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

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


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.

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