Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year in Review

I got an idea from Kelly's Korner to do an Annual Review of my life and goals in 2009. I decided it was a great way to reflect, so here we go!

FIVE THINGS I'M THANKFUL FOR IN 2009
1. I'm thankful for friends. I love hanging out with my college girlfriends. We try to do it yearly and were able to over Spring Break this year. We scrapbooked and laughed and talked about things you talk about with people you've been friends with for over ten years. It was wonderful! I couldn't find a pic of all of us, but here is Amy and Julie from that trip. (Shan, do you have one of the four of us?)


Late this summer, I began to struggle with a lot of emotional upheaval. Thank you to all of you that encouraged me. You called me, dropped by unexpectedly, brought me smiles with your thoughtful gifts, wrote notes and wouldn't let me continue the slide into being 'off the map' like I was attempting to do. Most of all, you prayed for me, over me and with me. I love and appreciate each one of you! Some of these weren't taken this year and none of them depict the people doing what I'm referencing in this post, but they're still the people I'm referring too!


Jalen, I love our walks and talks (and Kolache Factory!) You make me smile everytime we're together. Love you!


You girls mean so much to me! Thank you for listening. Thank you for never giving up on me. Melody, thank you for the late night talks. All of you prayed with me and over me. Thank you for letting me cry. Amy, thank you for telling me it's okay to not be over something quickly.
Melody, Amy, Laura and AJ: Thank you for being my sisters in Christ and my sisters during this season. Love you!


Tom, thanks for understanding when I needed some time off with no responsibility. I treasured that weekend! I appreciate you listening and not asking questions I just didn't know the answer to. I know I didn't really answer your question earlier this week about my sabbatical. I'm enjoying what the Lord is doing in my life now. Thanks for asking and not letting me just hang in the balance. Thank you also for not pushing. :) I have so much respect for you and loved serving with you!


Jules! You and Heather were absolutely wonderful that weekend! I know I shocked you both when I broke down with tears and body shakes, but you responded compassionately to my weirdness! :) Thank you for stepping into the role of WC. You have done a phenomenal job and I LOVE watching the Lord use you in this way.


Meredith, I love our friendship. You help me have a perspective I wouldn't have otherwise. You teach me each time we talk and I love that about our conversations. Love you!

2. I'm thankful for my family, both immediate and extended. I love our traditions of gathering at certain places for certain holidays. I love the games we know we're going to play and the new ones we learn. I'm thankful for their advice through life's struggles. I'm thankful we all live within driving distance of each other so we CAN see each other as often as we do.

3. I'm thankful for good health. You never know how much that means until it's taken away. I struggled with health issues for awhile earlier this year and the amount of doctors, nurses, various hospitals and all the medical lingo can quickly become overwhelming. Right now, I'm doing fine and I praise God for that. (Which brings me back to the support of my friends during that time of uncertainy, too. Mark, you answered innumerable questions and helped me laugh about the 'big ass' needle. Thanks! Julie, thanks for driving and standing up to the old mean, grumpy guy! Meredith, you were a savior when you came and spent the night in case I needed to go to the ER after the first bx. Laurie, thanks for coming to sit with me when I did need to go to the ER several days later! I really appreciate all of you!)

4. I'm thankful for a new home. Moving was a little stressful since I had just come back from being out of the country, but it all worked out well and I absolutely LOVE my new place!


My bedroom after about 15 times of moving furniture!


The built-in cabinets I painted...ahem, three different colors before settling on this one!


My clocks and bicycles collection! (How many are there, Jalen?)


And my patio garden! I love having an area with greenery! A place to grow things and work outside in the creation that God gave to us. It was fun to help it go from this:


to this!

5. I'm thankful for a church family that has fun laughing and playing together. We are constantly in each other's lives. We grow together. We sharpen each other. We teach each other. We serve together. We stretch each other. We travel together. We work together. We are family.


Liz, Laura and Becca just before the rodeo! We were on our way to Josh Turner, I think.


Darrick, Dan, me, Mark and Liz at the Detroit airport. Jill was taking the pic! We're on our way to Rome!



Liz, me and Jill in Ephesus!


This is our group just before we went to the Astros game at Girls Serve Guys in May. We had so much fun serving the Paradigm men! (They did an absolutely wonderful job at Guys Serve Girls in February, but I don't have any pics.)


Me, Melody and Mark serving together at Houston Project! (More details at www.houstonsfirst.org I'm sure there's already info for HP:2010!)

I was going to do a FIVE THINGS I WANT TO IMPROVE IN 2010 and FIVE WAYS I WANT TO GIVE AND HELP OTHERS THIS YEAR, but I think this post is long enough as it is. I will save those topics for the next day or two. :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas decorations, teaching relationships and pictures

I was told the other day by a previously unknown reader that I hadn't posted in awhile. I did post a short ditty shortly thereafter, but thought I'd add another rambling to the archive. :)

This is going to be pretty steam of consciousness and not so much purposeful. You've been forewarned. :)

I'm taking down all my Christmas decorations today. I leave for Plano in the morning and a lot of what I decorated with this year is Mom's, so it's heading back with me. I had two gatherings this year, so it was fun to decorate for Christmas knowing others were going to come over and enjoy them as well. I know some people decorate for themselves and it doesn't matter if no one else sees it. I do that with some things too, but Christmas has always been different. In past years, I haven't done much Christmas decorating. Sometimes, I was so busy with going to Christmas gatherings, I certainly didn't have time to decorate my own place. Also, because I was going so much, I didn't have time to host anything...so no one was going to be there to see anything anyway. Guests or me! This year, that was different. I hosted two different gatherings and they were both super fun!

I didn't take pictures :( but I'll tell you about them anyway! I invited friends from work to come over. As teachers, it takes a lot of time to get to know one another. Even on our own grade level, it takes more time than other professions because we're in our own classrooms with children all day. We have our planning period and we have lunch. But imagine if you were only with co-workers for 1 hour and 15 minutes each day. And really that's the amount of time you have the possibility to be with them. There's still papers to grade, lessons to plan, etc so you're definitely not with them for all of that time either. And that amount of time is only with people on your grade level. Other teachers have different lunch times and different planning periods, so you don't have any time during any regular day to get to visit or have a chance to get to know them on a personal level. That was a longer explanation than I planned, but all of that to say: I wanted to make time to hang out outside of work and we all LOVED it! Barbara, Margaret, Kari, Ally, and Lolita came over and we just hung out. We chatted and laughed and enjoyed each other's goodies. It was fun! None of them had been over before, and I just really enjoyed having them. We even planned to do it again sometime!

That was on a Monday. The next Saturday was Celebration at HFBC and a group of us was attending together. Others were working the sound booth or attending with family and we made plans to come back to my place after for dinner. I made tortilla soup, which is super easy, and had the cookie swap cookies from Jill's Cookie Swap (see previous post) to offer everyone for dessert. Another fun time to have people over during this Christmas season.

All of this because I'm not going as much as I used to! And I love it! I'm not nearly as busy. I'm home way more. I'm cooking more often. I'm spending less money. I'm learning to say 'no' which provides me the opportunity to say 'yes!' more spontaneously and it's great!

Earlier this week I mentioned dropping my camera. :( I was able to use gift cards from students to purchase a new camera yesterday! So hopefully I'll be able to start posting pictures more often again. I'd like to get the pics off my old camera's memory card, which I'm told is not difficult, so I can post a few of them, too. When I do that, I'll post the recipe for the yummy tortilla soup. I served it at both Christmas gatherings and it was a hit!

Friday, December 18, 2009

And Filled with Good Cheeeeeerrr!

Hello Everyone!

Today was the last day of school for TWO WHOLE WEEKS! This is super exciting news! Since this week had been quite chaotic, I was expecting a for REAL crazy day, but it actually wasn't bad. The kids enjoyed working crossword puzzles and rebuses and other fun Christmas word games while listening to Christmas music and then we had the official Christmas party, also lots of fun! We played ANGEL (BINGO) and did a gift exchange. I'd never done a gift exchange with the kids before, but it went really well!

I'm hoping to get my camera fixed tomorrow and then can begin posting pictures again! I've decided I enjoy that :)

I know it's been awhile since I've posted. I've had lots of thoughts and lessons that will probably find their way on here in the next few days. I just haven't had the time to formulate anything yet.

For now, I'm taking a deep breath and enjoying the most wonderful time of the year!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Baking

I love this time of year for many reasons, and one of those is Jill's Cookie Swap! We bring a small gift and 3 dozen cookies. Then we all get a few of each type of cookie that everyone else brought and leave with 3 dozen of an assortment of cookies. It's so fun and all the cookies are gorgeous! It's also a great way to learn other families' traditions and favorite recipes!

Today I'm bringing Pumpkin Bars! I'd never made them before, but Laurie suggested them when I was struggling for ideas that would excite me. You just can't bake something you're not excited about, you know? I found a recipe that sounded good (and that I had all the ingredients for) and voila!

My camera is broken...due to being dropped last weekend :( so I don't have any pictures, but here's the recipe!

Pumpkin Bars

4 eggs
1 c. vegetable oil
2 c. sugar
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 12x18 half sheet pan. (I used a 9x13 and a 8x8. Who has a 12x18 half sheet pan? Seriously?)

In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix together the oil, eggs, sugar and pumpkin until well blended.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg; stir into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Spread evenly in pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes in pre-heated oven until bars spring back when lightly touched. Cool before cutting into bars.

I plan to dust mine with powdered sugar using my sifter after cutting and arranging on a pretty plate.


Sidenote: This is really the type of post that makes posting with pictures fun! :(

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Why can't I be more like Christ?

Update: I talked with one and was able to totally clear the air. She apologized for her part in hurting my feelings, validated my feelings with everything else going on and we made a plan for how to handle this situation in the future. It was a great conversation that helped in bringing us closer together as friends, too. Thank you, Lord!

It is so easy for Christ to forgive. I want to be a forgiving person. I don't want to react badly when someone hurts me. I certainly don't want to take my hurt feelings or bad mood out on my students.

Why can't I learn from Christ's example?

Two of my coworkers have hurt my feelings. If I talk to one, nothing will change anyway...so why talk? If I talk to the other...she's a worrier and I don't think our conversation will resolve anything. I think it will just cause her to worry and possibly hurt her feelings.

I know I'm passive aggressive. I also know I hold in emotions.

Right now, I just want to crawl in bed and cry and sleep.

It's only Wednesday. :(

Friday, December 04, 2009

Journaling

I don't journal much. Usually only when I'm mad or upset about something. And really I see this blog as a diary of sorts anyway, so my personal journal only gets pulled out for those heart-wrenching, private moments.

I worry sometimes that someone will read my journal after I've died and think I was a sad or angry or resentful person.

I hope I don't really give that impression.

Snow!

To South Texas children, snow is altogether better than extra recess and chocolate!

That's right folks, precipitation has been pretty consistent since about 7:15 this morning here in Houston. It started off as little icy flakes. Kinda like rain and ice mixed. I wouldn't call it sleet necessarily, but it would lightly stick to the arm of my coat and make my hair sparkle briefly. This was all happening as children were arriving and the wonder on their faces was so fun to watch!

It stopped for awhile, but was still quite wet outside.

Around 10:30 actual snow flakes began to fall. We have two subs on our grade level today, but the two of us that are here just told all the kiddos to bundle up and we headed out to play. Nothing was sticking and the flakes were quite small, but we enjoyed it anyway!

The chatter and exclamations of excitement have resounded in the hallways throughout the day, especially once the flakes became a lot larger and it began to fall more heavily. We'll definitely be out in it again!

When we go next time, I'll take pictures!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Did he think before he acted?

I was driving to work this morning going about 45 in a 35. Okay, maybe it was closer to 50. Traffic was moving along quite nicely. I was not the lead car zipping ahead of everyone else. I'm not saying this to excuse the fact I was disdainfully ignoring the speed limit. I'm simply painting the picture.

The street is a busy, well-trafficked one. Not a neighborhood road by any means.

A man walking his dog steps out into the street maybe 25 feet in front of my car. He is waving his hands wildly and yelling "Slow down!"

Was I going too fast?

Absolutely.

Did I need to slow down for others' safety and to obey the law?

Yes.

Did he think before he stepped in front of a fast moving vehicle?

I think not.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Senior Moment (s)

I think I have them way more often than I should at my ripe old age of 29!

For instance: Yesterday was December 1. Well, we all know that the first of the month means rent is due. I had thought of that while in Oklahoma City for Thanksgiving and intended to mail a check Saturday, but forgot. I intended to mail a check Monday...but forgot. While walking with a friend early Tuesday morning, I realize "Aye! I never mailed rent!"

I know I have private tutoring at 4:30, so I make mental plans to go after that (which would be 6:00) or possibly right after work but back in time for tutoring...which is totally possible time-wise. I just wasn't sure how much work I would have to do once students were gone for the day.

Throughout the day, my students are working on a project and I'm grading papers, getting caught up from being out of town. About lunch time I think to myself, "I'm about to complete all my grading. I will have nothing to do after work except kill time before tutoring. Oh well..."

So come 3:15, I literally have nothing to do. My room is clean. My papers are graded, grades are in the gradebook, and papers are waiting for my student filer. Assignments are on the board, copies are finished...you get the idea. I have nothing to do....do-do-do-do-do. So I watch last week's NCIS on www.cbs.com and chat with a 5th grade teacher friend.

About 4:20 I shut down my computer and pick up my purse. Hmmm, it sure is heavier than normal. What do I have in here? MY CHECKBOOK! I was going to drive to Katy and pay rent if I had time after work!

Yep...senior moment.

SO instead of making wise use of my time, I drove to Katy in the dark, rainy rush-hour traffic.

Yep...I'm already losing my mind.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sleepy

I came home from work about 4:30 and put in a Netflix. It was pretty short, but as I watched I became sleepy. I decided to take a nap and get up later to pack. I woke up at 1am! Ummmm? Not really what I had in mind. I was going to go to the grocery store and run a couple other errands.

So right now, I'm sleepy but not really tired. I haven't packed to leave town yet...and don't really want to get out of bed.

I may just set my alarm for really early...but I don't think I need that much sleep. I'm probably finished with good sleep for the night. Yeah, oh well.

Tomorrow still promises to be a fun day!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dancing in My Seat!

Today is my last day of work for one whole week! I'm SO excited!

My post today is just going to be a list of things I'm thankful for, make me happy or I'm thinking of with a smile right now.

Tomorrow I get to go to College Station for the first time! I'll see an A&M/Baylor football game and tour the town so many of my friends love. I'm looking forward to it.

Cold weather just makes me happy! I love wearing longer sleeves and needing a jacket occasionally!

Melody and I went walking yesterday. It was great walking weather! (Have I mentioned I love Fall? Maybe not in this post...I LOVE FALL!)

Today is my unbirthday at work. We had kolaches for breakfast and my team gave me a gift card to Bed, Bath and Beyond. Yay!

After the A&M game, I will drive to Plano and be home with my family! Wheeee!

My sub plans are completed and the next week's lesson plans are already turned in. All my copies are ready to go!

Mom and I are going to make two sets of classroom curtains while I'm home. I'll have October and December curtains when I come back! (I already have January, February and general 'spring' curtains!) They're cute and fun. The kids love to see new curtains each month! I'm excited!

Only 6 hours and 10 minutes left of this work day!

Whoo-hooo!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thankful #10

Tomorrow is my last day of work for 9 whole days!

Ya-hooooooooooooooooooo!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thankful #9

I don't have anything huge or revolutionary this afternoon.

Jill decided to give me a hard time about a grammar mistake I made on an evite she sent.

Today I'm thankful for (usually) being grammatically correct!

hehe

(Yes, I checked this post like 50 times to make sure it has no mistakes!)

Update: Of course, it did have a mistake. 'Yes, I checked this post like 50 times to make sure it had zero mistakes! or even better 'didn't have any mistakes' ugh)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thankful #8

I am thankful for teachers. This is not a shameful plug for me or my profession, I promise. I am thankful for those men and women that taught me.

The other day, through a random Facebook comment, I remembered my 7th grade Texas history teacher and decided to email her. She was the reason I fell in love with Social Studies, specifically Texas History, and I wanted her to know.

I sent this email:
Hello Mrs. ________________,

I am a former student of yours, though not officially. I don't remember my 7th grade history teacher's name, but three teachers taught Texas history together and you were one of them. I graduated high school in 19___, so would have been in 7th grade 19__-19__ (if I have done my math correctly!) I am a teacher in Houston now. I teach 4th graders Reading, Writing and Social Studies. 4th grade is also Texas history and is my favorite subject to teach. I wanted you to know that you're the reason for that! :) I remember your love for your subject. I vividly remember one lesson about Native American practices after a hunt when the young man, whose arrow brought the buffalo down, was able to cut out the heart and bite into it right there kneeling beside the slain animal. I don't go into those details with my 9 year olds, but I do try to instill a passion into them for learning. :)

I saw on Facebook that another H_______ Alumnus, __________________, came back to H_______ this week to talk about journalism. I asked if any teachers were there that we knew, and he mentioned you. I knew immediately I wanted to send you an email and say, "hello!"

Sincerely,
Alyssa _____________

Today, I received an email in reply.

Hi Alyssa-
I was so glad to hear from you! I got out my yearbook and looked up your picture and I do remember you.
It is always gratifying to hear from a former student, especially one who went into teaching. I love teaching Texas history and am so glad you do also. I love it so much I would do it for free.
This is my 34th year at H________----can you believe it? I now teach some of the kids of students I used to have back in the 80's.
Getting your email made my day! I started crying as I read about your memories of an Indian lesson I taught. I still teach that lesson each year.
Thanks so much for taking the time to contact me. It means so much. I will keep that message forever!

Last Friday was Teacher Appreciation Day. Do you have a teacher you should contact? Someone that changed your life or your perspective perhaps? We all know how words affect us. Encouraging words can brighten someone's day. Maybe even help them to continue in a profession that has become overwhelming with testing, paperwork and ...well, the list is endless.

I'm thankful for my 7th grade history teacher today. Whom are you thankful for? Tell them!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

7b, if you please

This is basically a continuation of my last post. I just felt it was already long enough!

So my thoughts regarding moving to Plano:

My family is a big draw. My hesitation comes with peers and a church to call home.

The church my parents attend, the church I grew up in, doesn’t have a large singles’ group. I would be starting from scratch. Visiting different churches, different Bible study classes. Being the new person all over again. That’s hard. I don’t know if I have the energy for that right now.

I’d love to teach in PISD though. It’d be fun to teach in the district I grew up in…maybe even one of the schools I attended. Or perhaps with a teacher I had. To give back to the community that helped to shape me into the teacher I am. So that is a draw, too.

But can I leave Bush? I have it good and I know it. Can I really gamble that?

My family of Paradigm is hard to leave. Though, having just stepped down from the leadership role, makes the timing already one of transition.

I just don’t know.

So I’ll pray. And I’ll ask for guidance. Though sometimes the Lord is not as clear as I’d like Him to be. Sometimes He knows He can work His will in our life in different situations and settings. Sometimes we can make the decision without His specificity.

Honestly, that’s what partly scares me.

Thankful #7

Every so often I think about moving back home to Plano.

Short aside: Home is such an interesting part of our lexicon, don’t you think? I do think of Houston as home. Every time I leave Plano, I refer to heading home. But every time I leave Houston, I call it “going home” too. Home is definitely a place. A place we feel loved, wanted, accepted and desired, at peace, comfortable.

Back to our regularly scheduled blog post:

My family is still in Plano and will always be in Plano. I talk with them daily. Sometimes multiple calls a day, depending on who calls whom and what we’re talking about. Dad might be traveling for work and wants to pass the time while he drives. He might be at his computer in their home office and have a software or social media question. Mom may be out on a walk in the neighborhood and want to chat. I may be in the car, on my way somewhere, and call one of them. Or cooking something new and need a piece of advice. Or chopping down something and need to know the tool to look for. Ang may be home by herself and want to catch up. We are entwined in each other’s lives… and I love it.

Holidays are always a good bonding time for us. Because we travel to Oklahoma City for the actual holiday, I’m usually not in Plano for very long, so we make the most of our time. Some years, when teaching has been particularly difficult or my emotional world has been in upheaval, it’s hard to return here after being there.

I remember Mom driving me to the airport at the end of one wonderful Thanksgiving break. I broke down in tears in the drop off lane at Love Field. I didn’t want to come back. I wanted to stay. The little girl inside of me, the daughter I always will be, wanted my mom to work her maternal magic and make it all work out. I never actually said those words, but that’s what I wanted. Instead, I had to act like the grown-up I had become and return to an uncomfortable situation.

Right now, I’m not in an uncomfortable work environment. In fact, this has probably been my easiest year of teaching yet. My content area did not change this year. My teaching partner is one I have worked with before and enjoy working with. I didn’t change classrooms either. For the most part, I have supportive parents and my students are angelic (compared to last year!)

However, I still have thoughts of returning to Plano. I was talking with Mom today. She was out walking in the neighborhood, something we did together every morning through my teenage years before work and school. It was cool, the wind was blowing. A storm was obviously coming in. I could picture it. Perfect weather for walking. And talking. We were together, except not.

Anyway, in our conversation I mentioned that I still think about moving to Plano occasionally. We talked about it for awhile. She mentioned a few situations that she’s thought, “Oh, if Alyssa lived here, we’d ______________.” Go shopping together. Meet for dinner one night. Help each other write our Christmas letters. Be walking buddies. Help each other with decorating decisions. Keep each other accountable for eating. Exercising. Be a helping hand we could call for whatever. Whenever.

So this brings me back to my post title. Today I’m thankful for honesty and openness in relationships. No decisions were made. No plans were put into motion. But Mom and I were open and honest about our thoughts and feelings. It was good to remember that everything we do, each decision we make, affects other people.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thankful #6

I'm not feeling incredibly verbose.

Today, I'm just thankful it's Friday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful #5



We wrote about something we were thankful for today. Didn't these turn out cute?



This is mine.




Just a little closer, so you can actually read it!

Love you!!
Alyssa

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thankful #4

Today I am thankful for my AP. She's phenomenal. She's OCD and Type A like nobody's business. I seriously don't think I know anyone as OCD as she is. She always has her act together. Yep, I said ALWAYS.

I just had a 30 minute conversation with her about various topics. I went in frustrated about several things, not with her...just in general. She heard me out, was able to explain some things that alleviated my frustration and affirmed my feelings in the other situation. That is exactly what shows a good leader.

Thanks, Carol! I appreciate you!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Thankful #3

I have a cough and a very sore throat. Boo!

Today, I'm thankful for medicine.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

A Lesson Learned

A few months ago Mom told me I needed to be more independent. It really hurt my feelings and I was sharing that with a girlfriend...and she said she agreed with my mom. Yeah...it was a great day.

Since then though, I've been able to see times where they are right. Sometimes I too quickly ask for help. I'm not trying to be all feminist, "I can do EVERYTHING!" at all, but at the same time I don't need to constantly ask someone else how to do something. Sometimes, I really can figure it out on my own.

Today:
I put my kitchen faucet back together. It has been in pieces on my kitchen counter for two weeks.

I figured out a pretty intricate (to me) aspect of Excel that will help me immensely in doing my budget each month.

These are just today!

And the feeling of accomplishment is pretty fantastic!

Thankful #2

I'm thankful for family traditions. I enjoy the time at home that the holidays provide. I love spending quality time with Mom, Dad and Angela. We chat and laugh while we cook. We share heartaches while we sit comfortably in the living room. We share life while we shop. We simply have time with each other and I love it!

I love our traditions of shopping the day after the holiday. The day after Thanksgiving, all the ladies head out to the stores. We pile into Vicki's van with my cousins and aunt as we go shopping. Since we're all together, and we are primarily Christmas shopping, we have to be pretty secretive. It's hilarious how one person keeps another person occupied in conversation or trying on items or looking in a certain area, while another person quickly moves to the register to check out and get that item in a bag! :) For the most part, no one figures out they're being manipulated!

We go to Mardels and several of us will buy the Christmas shirt of the season. Then we'll change in the car so we're appropriately decked out for the upcoming holiday. We laugh and hum carols as they're played over the loudspeaker of whatever store we're in at the time. Vicki and I will want a Sonic drink, but Aunt Barbara will think we can go to 'just one more store.' Typically we win though, because Vicki's the driver... :) It's a high energy day and so fun!

We end the day out with Del Rancho. It's a restaurant that we don't have in Texas and they have phenomenal chicken fried steak sandwiches. One sandwich feeds two people easily! The out of towners always want it when we're in OkCity. And the locals usually do make your own pizza.

After dinner, some cousins will head home or to their in-laws so the kids can see both families. Numbers in a small space will decrease and the games get pulled out. Some will play Wii, others will play DDR, while others will be deep in a Spades game. I vacillate between Spades and Scrabble. We're hard core, but only Rhonda likes Scrabble so I never get to play except when we're together. Spades has been a family game for years. I first learned when I had the flu on a family ski trip and it's been a favorite ever since.

I love family traditions!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Something I've noticed...

Each year, I can tell I'm becoming a better teacher. The first few years are all a learning curve. I felt like I had it under control my 2nd and 3rd year, even my 4th year, but looking back...(shakes my head.) I can see how many mistakes I made. And sometimes, it wasn't mistakes necessarily. It was just lack of experience. Each year, I can tell I am able to go deeper with content, ask more probing questions, think outside the box more often, etc. I have taught pretty much the same thing for 6 years in a row now. Because I don't have to think about the topic, I can really focus on how to get the objective across. I love it!

Now that is totally not to say that I'm fantastic...because I know there are definitely ways I can still improve, but it's nice to be able to do a self-assessment and see pluses!

On a different note, but still in reference to my job, I've started becoming more organized in my classroom. I've always been super organized in my computer. I have lots of computer files and can find any document I need. I clean out, update and edit regularly. I'm the same way with my inbox. I never have more than a handful of emails in my inbox at one time. I have appropriate folders and go through those consistently to keep them up-to-date as well. However, my filing cabinets, bookshelves and storage cabinets are a different story. Over the past two weeks, I've begun and completed small projects that help to tailor my classroom into a more manageable work area. It has been wonderful!

I still have major growth areas. Some I'm aware of and some I'm sure that I'm not, but it's nice to see some progress!

Thankful

The first of November has come and gone and I haven't started my "Thankful" posts yet!

I'm thankful for many things this year. I'm going to start with my wonderful girlfriends. I was taking life kinda hard for awhile and they swooped in and did everything they possibly could to make life better. I received cards in the mail, flowers on my doorstep, brownies hand delivered, listening ears at all hours, firm shoves and tender words assuring me it was okay to take a step back from life and relax. You know who you are and I love each and every one of you!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Can I just start over?

Ugh! Today has been sooo frustrating, the type of day where I just want to start over. Blink my eyes and be back in bed, ready to rise for the day.

Today's wrongs

We're giving a practice TAKS Writing. After we've passed it out, we realize the students have already taken this test. We have to find, create, and copy a new test. Oh, yeah, except the copier is out of staples. Then it breaks down all together. Great.

One of my co-workers doesn't deal well at all with stress or change. I have to put out her emotional fires, and frankly, I'm sick of it. (I know that's not the Christian reaction. I'm sorry.)

My partner teacher is out today. Her sub is great, but still has questions. Questions that take time to answer. Time I don't have because I'm putting out emotional fires and dealing with making new copies (and finding a copier that does work.)

My students have all day to take this test. I take a few minutes to go over test-taking strategies, remind them of certain lingo the test directions will have, and answer any last minute questions. My students started asking questions like "Do I have to write in cursive?" "What does 'prewriting' mean?" "What is a graphic organizer?"

This may seem innocuous to my dear readers, but it is most frustrating to have questions which I've spent the last 10 weeks of school teaching the answers. The question that drives me absolutely batty is, "What do I do when I'm done?" They haven't even seen the test yet. They have no idea how long it's going to take them. But they are REALLY worried with what they're going to do afterwards. Not to mention that we have the EXACT SAME routine EVERY DAY for what to do when we finish an assignment!!!!!!!!!! Do you hear me yelling!? I'm still...ugh!

I want to pick up creamy jalapeno and a margarita and take it home tonight for dinner. I want to watch Criminal Minds and veg on the couch. I can't really pick up a margarita to take home. I also don't have any Criminal Minds to watch. :(

Sigh...

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Breathe in, exhale out

I was told that our new superintendent has recently said, "It is not a child's fault when he fails. It is the teacher's."

Monday, November 02, 2009

This is bad....very bad

Uh, oh!

Looks like I'm going to be making a drastic change...

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Family Fun

Jon and Bryanna came to visit this weekend. They live in OkCity, but were in town for a friend's wedding. They arrived about 5:45 Friday morning. I left for work about half an hour later and they went to bed. We didn't see each other much on Friday as they were leaving for the rehearsal dinner when I got home from work, but Saturday we were able to chat while running errands, etc. We were able to have some great conversations and I loved every minute of it. We don't get to hang out very often, and never have over the years. This was the first time we'd ever hung out by ourselves, and I really enjoyed it. It was great to get to know them better!

I know I posted earlier about having zero motivation. That ended up changing and I was able to accomplish SO much! It was a great feeling to leave work on Friday knowing I had completed so many cleaning-out-type of tasks. The kids will notice a difference tomorrow morning and that is always fun. Even better is that I felt a sense of renewal in my profession. It is so easy to get burned out at work. To do things the same way they've always been done. To ignore other things that crop up because they're new or uncomfortable. I have planned for several new or different things over the next few weeks and am excited to try them out!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Zero

I have zero desire to stay at work and accomplish anything.

I just want to take a nap.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's the Little Things

I have changed one small classroom procedure and it has made a big difference. I love that!

I accomplished quite a bit of my list yesterday. I had totally forgotten that I will be at school late tonight due to Book Fair, so accomplished as much as possible yesterday. There are a few things left to do, but totally manageable.

I'm ready for the rain to stop.

I have spent ZERO excess money this week. I ate at home for every meal. Take that Proverbs 31 woman!

We're having DEAR time in class a lot more often. We always do it for Book-a-Palooza week, but I have continued it through this week. The kids are loving it and I am, too!

I have a funny story from this morning that I can't really share.

My parents have asked for a Christmas list. I'm trying to think of ideas. Any suggestions?

How's that for a random blog post?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Two in one day!?

I have decided that I need a "To Do" list to be able to get anything accomplished. I have things in my head that I know I need to do. I even know the importance of them...and some have specific time tables. For instance, my cousins are coming in town this weekend for a wedding. They're staying with me. Which means I need to clean. My bathtub...well, let's just say it needs it.

I'm taking a meal to Jill and Aaron tonight. Nicole is coming over so we can catch up. I'll cook while we talk.

Melody was going to come over tonight, too. But she needs to work on unpacking boxes and I need to cook and clean.

Tomorrow I will need to do anything that hasn't already been marked off the list! ie: wash sheets, vacumm, do any last minute grocery shopping, dust and finish decorating for Fall.

I've had all these things in my mind for awhile. They've been on my mental list. Today, I've written them down and I can already feel the impatience to get busy buzzing in my blood.

What is it about a list?

Ok, I'm getting paranoid...

The turn on to my street comes from a Right Turn Only lane, so a lot of cars change lanes at the last minute when the drivers realize this.

Last night, I was coming home from the grocery store and it was pretty late. I turned on my street and another car turned behind me. That has happened before, but not often. I had to make another turn, and this car came too. There were several other possible turns, but this car stayed behind me the whole time. I was getting toward the end of the neighborhood, and wasn't comfortable turning into my drive with this car still behind me. It was moving slowly, almost crawling along. Over the years, we've heard how we should not lead someone straight to our home if we feel we're being followed. So, I pulled over and waited. The car turned off and took forever to get far enough away for me to feel comfortable continuing on. The weird part is, it eventually turned on a street that also intersects the first street we both turned off of! Why did it drive through the neighborhood?

It felt weird.

I didn't like it!

Call me paranoid...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Too much Criminal Minds? Is it possible

You know you've watched too much Criminal Minds when...

I was sitting at a red light this morning, about to send a text, when my phone shut itself off. I immediately reached to make sure the doors were locked and looked around for shadowy figures.

Yep, I think I've watched too many crime shows.

But I'm not giving them up!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What a great weekend!

This weekend has been so much fun!

The battery in my camera was dead, and I realized that too late, so I don't have any pictures. :(

Friday night, I met a friend for dinner at Raisin' Canes and ate for free. :)

Saturday morning, I went grocery shopping and felt like I stole the food! I purchased SOOO much and all for less than $90. I love HEB!

I went to a birthday brunch to celebrate a friend's birthday. The hostesses outdid themselves. It was fantastic!

Then I was able to hold Jill's baby! Luke Aaron was born 8:30 Friday night. Yay! He is absolutely adorable! He has a full head of dark hair that is feather soft! The cord was wrapped around his neck, so it ended up being a C-section. Jill and Luke are both fine. So fun!

Hoedown was Saturday, and I think this was the best one yet! Kindall, Jalen, Tracey, Jayme and I rode up together. So much fun! Ryan did an excellent job putting it all together! I danced and danced! It was great! I think my boots have finally been worn in! (After how many years?) My feet didn't hurt, which was wonderful! I think I need to get back out to Wild West a little more often. I'd forgotten how much I love to dance. :) We stopped at DQ on our way back in town for a blizzard. Yummm! Of course, as all road trips require, we had a funny experience. Hehe

I watched several episodes of Criminal Minds last night and slept late this morning.

Today, I've done quite a bit in the kitchen and around the condo. I cooked a turkey. I think this might have been my first time. For some reason, I think I might have done it before...but I just can't remember. It turned out fantastic! So juice and tender. I've frozen most of it and will use it later for casseroles and probably a soup. I also cooked pork tenderloin for the first time. I made it with a mushroom marsala sauce. Yummm! Vegetarian chili was going to be for a gathering tomorrow night that has been rescheduled. Hmmm, now I have a lot of food. I think I'll take some to Jill and Aaron once they arrive home and also to Lindsay and James. Their life has been torn a part lately. My heart hurts for them and taking a meal is something that can be a little bit of help.

Tom came over this afternoon with his shovel. The plan was to dig up the leftover trunk from the tree I chopped down last week. He dug up quite a bit of dirt, and the trunk kept going! He recommended a pick axe to finish the job. My cousin, Jon, is coming in town next weekend and said he can bring one! I'm looking forward to making it look nice and this is one more step in that process!

I'm about to put clean sheets on the bed. Yay for clean sheet night!

See? What a great weekend!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Do you have White Chocolate Moments?

I was reading a book last night (when I should have been grading, but let's not get into that now.) White Chocolate Moments is a modern day fiction story set in Chicago. The main character, Arcineh, has a pretty rough life. She's very wealthy, well her parents and grandfather are, but the author does a great job of portraying how money does not = happiness.

One day, when she's about 11 years old and having a rough moment, she has the opportunity to taste white chocolate for the first time. She loves it. It immediately relaxes her, calms her down and she can look at life a little differently. White chocolate then becomes a theme throughout the book. The story spans many years. She makes some life choices and other life choices are made for her, but when she's having a particularly rough day, she goes looking for some white chocolate.

Do you have something like that? Maybe it's not a food, but something that can relax you immediately?

I've been trying to think and I don't think I do. At least not an immediate. I love chocolate and peanut butter together, but it doesn't relax me. I enjoy spending quality one on one time with friends, but it takes some time for me to unwind. A margarita is great, but I usually have those in a loud setting and loud settings aren't relaxing for me. I enjoy a clean house and sometimes working with my hands helps me breathe a little easier and work away that stress.

I'm rambling now.

What are your thoughts?

Friday, October 16, 2009

One of those needle sticks

Occasionally my co-workers' husbands will bring them lunch. Sometimes my friends know ahead of time, sometimes they don't. Usually I smile and don't think a thing about it.

Today, it's just a reminder that I'm single.

Sigh.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I learned something!

Apparently I'm way more unobservant than I thought.

I've never liked how pictures looked on my blog posts. They're too small and thus hard to see.

Did you know there is an option to select 'small, medium or large' pictures?

Ugh.

Well as you can see from my previous post, I've immediately put my new knowledge to use!

Progress!

I cut down another tree! This one was quite a bit larger than I had originally thought.

This is what was hauled off in today's trash.







This had to wait for Monday's trash pick up. I was all out of cans!


Here's what's left of it!


Dad suggested a bow saw when I described it as 6" in diameter, but I think he asked me it's circumference and I answered with it's diameter. Well 6" of circumference and 6" in diameter are a bit different! However, the bow saw worked great! I felt so independent and also a huge sense of accomplishment! As you can see, I still have a part of the trunk, maybe 18" above the ground. I thought I'd need an ax, but Dad recommended a chainsaw. (Kindall, I may take you up on your offer of an electric saw.) I'll get that trunk!

I want to plant ground cover and some flowers. That tree was providing quite a bit more shade than I had given it credit for, so that opens up my possibilities of what to plant, too!

Before:



Today:



I'm going to Galveston this weekend to sleep, read and walk the beach. I don't plan to do anything else in the garden before next week, but by next weekend I'd like to have things planted!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A day? Does anyone have an extra day?

Does anyone else feel like they could get SOO much accomplished, if they just didn't have their work to do? I know. It's irrational.

But sometimes I feel like, "If I just didn't have students today, I could get so many papers graded."

or

"If I just didn't have a dinner to go to, I could get the house clean."

or

"If I could just have a day, with nothing to do, I could get it all done!"

Because that makes sense, right? uh-huh, yeah.

A wise man I know once said, "I look for busy people to do ministry. They already know how to organize their time well." (my paraphrase)

Anyway, I know I'm being slightly paradoxical, because I just said I wanted a day with no busyness, and the quote doesn't so much go with that...but at the same time, it all makes sense. At least in my head.

On a separate note, that is related...last night, I cut down a tree. It was growing in a beautiful pot. And I was hoping to save the pot. But that didn't happen. The tree had grown so much that the roots had eventually crept through the bottom of the pot. My tugging and pushing and shoving eventually split the pot into four pieces. The whole tree: pot, roots and all is now in much smaller pieces in the trash can. Whoo-hoo!

I started trimming another tree, hoping for it to come down, too. I quickly learned my height and tool limitations. I will attack that tree again after I borrow a ladder and purchase a certain saw, which name is currently eluding me.

I did do some picking up around the house, laundry, dishes, etc. But there's only so much you can do when NCIS is on!

Tonight's agenda: finish every project I began last night.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Planting out of Season

I love Fall. It is most definitely my favorite season of the year.

I love the cold weather. I love the seasonal clothes. I absolutely ADORE fall decorations. I already have my front porch decorated. I don't have my indoor decorations up yet, but plan to fix that shortly. :)

Does anyone else feel the need to clean really well first before decorating? Well, I do. And I haven't had a chance to do that lately. Ok. Yes, I have. But I haven't done it. So that's on the top of my to do list for this week. Pay Bills, pick up condo, and CLEAN!

A week or so ago, I worked out in my garden area. I didn't have gloves or tools. It was more spontaneous than planned, but it needed some help desperately. When I moved in, my landlords said they didn't think anyone had done anything with it in the five years they'd owned it. It's a beautiful space, but is a little overgrown. I filled two trash cans and a big, black trash bag with limbs, leaves, dead plants and the contents of six big pots!

I didn't take any pictures, because in all reality it doesn't look like I've done anything to it yet. But it will get there. And I will take pictures when I'm finished.

I plan to buy a rake and some pruning shears this afternoon and work out there some more. There are beautiful green plants, but no color. After I get it cleaned up, I think I'm going to plant some begonias.

Look for pics soon!

And I'm posting this as some accountability. Now you're (the ambigous 'you' because I really have no idea who (if anyone) reads this, but that's beside the point) expecting pictures, so I'd better get busy!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Idiosyncracies

A friend and I had dinner last night. I love hanging out with her because I can be plain ole me, and she loves me anyway. I really love hanging out with her because she makes me laugh. Real laughs that carry across the parking lot. :) We had fun. I found out a new use for the word herd. Apparently I'm a part of one. And I like it. Crazy, right?

At one point, our idiosyncracies came up. You know. Those little things you only know about someone if you live with them. Or maybe not even then. Yeah, THOSE things. I came up with a TON and all she could give me is she's crazy about a clean kitchen. Yeah, I know. Boring!

There are a few that I'm not willing to tell you. Sorry. Just not going to let some of them slide between these fingers.

Some of them I don't mind sharing. But you can only read further if you promise to leave a comment telling me a revealing idiosyncracy about you.

Promise?


Ok. Here it goes.

When I pluck my eyebrows, my eyes water and I sneeze. Every time.

When I'm in the shower, I shed hair as I wash it. I stick said hair on the wall so it doesn't clog the drain. Then I throw it all in the trash after I get out. (When I lived with a roommate, I forgot a time or two. She was grossed out. Sorry, Danni!)

I absolutely hate vacumming! HATE IT! Hate is a strong word. I know. Don't lecture me. I really do.


There was one sleeping idiosyncracy we both agreed on. But I'm not going to share that here either.


Your turn. What's something that only a roommate would know about the way you live?
Spill the beans!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

If you can't say Amen, you'd better say...

The title of this post is my favorite Voddie Baucham saying.

The past several weeks have been a struggle for various reasons I won't go into on a blog post. This week, I've ranged from perfectly fine to slightly annoyed to frustrated and back again.

Today I was going through the McD's drive-thru. I'd already given my money, but couldn't move forward yet. The lady that swiped my credit card was humming, occasionally the words would come out. She was bouncing a little too. She wasn't paying any attention to me...just kind of in her own world waiting for her next customer. It was the kind of situation that makes me smile. I said, "You must be having a great day!" with a smile. You know...the kind of banter you can have with a complete stranger. She smiled/grimaced and said, "It's been terrible." I actually thought she was kidding. She continued, "We're out of so many things. I'm getting cussed out for things I didn't even do." She's still gotta a little smile on her face though. We talked a little more about when she would get off work and how's she singing to get through the day.

All of this conversation was very brief. The car in front of me eased forward, so I said goodbye and moved on, but it has stuck with me.

She's had a bad day today...but she's singing a peppy song that puts a smile on another person's face.

Have I been acting that way lately?

If you can't say, "Amen," you'd better say, "Ouch!"

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Finished!...enough

I have finally finished decorating my new place! :) Mom and Aunt Barbara came down a month ago and I meant to post pictures then. Kindall, Jalen and friends helped with the final touches last night. I love it!

Without Further Ado...

Living Room/Dining Room Before:

Still some unpacked boxes... that I began to use as shelving! :)

Living Room/Dining Room After:

Those boxes are gone, I moved the "TV stand" (made out of two plant stands and a thick piece of glass) to the dining room to separate the two rooms more distinctly. Instead, I moved the cedar chest into the living room from the bedroom. It cleared up some space in the bedroom, too! The baker's rack was my Grandma's. Mom and Aunt Barbara brought a lot of decorator goodies with them!


Built in Cabinet Before:

The red is beautiful, but just doesn't work with my eggplant furniture.

Built in Cabinet After:

After many different trips to Home Depot and 2/3 of the wall being painted Cornhusk green, I ended up with Wintergreen. The cornhusk was too yellow-y. This has more blue tones and pulls out the green in the sofa. I like it!

I don't really have a good before shot of the long living room wall, but here's the after!


In past apartments, I had decorated throughout with quite a few floral pictures. I was tired of that look. I wanted something different. Something fun! We found clocks! And bicycles!


And a bicycle clock! I love them! The pendulum clock was a fun surprise when we got home!

Bedroom Before:

The window was an issue in decorating this room. Really in just putting furniture in places!

Bedroom After:

I lost count of how many times I've moved bedroom furniture around. Even before the movers left, I had them change the big pieces more than once! When Angela came to visit, we tried again...several times. Mom, Aunt Barbara and I finally found this one. 10th arrangement? 11th? I don't know, but I think it looks welcoming and homey.

Ok, there's the tour of my new home! I haven't done a lot to the kitchen, so I didn't include pics here. I still need an item or two for the counter. Right now, it's kind of bare. We'll see what I find! :) I also have a patio! I think it will be lovely to sit outside once the weather cools. I'm not a green thumb, but I'll do the best I can with all the greenery!

So, more pics...um, later...not going to promise soon on this project!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Differences in Ways of Doing Things

I was just putting clean sheets on my bed (yay for clean sheet night!) and a memory came back to me.

I was just out of college, doing a lengthy roadtrip and staying over night at a college friend's house. We were pretty good friends, and I'd been at her parents' home several times. She and I were helping her grandmother put sheets on her bed and I asked, "Do you miter your sheets?" assuming every grandmotherly person did and wanting to make sure to do it her way. My friend gave a questioning and confused look. Her grandmother answered my verbal question and her non-verbal question. "No, we don't have to miter them. That's what they do in hospitals." I admit, my first thought was "It's what any good home does." (Yes, I struggled with judging quite a bit in my younger days. Don't judge me! *wink*) It was also the first I'd heard of it being a 'hospital-thing' as mitering sheets was a MUST at my household growing up.

I still miter my sheets...always. I do not iron my sheets. I know some people that do....I will never be one of them. I'm not judging them though. Promise!

This was definitely not the first time I realized all families were different. College is a good way to wake up from thinking everyone is like you. But it's one I remember!

What about you? Do you have a particular story for when you realized 'one of these things is not like the other?'

Friday, September 04, 2009

Fun teacher stories

These both happened today! :)

A kindergarten teacher told her class they needed to go to track time, since it seemed all the little Ks had ants in their pants. A few minutes after they returned from the stretch break, a little girl said, "I think I still have an ant in my pant because I can't seem to sit down."

A 5th grader told the music teacher, "I really want to play the BIG drum." The music teacher replied, "Well, we'll have to see. It takes energy and someone with a lot of hair on their chest." The boy replied, "I have three!"

Thursday, September 03, 2009

RSVPs

Every time I initiate a group gathering whether it is an around-town activity or a group in my home, I am reminded of the importance of RSVPs.

Why is letting a host or hostess know your plans so hard?

Why is it 'ok' (and I use that term very loosely, because in all reality it's not acceptable at all) to never reply?

Why is it 'ok' (see above definition) to not RSVP and then show up anyway?

Why is it 'ok' to respond yes and then change that to no the day of or maybe a day before with the reason being a better offer!?

Why is it okay in our minds to treat our friends disrespectfully in this manner?

At first I thought maybe it was just the people that don't host events very often, therefore do not know the importance of knowing numbers. But that's not it either, even hosts fail to RSVP correctly.

I don't know the answer, but it's frustrating.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Mean Girl Syndrome

Mean Girl Syndrome is what teachers refer to when a consistently sweet little girl makes a catty comment or shows her claws in some way. It's not referring to a child who is always mean, just the ones that oh, so occasionally show that side of them that is usually repressed.

I'm going to step out on a limb and say I'm not usually mean. But occasionally, I revert back to a 9 year old little girl and very much want to make a catty comment.

When that happens, this is the conversation I have with myself:

Mean Girl: "Ooo, I have something good to say to put her in her place!"

Adult me: "No, mean girl! We've learned to be kind. You don't get a say! Shhhhhh!"

Monday, August 31, 2009

Ms. Merriam-Webster

Dear Student of Vocabulary,

I just received an email with the subject line "Just a reminder." I found it to be a slightly confusing intro because the content of the email was new to the recipients.

The word remind means: cause to remember. This definition indicates that someone is already aware of this information.

I'm happy to clear this up for you. Please let me know if you find any other common English terms confusing.

Thank you,
Ms. Merriam-Webster

Sunday, August 30, 2009

First Week of School

This week was the first week of school and, like most teachers, the weekend after is used as a time of rest.

Some wonderful friends of mine had pretty important events in their lives going on this weekend, though, so I wasn't able to completely veg out...

Friday was a great birthday party at a fun new restaurant, RDG, with a scrumptious strawberry cake at some friends' house afterwards. The evening included much laughter and many stories...including a new word for birds and broadening the men's vocabulary with the term 'valet shoes.' (Happy Birthday, AJ!)

I arrived home about 11:30 and proceeded to make decorations for a baby shower I was co-hosting the next morning. I went to bed about 1:30 and my alarm went off at 6:05. I was in charge of picking up the cupcakes and had arranged to do that at 7:45 to arrive at the baby shower by 8:30 so we could set up before the shower began at 10am. At 6:45 I receive a text that more than half of our order was unedible and Plan B (yet to be created) was put into action. I quickly finished getting ready and loading the car with punch bowl, carefully made (partially slushy, partially frozen) punch, stayed-up-late-the-night-before-to-make decorations, coffee (but no coffee pot...ugh!), gingerale, 7up, and papergoods and rushed out the door. As I drove I called my mom and asked her to start calling grocery stores in my area looking for possible cupcakes. I picked up the cupcakes that were edible (and they were scruptious! Mmmm!) and then stopped by Randall's to see what they had available pre-made and ready to go. Crisis averted! Found what I needed and headed to Katy. The shower was a huge success! The mom-to-be received a lot of wonderful things and the food was all yummy! Many commented on my punch recipe, so I thought I'd share:

Baptist Champagne
1 can frozen white grape juice
1 1/2 cans water
mix

Add:
1 2L of gingerale
1 2L of 7up

So easy and so yummy! I stored the punch in FREEZER (super, important word) gallon Ziploc baggies. You don't want the punch to be totally frozen, but kinda slushy. I also poured some of it in ice trays. I wanted to use cranberry gingerale for the ice cubes, but couldn't find any in grocery stores...I think it's only sold during the holiday season. Anyway, so good! Enjoy! :)

After the shower, I came home and CRASHED! I had another friend's birthday party that night in Galveston, but I needed some serious rest time first. Two and a half hours later, I woke up to my alarm and groggily crawled out of bed. Some caffeine was definitely on the 'must-intake-now' list. I chose a cute outfit that allowed for uber comfortable shoes (my feet were done with heels for awhile!) and headed out to meet my carpooling friends. I was able to see Jalen's made-over bedroom (seriously GREAT JOB, KINDALL!) and we headed to the island for some yummy seafood and a moonlit walk on the beach. 4 ladies and 1 man in a car for a road trip made for some quite humorous conversation. The ladies were glad to find out pregnancy only lasts for 6 months. A manslaughter bail can be raised through surrogacy. I have a Sonic radar I didn't know existed. I could go on...can you tell we had fun? :)

Casey's was yummy (as always) and the beachwalk continued our laughter. We slid into Marble Slab ten minutes before closing to the horror of the employees and enjoyed the creamy treat on the sidewalk outside. Apparently I have a 'tired sway' and DJ commented that I'd started it while everyone was finishing up their ice cream, so Mark convinced me to let Kindall drive home. (Happy Birthday, Mark!)

Today is a day of rest. I've planned it for a little over a week and am so excited about it! The past few weeks have been a little crazy so today is a day I am taking slow. I'm staying home all day. Literally, all day! Yay for days off!

Ok, this was way longer than I thought for a 'welcome back to the world of blogging' post, but eh. For those of you that made it to the end (aka: me only) enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Do you need anything?

I'm giving away/selling some items. I love the cleaning out that moving provides!

Free:
~Bible Commentary pack
~Miscellaneous sashes/scarves/jewelry
~binders
~some sheet protectors


Less than $10
~pencil sketches of Burmese children (They're beautifully done, but I don't have anywhere to put them!)
~ironing board with hooks (to hang over door)

$20 or less
~sage green shower curtain with liner and brass hooks, bath mat, toilet lid cover and small floor rug
~wireless router
~answering machine
~a rotating shelf/stand thingy to go under a television so you can angle it whichever direction you want it


------------------------
~Executive desk, cherry wood
53" tall, 24" deep
left side:one file drawer, one 'pencil/pens' drawer,
middle: a sliding shelf for the keyboard
right side: a door for miscellaneous items
top has several compartments for envelopes, mail, etc



Let me know if you're interested in anything!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Houston Project

For about 10 years now, our church hosts Houston Project every July. Basically, this is a mission trip to our own city. Regarding missions, our pastor likes to say you're either going, giving, praying or being disobedient. What better way to go, give AND pray than to do it in our own city?! We go out to several churches and lead Vacation Bible School, youth events, adult Bible studies, feed the families and love on them. It's at night, so people can work and serve and it also works better for the families in the communities!

Here are a few pics!


Me, Melody and Mark in the food room!



I learned a new game!



Yay for snowcones! Thanks Tim, Chris and the rest of the Snowcone Team!

*Thanks to Laura and Tracy for the pics! :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

A few pics

I realized recently I don't post many (any?) real pictures on my blog. So here are a few from our recent trip to the Mediterranean!


Darrick, Dan, me, Mark and Liz (Jill is taking the pic!) are killing time on the train in the Detroit airport! On our way to Rome! :)


This is Jill, Liz, Darrick, Dan, me, and Mark in the Colosseum!


Liz, Alyssa and Jill in front of a library from Ancient Ephesus. The walk down to this still-standing structure is absolutely breathtaking! Loved it!


Here is another one of us climbing the steps of a memorial in Rome. I don't remember what the memorial is remembering...


One of many gorgeous sunsets while on the cruise! I could sit and stare for hours!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hiatus Over

I'm back!

It had been longer than I thought since my last blog post. What have I done in the between time?

~packed to move
~flew to Rome
~traversed the ancient, yet modern, city
~embarked and sailed for Sicily, where we ladies walked a beautiful shoreline
~embarked for Athens, where I went to Corinth and saw the Bema seat where Paul defended himself in Acts
~embarked for Ephesus, an absolutely breathtaking city filled with so much history of truth and so many lost people
~embarked once again for Crete, where the men and I walked down to a rocky beach and splashed in the waves, then dozed on the remarkably comfortable shore
~last embarkation back to Rome, where on the sea I had a birthday and am now living the last year of my 20s
~saw Angels and Demons in the exact spot the movie was set (so cool!)
~came back to Houston

~moved the next day (I don't recommend it!)
~welcomed a new director to Paradigm (yay!)
~unpacked a few boxes, did some laundry, then repacked before I left for Plano to celebrate 4th of July with family
~came back and played catch up with all my friends
~volunteered in Houston Project
~painted a little boy's room
~tried to paint a bookshelf, then changed my mind on the color
~still settling in and now seeing the school year looming ahead

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Life is a Process

This can be kind of cliched, but everything about life seems to be a process. Right now, I'm packing to move. I'm not moving far, but am very excited to have a washer/dryer IN HOUSE! The Lord blesses, even in the little, everyday things! I digress.

Packing is a process. I'll be in the middle of packing one cabinet. The box isn't quite full, but the cabinet is empty. So I have to move on to a different cabinet, possibly of a completely different category of item, to be able to finish off the box. Sometimes, I'm not ready to pack that different category just yet, so the box sits there, waiting.

Isn't life like that? Doesn't God sometimes start something in our lives, but then waits a little while before completing that work? Perhaps He's working on someone else's life before bringing us together. Perhaps He's waiting while we learn a lesson in the place He has us now. Maybe He simply wants to enjoy us in the stage of life we are currently in. There are innumerable possibilities to this.

Our Bible study class is going through Acts right now and Bill has a mnemonic for each chapter to help us remember the lesson or point he focused on. This past Sunday, we were walking through Acts 24. I admit, I don't totally remember the lesson of the chapter. However, in Bill's closing prayer, the Lord got my attention with these words, "Lord, help us to not focus on tomorrow, but instead to see what you have for us today."

Don't we do that? Sometimes, okay, a lot of times, I'm so focused on tomorrow's job or assignment or event that I completely miss what is going on right now. I don't live the life God has for me NOW. I am deaf to the lesson He wants me to learn TODAY.

I'm going to begin to focus on living for today.

Lord, do what You will. Life is a process and I want to enjoy You through every minute of it!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Dancing Wardrobe

Who knew that one would need specific clothing for dancing? I don't mean jazz or ballet type dancing. Not that kind. But the kind where you stand around the parquet floor and wait for someone to ask for the pleasure of your company, then you move around said floor to the beat while singing along to the song! (I only do this with certain partners!)

All of that is besides the point, however.

When I started going out to Wild West fairly regularly, I never knew I would need certain shoes. I learned that lesson pretty fast. They need a slick sole, which is practically impossible to find. Sandals don't work and anything without a back is a no go. I have two pair that work and one are my cowboy boots...which really only work with certain outfits. The pair that does work is light pink...which means I have a very limited color scheme to work with when choosing every other part of the outfit!

When I started taking swing lessons, the friend I was taking them with would comment on my blouse. Apparently the satiny kind of fabric is difficult for him when I wear it, because he can't catch me after a spin. Other shirts had ties in the back and those weren't ideal either. So I began paying closer attention to my tops. I still went dancing pretty regularly at this point and didn't want to wear the same outfit each time I went!

Though I still love it, I don't dance as regularly now. However, I did go last night. I had a lot of fun chatting with new friends and people I had known awhile.

And I learned something new about the dancing wardrobe. Wearing a strapless top can prove to be...interesting.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Twitter

I've decided to jump on the wagon of the new social networking tool. :)

@lyssteach

Are you on Twitter?

If you'll leave your name in the comments, I'll follow you!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Accomplishment

A few days ago, I posted about what all I needed to do before the end of the school year. I've actually accomplished all of it! I haven't touched on any of the 'after school is out' list, but that's okay. Everything that had to be accomplished has been marked off the list!

Whoo-hoo!

Zip a dee do dah, Zip a dee ay
My, oh my, summer's comin' our way!
Plenty of sunshine, swimming and play,
Zip a dee do dah, school's out today!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cute and Logical...definitely don't go together

I wore an absolutely adorable pair of shoes today. Maybe a 4" wedge, but oh so cute!

I fell and twisted my ankle.

It's the same pair I was wearing when I fell over my chair and onto my coffee table a week ago.

Hmm, maybe I shouldn't wear them again. But I probably will.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

When...

When all I want to watch is a sappy chick flick...that's probably when I shouldn't.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Oops

I thought I was feeling a little more flush than normal, but just attributed it to being a '3 paycheck month,' shrugged and went on.

Nope. I forgot to pay my car payment this month.

Oops!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Back and Forth

Me: Is there anything else you want to tell me?

Him: You look very nice this evening.





I wasn't fishing for a compliment, but hey...I'll take it! :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Countdown and Some Lists

If you're on gmail, then you've seen my status updates regarding the countdown to the end of the school year. There are only 8 days left! Whoo-hooo!

Now those 8 days will be pretty crazy with:
collecting textbooks (and searching for missing ones!)
fishing for library books
grading papers
entering grades
having meetings to discuss summer school and/or retention/promotion status for all students
meetings to discuss professional development for next year
meetings to discuss parent complaints/concerns
meetings to pass off some responsibilities and other meetings to accept some responsibilities
cleaning out files
going through stacks of papers to figure out what can be sent home, thrown away, needs kept
distributing some school supplies
and none of these things touch on disciplining or teaching students! that's all thrown in there too!

Once school is out, I need to:
pack for my cruise
pack to move
write letters to my newly adopted William
call my insurance company to figure out answers to a whole bunch of questions, then pay bills after all those questions have been answered
handle my speeding ticket and defensive driving (bleck)

Wow! Lots to do!

So if you see me at some point in the next four weeks and I look a little frazzled, just know I'm clicking down my list!

(And if you don't see me in the next four weeks, well...now you know why!)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A little grr

I know I am the guiltiest party out there for doing this...but why does everyone feel the need to share their opinion regarding a particular topic? I think that might be one of the hardest things about being in leadership (for me.) The fact that no matter what I do, everyone thinks they can share their opinion...and their opinion is usually disagreeing with something...and no matter how little of a disagreement it is, it just makes me feel like I'm not doing it right.

This is my lesson to myself today. I'm going to try to share my opinion less often.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A thought, followed through

I received a message from someone I have met once.

Hey Alyssa,
I just wanted to say that I thought the prayer you said at the end of Paradigm class yesterday was awesome. I was thinking, gosh, what words do I say for a family and wife going through something like that? I think your prayer spoke volumes and was very sincere and comforting. God Bless!

Signed: Fellow Sister


I was taken aback and incredibly touched by her thoughtfulness. We don't know each other. I think we've exchanged hellos a few times. She searched me out and found me, because she wanted to encourage me. Isn't that what being a Christian is all about?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A changed life

I have a little boy. His name is William.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pass Go, Collect $200

I need some suggestions for fun, new games!!

(board games or catchphrase type games)


Anyone?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fun News...

I have a surprise! And while it's really fun for me, and I'm really excited about it and enjoying it, I'm not really sharing it with others...and they wouldn't find it as exciting anyway. But I just couldn't hold in my excitement anymore! So celebrate with me, people!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Too Many Things on My Mind

I just pulled my cell phone out of the refrigerator.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

One of my faves

As I know I've mentioned before, diet coke is a favorite of mine. Specifically: fountain diet coke on shaved ice. I'm actually not a big fan of Sonic ice...it's a little too packed for me. But in general, diet coke on shaved ice is so refreshing.

What about you? What's your favorite drink?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Little Spring Cleaning

I did a little shopping this weekend. I had fabulous success in finding items (both ones I was looking for and ones I decided I 'needed') so all in all, it was a fun time! (I found fabulous deals!) I did my clothes' shopping by myself. That's how I usually roll, though I much more prefer to have someone with me for those pesky "this is the wrong size" moments. Oh well, I bought cute items, so who cares!? That was all on Friday. On Saturday, I was the initiator of the 'forcing' referred to here and found 4...count 'em, 4 pair of shoes!

Thus, some cleaning out needed to occur.

I have gone through my clothing, both in my closet and my chest, and filled one garbage bag. I haven't yet made it to the shoes, but they're next! (Though maybe not today.)

I love feeling productive!

Friday, April 10, 2009

...is good for the soul

Confession:

I think I'm becoming a little bit of a potty-mouth.


(And I'm okay with it.)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Spellcheck humor

I was intending to type 'to mark' in an email to a co-worker. My brain was a step ahead of my fingers and I typed 'tom ark' instead. Hey, both of those are words, right? Thus the reason we should still proof read!

Another Interesting Convo

Me: Find the girl's bra strap, it will help you guide her.

Him: I grew up with 3 brothers. The word 'bra' makes me feel aaawwwkward!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

headache

i want to cry. can i cry, please?

ok. i just needed permission.

Monday, April 06, 2009

3:42am

I woke up in the middle of the night last night, as the title of this post indicates. I couldn't just turn over and go back to sleep, so I did what any self-respecting person would do. I pulled on a sweatshirt and slipped into tennis shoes. I went to move a load of wash to the dryer, checked my email (and read a very encouraging email from a sweet friend), brushed my teeth (my mouth was yucky) and crawled back under the covers just before 4. Yay for another two hours of sleep!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Perplexing conversation

K: "Did you purchase him?"

Me: raised eyebrow

K: "Or his services?"

Me: "No. No, I didn't purchase him."

K: "Then what did he have to do with the auction."

Me: "He was my date."

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I just couldn't keep these to myself...

A few friends went to dinner tonight. There was one comment and one charade that had to be shared. I simply couldn't keep these to myself.

One friend was talking passionately about Lupe's beef fajitas. His comment?
"I think they're the unleavened bread they'll serve in heaven."

A little bit later in the conversation this same friend decides to act out the use of a bidet.

When I told him these were going on the blog, he exclaimed, "I've made it to the blog!" Who knew it was a victory?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

New Purchase

I saw a commercial for an item that actually made me think about buying it. Opposed to what advertisers want, this doesn't usually happen when I see the thirty second blurb on television. This one got my attention though. I went to the store and began perusing the toothpaste selection until I found it.

Have you tried it?



Mine is the mint flavor. Which I highly recommend. If you're in need of toothpaste (or even if you're not, but don't like yours) try some of this!