The Annual Holi-Birthday Wish List

19 Oct

It’s been FOREVER since I last posted and I’ve been telling myself I need to do better.  Lots of interesting things happening with what I’m doing in my classroom this year so hopefully I’ll get back on track.  All of that being said… It is coming.

ImageIt’s kind of like I’m going to be…

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The big 3-0 is coming and along with it other fantastic things about fall are arriving…  Fall foods, weather, activities, football, and we near Christmas.  With that in mind…here’s the annual Holi-Birthday Wish List for 2013.  This is pretty tough considering the past 9 months have been pretty amazing with a trip to DC, a visit to Gillette stadium TWICE, seeing Patriots training camp, LOVE Week 2013, seeing Backstreet Boys in Boston, trips to the mountains…

  • Barnes and Noble gift cards (for my Nook and other such things)
  • Tickets/seats at the New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers game (seriously, let’s just keep piling on the awesome with the Pats training camp and add to it actually getting to a GAME)
  • Gift cards of all varieties are welcome (food – Carrabbas and Starbucks are always lovely, iTunes, any clothing/shoe gift cards are great as are Target gift cards…)
  • $$ to fix the paint sealant (not a huge deal right now but something that’d be nice to take care of while it’s only slightly peeling and would cost less now rather than later)
  • New MacBook?  (This one still runs but on an olllllld version of OS X with 2 GB of memory and I can’t upgrade to too much because stuff is so old…)
  • Carpet cleaning (Sounds crazy but it’s been a few years since it’s been deep cleaned.  I’ve done it on my own a few times.)
  • Tickets to the Nutcracker or Messiah through Blumenthal in Charlotte
  • $$ for my Keurig replacement (it died last month)
  • Candles
  • Anything Duke/Patriots
  • Going Solo in the Kitchen by Jane Doerfer
  • Guitar Hero for Wii
  • Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution
  • $$ to pay off some of my college loans (always nice to make it go a little faster)
  • Small, new coffee table (dark wood/stain)
  • Garlic press
  • Nice set of measuring cups (mine are getting warped)

Photo Credit 1

Photo Credit 2

Aside

Somewhere Around the World…

30 Apr

muse-22

In my previous post full of reasons why I’m full of a serious desire to travel and just GO somewhere, I mentioned that there were several factors that have really been pushing me lately.  There are the obvious reasons:

1. I’ve traveled abroad several times – once you go, you’ll have that desire in the back of your mind all the time.  Whether you do something about it or let it lie dormant is another thing.

2. My teaching degree and current teaching position lend itself well for being reasons to travel – I have a degree in Spanish education and teaching certification in Spanish K-12 AND middle school Social Studies.  Can’t get much more global than that.

3. I just want to SEE and experience more of the world.

Then there are the amusing reasons

4. I’m not getting any younger…but I’m not old either.  So, hello perfect age.

5. I’m at a stage in my life where I have the commitment during the school year but summer is wide open.  I just have to grab at it.  No strings attached…yet.  (One day??)

6. You’ve denied me twice, travel grants. You were RIGHT THERE.  And then you weren’t.  I’ve been ok with it.  I get it.  But that’s about enough of that…  You’re just fueling the fire now.

But then there are the “out there in the world” inspirations that are fanning the flame too.  For example…

The Young Adventuress – Been to over 25 countries and in Jordan right now.  She was an auxilar de conversacion in Spain for 2 years.  Essentially, she taught English in Spain, was paid (700 euros/month), got to live in a country I thoroughly enjoy and have great memories of AND got to travel all over.  Her blog is amusing – lots of pictures, entertaining stories and good insight and information.  The whole Spanish/teaching thing…  I get you.

BootsnAll – I can’t even remember how I came across this blog but it’s got a lot of interesting resources to help you plan trips and something called an “RTW”.  Round the World trip.  Wooo.  Craaaazy.

A Dangerous Business – She decided that she was going to travel when she realized Lord of the Rings was filmed in New Zealand.  Geek after my own heart.  She’s been to more than 20 countries.  She’s also got a degree in journalism and has a penchant for being a grammar fanatic…er…police  which I also find myself being.

LandLopers – Reminded me of the curiosity I have about Iceland…  Love how he calls himself a “recovering cubicle dweller”.  He really tries to write from the perspective of an everyday person who just enjoys traveling and sharing what they learn.  It doesn’t all have to be about the “glamour” that is travel.

Twenty-Something Travel – Very relatable…not just with the age business (but let’s not discuss that changing to “thirty-something” in the next few months…).  It’s run by a girl who has backpacked in Europe and Asia, roadtripped in Australia, created an iPhone app (Eat the World), left her office job and though she’s in DC currently will be traveling again soon.

Adventurous Kate – She’s about my age.  Quit her job 2 years ago to travel and is still doing so.  She traveled for 6 months in Asia and now bases herself in London while still traveling.

Highly suggest checking them out – great stories and advice.  It’s like travel bootcamp – need inspiration?  Check.  Need advice?  Check?  Need a reality check?  Got it.  Get it into gear, traveler!

Photo Credit

Just Go

27 Apr

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For the past month or so (and particularly the past week or two) the itch to travel has hit me really hard.  If I’m being honest, you could probably say it’s been something at the forefront of my mind for a good part of the current school year.

Last year one of the beginning teachers I mentor (I have THREE this year) received a travel grant to travel to England and Greece for conferences.  I was impressed with her gusto for teaching and travel.  This year I decided I was going to do the same – I mean, I am the global studies teacher AND a foreign language teacher.  It’s been WAY too long since I’ve been outside the country to experience another place and culture.  The thing that’s always seemed to be in the way is the excuse everyone gives – money and time commitments.

So, I applied for one that is given locally in the fall that would go to Ecuador and into the Amazon during the summer.  I got invited to go to an interview for the grant in January.  It went well.  Didn’t get it…  I do understand the reasoning though – they had tougher competition than in other years AND were truly looking for an educator who had NOT been outside the country. I’m lucky enough to have been outside the country twice (3 times if you really want to count the Bahamas?).  More teachers need to experience another country and bring that into their classroom.

In late February my mentee (henceforth S) emailed me info about another travel grant possibility.  It was pretty neat.  It was through Hilton and was nationwide.  It required an explanation of where you’d go and a proposal for how you’d bring it into the classroom upon return.  After looking at ALL of the entries they would post the top 30 and then open it for public voting.  S told me we’d get ALL of the kids in the school to vote on Facebook and of course my parents and their church said they’d do the same.  After public voting for 30 days they’d announce the winners.  Winner with an “s”!  They were giving out grants that were higher than the local one I applied for earlier in the year AND schools that the teachers came from would get something out of it too – money to enhance global projects and education at the school level!  Awesome.

I thought I had a pretty good entry myself.  The trip was to Eastern Europe which I have had a fascination with since middle school.  It visited Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.  I distinctly remember the Holocaust unit that we did when I was in middle school and it was something that has stuck with me.  I would have the opportunity to learn more about it and see the places I’d learned about!  Add to that getting to PRAGUE which I’ve been kind of obsessed with since college and this was a dream trip.  I shared all of these things AND the fact that a lot of my students don’t get to go outside the US (some don’t go beyond county borders either).  This would have been a great opportunity to expose them to a part of the world that experienced so much but has risen above that adversity.  Let’s add on top of that what I was going to do to incorporate it into my class…  I cover human rights and refugees in 7th grade.  HELLO.  Much of what I was going to see, experience and learn about dealt with a lot of human rights issues!  The Holocaust was the single largest human rights violation in HISTORY and prompted the creation of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Those are ALL things I cover in my class.  I planned to create an entire unit based on the trip that incorporated what I was already covering but would be greatly enhanced by what I would be able to bring back.

I was pumped about all of that…  Only to find out that I didn’t get it.  I was a little let down at first.  But you know, that one WAS nation-wide.  Emphasis on NATION.  Ah well.  Time to move on.  There’s always next year…

But since then I’ve been thinking more and more about places I want to go.  And I kind of made promise to myself that I’d do something AWESOME the year I turn 30.  That’s coming up this year.  So.  Year 30.  What do I want to do?  Where do I want to go?  I’ve got a little list going.  I’ve been looking at a bunch of travel blogs.  Reading them is inspiring – especially the ones that remind you that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to go somewhere and WHY/HOW. 

I’ve been considering HOW I can make this happen.  Tax refund helps.  I am instituting in May a “No Spend Month” – something I did a year or two ago.  Might do another in the fall.  Yesterday I bought a book by Nomadic Matt called How to Travel the World on $50 a Day.  A lot of it comes down to me just STOPPING making money excuses.  I don’t have to go for 1-2 months but a couple of weeks.  If I take time to plan, I can do it. 

I’ll have to share places I’m considering in the next couple of days and some of the blogs that have inspired me and added to the travel itch.

Where are you wanting to go?

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Photo 1 and Photo 2

Today on HelloGiggles…

15 Feb

I don’t know how many of you out there know about HelloGiggles or not but it’s one of my favorite sites to check in my RSS.  It’s a fantastic website started by 3 ladies (including the talented Zooey Deschanel) and is designed to be a positive online community for women.  It covers lots of different topics from DIY to books and pop culture and lifestyle tips.  It makes me laugh on a daily basis (especially the posts that get all nostalgic for the early 2000s and 90s) and I’ve gotten some good reads from that site! 

I love to write and I honestly need to do a better job of keeping up with it on here.  I did so well when I first started it!  I wrote a post here on my blog a couple of years ago that I still go back to once in a while.  I submitted it for their “From Our Readers” posts they sometimes use last year in the Spring.  I think I got a “received” email.  Nothing else happened.  I didn’t do much with it again until the end of January.  I edited the post and submitted it again.  Then I got this email:

Hey,
  We are considering including your post on HelloGiggles! Could you send us a photo and photo source we could use to create the feature image for your article as well as a link to your blog? Thank you so much!
 
AHHHHHH!!!!!  So.  Exciting.  I immediately set to work on that and emailed TWO pictures.  Yes, I’m an overachiever.  It’s a thing.  I’m working on it…  (Seriously – next school year I’ve GOT to dial it back). 
 
Anyway, I wondered thereafter when I would find out or see it posted.  Nothing for about 3 weeks and then…BAM.  This morning it was up!  Very exciting.  Huge for me as I love writing and being published online by a site I enjoy – thrilling.
 
Want to read it?  Check it out here.

Keeping Up With the Joneses

29 Jan

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Y’all, I don’t know where the last 2 months have gone.  If you’ve seen December or January you can tell them it’s ok to slow down and take time to smell the roses (though…it is the middle of winter so, smell the hot cocoa?).

I had a great Christmas with my family in South Carolina.  My sister took an epic journey that went from New Hampshire to Florida with her boyfriend.  My grandmother came up.  My aunt came down.  My youngest sister flew to New Hampshire to meet up with her best friend, drove back down to SC and they moved into a house.  We had an big family photo shoot with a pretty great photographer.  We played lots of games and ate lots of food.  It was a great time.  A LOT happened in just over a week!

Now here we are in January.  Goals and plans had been forming in my mind because…that’s just what you do at the end of one year and beginning of the next.  I knew it was going to e a busy couple of months to start 2013 and I wanted to be reasonable.  I’ve got an Odyssey of the Mind team I’m coaching (while coordinating for the school and aiding another team), OM competition just a month away, mentor stuff to keep up with, staff development I’m involved with that’s coming up, some volunteer roles that need to be filled in the coming months in eKidz, new grading period starting…  Just lots going on.

I started thinking through what I could “do” for a resolution and thanks to a series at church plus reflecting a bit on things I enjoy, want to do and feel led to do, I scaled back a bit.  It’s not about keeping up with the Joneses.  It’s not about comparing my behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel (thanks, NROR!).  I’m not the Joneses and I’m not the star of someone else’s life.  I have my own calling, vision, life to see through.

So what am I planning on doing as of right now?

1. Reading MORE.  Why?  Because I want to, not because I have to.  I read 2 books over break and I’ve already gone through 3 or 4 since the beginning of this month.  I LOVE reading.  Always have.  I am just always exhausted and fall asleep while reading.  I got a Nook last year for Christmas and I’m definitely going to be using it more.  I’ve already got a few more books on there that I bought and I’m hoping that will be motivation to keep it up.  It could become an expensive habit…but I like that escape.

2. Big loan payment.  Thanks to a gracious gift from my grandmother I’ll be making a big payment on my student loans in February.  It might be even a bit bigger if I get my taxes done before the loan payment is due next month.

3. 1000 Gifts.  My mom mentioned the book 1000 Gifts to me and the app for the iPhone.  Essentially it allows you to take pictures of things you are thankful and grateful for.  Over the course of the year I’ve got a goal of getting 1000 gifts on there.  A gift can be something tangible but not necessarily.  I think this will be a great way to remind myself to be thankful and appreciate everything in my life – not just the big things but also noticing the smaller gifts in my life.

Those are some pretty basic things but I think they can have a great impact for me and in my daily life.  They’re simple, easy to do and are something I can do on a regular basis to help keep it routine.  I might not say that I have to have a certain number of “gifts” on the app by a certain date or read a particular number of books a month but I know my intent.  Now that I write that, maybe these are my 2013 Intentions.  Sounds a bit like Jess Lively – a life with intention is her whole spiel.  Check her out!

What are your goals?  Plans?  Intentions for 2013?

It’s Not Christmas Without…

24 Dec

I absolutely LOVE this time of year.  Christmas is my favorite.  I’ve even had the chance to recite the Code of the Elf several times over this month because of our kids series at church.  It’s pretty awesome…

I love traditions and I love music.  I looooove Christmas music.  I was just talking with someone yesterday about how much I enjoyed caroling with people from church when I was younger and that I have a lot of fun Christmas memories attached to certain Christmas songs, albums, etc.  I was trying to think of what cds I absolutely HAVE to have or listen to for it to really FEEL like Christmas and the following are what came to mind.

Some of these are old school but SO awesome.  It’s just not Christmas without…

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One of the best Christmas albums EVER.  Check out this crazy video of Smitty singing “Gloria” at the White House Christmas in 1989.  The hair and the jacket.  Wow.

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I know.  Who the heck are these guys, right?  Such old school CCM but I love this album.  I remember listening to the cassette tape in the car while caroling.  And the rendition of “White Christmas” is so awesome.  Check it out here.  I also love their version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”.

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I think this was Amy Grant’s second Christmas cd but it’s my favorite.

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My parents used to have a record player (yes, RECORD) and they would move one of the huge speakers into the hallway and play this as my sisters and I went to sleep in December.  Good times.

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It is just NOT Christmas until I hear Bing Crosby’s voice.  Or until I’ve watched “White Christmas” (which I will do tonight).

And your favorite Christmas music?

Pics from:

blog.villines.com, kristifuoco.blogspot.com, florencegyvinnie.blogspot.com, amazon.com, rwtyer.blogspot.com

Come to Me…

3 Nov

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I don’t know how He does it, but He always does.  It shouldn’t surprise me anymore but it does and in some ways I hope I’m always in awe of how He loves us and cares for us.  God is pretty amazing.  This is a longer post, but I’m grateful and blessed and want to remember this.

This has been a very, very busy week for me with several looong days and one night with little sleep because my mind was preoccupied with a few things.  In the middle of it all I had a birthday (last year of my 20s!).  To back up a little bit, I’ve mentioned before that between changes that happened with my teaching position last year and several other things, I tried to make myself as valuable as possible.  I may have been a little too good at that and I do sometimes have an issue saying the word “no”.  I’ve got a lot of little extra things on my plate this year to try to keep up with outside of the actual teaching aspect at school.  I believe in each of them and what they are out to accomplish…it’s just a lot to stay on top of, remember dates and paperwork, meetings here and there, etc.  Then I added another big commitment yesterday – something that I’ve done previously and FULLY believe in.  In this current situation I’ll kind of be heading it up.  I don’t mind it at all, it’s just going to require recalibrating, sorting things out time wise with the other amazing teachers I’ll be working with and going from there.

Suffice to say, I’ve had a lot on my mind and calendar, particularly in October and now we’re full speed ahead into holiday season.  Believe me when I say it – I LOVE THIS TIME OF YEAR.  It’s my favorite.  It brings a few breaks and the Lord knows I need it.  All the things that have been swirling in my mind this past month were almost getting to the point of overwhelming me.  By the time last night was here (Friday), I was exhausted but not about to miss out on celebrating a great accomplishment by my wonderful friend Candice in losing 127 pounds.  She’s fantastic and even though I knew I may not be the most fun, I wanted to be there to support her and encourage her.  It was a blessing to see her so radiant and moving forward.  I went home that night and slept like a baby.

Earlier in the week one of the incredible eTeam leaders I serve with in Quest at Providence, Julie, sent me an email invite to a gathering of Elevation/Charlotte ladies called “True Beauties”.  It’s essentially ladies of all ages meeting to pray over each other, remind each other of who we are in Christ, and to hear from a speaker once a month on a Saturday.  I said I’d go.  When was the start time?  7am.  My alarm went off at about 6:15.  I trudged into the bathroom, looked in the mirror and almost started crying I was so tired and just wanted to sleep…  Ever been that tired?  Little things make you almost cry – how dare my hairbrush fall on the floor!  I said I’d be there though and I eventually got there.  Thank God I did.  I needed it.  It was just humbling and a blessing to be with about 40 other ladies and in groups of 3 with people we didn’t know sharing a request we had and getting to pray a specific prayer over each other.  I was able to unload the sense of weariness I was having and need for rest and refocus.  I was able to pray the same and more over 2 other ladies.  To top it all off, we heard from Charie King (wife of Clayton King who has preached at Elevation before) speak on Jesus and what he says about friendships.  He didn’t expect people to be something they weren’t-He expected them as they were.  We can’t place that expectation on others for what we want out of a relationship/friendship nor can we always expect that out of ourselves.  It was powerful and I needed it.

Clearly today was a day the Lord knew I needed a break.  I was supposed to tutor a 5th grader and when I got to the library I was meeting her at, things ended up falling through.  It was the last day of early voting so I just got in line to vote.  It was a lot of waiting.  About two and a half hours of waiting before I was finally able to vote.  Thinking back on being in that line, I’ve got a new perspective on it.  It’s like God was just giving me the perfect opportunity to be STILL (quite literally for minutes at a time in the line), quiet, and having nothing else to focus on but how absolutely beautiful it was outside and what it’s like to slow it down a bit.

While I was on my way to the library (when I thought I was about to tutor), I got a text from one of my friends, the amazing Jessi Welch, who is the eKidz director at Blakeney saying that they were low on some volunteers and asking if I’d be able to come by.  My mind had already kind of been made up that I was going to go straight home from tutoring to a quiet night of rest and that was it.  I sent back an honest text though – I was tired, had a long week and wouldn’t be much use with the older ones running around a lot but give me a baby to hold and I’d be happy.  I’d also said yes for another more selfish reason but God had different intentions.

I barely made it on time due to how long it took to finally get to vote but I did.  I went into the baby room and we waited.  Three babies made it in…  We had 5 volunteers.  One went in to the worship experience.  I thought I might go into one of the overflow/quiet rooms to watch the worship experience if no other kids showed up.  Again, God had different plans.  Turns out there was a little girl that needed some extra love and attention because she liked to get up and run around the room in Quest.  But I was trying to stay away from the noise, God!  I need some peace…  I almost said I’d prefer to stay in with the babies in case any others came in…  I got up though and walked in to Quest to see how I could help.  I couldn’t have made a better choice.  I wasn’t leading a group.  I got to sit with this sweet little girl, love on her, calm her with my hand on her back, smile, take her hugs and be a her personal jungle gym when she needed to move a little.  I walked out of there tonight with my heart calm, no thoughts about things I needed to do, lists running in my head, and my heart was centered back on the things that are important.  God knew I needed that one on one with a pre-k child though I was trying to fight it initially.  It’s amazing the healing power in just spending time with kids with the purpose of being Christ to them and showing them His love.  Getting to focus that love on one particular child was a blessing.

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Adding to the slow down of the day and things that bring joy to my heart was the fact that I had my FAVORITE cd from my “25 Unforgettable Songs” collection in.  I’ve said before I may have been born in the wrong era and how much I love the Bing Crosby/Sinatra years.  That stuff just makes me smile and calms me too.

I was reminded of the verse that is quoted above as I drove home from Blakeney and it’s just so powerful and meaningful to me in this moment (I also have lovely memories of singing it around the campfire at Nomacca that bring a smile to my face too).  I was WORN OUT after a busy week and needed rest.  I didn’t quite get the physical rest I thought was what I needed but I got to rest in Him today.  That’s something to constantly work on remembering.

Thanks for today, Lord.

Photo credits: Amazon and indulgy.com

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