Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Prompt 25: Photo - a present to yourself

Sift through all the photos of you from the past year.  Choose one that best captures you; either who you are or who you strive to be.  Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words.  Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

I know it's a picture of my and Andrew's feet, not of me, but I love this picture because of the memory of that day.  I took this picture when we were on our honeymoon in Maine and it was a wonderful day.  We were spontaneous - driving to four different lighthouses in one day without much of a plan.  We took this picture after we walked out to a lighthouse.  It was extremely hot so we sat down on the rocks surrounding the lighthouse before we decided to walk back to the shore.  After this picture was taken, we went to see this amazing woman who makes rag rugs.  We bought one that is now in the front hallway of our home, which is a great reminder of our trip.  This picture reminds me of that day and the fun I have simply hanging out with Andrew.

Prompt 26: Soul food

What did you eat this year that you will never forget?  What went into your mouth and touched your soul?

We got invited to Carrabba's for a free dinner on them!  It was some of the best food I have ever eaten in my life.  You can read about it here.

Prompt 27: Ordinary joy

Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments.  What was one of your most ordinary joyful moments this year?

We had a really good day where we took the dog to go get boxwood bushes for our garden, came back to the house and planted them, and then ordered pizza.  It was great because we worked really hard, felt really accomplished, and then got to hang out with the puppy and eat pizza.  That was a good day!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas

We had a wonderful Christmas as I hope everyone else did!

On Christmas Eve we went to church for the four thirty service where I sang and Andrew ran the powerpoint.  Then it was off to friend's house for a party that's been going on since I was in the fourth grade.  It's a wonderful tradition with family and friends that I love going to every year.  Then it was off to the eleven o'clock candlelight service at church where I got to sit with my parents for the first time ever, since they're usually singing in the choir.  Andrew and I finished up the night by coming home and putting on our Christmas pajamas, one of his family traditions that we carry on.  I got these snazzy pajama pants this year!  (Those are polar bears on them if you can't tell.)

On Christmas morning we woke up and went over to my parent's house where we had the fullest house for Christmas morning we've ever had.  It was:
  • my grandma
  • my aunt
  • my mom and dad
  • me and Andrew
  • my brother, his girlfriend, and her brother
  • my sister, her fiance, and his brother
We opened presents and I was so excited to see that everyone loved the presents we got them.  My presents included purple candlesticks, a purse made of saris, the movie Inception (I'm so excited to watch the extras),  and my favorite gift - tickets from Andrew to see Wicked!!!  We had tickets to see it last week, but we both ended up sick and weren't able to go, so I'm so excited to be able to see it and not have to be sad every time I hear about Wicked!

After we opened presents, Andrew and I went back to our house to meet his family, his dad, stepmom, and sister, who were driving down to spend the weekend with us.  They hadn't ever been to our house so we spent some time there with them showing them the house and Schmoo!

Then we went back over to my parent's house for Christmas dinner and games.  The day went really well.  Andrew's family and my family get along really well, which is absolutely wonderful.

We were able to spend some more time with them over the weekend.  We went out to brunch at Cafe Patachou and then saw the movie Tangled, which was absolutely wonderful.  (It's been a while since I've seen a Disney movie that's been that good!  If you're thinking about seeing it, you totally should!!!)  Then we went back over to my parent's house to watch the Colt's game with everyone.  We got to spend some more time last night talking and playing games back at our house with Andrew's family.  We even managed to light our first ever fire in our fireplace last night.

Overall, I think the Christmas was relaxing and wonderful.  It was so nice to be around all of our family, especially because they were (mostly) all in one spot!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Prompt 24: Everything's OK

What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright?  And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

The moment that Andrew acknowledged how hard things had  been the last time he was looking for work and told me that he would not let that happen again.  It showed me that he realizes that he needs to do things differently, even if it's not something that's easy for him.

I will try my best to support him and encourage him to do the things he needs to do (update his resume, send out applications, talk to people who would be able to serve as contacts) without pushing him to do those things.  The most important thing is for Andrew and I to remember that we're in this together and that we're on the same side, something that it can hard to keep in mind when times are tough.

Peace




Andrew lost his job yesterday.  It was completely unexpected.  Obviously, it has changed things.


But I figure we have two options.  Option one is to be upset about it, to blame the company for not having any loyalty to its employees (even after three years), and to dwell on it.  Option two is to realize that there's nothing either of us can do to change it, to be grateful for the support we have around us, and to view this as an opportunity for Andrew to find a job that he actually enjoys.


So even though things around me are changing and uncertain, I am doing my best to be calm about it.  Even if I don't always feel calm, because I have a hard time with things being out of my control and because I hate seeing Andrew discouraged, I think that acting calm about it will help Andrew and I eventually be at peace with this.


(I definitely think there are things that God puts in our path at particular moments.  One of those is the song Peace Peace by Sara Groves.  I had never heard the song until earlier this week when we started rehearsing for the Christmas Eve service at church.  I definitely think that I was supposed to hear it this week to help me be at peace with what has happened.)


Peace Peace
by Sara Groves

Peace, peace, it's hard to find

Trouble comes like wrecking ball
To you peace of mind
And all that worry you can't leave behind you



All your hopes and fears
All your hopes and fears, oh
All your hopes and fears
Are met in Him tonight



Peace, peace, it's hard to find
Doubt comes like a tiny voice that's so unkind
And all your fears they conspire
To unwind you



All your hopes and fears
All your hopes and fears, oh
All your hopes and fears
Are met in Him



And in your dark street shines 
An everlasting light
And all your hopes and fears
Are met in Him tonight



And all your hopes and fears
All your hopes and fears, oh
All your hopes and fears
Are met in Him tonight



Peace, peace
Peace, peace
Peace, peace

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Prompt 15: 5 Minutes

Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes.  Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

Looking at houses.  Our feet freezing in the first one we looked at because the heat was turned off.  How huge the third house we looked at was and thinking about using all of that space.  Hanging out with Blaine.  Going in through the back door that happened to be open of the house we actually bought because Blaine could never get his key to work in the lockbox.  Sitting on the barstools in the kitchen talking about this house.  Moving in.  Feeling comfortable being in the house by myself, even when Andrew spent the weekend in Chicago.  Planting bushes and bulbs in the front yard.  Picking spots for trees in the back.  Learning to mow the lawn.  Deciding to actually look at puppies.  Driving to Muncie to look at the litter of puppies.  Schmoo coming up to us whenever we made eye contact with him.  Bringing him home in the car and how tiny he was.  Watching him clumsily climb up and down the stairs.  His first bath and then him peeing in the middle of our bed afterwards.  His first time in the snow and how he eats it.  Our housewarming party and how fun it was to have people over.

Prompt 14: Appreciate

What's the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year?  How do you express gratitude for it?

My husband!  Not that I didn't already appreciate him, but I've realized this past year just how much I appreciate his patience.

I am extremely impatient.  I don't like waiting for anything, even something as simple as waiting to talk to someone.  Andrew is the opposite.  His is extremely patient.  He is willing to realize that some things take more time than others.  He shows that he is patient with situations, such as when we were waiting to see if our offer was accepted on our house, and with people, which is me most of the time.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Stream of consciousness thinking and researching

Tonight I read this post about The Great House by Nicole Krauss.

I went to find more information about the book and about Nicole Krauss to figure out what the title of her first book was.  I learned that it was A Man Walked Into a Room, which I realized I already own but haven't read yet.  I also learned that Nicole Krauss is married to Jonathan Safran Foer.

I read a negative review of Jonathan Safran Foer and his work, which I completely disagree with because I LOVE his writing, but realize that it's not for everyone.  (I was surprised to learn how many of his ideas he supposedly copied from other writers.)

I saw that there were links to a bunch of Jonathan Safran Foer's short stories, so I read "Cravings" about famous people's mothers.  That led me to think about Adolf Hitler's parents and when they died, so I went to find out more about Adolf Hitler and his father and his mother.  I found out that they died when he was in his twenties.  I also found out that he had a sister, who outlived him.

I read "A Primer for the Punctuation of Heart Disease" and couldn't figure out my opinion on it.  Either I absolutely love it because of the way that it perfectly describes the way family members talk to each other or I absolutely hate it for butchering punctuation, which I also absolutely LOVE.  Maybe even more than I LOVE Jonathan Safran Foer.

(Doesn't this post kind of read like a poem?  I think I like it!)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Prompt 13: Action

When it comes to aspirations, it's not about ideas.  It's about making ideas happen.  What's your next step?


When I was catching up on some of the blogs I read, I ran across a post about The 8 Habits of Highly Productive People.  I think this really ties into the prompt for today because I know what I want to do with my time, I just have a hard time actually doing it.

One of my favorite parts of the posts had a few questions to ask yourself about everything you're doing.
For everything you’re doing now, ask yourself how important this is. Does this bring you dramatically closer to your dreams? Does this create any real impact in your life in the long-term? Is it the absolute best way to spend your time or can you be doing more high value tasks? If not, perhaps it’s time to ditch it. No point doing something unimportant! 

Prompt 12: Body Integration

This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body?  Did you have a moment where there wasn't mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

I had a hard time connecting with this prompt because I don't usually feel a disconnect between my mind and body.  But I would have to say that the moment this made me think of was when we went kayaking while we were on our honeymoon.


The last place we stayed had kayaks that we were able to take out on the cove.  If we went under a bridge, we were able to go into the harbor and kayak around the big boats that were going out into the ocean.  We did it two days in a row and loved every second of it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Our Christmas Tree

We managed to get our house all decorated for Christmas before we had our housewarming party, but I haven't had time to blog about putting our Christmas tree up.

Andrew and I bought our Christmas tree last year at Target because we wanted to have our own tree for our apartment.  It actually worked out perfectly because when we were up at his dad's house for Christmas, his dad decided that it was time to give some of the ornaments that Andrew and his sister grew up with to them since he was getting remarried.  That meant we ended up with some of these fabulous ornaments.
The "Ugly Green Ornament."  We think it looks
like moss growing on an ornament.
What we call "The Christmas Turtle."
No one in the family wanted this ornament
so we thought we should give it a home!
Spiderman.  He has string that comes from both of
his hands so he can be suspended between branches.
That's right.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
It says "Merry Christmas, Dude!" on the ornament. 
We always hang this ornament low
because the cats love to play with it!
When we put the tree up this year, we were worried about how our puppy, Schmoo, would handle having a tree in the house so we decided to put it in the office so that we could shut the doors to the room if we needed to.  The surprising thing was that Schmoo didn't seem to care about the tree at all.  We brought it in from the garage and let him smell it.  He figured out that it didn't have a smell and then he left it alone.  In fact, the only time he seems to care about the tree at all is when one of the cats is underneath it.
Schmoo checking out one of
our cats, Olly, under the tree.
We usually add at least one new ornament each year, but this year we added a bunch.
We got this moose ornament when were were on
our honeymoon in Maine.
And we couldn't get a moose without
getting a lobster to go with it.
This is the ornament I made from ourwedding program.
I saw the idea on one of the blogs I follow (I can't remember
which one!) and thought it was a really cute idea!
We got ornaments for each of our pets.
Schmoo
Butterball
Olly

Overall, I think our tree turned out really well this year.


I linked this post to Thrifty Decor Chick's Christmas tree linky party.  This is the first linky party I've done and I'm really excited about it!

Prompt 11: 11 Things

What are 11 things your life doesn't need in 2011?  How will you go about eliminating them?  How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?


  1. Depression/anxiety - I will remember to take time for myself.  I will talk to Andrew about how I'm feeling and remember that the way I'm feeling is not necessarily the way things are.
  2. Weight - I need to seriously commit to my health in 2011.  I am tired of feeling unhappy with my weight and with my body.  I will continue the personal training with Andrew and remember that I'm happier when I work out on a consistent basis.
  3. Dehydration - I do not drink a lot of water unless I make the conscious effort to drink a lot of water, which means that I'm dehydrated most of the time.  I need to remember that I feel better when I've been drinking water and I'm not dehydrated.
  4. Wasting time - I need to think about how I'm spending my time and make a conscious effort to spend it the way I want to.  This means limiting the time I spend watching TV or reading blogs and making time for things like talking to Andrew, playing with Schmoo, working out, and reading books.  I need to remember that when I'm not thinking about how I spend my time, I usually end up wasting it.
  5. Responsibility for things that aren't in my control - As Andrew said to me today, I need to stop taking responsibility for things that aren't in my control.  So I can't take responsibility for other people's thoughts or actions.  I can only be responsible for myself and remember that that's enough.
  6. Lack of sleep - I know this is ironic considering that I'm writing this post at 12:11 at night, but I have a tendency to not get enough sleep and then to feel guilty when I need to catch up on sleep.  Today I took a long nap and it was wonderful.  When i woke up, I felt stressed and more motivated to do the things that I wanted to get done today.  I need to remember that taking time to sleep is not a waste of time.
  7. Negativity - I have a tendency to think very negatively about things sometimes.  I've found that if I make a conscious effort to think positively about something than I will usually feel better about it.  So I need to remember that the way I think about things affects the way I feel about them.
  8. Anti-social tendencies - I already posted about my anti-social tendencies when I feel stressed.  I need to remember that I enjoy being around people, even if I don't think that I will and to simply go be social!
  9. Being too hard on myself - I am always way to hard on myself, mostly because I have really high expectations for myself and for those around me.  I need to remember that I'm not perfect and that that's okay.
  10. Being too hard on Andrew - I am also too hard on Andrew because he's the one I spend most of my time with.  I also need to remember that Andrew's not perfect and that that's okay.  If he was, I wouldn't love him as much as I do!
  11. Disconnection from God - I need to remember that it's important for me to feel connected to God.  I often let things get in the way of my relationship with him, especially some of the things that I've listed above, and I need to remember that that's the most important thing in my life and I need to treasure it above everything else.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Prompt 10: Wisdom

What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?


I would have to say that the wisest decision I made this year was to buy a house.  Specifically, to have enough trust in myself, Andrew, and our ability to afford and find the right house that I was willing to even start looking.


I am the type of person who really likes to be in control, which means that it's hard for me to go into new situations that I don't know much about, which is exactly what buying a house felt like for me.  Even the idea of buying a house used to totally freak me out because it was such a huge decision, it was a fairly permanent decision, and it involved a ton of money.


It helped a ton that we had a family friend as our realtor because we could be completely honest with him about what we were looking for and what we thought about the houses we were looking at.  He made me so much more comfortable with the process.  


It also helped that I could be in control of the house search to a point.  I could find houses that we were interested in and ask the realtor to take us to see them.  Being able to be really involved in that part of the process helped me to feel like the house buying process was something I could handle.  


But the main thing helped was knowing that Andrew and I were in this process together.  He really helps me to see things differently.  So when I was seeing the risks of buying a house, he was seeing the rewards.


As for how it played out, the process was a lot longer one than I thought it would be. We bid on four different houses before we finally found one that worked out.  I am so glad with the way things worked out though because we are definitely in the right house for us.

Prompt 9: Party

What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.


We had a housewarming party last weekend, which was the first big party that we've thrown at our house.  We got the entire house clean and decorated for Christmas, made a bunch of food, invited some of our favorite people, and enjoyed the fun!


I am not usually one to throw parties because I get worried about everything that could go wrong.  (Will people come?  Will they have fun?  Will we have enough food?)  But Andrew is really good at organizing parties and encouraging me to invite people over.  So we did and it worked out wonderfully.  We're even thinking of making it an annual event to host a Christmas party on the first weekend in December so mark your calendars for next year!!!


We had all kinds of food and drinks.  We also had all kinds of people.  We had a lot of friends from church over as well as a lot of Andrews work friends, with some others thrown in as well.  People got to see our house and meet our puppy, Schmoo.  We also got to see Schmoo see little kids for the first time, which was really entertaining.  People really seemed to enjoy themselves.  I know I did!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Prompt 8: Beautifully Different

Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up.  Reflect on all the things that make you different - you'll find they're what make you beautiful.


Picture from here

Traditions:  I LOVE traditions.   I love that the traditions we have allow me to have something to look forward to all year.  If I had it my way, we would do the exact same thing every year for Christmas.  I love watching the same movies, baking the same cookies, putting up the same decorations, and listening to the same Christmas music.  This made it really hard for me to think about spending Christmas away from my family this year (Andrew and I decided we would alternate spending Thanksgiving or Christmas with our families each year).  I know that spending Christmas in Michigan will turn out fine when we do it, but this year it worked out that his family can come to Indiana for Christmas, which means we get to spend Christmas with BOTH of our families.  I couldn't be happier!!!

Compassion:  This is one of my greatest strengths as well as one of my greatest weaknesses.  I am deeply sensitive about things that are going on with others, especially with my students, which means that sometimes it's hard for me to let things go.  I tend to bring their problems home from school with me.   I actually considered this when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  I was torn between teaching and youth ministry, but I figured that I needed the separation that teaching provided.  I'm so glad that I chose teaching because it's really allowed me to work with some kids that I wouldn't have worked with as a youth minister.  I also think I'm much better at teaching than I ever would have been at youth ministry.


When I asked Andrew to help me come up with a list of things that for this prompt, he came up with some things that I hadn't even thought of.  He came up with:


Picture from here
Easily excitable:  I'm always excited to tell him about things or to share things with him.  I get really excited about little things, which makes it really easy for Andrew to make me happy.  For example, last week he told me that a package would be coming in the mail that was for both of us.  When the package got here this week, I found out that he'd remembered that we wanted to try a specific kind of panettone that Giada De Laurentiis had mentioned.  I have been so excited every time I get to eat a piece of it this week.


Tells good stories:  I don't even know what to say about this one.  I'm happy that he thinks I tell good stories because I tell a lot of them!


Thoughtfulness:  I spend a lot of time thinking about others.  I love spending time with them (even though I already told you that I have problems being social from time to time!)  I also love giving people meaningful gifts.  The fact that this is different from others has become increasingly obvious over the past few years as I'm shopping for birthday presents and Christmas presents.  I shop during the entire year, picking up things that I think people would like as I see them.  Andrew shops on Christmas Eve!  I buy gifts that I think people would enjoy.  Andrew buys gifts from the lists that people give him.  I never realized that our shopping styles were so different!


Strength:  His specific words were "You're stronger than you think you are.  Everyone knows it, just not you."  One of the times I love my family the most is when we have to deal with a crisis because we all come together.  We know what's important and what's not.  We know that we need to support each other and love each other.  I think a lot of the strength I have has come from the crises that my family and I have faced and gotten through together.


Prompt 7: Community

Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010?  What community would you like to join, create, or more deeply connect with in 2011?

I had a hard time with this prompt.  Mostly because I have a tendency to be friends with people for a long time.  It's hard for me to make new friends.  The "new" friends I've made in the past few years have actually been people I was friends with in high school that I have reconnected with because I'm more comfortable with people I already know.

I have a tendency to become withdrawn when things get stressful.  I spend so much energy teaching and talking to my students every day that sometimes it's hard for me to want to socialize with other people.  I'm always glad when I do, but I have a hard time convincing myself that I should be social.

The community I have is a group of my friends from church.  We meet up every Thursday night at Friday's.  (Ironic, huh?)  We see each other at church on Sunday.  We get together to play games and celebrate birthdays and spend time together.

In 2011, I would love to deepen some of my relationships.  I have a tendency to rely on the group events we have planned with our church group instead of getting together with people in smaller groups or one on one.  That means that some of the friendships are not as deep as I would like them to be.  I would also like to spend some time deepening my reconnected friendships and exploring the possibility for new friendships with some of my acquaintances.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Prompt 6: Make

What was the last thing you made?  What materials did you use?  Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?


I have had so much fun decorating our house for Christmas!  The main thing I made was the wreath for our front door.  I'd already made a wreath that I used to hang on the door of our apartment, but it moved inside this year because I wanted a bigger wreath for the front door of the house.
The old wreath

The new wreath
Can you tell I like the sparkly, spirally things since they're in both wreaths?  I'm also pretty proud of the bow on the new wreath.  It's looking a little worse for wear at the moment because it's been outside in the wind and the snow.  I've never been able to make the big, decorative bows, but this year I figured I'd give it a try.  I think the bows I made (they're also on the lights on either side of the garage and on the lamppost in the front yard) turned out pretty well.

I would love to set aside some time to scrapbook!  I have some of the wedding scrapbook done, but it's hard for me to make much progress on it because I feel like the scrapbook has to look as good as the pictures, which are absolutely gorgeous!  I also have to scrapbook buying and moving into the house and our honeymoon and I want to scrapbook the Christmas cards this year.  Last year I scrapbooked our Christmas card and some of the cards that we got from our family and friends.  It's a great way to keep track of what's happened in our lives and the lives of our family and friends in the past year.  I know there's a lot I want to get done, but I'm really excited about it!  I can't wait to have some time over Christmas break to start on it.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Prompt 5: Let Go

What (or whom) did you let go of this year?  Why?


I let go of a friendship this year.  I have a friend that I've known since I moved to Indiana.  We grew up together doing almost everything together - going to church, each other's birthday parties, and we were supposed to go to each other's weddings.

She got married a few months before I did.  My fiance and I went to their wedding, bought them a gift, and had a great time.  She and her husband RSVPed for our wedding but did not show up.  I figured something had come up and waited to hear from her.  (There were a few others who didn't make it to the wedding that I heard from within a few days.)  But I didn't hear from her.  For over a year.  She never contacted me to apologize for missing my wedding or acknowledge the fact that I got married.

I'll be the first to admit that I have a hard time letting go of friendships.  I am still friends with most of the people I've been friends with in my life.  I think I'm pretty good at keeping in contact, remembering their birthdays, and congratulating them when they have important events in their lives.  So I held onto hope for this friendship for a long time.  But I also realized that any continuance of the friendship would have to come from her so I didn't contact her, though I really wanted to.  We haven't talked in over a year and a half, and I have absolutely no reason why.

But I finally let/made myself let go of the friendship.  The way I did that was by acknowledging that there are some people who you are friends with for a certain period of time and then you aren't really friends with them after that.  And that's okay.  I don't dislike her in any way.  I'm simply confused by what happened and realized that I couldn't keep caring about someone who obviously showed that they didn't care about me.

Prompt 4: Wonder

How did you cultivate a sense of wonder this year?

My wonder definitely came from getting our puppy, Schmoo.  Getting him and taking care of him has made me see things from his perspective.  It's been great to be able to be with him while he grows and learns about the world.  Seeing him have so many "firsts" like his first walk, his first bone, his first time being in our house, and his first time going in the snow has been amazing.  It has reminded me that there's pleasure in the little things in life  and to appreciate ever "first" moment I get with him as he grows up!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Prompt 3: Moment

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year.  Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

This would definitely be while we were on our honeymoon in Maine.  I don't have a specific instant, but we spent so much time exploring new places that we couldn't help but feel alive.  Some of my best memories were hearing about a restaurant we should try or a place we could go from someone and then deciding that we would do it.  We were so spontaneous, only knowing where we wanted to go and a few of the places we were staying before we left.  The rest of our trip was somewhat unplanned and some of our best adventures and memories happened because of that.

  • We went to an amazing local restaurant because of the recommendation of the woman working at the car rental counter.  
  • We stayed in some great bed and breakfasts by booking a room the night before.  
  • We made the best of a foggy day at Acadia National Park by going out to see the park anyway, which let us see the park without the crowds.  When we went back the next day we saw a completely different view of the same sights.  
  • We had one of, if not the, best dinners I've ever had at a restaurant that Andrew had heard mentioned.
  • We were adventurous and went kayaking through the harbor where there were tons of boats that were bigger than us that were going out into the ocean.  We actually went out to the point where we could see the entrance to the ocean from the harbor and had to deal with some pretty strong waves, but had so much fun doing it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Prompt 2: Writing

What do you do each day that doesn't contribute to your writing - and can you eliminate it?

This prompt ties in perfectly with my word for next year: intention.  When I actually sit down and think about the things that are important to me reading about what other people are thinking, feeling, experiencing on their blogs and contributing to that conversation on my blog is one of them.  I have every intention of taking the time to write on my blog, but I always seem to find excuses.

My biggest excuse for not writing is not feeling inspired.  When I feel like I have something to write about then I'm great at writing, but that inspiration only comes from time to time so I only write from time to time.  I think it definitely helps me to have a prompt to respond to because it gets me thinking about something that I wouldn't have thought of and written about on my own.

The other reason I have trouble writing is I often feel like it doesn't matter to others if I write on my blog or not.  I know that a few people read it, but I don't know if I contribute enough through my blog for me to be missed when I'm not writing.  And it's hard for me to commit myself to something when I don't feel that I'm making much of a contribution.  But I also know that I can only contribute by committing to doing so.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Prompt 1: One Word.

Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

This year has been about trust. Trust that my husband loves me.  Trust that we can afford to buy a house.  Trust that our honeymoon, for which I did the majority of the planning, would turn out well.  Trust that we can take care of a puppy.  Trust that no matter what happens to us, we are in this life together.


I tend to worry a lot about things that are not in my control, so the idea of having to trust others can be hard for me.  And I've had to trust a lot of people this year - God, my husband, our realtor, the former owners of our house, the owners of the bed and breakfasts where we stayed, or the people who  ran the animal shelter where we got our puppy.  I think that having to relinquish control and trust in others was definitely good for me.  I hadn't really thought about the fact that I had to do that this year until writing this, but that really does sum up the year.


I would love for 2011 to be about intention.  I spend way too much time doing whatever is easiest instead of taking the time to think about what I really want to do with my time.  That means that a lot of my time gets wasted on things that aren't all that important.  I would love to be more intentional with my time and energy, to deliberately think about what I want to do with my minutes because they quickly add up to hours, days, weeks, months, and years.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Heartbreak

Some of the things that my students have to deal with break my heart.  I have a few times each year when I hear about something going on with one of the students that makes me feel sorry for them, but the two stories I heard today really did break my heart.

The first is a student who had dropped out for a year and then decided to come back to finish high school.  He's eighteen, lives on his own, and is having the week from hell.  He's having some fairly major health issues, but he doesn't have insurance so he can't afford to go anywhere to get checked out.  He doesn't have enough money to pay for his heat so he doesn't have it on.  And his cat died.  He came in today and sat down with three separate staff members to talk about what's going on with him.  This is a kid who is really independent and doesn't show his emotions, but he was literally holding back tears during one of my classes today.  I asked what I could do to help and he said "There's nothing anyone can do.  I have to take care of this."  And then he looked at me with such a sad expression in his eyes and said, "But thanks for asking."  I haven't been able to get the look of sadness and desperation that he gave me out of my mind.  I've been thinking and praying about him and his situation all night.  If you could pray for him as well I'd really appreciate it.

The second is a student who is a fifth year senior.  He has one more class to finish before he graduates, which he's been working on in an independent study with me because he's working full time to support the child that he has with his fiance, who graduated last year.  Today I found out that his fiance has been cheating on him for several months.  She told him about it and then moved out taking their child with her.  He called one of the staff members and cried on the phone while he told him about the situation.

It's students like these, who are working their hardest to graduate and still seem to be struggling at every turn, that break my heart.  I can't fix the things they have to deal with.  The only thing I can do is offer them my support and encouragement and let them know that they are not alone, but that they have a school full of staff and students who care about them and want what's best for them.  This is why I teach at Options because I know that the people there care about each other and because I know that I'm making a difference in these students' lives, no matter how small that difference may seem sometimes.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Well not quite yet, but it's getting closer.  And because of that, I've been thinking about the anticipation of Christmas.  I think it's important to remember that Thanksgiving is an important holiday that should not be overlooked in anticipation of Christmas.

We actually had a rule in our family growing up that we weren't allowed to play Christmas music before Thanksgiving because we would play it all year long.  (My dad's the one that made the rule.  He likes Christmas as much as the rest of us, but apparently only after Thanksgiving.)  I do break the rule sometimes, but usually only by a week or so.

Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas.  It's my favorite holiday and my favorite time of year.  (And not just because I get a break from school!)  The past few years I've been making more of an effort to establish traditions to go with Thanksgiving as well as Christmas, because that's one of my favorite things about the holidays.  So this year for Thanksgiving we will be:

Image from here.
  • Participating in the Drumstick Dash, which we've done two other times.  It's a 5K that takes place in Broad Ripple and supports Wheeler Mission.
  • Watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
  • Eating turkey, stuffing, and all of the other fabulous foods you only get on Thanksgiving.  Unless you're my sister and I who insist on trying to have a turkey and stuffing for every possible holiday...

Monday, November 1, 2010

All Saints' Day

I have always loved the idea of the "cloud of witnesses" that have come before us as Christians.  It comes from Hebrews 12:1, which reads "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."  I love the idea of being surrounded by the people that we have loved and lost.  It makes me feel that they have not just gone before me, but that they are always with me.  I think I first became aware of the phrase "cloud of witnesses" when I heard the Mark Schultz song with the same name, so I always think of it when I hear the phrase.

So on All Saints' Day, I remember all of the witnesses that are surrounding me with their love even though they are no longer with me.

Just for the record

We had 55 trick or treaters.  The cutest had to be the toddler from next door who was dressed as a cow.  So cute!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

It's our first Halloween in our new house so I'm anxiously awaiting trick or treaters (as I was writing this sentence our first two rang the doorbell!).  I love seeing the kids dressed up in their costumes.  It's especially exciting to be greeting trick or treaters at our house because we have a lot more kids in our neighborhood than my parents do in their neighborhood.  I told my parents I'd count how many kids we got so we could compare.

We've gone all out this year, decorating the front door, carving pumpkins, and getting lots of candy for trick or treaters.  We also embraced the holiday food.  I've made three batches of Pumpkin Fluff (a recipe that my friend Nancy gave me), eaten peanut butter caramel dip with some apples, and even tried Witches' Brew, which is a spiced red wine that you heat up to drink.  

The pumpkin fluff tastes like the inside of a pumpkin pie.  You can eat it on its own or with graham crackers.  I think it's better the second day because the pudding has a chance to set up a little more so it's thicker.  The Witches' Brew was different than I expected, but I'm going to give it another try.  I actually think I like it better cold than hot, but you can drink it either way.

Have a great Halloween and check out the recipe for pumpkin fluff below.

Pumpkin Fluff (It's technically called Pumpkin Cloud, but I like the name Pumpkin Fluff better...)
1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin
3 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I substituted allspice because I didn't have nutmeg)
2 packages vanilla instant pudding
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
cool whip

Combine all ingredients with a mixer.  Blend in cool whip.  Best served as a dip with graham crackers, though my students at school were dipping brownies into it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall projects

We've been doing lots and lots of projects around the house the past few weekends.

First, we ripped out the ugly juniper bushes we had out front and replaced them with boxwood bushes.

I took this picture before we planted the last one.
There's another one in the middle now.
We also planted some alium, tulips, and crocuses in the same flowerbed in front of the bushes.  The project took a lot longer than it should have because we had to move all of the rocks that were in the flower bed, which took a long time...

Then, we moved inside and set up a wrapping paper station in the closet of my craft room.
Andrew was nice enough to help me put it together.
Before I was storing my wrapping paper and supplies in a tupperware bin in the guest room closet.  When I needed to wrap something, it was a pain to get to everything.  This is so much better because everything is so easy to get to.  The whole thing is just a piece of peg board, some hooks, and some dowel rods to make wrapping presents for Christmas so much easier.  The clear buckets that I have my ribbon in are from Michael's.  (I'm really, really, really excited about it!)

This weekend we decorated the front door for Halloween!
You can't see it, but there's another pumpkin behind the bush on the left.
We'll be carving them later this week.
We started decorating after we went to pick out pumpkins and found these awesome purple, sparkly spiders.  Andrew was nice enough to let me buy two of them!
I LOVE them!
I can't wait to give out candy to trick or treaters at our house!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Love

"I am the work of your life, you are the work of mine. That's what love is!" -from The Last Station

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Enjoying the flavors of Fall

This is the recipe that I've been using for acorn squash from Simply Recipes.  It's simple and delicious!


Classic Baked Acorn Squash Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Acorn squash
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Maple Syrup
  • Dash of Salt

METHOD

1 Preheat oven to 400°F.
2 Using a strong chef's knife, and perhaps a rubber mallet to help, cut the acorn squash in half, lengthwise, from stem to end. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff in the center of each half. Score the insides of each half several times with a sharp knife. Place each half in a baking pan, cut side up. Add about a 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of the baking pan so that the skins don't burn and the squash doesn't get dried out.
3 Coat the inside of each half with 1/2 a Tbsp of butter. Add a dash of salt if you are using unsalted butter. Add a Tbsp of brown sugar to the cavity of each half. Dribble on a teaspoon of maple syrup to each half.
4 Bake in the oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until the squash is very soft and the tops are browned. Do not undercook. When finished, remove from oven and let cool a little before serving. Spoon any buttery sugar sauce that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas.
Serves 2 to 4, depending on how much squash you like to eat.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Why go to church?

I admit it.  I have been slacking about going to church the past few weeks.  I’ve decided to sleep in or take time to relax instead of getting up and going.  But this morning I got a text from our contemporary worship leader telling me she was going into the hospital to have her baby (yay!) and asking if I could come sing at the service this morning.  Well now I had to go because I had a commitment to fulfill.
And it was a good thing I went because the sermon was all about our commitment to the church.  The minister said that we have NOTHING more important than our commitment to our faith and our church because it is the only thing that really matters in life. He reminded us that there is NO GOOD EXCUSE to not participate in church.  It was something that I already knew but I needed to be reminded of.  
The part of the sermon that really got to me was when the minister told the story of Anne Porteous, who was a founding member of the church.  (She and her husband, Al, “adopted” my family when my mom had to have open heart surgery because they knew we didn’t have any family in town.  They have ever since been known as our adopted grandma and grandpa.) He talked about the passion that Anne and Al had when they were founding the church.  She told the minister that there hasn’t been a day that she has come to Orchard Park and not felt that passion about the church and the people in it.  I loved being reminded of where the church started.  It makes me that much more excited to be a part of it and help decide where it will be going.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Trying out tumblr

I decided to try out tumblr.  I jsut started and am still trying to get the hang of it, but if you wanna check it out you can do that here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Schmoo meets the neighbors

He's so much bigger now than he was a few weeks ago!
Tonight I got to show off our little Schmoozer to the neighbors across the street.  The two kids both loved how cute Schmoo is and told me so over and over again.  I love getting to show him off and getting to know our neighbors a little better.

(Our neighbors asked us our last name again because they don't want the kids calling us by our first names.  Seriously?  We're to the Mr. and Mrs. Taylor who live across the street stage?  Weird!)

Friday, September 24, 2010

A photo that makes me happy

Image from
http://laughingsquid.com/wp-content/uploads/maru-20090425-125127.j
pg

This is Maru.  He's a cat who lives in Japan.  His owner takes TONS of pictures and videos of him, which is understandable because he's hilarious.  He even has his own Wikipedia page.  I follow the owner's blog where he posts pictures of Maru with really horribly written English captions almost every day.  

This cat makes me happy every single time I see him.  Seriously.

20 of my favorite things

  1. my husband
  2. my family
  3. our pets - Butterball, Olly, and Schmoo
  4. pictures of people I love
  5. the color purple
  6. purple Pyrex
  7. the smell of lilacs
  8. reading
  9. musicals
  10. Gilmore Girls
  11. DVR
  12. crying at a good movie
  13. vacation
  14. ice cream
  15. coffee
  16. Christmas
  17. knitting
  18. scrapbooking
  19. Goodwill
  20. Target

Monday, September 20, 2010

Favorite quote

My favorite quote is "If you could envision the type of person God intended you to be, you would rise up and never be the same again."  It reminds me that the vision God has for my life is so much bigger and better than I could ever imagine.  It also reminds me that God is in control, which definitely helps out when things aren't going the way I'd like them to.

Favorite book

Oh my goodness.  I definitely can't pick just one favorite so instead I'll give you a few of my favorites.
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
  • Beauty by Robin McKinley
  • Traveling Light by Katrina Kittle
  • anything by Mark Doty
The first two are children's books that I've read over and over and over again.  The third is a novel that I've read over and over again.  (I haven't had it long enough for the third over...)   And Mark Doty is a poet and novelist who packs so much meaning into each line of his writing that you have to take your time while you're reading it.  That's definitely something that I need sometimes, to have to take my time and enjoy what I'm reading.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Favorite TV show

Picture taken from
http://community.livejournal.com/ohnotheydidnt/12191247.html
My favorite TV show is definitely Gilmore Girls.  It ran for seven seasons and I'm 99% positive that I've seen every single episode.  I'm completely willing to watch them all again just to make sure...

The best part about Gilmore Girls has to be how quotable the show is.  For example:

  • "I'm afraid that once your heart's involved it all comes out in moron."
  • "Oh, I can't stop drinking the coffee.  I stop drinking the coffee, I stop doing the standing, walking, and the words-putting-into-sentence-doing."
  • "Oy with the poodles already."
  • "When a woman gives birth to a crack baby, you do not buy her a puppy."
  • "I don't like Mondays but unfortunately they come around eventually."
I absolutely love it!!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Favorite movie

My favorite movie is definitely Little Women.  I have seen it too many times to count.  What do I love so much about it?  It focuses on the importance of family and friends.  It goes through all four seasons and about every emotion.  It captures the feelings of rivalry between siblings, the love of a relationship, the sadness of losing someone you love.  It's a classic story and an absolutely beautiful movie.  Take a look at the pictures to see for yourself:





All pictures taken from
 http://periodmoviecaps.blogspot.com/2010/01/little-women-1994.html
I have two stories involving this movie.  The first is that when I was in college, this was the movie I used to watch whenever I was sick.  Since I lived with the same roommate for three years, she got to the point where she dreaded coming home to see this movie on because it meant 1) I was sick and 2) I was going to be crying because I always cry at this movie.  

The second is that I chose the song "For the Beauty of the Earth" to walk down the aisle to at my wedding because I really like that song and partly because it's the song that's used during Meg and John Brooke's wedding in the movie.



Saturday, September 11, 2010

Favorite song

My favorite song has to be "The Rainbow Connection" sung by Kermit the Frog.

I have a long history with this song.  My Grandpa Chuck had a player piano roll of this song and it was a family favorite to play and sing.  Over the years, the song has always reminded me of my family and home.  When it was time for me to pick a song to dance to with my dad at my wedding, I chose "The Rainbow Connection."
It's great to be reminded of that moment and that day, especially since today is Andrew and my one year anniversary!  I can't believe that it's been a year already.





Wednesday, September 8, 2010

An impromptu poem from the fabulous Billy Collins

The Effort

Would anyone care to join me
in flicking a few pebbles in the direction
of teachers who are fond of asking the question:
"What is the poet trying to say?"

as if Thomas Hardy and Emily Dickinson
had struggled but ultimately failed in their efforts -
inarticulate wretches that they were,
biting their pens and staring out the window for a clue.

Yes, it seems that Whitman, Amy Lowell
and the rest could only try and fail,
but we in Mrs. Parker's third-period English class
here at Springfield High will succeed

with the help of these study questions
in saying what the poor poet could not,
and we will get all this done before
that orgy of egg salad and tuna fish known as lunch.

Tonight, however, I am the one trying
to say what it is this absence means,
the two of us sleeping and waking under different roofs.
The image of this vase of cut flowers

not from our garden, is no help.
And the same goes for the single plate,
the solitary lamp, and the weather that presses its face
against these new windows - the drizzle and the morning frost.

So I will leave it up to Mrs. Parker,
who is tapping a piece of chalk against the black board,
and her students - a few with their hands up,
others slouching with their caps on backwards -

to figure out what it is I am trying to say
abotu this place where I find myself
and to do it before the noon bell rings
and that whirlwind of meatloaf is unleashed.

Better late than never

So I've been wanting to post more, but have been completely uninspired as to what to post about (especially because I'm not sure who actually reads my blog) so I'm going to join one of my best friends Erika in this 30 day posting schedule.  I'm just a little late since most of the people started this at the beginning of the month.  Oh well. 

Day 1 - your favorite song
Day 2 - your favorite movie
Day 3 - your favorite television program
Day 4 - your favorite book
Day 5 - your favorite quote
Day 6 - 20 of my favorite things
Day 7 - a photo that makes you happy
Day 8 - a photo that makes you angry/sad
Day 9 - a photo you took
Day 10 - a photo taken over 10 years ago of you
Day 11 - a photo of you recently
Day 12 - something you are OCD about
Day 13 - a fictional book
Day 14 - a non-fictional book
Day 15 - your dream house
Day 16 - a song that makes you cry (or nearly)
Day 17 - an art piece (drawing, sculpture, painting, etc)
Day 18 - my wedding/future wedding/past wedding
Day 19 - a talent of yours
Day 20 - a hobby of yours
Day 21 - a recipe
Day 22 - a website
Day 23 - a youtube video
Day 24 - where I live
Day 25 - your day, in great detail
Day 26 - your week, in great detail
Day 27 - my worst habit
Day 28 - what's in my handbag/purse
Day 29 - hopes,dreams and plans for the next 365 days
Day 30 - a dream for the future