Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge


1. Do you think the world became a more dangerous place on September 11, 2001 or did we just become more aware of the danger? How has your own life changed as a result of that day?

     I don't think that the world was any more dangerous on the 11th than it was on the 10th or any day before.  I just think that when something is on your front steps, you pay more attention to it.  I will never forget being in the Student Center at my university reading a magazine, glancing up to see the second plane hit the towers, and I won't forget the days after.  However, my daily life isn't really that much different (the beauty of the rural life, little ever changes), other than I am more aware that it could always happen, that danger does exist.


 
2. Did you think your parents were too strict when you were growing up? How about in hindsight?

     My parents were pretty awesome.  I didn't grow up in a strict household.  There were some rules that we were always expected to follow.  Once we turned 16, as long as we were honest about where we were going and what we were doing, and we called if things changed, we were allowed to pretty much go wherever we wanted.  If we were ever caught being dishonest, we were in serious trouble, though, and lost those privileges. 


 
3. Share one random but candid fact about yourself.

     I have a fear of ledges.  Heights don't really bother me, but I don't want to have to look over the ledge and see how far there is to fall if something happens.  Edges of balconies really weird me out.


 
4. Would your nearest and dearest describe you as simple or far too complicated?

     Aren't all women complicated?  Haha!  I am high maintenance by my own admission, but I am also pretty easy going about most things.  That probably still makes me complicated.


 
5. What is your favorite stadium or carnival food?

     This is totally a regional thing, but Malone's Salt Water Taffy makes me so happy!  (Just the regular white kind.  The flavored, colored ones are gross.)  I am also a huge fan of those curly fries they cut on a drill bit.


 
6. Tornado, hurricane, earthquake...how many of these natural disasters have you experienced? Which event do you think would be the scariest?

      I live a little too far inland for a hurricane, but I have had hurricane force winds from remnants of a tropical storm take down a tree in my yard.  That wasn't great.  I've experienced small earthquakes too.  But the scariest was definitely the tornado that came in 2003.  I don't remember ever being as scared as I was huddled in the basement with my family in those moments.  My parents weren't at home and I just managed to get my sister, grandma and myself up to my uncle's before the storm took hold.  That storm killed three people, and did a lot of damage in my area.


 
7. Labor Day weekend is approaching so a work related question seems appropriate. Growing up, did your parents assign you regular chores? Were you paid for doing those chores? If you're a parent do you assign chores to your own children? Why or why not?

   My parents did not assign us regular chores.  Maybe if they had I would be better at housework, but probably not.  We didn't get allowances either.  If we needed money, we would ask for it.  I also babysat and had other jobs during the summer once I was a teen to make a little extra money.  I'm not a mom, but I think that I would probably give my kid at least one chore to be responsible for every week.  I don't think that's too much to ask.

(That last question was inspired by a post Mindee wrote on Monday. Everyone go say hi to Mindee-she blogs at Our Front Door and she's funny. )  I totally agree with Joyce on that one!  I have Mindee featured on my sidebar, too!

 
8. My random thought:
     My brain is still having some adjustment issues to school schedule.  I am also having these crazy, vivid dreams right before my alarm goes off in the morning.  At first they were kind of funny, but now that the mythology from the Percy Jackson novels I've been reading with my students is bleeding over into them, they are increasingly less so.


By Request: Advice From A Teacher

A friend from high school, who is a single dad with two daughters, asked me if I might write down some tips/advice for parents from a teacher's perspective weeks ago.  I then went back to work and I have had trouble stringing together two coherent thoughts since.  We know that the media sometimes gets things wrong, but it seems when it comes to education and teachers, in particular, they don't ever get close.  Teaching is not for the faint of heart.  I've seen things over the years that make me laugh upon remembrance, and had situations that can still make me cry.  I know that their are people in the field of education who have no business being there, but that is not the majority of us.  If you have come up against one of these "bad apples,"  I apologize.  But, please know that most of us are hardworking, amazing people who are doing as much as we can with whatever we have, and that seems to be a little less every year (thank you, politicans.  A rant for another time.)  After some consideration, here's what I've come up with.
  • Relax! - To become a teacher, you have to pass four years of college and a battery of tests (at least in my state).  Generally, we know what we are doing and we want to do the best for your children.  The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your child will be.  (Especially in the lower grades.)  And that will help everyone in the long run.
  • The easiest thing we do all day is teach.  --  We are nurses, custodians, computer techs, secretaries, librarians, and a million other things during the day.  (Personally, I teach in a middle school setting which means that I don't have one classroom of kids, I have seven.  Sometimes I forget what I'm doing on the trip from my desk to the board.)  Sometimes the nicest thing you can do for a teacher is just a simple word of thanks.  We don't get to hear it nearly enough. 
  • Remember that teachers are human, too.  --  We make mistakes.  When this happens, it helps if we can all discuss it calmly.  Chances are, we will be apologetic and do our best to make it right.  In my almost ten years of teaching, I've never been upset by someone correcting an error when it was addressed with an understanding that I am never out to hurt or upset a child. 
  • There are two sides to every story.  --  Teachers know that you are the advocate for your children.  We wish more parents wanted to be involved.  But, please remember that your sweetheart could only be sharing a glimpse of the whole story.  Stand up for your child, but at least be open to what everyone has to say. 
  • Know that most teachers love what they do. -- Our profession gets a bad reputation because of those who teach for June, July, and August.  But please know that most of us are there because we love it.  And because we love your children.  If you have a question, ask.  If you have a concern, tell us.  I would always rather a parent ask me than wonder.
I know that there are several teachers who read this blog and I would love for you to add your tips to the list.  I love the field of education and firmly believe that barring a lottery win, I will do it for the rest of my years. 
(And probably even if I did win.  We could totally have class on the beach, right?)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Prayer Monday - 8/29



Frustration is one of the key words in this season in my life right now.  I can't begin to explain how badly I wish it weren't.  I'm trying to remember that I can't control most of the situations around me, but I can control my attitude.  Some days are better than others where that's concerned.  But I could certainly use some prayer.  My life is easier than so many, and I feel bad complaining at all.  Sometimes it's just hard to contain.

I also asking for prayers for some of the other people that I love who are moving (Sheena & her Precious), or waiting (just about everyone else), or just trying to figure out what in the world's going happening next. 

I am so thankful that God is in control and I'm not.  I don't know how anyone without that knowledge can bear to get out of bed.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Single Girl Honesty

It's rare that I even think all that much about being a single girl.  It's part of my life, but as far as parts go, it tends to take the back burner a lot.  It's always there, though.  On the best days, I think about how lucky I am to be in the position that I am in, to only have to take care of myself, to do what I want (as Crys might say).  On the worst...well...on the worst, I blame God and myself for being single and almost 30.  Those days used to be unbearable.  I would cry and scream (as if that made one lick of difference).  I would make promises that I couldn't possibly keep.  Inconsolable was the nicest word for it.

These days, that's not how those day go.  Sometimes I do wonder what the plan is.  I wonder if I will honestly be in this position the rest of my life, how that's going to look, how things will work out.  I still wonder sometimes if I only have myself to blame.  I wonder if I had tried harder, been better, done more if someone would have loved me.  I know, deep down, that's not how it works, but it doesn't always stop those feelings.  Because it's hard to be almost 30 years old and know that you have no idea what that kind of love would feel like. 

Today, I tried on the fourth bridesmaids' dress of my adult life.  Unlike the stereotype, I actually love being a bridesmaid. (I mean, outside of proms, how often in life do we have a good excuse for an up-do and a fancy dress?)  I count it a blessing to stand beside a friend and listen to them take their vows to love and honor good and decent men.  And I simply cannot wait to wear that dress this October, to stand beside one of my besties of more than a decade and hear her say those familiar words to the love of her life.  But, I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't wondering if I will ever be the one in white.  And you all know that I don't lie on here. 

I'm pretty good at keeping myself busy.  (School actually does it for me, more often than not.)  Sometimes, it just catches up to me.  It would be nice to walk through this life with a man who loved me.  And to pretend like my mind never went there, that all of this was enough to distract me, would just be foolishness.  Most days are good, some nights, not so much. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Show Us Your Life: Baby Showers

This comes along at a perfect time for me!  I am in desperate need of some good baby shower ideas for my new niece or nephew.  We will be having the shower in late November, and I want to celebrate this baby in big style!  I love party planning, so to say I am excited is probably the understatement of the year! 

Not that I'm a novice.  In May, the Chicks and I threw a shower for Tara and baby chick, Macy.  We had the best time (and totally had the best food, thanks to Casey)!  You can read more about it by clicking the link below. 

http://ktslifeisfunny.blogspot.com/2011/05/memorial-day-weekend-recap.html

And now for a gratuitous baby picture of sweet Macy Jane!  Just because I can.


And it's not even like I haven't been to showers to get great ideas.  My cousin, Megan, was thrown the sweetest shower for baby Remi (due this week).  You can see her shower here:

http://ktslifeisfunny.blogspot.com/2011/08/wedding-and-baby-shower-ideas.html

To be honest, though, I don't even know where to start!  I know there are a ton of cute sites for invitations, but do you have any favorites?  What about themes?  I'm thinking "Cute as a Button" but, I'm still more than open to ideas!  If you can offer any help at all, or you just want to share, I will see you in the comments!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Challenge? I Eat Challenges For Breakfast!

My darling blog friend, Rebecca, tagged me in a post this week.  So now, I am supposed to answer seven questions using links to posts I've done in the past.  This was more than a little challenging, because I am terrible at remembering when I posted something and there are almost 550 of the little buggers, but I'm giving it a shot simply because Rebecca is awesome and I always have fun playing along with her.  (see The 30 Day Blog Challenge from last year...)  Here goes nothing...

1.  My Most Beautiful Moment --  Matt and Mel's Wedding

      I think everyone looks beautiful all dressed up for wedding anyway, but I was especially fond of my dress that day!  Plus, my hair and makeup cooperated beautifully, which was saying something considering the June heat!


2.  My Most Popular Blog Post --  Why White Christmas is an Awesome Movie

     It isn't the one that got the most comments, but it is one that consistently gets the most hits, primarily because people seem to always be looking for pictures of Rosemary Clooney in this dress (thank you, Google images)...


3.  My most controversial blog post -- E Is For Education

     I don't really strive to be controversial, but people have a lot of strong opinions about education.  I certainly do.  But the problem in America seems to be that people who aren't educators are making all the laws with no regard for what the people doing the educating actuall think.  Let me stop before I get my soapbox out.  This post sums up my views nicely.


4.  My most helpful post - Kelly's Show Us Your Life: Beauty Tips

      It was a great sacrifice to give away all my best beauty tips!  Ha ha!  But I didn't yet know what would become my favorite tip.  Just go to Sephora! 

(source:  Google Images)

5.  A post whose success surprised me:  A Word About Miranda Lambert

     It wasn't really wildy commented on but, I was so excited that so many people loved Miranda!  I mean, she's awesome and you totally should love her.  And the Pistol Annies, who have released their new CD this week!



6.  A post that didn't get the attention I thought it deserved:  Artist Spotlight: Lori McKenna

      I think she is amazing and brilliant!  And I think you should, too!  ;)


7.  The post I am the most proud of:  Why Now And Some Goals

     I haven't been successful with my bouts at weight loss, but this is the post I go back to when I need reasons why I want to be.  It gives me the hope and the strength to say, "Maybe this time..."  And that's something.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 8/24


1. What is something that bothers you if it's not done perfectly?

     Honestly, very little.  I am the opposite of a perfectionist in most matters.  I do need pictures to be straight on the wall.  That makes me a little nuts.


2. Do you think a 6th sense exists? Explain.

     I do.  I think that we all have a little something, a 6th sense, intuition, whatever you want to call it.  I don't think it's like being psychic.  It's more of a feeling that tells you when something (good or bad) is going to happen.


3. Do you say your goodbyes slowly, quickly, or not at all?

     I am horrible with goodbyes.  What I tend to do is write a note that says how I am feeling, and then when I am a blubbering pool of tears and slobbers, at least that person will know how I actually feel.  I like to know in advance if a goodbye is coming, but would rather the actual event be over quickly.  Goodbyes, even for happy things (like moving to a new place for a job that God has provided), are just too sad.


4. On a scale of 1-10, with ten being hot hot hot, what level of spice do you like in your food? What's your favorite 'spicy' dish?

     I like a little spice, but I don't like it to feel like my mouth is on fire.  So maybe a 6?


5. What is one of your all time favorite commercial jingles?

      It's not really a jingle, but I love the Staples commercial where the dad is happily throwing school supplies in the cart and the kids are sadly following behind him because school is starting.


6. Plane, train, boat or auto...your preferred method of travel?

       Never traveled by boat or train (at least not on a real trip).  I love a good road trip, but if you have to go very far, a plane is where it's at.


7. What is something you take for granted?

     I take so many things for granted.  I would say that the biggest one is my health.  I am so lucky to be able to have a body that works when I want it to.  I don't take care of it as I should, but I am trying to get my act together (again).


8. Insert your own random thought here.

     I am so ready for this hot weather to be over with!  I need the cool temps of fall STAT!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Having A Moment: Kate and Her Recycled Wardrobe

I've mentioned once or twice before that I adore Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.  I think she seems so sweet and down to earth, much more like a best girl friend than a future Queen of England.  She also seems to be totally in love with her husband (and not just because he's a prince but because she really fancies him).  I love this picture of them from their North American tour.


Not to mention she's beautiful with an amazing since of style.  One of my favorite sites to check out her wardrobe is What Kate Wore, but you can see evidence on pretty much any media site.


However, one thing that is making me crazy is this talk about how Kate recycles her wardrobe.  If you have a favorite item in your closet, don't you wear it more than once?  Why are we obsessed with if she wears the same coat or sweater more than once?  And since when was it such a big deal?  I get that she isn't just any girl, but why should she have to behave differently just because of her status?  Personally, I love that she's not just flying through designers just because she can. 

What's your stance?  Should Kate recycle her clothes or should she always be in something new and different?  I know it's not a ground-breaking question of eternal importance, but sometimes we just need a little fluff in our lives.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Things

I don't normally post twice in one day, but I just have things on my mind (and technically, I wrote the Prayer Monday post last night, so I've had plenty of time to accumulate thoughts).  These things are in no particular order and not really related so just bear with me.

I wonder how my dress got so wrinkled when all I did in it was drive the four minutes to work.  However, I know that I don't iron things (I'm not even sure where my iron is) so, that could be part of the problem.

I wonder what the kids in my classes go home to at night.  I'd like to believe that they all go home to healthy, happy family relationships where they are loved and supported.  But unfortunately, I know better.  Teaching is the kind of job where your work always goes home with you, and I'm not talking about grading papers.  I wonder how in the world some of the kids I've had over the years have managed to become such awesome people in spite of everything, and I pray for those I have now.

I wonder about my church situation.  I've felt God speaking new things to me for a while now.  But change is scary, people.  I have a lot more questions than I do answers and I have been putting it off as often as possible.  But the day is coming where I won't be able to keep putting things off.  It's right there on the horizon and I have no clue what I'm going to do when it gets here.  Well, that's not completely true.  I have clues, I just don't have the bright flashing signals that come in so handy in situations where decisions must be made.

I wonder about the weird dreams I've been having right before I wake up.  Not that I mind Aretha Franklin cameos in my dreams.

I wonder if I will ever meet a man who actually loves me back, have a wardrobe I don't want to throw out every Monday morning, or if my cat will ever stop biting me so hard she leaves a mark.

My brain is a scary, random place, dear friends, full of wonders and what ifs.  Trust me on that.



Prayer Monday - 8/22


When there aren't words, God knows. 

I posted this on Facebook Sunday morning.  It wasn't me trying to be philosophical, it's the word that God laid on my heart out of my frustration.  Have you ever felt restless in your own skin, but you don't really know what needs to happen to change it?  I am so happy with my life and where I am now, but there's just a restlessness in my soul that I don't even know how to put into words. 

There's a lot of change going on in the lives of people I love right now.  I will let them share their own specifics in their own time, but I am going to ask that you pray for all of them.  I believe that God is moving and working in ways big and small, but that doesn't always mean that things are easy to deal with.  But if God is with us, who should be against us?  Change isn't easy, but it is often necessary.

I also have a special prayer request.  A sweet lady who I have known my whole life lost her husband to cancer on Sunday.  They had time to prepare, but you can never really be prepared for these things.  I would just ask that you would pray for comfort for this family, too. 

I look forward to praying with you all today.  Please, remember that this isn't a closed group and you can always join over at A Life In Ordinary.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My Weekend (Now With 30% More Pictures)

Before I start talking about my jam-packed weekend, I want to take a minute to share a moment of student ingenuity with you.  This, people, is the Justin Bieber bow, which I found in one of my classes.  It was made by one of my students for her friend who has the worst case of Bieber Fever I've ever seen.  I actually stopped class so I could take a picture and share it with you because I thought it was so funny.  So, enjoy.
 Moving on...Saturday, I slept in then did very little of anything for a while.  I watched Burlesque (stop rolling your eyes, we all have our guilty pleasures) and then a few episode of Everwood Season Four before I started getting ready to head to town because I had actual plans.  I met Amber for steaks and a little culture, because we had tickets to see Straight No Chaser, the acapella group from Indiana University.  I have loved them since I found them on YouTube.  What?  You don't know what I'm talking about?  Check out this video:


This isn't great quality, but it was one of the only ones that included the guys we saw.  SNC started in 1998 at IU and when one guy graduates, he names his successor.  You can find a bunch of videos of the orignal guys (who are also in the piece above) if you want to see more.  They were so fun!  Amber and I even managed to survive the opening act, which was made up of a bunch of Fine Arts students from the college hosting the event.  (Though we may have shed a few tears from laughter!)  All in all, it was a great night!  You can't beat great seats and a bunch of guys who know how to sing!  (Note to Amber: You can totally see the adorable bass guy in the video!)

On Sunday after church, I went with Sheena and her Precious, plus his parents (who are like my second parents) to get lunch as per the usual.  We ate a great little local place, and then Sheena, Debbie and I went to run some errands.   Before heading home, we stopped at a cafe known for its awesome desserts and I found this sign that cracked me up:
 and ate this French Silk Pie, which made me unbearably happy, but proves that I did not eat the Weight Watchers plan much this weekend.  (Though tomorrow is another day!) 
And while I should be working on lesson plans, I have mostly been setting up blog posts for the week and looking for videos of Straight No Chaser on YouTube, because I'm a pro at avoidance behaviors.

What did you do over the weekend?

Friday, August 19, 2011

'Fess Up Friday

I grew up Catholic, so confession has a whole 'nother connotation to me.  If you want to absolve me of my scatterbrained randomness, feel free.

  • I know I said I wasn't going to write today.  But then Amy Beth posted this, and it got my brain going.  Before long, my "I am's" sounding a lot more like confessions, and since I always read Kira's posts, but never actually follow through on writing one of my own, I decided that maybe I should just do that. 
  • I didn't just hit the snooze button this morning, I completely reset my alarm.  And I still wasn't late for work, so I learned no lesson.  And it's only the first week of school.
  • By 9 AM, I had checked twice to see if I remembered to put on deodorant today.  (I had!)
  • Last night for supper, (after the grocery trip of rage) I ate boxed macaroni and cheese and Milk Duds for dessert.  And yet, I wonder why pants don't fit.
  • On that note, I logged into Weight Watchers online for the first time since the spring today.  This is me getting back on the wagon (and fitting into my bridesmaid dress).
  • I went to bed before 10:00 every night this last week.  A couple nights, I went to bed before 9:00. 
  • I'm kicking off my wild weekend by drinking a glass of sangria and watching Pure Country from the comfort of my living room.  (Don't you wish you were a wild single girl again?)
  • I have been a huge melting pot of emotions since yesterday, and I have no clue if that's because it's that time of the month or if it's because of all that's going on around me.  (Or more likely some perfect storm of both.)
  • God's having to remind me that He is God and I am not.  And I don't like it.  I want to throw a "kid in the cereal aisle" fit.  I said it on Facebook yesterday, but even when God makes it clear that it's His Will, change just kinda sucks.  A lot.

Do you have anything to confess this Friday, dear people?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stop The World, I Wanna Get Off

I've really been trying to blog daily during the week, but today I just can't.  Tomorrow, I probably won't either.  I'm sorry, I really am.  It's not even that I don't have things to say because, people, I've got some things.  But I don't have the words and I don't have the brain power. 

Just stick with me.  I promise we will be back to our regularly scheduled programming soon enough.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 8/17


1. Using what's in your frig right now what sort of meal would you be able to make for guests who are knocking at the front door this very minute?

     Depends?  How do my guests feel about a turkey sandwich with bread that may or may not still be good?  It's time to go to the grocery store around here.


2. What is something about yourself that you hope will change but that probably never will?
    I would love to become a great housekeeper.  But I don't really think that I ever will.  I'll be lucky if I can reach passable housekeeper.


3. What's something about yourself that you hope will never change?

     I don't want to ever act older than I have to be.  I'm not talking immaturity.  I just want to continue to enjoy life and not rush it all away. 


4. Do you usually send serious or funny greeting cards? Why?

    The serious ones get too sappy for me and rarely say what I would like them to.  I like to make people laugh so, I usually go with that and write my own messages inside (which are sappy once in a while)!


5. Bird watching, shell gathering, or star gazing- your choice for whiling away the hours?

    Whoo!  This is a tough one!  I love shell gathering because it would mean that I am at the beach.  But star gazing is my favorite thing to do when I am not at the beach.  (Which is sadly most of the time!)

6. Do you double or triple check things? If so, what?

    I do double check window and door locks.  Not all the time, but since I live by myself, then I can't be too careful.  Good news is my house is Fort Knox. 


7. What's your favorite place for people watching?

      I used to say the mall, and that's still pretty interesting.  But my new favorite would have to be the amusement park.  You're likely to see some things there which you are probably going to wish you could unsee.



8. Every year I forget what the first week is like. Thankfully, it shouldn't take much longer to settle into a good routine.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Playing Well With Others

Last night, I went to bed at 8 o'clock.  It was still mostly light outside.  And minus a couple half-asleep conversations with Delilah about banging into the closet doors for fun, I slept straight until my alarm went off.  The first week of school always kicks my tail.  The getting used to a new sleep pattern, the being on my feet from 8:00 to 3:00, the constant troubleshooting...but I love it!

I have a few goals for the new school year and I figured that this was a good place to talk about them.  So, here we go:
  • I don't just want to be, I NEED to be organized.  I am currently teaching seven classes with at least 17 kids apiece in them.  If I start getting behind, I'm sunk.  That's not even mentioning the club stuff.  So far, so good, but it is only the second day of school and all.
  • I want to be passionate about what I teach and compassionate for who I teach.  Already it's apparent that we have kids who are facing some difficult things.  I never want to let the curriculum I'm responsible for get in the way of the lessons I teach.
  • I want to keep my temper in check.  People, I'm kind of a hot head when you get me going about something.  I'm loud and mouthy and all sorts of other things I am not proud of.  I'm getting better every year about keeping myself in check, but I figure it's always something worth working on.
  • I want to remember that I don't have to say "Yes" to everything I'm asked to be a part of.  Every committee doesn't need my input.  I spread myself too thin last year and it made me crazy (well, crazier than usual, anyway!)
  • I want to learn as much as I can.  Not just about my subject matter, either, though that's certainly a start.  I want to learn to learn from the people around me.  I'm lucky enough to have great people surrounding me, and I want to take full advantage of the opportunities.
I hope all of the teachers (and students) out there are having a great first week.  (Though I know several who still have a bit before they start!)  I'd love to hear some of your goals for the new school year too!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The First Day Of School

There's something special about the first day of school.  The floors are still shiny from their summer coat of wax.  All of your school supplies are still fresh and new, far from the mangled mess they will be come May.  You're excited to see your friends, to share your summer stories.  You're a little nervous about what classes or teachers you will have and if you will have a good year or one you would like to forget. 

I've mentioned before that I have always liked school.  I was the teacher's pet kind of kid.  That's not really too surprising since I was the kid of two teachers.  I still remember going to class on the very first day (pictured above).  I remember the name of the first kid I met, what my pencil box looked like.  I know that I didn't have any teacher anxiety because my mom was the teacher.  (There was only one kindergarten class, after all.)

Since then, I've had a lot of first days--elementary school, junior high, high school, college.  And because I was called to be a teacher, today marks my ninth year where I am the one in charge of setting out rules, calming nerves, and planning lessons.  This week, I will be focusing on the theme of teaching.  I have some special things planned.  But, more than anything, I don't want to ever forget why I do what I do.  (It's not just because it means I have a permanent excuse to buy school supplies either!)  And I pray that in another twenty-five "first days" I love it just as much as I do today.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Prayer Monday - 8/15


It's back to school week around here.  Which basically means I revert to being a toddler.  I get up early in the morning and run around until I just can't take it.  The minute I come home, I collapse and take a nap.  I wake up whiny and hungry and am ready for bed long before the 10 o'clock news.  Adjusting back to a real schedule is not just physically difficult, but it can be emotionally difficult, too.  Already it seems like so many of our students have deep needs, and that's it more important that ever to be kind and compassionate.  I pray that the love of Christ shows through me.  I pray that I am a good role model to my students, particularly to those who need more positive ones in their lives.  (Can you ever really have enough?)

I have a special prayer request, too.  Joyce (who hosts the Wednesday Hodgepodge) shared about her niece that has been diagnosed with leukemia.  (You can read that here.)  I told her that I would ask for prayer for her niece and for their family during this time. 

It is so nice to have sisters in Christ to pray with each week.  I look forward to praying for each of you!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Jaime's Guest Post -- Part Two

Here's the second part of Jaime's story.  If you didn't get a chance to read the first part, you can catch up here.


Forgiveness, Contentment, and an Accent as Icing on the Cake!

By Jaime Plemon

Our days are numbered like the lines on a sheet of notebook paper. Our Creator already knows the plans He has for us, He also knows the number of hairs on our head. Think about that for just a minute. No, think about it for a few minutes…

I once thought I was going bald because there was so much hair in the drain. So, what did I do?  I cleaned the drain, let the hair dry, and counted them. (gross, yes?) Know how many there were? 12. Yeah, 12. Now, that put some perspective into my 16 year old head. Really! 12.....What difference does that make? I mean, we can loose up to 150 a day! I suddenly realized I wouldn't have an abnormally slick scalp by the age of 18. I also realized that things aren't always what they seem.

I lived a dreamy childhood with parents that loved (and still do love) me and my 3 brothers. Our greatest tragedies were no T.V. on weeknights and forced naps of Sunday afternoons. Some thought we had it all, and in relation to the 4.5 billion or so people on the earth at that time, we were doing quite well.

I will spare details but I want to explain a little bit of the sorrows that have passed through my life in the past 10 years. I met and married "the one." We lost a child in the midst of the 7 years we spent trying to have a family. To this day I know it was a girl, and if she was with me, she and my niece would be nearly the exact same age. (And I think best friends! :)

"The one" found others..... what do you do??? I didn't give up. He did. So ended years of building dreams, having expectations of all that would come, and all the work that we put into those dreams. They were now dust in the rubble…the rubble of two lives, that became one,that then fell apart.

I thought my heart would never heal. I thought I would live in this gigantic house with 1000 cats, my dog, and a leaky roof forever. Well, until they foreclosed because I wouldn't be able to afford it...

Here is where we talk about forgiveness. "Forgiveness is giving up hope that the past could have been different." Let me say that again.-- "Forgiveness is giving up the hope....that the PAST....could have been different.” (Re-read that if you need to. Really meditate on it!) Do you harbor bitterness toward someone because they did you wrong,and all you can think is “Well, if he or she hadn't ....blaaablaablaaa.....the I wouldn't be in the position I'm in...” Do your thoughts really change anything? No,but they do increase the hold that the "wrong doer" has over you. Do you really reallllyyyyyyy want to give them that power??? 

You see, every single time this roof would leak I would cryyyyy.... cry so much. And you know, it really had nothing to do with the water, it had everything to do with the fact that fixing up this big, beautiful place was a dream of ours, a dream that was no more, and I hated him for it! Now, in the spirit of anonymous quotes.... "Bitterness is the poison you swallow hoping someone else will die". Isn't that so true? (Yes, feel free to read it until you have it memorized!) Now make it part of your belief system! Nothing new can come into your hands when you are holding onto the junk that is an anchor to the old.

Now, lets talk about being thankful, can we? When you realize that, just living in America means that you are not part of the 925 million people starving in other parts of the world--that is something to be thankful for! If you own a car, you are in the top 4% most wealthy in the world....yes, the world. That's pretty stinkin' high. I'm not saying that living here is perfect. I'm not saying that there aren't people in my little town of 4,500 that are not going to sleep hot and hungry tonight. What I am saying is that if you are not among these, that you are blessed. Say out loud that you are blessed! Let others know that you are glad they are in your life!  I wanted to share these things because I don't want you to live the life of bitterness that I did. I want blessings for your life as soon as possible!!!

We have a chance to accept the Savior of this world right here and now, to make Him the Lord of our lives, and to never again live a life of hatred toward others, to never again ask "why me", to never again fear that this life, is not what it seems. He has laid it out for us, remember? Like lines on notebook paper. So perfect that he knows our innermost being…every hair on our head, every hair we lose. His blessings are on a path He created for us, we are just so busy looking around, pointing fingers, spending money we don't have, seeking to be entertained, that we miss them!  When all along, He is really all we need. He will give us the desires of our heart…if we, seek Him.

I tell you this to now circle back to the fact that this is a follow-up to my "I decided that" note. In that note, I had come to total peace and contentment in my life. Totally trusting God and knowing that He would truly give me the desires of my heart and that I would not settle for just anything.  (Editor’s note:  If only she had known what was coming!  This is the sweetest part!  --Katie)


As many of you know, I am getting married in October. I am marrying a man that is also divorced and now a better man because of the grace of God, forgiveness, acceptance, and being thankful for what he does have. He does not care that I am divorced. He is from Serbia, and English is his second language. This being said, his spelling isn't always perfect, either! He doesn't care if I know how to multiply, and he loves that my hair is naturally curly! He sat across from me in a divorce recovery group for 13 weeks and I never ever thought it would come to this. I never thought he would even talk to me! He was way out of my league! To my surprise, he did. And every second of his sweet mouth speaking in his beautiful accent has been a delight.

I should tell you that I used to have a list. (You girls know that we all have one, requirements for the next man.) Well, I did away with mine months before I met Zika. But you wanna know what I always deemed the icing on the cake... If "he" (whoever he was) had an accent! I'm not kidding. Ask my friends and family! :) Isn't it great that God hears these little things, and that He knew when I was born that He wanted to give me the desires of my heart…even when, to some, they seem so silly? But none of our dreams are silly to Him! He created us this way! We are perfect in His eyes. Acceptance of that leads to peace about who we are. Being content leads to peace about where we are.

I so look forward to all the other lost dreams that God wants to return. I can't imagine what could be next. All I know is that I wouldn't miss it for the world! He really can make something quite beautiful out of our ashes…I promise!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jaime's Guest Post -- Part One

It's time for a guest post!  I can't wait for you to meet my friend, Jaime (who will be here today and tomorrow while I am going back to work!).  I still remember the first time that I met Jaime, though she probably doesn't.  I was maybe 14, and I remember thinking that she had the prettiest red hair I had ever seen and I wanted to be cool like that when I grew up (Though she is not that much older than me).  It was years later that I actually got to know her a little, and I have found her to be one of the most genuinue people that I have the pleasure of knowing.  She is who she is--an art teacher/hairdresser/photographer/all-around awesome lady!  (In other words, I would still love to be like her when I grow up!) 

Jaime will be talking a little more about what's going on in her life tomorrow (I'll give you a hint:  She's getting married in October!), but this is a piece that she wrote on March 19, 2010, declaring exactly what she wanted when the right man came around.  And people, let me tell you God delivered!

I've Decided That...

by Jaime Plemon

Someday, I will be pursued by someone who isn't bothered by my inability to spell and the fact that I have never fully learned my multiplication tables. Someone will like my naturally curly hair and share my dislike of insane heat and humidity. My political incorrectness (I also make up words that I can't spell) will be appreciated, as well as my insane fear of heights.

I can't stand Kirstie Alley and I don't care who knows. I won't appologize for the people in my life because I don't hang on to people I need to apologize for. I'm probably taken the wrong way constantly because I treat people I've just met like I've known them forever and have decided that I can't be paranoid about being perceived as anything other than who I know I am.

I hate seeing celebrity's stylists using products you can buy at Wal-Mart because they are fakes and would never do such a thing.

I'm a hopeless romantic and think that some day I'll come home to someone who takes the trash out without me asking a thousand times and may even pick (not buy) me some flowers every now and then.

I'd rather see a person in a movie get hurt than an animal, not that I value animals lives over humans, it's just that I feel the animals aren't given a choice.

I say I don't believe in Valentine's Day because it's cheesy but deep down doesn't every girl secretly want the fairy tale? My favorite movies always end happy and I laugh all by myself at things that probably aren't funny to most people. I laugh waaaayyyy too long at inappropriate times and love when others do the same! My dreams are insane and sometimes effect the first part of my day. 

Someday, the fact that I've been married won't change how someone feels about me and people will realize that that which does not kill us really and truly does make us stronger. My manic moments are spurred by a load of sadness and disappointment in my life that I'm working through and I personally think that says a lot more than never being effected...

I always think that when I get stuck behind a tractor that's going 35 mph in a no passing zone that God must be protecting me from something down the road. I listen to the same song 20 times in a row and still don't know the words because I can't hear worth a crap. Cloudy days are just as worthy of reaaaallllly loud music as sunny days.

I love beards, glasses, scarves and flip flops on boys and not necessairly all at the same time. I want to live off of Diet Coke even though I've not had any for nearly a year and I have to force myself to eat veggies. I want to have a daughter and name her a boy's name and allow her to dress however she wants and if anyone questions me as a parent as a result then I'll know for sure they don't need to be in my life.

I think spitting is the absolute grossest thing in the entire world and I'm as organized as a gnat. I have a crush on Ellen and if that's not ok then I'm sorry...actually I'm not. I wish I could memorize movie lines word for word but my brain doesn't work like that and I hate to do dishes. Is there a connection??? Probably...

If you've read this whole thing your just as insane as me and we are clearly meant to be in each others lives. :) Go out, enjoy being who God created you to be and don't appoligize for it. He doesn't make mistakes.

Jaime...that's JaIme...not JaMie, did I mention I hate when people I know spell my name wrong?? :D

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Things I Will Miss About Summer

Today marks my last day of summer.  This day always makes me a little sad.  And while most of my posts next week will be focused on school, I wanted to take a little time today to make a list of things I will miss about at summer.
  • No more summer days in the pool with Amber.  You can see why this would be so disappointing.  We laugh and and float and eat and coat ourselves in so much suncreen (and somehow still get burned, from time to time).  It's easily the most relaxing part of my summer.
  • No more doing random stuff in the middle of the day.  Need to make a WalMart run?  Have a craving for a Blizzard?  It's so nice to just go instead of having to wait until the bell rings.
  • No more staying up late because I know I can sleep in.  Even if sleeping in is just 8:00 AM, it's a lot better than 5:30.  (Just typing that hurts my heart a little.)  I have also perfected the lounge this summer.  Breakfast in bed watching Gilmore Girls beats the heck out of putting on my grown-up clothes and going to work.
  • No more going over to my parents' any night of the week to watch TV and hang out.  Dinner and TV isn't the same when you have to get home to put in grades and get to bed.
The good news is that it also means no more sweltering days, the start of fall baseball, and getting back to into a routine with my students and in my life.  Despite all my whining, I'm ready.  Bring it on, Fall!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 8/10


1. If you could work for any one government agency which would you choose and why?

     I love the show Covert Affairs, so my first thought is CIA.  But I'm terrible at keeping big secrets, so that's probably out.  My next option would be to work for the Smithsonian in the Museum of American History so I could see all the amazing pieces of history up close and personal!  I know, I'm such a history nerd.

2. How difficult is it for you to forgive someone who refuses to apologize?

    It's hard.  But I've come to learn that forgiveness isn't really about them.  It's about you.  Even if they don't apologize, holding onto anger and bitterness isn't good for you.  I don't think you necesarily need an apology to forgive someone.


3. What is your favorite meatless supper?

     I hate dealing with raw meat, so there are many a meatless suppers in this house.  My favorite is probably pasta with veggies and Italian dressing, sort of like a pasta salad.  (Though lately supper has often been a bowl of popcorn!)


4. Wednesday August 10th is National Lazy Day...will you be celebrating? If so, tell us how so we can be lazy too.

     I have been blissfully lazy most of the summer, but I will spend Lazy Day getting my classroom ready for kids.  I would suggest a bunch of movies, a comfy couch, and plenty of easy finger foods and desserts.

 
5. As a child did you have any special back to school traditions and if so, what were they? If you're a parent did you carry on those traditions with your own children?

     My parents are both teachers, so there were very few back to school traditions at my house.  Everyone was too busy getting ready for another school year.  I did always like picking out my school supplies, though.  Still do, in fact.

 
6. Write a summer tongue twister.

      Joyce, never have I wanted to throw a fit more than when I was trying to answer this question!  Tongue twisters make me crazy!  Here's the best I could come up with:

       Suzie spends summer sunning in the South.

 
7. Would you be interested in observing a surgery or do you turn away when the nurse brings out the needle?

     I am the biggest baby ever.  When they are taking my blood, they use a butterfly needle.  I almost passed out in high school watching other people give blood.  While my siblings are in the health field, I was not meant for that!  They can have all the blood and guts!

8. I can't believe that the last day of summer vacation is here already!  It's been fun, but entirely too short.  I am ready to see my kids, though!  I do miss them over the summer.  (Ssshh!  Don't tell!  It would ruin my reputation!  :)

A Few Words About My Phone

I have had a cell phone since I turned 16.  Of course, that phone was huge and mounted in my car, but it still counts.  But, I've never really paid much attention to my phone.  I routinely forget it at home.  I don't send out 100 text messages a day.  I rarely use half of my allotted minutes for a month. 

Then this little jewel came into my life.  And never have I loved a phone so much.  Well, I still don't send that many texts or make many calls, but I am convinced this phone is going to make me a better, more organized person.  I have an agenda, a to-do list, Facebook, Blogger, anything I want at the touch of my fingertips.  The to-do list alone is worth it!  I can even cross things off, which we all know is the best part of a list anyway.  There's even an app that turns my phone into a walkie-talkie, which I know is basically what a phone is, but isn't that fun?  And I am loving the camera, since the one on my last phone was pretty much crap.  

I say all that to basically ask:  What apps do you love?  There are so many out there, I would love to hear which ones you think are worthwhile.  Let me hear it in the comments!

(Meanwhile, HTC and Verizon have no clue who I am.  They didn't pay me anything.  I just really love my new phone.)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Girls' Night Out

Friday marked the end of my last full week of break.  And just typing that made me a little sad.  But don't worry, I had big plans to send off summer in style.  I was going out with two of my favorite women on the planet to go see one of our favorite local bands.  It all sounds perfectly fun, right?  Oh, if we had only known.  At least I picked good company.
 The Swamp Tigers (local rockabilly legends) were playing some place we had never been before.  There was probably a reason for that.  The bar was kind of a hole in wall, and it became apparent that we were probably overdressed.  Then the people showed up.  Let's just say, there was certainly an interesting mix of people present.  I'd never seen someone dance with a hula hoop which they brought with them for that purpose before Friday night.  And then there were these guys.  I don't know their names.  But Amber's wearing the captain's hat.  Like I said, it was kind of a weird night.
 At least the band was reliably awesome!  I have seen these guys a half dozen times and I never get tired of them.  (Plus, they always sing my favorites, "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Wagon Wheel.")  We stayed out entirely too late, but we had a lot of laughs. (If you can't laugh at life, what's the point?)

Early Saturday morning, I ended up taking Amber to the clinic because she had a slight problem.  Let me give you a visual.  This is Amber's normal foot:
 This is the foot that was swollen because of a viscious wasp sting.  (These were taken Friday night, and it looked much worse by Saturday, trust me!) 
Needless to say, driving wasn't really something she was capable of, so I willingly drove Miss Daisy to the medical professionals.  After breakfast and a couple prescriptions, she was on the mend.  I, however, went home and slept because I am no longer someone who can operate on four hours sleep.  (Nor was I ever, really!)

Sunday was very calm in comparison--church, lunch with friends, and then hacking away at my to-do list before school starts this week.  I have a few special posts for you this week to celebrate the end of summer and my return to the world of the Monday-Friday working world.  Until then---

Sunday, August 7, 2011

LuLu Gets Pinned!

I've mentioned before that my little sister, affectionately known as LuLu here on the blog, is pursuing a degreee in Nursing. Well, a couple of weeks ago, she jumped the first hurdle and was officially pinned, meaning she's become a Licensed Practical Nurse or LPN (well, as soon as she takes her boards).  Here are a few picks from the celebration.
My grandma and LuLu
Dad, LuLu, and Mom
LuLu, and her mini-me, Princess
The dreaded bun, which is required as part of their uniform, but hated my sister
Getting pinned!

I am so proud of my little sister and I'm sure that she will make an exceptional nurse!  Only two more semesters to go!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Kelly's Show Us Your Life: Blogging Tips

This makes me laugh because goodness knows that I am not a blogging expert.  But, I have this blog for a while and gained a few followers who weren't my besties, so maybe I have a little something to offer.

  1. Find a blog rhythm that's comfortable for you.  Blogging every day is ideal, but it might feel a little overwhelming, especially if you are just starting out. 
  2. This ties into #1, but quality wins out over quantity every time.  If you are posting every day but there's nothing there, what good does it do?  And on that note, blog about mix of things.  The bloggers I like to read the most are the ones who mix funny and serious posts.
  3. Be yourself.  Well, as yourself as you can be on the internet.  I've found that when I relax and just talk about things I've been thinking about or things that are happening in my life, I get the most comments and hits. 
  4. Figure out how much you are willing to share about your real life before you blog.  It's also not a bad idea to talk to the people you intend to feature (AKA your family and friends) to see what they are comfortable with.  It may be necessary to come up with some code names or some may not want to be featured at all.  Honor their requests.  There's no need to let the whole world know everything about your life.
  5. Find a blogging community of some sort that you love and play along.  I've did the A to Z Challenge in April, and while it was more work than I usually put into blogging, it was a way to meet new people.  I also participate in Joyce's Wednesday Hodgepodge and Kelly's Show Us Your Life (obviously). 
  6. Blog because you love it and have something to share and not for the stats.  I am a stat checker because data makes me happy.  But I don't breathe into a paper sack if I don't like what I see.  If you are doing it for yourself, then the rest doesn't matter.
  7. I don't put pictures in every post.  But I do try to keep things mixed up.  I love to add links for more information about a topic and pictures when they are appropriate and available.
  8. Read lots of other blogs.  Obviously, you want to be careful about copying another blogger's style, but I think that the more knowledgeable you are about what's out there, the more fun you can have.  Reading other great bloggers inspires my own style!
  9. Think before you blog.  Just because you are fired up about something doesn't mean it's blog appropriate.  Either use the 48-hour rule (you write, and then revisit before you post) or have someone read over that is removed from the situation.  Just because something really annoyed you on Tuesday at work doesn't mean it still will on Thursday.  (This is especially true if you are writing about a person that annoys you!)
I can't wait to read what everyone else has to say!  Feel free to add your additions in the comments or link up with Kelly's blog yourself!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wedding and Baby Shower Ideas

Okay, I've reached the point where it's time to harness the collective powers of the interwebs, and you, my trustworthy and awesome readers.  Because I have two wedding showers (conventional and lingerie) and a VIP baby shower (nothing halfway for my niece or nephew!) to put together over the next few months.  And I need ideas!  I thrown several showers over the years, but I feel like now that I am older and a little more creative, perhaps I can do a little more.

I do think I will be able to borrow a couple of ideas from the baby shower they threw for my cousin, Megan, a couple Saturdays ago.  It was a seriously cute shower.  You don't believe me?  Check out these pics...

Megan's mom made the cake
 These jars were the weights for balloon bouquets on the tables
 Keeping with the country theme, table favors were bags of peanuts
 And get a load of this diaper cake!
 And this sign they ordered to match the invites.

So, let me have it, people!  I would love to see some of your ideas.  It can be something you've done, or a website you love, just share!  Looking forward to the comments on this one!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cheesecake Dip

I mentioned this in the Hodgepodge and now, by popular demand, is the totally healthy and full of nutrients (if you don't pay close attention to the ingredients) recipe!

1 package cream cheese
1 stick of butter (do not substitute margarine here)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla 

Beat these until fluffy with a mixer on high.

3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 to 3/4 bag of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Gradually add sugar into cream cheese mixture.  Mix until well blended.  Add chocolate chips.  It's best if you refrigerate it for an hour or two before serviing, but you can eat it right away. 

I serve it with graham crackers, but you can be as creative as you want.  Or just use a spoon.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 8/3



1. Share a favorite song lyric.

     "We all live with the scars we choose..."  from "Take Me As I Am" by Sugarland.  But I have a different one almost every day.

2. When was the last time someone yelled at you?

     People rarely yell at me.  Sometimes people (particularly the ones I teach) get a little smart with me, but I can't even begin to tell you the last person who was brave enough to yell.  Of course, they'd have to find them first!  HAHA!  Just kidding.

3. Money, fame, happiness...are they mutually exclusive?

    Nope.  I think that if you are only looking for money and fame, you will never really be able to find happiness.  That doesn't mean you can't have one or the other and not be happy, but I think that when it's your sole focus it shifts everything else in your life.

4. What is your favorite dish to prepare for family and friends that doesn't require turning on the stove, oven or an outdoor grill?

     One of my most popular is cheesecake dip.  It is so yummy, and it's super easy to make.  (Which is pretty important if I am the one cooking!)

 
5. The first week of August is National Simplify Your Life Week. What is one thing you could do this week to simplify your life? Will you do it?

     I've made some strides this summer, but I have a lot of other stuff that could be purged or organized in my life.  And once school starts, it always gets more complicated.

 
6. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being 100% and 1 being not at all) how tuned in are you to your country's national political scene?

      Probably about a 5.  I vaguely know what's going on, but I don't really pay the kind of attention that I should because it all tends to make me furious!  And I teach government, so I really should pay better attention.

 
7. What are your final parting words to the month of July?

     "Could you have been any hotter?  This is the Midwest not the Mohave Desert!" 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

     I am so sad that my summer is coming to a close.  However, I am looking forward to an incredible new school year.  (And I'm looking forward to a couple posts on that subject before we start!)

Summer Movie Review: Crazy Stupid Love

On Saturday, Amber and I went to see the next movie on my list, Crazy Stupid Love


If I were going to write a movie, this would be what I hoped the end result looked like.  It was sweet without being syrupy, realistic without being gritty.  I think that Ryan Gosling reminds us that he isn't just an indie film kind of actor, he's also a star.  (And that he should have more scenes without a shirt.  I mean, c'mon!  How hot can one guy really be?)  I will admit that I am not a huge Steve Carell fan, but this movie may have changed my mind.  I usually feel like he's trying too hard, but the actor disappeared into the role here.  And the ladies in this picture were no slackers either!  Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, and Marisa Tomei--together, sometimes in the same scene?  How can you not enjoy yourself?  In the end, this is a film about love in all its forms, how it's the thing that makes us and breaks us, and everything in between.

I know that I'm not really doing this movie justice, but I'm also trying not to give anything away.  You can read great reviews here and here.  But I think that you should stop wasting time, gather up your favorite date or best girl friends and get to the movies!

Speaking of, now it's time for Silly Promotional Pictures With Amber:

Monday, August 1, 2011

Prayer Monday - 8/1


So, my brain is completely tapped because I have been at work all day brainstorming with other teachers.  And that shouldn't be as exhausting as it was, but it was also really good.  Side note, pray for me next week when I start back to work for real because my body was not happy getting up as early as I did today.  (and it was late for a school day!)

I have been dealing with making a decision for some time now.  It seems like I am not going to be able to put it off much longer.   I don't like change when it comes to most things.  I'm decent at adapting, but I prefer familiar surroundings because I am really quite shy when I don't know people.  I am filled with a thousand different emotions, and I'm still not entirely sure what's going to happen next.  But I think a change is gonna come. 

There are a lot of other people in my life playing the waiting game.  I would love it if you would continue to pray for them as they wait, because waiting is rarely fun. 

If you are interested, please know that this isn't a closed group and we would love to pray for you too!  You can add a request in the comments or post a link on Crystal's blog.  No matter where you are, we are all connected by the cross of Christ Jesus.