loose ends

I've finally buckled down and realized that summer is happening around me. Although I'm still finding time to read [and thanks to all of you wonderful blog-followers of mine have an ever-expanding list now of some I'd really like to get my hands on! thanks for the response to this post] , I've also been trying to accomplish some of those tasks that I've been putting off. BUt before I get to those, Brent would like you to know that he cleaned his side of the closet too :-), and it looks fantastic:

He came up with an overflowing basket full of clothes to donate! I'm glad he caught the bug.
I then got our third and final bedroom painted. I haven't taken any pictures of the finish product yet, but I really am pleased with the way it turned out. Maybe I'll post some soon.

Next, I thought I would do a "small" task I had been putting off: cleaning out my bedroom at my parents' house. I honestly thought it would take 3 hours tops, after all, I haven't lived there for a very long time.. Boy was I wrong! I can't even believe how much stuff I had stuffed in every crevice of that closet and the drawers and under the bed and…well, you get the picture. I ended up being over there all day and ended up with 7 trash bags of trash, 6 trash bags STUFFED for goodwill [and only two were clothes, the rest were books, bags, clocks, hats, etc.], and came home with 3 big, plastic totes of stuff. How? How is this even possible? It was fun to reminisce as I pulled out journal after journal after notebook…I had to have written every second of my childhood. Seriously. Everything was documented. Every moment of every vacation and every thought that crossed through my adolescent head. Let's just say it ended up being more than a small task, but my mom is very happy I am done with that. :)

The next day I took down all my curtains. I had just bought them this summer, but all of them needed to be hemmed. So I took them out to my grandma's and we cut and hemmed all day long. I discovered a couple of things: I am not a seamstress. I do not have the patience or a big enough desire for perfect lines to be a seamstress. I'll stick with teaching.

And last but not least….LANDSCAPING!! Hooray! I've been trying to wait patiently, but…as aforementioned this is not my strong suit. So my dad and I were able to go get plants today and then went to work…well, he went work! And it's going to look fantastic.

This is a terribly boring post. I apologize. But it's summer. I haven't been super inspired. But I do have to go grocery shopping soon so maybe that will bring about good fodder? You just never know. :)



I like to read. I always have. I have stacks and stacks and stacks of books from my childhood, through college, and now in my adult life. I was just rearranging the books on a newly painted bookshelf the other day [which the hubs made whilst in high school…props to the hubs], and I realized how many books I have [and, I will have you know, I heeded the advice of "Real Simple" yet again and displayed some vertically and horizontally and interspersed frames and candles and "knick-knacky things" and it looks much better].

I don't dedicate a lot of my time to reflect on the books I've read, and even less time to share what I've read on my blog, unless it truly blows my mind. As a teacher, I have very little time when I'm not behind in my grading endeavors, and therefore little time to read. So during the summer I DEVOUR books. I eat them like candy.

So here is what I have read since the beginning of the year, most of which I've read since April. My personal thoughts are attached:

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: I had heard great things about this book, but didn't know much about it. I knew it was a memoir, and I knew memoirs are one of my favorite things right next to Oreos, so I asked for this for Christmas. Micah delivered. And it was beautiful. It is painful and real and honest in ways a lot of books aren't, but Walls writes about her childhood in ways that invite the reader to both love and hate her parents. Her father was a drunk who loved his family fiercely when sober and hurt them fiercely when under the influence. Her mother was an artist that didn't believe in working and so her family did without for most of their life. It is a riveting account of a vagabond family, and a girl who grows up realizing she has to get away from her parents. It is exhausting. And I'm looking forward to reading her next book, Half Broke Horses.
Jesusland by Julia Scheeres: If the last book was exhausting, this one was just brutal [why do I put myself through it?]. Also a memoir, Jesusland recounts the story of a girl who was raised by hypocritical Christian parents who adopted two black boys while living in a very racist Indiana in the 1970s. Scheeres recounts the escapades of her and her brother David, which eventually lands them in a reform school in the Dominican Republic. It is a crazy story, which upholds the saying that often life is "stranger than fiction," and shows a sibling's love through the trials of racism and unauthentic religion. It was tough to stomach, but beautifully written.
Wicked by Gregory Maguire: This was the weirdest book I think I have ever read. It started out pretty great. And then….well, it just got really, really strange. I kept reading thinking the ending of this million page book would redeem itself. It didn't. Don't read it. I hear the broadway show is way better.
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller: Donald and I have had our ups and downs. I have read all of his books and wrestled with some of his ideas [although one of my top ten favorite books was written by him: Through Painted Desserts.]. However, in this book he shares his honest struggle with wanting to have a meaningful life and feeling like he was falling short. It is all about his journey in learning that our lives are like written STORIES. They must have an"inciting incident" in which the main character/protagonist is thrust into something great/challenging/or awful and uses this to push them towards their climactic moments in life. He discovers anew the idea of "God as author." You can imagine how much this connecting with me, the English teacher who teaches "stories." One particular idea that struck a cord with me was when he shared this: He talked about movies as stories, and wrestled with the idea of actually going to a movie theater and watching a guy on screen want/desire/long after a new BMW. The end of the movie is him driving off the lot, tears rolling down his face, in his new car. Roll credits. He talked about what a terrible story that would be. But then said: THESE ARE THE STORIES WE FIND OURSELVES LIVING. "The ambitions we have will become the stories we will. If you want to know what a person's story is about, just ask them what they want. If we don't want anything, we are living boring stories, and if we want a Roomba vaccum cleaner, we are living stupid stories. If it won't work in a story, it won't work in life." There was a lot to chew on as I read this book [in a day…yes, it was that good and challenging and I wanted to know more about how to live a good story].

I don't think Donald Miller books are for everyone. But I do think everyone should read this book at some point. Yes, there are some sarcastic, typical, cynical Donald Miller moments, but the questions he will make you ask are worth it :-).
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson: If you didn't know this already, I LOVE Bryson books. [Click HERE for a story about another time I read one of his books!] I haven't read them all, but I will die trying. Last fall I read his memoir, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, and before that read Made in America and laughed my way into oblivion. Brent can always tell when I'm reading Bryson because I end up laughing out loud. In this particular book, Bryson documents his journey while hiking the Appalachian Trail with his overweight high school pal. He mixes in history and research with hilarious anecdotes and beautiful imagery, and although it doesn't always read like a novel, thumbing through his books is always a journey well worth the time it takes. [I tried to find a good example of some of his hilarity, but alas there is too much and most of it must be read in context].
Speak by Laurie Anderson: At the end of school I decided to take a journey to our library and read some of the young adult books that my students were reading. This book has been highly recommended by my good friend, Jenny, who also teaches Language Arts. It was a quick read, but left a mark on me. It is about a high school freshman who cannot, will not speak because of what has happened to her at a party the summer before. She was raped. Because she will not tell anyone, and because no one asks, she is left to suffer and it eats away at her from the inside. It is not until the end when things come to a climactic moment of fear and danger, that she is able to SPEAK. She opens up to a teacher who has challenged her and been there for her. This book challenged me in a lot of ways. It is a difficult subject matter. It is something no one really knows how to talk about. It is something I don't even want to think my students have heard of. But the truth is, some of them need to speak. Whether it is about this or other difficult things in their life. Everyone goes through unthinkable tragedies; everyone needs to be able to talk about them. This book made me realize that even if I am not the one they open up to about stuff, I should be someone who realizes they struggle; I should be someone that loves them in their moments of darkness.

The Hunger Games triology by Suzanne Collins: I continued my "young adult" reading with something a little lighter. I don't think there was a day in my classroom when one of my students wasn't reading one of these books, so I thought I'd find out what they were reading… And now I know why. WOW. They are fantastic. They are well written and contain a TON of adventure, mystery, and romance. They are set in America in the future, after she has lost her stability. They are told from first person point of view by Katniss Everdeen, a tough seventeen year old girl who has looked after her mother and sister after her father died in a mining accident. The Capitol that controls the "districts" hosts the hunger games every year. Once a year a boy and a girl are selected from each of the 12 districts and they must fight to the death in an arena until there is one victor. This absurd and bloody battle is the Capitol's way of keeping control of the districts. The action begins in The Hunger Games, and just when you think it can't get any better/ any crazier Catching Fire proves you wrong. I stayed up for three hours one night to finish Mockingjay, thinking that surely as I turned the pages the action would cease. It was not until the last two pages that I felt like I could take a deep breath. So much for "light, young-adult" reading. It was mesmerizing and completely held my attention for the couple weeks I read them.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen: My Aunt Linda told me about this book about 5 years ago. I put it on my mental list and forgot about it until recently when all the hype for the movie surrounded me. So I grabbed a copy and read it in a few days. It is one of the most unique books I have read. Set in depression era America, it tells to story of Jacob Jankowski, a vet who ran away with the circus. It involves murders and romance, mystery and intrigue, adventures and circus animals. There are definitely some "grittier" portions, and some "sensual" moments. I wouldn't recommend this for teenagers, and even some adults if these things make you squirm. However, Gruen paints an incredible picture of this time period and the very unique action of the train circus. It is incredibly creative and I'm glad I read the book.

This is my next book: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. She is one of my favorite authors and this is a book about writing. I've used excerpts from this in my classroom…but I've never read the book in whole. Kali and Dan got this for me for my birthday, and now is the time. I'm so excited. Now if you don't mind…I think I'll go read :)

Please leave a comment if you've read any of these books and agree or disagree with my assessment of them.

Also leave a comment if you have a book I should read… I have 50 days until school starts again :-)


It's elementary, my dear Watson!

Last night my girls had a softball game. At one point I looked into the opposing teams' crowd and there he was-- Drew G. The memories came flashing back and I shared them with Torri and Brent and a few others. They couldn't believe it! But the truth was, Drew used to pick on my friend Valerie and me, and he sat by the pencil sharpener at the back of the room. So…. I would casually sharpen my pencil to the finest graphite point possible and then poke him in the back while I returned to my chair.

After telling this story, Brent remarked that he can't even remember his second grade teacher's name, let alone the kids in his class! I must admit, I have a pretty remarkable memory. Memory, however, is one of those fickle things that may be here one day and gone the next. That is a big reason I write on this blog. After sharing the pencil poking story, other memories came flashing back. I thought I would capture a few of those elementary stories here before time takes them from me.

- One day after preschool I came home and informed my mother, "Me and Lacy are making best friends." I held true to that statement for most of my elementary years.

- In kindergarten there was always one point in the day where we sat in a circle to read, share, or learn a new letter [Mr. S…he is a supersonic streak in the sky!]. My self proclaimed best friend, Lacy, was already known for being a bit antsy when forced to sit still and one day she just couldn't take it any more. Mrs. Ward was right in the middle of a book and Lacy popped up out of her criss-cross applesauce position and did a full on cartwheel smack dab in the middle of our circle. We giggled and our eyes widened. It was the bravest thing any one of us had done all year.

- Every day during nap time if a kid actually fell asleep, he or she got to put a sticker on a chart. I don't remember what the stickers earned you, if anything, but I knew I wanted to have a neat line of stickers after my name to proclaim my ability to take naps! So most days I laid perfectly frozen, and when I would hear my teacher tiptoeing around to check for snoozing kiddos, I perfected the "look-like-you're-asleep" look. I would close my eyes, but not too tightly because when one is truly asleep their eyes are almost feather like. I would let my lips part just a little bit because, like the eyes, if pursed too tightly it is obvious one is really away. I would let my limbs and extremities loosen completely and regulate my breathing just so. I got a sticker everyday except the day that I decided to pull a tooth during nap time.

- One day at recess, two of my friends and I saw a portion of a rock sticking on on the side of the grassy bank. We gathered some woodchips and began digging, digging, digging at the rock. Since one of my friends happened to be the teacher's son, her eyes quickly found us and told us we needed to knock it off. But we were SO close. And he was her son afterall, so we figured we had a little leeway. So we finished until it came out. It was beautiful. I automatically saw a koala bear take shape in its grayish hue and its figure and scrolled through my rock collection in my head. No, I didn't have any like this. It was perfect. And then she told us we had to stand out for the rest of recess for disobeying. I clung to the rock and sauntered over to the side of the playground. It was winter, so I flipped my hood up, knowing that no one would even know it was me. And then I realized that I was wearing a bright pink parka with a giant kitty's face on the back. Everyone would know it was me! I began to cry.

- In first grade I started going to the "Talented and Gifted" class during a portion of every Tuesday. One day when three of us returned from this class to our regular classroom we were a bit loud. We couldn't stop talking about the maggots we had seen crawling through the acorns [or something like that?!] and even thought it was actually Eric talking I got my name written on the board for the first time ever. This began my hate of the talented and gifted program.

- We always lined up alphabetically according to our last names. This put be in front of Drew E. Who always sneezed snot the color of electricity. Seriously. The brightest green you've ever seen. I felt bad for being so happy when he moved at the end of the year.

- In second grade when I wasn't poking Drew with pencils, my friend Kyle and I were busy trying to give ourselves bloody noses. We would take our heaviest text books, which at this point were barely even hard backs, and bang them as hard as we could allow ourselves against our noses. Neither one of us ever succeeded.

- In third grade I passed a note down my row about a substitute teacher. It was horribly mean. I wrote her name, and drew a picture of a thumbs down sign. She found it. I felt miserable for weeks. It took me a full week before I had the courage to tell my mom what I had done, but I felt better after I did.

- One day I was walking to Excel [the talented and gifted class], and got caught up in talking. We were walking along the side of the school building and the windows opened out at an angle towards the sidewalk. Right at eye level for me. Unknowingly I walked straight into one of the points and it knocked me out. I wasn't under for long but remember waking up laying on the sidewalk and wondering what had happened. I had a scar on my forehead for several years, but it is gone now.

- In fourth grade another girl and I brought in little plastic animals. I had a whale and she had a little horse or something. We tied yarn around them and when we would transition somewhere through the hallways her and I would drop our strings down and "walk" our pets. If our teacher turned around we snapped them back up as quickly as we could…not wanting to know what wrath awaited us if we were found out.

- One day during a restroom break I was waiting in my class' line and glanced over at the class next to me. I happened to notice the teacher, an older lady who always sort of frightened me, had forgotten to zip her zipper. I didn't say anything and to this day I feel bad. [And tell my students that if I do that to please let me know!]

- In fifth grade my homeroom teacher smelled like sunsets and flowers and I loved her for it.

- In sixth I finally quite the Exel program. I proved my intelligence in my science classroom though when we were studying magnets. I remember learning about how the North and South ends attract to one another. I raised my hand and, in all seriousness, asked if that meant that all refrigerators were "like North" and all magnets made for them were "like South?"

Oh to be a kid again. I loved my childhood. I loved school. I have many more memories I could share but these were the ones that surfaced while I remembered today. I'm sure if I wrote more tomorrow different ones would play out: Like the day Jessica puked the pop "Surge" all over the hallway [I'm pretty sure the company stopped selling Surge after hearing about that incident], or when Kyle [the same bloody-nose-game-Kyle] tried to take my favorite seat by the window when we were in sixth grade and I jumped on his back earning my first pink slip of my elementary career. Or I could even write about the endless "Oregon Trail" memories from Library, or the "Magic Mints" our principal would give us when we had a sick stomach. But for today, these memories will have to suffice.



I have been searching for new living room curtains for about a year. I finally found some that I really like, that will match the green that I now only sort of like. [Oh my! I am too fickle!] Anyway, the hope is that as I add accents to match the curtains, that the green will become a good backdrop, and not just a massive color on the huge walls.

I will post pictures once everything is completed, which may be awhile. But here is a sneak peek at the curtains.

I wanted to bring in all the colors that are in them, so I took a blank canvas that my dad no longer needed/wanted, and splashed some color on it. I was happy with the way it turned out, and love the colors up against the wall, which gives me hope that I may really like the transformation.

Next up: Third bedroom needs painted. Hopefully this will be the project of the week! :)


our closets

"If honor be your clothing, the suit will last a lifetime; if clothing be your honor, it will soon be worn threadbare." -William Arnot

Two days ago I had several hours in the afternoon available. Since this was a rare treat, I decided to do the responsible thing and be productive with that time. I quickly flipped my mental rolodex to "tasks I would like to get done" and the following came to the top of the list: "Organize drawers and closets." This is a task that I really do enjoy, but I know it takes a significant of time to do well and effectively. I have made it a habit to do this every year we've been married [see HERE for our year one attempt!], and always find it rewarding.

I want this post to be honest, so HONESTLY I can say that I didn't think I would have much to get rid of this year. Since this is the third year in a row I have ransacked my clothes, I figured by now I only had the essentials.

Boy was I wrong…and it ended up being quite the slap in the face. After cleaning my closet, and doing a little inventory of my "stock," I was quite embarrassed by the fact that I sometimes dare to utter the phrase husbands across the world dread the most, "I have NOTHING to wear!" Why do we say that? Do we really THINK that? Can we really stand in front of our stuffed closets and drawers and actually let our selfish, Western minds BELIEVE that we need more? Unfortunately I think we often get caught in that trap.

Growing up I never even had a closet. Pause for that to sink it. :) No, my parents weren't trying to punish me [I don't think?!], but in our first home the closets were very small…very, very small. There was no way my mom and dad could fit all of their clothing in their one, tiny bedroom closet. And it wasn't because they lived with excessive amounts of clothing! It was because they would have had to have fit it all in what most of you would deem a small amount of space for a coat closet in your entry way. SO…the equally tiny closet in my bedroom was assigned to Dad. I still remember swinging my bedroom door open and looking at his array of ties. My favorite and least favorite one was one that looked like a fish. It was my favorite because it was so creative; I could almost imagine it coming to life. It was my least favorite because sometimes it freaked me out, hanging on the hook behind the door; I didn't know if it WOULD come to life. I had a a shelf/rack to hang my clothes on though, my shoes scattered the floor like pepper beneath them. Eventually my pants and dresses drug the floor, as I continued to grow. Back then I knew that a new article of clothing was a blessing. It was cherished and prized. I hated to go shopping, but loved the smell and feel of new articles because it wasn't a weekly, and sometimes not even monthly occurrence.

I write this now because I back then, even when our family of four knew no want, we did without a lot of "new" stuff. My parents were very wise with their money. Kali and I never knew the sacrifices they made to support Mom's ability to stay at home. I also think though, that it wasn't just my family that lived like that. I think that more families 20 years ago didn't feel entitled to having new things all the time. They didn't have to stuff their closets so they could feel "trendy," or accepted. It was a simpler time in many ways, and I think our wallets were better for it.

That being said, as a way to purge my guilt a little I want to share some of my findings from the depths of my closet! AHHHH…

Some of the inventory I took is as follows:

Dress pants/slacks: 19.
Skirts: 21
Solid/plain colored tank tops: 34
Cardigans: 30
Shoes: 62

Wow. I was so surprised. I ended up sorting through and getting rid of quite a few of these items, realizing I didn't need and couldn't possibly even USE 4 black cardigans!

I threw away 2 pairs of shoes: My old high school softball cleats that I had hung onto for memories. They were disgusting and worn through with holes. It was time to let them go. And a pair of sandals that I had worn so much the strap actually broke in half. I had worn them a few times with tape and realized that it was probably time to let those go as well. I found 8 other pairs that I simply didn't need, and am donating those soon.

I have a large bag to donate with other findings too, with the total number of items over 50.

My main problem is clearly SHOES! :-) They just ALWAYS fit when nothing else seems to!
I found I hace a slight obsession for flowered shoes:
But I also realized I have some pretty odd shoes as well. The Jelly Shoes just couldn't be justified and I did get rid of those, but the other four I just had to hold onto, if only for one more year. The blue shoes I've had since college when my sister in law gave them to me and they are very comfortable. The plaid shoes I snagged at a garage sale for 2 dollars and they make a black shirt a little more fun to wear in the winter. The silver heels I purchased for around 8 dollars at WalMart when I needed a pair to match my dress for the DOVE AWARDS in Nashville with Kali [They are actually a size too small, but they were the only ones I could find!] And the purple ones I found on a clearance rack and snagged them for under 10 dollars to wear with a crazy purple dress for a formal in college. :-)

I couldn't help but take a picture of these fun, green sandals and laugh! There is a story behind these that I'm sure my mom would LOVE to share sometime, but in a nutshell she split the cost for these with me one time, swearing I would wear them ONCE or TWICE if at all. I have proven her quite wrong, and usually let her know when I'm wearing them with an outfit :-). It's become quite the joke.
I was most shocked to realize I still had these Doc Martens from my high school days! Do you remember how popular Docs were?! I remembered that, but I had forgotten how unbelievably HEAVY they were?! Wowee. I do remember that getting these was quite a treat for Kali and me, and I wore them…or should I say, CLOMPED around in them…quite proudly.
So there you have it, folks, my clean, purged, and selfish closet.
My grandpa made me the white shoe rack in high school. It extends double this length, with the other half being on Brent's side of the closet.
As you can see, he is still trying to find time to clean his side, but I told him I should get the rest of the shoe rack since he doesn't even use it. His response? "No, Kels! I'm cutting you off! If you can't cram them into that side then you don't get to keep them!" :-) I knew I needed him around for a reason!

I challenge you to find the time to clean our your closet…or at least A closet in your house. Get rid of what you don't really NEED or USE [if you need to keep a pair of silver or purple shoes though, feel free :-)]. Find a good, local place to donate your excess too. Then blog about your guilt and STOP BUYING CARDIGANS! :-)


last writing assignment

I know I've been out of school for several weeks now [but this afternoon is the first afternoon I have had NOTHING…which is ridiculous!], but I have wanted to post a few reflections/things from the end of the year. If you have been following my blog for long you know that I adore my students' writing. Hate grading. Adore the writing. Many times when I post some on here, I do so as a type of online "memory box" for myself; it's a way for me to look back.

For the past three years I have ended my classes the same way. My students pick up their beloved/hated writers notebooks and reflect. In Louisville I had longer class periods, so my students wrote EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Many had to get a new notebook 3/4s of the way through the year. Here, since my class time was cut by roughly 20 minutes, my students write at least twice a week, sometimes three times. That is still a lot of writing. So during this last assignment they have much to reflect upon. Many can't believe their improvement. Many can't believe that they wrote about "HIM!" at the beginning of the school year. Many find stories they had meant to go back and finish.

I walk them through the first part of their reflection. I ask them, "What are some of your favorite entries? Where did you IMPRESS YOURSELF with your writing? Where did you write something that you didn't know was in you until it was on the page?"

I then share a bit from Natalie Goldberg where she writes, "If you burn to write, you have to find time to write…We give a lot of names to our excuses, to why we don't want to write or why we're afraid to. Finally, if you want to write, you have to just shut up, pick up a pen, and do it…To write feels better than all the excuses." We talk briefly about how this writing practice forces them to "just shut up and write." Many share that at the beginning of the year they could barely force out a paragraph in the ten minutes that were allowed because they thought the story had to be perfect the first time, or because they were afraid to be creative. "But now," they say amazed, "NOW in the ten minutes I can write a page and a half or MORE if I'm really feeling it!"

I love to see them realize that yes, somedays you just want to write about how mad your sister made you or why your sheep are frustrating animals or about the algebra test you are extremely nervous to take next hour…. but SOMEDAYS you write about a magical castle that has kept the brother you never knew you had locked away for ten years and the journey to save him, OR you write a story from the perspective of a homeless person, or the perspective of your grandmother, or you write about that birthday party when you were 8 years old and you realized that sometimes friends can be mean but your family is always there…SOMEDAYS you write from the heart, and not just your head.

After this discussion I have them write the following on a piece of paper: This year I have become a writer. I have become a writer because… Then I ask them to take the next couple minutes to finish that sentence. I tell them to finish it well and finish it with the truth that they know they ARE a writer.

No one wrote: I'm not a writer. This is lame. And for that I was thankful :) Some of them were honest and shared that they still struggle with it, but that they are improving and know it doesn't have to be perfect every time. And here are some of the other entries:

I have become a writer because I am a new man. The past nine months I have changed. I have grown in the mind. I watched a person that I love deeply die. I watched a love I had for a girlfriend leave. But I have learned how to mold my feelings into words.

I have become a writer because I can write about things I thought I couldn't write about.

I have become a writer because the time was provided for me to.

I have become a writer because it makes me feel like I have someone who listens. Because my teacher has helped me.

I have become a writer because I practice everyday.

I have become a writer because my writing says so. No more sitting there staring at a wall trying to think of something to write…I can do it now!

I have become a writer because I want to show them what they can't see.

I have become a writer because when I pick up a pen and begin to write I feel every wall coming down, every door coming unlocked, and every secret exposed.

I have become a writer because it lets me escape from all the yelling. I write because it's the only way I feel safe. I became a writer to tell my story.

I have become a writer because my teacher has me write in a notebook for ten minutes before class. Writing has helped me get my feelings and thoughts out, and I would just like to say thank you, Mrs. I---.

I have become a writer because I am no longer scared. Writing is easier than I thought and I have no more excuses on why I shouldn't write.

I have become a writer because I know my writing has meaning to someone out there. It might be across the street or across the world, but someone out there needs to hear it.

I have become a writer because Mrs. I--- has been there and pushed me into becoming a better writer. [After this activity this particular student gave me his notebook and said, "I think I should leave this notebook here and you can show other students and say, "This notebook started out with just a guy writing stuff but he turned into a real writer! Look!" :)]

I have become a writer because Mrs. I--- pushed us to write. After awhile it seems natural and somehow therapeutic. I can push my feelings or ideas into a story and finally stop getting bothered by it. I'm happy she pushed us to write. I appreciated it a lot.

This is one of my favorites because this was a kid who fought it often…but occasionally would BLOW our minds when he would share something he wrote. His response is fairly accurate and TOTALLY him: I have become a writer because I had to do it to get my grade, and I figured if I have to do it I might as well write a good one every now and then. :-)

I have become a writer because writing is full of new worlds and uncharted lands.

I have become a writer because my stories are no longer boring. When you read them it doesn't look like a third grader wrote it, and I have learned how to come up with new ideas easier.

I have become a writer because it brings me peace when I hear the soft sound of pencil on paper. Writing makes me feel better, and I just love it!

I have become a writer because I had great encouragement from my teacher. I have become a writer because it felt right when my words hit the paper and it sounded better there than coming out of my mouth. I write because it helps me see who I really am.

I have become a writer because my teacher inspired me to write the best I can.

I have become a writer because it is in my blood. I write without pause and I can't stop myself sometimes.

I have become a writer because I feel the need to. It makes me feel better and whatever I do with what I write is up to me. I can burn it so no one ever sees. I can share it with the world. Or I can save it to look back on. This year I have become a writer because it makes me…me.

I have become a writer because it helps me be an overall better person not having unwanted emotions or troubles floating around inside of me.

I have become a writer because I submerged myself into the world of writing and the art of poetry and came out on the other side as a fresh, new man with a different view on writing.

I have become a writer because I no longer dread writing in my notebook. I can pick it up, open it, and just start writing without even thinking.

I have become a writer because I no longer look at it as an assignment, but something to do for fun. I have learned I enjoy writing more now than what I ever had before.

I have become a writer because I have graduated from just drawing letters. This past school year has helped me learn how to write for fun, not just be forced. I've also learned that it's okay to not write a masterpiece each time I pick up a pencil.

I have become a writer because I've become something better than myself through my writing.

Sigh. I love summer. But I sure love my job, too. :)



This summer has been unbelievably busy already.
Some good busy.
Some just plain busy busy.
Today is busy again. I have my nephews with me and we are getting ready to head to Brent's folks to spend time with the rest of his family that are here visiting because yesterday we had a party for his grandparents' 65 wedding anniversary. [Oh and Saturday we drove to Topeka for a wedding!] I have a couple craft things for my nieces today… because they now expect me to have these things planned! And then I have to head off to a ballgame this evening [summer softball].

But whatever. So is my life.

But this morning…I took 5 minutes to make a cup of DELICIOUSNESS. For Christmas my Aunt Ceann gave me a little bag of heaven in the form of coffee. It is from Ozark Mountain Coffee Company and the flavor is CHOCOLATE CARAMEL TRUFFLE. At first I thought it would be too sweet tasting for me…. but now I know it is delectable.

When friends have come over I have asked them if they like flavored coffee. If there answer is, "Eh, it's okay. I don't mind regular though." Then they definitely don't get any of this bag. If they tell me they like it, and they are a known coffee connoisseur, then I have to cave and share my loot. I probably have enough left to make 8 cups. I hesitate to use it. Often I have made a cup that is pretty weak, just because I don't want to waste any of it. Sometimes I just open the bag and smell it.

Oh deliciousness, thank you for starting this crazy busy day the right way.

Now I must go and lock it up tightly lest someone thinks it's "just another bag of coffee."


Summer vacation thus far

Every teacher's dream is here….summer vacation. And I have been living mine up. The first week I only had to work Monday, and then spent the rest of the time getting my house in order Then that weekend, my first full weekend off, Brent and I packed our bags full and headed towards Nashville. Kali posted a good summary of our trip on her blog HERE, and even uploaded most of my pictures…so I'm not going to :). Go check it out!

After 4 wonderful days with them, we thanked the Lord for great family then jumped back in our car and headed 3 hours north and arrived in Louisville by dinnertime. I was really looking forward to being back for a little bit, but hadn't fully thought about what it would be like to drive past our old apartment…and life. It hit me out of no where and I broke down into tears. As I wiped my cheeks I realized how thankful I still am for the time we spent in Louisville, and for the ways in which God shaped us while we were there. It was a very difficult and trying time, but also a much simpler time for the two of us. As Brent consoled his bubbling mess of a wife, we continued to drive and he dropped me off with some old coworkers and went off to meet up with a couple of his really great guy friends. We were only going to be in Louisville one full day and another 1/2 day [so if you're reading this and wondering why I didn't even let you know or why we didn't stop by…that is why. It was very brief and we didn't even have time for what we thought we would! Next time though…let's get together? :)] My coworkers [read here for my reflection on time with them and scroll to bottom for pictures] and I got together for our second annual "last supper." We laughed until our stomachs hurt as we always do and reflected on what it was like to teach without one another this past year…which we all decided was not nearly as wonderful as teaching together. The next day I was able to go to my old school and visit with many wonderful past colleagues of mine.

Thursday Brent and I fit in a wonderful meal with some great friends before driving Northeast another 2 hours to Florence, KY to see our "lifers" [a term I lovingly assigned them a couple years ago when I decided they would be life-long friends of ours]. We got there later than we had hoped, but ended up staying up until 2:30 that morning because we had SO much to talk about. We spent the remainder of the weekend there, going to museums, shopping [girls], golfing [boys], eating!, dying hair [Meagan went RED!], and of course NERTZING until the wee hours of the morning. Sunday morning came all too quickly and we left early to get back to Louisville for church at the place our hearts miss deeply: Southeast Christian. It was painful to tell the Whites goodbye that morning, and painful to drive two hours back to Louisville on hardly any sleep, and painful to know we had 9 more hours in the car ahead of us: but worshiping back at Southeast was a brief moment of peace for our mourning hearts.

We were on the road back to Missouri by 9:30 our time, and slept like rocks that evening. Mom met us at our house with stuff for tacos…and it was truly wonderful to be home again.


My heart is still aching a little for the people we said ecstatic HELLOS and heartbreaking GOODBYES to last week.

I knew our time with Kali and Dan would be wonderful. It always is. And we see them often enough to know where we stand with them. But the others? It had been over a year since we had seen most of them. I was overwhelmed with emotions as we drove back into town, yes, but also some nerves. I wondered if it would all be the same? I wondered if time had changed us too much? I wondered if our conversations would be filled with too many "remember whens" and not enough of the present. But my fears were abated. From the second I felt their arms around me, things were the same. We couldn't shut up. We couldn't stop laughing. And the goodbyes were just as painful as they were last June when it was "for real." We absolutely love being close to our families here in Missouri. But we often have moments of heartache for the friends we left behind. This vacation was a much needed time for us, and although we are sad it is over, we enjoyed it too much to think it won't happen again.

We drove nearly 1700 miles in 9 days and travelled to/through 5 different states [MO, KY, OH, TN, IN]. Our bank statement took a hit. Our exhausted bodies took a hit. But every moment was totally worth it. Thanks to all of you who fed us, took us into your homes, and entertained us. We love you dearly. We miss you already.