly due to the fact that my mother practiced with my twin brother and I at every possible moment. We did math drills at the breakfast table, on the way to and from school and during commercial breaks of the “new” hit show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?  We knew all the tricks and my mom even helped us to come up with different rhymes, songs and rhythms in order to master those multiplication timed tests (and no amount of money in the world could make me reveal whether or not I still find myself using those ‘sing-song-y’ tricks when I am stumped….my lips are sealed).

I suppose the real trouble began around 4th grade. First of all we started participating in Mathletics. Oh Mathletics, the after school math competition between teams of students from different schools—it was such an “honor” to be asked to be on the Mathletics team, and every one of us wanted to be a part of it…even if we were only an alternate, but truly, I HATED it. Mathletics stressed me out because your team was depending on you and if you added wrong, or forgot to place the decimal in the right place or didn’t know how to do the problem for heaven’s sake…you were the loser with a capital L. Oh how I dreaded those after school quarterly competitions! I couldn’t even enjoy the cookies and juice boxes we got because I was so nervous I would be given a word problem that I had no earthly idea how to complete. Ok, new subject, I am feeling anxiety just talking about this again!

Fifth and Sixth grade were uneventful math years…I had pretty good teachers, math was still not my favorite subject, but all was well. In middle school I had an amazing Pre-Algebra teacher who used to work for the CIA but then decided that teaching middle school math was more her calling (is she crazy?) but seriously, We all respected her so much because she literally could be doing anything and making wayyy more money but she chose to be there with us. She was one of those teachers who would do ANYTHING to make you understand the concept. She would explain it a zillion different ways until it made sense to you and you “owned” the concept.

Freshman year high school is really when my relationship with math took a beating…geometry. The very word still brings prickles in my spine. Let me see if I can paint this picture for you. It was the 7th and final hour of the school day, it was located in a temporary outdoor trailor classroom that was always too hot or too cold or smelled funny, and my teacher, Mr. Layman, was a robust old man who taught with his eyes closed (I am NOT kidding) and could never seem to explain a proof in the way ANY of us could understand. It was brutal. We were allowed to have these journals and turn them in for extra credit and I swear that is the only way I passed that class, well, that and some tutoring. Which is a whole different story. Okay, fine it is part of my math story so I will share an abbreviated version. Once upon a time during finals week I wanted help studying for my dreaded geometry final, I also had a crush on this cute boy from youth group who was two years older and had Mr. Layman as a teacher when he took geometry. I asked him for help studying and long story short we fell in love and are now getting married this New Year’s Eve. So, despite all my negative thoughts about geometry, I have to give it SOME credit, because it helped me find my husband!

When I got to K-State I had already finished college algebra through the community college dual credit program and was excited to only have two math classes to take in college. Well, let me just vent for one moment that intro to contemporary math was the absolute most horrible math experience of my life. It may have ruined math and me forever—(though perhaps you can turn that around). It was terrible, awful, to this day I am convinced it is a made up subject concocted just to frustrate me! I won’t reveal what teacher I had because you might be friends with him but he left a lot to be desired in the teaching department. He was one of those people who understood the concepts but could not for the life of him TEACH them to someone else. Our whole class was beyond frustrated with him and on multiple occasions tried to express our lack of understanding. The boiling point was when I had answered a problem correctly on the test and he counted it incorrectly because he “couldn’t find the answer” while grading it. I went in, talked to him, pointed out my work and how I arrived at the answer. He would not change my score no matter what, and I ended up with my first and only B in college, a 89.87% in the class. So that one problem on unit test 2 would have given me an A (can you tell that I am totally over it?)! That pretty much brings us to today. This is my math journey. I am excited for this semester and to see where math and I travel together next.

Okay raise your hand if you actually read that, No Way! Congrats, gold star for you! 

....akward...hem, moving right along (can you tell I am hyper tonight, oh my word!)

I got an incredible set of colored pens for Christmas this year and would just like to say that I have used them every day since. They are bright, colorful and come in the most amazing and practical little easel case-ma-bob ever! They are the Rolls Royce of pens as far as this elementary ed major is concerned. 

Okay I better sign off, I will only get more wordy as the night progresses. 
Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite.

Love and Prayers, 

P.S. Answer to musical trivia: Annie (said by Tessie)!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

True Love's Kiss and Pixie Dust

My Day at Disneyland!

I woke up early on Saturday morning, rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, looked at my phone and was half way through my early morning "yawn-stretch- in- bed- and- dread-actually-moving-" routine when I remembered TODAY IS DISNEY DAY!!! I leaped out of bed and ran, okay, skipped, to the living room where Johnny was sleeping on the couch. I smothered him with a "good-morning hug" and then started hustling him to get ready and out the door so we could be there as soon as the park opened.

After a quick breakfast of cinnamon toast we packed a backpack and headed to the parks.
I gasped when I saw the castle for the first time. I told Johnny, "Look it's my castle! I'm Home!' (Yes, I kinda sometimes think that I am Princess Aurora)

It was a magical day! I was in awe from the moment we entered the park gates. I immediately felt like a seven year old version of myself and found myself jealous of the little sweethearts flitting around in their little princess costumes. This only encouraged my dream of becoming a Disney Princess (specifically Aurora) someday. Hey, a girl can dream! I even got my picture taken with the Prince. (Though I have to say, I already have quite the incredible knight in shining armor of my own!) Johnny and I had so much fun!

My favorite part of the whole day might have been touring the Sleeping Beauty Castle. They had little vignettes showing different scenes from the movie and narrated the story using pages from the book! Oh it was AMAZING! 

I wanted to steal this statue and put it in my house! :)

Castle Hallway! So FUN!

The Peter Pan ride was absolutely magical, it was truly a fantastic experience. I was in awe of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride...It was intricate and flawless and terribly hard to describe, I am really not doing this magical experience any justice!

Johnny and I loved the Space Mountain ride. It was really neat because it was a roller coaster but it was pitch black and all you can see are the "stars" around you. What was fun was the uncertainty of how the roller coaster would turn or drop since you couldn't see anything!!

Oh it was just a great day. Johnny and I had a blast laughing, spending quality time together while in line and ooohing and ahhhing about how adorable all the little kiddos around us were. Johnny and I enjoyed dreaming of someday when we can take our kids to Disneyland.
I wish I was wearing a pretty pink flowing dress right now!
Royal Coronation Ceremony...we learned how to dance, curtsey and follow our hearts. It was adorable! Lord Bless Johnny for his patience!
We rode the Mark Twain Steamboat!

No more toad kissing for me, I found my prince Charming! (See next pic) HAHA!

Johnny is so strong, he almost got the sword from the stone :)

I have to say, we had some interesting people watching moments. There was this one couple waiting next to us for about 45 min in the Finding Nemo ride...I don't even quite know how to describe them. They were maybe 15-16 years old and they were completely and totally OBNOXIOUS. The entire 45 min they remained in constant physical contact with one another. They were hideously touchy-feely and there were at least two dozen occasions that Johnny had to stop me from launching into my spiel about healthy dating relationships, not finding your identity and boys and how swapping spit and booty grabbing while in line at Disney is wildly inappropriate. Ahhhh!
(don't worry...we were sneaky, I was holding up cotton candy so it looked like we were taking a pic of that)

We stayed at the park from 10am-11pm It was a LONG but incredible day! I am so thankful to the Falk Family for giving me the tickets for my birthday and feel very blessed that My Prince was so willing to be a trooper and embrace his fiancee's childlike behavior! At the end of the night, my jaw literally hurt from grinning ear to ear!

It's a small world!

King Arthur's Carousel
Dumbo's flying elephant ride! 

Twas a Magical day at Disneyland!

Love, Prayers and Pixie Dust

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The "F" Christmas and The Giselle Dress

The end of this semester was CRAZY! Such a whirlwind. After Johnny and I got engaged my brother and his sweet girlfriend hosted an impromptu engagement party which was a blast! It was fun to tell the story, see great friends and reminisce about how Johnny and I met/started dating almost FIVE years ago!

 The girls! So fun!

 And the boys...some things never change.

Falk/Pennington Family! 

Dearest Holliekins (My most faithful  only reader) turned 21! We had a fun weekend, first taking a rather spontaneous trip on Friday to Kansas City to see my family and sample potential Costco wines for the wedding. Then we drove back Saturday and had a yummy dinner at La Fiesta (best cheese dip on the planet) and ended the night with deserts at the amazing restaurant, Harry's! 

 I have the most beautiful friends in the whole wide world!
 The birthday girl!

I definitely have a love/hate relationship with finals week. Though I am not a lover of massive comprehensive final review packets and last minute cramming for my education methods courses, I adore study break dance parties, sonic runs, being sneaky, and watching episode after episode of Mad Men from Digital Shelf and coveting the amazing dresses and nightgowns Betty Draper wears. I have great friends and roomies. I will miss the incredible Right Six sooooo much!

Soooo, over break we got a lot of wedding planning done annnnnd, I GOT MY DRESS! This, however, is not it! In preparation for my "Say Yes To The Dress" moment, my mom found her dress in the attic and I tried it on. It was hilarious!! Totally 80s and a little big! It was fun though. I thought it looked exactly like the dress from Enchanted, and I must admit I spent the better part of a half hour flouncing around the house singing "True Loves Kiss" and "Happy Working Song"

Oh I LOVE the movie Enchanted, I may have to watch it tonight!

The girls and I got a lot of good time together this break. We had a fun night at Clare's house, eating too much puppy chow and kettle corn and talking til the early morning, then we also got together for some Thai food after Christmas. It was Yummy but SPICY!

Speaking of Christmas, and the title of this post...It was an "F" Christmas. It was so funny, my parents, Mrs. Falk, Andrew and Emma all had the same Christmas idea for me...I got letter decorations and "F" mugs! I am actually drinking hot tea from one right now! Perfect! I love them all and can't wait to decorate our future home!

Christmas and New Years were just great, this Holiday Season has just FLOWN by! ( I never know, do you write "by" or "bye" when you say that, hmmm. I should probably look that up before I am teaching the kiddos in my classroom incorrectly). Anywho, Had wonderful time with family and friends...I am glad I still have a few weeks of break to enjoy as well!

I'm off to do some quiet time! Johnny and I decided to go through the devotional "My Utmost For His Highest" this year as we prepare for marriage (364 days til we are HUSBAND AND WIFE...not that we are counting...HA!), I'll keep ya'll posted how it is going!

Love and Prayers,