My Ten New Things

Last week my friend Brittany wrote a post about the ten (terrifying!) NEW things she tried in 2016.  Her words got me wondering if I could think of my own ten new things from 2016.  Here goes!

1. Running Buddies:

What began as my most terrifying new thing turned out to be my absolute favorite part of 2016. I heard about the No-Pressure Running Group from a friend when training for the Richmond Marathon in 2015.  For whatever reason, I pictured a perfectly manicured group of Boonsboro mamas prancing up the Monument Terrace steps like it was no biggie.  I just knew they would be too fast and too cool for me.

Fast forward to the summer of 2016 when a sweet friend from church invited me to run with this same group.  At that point I wasn’t even sure if I could run the 5 miles they had planned, but I sucked up my fears and agreed to meet her anyway.  I quickly learned that this group was not at all what I had expected.  These women are real and flawed and smart and supportive and strong and amazing.  So for about six months now, the promise of good company has helped to drag my rear out of bed at 4:50 (or 5:00, or 5:13) a few mornings each week.  They’ve kept me running through the cold and pushed me to run faster and longer.  But more importantly, I now have a great new group of friends that have each been a tremendous blessing in my life.

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2. A New Job:

At the start of this school year I took a new position as the STREAM Coach & Math Remediation Specialist.  That’s a big-ol’ crazy mouthful that means I get to help kids build stuff and get better at math all day…what could be better than that?  The hard parts have been getting the room ready in time for school to start, missing working closely everyday with teammates, learning 500+ names, and figuring out how to respond to students with love and understanding when expectations aren’t met .  The best parts have been witnessing growth among both the students and teachers, the excitement I see as students get to collaborate and create, and nights (every once in a while) where I don’t come home to hours of prep or grading or emails.  Oh….and a schedule that makes those 5:30am runs possible!

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3. A New Degree

In April I finished my Master’s in Math Education K-6 from WGU.  At the end of this program, I was convinced that higher education is where I eventually wanted to land.  I knew that this degree was only going to get me so far, so I immediately started looking for the what-next.  For now the what-next is Integrative STEM Education classes online through Virginia Tech.  For me this has meant many late nights in the library at LC fueled by gummy worms.  For Jay this has meant countless nights of holding down the fort on his own.  I tell him and tell him, but I so hope he realizes how thankful I am for him.

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4. Blue Apron

A friend of my parents gifted us with a free trial of this meal service.  I had fully intended to get the free box and then cancel the subscription because it’s so expensive.  However, we really liked it!  The recipes were simple but interesting.  They forced us to slow down and eat at home.  We got some recipes that we liked so much we’ve repeated them several times with ingredients we’ve bought at the store.  Also, the portions are generally good sizes so neither of us overeats.  We were getting a box once a month, but now we’ve bumped back to every few months because we can reuse the recipes we already have.

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5. Mountain Biking

Whenever I run on the Peaks View Park trails, I get the mountain biking itch.  Before this year, I’ve never really tried it, but these trails (more than the ones at Candler’s) make it look like fun to me.  I remember thinking after a run this summer, “I wish there was a way I could learn to mountain bike….like a class or something.”  Well whadayaknow?!?  A few days later I ran across an ad for a beginner mountain biking class that would be offered through Parks and Rec.  It was super cheap and at a time when Jay could watch the kids, so I signed up!  I loved the class, but I left convinced that my bike from circa eighth grade just wasn’t going to cut it for many more rides.  I got a new bike for my birthday, followed promptly by a new school year that took up every free minute of time I might have had to ride.  I’m hoping that 2017 will bring more rides…and maybe a friend or two that will go with me!

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6. LuLaRoe

legginsSoooo….yeah.  I seriously debated whether or not to include this in my ten new things list, but I finally decided that ten years from now rereading this would probably give me a good chuckle.  At some point this year the Facebooks blew up with the LuLaRoe.  It somehow went from one college friend selling it to a gazillion sales every week.  I’ve never been a fan of buying something I haven’t tried on, so I waited until I got invited to a real-live party to buy any.  Somehow I got out of there with a bright orange pair of tights with blue paper airplanes.  What in the world?  And while they do actually feel as good on as everyone says they do, I can’t help but wonder what we’ll say about ourselves in 2026.  “Ahh….remember those leggings we all used to wear!?!  With unicorns and spaceships and flamingos and pineapples….what were we thinking?!”

7. Pokemon Goimg_2187

As usual, I’m a little late to this trend.  We just downloaded it over Christmas break, and I finally see what all the fuss is about.  It’s fun!  Grandma and I have been texting each other back and forth about our current level and how many we’ve caught.  She’s currently skunking me on level 14.  As soon as this post is up, I think we’re headed out to LC to try to catch up to her.  🙂

8. Twitter

twitterYep…also late on this one.  I started tweeting in March after hearing George Couros at LC.  While I was certainly hesitant to get started, so many good things came from tweeting the second half of our school year.  I think it’s fun to look back and have a record of what we did, but the best part was collaborating with a class in Canada through Twitter.  This school year I haven’t used it nearly as much because I’ve been sharing what we’re doing at school through Facebook instead.

9. Tutoring

A friend at school asked me to help tutor her in math for a few weeks over the summer.  She wanted help getting ready for a math placement test she had to take at CVCC.  Until this year I have never tutored adults, or hardly anyone for that matter, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help her.  It was such a rewarding experience to watch her grasp concepts and gain confidence.  I hope to do more of this in the future!

10. Aid Station-ing

There are people who run 60+ miles in below-freezing temperatures, in the mountains, just for fun.  There are also people who stand outside in those below-freezing temperatures to feed hungry runners, thaw out their bottles, and cheer them on….just for fun.  So while I was not crazy enough (yet) to run the Hellgate race, I did help with three aid stations for this ridiculous event.  It was so inspiring.  And cold.

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How about you….what did you do new in 2016?   

Thanks, Brittany, for the inspiration!  Follow her at TheBamBlog.com.

 

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Two By the End of Breakfast

I started (again) to try to record 1,000 gifts.  I think my last attempt made it to about 70.  That’s a whopping 7% of the way, friends.   But this is what new years are for, right?  Trying again with new hopes that this time you might make it.  Or at least make it further than before.  This time I’m using the Joy Dare collection, prompts that make you think a bit, focus your thankfulness.  Check it out.

I realized ‘round about Saturday that my chances of thinking of something to fit the prompt increase if I read it in the morning and not wait until I’m crawling, defeated, into the bed at well past my bedtime.  So I checked this morning’s suggestion, “3 graces from people you love,” and casually mentioned it to Jay.  Seeing as how I had no plans to leave the house on this unexpected snow cold day home from school, I knew I had to watch for three graces among the three other people that live here.

I just didn’t expect to already have two by the end of breakfast.

photo20.  Jay agreed to take Bubba to school.  While we were enjoying together our healthier version of breakfast (also inspired by the New Year), Jay offered to drive Bubba to school.  Not just agreed…offered.  Anyone living anywhere in the United States today knows that it was hellacold outside.  Chica’s kiddie thermometer (thanks Betty, what a timely gift!) said 5 degrees when we checked it this morning.  In addition to the scarf on the weather girl and the snowflake which I’m assuming means it’s cold enough to snow, there was now an exclamation point next to the snowflake too.  I guess that’s the No-Joke-Stay-Inside symbol.  So as we made jokes about hypothermia and losing limbs, he offered to be the one to go out, and I was thankful.

21.  Chica invited Bubba to share her chair at the breakfast table.  This morning, as most mornings, breakfast was a battle.  By (what I thought was) the end of it, Bubba was a sobbing mess, crumpled over on the kitchen floor.  “Do you care if I just let him cry?” I remember asking Jay.  He didn’t, so I vowed I would enjoy the breakfast I had fixed for myself then try to help him pick up the pieces and get our day back on track.

photo 1Next thing I know, tenderhearted, sweet Chica had invited him to perch beside her in her chair and keep eating.  As she scooted his bowl over to his new seat, I watched in amazement as he kept eating the same soggy “Fwok Fwakes” he had refused a few minutes ago.  “Grace number two, and breakfast isn’t even over,” I remember remarking to Jay.  That was fast.

22.  The shredded cheese smeared on the dining room floor.  So grace #3 from people I love came after dinner, and I guess it’s technically for someone I love.  In one of my many moments of distraction today while trying to complete a writing project, I decided I would do something I’ve been meaning to do for a while:  teach Chica how to unload the dishwasher.  So I did, and it was mostly painful and slow, but there was one bright exclamation of, “This is fun!”  (She got over that real fast, don’t worry.)  This got me thinking that it’s about time she have a few regular jobs around the house.  So I printed her off a checklist and tried to explain with every positive spin I had why her four new “jobs” this week were a really cool thing.  She totally bought it.  I love five.

So tonight she set out to accomplish job number three:  vacuum the dining room floor after dinner.  Except Bubba had conned Daddy into giving him a pile of shredded cheese for dinner and then proceeded to use it like confetti.  (I don’t love two, so much.)  I know that the vacuum and shredded cheese aren’t a great combination, but I forgot to tell her that before it was too late.  So I handed her the rag and encouraged her to try wiping it up…a skill that she has also not quite mastered yet.

Shortly she was “done” and ready to go join Daddy and Bubba for the nightly see-what’s-cool-on-Daddy’s-iPad-in-Bubba’s-bed party, and I had to survey her work so she could be dismissed.

There was still cheese.

But thankfully (I guess maybe this is what I’m really thankful for!) some small piece of a conversation with a friend resurfaced.  I can’t even remember for sure which friend, but I know she reminded me of the importance of not going back behind your kids when they start to help.  Let it be good enough.  So I extended grace and I let her go, squeezing her and reminding her how proud I was of her hard work.

And the cheese smears are still there.

Tomorrow, and likely the next day and the next, when I walk past them I’ll try to keep reminding myself to extend grace.  And I’ll keep reminding myself, too, that I only have strength to do this because I’ve been given grace upon grace myself.

Grace in the parenting.
Grace in the working.
Grace in the eating.
Grace in the counting of the gifts, even.

Grace upon grace, to you, friends.

Twelve in 2012

I excused myself from baby duty and shut the door behind me so I could write.  I sincerely wanted to come up with something funny but insightful to ring in the New Year in my little corner of the blog world, but it still hasn’t come to me.

So I’ll just do a little recycling.  I actually rather like reading the recaps of the previous year in the newspaper each December.  There’s something about seeing the best moments and the worst moments and all the mediocre parts in between that helps put life into perspective.

As cliché as it may be, I offer you twelve lessons learned in 2012 as well as a post or two to go with each.

  1.  I am not a Pinterest mommy.  When I started this blog, I wasn’t sure in which direction to go.  At the time, I spent long hours nursing Bubba reading blogs from both tell-it-like-it-is mommies and Pinterest-worthy mommies. I tried my hand at one how-to post, but I consider it a major flop….mainly because I never followed through with my best laid plans.  That super cool box still sits waiting under the bench in my kitchen, hoping it will get more action next summer.
  2. My two children are two very different people.  Look no further than the first two pictures in this post for a perfect illustration.  Just today I was telling MIL again that she was indeed right…I didn’t know how good I had it with the first one.  Bubba seems to get into everything these days.  Maybe I’ve erased these hard parts from my memory of Chica’s toddler stage, but I just can’t remember her being like the tornado of terror that is Bubba.
  3. I need to write.  I need to write because sometimes it’s the only thing that makes me sit and listen.  But I also need to write because otherwise I would never remember the tiny little moments like these.  I laughed out loud again just now when I remembered Chica giving me the California Salute.  That memory would surely have been gone by now if I hadn’t written it down.
  4. I can’t write anything in five minutes.  I wanted so badly to participate in Five Minute Friday with other bloggers, but I can’t follow the rules.  Oh well.  At least I’ve shortened the time it takes me to produce a post worth publishing.  What used to take me two or three hours, I now try to crank out in under one.
  5. My kids are funny.  Life is messy and complicated and painful even, but it’s also funny.  It’s worth writing down the funny stuff to reread during the not-so-good parts.
  6. Joy was my word for 2012.  I found myself writing about it over and over.  I don’t have it all figured out, but I do know that I am more joyful than I was a year ago.  I have to remind myself every day to be sure my joy is rooted in Jesus.
  7. I learned that I have some major rearranging to do in my priorities.  I heard this challenge so loud and clear one morning before school, but I still struggle each day to make this happen.  I can say honestly that I have made some concrete steps to put my family before my job in the last few months of 2012.  There’s still a lot of rearranging to do though!
  8. Five minute of fame is just that…five minutes.  I was really caught by surprise when my story about getting a D in high school was Freshly Pressed.  For my non-blogger  readers, a friend compared it to, “an athlete being featured on ESPN or something.”  While I think that is quite an exaggeration, I did feel like I was living it up for a few days.  My WordPress annual report says that 3,690 people viewed this post in one day in July!  But life went back to normal in a few days, with my most faithful readers being my family and a handful of my friends.  And that’s just fine by me.
  9. This stage will end.  I’m reminded as I’m scrolling through my posts of how big of a deal that sleep (or lack of it) has been in the last few months.  But here’s the thing….Bubba went to bed tonight around 8:00 p.m., and unless I’ve now jinxed myself because I wrote this, he won’t wake up until at least 4 or 5 a.m.  And we didn’t really do anything different to make this happen.  He just finally grew out of his need to check in with us at midnight and 2 a.m. every night.  (Thank the Lord!)  So Chica will not be 16 and have to wear pull-ups to sleepovers, and Bubba will not be 5 and still throwing food on the floor when he’s done.  We will move past these stages.   It just takes time.
  10. But with the passing of the bad stages goes plenty of good ones too.  I’ve tried to step back and observe and record as many of those moments as possible, picturing what I’ll miss when they’re not so little any more.  Tonight I watched Bubba splash the bath water then laugh his giddy, old-lady smoker’s laugh at himself over and over.  This….I know I’ll miss this.
  11. Don’t let a one year old play with a full soda can.  Lesson learned.
  12. And finally, blogging is fun!  I wrote this at the end of my first post:

“I’ve contemplated starting a blog for a long time.  Today I’m giving it a whirl.  It may turn out like the A to Z list on my refrigerator, but I’ll never know unless I try.  I hope this will be a space where I can reflect on life as a wife, mother of two, teacher, and wisher.  I plan to write about my kairos moments and my not-so-kairos moments.  Come along for the ride.”

So, thanks to YOU for sticking with me this long.  Thanks for speaking up and commenting when one of my rambling ideas connects with you.  That’s what makes this so fun!  Happy New Year!

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FIREWORKS  
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