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!

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 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 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 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


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.


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?


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


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 get the idea. I have nothing to So I watch last week's NCIS on 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.