Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2 Months in One Post!

About a week and a half ago, I was flying over Georgia during this time. I had about 45 minutes before the plane touched down in Florida and it was back to my husband (smile) and work. I had just spent Labor Day weekend in NC with my family and it was great!

So much has taken place since I last took the time to write. I spoke of a cruise with my family to the Bahamas and shortly following our return, Matthew and I boarded a plane to Ohio for a week with his loved ones. We stayed in his parents’ home, visited with many friends and family, and relaxed during our time up there. My in-laws planned a reception for us at their church that Saturday so those who couldn’t come to the wedding could come fellowship and see wedding photos, etc. It was nice to celebrate our wedding once more. We even had a small, beautiful wedding cake! Aside from seeing some of Matthew’s friends, we spent the majority of our time relaxing with family that we don’t see often. Actually, I hadn’t seen them since the wedding and that was 8 months ago! We held our three week old nephew (that makes 4! And one niece!), toured OSU where his brother attends, played card games with Matt’s grandma, and drove around Bellaire – enjoying the sights of his hometown. It’s neat to visit his side of the family because his parents live in a log cabin they built in the hills around 30 years ago. The property is the same property that his Grandma grew up on and the sidewalk, as well as the stairs from the house still remain. Also, the local high school was attended by Matthew’s dad, brother, sister, sis-in-law, and bro-in-law. Lots of family history in a small town that I find interesting because I’m married into it ☺



On our way back down from Ohio, we stopped in Charlottesville, VA for the night. It’s a city we have considered re-locating to in order to be closer to family. We drove around looking for garage sales as a way to get to know the area better. We were praying that if God wanted us there, we would know. We left feeling ok about the place. It’s beautiful and very historic – but we didn’t feel a strong pull in that direction. I don’t think God has closed the door completely, but it’s not in our near future. From there, we drove to my parents’ house for the night. It’s always so good to go home. I love being there at the house and seeing my sisters and parents. Walking around the property is exhilarating. The two of us left there with an even greater longing to move. We even considered moving things out of our apartment and into my parent’s basement starting Thanksgiving if I didn’t get a full-time teaching job… which leads me to my next news…

Driving home from NC after our Ohio trip was a long, bittersweet drive. We were sad to leave family behind and go back to life in the Sunshine State. We were happy though to know that our quaker parrot we’d been wanting was weaned and ready for pick up! Yes, we now have a new addition to our family – Sunny ☺ We decided on that name because it seemed fitting for a bird from Florida. He’s about 4 months old now and has quite a personality. Matthew has enjoyed building perches and play areas for him and we enjoy spending time with him, waiting to see what noise he’ll make next. So far he can say “step-up,” and makes a LOT of noise when we turn on the tv. Here he is:



Now, back to my news. On the drive back down to Florida, I received a phone call to come in for an interview at a local elementary school the following day. Well, I went and was called back the same day to come in again for a second interview, and then was called later that evening to let me know that I got a kindergarten position! I was so incredibly excited. It’s such a blessing! And here I thought I’d have to go back to subbing all school year… When Matt got home that evening, I waited for him to greet me with a kiss and I said, “do you know who you just kissed?” A bit confused, he said, “yes, my wife.” I then proceeded to tell him that he kissed not just his wife, but a teacher! We went out to dinner to celebrate and now I have a classroom of my very own.
I can’t believe we have been in school for four weeks now. My class of 18 is quite wonderful! The team of 8 K teachers I work with are such a blessing as well. So far, so good for a first year! It’s been exhausting and overwhelming, but each time I’m in the classroom most of that fades away. Now Matthew and I can really begin saving to move out of state, Lord willing! We discuss and pray about it quite often.



The day is coming to a close and sleep comes earlier now that I have so many little ones to care for. It feels great to post again. Hopefully once I get a better grasp on a schedule and routine, I’ll be able to post more! I look forward to catching up on my reading of other blogs…

Friday, July 31, 2009

What's round on the sides and high in the middle?

oHIo!

Matthew and I leave in less than an hour for his home state, Ohio. We'll be spending the next week visiting his family and friends. I'm looking forward to it! We're flying up and then driving back on the 10th in the old suburban his parents are giving us (we plan on selling my rodeo). On our way back to Florida, we'll stay the night at my family's house :) Let the family vacation begin!

Here are a few photos from our cruise. It was a WONDERFUL vacation with my family last week. I'll post more on both trips when I get back.


Matt & I on the boat

Me with my mom before a show

Sisters <3
Dad and I in front of a wall in Nassau that read... "this is how much I love you."

Monday, July 13, 2009

It's My Last Week!



Can you find me in the photo? Ha. I have made it through four weeks as site coordinator for the Freedom School and now I'm down to my last one (Praise God!). It really has flown by, although there were times I thought week 5 would never come. The National staff require that an end of the summer report be completed (it's HUGE) so that is taking up my spare time during the day. We also have our Freedom School finale Thursday night for parents, funders, and other members of the community. The scholars will be performing in drama, African dance, music, sign language, step, and book talks. On Friday is our big field trip - Blizzard Beach - I'm already praying now that things go smoothly on that day. A water park with a large group is a bad idea in my opinion, but we will manage. I am thankful for this opportunity because having a summer job is a pretty great blessing. And having one that lasts 5 weeks is wonderful because it allows for some relaxing/vacation time!

Vacation begins this weekend :) I am thrilled to share that I will be on a cruise to the Bahamas with my husband and family come next Monday. I will return on Friday with pictures to post! My parents and sisters drive down this coming Saturday so that allows some extra time for them to come see how we've turned our apartment into a home since they were last here for the wedding. When the cruise is over, I will have a week of glorious "nothing" that I can spend job searching some more (endless process) and catching up on crafts/home projects. Matthew and I will then leave for a week in Ohio visiting his family. We will have a new nephew on his side this Wed. and we especially look forward to seeing him!

Last time I posted, I mentioned a 6 month anniversary surprise my husband was planning. I have to say that he is incredible with surprises and loves planning those sorts of things. Well, we set out driving early on that Saturday morning to a destination unknown. Just when I thought we'd be going to St. Augustine (I was secretly hoping we would!) he took a strange detour and had me quite confused. With a clever mind, he had mapped out another way to St. Augustine that I wouldn't recognize. I felt loved and joyful when we pulled into the familiar parking garage. St. Augustine is special for us because it's where he proposed, then we visited again a year later - just a few short months before our wedding - and now we were back as the newlyweds!

With a picnic lunch, we began walking in a direction we hadn't been before. Not sure what he was up to, I followed along as we went down this side street and into a subdivision. A few moments later, he brought me back around to a scooter/bike rental business. He said I needed to sign a paper and then we'd have a motorized scooter for as long as we wanted! His reasoning behind this idea was so sweet - he knew that I wanted to ride a motorcycle so I could sit behind him and put my arms around him, so with no motorcycle license or motorcycle, he improvised and planned this little adventure for us. After a few test circles, we headed out over to the historic district. We decided to make our first stop at 10th Street, the location on the beach where we were engaged. We took a photo and then headed on our way to the pier for lunch.



At the pier we met a young, neat Christian couple that lives in Maitland, just a short distance from our apartment. We hope to meet up with them for lunch sometime soon. When we left the pier, we headed back to the historic district to cruise around. Here we are on the scooter. I photographed and filmed much of our ride around the city.





Our evening concluded with a nice dinner at PizzAlley's. We like to visit different restaurants while there. Following dinner we walked the streets, wandering in and out of shops, just soaking it in and enjoying being with each other. It truly was a lovely 6th month anniversary!



Sleep is beginning to overcome me so I'm off to get rest before another Freedom School day. It felt good to post and I look forward to catching up on blog reading soon!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Freedom School...

Oh how I wish my days provided adequate time for some much needed blogging. I will not even attempt to explain all that is happening in my life right now. And when I say all, I mean - Freedom School. Remember that 10 day training I attended in TN? Well, we have completed one full week of Freedom School and now have four more to go. As much as I'd like to indulge you in the details of the last week's events, I am going to refrain because I'd risk giving into frustration and negativity once again. Let's just say it's been one of those weeks... My prayer is that I am able to handle whatever and whoever crosses my path.

I need to take a minute and brag about my husband. He has been absolutely incredible through all of this. While I was away in TN he organized and cleaned the apartment - he made a list for me to look over when I got home that sent me around our little home "oohing" and "ahhing" over what he had accomplished. He has cooked me dinner many recent nights and held me when I could no longer hold back my tears of frustration. My husband whisked me away on a spontaneous hotel/beach trip a few weekends back and has also informed me that he has planned a full day for us this Saturday to celebrate our 6 month anniversary (it's a surprise, so I'll have to share next week!). It's wonderful to know that no matter what is happening during the work day, I have a safe, warm, and loving husband to come home to. The words husband and home make me smile :) I am truly blessed.

My last day of Freedom School is July 17th. Guess what happens July 20th? My family will be down from NC and they will be taking Matthew and I on a cruise with them! I am so excited and really looking forward to a vacation. It's a 4 night/5 day cruise with Royal Caribbean (the best!) and we'll be visiting the Bahamas. My family and I have taken this cruise before, but it's Matthew's first time on one. Yay for making memories! I'm very thankful for family and that we'll be able to spend quality time with them in only several more weeks :)

6 a.m. comes early so bedtime is soon. I'll close with a couple Freedom School week 1 photos. This was during our morning Harambee time - Photo 1 is of the scholars sitting quietly for Read-Aloud and Photo 2 is of the scholars doing one of their chants & cheers :



Sunday, May 31, 2009

7 Days to Go...

Here's a quick update. So much has been happening that has left no time for blogging. Last Wednesday I had my final day at the elementary school because I had an early flight Thursday morning (early as in - I got up at 4:40) to go to National Training in Tennessee for CDF Freedom School. Never heard of it? Go here to check it out: http://www.childrensdefense.org/helping-americas-children/cdf-freedom-schools-program/          It truly is a great program.

I will admit that last week I was beyond stressed... school for the students does not end until this coming Wed. and I had to leave them a week early, meaning everything had to be finished. On top of that, my students I tutor had to be completed too in the afternoons. Then Freedom School training arrived much sooner than it needed to. Despite tears of stress and my unwillingness to leave FL (Did I mention I'd be gone 10 days and my students still had a week of school left? What about missing my husband? Oh, and let's not forget my in-laws were coming in the day I flew out so I wouldn't be there for their visit either) - yes, despite those issues, I am here with 7 days left to go. It's not terrible, in fact, I'm learning quite a bit and am being submerged in African American culture - completely unique experience. It's just a long time and I need prayer to stay energized. Today our interns arrive from our Freedom School sites jumping our numbers from 200 this past weekend (site coordinators) to a little over 1200! We have been told to prepare for chaos and loooooong days. Bring it on! If I don't survive this, then I will not be a site coordinator during our 5 weeks of school this summer.

Anyways, that's a quick update. I have to go load my luggage onto a bus and head to UT for our next week of training. Please keep me in your prayers. I miss my husband very much and it's also tough being only a state away from my family and not being able to see them! When I get back next Sunday I'll post pictures and write more as soon as I can. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

Weekend Picnics and Relaxation

I can't believe the weekend has come and gone so quickly! It was my first full week teaching kindergarten, and I must say that I was ready for the break. Last week consisted of many efforts to get the class somewhat caught up on all the knowledge the poor kids have missed out on. I'm very proud of my students for catching on to the routine of literacy centers and math centers. Although discipline is still a MAJOR issue for a handful of kids in there, I still love them and try hard to get them to where they need to be! Here's a photo of most my class taken on Friday - minus two. We planted sunflower seeds and radish seeds that day (they were SO excited!) and I was shocked to find that all of their seeds have sprouted over the weekend. My excitement matched theirs as we peeked into each cup this morning - I had said a little prayer that something would grow before school let out for the summer. I didn't really expect it to happen over 3 days :) Aren't my students cute?


When I got home from tutoring a student Friday night, my husband shared that he wanted to take me out. There was our lovely picnic basket by the door and a bag packed with blankets. Ahh... romantic and relaxing - could a girl ask for more? He drove us to Crane's Roost Park (we could walk there, actually) where we sat on the grass overlooking the pond, listening to live music. Perfect! I just love live music and being outside during the last couple hours of daylight is my absolute favorite. He cooked fish, chicken and rice, and brought applesauce. We ate, played a game of cards, and enjoyed each other's company as we listened to the band play. The security guard on duty joked about getting us candles and a lighter to add to the night :) Here's a photo of that a jogger offered to take for us...



Saturday was busy as I prepared for a meeting for my summer job. Being site coordinator is a great promotion, but also a bit more stressful! Saturday evening was spent at Borders scoping out books and magazines. I found a sewing one that has motivated me to try sewing again! We later came home to catch up on episodes of Lost (we just finished season 3!). Sunday morning consisted of Sunday school and church - then lunch with friends. This family is one of our favorites to be around - wonderful people that truly leave you feeling encouraged. They are missionaries with New Tribes and it's great having friends with which you can spend an afternoon relaxing.

Now I'm off to bed. I'm very tired and tomorrow is another busy day!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Wedding day favorites - I love black and white!




Thursday, May 7, 2009

Day 1 of Kindergarten!

I began teaching kindergarten today! I will teach until the end of this school year (a few more weeks) and then it'll be time for summer break :) My first day went quite well and I'm blessed to have some nice teachers on my grade level. Unfortunately, the original teacher has been out for almost a month - meaning lesson plans and student work are a bit off schedule... I have my work cut out for me. It'll be a great experience though - not to mention it'll add to my resume! I love being called Mrs. Taflan, and I look forward to doing the best I can to make these remaining school days memorable for the kids.

As much as I'd love to write more and go into detail about the kids and classroom, I'm completely exhausted. I'm going to be balancing teaching all day and then tutoring each afternoon - at least until the month of May is over. Before I head to bed, I would like to share what my sweet husband had waiting for me when I arrived home in between school and tutoring... It made me smile and feel even more blessed!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Camping Words of Wisdom

“Camping is about overcoming,” said my husband’s boss Friday morning. We were headed out to camp that evening for a birthday weekend getaway – Matthew turned 25 on the 27th (or as he likes to say, “a quarter of a century”). I picked out the location a month ago and planned the trip, eager to be on our way to Alexander Springs to spend a few days outdoors. We’d both camped quite a few times with our families when we were younger – me with mine in NC, and he with his in Ohio. All good memories, so we thought it’d be fun to go together now that we’re married and see if it’s something we want to invest more time in.

When my husband first shared with me what his boss said, I was a bit puzzled. He went on to explain that his boss put it like this, “When you camp, you set out to overcome obstacles. Think about it, you’re giving up electricity, a nice home, running water, and air conditioning to sleep outdoors in a tent for a weekend. There’s going to be things you must overcome that you don’t encounter on a regular basis.” I shrugged off this reasoning as I focused on the things left to be packed and the fun that was sure to come. I didn’t give the word “overcome” another thought until we arrived at our destination Friday night… hence my need to share words of wisdom.

1) Arrive before dark

Yes, the drive to this particular part of the Ocala National Forest was only a little over an hour away… but, I had to tutor until 7:00. Believing we could make it before dark, I wasted no time… until the lack of street lights on the forest road made me miss the little sign that read “Alexander Springs On Left.” I was only within a couple miles of the park as the last specks of daylight turned into night, yet by the time we actually arrived it was just plain dark. Setting up your campsite at night can leave you feeling uneasy as you try to fall asleep, unaware of your surroundings! The car headlights and multiple flashlights were very well used as they helped us overcome obstacle one…

2) When borrowing a tent, ask the necessary questions

*Are all the pieces there?

My husband and I decided not to go out and buy a tent because we weren’t sure if we’d enjoy camping in Florida (drastic difference than camping a few states north of here). His boss said he’d let us borrow his tent, and we could take their camping chairs. We were quite excited to have found a tent so quickly without even needing to ask some of our other friends. This was a larger tent with the main “area” and two sides branching off, with option zip enclosures to make separate rooms. Now, I know my husband is very tall, but we don’t necessarily need a tent that big. We thought it’d be fun to use one and see what it’s like. Unfortunately, during set up, we noticed some poles were missing that were needed to pop up the last “room.” Good thing it wasn’t a main pole that held up the tent! When we told Matt’s boss about this after our weekend trip, he replied, “Oh yeah, I thought there might be some missing.” Really?! That would’ve been nice to know beforehand. You should always ask if all the pieces are there…

*How long since you last used the tent?

This question is of UTMOST importance. You see, Matthew and I didn’t think to ask this question, and therefore met our next obstacle to overcome. When the tent was finally up and ready for living, we became keenly aware of this terrible smell… one that was only slightly noticeable when we first pulled the tent out of the bag, and then it became increasingly odorous when the tent was complete. My husband went to busy himself with trying to start the fire (my next point), but I, being so curious as to what was causing the smell, grabbed a flashlight and cautiously peer into the tent. There on the floor lay something small… I gulped a breath of fresh air and took a step inside to get a bit closer…

It was rancid…. It was foul… It was STRING CHEESE!

I jumped out of the tent to catch my breath. This was no ordinary string cheese. It no longer looked like the cheese you know of – I only knew what it was based on its familiar packaging. The brown colored cheese juice turned my stomach as I quickly searched for something to put it in. With a napkin and trash bag, I disposed of the smell, or so I thought. The smell just would not go away, even after I got on my hands and knees to attempt to sweep up the flakes of mold that had fallen off the sides of the tent. Yes, flakes! My husband and I laughed in amazement at how uninviting the tent was at such a dark hour, despite our readiness for sleep.

Needless to say, we slept in the tent anyway on our air mattress (the car was too packed!) – with our faces buried under the sheets in an effort to keep the smell from penetrating our nostrils even more. All the flaps were unzipped that night so fresh air could get in through the screen, but it didn’t matter. The smell was everywhere and when the wind blew a certain way, you could smell it several feet away from the campsite.

This particular obstacle was not overcome until the next day… afternoon to be exact. I couldn’t get over the fact that the smell was still so strong, despite our efforts to air out the tent. Then there, on the window of one of the flaps was a small pouch – one I thought had only Ziploc bags crinkled inside (I’ll blame it on the darkness from the night before). Nope…there mixed in with the bags was more stinky cheese! Two more, actually! Come to find out, Matt’s boss said his little girls had last used the tent and someone packed it away without checking inside. Gross. ALWAYS ask how long it’s been since someone last used the tent you plan to borrow. And if it’s your tent, NEVER forget to clean it out before rolling it up!

3) Dry firewood makes the best fires

Since we arrived at dark Friday night, we needed to purchase firewood from the park ranger. My husband grabbed a bundle from the pile and set about lighting a fire to brighten our campsite that first night. I love campfires and was eager to have one ready. I would feel better seeing a bit more around us other than what I chose to shine the flashlight on. Well, after three tries, the logs just wouldn’t be lit. The wood was damp… meaning no fire that night. Disappointed that we couldn’t inhale the smoke as opposed to cheese, and with my husband a bit frustrated, we resorted to flashlights and magnetic push lights that we stationed around the tent. The next day, he carefully searched and picked a bundle of dry wood that lit in an instant.

4) Don’t forget your pillow!

There we were, in our smelly tent Friday night, ready for bed. We were going to try to fall asleep, wanting the next day to come quickly so we could be back outdoors. We go to lie down and my husband says, “Are the pillows still in the car?” I gasp and respond, “No, they’re not in the car,” knowing full well I forgot to pack them! You wouldn’t think this is such a big deal, but you don’t know my husband. He has a special pillow filled with water that he swears is the best pillow in the world… and now it lay on our bed at the apartment and not on the air mattress where it was supposed to be. I started giggling as I thought about what a trip it’d been so far and it had only been a few hours! He laughed too as I handed him some extra blankets to use as a pillow. My poor husband already doesn’t fit on an air mattress and now his wife forgot his favorite pillow! Though he had a bit of neck pain the next day, it was still funny to the both of us. Next time, we will not forget the pillows.

5) Dress warmly for bed

Nights in April in the Ocala forest can be cold (low to mid 60s – which is cold when you’re sleeping outside). I went to bed that first night wearing comfy shorts and a t-shirt, believing I was being smart because I wouldn’t wake up hot and sticky from the Florida weather. Unfortunately, the first night consisted of shivering, tossing, turning, and snuggling as we sought to find warmth. I was too cold to get up with a flashlight and find some pants in the car… also, the warning of bear in the forest helped enforce my decision of staying inside the tent. Remember, we had the flaps unzipped so fresh air could get in through the screen – zipping them back up was not an option, despite all the cold coming inside. We decided to brave the cold in order to spare ourselves from being zipped in with the odor. We survived. The following night, I wore pants over my shorts, socks, long sleeve shirt, and a sweatshirt to bed! I figured dressing in layers would allow me to go to bed warm – and I could always shed the sweatshirt if it got too hot (which it didn’t). When you camp, check what the lows will be and plan your pj’s accordingly!

~We set out for adventure, we camped, and we overcame! The weekend was certainly one to remember – and we’d love to camp together again (in our own tent, of course!) Saturday we took a peaceful two hour canoe trip, swam in the spring, and cooked hotdogs and s’mores over the fire. Relaxing on a blanket by the spring was nice too, as we played card games and people watched. There were also trails to explore which provided even more activities. I can’t forget to mention that the campground is teeming with wildlife. At night you could hear the constant walking of raccoons and ‘possums around our tent, looking for anything they could get their hands on. We made sure all our food was safely put away in the car. I was proud of myself for packing for the both of us that Friday… I boiled eggs and made muffins for breakfast, baked heart shaped brownies for Matt’s b-day, and packed plenty of sandwiches/snacks to last us all weekend. The things lacking were more water bottles, trash bags, and the pillows, of course!

Here are a few pictures from our trip:





Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Mess of Blessings

What a week it has been! I can't believe this time last Wednesday I was on a flight with my husband to NC. It was an incredible trip and seeing family was so wonderful. Here's some trip highlights:

Thursday morning we visited my Papa. It was good to see him because I'm not sure how much longer he'll be around. Afterward, we came home and took my youngest sister to have her ears pierced - second hole. That was part of our birthday present to her.




I can't believe she's 16! She got her license while we were there so we were sure to have her drive us around some :)

On Friday, Matthew, Meredith, and I went to visit my other sister at UNC Chapel Hill. She's a music major there and loves it. It was fun walking down Franklin St. and the beautiful campus (probably my favorite!) and seeing her dorm. We hung out in her room while she went to Spanish class, then took her home so we could all get ready for Meredith's party. Matthew took a picture of us with a UNC ram (not the official, I don't think) - he was just wandering around the area...



Friday night was the Sweet 16 party. What fun! It was held at this classic soda shop and they let us have the entire front portion of the restaurant. There was a stage for karaoke, a dance floor, everything was in the classic red/black/white colors, and of course there was unlimited soda! It was the cutest place and I'd love to go back on a Saturday when they have live music. Matt & I provided the music for the party and even sang karaoke with my middle sister and her friend (nothing to brag about). The cake was very unique and overall it was a great birthday for her. Here's just a couple of the photos taken that night. I don't have a good one of the inside of the place - it's on another camera in NC.





Saturday morning Matt & I left with my mom to go visit relatives on both sides of the family. They all live in the same town which makes visiting easy! I love going to Danville, VA because it's where we've always gone to see family since I was born. I like the familiarity of it and the memories the town has. We started off seeing my Grandma - she's the crazy one (dad's side) :) - and then saw my mom's aunt, stopped for lunch at Momma 'Possums (yum!) and off to visit mom's sister. When we left my aunt's house we visited my cousin and her husband at their adorable home. They've been married a year now and seeing their house made me hope Matthew and I can have one of our own closer to everyone soon! Our Saturday was busy, but completely worth it!

We had a unique opportunity while in town. Matthew's cousin happens to go to college somewhat locally and was in an art show this past weekend. The art show was in Durham, less than 20 minutes from the house. We took advantage of the opportunity since Matt doesn't get to see his cousins often and headed to the big art show. Adam is so talented! You can see some of his work in the background of our picture. You can view his artwork at www.achmoser.wordpress.com



Sunday was filled with church, relaxing, and good-byes as we boarded our plane back to Florida. It was 5 days filled with family blessings.

The blessings kept coming when we got back to our apartment. On my way to a sub job Monday morning, I got a call from a secretary at a school in Orlando letting me know a temporary teaching position for Kindergarten opened up until the end of the year. She basically told me the job was mine if I got all my paperwork in and the county approves, etc. Overwhelmed at first, I wasn't sure what to do. Just the week before I had come home from a day at that school and told Matthew I wasn't crazy about going back there again. Then the next day the secretary called and said she was going to use me more... and now she's been bending over backwards to help me get this job! I finished all the paperwork today so I now just wait to hear something. I'm still going to try to sub somewhere tomorrow, since I've spent the last two days getting paperwork done and missed out on working. What a blessing it'll be if I do get it! Even though it's only for a month... it's consistent work and that means the stress of not knowing where I'm going or what I'm walking in to will be gone (for the most part!) It'll also be teacher pay for a month which would be great :) We'll see what happens...

Another blessing happened yesterday when the lady in charge of my summer job e-mailed and asked if I'd be willing to step up from servant leader (teacher) to site coordinator (more like a principal). It's a 5 week job for the Freedom School and I was looking forward to being a teacher to the students. The possibility of being site coordinator would be wonderful too! I've always wanted to organize and oversee things and this would be great experience. The pay is $800 more too - not that money is everything, but every little bit does help pay those bills and Matt's student loans. I won't know until Monday because she is waiting to hear from the current site coordinator about whether or not she will be able to fulfill the role based on family problems. God's been opening some major doors this week and I'm anxious to see where they go...

My evening has been quite relaxing - I baked us some grouper, caught up on e-mails, drank pineapple smoothies with my husband by the pool, and played an intense game of Rummy while watching Planet Earth. He won by the way... we were tied and then his natural winning ability took over :( Next time I'll get him! Time for bed...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Going Home!

This evening Matthew and I will be flying home to see my family. I can't wait! We'll come back late Sunday night - so we'll be able to enjoy 4 days there. I probably won't post while I'm there, unless we have some down time. If not, I'll be sure to post about the trip next week. Our plans are to simply relax and enjoy being with family :) We haven't seen them since the wedding in December and haven't been home to NC since Thanksgiving. We'll also be providing entertainment/music for my youngest sister's Sweet 16 party Friday night and visiting all my extended family on Saturday. It's so nice that my relatives on both sides of the family live less than an hour away - in the same town. Matt and I will also go hang out with my other sister at UNC Chapel Hill (she's a freshman!) on Friday and bring her home for the weekend.

Here's pictures from the last time we were home.


That's Dad and Matt putting up Christmas decorations. I love having the house decorated!

This is me with my sisters ~ Hillary is in the middle and Meredith is on the right.

Well, I have much to do before we leave! I must get busy tackling the things on my list...

Monday, April 13, 2009

What's in a name?

Being a teacher (well, sub for now) means I come across many interesting names quite regularly. If a name really grabs my attention, I write it down because they are always fun to share and look back on :) I thought I'd share a few today...

One morning in February I was in a first grade class, walking around the room checking students off the attendance list while they did their morning work. I heard some students using the word "whisper" and I smiled to myself, thinking it was a good sign that they knew to follow the rules and whisper to each other if they had any questions. Next thing I know, a student yells "Whisper! We have a sub today!" Well lo and behold, this little Whisper comes and sits in the empty desk before me. Whisper was a sweet girl that I will remember for a long time.

I had another first grade class that gets the award for the greatest confusing names of all (so far, at least). I begin my class like I do each time, introducing myself and then going around the room so I can hear the students pronounce their names. This class had me laughing in amazement... To my left sat Monesha, and as I went around the room there was also a Ranesha, Danesha, and Dranesha (all with the beginning short "u" sound and none of these girls were related). That's not all... I also learned that there were two boys in the class sharing similar names: Xavier and Xavian. That's six students out of fifteen so far... the last two interesting names in that class were Q'Darius and Dequarius. What a day that was! I remembered those 8 names because they were so unique and confusing :)

When I work with Rose's girls, we have two sisters named Nitheria and Nigeria. I wonder about the story behind those names... One of the girls doesn't even go by her name, but goes by "Pooh" instead because of her resemblance to the character :) Their third sister is Shetallis, a name so unlike Nitheria or Nigeria, that again I wonder how that name came about. Their brother goes by "Gator" and he's a 2nd grader as tall as I am! I'm not sure of his real name. Another interesting name of a girl that hangs out with us when we have Rose's girls is Vanity. What a name - poor girl.

A few weeks ago I subbed in fourth grade and met a boy named Kirill. I immediately associated this name with the shrimp-like krill found in the ocean. Hmm... maybe a family name that's been passed down? Not sure. Today I taught music for 2nd, K, and 1st grade. In my 2nd grade class I was going down the attendance, calling out names so I could associate the name with a face. The names on the paper are listed last name, first name, middle initial. Well, one student in particular was listed as Smith, Willow A. (note: Smith is not the true last name). I thought this was a student with two last names and the first name was the initial - a mistake on the paper. Nope, no mistake... I asked whose last name was Smith, and this girl raised her hand stating her name as Willow. Interesting, I thought, and unique. Then I recalled a movie character with the same name... Remember Grandmother Willow in Pocahontas? Maybe this Willow will grow to be as wise as Grandmother, yet not creepy like the old talking tree ;) 

Names are personal. Some are very common, others are passed down from generation to generation, holding family sentiment, and then there are those that make you raise your eyebrows and laugh in amazement. I look forward to adding more names to my list in the future! 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Resurrection Day!

"Why are you looking in a tomb for someone who is alive? He isn't here! He has risen from the dead! Don't you remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again the third day?"
Luke 24:5-7


What an incredible story! Matthew and I began this morning by having our Sunday School class read of the resurrection in the book of Luke. Today's focus was on the gift of salvation, and the lesson related salvation to a "parachute" - meaning, when we make the jump from this life to the next, we can have a parachute of salvation, guaranteeing a safe landing into eternity. We can choose to wear this parachute, appreciate it, and understand its purpose - or we can grab a parachute because we believe it will enhance enjoyment in our life. If we choose a parachute for the latter reason, it won't be long before we shrug it off at the first sign of problems, difficulty, or pain. When we have an understanding of our parachute (salvation), we push through trials and tribulation because we know the parachute on our backs serves an eternal purpose, one that gives us a hope and peace. We had the class brainstorm reasons why people don't want to accept a parachute and also the benefits to having one. A student brought up a good point when she said, "I would want others on my plane ride to have a parachute too. I would tell them about it!" Her statement made me smile because that is exactly what Jesus told the disciples to do after the resurrection, when he ascended up into Heaven. He told them to go and spread the news with all nations, so they may have life. We can't just sit back with our parachutes and ride in neutral - we must share as we were commanded to do. Our Sun. School class had a lot of good things to share today. We ended with prayer and another youth prayed something that is so very true: "Let us remember the significance of Easter every day, not just today..."


Our church service was nice as we all joined in singing "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," wearing our pretty Easter Sunday clothes :) It's certainly been a day of joy and thanksgiving. Matthew and I took some photos down by the lake after the service. We plan on sending them out to family as a Spring Greetings postcard later this week. This is what we decided on:





We ate a wonderful, filling meal at Cracker Barrel and then headed home for a relaxing afternoon. We decorated the four eggs I had boiled earlier in the week with tissue paper (it seemed like a good idea in the magazine, but I was reminded that they are professionals...) Our eggs are cute, we just have to remember to throw them out before we leave to visit my family in NC on Wednesday or else our apartment will not be pleasant when we return! After decorating, Matthew had me hunt for my Easter basket. It took me about 20 minutes or so and it was filled with delicious Godiva chocolate and some jelly beans! He made the "basket" himself out of neat scrapbook paper. It's something he wanted me to be able to reuse, and I certainly will. It's quite creative.


After hanging out here, we left and headed to Wal Mart to have our Spring Greeting picture printed out. We then got some ice cream from Marble Slab. I came inside just a little bit ago from sitting down by the pool with my sweet husband. We were eating our ice cream, playing some card games, and just enjoying each other's company. I'll be off to bed soon, wondering whether or not I'll get called to sub tomorrow. Hopefully one day soon this little stress will be gone because I will have a class to call my own :) One day...

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Are you being productive?

My husband shared with me several years ago that before he falls asleep at night, he does a bit of reflecting to determine whether or not he had a productive day. He told me that he considers what he accomplished during the day, apart from fulfilling his expected role at work. Did he work to bring glory to God and go out of his way to reach out to others? Did he have purposeful, meaningful conversations with God, me, family, and friends? Did he seize opportunities and use his God-given talent of creativity with film/photography in some way? Days that he didn't feel he was as productive as he could've been, it reflected in his voice to me over the phone at night. He didn't like going to bed knowing he could've done more with the day God had given him.

Off and on since we had that conversation a while ago, I think about my productivity and the time that is wasted. Take today for example... I didn't get a sub job although I searched again online this morning hoping a 1/2 day would pop up. Instead I had a day here at the apartment. I did some laundry, dishes, took out the trash and browsed around on the computer. I also went out for a little bit and found me an Easter dress for Sunday ($50 on sale for $25!) Now it's almost time for me to leave to tutor for two hours and I think about all the other things I could've done today had I planned and prioritized accordingly. I've been wanting to write letters and mail them out, sew or crochet gift items, read my book, etc. Days like this one do and will continue to happen - like getting wrapped up in little things and pushing more important tasks aside "just because." I haven't thought about that conversation with my husband in a while, and today I was reminded of it as I said to myself (more frequently over the past week) "where does the time go?!" I realize that fewer days such as this one will result in a much more fruitful and productive me! I desire to reach out and take advantage of opportunities God gives me - whether the day be super busy or slow...

Ok, enough of me trying to get my thoughts in order. The point I need to grasp and remember is each day is a gift and I can choose to be productive - accomplishing things with a purpose - or I can let opportunities and time pass me by. There are so many character qualities mentioned in the Bible that I desire to have and continually build. Wasting time is not a character builder :)

Aside from those thoughts, I am off to tutor once more. I am getting extra hours with some of my students this week because it's their Spring Break and their parents want them to have something to do. I also subbed yesterday at a school I enjoy going to and walked away with four more days in the near future! Then when I got home, I got an e-mail about babysitting 3 days straight in May (the pay is better and easier than subbing - yay!) and also an e-mail from a teacher asking me to sub for her class again this Friday. Although I find subbing stressful at times, I am so thankful for the jobs that come up.

*Here is a project I created on Monday. It didn't take me near as long as I expected and I am pleased with the end result! It'll be a great wedding keepsake made from one of the North Carolina newspapers that our wedding announcement was in.



Saturday, April 4, 2009

Finally

Everyday for the last week or so, I've been wanting to put up a new post. I even went so far as to bring my computer to my babysitting job last Saturday so I could type while she was sleeping. It didn't happen. I wasn't feeling well and opted to just read instead. Then this past week I was busy subbing each day and tutoring at night. Excuses, excuses... no good. Time gets away from me!

This is going to be a short post because Matthew and I want to continue spending quality time together tonight. Today has been one of the most relaxing Saturdays we've had. We awoke to no alarm and spontaneously decided to go out for breakfast. I remembered that there was a local farmer's market I've been wanting to check out near a cafe I wanted to try, so we headed there first. It was in the quaint, historic district of Longwood. The farmer's market was small, much like the other ones around our area, and we set about browsing as we usually do. Today we came across homemade jams/spreads. Our eyes were drawn to the unique printed paper covering the tops of the jars and after chatting with the lady behind the table, we walked away with a small jar of pear jelly. It's quite delicious! When I sampled it, I was reminded of my Nanny (mom's mother) who would fix us a wonderful breakfast when we stayed with her in Virginia. We'd have biscuits 'n gravy, fruit, eggs, sausage, and pear preserves. I'd scoop out several spoonfuls of the pear to eat by itself.




We soon left the farmer's market and crossed the street to Nellie's cafe, a charming, family owned restaurant. There was only one lady working our table and just two other tables that were occupied. I ordered biscuits with gravy and Matthew had wonderful French Dutch toast, made from some sort of apple bread, with homemade honey pecan butter. Our breakfast was very satisfying :) Our morning had this small town feel to it that we absolutely loved and were surprised to find.

At noon we met with potential clients who are getting married in October. They're wanting our services for videography, which is wonderful! It's a blessing to have jobs like that come up because they're so few and far between - especially with the economy the way it is. We did just do a wedding last Sunday (the ceremony started over an HOUR late and lasted ALL day!) Having business is a good thing and I love working with Matthew at events like that. Hopefully wherever we move will provide us with a good base for new clientele.

Following our meeting, we ran errands and came back to our apartment to quickly pack a picnic for Wekiva Springs State Park. We hadn't been there before and wanted to spend the last couple hours of daylight outside. I love parks and it was so peaceful. It was an unusually comfortable day for Florida, so being outside wasn't unpleasant. Matthew and I sat on a blanket playing cards and drinking iced tea. Perfect... until the sun went away and the bugs decided our skin would be their feast. That was our cue to leave.

Now we're home and wanting to use our fryer we received as a wedding present. It'll be a new experience for both of us. I think we will follow up our time in the kitchen by cuddling on the couch to watch a movie. It's been a beautiful day.





Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hawaiian Island Eruption

Since I didn't get a sub job today, I decided to pack up my laptop and head to my favorite coffee shop - Volcano's Coffee Bar. Hawaiian Island Eruption is by far the best cold coffee drink and tastes great hot too! I love this particular location because it's rarely very busy and the internet is free. This is where I would come when Matthew and I first got married and internet wasn't yet connected at our apartment. I can dive into researching whatever I'd like on my computer without being distracted around our home. Today I will research cities that we would like to relocate to...

I have lived in the sunny state of Florida for too long (9 years?) and greatly miss NC. Matthew has lived here for almost 4 years and he misses Ohio. We have this longing in common that has lead us to much prayer and consideration concerning how to go about relocating. My family moved back to NC after my freshman year of college and going home to them is one of the most fulfilling things we do. Visiting family in Ohio also gives us a warm, complete feeling so we have opted to move somewhere North of SC. Before we were married Matthew printed off a map - dotted where my parents live and where his live - then drew circles around areas that were within 3-4 hours of our parents, and 6-8 hours. Family is a priority to us and we want to raise our kids within a reasonable driving distance of them.

We long to experience four seasons once again, own land, live near or in the mountains, and keep it simple. We don't mind living near a large city (that's where it'd be best for Matt to find his type of work anyway), but we would choose to live some miles away where we could come home to the quiet peacefulness of the country. To start out, we'd like to live in an apartment for a little while so we can scope out homes/land while working to save money. 

Matthew and I talk about our aspirations and are focusing on being active about them. I stumbled across this website yesterday about a young couple in their late twenties who sold everything they had to move from the West coast of Canada to the East to pursue their dreams. They have a blog on their site that I sat and read for an hour - I just love their house and how they worked so hard for what they have. Their story is crazy, yet inspiring. I shared it with Matt last night and told him I'm not saying I could do what they did, but the overall idea is encouraging. You can check out their site here... www.whimfield.com  

There are so many questions to sort through... every time I moved as a child, it was because my dad we being relocated with his job. He knew he was going to have a job when he moved us as a family. In our situation, we're not even sure how to go about finding a location to move. We know we want to be near family, that's the easy part. How does my husband find a job in this economy - especially along the line of work of film and photography? Are teaching jobs for me readily available up there as opposed to Florida? How do we begin looking? What about finances? It's overwhelming for both of us, but we know God will provide a way. Despite the questions running through our heads on a regular basis, we do know that moving is in the near future and God is our guide.

Matthew encouraged me to look up school districts today and local churches. We have a list of cities we are going to be acquiring information about: Charlottesville, VA (my favorite), Roanoke, VA, Raleigh, NC (where my family is), Nashville, TN and surrounding areas...  We know we'd like to make a weekend trip home to see my family this summer, then drive to Charlottesville for a day or two and explore there. We really like what we've seen about this area so far, and have looked into various towns outside of the big city. Who knows what could happen? We can't keep talking about wanting to move and not do anything about it. We want to be open to where God sends us - and I'm well aware it could be an entirely different place aside from what we're thinking - and that's ok. We just want to go and be in God's will throughout it all.

Ok, enough of sorting through my thoughts - I must research before I go tutor two of my students. My hawaiian island eruption is almost finished, meaning I should order a sandwich soon in order to feel like it's ok for me to keep sitting here for another hour (although I'm the only one in this place!) 

*As an exciting side note, my dad is in town on business and we're meeting him for dinner tonight! He took me to lunch yesterday and came by our place Sunday evening. It's so nice having him here - definitely makes me miss my mom and sisters!


Friday, March 20, 2009

Welcome Spring!

Spring has arrived! I love the idea of the season - despite the fact that we live in Florida and the evidence of spring is not as easily observed as it is in states farther North of here. I am posting pictures of my spring crafts I've been working on. Below are my garden picks and bright birdhouse I painted. We're only allowed one pot outside the apartment for plants... so that's where they'll go :) Right now we're growing tomatoes (Matt ate 2 already!), spearmint (great in soda!), and basil.


Although they may be childish in nature, and my husband laughs at them (in a nice way), deep down I know he thinks they're just as cute as I do ;)



And the rest of my spring bunch to give away to Mom and our small group leader...



The next craft I am working on is paper pinwheels. I bought spring inspired scrapbook paper on the clearance aisle of Michaels and found the instructions on Martha Stewart's website. I've only made one so far but plan to make more using this blue paper to create a set of 4, and then I'll use other colors to make sets for my mom and sisters. They even spin when you blow on them!



This is what I wrote on the tag I am attaching to the spring gifts:

Colorful new day
Blooming flowers, singing birds
Welcome fresh sweet SPRING!



Now it's off to another Rose's Girls' Night :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday News

I've realized that I must make a more concerted effort to write in this blog on a regular basis. I really do want to, and when I have time I find myself choosing something else to do. I'll work on getting better :)

I'm not subbing today. No sub job yesterday either. I have been working 4 days a week for the last three weeks and it's been great! I'm disappointed no phone calls came this morning though. I do have two days lined up already for next week - I guess this is just an off week for work. My plan is to go to at least two more local schools in Seminole county today to drop off my substitute i.d. number and see what comes out of that. It's always good to have options! I had a great kindergarten class on Monday... definitely one of the best behaved group of kids I've experienced. They were so adorable! The more I'm in the classroom, the more I want my own so I can have routines and procedures run the way I'd like them to. I also want to decorate my own classroom! Maybe one day soon...

Spring is just a couple days away! I have been in a spring decorating mood lately. I bought flowers for the centerpiece on our table and some spring scented candles. I've also been working on spring crafts. Since I didn't babysit Saturday, I took advantage of the time to be creative and try out some projects I've seen online and in magazines. When I finish them, I'll post pictures. They're real simple and fun - I also feel productive while I work :) I would like to work on them some more today because my dad is coming into town this weekend on business and it'd be nice if he could take them home to my mom as a "Welcome Spring" gift. I told Matthew we need to take a spring picture and send it as a postcard to family... we better do it soon!

I'm positing a photo of me and two of the students I tutor at a Harlem Globetrotters game. I have 5 students now! It certainly makes my nights busy each week... the money is good because we need it and it is over the end of May. I was approached by another tutor with the opportunity to attend the Harlem Globetrotters game over at UCF for free. We even got to sit up in a box/suite! Matthew came along with me and we picked up three of my students for the event. It was a lot of fun and the show had a lot more humor than I expected. The first photo is of a brother and sister (K and 2nd grade) that I see every week. They fell in love with the Veggie Tales "Cheeseburger" song I had in my car... and we listened to it well over 5 times. The funny part is that they wanted to sing it just like Matthew did, all crazy and loud. I got it on video :) The other photo is of Matthew and the kids walking to the game. The child that's cut off is one of my other students - poor guy just had braces put on the day before and was a bit sore. Matthew was a great help all night and patiently endured the brother and sister's endless chatter, questioning, and mocking. It was great!



Thursday, March 5, 2009

Overdue Photos






I am catching up on the photos I wanted to post a while ago. Above is a picture of Rose's Girls Night Out when they came to our apartment for a Valentine's/True Love Waits evening. It was a bit crowded :)

Here are a few of our garage sale items... the $1 chandelier, the window pane hanging with a collection of our seashells, and our photo collage.

Friday, February 27, 2009

It's the 27th!


I have been married two months today <3

(I finally got a picture to post!)

More to come on the details of our wedding later...

Friday, February 20, 2009

It's Friday!

Click...click...click... That was the sound of me refreshing the substitute website for Orange county (every 3 seconds) so I could have a job for today. Would you believe I did that for roughly 2 hours?! I took a break to make cupcakes for tonight when the girls come over - but that was it. They say Friday is the day they need subs most, but not last night. I was determined to have a job before I went to sleep and then contemplated just receiving a phone call in the morning instead. Well, around 10:20 a job finally popped up and it's well worth the wait! It's only a half day :) and I will certainly take what I can get. I go in at 11:16 (why the odd time, I'm not sure) and I will sub for a 2nd grade class until 3:00. I pray they're obedient students!

Having this extra time is allowing me to straighten up the apartment so I don't have too much to do when I get home this afternoon. We're expecting 8 - 12 girls around 6:30. A lady from church will drive them out here and back home again. While we're having our girls' night, Matthew has decided he'll finally go to the eye doctor. I told him to go over a year ago... but he just didn't want to spend the money when his eyes "weren't that bad." He has glasses he wears when he sits in front of the computer editing for too long, but lately his face and eyes have been hurting more. I'm glad he's going and I'm curious to see how much his sight has changed.

A friend from Georgia called us last night to share some cool news. This Christian college group on campus at one of the Georgia universities (I don't remember which one), is having a night focusing on love. This friend of ours shared our wedding ceremony video with the person in charge and they enjoyed it so much that they asked permission to show it to the college students! Who would've thought that God would use a simple video we put together for our wedding as a tool to minister to others out of our reach? Matthew & I are happy it can be used in such a way and are excited to see what else God will do with it.

Off I go to shower and vacuum before I leave to sub :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

6th Grade Social Studies

I am happy to say that I subbed two days in a row and loved every minute of it! It was for a 6th grade social studies class, and while I was hesitant at first to be with middle schoolers all day, I have to say that I truly enjoyed it. The school was awesome and I'd like to sub there again if possible. It was certainly a God-thing that I was able to get the same sub position twice - You see, you have to refresh the internet page literally every minute to look for new postings. Almost as soon as you read about the job, it's taken and you're back to clicking refresh once more. You can wait and see if you're called in the morning, but I'd much rather prefer knowing the night before where I'm headed and what age group to prepare for. For the past two nights while talking to my family on the phone I'd constantly hit the refresh button for jobs. The same job I had Tuesday came up last night and I went back to the same classroom again :) It was great!

Something quite unique happened my first day subbing in that class. During 4th period I was taking attendance when I stumbled across a familiar name. I asked the student the name of her parents, and when she told me I was surprised. Our parents had been friends long ago when my family lived in Florida before. They went to the same church before my parents had kids. I told this girl that we used to get pictures of her when she was real little, and now here she was in this classroom! Crazy :) I know I weirded her out the first day and today she came back saying she remembers going fishing with us.... I don't remember that because I thought we last saw her when she was three... either way it was neat that God placed me in that particular school (out of over 100 in the county) and in that particular 6th grade classroom.

Tomorrow I'm taking a break from subbing and heading over to Seminole county to sign a paper. I received a phone call saying that once I sign this paper then they can hand over my substitute approval letter. Yay! Now I can sub in both counties. I also have to tutor tomorrow afternoon for two hours - then assess a new student that is coming into the tutoring program. I'm going to be at the library from 5-8 tomorrow night. Talk about being there at the worst time... dinner time. Oh well, I'm helping students and making money :)

I need to make about 15 cupcakes for Friday night. It's another Girls' Night Out for those in the Projects, like we do once every month. This time they're actually coming over to our apartment for a belated Valentine's night. We're going to talk about purity and eat a meal together. Our place isn't very large... but we can spread out on the floor I guess. I'm looking forward to it because it's always fun hanging out with these middle and high school girls. They seem to say the funniest things and ask the most random, put-you-on-the-spot questions. If I can ever figure out how to upload pictures, then I'll post one of all of us Friday night. My prayer is that each time we get together, they will see God in a new way and draw closer to Him. Most are not saved and live in unfortunate situations.

Warm cookies and ice cream are waiting for me! I'm going to spend the rest of this evening relaxing with my husband, probably play some Wii games with him, then head to bed for some much needed sleep!


Monday, February 16, 2009

In Sickness and in Health...

Yes, it's been over a week since my last post and there's so much to share! First, I must tell you my excuse... I was quite sick. It came as a surprise to me as we were walking around at an art festival after church last Sunday. The fever and aches lasted off and on for five days - leaving me with an unpleasant cough and sniffles. Thankfully, I am much better and can actually eat full meals and walk without becoming exhausted :)

Picking up where I left off last, Matthew and I went shopping at garage sales last weekend. Our first stop found us with a $1 chandelier - we figured why not pay a $1 to see if the thing worked. Now we have a unique overhead light above our dinner table and it's quite exciting! We didn't have one before because our table is in what the apartment complex calls a "sunroom" - we thought it made a nice "eating nook" instead. The last house we went to (I think 6, total) had some odds and ends, and we walked away with two wooden frames with glass panes. I don't really know how to describe them, but we had some creative ideas for both of them and only paid 50 cents for each. One wooden frame is hung from our ceiling, displaying all the beach shells we've collected over the years together. The other frame uniquely displays a photo collage we created. We took many pictures of bark, leaves, etc. and ripped up the photos - then put pieces together again to create one giant picture of a tree. It was our first time every trying anything like that and it's not complete yet, but we do like what we have :) I just tried to post pictures but it was taking way too long so I'll have to try again later.

The rest of the week went by quickly. Monday I rested, determined to be better by Tuesday so I could substitute. I took a subbing job, woke up Tuesday feeling miserable, but went anyways. I didn't want to call in sick on my first day! Thank goodness for medicine! I subbed for a first grade class and it went well. There was only one terror ;) and he refused to say Mrs. Taflan. He called me Tiffany...not sure why...then settled with Mrs. T (weird because that was the name of my bus driver in high school). The day ended with me tutoring, then going to bed extra early. On Wednesday Matthew and I were asked to speak to the youth for their Purity/True Love Waits night. We met with the youth for an hour and a half and it went great! We wanted to give them something different and we did this by bringing in lamps, low lighting to create a different atmosphere. The youth pastor asked us to also share our video we had created about love that we played as an introduction to our wedding ceremony (we hope to post it online to Matthew's website soon). Matt & I want God to use us and Wednesday night was a great opportunity. Thursday and Friday I rested and caught up on cleaning the apartment. I stayed out of the schools because my fever was still coming and going.

Valentine's Day was Saturday! It was our first as a married couple and we began the day by sleeping in. My wonderful husband made me blueberry pancakes (with fresh blueberries!) and sausage <3>

Sunday was a big day - especially for Matthew. He had been asked by the youth pastor (he's the guy the married us) to assist in constructing and leading the contemporary service that morning. The contemporary service is a new thing we've been trying and lately it's had no direction. Matt and Jim dissected the parts of the service and over the next three weeks are trying out different ideas to see what works and what does not. I was quite proud of him :) He lead the worship band that morning too, so needless to say, he worked hard this past week and will again for the next two Sundays. Our prayer has been that God will use and speak through those handling the service. That afternoon was the youth group's first meeting on a Sun. night instead of a Wednesday. Matthew and I were asked to lead games (my favorite!) and we showed up with silly ideas and enough energy to get us through the evening. It was fun and looks as though we'll be back again next week to help out some more.

Well I'm off to small group. I hope to have a sub job tomorrow!
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