New Classroom

I will be teaching 4th grade Reading in Brownfield, Texas this year. Right now I am on maternity leave for 4 1/2 more weeks (thank goodness!) but will start back at the end of September. Honestly, the last thing I want to do is leave my baby, but I also want to put a roof over my family's head, have food to eat, and have insurance. I am so proud of Parker and the program that he is in, so I am willing to make some sacrifices until he is done with school. Our end goal is for me to stay home with our kids without having accrued mountains of debt. Anyways, I had to set up my classroom and make 5 weeks worth of long term sub plans. It has been a crazy two weeks with a tiny newborn! Here are some pictures of my new classroom:

I am so glad that I was able to reuse all of my classroom furniture and things from my time at Carrollton Elementary! As much as I don't want to leave Porter, I do love to teach and am grateful that I can do what I love while I am away from the little man that I love.

The GREAT news is that we found an incredible woman (girl? She's my age, so I guess that makes her a woman...) to watch Porter while Parker and I are away. Her husband is a student at Tech and our life situations work together perfectly! She will be able to come to our house, which I am so excited about, because Porter will be able to be in his own environment. Ellie will also have some company, which isn't too bad, either! We are so lucky to have been connected with Heidi and her wonderful, sweet spirit and love for babies!

Move to Lubbock

Parker and I moved to Lubbock about two weeks ago. For those of you who aren't familiar with Texas towns, Lubbock is in the middle of West Texas surrounded by nothing. The neighboring towns are Brownfield, Levelland, Ropesville, Meadow, and Shallowater. This is not a joke.

Parker is starting a PhD program in Counseling Psychology at Texas Tech. The program is 5 years with one additional year of externship (which we hope we can do in DFW). So, we will be here for 5 years, at least. Lubbock isn't much to look at, but it's true what people say: What Lubbock doesn't have in looks, it makes up for in people. The people here are so incredibly kind. When we came looking for a house, we were shocked by how kind everyone was.

We bought a house here and we are so in love with it! We figured we better plant our roots, because 5 years is a pretty long time. I'm already getting really excited about decorating for Christmas. I even have a special little tree for Porter's bedroom! Here are some pictures of our new place:

Master Bedroom

Porter's Room



Living Room: We have gotten some awesome end tables since this picture was taken. I would take another picture, but Ellie is asleep on the couch and I don't want to wake the beast!

Our next job is to fix up the flower garden in the front and work on the backyard. The backyard is basically a dirt pile. Parker is working on growing grass back there, so we probably won't have anything worth looking at until next summer!

Any of our friends and family in DFW are welcome to come visit us!


In May I graduated with my Masters in Educational Leadership! I was also super pregnant when I walked across the stage! I can't believe I finally finished my program! I feel like I was just considering going back to school. I am so grateful that I went back to school for my Masters Degree and feel pretty freaking proud of myself!

The pearls I am wearing belonged to my great-grandma, Lillian. She was a principal and the first woman on my mom's side of the family to go to graduate school. My mom gave them to me as a graduation gift. They are so special to me!

My cute 5th graders threw me a party on the day of my graduation. I wore the homemade tassel they made me on my actual cap when I walked across the stage. How cute are they??

I couldn't have accomplished any of this without the support of my awesome husband, Parker! He picked up extra work around the house and always tells me how proud he is of me. I love him and am grateful for him! Now it's my turn to be supportive as he spends the next 6 years getting his PhD!

Porter James Donner

I need to document Porter's birth story before I forget! With the craziness of moving to Lubbock, setting up my new classroom, and taking care of the most perfect baby, I haven't had time to write the birth story! Now that he is FINALLY (thanks to my brother Steven and Baby Wise) on a schedule, I can sit down and record the best day of my life - the day I became a mother!

From the time Porter was about 4 months along, he was measuring in the 97th percentile in every category. My doctor had me see a specialist, because she figured that Porter was going to be a gigantic baby and we had to decide the best way to deliver him. Either I was going to deliver him or I was going to need a c-section. We decided to induce at 39 weeks to give me the best chance of delivering him myself.

On Monday, July 27th, Parker and I checked into the hospital at 10:00 pm. I was nervous the whole night before and couldn't sleep. I tried to nap on Monday in preparation for Tuesday, but that was not even close to happening! I kept folding and refolding his clothes, checking the hospital bags, and trying to maneuver my gigantic self around. When we checked into the hospital, we were brought right to the room I'd deliver him in and they gave me a sleeping pill to help me relax. Parker and I watched our current (recently finished) show on Netflix - Friday Night Lights. Parker was super excited about the snack room and felt like he was on vacation.

The nurse hooked me up to an IV and gave me something to help me dilate. I was pretty comfortable, and once the sleeping pill kicked in... I was out!

In the morning they started me on Petocin and I told myself and everyone else that I wasn't going to worry about the epidural until my doctor came to break my water. That lasted like 30 minutes. Once my contractions started, I turned into a monster and needed that relief that only a sweet sweet epidural can bring. 

My doctor came around 8 am to break my water and things started progressing from there. I didn't feel any of the contractions from there on out, which was awesome. I know some women go through this process without medication, but I am not that kind of woman. Around 12:30 the nurse said that we were ready to start pushing. That's when things got interesting...

Parker, my sweet husband whom I love dearly, almost passed out and had to lay down and sip on juice for the first portion of the pushing episode. My mom ended up holding my other leg and Parker stayed up top as to avoid anything that would make him light headed. His job was to push that magical button that recharged my epidural every 10 minutes. 

My wonderful doctor (that I have a girl crush on) came back around 1:00 geared up to deliver the baby. At 1:22, my sweet Porter was born.

When the doctor placed him on my chest, I sobbed and sobbed. I have never felt that kind of happiness before in my entire life. I kept repeating, "I'm a mother. He's mine. I'm a mother." They took him away to clean him, measure him, and weigh him. Everyone was holding his/her breath to hear how much he weighed. The doctor had predicted he would be a 10 pound baby. When the nurse announced 9 lbs 0 oz, my doctor was totally bummed! She thought for sure she had just delivered a 10 pound baby! She was really funny and had made bets with the nurses before the delivery. I love her!

When they brought him back to me, I cried and cried and kept telling Parker, "I'm so happy! I'm so happy!" I'm tearing up as I write this! It felt so good to feel his sweet little body close to mine. He is perfect!

Parker and I are so grateful that his delivery went well and that he is a strong, healthy boy! I am grateful for the wonderful nurses that were so kind to us as first time parents. We still don't really know what we are doing!

We wanted to make sure that we weren't totally overwhelmed by visitors in the hospital, so we asked for only family to visit while we were there. I am really grateful we did that, because we were totally exhausted and I was in a lot of pain. HELLO! I just delivered a 9 pound human out of my body. I never understood having everybody come to the hospital to hold and touch your brand new baby when you and your husband are operating on very little sleep and mom's body is a total wreck.

My perfect sister-in-law, Aly, came to take some pictures for us. I am so grateful she did! She is so talented and captured our perfect boy's sweetness so well.

I love this picture of his first bath! He looks so hilarious and squishy. He still loves his baths. They really calm him down and help him settle before bedtime.

Porter had low blood sugar, so he had to be bottle fed once in the hospital. It was sweet to see Parker so eager to feed him and take care of him.

Here is our sweet boy ready to go home!

Now he is a big 4 week old boy that is the biggest blessing to our family! 


final classroom pictures

I didn't do a very good job of blogging my progress while working on my classroom... sorry! Here it is! I hope you enjoy the final product! My sister, Aly, took these pictures for me. Here are the before pictures.

This is the reading corner. Students will sit on the carpet and the couch while I read to them. They also have a ton of books that they can choose from. IKEA: shelves, wall shelf, rug, end table, pillows, blanket. WALMART: futon. TARGET: chair, book buckets. AMAZON: deer head (I repainted it). HOBBY LOBBY: letters. It's kind of hard to see in this picture, but the graphic by the elephant says, "READ WRITE SHARE REPEAT". My ooober talented friend, Amanda Nelson made that for me. You should check out her etsy shop!

This back corner is the "office". The computers are here (obviously) and all of the extra supplies are in the cubbies under the computers. Students can move the stools from the kitchen table over to the office. IKEA: grey tables, shelf, storage bins, curtains. HOBBY LOBBY: letters WALMART: Stools (painted blue). Donations: kitchen table, chairs, frames (painted), and quote.

My awesome friend, Katie, made this quote for me last year. 

Caroline, I put your supplies in little buckets at each table. Thank you!!

The theme for this year is "You have the power to choose." All of the quotes around my room are about making choices. 

... or about books. :)

A lot of people have asked me how I will decide who gets to sit on the couch. I have a reward system. One of the coupons they can earn is time on the couch.

This is my favorite quote. A lot of my students are born into unfortunate circumstances. I want them to know that that's not where they have to stay forever. I painted a canvas and then wrote the words with gold sharpie. 

(Ignore the ugly trash can!) Here's my desk! I found this at a garage sale for $20 and repainted it. I love the color, the space it provides, and how open it makes the room.

This picture of my guided reading table is my favorite! I love how it turned out. I made the ribbon chandelier out of embroidery hoops and ribbon. 

I love my little home away from home! I hope my students love it, too! 

* For first time readers, I worked a second job as a florist this summer to earn money for this project. I also asked for and accepted a lot of donations in the form of furniture, money, books, and supplies. It wasn't a cheap project, but it was a lot of fun and the pay offs will be big! Thank you again to everyone who donated! Matt and Jennifer Larsen, Chris and Aly Pray, Caroline Roeth and Family, Diane McKnight, Natalie and Mike Pray, Inga Lloyd, Ellen Sigety, Laura Biggs, Amanda Nelson, Ashleigh Elliott, Sister Passey, and Mark and Nicole McKnight.

THANK YOU TO MY HUSBAND, PARKER JAMES DONNER! I needed all your "oooohhh's and ahhhhh's".