A Miss Deiss Sneak Peak

Well, that’s a wrap! My first 1/2 year of teaching at Hillcrest Elementary is dunzo and Ellsworth Elementary is in the works of being a fully functioning, nearly 800 student school! On Wednesday, December 20th the entire gang came over to EES for a few hours. It took longer than planned, but we managed to get every single student and staff member into one giant panoramic photo.

As we prepare for January 5th (first day with students), I’ve witnessed and felt many emotions – stress, excitement, anticipation, sadness, and overwhelm. Above all, though, there is a massive sense of oneness. Whether we like it or not, many are becoming one. Many schools, many people, and many offices now reside in EES. The same hallways kindergarteners and 4th graders walk, the superintendent walks. Breakfast and lunch is prepared, toilet paper and paper towels are refilled, lesson plans are made, wifi is being fixed, fires are being put out, and phones are being answered all under the same (giant) roof! It is going to be organized chaos and AWESOME.

A view from inside the room! To the left in the door to the hallway, student seating, & I opened my storage wardrobes to show the fun stuff! Lots of sensory items, documents, student resources, & Legos. LOL. The far right wardrobe is for my 3 wonderful aides & any other staff  who needs a place to call home. :)

Instead of SMARTboards, we now have interactive projector boards.
*Fun Fact: we can only hang things on magnetic surfaces in the room.
Studies show that less stimulation in the classroom increases student performance!

The two far doors lead into Safe space/Sensory rooms for students to utilize when their bodies are unable to be in their classroom. The door to the right leads into a Motor/Sensory room with a large spin chair, bean bags, a trampoline, pillows and very low lighting.

Here is a panoramic view if you were to walk into my room right now! (Missing some furniture)
It will be a (hopefully) quiet, low lighting, and low stimulation space with multiple tools to help students who are not able to learn in their classroom for various reasons. :)

As the Behavioral Special Education teacher, it’s so important to make my space not only physically safe, but feel safe. Whether a student needs to cool off, take break, blow off some steam, do some academic work in a quiet space, receive low sensory input, or needs a place with a caring adult to process through something, this space is designed for it. It will adapt to the culture of the students soon enough – but for now, this is Room 231! WELCOME!

Like & Follow Ellsworth WI Community School District on Facebook
to see frequent updates as we begin our new journey!

What do tonsils even do, anyway?

Hey adult thinking about getting your tonsils out, you need to know these things…
This situation hurts like hell but it tolerable with drugs.
Day 1-3: Pain scale: 5. 
Day 4-9: Pain scale: 8-9.
Day 9-14: Pain scale 2-4.
My nurse said on day 15 I would be good to go and not regret my decision to get them out. She was right!
It’s right on the money – day 15 was magical (in comparison to the first 14.)

  • You can eat cereal after about day 8 if you let it soak in the milk for 15 minutes.
  • You can brush your teeth – sounds silly, but I wasn’t sure if I could! You can. :) (for that stank breath)
  • You will be constipated from the drugs for a few days. Buy MiraLAX & start taking it a couple times a day starting around day 3-4. (your butt will be messed up until about day 20)
  • EAT WHEN YOU TAKE YOUR MEDS even if it’s 3am.
  • Narcotics heightened all my senses.
  • Whining HELPS. It’s true I promise. Just cry if you need to.
  • Sleep enough so you don’t have to yawn – yawning is awful.
  • Take advantage of not doing anything for 10+ days – no driving, (essentially) no cooking, less-frequent showers, long long long naps, binge situations (netflix), and visitors!

Days 10 – 15:
When asked how I feel, I say I’m rounding the corner. Not around it, but on the verge of feeling better. My pain really depends on time of day, amount of talking & activity. My ears continue to hurt. Day 13-15 my pain really turned into a tightness feeling more than anything. The worst part of eating is moving my tongue too much – where my tongue meets my throat is raw and terrible. Naps are less frequent & I feel like I’m able to handle normal things at a normal pace – wrong. Walking is tiring and being up & about for a few hours is far too long. My body just slept and went on very low fuel for 2 weeks – thinking I am ready to go, go, go is naive. Oh well, I learned the hard way for you! Take it easy.

The weekend (day 8 & 9):
Also, where my tongue and throat meet feels like I’m swallowing razor blades (sorry for that visual).
Today (day 8) was the first day I really, seriously felt like it hurt too much to talk.
Usually I can handle it, but today was rough.
I got a lot of school work done! But I didn’t talk or swallow once while doing it (about 4 hours) so when I did finally open my mouth it was EXCRUCIATING I almost tipped right over.*
I had ice cream for lunch and noodles for dinner in case you were wondering.
Day 9
Today I learned that yawning is not a graceful thing.
TMI coming at you – narcotics make you constipated so don’t laugh, but I did the #2 today after about 5 days!
I went most of the day today without any pain killers…
Piggy-backing on that, I drove today. I drove into town today by myself.
Knock on wood, cross your fingers – but I think I’m rounding the corner, friends. I think the end is in sight.

Happy New Year!

Days 6 & 7:
Here are some of my current questions:

  1. Why do my ears feel like someone jabbed a stick in them and left it in there?
  2. Were they going to tell me that it hurts to stick out my tongue?
  3. Why are my doctors both on vacation? I’m about to run out of pain killers. WHY did they go on vacation?*
  4. Does anyone have extra narcotics? LOL.
  5. Is it going to be above 0 degrees anytime soon?

Here are some of my current comments:

  • I can’t believe how bad my breath smells and tastes. wow, you guys.
  • I’ve worn my glasses since the day of surgery. mostly because who knows when and where I’m going to fall asleep. Lol
  • Ice cream & Pudding.
  • Whining helps so much.
  • I can talk loud, so people say “what?” a lot… as if I’m going to be able to strain my neck and vocal chords to meet their need of a stronger, louder, more clear voice. Sorry I can’t even stick out my tongue – move your ear closer to me.*
  • I’ve gotten a lot of crafting done so I’ll have some new stuff up on my craft page soon!
  • I’ve taken pictures of my throat before and every day since surgery. I think doctors should pay me for my photos (with my captions on each) to show people what they are about to get themselves into.*

*I’m genuinely sorry about the sass. This sucks.

Cinco de Tonsils:
Hello friends, my sass has surfaced a bit today – you’ve been warned! So, first, to any adults considering getting these damn things removed, here are a few disclaimers you need to know:

  1. Do not get within 3 feet of anyone. Today my dad goes, “You need to go brush your teeth, your breath is atrocious.” I WOULD BE OFFENDED, but I said back, “You think I smell bad? You should taste the taste in my mouth right now. I brush and brush, but it doesn’t go away!” He felt bad. lol
  2. Narcotics are fine and all, until:you have to eat something with them every time you take them (mac-n-cheese and applesauce every 4 hours)
    • NAUSEA IF YOU DON’T EAT. 3am? eat or by 8am you’ll want to throw yourself inside the toilet.
    • they make you constipated, yet gassy. HOW.
    • they make me an emotional meatball about 1 hour after taking them
    • i literally cannot keep my balance about 1 hour and 15 minutes after taking them
    • you become a permanent resident in your bed (p.s. flip your mattress a few times during this stupid recovery)
    • you count down the minutes until you can take more and justify taking them 1/2 hour early because it’s fine.
  3. You will be babysat. 4% of people bleed (gushing blood) after this stupid surgery and for some reason, people think you’ll be one of that 4% if you don’t watch you like watching paint dry.
  4. To walk up a normal flight of stairs is  c a r d i o. I’m doubled over when I get to the top to let me heart rate drop from 180 bpm visceral fat zone back to 60bpm-I-reside-in-my-bed zone.
  5. This isn’t a tonsillectomy recovery, this is a straight-up diet. I am skinny. I eat applesauce and mac-n-cheese. The only reason I ate something other than those two things is because my extended family made food for Christmas. Bless.

Until tomorrow!

Day 4 – Christmas Hangover:
A sleep schedule is not my thing lately. 1:30, 3:00, 4:30, 5:00am, etc. take meds, take the other meds, eat a snack so I don’t get nauseous, take meds. That’s about all! Today has been a little different though, as I’ve been nauseous all day. Nausea is a curse and it manhandles you unlike any other way the term “manhandling” can be used. So as I typed this, I found myself on the bathroom floor, blanket draped over me, bucket in hand, waiting to erupt. Ugh. Good news though, I did not erupt and I just successfully ate a crustless grilled cheese with luke-warm tomato soup! Yahooooo!!!! Finally, some substance.

Today was a very good day! I spent majority of it with tiny wads of paper towel in my ears to muffle the booming of, what is normally, typical-sounding conversations around me. For some reason the quietest of noises pierce straight through my ears. I stayed on top of my meds and I stayed at about a 2 on the pain scale! For lunch I had, get this, pickle roll ups, my aunt’s infamous jello, some buffalo chicken dip, a couple cream cheese roll ups, and meatballs! I swear it was gold sent from heaven.

Day 3:
Not good, guys. I woke up nauseous and soon after, tossed all my cookies. Although I felt better after that, I hovered at about a 5 on the pain scale and knew I wouldn’t be able to keep down any meds I wanted to for a while. I finally started taking some medicine again early evening leading me into a talkless, yet wonderful, Christmas Eve evening where I was determined to eat my favorite, green bean casserole, homemade mashed potatoes, and 2 deviled eggs. Success!! I closed out the night feeling beyond cloud 9 ;) and decided I would be faithful to medicating when I do not have an empty stomach.

Fun fact of the day: on top of tossing my cookies, I got hiccups 4 times.

Day 2 – tonsil-less:
Today’s activities:
– I mustered up the ambition to craft for about an hour
– My lovely caretaker and mother warmed me up some left over mac-n-cheese
– I’m working hard to catch up on How to Get Away with Murder
– In my (lots) of spare time I am reading For the Love  by Jen Hatmaker
– I even went to a Packer party at my brother’s house and ate about 12 pickle roll ups tonight!
– Pain and discomfort is increasing, but so is my dose of oxycodone :)

Today’s fun facts:
– Oxycodone causes minor itching.
– My throat is fuzzy white (scabs).
– My uvula is the size of a dinosaur and blocks my airway when I lay on my back.
– I don’t lay on my back. lol
– Napping is actually the best thing in the world.
– I am taking daily progress pics of my throat.
– I recommend Kim as a caretaker and a mom if anyone in looking.

Not a horrible day, my friends! Thanks to all who checked in on me via texts, I felt the love today :)

Post-op Update:
Here’s what, I’m sure, you all want to know: I’m alive! And I feel good good good. My uvula is huge, and my lack-of tonsil sights look like I felt in the BearHugger – a toasted marshmallow. No pain yet = no narcotics yet. And Kim made me room-temp, watered-down Mac-n-Cheese!!! Yum. So – I’m sleepy, I’m warm, I have a headache, my ears are sensitive to sound, and I’m chatty!

Guys, one of my OR nurses was a Deiss, duh. Dr. Coyle, my surgeon – great man. Ryan, my anesthesiologist – hilarious and very kind, he had me take my glasses off then let me walk to the bathroom. LOL. I needed him to come back in the bathroom to grab my drip bag because I literally couldn’t see anything. Ryan wheeled my into the OR where it was actually a party. Music, people all around, and a man said, “Welcome! This is all for you!” as he gestured toward his crew and the bed. I don’t recall how I got onto the operating table. I also think they asked me what music I wanted to listen to but I could be making that up. Ryan put a mask on me and LIGHTS OUT.

So after surgery, I couldn’t remember Deann’s name and kept asking over and over. Apparently she was also Corey’s nurse earlier this year! Kim says my doctors/nurses and I came out of the OR laughing – No shock, I’m so damn funny ;) I asked her if, while I was in surgery, she went to the gift shop and bought me a teddy bear. She didn’t. Eye roll and huff. They showed me my tonsils in a jar, but I didn’t remember. They kept asking me if I saw my tonsils and I kept saying, “I remember, but I don’t remember!” When Kim told me she took a picture of them I was on-the-moon happy. Per Kim’s recall, I asked if the garbage man takes them when they dispose of them. LOL. I’m still wondering though… ALSO, it was Tami’s 25th anniversary of being a nurse today, that was fun – she is the best. :)

I’m doing well, tonsils are peace-out, I’m going to sleep my face off, and I got a free pair of socks! Stay tuned – the worst is yet to come!

1:00pm day of surgery!!!!!!!!!
Tami is a very kind pre-op nurse with three kids and husband. She brought me into room #4 (which happens to be my favorite number – I don’t think this is a coincidence), she gave me a nice purple BearHugger gown and grippy hospital socks! She plugged a big tube into my gown that blows warm air so I’m a giant toasted marshmallow :)

IV – check, call button – check, designated driver – check (she has a puke bucket in the car. eye roll.) I’m comfy, but hungry. So far, this is a piece of cake. ;)

December 22, 2017 – the day my life will change forever because, what do tonsils even do, anyway? They take up room in my throat, that’s what. They aren’t even full tonsils, they’re half-assing thingies in the back of my mouth that are supposed to help “fight off germs” – whatever that means, that have HOLES in them. Giant meteorites come out of them and I gag like when the doctor sticks a wooden tongue depressor down your throat. Tonsil-stones. The WORST possible thing that could happen to my throat besides mono, strep-throat, and seasonal chest-colds. I can’t even swallow a damn medium-rare perfectly prepared piece of steak cubed up into the smallest bites The Littles could eat them in one swallow – but, noooooo, Katie Deiss has to over work her jaw muscles and dip her head like a giraffe to force food from her tongue down to her stomach. Okay, I’m done. Literally and figuratively. I’m done ranting, and I’m done with these germ-collecting, massive, white-spot, bigger-than-my-actual-throat, style-cramping, life-nuisances. So, December 22nd, tomorrow, they get cut out and never come back. Bless. I hope you’re all ready for 2 weeks of annoying complaining because: a. I’m not going through this tragedy alone, and b. whining helps (my latest motto). Stick around, friends. I’m going to keep you up-to-date on my pain level, activities, and sleeping patterns. Disclaimer: I’ll be heavily medicated :)



The hardest thing about gift-giving is acquiring the perfect something that will, when that special someone tears the wrapping paper off of it, jump for joy, gasp of happiness, and grin a mile wide. That’s why we give – to witness the bliss of the receiver. Forget a Godwink, finding the perfect gift and watching someone open it is a total Godhug. But, finding that perfect “something” is HARD. What do you get your brother and sister-in-law who has everything you can think of? What else is there to get your niece or nephew besides a giftcard to Target or Buffulo Wild Wings? Yes, it’s hard… but be THAT gift-giver this year – be the reason for the joy-jumping, happy-gasping, and, wide-smiling. Put some thought and effort into an individualized, mapped out gift that will, in return give you a Godhug.

Here are a few unconventional, individualized, small-business, joy-jumping ideas to help you this Holiday season:

*Check back frequently! I will add ideas throughout December!

The one-stop-gift-shop! Follow the link below or venture over to my CRAFT page where you can order pinterest-inspired wooden signs to get that happy-gasping reaction from everyone in your family or friend group!


Erin Summers – a Kansas girl, living in Pennsylvania, can design, create, and produce anything you would like in regards to calligraphy and graphic design! Her specialty? Ornaments! Check her Etsy website out!


April – a midwest-loving photographer ready to laugh, cry and celebrate the most special moments of your life. Willing to bend over backward to make your wedding day/portrait session the best it can possibly be, April wants to be a part of your story.
Mention “Godwinks Blog” when you book with April & receive 10% off a session or wedding package!

Sophisticated Grace Photography

Maisy Diegnau – a college-girl on the go, fundraising her own way to a year long internship with Young Life. Christmas, birthday, thank you, words of encouragement… you name it, she will make it! I asked for “just because” & “Thanksgiving” cards & was a happy customer! Help her fundraise  by purchasing a pack of cards! 5 cards for $5 or $1 each & gratuity for mail-delivery is appreciated. Email her at:


Cairn – built by a group of passionate outdoor enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, they are inspired to enrich and expand the outdoor experience by fostering connections among those who create and enjoy it. Subscribe to Cairn or give a gift. It’s perfect for the adventurer in your life. My best friend subscribed me for 4 months – awesome products gave me the joy-jumping reaction.

Check out Cairn here!


More ideas:

State/National Park Passes
Wisconsin State Parks
Minnesota State Parks
National Parks

Local Memberships 
Swinging Bridge Brewery, River Falls, WI

I’ve always imagined getting all the special ladies in my life together with their recipe boxes, signature dish, & a pen to sit around a table, handwrite copies of their favorite recipes, and share their favorite dishes. Everyone would get a copy of the best recipes – handwritten. There’s just something about sitting at the counter when your mom makes her grandma’s infamous baked good & the recipe sits, vanilla stained & full of sugar, on the counter; the corner bent, ink worn, & the prettiest penmanship I’ve ever seen. I stare at it as the Kitchen Aid rumbles, eggs crack, & evidence of homemade goodness accumulates across the kitchen. Do it – give recipes, moms grandmas, & friends. They’re underrated – Pinterest has nothin’ on you!

Handwritten letters via US Mail
What is more exciting than getting an unexpected, actual letter in the mail? Not a jury duty summon, an Amazon package, or even Christmas cards. I’ll wait. My favorite part of snail-mailing special people, is not getting a text saying they got my letter. Yes, you read that right – it’s NOT getting a text or call. I love imaging someone opening my letter like it is just something we do. And I love anticipating a letter in return – it’s fun to wait for the tattered envelope with an inked stamp to show up in the mailbox. Consider the trip it took from the hands of it’s writer to yours. The pressure it endured from the pen and palm that rested on it, the ink stamp, and stack of letters that toppled it in the mail-man’s mail bag. It’s as if the letter experienced pressure over time to arrive in your hand a diamond.  Put pen to paper this year, send the gift no one will ever forget – send letters. 

Just books; paper copies. Give someone your favorite book.

Minnesota Children’s Museum
Minnesota Zoo
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Ancestry DNA Kit



Thanksgiving has always been a rather low-key Holiday for me; filled with catch phrase, green bean casserole, and walks with my Cousins, Aunts, and Great-Aunts down and around the neighborhood, rain or snow or shine. My Dad goes hunting to (hopefully) put some venison in the freezer and my Brother is usually in a field for fall harvest or hunting, so it’s Mom and I. We usually carpool with one or more of my Aunts and Grandparents to an extended family member’s home. Then, depending on the weather and our mood, mom and I either go to a movie later on, stop at a few stores, or hang out at home and put up the Christmas tree and eat fudge. It’s simple and quite underwhelming. This year, however, was a bit unorthodox for me as I headed east for the Grateful Holiday. And when I say east, I don’t mean, like, Eau Claire or eastern WI, I mean the east coast. Yes, Connecticut/New York. I had more than one item on my to-do list for the Holiday weekend, so among packing up Mara’s short term home in CT, doing a little paperwork for my side job, and attempting to kick a post-strep-throat chest and sinus cold in the shorts, we ambitiously made our way into NYC at 5:00am for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thanksgiving morning! Join me as I describe in fair detail the chronological series of events that lead us through the fence-lined city blocks at the dawn of Thanksgiving with 3.5 million friends.

  • 3:30am – The obnoxious and inevitably dreadful alarm. Boil water to make hot apple cider and salted caramel hot cocoa, pack enough fruit snacks to feed a kindergarten classroom (twice), along with 3 blankets, into my 45L day-pack as if we are headed into the snowy trenches of the forest for 3 days.
  • 4:20am – Drive 1 1/2 hour to an NYC parking garage we got online for $20 – we park in NYC for $20. 20. for all day.
  • 5:45am – Walk to Columbus Circle where we plan to sit, until we learn you have to be a VIP, meaning you have to have NYPD in your blood or be a Macy’s employee to be even considered to pass through the disconnected, heavily guarded, temporary fences surrounding the garden of bleachers and beautiful, wide-open spaces of sidewalk.
  • 6:20am – Find ourselves a spot to sit on the corner of 59th Street and 6th Ave, behind a lovely family who got bananas and coffee from a pharmacy on the corner to (try to) stay alive and warm.
  • 6:45am – Attempt watching Chicago on Netflix while drinking hot apple cider and NOT having to pee.
  • 8:10am – I have to pee… preface: NYC has a very low restroom to store ratio, maybe like, 1:20. I eventually find a cafe, sneak past the busy counter, around a corner and down it’s narrow-stairway into the basement, use the facilities, and sneak out without purchasing anything or even making remote eye-contact with another human.
  • 8:36am – I am STUCK on the sidewalk touching what feels like 16 different people who are pushing and getting sassy because, for some reason, they need to get around the corner before the 24 people in front of them need to get around the corner. This was a traumatic 8 minutes for a 22-year old girl from a town with a population that could fit in one city block of NYC.
  • 8:44am – Return to my seat where I recover from my mild-anxiety attack as we became friends with some nice folks standing behind us from Rosemount, MN watching their kids play in their high school band.
  • 9:30-11:30am – freak out at every passing float (Jimmy Fallon, Dustin Lynch, Lauren Alaina, Santa, 6+ high school bands, dancers, men in fairy costumes and 60 pairs of people in uniform holding down a giant pillsbury dough boy, brave souls dressed in bread, eggs, and a stick of butter, a human Christmas tree singing carols, and the Ice age squirrel chasing an acorn – just to name a few)
In blissful conclusion, go to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade if you can in your lifetime. It’s mad chaos, it’s 100% New York, and you’ll have to fight to empty your bladder, but it’s magical when, on your right you can see down 10 city blocks at millions of people watching the Grinch and Elf on the Shelf float by, and on your left, you hear the screams of, what seems like the whole world, for Santa Claus as he rounds the corner atop his sleigh standing 15 feet above the crowd. It’s breathtaking and exhilarating all at once to see kids and their parents alike, be 10x more excited to see Santa and his reindeer pass by than Jimmy Fallon. So, go. By a plane ticket, charge your phone, pack a good book for the wait, and join 3.5 million people at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

A handful of thankfuls from my 2017: blankets, shared recipes, new car smell, Chip & Joanna’s new Target line Hearth & Hand, the truth, Powell’s book store & a really good paperback book, #TGIT (Olivia Pope, Meredith Grey, Annalise Keating), hugs, a good bra, solo traveling, wit, waking up from a nap slumber, thoughts that really make you think, puns, tiny humans, someone who gets my jokes, Amazon Prime, polaroid photos, a good playlist, pontoon rides, last minute walks, snail mail, a successful surprise, a side of dinner with good conversation, scent booster laundry beads, work friends.



So, do it. decide.

Is this the life

You want to live?

Is this the person

you want to love?

Is this the best you can be?

Can you be stronger?

Kinder? More compassionate?


Breathe in.

Breathe out.


[meredith grey – grey’s anatomy]


because our human brains were designed with zero capacity to know what the future holds, we waste a crazy amount of time weighing options and making choices. i get it… to a certain degree – do your research, analyze the pros and cons, the physical, mental, and emotional impact the decision will make on you and those around you. growing up our parents prayed we would always do this and “make good choices.” but at what point do we stop thinking that we are in control? god granted us free will to make decisions, but at the end of the day, all we can do is decide and trust that it is what god wants it to be for us. we get so caught up thinking that situations happen to us when it’s really that things happen to build something in us. so, decide. educate yourself of the options, then decide. there is no way of knowing that what you decided was the best option but the fun is that if it’s not, you get another chance. you always get another chance when you’re living for your creator and not yourself. so, if you’ve been waiting for that “sign” before making a big (or small) decision – this is it. decide and don’t do it for anyone but yourself.


if you’re happy & you know it

if you’re happy & you know it


happy first day of spring!

i have to admit, i was more excited for daylight savings on march 12th than my birthday on the 15th. and today is the first day of spring – i am a happy human. spring isn’t usually people’s favorite season – things are brown, it’s rainy and still pretty chilly out. typically seasons like summer and fall – when it’s warm and colorful – are more popular. the reason spring is my favie season is because “dead” things come to life – like jesus after easter!

fun fact: the word “lent” means spring – and if you didn’t know, we are in the midst of lent. 27 days until easter and jesus is resurrected as he promised!

spring means trees begin to bear leaves and fruit and green grass start to push through last year’s dead grass.

you start to see people out walking their dogs, going to the park, and driving with their windows down. bears come out of hibernation and so do humans.

the coke stand opens, people mow their lawns, dusk is at 7pm or later, you put away jeans, sweats, and sweatshirts and you break out the shorts and tees.

boats and rv’s come out of winter storage, birds come back from the south, the land gets tilled, no more sandy dirty roads from winter plows and waiting for vacations to the warm tropics.

baseball starts, softball starts, golf courses open, sunroofs open, ice and snow melts, dog poop somehow appears all over the yard, families do spring cleaning, houses get redecorated, and the dead leaves get swept off the porch.

my mom always told me that spring doesn’t officially

start until you see the first robin of the year.

what traditions do you have related to spring?

spring means the gardens get planted, the beach bags come out, sidewalk chalk trumps any other outdoor activity, mason jar bug collections appear, and the picnic basket gets filled.

there’s more laughing, bigger smiles, exposed skin, and happy hearts.

there are more pictures taken, invites offered, sandals bought, dog kisses, and sprinkler parties.


now you’re thinking, “yeah yeah katie, you just babbled about spring but what was the benefit of reading this until the end?” well, if you didn’t already know, the most important thing about today being the first day of spring is that dairy queen treats it as a holiday!

go get a free ice cream cone and celebrate spring!


A: anxiety. where all my anxious people at? whether you’re just discovering this sometimes smothering feeling, are on meds, or it has been/is taking over parts of your life – you’re not alone. as a matter of fact, over 18% of the us population has anxiety. anxiety is something that can easy have power over you in all areas in your life. i know it did in mine until it started affecting my relationships with people – then i decided i needed to regulate myself. i had increased temper and irritability, i was extremely moody, i needed things to go my way, and i had ocd tendencies. sounds fun, right? not so much. it’s been nearly 2 years since i started taking medication and my anxiety no longer has power over me! it’s not a scary thing, it’s not embarrassing or belittling, it’s part of who we are. living in a world with high expectations, it’s no wonder anxiety is on the rise. don’t let it have power over you – squish it like a bug, you’ll thank your past self one day.

B: behold: [v.] to see or observe a thing or person, especially a remarkable or impressive one. to fix the eyes upon. all powerful and true. behold is a word that rings in the very deep part of my heart. each time i say it or hear it, it’s like hearing the wind of the holy spirit – it’s soft and mildly piercing, inviting and delicate but brave with utmost authority. next time you hear the word, digest it.

C: care. in one of my college classes our class was asked to list the 3 most important characteristics of a teacher. naturally, we came up with things like: responsible, kind, invested, knowledgeable, patient, respectful, differentiated, enthusiastic, caring, advocating, etc. we wrote them all on the board and decided as a class to narrow it down to the top 3. after that, our teacher became quite sincere and told us that the most important part about being a teacher is to care. kids learn better when they know they are cared about. when people care, good things multiply. caring is also an umbrella term – every important characteristic of teachers falls under caring. good parents care, good friends care, and it’s no different for teachers. think about your favorite teacher growing up – you probably don’t remember anything they taught you academically but you remember conversations after class, sharing good news with them, reaching out to them for advice, and caring about you. just care, friends.

D: death. are you scared to die? while talking with a friend lately, we talked about not being afraid to die because we know where we are going is without a doubt better than anything we can ever imagine – tenfold. but what is a perplexing and rather scary thought is that where we are going after death is forever. FOREVER. F O R E V E R… we are not capable of understanding forever and because its so massive and beyond our human comprehension, it scares the living daylights out of us. i’m christian and i believe in heaven and that i am saved by grace, but i’m not here to talk about life after death because it’s literally unknown to us. this is merely food for thought – death is a tough concept. what are your thoughts?

E: equality vs. equity. equality is everyone getting the same thing no matter what – just what we all want. “it’s not fair!” we hear AND say all too often. equity though, is when each individual gets what he or she needs to be successful. THIS is special education at its core!

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F: forgive but don’t forget. forgive and forget, right? not so much. always always always forgive. it doesn’t mean the other person wins, it means you win because you free yourself from their power over you. forgiveness, like knowledge, is a weapon people often look over. god forgives us unconditionally, so why do we think we have the right to not forgive others? on the flip side, forgiveness frees our hearts but it doesn’t mean we have to forget. when others hurt us, we don’t ever have to forget what happened. experience shapes who we are and forgiveness allows us to remain ourselves. don’t forget but always forgive.

G: goals. so i want to do everything. the other day in class after watching an astronaut news segment on cnn, my teacher asked our students if they would ever go to outer space. a lot of them said no because of how astronauts have to live in space, i immediately said “i do!” that seems to be a trend in my life, i want to do all things all the time. i want to go to grad school, i want to become a certified skydiver, i want to go to every state, heck – every country! i want to do everything – i have so many goals. yes, prioritized goals, but as long as i keep learning and growing, i can stride toward my goals. and so can you.

H: he who is without sin can cast the first stone. a sin is a sin, there is no scale that tells which sins are worse than others – god doesn’t rate our actions. if you would like to stone a prostitute to death, or a thief or murderer, don’t forget to consider your own sins before throwing anything… are you THAT much better than that rapist or murderer that you have the right to judge and therefore stone another person for their actions? moral of the parable: judgment is not our job.

I: “if you could have any super power?” the classic ice-breaker question. “i want to fly, be invisible, be super strong, read people’s minds or see through things” are usually the answers you hear. not me though – i want to be able to communicate in every single way with every single person in the world. i want to know sign language, chinese, arabic and every language in between. lip reading, body language, and off-the-grid language, slang, accents, braille, and eye-gaze. how cool would it be to, without any effort, walk up to someone and have no communication barriers – to be able to interpret accurately and understand fully. would there be more peace in the world? there’d be no miscommunication. i could go anywhere and create relationships with an infinite number people. imagine walking around new york city, being able to greet each person you walk past in their primary way of communication. i want that super power.

J: jo. jo is my middle name. as i wrote this, i learned that it means: to add, god is gracious, to enlarge – all pointing at the growth in family. i’m quite obsessed with my middle name, i share it with a cousin, aunt, and some friends. i love that it is simple and only 2 letters. in a bigger picture, i love knowing other people’s middle names. anytime i do ice breakers with new friends or am getting to know someone, i ask what their middle name is and where it comes from. also – the movie safe haven with julianne hough [my all time favorite celebrity] is super exciting because julianne’s fake name is katie and the ghost that is with her’s name is jo. obviously i’m obsessed.

K: knowledge is power. as cliché as it is, it’s true. [there’s a reason things are cliché] learning is the best weapon anyone could ever have. being educated about things you’re passionate about is something no one can take away form you. as a first generation college student in my family, i have thousands of dollars in debt, but what’s inside my brain is absolutely priceless and the single biggest tool i will have as an educator and person. be a life-long learner, immerse yourself into experiences that will build a foundation for meaningful conversation in the future.

L: love languages. words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. if you haven’t heard of these 5 love languages and learned which are yours, i encourage you to – you’ll learn a lot about yourself. things start making sense when you figure out how to be loved. explore your love languages!

M: mother nature. holy cats… some of my all time favorite things are in nature. i love leafless trees in the middle of winter on a clear blue-sky day. i love seeing a bird perched at the top of those trees. i love the smell of fresh cut grass and listening to a stream rush, squirrels rustle in leaves, and watching trees breathe. something that makes me stare into space in complete puzzlement is knowing that every plant and beast, earth, wind, and fire – every creation was made to worship their creator. every gust of wind, every bird’s song, every annoying cricket, buzzing bee, and drop of water is literally worshipping it’s creator by simply being what it was created to be. P.S. [E A R T H  D A Y] is saturday, april 22 and [A R B O R  D A Y] is friday, april 28. celebrate our planet all week!!!

N: no. surprise! yet another teaching inspired concept… negative feedback gets ingrained in our minds. when i’m lifeguarding – “no running!” at school – “no talking,” “don’t do that,” “stop.” these are all ways to put an end to something but we leave kids/students not knowing what it is we want them to be doing. so when i’m lifeguarding – “walk!” at school – “please be quiet,” “i’d rather you do ____,” and “at school we ____.” it’s psychological – without even knowing we are programming people’s minds around us and reinforcing behavior with our responses. it’s a way of thinking – a mindset. if you’re looking to be more positive, try eliminating negative response habits and replace them with responses that are less of a blow to people. happy yes-ing!

O: olive green. my favorite color next to brown! yes, brown is my favorite. If you’re scrunching your eyebrows, it’s fine I get it a lot. it’s such a natural color – soil, trees, wood, and a very common color for houses inside and out might I add! and olive green – forget about it. i know it’s trending right now but seriously it’s the best. get outside of your comfort zone – love colors you never thought you would!

P: photo booths. photo booths are my thang – i love the whole experience: from spotting a photo booth in a mall, to scrapping up dollar bills, cramming 2+ people in the tiny little booth, selecting a border, and remembering to look at the camera and not the screen. the best part? deciding what combination of faces to make to express the emotion shared between myself and who i’m with to capture the mood of our day. then after a stressful 12 seconds of being unrealistically photogenic and laughing at how silly a photo booth is, you channel your inner 5 year old self and stare at the drop box waiting for the photo strips to print. and when they do – you stare, point and laugh. photo booths are more than $5 pictures, it’s more than a selfie, it’s an experience. i challenge you to photo-booth [verb] the next time you see one. share the moment and keep the memory. i wish i invented photo booths – absolutely brilliant.

Q: quality vs. quantity. over time, i think we all learn that the quality of things is much more important than the quantity, to a degree… my father has always been an advocate for paying more for quality things so they last longer, they’re more reliable, etc. therefore, he’s not a fan of the family dollar. on the other hand, my mother is the queen of bargain shopping and getting the biggest bang for your buck. for example, she buys the pizzas we like whenever they’re on sale so we have about 16 pizzas on hand at all times [rockstar mom???]. i’d like to think i’m a mix of both, which would make sense because i’m their biological offspring. but – what about quality vs. quantity outside of material things? quality wins every time. 3 deep relationships will always beat 10 shallow ones. spending 2 hours of quality time with someone is worth much more than 6 hours of interrupted and surface time. quality, quality, quality [unless it’s pizza].

R: real talk [rt]. real talk is so important – don’t fear what people will think about the way you feel or your opinions, they are not you. it’s always bothered me when people say “it’s not a big deal.” um, hello… a kindergartener who lost a mitten is a big deal. a friend who is going to be late for curfew is a big deal. a broken pencil – big deal. a lost letter – big deal to a specific individual who values different things than you do. no one has a right to judge what is important in your life. a big deal to someone else may not even matter to us; but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important in the grand scheme of things. with the lack of face-to-face interaction these days, real talk in person is so critical to relationships. have valuable conversations with new people, learn something, dig deeper than the surface, and steer away form prejudging other people. having real talk with people builds trust, character, and strong relationships. surprise people by being patient, slow to anger, non-judgmental, willing, and constant – they will be surprised.

S: stories. there is something i love about listening to a story – how someone got their name, a good memory of a trip, or a war experience – the tone of someone’s voice and the way they use their hands to tell a story shows passion and purpose in what they are speaking. think about campfire stories, happy endings, and your imagination – stories are critical to growth and learning, not to mention happiness and fun. people relate through stories… a child can tell a story to a ninety year old friend and make a connection  – they may encourage others to tell their stories too!

T: timeless. time seems to have control over quite a bit in our lives and we forget about the things that are timeless… like handwritten letters, the smell of an old book, photographs [the ones you can hold on to], advice from grandma and grandpa, scrabble, calling someone on their birthday, giving back to your community, and bald eagles. A bit of advice [that I also need to be advised of], make time for what’s timeless.

U: universe. like the topic of death and forever [see letter d], the vastness of our universe absolutely blows. my. mind. like, you are one person, in one house, in one town, in one state, in one country, on one planet that belongs to one solar system within one galaxy and there are infinite galaxies. what. how small do you feel? as of late [the past few years] something i crave is to feel small in the bigness of god’s universe. i’m not going to sit here and say your problems “aren’t a big deal,” but next time something is bothering you, think about how big of a universe you live in. a universe that always existed and always will – like god: was, is, and always will be, the alpha and omega, the first and last, the beginning and end. isn’t it cool to think humans have only reached earth’s moon? wow. there is so much more to our universe and god is in every single cell.

V: violin. there’s nearly nothing else as simple as a violin that makes me instantly happy. when i see a live band and there is a violin, it’s like the world stops for a moment [or until it’s done playing]. something about a tiny string crossing a few others – like a tiny child teaching a few adults how to love in a very discouraging world – it makes a beautiful, nearly unbelievable sound. it’s soft and serene but intense and strong. in my opinion, it makes or breaks a band. and don’t even get me started on violin solos – forget about it, absolutely stunning. hands down my favorite instrument and the one i wish i could play, because hot damn.

W: who, what, when, where. who does god want me to interact with? what conversations does he want me to engage in? when does god want me to initiate? where does god want me? — these questions are ones that immediately stood out to me when I heard them from a friend in college. simple, basic questions that can literally guide your faith journey. write these down somewhere and put them in places you will see multiple times a day and see what happens.

X: xo. first off, why is xo, xo? well, in the middle ages, x meant something to be true which was encouraged by the cross of christ – “in christ’s name, it’s true, i assert.” then people would start to kiss the x in the same way they’d kiss a bible – essentially “sealing it with a kiss” thus, x signified kisses! as for o, who knows. xo is such a fun way to sign off a letter or some sort of message. subtle but meaningful. – xoxo katie

Y: you weren’t born to just pay bills & die. my dad always says “work to live, don’t live to work.” i know i know, i’m young and naive to money, but don’t wake up each day with the sole purpose to work – work to get a paycheck to pay bills to maintain your life to go back to work the next day to do it all over again. work to live – work to make that paycheck so you can do things that make you happy because paying bills makes no one happy. let your work be a part of your life rather than letting your life just be part of your work. we aren’t here to just pay bills and die – go explore, spend too much money doing something exhilarating, clock out on friday and get out of town for the weekend, go do happy. bills and grocery shopping aren’t going anywhere, and either are you if you think they hold priority over your happiness.

Z: zebra sweater. a good friend got her eyes on this silly zebra sweater when we were shopping one day. i didn’t like it – i thought it was silly and every time she wore it, i would just shake my head and smile. but the more i looked at that sweater, the more i understood why she loved it so much and how important it was that she didn’t let my opinion have power over hers. she loves that zebra sweater, and even though i think it’s silly, i love that she loves it. i love when she wears it because she feels fun and happy in it. if you ever find yourself eyeing up a zebra sweater [metaphor], don’t let anyone’s opinion decide whether you want to invest in it or not. too often we pass up opportunities to make us happy because of someone else’s opinion. so when you find a zebra sweater, buy it. love it. and wear it because it makes YOU happy.