Coffee Date, 9/01

If we got coffee this week, I assure you I’d get a Pumpkin Spiced Latte. I got zero problems admitting that. And suffice to say that will probably be true until Thanksgiving. Ahhhh, I can just feel fall coming, and I cannot freaking wait! I know I’m a walking stereotype (in leggings nonetheless), but I cannot care! So, here’s what I would probably talk to you about this week:

Well, first off, I’d probably tell you that I feel like I’m cheating on my husband by drinking said PSL. Because we’re doing the whole low-carb/ keto thing. I’m truly doing it because that’s what he wants to do, and we eat from the same grocery cart. I’m pretty over diets in general. As I mentioned before, I’ve done all the diets. And I mean allllll the diets. Keto freaks me out. Not so much the “no carb” aspect, but I have to make a conscious effort to get in veggies. The first week went pretty well (other than I for real did have Starbucks today). Energy is okay-ish. I guess if I had to offer any advice, it would be: keep it super simple the first week. I made a big ole pot of green beans on Sunday, shredded a buncha chicken, portioned out salads, got some broccoli ready, and decided this is not the week to brush up on my culinary skills. We had a lot of those green beans and some pre-made meatballs pretty much every night. The first week is all about getting into the swing of things. In the upcoming week, I will branch out a little more. Also, I miss pizza.

I hate potty training. I don’t even know if you can call what we’re doing “potty training.” I know there are so many methods to this, none of which I can fully grasp. We’re basically in a practice holding pattern. It was all good until my sweet little girl messed all over the only 5×8 rug in our house. I had the good sense to not take a picture, haha. It was freaking terrible. And also kind of hilarious because she’s in an intense bossy phase, so as I am literally biting my lip, she’s saying, “Hey! Mommy! Clean up my poop!” Um, heck nah. I’m hesitant to recount this- I’m super modest in my public persona (whatever that means), but more people need to talk about the fact that this crap (literally) cuz when you’re in this boat…you need to know this is a very real and disgusting possibility!

About a month ago, in the midst of the dog days of teacher summer, I embarked on a very important goal: to watch every single episode of The Real Housewives of New York City available on HuluI’m proud to report that I am almost there, guys. But also, I need to know…how can I access the seasons not available? I need to see Lu and Tom and more Bethenny! I know there’s gotta be a loophole to get me there without paying for cable. (I am not opposed to stealing your mama’s login to Bravo. I have no shame in this mission.) I really want to thank my close group of “work friends” for respecting this sacred time in my life and of course my husband for watching this mess with me and then even “catching up” after I went to bed. That’s love, y’all.

Y’all our house looks totally different! I cannot wait to really show everyone the progress. It’s incredible. Since my last post, B pulled up all of the giant hedges and even a dead tree. (A la Paul Bunyon, so don’t revoke his man card in watching RHONY with me.) We were hoping to paint the door and cedar siding tomorrow, but if you’re paying any attention, you know it’s raining a lot in these parts.

Speaking of, I cannot stop thinking about this piece. I’ve followed her blog for as long as I can remember. I don’t know that I knew she lives in Houston, but either way…she’s already gained a lot of national attention for her writing, but I’m truly praying that everyone reads this. It’s so easy to lose perspective in such disasters. We are so desensitized from information overload that we can no longer discern what’s important and what’s not- we’re slowly losing that human element, the thing that connects us the most. Seriously…please read this. It was such a game-changer for me.

I am pretty jazzed about this weekend, other than the aforementioned potty training. Novella requested a trip to the library, Ima surprise her with a trip to her best friend’s house…y’all I really want a date night. Either way, tell me what you would tell me on a coffee date!

Coffee Date 8/26

Happy Saturday! I actually had to hold off on coffee this week. Last night, I did the responsible thing and went to bed at a decent hour. It was all in preparation for battle, as I knew this weekend would be a little taxing. More on that below. So, if we were going to coffee today, I would probably insist on you coming to my house and drinking hot tea. It’s unfortunate that I was on the way to becoming a tea-aficionado right in time for Teavana to announce its departure. I am borderline obsessed with their Lavender Cream blend, and now I’m faced with a potentially-life-altering-decision: Do I spend $2,000 and buy out their entire supply, or do I just move on?

Either way, I still have roughly two ounces on hand, and I would love for you to come over and sample some! Here’s what I would gab about for this week:

Life is supa crazy around here. Last week I told you that we were on the way to fixing thangs around here. At the time, we didn’t even have a quote. Well, now we’ve officially started renovations and there was no fooling around! We ripped the front deck out, moved the front door to the other side of the living room, creating the need for new shingles, new drywall, and a new porch. All of those have been completed over the course of this week! And when I say “we” I mean we paid someone to do this. It’s not completed yet; I will share those details and befores and afters once the whole thing is completed. So, we’ve been living in a construction site for the last few days which is an adventure on its own, but we also have that little two-year-old to manage.

We are potty training. No Macarthur Genius Grants coming this way. Who decides to potty train in such living conditions? Well, her teacher told me she’s been acting “ready,” and since she spends way more time with Novella than I do, I trust her judgment. She said we could wait until Monday and then start, but I guess I wanted to be part of the process. Around 10 this morning, I had regrets about this decision. But when she got like a milliliter of pee in the potty,  I was thrilled to celebrate with her. So, we’re having a weekend exclusively at home- playing games, giving pedis, watching movies, and going to the potty every 30 minutes. My bladder has never been so empty.

I was kind of underwhelmed by the eclipse. OK, it was kinda cool. But considering how much people talked about the eclipse leading up to the eclipse, the eclipse itself was like maybe 2 minutes here and we didn’t have totality so we were like, “Is that it?” I feel bad saying that because so many people were flabbergasted by it. The biggest “WOW” factor for me was the cicadas. Oh, and the whole town was like a ghost town. I know this because we took advantage of the day off by running errands. My dad gave a great review of the whole ordeal.

I am so obsessed with Richard Rohr. I first heard him on a podcast in June, and now I just can’t get enough of him. He’s a Franciscan priest, it’s kind of hard to sum him up. His theology closely matches my own, and he says things I’ve intuitively felt but couldn’t quite articulate. I’ve been listening to his book Falling Upward: Spirituality for the Second Half of Life. But I would suggest not listening to the book, but instead reading it the old fashioned way so you can highlight and flag it.

So, I guess that’s it for this lovely Saturday! Since we are trapped inside, I’ve got a fresh plate of pumpkin muffins out of the oven and chicken for tacos in the crockpot. Don’t tell me it’s not fall yet!

Coffee Date, 8/19

Full Confession: I am writing this on 8/18 with the notion that you’ll read this on 8/19.

A couple of weeks ago, my parents were here rescuing us from yet another child care crisis, and my mom asked me: “Do you still have a blog?” Yes, I do. I envy those who post on the daily. I just don’t always have that much to say.

So, last (school) year I did “Links That Think” and I want to get back in that habit. But I also really like this idea that I see on a few sites: a hypothetical coffee date. What would I say to you if we had like 2-3 hours (what a dream!) to grab a coffee and catch up? What are the highlights of my life, and (more importantly) what are yours? I had a sentence or two typed out blaming the need for this conversation in print on modern times, but really…it’s like being a pen pal or having a notebook in which you passed notes to a select few friends in seventh grade.

If we had coffee, I’d sit in the back corner and listen to music until you got there. It’s August 19 and hot as Hades, but I’m longing for fall days. So, I’d try to order a #basicB PSL and then opt for a Skinny Vanilla because I am never not obsessing over calories. You sit down with a ______________ and ask me what’s new, and this is what I would tell you:

Our Dog Bruce died. I’m just so sad about it. I don’t know how to explain it. I keep meaning to write about it, but everytime I start, I go back to those moments. I have been through so much ish in my life, and I really can’t remember a moment of absolute sadness like that one. The grief is confusing. B is sadder than me. Six weeks have passed, and life just went on. That’s the saddest part. Well, that and the gut-wrenching notion that it’s just over. When you have a dog, you know they will die. German Shepherds’ life expectancy is 11-13 years. Bruce was 11.5, so he was right on track. We thought he’d be here for at least 5 more years. I have a horrible habit of thinking that rules don’t apply to me.

It’s time that I cannot reconcile. How is it over? How did 11.5 years just slip by us? I know how crazy it sounds, but I swear it was just yesterday…

I am so obsessed with this songC’mon. I don’t listen to the radio, have no idea if this song is a top 40. I don’t care. We all have that person. Her vocals. The soul. It’s almost too much.

I made a Command Center. Out of Peg Board. And I love that ish so much. I need as much organization in my life as possible. In the basket below it,  I have notebooks upon notebooks, and yes I use them all for different things. It works for me. Yeah, I have a spreadsheet or two…but pen to paper is where it’s at for me. So, I buy good pens and pretty notebooks. I would love to source them all, but they come from random places like Sam’s clearance aisle (actually my best find) and Hobby Lobby’s like Dollar Spot. I don’t know what it’s called, but they have unusually cute things, including a 3 pack notebook bundle for $3.  I am actually most in love with the calendar I got at Target. I guess erbody loved it cuz I don’t see it on the website, but here’s the same one-ish in a different pattern. Here’s my Command Center:

Command Center

We finnin’ ta fix thangs So, we were going to venture to Brooklyn over Fall Break, but we decided to invest that money into our humble abode. We have so many projects to do around here that it often feels impossible. Well, we broke thangs down and it’s completely manageable re: time and money. So, we are hoping to start phase 1 over Fall Break! I’m pretty stoked about it…I actually read in Better Homes & Gardens (my second Bible) that three years is the best time frame to live in a house before changing things up, so I guess we’re right on track.

I don’t know what to call this, but I love it. I’ve been cataloging images from magazines via Elmer’s Glue Sticks into my favorite notebook…I guess it’s like Pinterest in retrospect. It’s an oddly satisfying way to spend my free time, but it makes me crazy happy.

I love this phase in Novella’s life. I suppose every parent who’s ever been here could say the same, but what an amazing time! She says the funniest, most innocent, and insanely insightful things. Like, when we say prayers every night, she says “amen” in unison and then turns to me and says, “Thank you Mommy for the deeeeeener.” The best nights are when she says every item on her plate.

I hate to end our coffee date here, but such is life!

 

 

The Weight Of My Heart

I remember the very first time I thought about my weight. I was in middle school and my Granny, not one to mince words, commented, “Yer puttin’ on a little weight aren’t ya?” and then that same summer I was about to go off the diving board when a classmate screamed: “You’ve got a terrible ass!”

Going underwater is already so disorienting, but to plop down with this brand new information about yourself, no time to process, no time to compose…I wanted to immediately scream and cry, but I also had to worry about surviving and getting back to air.

I remember, very well, climbing up that ladder, pulling down my bright blue bathing suit bottoms as far as possible in hopes that no one saw even a little bit of that terrible ass, or worse of all, saw the struggle to fight back the tears. I walked to my family’s spot, sat down, and for the first time, refused Gardetto’s Mustard Pretzels.

And, then my relationship with the scale began. It’s been over two decades of counting, measuring, binging, starving, comparing, a tiny bit of pride, and a ton of disappointment. Only occasionally did I pepper in maintaining my health…I’ve never really liked pepper, really.

Even after begging God to give us a child for ten years, I still rolled out of the hospital pissed off at myself for “letting myself go” during pregnancy.

In the last eight years, I have been on every diet you can imagine. Recently, I started Weight Watchers for the simple fact that it was “the only diet I’ve never tried.” I know what works, how to lose weight…but it’s not really about the weight, is it?

It’s about:

  • The number, and always having to know where I measure against everyone else, or even myself.
  • Not wanting to be “frumpy.”
  • Wanting to look at a picture and not criticize the mess out of myself.
  • It gives me something to worry over.
  • The comfort in discomfort.

Yesterday, I took my little girl to a water park. It was the first time I dared to show (gasp!) my stomach since delivering her. I spent nine months agonizing over stretch marks, and came out without one. I guess I thought that was the clincher in wearing a bikini. But then I decided I was way too fat. Yesterday, I decided I wanted to be more comfortable than anything, so I went with shorts and a sports bra. Anyway, this isn’t a post about bikinis because really: who cares. Show up, have fun, and seriously…no one is looking at you. If they are, believe me…they hate themselves way more than you can grasp.

After I got home, my friend sent me a few pictures she snapped, and my knee-jerk reaction was to begin the usual self-criticism song and dance. But something changed.

Splash Country
Puddle Jumper on backwards for reasons.

I really, really wanted to be a mom more than anything in this world. To me, that doesn’t mean a life sentence of self-neglect. In fact, I think I have a healthy enough dose of selfishness to never really not practice the posh art of self-care. But, am I really forfeiting self-care if I just say: stop logging your food/ use common sense?

Just to kind of touch base with Weight Watchers (I have faithfully logged every meal for 3 weeks), I weighed this morning. I gained 3 pounds. How does that even happen?

Anyway, I didn’t cry or really bat an eye. I got dressed and got ready to take some of my favorite kids out for a day of (seriously) great fun. We went to their favorite restaurant (McDonald’s) afterward, and I ordered a Happy Meal because… there’s a reason McDonald’s has exactly one salad on the menu. I watched little kids giggle to the point of delirium. I delivered two of them home and then wrestled one into a nap. When she awoke, I made one of my favorite Whole 30-approved Meals. Because I like it. Actually, I love it.

I began running again last week, and omigosh I have missed it terribly. I downloaded this app called “Running For Weight Loss” and I’m going to stick with it not because of the weight loss component, but because it has reignited a part of me that fizzled out a few years back.

All of this to say, it’s not that I don’t think diet and exercise are important. I would still argue that they are the two biggest factors in overall well-being. Hands down, when I am eating better and exercising regularly, the better I feel about life in general. Mental clarity, spiritual connection, and emotional well-being are not merely byproducts of a healthy lifestyle. On the contrary, BMI, weight loss, measurements…those should be the happy accidents of a healthy lifestyle. And that, folks, is going to be my mantra henceforth.

It’s easier said than done. I have to change my narrative. I have to let go of words that bear no meaning like “lean,” “thin,” or even (barf) “hot.” Instead, I am clinging to words like “kind,” “insightful,” or even “awesome aunt.” Because none of those words would be possible either if I were a lump on a log.

One more thing: can we please stop calling bikini/ bathing suit pictures “courageous”? I mean, I’m showing off a little back fat, not walking through fire to save small children or going off to war.

Also, I’m still logging onto Weight Watchers because I am the Reigning Queen of Dropping Out, and I am fully committed to three months. I have more to say about this later, like when I actually gave it a shot.

Splash Country 2

 

Links That Think 5-26-17

Oh, hey y’all! It’s officially summer break here in East Tennessee. I’m not going to lie to you, I have incredibly conflicting emotions regarding this break. I had an amazing school year, perhaps the best one yet. That being said, it went by in a flash- even without having our usual two-week snow break. Oh, and with having to go on leave the previous two years for *reasons* this was the first time I’ve worked through the end of the school year in three years. Still, the speed of it all disarmed me.

On one hand, the hope of summer thrilled me. On the other, a tad of grief enveloped me. Tis the plight of a teacher at the end of a great year- you’ve prepared them for the future, and you are no part of that future. I understand Mr. Feeney better each day.

Last week, I had this whole post about Mother’s Day, and then I choked at hitting “publish.” Crazy as it seems, I found out I was going to be a mom nearly three years ago, but I still feel like my nose is pressed on the window, peering into this world I longed for. I already seriously suffer from imposter syndrome, but it’s even more evident in this facet of my life. Anyway, I guess I think if I tell you I plan on polishing that up where the truth really shines though, the more likely I am to maybe publish it this week.

Meanwhile, here are some links that have sparked my interest this week.

Black Dahlia Murder Case Let me preface this by saying I had no knowledge of this case before one of my students presented it as part of her Genius Hour project. She mentioned this article, and I.Was.Hooked. Everything you could possibly want to know is here, and it’s stranger than fiction. Now, I just feel like I need to move to California and completely devote my life to this cold case. Go ahead and google follow-ups while you’re at it.

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Uses the Word ‘Rape’ and Why It’s a Big Deal” (WARNING: Link contains spoilers) Can I just say, I am in the middle of season 3, and I watch it so differently since reading this commentary? I almost feel like I need to rewatch the whole series, and why not? I mean, I’ve watched The Office no less than 30 times. Let’s not forget, show creator/ my hero Tina Fey was attacked as a child, giving her that “trademark” scar across her face.

“Hotdogs, Sunscreen, and All the Other Ways I’m Messing Up” This is perfunctorily me. Such a paradox- I think about this very concept all the time, while not thinking about it at all. I didn’t skip out on the rite-of-passage dollar store water guns, despite warnings that it may invoke violence or she may be exposed to BPA when she inevitably drinks from said water pistol, but I do buy organic milk and I definitely cut eyes when we pass the smoking section at the zoo. For the record, I was exposed to all of the above as a child, and I’m still kicking. Why are we so darn crazy nowadays?

“Ebb and Flow” This just hit so close to home for me. Honestly, anything that cites Proverbs 31 gut punches me in the feels. How I long to be that woman! How I long to want to want being that woman! This articulated oh so well the struggle, the internal dialogue I combat on the daily.

“Love Like Ghosts” Two of my dearest friends are going through such a tough time. I can’t express the profound sadness that surrounds them, how I pray for the arms of Jesus around them, and how I helpless I feel as a friend who can only offer so much support. I just hear this song and think of their hearts, right now, in this perplexing moment.

It seems a bit appropriate that rain will fall hard this weekend. It’s a weekend that says: “Don’t plan too much.” And so, we’re listening. We need rest more than anything, and I pray we can accomplish this easily.

Links That Think 5-05-17

These aren’t so much links that think, but just more things I enjoy right now. It’s been such a weird week! I had the stomach flu Sunday night/ all day Monday. Turns out, four teachers on my hall all had it at the exact time, so it was definitely something in the air. This was my second bug in 6 weeks though, so I am moderately convinced (like so many things) this could be curbed with some better dietary choices. I dunno. It sucked and I’d do anything to avoid it again.

When I haven’t been praying that my little family didn’t get hit with this, I’ve been trying to organize little facets of my life. Once I recovered, I made a “Get Your Ess Together” plan and I feel much better about life. I don’t know why, but even a day out for the count gives me total-loser feelings and makes me wonder what I’ve done with my life. Anyone else?

Also, I normally don’t watch a lot of tv, but I’ve been eye-deep all week. Season 3 of Catastrophe is now on Amazon. It wasn’t my favorite season, and I bout died when I felt like the plot was really taking off only to discover it was in fact the season finale. 6 episodes! Who does that?

Then, I discovered the show Life in Pieces on Netflix. I think it’s actually a CBS show. I’m too lazy to google it, and really…does it matter? It’s freaking hilarious. I’ve been seriously longing for humor lately, and it seems harder to come by. To top it off, I have a pretty specific sense of humor and am not easy to please. (Joke. Kind of.) I have found myself staying up way too late binging on it, even carrying my iPad around the house so I can laugh while I pack my lunch and stuff. I haven’t been that dedicated to a show, ever.

Anyway, I took my nephroos out tonight so I’m already pondering supergluing my eyelids open. Here’s what I’m digging/ thinking about this week.

 

8 Paradoxes of Creative People I have, as she calls it, a “messy mind.” Always have.This list was a window into my soul/ psyche and honestly validated me. The thing people least understand about me is that I need time to myself to work through problems and create/design solutions. I cannot do this in a room of people because the instant feedback bogs me down. It takes time for me to articulate ideas, but I am full of them!

8 Tips for Taking Better Instagram Photos I possess no photography skills, but I desperately want to take great pictures. I made this one of my 17 resolutions for the year. Initially, I wanted to invest in a DSR camera, but really the iPhone 7S takes amazing photos, so I’ve been experimenting a lot with it. Helllloooo portrait feature! I needed a new phone, so I went ahead and invested in it and I regret nothing. I am obsessed with the pictures it takes. I guess like so many professional lenses, it captures the beauty in the ordinary.

Golden Hour

Growing Up Under The Watchful Eye of Social Media Full disclosure: I do post pictures of Novella on Instagram, and occasionally on this blog (see above). I am extremely conscientious about what I post, what I say, and most of all: why I am posting it. I am so proud of Novella, but I never mention how smart she is or anything that deliberately compares her to other children, or worst of all, straight up brags. Social media is already such a breeding ground for comparison, and I really don’t want to contribute to that. On the other side of that, I choose not to show her at her worst moments, either. Sick pictures are a no-no. Tantrum pictures are quite tempting, but I contain myself.

I would not have thought this way except (when I was pregnant with Novella) a group of my students wrote about how parents should not post pictures without their consent and gave plenty of anecdotes about instances that embarrassed them. Sick pictures and report cards were at the top of their lists, and so I took that to heart. (This is rare case, the only time I’ve ever actually been persuaded through grading essays.) I think “sharenting” is a cultural norm, but we are nonetheless obligated to respect our children’s individual rights and honor them as a human being. Personally, if B would’ve thought to snap a pic of me amidst the stomach flu, I won’t even publically say what I would do.

My Book is Officially Out in the World via The Everywherist Decided I’m going to go ahead and read this over the weekend. If the humor remotely parallels her blog, my cup o laughter might just runneth over.

We have zero plans for the weekend. We had an out of town trip planned, but B’s schedule just couldn’t accommodate it, so I am counting that as a blessing! It’s rainy and cold, so naturally, I’m going to box up my cold weather clothes. I’ll make something that’s hearty and healthy. Gonna read. It’s going to be a good one!

Tell me what you’ve been reading lately via links! I find myself reading the same 4-5 sites daily, and could use a few suggestions!

 

Links That Think 4-28-17

Happy Friday! Per usual, the week flew by. No news is good news. Except I honestly couldn’t tell you what I did with myself without looking back at the calendar to jog my memory. I must admit, I’ve been on serious autopilot lately which doesn’t give me warm fuzzies. But still, it was a good’n! Novella and I have had a handful of incredibly touching moments: when she asked me to go on a walk (and I obviously obliged), when she discovered she actually has 2 Elmos, and her newfound love of 5-minute hugs. She also has 3 of her molars coming in now, so while she will be done with teething soon, we had a couple of rough nights.

There hasn’t been a ton of down time this week, but here are a few things that made me think this week:

 

I Thought I Was Important Too “When you build a financial life based on consuming, you feel like there’s a bottomless pit inside you. Even if you have a ton of it. It never gets filled up because you’re going about the whole thing backwards. You deplete. Just like me.” This is a concept I constantly and consistently struggle with but nonetheless fight against the current. On that note…

Kim Kardashian’s Interview on Ellen You know, I don’t do The Book anymore, but I can guess pretty much everyone has seen this already via shares. I read a transcript of it. (Can’t even remember how that happened.) And it’s just kind of stuck with me. Yes, Kim still talks like Kim, but the heart of the message really struck a chord with me, especially when she said she gets to be this mom to her kids now. In this interview, she singlehandedly went from being out of touch to completely relatable. I felt her heart so much in this that I wondered if she might want to go to coffee and hash things out. #toosoon?

Smart Phones Are the New Cigarettes OK, I have to warn you, like seriously warn you: the language in this article/essay/thinkpiece is probably offensive to some. Even so, the thesis makes it worth sharing. Here I am, sitting on the couch, typing on my laptop listening to music and my phone is at my feet, ya know, so I can feel it vibrating in the off chance that there’s a sudden emergency or someone likes on of my Instagram posts or (highly unlikely) someone comments on my blog.

When I grew up, virtually every adult I knew/loved/cherished smoked. I can honestly count the adults I knew that didn’t smoke on one hand. But now, no one smokes. And if they do, they do it on their back porch in the dead of night to ensure not even their random neighbor knows of such a habit. But we all have phones and are pretty much all tethered to them. I wonder: who will be Novella’s handful of people she can recall not being on their phone? The way things are going, I wouldn’t make that list. I dunno. This link really made me think. Really.

New Motherhood is Hard- But These 5 Simple Habits are All Your Baby Needs I can’t help it- this time of year will always remind me of those first days of motherhood. How scary. I didn’t know how much I didn’t know. I love that this list starts with: “More than anything, your child needs love and loving care.” Seriously, don’t worry about anything else until you have this down. Your baby doesn’t give a crap about breast or formula.

I am ready for this weekend! Tomorrow, we have a morning of biscuits and jelly, then an afternoon attending Novella’s best friend’s birthday party. Then…DATE NIGHT! I am probably way too excited about this, but I got a new dress and everything. It has been forever since we hit the town. Sunday= church +aquarium. Definitely looking forward to everything; hope you all have a wonderful one!

Links That Think 4-21-17

This has been a super introspective week for me. I’m not one for vagueing but I can’t quite put my hand on the fire within. You know how they say you know who you are in your 30s? Well, here I am in mid-30s and I feel that definite acknowledgment transpiring- as a wife, mother, teacher, friend, family member. It’s freeing and painful at the same time. I don’t know…I’ve just been having these weird and beautiful moments where I look in the mirror and just think: there you are. It’s as if I’ve spent my whole life wondering how I would turn out, and this is how I turned out. 

Of course, life will always have its natural ebb and flow. Somedays I will feel as flexible as Stretch Armstrong while others a wooden doll. Either way, I can sense God’s paintbrush a little more each day. There’s nothing even close to perfect by this world’s standards, but God created me to be me for this exact life.

Oh my. This is the kind of thing someone says and then dies a week later, and then everyone wonders if they knew they were going to die. I don’t have that information, promise.

As I’ve been having a minor existential crisis this week, here are some links that have made me think about life, to see it from a new lens.

7 Books I Wish I Could Download Into My Brain While there wasn’t anything on Anne’s list that I agreed with, it definitely made me ponder what books I wish I could memorize and take with me always. A few came to mind right away, while there are some blanks left to be filled: A Million Miles In a Thousand YearsSex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto; Yes, Please; Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis actually, it looks like I’m already on the road to a solid list of books. All have resonated with me.

Captivate- The Art of Charm So, I guess B has been listening to this podcast for forevs and never told me, then out of nowhere he told me to listen to it and I stumbled into this episode. I love any insight I can get into my own psyche, and this did not disappoint. Especially when she talked about how neurotic people respond to stress versus, I guess, normal people. For the record, I am 200% the former. If you have nothing better to do with your ears for an hour, go ahead and give this one a listen. I detail cleaned my kitchen while listening and I regret nothing.

For The Working Mom With Sick Kids Ok, so, here’s how my story goes this week: when I picked up sweet Novella Wednesday, her teacher (who is no squeaky wheel) told me she was a little concerned about Novella and her stomach that day. I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say GI issues, molars, diaper rash equals a very angry little lady. And she is normally the happiest little kid, like ever. So, that night she woke up twice in pain from her rash. My school’s rule on basic common courtesy is if you think you’re going to be out, put in for a sub. And so I did. I still went in that morning before another soul was in the building because I could not rest thinking of all the plans I should have had in place.

I returned home, saw her sick little face and said: “Yes. I made the right choice.”

She took her nap, woke up and was perfectly fine, so we went out for some brief shopping.

Then she was screaming again, of course in 45-minute traffic. So, then I must wonder: do I need tomorrow off now, too?

Lather, rinse, repeat.

This post was written forevah ago, but I thought of it no less than one dozen times yesterday.

Eight Simple But Powerful Habits That Will Make You More Successful Everything you need to know is in the title, but believe me- these are all simple but powerful. I plan on trying them all simultaneously this week because why not? They are all simple, after all.

“In the Blood,” John Mayer Do you have a family? Do you have a past? Do you want to be better than all of it? Then you will love this song. I’ve had it on repeat this week. I couldn’t even nail down a few lines to preview because I love the whole freaking song. If you hate it, I will buy you a unicorn frappuccino to celebrate your perfect life.

I am pretty jazzed about this upcoming weekend. Not going to lie, as a teacher I am already in summer mode, and I swear I feel like I am on some audition right now to see if I could live out a perfect summer life. My amazing nephroos are coming over tomorrow just to hang out, and what more could I want from this life?

Sunday, we are planning on the ordinary stuff like church (although church never feels like an ordinary experience to me), zoo, and yard work. All of this thrills me beyond belief!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! What do you have planned? What links made you think this week?

 

 

Links That Think 4-15-17

This week has been long, hectic, and completely worth it. On Monday, I had my final (and unannounced observation), came home to B waiting for us to watch Novella receive her gift and then he hit the road for a conference in D.C. Tuesday was her actual birthday, and I’d squirreled away a personal day all year just for the occasion; twas a beautiful, exhilarating, and exhausting day. Wednesday, my parents came into town to help me for the rest of the week. Thursday, I went with my kiddos on a field trip two hours away. A lot of domino things happened and it went longer than expected. Friday, we mostly relaxed, cleaned, shopped for her picnic, and waited for B to get home. Today (Saturday) we had her “birthday party,” which was really simply Novella being around her favorite people (our family. I keep wanting to just say “my family,” but they’re her family too!) We had a picnic at the park nearby and the kiddos got to run around. It was honestly my version of a perfect day. She was beyond excited about her party. When we pulled into the park, she got so excited, we thought she was going to cry. What more could you want from life?

A lot of beautiful moments were peppered into this chaotic week, and I am still processing a lot of it. Everything feels so beautiful and so simple; I wish I could bottle it up.

Tomorrow we are celebrating the resurrection of our Savior. It’s just so important to acknowledge this. I am taking a break from the usual Links That Think, and sharing some perspectives on this season- the most significant and symbolic season to a Christian.

Death in His Grave This song singlehandedly changed my heart on Easter Sunday. I remember hearing, as a child, adults saying they were emotional on Easter, and if I’m being honest, I didn’t understand it completely until my 30s. We were sitting in church on Easter when they sang this song, and simultaneously showed the experience of the resurrection through the perspective of Jesus via video. I’ve searched for it to no avail, but we talk about that video often. I’ve always felt God, wanted to be closer to Him, but something changed that day. I was baptized shortly after. ***Note: this is a performance of the song and has its own twist. It’s my favorite version. Also, the part I love is within the first 5 minutes, so don’t just brush this one aside because it’s so long.

Buried in the Grave  “All we had, all we had was a promise like a thread, keeping us from fraying at the edge.” Today coincides with the Saturday all of those who believed were in waiting. We hardly think about that Saturday, and how hard that must have been to keep even a mustard seed- sized faith that He would rise again. I think so often of this day now, how I’ve stumbled in faith even in knowing that God never got out of the miracle business…and they didn’t know that then.

Sticks and Stones Such a beautiful piece, in which she compares herself in the aftermath of miscarriages to Peter, who ran toward death when he ran to the grave. I will think of this essay often and have gone back to read it more than once. While I have never had a miscarriage, I know the death of a dream all too well. It’s just such a wonderful read.

The Revolutionary Truth of Holy Week While so many of us know the what of this merciful story, so few know the why. It was once explained to me through an analogy (paraphrased): “I once read a story of a reporter that would lay in dark caves for hours upon hours, hiding and in silence alongside soldiers. When asked why he would do this, risk his life like that, he said the only way he would truly know the pain of these soldiers was to experience the fear firsthand. And so, that is why God came to us in the flesh: because He wanted to know how we felt.”

And so, when I pray, when I suffer, when I have been betrayed- I know that I am praying to a God who knows firsthand how desperation feels.

This week, I am thankful for so many things, but especially for that.

 

Links that Think 4-7-17

How is it possible to have a week where nothing happens and you’re also totally slammed? We’ve had a lot of later nights than usual. Novella’s bed time was once a concrete 7:00 p.m., but ever since the time change (3 weeks ago!) we have been off track. We’ve had stuff going on every weekend. That’s a good thing. But- that whole schedule thing. I swear, I’ve awoken each morning to this great internal debate: should I work or should I sleep? I chose the former every day, but begrudgingly.

This is also Novella’s last weekend as a one-year-old. I could insert a ton of cliches about how time flies (it does), but instead I will just say: I’m incredibly sad for everything we leave behind, yet eternally grateful to have this experience at all. Every day brings a new challenge, but each challenge is met with one hundred new joys. I am, nonetheless, a bit down about her birthday. I don’t know if it’s because she is quite possibly our only or because I legitimately cannot wrap my head around her not being a baby anymore.

Anyway, it’s been a slow week on the reading front. I’ve had Heartburn in my bag all week and haven’t picked it up once. I keep finding myself opening my Feedly, and then glossing over it as if every entry is about something that’s insanely boring to me, like an article about shark bycatch when fishing for salmon mixed with an explanation of how calories work. I need some serious focus right now.

Here are a few links that think for your reading enjoyment. Focus!

What If Students Only Went to School Four Days a Week? This wasn’t what I expected: a run-of-the-mill piece outlining the benefits of such a program. Instead, it examines districts that already operate this way, and sheds light on some misconceptions. For the record, I’m for it for myself. I’m a teacher. Of course I could benefit from a day of planning! But most parents are not teachers, and let’s be honest: a day of planning would basically be me sitting around with my friends gabbing about awkward moments with baby oil and such.

Teachers On Child Poverty in Schools I won’t get on my soap box. I won’t get on my soap box. I won’t get on my soap box. I truly believe the majority of Americans resting comfortably above the poverty line either refuse to acknowledge poverty in this country or have no idea. Sometimes I want to make it my mission- go and tell the haves all about the have-nots. Virtually every teacher in this nation has landed under the fluorescent lights of a shopping mall or superstore in search of a perfect replacement piece of clothing after witnessing a student wearing the same tattered garment for two weeks straight. It’s what we do. But why does it feel like no one else notices?

How To Make Friends As an Adult It’s terrible making friends as an adult, amiright?! I’ve been in this new city for four years, and this is the first time I feel like I have a solid group of friends. I was legitimately losing hope, especially as I became a mom in the mix of it.

How to Teach Kids to Be Grateful: Give Them Less This article was both confirming and convicting for me. Living in a small house, I feel the stuff starting to pile up while most people would say we don’t have a lot of toys. But Novella is never overwhelmed with all the choices. It’s hard to really make an assertion of our parenting at this juncture, but I hope we always err to “less is more.”

 

Well, that’s it for tonight! We have a very early (for weekends, that is) date with the Easter Bunny in the morning. You know when you’re so tired, you start fantasizing about your nap the next day? Oh, except I never get those sweet naps anymore. 🙂 What are your plans for the weekend?