Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012: Cut It Off

Lemme just say that I am SO glad to see 2011 go. A handful of beautiful things have happened this year - namely graduating, getting married to Blake, and seeing my mom get remarried - but the rest of the year has, quite frankly, sucked. It's been a tough, tough year. But God is always good. That's the nice part. Even in the worst of times, He is still good, still proving Himself, still working in us and fighting for us. So, I suppose being able to see that firsthand was beautiful. :)

For 2012, I want something different. I am praying that God blesses this year and gives us a reprieve from the troubles of 2011. I want to enjoy life, to be fully present, to be changed. And each time I think about the "theme" of 2012, I land amongst the difficult words of Mark...

"And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell..."
Mark 9:43-45

Cut it off. It's better to be crippled, to be lame, the be half-blind than to be cast into hell. It's better to be mocked, to be ridiculed, to be poked fun at than to be thrown into hell. It's better to be judged, to be questioned, to be a source of bewilderment than to be thrown into hell.

What is it that needs to be cut off? What can I clearly see in my life that needs to be severed at the bone? What is it in your life?

Most of us pride ourselves in dancing around sin. I do it, too. We make some excuse, blame it on our culture, attribute it to the faults of our parents. But do we take heed to the words of Mark? Cut it off. Not lessen it, not put up boundaries, not take a break... cut it off.

For me, the things I need to cut off the most can be accessed by a button or two. This year, I have really (and this is so hard to confess to the 7 of you who will read this!) become quite a couch potato. After things started settling from the tornado, I started using the TV to zone out. I needed some sort of brain vacation, and TV was my vice. I hate admitting that because it's kind-of embarrassing. I thought that working full-time and tutoring on top of that would leave little room for TV, but thanks to the DVR and streaming Netflix through the Wii, vegging out in front of the light of the TV has been easier than ever. In fact, the TV is on right now... Saturday morning news.

Though Mark's words are radical - cut it off - I'll be honest, I'm not ready for radical yet. I'm not ready to say "I'm not watching TV in 2012" because I know I will stick to it for a while and then end up watching more TV than ever about halfway through the year. So, I am going to just set up more boundaries and try to phase TV back out of my life. Believe it or not, there was a time when I really didn't watch much TV at all. And, what is most important is to watch only things that are holy, good, and true. If a show evokes sinful feelings in me (covetousness, jealousy, anger, etc.), then I need to simply turn it off.

But more than anything, I want 2012 to be a year of getting back to the things I love most. I want to make room for the gifts God has given me. I want to write more, journal more, get back to memorizing Scripture, play my ukelele more, make more crafty-craft projects... I want to live more in the present and less in the tube. I want to focus on the everlasting, not on story lines that I'll forget in a month. I want to know more about King David than the King of Queens (yes, I went there!). I want to know more about the prophecies of old than about Oscar predictions. I want to know more about myself, too. It's a simple wish for 2012 - to intentionally de-clutter my heart and my mind so I can make more room for Jesus.

Maybe I am not being quite as severe as Mark intends, but I'll get there. I'll be praying this year for God to reveal the things I need to cut off, the things I need to put away, the things I can live without - he things that will hinder me from entering His Kingdom. Because I would rather live impaired on this earth than be unwelcome in the eternal Kingdom of Heaven.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

New Year's Resolution Contenders

Yes, yes, I know, it's Christmas Eve. If I write about anything today, it should be about the excitement I have about the holiday. But, today is a serious time to think about the upcoming holiday - New Year's. Last year, I was lame and didn't really make any resolutions. Or did I? Obviously, whatever they were or might have been were not that important. I know I didn't post about any resolutions. Apparently I had WEDDING and GRADUATING on the brain, so I guess those were some major accomplishments of 2011.

Anyhoo... now the question is what to resolve for 2012? Here are some ideas:

1. Create a bedtime routine and be in bed by 10:30 on week nights. I have been trying to practice this one. It started with 10:00 p.m., but that's just too early. 10:30 sounds reasonable.

2. GET AWAY FROM THE TV. Seriously. This whole Netflix-on-the-Wii thing has not been healthy! We've been TV addicted for the past several weeks. Not to mention King of Queens on the DVR. That's just asking for trouble.

3. This one is a definite resolution: Read the Bible through with Blake. The church we've been attending is doing a read-through-the-Bible plan as a church using a chronological Bible. I'm super pumped about it! The sermons and small group lessons are also going to be based around the weekly readings, so I am really excited about it. I can't wait to get started next weekend!

4. Utilize the Cricut and my baking skills more often.

5. Spend 20 minutes a day cleaning. Yeah, right.

6. Learn some new chords on the ukelele and start using it in my library lessons.

7. Turn all of my coat-hangers in the closet backwards. Whichever clothes have not been turned around by June 1 go to Goodwill.

8. Save money for a small summer vacation.

9. Save money for an entertainment center and/or futon.

10. Spend less money eating out; spend more money buying awesome stuff (like art) for our apartment. :)

These all sound like great ideas... I'll probably keep 'em all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jesus, Lord at thy Birth

6And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Luke 2: 6-7 (ESV)

A tiny baby, and yet a King. God's perfect plan wrapped in earthly love. An innocent baby born to die an innocent Lamb. 

I can't imagine, though I try, what thoughts were running through Mary's head as she carried, delivered, and held this miracle child. He was completely flesh, completely human, completely man. And yet he was a King, the Son of God, the Most High. He was Emmanuel, God with us. He was the long awaited one, the heir to the throne of David. 

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
with the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord at thy birth
Jesus, Lord at thy birth

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

all i want for christmas....

No, I don't want my two front teeth. But I do want the roots of one of my molars to be healed and made whole! Apparently the roots of your teeth can calcify to protect a dying root (or roots) and my body thought it would be a great idea to go ahead and put some bone fragments in the roots of my poor little tooth. Add another random dental health adventure to the list.

I didn't even think I needed root canal treatment - I knew my tooth hurt (the way the other one did before my first root canal treatment), but I just thought I was being overly aware of a little toothache. Nope. But, no big deal. My endodontist is the bomb and having to back next Friday to finish the procedure means another hefty dose of N2O (it is expensive to get, but soooooo worth it!).

In other news, Arnold ate an entire box of cordial cherries yesterday. I REALLY knew better than to leave them within his reach, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Stupid of me, I know. He ate the whole box - 10 cordial cherries. I wasn't alarmed at the chocolate consumption because this isn't the first time he's eaten chocolate in large proportions. He was fine, puked it up in the hallway a few hours later, and seems to have slept just fine in his crate. It was a fabulous evening.

I went to bed around 8pm last night. I just couldn't stay awake any longer. My head had been hurting all day plus the frustration about the root canal procedure just wore me out. It was a good idea to go to bed early - I woke up feeling refreshed and ready for another day! Just two more days until GLORIOUS CHRISTMAS BREAK!!!! I can't wait to wake up late (meaning... 7:30) on Thursday!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


 "All choir members need to come to the cafeteria at 2 o'clock today for practice."

Those fifteen little words sent me to tears. Not hysteric tears, just the embarrassing kind that are noticeable enough not to pass for the old "ugh, my contact is bothering me" lie. They weren't supposed to have choir practice today and I was supposed to finish my 3-part writing lesson. My cooperating teacher gave me a hug and said we'd figure out another time to get my writing lesson in before it was due.

That semester, I learned more about being flexible than I did about how to teach. There was always something due, always something going on, and always something getting in the way of me completing my assignments. But, I learned to make-do. I learned to adjust, to reschedule, to relax. And in the end, everything got turned in!

The past two days at work, I've been able to flex my flexible muscles and just enjoy the ride. The library has basically been shut down for meetings and DIBELS testing since Friday of last week. On Monday, a teacher came running down to the library asking if I could fill in for him because his sub request never filled. Awesome for me, because I really had nothing to do! So, flexible Katie hung out in 3rd grade most of the day. Yesterday, I was supposed to go on a little excursion with some students and I'd been looking forward to it for a week. I even wrote about it in my journal! And then I got to school and a 5th grade teacher needed me to sub for him. At first, I was a little sad because I really wanted to go on the trip. But, then I flexed some more flexibility and wound up hanging with his students (which was fun because they were working on their math raps!). Who knows what will happen today!

I have been really proud of myself the past two days. Back in the day, I'd get all in a tizzy when plans changed at the last minute (both at work and at home). It really knocked the wind out of me when things had to change. But, I've learned to just roll with it. Just go with the flow, adjust, readjust, breathe. No big deal. There is not much in life that is really worth me getting worked up for. Not to say I don't stand up for myself or that I'm just a pushover, but.... I only buck when necessary. Life's too short to spend it frustrated and angry over things you just really can't control.

Monday, December 12, 2011

milk & cookies

I may be 26 years old, but I just love milk & cookies for dessert at the end of the day.

My waistline may not appreciate that habit, but... oh well!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

saturday mornings

Since we've been married, Saturday mornings have looked like this:

Me waking up early (usually sometime before 8), drinking a cup or two (or three!) of yummy coffee while browsing Pinterest and watching home remodel/makeover shows.

Sometime around 9 or 10, I wake up Blake from his much-needed rest.... It's a happy day!

Blake usually has "dog duty" and is responsible for taking Arnold out to pee/poop. But, since I am a sweet wife, I take Arnold out on Saturdays. This morning, I took him out (sans-leash 'cause I'm a rebel!) and started thinking about our Saturday morning "routine". It's so relaxing, so calm.

The thought crossed my mind that we will eventually add kids to the mix and my Saturday morning routine will look much different. No more waking up slowly, lounging around and indulging in my own hobbies. I started to have a little mini panic moment - Do I even WANT to have kids? No more relaxing Saturdays? I'd have to get up and feed the kid and entertain it and play with it and eventually watch annoying Saturday morning cartoons... 

And I looked at Arnold and realized that I've been taking care of him for almost six years (and Elaine for 1 1/2). It's meant walking in the freezing cold and in the rain, adjusting my schedule to ensure he isn't home alone too long, arranging for someone to take care of him when we go out of town. It's meant taking care of both pets when they're sick, cleaning up poop and puke, emergency visits to the vet's office, training, discipline, whininess (that'd be from Elaine), coming home to expensive chocolate ripped into and spread all over the floor. Sure, they are "just pets," but they're good training. We take care of our pets because we love them, even when it's terribly inconvenient and monotonous (and gross). I'm sure readjusting my schedule to suit the needs of my child(ren) will be just as easy. :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A list.

1 trip to the NICU
1 allergic reaction to Ceclor
3 concussions
1 diagnosis of scoliosis
2 partially fake front teeth
3 crowns
1 root canal
2 wisdom teeth extractions
1 set of stitches on forehead
1 broken arm
1 broken toe
1 bout of tendonitis
1 appendectomy
1 conservative surgery
1 tonsillectomy
1 diagnosis of ADHD (so many things made sense after that diagnosis!!)
2 bouts of bronchitis
2 fainting spells
3 trips to the ER (resulting in a few of these procedures)
1 "bubble study" echocardiogram (that was fun!!)
1 diagnosis of PFO (which about made me pee in my pants!)
countless x-rays
2 ultrasounds
at least 3 CT-scans

I just think that list is hysterical.

And it makes no sense! I am practically the healthiest person ever. An ultrasound tech once told me I had "beautiful organs" that needed to be in a textbook. My cardiologist said I had an "athletes' heart" (and I am obviously no athlete). My dentist loves my teeth and I brush AND floss twice daily!

I have to say, though, the coolest experience was having an EKG (echocardiogram). It was merely a final step to rule out a potential heart problem (glad to say my heart is healthy!), so I wasn't nervous or worried about it. It was so amazing to see my own heart fluttering on the ultrasound screen. The doctor was kind enough to show me all the chambers and I got to watch it beat for a little while.

Today I'm just thankful to be healthy. I'm thankful for being taken care of when I'm sick. :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

SOC Sunday: Health Care Crisis

I tend to stay away from anything too political here on my blog, but the whole health care drama hits very close to home. It actually hits my pocket book every month... pretty hard. And come January 1, it's going to start hitting even harder.

I have been on my own independent Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama plan since I turned 25. Even though Obama extended the health care age limit to 26, it was cheaper for my mom (since she is single) to come off the family plan and for me to get my own plan. It wasn't terribly expensive - maybe $100 or so? I had a dental rider, too. My co-pays for visits were $40 (where they used to be $20) and the plan covered most prescriptions with a reasonable co-pay.

Last November, BCBS sent me a letter saying my premium was going up, my plan changing, blah blah blah. I honestly didn't have time to worry with it because I was so busy with school. So, my monthly premium went up to $115, my deductible stayed the same, but my co-pays for prescriptions went up.

This November, I got ANOTHER letter with the same news - monthly premium raised to $135, same deductible, same co-pays. I just couldn't take it anymore, so I switched to a new plan.

On January 1, I'm going to be covered by a low premium, high-deductible plan. I lose my dental rider, but my monthly premium will be less than $100. I guess the advantage is that I will really only pay for medical care that I actually use (and I am hardly ever sick and take no prescriptions). I can only pray that nothing significant happens, and I pray even harder that I can get a full-time teaching job so I can get on with the state's insurance. Despite the fact that teachers' insurance premiums are rising, they'll be a welcome relief to what I am having to pay now!!!!

That is all!

This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…
  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
  • Link up your post below.
  • Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

O, Christmas Tree...

One of my many finds on Black Friday was a brand spankin' new Christmas tree. It's a 7.5 footer, labeled as a "pencil" tree (although there's nothing skinny about it), and it takes up more than its fair share of space in our tiny little apartment. As far as we can figure, there's only one place for a Christmas tree in our apartment - the dining room.

You can see the tree from the living room (and from the glass patio doors), which I like. But, I don't like that there's only one foot of space between the tree and the table on one side. :) Oh well... that's tiny apartment life for ya. Next year, we may figure out a way to rearrange the living room so we can put the tree there, but it's up and decorated in the dining room and it's staying put!

Regardless of where the tree is or how big it is (I'll probably complain one day of how small it is once we live in a bigger place....), there's one sure thing to love about the tree:

Our ornaments. 

Blake's mom and I both have a penchant for expensive Christmas ornaments, so it didn't help that we went shopping for ornaments together this year. Thankfully, she's a sweet mother-in-law, so she paid the bill for a few of our new trinkets! I also collect Belle ornaments, so we bought the newest Hallmark Belle and we also started a Charlie Brown collection for Blake. I was just so excited to get our ornaments on a tree that wouldn't fall over! The tree is missing it's bow, but I'm getting that today... guess I could've waited to take a picture of it until then!

Here's to our first Christmas in our tiny little apartment (and to my first photo collage)!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

five minutes or less

I have exactly five minutes or less to type this little post, brush my teeth, gather my things, and head to my little elementary school library. A responsible adult would probably skip the type-this-little-post part, but I'm neither responsible nor an adult (you don't become those things 'til you're 30, right?), so here me are, mateys.

There's just a little somethin' somethin' I want to share:


Yay! How exciting is that? Sure, I want to sleep late every morning and I am always running through the doors right on time but, once I'm there, I'm loving it.

I love that I get to see ALL the kids in the school. From Pre-K up to 5th grade... I get to know all of them. They may only come in for thirty minutes each week (and of course, quick random trips throughout the week) but it's just enough time. I hope that the little time I'm able to spend with them is time that they feel encouraged, motivated, and loved. But they also know I mean business - I don't let them get away with anything and there's a certain few that I keep a special eye on throughout the day, always checking on them and asking, "What color are you on today?". ;)

And I love the teachers and staff there. Every single person has been friendly and welcoming. That has been a blessing in and of itself. I've step foot in many schools where no one even takes a second to speak to you. I feel like I'm a part of the team, and I appreciate it so much.

God knew what he was doing this whole time... this whole journey of unemployment and feelings of failure and rejection were worth getting to this point. I never expected to be in the position I'm in now, but I absolutely love it. And I'm wondering if it's what I should have been doing all along.

To apply for library [grad] school or not.... that is now the question.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

tiny spaces

As I mentioned in my post from Sunday, our apartment isn't very big. When I first walked into it, I was nervous that we had made a mistake by moving into a place so small. We have some pretty large pieces of furniture (hello, 9ft couch! and butcher block table for 6!). I was terrified our stuff wouldn't fit.

I was wrong!

Most of our furniture fit. We had to leave behind an armchair, our two end tables for the living room, and we keep two of our dining chairs in the storage closet outside to maximize daily living space. But, for the most part... everything fit.

Then I was concerned that we had too much kitchen stuff. Wrong again! We still have room to spare and I'm telling you we have A LOT of kitchen stuff for newlyweds! I am so proud of the way we have our kitchen organized that I want to show it off... so here ya go! :)

Plates & things. We have ten settings of every day china (on the bottom shelf) and six plastic place settings. I love the little plastic stacker things - they have been a life saver for this tiny space!  

 The pantry is still a work in progress... it's narrow but deep, making it difficult to access items in the back. So, I put in those plastic bins so that you can slide items in and out easily. It's kind-of like having pull-out drawers in your pantry except waaaaaay cheaper!
 All my baking goodies are up top (there's actually more stuff behind what you can see, believe it or not). The snack basket was a must... all those little things we like to nibble on fit nicely right inside the basket!
 This cabinet is may not make the most sense as to how it's organized, but it works. Soups, bread crumbs, and stocks are close to the oven & prep area. Our cheese graters, hand mixer, toaster, and glass baking dishes are in there, too. Like I said, random... but it works. 
 This is my favorite cabinet to open! The cookware fits so nicely and the lid rack makes me smile every time!!! 

 The prep area.... I am hoping to move the canisters somewhere else soon because they just get in the way right now. And let me just say, someone kick me in the pants if I ever CHOOSE beige countertops. They are a pain in the neck to keep clean!!!
 Baking, measuring, & mixing cabinet. 
 Baking supplies. 
 Another great purchase - the magnetic knife thingy. It is above our stove.... the only bad part is that if you need the scissors before your first cup of coffee, you might accidentally grab them poorly and they might drop behind the stove.... oops. And my measuring tools are on the wall with cheap Command hooks. One day I'll upgrade!
 Spicy spice cabinet. I went crazy with my Target gift card and bout a three-tiered shelf thingy and it's great for all those bottles and spice things. (We also have a spice rack that sits on a counter). The little white basket has pouches - ranch packets, taco seasoning, etc. 
 The white things are these snap-together organizing trays. They're awesome because you can customize the layout to fit your drawers. I also have some in the bathroom cabinet drawers to hold my makeup.

 Under the sink is also fairly organized, although a bit crammed. Stuff we use most often is in the front, extras and other things in the back (in another plastic basket!). 

There's some other cabinets that I didn't show... but, I think the point is clear! I'm so happy we didn't have to leave behind any of our kitchen things. Every time I go in the kitchen, I breathe a little sigh of relief that it is mostly finished, mostly organized, and that it is such a fun little place to be. Blake and I cook together almost every night and it's such a treat. We have some great conversations in there! I never thought I could love a tiny little apartment kitchen so much, but I do! I want to marry it! (That's weird.)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

SOC Sunday: Cleaning the Hizzle

I'm not really sure how many square feet our apartment is, but it's not a lot! We are definitely finding it difficult to keep the ???# of square feet clean. For a couple of weeks, we would clean on Saturday mornings, splitting the apartment in half and each taking a half. I had the kitchen, dining room, living room, and Blake had the bathroom and bedroom (and usually the laundry). It was working well.... until we went out of town.

Being away on a Saturday threw us off. We are extremely busy on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday, so cleaning during the week is tough. Usually, I get home around 5:15 and on those three days, Blake or I have to leave the apartment to go to work around 6:45. Not much time to cook, clean up dinner, and clean again.

Then, I divided the house up into chores that we could do that would only take 15 minutes a day. That hasn't worked!!!

And now we went the whole weekend without cleaning because yesterday we put up the Christmas tree (which was a total fail... see previous post!).

We have a great system for the kitchen - Blake loads & runs the dishwasher at night and I unload it in the mornings. We keep the sink empty for the most part by putting our dishes straight into the dishwasher as we use them throughout the day. That little routine has been a major help. But, figuring out other routines has been more challenging! We'll get there. I just hope we get there sooner rather than later because the clutter is killing me!!

This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…
  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
  • Link up your post below.
  • Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.

rockin' around

Yesterday's goal was simple: retrieve Christmas tree and ornaments and other Christmas decor from mom's storage shed in Ralph and then put up Christmas tree and decorations. Normally I follow the "rule" and put up the tree after Thanksgiving, but we will be going out of town next weekend and so I wanted to go ahead and put it up (because I love to admire my tree every year for as long as possible!). 

Last weekend, I considered buying a new Christmas tree because the one I already had was old and kinda wimpy looking. Trying to be realistic about our budget, I decided we would just use the Wal-Mart tree I got on sale right before Christmas in 2005.

We arrived at home around 3 o'clock with the Christmas stash and got to work. I put up the stockings, our wreath, some of our little Christmas trinkets, and put the last touches on the tree. It was so pretty! We have some sentimental ornaments - and several that cost upwards of $20 (which is pretty expensive for an ornament, if you ask me!). It was so exciting to put up our tree with our ornaments. Blake put all the empty ornament boxes and the tree box in our storage closet and we cooked dinner. 

A couple of hours later, I walked into the kitchen (passing the Christmas tree on the way) to get a cookie. I was standing at the stove, where I could see the tree out of the left corner of my eye. All of a sudden....


And the sound of ornaments breaking. 

The tree just.... snapped. The base of the tree broke under the weight of all of our awesome ornaments and down it came. Thankfully none of our "good" ornaments were broken - just the plain ones. But, the tree is now in two pieces in the dining room still half-decorated. 

After fluffing and primping and all that fun stuff.

 In a sea of ornaments.... 

       Some of the casualites (and a dog toy).....                            .....and there ya have it. 

That's what we get for trying to put up an early tree. Never again, I tell ya. Never again.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Teacher Clothes

There's this link-up about "work clothes" that I really want to do.... 'cept I can't 'cause it's a link-up for moms. Last time I checked, my only children have four paws so I guess I don't technically get to be in the "mom" category quite yet!

But.... during this year of being a librarian, I'm trying to shake up the traditional librarian wardrobe. And I really wanna share!!!!

Generally, when you think of librarians, you think of this:

But, Katie Ball will not be labeled as a frumpy librarian! No way, no how!

So, when I found out I got the job, I got my hairs cut. (Okay, seriously please don't make fun of me taking pictures of myself.... it's already awkward enough!!!)

It's ssssooooo short! I LOVE IT! The second picture is meant to feature the back of my head, but it's really tough to take a picture with a iPhone 3. If I had an iPhone 4 or 5........... ;) 

And the hubby let me buy some new "teacher clothes". I have always had a hard time trying to decide what is appropriate for school and what is not. I want to look professional, modest, and authoritative (i.e. like I am actually 26, not 16), but sometimes I end up looking like Mrs. Frumpy McFrumperson. So, I made myself try on things that were a little out of my normal comfort zone... like boots. And, ya know what, I ended up with some great stuff! I think I will post a picture or two a week of what I'm wearing to work and eventually I'll find a link-up (or maybe you have suggestions) that doesn't require me to go through childbirth first! 

The lighting in our bedroom is terrible, but you get the idea. From the bottom up: 
- Rampage chocolate brown suede wedge boots from Belk (got 'em on clearance + coupon for <$30!)
- skinny jeans from Chicco's that were FREE because my mother-in-law gave them to me! She bought them for herself and then decided she didn't want them. Score! I refer to them as my "mom (in law) jeans"!
- black long-sleeved shirt from Old Navy ($10) 
- army green short-sleeved knitted sweater from Old Navy ($9 on clearance)
- and that bulky thing on my arm is my Timex watch, which I got for Christmas last year and rarely ever leave home without!

I think I'm doin' alright for a librarian! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

weird things i google: cat pee

I am a Google-er. I Google just about everything. If I have a question, my answer is Google. Get it? Got it? Good.

Today's random Google: "cats peeing on clothes."

That's right. I need to know why cats pee on clothes. Because Elaine has decided that it's fun to pee on our clothes.

When we moved into the apartment, we got Elaine a covered litter box. At my mom's house, she had been able to go outside and pee in the yard. She wasn't a huge fan of the covered box at first, but she seemed to get used to it. One day not too long after the littler box switch, we left a laundry basket of folded clothes out and she cuddled in them. And she also peed in them. We figured the litter box was the issue. That was a few weeks ago. In the past week, she has peed on two more items: Blake's jeans and my pajama pants. It's gross!!

Part of the problem is that we occasionally leave clothes on the floor. (You know you've done it, too!) Typically, we always put clothes in the hamper but we have been a teeny tiny bit lazy the past week. So, maybe the problem is that we are leaving our clothes out and that's the source of the problem. But, Google says cats urinating outside of the litter box is the #1 sign of a UTI.

She has been ridiculously whiny lately and has been much more calm and cuddly than usual. I have wondered if she doesn't feel well. She is eating, though, and doesn't show any other signs of being sick.... except for the whining and peeing.

So, what is wrong with my cat? How do I keep her from peeing on our clothes?! Google doesn't seem to have any real definitive answers other than to see the vet and that ain't happenin' because she poops when she has to ride in the car........... oh, Elaine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

most popular kid in the school

That's me.

Okay, maybe not the most popular. But, I'm up there on the list of cool peeps to know.

At least that is how I feel when I walk down the hallway. It doesn't take long for me to wander out of the library before I start hearing, "Hey, Mrs. Ball!" in the hallway. Little "hello's" coming from all over the place.

I don't mind it, except that I am pretty confident that students in the hallway (particularly if they are in line) are supposed to be silent. To keep them from getting in trouble, I have started ignoring them when they talk to me in the hallway. I hate that, because I don't want them to take it personally. But,  as much as I love my new "Mrs." title, hearing my name 100 times a day gets a little old.

So, after Thanksgiving, I'm going to try something weird. I'm going to let each class come up with a secret signal - a signal they choose that represents "Hey Mrs. Ball!" so they can silently "speak" to me in the hallway. It could be a wink, a thumb's up, a head nod... I don't really care! Part of me thinks it's a totally ridiculous idea and that they are going to think I'm crazy. But, they might also think it's the coolest thing ever... and that I am the coolest librarian ever.... so, I'm gonna take that risk. :)

the circle

They say winners never quit, and quitters never win. But I have never quit, and yet I am not winning.

And they say if you do what you always do, you'll get what you've always gotten. I don't always do what I always do, and yet I continue to get what I have always gotten.

I try so hard, and only get the same runaround.

I don't really understand what it is about me that keeps me on the fringe, the outskirts, the perimeter. I find myself in this place over and over and over again and despite my attempts at running headlong into the circle, I always get pushed back.

So I guess being on the "outside" is the cool place to be? Or maybe the people in the circle are all just jerks and deserve to be sinfully happy together? Or maybe I belong on the border because there are other people on the border who need to be loved and accepted and appreciated.

No matter the reason, my heart still wants to be in the circle. It always has. And it is hard when reality slaps you in the face and reminds you of who and what you are not. It is hard when the line between "friends" and "people who speak nicely to you when they see you" is marked clearly in the dirt.

Being a girl is really tough sometimes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

SOC Sunday: Christmas Nails

This is my first ever "link-up"! I saw my friend Misty post a SOC (Stream of Consciousness) Sunday post last week and I loved the idea. Five minutes of time, brain flow, no editing, DONE! And you can write about anything that's on your mind. Today my mind is on.... uhhhh..... what it's always on at this time of year: What I want and how I want to stop wanting things so much!!!!

Why am I obsessed with my fingernails lately? Maybe it's because I am too cheap to make regular visits to the nail salon or maybe it's because I can finally browse Pinterest again or maybe it's because I just like nail polish. Yesterday, I made a list of nail polishes I want for Christmas. The list was ridiculous. NAIL POLISH.

I remember being in 11th grade and getting nail polish for Christmas. At that point in my life, I was not a fan of nail polish and I took it SO personally that my parents got me a Christmas present (it was a set of like... 10 polishes) that did not reflect who I was as a person. I was so offended! I felt like my parents didn't know me. They also got me a dumbell set and scale that year, which I was also offended by, even though I requested them!!

I spent that whole Christmas day crying. It was ridiculous. Parents, I'm sorry!!!! I was such a bratty kid. I think I still have my bratty moments, but I'm constantly working on my attitude. The nail polish Christmas was one I'll never forget though I desperately wish I could!

So, back to this Christmas. It's so hard for me not to get all wrapped up in Christmas gifts. Gifts are one of my main "love languages" and so giving and receiving gifts is like.... one of my favorite things on earth. So, this week I'm going to try to lay off the Pinterest wish lists and focus more on real life.... and more on learning how to do my own manicures. ;)

This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…
  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
  • Link up your post below.
  • Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.

Friday, November 11, 2011

the land of the living

After four and a half months of being married, three moves, and a brief stint in the unemployment sector, WE HAVE INTERNET! We told ourselves we wouldn't get internet until we had some bills paid off and felt comfortable enough to add another expense to our monthly bills. Not that internet is all that expensive, but we both have iPhones and could technically function without internet.... except that my iPhone is turning 3 in a few months and it doesn't always like to cooperate. Plus I couldn't access my blog via my iPhone! So, here we are.

A lot has changed in just the couple of months that I have not posted. We moved into a cute little apartment and I have a job at an elementary school that should last until the end of the school year! I was offered an extended substitute position as a librarian at an elementary school. It was a complete God-send, because I have been considering getting my master's in library science. I am still tutoring in the afternoons, which also gives us a little extra income and I just love the little girl I tutor! Oh, and I cut all my hair off!

Since life is changing rapidly, I want my blog to change, too. I don't really have time to sit down and type my heart out like I did over the summer (bet you're glad that is over!!!), so I want to do shorter, more focused blog posts. And I want to do some of these link-ups that I keep seeing on my friends' blogs.

But, for today, the message is short and sweet: Life is beautiful. It always is - even in the midst of chaos. You just have to know how to look at it through the right lens. :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

five years

It's been a long five years.

It's funny how the busy-ness of life makes it easy to forget things. Yesterday marked five years since my daddy died, and I honestly forgot all about it. Leading up to yesterday, I knew the day was approaching and I wondered how I would feel or what I would want to write or what I would do. But yesterday was so busy, the date just slipped my mind.

Every year, I anticipate September 21. It's a special day - a day of remembering, a day of gratitude, a day of looking back and looking forward. I look forward to it because in some weird way (which you probably won't understand until one of your parents passes away), remembering the day he died is a way to stay close to him. It sounds so silly to even write that out, but it's just the truth. Thinking about those last days means thinking about the last time I talked to my dad.

I am not going to go into the sappy details about my last conversation with him because that memory is one I cherish. I didn't know it was the last time I'd ever speak to him, which makes it all the more special. Jesus knew what I needed to say and do, and He made sure I got it all out before it was too late. :)

Five years ago, I was absolutely reliant on Jesus to get me through. Five years later, I still am. And that's just a very good place for me to be.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

You're Hired!

When I decided to substitute for this school year, I was really going on pure faith. I had no idea if I'd get any calls to sub, I just knew that was what I needed to do. Within 12 hours of putting my information into the sub system, BAM! Phone call. And I have had a job every day since (except today, which is working out nicely since we need to pack!).

Every time I get a job (whether from the sub system or prearranging with teachers I know), I get so excited! The first week or so, I was on Cloud 9. I was in pure disbelief that subbing was working out for me. After so many "no's," it was nice to hear a "yes," even if it wasn't exactly what I imagined I'd be doing this fall. Blake put it this way, "It's like you get hired every day!" That's exactly what it's like... and it feels good! :)

In addition to subbing, I tutor a first-grade girl every day. I pick her up from school and help her with her homework and teach her new skills for about an hour and a half. It's a great experience - even though you don't work one-on-one very often as a classroom teacher, working with her has given me LOTS of ideas for teaching! From ideas for centers to writing projects to vocabulary lessons to extending lessons... it's been great!! And she is so funny. Yesterday I asked her to use the word "often" in a sentence. She thought for a minute (it was obvious she didn't know what the word meant) and then said, "The kids were OFTEN today!!" I said, "Did you mean awful?" ;)

Life has been so hard since April 27, and it's still no walk in the park. But I think we're getting closer to where the Lord wants us to be and we are seeing how following His lead (even when it seems like the CRAZIEST thing!) is the best path. He'll make a way, and we are blessed for the opportunity to trust Him even more. Though outwardly it may not look like we are a huge "success," God is doing great things IN us and THROUGH us during this time. And hey, I asked God for a job and I can't deny that He provided TWO! :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

home alone

No Blake, no mama, no Fred. Just me and the furry babies (and the ADT system!) for an entire evening and day. That hasn't happened in a L-O-N-G time! Mama and Fred are on their honeymoon and Blake is in Muscle Shoals for a wedding. I couldn't go to the wedding because of work, so I am stuck here at the house all by my lonesome.

Last night wasn't too bad. I was so exhausted from a 12-hour work day that I fell asleep around 9:30 on the couch while watching an episode of Chopped. Arnold kept me company, and we slept on the couch all night long. Blake won't be back until late tonight (and the parents are due home tomorrow evening), but I have a lot to do today. Upload items to sell on Amazon, upload items to sell on Craigslist, pack, laundry, dishes (because there's no one else here to do them!!!!), track down the half-gallon of milk I bought last night but somehow did not manage to bring home.

It's nice to have a quiet house and time to myself. Maybe I am weird, but I look forward to times when I can be alone. Don't get me wrong - I miss Blake and I can't wait for him to get back! But, it's nice to just be for a little while.

Monday, September 12, 2011

From the Outside

From the outside looking in, our life since the tornado might give you whiplash. Here's an overview:

- search for teaching job looks iffy
- decide to move into a 1br/1ba apartment after wedding
- not sure how to pay for 1br/1ba apartment after wedding
- family offers to let us live in an old house and pay no rent
- tornado trashes the free house we are supposed to move into
- we are homeless
- I am jobless
- we decide not to try to fix the house
- a team from Boise offers to repair the hole in the roof
- we decide to try to fix the house
- we get married
- rehearsal is the Rehearsal from Hell and I start to regret even having a wedding
- wedding is good - goes by too quickly, but it was a happy day
- we go on an awesome honeymoon
- we avoid thinking about the house while on the honeymoon
- we don't think we can continue fixing the house
- people work on our house while we are on our honeymoon
- people work on our house the week after our honeymoon
- people give us donations to help make it through the summer
- I am still jobless
- friends and family come out to get the house "liveable"
- we move into the house
- I am still jobless
- I get a job teaching preschool
- I turn 26 and go through 2 weeks of a quarter-life crisis
- Blake starts PhD program and is immediately super-busy
- house is a major undertaking
- I have to quit my job at the preschool
- I start subbing
- house is stressing us out
- agree to have major projects at house finished by December
- heavy rains reveal over a dozen leak in the roof, three of which are MAJOR
- family decides not to put any more $$ into the house and we can't afford to replace the roof
- we decide we have to move
- we look for and find an apartment
- we move in with my mom so we can turn off the power at the house (and save ourselves $200)
- we schedule our move to our apartment on Sept. 24

If your head isn't spinning, I applaud you. It's been a crazy year so far, and I am hoping that we are heading in the direction of Peace. My heart has been through a season of extremes - extreme gratitude, extreme joy, extreme amazement, extreme disappointment, extreme confusion, extreme stress. Married life has honestly not been that fun so far because of all the stress. I mean, we get it - "welcome to the real world." (And let me say that I don't appreciate that comment! We get it - everyone deals with stress - but please remember we did not choose for this tornado to hit our house and twist our life into a confusing and chaotic mess!) We have done the best we could with what we've been given.

The decision (not even sure you would call it a decision, more of a necessity) to move has been the most peaceful decision we have made since April 27. There is so much relief - one of those "a giant weight has been lifted" kind of feelings. After we paid the security deposit, we were so happy. Being married has been so different since we signed those papers! We still have a lot to figure out and we are not "out of the woods," but we are at least moving in the right direction.

It's hard for me not to look back and wish we had done things differently. But I can't look back. We have to look forward, otherwise we'll get wrapped up in doubt and more confusion. To those of you who supported us or prayed for us or helped us work, we are eternally grateful. Though we may be moving out of the house, the generosity of our friends, family, and strangers was a tangible measure of God's grace that we cannot deny or regret. No one's work or money or prayers were in vain - every ounce of provision was a blessing to us in our greatest hour of need.

At this point, I don't know if the house was a blessing or a curse. In many ways, it was both. But despite the frustration of working so hard and going through so much just to have a place to live only to end up walking away less than a month after moving in - God is still faithful. As hard as the summer was, I am thankful for what we have been through. I am grateful for the experience, grateful for God's discipline, grateful for His grace and mercy, grateful for His provision, grateful for learning to Trust Him alone. I hope we never have to go through something like that again, but I'm thankful that He has led us through it and out of it.

Things are beginning to look up for us, even though life is still pretty uncertain (but isn't it always?). I have this sneaking suspicion that the rest of 2011 is going to get better from here on out. The past week and a half has been tough, but life has been lighter. It has been happier, calmer, more peaceful. And the Lord knows we need some peace. :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

blog/life shuffle

I finally did it. I finally changed the header (and some other things) here on the old blog. I am sooooo not blog savvy like my friend Kathryn, but I try. This is the first header I've made where the picture actually looks like it belongs there! And I changed the title of my blog... it only makes sense because the URL to my blog includes "katiejanesays". Plus I found out through google that "Barefoot in the Kitchen" was already taken and apparently doing quite well!!

Then, I was clicking around my archives and found a link to an older blog that has entries dated back to 2006. LOST theories, big break-up, deciding to go back to school, living without my daddy... there were some good entries. And then, I remembered that I can still access my OLD, OLD blog which dates back to 2003. Good Lord was I a drama queen!!! Some of those posts are just absolutely embarrassing!!! But, everyone has been 17 once so I am sure you understand.

Aside from the shuffling the blog, Blake and I are also shuffling our living arrangements. For the next two weeks, we are staying at my mom's house until we can move into our new apartment on the 24th. When the rains from the most recent hurricane/tropical storm came through, we realized that there were over a dozen leaks in the roof, three of which are major. The whole house needs a brand new roof, and we can't afford one. So, we made the difficult decision to move and I've got to tell you - I've never felt better. I'll write more about the decision later... because it does include some guilt and some sadness. But, for now let's just say that I am PUMPED about moving somewhere where we can finally feel "at home"!

And there's been a little job shuffle too. Without going into too much detail, I had to quit the pre-school job (sad, sad). I probably shouldn't have taken the job to begin with, but that is a different story. Anyway, now I'm subbing in the County Schools and it's awesome! I have had a job every day! I am also still able to continue tutoring every afternoon, so I also have that money coming in. Looks like we're going to make it after all. :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mama's Getting Married

It's funny to think that my mom is getting married in two days. Not many people can say that they've had the pleasure of watching their mama date, fall in love, get engaged, get married, go on a honeymoon, and live life as a newlywed. And I bet even fewer get to say they got to go through being a newlywed along with their mamas. I get to do that. :)

We went to lunch after church on September 13, 2009. It was a typical mother-daughter lunch: I was blabbing about teaching, she paid for Panera. ;) I gabbed and gabbed about school, and then out of nowhere, she dropped a bomb on me - "Well... I went on a date last night." I immediately fussed at her for not telling me this sooner!!! She told me his name was Fred, and that they had a good time. I could tell she was smitten. And then something strange happened - suddenly, I felt this surge of worry and concern for her heart. I was happy for her and wanted her to enjoy spending time with someone, but I didn't want to see her heart get broken.

Thankfully, her heart didn't get broken. Fred turned out to be AWESOME and I love him!! He fit right in to our little family and has changed my mom's life for the better. I love seeing them together and I love knowing that she is taken care of. And being able to give your mom wedding advice is pretty hysterical. :)

So, on their 2nd dating anniversary (Monday night), mom and Fred will tie the knot. Mom will be Mary Kathryn Kirby and Fred will officially be my Dad #2. I don't really like the term "step-dad" so I need to come up with something better. How about... my step-Fred? Or just My Fred. I do love him so.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

God of Jacob

There's this song on the radio (Christian radio, that is) that has been driving me crazy. It's called "Blessings" by Laura Story. Now, if you know me at all, you know I am a music snob. I generally hate anything new. As in... I've had the same music on my iPod for nearly two years and I'm quite content with it. I like new music by my old favorite artists. It just takes a lot for me to REALLY appreciate anything completely new. I don't know why - it's just really hard to compete with ten years' worth of John Mayer and Hillsong!! But, I've been listening to the radio a lot because my phone and iPod share a charger and the phone usually wins.

Back to the song. The first time I heard it, I was immediately drawn back to the three and a half years I spent working at Gospel Supply and the beginning of my hatred for all things CCM (Contemporary Christian Music). Sorry, anytime you are forced to listen to 4Him or RelientK or Nicole Nordeman for any extended length of time, the redundancy of the lyrics and sappy-ness starts to wear on your nerves. Then I wondered why I was even listening to the Christian radio station....

Then the lyrics to the song appeared on Pinterest. GREAT. Now people are going to fall in love with this song and I can't stand it.

And then I heard it again. And again. And again. And I finally let the words sink in a little.

The reason I hated the song so much was because it was True.

What if your blessings come through raindrops?
What if your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand lonely nights
are what it takes to know you're near?
What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?

Wednesday night, I wept during our monthly Encounter Night. I cried out of anger, out of confusion, out of surrender, out of gratitude. In the middle of the night, I woke up and wept some more. My sweet husband rubbed my back and reminded me of the story of Jacob and the man. Jacob was heading back to his homeland and to his brother, Esau, as God had commanded. Jacob was frightened - afraid that Esau would attack him for all he had done. Jacob prayed to God for Esau to receive the gifts he was sending and to welcome him home. Jacob was following God's command, though afraid, and trusting Him through it all.

And then he comes upon a man. Jacob is all alone, and he and the man begin to wrestle. They wrestle all night. Finally, morning begins to break and the man says, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "I will not let go until you bless me." The man gave Jacob a new name: Israel, because he had struggled with God and with humans and have overcome. (Taken from Genesis 32:22-27.)

I'm heading in the direction God has called me, and I am not letting go. So my healing may come through wrestling, through tears, through restless nights, through snot and puffy red eyes. However it comes, I am not letting go until the God of Jacob blesses me.

And, as one of our pastors recently challenged me - "Name one person in the Bible who God used mightily who didn't go through what you are going through." Uhhh... how about "impossible." I guess that settles it. If you want God to use you mightily, you have to let him use every last bit of you.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

from the heart

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." - Psalm 37:4

Like most people, I grew up believing that God would give me the things I wanted if:

- I prayed hard enough
- went to church every Sunday
- read my Bible every day
- those things were in line with Scripture
- I stopped sinning
- I wanted it badly enough

I had this idea that God was standing at the ready, anxious for me to make all the right moves so He could bless me. I believed He had a bag full of goodies just for me.... I only needed to ask.

What I know now is that what I believed was a lie. God is not going to give me everything I want. He isn't always going to come through right when I think I need Him to. He isn't going to open every door for me just because He loves me. That just isn't how He works.

What I know now is that God is going to give me the desires of my heart. Not that he will give me what my heart desires, but He is going to tell my heart what to desire.

Today, another door closed on a dream I thought really would come true for me. I really believed this was it - this was the job I had been holding out for. And one little phone call changed it all.

My heart wants to give up. My heart is tired of trying and finding itself in the land of disappointment and confusion. I am tired. But the Lord has given me a desire, and I am going to trust Him to make a way in His time. This year has been the most difficult year of my life, aside from the year I lost my daddy. From taking the risk of getting married (which is the greatest part about 2011, I have to say!) to the drama of the tornado aftermath to the heartbreak of not finding a K-6 teaching job. This is not the year I expected - not at all.

So for now, I am taking comfort in the encouragement of sweet friends. And in the Word of the God who I trust, even though I don't understand His ways at all.

"Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret - it only leads to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.....Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace. But all sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future for the wicked. The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps and delivers them from the wicked and save them, because they take refuge in him." - Psalm 37:1-9, 37-40

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and they are saved." - Proverbs 18:10
In times like these, when God's answers are not what we want to hear, we have to take refuge in Him. Take refuge in His promises, believing fully that He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. I love Him, and I am called according to His purpose. He is going to get all the glory on the day I finally land a K-6 teaching job. And He's getting all the glory even now, for making a way for me even though I don't have what I thought I would.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

don't fear!

I have not abandoned the blog. Blake & I don't have Internet at the hizzle yet, so blogging is on hold... except for right this moment, because I'm hanging at my mom's. :)

Some quick updates:

- Found a potential black widow spider this morning on the outdoor garbage can. It looked like this:
This is a baby black widow... I am not sure if the one we saw (and killed) looked exactly like this. If you know any spiders that look like this, but are not black widows... your comments would make me sleep better. :)

- Blake starts "doctor school" (PhD classes) tomorrow. He's gonna be a smartie pants. Dr. Smartie Pants, to you.

- I am reading Brave New World in an attempt to break my brain from the hours I spend with four-year-olds.

- I am now 26, and in the middle of a quarter-life crisis.

The end.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

own it

Yesterday was my first day to teach Pre-K all by myself. I have a class of eleven kids, and they're mine... all mine. Well, at least until 12pm. At first, I really didn't know what to think about being a "preschool teacher". I had various stereotypes in my head of what a "preschool teacher" looks like, and wasn't exactly sure how to feel about becoming one of the brave.

Let me just say, I think I was born to teach Pre-K. Well, really, I was just born to teach. I tend to fall in love with whatever grade I am placed in (I loved EVERY grade I interned in!), but this is FOR REAL. These are my kiddos for the next nine months.

It's exciting! It isn't at all what I had in mind when I set out on this crazy journey of earning my teaching certificate, but I am loving it. Since the kids are little and there isn't a mandated curriculum, I have a lot of creative freedom. I follow a loose schedule of focus skills (letters, writing our names, counting, etc.) and then put my creative spin on how to teach them and how to practice them. We sing songs and do dances and repeat "I listen with my eyes and my ears" about a dozen times a day. :)

It's official. I'm a preschool teacher. Gotta own it.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

busy, busy!!

This is the weekend we've all been waiting for: MOVING WEEKEND!!!

A friend is coming over today around 9am to haul our possessions down the street into the big old beautiful house. Part of me is STOKED, another part a little nervous. There are still many projects to be done, and many rooms are still considered "in progress". For instance, the kitchen cabinets are not quite finished yet (still need a 2nd coat of paint), so I can't exactly put all my kitchen stuff up yet. But, we'll be able to sleep, eat, and watch TV at our new house - no problem. :)

Though we still have a great deal of work to do, we wanted to go ahead and move in since Blake starts school in less than two weeks. I think it will be a lot easier to motivate ourselves to work if we actually live in the house. You'd think we'd be motivated anyway, but it's hard to have to make a trip out to the house and take all our stuff and bring it all back.... yada, yada, yada. Point is - we're moving in and hoping to have the house "guest-ready" by Thanksgiving-time. I mean, people can come over before then, but it's gonna be a mess. ;)

And there is an exciting twist to the weekend - I have to prepare to teach next week! There isn't much to planning Pre-K lessons, but it's good to have lots of options and ideas so that the kids don't get out of control while I'm trying to get stuff together. There's nothing worse than four-year-olds with nothing to do. :) I also need to rearrange my classroom and hang stuff on the wall, but I'll work on that in the afternoons while the kids are napping. I think this whole Pre-K thing is going to be good for me - I still get to teach (thought it's VERY different than teaching 5th graders!!), and I have loads of freedom. I don't have to give tests every week and I get to be SUPER-creative. Monday we are practicing writing our letters using Ziploc bags filled with paint. :) The kids are going to love it!

Happy weekend to us. Will post pictures.... one day.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

the throwing away of things... and random rambling.

So far, 100 in August is off to a great start. We're eleven days into the month and I have thrown away 36 items. We'll call it 36 because after the Great Bathroom Clean-Out over the weekend, I threw away AT LEAST 30 random items. I lost count after a while, and figured thirty was a safe bet. I threw away over a dozen little hotel shampoo & conditioner bottles. I don't know why I always want to keep those... call me sentimental.

We are moving into our house on Saturday (yay!), yet we have done NO work at the house this week. Monday and Tuesday were emotionally draining, and then yesterday I got a job!! I am only working half-days, but I have been doing some planning in the afternoon since the kids are all mine on Monday morning! I know I can "wing it" a little until I get everything settled there, but I need to hit the ground running on Monday with rules, procedures, etc. Today I hit the Dollar Tree jackpot and made a really cool matching game and a sight word game with some stuff I found. Oh, I guess I should write that I was hired to teach Pre-K at a private preschool in Northport. :)

So.... moving. Yeah, slow-going at this point. We STILL need to finish painting the cabinets but I have no motivation!!! I have been SO tired this week. They won't take long, so I am hoping to either work on them tomorrow afternoon or next Monday evening. I haven't packed many boxes - I figure I can do that Saturday while the dudes are hauling away heavy items. Most everything is already boxed, though, since the majority of our possessions are unopened wedding gifts!

I am glad to be HERE finally - gainfully employed and moving into an almost-finished house. It has been a long journey and we still aren't totally out the woods, but we are so far from where we were when we got married!

This was the most random post I have written in a while and.... well.... that's what ya get! I am SO tired!! Trying to convince myself to do a load of laundry, bathe the dog, go for a walk, and call it a day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sing the 46th

In the midst of our house/job/life/stress chaos, Blake and I had lunch with our pastor. We basically just needed to unload on someone with more wisdom than us and JQ was happy to listen. It's hard to admit disappointment with life, hard to admit to anger at our circumstances, and even harder to try not to cry in the middle of Panera.

Out of that conversation, I was reminded of two things:

1) God's goodness is not dependent upon my circumstances. God isn't only good when I get the job and He isn't bad when I don't. God is forever the same. My circumstances may change, but God never does. He is always faithful. He never promises us the American dream (or our dreams, for that matter). He promises us to give us the desires of our hearts. Not that He gives us what we want, but He gives us what to want, and then provides a means to acquire it. He plants within us His vision for us, and if we listen closely enough we can hear it, and He can lead us to it.

2) JQ told us a story about Martin Luther (his man-crush). Luther was a reformer, a Bible translator, preacher, and theologian. He was also a musician. His most famous hymn is "Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott" - otherwise known to us as "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God". The song was based on Psalm 46, the same Psalm I started praying at the beginning of this summer. In times of difficulty and hardship, Luther was known to say to his associate, "Come Philipp, let us sing the 46th." And they would sing. About the Lord's providence, of His might, of His strength.

That line has stuck with me since lunch yesterday, "Sing the 46th". When life is hard, sing the 46th. When life is easy, sing the 46th. When life is a disaster, sing the 46th. When life is a dream, sing the 46th. No matter what we may be experiencing - tragedy, loss, excitement, dissension, peacefulness, victory, defeat, disappointment, contentment.... God is who He is. He never changes. The Truth in the Scriptures never changes.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." (Psalm 46:1-7).

And I remember that God has certainly not forgotten about me. Not at all. Nor has he forgotten about those who are worse-off than me. I am not alone in this world, and even though I may not have exactly what I want, I have exceedingly more than I need. So, instead of singing my woes, I need to "Sing the 46th." Over and over and over again.

"A Mighty Fortress is Our God"
Translated by Frederick H. Hedge:

        A mighty fortress is our God,

a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevaling.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God's truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

brave face

I have been walking around the past few weeks with my "brave face" on. Even blogging with my brave face dictating my words. Yesterday, the mask came off and what was underneath was exposed.

Though lately I have tried not to post about the depressing journey of finding a job, it's an every day battle to not just throw my hands up in the air and quit. And, I am blogging for several reasons - 1) it's cathartic and 2) I haven't been doing a pen-and-paper journal for the past few months, and know that this blog is going to get printed & bound at the end of the year to take place of my "traditional" journal. I want to remember the heartache.

What was lying underneath was my heart - which I have been too afraid to share because I so badly want to look like I have it altogether. I want to look like I mean it when I say, "we're going to be okay". I want to look like I am okay, but I really am not. I am going to be okay - maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but I am going to be okay and I am going to somehow be "better" for this experience.

Up until May of this year, I had never been "rejected" after an interview. I am an interview pro, and I have always been hired. I have officially been interviewed and rejected three times this summer. And then there's the countless resumes and applications I've submitted without even receiving so much as a phone call.

At this point, I feel like this is a big game of elementary school dodge-ball and I'm last to be picked. Literally ALL of my friends have jobs - and if they don't have a permanent job, they have long-term sub jobs lined up already. I have nothing - nothing!!! Even my Plan F that seemed to be a sure bet fell through this week! It seems like every opportunity is being closed and I don't even stand a chance. And I'll put my faithlessness out there - I have, at times, felt like God has completely forgotten about me. Like I'm jumping up and down, waving my arms yelling "Hey!! Don't forget about me over here!!" and He is completely oblivious. He's not oblivious, but sometimes it sure feels like it (thank God He isn't who I feel He is at times!!).

After a good forty minutes of ugly-face crying :) last night, I told Blake this: I feel like an actress - full of potential and dying to use my craft. I keep going for casting calls and get rejected and overlooked.... but, one day, someone is going to hire me and I am going to be AWESOME at my job and put in so much work and passion... and all the other people who never gave me a chance are going to say, "Why didn't we hire her!?" I am going to be a superstar teacher and principals are going to be jealous that I'm not theirs.

The longer I go without a job, the better I will be once I get a job. I am so passionate, so eager, and so determined that I am not going to just give up. Even if I don't get a teaching job for this year, I am not going to give up. I am just going to keep doing what I know to do, volunteer my services if I have to, and someone is going to give me a chance someday. And they're going to be glad they did.

I'm hoping that my story will be this - I will have gone all summer hunting and searching for a job... to the point of complete desperation. And then, BAM! A school is going to open up a position and I'm going to be the last one standing, and they'll pick me. I pray that's what happens... because, really, it's the last chance I have for a teaching job this school year. Maybe that's what God has in store, maybe not.

Whatever happens, I imagine that I will look back on this post in a year and say "if only you knew, Katie." God does have something up His sleeve, and I'm guessing it's so good that He won't tell me what it is because I wouldn't even believe it. ;)