Sunday, January 20, 2013

Simple Gifts

I love to give gifts.  Not big and expensive gifts, but thoughtful and timely gifts.  I like to remember the little details about people that can turn into a fun gift later--a teachers' favorite soda, a friends' secret weakness for fruit snacks, a sisters' wish for something beautiful.  I love the reaction of a loved one when they receive an unexpected, but "just right" gift.  I love letting people know that they are remembered and appreciated.

The night before my kids went back to school after Christmas vacation, I knew I wanted to send a gift to their teachers.  We are so blessed to have great teachers who love and appreciate my brilliant, yet quirky children.  It has been a hard year to be a teacher at our elementary school.  There have been a lot of unforeseen personal challenges within the faculty and switching to Common Core has left everyone feeling like a first year teacher all over again.  I just wanted to wish them well...but with what?  It was way too late to start homemade bread and I was almost out of Bath and Body Works Foaming Antibacterial Soap (gasp!).

I decided to visit my Pinterest boards to see if there was anything I could do with what I had on hand late on a Sunday night.  I had to do some creative adhesive substitutions and teach myself how to make a fabric flower, but within two hours, I had these sweet little bookmarks all ready to go.  I promised my sister I would include the link if you want to make a bookmark of your own:

Snow Day

Friday was a snow day.  School was cancelled.  We just stayed in.  All for about 1 inch of very slushy wet snow.  By noon it was already well into the 40's and any evidence of a storm was mostly gone at our house.  It was a beautiful sunny day.  I commented to Doug how I had been entertained by the reaction of several "newbies" to the state who thought it was crazy for school to be cancelled for such a minor "snow event".  Doug's reply surprised me...

You see, four winters ago, we made similar comments.  We both grew up in a snowy mountain valley and I don't remember school ever being cancelled for snow.  We had shovels, snow blowers, ice-scrapers, and snow tires.  Every family member had snow clothes.  Part of learning how to drive was learning to drive through snow.  It wasn't so different when we lived in the Midwest.  BUT, our first winter in the South, we thought it was absolutely ridiculous for them to be so cautious about every little snow storm.  Delays, cancellations, warnings, and advisories abound.

Doug turned to me and said "I think it was probably a good call."  He said that the longer he lives here, the more he realizes that there is wisdom in their caution.  "There is no infrastructure to manage the snow,"  he said. "We aren't well-equipped."  He's right, of course.  There are very few plows.  Most households don't have shovels, ice scrapers, and snow clothes.  And don't get me started on Southerners driving on snow packed roads.  It's terrifying.

It made me think a little bit about how I react when there are other types of storms in my life...when something hard or challenging comes my way.  I tend to just plow on through life and not let things slow me down.  I throw on my theoretical "snow clothes", grab a shovel, and deal with it.  This method has mostly served me well.

But, I'm learning that there are times and circumstances that facing the challenge head on isn't the wisest thing to do. Perhaps the wise person is the one who recognizes when they aren't equipped to deal with a particular demand or challenge and they choose to take a "snow day".  They pull inside, spend some time with their family, and wait for some of the drama to melt away.  Looking back, I can see times when I actually made things much harder for myself and my family by acting too quickly.  I dealt with storms that if I had simply waited patiently, I wouldn't have had to deal with at all.

"There is wisdom in caution."  Nicely said Doug.  Perhaps I will get better at taking snow days.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

An Award...Already?!?

My sweet friend, Heidi, gave me a nice pat on the back for my new efforts at blogging.  She gave me a "Liebster"Award".  It is an award passed from blogger to blogger to say, "I love your blog!  Keep it up!".   I hardly feel deserving after only two posts, but it is great encouragement for me to keep working at my goal of blogging my thoughts this year.   
As part of this award I am supposed to share 11 random facts about myself and answer 11 questions of Heidi's choosing.  So here goes:
11 Random Facts about Me:
  1. I don't have a favorite color.
  2. I read a lot of books, but I don't retain all the details.  (I figure it is a plus, since I can re-read books and enjoy them a second time.)
  3. I am a hard worker.
  4. I am always behind on my ironing.
  5. I don't enjoy cooking with my kids.  It stresses me out.
  6. I got a degree in Biology Composite Teaching and taught middle school for 3 years.  I really loved being a teacher.
  7. I'm terrified of cockroaches and head lice, both of which I've had to face in the last year.
  8. I love drinks with bubbles, like sparkling juice and soda pop.
  9. My husband is my best friend and has been since the 11th grade.
  10. I almost died having my first baby and I woke up in the ICU.
  11. I'm a funny mix of extrovert and introvert.

11 Questions from Heidi:
1.  When was the last time you brushed your teeth?
This morning when I woke up.
2.  How many days per week do you make your bed?
SEVEN.  It was a COMMANDMENT in my house growing up.  If you left for school without making your bed, you ran the risk of Mom showing up to take you home to make it. 
3.  What does the last text you received say?
"Yep.  I'd like one box of thin mints."  (#2 is selling Girl Scout cookies for the first time ever.)
4.  If you could do anything you wanted for a day, what would that be?  I would want to take my kids skiing.  It is something I loved growing up and I would love to share that with them. 
5.  Are most of your friends real or virtual?  Real. 
6.  With how many adults have you spoken in person today?
Lots!  I went to a magnet school fair with #1 today to check out middle schools and saw a lot of people I knew.  We also had our best friends over for dinner, so I got in some good talking.
7.  What did you have for lunch (or your last meal) today?  Dinner was a breakfast feast of pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, fresh fruit, homemade syrup, whipped cream, and orange juice.
8.  If you could go to lunch with anyone, with whom would you dine?  My big sisters.  And hopefully we could go to a museum or quilt store after we ate.
9.  Are you hungry yet?  Or craving grown-up conversation?  I'm still full from dinner and it's getting late, so I'm craving sleep.
10.  If your toenails are painted, what color are they?  You can tell I'm struggling if my toenails aren't "done".  Right now I have some red glitter toes going on.  (Technically they are vinyl nail shields, not paint.)
11.  What's your favorite Gavin story?  I'm sad that I have never met Gavin (Heidi's son), but I do remember Zach when he was young!
You can see Heidi's post about the "Liebster Award" here on her blog:

Thursday, January 3, 2013


I couldn’t fall asleep last night.  That is a rare occurrence for me.  I usually lay my head on the pillow around 11 p.m. and I’m asleep within seconds.  Yet at 1 a.m. I still had too many thoughts in my head and too many feelings in my heart for sleep to come.

The problem is a new year.  The problem is looking forward.  The problem is in the possibilities, plans, and changes 2013 will bring.  The problem is that I don’t have a plan.  I HATE not having a plan.  (Where should we look for work?  Where should #1 go to middle school?  Should #4 start school?  Should I keep working as much as I am?  Should I get a different job?  Maybe I shouldn’t be working at all and instead focus on something else?) 

And the problem is I’m sad.  I miss my family.  Many of my friends are going through big changes and challenges.  Sometimes when I take the Christmas decorations down it feels clean and refreshing.  This year it made me feel like my home was darker and sterile.   I was sick and in a daze for weeks and I’m waking up to a life that feels overwhelming and unfamiliar.  And busy—very busy. 

Years ago there was a Church talk that focused on the concept of choosing between what is good, what is better, and what is BEST.  As I lay in bed for hours last night, trying to distract myself with a harmless, entertaining TV show, I realized at the root of it all I just want to be able to discern what is BEST.  I think good choices are easy.  I fill our days with good.  Swimming, piano lessons, volunteering, cub scouts, girl scouts, family game night, orchestra, violin, date night, book club, making a quilt, visits with friends, art class, teaching, helping, cooking, movies, choir, fun, yard work, cleaning the house, going to Church…but when you are so full of good, sometimes there is no room for better or best.

Better choices require thought and sacrifice.  Giving up a “good” experience for your child for the “better” time together as a family.  Giving up the “good” housework for the “better” service opportunity.  I think in the past five years or so that I have gotten better at “better”.   I think I am more thoughtful.  I try to be more prayerful.  I have more confidence to not do what everyone else is doing if it isn’t right for our family. 

But BEST is out there.  I slipped to my knees about 1:15 and started to pray.  Will you help me find what is BEST?   Will you help me be humble enough to act?   I immediately felt some peace and I climbed back into bed.  But the last thought I had as I went to sleep was that BEST might not be easy.  BEST may look a lot different than better.  BEST may not be what I want.  BEST may require heart-breaking sacrifice.  But, it will be BEST.  In that regard, I hope 2013 is my BEST year yet.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Since we can't talk...

I am not much of a writer.  When I have thoughts to share, I like to talk.  I am a verbal communicator.  I cherish long hours of good conversation with friends.  Lengthy phone calls, late-night book clubs, and impromptu visits are some of my favorite things.  Even my profession of choice, teaching, is dependent on my capability as a verbal communicator.  When I have something I want to share with the world, I daydream about a classroom setting where I can connect and communicate with people.

I am a reader.  I cherish the well-crafted words of others.  As my circle of friends has widened geographically, I have taken to reading my friends blogs for a chance to share in their thoughts and ideas.  (Although, I would much rather have the time and opportunity to sit in their kitchen and talk.)  It is in reciprocation to their efforts that I have committed to blog for one year.  It isn’t a classroom and I am most assuredly not in my element, but this year I will try to share my thoughts and ideas on this blog.

To glean is to learn, discover, or find out--usually little by little or slowly.  Joy is my purpose in living.  Not happiness, but deep, abiding joy.  My journey through life has been discovering that true joy little by little.  The joy I believe my Heavenly Father intends me to have.  Perhaps you may glean some here as well.  Happy New Year!