Stuck in a Valley of Loss

Before we dive into the full miscarriage story and where I am today, let’s start at the beginning. The joyful ness of it:

On Tuesday February 4, I went to OTF (Orangetheory Fitness) as I usually do on Tuesdays (usually is code for: when I have my poop in a group 🤪). This particular Tuesday I was dragging a little bit more. Maybe I had one too many margaritas at my bday the days before? Anywho, in the middle of class I got an INSANE and INTENSE heartburn pain and immediately thought I was going to throw up. I chalked it up to a 35 year olds every lingering hangover. Fast forward to that night. I was UBER emotional. Like crazy emotional. And I chalked that up to it being World Cancer Day and my moms passing. So I had a big ole glass of wine and then just for shits and giggle peed on a pregnancy to pacify David’s questions. And low and behold that sucker came back positive. Faint. But clearly positive.

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My Mother’s Story

My mother was a writer. And so naturally, I enjoy writing. I find it very therapeutic. So in honor of my mother, and for my own therapy, I have decided to share her very fast, very sudden illness to passing story on her one month anniversary. Obviously this is from my point of view as her daughter and some times, most times, during her battle with cancer, her care taker.

My knowledge of the start of it all was on the weekend of October 18th when my mother was experiencing so much pain under her right rib that she felt compelled to contact her doctor to try to schedule an ultrasound for her gallbladder. She already knew she had an under-functioning gallbladder and assumed that was what was bothering her. By Monday, October 21st, she had not heard from her doctor an available time to get in for an ultrasound, so she decided to head to the Emergency Room. And if you know my mother, you know she had an extremely high tolerance for pain so a trip to the ER meant she was at a 10 on a pain scale. The hospital ran all sorts of tests, including a CT scan. And it was the CT scan that showed the first proof of my mothers cancer: tumors all over her liver. About 20 of them. Large and throughout the whole organ.

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No Shop September 2019

And just like that, September is over.

This was my second year participating in a “No Shop September” challenge. Of course I went in thinking how easy this challenge would be especially since I have done it before, right? Wrong. It was still just as hard and made me really tune into my shopping habits.

First off, I realized (slash remembered) I am an emotional shopper. When I’ve had a bad day, I shop. When I’m stressed, I shop. When I’m excited, I shop. Basically I want to shop all the time but definitely more so when I need some cheering up. Since I couldn’t shop this month, I had to really dig deep and reteach myself what are some other self care things that I can do to cheer myself up when I’m down. One of those was writing (I have like 3 unpublished blogs in my drafts right now). Another was girlfriend chats. Grabbing lunch, a quick phone call, a walk through the neighborhood. All of those helped any kind of funky mood I was in this month.

Second thing I realized was, I shop to avoid tasks (laundry *cough cough*) and I’m also a boredom shopper too. Once again, since I couldn’t shop, I had to find other things to do to fill my time on the days when I didn’t have anything to do (HA… YEA RIGHT… we all know those days don’t exist). I forced myself to use my time to clean out my closet, freshen up R’s room to a little more of a big boy feel, and finally went through ALL the catch all drawers in the kitchen. Oh and I also went through all our sheets and towels and finally replaced the ones that are 13 years old and stained and ratty.  I don’t know about you but purging and organizing always makes me feel better.

My third take away was that I truly don’t need 90% of the things I buy. If you read this blog about shopping, you already know my emotional ties to shopping. Not shopping forced me to rewear, reuse, and recycle my own clothes in a creative way. And I love being creative! I mean that’s why I started this gig in the first place! Realizing my needs and wants (and separating the two) as I was shopping my closet this month for outfits, allowed me to actually think about closet staples that are missing and make a plan to purchase those. As opposed to my normal routine of aimlessly walking around a store and grabbing whatever is cute.

And finally, not shopping allowed me to use that money to pay off credit cards and build my savings. Which is an awesome feeling all in itself!

So tell me, did you participate? If yes, what is something you learned about yourself this month.

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#johnstonrenodiaries Part II – Master

Well after what feels like a lifetime 😉 we are finally done with the master bedroom renovation! The reason for the delay was because we were waiting on ONE final detail in the bathroom until we could use it – the shower door! (It’s 100% custom so it couldn’t be ordered until the tile and curb and bench were all in). But I promise it was WELL WORTH THE WAIT! If you are in the DMV area, we used Cherrydale Kitchen and Bath – Top Builders located in Arlington, VA. They are a family team, and they are also the company we used for our first floor renovation two years ago. We are also using them on Tuesday for the kid’s slash guest bathroom.

One of the questions I got over and over on Instagram was “How do you find a reliable, general contractor, electrician, etc”?

When we decided it was time to do the kitchen/first floor reno, we knew we needed pros. And a team. And at the time we were two full time employed adults with two young kids. There was no way we could oversee any of the project.

We first looked at the app Nextdoor and asked neighbors who they have used and recommend. In addition to that, we also went to Angie’s List and searched for local contractors/companies. We found a total of 6 companies that we found potential with: two from Nextdoor and the other four more off Angie’s List. We interviewed all of them and told them our budget. From there, each company proposed a possible layout and cost. (FYI… Some companies had a fee for their design but nothing outrageous.) Not only was cost and design important to us but so was a relationship with the company/contractor. These people are in your space every day for a LOOOOONG TIME and you want to know that you can say what you want, and need to and know that it’s going to be ok and well received. Bottom line, there needs to be a mutual respect. I also think there is a gut feeling you have when you find the right fit. We felt that way with Top Builders! And now we’re finished with our second project together and already planning for our third! When you go with a team like we did, you don’t need to find extra outside sources (plumbers, electricians, tile team, etc) so this was the method that made the most sense for us. Obviously if you want a more cost effective way AND you have the flexibility to be more hands on with your project, you can hire each team individually. However, I don’t have experience with that so I am not the best to give advice on that.

Now to the fun part! The reveal! Links are at the bottom of each space for your shopping convenience.

THE BEDROOM:acs_1180

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Paint colors: All Sherwin-Williams 

Master walls: Moscow Midnight (focus wall) and Extra White; Bathroom walls: Mountain Air; Cabinet color:     ; Trim:

Shop Items here: 

bed // curtains (ivory) // nightstands (natural oak) // dresser (natural oak) // duvet bedding (grey) // bench (similar) // “i love us” sign (similar) // “never again” sign (similar) // throw

THE BATHROOM: ACS_1323

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mirrors (similar) // lantern pendents // faucet (similar) // shower head (similar) // handheld // body jets (similar) // tub filler // tub

 

*Other items not listed were picked up along the way at Homegoods, Hobby Lobby, and other locations. Feel free to email, comment, or message me on social media if you ever have any comments or questions! xo, Jen

How to Shop the #nsale in 5 Easy Steps

I wouldn’t be a fashion blogger if I didn’t write a blog on the #nsale right? So here it is!

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These are my thoughts and tips how to shop this sale! And I hope you find it helpful! If you do, feel free to share 🙂

Tip #1: THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP: Here is the most useful and helpful tip of this WHOLE post! And make sure you’re ready to accept this!… DO NOT SHOP THE SALE BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE IS AND EVERYONE ELSE IS TELLING YOU TO!

Do shop the sale if you have holes in your closet that you are needing/wanting to fill and have the money to do so! Also, if you’re shopping, make sure you set a budget and do not go over it! Please listen to me… NO AMOUNT OF FOMO IS WORTH THE DEBT you can get into buying all these “deals” thrown in your face by every blogger!

Tip #2: DO NOT BUY TRENDS: Trends come and go. And I personally don’t recommend spending lots of money on trendy pieces that you may or may not keep for a least a couple of seasons. So as cute as they look, and are, DO NOT add to cart! Keep your trend purchases to Target, Old Navy, TJ Maxx, and maybe even Nordstrom Rack.

Tip #3: SHOES: Say yes to the shoes! Especially the versatile kind! I know many people that only buy shoes at the #nsale and none for the rest of the year! Take full advantage of that. Especially if they are ones you have had your eye on for quite some time. For me that will be, “hello leopard booties“!

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Tip #4: JACKETS: Can you say layering? Trench coats, denim jackets, winter coasts. Grab them now. I know it’s hot. And it’s summer. But this is a great time to get those fall staples that will carry you into winter and then again during spring into summer!

Tip #5: VERSATILE PIECES THAT NEVER/HARDLY EVER GO ON SALE: The #nsale is when I tried Zella leggings for the first time. It is also when I grabbed my faux leather Spanx leggings. Both of which have lasted me almost 3 years now! It’s also when I grab nicer denim if I’m in the market for it, and my Free People items that I’m obsessed with but refuse to spend full price on.

Also, don’t forget to keep an eye on my LIKEtoKNOW.it page! Because I’ll be posting all my purchases (and want to purchase items) there! Happy Shopping, Friends!

XO, Jen

I Resigned

I resigned.

Those two words carry so much weight on my heart and at the same time, makes it lighter than its ever been… Is that even possible?!

Two weeks ago, I had a conversation with my principal about filling out the form to resign so that he could hire someone in my place. Someone that he had already found. Someone he had already offered my position to! (Oh how replaceable we really are…) He requested me to file the form so that he could officially hire because HR wouldn’t allow him to go through the hiring process until I showed proof I was serious about resigning. This was a super uncomfortable position to be in. However, I told him, this was something that I would not do until I got confirmation that my paper work for my license had been approved and sent to the state to go through the final step in the renewal process. I got that email on May 16th. And I sent the form to my principal on June 1.

Even with this year long sabbatical, I didn’t really see myself not going back at all. I honestly believed that I would find a position that allowed balance. Balance between home and a career. But it was much harder to seek the perfect position that I dreamed of. Much harder than I anticipated. And as I searched and sent emails to principals, I started finding myself having anxiety attacks. Anxiety attacks of how I would make it all work with my husband’s demanding role at his job. So there it was. My sign I needed. I knew right then and there that for this season of life we’re in, our family, my boys, NEED me home. They NEED me to have a more flexible schedule. They NEED me to be in their school volunteering and having lunches with them. And my hubby NEEDs me to support him and all the wonderful things he has going on. And I know, none of these things would ever happen if I return to the classroom right now.

So for this season, I am embracing my new role of SAHM. I am learning new things about myself. I am learning how to self care. I am learning what my hobbies are. Most of all I am learning what it means to sacrifice and compromise my career for my other half and for my family. And I am TOTALLY ok with it. I see lots of amazing things happening in the near future for me and for our family. And for the first time I won’t have to worry about the teaching and home life balance. I will actually be able to devote 150% to home.  And for that, I consider myself pretty lucky. And if I need a teaching fix, there’s always subbing! 😉

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Influenced by a TeacherMom

When I was asked to participate in this blog collaboration, I was honored. Honored because I’m not currently teaching. Honored because I’m still viewed in this community as a teacher. Even though I’m months away from resigning (for the time being at least). If I can be completely honest, I did loose a piece of myself this year as I took a step back. But just like all the teachers who have come before me and either resigned or retired, I learned something. I learned that just because I’m not in the classroom, doesn’t necessarily mean I’m no longer a teacher. I am and always will be a teacher. It’s part of who I am. Teachers don’t choose this profession. It chooses us. The good ones, anyway…

Ok enough about me, this post is supposed to be about others…

This year teacher appreciation week feels a little different for me. Instead of being showered with love and gratitude in my own class, I will be showering others. And what better way to pay it forward than to write about the teacher that left an imprint on me. Inside and outside of the classroom. The one that helped mold me into the teacher and person I am today. The one that I inherited teaching from. My Mom.

My Mom is truly the best teacher I know. She was my first exposure of what it means to be a good teacher. Not only was she patient, caring, fair (not equal… fair) to my brother and me but she was the same in the classroom. From my childhood, I remember she always brought home things she did in the classroom, home to us. More than anything, she really loved the experiments. I remember summers when we dug through owl pellets; raised tadpoles to frogs and releasing them in the creek; and took endless field trips to the museum. And that’s just a small fraction of who she was as our teachermom. She was also a teachermom to OVER 1000 children (I mean you guys know, most of us consider our kids in the classroom, our kids!) in her 35 years of teaching. I mean that’s crazy! Often when I’m visiting my hometown and we’re out, we ALWAYS run into one or more of the kids she’s taught. I love the stories they share. The memories they have of her from their perspective.  So many of her former students are now successful adults and I truly credit her to that.

Another thing my Mom taught me, and I’ve mentioned it before, is how to dress. I used to get onto her for dressing too young (especially when I was a teenager) But seriously! None of my teachers dressed like her. She even wore heels EVERY SINGLE DAY to teach in! I mean, I can’t imagine?! My feet hurt even when I’m in tennis shoes all day! When I started teaching myself, my Mom’s fashion sense would pop into my head. I would think about how fashionable and cute she always looked when headed to school. And I also knew we didn’t have a ton of money growing up so she proved you still can look FAB on a budget! So I have always made the point to do my hair and makeup and put on polished and professional clothes. Dress the part right?. So I did… just minus the heels! 🙂

There are so many things I could add about my mom in this blog, the original teachermom, but there are not enough words to truly capture it all. (Who knows, maybe we will write that book together one day?) But for now, I hope you enjoyed this little snippet of the teacher that impacted me the most. And Happy Teacher Appreciation to all of you out there reading this! I see you. And I am SO thankful for you!

Okay. Now onto the fashion! Below you will find my TOP FOUR go to teacher outfits. One from each season (fall, winter, spring, and an interview look!) with my FAVORITE teaching pants! They are elastic waistband, stretchy material, wrinkle free, and UNDER $20!!

*Purchasing from this post allows me to make a small commission on the products you see. Links are included below pictures. Thank you for supporting me and this little blogging gig!*

Fall is for florals too!
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chambray top // cardigan // pants // shoes 
Spring Teacher
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blazer // similar top // pants // shoes // glasses

And make sure you check out these other teacher gals! They are all so amazing ♥️ So thankful this little corner of the internet brought us together!

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