Saturday, December 22, 2007

To You and Yours

Well, I am hitting the road for the Christmas break! I will most likely not be blogging until after Christmas. Everyone have a wonderful holiday and enjoy your families! Be safe! Love to you all!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Today's Debate

I often joke around that I don't teach first graders, I teach theological thinkers. The funniest thing about it is that I really isn't a joke. Here is the latest in the MANY conversations that I overhear almost daily. Keep in mind that I have come in midpoint and am not sure exactly how this came up:

A: No, not really. I mean, he's not really like us. More like a spirit.

B: Yeah, that's what I mean. He used to be a man but now that he's in Heaven, he is just a spirit again.

A: Right. He was a man like our dads but what made him different was God's spirit inside of him. Now his spirit is back with God in Heaven. He was both here on Earth but now he is just spirit - like God.

B: You know we will be like that one day. Just spirits with God. In Heaven.

A: Heaven is like here, right?

B: Yeah, but prettier and only our favorite things.

A: So I guess heaven is something really great. I don't get why people are afraid to die if it is so good.

B: Me either. With Jesus and God there, it will be pretty good.

At this point, my girl came and thrust a monster puppet she made in my face and I could no longer hear what they were saying. SIX YEARS OLD! The discussion of Christ's humanity vs. Christ's deity. Then, the talk of heaven. We all know how concrete that one can be. I have to admit, I feel very humbled to be able to sit (or stand) off to the side and listen to these beautiful conversations. One co-worker's boys hoot and holler at every girl that comes by them or that they see in a book. Another co-worker has many students that are just now learning the English language. Next door, my teammate is battling severe learning disabilities. Me? I have the spontaneous discussions about God and other deep spiritual matters. What a blessing!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Arboretum

On Thursday, the first grade took our fall field trip to the Houston Arboretum. It was such a nice day! Except for the random train whistle, I completely forgot that we were in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the US. I just wanted to share some very special moments that occurred on our trip.

One of the areas in the Arboretum was the wetlands. Our guide called it "the Swamp". As soon as he said we were going into the swamp, one of my precious, sweet girls got a death grip on my hand and frozen in her tracks. I looked down at her saucer sized brown eyes and asked what was wrong. She told me she didn't want to go into the swamp because there were orges that lived there. Stifling a laugh, I took a few moments to reassure her that Shrek did not live in this swamp. She eventually joined the rest of the class. What an imagination!

My student that I blogged about two posts ago started a new medication on the day before the field trip. We were unsure how to prepare for this trip with her. We got an adult to be assigned specifically to her. To our amazement, she was the best behaved child on the trip. During a few moments of down time, my class ran around and played tag. She stood on the side and watched for a couple of minutes. Just as I was about to approach her, the first genuine smile I have seen this year exploded across her face. She ran into the mix and played with her peers. The next day, she was announced as the star student of the week for our class. The other students stood up, clapped for her, and yelled. She was so proud and the other students celebrated with her. I had to step in the hallway and cried tears of joy. The light is getting brighter everyday.

To kill time on the bus, my students took turns making up riddles. Here is my favorite (read as a script):

T: I am not a man but I my name is a man's name. I have a son who went away from me. He got nailed. Then he got un-nailed and came home to me. Who am I?
R: Jesus!
B: NO! Not Jesus! T said he had a son. Jesus didn't have a son. God did. Jesus got nailed!
Me: Why did Jesus get nailed?
T: We were bad. Then when Jesus got nailed, we weren't bad anymore. God was happy we weren't bad anymore and that is why Jesus got un-nailed.
B: Yeah, that is what I heard in my cad-i-chasm class!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

From Ear to Ear

There are so many things to say but I just cannot find the perfect words to for what I am currently feeling. So here is the gist of it: I am happy. Truly, contently, trustingly, peacefully, fantastically happy.

God is good!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


As much as I am enjoying first grade, there is a student that I have that is extremely difficult. Actually that is an understatement. Every teacher up through 5th grade, every custodial and cafeteria workers, and every regular parent knows this child by face and name. No one wants to have her in their rooms. No one can connect with this child and no one wants to try. She has been both verbally and physically aggressive towards her peers and the staff. After three and a half months, I am emotionally, mentally, and physically drained.

Today, for the first time, I broke down and cried. I was at school until almost 7:30 tonight getting the environment ready for some new actions we are putting into place to try to keep her in a regular ed classroom. Tomorrow, I have an hour and a half meeting to "get on the same page" and to make a few things legal. Then, we implement the new plan on Thursday morning. While I have great respect for the men and women coming up with this plan, I do not see the next few weeks being pleasant ones. I expect full resistance and pushing the limits by my girl and I have very little to give to her anymore. On the way home, all I could do to keep myself from pulling over and just falling to pieces was listening to Chris Tomlin singing "Everlasting God" over and over again.

Please pray for wisdom in how to interact with this child. In so many ways, I feel for her but I am almost to my breaking point with her. I beg you NOT to pray for patience! I am terrified of what that lesson might look like after seeing what our day in and day out dealings are. I just need a calm spirit and clarity of thought when choosing words and actions with her. Especially over the next two and a half weeks!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

My Favorite James

For a while now, I have enjoyed the music of James Taylor. He has a such a clear, unique voice and beautiful, stirring songs. To transcend 5 decades and touch the hearts of people no matter the climate of the times or the generation is a testament to his gift. His music brings a smile to my face like few others can. A few nights ago, I downloaded his Christmas album and it reminded me how talented he is. He has taken his place in my top five favorite male musicians (slightly behind Michael Buble, of course). I would like to officially add "seeing James Taylor in concert" to my life list. It won't change the world but it is a selfish pleasure.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Chance Encounters

Hebrews 13:2 tells us: "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." Now, I don't know about entertaining angels but this verse has always given me the gentle reminder that even our chance encounters can be significant. Yesterday, I have been blessed by many people that I do not know. At the grocery store yesterday, I ran across three people who significantly put a smile on my face. Let's face it, grocery shopping the day before Thanksgiving can be a less than cheerful event. Thankfully, it all turned out fine.
  • One man stopped me in the produce isle and told me to keep my pretty smile. He mentioned that when we both came into the store, I smiled at him before turning to grab my basket. He said that he had seen me smile at everyone I came across as I was looking for fruits and vegetables. I don't remember seeing him at all before that moment.
  • Another was a lady who saw my A&M shirt. Every time we passed each other, she smiled and said "Gig 'Em". Throughout the whole store. She was cute.
  • An employee that was helping me find something in the frozen food section was SO friendly. He went on and on about Thanksgiving and what a great day it was. He was so excited and it was a bit contagious.

We never realize who we are going to meet or the impact we may have on them. At the same time, we never know how we will be affected. A simple reminder for our daily encounters. What a blessing!

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Queen Esther

*Erin, great minds think alike! Here's to a wonderful semester of chiastic structure and reversals of destiny! Thank you for taking me along with you!

Tonight is the first Tuesday night in several months I have spent at home. Last week was our last week in Esther with Beth and the Living Proof sisters. I am sad. I LOVED spending my Tuesday nights in DEEP study of the scripture. Not only that but I was surrounded by women who praised God with all of their might. Women lifting up His name is by far the most beautiful thing that I have seen. In the midst of praise and worship, I caught myself staring at the outpouring of praise that surrounded me weekly. It was breathtaking! I can only imagine how God himself felt.

Last spring when the Austin group finished Daniel, I really hated to see it end. After delving into a life so touched by God, I grew very attached. Since then, I have found myself flipping to various passages from Daniel just because I actually missed the book and all I learned there. It is now one of those spots that my bible just falls open to. I miss this man of God. I did not think that I would experience that attachment again with another book. However, much to my surprise, tonight I find myself missing Esther. She has come to represent trust and assurance in our great God. Through this book, I have seen God's faithful hand all over every decision and step I have taken thus far. I know that it is that same hand that will guide all steps to come.

Until I am able to be back with Beth, I am revisiting some old friends - the Patriarchs. I have loved these men who God so specifically worked through - flaws and all - for years. I am looking forward to revisiting these men and seeing what I can learn about our God through them. Here's to old friends, new understandings, and a rapid coming of January 8th!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

You've Got Mail

Today, I checked my mail and found an actual letter in the box! That's right - handwritten, stationary, well wishes sealed and stamped just for me. A lady from West Houston wrote to tell me that she was glad I have placed membership at the church. She is 86 years old, only leaves the house to go to the doctor, and she took the time to write a whole page to me. It made my day! I smiled like a Cheshire Cat all the way back to the apartment.

I believe that writing letters is a lost art form. Someone sitting down and taking the time to share themselves with us. Carefully chosen words, beautiful stationary, neat handwriting. If a page from a lady I have yet to meet can make me feel so good, wouldn't a few lines from those we care about contain that much more joy? How nice to find something worth while in the mail!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

First Grade

I was looking over my blog and I noticed something: I haven't written about work in quite a while! What a nice surprise! How wonderful to have other thoughts and activities going on so that I'm not 100% defined by the job. However, I am going to dedicate this post to first grade.

When I accepted the position, I wasn't sure how I would like first grade. I have always heard that you either love it or hate it. I was anticipating not liking it at all only to be pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy the little ones! Sure, there are rough days and even rougher students but they pale in comparison to the good stuff.

So....without further ado: Reasons I like first grade:
  • We get to sing multiple times daily.
  • We get to celebrate holidays and other significant events.
  • The students are excited about learning and soak it up!
  • Amazing academic growth!
  • Learning all 70 phonograms and the cute movements/sayings that help us remember them. (I'll be happy to demonstrate - just ask)
  • LOTS of hugs and holding hands!
  • Losing teeth (especially when my sweet girl lost her two front silver teeth so her smile is even more beautiful now!)
  • They look hilarious when they run.
  • Two of my boys look like they belong in the Peanuts gang.
  • We play games.
  • Crafts!
  • They really do say the funniest things!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My Piece of Heaven

Tomorrow, we are starting a two week unit of study on Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims. I'm pretty excited. That is one thing that I really enjoy about the switch to first grade. We get to actually enjoy the various times of the year. The only downfall to it is that I am having to rebuild my classroom and read aloud library. Since I don't have many Thanksgiving books, I made a Barnes and Noble run tonight and got a few. Yea for the Educator's Discount!

I know that some of you are Borders fans but I am not. I find them to be crowded, busy, and cold. I LOVE Barnes and Noble! It is slower and quieter. It is inviting and warm. It is the perfect place to unwind and relax. As a book lover, I literally get lost in there for hours. It is the ultimate escape for me. I turn the cell phone to silent and move from book to book, slipping in and out of genre, realities, and interests. There are entire worlds in there to discover and nothing to disturb the beauty of it all. There is nothing like the quiet joy of the written world.

In heaven, I look forward to a room filled with the original scrolls to peruse with the ones who wrote them and the One that inspired them.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Resembling Him

At Bible Study last night, Beth shared this quote with us by Ray Steadman:

When, because of your faith, your life too becomes perceptibly different; when your reactions are quite opposite to what the situation seems to call for and your activities can no longer be explained in terms of your personality; that is when your neighborhood will sit up and take notice. In the eyes of the world, it is not our relationship with Jesus Christ that counts; it is our resemblance to him.

This has become one of my new prayers: That my actions, words, and reactions can only be explained by whose I am, not who I am.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


About a year ago, I found a book by Frank Warren called PostSecret. I was intrigued and opened it up. In the front of the book, I found that Mr. Warren started a project as a community art project. He had people anonymously send in self decorated postcards sharing their deepest secrets. No names, all secrets. News got out about it and he started receiving hundreds of thousands of post cards. He compiled them and published them in a book. On Monday, the fourth book in the series is going to be released.

I am SO drawn to these books! Some secrets are silly and fun while others will break your heart. Some are disturbing while others make you grin cheek to cheek. What is so freeing about sharing secrets and reading someone else's? I guess it is an unburdening of the soul. Maybe the thought of "Oh! It's not just me!" or "Wow! Maybe I don't have it so bad after all." Maybe it is the joy of sharing the best news you have heard today but you can't.

There is a blog that he posts every Sunday with new postcards that he has received. I thought long and hard about whether I should link it or not because of the nature of some of the post cards. I decided to do it. If you decide to look at it, I hope you are as drawn in as I am. Talk about a look into the human soul!


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Getting Old?

As you have noticed, I have lessened on the blogging scene. I have ideas often but, truth be told, I am EXHAUSTED by the time I get home. Totally worn out. Pooped. Drained. You get the picture....

I'm not sure if it is because I am so tired or my new routine but my favorite time of day has become bedtime! I look forward to it all day. Not in the depressed, "I don't want to deal with the world" kind of way but in the complete relaxation kind of way. Honestly! Every night, I put on the kettle to heat and go wash my face. I then return to the kitchen and make a cup of decaffeinated herbal tea. I go back to my bedroom, turn back to covers and crawl in. I indulge in a few chapters of my latest book while I sip my tea. When the tea is gone and chapters are finished, I turn off the lights and snuggle down in my covers, warm both inside and out. I am out in a matter of minutes. I love it!

Hot tea, a book, and an early bedtime....I am only 27, right!?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Glad Game

Last weekend while I was sick, I watched Pollyanna. I remember really liking this movie as a child but I hadn't actually watched it in years. One thing that I like about the character is that she plays the glad game. Basically, look at the bad around you and find something in it to be glad about.

Yesterday, I was very tired and, as the majority of you know, me + very tired = increased sensitivity and tears. I got hit pretty hard two times last night. The first time, I couldn't stop bawling. The second time, I was so tired that I was pretty much complacent. Still, today I am playing the glad game. So here are the things I am glad about today:
  • A freshly cleaned car! I couldn't stop smiling as I drove her home. She's so pretty and smells so good!
  • NOT waking up to an alarm clock!
  • A new book - especially if it has anything to do with Jane Austen or Pride and Prejudice!
  • Being able to open the windows on a beautiful day!
  • Having time to finally clean the house!
  • Having the desire to bake/cook!
  • Knowing that the school is open on a Saturday and NOT going in!
  • A good night's sleep in clean sheets!

What are you glad about today?

Monday, October 22, 2007

On Being Sick

So I haven't blogged lately because I have been sick. Fever peaked at 102 and the throat caught the brunt of it. Being "under the weather" for five days can sure give you time to contemplate a few things. Here are some interesting tidbits of my mind over the past few days. I'll get the negatives out first and then end on a happy note.
  • A student in my district is sent home with a 99.1 degree fever. Teachers, however, are legal to work up to 100.4. I know because when I saw our school nurse on Friday, her exact words were, "100.1! You are .3 below the legal limit. You're fine. Here's a peppermint." Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this!?
  • I don't know of any other profession where you are responsible for all of your duties when you are out sick. As at teacher, I still have to plan EVERYTHING with ever more detail and supply all materials needed no matter how high my fever is or how my body feels. Then, I have to catch up on everything that we skipped that couldn't be done with a substitute. Maybe I am wrong and need to be put in my place. Feel free to do so...
  • A love seat just isn't as comfortable to lay on as a couch.
  • Double doses of acetaminophen are NOT fun!
  • Old movies make a sick person feel better more than any other movie. Bing Crosby, Audrey Hepburn, Judy Garland, and Halley Mills sure did this sick spirit good! Add hot tea and it was just right.
  • I went to the pharmacy to get some medicine and when the pharmacist asked why I was standing so far away, I told him that I didn't want to breathe my germs on him. I've never seen a more grateful look on an older man's face.
  • The best part of getting better is slipping into clean sheets and brushing your teeth with a new, germ free toothbrush. Life is good!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'm Not Who I Was by Brandon Heath

This is my current favorite song. It is about forgiveness and growth. This isn't the actual video but I think it is better. Give it a listen. I hope it blesses you as it has me!

Monday, October 08, 2007

At Home in My Skin

Over the weekend, I was blessed to see some friends and, best of all, the folks. The biggest question I was asked was if I like Houston and if I would stay here. When I first moved here, I mentioned that something felt very temporary about the situation. I still don't know what that is or if it even is something. However, I must admit that I am starting to feel very at home. Not so much with Houston but with myself. For the first time since I can remember, I am feeling comfortable in my skin. No doubts and fears about how I come across or concern about what others may think. I'm remembering what it is that I love and enjoy so much. I'm rediscovering the love of a GREAT praise song, the AH-HA moments that the Bible is full of, the beauty of Jane Austen, the little bit of a health nut I teetered on becoming. I have noticed that I have actually started to laugh out loud and sing non-stop (well, at least humming). I don't resent the long hours I put in at work (at least today) and I don't feel guilty when it is time to stop. I'm re-learning to live in the moment and not be anxious about what might come in the next. If it is true that the eyes are the window to the soul, then mine is finally starting to clear. Who knows, there may even be a twinkle left hiding in there. I've come to the conclusion that I can be happy no matter where I am as long as I am at peace.

There's no place like home.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Random Bursts

I think it is funny how we have these random bursts of productivity. Well, I don't know so much about "we" but I definitely do! After hitting a small burn out, I have been so motivated to get myself organized at work. Everyday this week has been a late night (except Tuesday - I do have priorities!). Even today! I spent my entire Saturday working on the classroom. Didn't get everything on my list finished but the difference is SO much better! I actually semi-enjoyed it (sick, I know). I'll finish on Monday afternoon for sure! It is carrying over to home too. I'm going to eat a quick bite, attack this place, and finish up a few small things for work. Then - get this - an entire day off with NOTHING work related tomorrow! WOO HOO!

Tonight, I am thankful for God's gift of random productivity.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What to do? What to do?

When I accepted a job in 1st grade, there were many things that I knew I would have to adjust to. Lower reading levels, lay off the sarcasm, more shoe tying....However, one thing that I did not expect was a class of theological discussions. So far this year, I have had to break up two heated discussions on whether Jesus was a man or just a spirit. On another day, I asked the students to tell me everything that they know about their body. The first student I called on stated that we are all made from dirt, God made us alive, and we will be dirt again when we die to be with God. Let me reiterate - 6 years old!

My district has a policy that we are under no circumstances allowed to share our own beliefs. I have also been told by administration that we are to stop any discussions about religion in the classroom. I have NEVER had my hands so tied. In the past, I could share my beliefs if asked and with the stipulation that I make it very clear that they are my own personal beliefs. The other day, I had to tell kids to stop talking about God. I had to tell them that God is for home, not school. As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. I said prayers of forgiveness right then and there. In the past, I flew under the radar but this year, my assistant principal's son is in my class and he happily shares his day with his parents. There is no way to fly that low.

How should I address this without getting in trouble yet, not kill my conscience?

Saturday, September 22, 2007


I was tagged by Mindi (and indirectly by Erin) to share eight little known, random facts about myself. This was hard. Here you go!

1. My new favorite colors are green and brown. I can't get enough of them.

2. When I go to the public library, I never check out less than ten books. Most of them are picture books but when you get in the double digits, they are still heavy. Currently, I have 21 items checked out. Thankfully, I can splurge at the library and not feel guilty about it!

3. I have this obsession with counting. I count everything! Especially stairs. There are 19 leading up to my apartment. Even though I know this, I still count every time whether I realize it or not. You think that I'm kidding but go look at the comment I left on Erin's tagged blog. I had to count the doctors. It's sad!

4. If I could have any job in the world, I would be a full time biblical researcher or write bible studies. It would combine my love of learning, teaching, and bible.

5. Female roles in fairy tales are a soap box for me. Ironically, I still love them. My favorite fairy tale of all time is "Beauty and the Beast". Yea for a girl with a brain and willingness to see beyond the exterior! Being nice and pretty will only get you so far in life. Good lessons for girls (and boys) to know.

6. I am not naturally organized at work. I have to put time and effort into it. Right now, there is no time and the classroom looks like a disaster. I want to pull my hair out. Now that would help the mess!

7. I'm thinking about taking a trip by myself within the next year. I don't know when or where but I'm seriously entertaining the thought.

8. I have recently used packing tape as pest control in my apartment. It worked. Can you say Redneck?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Calming Rumble

On Tuesday nights, I am attending a women's bible study that is studying Esther. Beth Moore is the teacher and even though we are only two weeks in, I have been so blessed by it! Last night, I stood with 4,000 women and sang "Held". Chills.....

I was very excited to hear she was working through Esther this semester mainly because I wasn't ready to finish Daniel last spring. Thankfully, Esther is close to that same time so I feel like this is a woman focused part two. Another reason that I'm excited about this study is because one of my favorite verses/scenes in the Bible comes from Esther. At the end of 4:15, Mordecai looks at Esther and basically says, "Look, God is going to do this with you or without you. But stop and look at where life has brought you!" Then he says the most daunting and uplifting words available. "How do you know that you have not been given a royal position for such a time as this?"

For such a time as this.... These words encourage me and haunt me to my core. Talk about humility! We spent a long time talking about how our past and current situations cannot be separated from our future destiny. How no hiding or running away can change every step God has led you to take. I won't say much more for Erin's sake.

I have noticed that there is something very different about this move to Houston. I told Mom that something feels very temporary about this year. I'm not sure if it is personal, professional, spiritual, or geographical. Something is not quite settled with me. There is a quiet rumble deep within. The odd thing about it is that I am really OK with it. I feel like there is something on the horizon and I have been placed here for such a time as this. Now I just need to turn my eyes to the one who directs my steps.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Little of This and a Little of That

Just some random thoughts. Enjoy!
  • I recently had pest control come for ants. Even though they are mostly gone, I keep feeling phantom bites. I think that ants are like lice - they make you itch when they aren't there.
  • After three and a half weeks, one of my students still can't call me Ms. LaMore. She calls me Ms. Noah. She can get it if I stop and correct her but Ms. Noah is my default name in her little mind. I hope this does mean a lengthy rainy season....
  • No matter how cool the playground equipment is, frogs and cicada skins are always more interesting.
  • It's time to start writing again! Anyone have any suggestions on what you might eventually want to read about in short story form?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Adult Moments

I think that there are many moments over the past few years that I can look at and see myself becoming an adult. Some are not so great (like looking at your budget some months) and others are such fun (like taking big trips you have been saving for and planing over time). This week, I turned couple more pages of realization of adulthood.

We are currently interviewing candidates for a new 1st grade position. When did I become old enough and responsible enough to decide someone's professional future!? I've never done that before! It has been an interesting process to sit through.

Of the two pages I've turned, the biggest for me to wrap my mind around is that I am now officially saving for retirement! I sat down with a financial advisor yesterday and started planning for my future. How crazy is that!? All I kept thinking was "I'm actually about to start investing money. This is a big deal!" I know that retirement is a long way off but I would rather be ready for it the smart way rather than play catch up later. Starting early is a great thing!

It's funny how even though I don't feel like an adult most days, I find myself doing grown up things. From what I hear, that is all that life is - never feeling like an adult but making responsible choices. I guess we all just baby stepping our way into our adult selves. I can handle that!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hobo Teacher

I've found a blog that I have really grown to enjoy. It is called Hobo Teacher. The premise is that teachers are underpaid and dog tired but love their jobs. The teacher who keeps up this blog shares accounts of things that happen in his high school classroom throughout the year. Honestly, it cracks me up! I am learning to have more appreciation for my six year olds. At least I can tell what they're doing! Check it out - It will make you laugh (well, it will make teachers laugh). Enjoy!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Revelation in Church

I was in worship this weekend and I had a revelation. Somewhere along the way, I lost my joy. Sure, there have been moments of brilliant laughter or even happy moments in time, but overall, I am not joyful anymore. I'm not sure when it happened but here I am. I remember when I was able to find the silver lining in any cloud no matter how gray. Truth be told, I've not been that person in a while. I've turned into someone that I can't say I'm too thrilled with. I complain more than I used to and I'm always looking forward to what comes next. You know, the grass is greener..... As a result, I feel different in myself. Not as sure as I once was. More timid and less confident. One of my goals for this year is to refocus and return to joy. I want to be more of who I was and less of who I am. I want to be joyful and thankful for the here and now. I want to find the good in all things and all people. I want to appreciate this exact moment. I want to be upbeat and fulfilled in this place in life.

The world needs more Pollyannas.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

And All the People Rejoiced (yea!)

So today was not all that great but I wanted to share my silver lining. Next Tuesday is the first night of Beth Moore. I had a training scheduled that afternoon. Notice the second word of that last sentence - HAD. That's right, it has been canceled! WOO HOO! I wouldn't have missed bible study but I would have been stressed not knowing where I was going and cutting it so close. I'll have to go to the training the next Tuesday but at least I'll be familiar with where I am going. I AM SO EXCITED! Yea for silver linings!


I need major prayers. Today starts the second week of school and I cannot tell you how overwhelmed and stressed out that I feel. My stomach is in knots all of the time. I'm not sleeping at all due to the constant list of things I've yet to do running through my head. Last night was the worst so far. I've been awake for well over an hour and it is still way too early for anyone to be awake. (Blogger time shows the wrong time zone so don't go off of that to see what time I am up.) I feel like I can't catch up at all. Over the past weekend, I probably put in about 6-7 hours of work and I still feel so guilty for everything that I didn't get done. I very much feel like a first year teacher but so much worse. I shouldn't be thinking this so early on but if things don't get better, I don't think I will teach again after this year. I love the students and I love the curriculum but this is not any kind of quality of life. It has GOT to get better. It just has to......

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ode to Clayton

Like those friends that I have blogged about in the past, I have recently been reminded exactly how blessed I am. This past weekend, I was able to spend Friday night with two of my favorite people in the world. I have written about Todd but I have yet to mention my dear friend Clayton. Shame on me!

When I think about a friend, I think about someone who is trustworthy, follows through on what they say, there for you in a heartbeat, fun, and honest about who they are. By those standards, Clayton is one of the best friends anyone could ask for. He tells it like it is but is a huge teddy bear. After spending time with Clayton, I know that I was with someone who cares about me. He has been there for me every time I have needed him to laugh or cry. Unfortunately, I'm sure he couldn't say the same about me. Then again, that is something wonderful about him - His friendship is constant even when I am not. It really speaks so much about him. He is driven and sure of not only who he is but what he wants. He is a rock!

Unlike the others I have posted about, I don't have my picture with Clayton. In fact, I found that I don't even have a recent picture of him. That will have to change! Even though you don't know what he looks like, you can know that if you ever get to count him as a friend, you will be blessed!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Debating the Comment

Blogging is a very funny thing. Just like the email, it is a tricky thing to navigate. You cannot always tell the writer's tone or mood by them. If they are a good writer, you can but sometimes, not so much. I guess I say all of this more about the comments that people write in response than the actual blog entry. For example, I have read entries that I have REALLY wanted to respond to but have refrained from doing so because I'm not sure how they would be received. Not knowing the full story of what is going on or what that person is going through, I've learned to hold back from saying what I really think about the thoughts expressed in writing. Am I the only one who feels that way or has done that?

If I ever write anything and you want to respond but are not sure how it will be taken, please respond anyway. I want to know how I come across and don't ever want anyone to feel like they can't express what they think to me. I hope that I never come across as someone you dread being open and honest with. I don't bite - I promise!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Our Deepest Fear

I was in a PLC Summit today and I heard this quote. I found it very empowering and wanted to share it with you. I actually only heard a part of it but I found the rest online. It is by a woman named Marianne Williamson. What do you think?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Random Observations and Embarrassing Confessions

Just to appease those of you with curious minds, here are two things that I have come to notice over the past week. Neither are earth shattering but one day, this knowledge may come in handy. You never know....

First, I have observed that my current breakfast cereal looks like cat food. Now, having never tasted cat food, I have no idea how the two compare. The cereal tastes much better than cat food smells so that may be some indicator. Still, my cereal looks like cat food.

Secondly, I have learned that I am an obsessive packer. While getting ready to move and now setting up the classroom, I feel the need to use every cubic inch of a box or container. I used to joke that I could make a shoe box weight 50 pounds. Now, it isn't so much a joke. I've been trying to organize and get the cabinets/room in order at school. Rubbermaid and Sterilite are my newest friends. I found myself repacking boxes just to get that one extra supply in. No wonder it is taking so long to get the room unpacked! My sweet friend Bonnie can attest to this. She saw me do it while packing the apartment. It's sick.

Now for the embarrassing confession. I told myself that it was "research". I told myself that I was doing this to have something in common with my students. I've seen High School Musical. I LOVED Hairspray. On Friday night, my DVR recorded High School Musical 2. I've already watched it. No matter what I may say about my selfless act "for the kids", it was not. I must admit today, openly and honestly, that I am a fan of Zac Efron. He has talent and some beautiful eyes. I am REALLY embarrassed about this fact. I am a sad, sad 27 year old!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

If I Weren't a Teacher.....

I was going to do a more serious type of blog but I can't make my words work. I guess I need to get that fixed in the next week and a half! Here is something a bit more light hearted until my hands can make sense of my thoughts.

I have always hated the question, "What would you be if you weren't a __________?" I have always wanted to be a teacher. As stressful and time consuming as it is, it is all that I have ever thought about or known. However, I have discovered something that I would like to do if the teaching thing ever fell through.

Lately, I have grown an intense interest in the brain. How does it work? What makes people act and react the way that they do? What is stimulating to the brain? What affects it and how so? How does the brain respond to aesthetics around us? How does our diet affect our brains? How can we best activate and expand our minds? Why are different people wired different ways? Really light stuff, right!? I noticed this interest when I read The Female Brain this summer. I couldn't put it down. It was SO interesting to see how finely tuned we are and how our minds can be affected by the slightest things. AMAZING! Then, in a workshop last week, we had some bilingual teachers in our group. The presenter asked which language they dream in: English or Spanish? My attention was caught and they said they couldn't remember. She shared resent research that is finding that that the mind dreams and thinks in pictures. She went into what this means for our students. I couldn't help but notice some people bored out of their minds but I was so caught up in the discussion.

So...if I weren't a teacher, I think that I would be a brain researcher. I don't have any background for any kind of masters in that but I'm may look into educational psychology or something along those lines. I don't know. It may stay an interest that I read about and then get my masters in library sciences. I could be Marion the Librarian who happens to read about brains.

What a weirdo!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Woo Hoo for Internet!

After two weeks with no internet, I got it back! I cannot tell you how excited I am! It is really ridiculous it is that I have come to need it. Insane! The good thing about no internet is that you can get so much done! Here are the pictures of the new apartment! It is really spacious and has high vaulted ceilings. Not sure if the pictures show either of those very well but there it is! Hope you are all doing well and I'll be blogging more (starting tomorrow!). Love and miss you all (except for Erin and Gregg who I get to see more)!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Well, I've made the move to Houston and we have all survived! Thanks to everyone who helped! Just letting everyone know that I am without internet until the 9th so I'll be off of blogs until then. I'll let you know when I get it back up and I'll have pictures of the new place. Hope you are all doing well. Love you all!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Moving Gripes!

There are several things that I have learned through this moving process that I have never encountered before. Just thought I would share a few with you.

I really don't like to pack. This isn't earth shattering and many people share the same opinion. I just didn't realize that in myself before this week. I find myself become resentful of the time that I spend putting things in boxes instead of with those I care about most. I feel like my priorities have been off for days now. I know that isn't true but when the calender is ticking off days until you leave, the boxes just don't feel as important. The people do.

No matter how much I get done, I keep finding more stuff! Where is it coming from!? I am tired of packing it. At least I am able to de-pack-rat. Yea for dumpsters!

I really don't like the smell of cardboard boxes. I am thankful that Glade or Febreeze have not dedicated a spray to that sent. And if they did, who is the person who would buy it. Yuck!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

For the Love of Parents

It seems that I have been bombarded (in the best sense of the word) by parents in the past few days. Jeff blogged about watching Abbie grow up. Today I got an email from someone who's mom was in surgery. Erin and I were talking today about Mom's surgery last February. All of it has had me thinking a bit.

When Mom had her surgery, sitting and waiting was intense. We all sat around and visited but every time someone walked into the room, we were all very aware of it. I remember when Dr. Massey came to let us know how things went, I felt like I couldn't get to him fast enough. I was prepared for seeing Mom with the IV and in pain but I was NOT prepared for having to leave everyday. I had a HARD time saying goodbye and leaving her alone at night. I don't know why but that was very difficult for me to deal with. I cried all three times and I'm sure it would have happened again had I been able to go up on the fourth night.

A few years ago, Dad had a bad bout with kidney stones. I don't remember exact details about it but I do remember having to go get the neighbor to help carry him to the car because he was in so much pain he couldn't walk alone. That was the longest run across the back yard I ever made. I had never seen Dad hurt like that before. I had never seen him need to lean on someone else to intensely. It was really scary.

I don't know anything about being a parent but I definitely know about being the daughter. No matter what, I still need my parents. Not in the same ways as when I was a little girl but in that way that we all still need to have someone to lean on and cling to. Relationships have changes into something more beautiful. Now we are more friend and mentor than in the past but the need is still there. Unfortunately, I take so much of that for granted sometimes. It is in those uncharacteristic moments that I am reminded how much I still need my mom and dad around. I know how blessed I am to have such an amazing, loving relationship with them when so many don't. It humbles me and makes me thankful at the same time. Our family is definitely a rare jewel to be treasured!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Power of Touch

There is something very reassuring about hugs and being held. I don't know what it is but right now, I crave it very much - all of the time. With everything happening so quickly, I guess I am just needing the physical comfort of someone being there. Nothing romantic about it, just having someone to hold on to for support and safety. Thankfully, I have a very dear friend who is good at this. Every time I see him, I know that I am going to be enveloped in a warm, accepting hug. It may last a few seconds or a few minutes, but while it lasts, I know that everything is fine. Sometimes he is not there and I just want to feel safe with who I am with. For example, tonight we (me, Jenn and the guys) were all standing in the parking lot saying goodbye. I'm not too sure when I will see them again and more than anything, I wanted to be pulled into a long tight hug. I was tempted to just grab my four friends there but I was unsure how it would have been received so I just stood there. Funny how in moments like that you can feel so alone. Except for my lovely Jenn, we all did the awkward side hug thing and went our ways.

Maybe I'm just being a dumb girl.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Easing the Pain

When you have lived somewhere for a certain amount of time, you grow attached to it. I have been in my apartment for two years and it has become my place of safety and comfort. As attached as I may have become to it, God has decided to help me be ready to leave it - in the form of renovations.

My complex started the updates a few months ago and they hit my building last week. They are putting in all new appliances, painting, pulling up the carpet for good "wood" linoleum, new sinks, and all new cabinetry. It will look SO great when all is said and done but for now, I am looking forward to the move. At the moment, my apartment reeks of flooring adhesive because they are laying the floor below me. However, my favorite part is my view when I drive up. Below is a picture of what the front of my building has looked like for the past week. The only words I can come up with are, "You might be a redneck if..."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Shared Joy

I think I have found the one thing in the world that makes me happier than any other. I love to watch people be happy. People celebrating, falling in love, getting good brings a smile to my face like very little else can.

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in Denver cheering on some of my favorite men. When the scores and rankings were released, 10th in the world, there was so much excitement and joy! Years of hard work (especially this past year) that it couldn't be contained when all was said and done. The next night, we jumped to our feet in applause as winning quartets were announced. Even though I do not know these men, just watching them celebrate with each other and the complete joy on their faces made their elation contagious.

This past year, I watched a co-worker plan her wedding. As the time grew nearer, her adoration towards her fiance grew and her voice and face reflected her growing love for him. It was so heart warming! She could hardly wait to be his wife. It reminded me of Erin during her engagement. What I have loved about watching she and Gregg is that I see that same adoration grow the longer they are married. I caught it in a picture once. It is one of my favorite pictures of her. Isn't is sweet!

What in the world could be better than sharing in the abundant joy of someone else?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Decision Made

This is exactly the same thing that I emailed out. If you got the email, then you can skip this one. Nothing different. :)

So what you are all waiting to hear. I received a VERY last minute call today from a principal in Katy offering me a first grade position at Wolfe Elementary. Pending approval from the board and release from my San Marcos contract, I will be moving to Katy in about two weeks. It is very fast and very sudden but I have no doubt that this is where God wants me to be. For the first time, I have no reservations about anything involving this position. There is no way that I should have been offered this position based upon my previous experience but they chose me. It is going to be very challenging to relearn a grade level so significantly different than I have experienced but I am looking forward to it. The school is off of I-10 and Hwy 6 (almost not Katy ISD). It is a Title One school and has a very diverse population that it serves. I am very excited to be in this setting. The team seems wonderful and I am incredibly impressed with the principal. I am looking forward to being closer to Erin and Gregg, catching backup with my best friend from college, attending Beth Moore on Tuesday nights, and starting to find a new church home. I am SO excited!

The next two weeks will be full of wrapping up work in San Marcos, packing, finding a place to live, and saying good bye to dear friends that have come to mean the world to me. While I am very excited about moving forward, I am dreading saying good bye to those I have grown to love so much. Most here don't even know that I have been interviewing so those will be very hard conversations to have. I have already mapped out when I can come back to visit and they fall about once a month. That is very encouraging! I just hope that follows through.

While some of you may have become frustrated with me during this time, I want to thank you for your patience and prayers. You have NO idea how much they have meant to me throughout this process. For someone who has a tendency to be indecisive (yes, I did hear some of you snicker), it has been overwhelming. I appreciate all of you so much.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What Dreams May Come

While I loved being in Denver, I am finding coming back to "real life" a little bit difficult. It's one of those things that just happens when you get away, I guess. You know, the grass is always greener...

Lately, it has come to my attention that I have a tendency to view things a little bit unrealistically. I've been told that I have read too many books and seen too many movies. I have expectations about how people and life should be. I don't think they are too far fetched but lately, I have been doubting myself. I believe that life should have a driving force and be full of passion (not necessarily romantic passion but love for something and strong conviction). I believe that there are men out there who can tastefully pursue a lady. While being "one of the guys" can be great, there is a place in me that wants the friendship but also more. I believe that decisions should be made with purpose and meaning - not just because that's where the wind blows. I dream of things that I would love to do but they all seem so far out of my reach.

Maybe my head is in the clouds and I need to get it back down to earth. But for now, isn't it nice to just dream of what life like that would be like if....

Monday, July 09, 2007

Week in Review

This morning at 3:30, I got home from a week in Denver at the Barbershop Harmony Society International Competition. I can't even think about how to sum this week shortly. It was SUCH a blast!

I was apprehensive going into last week. I had a feeling that told me this would be my last trip to internationals. As the week went on, that feeling quickly left. I've made one decision this week - I will either have to marry a barbershopper or a very understanding man. I was talking to a man that I met from Nashville and we decided that this week is like summer camp for adults. Everywhere you looked, there were friends meeting up after not seeing each other for a year. There were things to do all week, pictures to be taken, songs/tags to sing, and people to meet. At the end of the week, email addresses and phone numbers were exchanged, hugs were given, people were exhausted and were saying "See ya next year!" I met some amazingly wonderful new people. I got OC Times new cd. I spent some time with good friends from home. I got to know a few people from HOT better than I did before this week. At one point, I got to go to the judge's box and talk to one of them that I know. When I turned around saw the thousands of people facing the stage, I was quite intimidated.

The chorus made top ten after years of hard work! They did a cowboy set. The man who arranged their ballad was a judge and he told them that they brought to life exactly what his mind had conceived when he wrote the piece. The uptune was wonderful and funny. We were so excited and had an afterglow in one of a member's suite. The chorus that won blew us all away. (They are on America's Got Talent so watch for Westminster Chorus tomorrow night on NBC!) The next night, there was an amazing quartet finals. The quartet that won was incredible! I didn't want them to win last year but this year, I was so excited for them. They were SO funny and AMAZINGLY talented. My favorite quartet came in second so that was also exciting!

What a great week! The perfect break that I needed with no worries or concerns about anything. I literally left everything here and just had a blast. There are so many new memories and friends. It was the most relaxing and fun week that I have had in a while.

Monday, July 02, 2007

And We're Off...

In two and a half hours (10:00), we are leaving for Denver. Woo Hoo! We will get there about lunch time tomorrow. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to getting away! Spending lots of time with friends, listening to amazing singing, exploring a new city... just what I need. My hope is that getting away from anything that might distract or sway me in big decisions will offer up some unbiased clarity. It will be a week full of fun but also full of deep prayer. Right now, I feel 85% sure of where I need to be. My hope is that when I come back, I will have no room for doubt in my decision and that it will come to be. I pray that I'll come back ready to make a decision and not even think about "what if..." I hope to have full confidence that God will send me where he can grow me and use me most. All else can be lovely but that is most important. I will land where I need to.

Have a happy 4th and enjoy your week!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Setting the Bar

This past week, I have spent about 11 hours in the car. I've been to Austin, Houston, back to Austin, Pleasanton, and back to San Marcos. Nuts! There are a lot of AMAZING things that I would say about the past six days but I'll not drive you nuts. Instead, I'll share something that I was reminded about while in Houston.

A little bit before 7:00 on Wednesday night, Erin, Gregg, and I were sitting around talking about what to do that night. Erin turned to me with a twinkle in her eye and mentioned that Sweet Charity was playing at Sarofim Hall. We jumped on line to play with the thought and saw that our price range had seats available. When Erin mentioned this aloud, Gregg told us to go. We both looked at him and said, "Really!!?" He said yes. We were dressed and out the door in less than five minutes. We made it to the theater district, bought tickets, and ate before the show started at 8:00. It was so much better than what we had seen in New York.

That is one of many things that I love about Gregg. He lets my sister do artsy things (like shows) with me. She is the first one that I call for those types of things. I'm pretty blessed to have an amazingly understanding brother-in-law that will send his wife off on weekends, trips, shows, and museums with me once in a while. For all I know, Gregg may be thankful for me because I get him out of some of the things he doesn't necessarily want to do. I understand that these aren't really his thing but I think that is part of what makes their relationship so strong. While they are definitely "Erin and Gregg", he is still "Gregg" and she is still "Erin". He has basketball and poker while she has Beth Moore and girls' nights. They share what is important to each other but also have their own things that they love and do. They have learned new things to enjoy from each other but they have also kept their own individualities I have to say, that is something that I really hope I have one day. They have set the bar for me and Gregg has set a bar for his future brother-in-law. I am thankful that he understands out close relationship. Yep, Gregg is pretty great!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Walking Contradictions

The past few months have been insane for me. Do I stay in San Marcos? Do I move? Where do I move? About a month ago, Mom told Jeff and Alissa that she was never sure which "me" she would get when she answered my calls. I can see why that would be true. I have been praying for profound clarity and I can see a few of things now. I have avoided the conversation out of the need to not disappoint anyone. No decision have been made or papers signed yet. Sorry if you thought that is what you would find here.

I have come to realize something about myself through this whole process. I am one huge walking contradiction. For example, the things that I love most (travel, bookstores, theater, etc) are all city types of things. I love the life that a city can provide. On the other hand, I long for a place where I can sit and see forever into the starry night, uninterrupted by city lights. I love rivers and beautiful old oak trees and fields of wild flowers. To crave both seems hard to reconcile when choosing a place to plant roots and call home.

Another example: I love my friends and family to no end. I love to be close to them and see them often. Yet, a part of me wants to break out and try new places and new things. The comfort and adventure of it all seems to not weave together easily.

Despite the inner questions that float through my mind, I write this with more peace than I have had in a few weeks. I'm not sure what the next couple of weeks will hold but tonight, I feel calm. Calm is good....

Friday, June 22, 2007

Not So Sweet Dreams!

I think that it is funny to hear people talk about dreams. To me, they are usually great fun. I have all 5 senses in my dreams so everything is VERY detailed. They are either vividly realistic or hysterically absurd. I very rarely have bad/disturbing dreams - only about once every two years. Last night was one of those nights.

I was at a friends house in their backyard. It was a very pleasant evening with a gentle breeze. The yard was filled with majestic oaks and cool, dew kissed carpet grass, We all ran around barefooted. Their dog was leashed to a zipline so he could run without actually jumping on us. We were tossing a frisbee as the dog tried to keep up. My friend's wife came out and asked him to come in to help her for a minute. We all collapsed upon blankets and stared at the star filled sky. We saw a piece of a space station that had been separated from the main unit float parallel to the earth. As we looked closer, we noticed that something red was appearing right above it. Breaking through the night sky, a HUGE, fire kissed meteor came out of nowhere. We watched it fall towards the earth south of the horizon. We knew two things: it was going to be very loud when it hit and this was it. I covered my ears and rolled from my back onto my right side in the fetal position. The meteor collided with earth and the blast was shattering. I felt the sound waves carry me off of the blanket and float me out into the sky. As I continued to feel the push of blast behind me and the pull of space before me, all that I could calmly think was "I'm ready now. Come take me home."

When I woke up, the clock said 5:30 and I was as clammy as a sick person. My heart was racing and it took a few moments to realize where I was. It took me a while but I finally went back to sleep. This time, I dreamed of a road trip to California. Back to my usual dreams. However, today, the meteor dream is the one sticking with me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

When All Is Said And Done....

I have a few goals for this summer. The most successful so far are to read and write more. I am half way through my third week and I am reading my fourth book. I have a couple of pieces underway so one or two may be coming up for you to read in the next few weeks.

One of the books that I want to read this summer is a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. I am very intrigued by her and the work that she did. I can't wait to learn more about who she was. As I have anticipated looking for a book on her, it has made me wonder: If anyone wrote a biography about me, what would be in it? What would be the defining moments? How would I be remembered? What characteristics would be put in print for the world to see?

These thoughts are very humbling. It makes me very aware of what I say and how I come across to others. After all, when all is striped away, others will determine how you are remembered. It has also reinforced the fact that our pasts are the road maps to not only who we are but who we will be. Our experiences mold our thoughts, actions, reactions, and words. They catch us off guard in the most pleasant and heart breaking of times. They tell who we are and how far we have come.

When all is finished and we are part of the past, what will people say about us?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Bonnie

Bonnie has to be one of my favorite friends. We met about a year ago and became friends pretty quickly. We are going to Denver together and I am SO excited! She has the most contagious laugh of anyone that I know. It is explosive in the best of ways. I can't be around her without smiling. She brings out the less serious side of me.

In October, we went to Corpus to cheer on the guys at District contest. We shared a room and met up with everyone throughout the weekend. As fun as that was, I have to admit that the most fun moments were in the elevators of the hotel. They were the kind that seemed to freefall when they started and jerk to a stop. Your stomach was always everywhere but right where it should be. We discovered that they were the absolute best elevators for jumping on. We would squat down facing each other, giggling in anticipation. As soon as the elevator would drop, we would jump as high as we could, squealing, and hit the ground laughing hysterically. We spent LOTS of time just riding up and down. We perfected the exact moment of the jump so that we would catch more airtime. One of the best parts about it would be when the doors would open and a stranger would be greeted by two girls laughing so hard we couldn't breathe. We got some interesting looks. One friend told us that you could hear us laughing even before the doors would open.

You have to love friends that make you forget you're a grown up.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Little Caleb

Yesterday I blogged about Caleb keeping me up all night but I wanted to share something funny he did. We were at a fundraiser for a quartet going to Internationals and the chorus was going to perform. Their set this year is western so several men were wearing their cowboy hats. Caleb showed up with a "big boy cowboy hat" and a rope. Several of us were standing in line to get plates and he ran up to his dad with the biggest smile ever. When we asked what he was so happy about, he pointed to a man about five people behind us and yelled, "Johnny Cash!" He was star struck! We played along and he got the man to lead about 10 of us in "Ring of Fire". Yes, little Caleb does know just about every word!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

My Small Glimps at Motherhood

Back in October, Erin wrote a blog with the same title. Last night, I had a glimpse into what the future might possibly hold for me.

A friend of mine is producing an album for a band and they had a LATE show in Austin. He is a single dad and it is his weekend to have his son. I told him that I would watch Caleb. We met at a fundraiser for some friends and switched the car seat and the kid. Caleb was NOT in the mood to listen to the singing so we left pretty quickly. We went to Hastings, got books for his birthday, and went to his house to read. About 10:30, he looked at me and said "It's time for bed!" Since the band was staying at their house that night, I was going to stay in Caleb's room with him. We went to tuck in and say prayers only to find the night light was burnt out. To calm the fears growing in his four year old eyes, I went ahead and went to bed to - with the four year old.

Let me just tell you, I now understand why parents don't allow children in their beds! Usually, I am a sound sleeper but last night, not so much. He made this weird sound that woke me up every time I was almost asleep. About 1:30, I figured out that he was grinding his teeth. When we wasn't grinding his teeth, he was wiggling and flopping around. Several times, I woke up with a hit to the head or a kick in the back. He almost rolled out of bed about 4 times and I caught him just in time. About 3:00, I gave up and just laid their wide awake. Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep. A full sized bed was NOT big enough. At one point I went and sat in the hallway just to have a break. When his dad and the band got back, I went home. I was so keyed up that I didn't get to sleep until about 6:00 this morning. I got my room and closet clean but I overslept and missed church.

The whole time that I was dodging body parts and trying to figure out what that noise was, I was awe struck. This wasn't my kid but everything in me was very aware of his every move and sound. What is it going to be like when the child is mine!? Oh my!

Watch out! He's gonna be a heart breaker!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Calling Mr. Phelps

When I moved to San Marcos, I made the decision to keep my old cell phone number and get a land line for local use. I literally NEVER use the land line. My grandparents used to call me on it but I think they have figured out that I don't check it too often. Basically, it is there in case anyone from work needs to get a hold of me. The only people who use it anymore are telemarketers. Unfortunately, the phone rings off the hook.

The thing about telemarketers is that they leave messages that are not the best. You know, half of a phone number here, number with no name there. Usually, I hit the play button and walk out of the room. Lately, there is one message that I have been getting every day. At first it annoyed me to no end but now it makes me laugh.

Everyday, when I hit play, a woman in on my machine saying "Please call Mr. Phelps office at..." and leaves a number. She never says why or what the call is in regards to. After the initial annoyance wore off, I had to laugh at her unwavering commitment to leave messages for someone who will NOT be returning the call. Then, a couple of days ago, I started wondering why the name Mr. Phelps was so familiar. Then it hit me. I have been getting calls from a top secret government agency with the request to call and get my mission to save America! Everyday, when I hear that message, I laugh. Whatever happens to our country, I apologize in advance. I will not be returning his call and I will not chose to accept the mission. After all, I don't want my phone to self destruct.....

Friday, June 15, 2007


Last night Bonnie came over and we made some plans about our trip to Denver. We got everything accomplished that we planned on doing and decided to go watch the guys rehearse. As we walked out the door, we were met with the most beautiful sight I have seen in quite a while. Storm clouds were moving away from us and just underneath, the sun was setting. The sky between the earth's horizon and the bottom of the storm clouds was filled with the richest fuchsias, oranges, violets, and navys that I have ever seen. In the bottom of the clouds, lightning flickered and danced momentarily to highlight the beauty just below it. As we drove to campus, the river beside us mirrored the scene above. It was so beautiful that it almost seemed unreal. At that moment I wished for Darla's artistic hand or Daniel's photographic eye. Instead, I was just thankful that I got to see it at all.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Because I Love My Erin

I would have done this on my own and not posted it but since Erin asked (and I love her oh so much), here is my version of the iPod game. If for no other reason, you can see my taste in music and maybe find someone new to listen to. Some actually hit the nail on the head - scary! Enjoy!

  • How do you feel today? - Black Horse and the Cherry Tree by KT Tunstall
  • What's your outlook on life? - Peace Train by Cat Stevens
  • What does your family think of you? - Love Train by The O'Jays
  • What do your friends think of you? - One Short Day from Wicked
  • What do your exes think of you? - Always On Your Side by Sheryl Crow
  • How's your love life? -Because of You by Kelly Clarkson
  • How will your love life be in the future? - All You Need is Love by Lynden David Hall (remake of the Beatles)
  • Will you get married? Love Me by OC Times
  • Are you good at school? - Red Dress by Maia Sharp
  • Will you be successful? - Thank Goodness from Wicked
  • What song should they play on your birthday? - Better Days by Goo Goo Dolls (Yikes!)
  • What song should they play at your graduation? - All Over The World by Tree63
  • The soundtrack of your life? - Colorful by Rocco DeLuca (Yes please!)
  • You and your best friends are? - Stand by Rascal Flatts
  • Happy times - Save the Last Dance for Me by Harry Connick Jr.
  • Sad times - Lost by Michael Buble'
  • Every day - I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by U2
  • For tomorrow - Audience of One by Audio Adrineline
  • For you - Sway by Michael Buble'
  • What does next year have in store for you? - Let Love In by Goo Goo Dolls
  • What do you say when life gets too hard? - Pure Imagination/Candy Man by Harry Connick Jr.
  • What song will you dance to at your wedding? - Seasons of Love from Rent
  • What do you want as your career? - Faith My Eyes by Caedmon's Call
  • Your favorite saying - Express Yourself by Charles Wright
  • How will you die? - Sleep All Day by Jason Mraz

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Twiddling My Thumbs

It is the third day of summer break and I am bored. That is the problem with being a teacher. We got from 90 to nothing in literally minutes. For 9 months, we work ourselves silly and then it ends. Turn in the check list and you have NOTHING to do anymore. I don't think I could ever be a stay at home woman. I've finished a book, worked out every day, been to the grocery store, cleaned the kitchen, and run to SA and Austin. Notice that I cleaned the kitchen and not the house. I'm trying to spread things out so I can have something to do each day. I'm bored.... Tomorrow is training in Austin so I'll have something to do all day (yea!).

I hope to be planning a trip in the next couple of weeks. There is a good chance that I may be going to Denver for a few days with some friends. There is talk of a spontaneous kayaking trip in the near future. I've been thinking about Atlanta because that would allow me to be in a city by myself but know someone there (just in case). Who knows. With a move coming up, I can't spend too much money. We'll see....

Love, love to you all!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


So today was the interview in San Antonio at 2:00. I made sure I looked professional, went through the portfolio, jumped in the car to SA, and got there 10 minutes early (yep, you read that right - early). They had a questionaire about who I do and don't like to work with, philosophy, etc. When the vice principal came out, he was very nice. Then he dropped the bomb. They had just received a phone call that there would be a new principal next year and that all interviews were being canceled until they got to meet with him - starting with mine. The said that they would be calling all applicants to reschedule after they spoke with the new boss. That's right - my interview was canceled before it even began. I was a polite about it, of course, shook his hand, and drove back home. All I could think as I walked out of the school was, "OK God, what did you mean by that one?"

Monday, June 04, 2007

Prayers for a Monday

I few weeks ago, I announced that I was going to stay on in San Marcos for another year. Professionally, it is by far the BEST decision I could make. I won't go into the praises for my school district again so you can be thankful for that.

Then, last weekend, I got to spend hours with my friends at Caleb's house. I laughed more in that night than I had in the past few weeks combined. When I got home the next day, the apartment was quiet and it made me realize what I am sacrificing for my wonderful job. Again, I have been torn about next year. I've been in a out of prayer for the past week about which is more important: the job I love and spend most of my days doing or the people that I love. Should be a no brainer but for some reason, it's not.

This morning, I woke up at 5:00 burdened about next year. I laid in bed and prayed for almost an hour. As I was getting ready for work, the DJs that I listen to were offering up career advice about staying in one place to establish yourself. Then, as I was about to walk out the door, I got a call from an elementary in San Antonio. We set up an interview for 2:00 tomorrow. I got off the phone and couldn't breathe at the idea of leaving my school. In proximity to the people I love, it would only put me 15 minutes closer.


Friday, June 01, 2007

Good Friday!

Another year is under my belt. Today, I hugged my kids and sent them off to their summer vacations. Next year they will enter 5th grade on a new campus. Many have promised to come see me on back to school night when younger brothers and sisters are meeting new teachers. This group of kids has been so special to me. For the past 9 months, they have been my world. I have gotten so attached to them that it gives me hope towards the possibility of being a mom some day. They are lovable even when they made me crazy. I don't know how I could love any children more than I do these. I will miss them. (Sorry for no faces - privacy laws.... but aren't the back of their heads cute!)
To celebrate surviving the year with my angels, I met Todd for dinner in New Braunfels. It was pretty perfect because just as I love my kids like no other, I love Todd like no other friend. We have a very unique friendship. Sometimes we go a couple of weeks between seeing each other but we care about each other very much. I'm pretty sure that the best thing to compare our relationship to would be an amazingly close older brother and younger sister. He calls me "kiddo" and is probably the only one who could do that without annoying me to death. He is very protective and encouraging but also the biggest goofball - ADHD does not begin to describe him. There is no other Todd.

So this day was filled with some of the people that I love most in this world. What a great day!

Monday, May 28, 2007

For Goodness Sake

The weeks after TAKS, my class did a unit of study on the Holocaust. We did the butterfly project, watched age appropriate videos, discussed the times, and read Number the Stars. My kids loved it because it was new and shocking. I loved it because my kids were engaged and actually learning. They could see the dangers of bullying, ignorance, and passiveness. At the end of our unit, we talked about Anne Frank - her predicament, her life, and her attitude. She was courageous, optimistic, and inspirational. She was in the worst of times and held on the belief in the basic goodness of people. She had hope in her fellow man and, in the end, was giving beyond belief. She looked upon her world with hope and confidence that she would be proved right. She was.

It seems, lately, that the question of people's goodness and upbringing keep popping up at random times. Call me Pollyanna, but I have faith in the generations to come. There is always the bad apple but there is so much more good than bad. We can choose to focus on the bad and shake our heads or chose to look towards our bright stars. We can give up on those that need us most or we can see the potential in them and push them to be better than they are. I chose the latter. I may end my days with hands full of my own hair but I chose to not give up. There is too much beauty in this world to say that the future generations are doomed.

Here are some quotes from Anne. If she can truly hold these ideals while people were seeking her life, I hope that we can humble ourselves to seek the good in those around us.

It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

I don't think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

In Response to Darla

Last night I read Darla's blog about students destroying the campus. It made my heart hurt. I was so sad that I couldn't even think of how to respond. As I tried to this morning, it turned into a blog.

Part of me thinks vandalism is a phase but we had to fight it this year in fourth grade. However, I have to disagree with Cryssy. It will not downward spiral from here. The hope that I have is that children (and even adults), are like dogs....we can all be trained. As humans we are innately selfish but we can learn to think beyond ourselves. The about the Greatest Command. We have to be told to love other people because it does not come naturally for us. It takes time and lots of frustrating work but we can teach people how to behave and respect. I have parents come talk to me about their children and they are trying so hard to work with their kids behaviourally and academically. One thing that they constantly say is, "I was difficult in school/at home when I was their age but I am different now. I know what my parents and teachers went through. They were right, I do understand now." I think until we break the selfishness of adolescence, destruction will be a problem but they will learn that there is another way. Maybe for their kids but also for themselves. Some may take involving the law but they will learn. This is one of the lessons that I have finally learned as a teacher this year. No matter how hard it may be for us, we can teach a child how to behave. We may want to pull our hair out at times but we can do it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

In Their Shoes...

One of my favorite classes in college was Child Development. Apparently, I am very interested in why we are the way that we are. The big question swings asking "nature, nurture, or a combination of the two?" Just as in all things, the pendulum swings. I'm even interested in the biology of our make up. I am reading a book right now called The Female Brain which discusses the neurological changes that women go through at various stages in life and how if affects her attitude and emotions. It's a bit heavy at times but I'm really enjoying it.

"So what brings this up?" you may ask. Tonight I was sitting at my desk grading papers and listening to my iTunes. Back to back, the following artists come up: Michael Buble, Willie Nelson, The Weepies, Tegan and Sara, and Rocco DeLuca. At that moment, I stopped grading and thought, "Where did that come from!?" We all know that Mom and Dad did not instill a love for Michael Buble's style let alone anything by Willie Nelson. I think that Papaw was a country music fan but I don't remember listening to the radio with him. Does taste in music skip a generation? While I can attribute some of my outstanding taste in music to my folks, I am lost as to where the rest of it came from. In fact, I'm confident that they have never heard of most of the artists in my Nano.

I guess this is one of those nature and nurture things....

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Next Year

Yesterday, my principal told me that Teaching and Learning are wanting to get training lined up for this summer. They were concerned that money would be spent training employees who would then move. I was asked to let her know ASAP (today) about my plans for next year. This morning I let her know that I would be back for another year.

I know this may sound very contradictory to what I have been blogging about but when it came down to it, I don't want to leave me school. I am part of an amazing team, the training is unbeatable, and I believe in the curriculum. I am being set up for promotion here. I feel like this is where I need to be. I am very peaceful right now.

So now it is time to house/apartment hunt. I am looking forward to that quite a bit. I have about 7 days left of school and then about two weeks of training in June. It will fly by but I am excited about it.

Friday, May 18, 2007


I think that it is really interesting the things that people are bothered or creeped out by. Frogs, bugs, feet, etc etc etc. Today I realized what mine are. I only have two but they are pretty strange. I will admit that:
  1. I really don't like very big statues of people. Think Statue of Liberty (NYC -151 feet or 305 feet if you include the base), Christ Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro - 125 feet), Sam Houston (Huntsville - 69 feet)... People are not supposed to be that big! God did not intend us to be more than a few feet tall. Your nose should not be the size of a large infant! While the site of the Statue of Liberty was very cool, it was also incredibly creepy. I didn't actually spend much time looking at her. The thought of someone's eye being the same height that I am is not impressive - it is wrong!
  2. Octopuses are not interesting - they are gross! Did you know that they can "pour" themselves into a bottle through a hole in the lid the size of a quarter? They can change their color and texture in the blink of an eye. They can be as small as your thumb or as big as 20 feet long. Every sucker on their tentacles can taste everything they touch. They can learn things (like opening jars) just by watching others almost like the Borg (that's right Dad - I made an educated Star Trek reference). This is not fascinating, it is disturbing! There is a reason that it is depicted as a sea monster in so many bad horror movies!

What weird things disturb you?

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Ten years ago, I was counting down the days until summer break between my junior and senior year of high school. I remember looking ahead and thinking about the future - what it would be like, where I would be, who I would be. Some has come to be just as planned (teaching), while others are so different. I thought my story would be a lot like my parents: meet my husband in college, get married after graduating, be finished having kids by the time I was thirty. In some ways, I am SO thankful that I have been wrong. I have been taken places and had experiences that I couldn't have if my plan had worked out. I can definitely take care of myself. On the other hand, well...some days it can be a little heartbreaking. For some reason, tonight seems to be one of those nights. I think it is because of the whole job search thing. I'm so confused right now. I spent hours every night for two weeks filling out applications and now I'm not too sure that I want to leave my school. I got a call today that a school in San Antonio is interested in talking to me. I have to call back tomorrow to get more information. I feel very conflicted about it....

I think that I am just really ready for stability. A good school district, a place to put down roots, to be part of a community of people in my stage of life seeking out the same things.

Sorry to be a rambling Debbie Downer....

Saturday, May 12, 2007


There are three weeks left of school for me. The kids finish on June 1 and teacher work day is June 4. I have been so caught up in everything that still has to be finished that it seems 6 years away for me - until tonight.

Going a little stir crazy, I went to Target to pick something up. As I walked in, all impulse buying tendencies went into full alert. The very first aisle was filled with picnic accessories. This may not sound like a very big deal but ... sitting on the bottom row was something that I have always wanted but never bought - A picnic basket with gingham cloth lining. Not the fancy kind with plates, utensils, and other silly paraphernalia but just a simple, brown, square basket. It had a hinged lid and two handle that came up from the sides and to meet in the middle. There were two to chose from - red gingham or blue gingham. They weren't expensive ($15). As I looked up, I saw matching picnic blankets, reusable plastic food containers, and other things needed for a picnic. My $15 impulse buy quickly became a much more expensive purchase in my mind so I waited.

Now I know that you are thinking, "It's a picnic basket, big deal". To me it is. Not only is this something that I have wanted for a VERY long time but in that instant, it hit me. It isn't "Three weeks to dredge through before summer" but "Only three week until summer - WOO HOO!" I look at that picnic basket and I see a little bit of freedom. Time to go on a picnic and sit by the river reading a book. How wonderful! At the park in town, there is a bridge across the river to a little island. There are beautiful trees, ducks, and small "rapids" that I would love to just sit and enjoy. I don't have Darla, or Daniel, or Caleb's eye for photography but it would be fun to play a little bit down there. Jeff and Alissa were talking about a couple of places that I haven't seen yet but in three weeks, I can.

I can't wait!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Blessing

I can't remember where I heard it but someone once stated that their biggest dislike for contemporary Christian music was the individualism that it reflects. At first, I was a bit defensive about that opinion because I have been deeply moved by so many songs contemporary Christian music has produced. Yet, as I listened to it, I found the statement to be rather true. The word "I" was so pronounced and distinctive that it couldn't be ignored. That statement stuck with me and, lately, I have been thinking about individual vs corporate worship quite a bit. Do our praise songs reflect the common goal of our worship or are we more focused on our individual relationships with God? While I know that both are important, I too have noticed the emphasis placed on the individual rather than the body. My ears have been keenly attentive towards finding songs that show unity of spirit in worship. A couple of weeks ago, I found a new song by John Waller called "The Blessing". From the first time I heard it, I have felt that this should be a mission statement for the church. It stirred a place deep inside of me. I wish that I knew how to display an audio clip but for now, here are the lyrics. May we truly be a blessing to those around and after us.

The Blessing by John Waller

Let it be said of us
While we walked among the living
Let it be said of us
By the ones we leave behind
Let it be said of us
That we lived to be a blessing for life

Let it be said of us
That we gave to reach the dying
Let it be said of us
By the fruit we leave behind
Let it be said of us
That our legacy is blessing for life

This day
You set life,
You set death right before us,
This day
Every blessing and curse is a choice now
And we will choose to be a blessing for life

Let it be said of us
That our hearts belonged to Jesus
Let it be said of us
That we spoke the words of life
Let it be said of us
That our heritage is blessing for life


Cause blessing and curses are choice now
Will we build up, tear down, the moment of truth is now


For your Kingdom,
For our Children,
For the sake of every nation

We will choose to be a blessing for life

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Drum Roll Please.....

I had this on the list of things to blog about but I wasn't sure when it would happen. Kind of appropriate that it hit the day after yesterday's post. TAKS results are in. Kids and parents don't know yet but we do. Here is how they look for my class: Reading - 90%, Math - 95%, and Writing - 100%! We laughed, cried, and stood in awe of what our students accomplished. I could not be any prouder than I am right now. Everyone is ready for next year so we can raise scores again and increase the number of kids commended. I had several tell me that I shouldn't leave. Kind of heart twisting. For now, I'll not worry about it but celebrate instead! The stress and hard work paid off in the end!

Monday, May 07, 2007


The first blog from my weekend of cleaning is actually about the weekend. On Saturday, I went to the North East ISD job fair in San Antonio. Imagine 43 tables set up on a basketball court with about 300 people milling between them. Yep, it was crowded. Those with claustrophobia would have died. I got to 17 of the 43 elementary schools with an average wait time of 25 - 45 minutes between tables. To be perfectly honest, it was VERY discouraging. Just about every table said they didn't have openings yet but they might get more over the summer. Most hiring is done in July and August. This is not helpful to someone who only has until July 16 to get out of her current contract. Grrr.... I was reminded once again how political getting a teaching position is. It is all about who you know and how they can sell you. Going at it alone is very difficult.

As I waited in one of many lines, I got to thinking about my kids and my coworkers. I really love them all. The women are such hard workers with a true heart for their students. They are my mini-family. We are up on best practices and are held to a high standard. I am the teacher that I am today because of this district. I am challenged because they pull the best from me. Professionally, I am making a good name for myself here and am respected. There is room for growth and promotion for me here. My decision to move is not one related to work. It is an attempt to make a better life for me. Ms. LaMore is very happy where she is but Dana is not. While I am thankful for Southern Hills, I am looking for a church with a more active singles group and more opportunities to study and serve. My closest friends are moving in about a month so I am NOT looking forward to that. I am ready to make some settling moves in my life. I want to make a home somewhere and start planting roots. I'm ready for permanence but there are aspects of that life style not readily available for me in San Marcos.

I guess I find myself in a struggle. Leaving San Marcos CISD will be so much harder than I originally anticipated. Where is the line that separates Ms. LaMore from Dana? How can I make both happy when the decision to leave takes me from a GREAT district but staying means losing out on every other aspect of my life? I know that the answer to that question should be easy but for some reason, it's not.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Trouble with a Racing Mind

The past two days have been spent in sorting, cleaning, organizing, and straightening. When I get in the cleaning zone, I just go until it is time to go somewhere or sleep. That is where I am right now. The whole time that I am busy with my hands, my mind jumps all over the place. Therefore, I have spent the past two days with all kinds of epiphanies and thoughts. Just wanted to let you know that this will be a full week of blogs. Really - I have five things to talk about. I thought one a day would be better than one massive one filled with this and that. Some are serious and sweet while others are just random thoughts. Hope you have a great week!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Office

Quite possibly the funniest minute and a half of television!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


After two weeks and hours of work, I am finished filling out applications for next year. There are 10 applications out spanning from South Texas to North Austin. I am anxious but trying not to be. I can see pros and cons to any area God places me, so right now I am just waiting and praying. It is now up to Him. Please keep this time in your prayers. I tend to get antsy and take things into my own hands when things are in the "gray".

Monday, April 30, 2007


Recently I wrote a LONG ode to Harry Connick Jr. Truth is, I have a new favorite. Well, not really new - just more pronounced. Michael Buble! I don't find famous men attractive and I don't swoon. However, when Buble sings, he is the exception. His new cd comes out tomorrow and I cannot wait! Here is the video from my latest favorite that he does called Everything. His personality shines through in it. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I Go To The Rock

Friday night, a few of us went camping at Enchanted Rock. It was a really good time. To say that we roughed it would be a joke. Tent, inflated air mattresses, two ice chests and a tub filled with food, and bathrooms (with showers) less that two minutes down the path. The girls had a tent spot reserved right by the rock. A couple of us went up and sat on it at various points. Good food, good friends, good times. The next day, we met up with the church and went hiking. Dad and I took the Loop Trail around the park and had some good father/daughter time before meeting up with everyone else.

While camping and walking, I realized a couple of things:
  • When we least expect it, we can see what we have learned from our parents. Dad and I were going along and we came to a decline. Without even thinking about it, we were taking smaller, in step strides moving heel-toe all the way down. In that moment, I had a flash back to being about eight and Dad stopping Erin and I from running down the hill at full speed. He slowed us down and taught us how to take our time and go carefully to avoid getting hurt. As I remembered that moment, I had to laugh to myself. Funny how a simple moment can teach such a big lesson. At 27 years old and faced with obstacles of all kinds, I slow down and take one careful step at a time. No full force, trip yourself over your feet running. Just heel-toe all the way down to safety. Just like Dad.
  • I find myself in peace with God's creation. After we made it up the steepest incline, Dad and I stopped to catch our breath. As I turned around, I saw a sea of green before me. Countless shades faded in and out of each other as tree branches tangled and interwove. We saw countless different wildflowers, lizards, birds, and different plants. We found a spot where the water was running out of the rock and between smaller rocks. The night before, I caught myself staring at the trees around our spot. They were beautiful. The strong granite around us was quite a majestic sight. I think it was the most still I have been in weeks. Seeing the brilliance of the world around me made me feel connected to creation and the one who set it into place. Everything was untouched and just as God intended it to be. As much as I love the things of the city, I want that all of the time. Some land to live on with a comfortable house, a nice back porch to sit on, and a sunset to take my breath away.