Friday, December 23, 2011

Engraving Character

What is character?  The word character comes from the Greek, meaning an engraved mark, as in describing the process of minting coins or stamping.  An engraver makes the same motion again and again, each stroke digging a bit deeper into the stone or metal.  If weather, everyday use, or natural disaster attacks the stone, it will still stand.  The top layers may begin to erode away, but the integrity of the etching is left intact due to the layers and layers of copied motions.

During the 1600's in France, character became associated with one's most defining qualities or nature.  Today, this is the most commonly used definition of character.  However the two are still related.  When you hear on the news about a man saving an elderly person from a burning building, or a woman diving into an icy lake for a drowning child, the response is often the same.  He or she was just a regular guy who happened to be in the right place at the right time.  When that opportunity arose, the person acted instinctively, out of habit.  While we may not regularly play hero, our everyday actions are quietly defining our character.  The small choices we make each day add one more layer of etching into our character.  Only when tested by fire do we recognize the layers underneath.

Sometimes I think I will arrive at age 40, 50, or 60 and magically be a wise and Godly woman.  But it is my practice now in the small things which defines who I will be both today and in forty years.

If I make a habit to take an interest in the grocery clerk even if I am tired and cranky, I will be more likely to be hospitable to all strangers around me.  If I pick up trash when I see it, even when it's not my own, I will cultivate a greater appreciation for creation and my responsibility to steward it.  If I spend a few minutes each day to pray for others, I will develop a habit of intercession.

What are some small actions you do each day to define your character?  Are there things you brush aside out of inconvenience or annoyance that are in actuality worthwhile to the engraving your character?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

History FAIL

In elementary school, we teach our students how to make text to world connections. Ex/ We read a book about Henry Ford and then talk about cars affect our lives today.

"In 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. moved to Memphis, TN."


Well, yes.

And later, same kid, in reference to TN, "Isn't that short for Texas?"

Oh, we have a big job to do.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ways to beat a rainy Wednesday

1.  Have your awesome sauce co-worker greet you with a surprise hot Peppermint Mocha on your desk.  YESSSS.
2.  Parent/teacher conferences mean students go home at 12:35.  All of your class schedules are re-worked, so you get an unexpected 30 minute block free.
3.  Take your department head to the airport for a conference and pick up Chick-Fil-A on the way back.
4.  Speak some Spanish at conferences.
5.  Eat a handful of Dark Chocolate Pomegranate bites.
6.  Eat dinner with your favorite peeps at LA Bar and Grill.
7.  Go play a very soggy soccer game.  Try not to get scored on too much.  Bieber Fever is a tough team.

No word on numbers 6 & 7, but I'll do my best!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

4th Grade Bank Geek

4th grade just completed their first essay unit.  It was like pulling teeth.  I don't know who was more excited to be finished.  One of the students in my class grasped the concept of essays fully.  He was the ONLY one.  He not only understood the format (intro, three reasons w/ supporting details, conclusion), but he had so much fun writing his essay, and I am very amused while grading it!

In comparison, other essay topics included the ever ubiquitous: "Why Kids Need Laptops," "Being the Youngest Child is Hard," "Messi is the Best Soccer Player," "Ronaldo is the Best Soccer Player," and "Kids Should Not Have Homework."

And without further ado, "Trombones are Heavy."

It's never too early to become a band geek!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


In 4th grade Virginia History, we are studying the Jamestown settlement.  I showed my students this photo and said, "This is the Jamestown fort.  What is a fort?"  To which one of my students from Guatemala enthusiastically announced, "TENEDOR!"

We then had a quick lesson on final consonants "k" and "t."

(For you non-Spanish speakers, tenedor=fork.  Final consonants in English are generally very difficult to hear for Spanish speakers, so fork/fort sound almost the same.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Read much?

My school has given me 9 textbooks in the last ten weeks.  I have not QUITE gotten through all of them yet.  Would it be a good goal to finish one of them by the end of the year?

Sometimes I wish they would give me gift cards to Target/Loft/Starbucks or John Grisham novels instead.

More Spiling Tests

K- "Ms. A, how do you spell 'would'?"
Me- "This is a spelling test."
K- (long pause and questioning look "aaaaand?")
Me- "It's your job to know how to spell it."
K- "Oh."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

How about now? No? Soon? When!?!?!

I will be the first to admit, I am not good at waiting.  I'd really rather it, whatever it may be, be here.  Now.  God has been teaching me a LOT about waiting lately.  More than I would probably care to learn.  Today a friend shared a blog post by Paul Tripp on why God calls us to wait.  I hope you find it as insightful as I did for whatever God has asked to you be waiting for in your life.

5 Reasons Why God Calls Us to Wait

In ministry you will be both called to wait and also find waiting personally and corporately difficult. So it is important to recognize that there are lots of good reasons why waiting is not merely inescapable but necessary and helpful. Here are a few of those reasons.

Because We Live in a Fallen World

We are called to wait because the broken condition of the world makes everything we do harder. Nothing in this life or in your ministry really functions as originally intended. Something changed when sin entered the world, and in rebuking Adam, God summarized that change: "cursed is the ground . . . through painful toil you will eat of it. . . . It will produce thorns and thistles for you. . . . By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food" (Genesis 3:17-19). Sin brought friction and trouble and pain and sweat and a thousand other "thorn and thistle" complications to absolutely every aspect of life. We find ourselves waiting because everything in a fallen world is more laborious and entangled than it really ought to be.

Sin also put greed and fear and arrogance and jealousy and self-worship into the souls of all who live this thorn-and-thistle life. We must wait because, by being selfish, impatient, competitive, driven, anxious, and angry, we make life and ministry harder for one another in an endless variety of ways. This is why the seemingly easy leadership conversation becomes the full-blown conflict, why the once-sweet ministry relationship gets stained with hurt and acrimony, and why the church at times sadly functions as a tool of personal power rather than an instrument of worship and redemption.

Processes and people are all affected---everything and everyone has been damaged by the Fall. We must wait, because in a world that is broken, everything we do is harder and more complicated than it was ever meant to be.

Because God Is Sovereign

We must wait because we are not writing our own personal and ministry stories. Life does not work the way we want it to, in the time we want it to. You and I do not live in the center of the universe. That place is forever occupied by God and God alone. Our individual stories and the stories of our churches are part of the great origin-to-destiny story that he alone authors. Waiting becomes immediately easier when you realize God is sovereign (and you are not) and when you further reflect on the reality that he is the ultimate source of everything that is wise, loving, and good.

Waiting, therefore, is not a sign that your world is out of control. Rather, it is a sign that your world is under the wise and infinitely attentive control of a God of fathomless wisdom and boundless love. This means you can rest as you wait, not because you like to wait, but because you trust the One who is calling you to wait.

Because God Is a God of Grace

Waiting is one of God's most powerful tools of grace. It's important to realize in your ministry that God doesn't just give us grace for the wait. The wait itself is a gift of grace. You see, waiting is not only about what you will receive at the end of the wait. Waiting is about what you will become as you wait.

In calling us to wait, God is even rescuing those of us in ministry from our bondage to our own plan, our own wisdom, our own power, our own control. In calling us to wait, God is freeing us from the claustrophobic confines of our own little kingdoms of one and drawing us into a greater allegiance to his kingdom of glory and grace. Waiting is more than being patient as situations and other people change. Waiting is about understanding that you and I desperately need to change, and that waiting is a powerful tool of personal change. God is using the grace of waiting to change us at the causal core of our personhood: the heart. Now, in ministry, that's a good thing!

So We Can Minister to Others

Waiting is central to any ministry activity. If you are truly committed to being part of what God is doing in the lives of others, you will be willing to wait. Personal heart and life change is seldom a sudden event. Usually it is a process. You and I do not determine when and how the winds of the Spirit will blow, and people do not often become what they need to become overnight.

This means that in ministry we are called to have the same conversation again and again. We are called to pick that person up after each failure, to be willing to forgive and forbear, to remind him or her once more of God's presence and grace, and to be willing to have our lives slowed down and complicated in the process. People of grace and love are always people who are willing to wait.

For the Increase of God's Glory

Finally, we are called to wait because everything in life and ministry exists not for our comfort and ease but for God's glory. The whole redemptive story is written for one purpose and one purpose alone: the glory of the king.

Waiting is hard for us because we tie our hearts to other glories. We so often are tempted to live and minister for the glory of human acceptance, of personal achievement, of power and position, of possessions and places, and of comfort and pleasure. So when God's glory requires that these things be withheld from us---things we look to for identity, meaning, and purpose---we find waiting a grueling, burdensome experience.

Waiting means surrendering your glory. Waiting means submitting to his glory. Waiting means understanding that you were given life and breath for the glory of another. Waiting gives you opportunity to forsake the delusion of your own glory and rest in the God of awesome glory. Only when you do that will you find what you seek, and what you were meant to have: lasting identity, meaning, purpose, and peace in Christ. In this way waiting is is much more than a burden for you to bear; it is a precious gift for you to receive with joy.

Paul Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization whose mission statement is "Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life." Tripp is also professor of pastoral life and care at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas, and executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas. Tripp has written many books on Christian living that are read and distributed internationally. He has been married for many years to Luella, and they have four grown children.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Where do they come up with this stuff???

Today, eavesdropping on 3rd grade tutoring club over the course of ten minutes.  I was sitting in the back of the room stifling snorts of laughter and failing to get any work done.

Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

(Studying suffixes -less and -ful)
Ms. F: "Can you use harmful in a sentence?"
Manuel: "A catful is harmful."
Ms. F: "What's a catful?"
Manuel: "You know.  A catful.  It can scratch you."
Ms. F: "Do you mean a cat?"
Manuel: "Oh.  Yeah."

Manuel: (interrupting silent work time) "Did you know?  I am part bloodhound."

Manuel: "If you stare at the sun you see sparkles.  Like right now, I can't see you, but I know you are there."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Life Lessons

Yesterday I learned three new things:

1.  If you leave your travel coffee mug open next to your laptop, you will one day knock it over.  It only took me a year and a half of teaching to do this.  Fortunately my computer still works, though it smells heavily of French Vanilla creamer.

2.  If the neighborhood fire truck is going out on a call, he goes the wrong way around the roundabout for a quick exit out the neighborhood.
This surprised me GREATLY.  Red Corolla vs. red fire truck.  Fire truck will win every time.

3.  If you do not zip your soccer bag closed, you might accidentally lose one cleat.  I carry two pairs of socks (usually one is sorta clean), two pairs of goalie gloves, two sets of shin guards, extra water/Gatorade, athletic tape, Band-Aids, extra hair ties, back up rosters.  I am prepared.  However I only have one pair of cleats.  This is a VITAL part of one's soccer get-up.  I discovered I was one cleat short on my way to my game last night.  I hope some stray dog is enjoying his new chew toy.  Fortunately I was rescued by a teammate and today I have a cool new kicks.

In another note, I feel like an ogre.  I pulled SIX brands of cleats from the rack at Dick's to try on and they didn't have ANY of them larger than a size 8.  Really?  Soccer Kicks came to my rescue AND sold me last year's model for $25 off.

It was a very educational day.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Surprise! On me!

This event has officially passed so I can now write about it. Whew.

Two weeks ago a friend sent me an email reminding me about her fiancé's surprise Bday party. I was fighting a cold, but decided to stop by for a bit. After school I zipped over for a quick oil change. Quick being two hours! Augh! Now I was grumpy and running late. I zipped toward Arlington in rush hour traffic (ok, so zipped is perhaps a misnomer), took a wrong turn, and ended up in Georgetown. Whoops.

Fortunately my awesome boyfriend punched in the address and gave me directions from his desk in Arkansas. Isn't modern technology awesome? I screeched to a stop with moments to spare (don't want to spoil a surprise party!) and RACED into the house, not even bothering to knock. Better safe than sorry, right? I threw myself in through the front door, right into the middle of... Kate's roommates eating dinner.

Party? It was the next evening.

I sheepishly introduced myself to the roommates, promised to return tomorrow, and made a hasty retreat. I am so smooth.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Acrostic poems

Today I let my students do free writing at the end of class. My usual behavior problem must have decided he liked me.  Also, we may need a refresher in how to spell my name.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hypothetically Speaking

Assignment.  5th grade science.  Imagine the whole universe (and all the matter in it) has disappeared.  Only your class has survived in an underground lab.  Your class must rebuild the elements using the periodic table.

Could this happen?  Why or why not?  Which elements would you choose to rebuild first?


No because were in the yonaferse and if it bolse up we will dye.
People need oxygen to serveva.

Fortunately my student was rescued by a peer spelling edit.  Whew.

(If you have re-read that answer several times and still don't have a clue, the translation is as follows: "No, because we're in the universe and if it blows up we will die.  People need oxygen to survive."  If you got it on the first read, you should work for the CIA in cryptology or become a teacher.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Whoa, whoa, WHOA

Did you know...
Zazu from the Lion King

and Mr. Bean

are one and the same?


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nauseatingly cute

You have been warned.  This is nauseatingly cute.  And I have no shame when it comes to bragging on my niece and nephew.  They are hands down the cutest things on the planet.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Words, words, words!

I grew up in a family in which "S.U." (shut up) were bad words.  Sometimes we could get away with the initials and not have one sibling or another tell on you.  Somewhere around high school or college, we started to use the word "crap."  It was not met with great enthusiasm by my mother.  Now we use it fairly freely in speech while remaining aware it is not the most polite word.  I can count on one hand the number of times I heard my mother utter a four letter word, and it was almost always after smashing her toe into something.  In our family, we used polite words.

In the movies, on tv, and amongst my peers, there is a much broader range of vocabulary to be heard.  I have wrestled with this idea of polite language versus cussing or swearing.  I have friends who openly swear with a clear conscience and those who won't even say "Oh my gosh."  Biblical Counseling Guru Paul Tripp has some great thoughts on the subject.  (If you like this, check out his website or any book he has written.  I recommend Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change.)

How do you define what language is appropriate to use?  Is it merely cultural or also Biblical?
Also, do you distinguish between cussing (bad words) and swearing (using God's name in vain)?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Labor Day

This Sunday marked my third year Falls Churchiversary.  That is, it's been 3 years since I set foot in The Falls Church and found my NOVA church home.  Every Labor Day Weekend Sunday, the church has a fantastic tradition of highlighting our labors.  After the sermon, John Yates interviews a handful of people about their labor and how they see the Lord moving and working through them in their professions.  This year we heard from a big time political exec on Capitol Hill, a college ministry director, a lawyer, and a part-time doc/part-time mom.  All four shared lessons of what God had taught them about himself and how to love the people around them.

I left Sunday being reminded that my God does not fit into the hour and a half service on Sunday morning.  He doesn't fit into the 15 minutes I squeeze out for reading the Bible, or a prayer on the way to work.  He desires to be Lord over every minute of my day, not just the ones that I designate as God time.  Most of my day is spent in a school, teaching 4th graders and interacting with colleagues.  God wants to be there too.  What would my day look like if I invited God into all of those moments too?  How would I react to additional unwanted responsibilities or defiant kids?  How would I love my not so lovable colleagues or be a servant to those around me?

If I invite God in to those moments, I can't take the credit for my successes or good deeds.  My motive lies in bringing more honor to God because he is reflected to the world through us.  In closing his sermon John said, "Our works don't determine our salvation, but what kind of stewards of the Gospel we have been."  I want to arrive at heaven's door and hear "Well done good and faithful servant.  You lived your life in reflection of Me."

Yesterday I discovered a new song thanks to my sister Mollie.  It has been on repeat since.  I'm going to steal it and share it with you.

May the Words of My Mouth by Tim Hughes

May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart
Bless Your name, bless Your name, Jesus
And the deeds of the day and the truth in my ways
Speak of You, speak of You, Jesus

For this is what I'm glad to do
It's time to live a life of love that pleases You
And I will give my all to You
Surrender everything I have and follow You
I'll follow You

Lord, will You be my vision, Lord, will You be my guide
Be my hope, be my light and the way
And I'll look not for riches, nor praises on earth
Only You'll be the first of my heart

I will follow
I will follow
I will follow You

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Today I...
-hit snooze 3 times
-drank 1 cup of coffee (cutting back)
-had 2 fruits and 1 veggie by noon (also turning over a new leaf)
-attended 3 loooong meetings
-received 3 new teacher textbooks, 2 file folders, and 1 binder full of information
-made 2 lesson plan templates
-wrote 1/2 of a lesson plan (it's a start)
-covered 1 bulletin board
-laminated 5,000 small items (approximately)
-assembled 18 donated backpacks full of supplies (it was like Christmas!!!!!!!!)
-met 3 new teachers
-won 1 round of Retention Family Feud (oh yeah, we teachers are just cool like that)
-made 1 new schedule
-scrapped 1 new schedule
-consoled 3 frazzled new teachers
-ate 3 handfuls of Sour Patch Kids
-played 2 songs of PS22 on YouTube b/c Pandora is blocked.

Welcome back to school.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Shaun: What's your favorite flower?  Lilies?  Orcas?
Me:  That's a whale.

Points for effort, not so much for accuracy.  I will be very surprised if he shows up one day with an orca.

(Please be in awe of my awesome photo editing skills.  Impressive, I know.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Crepe Cake

How to make a crepe cake.

1.  Be unable to resist a challenge sent in the form of a "this would make a cool birthday present" email.

2.  Buy a strainer and make an impulse purchase of a smiley spoon.  Cool, right?

3.  Gather all of your ingredients.  Run out of counter space.

4.  Melt 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter into 1T of water.  Add 8 oz of semi-sweet chocolate.  

5.  Combine 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, 1/3 c. sugar, and 1/2 t. salt.  In a separate bowl mix 2 1/2 c. of room temperature whole milk with 6 (!!) eggs and 1T of vanilla.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry, then add the chocolate. 

 6.  Using your new, fancy pants strainer, strain the batter to remove any chunks or clumps.  I used semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of baking chocolate, so I had some chocolate/wax residue as well as flour clumps.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

7.  While you are waiting, combine 2 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream with 1/3 c. confectioner's sugar.  Whip until you have soft peaks and then add 1/4 c. of hazelnut spread (Nutella).  Be sure to lick the Nutella spoon when finished.  Refrigerate.  (This step is my creation- perhaps add more Nutella and less sugar next time?)

8.  Boil 1 1/4 c. heavy cream with 1 T corn starch.  Remove from heat and add 10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped (don't cut corners by using chips!).  Do not stir!  Wait 5 minutes and then mix together.  Set aside.

9.  Drink a much-needed caffeine boost thanks to the extra trip you had to take to the store to get forgotten ingredients.  Can you tell I used to work at Starbucks?  I can sure fill up a cup with specific requests- Iced Grande 1/2 caff vanilla non-fat latte.  Yum!

10.  Take out your mom's super-cool 1970's crepe maker.  Seriously, they don't make them like they used to!

11.  Make 5 gazillion chocolate crepes.  The first 5 are usually a bust for me.  I had about 30 extras even so.  That was a LOT of crepe making.  Stack them all on a plate.

12.  On a wire rack, layer a crepe with 2-3T of hazelnut filling.  Repeat 30ish times.  I meant to keep track, but I lost count.  This cake was somewhere between 30-40 crepes high.

13.  Refrigerate 15 minutes to set.

14.  Add chocolate ganache.  Refrigerate 15 minutes or more to set.  Re-plate and add toasted hazelnuts to garnish.

15.  Deliver to your friend's birthday party and bring a sharp knife and a big sweet tooth!

Thanks to Martha Stewart for her inspiration and crepe/ganache recipes.  I was not quite up to the task of her filling or candied hazelnuts.  Another project perhaps on another day.

Hopefully by now you are sufficiently hungry.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

You have known me

Think of your best friend.  Or your spouse.  Or your mom.  The person who knows everything about you.  (I will not judge you in the least if you choose your mom.)  He or she knows your food preferences, favorite colors, pet peeves, mood swings, hopes and dreams.  Go ahead.  Try to list everything you know about the person closest to you.  You know a LOT.

Yet there are still things that person does not know.  As poor as I am about hiding my true feelings, there are still sometimes that I conceal things.  My thoughts are not all broadcasted to the world (good thing!).  Even someone who has walked with me my whole life has not lived or felt everything I have.  

Except for God.  He is the only one who knows every hair on my head.  I don't even know them all, just on bad hair days.  He knows the true condition of my heart, even when I am lying to myself.  The good, the bad, and the really, extra ugly.  I don't have to hide that, because he already knows.  He already knows the rude thoughts I had in traffic, the way I judged a friend's appearance, the self-centered way I lived my day.  He knows where I have been, and what He has brought me through.  He even knows where I am going.  He knows me better than I know myself.  

So why hide?  When I am ashamed of something I have done or perhaps not done, my initial inclination is to run away from God.  But why?  Nothing is hidden from Him, and yet He still calls us to Him.  

As a kid when I was upset, I would run away from home.  This consisted of packing the orange peanut butter crackers (this is still a mandatory item for hikes and survival trips), my compass, and a book (usually Hardy Boys) into my trusty leather hip pouch.  I ran away a whopping 100 yards to "The Hump," the dead end of our street, and climbed a tree.  I was far, far away.  But just to be safe, I could still see the front door.  And there I stayed in that tree until I got tired or I was called for dinner.  By that time tempers had died down and I all I really wanted was to be home.

God already knows your failures and He still wants you.  
Stop running away from home and just go home.  

As the dew falls on the blade
You have touched all this fragile frame
And as a mother knows her baby’s face
You know me, You know me

As the summer air within my chest
I have breathed You deep down into my breast
And as You know the hairs upon my head
Every thought and every word I’ve said
Every thought and every word I’ve said

Savior, You have known me as I am
Healer, You have known me as I was
As I will be in the morning, in the evening
You have known me, yeah, You know me

Oh, and as the exhilaration of autumn’s bite
Oh, You have brought these tired bones to brilliant life
And as the swallow knows, she knows the sky
This is how it is with You and I
Oh, this is how it is with You and I

From the fall of my heart to the resurrection of my soul
You know me, God, and You know my ways
In my rising and my sitting down
You see me as I am, oh, see me as I am

And as a lover knows his beloved’s heart
All the shapes and curves of her even in the dark
Oh, You have formed one in my inward parts
And You know me, You know me, yes

Savior, You, You have known me as I am
Oh, healer, You have known me as I was
As I will be in the morning, in the evening
You have known

You have known me, in the morning, in the evening
You’ve known me, God
In the morning, in the evening You have known me
Yeah, You’ve know me

You have always known me
You know me, God, You have known me
You have always known my heart

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fig Newtons

Ok, not really Fig Newtons.  I am reading a biography on John Newton, but every time I pick up the book I want to eat a Fig Newton.  Specifically a raspberry one because they are yummiest.

John Newton is famous for
A) writing "Amazing Grace"
B) inventing Fig Newtons
C) eating lots of Fig Newtons
D) being a major leader in Britain's abolitionist movement
E) being an influential clergyman and theologian in Great Britain

Answer? A, D, and E.

Perhaps you caught onto the Fig Newton diversion.  I, like many of today's Christians, had heard of John Newton as author of Amazing Grace.  I did not know know of his work outside of hymn writing.  John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace by Jonathan Aitken is the story of Newton's life-- how God in his perfect timing redeemed and transformed a man far from Him.

Today I was struck by a quote by Newton:

"I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am." 

*(I think this may have been shortened- I don't have the original text to compare it to.)

How much time I spend wishing I were better than what I am, imagining a future when I have things "figured out."  Or sometimes I spend too long reminding myself of past faults and failures.  In fact that is the wrong perspective.  It is not what I lack, but what God abundantly supplies.

(Bonus points if you catch this reference)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hello world!

Nope, I didn't just get lazy and quit blogging, though that could easily happen.  I took a vacation from life and internet.  I spent the last week and a half traveling through Costa Rica with my dear friend Lauren.  As far as I can tell, the only things I missed were Casey Anthony's trial, USA World Cup semi win, and about 5 gazillion Twitter updates.  Does that about cover it?  I should check out from life more often.

I am slooooowly compiling photos from my camera, Lauren's, and a few other sources.  Until I get a full album up, enjoy a few shots of beautiful Costa Rica.  Pura vida, mae!

First meal in Costa Rica: casado, a typical dish of rice, beans, meat, squash, and plantains.

 The Gallo mas Gallo herself!

Ferry from Arenal Volcano to Monteverde

Me, chilling with some iguanas

White water rafting on the Sarapiqui River.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Say what?

Last week I spent some time with a dear friend sanding and priming old house shutters.  Why?  I am still not exactly sure.  Something about wall decorations or a headboard.  However, the hands-on project provided us with two-plus hours of talk time.  And as girls, we love to talk.  We talk about everything.

At one point I started to share something weighing on my mind.  I talked and talked.  And she just listened.  She asked good questions and then just listened some more.  She didn't offer advice unless I specifically asked for it.  I didn't completely resolve the issue, but she had helped me think through it.  I left with a lighter heart and a $40 parking ticket violation for blocking the sidewalk (another story).

I got to thinking.  When I am in conversation, am I listening to what the person is actually saying and feeling, or am I preparing my next question or witty retort?  I am, by nature, a fixer.  I try to have your problem solved before you have even finished telling me about it.

And with that, I am off to the pool with my sister.  I shall attempt to not try to solve all of her problems.

(this Pearls comic must have been commissioned in honor of me)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

School's Out!

Last night I did not set my alarm clock.  I went to bed after 11.  This morning Shaun texted me at 10:22 as a wake-up call which I slept through.  Summer must be here.  AHHHHHHH.

I also discovered the pool opens at 9am.  I think that is the perfect wake-up time this summer, no?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Reasons not to like school library chairs

1.  They were made for children aged 5-11, not for adults.
2.  They provide no back support for long meetings.
3.  They are hard on your behind during long meetings.
4.  If you are not careful and accidentally knock one over onto your big toe, you will think unkind thoughts, have to excuse yourself from the group, sweat profusely, and hobble around for the rest of the week with a nasty cut and bruise.

I am so glad soccer season is over!  I am right-footed after all!

P.S.  I thought about adding a picture of my big toe, and then realized if it weren't attached to my own foot I'd probably throw up at the sight of it.  Maybe I'll wait 'til it gets nice and purple.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Smorgasbord of recent favorites

1.  Alstromerias.   (Had to Google how to spell that one.  I was waaaay off.)
Trader Joe's had them in an assorted bunch, so I've been enjoying the colors all week.  Sorry for the poor quality pic-- my camera phone leaves a bit to be desired.  But they are gorgeous.

2.  The game of soccer and my Frontline teammates.
It hasn't been a particularly spectacular season in the win category, but I really enjoy spending time with my teammates.  They are awesome folk who exemplify how to be competitive and be servants.  Last game Stu had an open goal (minus the goalie) and chose to pass me the ball.  I, of course, missed the open goal, but how many people do you know who would give up the glory for a teammate?

3.  Crazy Love by Francis Chan.
Some challenging quotes:

  • Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.
  • Both worry and stress reek of arrogance.  [ouch]
  • The irony is that while God doesn’t need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don’t really want Him most of the time.

I keep reading and re-reading this book.  Good stuff.

4.  Starbucks
Grande iced hazelnut coffee with 2% milk.  Summer fix.  Ah.

5.  The neighborhood swimming pool. 
(No picture.  That would be weird).
It's open every day until 9.  Yesterday I waited until the sun went down and THEN went for a dip because it was 97 out.  When you go swimming at 7pm, there are no small, obnoxious children at the pool to contend with.  Win.

6.  Al Capone Shines My Shoes
This is the sequel to Al Capone Does My Shirts about a boy named Moose who grows up on Alcatraz while Al Capone is an inmate.  Never mind that it is written for middle schoolers-- it's a quick, fun read.  More on the summer reading list later and suggestions are always welcome!

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Perils of Google Image Searches

We are reading a cute book in my lower-level fourth grade class called Tops & Bottoms about a family of hares who outsmart a lazy bear while gardening.
Bear can happily sleep all day and the Hare family will do all the work.  The Hare family tricks Bear by splitting the crops down the middle, tops or bottoms.  When Bear chooses tops, they plant all root vegetables (carrots, radishes, and turnips) and give him the leafy tops.  When Bear angrily insists on bottoms, they plant celery and cucumbers.  In the end Bear demands tops and bottoms, so of course the Hare family plants corn and takes the middle part (all the ears).

We go over new vocabulary words before reading.  I select some pictures online to print out and we talk about what the words might mean.  However, sometimes Google Image searches are not very safe.  Today the word weed did not yield the desired result (below).  This particular photo popped up after using the words pulling weeds.
And that is why we prepare for classes beforehand, instead of doing it DURING class.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Getting Old

Me:  (plopping down on the carpet) "Oof.  I'm getting old."
Reading group: (Giggles) "No you're not.  Noooooooo.  You're like 16!"
A: (smug, sly grin) "No, I think Ms. A is really old.  She's like, like FORTY-NINE!"  (snickers)

If 49 is reaaaally old, I feel for many of the teachers working at my school.  They're practically ancient!

And today...

(In reference to the cute, fluffy gray penguins in the book)
"When penguins get really old, like in high school, do they change black and white?"
When you're only seven, I guess sixteen seems awfully old, penguin or human.  Do penguins have penguin years like dogs?