Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

We will get to how I spent my long weekend later.  Tonight, I want to take a few minutes to honor some of those who have served our country with valor and pride.

This is my Grandpa Gus.  He served in the Navy during World War II.  He was colorblind (my mom and her siblings thought that Sea Bees were CBs or colorblind sailors), and therefore didn't go to the front lines.  However, he was stationed in Japan, could type 90 words a minute on the typewriter, and took amazing pictures like this:

He's where I get my love for photography and my love for travel.  He came home, had some wild times with his best friend, Bob (who you'll meet in a minute), married my grandma, and spent the rest of his life farming, traveling, and being a darn good grandpa.  I wish that I would have been old enough to ask him to tell me some stories about the war, but I was only 15 when he died and you just don't think about those things when you are 15, and wouldn't appreciate them even if you did. 

This is Bob, Grandpa Gus's best friend.  Bob was a Marine and did see action in the South Pacific.  There's hardly a single family dinner that Bob didn't attend.  He still does, when his health allows.  He never married, but I hear he was a hit with the ladies!  I really need to go see him this summer and ask him to tell me some of his stories just to know them. 

This is my dad's dad, my Grandpa Chuck.  He had married Grandma Betty just two weeks before he shipped out with the Army Air Corps (later called the Air Force).  He thought he was going to Japan too, but as it turned out he was sent to Panama, where he stayed for two years.  When I moved into my house, I found pictures that he sent home to my grandma of his time there.  This one's my favorite:

He died just four months after Grandpa Gus, and I didn't get to hear his stories either.  But I am so thankful that I have pictures to look back on.  Their legacies will live on.

But there's something really special about this Memorial Day.  Today, my friend, Brady came home from a 14- month tour in Afghanistan with the US Army.  He came home to his wife, Amanda, and daughter, Jovey. and a host of family and friends who are so thankful that their prayers were answered.  We have counted down the days, then hours, with Amanda, and I asked her if I could share one of their pictures from today.

If that doesn't melt your heart, I don't know what will.  When we think of Memorial Day, we of course think of those who have served and died for our country.  We think of the graves, those marked and those unknown in Arlington and in cemeteries all over the world.  We honor those who kept our country free with the ultimate sacrifice.  But today, it's also about being thankful for those who made it home.  For those whose lives continue to shape who we are as a nation. For Brady.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pleasant Surprise

I hope that last night was an indication of what my summer is going to be like!  I had a wonderful, unplanned dinner with Sheena, Ronnie and Crys at a local place that is SO cute!  I have a feeling we will be there a little over the summer too, since it's right down the street from the studio!  And that I may actually lick the plate of that bread pudding with bourbon sauce next time...

Tonight, I have big plans with one of my favorite blushing brides, Lauren, and the rest of the wedding planning crew.  Her wedding is less than a month away now, and there's still plenty to do!  It's getting really exciting now that I have time to focus!  In fact, I have to get some wedding songs together this afternoon before I head to supper. 

Still trying to figure out what the rest of the weekend is going to look like.  It looks like I may be spending Monday helping out at the studio, but who knows what else I will come up with?  I promise to fill you in, maybe even add a few pictures, since it's been a while!  Just two more "official" days of school and I am done until August.  Then the real fun begins!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Theatricality or Why I'm Proud To Be a Drama Queen

I've talked about how much I love Glee before.  Many times before, in fact.  But last night's episode sealed the deal for me.  Right now Idina Menzel, who is universally adored for her work on Broadway and admired for snagging the very handsome Taye Diggs, is starring as Rachel's mom.  When she sang "Funny Girl" last night, I couldn't take my eyes off of her.  And that's the difference between someone who sings and someone who performs, which is kind of the point since the episode was titled "Theatricality."  But the real scene stealer was near the end of the episode where Idina and Lea Michele sang Lady GaGa's "Poker Face."  I will be the first one to admit that I am not a GaGa fan, and that I question the song choice a bit for something that was a really moving moment, but it wasn't really about the song at all.  What was really playing out in the scene was a mother and daughter doing something they both love, and knowing that this was it for their complicated relationship for the time being.  It was breathtaking to watch.

While I don't have a tragic family story, or Lea or Idina's pipes, I do have a love for music that was fostered by my parents.  My dad sings, my mom plays the piano and sings.  From the time I was little, they encouraged my musical talent.  My mother, bless her heart, took me to piano lessons when I was six years old, in hopes that I could play like her or my Grandpa Gus (who used to play the same jazzy number for us at every family dinner and, oh how I wish I could hear that again!).  Sadly, I cannot play the piano.  The joke was always that I visited more with my piano teacher than I ever played.  Thankfully, my mom didn't give up.  When I was seven, she had me join a community theater group and I spent every fall until I was 19 putting on shows.

My grandparents gave me even more opportunities to love the theater.  Every summer we would go to the Muny or the Fox to see something, a musical or a concert.  And I remember every one.  And when I was a senior in high school, I got to go to New York and finally see shows on the real Broadway stages.  It was every bit as grand as I hoped it would be.  Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to live that life.  I don't really want to trade, but there is something magical about nailing a number and hearing that applause.  We don't get enough applause for the things we do in everyday life.  There's no theatricality to doing a load of laundry or helping a kid pass your class.  People who just break out in song randomly are a little weird (and trust me, because I am one of those people).  But that passion, that need is something that is hard to put in to words if you aren't one of the people that feel it.  I imagine it's the same for people who loves sports or skydiving or whatever else. 

I've been a "drama queen" all my life, a real-life Rachel Berry, minus the parental drama.  I was born that way.  And while I have learned to to tone it down for the most part, the passion will probably keep burning.  I'd bet that Idina and Lea can relate.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Okay, first of all, I feel like I should disclose that I am in a spectacularly bad mood this afternoon.  I blame the sugar and the children and the looming summer vacation.   This morning I was super hyper but it's just not working out this afternoon.

But in slightly better news, I have a summer job!  I was wanting to get a little extra cash to take care of some bills and an absolutely perfect one came up.  Two days a week for three hours for eight weeks, I will be teaching Developmental Reading!  And the pay is very good!  I recognize that this won't necessarily be easy, but it will be worth it in the end, let me assure you.  Since it's Mondays and Wednesdays until noon, it gives me plenty of time to still do all of the great things I want to do, and the class sizes aren't any bigger than what I am used to at my regular job.  Plus it's a subject that I teach all the time.  I'm going to get the book when I get off work.  This was certainly a blessing and I am really excited about it and I couldn't wait to share!

Adventure, Anyone?

What do you do when you actually get something that you really wanted?  Does it ever feel as good as you thought it would?  Let me just say that the answer is a resounding yes.  Moving on...

This weekend I am really wanting to go yard saling or resale shopping.  First of all, I just really like it.  I really prefer auctions, but I will take a nice yard sale.  Second, I'm trying to find a few gently used toys for the nursery and some cute things for my house.  I'm definitely wanting to get my bedroom finished this summer (preferably soon) and then I would like to make a few changes to the sun room and back bedroom.  And the kitchen...and the living room...you get the idea.

Even though it's turned almost unbearably hot, I really want to get out and enjoy this long weekend.  I'm going to try to avoid Herrin Festa, because crowds aren't really my thing, but maybe something else?  I want to try to find a few new spots to take pictures too.  Perhaps I will stop by Ms. Mildred's again and see what's blooming.   I'm just all jumpy in my skin and I need to get out.  This is one of those times it would be really convenient to be dating, because at least then I'd have someone to guilt into coming along with me on my adventures.  But, I'll figure it out, I'm sure.  The best adventures are those unplanned ones.

Monday, May 24, 2010

This Summer...

...I am going to...
  • swim
  • learn to cook
  • go to the STL with Amber
  • turn the TV off
  • be a secretary at Versatile Vocalists
  • learn more about my roots
  • take an obnoxious amount of pictures
  • do a book study of Crazy Love
  • watch my brother marry the love of his life
  • hit some yard sales
  • redecorate my house
  • coordinate a wedding for two darling friends
  • go work out at the gym more
  • spend quality time with my friends
  • fall in love with music again
  • build tents in my living room with Maia
  • go to t-ball games
  • laugh (a lot)
And who knows what else?  What are your plans for the summer?  Please share in the comments...

Not As Young As I Used To Be

Let's start with the most important news--I survived my night of a thousand high schoolers (or 50 high schoolers, whatever)!!  With the help of a few awesome adults (thanks, guys!), we had a really great time staying up all night celebrating the Class of 2010.

With that said, it's also important to note that I felt like death pretty much all day on Saturday.  I slept on and off, which was nice because I really do love sleep.  A lot.  But I ended up with a crick in my neck and my body clock all screwed up and just kind of whiny and miserable.  I know that I am only 28, but it is more than evident to me that I no longer bounce back from no sleep like I once did.  Now, it's important to note that I have never done well with no sleep for extended periods of time.  When I was younger, sometimes I would get physically ill if I didn't get enough sleep.  Luckily, that seems to have passed, but I still get a little nuts when my sleep schedule is off.  My body still isn't quite sure what day it is or how we got here (which isn't all that different from most days really!).

Needless to say, yesterday I took it easy after church.  I ended up hanging out at Mom and Dad's, watching/making fun of a couple Lifetime movies and watching Valentine's Day, which was fairly predictable, but cute. 

Only have the rest of this week plus Tuesday at work and I will be out for the summer!  Absolutely cannot wait to feel the weight of this school year lift off of me!  At least that part hasn't changed as I get older!  If anything it's gotten sweeter since I am the teacher!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Crooked Lines

So, I've been a little quiet this week, I know.  Spent some time thinking, some time at federal jury duty, some time having a nervous breakdown about Project Graduation (which is tomorrow.  TOMORROW, people!).  I'm nervous because I want it to go well, and I'm the girl with all the plans to execute.  At least I do know that I will have help, and that soothes me more than you'd think. 

Keeping busy has actually been good for me because I haven't really had all that much time to think (or at least much time to think about things that weren't related to the law or Sam's Club).  Jury duty in itself was pretty interesting.  There's an episode of Designing Women where Julia gets called to jury duty and has a rant in the jury room and there were a couple times yesterday I wish I'd had that memorized (except she was going to have dinner with Jimmy Carter, so not sure it would have had the same effect).  The judge was awesome and the case was short, so I don't really have anything to complain about. 

Other than that, I don't really have a lot to talk about.  I really can't wait to have some time off, because I want to spend some time with my notes from Beth Moore's Esther study.  There was so much in a session that I know I didn't absorb everything I should have.   "For such a time as this..."  is just stuck in my brain.  I'm ready to see that reversal of destiny, let me tell you.  At Linda's funeral, the priest I grew up with, Msgr. Bill McGhee, quoted that "God writes straight with crooked lines."  It really struck me, and I asked where he had heard it and he said that he didn't even really remember.  But what a thought, right?  Sometimes, we look at our lives and wonder what He's going to do with this situation or that.  We wonder how this could ever be to God's glory and for our good.  And even if we never get an answer here, when we cross over I think that all the things that seemed messed up, crooked, or just a plain, old mess will make perfect sense.  All we have to do is hang on...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hope

Hope has a way of turning its face to you,
Just when you least expect it.
You walk in a room or look out a window
And something there leaves you breathless.
You say to yourself, "It's been a while since I felt this.
And it feels like it might be hope."
                                    -Sara Groves  "It Might Be Hope"

This song has been in my head since sometime last night.  God has been so good to me this week, so very patient.  As you can probably tell, I've done a lot of my processing here.  But, I've done it in other places too.  It felt like things started to turn around last night at Bible study.  I love those women so much, and I have learned so much from them, more than they intended even.  And after, a good visit with good friends, which was so very needed. 

But, the most amazing thing has been the other people God has placed in front of me, the unexpected people.  I expect that when I am struggling, my friends will step up.  But God has been showing out with some of the ways He's been caring for me recently. Yesterday, I read this post.  And it was like God taking my face in His hands and forcing me in the gentlest way to stop focusing on the problems and just focus on Him.  So, I commented on it and Redeemed Diva, who I don't know personally and just recently even started reading, shared back that she had felt God asking her to pray for me and she had been.  You could have knocked me over with a feather. My God is that kind of awesome! 

So, here's where I am as I begin another busy week full of who knows what.  I am choosing hope over everything else.  God really does have all of this.  There is a reason, even when I can't see it and it doesn't make sense to me.  God hasn't forgotten us.  Perhaps we have all been led here for such a time as this.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Anger

I'm mad at God, at the whole world right now.  I don't think God minds.  I mean, sure He'd rather that I not be mad, but I have to believe that He also knows my heart.  I believe He knows that I am just trying to reconcile things.  And He'd rather I talk to Him about it than not.  I've done that before, the whole not talking thing.  Let's just say it didn't go well. 

So, I'm talking.  But it's not always reasonable.  It's not always kind.  It's me clinging with all that I have to the truths they teach you as a little girl in Sunday School, even if it means you're singing "Jesus Loves Me" through clenched teeth.  Being stripped down to the very tenants of your faith sucks.  I know that's not really a biblical word, but it's the best I've got.  I went to church today, and it was hard to sit there.  I actually walked out once and had a moment in the bathroom because everything in me wanted to go home.  But I made myself go back, and an angel in the form of my darling friend, Sarah, talked with me about things (much to the annoyance of those around us I fear).  And while it didn't take the angry away, it did help.  (To borrow from Steel Magnolias & PW:  I love you more than my luggage, S.T.)

I think if it was just one thing, I could manage.  But that's not how life works, is it?  No, it's a million things all at once because the deceiver wants nothing more than for you to give up.   And that's not what I am about. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Grief

I've never been very good with grief, though I doubt anyone sits around talking about how good they are with it.  And there has been entirely too much of that particular emotion this week.  For as much as I like to talk, I'm not very good at being open with my emotions.  I never really have been.  Part of it comes from being of stoic, German stock, I think.  Neither side of my family is all "let's talk about our feelings."  The other part is that it just takes me a long time to process my thoughts.  I tend to disconnect in public, and do all of my thinking at home later or one-on-one with people.  Being disconnected actually helps sometimes, particularly when you are singing at a funeral for someone you love.  But in the aftermath, when that's over, I still have trouble feeling out loud.  My fear is always that if I don't cry at those sorts of things, it won't seem like I'm sad.  And that couldn't be farther from the truth. 

The truth is that I am not good in those situations.  I never know what to say, so I try to opt for silence rather than saying something completely ignorant or inadequate.  But don't take that silence as indifference.  Trust me, I'm a lot of things but rarely indifferent.  It's just that I just don't ever want to make someone else's suffering worse.  And I don't always know how to help make it better right away. 

There are a lot of things I know I will never understand, things that Jesus is going to have to explain to me when I get there.  It seems like that list keeps getting longer and longer these days.  And it's hard to keep the first feelings from being anger, because that is my go-to emotion.  It's hard to keep from screaming at the top of my lungs, "THIS SUCKS!  How could You allow this!"  It's hard to remember that there is a divine purpose, because that just seems cruel. Sometimes there aren't enough words to express how sorry you are.   Sometimes, there just aren't enough tears to do justice.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Matt & Melissa (aka Mel)

These cuties...


are getting married...


in a little over a month.


and I, for one,

can't wait!


Mildred's Garden

 Mildred is a kind and patient woman and has the most amazing garden (which is really most of her yard).  I am so thankful that she lets me come out and roam around.  Here's some of what I found on Saturday...















Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Officially, I am not a mother.  I have not birthed or adopted or married into babies.  But, some days, I feel like a mama.  You can't help it when you spend your days trying to lovingly direct kids down the right path.  It's made for some really sweet and some amazingly heartbreaking moments in my life.  But today, I want to take a minute and honor some really fantastic moms. 

I've talked about my mom before.  I'm one of the lucky ones.  My mom always showed up in the ways that mattered.  She got me involved in theater when I was just 7, she came to every event, she embraced me when I made decisions that I knew weren't what she had hoped I would do (becoming a teacher, changing churches).  She is the person I talk to at least every other day (not counting when we are a work).  My mom rocks!

Depending on where I was in my life there have been "other mothers" who have shaped me. Women like Debbie, Nanny Pam, Sandy, my fabulous aunties, my grandmas. I have always been blessed to have lots of strong women in my life. I am inspired by my friends who are mothers; their grace under fire and sense of wonder and humor at the world (even when they don't feel like that's what's happening) is just awesome.

But one of those women who made me who I am passed away last night from cancer (oh, how I hate this disease!).  My godmother, Linda, was the sweetest woman I have ever known.  She lived just up the road and I can remember many a fun afternoon spent at her house playing with her boys and pulling the handle on the real nickel slot machine they had at their house.  Most of my childhood memories of birthdays or Catholic church are mingled in with memories of Linda.  She was my first Communion teacher.  She was the one that I feared I was letting down the most by leaving the Church.  Linda never failed to tell me how beautiful my voice was.  She used to say that she felt like she sang better when I was singing in the congregation.  She had a wonderful, perfume-y smell that trailed her when she left a room and a very distinctive voice and laugh.  The last time I saw her was at Easter, and we had a very nice visit.  I am so thankful that I have a good memory of her as the last one.  I am so sad for her family and I am sad for the world because we lost a truly amazing godly woman.  She leaves a legacy of faith and love. And isn't that the best we can ask for?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Transitions Are Useful, Just Not In This Post

I know, I know.  I'm being a blog slacker again.  So, to make up for it, I'm going to show you a bunch of pictures that aren't really related except that I took them all in the last few days. 

Let's start with Cinco de Mayo fun at Cerro de la Silla, aka Dora's. (Can we all agree that Dora knows how to throw a Cinco de Mayo celebration?)

Here's Casey...she's a blogger now too...dinner was her idea...

See, she even brought the cupcakes...

Timmy and Megan.  I feel this is representative of their relationship (Tim doing something silly, and Megan just laughing at him)...

Juan...not entirely sure what he was doing.  But I loved this picture.

Chris and Crys (also a blogger)...This is fairly representative of their marriage.

After dinner, and a large peach margarita that temporary relieved my dislike of people (dinner company not included), I went back to the studio with Sheena.  It's really coming along.  It won't be long now until I'm sitting at my cute little desk pretending to be a secretary!  You can see more over at her blog...


We've come a long way from that first day of renovation!




And finally, with no real transition ('cause that's how I like it and it's my blog), here's a picture of one of the hundred or so roses that are blooming on the rose bush that just won't die.  It's been mowed over and generally treated badly because of it's size and location in my yard, but it's prettier this year than I ever remember it.  So, yeah...enjoy the flower.


Tomorrow, I am getting up at the crack of dawn (or 7:30) to head to the state track meet.  It should at least be interesting because we are taking three of Chell's four daughters with us.  I'm sure I will have a few fun shots to share of that.  And Sunday, (Mother's Day) I am taking my brother and sis-in-law-to-be's engagement photos at the farm.  Who knows what you'll find here by the end of the weekend?  Gotta leave you wanting more somehow! (Ha!)


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Cinco de Mayo

I'm excited about going to dinner tonight with my friends.  I say this because I need something to look forward to because thus far, this day has been a disappointment.  Nothing major, just a bunch of little things not going right and it's starting to wear on me a bit. 

I know I've been a real Debbie Downer in recent posts.  There's just a lot of stuff going on, most of which isn't stuff I am able to post about.  I feel like I'm failing as a teacher and as a person in general because I can't seem to get my crap together and when I manage to nothing goes right.  I know it will be okay, but I have never been one of those people who thrived under stress.   I'm good in a crisis and I like to play it close to the deadline, but if I feel stressed I just kind of shut down.  And I have too much going on to be in the corner in the fetal position.

In other words, I'm so glad that Casey planned this little get together tonight to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and our friend, Juan's half birthday.  I just have to behave myself because I do have to be at work in the morning...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I've Had A Real Good Time, But This Wasn't It.

      The thing about teaching in a junior high/high school setting is that it means that you are somewhat permanently stuck in high school.  Of course, I have my theories about how we never really leave that mindset (you should talk to my grandma at the assisted living center),  but there is just something about finding yourself in the drama day in and day out as an adult.  If you are lucky enough, you are in it and not of it thankfully.  But it just can't help but bring back how you felt about high school.  I've mentioned before that high school was not the time of my life.  I didn't suffer, it hasn't scarred me for life or anything, but it wasn't golden.  I know for some people it really is.  Some even camp there the rest of their lives, clutching their "glory days" with all they have.  My experiences in high school were kind of removed from where I went because my closest friends went somewhere else for the most part.  I was the girl who people didn't really have a problem with (except when I ran my mouth), but who didn't get invited to the parties either.  I just didn't really know who I was yet.  My identity was wrapped up in the people around me, and it wasn't until I was much older that I started to really be who I was meant to be.  (Some days, that's still an issue.) 

I say all that to say this:  High school is hard.  I think when we get removed from it and we are likely to say, "Oh, they don't know how good they have it."  And, mostly they don't.  All I wanted was to be a grown up and now I would gladly go back to a time when there weren't bills to pay and responsibilities calling.  But, I think we (as adults) also have to remember that even if these dramas seem silly to us, they are very real to people living them.  When you are breaking up with your first serious boyfriend or fighting with your friend, it hurts.  And that's probably because it's the first taste of "the real world."  Those high school experiences are the first time we faced betrayal or making the right decision even if it's the hard one.  And that seems like a very big deal at the time.  Who am I kidding?  It still seems awfully big now and I'm well past those times.  And that's not even considering that some of these kids are facing things they aren't sharing, like absentee parents and pressures to look and feel and be a certain way. 

Every day, I see a couple hundred faces in the halls and I wonder what will become of them.  Perhaps I should be worrying a little more about who they are now and what I can do to help.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My Summer Project

It is decided.  This will be the summer that I learn to cook.  I mean, I can sort of cook now, in that I can read directions and execute them with some success.  But I want to really learn how to cook.  I think that Pioneer Woman looks like a real jumping off point.  Her recipes are fairly easy to understand and they aren't super difficult.  I also think that I am going to get some of the family recipes together too, because I like that kind of tradition.  I feel like maybe I should learn to can something too, because that's a dying art and my grandma is really good at it.  I may even start a sister blog to record my successes (and possibly, my failures too).

I want this summer to be really enjoyed and not wasted away doing nothing.  I want to do some family history stuff with my dad, and more photography in general.  I just feel like I never really get anything accomplished during the summer other than stuff for work and while that's great and necessary, it's not everything.  My goal is for this to be a summer worth remembering, worth celebrating, and sharing.  I'm inching closer to my 30s every day and I just feel like if I don't do it now, when will I?

So, brave friends, I'm calling you and your stomaches to my test kitchen and to my summer in general.  Let's make this one for the record books!