Be Grateful #19 (the last of 2012)

I'm in a foul sort of mood today, which makes me not want to post (especially since I hate not staying on top of my blog)--but this is probably why I need to post to get me out of this mood.

Christmas Eve:  my stocking had a cankle because of a lovely box of See's Candies (my new FAVORITE!), our cats had too much fun with the ribbons and bows, Zach still loves getting LEGO.

We had a good Christmas other than some drama that happened Christmas Eve.  Zach and I are mostly drama free, so when I encounter it, I just break down and want to run.  Argh.

Still, we had a good Christmas.  We did our usual Christmas Eve traditions--rotisserie chicken, A Charlie Brown Christmas, exchanging of presents--and then we went to Hot Springs on Christmas Day.  Our state got hit with some white weather, and it was a bit scary to be driving through it.  (Our usual four-hour trip took two hours longer.)  But we made it safely and got snowed in.  I couldn't believe it that our home in Bentonville didn't get a flake because we got ten inches in Hot Springs!
Zach and I on Christmas Day
He gave me the green scarf with yellow polka dots that I am wearing.

Two days after Christmas, we came back home and got to experience a little snow here.  We've been trying to soak in the last few days of our winter break as well as I am trying to get over these sinus/cold/drainage issues I've had for two weeks now.  I probably should go see my doctor, but I'd really like to wait another day, so we don't have to fork out one more co-pay this year.  *hehe*  This is probably why I am in a foul mood:  I've been not feeling my best, and while we do get a week and a half of for Christmas, I'm not ready to go back.  Where did this time go??  I've been spoiled the past eight years.  For six, I was in school and got a plummy month off each winter.  Then the first Christmas after graduation, I was still unemployed, so I was on break all the time.  Last year, I was recovering, so I didn't go back to work until almost February.  See?  Spoiled, party of one.

snowpocalypse in Hot Springs
I still can't believe we had a VERY WHITE CHRISTMAS IN ARKANSAS!!
And, of course, the only county not touched by the white was the one where we live.  I guess it was good we were out-of-town, so we could enjoy it!

Not to mention that I had a terrible night in the kitchen, and we were supposed to get some more lovely winter weather today--I LOVE SNOW!--and I woke up to rain.  *grumble grumble*

a nice dusting in our neighborhood

Ah, man, I know I am being whiny and annoying to the point that my whining is annoying to myself!  *lol*  So on that note, here on some things I've grateful for in regards to 2012:

1)  my health--we've come a long way from this, baby.
2)  my job--I saw two of my students over the holidays, and I'm excited to see some returning faces along with the new ones.  If only I could get my gear in butt...**
3)  my constant interest in cooking and crafting--these give me something to talk about with folks on our lunch breaks.  *haha*
4)  my husband and our marriage--things aren't always easy, but I know we are willing to work hard to make this last forever.  He brings me more joy than anyone, and he's the one person I can be most like myself.  I keep hearing of folks who went to high school with me that have separated and/or divorced, and it breaks my heart for them.  It is comforting, encouraging, helpful, hopeful, amazing to have someone, along with God, to do life with every day.  I can't wait to see what 2013 holds for us.
5)  my life--I can't wait to see what 2013 holds for me.

In regards to resolutions, this year Zach and I are going to try to get back to eating more fruit and veggies and less meat, to keep the kitchen table cleaned off, to brush the kitties at least every other day, and to make more room in the freezer for cocktail and pilsner glasses.  *lol*

I'm going to continue to be more thankful, to continue cooking and crafting and reading--and to try to keep up with this blog as it is the umbrella for most of my creative outlets!

Happy New Year!!
What makes you feel thankful from 2012?  And how are you pledging to live a better life in 2013?

**Up there, I realized I typed "my gear in butt" instead of "my butt in gear."  I realized it as soon as I hit enter.  But it tickled me so, I decided not to change it.**

Be Grateful #18

Since the events of last Friday, I have become heartbroken.

That wasn't always the case.  On Friday, when reports starting pouring in on my Facebook feed while I was at work, I tried to tune them out.  Friday was supposed to be a happy day after I dropped off cookies at my doctor's office in the morning to come home to pack for our trip to Branson that afternoon.  We left for the weekend after work, and while we talked about the Sandy Hook shooting and gun control on the way, those tragic losses did not occupy my mind fully.

I was able to block out the news on Saturday as well after we headed to Silver Dollar City to see the lights, drink wassail, eat funnel cakes.  But I started to hear more about the children and those who tried to protect them.

Then on Sunday, when I first saw Emilie Alice Parker's face on a friend's page, my heart just cracked.
Just broke.
Strangely, rather than wishing never to have a child in such a fallen world, I longed for one.  I wanted to wrap my arms around a child and cry and pray over that sweet life.  I'm not a mother yet, and I don't know if I will ever be, but I felt like a mother when I saw all of those sweet faces, the adults included.  I've seen several people comment that this has been worse than 9/11, and in so many ways, I agree.

I don't want to say that it's worse that children were gunned down as opposed to teens or adults because the loss of any life--even Adam Lanza's--is a tragedy.  But somehow, it is worse.  So much worse.  These were babies, some who probably hadn't even experienced loss or death or any kind of fear.  I keep seeing Olivia Engel's smiling face and thinking of Noah Pozner's twin sister Arielle who has been left behind.  And I keep picturing Lauren Rousseau, who was supposed to go see The Hobbit with her boyfriend last Friday, and Rachel D'Avino, whose boyfriend was supposed to propose on Christmas Eve.  Of the teacher who told her small pupils she loved them, so that the gunfire wasn't the last thing they heard.  Not so long ago, all of these adults were six and seven, too.

While I would never have wished this to happen and pray that it never happens again, I am thankful for how we have responded.  I believe it was Ann Curry who challenged her viewers to commit to acts of kindness in memory of those who were lost last Friday.  I have seen several people make contributions to help grieving Newtown.  I watch as we vow to spend more time with those we love and to make known to them how much we love them.  And we have.

This week, I am thankful for life, for love, for the Cross that gives us the greatest freedom to live and to love each other forever.


Please visit here to help this community.

Please join me today in praying for Charlotte, Daniel, Rachel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Dawn, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Anne Marie, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Lauren, Mary, Victoria, Benjamin, Allison, Nancy, and Adam, too--and all of their families and friends as they mourn their tragic losses.

I'll be back tomorrow with my gratitude journal for the week as I ran out of time last night to post.

Be Grateful # 17

Last night, we saw a production of Tennessee Williams' play Period of Adjustment through Theatre Squared.  I enjoyed it but I had been hoping for a laugh-out-loud play like the one we saw in September.  I am still processing it.  Thankfully, my husband offered a brilliant analysis of it this morning on our way to work that helped me put it in perspective.  And I really adored this '60s set.

1)  I am thankful I am DONE with this semester (other than entering final grades on Monday)!
2)  I am thankful I have time now to craft, cook, clean, and enjoy Christmas.  :)
3)  I am thankful that I started working on next semester already.  I am also thankful that I was very productive this week, working away in my office to Christmas music.
4)  I am thankful for new experiences, like getting to try Bordino's FINALLY (AMAZING sirloin and creme brulee!) and seeing new plays and going to Silver Dollar City for the first time this weekend.  And I am thankful to have these experiences with new and old friends.
5)  I am thankful I'm learning what makes really great writing while still appreciating grammatical topics.  (No, I don't mean to imply that grammar is not important to writing because it is essential to and inherent in it, but sometimes, you have bigger fish to fry than deferred prepositions.)  I just want folks to understand and appreciate why grammars exist in language, so then they can break all of those prescriptive rules to have fun.  ;)
6)  I am thankful for feeling and being appreciated.  For my students' final exam, they had to write an in-class argumentative essay in which they argued for the grade they felt they deserve (in addition to a small grammar component).  I so enjoyed grading them, and not just because my students often praised and thanked me for my work.  Many laughs and even a few tears resulted as they crowed--sometimes deservingly and sometimes not--about what they accomplished and lamented their failures.  I learned so much about them and what they experienced in and out of the classroom this year, and it allowed them to take an honest look at their own strengths and weaknesses and how much they progressed through this course and through college.  (It's Comp. I, so for many, this is the first semester in school.)  My greatest hope is that I help set them up to be successful in college, that they learn a lot about how to improve their writing, and that they enjoy the process.  Back in August, I came up with this idea for my final exam, and I am so glad I used it because it allowed me to assess my students, allowed them to assess me, allowed them to assess themselves, and allowed me to assess myself.  I am ready to come back in the spring even bigger and better!

Be Grateful #16 and Baking--LOTS of Baking!

Well, I failed at keeping up with this again.  *hehe*  Yet I think it works out (like the week of Thanksgiving) because I plan on doing a post on Friday, but you'll find out why in a minute.

I was afraid I was going to drop these.  They were each filled to the rim with goodies!

You see, this week is FINALS WEEK--May the odds be ever in our favor!--which means last week, I was winding down the semester, doing final grading of final assignments, etc. etc. etc.  This week, I have been writing my finals, entering grades, etc. etc. etc.  AND ON FRIDAY I WILL BE DONE!  And then we will be off to Silver Dollar City for a little Christmas celebration with some friends.  This is why I will have another grateful post--because this week marks the end of the semester!  I began this journal to keep me going through the semester, and it really has helped.  I look forward to continuing though I may take a break until January 14.

Before I forget, I have to mention what I did this weekend:  BAKING!

So. much. baking.  I baked two batches of sugar cookies Friday morning (from about nine to noon), then I headed into work for a few hours, went to the holiday reception, and won a basket of soup!

Friday night, I whipped up two batches of homemade marshmallows (French vanilla and mint) and left them to less sticky?  Whatever they did, they did it overnight.

Saturday morning, I got up and was back in the kitchen about 10.  I decorated my sugar cookies with royal icing, nonpareils, and colored sugar.  I mixed up two batches of my brown sugar cookie dough, adding Christmas Cadbury balls to half a batch, peanut butter chips and Heath bits o' brickle in the other half, and white chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in the second batch.  In between baking these, I melted almond bark and dipped pretzel sticks.  Once all of the cookies were done, I cut up the marshmallows.  I was in the kitchen about 13 hours Saturday.  I LOVED it and didn't have a breakdown for the first time ever.  ;)

Sunday, we cleaned a bit and visited Zach's aunt and uncle.  I put together a package of cookies for them, and when we got back, I put together my other tins.  I double Saran-Wrapped two to four cookies at a time, and I tied up marshmallows and pretzel rods in little treat bags.  Zach dug out boxes for me, and I signed Christmas cards and printed out my little menus to stick inside:

I assembled each box together, which took some time since I couldn't just wrap the goodies up and distribute them then because certain sugar cookies were going to certain people, namely those with kids got stocking cookies with their kids' initials on them.  (Some of our close friends adopted a brother and sister this year, and this is the first time they have had a real family and gotten into Christmas.  Then I have several young best nieces and nephews I had to treat not to mention my real niece and nephew.  :)

Lastly, I taped and addressed each box after nestling it in crumpled newspaper or those inflated pillows.  Even after all of that, I was perfectly calm though EXHAUSTED.  I did have a bit of a panic attack when I realized how much it was going to cost to mail nine packages of cookies across the state.  Whew.

Anyway, with all of that, I am only now getting around to writing my gratitude entry for last week.  Better late than never!

1)  I am thankful for this sweet time of year.
2)  I am thankful for friends afar and near.
3)  I am thankful for finals week and my precious, precious students and how much they have learned, even if it didn't get reflected in some of their final essays at times because, well, it's the end of the semester and EVERYBODY (including this lady) is a bit lazy when it comes to school.
4)  I am thankful we have lived in our lovely home, The Owlery, for two years and a week as of today. :)
5)  I am thankful for my husband who keeps me smiling and laughing most of the time.
6)  I am thankful for playing hide-and-seek/peekaboo with our kitties.
7)  I am really thankful for those white chocolate chip and butterscotch chip cookies.  Those are my new FAVORITES.  I'm making some more later this week.  ;)
8)  I am thankful for always having my family and getting to come home.
9)  I am thankful I am growing wiser and more mature each year.

Hope you are enjoying this season!  What are you grateful for this time of year?