Showing posts from March, 2015


Tonight, I just want to close out this month of blogging by saying that I am thankful.  I love my family.  I love my job and the people I with whom I work.  I am thankful for the opportunity to get off of work and come home, to my own house.  I appreciate all of the friends in my life and I pray that I always remember to make sure they know this.

I am thankful for people who go out of their way to make sure you are okay, but I want to make sure I am that person to others.

I am appreciative for so much, but what I am realizing is that I need to make sure that I am the person others are thankful for, also.  I don't want to be the one who takes and takes but never gives.  I don't want my friendship to be a burden, but to be a mutual give and take with no expectations or repayment etc.  I am the type of person that will always be here for those I love, but the problem is I'm not always good at recognizing when there is a need.

So, to all of my loved ones, if there is ever an…

Another Failure?

Maybe.  I took a challenge to write in my blog every day for the month of March.  I started a couple of days late.  I missed a day here or there, and I missed this entire weekend.  Some may call that a failure, but I wouldn't have blogged during this weekend for any prize.

My husband had a "Wipe Out Run" that he was participating in with some people from his company.  It was being held in Baytown which is a little ways (maybe an hour) from our house in Katy.  He asked me if I wanted to come watch him participate, to which I responded "Absolutely!".  I don't know if he realized that this would be the perfect weekend to get away for a little bit, but it was the last weekend before my 4th graders took their first round of STAAR tests; today and tomorrow are day 1 and 2 of the Writing portion.  I'm their Reading and Writing teacher, so these days are pretty stressful.  Regardless of what is said, the scores matter.  With my future at my campus dangling in t…

Switching Kids

We are full swing into our "Writing Camp" for forth grade.  It's our way of having a little fun with the kiddos while reviewing for their upcoming writing STAAR which is on Monday.  We decided, as a team, that for the whole week, each person is teaching one lesson.  There are 4 teachers, so there are 4 topics ranging from revising and editing, to combining sentences, to addressing expository prompts and addressing narrative prompts.  So, I haven't taught my own two classes since Tuesday, and I have to say, I'm really enjoying it.  It's nice to see different faces, hear different voices, and experience different abilities/personalities.

But what is really surprising me is how much I'm enjoying that my own students are getting to experience the other teachers.  I am so blessed to work on a team that has 4 very different personalities teaching Reading, Writing, and Social Studies, and another who is there as our Writing Liaison, but who does SO MUCH MORE.  …

My brother, John.

John means "Jehovah has been gracious."

My brother was born 6 weeks early after my mother fell outside of her home.  She landed on her stomach and her water broke.  To put this into perspective, my mother was 16 when she had my first brother, Chris.  She's now 18 and pregnant with her second.  She's a military wife since my dad joined the Army.  They are living in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, away from all of their family which was in Houston, Texas.  The year was 1978.  Technology was definitely not as it is now, which means medicinally we were not where we are now.
My brother was taken to Vanderbilt because he was very sick and struggling to survive.  The doctors were worried because, in their words, baby boys do not usually have the fight like baby girls.  The boys will often just lie there and die.  Well, John definitely did not.
He was a decent weight, over 5 pounds, but he was long, which means he was skinny.  His diapers swallowed him up.  He had no fat on his …


Have you ever gone through a struggle, and as you were striving to overcome, you truly could not picture the light at the end of tunnel?  Have you ever been so overwhelmed and felt so inadequate that you really wondered if it ever truly does get better?
If so, my word tonight are for you.  Don't give up.  I have been battling some very dark demons for many years, often in the privacy of my own heart, alone and completely frustrated.  There have been times when I felt so completely alone that I truly believed nobody in this world understands me.  I have tried to flesh it out and found that I simply do not have the ability to do so.  But.  I recently had a major break through.  I have found peace after battling for almost 14 years alone.  Except I really wasn't alone. My God was right there walking with me, waiting for me to turn to Him and BELIEVE that He's got this.
When I was struggling to find a teaching job that would work with son's schedule and would be closer to …

What's in a Name?

I am really big on names and their meanings.  I think it goes back to my Christian upbringing.  Reading the Bible, I learned that people were very careful in the names they chose for their children because they would live up to their names in essence.  Also, people would change their names according to specific special events/occurrences that would happen in their lives.
My name is Jennifer and is said to mean "fair one".  My middle name is LeAnn and means "light; beautiful woman".  I never thought my names meant a great deal, but growing in my faith has led me to realize that my parents were inspired by the Heavenly Father to give me those names, and I understand why.  You see, I have struggled with my weight since college.  I have made bad decisions that have caused me to feel ugly.  I have allowed myself to listen to the voice of the world that has told me I'm not beautiful, but that I'm worthless, not good enough etc.  Knowing my Father the way I have c…

Boys NEED to be Boys

Much of my life is centered around my two boys, so much of my writing is, as well.
Today, we went out to the soccer fields since Daddy had a soccer game.  The boys love to go, especially my youngest, J, because he LOVES soccer also.  Really, he loves ANY sport.

Today I began getting really serious about getting back to my healthy self, so while Daddy played, instead of sitting down and watching, like I usually do, I was up walking all over the empty fields and playing a little soccer with my boys.

However, the best part came when my boys decided they were going to be the devilish little men they are and they began playing in the water that has collected in the ditches from all the rain we have had lately.  It was a beautifully sunny and warm day today, so I fought everything in me that was wanting to yell at them, "Stop playing in that water!!  It's dirty.  That's gross!!"  etc etc.  And let me tell you, I was fighting it.  Literally, I was having conversations in m…


This seems to be a theme showing up over and over again in my life lately:  the need for truth.
One of my first blogs was about the secrets we bury inside.  I'm learning that those secrets tear us apart, ever so slowly until we are able to come to grips with them and finally let go of the secrets we have held.  After all, we are not the same people we were 5 years, 10 years, or however many it is we have been holding on to our secrets.
Several discussions I've had lately are about the need we have to be able to speak truth, in love, to one another.  How it is truly our responsibility to hold one another accountable, but I don't think we do because of fear of offending each other.  Personally, I think we need to quit being so defensive all the time and listen to what others have to say about us.  We might actually learn a little something about ourselves.
Right now, I'm thinking about truth and how so many people run from it.  I'm not sure why people lie to one an…


So, my oldest some is in Kindergarten.  He has now been in two fights within one week.
The first one, definitely his fault and he definitely got in trouble for it.  He was saving a seat at the lunch table for a friend when another boy attempted to sit in the seat.  My son told him the seat was being saved and that he needed to go somewhere else.  The other boy refused so a shoving match started and ended with the other boy punching my son several times.  I hoped he'd learned his lesson.

Today, the nurse from school came and found me while I was attempting to scarf down my lunch (my son attends the school at which I teach).  Apparently a different little boy was chasing my son on the playground today and shoved him a few times.  My son kept trying to stay away but this boy wouldn't let up.  So my son pushed him back.  The boy then hit my son in the jaw and scratched his neck.  He was bleeding a little but was heading back to class when I caught up with him.  He was very upset …


I don't know if it's because this is the first week back from spring break or if life is just catching up with me, but I have been beyond tired yesterday and today.  Yesterday I literally came home and just stayed on the couch until I had to get my boys ready for bed.  They even fed themselves a dinner of poptarts while I terrible is that?? I did manage to grade papers before bes though.
Today, I've forced myself to get started on defensive driving (not for me, but my husband...yes I'm that awesome... Or that much of a sucker).  I am blogging since I missed two days in a row.  And I'm About to read with my oldest son.  
All of this to say that the world never stop a turning just because Mama's tired.  :)
Time to hit up some "Horton Hears a Who".


Sundays.  I love them.  There is nothing like waking up and going to the House of God to worship and be filled.
All I want to say today is that I am so thankful to live in a country where I can worship without fear.
Tonight, I'm praying for my brothers and sisters around the world who are having to meet in secrecy.  For those proclaiming the gospel knowing it may cost their lives.  For those who are being persecuted.  I pray for you.  Admire you.  Love you.  Thank God for you.
I pray that I, too, can speak with confidence of His love.

I Want to be a Lady

I mean, I really want to be treated like a fragile, delicate flower.  I want to be wooed.  I want people to be careful of what they say because they don't want to offend my ears.  I want doors to be held for me and all of that.

But then, my son farts and I laugh.  Or, my three year old is hear yelling, "Mommy, I'm dooooonnnneeeee!!!!" which is my cue to come clean his bottom since he has  not quite mastered that art.
Or better yet, I go outside and begin to clean the land mines my two labs have left all over the yard.  Sweat dripping, I begin to get swarmed by what I'm convincing myself were just gnat.  God please tell me those were just gnats.

I have to clean splatter off toilets, both from #1s and #2.  Much of my life deals with gas and bowels; I'm convinced that's normal with two smalls sons and a husband.  I grew up with two older brothers, so I think I'm pretty conditioned to deal with these things.  I don't have a weak stomach and to be ho…

A Visit From Mom

I think it's funny how, as a teenager, I didn't want much to do with my mom.  Our relationship was strained, to say the least, and I couldn't wait to get out of the house.  I actually spoke with my high school counselor and worked with her to get me out of there in three years.  So, I turned 17, and a short 3 months later, I graduated high school.  A few months after that, I moved away from home.  I was a freshman in college and wasn't even old enough to "go out" with my friends.

Anyway, things happened in college that put me in a bad place emotionally.  There was always one person I could count on to be there for me, and it was my Mama.  She made several trips to College Station just to come be with me when I was feeling exceptionally down.

She's always been that person.  She dropped everything to drive 4 hours to come be with me for the birth of both of my boys.  She wouldn't have missed that for the world.  As a new mother with an infant that woul…

Pennies and Horses

My husband took all of us to the Rodeo tonight.  I finally got to see the Zac Brown Band and they were amazing.
Being in that environment takes me back to my younger years when I'd come visit my aunt who ran an arena.  She and my uncle did team pinning and their daughter was a barrel racer.  I was just happy riding on a horse doing nothing in particular.
I always wanted a horse but we couldn't afford one.  I always dreamed of having one though.  Still do actually.  

So,I asked my six year old if he'd buy me one some day.  His response was, "do they only cost pennies??".
I love his heart because I know what he was thinking.  He saves up and has several piggy banks full.  He would willingly use his money to buy me something that would make me happy.  I hope that heart never changes.
And who knows? Maybe when I retire, that's what spend my time and money doing, raising horses.

The Painful Teenage Years

A very good friend of mine has a daughter who is 14, and I was reminded today of just how much I do not miss being that age.

My friend home schools her daughter, so most of her friends are from her homeschool Co-Op and church.  Well, apparently her friends hang out frequently and don't invite her.  I, of course, don't know all of the whys, but I do know how much it hurts to be the person on the outside.  My heart breaks for her because I know how emotional you are at that age already without others adding fuel to the fire.

If I can stress anything to girls her age, it's not to let others get to you.  Trust me, I know that's easier said that done, but you have to understand that girls that age are all about themselves.  They do not think about how their actions may hurts others, and even if they do, they often don't care.  Keep being who you are, love and forgive.  You are going to meet someone someday who you connect with, and this person will become your best fri…

Breaking the Rules

I've never been much of a rule breaker.  I was incredibly fearful of my dad and saw my two older brothers get in trouble enough to know I did NOT want to make those same mistakes.  So I'm still one who gets nervous at breaking any kind of rules because I just have this serious fear of getting caught, for one.

So, last night, I broke a rule.  (hangs head)

One of my dogs, the female (Lillie) who is usually super hyper, was being very cuddly.  It rained literally all day yesterday, so the weather was perfect for relaxing.   I don't even know how it happened, but she ended up on the couch with me.  She was so still and so sweet that I did not have the heart to make her get down.  So, there she was.  And there I was breaking the rules.

It was worth it.  Maybe sometimes a little rule breaking is okay?  Don't tell my boys, please!

I have included a picture as evidence that my husband, too, has allowed her to break the rules a couple of times.  She inched her way up into …

Differences Part 2: Focusing on my Youngest Son

So, yesterday I introduced you to the trials I faced with my first born son.  I will call him B.  :-)
Today, I will talk about how different my second son, J, is from B and how it completely blows my mind.

My pregnancy with J was polar opposite from B.  It took a little longer for one thing.  4 months of wanting to get pregnant felt like an eternity, so much so that I actually starting thinking that something must be wrong.  Comical now considering I have friends who had to try for YEARS.

My pregnancy was as perfect as a pregnancy can be.  No gestational diabetes this time.  Weight gain stayed right where I wanted it.  I felt good.  I had energy.  I did get sick a few times the first trimester, but I learned it was my prenatals.  So, over the counter prenatal at night instead of prescription during the day.  Apparently the folic acid in prescription is stronger and is what tends to cause sickness.  Other than this and hip pain toward the end, everything was great.  I was taking P17 …

Differences (story of my first born's birth etc)

Today has been a much better day than yesterday.  My boys let me sleep until around 9:30.  I think that's the latest I've slept in in ages.  I had a horrible headache, but thank God I didn't let that cause me to cancel my workout date with a girlfriend of mine because afterward, I felt reenergized.  Funny how exerting energy can actually cause you to feel more energetic.  I have got to get back into the routine.

Anyways.  My boys have still be fighting like crazy today.  Sometimes I really think my oldest gets a kick out of making the youngest upset.  But they have also been playing together really well.  Right now, they are literally handcuffed together (play handcuffs of course) and running through the house shooting at the bad guys with their nerf guns.  Daddy even got in on the action by hiding behind the recliner and ambushing them.  I live for these moments.

I often think of how different my boys are, and it completely amazing me seeing as how they have the same bloo…

Spring Break...where did the excitement go?

I used to look forward to Spring Break more than just about any time of year when I was teenager.  I grew up in Corpus Christi, so Spring Break meant I got to spend the time at the beach that I had been longing for.  My mornings were early.  I'd wake up, throw on my bathing suit, grab a towel and tanning oil, maybe a chair and head out.  I'd usually meet friends out there or pick a couple up.  And off we went to waste our days away out at the beach.  I can remember lying out in the sun with my radio blaring, sometimes reading a book, sometimes just closing my eyes and listening to the steady rhythm of the waves crashing in and rolling back out.  We usually played some beach volleyball and would just walk the beach looking to see if we knew anyone else out there.  My tan would be a beautiful bronze by the end of the week.  My hair a little blonder.

Today was day 1 of Spring Break 2015.  My plans were to sleep in, but my dog had a different idea.  As my husband left the house so…

Boys vs. Girls

My principal likes to have "reflection" meetings with us after we taken any district exams.  We use this time to review the areas in which we did well and not so well.  We try to figure out the "why" behind both in hopes of increasing the areas in which we do well.

Today, I had one with her.  I don't typically learn anything new, per se, in these meetings.  I usually notice things, analyze etc.  But today I learned that there is a possibility that my teaching is reaching the girls in my class more than the boys.  The girls out performed the boys significantly, which is funny considering I have FAR MORE boys than girls.

I don't know that my teaching is impacting this directly.  I do know that girls typically are more mature at younger ages, so that may play a part.  My girls overall are very driven.  They seem to care more about their work than the boys overall.  I'm sure all of this is making an impact.  There are many other outside things that may be…

Holding On to the Positive

It's easy to get caught up in the stress this time of the year.  I teach two of the three "tested" subjects for fourth grade.  STAAR is right around the corner, and I would be lying if I said the pressure couldn't be felt.  As much as people like to deny it, we all know that part of our job security rests in the performance of our students: it's a reflection of us.

There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes, though, that most people don't have the privilege of seeing.  I am one of the lucky few.  I have had the joy of watching one of my students go from hating to write to simply plugging away.  At the beginning of the year, she would literally cry during our writing assignments.  "I don't know how to start my paper!"  "Is this okay??" she would ask after almost every sentence she wrote.  She would always ask me to read over her paper before she would turn it in.  She learned really quickly that Mrs. Peña is as determined as she is.…

Mama Bird

It's easy for me to think that blogging is not for me.  I live an ordinary life.  I have an ordinary job as a 4th grade teacher.  I'm the mother to two ordinary little boys.  I have a routine.  It's not exciting.

But then, when I stop to think, I realize that one thing I'm preaching to my students is that you can write about ANYTHING.  When you write a personal narrative, you can choose to write it about a small event that may have seemed meaningless at that moment, but perhaps it made you realize something significant.  You can write poetry about literally ANYTHING, serious, funny, real, fake...

So I'm doing that today.  I'm taking something seemingly ordinary, and I'm writing about it.

Today, we were blessed enough to be able to take our kids outside for recess.  The weather has been rainy or REALLY cold for us southerners (yes, down in the 40s!!).  So, we have all had just about enough of Just Dance for inside recess.

As I was standing there monitoring …


When I was pregnant with my first child, I wanted to name him Jericho.  As a matter of fact, my husband and I had decided on this name until he changed his mind at the last minute.  Many of you may know the story of the walls of Jericho and how they crumbled simply because Joshua was obedient.  I didn't realize until last night how much of a picture that name represents.

As I sat with my group of friends reading and learning of the problems we face, I came to the realization that the walls we build, while we think they are for protection, are in actuality secrets we bury deep inside.  Secrets we are afraid to reveal for fear of shame, judgement, smeared reputations.  People wouldn't truly love me if they knew _____ about me.  So we bury.  We hide.  We pretend.

Sister, I'm here to tell you that these walls alienate.  They cause you to distance yourself from others.  You say you won't let someone in because you won't allow them to hurt you.  What you are really doin…