Saturday, November 29, 2008

Counting Blessings

This post is going to be quick tonight, and that's because it's mostly a prayer request. Our Thanksgiving was lovely at Nathan & Erin's house, and we hosted another fun dinner at our house Friday night. Little did I know, that while we were eating, drinking, and being merry, my dad had fallen in his apartment by himself and was hurt badly enough that he couldn't get up for help. He layed in the hallway outside of his bathroom for two days - Wednesday through Friday - before my uncle got worried and went to his house. They took him to the hospital and discovered that he had had a pretty serious stroke which caused his fall. On top of that he was severely dehydrated and weak from being on the floor without food, water or his medicine for days. He is in the hospital recovering but the extent of the damage from the stroke is still unclear. He can talk, understand, move his arms and legs, feed himself and all that. But he's pretty banged up from taking the fall and his having some trouble with his speech and getting back on his feet. We're praying for full recovery, but know that it's all in God's hands. So all of you prayerful blog-readers of mine :) please pray also. He can use all the help he can get.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I think tomorrow officially kicks of the "holiday" season... Today I had the joy of shopping for Thanksgiving dinner! It was a very pleasant first experience, I have to say. For tomorrow I only need to toss a salad, but I had to shop for the dinner we're hosting on Friday. I had a variety of other errands to run today, so this was one of those days when I'm so glad we live in Columbia. Josh remembered that there was a Giant even closer to us than the one I had been using, so I ran in there for the food stuff we needed. Then I went to Bed Bath & Beyond for a meat thermometer since I'll be making turkey and my mom never bought me one (I give her a hard time about that, its a running joke). While I was there I realized we also don't have a gravy boat, and Yankee Candles were on sale 25% off. So I picked up one "Mistletoe" (since we use an artificial tree) and one "Christmas Cookie." Then it was home to unload groceries, have a bite to eat, and then a quick appointment at the eye doctor to replace one of the lenses in my glasses. Turns out the right eye was the wrong prescription - now they're just right and I'm so happy!

I couldn't resist and I lit the Mistletoe candle when I got home. The whole house soon smelled like Christmas. Something about that smell makes me all warm and fuzzy. I even turned on Christmas music for a little bit tonight too. I know there are a lot of people who celebrate Christmas who aren't Christians. And some people even try to change the holiday's meaning by acting like it's just about being nice and not the birth of our Savior. I feel so sorry for those people. They will never know and understand the joy and love that Christmas is really about. They think they get into the "holiday spirit" by tipping their hair-dresser and making cookies for the mailman, but they don't know the meaning of the gifts. It's not just being nice. It's the gift of forgiveness, the promise of everlasting life that the most powerful being in the universe gave to each of us because He loves us, His children, so much. Christmas is a billion times bigger than non-Christians could ever understand. I pray that those people who pretend this holiday is some superficial excuse to be friendly once a year will one day know and understand God's love and the real celebration of the Christmas season. Did you know the soldiers in the trenches during World War I actually stopped fighting and celebrated together on Christmas? That's the power of God. People who were in the middle of slaughtering each other in the bloodiest conflict in history up to that point, believed in the spirit of Christmas enough to stop a war and celebrate, not with their families or loved ones, with their enemies. Only God's love can do that.

If you can't tell, that is a topic I feel passionate about - the real meaning of Christmas. I couldn't be happier that the season is upon us. Friday, well tomorrow night really, Josh will go out in the cold and stand in the ridiculous lines. And when he gets home, we'll put up and decorate our Christmas tree. By Friday night when our company arrives the house will be fully Christma-tized! I shouldn't say fully, because there are some things I'd like to add this year. We'll see. I haven't begun to Christmas shop, though I do have some ideas for people. I started what is called a "gift organizer" on Basically you enter the names of people you'll be shopping for and can either make a list of what you want to buy, or see what you have bought for them. Well before I had a chance to get that far, Amazon kindly made suggestions for the people on my list. Obviously they were based on nothing but the person's name because that's the only information I entered, and therefore the suggestions made me laugh. They included:

Dad: the movie Wall-E (you'd laugh harder if you knew my dad)
Evan: an electric wine opener (the kid turned one today)
Josh: a year's subscription to Sports Illustrated for Kids
Lacy: an iPod
Leo: a 5 pound bag of gummy bears!
Mary Beth: "The Dark Knight" on BluRay

Hahaha, at least it made me laugh. Part of the comedy was that some of those suggestions weren't far off (Leo and the gummy bears, Lacy and the iPod). Others were just plain hysterical. So I may not be using the suggestions, but it will certainly help me document my gift ideas since I always seem to get good ones and then forget them when its time to shop. I'm pretty confident I'll be doing the majority of my shopping online this year too. I just don't forsee the time to go wander through stores or (gulp) the mall, and stand in lines.

Anyway, I know I use this blog to complain a lot, mostly about work. But since it's Thanksgiving, I'm willing to talk a little about things I'm thankful for too.... at least this once :)

Here's my short list:
  • My Joshua
  • Our families (even the crazy ones, and especially the babies)
  • Our wonderful, hilarious, quirky, weird, fun loving, always-there-for-us friends
  • Our home
  • Our Sheppie (even when he stinks)
  • Our jobs, ugh even though I complain about mine too much
  • Our health
  • Forgiveness

What else? Well lots of things. But the time is getting late and those things summarize nicely. Don't forget to take time to stop and think about how truly grateful you are, not just for what you have or where you are in life, but also for what you don't have and where you aren't in life. It's easy to forget how much worse life could be, and how much worse so many people have it than we do. And don't forget to actually stop and say, "Thank You." He'll appreciate it :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Making the Cut

Well, as I'm sure you've guessed, my hair is cut! It doesn't look like the picture I posted. I talked to Ashley about that hairstyle and she said in order to get that effect with my curly/wavy hair, I would probably have to blow dry and straighten every day, otherwise it would just look messy. Ugh. So I didn't want high-maintenance or lots of styling. So we decided to just go shorter with some thinning and lots of layers. Kind of hard to describe, but it's pretty cute. It's just brushing my shoulders when it's straightened and just above my shoulders when it's curly. I don't have a picture of it yet, but I'll post one soon I'm sure.

Another update to a recent topic, we went on Thursday night to place the order for my new car. It was pretty exciting. We didn't have to do a lot of the paperwork or anything yet, but we did sign a couple of things and made it all official. The dealership expects it to arrive in about 5 weeks but couldn't say for sure. Looks like I'll be getting an extra Christmas present :)

And finally (short post tonight), today was Evan's first birthday party! It's so hard to believe he's already one. You saw how I reacted to seeing him walk on the video. So to celebrate his first birthday was definitely another one of those moments. We took tons of pictures of everything. You would have thought he was the first and only baby our family has ever seen. He was way into opening his presents which was adorable. He promptly threw all the clothes out of their boxes onto the floor. He also had a good time tossing the tissue paper around. When he got to the toys he was totally fascinated, but really wanted them out of their boxes. We didn't even have time to light the candles on his cake before he had swiped his hand through it and was eating the frosting off of his fingers. He was happy as could be! It was so funny and so cute. I took pictures for Amberly with her camera, so I don't have any on mine. But I'll get her to email me some of them so I can post them here for you to enjoy (that is, for those of you who don't read Amberly's blog also).

I'm kind of hoping to be back this week for another post - by the weekend at latest because of the holiday. Tomorrow and Tuesday are half-days with students, but I have parent conferences until 8:30 at night. Yuck. I have nine conferences tomorrow evening between 5-8:30, and 10 on Tuesday. Tuesday's are a little more spread out though because they start at 11:45 am. However, in exchange for staying so late those two days I get to be off entirely on Wednesday. Hooray! Thursday we will be going to Nathan & Erin's for dinner and possibly to my mom's later on for dessert. Friday we'll be hosting Josh's old college roomies for another Thanksgiving dinner. And Saturday is a dinner/birthday celebration for Amberly at my mom's again. It's going to be a busy "break" to say the least, but I'm looking forward to it! :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

New = Fun

So for all (four) of you out there who are wondering.... I made my haircut appointment! I'm going on Tuesday at 5:00. I have to consult with my stylist, Ashley when I get there, but if she approves, the cut is on.

Also, I haven't mentioned this yet, but we have decided to buy a new car. We knew we wanted to before any children came along anyway since my car is small and only 2 doors. But recently we decided it was a good time to go for it. We're looking at the 2009 Subaru Forester. Josh talked to a few different dealerships about pricing and options. Today we went to a recommended salesman at the dealership in Annapolis and spent a good part of the day talking, test-driving, and running numbers. It looks like we're going to factory order so we can get all the options we want at the best price. Factory ordering means it will take a few weeks to come in, but the alternative is waiting however long for one to come into the dealership that has some of our desired options and then paying extra to have the others installed. It could end up being quicker than a factory order, or it could end up being a big pain. We figured we could wait a few weeks to save some money and get exactly what we want.

Those are my two fun news items for today. We're about to head up to Eldersburg to hang out with my family. It feels like we haven't done that in forever - it's really only been about 3 weeks. But in that time teeny baby Evan started walking! Josh and I saw it for the first time last night on a cell phone video. We were devastated that he's grown up so much since we saw him last! Next time I see him he'll be driving. Can you believe he'll be ONE already in 2 weeks? I guess we'd better hit the road and get up there before he gets married :)

Check back this week to see my hair cut!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Speaking of Change...

I promise this isn't political! :)

Some of you may know that recently I have been seriously considering cutting my hair... like cutting my hair. It started as just one of those ordinary moments when you realize your hair is getting too long. For me, it's when I have a hard time reaching the ends of it in the shower - and I have pretty long arms. It's also when I try to put it up (as you know I always do) and my hair ties struggle to fit around it, or it's so big and lumpy up there that it just looks stupid. So I reached that point about a week or two ago. And as I thought about getting a hair cut, I started to think how much easier it would be if my hair was short-short. I've always said if I had straight hair that I'd have a cute short cut. But with curly hair, sometimes short spells disaster. No one looks good in the "Orphan Annie" style. If you cut it bluntly it becomes a big bushy triangle. There's just a lot of risk with going short.

But my rationale for trying to go short is that I never wear my hair down anyway. Ok, sometimes I do. If there's an occasion for which I have enough prep time to shower and style my hair, I might wear it down. And even then, when I take the time and product to style it, it doesn't always cooperate. Sometimes it just decides to be big and bushy anyway, and then I'm mad because I've wasted my time and my hair is full of product and it still looks like crap. And it's really hard to go plan-B and pull my hair up once it's been styled. Last time it pulled this little trick on me I ended up looking like I belonged in an 80s hair band. It was just shaggy curls in my face and all over the place. Grrrr.

The bottom line is, the curls that I know everyone will gasp at me chopping off, usually aren't out in all their glory anyway. How can they be so missed? I'm sure I would have days where I'd feel like having them around, or see pictures that make me think - aw, they weren't so bad. But in the grand scheme, they're a lot of work, and clearly by my usual style, more work than I'm willing to put into them for questionable results. I feel like, if I do this right, I'll get just as many (or more) compliments on a cute short cut that people actually get to see.

With that said, I started doing some research on styles that just may work with my curly locks. Believe it or not, my hair doesn't turn into tiny tight spirals when it's short. If you cut it short enough (as I did once when I was a little kid) it actually just becomes waves. Now that I'm 20 years older and have a better grasp on what to do with my hair, I feel like it would be much more managable for me at that length. So I started combing the internet for all the short hairstyles I could find. I've found a few that are somewhat what I had in mind. I haven't made any appointments or anything yet, but I feel like I could just go on a whim one day and do it. I really trust my stylist, so I know she wouldn't let me do anything stupid and I also know she would do a great job.

Alright, well after all that, I know you're ready to see what I'm thinking of. So, here's the closest picture I could find. Keep in mind it will be a little different on me because my hair is curly/wavy and hers is straight. And try to disregard her creepy expression. I won't be making that face ever.

So, what do you think???

PS - I also have some motivation from Jenn, who said I wouldn't ever do this. I've gotten this far, so we'll see... ;)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I'm Trying to Quit

As I mentioned before, I had avoided politics in my blog. It's one of those things that I get tired of hearing other people go on about, and I really don't want to use my blog to air all of my political opinions. I understand that most people really don't care how I feel about the issues.

However, something has been on my mind that I'm struggling to understand. And to avoid it eating me up inside, I decided I'd just go ahead and post it since this is the only semi-public forum I have (besides my classroom which is way off limits for politics). I promise I'll try to leave politics at this as far as my blog is concerned so I don't drive away all 4 of my readers :)

So... here's what's bothering me:

Lots of people have various different reasons for why it is best to vote one way or another. Clearly. It is some of those explanations that I am struggling to make sense of. It bothers me most because it comes from a community that I associate myself with - Christians.

I am struggling very sincerely and very deeply to understand how a Christian person can vote for an extremely liberal candidate. I know it happens. And I've even heard the reasons, but my biggest struggle there is the issue of abortion. Obviously I'm going to lay it all out for you here. I am 100% without exception pro-life. I can not think of a more vicious, heinous or heartless crime than the murder of an innocent baby, under any circumstance. That's my opinion on that matter.

With that said, I have heard Christians explain that we (Christians) should vote for a liberal candidate who will do more for the less-fortunate in our country. After all, the Bible tells us that we will be blessed for caring for the poor and needy. Those who have enough should share and do so willingly. That is God's work and His will. I agree. We should. In my humble opinion, this is where charity comes in. I can gladly and willingly donate my time, money, clothing, shoes, food, etc. to charities everywhere who will pass along those things to people who are in need of them.

But, while we're looking out for the less fortunate, can you think of anyone less fortunate than an innocent baby who may be born to a mother who can't care for him or her, or who doesn't even want him or her? Let's be honest, many poor and homeless have made bad decisions that have led them to their current situation. They had a chance to do something different and made a bad choice along the way. Do they deserve eternal punishment? No. But the innocent baby - what does he or she deserve? Did he or she make a bad choice? Does he or she deserve scissors jammed into their skull? Our president-elect would not even vote to save the life of a viable baby who had survived such an atrocity. What kind of person does that take? One made of ice? Clearly, one who cares so deeply about those in need. Criminals and addicts deserve our hard-earned money, but an innocent baby who survived attempted murder by its mother deserves nothing? I can't wrap my brain around that.

I can't understand why the voters who feel so strongly about giving money to people who are likely to abuse it on the basis of doing what God wants us to do, give no regard to a poor innocent child. I can't understand how one person can claim that giving to poor people is a Christian act, and then turn around and vote to viciously murder God's most precious gift, His greatest miracle. They speak with a forked tongue, and I pray that God will have mercy on their souls for what they have done with His blessings. God said we should take care of the less fortunate. Where does He say, "My precious children are better off dead if you decide you don't want them"?

The two things do not add up. You can't claim the need to give to the poor because it's Christian like, and then say it's ok to murder God's children because you can't or don't want to take care of them. The Bible is not a buffet. We can't take from it what we want to buy into and just ignore the rest as it suits us. As Christians, we need to BOTH stand up for the poor and needy who do not have the means to get by in this life AND stand up for the defenseless innocent babies who have no voice and no ability to speak up for themselves.

So please, before you use the Bible to criticize my vote for lower taxes, make sure you have read it entirely...

"I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world." -Jeremiah 1:4-5

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous - and how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!" -Psalm 139

One last thought.... Consider how these people, or this family feel about mothers murdering their own children. It may make you think twice.

At this point we've got what we've got, it's time to make the best of it. I will try my best to leave it at this. I'm sure you can understand how deep feelings and convictions might make that tough.

Alright, back to lesson planning :)

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Two Cents

I've avoided a political post up until now. It's the night before election day and I just feel compelled to say a few words.

Most people who know me well know that I feel very strongly about politics. And as strongly as I feel, I'm actually very very reasonable when it comes to taking the good with the bad and being able to say - yes, I'm associated with this party, but here's where I disagree with them; or - that is not my party, but I see their point. Anyway, I have my notions and predictions about the outcome of tomorrow's election. And I believe it's not going to go the way I'd like. But I can honestly say, I can still see the upside to that. I'm very curious to see what happens and despite all the fear and predictions people have made over the past 2 years (or eternity) that this campaign has been going on, I am still hopefull that we will remain a great country no matter what. I like to think that the great Constitution our founding fathers put in place will provide the baseline and structure that keeps America amazing regardless of the particular leader.

Take George Bush, for example. So many people hate him, blame him, curse him, you name it. BUT, can anyone really say they'd rather be subject to any other government than the United States? Would all those people really rather live in another country? I know there are people who do.... but where are they? Here. They must not want to leave that badly. We have it better than anywhere else in the world because this country was founded by geniuses. Look back on history at all of America's mistakes. Look back on all the presidents that people hated. Look back on all the failed ideas and failed attempts and general bad choices that have been made. We're still #1, I don't care how you slice it. Other countries hate us because they want to be us. It's not a bad position to be in. And I'll say it again - it's thanks to our Constitution and our incredible founding fathers.

That said, regardless of who we elect, I am confident that America will be better for it. If mistakes are made, we will learn - just like we have from every other historical moment and event - and come out stronger. We are a nation of patriots, and if we get into a hole, we will dig ourselves out. More than anything, we are a nation of faith. No matter what this country is faced with, the American people will ask for God's help, and God will not forsake us.

So - down off the soap box - I hope everyone goes out to vote for whomever your heart desires. And remember to go to Starbucks and tell them you voted... you get free coffee! :) Happy voting.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's the Holiday Season! :)

My favorite scene from The Great Pumpkin - "you owe me restitution!"

So much going on... where do I start? I would tell you about our Halloween on Friday night but we didn't do anything out of the ordinary. We handed out candy at home and some friends came over later to play Rock Band. No surprises there :)

Yesterday was Josh's dad's 50th birthday. His mom wanted to throw a coctail party, so we were at his parents' house last night for that. It was an interesting experience. There were a lot of people from his dad's work that we didn't really know. We all had to dress up which was out of our usual comfort zone too. Thankfully his brothers and their wife & girlfriend were great company. We eventually took over the dining room with their uncle and kept each other entertained.

Today was mostly just relaxing and recovering. What an exciting weekend, right?

On Saturday morning we also went to get my new glasses that I told you about. I was expecting a little bit of an adjustment since it's been so long since I've gotten a new prescription. However, this adjustment was more than what I was prepared for. I love my new frames, they're so cute, but I was disappointed that it was so bothersome to wear them. Have you ever been in a "fun house" where things that are usually straight are set at odd angles, like door frames and walls? This was similar. When I got out of the car and stepped up on the curb it looked like a serious hill, and so did the steps up to our door. I wore them around for a while trying to adjust and then started getting a headache. It was such a relief to take them off. I tried again this morning and the same thing happened. Then this evening I decided to give it one more shot, but no luck. So now I have to call back in the morning and hope that there's something they can do.

So upcoming, tomorrow is a professional day because it's the end of the first quarter. That's right - I survived the first quarter of the school year!!! Hooray! I can't say it's gone by fast, but it's a fun milestone. Second quarter includes the upcoming holiday season, so I feel like it may go by quicker than this one did. I am also off on Tuesday for the elections, of course. It's pretty exciting.
And let's face it, now that it's November, the holidays are here! All the stores have Christmas stuff out, there are a mere 3 weekends until Thanksgiving and then *gasp* only 3 Saturdays before Christmas! I even changed into my winter purse! Knowing that such a wonderful time of year is approaching (with oh-so-many days off school...) makes me feel very warm and fuzzy inside :) We already have our turkey-day plans: we're having Thanksgiving on Thursday at Josh's brother Nathan's house, then hosting a Thanksgiving that Josh and his college roommates always have on "Black Friday" and also having a dinner at my mom's on Saturday that weekend. I'm not sure how Christmas is shaping up yet, but I do know I have 2 full weeks off school that Josh is taking off work with me!

So I guess I'll stop carrying on and get ready for bed. It's been a busy weekend and a very lazy day today. I still need to get into work at a decent time tomorrow even though there are no students. I hope everyone (like all 4 of you) had a great Halloween weekend and are getting as excited as I am for the Holiday Season!!