Monday, December 31, 2012

Welcome, 2013

Well, it is the eve of a new year.  I've never been much for resolutions, or even for staying up until midnight, to be honest.  I think, as a teacher, my new year really happens in August.  And, for the past several years, the NYE holiday has been clouded by stressful attempts to fit all my Christmas presents in a suitcase totaling 50 pounds or less.  But this year feels different. After The Best Year Ever (2011) and The Year of Provision (2012), I'm looking forward to discovering what 2013 has in store for us.

It's not a surprise to anyone who knows me that my new teaching job hasn't been a blast.  In August, excited to have my first grown-up job in America and bursting with a desire to make a difference for the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum, I felt slapped in the face by the U.S. Public Education system.  Nearly every negative thing I'd heard or read about our schools I was experiencing.  Teaching to the test.  A school culture centered entirely around test scores.  Bare classrooms. Bureaucracy.  Ridiculous demands on my time.

I wallowed for a long time.  I cried every day for the first several weeks.  I didn't eat well.  I got mad at Daniel, even though he did nothing wrong.  I missed Pinares and my former students so badly it hurt.  I doubted why we ever decided to come back.  I was sad all the time.

Then I started adjusting.  I didn't love it, or even like it, but I was getting a handle on what was expected. I was doing a good job. Administrators seemed to like me. I started teaching adult English classes, which was fulfilling and provided a little extra cash.  At home, Daniel had acquired two jobs and we started renting our guest room through, so money wasn't such a struggle.  Things started looking up.

No, it hasn't been the best year ever, like 2011.  I like to think of 2012 as the Year of Change.  Our lives at this moment are so different than they were in 2011.  But I'm sticking the title I chose back in April--the Year of Provision. God has provided for our every need. In every way.  I'm awed by it.  It seems like I should have had to work a lot harder to get all of this to work out.  An international move. New city. New jobs.

Gratitude is an understatement.  I am sitting here, ready to go celebrate the dawn of a new year, and so humbled by the realization that I wasted so much of the past few months mourning what we left behind, instead of living in the present.

So I am resolved not to waste any more of my life in 2013. I will focus on the good things happening, even amidst any crappy situations I may face.  I will work hard, and know that it's not in vain.

Here's to the new year!
 But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3: 13-14.

Friday, December 07, 2012

This One's For Mallory

Things You Should Know About My Sister

She is, without a doubt, the fun one.

She bakes wedding cakes. 


She takes charge.
She's the kid that teachers picked to be the lead actress in the school play, to participate in special activities (such as appear on the show What Would You Do on the Nickelodeon field trip), and to represent the student body.  Now that she's all grown up, she is still making waves as this amazingly awesome engineer who isn't afraid to take on responsibilities that would make me run away and hide.

She's so pretty.

"What can I say? I'm adorable!"
In the past, she didn't know how to smile. Fortunately, she outgrew that problem. 
Oh how I wish I could post a picture of one of Mallory's terribly fake, strained, 8-year old smiles... The poor girl somehow came to believe that smiling for a camera was like some bit feat to attain.  You can imagine, perhaps, what it looks like when an elementary-school aged, thumb-sucking tomboy who believes that smiling is a lost art gets stuck in front of a camera and told to "smile."
Now look who's smile is fake!  :)

She cares for the environment and social justice and especially H2O. 
And so do I. We keep each other in check.
And she can build things like...this... which, I'm sure, does
very good things and is very helpful to both people and water.

She's the coolest nerd you'll ever meet.  I mean, really.
nerdy qualities: knitting socks, math, engineering, reading, book clubs, baking
cool qualities:  running, biking, marathons, triathlons, looking hot, ex-cheerleader/surfer.
Somehow she mushes up all those qualities into one very awesome (pretty, strong) body.

She's an excellent eyebrow plucker. 
The first time I convinced Mallory to groom her face, I thought her unibrow was so out of control that it required chemical removal before successful plucking could even be achieved. Then, the first time I brought tweezers to her face, you would have thought I used them as a torture device.  She screamed with each and every pluck.  Yowzers. I still remember it.
I really don't know when or how, but she got over that phobia. Now she's my favorite eyebrow artist.  She knows what she's doing.

She gets along very well with my husband. 
And that was always the highest requirement in the search for a spouse.


She's joined me as a Master. 
(Well, on December 14th, officially!!!)
This, times two.  
She's my best friend.