Sunday, March 31, 2013

Today I Love... Slice of Life 31 of 31

     I'm playing my game my way again today, by loving something I've already loved.  Back on Day 100, when I operated under the temporary delusion that 100 days of consecutive postings was something really note worthy, I chose this same thing to love.  Now that I am approaching the one year mark of loving things, I realize that 100 days was a mere drop in the bucket.  

200 came and went virtually unnoticed...I was loving my pillow along with a list of other various simple pleasure things.

300 slipped by with very little fanfare and had me appreciating Pizza Hut at the end of a short week that seemed very long!  

And the wonderful thing is...I am beginning to finally realize myself that even though my writing muscles will eventually wear out, there will always be...well...let's not jump ahead just yet.

So what is it I'm loving today?  
I've tried and tried to find a fancy way to say it. 

I've written it and rewritten it in my head. 

I took several photos during the course of the morning; tried & failed to catch the sunrise (too cloudy), hymn lyrics on the wall during church (too hard to read), lillies on the front of the platform (too close)...and finally settled on this simple sketch from the worship folder.

I've looked at scripture and selected several worthy pieces only to realize that even they were too much. 

Because it's really much more simple than any of my over worked efforts. 

It's really very...very...simple.

Today...I love...Love.  

God loved us so much that He gave us his most precious gift...his Son.  

I don't know how many of you are parents...but I can't think of anything I would have a harder time giving up than one of my children.  I would (and do) give up a lot FOR them...but I don't think I could give one of them up.   

God gave us his Son, knowing how we would treat him, and knowing that it was the only way that things could be set right once and for all.

He gave us His Love.  And when we love him and believe in him and accept him, we get to live with him forever.  


It's really that simple...

Today...I love LOVE.

Happy Easter...He is Risen!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Today I Love the Slice of Life Story Challenge...Slice of Life 30 of 31

      There's only one more day left of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!  I can't believe it!  It seems like I was just hovering over that orange publish button yesterday, hyperventilating as I tried to get myself off that diving board into the "blogosphere"!  Because of the timing of a Certain Very Important Holiday, I'll be pretending for just a moment or two that today is the last day of the challenge.  Bear with me in that, won't you?
      This past month has been something else!  I have learned so very much...about writing, about teaching, about teaching writing, about reading, about parenting...about living.  
I've been challenged.
I've been encouraged.
I've been able to encourage. 
I've met new people.  
I've made new friends.
I've traveled vicariously both to new places and back in time.  
I've made connections, both with other teachers and with my own silly self.
I've thought new thoughts.
I've written more than I ever would have on my own...and maybe reached a few more folks than I would have before the challenge.  
I've written about more different things than I ever thought I could over the course of one I look at the tags to the right as I type I giggle again over SMART phones, psychic toilets, The Waffle House, and kid snippets.

I've read more than I thought I could, but I still don't feel like it's been many many wonderful posts!  I am hoping they will still be there after the challenge is over so I can go back and keep exploring. 
I am so thankful to the whole community at Two Writing Teachers and the Slice of Life Challenge, especially Ruth Ayres and Stacey Shubitz. I am indebted also to Cathy, who invited me here in the first place and helped encourage me to take that dive off the diving board.  I've received such great feedback and encouraging words, whether it was for something I had written or for a personal issue that had arisen that particular day. 
I'm looking forward to participating in the Slice of Life Tuesday Challenge.  But I'm really at that point where I need to decide how to continue with this whole Today I Love thing.  I am approaching a year of posting daily about something I is Day 337.  I'm not sure what will happen once I cross Day 365.  Will I feel differently? (Probably not.)  Will I run out of things to love?  (Heavens no!)  Will I keep going?  Ummm...
That's the part I'm not sure about...I've been talking a lot about balance lately...but I haven't been walking a lot of balance beams.  I've mostly just been talking about it.  I'm thinking it's time I start walking my own talk.  
Well, as I tell my students on hard days when the schedule gets crinkly and tempers flare and we are all a little out of sorts, "Do you hear that?  Listen?  Shhh...listen...hear that?  Yup, the world's still spinning!"
And it will spin no matter what I do.  But for today...I think I'll just love this challenge.  It's been amazing.  

Friday, March 29, 2013

Today I Love Productivity NOT Procrastination! Slice of Life 29 of 31

     It is a well known and firmly established fact that I am the QUEEN of Procrastination.  If I could put off breathing to do something I found more interesting at the time, I probably would.  I am easily distracted.  I am impulsive.  And yes, I can be at times a little hyperactive.  My sixth grade teacher told me that I came into her class scatter-brained and she'd be (bleeped) if I left that way.  Surprise, Mrs. H!  I'm still that way!  (This was, in her defense, in response to my request to sit next to the new cute boy who had just joined our class.  I think she was afraid I would rub off on him.)  
     But today...ooh, more procrastination for me!  Today I achieved.  I was productive.  I stayed the course.  I kept my head down and focused.  I got stuff done!  And...GASP!  I had fun doing it!  Today I accomplished!  In no particular order, today I...

~paid bills
~caught up on two days worth of Bible reading (okay I listened, but still!)
~ate breakfast with friends
~ate lunch with friends
~talked, talked, talked with friends
~hemmed a pair of darling daughter's jeans
~ran to fabric store for glue
~fixed darling daughter's drop over gorgeous prom dress
~laughed with friends
~ate dinner with The Man
~talked with The Man
~laughed with The Man
~baked 6 cookies (freeze your dough ahead of time, people!)
~ate two cookies...saving one for later!
~drove an hour and a half south to Creations Sew Clever
~got loads and loads of help from the fantastic crew at Creations Sew Clever
~finished the top of this BE-A-U-TI-FUL quilt...that I've had the pieces of for the past THIRTEEN years!
~put together the backing for this beautiful quilt top
~started pondering how I can talk my friend Deb into helping me quilt this top together with the backing
~drove an hour and a half north from Creations Sew Clever
~read several Slice of Life blog entries and started pondering WHY I never do anything for National Poetry Month
~started pondering WHAT I am going to do for National Poetry Month

~Wrote this post!

~Sighed in satisfaction...

Today I lovelovelovelovelovelove PRODUCTIVITY!


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Today I Love Margin...NOT Margarine! Slice of Life 28 of 31

Today I love, no, no, not margARine!  Margin.  (besides, I am a butter girl from way back.  Margarine...ick!) know, that little extra space at the edge of your paper? know, that little extra time you give yourself before an appointment? know, that little extra space you give yourself and the car in front of you when you are driving?  The wiggle room you add into your budget, just in case?  The day you add on to a vacation to make sure you have a day to recover...and do laundry?  The 5 minutes that you get up early so you don't have to rush headlong into your day?  You know, margin.  

I was talking this morning with a friend and listening to her express the same concerns I have...not enough time to get done what needs to get done in our busy lives.  Not enough margin.  Now, she's a pastor's wife.  Guaranteed to be a busy person.  I teach middle school.  Need I say more? Teachers lead busy lives by definition, don't they?

It has been a month since I first hit that scary orange publish button and started this blog, at the same time declaring to the world my desire to have more balance in my life.  I believe I am loving margin today because as book club met yet again tonight, and yet again I did not have the book finished on time, I am realizing, yet again, how precious little margin I still have in my life.  

I am also loving it though, because as hard as it is for me, I really have carved out a few caches of margin this spring break week, both physically and mentally.  What you see above is a perfectly clear section of our kitchen counter.  We saved so much money on our stove at the auction last week that we went ahead and bought a brand new above the range microwave to replace our 22 year old one.  Thus, the newly cleared off counter.  Granted, The Man had the new wave installed by Saturday, and I just today found the counter underneath the old one, but I am protecting it like a mama bear watches over her cubs.  It is my is my space.  Don't touch it!

The other cache of margin I have carved out came earlier this week as I had breakfast with a friend one day and lunch with a different friend a different day.  It comes again tomorrow when I head south to Chillicothe with some more friends to Creations Sew Clever (I love that name!) to attend their Friday Sit n' Sew.  I started putting together a quilt top the last time these friends and I headed south to Sit n' Sew and guess when the last time I worked on that quilt was?  Yeah, you guessed it.  That day.  In August.  

So...I have some more balancing to do.  But I'm trying...honest I am.  And guess what!  I am halfway done with my Christmas letter!  See, there's hope!  Talk to me friends...where is your margin?  What do you cut out of your day?  Tell me your secrets for keeping things in balance. What do you give up to gain some breathing room, some thinking space, some margin?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Today I Love Laura Lou! Slice of Life 27 of 31

      It is birthday season in my family!  From the middle of March to the end of June, we have TEN birthdays to celebrate!  I am looking forward to our annual Spring Birthday Party, yet to be scheduled for this year.  This is the whole lot of the birthday crew from two years ago, before birthday girl #10 was even born yet!  
      Well, those other birthday folks will have to wait today, because today it is the birthday of my eldest niece, Laura.  I remember clearly when she was a teeny tot...she used to chew on my shoes!  I think I remember a bit of rhyme I stitched  into a sampler that I'm sure has been relegated to a back closet somewhere: 
      "Laura's got my shoe,
       She's tearing it to pieces,
       But I don't even care,
       She's one of my two nieces!"

(Give me a break, I was just a freshman in high school at the time!)

This is a photo of sweet little 6 year old flower girl Laura at our wedding.
What a cutie pie!  She practiced for days ahead of time tossing flower petals out in her back yard...only to forget to toss a single one on the day of the wedding!
      Today she is a strong young woman, making her way in the world, creating a loving home for her family, and helping those around her as she is able.  She is writing a book that I can NOT wait to see in print!  I'll be able to say I knew her when! 
      Today I love my niece, Laura.  
      Happy Birthday, Laura Lou! 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Today I Love Not Knowing...Slice of Life 26 of 31

I expect either Barney or Andy to walk in any minute.
Alright now, remember when I told you I get to play my game my way?  Okay, I know that I loved "not knowing" already back in February, but that's all I can boil it down to today.  I didn't know when I started my day out this morning in this little nook of nostalgia what a joy it would be to me.  This is Henry's Restaurant, on the west side of West Jefferson, Ohio.  They don't have their own website that I could find, but here are some nice reviews.  I started my day at Henry's with a good, good, good friend.  The kind of friend who shows up just when you need her to and has all of the right words right when you need them.  
See the $.99 over J's shoulder?  You really can get bfast for $.99!
    I had set today aside as the day to get my Christmas letter done.  Yes, I know it is March.  Last year, I had a very busy (busier than normal) holiday season and didn't get my annual (21 years this year) Christmas letter out on time.  I for sure didn't want to do a double issue (did that twice...worse than childbirth!) so I just put it off a little more and a little more until I finally got it complete just in time for Easter!  The timing was actually wonderful.  Instead of sending it in time for Jesus' birth, I was getting it out there in time for the more important aspect of his life...his resurrection!  And because folks weren't bogged down by their own holiday hustles, more people commented and replied to it than ever before.  So....this year I just planned on waiting and figured as long as I had it out before the 4th of July, I'd be in business!
      Well, I couldn't have picked a better way to start a totally writing day!  Jaci and I enjoyed our breakfast (too bad I didn't order pie...Henry's is FAMOUS for their pies!) and had a great time catching up.  She gave me a good dose of mama advice and kind blog words that I really needed to hear.  Heck, she gave me banana bread to take home with me!  It just doesn't get better than that!  But it did.
     As luck would have it, our nest has recently re-filled and our son is living with us again for awhile as he continues his college.  His morning class got cancelled today and we had just the nicest time hanging out, listening to his very eclectic collection of music on his laptop, and discussing the merits of rinsing vs not rinsing when loading the dishwasher.  He had us both in absolute tears over this song that he was remembering from his younger boy days.  We talked about nostalgia, about growing up, about how the grass in all of our photos on the kitchen wall looks so much greener than in real life.  We talked about life in general.  We laughed.  He showed me Calvin and Hobbes' cartoons on his laptop.  We talked.  We talked.  And we talked.
     And when I finally did make it to the computer to start on my Christmas letter, it just rolled right out and I made it all the way to May in just a few hours!  (Yes, I'm one of those annoying people who recounts the year month by month.)  This is very a laborious process, so to make it to May in a few hours is quite the accomplishment.
     Later in the day I went a-blogging and found this wonderful quote from a blog mentor of mine, Bossy Betty (I wonder if she knows she is my mentor?)
I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.
                                                               Delicious Ambiguity.

--Gilda Radner

   So...yeah, a pretty ambiguous day and a very ambiguous slice, but some days you just don't know.  And you have to do just what Gilda says and take the moment and make the best of it.  Some days it's good not to know. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Today I Love My Sister, Slick...Slice of Life 25 of 31

Be glad there are TWO fingers showing behind my head!
Today I love my big sister, Vicki!  It's her birthday and I have been  thinking about her all day!  She's something special, my sister.  As my daughter says, there's never a dull moment when Aunt Vicki is around.  She livens things up and reminds you that there's always some new challenge waiting to be tackled.  Whether it's raising kids, teaching kids, traveling to tropical islands, dancing to the zumba beat, playing "the strip game" (NOT what you think it is!), or just hanging out on the beach, she's the life of the party.  

       I've told her many times that she reminds me very much of the frog in an old story that I happened across in the Katherine Paterson novel, Lyddie. In the novel, Lyddie is taken under the wing of Triphena, the tavern cook, who tells her the story of two frogs who fell into a pail of milk.  One of the frogs drowned immediately, overwhelmed by the circumstances in which it found itself.  The other frog kicked so hard it made a pat of butter by morning.  "Some folks are natural born kickers," says Triphena, referring to Lyddie.  
A beachside birthday present for her granddaughter.
      I don't think my sister is a NATURAL born kicker.  I think for a very long time, she would have much rather had someone else do her kicking for her.  But, as happens sometimes...she one day found herself all alone in a pail of cream.  I must say, these many years since that first unexpected dunking, she's sitting on butter!  Today she is a proud mother of three, grandmother of one, Nationally Board Certified Teacher with her Master's Degree, who (shivvvver!) teaches preschoolers!  (On purpose!  And loves it!)  And today I love her!  
The Edisto Island Straw Pit Symphony, 2011.
 Happy Birthday, Slick!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Today I Love God's Perfect Timing...Slice of Life 24 of 31

Today I Love God's perfect timing.  This is a tough one to type, especially after what I posted yesterday about a young man in our community losing his life in an automobile accident.  It is so difficult to see God and His hand during trying times.  As hard as it is, when I stand back and look at things, I know in the depths of my heart that He is in on His throne and He is in control.  We don't always (in fact, hardly ever) get to see the final outcome of His hand at work.  Sometimes, though, He gives us a glimpse and with our hindsight we can look back and see that, Ohhhh, THAT was when He was working for our good.  Today gave me several of such precious glimpses.
      The photo above is of one of the hymnals at our tiny little (growing) is resting on a brand new chair in our brand new sanctuary in our brand new building.  A friend suggested it would have been a good photo for last Sunday's blog post about our first service in the new place.  She's right.  The juxtaposition of old resting on new, while new rests on old is just perfect.  It reminds me that the thirty or more years ago when the founders of the church purchased this hymnal and all its cousins they knew God would bring The Man and me to this little place.  They of course didn't know it would be US, but they knew there would be SOMEONE, and they were faithful to that vision.  They played their part in God's perfect timing.  
       The photo below is one piece of the scripture with which we were challenged during this morning's service.  As Jesus made his way "up to" Jerusalem, he knew every single one of the gritty details of that upcoming week, this week that we still remember some 2000+ years later.  He knew those details before any one of them came to be.  He knew as the people shouted "Hosanna!" on Sunday, that those very same people would be shouting "Crucify him!" by Friday.  He knew Judas would betray him, he knew Peter would deny him, he knew the pain of the cross before he ever set foot in the city.  And yet "up to" Jerusalem he rode.  He played his part in God's perfect timing.  
       I was thrilled at service this morning to visit with a friend I had not seen in quite a long time.  She had been seriously questioning God's timing for the past year or so, but today she shared a praise with me that proved to her that He had her story worked out all along.  She quit a job on faith and the very next day was offered a job that she has been dreaming of for some time.  She played her part in God's perfect timing.  
      The pastor's wife told me last week of a man who is now attending our church who was in such pain a few Christmases ago that he was considering committing suicide.  That very night someone from our church came unannounced to his door with a plate of cookies.  He suddenly knew someone loved and cared for him without even knowing him.  He is due to be baptized this spring.  The cookie bakers that Christmas played their part in God's perfect timing. 
      I have no idea what God is going to do with the death of this young, vibrant man from our community, or how He will work through the circumstances surrounding it.  But I do know that He is in control and He will bring triumph out of tragedy.  He has perfect timing.  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Today I Love a Sunset Walk...Slice of Life 23 of 31

The Man photo bombed my sunset!
  The Man and I went for a quick walk this evening, trying to talk the sun into sticking around a while longer.  Alas, as much as we begged, pleaded, and slipped silently beyond the horizon, on its way to warm some lucky folks west of here.  We did hear some Canadian geese in the fields.  We couldn't see them, but The Man has sharp eyes and soon enough he saw what caused their ruckus.  Three dark spots on the edge of the farmer's field...coyotes.  We waited to see if the coyotes could convince the sun not to go, but they didn't have any luck either.  The weather folks are calling for more snow...6-12 inches of snow.  The thought seems unfathomable to me on this spring-like day.  I know soon enough we'll all be whining about the heat and humidity and wishing for a bitter cold snowy day...but not today.  Probably not tomorrow.  Probably not the next day either.
      I awoke this morning to news that a former student of mine was killed in a car accident last night.  Logan was a long ago former student in a teeny tiny classroom in which I was a long term, then permanent, sub...but I remember him and his sweet spirit.  I remember making cookies with his class.  I remember him getting so flustered because he got a piece of egg shell in the dough.  I don't think his seven year old little boy self had ever cracked an egg before.  I remember telling him it would be okay...we'd pick it out.  I remember that he was a wonderfully talented soccer player.  
      And then...he wasn't in my life anymore.  That happens...folks pop in and pop out...but I still knew he was out there.  Just like I know the rest of them, the oh...let's see...20 years teaching...average of 25 or so kids per 500 other students I've had are all out there somewhere.  They come in the door, we spend our 180 days together, and then they pop back out again.  Sometimes they visit.  Sometimes you get an invitation to a graduation or a wedding.  And yes, I've gotten news like this before, but you're really not supposed to get news like this as a teacher.  It always amazes me when a student thinks I won't remember them.  I may not remember their name right away, but oh, I do remember them. 
      I guess this is truly a Slice of Life story, because that's how this day...this 12 or 14 hour slice of my life has been.  Eat breakfast, think of Logan, take a shower, remember Logan, get this job accomplished, picture Logan's face, run that errand, smile at precious seven year old Logan in my mind's eye.  Text my daughter, tell her I love her.  Tell her to be careful driving.  Wonder what eighteen year old handsome Logan must have looked like.  Go for a walk with My Man...remember Logan.   
I love the way the sun hides behind this tree.
      There have been some pretty long days for me this past week or two, but the year is going by all too quickly and well, itself is just too much like this sunset...slipping away much too quickly.  Today, I love our prairie sunset and my walk with My Man...and my long ago time with Logan.
I have photos of this fence in all seasons...a common stopping point on our walks.
Going, going....gone!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Today I Love D-E-T-E-R-M-I-N-A-T-I-O-N! Slice of Life 22 of 31


Pardon me while I try something different...I can't quite get the spacing to work the way I want it, but hopefully you'll still get what I am trying to say.  

      This is one of my 7th graders, who has had a very busy couple of weeks.  A HUGE swimming competition the past two weekends (he is the fastest free styler in the state, thank you very much!) and then the Regional Spelling Bee today.  He placed 6th out of 36 nervous spellers and is an alternate to go to the National Spelling Bee in Texas.  Way to go Pema!  I am so very proud of all of your hard work and... 


                                              S-W-I-M  P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E 
                                              S-P-E-L-L  P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E 
                                              S-W-I-M  P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E 
                                              S-P-E-L-L  P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E
                                            S-W-I-M  P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E
                                              S-P-E-L-L  P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E
                                                S-W-I-M  P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E
                                                   S-P-E-L-L  P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E
                                            D-R-I-V-E   D-R-I-V-E   D-R-I-V-E 
                                     B-R-E-A-T-H-E S-T-R-O-K-E B-R-E-A-T-H-E 
                                     B-R-E-A-T-H-E S-T-R-O-K-E B-R-E-A-T-H-E
                                     B-R-E-A-T-H-E S-T-R-O-K-E B-R-E-A-T-H-E
                                                    S-L-E-E-P  S-L-E-E-P  S-L-E-E-P
                                                       E-A-T        E-A-T      E-A-T
                                     S-P-E-L-L  P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E
                                     S-P-E-L-L  P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E
                                                       E-A-T        E-A-T      E-A-T
                                   S-L-E-E-P   S-L-E-E-P   S-L-E-E-P
                                    S-P-E-L-L  P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E
                                    S-P-E-L-L  P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E
                                      S-P-E-L-L  P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E 
                                            S-L-E-E-P    S-L-E-E-P   S-L-E-E-P
                                            D-R-I-V-E   D-R-I-V-E   D-R-I-V-E
                                    B-R-E-A-T-H-E S-P-E-L-L B-R-E-A-T-H-E 
                                    B-R-E-A-T-H-E S-P-E-L-L B-R-E-A-T-H-E
                                    B-R-E-A-T-H-E S-P-E-L-L B-R-E-A-T-H-E