Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Baby Love

I had a dream about 9 months ago that my friend Allie was pregnant with a baby girl.

I immediately texted her and said, "ALLIE - ARE YOU PREGNANT?! I THINK YOU ARE HAVING A BABY GIRL. I DREAMED IT! IT WAS SO REAL!" She just responded something like, "Haha - you are so funny."

So of course - I knew I was right. :)

I have this kind of prophecy like gift for predicting the gender of my friends' unborn children. Seriously - I have a 100% accuracy rate. It's freaky. I've never missed.

Well, just a few days ago my dream-like vision became a reality when I got to hold precious baby Olivia at the hospital.

When I walked in the room I totally teared up, which is not unusual for me - I cry at movie previews that have Miley Cyrus singing - but when I saw Allie, glowing, radiant, smiling from ear to ear, holding her precious little swaddled up bundle of bliss, I could hardly keep it together.

This sweet newborn girl was sleeping so peacefully - even when I took her from Allie so I could hold her. They said she was a great sleeper already. I prophecy that this will continue well into her toddler years, and that Allie and Josh will have many, many sleep-filled nights.

Olivia also had a head full of dark hair and dark blue eyes that I think will turn brown. Her button nose and sweet little feet were Baby Gap perfect. I prophecy that her beauty will not only be outside, but inside too.

I bet she will have her mom's spunk. I bet that she will have her dad's determination. I bet when she learns to talk she will never stop. We will get along just fine. :)

I bet that she will be kind and caring, and will show others Jesus's love - because her parents are showing it to her already.

Now YOU know:
If I dream about you having a baby...you are probably next.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Up From the Grave He Arose!

He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah, Christ arose!

Now I know:
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
-Matthew 8:13-

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Song Saturday #9

Pour me some lemonade and turn up the country music. It's 80 degrees and my sunroof is officially open for business.

Summer's here, y'all.

I love this song almost as much as I love Luke Bryan's smile. It makes me want to turn up the music and shake it!

Hey girl - go on now
You know you’ve got everybody looking

Got a little boom in my big truck
Gonna open up the doors and turn it up
Gonna stomp my boots in the Georgia mud
Gonna watch you make me fall in love
Get up on the hood of my daddy’s tractor
Up on the tool box, it don’t matter
Down on the tailgate, girl I can’t wait
To watch you do your thing

Shake it for the young bucks sittin' in the honky-tonks
For the rednecks rockin' till the break of dawn
For the DJ spinnin' that country song
Come on, come on, come on

Shake it for the birds, shake it for the bees
Shake it for the catfish swimming down deep in the creek
For the crickets and the critters and the squirrels
Shake it to the moon, shake it for me girl, aww

Country girl, shake it for me girl,
Shake it for me girl, shake it for me
Country girl, shake it for me girl,
Shake it for me girl, shake it for me

Somebody's sweet little farmer shy,
With a gatle in her Bud to get a little wild
Pony tail and a pretty smile,
Rope me in from a country mile
So come on over here and get in my arms
Spin me around this big ole barn
Tangle me up like grandma's yarn, yeah, yeah, yeah

Shake it for the young bucks sittin' in the honky-tonks
For the rednecks rockin' till the break of dawn
For the DJ spinnin' that country song
Come on, come on, come on
Shake it for the birds, shake it for the bees
Shake it for the catfish swimming down deep in the creek
For the crickets and the critters and the squirrels
Shake it for the moon, shake it for me girl, aww

Country girl, shake it for me girl,
Shake it for me girl, shake it for me
Country girl, shake it for me girl,
Shake it for me girl, shake it for me

Now dance like a dandelion
In the name of the hill underneath the pines, yea
Move like the river flows
Feel the kick drum down deep in your toes
All I wanna do is get to holdin' you and get to knowin' you
And get to showin' you and get to lovin' you 'fore the night is through
Baby you know what to do

Shake it for the young bucks sittin' in the honky-tonks
For the rednecks rockin' till the break of dawn
For the DJ spinnin' that country song
Come on, come on, come on
Shake it for the birds, shake it for the bees
Shake it for the catfish swimming down deep in the creek
For the crickets and the critters and the squirrels
Shake it for the moon, shake it for me girl, aww

Country girl, shake it for me girl,
Shake it for me girl, shake it for me
Country girl, shake it for me girl,
Shake it for me girl, shake it for me

Friday, April 22, 2011

Home (Un)improvement

I am at the end of a long day attempting to paint my downstairs powder room. Sad thing is, I haven't even opened my quart-sized can of sleek silvery gray paint.

I woke up early, determined to get this job done right. I knew I had to strip the 80s wallpaper first, but hey, that's no biggie, right? I peeled the taupe fan-patterned decorative surface from all four walls. Got the DIF and sprayed it on. Waited 20 minutes. Put hot water on a towel and got to work scrubbing, scraping, and picking off bits of sticky wallpaper backing that held onto that wall like a sunburn to your skin.

I was determined. Focused. Persistent. Ahead of schedule. Singing my lungs out to a new country music mix I made on my iPod.

And then...catastrophe.

Little did I know that underneath the first layer of 80s wallpaper was - SURPRISE! - a coat of teal paint. This paint was effectively sealing in a second layer of 80s floral wallpaper, which had been glued directly onto the drywall. I was going to leave it and just paint over it. But I guess the DIF had DIFferent plans. The teal painted paper started peeling off, too.

I excitedly ripped off a large patch of the peeling teal-painted paper and was completely shocked - because I saw not a smooth white surface, but peely, brown, cardboard-like dry wall.

I'm no expert, but I knew I couldn't paint on that.

So I called my handyman Aaron. Said I'd need to re-sheetrock or just buy new wallpaper. Called Home Depot. They said I probably needed to keep peeling - that the brown was most likely another layer of wallpaper. (It isn't). Called my friend Bonnie. She said to patch up the brown spots with a few layers of spackle, sand it smooth, and then prime and paint everything.

I went with Bonnie's suggestion.

But sadly, I am out of spackle.

And my car is in the shop, so I can't go to Home Depot for more.

So, here I sit, with wallpaper glue permanently under my fingernails, bits of teal paper floating in my hair, and a bathroom that looks like the unibomber got pissed off inside a Sherwin Williams.

I am currently considering the following options:

1) Shutting the door to the powder room and never going back in. Denial sounds nice right now. And cheap.

2) Moving (marvelous idea, Chris Schmidt). Sadly I bet I'd have to figure this out before anyone would buy the place.

3) Leaving the teal painted floral wallpaper/sheetrock blend and saying I'm going for a modern, avant-garde look.

4) Caving in and buying NEW wallpaper to just go over this entire mess.

And...my current favorite:

5) Creating a tearful video plea to Holmes on Homes to come help me out. I've always had a crush on him, and I bet he'd give me a great deal since I'm a teacher and all. Too bad I left my Flip camera at school...I'd get to work on this right away.

Now I know:
I would punch the guy that invented wallpaper right in the face.
I would kiss the guy that invented spackle right on the lips.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Life is Like...

... a concert.

(Yes, that is Sara Bareilles. Yes, she sounded better live than she does on a recording. Yes, she inspired me to come straight home and write a blog post comparing life to a concert. She is just that talented).

Some people wait in line for a really long time to get tickets. When they hear the first song of the show, they know it was worth the wait.

Some people sing along because they know every word by heart. Some people are learning songs they've never heard. Either way they are all enjoying something together, which proves that people of all types can get along if they just shut up and listen.

Some people are way too concerned about how cute their footwear is and sacrifice comfort for fashion. They (hopefully) learn from their mistake and wear comfortable shoes to every concert after that. I personally learned a long time ago that unless you are a Dr. Scholls foot model, no one is really looking at your feet during a concert.

Some people wear earplugs. I'll never understand this. Maybe I'll be deaf someday, but I figure we all will be at some point. Why plug up the sound of something you paid good money to hear? In life, unplug your ears. Listen, truly listen to the people that are around you. God gave us two ears and one mouth. This is the perfect segue to my next point.

Some people talk over the performer, which makes me think they A) either didn't want to come to the concert in the first place or B) missed out on Concert Etiquette 101 - DON'T COME TO A CONCERT TO TALK. I think this shows that some people on this earth are loudmouths that think they are always the center of the show. Thank goodness there are high powered speakers big enough to drown them out.

Some people spring for way-too-expensive concert t-shirts and sweatshirts (guilty as charged) to show their allegiance to that particular band. In life, we all show our allegiance to something. We better choose something worthy of that allegiance.

Some people call friends and hold up their cell phones so they can share in the concert experience. Basking in the radiation-filled glow of all the cell phones tonight (including my own) makes me remember how music connects people. Doesn't a certain song make you remember a moment you shared with someone you haven't talked to in awhile? Don't wait for a concert. Call them today. Hold up your cell phone to your stereo, reminisce, reconnect.

Some people rush off before the encore songs are over to avoid traffic. I'll never understand this either. Don't you know you're going to be waiting in traffic anyway? Why don't you stay home and listen to your CD and avoid the traffic altogether???

Now I know:
As in life, the point of a good concert isn't to get to the end of the set list. The point is to enjoy the show.

Preview of Summer

I hate the previews at the beginning of movies. I'd really prefer to walk into the theater just in time for the movie to start so I don't have to sit through them.

But oh, spring break. You are an enchanting preview of summer.

It's times like these that I stop feeling sorry for myself (because I vehemently contend that teachers are expected to cram 12 months of work into 10 and are paid for 10) and I start feeling sorry for my 9-5 friends (because they get no spring break at all).

This week has been positively blissful.

I am staying up late and sleeping in late. I am pretending that the homemade meals my mom has made have no calories at all. I am running outside for the sheer enjoyment of it, not because it is a part of a stressful, regimented exercise routine. I wear pajamas until it is absolutely necessary to change out of them. I watch stupid reruns on TLC - just because I can. I take time to call my friends on the phone and cannot wait to do more QT with friends and family this week.

I am currently sitting on my back porch in a two-piece, diet coke in hand, soaking up some rays. This is the life.

When I walk on the beach I like to pick up seashells and hold them in my hands.

This week I am picking up summer-esque moments and am holding them in my heart.

Now I know:
If spring break is a preview, I can't wait to see the whole movie.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Fireworks :)

One day PS22 is singing at the Oscars, the next...Stone Academy!!!

Now I know: I already miss my class and hate that they are leaving me for 6th grade!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hoppy Easter (a little early!)

Most people have birthday parties.

Many people have 4th of July parties.

Some people have New Year's parties.

A few people have May Day parties.

But my dear friend, Meredith Stillman, has been hosting killer Easter parties for 12 years now. I'm telling you, her annual Easter bash puts Martha Stewart to shame. Every detail is just perfect - down to the icing on each bunny rabbit cookie.

Not only does her lineup of sweet tea, lemonade, and barbeque just scream southern hospitality - the heaping array of various homemade potato and pasta salads, baked beans, fruit trays - it always blows my mind.

And the cherry pie salad. That is a creation of true delight. Delicious pineapple and cherry on the bottom, fluffy sweet cream cheese on the top. I think this is what heaven's clouds are made of. Meredith also whips up gigantic batches of incredible banana pudding - served in glistening chilled trifle bowls - that are a dollop of summer sunshine. I'm telling y'all, she does the food RIGHT. Here is Mere's precious mom, Marcia, putting the final touches on the cherry pie salad!

The decorations have a homespun, casual appeal, and tie together perfectly. I love the way that every table feels special and put together. I love her colorful pastel platters and the cottonball bunny that I'm pretty sure her boys made (not pictured) and the little egg ornaments hanging from the chandeliers.

This party is also a blast for the kids. Between the egg toss, egg hunt (Meredith always hand dyes a bijlliion eggs that are tucked in hidden spots around the yard for the kids to find), sack race, frisbee decorating station, and egg drop - the smiles on the kids' faces never faded once in three hours.

And the piece de resistance?! Every child was sent home with their very own goldfish in a bowl as a party favor. The egg inside the bowl matched the ribbon on the top. And a little baggie of food hung from the side. And the kids put their name on an egg post-it note and stuck it to the side of the bowl to show which one was theirs. I know...the attention to detail is AMAZING.

The best thing about the party, I think, is that Meredith makes each and every guest feel special and welcomed. I know I always do! I can only pray to become as wonderful a hostess, wife, mom, and friend as Meredith someday. She simply inspires me with her incredible generosity and hospitality.

I should say, Meredith is one lucky lady. She has four handsome, caring, smart, fun boys that all adore her. Her husband Vance is one of my favorite people on earth, and his sons are surely growing up to be just like him.

Kellen, Beckett, and Tucker are honestly the closest thing to perfect kids I have ever encountered in my years of babysitting and teaching combined. (Don't get a big head boys...) They are all just so unique and special.

Kellen is the greatest big brother. He devours books, excels at sports, is a good friend to everyone, and loves to build and create things. He is also really good at playing cards - probably because this is a favorite family pastime.

Beckett is the thinker. He has always loved to do puzzles and play games and read books and ask good questions. He was reading with expression at 4 years old - it blew my mind! He is actually going to the Odyssey of the Mind WORLD championships in a few weeks.

Tucker is the spunky, silly, funny, charming one of the bunch. He is rambunctious and loves to play. He gives great hugs. He has this adorable way of cutting his eyes to the side that melts my heart in a second.

With Easter coming up, spending time with this family put my heart in the perfect place of thankfulness. I left the party full of food, but also full of the feeling that family are not just those people who share your DNA, but the people that put a smile in your heart.

Now I know:
Easter is so much more than "Peeps" give it credit for. ;)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Song Saturday #8

Needtobreathe needstocomeoutwith their newest record already, because I for one am chomping at the bit for more of their music.

I heard them play this new song at their last concert, and I was hooked. I've been listening to it on YouTube ever since. It's one of those tunes that hooked me in immediately - I didn't have to try to like it. I just instantly felt a connection to the banjo lead, the strong beat, and that one ine a million raspy voice of Bear Rinehart.

Just try to listen to this without letting your little toe start tapping.

Devil's Been Talking
Bag of bones and blood red sheets
Guilty from the words I speak
Say the truth will set you free
What do you want from me?

I'm uneasy in my step
Hanging by a thread
Life it hasn't left me yet
But I won't forget

The devil's been talking
The devil is talking

Ship is sailing out to sea
But it's sailing without me
I can't help but feel I'm home
I've been born to see

The devil's been talking
The devil is talking

Hiding out
So alone
It feels bad
To the bone
I can't move
The sun is cold
For it seems
This is home

Bag of bones and blood red sheets
Guilty from the words I speak
Say the truth will set you free
What do you want from me?

The devil's been talking

Thursday, April 7, 2011

You Just Gotta Ignite the Light, and Let it Shine

Yesterday in my class we read about the kids of PS22 in Staton Island in our Time for Kids magazine. Just a few weeks ago, they sang at the end of the Oscars. My kids thought it was pretty cool that these fellow 5th graders got to go to Los Angeles to do that. I did too.

Then when I got home my roommate Maggie asked if I had seen this video of some kids from PS22 singing "Firework." She said it would cheer me up (I had a rough day yesterday). I thought it was fate since we had just read about them at school!

Well, as we watched, my smile got bigger, my heart got happier, and I knew I just had to share this video on my blog.

Now I know:
These 5th graders sing "Firework" better than Katy Perry. Hands down.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Help

I haven't really allowed myself much time to indulge my reading habits in the last few years because I always feel like I should be reading (read: GRADING) student papers instead.

Well recently, I've been reading my eyeballs out. I get a ton of grief from friends and family for my Linus-with-his-blanky-like attachment to books, but it's my guilty pleasure. I love how good books just take you away, sail you to a different time and place, and show you life from someone else's shoes.

I just started a book that does just that.

All my friends have been twittering about it for months. It's called The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, and has zoomed me to the Civil Rights era, right at the beginning of the 1960s. The story is about the black housekeepers that work for rich white people in Jackson, Mississippi, and how life starts changing for them.

The VOICE in the book is incredible. Stockett writing lets the dialect shine through, so as you read silently you can hear the voices of the characters just like you're hearing them in stereo sound. My favorite character so far is this fiesty loudmouth maid named Minny. She makes me laugh out loud every other paragraph with her rants.

Here, just a few lines for yourself:
I don't know what she does for five minutes on the second floor. I don't like it up there though. Those bedrooms should be stacked full of kids laughing and hollering and pooping up the place. But it's none of my business what Miss Celia does with her day, and ask me, I'm glad she's staying out of my way. I've followed ladies around with a broom in one hand and a trash can in the other trying to keep up with their mess. As long as she stays in that bed, then I've got a job. Even though she has zero kids and nothing to do all day, she is the laziest woman I've ever seen. Including my sister Doreena who never lifted a royal finger growing up because she had the heart defect that we later found out was a fly on the X-ray machine.

Hilarious, right?

Now I know:
Books are my personal form of travel.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Enjoy the Ride

The last few weeks, I've felt like a dog riding in a car with its head sticking out the car window.

Life is FLYING past me. I can barely catch my breath. But I'm loving every minute of the ride.

In the past two weeks, I've been to Charleston and back twice.

I saw pure joy on the face of one of my little girls who had never seen the beach before. I snapped a picture of her with her arms stretched out like she could embrace the whole ocean. Her eyes were closed and her smile was so wide I thought her face might break.

I drunk in the sight of southern sparkling gray water from the top of the Cooper River Bridge. I didn't make my goal time, but I enjoyed every step of the 1 hour, two minutes it took me to finish. I pointed to the bands playing on the sidelines and they pointed back. "I see you girl! I see you!" shouted one of the singers. I waved to the Chick-fil-A cows cheering us on. The man that finished alongside of me gave me a high five as we crossed the finish. The race made me feel healthy, strong, alive.

I laid on the beach and soaked up the sun. Maybe a little too much - the back of my legs were red enough to prove that sunscreen would've been a marvelous idea. I chalk it up to making up for a long winter without essential vitamin D. I love my farmer's tan base tan!

I enjoyed a delicious low country boil, savored the shrimp and potatoes and corn. What a huge treat it was to enjoy this delicious meal with incredible friends! This is the taste of summer.

I got stuck in traffic. Terrible, bumper to bumper, stop and go, crawling for hours traffic on the way home. Instead of being grumpy about it, me and my best of friends just decided to sing our lungs out to the most girlie girl mix of all time. I laughed until I cried as Mollye read out the names of podunk South Carolina towns from the map. I definitely think a road trip to Wisacky, South Carolina is now on my bucket list.

I led worship for my LIFE group with a whole set of Bebo Norman songs. I have woken up several days in a row singing the lyrics. I felt encouraged and blessed by the community around me.

I talked on the phone with several family members. I know I am incredibly lucky to have so many people that love and care about me and want to know what is going on in my life.

The "Life is Good" brand may be a little played out, but I agree with the slogan 1000%.

Now I know:
Time flies when you're having fun, and I'd like to give it a speeding ticket.