Friday, December 2, 2016

Blessings

Based on my overwhelming response from the last post (none), I decided not to go with my original idea.  Instead I'll just check in occasionally.






Although I always try to be mindful of my blessings, I think Advent is a good time for me to slow down to prepare my heart for Christmas and to acknowledge the blessings that I have on a daily basis.
      Here are some special moments over the past few days:
1. Starting Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp with my family. The family time is as wonderful as the message and the activities.
2. The sweet and simplistic prayers of my sons. Why do we make praying so complicated sometime?

3. Today was a student's birthday. This is a student who is especially close to me. She has been singing for me for 4 years in 2 different groups, plus the musicals. I have also had her brother as a student so I have known her family for a long time. This is her last year with me.  I decided to get her a small birthday gift. So, I asked Matt to buy some candy that he has made at work. We picked out a candy cane, pecan turtles and some fudge. When I gave it to her, she was surprised that I had gotten her a gift, which was expected. When I told her that it was candy that Matt had personally made (She has met my family at concerts and has run into them a few times outside of school), she got a little teary and thanked me and told me that we made her feel "really special."  I guess that was my intention, but I didn't think it would mean THAT much to her.

4.  On my drive home tonight- rushing, as usual- I needed to stop at the post office to get something postmarked. The community is on the coast. As I rode up to the top of a hill (right by the governor's house), I was greeted by a beautiful view. The ocean was slightly choppy looking and the color of the sky was fading to the colors of dusk. What really drew my attention was the clouds, which looked like they were illuminated from below.

5.  I came home to a giant pile of mail! I will share my week of mail at the end of the week. I've been getting some great stuff. I probably won't share any of my picture cards since I won't usually put a picture up without asking permission (except my father-in-law that one time..)


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Screen free weekend

     This weekend my family and I cut back on screens A LOT. I will admit, I did play Bingo Blitz for a few minutes a day on Facebook because I'm sad, but other than that the TV, cell phone, e-mail, etc. were off. It was wonderful. Part of me wishes we could do this every day. Each day seemed so much longer. I got a lot of writing done (Postcrossing RR with 15 Christmas cards, 2 letters), cleaning, LOTS of board games (I love David), and we even painted together. Unfortunately, I didn't do much grading so I will be working hard for the rest of tonight.
     Today we set up our Christmas tree. I love Christmas. It's my favorite holiday.
    I was thinking that I haven't been writing much here lately and I'd like to do more. I thought about snapping a picture every day in December and just giving a glimpse into my everyday life. Is that something that might be interesting to you? Any topics you want me to write about?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Lately

      This school year has been busy- a mix of feeling a bit overscheduled and personally doing a lot of things.  I anticipate my schedule getting  a lot crazier over the next few weeks, but it should be fine if I'm conscientious about my scheduling (and if everybody allows me to be a control freak regarding time. lol Sorry in advance.). At least there are some holidays in the mix so there is some planned relaxation too.
      Here are some recent endeavors of mine.
School:
    On the negative side, I usually see all of the students for the same amount of days per rotation. This year has made 5th/6th end together, 7th ends a different day and 8th grade ends yet another time. I have found that this change is throwing me off a lot it's taking a lot of adjustment.  Hopefully, after a bunch of correcting tonight, I will be caught up and be able to keep up from there.
     On a positive note, I have started my Thanksgiving tree project. These are some  background pages that I made from watercolor paints that will eventually be cut into leaf shapes that I will write my notes on. I really like the bottom one.  My sister-in-law, Sarah, graciously offered to use her Cricut to help me with a making leaves out of some gelli-printed paper. Thanks again, Sarah!

Personally:
     This past week was full of some fun events. I got to remind my kids that we are blessed enough to help others by donating to a local toy drive. While we were there, we were given tickets to go see The Pentatonix! (For those near Boston, this was Karson, Kennedy and Salt from Mix 104.1)

We saw Abi, who was not our taste in music, but she seemed like a nice girl. Then we got to see Us the Duo, who we loved. I had never seen or heard them before. Here is a song they wrote for their wedding. They performed it live and I really enjoyed it. Both of them are extremely talented musicians and I was impressed with the different styles that they performed.
   If you don't know the Pentatonix, shame on you... here is a link to their music too! Here is a cover of an Imogen Heap song they did. Again, incredible musicians.
Oh, and while I'm spreading incredible musicianship around, did I mention Kevin, known as the beatboxer of Pentatonix? Woah..
   Then, we had Veteran's Day off. (Thanks if you are a veteran who is reading this!) I brought the kids up to Maine to visit my parents.  It was a nice time, relaxing.

   When we came home on Saturday, Tim's team won their flag football championship:

     Then we went to Boston to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday! I also got to meet my newest niece, Naomi.


Penpalling:
    I received quite a few letters over the past few weeks, including a few secret letters from the Penpalling & Letters Secret Letter Event. I am sending this one out tomorrow. Then I have a lot of writing to do!!!

Now what?
     Next week I will start working on the musical. I am also auditioning kids for a few opportunities. It is a lot of work. I'm hoping for a week free of negative parent e-mails. 
      If you celebrate Thanksgiving, do you have any special plans or traditions? The week of Thanksgiving we do a really fun volleyball tournament with the students. It's a blast!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Japanese Candy II

     Happy Halloween! We just got home from trick or treating and I decided to do a few more candy trials so I didn't steal candy from my kids. lol.
      Big Thunder II:
video
     The cookie pieces inside reminded me of a mix between Oreos and the "chocolate crunch" pieces in Dairy Queen's ice cream cakes.

      Frankenstein Candy- no English on the package.


video
    Excuse my oldest son in the background. Apparently the dog costume and seeing himself on a screen was too much to handle.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Something new in the spirit of Halloween

     Our family will "celebrate" Halloween tomorrow. In the spirit of Halloween, and because I don't understand Japanese, I thought I would try something (scary for me) different.  Recently I received a package from Japan that had many different types of candy. Fortunately/unfortunately, most of the text is in Japanese so I have no idea what I'm eating. (Fortunate because I feel fine trying something new. Unfortunate because Tim has food allergies and now I can't share.) So, David and I decided to make a few videos telling what we thought.  Disclaimer: I'm swapping with someone that I trust and intelligently packed. Obviously, be careful about swapping and eating things you get through the mail.
    We tried 3 different candy bars tonight. The first one was Tirol Chocolate.
    This is my first attempt ever recording a video for the blog and it was spontaneous, so I apologize I'm not all dressed up with makeup, wonderful lighting, etc. This is a pretty good representation of just every day me at the end of a long day.
video
    Overall, this was pretty good. I think Japanese chocolate tastes a little more sweet to me than American chocolate. It also tastes a little creamier.

Next up... Sequioa?
video

   Very tasty. Kit Kats are one of my favorite candies here in the US. Ironically, that leads us to the candy I saved for last in hopes that it would be delicious.  I forgot to take a picture.
video
   Well, that was interesting. This led me to research other types of Kit Kats. I knew there were some crazy ones. Check out this article that tells about "weird and wacky flavors" of Kit Kats in Japan. I will have to steal all the American Kit Kats from my children's Halloween treats to purge this taste from my memory.

      This was a lot of fun. I still have 6 pieces to try so I'll save 3 for one day and the last 3 for another.  People reading from other countries- have you ever had an American candy/sweet that you really disliked?
     

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Currently 10/23


Watching:  

     Life has been pretty busy so I have not really been watching anything on TV. I have seen a few little Halloween specials with the boys. I have enjoyed watching all of the beautiful New England foliage. Our back woods are currently filled with gorgeous yellows, reds, oranges and even a few pretty browns. If it's not raining tomorrow, I will try to go snap a picture.

Reading:
Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul
     I am enjoying this book a lot right now. This year has felt a little overwhelming to me. I don't think I'm really doing anything too out of the ordinary, but I have just been mentally and physically tired for a while now. I choose my next "to read" book in a sort of random way so this one came at just the right time. I think I am going through a season of life where some former priorities and not as important to me and some things I felt I "had to do" aren't obligations to me. This doesn't mean that I'm necessarily taking more time for myself, which maybe I should, but that the time I am choosing to protect is spent doing meaningful things. Here are some quotes from the book that have made me think over the past few weeks:

     "Without conscious intervention, this pattern of chronically overscheduling ensures that the priorities you care about most will take a backseat to the urgent priorities of others every time." (Hear me, Sarah?)    I am guilty of this a lot- every day in fact. How often do I stay after to help a student or to chat with a kid who just wants to hang out for a minute while my own kids are home hoping I will have some "free time" for them? It's painful to think about- especially since I really enjoy my job too.  I have recently attempted to fix some of these imbalances.

      "Put more simply, one of the greatest blessings in life is to love your work, to be satisfied in your daily labors." Amen. My job is hard and has many challenges, but I feel that it is my calling so it makes the little stuff easier to deal with. It is also greatly rewarding to follow through what I feel God has prepared me to do and to use my gifts/talents for His glory.


     
     "Relationships, like every other area of life, require regular evaluation, pruning, and strengthening." Hybels says that there are 3 levels of friendship- circumstancial friends, true friends- for a season and lifelong friends. This chapter challenged me. There have been some friends that have hurt me recently. I thought they were lifelong friends, but perhaps they were just friends for a season. Again, they were good friends and I'm not quite sure what happened, but this chapter has made me feel more at peace. I also have some friends who probably feel the same way about me. Truth is, there are sometimes where people just grow apart- especially if they have different values or motives in life.  Examining my friendships and potential friendships has been a healthy activity for me this week.

Listening:
      My normal Pandora mixes. Lately I've been listening to a lot of Scala & Kolacny Brothers. I really like their sound.

Making:
      David and I just made Apple Betty- one for us and one for our neighbors. It is currently baking and I cannot wait to smell the delicious scent of the cinnamon-y apples.  *I may or may not let my kids stay up to eat a piece.

Feeling:
    Physically I have been struggling. I think whatever was causing the hives last spring is acting up. This weekend my whole body hurt. My feet are freezing. My knee and left leg are hurting a lot. (Remember that bursitis and plantar fasciitis? I think they are going to revisit me). It was so painful todaythat I laid down "for a few minutes" and fell asleep for 3 hours. I feel a little better now, but I'm hoping that things don't get worse before they get better. All of these things could be caused by the inflammation that was going on with the hives.  I have an appointment with the allergist in a few weeks. She will then take me off the medicine I've been on gradually. If things are going to return, it will be then. Wish me luck.

Planning:
   It's getting late tonight, but I would like to correct a lot and finish a letter to Monique in The Netherlands!

Loving:
    I'm loving being grateful for small things. Sometimes the small things in life are bigger than they seem. Here are some things that I've been grateful for: -apples, colorful foliage, dates with all 3 of my boys, a delicious latte I had (usually don't drink them) with creme brulee at a new restaurant, new friends, correspondence with penpals, success of students (especially the ones who don't actually like music but work hard because I have asked them to), talent of the next generation, random acts of kindness, film scores (some music is incredibly beautiful. How do these guys write stuff like this?), cool weather, hot chocolate, people who work with church education programs, previous students, sweet gifts from students (like a Yankee candle I just got- or the flowers sent to me for my birthday), my faith, all of the upcoming holidays.

    What are the "small things" you have been enjoying lately?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

How sweet

    Today is my birthday. I got a call during a class today telling me that there was "something special" downstairs. After some speculations from my 5th graders (and them realizing that it is my birthday), another teacher brought me these flowers. The students were convinced they were from my husband and sons. I didn't think they were because I'd be just as happy if the boys went and made me a leaf bouquet as I would if they spent $150 on roses (probably be more happy with the bouquet since we aren't rich). Well, I opened the card and, wouldn't you know, they are from 2 8th grade girls and a 5th grade boy (brother of one of the 8th graders).  How sweet. In addition to that, they gave me a card and each wrote a special letter to me. I'm so blessed.

 

PS. I was also spoiled at home :)