As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him--you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2: 4-5

Sunday, July 29, 2012

t+ +

The ABCs of MeR
Rick Springfield Baby!
Oh, how I loved this man.  Not in a real, mature love kind of way, of course.  More in the "Oh my gosh, Rick Springfield, eeeeeeeeeeek!" kind of way.  You know, when you paper your entire bedroom wall with pull out posters from Tiger  Beat and lay on your bed listening to the album gazing into his eyes.  When you and your best friend, Amy Collins, create a secret sign off code for your origami folded notes---RSLA (Rick Springfield Lovers Always).  When you buy a scrapbook from Walmart and fill it with every picture/article/mention of him, and caption each with "So Fine!"  And you plan to name your first born son Richard Lewis, because it was his birth name.

 And when you go to buy his latest album, you choose the record of course, because on the back is a big dreamy picture of him. 
And when he comes out with the lamest movie ever, "Hard to Hold," you and said best friend see it four times because in the scene depicted below, he is NAKED for a split second and the chance to see that tushy is worth the $4.00 and sitting through the rest of the movie.
 And you even talk your mom into taking you over the mountain to Birmingham to wait in line on a hard sidewalk at 4 in the morning so you can get tickets to his concert.  And when you finally go to his concert, you are so far away....and so in awe of being in the same room that all you can do is stand and stare.  And the second time you have tickets to see him, after you have moved away your senior year in high school, you are so excited you can't sleep for weeks.  Then, when on the way back to Alabama, your mom's car dies on the on-ramp to I-20 and you can't go, you fall into a deep depression and stay locked in your room for the weekend.
Ah, youth. 

This is Rick Springfield now.  Man.  He got old.
Depression, alcohol, spousal abuse have all factored in his life.
He's tried many a comeback, all without success.
Last I heard/read, he was taking part in the Rick Springfield Music cruises, no doubt thrilling many a forty year old woman.

I still think he looks good, in a scruffy kind of way.  I still get all stupid happy listening to his songs.  And I still think "Hard to Hold" was possibly the worst movie among a genre of bad movies.

RSLA Baby!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

The ABCs of Me

That's me.

Quiet.  Reserved.  Introverted.

Not snobby.  Not unfriendly.  Not unhappy.

Just quiet.

Inside my own head.

Watching.  Observing.  Learning.

And thinking.  Always thinking.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The ABCs of Me
Processed Food

I am a food addict.  Some people, many people, don't understand.  Want to lose weight?  Just stop eating.  Choose healthy food.  Put down the donut.  It will still be there when you've lost the weight.  Just because it tastes good doesn't mean you have to eat it.  A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.  Willpower.  You just have to have willpower.  And if you have a normal relationship with food, these are true.  Easy.

But I don't.  And I haven't for a long time.  Even when I have dieted before, I still obsessed over it.  Always planning what I would eat next.  Always making sure that I had my "staples" in supply.  Always sure to have something that tasted like "real" food but was low in calories.  Always sure to have food on hand that was "healthy," "low fat," or "good for you."

And I lost the weight, only to gain it back when the diet was over and I was able to indulge in my favorites again.

 After my last flying leap off of the diet wagon, I decided to take a little break from worrying what I ate.  Just relax about it all, but notice what and how I was eating.  And I realized that I ate as an addict drinks, smokes, or takes drugs.  Tired?  Eat. That will give me energy.  Angry?  Eat.  That will show 'em.  Lonely or Bored? Eat.  It will give me something to do and fill me up.  And once I started, it was almost as if I was driven to eat more.  My body craved that cracker, that cookie, that cupcake.

So I started researching food addiction and found that white flour and white sugar, as well as many of the chemicals and additives that are put into processed food do indeed cause a true addiction.  In the twelve step program of Overeaters Anonymouns, one of the strategies is to totally give up white flour and white sugar.  Then I stumbled across a website about Real Food and eating only food that was unprocessed and natural.  In other words,
*lean meat
*whole grains
*nuts and seeds
*low fat dairy
*fresh fruit
*fresh vegetables

So I thought I would give it a try.  I went to the store and the farmers market and stocked up on chicken and turkey, low fat cheese, skim milk, and a rainbow of produce.  And the first week?  It was rough.  I had headaches.  I was tired.  I got the shakes.  I was weak.  And man, was I hungry.  I also lost 7 pounds.  I wasn't dieting, just eating when I was truly hungry and eating only real food.

The last two weeks have been much better.  The cravings are gone.  The headaches are gone.  I have more energy and no more dips in my blood sugar.  I eat and feel satisfied.  Not bloated and miserable.  Just satisfied.  I am careful to not eat bread more than once a day, and then only whole grain.  I notice that I do have my "hunger" responses to my feelings, but I acknowledge them as just that, and if I do eat, I eat an apple or watermelon or some carrots.
My "staples" now?

I will is not easy.  Fresh produce is more expensive than junk food.  It is easier to grab a value meal at the drive thru on the way home from practice than come home and prepare a salad or cook some chicken.  But this summer, anyways, it is worth the extra time and money.  And what is it that they say about a habit? That it takes 21 days to form a new one?
Maybe, just maybe, this will be one habit that sticks!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The ABCs of Me
(or lack thereof)
It is, or shall I say it has become, my life mission to become organized.  Every break from school, every long weekend, every summer, I say to myself and to anyone who will listen, "I am going to get my life together and become organized."  And they usually say something like, "Oh, I need to do that too, but we are going to the beach." 
I long for a closet that looks like this.  In my life with this closet there will be no more standing in my underwear on Sunday morning crying because I can't find the white cami to go under the dress I was going to wear.  Or searching for the other silver sandal.  Or the ranting and raving that I know that my half slip just went through the laundry and now poof! it's gone!

Or a laundry room that looks like this.  One that smells like dryer sheets and there is nothing on the floor.  Where everyone has their own little section where their clean folded clothes go.  I've even designed this in my head and I may have even told Daryl about it, hoping he would jump on my organizational bandwagon and knock down a wall or two to build me the laundry room of my dreams that will make my laundry life magically easier.  I would always be caught up on the laundry!  Good bye to Mt. Laundry at the end of the bed!  No one in our house would ever have to dig in the sock basket again!
 And the playroom would be a happy, spacious, organized place where the children would play happily for hours at a time.  They wouldn't feel the need to bring every single toy to the living room, set up Barbie housekeeping on the steps (even though between them they own three Barbie houses).  I would never again step on a lego or a Barbie chair.
And of course, if my home were organized, I would have more time to organize our lives with cool color coded calendars.  And maybe even have one of those nifty family binders that seem to be all the rage among mothers these days.

 And then there would be my classroom.  My classroom starts out every year very organized.  Everything has it's place, every activity a procedure.  Color coded baskets abound.

And then real life sets in.  And the twenty six year olds come in every day.  And most days, they are absolutely delightful.  But some days, well, they are six.  And I don't feel like staying an hour after school to re-do all of the things that they have undone during our learning that day.  Or there is cheer practice and soccer game and the little girls have to be picked up because Daryl has to work after work.  So I start a pile, or shove a book, or stick it in a closet.  And by the end of the year, I have a year's worth of papers to file (a twenty year summer activity now), a classroom to organize as I put it away, and I vow to do better next year.  I spend the summer googling (or now Pinteresting) classroom organizational ideas and begin my year with lofty plans.

And it's the same at home.  I will get one area beautifully organized, but then the children (or my husband) happen, and it's the end of the day, and quite honestly, I'd rather sit in the living room with my family and play on the computer and watch reality TV than clean.  So, I guess I could say that it's my own choice that I remain unorganized and hassled.  That I'm too lazy.  That I am living out the consequences of my choices.

But do you know what?  Despite my chronic disorganization, I am an awesome teacher.  Notices go out on time, the children's records are kept (tho not always filed immediately), and every child in my classroom feels important and loved.  And despite the fact that my children know to expect me to lose my keys at least once a day, never have my phone, and if they want anything washed for the next day, they have to do it themselves, I think I am a good mother.  My children are honest, kind, compassionate, smart, and love the Lord. 

So, I will continue on my quest to become organized, knowing that it will probably remaind just out of my reach until my kids are grown and gone, and then when it's just Daryl and me to manage, will it even matter?  Now, off to plan our menu for the next week.
If I could only find a pencil.....

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The ABCs of Me

So totally uninspired with this one.  I have thought of so many things to write about, but none of them inspired me to really write, and I had pictures of none of least no interesting pictures.
Let's see....I could write about....
Nose spray-I have been addicted to Afrin nose spray for 25 years.  Yeah....gross.  I know it's bad for me.  I know it probably causes cancer.  I gave up my Diet Coke addiction...let. it. go.
North Clemson Avenue--the apartment in which I lived for the last two and a half years of college.  Lots of good times.  Lots of bad choices.  Lots of good memories.  Lots of things I'd rather forget.  Lots of  "What were you thinking?"
Night time--I have a love/hate relationship with it.  I love the feeling of being snug in my bed, all my kids in their beds where they belong, the warmth of my hubby next to me, the dreams.  I hate the fact that I suffer from periodic insomnia where I just can't sleep.  And the more I think about not sleeping, the worse it gets.  Full moon (don't laugh and roll your's true...ask any teacher), the night before I have to get up early, the night before school starts, napping during the day.
and....that's all I've got.
Told ya.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The ABCs of Me
Everyone has a turning point in his or her life.  Be it painful or joyful, there is usually something that happens that will forever be known as the marker for "before" and "after."  Maybe it's as simple as having children or getting married, graduating college or getting that first job.  For me it was my first husband, Michael.
I could say that it was the divorce.  But to be honest, it wasn't just the divorce that scarred me, that made me forever changed.  It was the whole marriage from whirlwind beginning to unbelievably painful end.  Looking back, I can see the person I was change from the moment we met.  And while I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, I wouldn't change one moment.
I met him when I was 24.  I was two years out of college, living with a friend, enjoying teaching in my first classroom.  I was in the process of finding out who I was and what I wanted out of life.  I was in the throes of an eating disorder, making bad choices at every turn, and finding my validation through both.  He arrived on the back of a motorcycle, full of charm, and I was proverbial "toast."
Our marriage lasted seven years.  Outside of the unusual circumstances of our split, it was not foundationally a good marriage.  There were communication issues and trust issues, compounded by a lack of spiritual foundation.  On top of that were the huge issues of cheating (on our marriage and the federal government), pathological lying, and serious differences in child rearing.   Oh yeah, and going to prison.  Looking back, there was so much deceit that it would be comical that I didn't notice if it weren't so tragic.
After the divorce, I was left a single mother, job, no child support.  By the grace of God and my wonderfully supportive parents, we did not end up on the street.  We lived in government subsidized housing, became the needy family for a Catholic church, and relied on others for our basic needs.  We were all left emotionally damaged, and even more so when he one day disappeared.
That was eleven years ago.  Since then, I have remarried and rebuilt my life.  God sent us an amazing man in my husband, Daryl, and we have built our life on a mutual faith in Jesus Christ.  My son has gotten back in touch with Michael, and they are forging a new relationship, with Josh as an adult.  I have yet to meet with him face to face, but have emailed him.
It is easy to forgive him when I don't have to deal with him, see him.  Now that seeing him is a very real possibility, I realize that I have not totally forgiven him, and certainly not forgotten.  I fear this future encounter probably more than anything I have in a while, but know that this too....just as the seven years of my first marriage and the eleven years in between...will be used for my good, and God's glory.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The ABCs of Me

Laundry is the bane of my existence.  Of all the jobs that I do around the house, laundry is the one that I enjoy the least.  And given my penchant for housekeeping, that is saying something.  Give me a toilet to clean, a shower to scrub, trash to take out.   Just don't make me do laundry.
But that's the cruel part about it.  You have to do it.  If you don't, it multiplies and overtakes your bedroom, and your kitchen table, and the hallway leading to the laundry room.  Then your husband starts looking for underwear and asking you if you have seen it (duh...of course, I's on the floor!) and then eventually goes to Walmart and buys some more.  Then you end up looking for matching socks in the wee hours of the morning on a school day and you end up going to Walmart to buy some more.  All because you hate doing laundry.
And actually, it's not the actual washing I mind.  I don't mind picking up all of the dirty laundry scattered in bathrooms and living rooms and hallways and cars and stairwells.  I don't mind putting it all in the washing machine.  Or transferring it to the dryer.  Or even getting it out and putting it in the basket from the dryer.  It's the folding and putting away part.
 I wish I could say it's because I have five children.  But I can't because a. the big kids pretty much do their own laundry, and b.  it was like this when I only had three children.  In fact, the big kids ffondly remember sliding down the "mountain" of clothes at the end of my bed when we lived in the apartment.  And I have a picture of Josh as a baby playing in a huge pile of clothes, too, come to think of it.
I wish I could say it's genetic, but I can't.  Even when my mother worked outside the home, she would get up at 5:00 am and put a load of laundry in the washer, go to work, come home, transfer it to the dryer, make dinner, and then after dinner put it all away.  To this day, she does at least a load a day, and if it's not done drying by bedtime, she stays up. 
I wish I could say it's because I don't have an efficient laundry room.  Which, in my defense, I don't.  It's all cramped with no counters and there is barely room to turn around since we added the freezer.  What I really need is this:

and in the middle, one of these

Ah, who am I kidding?  This probably wouldn't make a difference either.  I wouldn't like to do laundry any more, but at least there would be a place to put it all, out of the way!

Monday, June 18, 2012

The ABCs of Me

I bet you thought I had fallen off the blog wagon again, didn't you?  I got stuck again, and then it was Daryl's birthday and Father's Day and well, time just got away from me.  And while I'm handing out excuses, I will just say that I have no idea why, when published, part of this is in one font, and then part is in another.  It doesn't look like that as I type it!  Anyways....onward....
My parents are both from Kentucky, and as a child, all of my grandparents lived in Kentucky.  Every Thanksgiving, and once during the summer, we would pile in the station wagon (back when you didn't have to have car seats and seat belts and you could lay the back down, line it with sleeping bags and toys and enjoy your ride....also back when there weren't TVs in cars!) and make the 8-9 hour trip to Louisville, KY.  Although I get carsick, and in general hate car trips, just reflecting on these trips brought back so many good memories.  So good, that I spent four hours trying to find pictures of my grandparents' houses on Google, and in the process got a little teary.  My grandparents all live in heaven now, but the memories remain.
To me, everyone in Kentucky is old.  I know they really aren't in my head, but in my 9 year old kid brain, they were.  We spent the entire time in the company of people 80 and older--in various stuffy apartments, old houses, nursing homes.  Other than old people, though, other images come to mind.
Singing Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" with my grandmother, along with her album, played on her turntable.

The Kentucky Derby.  Even though we never went, my parents had, and still have, a Derby Party every year on Derby Day.  I have such fond memories of those parties and all of my parents' friends in the house.

 Riding past vast green fields with horses grazing.  This is not a sight we would see on the way there, as we always traveled there by night and traveled home during the day.  My grandmother lived on a very small farm, and I remember knowing we were there when we drove over the bumpy spot on her drive meant to keep the cows from crossing.
 Houses like this.  This isn't my grandmother's home, but it, to me, will always be a "Kentucky house."  It faced Hillcrest Avenue, a busy road, and we used to play in the front yard. (Why we didn't play in the back yard, that was fenced and flat, I don't know)  I remember the formal furniture, the squeaky real hardwood floors, the smell of cheese grits, and my great grandmother uncoiling her long white hair in front of the mirror.  So many more good memories (all in black and white in my head), too many to list.
 And at the end of our trip, almost as if to show us that young people do live there, there was our annual trip to the mall for "one new outfit" and a picture with Santa, followed by meeting Dad at Shoney's.  I'd always order the spaghetti and never eat it all.
I could go on and on about these trips, and maybe someday I will.  I need to, want to remember these precious parts of my life. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

The ABCs of Me
I had a hard time coming up with something to write about for this letter, thus the lack of a post yesterday.  The first one that came to mind I recognized as way too transparent, and not something I really wanted to delve into in front of all of the internet (as if all the internet is reading this...yeah)  So I thought about a few different ones....
Jobs- I'd write about all of the jobs that I have had over the years.  From babysitting, to McDonald's, to day care, to bartending and waitressing, to teaching, to cleaning a church, and back to teaching again.  Eh...boring.
Josh-I'd write about the man child that he has become and what it is like to have your beautiful baby boy grow up into this awesome man and have someone else fulfill the role of favorite woman in his life.  But then, I would have to go back and do Charlotte for C and Daryl for D.
Jail- I'd write about how I know all the rules about visiting someone in jail, what its like to visit someone in jail, and what I learned from those experiences.  But then that took me to places where my children might not be comfortable.
Um, Jellybeans?  Jelly?  My first boyfriend ever, Jeff Sanders?
So then, it brought me back to the transparent one.  So hear it goes.
I have always been a jealous person.  Not in the sense that I wanted things that other people had, per se.  I never coveted people's homes, or their clothes, or the toys they had.  Nope, I skipped right over that part and just wanted to be them.  It started in fourth grade, right after we had moved to Alabama.  I wanted to be Becky Cardwell.  I grew my hair out like hers (and wouldn't you know, she cut her hair right after I achieved the long hair), and wanted to be just like her.  Because in my mind, she was perfect.  She was gorgeous, thin, outgoing, sweet, popular, and everyone loved her.  She was also my friend.  Throughout the rest of my life, I morphed myself into different versions of myself to be like other people.  To be what I thought other people wanted me to be. 
As an adult, it took a different form.  It wasn't so much that I envied what people looked like, but the qualities they had.  They were more confident, more outgoing, not afraid to speak their mind.  Others were more disciplined, happier, more fun.  Still others were more spiritually mature, more giving, more positive.  More organized, cleaner, more pulled together.   Better cook, better housekeeper, better wife.   I always wanted to be more like someone else.
This summer, at the ripe old age of almost 45 (argh), I have come to finally realize that I can not be anyone else.  I can not force myself to be like anyone else.  I am me.  Wonderfully and fearfully made.  With all of the many flaws and weaknesses.  And the best I can do is not be more like someone else, but to be the best me.
Eat healthier and exercise to be a healthier ME.  Keep the house cleaner adn stay on top of things so that I would feel better.  Accept that I am not outgoing and not loud and would rather be holed up with a book than out at a party.  Accept that I need work in certain areas of my life and work on those to better myself and bring glory to God. 
God loves me just because I am myself.  My husband didn't fall in love with the prettier, spunkier, more organized, better housekeeper.  He fell in love with me.  My children love me.
And when I think about it that way, being me is pretty wonderful.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The ABCs of Me
When I graduated high school, my best friend, Karen Cachussie was going to Europe with her mother as a graduation gift.  She had already been to Europe on school trips before, so it wasn't such a big deal for her.  She asked me to go with her.  For me, it was a HUGE deal.  So I asked my parents, and surprisingly, they said yes.  I didn't get to walk in graduation, which wasn't a big deal because we had moved my senior year and it didn't mean much to me to walk with my classmates.
So the day I was supposed to be walking across the stage in graduation, I was on a plane by myself, heading across the ocean for a ten day whirlwind European tour.  We traveled through England, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Monte Carlo, Lichtenstein, and Italy.  Out of all of the places that we went and all of the amazing things that we saw, Italy was by far my favorite.
I loved Venice, even though it was touristy and cheesy.  I loved sailing down the canals and seeing all of the old houses along the way where people lived.  Being serenaded by a gondolier in a striped shirt.

I loved Rome and the history.  I have pictures of the teenage me standing in the Colisseum.  And kittens.  There were lots of kittens.
 We went shopping in Rome, and I sat on the Spanish Steps, where a young Italian man gave me a rose.  Right out of a movie, right?
 Climbed to the top of the Tower of Pisa.
Stood under this fountain in the Gardens of Tivoli. 
I loved Italy so much, that when it came time for me to choose a language in college and I saw that Italian was one of the choices, I didn't have to think twice.  Never mind that it was a relatively useless language.  I took two years of Italian with an eccentric professor who told me, and I quote, so please do not think I am crude, that when I said "gli elletrodomestici" he "creamed his pants."  I had the opportunity to go to Italy and study for a semester, but turned it down because I was in luuuv.
It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to visit. 
I really hope to someday return.  To see all of these places with fresh, mature eyes.  Because, really, as a teenager, I was more interested in the Italian boys and no drinking age than learning and experiencing the culture.  I think as an adult I would appreciate it so much more.
Una ragazza può sognare, giusto?
(A girl can dream, right?)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The ABCs of Me

I told myself when I started this that I wasn't going to take the easy way out and use Daryl and the kids for any of the letters.  And even though technically I'm using Hannah, I'm really not.  Make sense?  Let me explain.
See this handsome guy below?  When I was pregnant with him, I poured over baby name books and came up with the names that  I liked.  If he was a boy, he would be Joshua Walton.  If he ended up being a girl, he'd be Hannah Kathleen.
Well, you see how that turned out.  My only  boy.  Needless to say, we did not name him Hannah.

So when I got pregnant with this beauty, I looked through the baby name books again.  If she was a boy, I had no clue.  Maybe Luke, maybe Jonathan.  If she were a girl, her name was going to be
Hannah Kathleen.  Hannah because I still loved it, and Kathleen after my sister.  But then I saw her on the ultrasound, and I thought, "There is my princess!"  Hannah didn't seem right any more.  Sarah means "princess."  And there you go...Sarah Kathleen.

Then, surprise!!!!!  Here came girl #2.  And she was going to be Hannah Pauline.  Hannah, because I still loved it and Pauline, because it was my grandmother's name.  But then when we were going through the baby book name and we couldn't agree.  My husband at the time didn't like Hannah anymore, so we went through the book and circled the ones we liked.  The only one we both liked was Madeline.  Madeline Pauline.
(btw, she hates her name.  She doesn't like Madeline, says it sounds too "old."  And that Pauline is just strange.  I keep telling her what an honor it is to be named after her grandmother, but she doesn't really remember her, so doesn't really agree!)

Fast forward 9 years.  We had been trying for #4 for 3.5 years.  I was frantic.  What was wrong with me?  I had always gotten pregnant so easily...why was God doing this to us?  My husband, on the other hand, was quite confident and calm.  "I am fully confident that we will have a baby.  It isn't a "no" from God, it's a "wait."  And of course, he was right.  It was a resounding WAIT.  After we had learned to be married to each other, defined our family of five, done some work for the Lord, some work on ourselves (OK, on myself) we got pregnant not even trying.  When we found out it was a girl, there was never a question.  She would be Hannah.  First it was going to be Hannah Grace.  Hannah because, well, you know...I still loved it, and the irony of Hannah in the Bible praying for so long for a child.  Grace because of God's mercy and grace in answering our prayers.  Then Daryl's sister, Denise, had a recurrence of her cancer.  I was awed and humbled by her grace and strength and faith in the Lord during it all, and I knew there could be no greater honor to us than to name our baby after her.  Finally my Hannah.
Hannah Denise.

And just because I couldn't NOT have a picture of Charlotte after having pictures of all the rest...
Charlotte Elaine. 


Monday, June 11, 2012

The ABCs of Me


Grease is the word....
My all time favorite movie, without a doubt.  I can remember sitting in the theater in Sylacauga.  It was afternoon.  I was sitting in the seat closest to the curtain against the wall.  I left that theater wanting to be Sandy.  Not the slutty, curly headed Sandy.  The sweet, pure, bobby sock wearing Sandy.
 I can quote the movie from beginning to the end.  I can sing every song, complete with dance moves (and yes, it is as pathetic as it sounds).
 When my big kids were little, I must have showed them the movie twenty times.  No, I didn't realize how crude and inappropriate it was until about ten years ago.  I also really thought that Fonzie slept on that pull out couch.
 I know that all of the actors and actresses were in their 30's, playing high school kids.  I know that it was a knock off of the Broadway show and that in itself should make me hate it.  I know that Olivia Newton John has little acting skill and even fewer dance skills.  Doesn't matter.  Still love it.
 No matter what kind of day I have had, not matter what has happened in my life, no matter what anyone has said or done to me, this movie makes me happy.  Just hearing the music makes me smile.  Just looking at these pictures make me a little bit giddy and longing to see the movie again.
 Think what you want....In the words of Rizzo, "There are worse things I could do...."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The ABCs of Me
Dale Carnegie once said, "Fear doesn't exist anywhere except in the mind." My life, unfortunately, has been a testament to this statement.  I have been in a constant battle with my mind for as long as I can remember.   
As a child, my mother says I would practice any new skill in the basement before doing it in front of my friends.  I'd fall off my bike without training wheels a hundred times in the partially unfinished basement to avoid falling off in the street in front of our house.  Later in my childhood, I developed a crippling fear of dogs after getting attacked by an Irish Setter.  Then it was tornadoes and my parents getting a divorce.  Mrs. Poole, my fourth grade teacher with the giant afro and the gold front tooth and fire, when a string of arson fires were set in the surrounding woods around our house.  Probably most irrational was my fear of being executed.  Never mind that I was probably the most obedient child ever, and that I always followed the rules. 
As a young adult, my fears were mostly based on what others thought of me.  I hated being the center of attention, hated to do anything that brought attention to myself, hated to meet new people.
Until this point, most of my fears were unfounded.  Except the dog attack, none of the things that terrified me had ever happened.  I had never been in a tornado, my parents were happily married, and the closest I ever came to the electric chair was a string of speeding tickets.  No one ever laughed at me for doing something stupid, and most everyone who I met liked me.
Then I turned 30.  There is nothing magical or maniacal about that age.  It just happened to be the age I was when my entire life was upended.  My husband left me.  I lost my home.  I was unemployed and had three small children to provide for.  For the first time in my life, people were talking about me.  I was doing things that I thought I would never do, seeing things I thought I never would see, going places I swore I never would.  But throughout it all, I kept it together and stayed strong for my children.  I wanted to keep their childhood as stable and fear-less as possible.
Just when I had made it through the hardest times and was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the fear consumed me.  This time, there was no momma to drive me to the bus stop so I didn't have to face the dogs, or school nurse to assure me that I was OK and could return to class, or book I could disappear into to avoid other people.  This time, the fear gripped me so tightly that I could not function.  I took care of my children, put them in bed, and retreated to my bedroom where I would fight through the fear, one debilitating panic attack after another until morning light.
Fifteen years later, and I am still fighting through the fear.  I no longer suffer panic attacks, due partially to medication, partially to my wonderful husband and the stability he has provided, and mostly due to my faith and a loving and merciful heavenly Father.  Dogs do not scare me any more, nor do tornadoes.  I am fairly certain that my parents will remain married, and that I will not die in the electric chair.  I do believe, though, that just as some people are born with brown eyes, that I was born to bear this burden, as part of God's plan for my life.  
"I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today."
William Allen White

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The ABCs of Me

Elin Hilderbrand
It all started with this book, this love affair I seem to be having with Elin Hilderbrand's books.  I picked it up at the grocery store, and started reading about noon.  By nine the next morning, I had done nothing else that wasn't absolutely necessary, including sleep, and it was finished.
 I went on to read every other book that she has ever written, and in the process have fallen in love with her writing and the very idea of living in Nantucket.  I've never been to Nantucket, mind you, but all of her novels are set on the island, and before you knew it, I found myself googling rentals there.  Of course, it doesn't mention in the book how outrageously expensive it is to live or vacation there.  All of her characters are just normal people with normal problems, just with the beach in Nantucket as the background.

My very favorite book that she has written is The Blue Bistro.  I love the detail that she put into the book and I think having worked at a restaurant for a few years in college, I was on familiar turf.
 Her next book is due out on June 26, and I've already pre-ordered it for my Nook.  I can't wait!
I'm desperately looking for a new author to read.  A year between Elin Hilderbrand books is just too long!

Friday, June 8, 2012

The ABCs of Me
Diet Coke
If you know me at all in real life, this one was easy.  It's the way I have started each day since this delicious goodness came into being.  It's what's gotten me over the afternoon slump each day so that I could impart wisdom (cheerfully) to my sweet first graders.  It's the only thing to drink with pizza and it's a crime to eat a Chick Fil A biscuit without one.  Sometimes, I just need it.  I will go on to embarrass myself by admitting to digging in old purses and searching in all of our three cars for change so I could afford one.  Ahhhh....and yes, it was worth it.
Cue scene interrupting record scratch....
Because in the last two weeks, I have had exactly 2.  And one was caffeine free, so it didn't count.  You see, my family decided that I should give it up.  "You'll get cancer," "It's so bad for you!"  "You don't really need it!" "It's the diet coke!" (that last one in response to one of the many times I have totally and completely forgotten why I had walked into the kitchen or what I was going to say or where my phone was when I had just called my mother on it)
I know it's not good for me.  I know it is unhealthy.  I know I don't need it.  Finally I got tired of their bugging me, and just did it.  Gave it up.  Cold turkey.
And this is the part where I'm supposed to admit that I feel soooo much better.  That I don't miss it a bit and that I love water now.  That my memory and overall cognitive functioning have improved.  That I'm not the least bit bitter that some people can drink a gallon of tea a day and it's OK.  Or that others can eat NO vegetables and that's not taboo either. 
 Well, that isn't happening yet.  I still don't love water.  I still forget things.  Regularly.  And long about 2:00?  I crave a cold diet coke.
The nectar of the proverbial gods, I tell you.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The ABCs of Me
About a year ago, I got hooked on TLC's show, Extreme Couponing.  I watched in awe as these people bought a thousand dollars worth of groceries for  pennies.  Daryl looked at me during one of the episodes and he said, "You know, we could do that."  And thus my coupon habit began.  I had tried using coupons before and always found that I could save more money shopping generic.  I was earning extra money that summer tutoring, so I decided to just coupon that summer and create a stockpile and see if I could save on our grocery budget during the school year.  We finished the summer with a small stockpile, mostly toothpaste, deoderant, shampoo, and feminie products.  I found that to be an extreme couponer you needed some basics that I just didn't have:  about 30-40 hours a week, a lot of extra space, and  In order to just shop sales and coupon deals, you have to already have your basics. extreme couponer, I am not.  But I DO love my coupons and my coupon binder.  I save about 30-40% at the store each trip.   I do manage to get things for pennies, but not in great quantities, as most stores have changed their policies due to this show.  And it is the one place that I can stay organized.  In fact, I even get a little excited, even anal, about it.

 So this summer, with my tutoring money, I'll be building up our stockpile again...and just a little  bit giddy about it! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The ABCs of Me

First of all, I must clarify and correct something that I posted about yesterday.  What you see below is the statue that my father so eloquently called the "giant hemorrhoid."  My friend, Lynn, commented to tell me that one of her relatives had been commissioned to make a statue that symbolized the marble flowing up from the ground (I failed to mention the marble quarry in Sylacauga).  The other statue must have been made after we left, because as I pulled up the picture below of said statue in front of the library, I knew that was it.

As I pulled up this picture, I also got my B topic for the day...Books.

You see, my love affair with literature began when we moved to Alabama.  I had always enjoyed reading, but when we moved, it became a defense mechanism.  I was and am almost painfully shy and insecure about meeting new people.  While I was thrown into small town southern life, it took a while before I felt like I really fit in, and in the meantime, there were many many hours spent in my room, laid across my pink shag carpet, book in hand.  Once I did have my group of friends, I was hooked, and I continued through my childhood and adolescence, nose planted firmly in a book.  In fact, one summer, I read through the entire teenage section of the library in alphabetical order.  I devoured Nancy Drew, the Bobsey Twins, Judy Blume, and anything and everything by Beverly Cleary. 

All through grade school, I read through the grade level books and SRA's by October and was left to read whatever I wanted.  When I got to sixth grade, I met the woman who both terrified me and sparked my interest in literature even more:  Penelope Moore.
Ms. Moore was the accelerated reading teacher and she challenged us to read as many Newberry Books as we could.  To this day, Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Egypt Game, From the Mixed Up Files of Basil D. Frankweiler, and Jacob I Have Loved bring back such sweet memories.  I even bought them for my own children to read, and was sorely disappointed when they wouldn't even try to read them, preferring Harry Potter instead.

As a teacher, teaching reading is my strength.  I have over 1000 books in my classroom library.  There are a few special ones that I keep in a special place, but for the most part, it is a raggedy collection--old childhood books, books from Goodwill and yard sales and thrift stores, and books donated to me by students.  But that isn't why most of them are well worn.  It's because they are well loved and well 6 year olds.  What joy it brings to my heart to send them out of first grade with a love of reading.

As a woman, reading has been my constant.  Through moves, through children, through a divorce.  I finish each book, thinking that I could never be transported like that again, only to immediately be sucked in again with the beginning of a new chapter.

My first grade class chipped in and got me a Nook Color for the end of the year gift, and I have been reading some on that this summer.  And while I enjoy the technology--hey, you don't need a flashlight to read in bed!--I miss the feel of a book.  The experience of a book.  The going into the book store or library (which I cannot go in ever again because I owe $50 in late fees) and losing myself for hours, pouring over the shelves.  The crinkly sound of a library book and the feel of well worn pages.  The feel of it in my hands.

Speaking of which....
Off to Nantucket Island...
in my latest book!