Coffee Date with Kaitlyn Blankenship

My childhood wouldn't have been the same without the pretty lady who's joining us for this morning's Coffee Date. Kaitlyn and I were inseparable from the time we were 5 years old, spending every weekend at each other's house and practically sharing families. We spent hundreds of hours "playing pretend" and dreaming about our future. Our plans? To attend Virginia Tech together, live in an RV on campus (ha!), meet our future husbands, and live happily ever after.

Fifteen years later, I think our 9-year-old selves would be elated over how things turned out. We checked off every dream on that list. (Okay, all except the RV. Can't say we're too disappointed about that one...) But the best part? We're still great friends. I'm so excited for you to meet the girl who's been a sister to me since kindergarten. Friends, meet Kaitlyn!


What's in your coffee cup this morning?

No coffee cup for me. I haven't ever really gotten into coffee. I am just a milk person. I don't feel like I've eaten breakfast if I haven't had any milk. My husband likes to make fun of me for this because he claims the only time I get up early on a Saturday is if we were out of milk and I had to run to the grocery store.

Give us a glimpse into a "day in the life" of Kaitlyn.

Oh boy... well, let's flashback to before Toph got a new job and had to move until I finished up school, and to before this last week of school when things are crazy. Ha! Typically, I wake up and get ready as fast as I can because I like to get to work early. It helps me feel more prepared if I can spend some time thinking through the day. My commute to work is my time to meditate on truth and preach the gospel to myself. Often times I do that through listening to music. I need this "talking to myself" time before I walk into the busy environment of an elementary school and my mind is in a million places at once. I also need this so that I can have a more gracious heart as a teacher. Somewhere between 8:10 and 3:45 I manage to teach what needs to be covered, get my students to sit still long enough to do their work, be a referee for 2nd grade drama (yeah, apparently they have drama), repeat directions hundreds of times, listen to the lamest excuses for needing to see the school nurse, and laugh... a lot. I usually stay after work to clean/organize, grade papers, make copies, or whatever else comes up!

I get home later than I ever though an elementary school teacher got home but it's worth it. Then I make dinner while Toph tells me about work (which is a lot of engineer talk that I do not understand) and make him listen to all the cute (or annoying) things my students did that day. I've gotten better at resisting the urge to do work at home that doesn't really need to be done that quickly.  This makes time for reading on our back porch, walking JoJo, or a run before bed. My day feels busy but I probably won't know "busy" until I am a working mom. I am blessed to have a job that I love going to, a husband I can't wait to come home to, and a God who has graciously sustained me this year.


I'm sure that being an elementary school teacher can get crazy. How do you simplify and keep it all together?

Post-it notes. I use them like crazy. I also make a lot of lists. Lists of what I have left to grade, lists of to-do's for home and school, lists of long term to-do's and deadlines to keep in mind. Lately I've just been using a small 5-subject notebook for the lists and to make notes in. Throughout the day, I have to be able to jot things down quickly before I forget so I can keep track of it all and having this notebook to grab helps me keep it all together. And as I mentioned earlier, I have to stop myself from wanting to do it all at once or as quickly as I can and think, "What can wait until the weekend?" or "Do I really need to do that?" As my mom would tell you, I've inherited her tendency to say "yes" to any commitment or to make more work for herself when it doesn't really  need to be done. I'm trying to get better at discerning that now that I've gotten some experience as a teacher.

You and Toph recently celebrated your 2 year anniversary (woohoo!) What is the funniest habit that you two have formed?

Oh goodness. Ha! This is a tough one. We are really weird. Let's see... I'm not sure if this is a "habit" as much as it is an ongoing joke. I have always loved the movie Footloose. I've seen it countless times (but not as many as Remember the Titans, of course). So if you've seen it, you know the classic part where Ren is all angry and frustrated with the town and their rules so he goes to dance it out. He's kicking and running around and dancing... mixed in with some gymnastics and banging his fist on stuff while "Never" by Moving Pictures plays. Anyway, Toph does a GREAT impression of this and one night started reenacting the scene... moving around the house and dancing all frustrated and it was the funniest thing I've ever seen. So now, we call it "footloose stress relief" and together we reenact the scene (well, Toph does it and I can't move from laughing so hard). The best part is we'll be talking about something serious and then it'll transition into "man, I just can't take this!" and we start banding our fist on the wall and moving/dancing around the house like Ren. It might only be funny if you actually see it happen... but I warned you, we are weird.

What is something you've been loving lately?

God's faithfulness - in a personal sense. I've been humbled to see how God has provided for me. What I love most about it is that He's done it in a season of my life when I feel like I've been pretty inconsistent in prayer, reading the Word, and other spiritual disciplines that I can easily put on a "I am loving God today" checklist in my mind. Since I am prone to think more about my performance rather than Christ's sufficiency for me, it's nice to have so much proof lately that God's goodness towards me and His provision are not determined by my works or the degree of my love for Him. He is faithful even when I am unfaithful. He delights to give good gifts to His children. Obviously I pray I'll grow in faithfulness, but seeing His goodness despite my unworthiness has been a healthy and awesome reminder of His grace.

On a smaller scale, I've also been loving: the fact that we have moved back to Salem, Coldplay, Sour Skittles (I forgot about these until the other day), the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and my precious students who I have to say goodbye to today. They are the best.

Just for fun, what was the best question you were asked by one of your students this year?

Man, I wish my memory were better. I'm sure there are so many good ones that I'm not remembering. I do remember one that was blurted out during the middle of a math lesson...

"Mrs. Blankenship, is Barack Obama on the 8-dollar bill?" (My autistic student who loves money asked this. I wondered where on earth he got that idea from... but sure enough, I googled it, found one that someone must've created, and put it up on the Smart Board for the kids to see. He was so excited.)

Also, earlier this week I was just letting my kids talk and play games like "7 up" and "peanut butter" (remember playing those in elementary school?) since it's the last week of school, and one of my more difficult students, who I have had the hardest time motivating to learn and pay attention, comes up to me and says, "What are we doing?" I said, "What do you mean?" and he asked, "Well, aren't you supposed to be teaching us or something?" Mmmm.... nahhh. 

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Jake's jumping in again this week, so brace yourself! His request: A "dog shaming" photo of JoJo. 

Toph sent me this one from this week. JoJo loves chocolate - of course!

Sidenote: if you have never heard of "dog shaming", google it and look at the images. It had us in stitches earlier this week!

Click here to view more Coffee Dates, and here to follow along with Kaitlyn on Instagram.

And don't forget - the Elle & Company Instagram Giveaway for a Daybook Planner ends tomorrow! Click here to enter your name into the drawing. Happy Friday!