"I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself." -CS Lewis, The Great Divorce


Thing #84: Promethean Boards

The Promethean Board in use (my practice run)
This is an incredible piece of technology.  All I can manage right now is the "write on top of desk top" function, but for me, that is pretty much the most incredible thing I can imagine.  It's a chalkboard, overhead, and projector all in one without the nasty markers or chalk issues.  The projector is suspended above, so the middle of my room is clear of clutter.

I am one happy teacher. 


Thing #84: My Classroom

I am super stoked about the 2011-2012 school year.  One of these reasons leaves me feeling borderline guilty, but only sometimes.  This year, I have been given the gift of having my own room. That's right, room 124 is mine and mine alone.  I am the queen of my kingdom, and I do not have to consult others when rearranging desks, boxes, bulletin boards, or the teacher's desk.  Even better is that I got to entirely decorate the room in things that bring me joy, which, consequently, brings me great joy.  

One thing that I particularly love this year is my bulletin board.  I love a good Mark Twain quote, but this one really resonates with me.  My junior year, I cut this one out and had it taped to the front of my planner.  It seemed to capture what I wanted my life to be, and it still seems to capture my feelings about the future (and encourage me to try things despite my fears of failing at new things).  I hope my students appreciate it, but even more, I really hope that I can live by it this year as I seek to become an even better teacher, a nicer person, and a more deliberate experiencer of life.


Thing #83: Being OVERprepared

We made it through a tough week.  Tuesday held my first Virginian earthquake, and Saturday held the "underachieving" Hurricane Irene.  It was tough, but we pulled through.  (Ok, I know that my jesting is very cruel for those who suffered true damage during both natural disasters)

Still, I was FREAKED OUT by all of the information about Hurricane Irene.  From Wednesday on, I felt as though doom was headed for Virginia Beach.  I spent Thursday packing up my books and desk area.  Let me explain this over-prepared freak out a bit - we're moving soon anyway, and the school year is starting, so I knew that this was a good excuse to filter through some junk and pack up the good stuff.  We also bought canned goods, water, and moved furniture away from windows, then went to the Andersons to camp out away from the oceanfront.

And part of a tree fell down.  Like, half a branch.  And there were a lot of leaves strewn about in the yard.  Yep, that's it.  Oh, and power went out for about 3 hours.

But I am SO happy that we are lucky.  Hurricane Irene's category 3 status fell to a category 1, and seems to have really only been a tropical storm.  The damage was minimal in Virginia Beach, and we are lucky.  I am convinced, however, if we had underprepared, it would have been an awful situation, full of the doom and destruction I anticipated.



Thing #82: A(n I live at the) Beach Day

Today, I was determined to do something "beachy," and I needed to run. I decided to grab my bike and head down to Seashore (really called First Landing State Park).  I hesitated and puttered around as I have been doing these past few weeks, but I knew I had to do it.  After all, we're moving soon (God - and Hurricane Irene - willing), and this is the last week of summer of my last summer at the beach.  "I will do this," I told myself.  And I did.

The bike ride was lovely.  There was a cool breeze off the water, and there weren't many people out yet at 9:30.  By the time I got to Seashore, I had worked up quite the sweat, but no matter, time to run.  I didn't run far, mostly because I fell and I felt demoralized.  Yep, I fell.  Ugh.  I was hot and sweaty and gross at this point so relaxing in the water and cooling off sounded perfect.  Time to hop back on the bike and head to the beach at 64th street.  When I got there, I was surprised to find...almost no one else.  This was perfect!  I quickly pealed down to the swimsuit I had put on underneath my running clothes and sprinted (yes, sprinted) into the surprisingly calm waters.  If the beach could always be this incredibly peaceful, I'd never leave.  The water was so calm, I even did a few swim strokes.  I do not "swim" (though I can flounder about if I need to), so this was perfect.  I thought, "I've done the beach triathlon today!"

Then, it was time to relax.  I settled in to my towel and looked out at the splendor of the ocean only to see a delightful group of dolphins playing not far from shore.  I even snapped the shot above when one jumped out of the water!  I love dolphins, and this seemed particularly perfect for one of the final beach days of summer.

I know some people hate the beach because of the sand and the smells and the people and such, but it's just so peaceful and rejuvenating to me.  It is certainly on my top things to be happy about, especially on the gorgeous and awe-inspiring day we're having.

Thing #81: teal and lime green

Today marked my first school supply excursion. I picked up several binders, but I was a little disappointed with my color choices. I made one last lap around the aisle, and there they were:  teal and lime green binders. I knew that I needed some fun colored binders, because these are destined to become my gradebooks for the 2011-2012 school year.  Anything destined for a life as a gradebook needs to be snazzy and bright.  These surely fit the bill.  Plus, these are just about my favorite colors ever in combination (navy blue and deep teal may rank higher - same general idea, just different shades).  Ahhh, victory.


Thing #80: Pinterest

Pinterest is Addictive.
 If you'd like an invite to addiction, let me know.
Hi.  My name is Katie.  I am addicted to Pinterest.

This lovely website - derived from putting together the verb "pin" and noun "interest" - is an incredible idea for the 21st century.  In eras gone by, (mostly) women would snip pictures from magazines and newspapers for inspiration, whether that be images that moved them, words that spoke to them, or furniture configurations that simply must be tried.  However, in the current era, there are so few opportunities for us to actually "clip" ideas from magazines.  We simply don't subscribe.  Instead, as we prepare for our weddings, first homes, and children, we obsessively scour the internet for photos that capture just what we want.  And then we store them in our heads or on Word documents.  (Mostly) Ladies, no longer.  Today, I bring you the joy of Pinterest.

Pinterest allows you to peruse the internet and "pin" these images you find inspiring or helpful to your own digital board.  Or, if you're lazy like me, you may simply "repin" what other people found inspiring or helpful before.  It's a dream for those of us who obsessively patrol the internet when we are stressed or overwhelmed.  It gives us an outlet.

Plus, these things that people post are SO cool and fun and perfect and I love them.

Ok, I guess I'm an addict, but I am so NOT ready to break my habit.  Not even close.


Thing #79: She's in Love with the Boy Take 2 or music through time or something

(Disclaimer - this is also technically the same entry as Thing #34, but this is different.)

Today was a good day, and it was a cool enough night to roll down windows and turn my country music up very loudly.  I decided  "She's in Love with the Boy" was necessary.  Pretty soon, my thoughts wandered to my senior college essay about  "She's in Love with the Boy," when I traced my life through the song, and I showed my growth through the what the song meant to me at every turn.

And as I'm driving, I'm thinking about all those memories.  There's little 5-year-old me, listening about Katie and Tommy and just really excited that my name is in a song!  There's middle-school Katie who is mortified to hear it come on the radio while mom drives.  "Someone might find out that I listen to country," she thinks as she sinks lower in the car.  There's a little older teenage Katie who hears the song on the Charity UMC bus during youth outreach week and sings it super loudly because, what the heck, it's my favorite!  There's senior Katie, looking for inspiration for her college essay, rocking to the radio in her (borrowed) Oldsmobile, realizing this is perfect!  There's 23-year-old Katie, finally dating the love of her life, thinking about how it should be Johnny, and maybe they'll play this at our wedding, and I guess what's meant to be WILL always find a way."  There's Katie in a wedding dress, dancing the second-to-last song with the love of her life, belting out words to the best song ever.  The song about her, her favorite, the song that reminds her "what's meant to be will always find a way."

And there's Katie today, who with the very same love of her life, put in a possible offer on their very first home thinking, "maybe I can blast this on the radio and dance while we paint and live a happy life."

And now Katie is crying.  Because I'm so damn lucky that everything has found a way.  And that I know it.  And that I have a little Trisha Yearwood to remind me.

Thing #78: the smell of campfire

After a summer of countless things to be happy about that I have utterly failed to account for you, I am just going to skip back into the blog world and ignore these past two wonderful months.  Yep, just like that.

As I drive down General Booth toward the oceanfront during the summers, there is a particular part of the drive I enjoy on nice evenings.  Just past Oceana, there is a KOA campground that is painfully close to the road (I often wonder what crazy fool would pitch a tent SO CLOSE to General Booth, then dare to hang their wash out to dry).  However, the major advantage to the campground's proximity to the road is the delicious smell of campfires.  Last night was a particularly mellow night (especially for August - this has been a week of gorgeous weather), and the smell was intoxicating.  It makes me think of Girl Scout bonfires and the summer after third grade when we went on the best family vacation ever (we camped in South Dakota and Wyoming...I promise it was AWESOME).  Like watermelon in my last post ages ago, it smells like summer, though it need not be relegated only to summer, of course.

I guess these little things about living near the beach and driving to my two-year home near the oceanfront have really struck me as John and I contemplate "big kid" decisions like buying a house.  Crazy.


Thing #77: Watermelon


Since childhood, this food has heralded the return of my favorite season: summer. It also signaled the approach of my favorite childhood day, my birthday. In my mind, the taste and smell of watermelon intermix with squealing games of catch, barefoot runs around the yard, lightening bugs, and thunderstorms. The drip of watermelon down my hands and arms feels like the return of freedom and adventure. Watermelon in the perfect stage of ripeness oozes happiness.

And what else is there to say?


Thing #76: The iPhone

I'm pathetically in love with a gadget. It's cute. It's functional. It's fun.

I'm addicted.

How did I manage for so long without a phone that allows me to both text and time a soccer game? How did I make it through a workday without a device that allows me to peek at the latest Facebook news feed? How did I tolerate walking to my computer to look at weather.com when I could have done so in bed?

These (and MANY MANY more) are the quandaries that I have found myself facing in the past 4 days since the purchase of my latest love, my iPhone. It is incredibly fabulous. I am instantly connected to my Facebook friends, many of whom I'd never speak with ON the phone, thus making it a more practical "communication" tool than a traditional phone. I have discovered that if a call comes through while I am broadcasting my iPod through my speakers, that the caller can ALSO be broadcasted through the car's speakers (though this is a bit creepy, admittedly). I can make really lame pictures look REALLY cool with a free app I downloaded. I can download apps. I can look busy when doing absolutely nothing on the internet to which I am immediately connected. Really, honestly, if I were to go on about the things that I find amazing about this phone, I would likely run out of room and I would certainly exceed your attention span.

I also admit that some of my infatuation with this phone is a result of my lag time in phone upgrades. As one of the few members of the 20-something American population without a phone that did more than text and call, I was a bit behind. I am simply mesmerized that I hold the power to define words, look up a Bible verse, and track my workout in the palm of my hand.

And it's cute. Did I mention cute? It's white, with a delightful pink cover that is no doubt less damage resistant than I require.

Ahhhh...iPhone, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.


Thing #75: Mornings

Ok, I know I'm not a "morning person" necessarily, but just because YOU wouldn't want to be around me in the morning does NOT mean that I don't enjoy the mornings.

It turns out that I'm getting old. Over break, I started each day between 7 and 8:30. This is unheard of for Katie. But, it turns out, that I quite enjoy the early mornings. It's nice to wake up as the world comes alive. That subtle shadow as the sun rises is hard to match later in the day. I've also found that working out early is delightful. Let's take today, for instance. Normally, I drive to work around 6:20 AM and watch jealously as others run. Today, I have an off-site meeting all day, so I don't need to leave home until 8. Therefore, I ran at 6:30. I feel great! I can start the day off with satisfaction and not feel the stress associated with the "nap or go run" debate. Also, I feel fairly confident that my coffee will taste better.

Anyway, I just thought it was noteworthy that my perspective on mornings is shifting into this state of enjoyment. In fact, I quite savor them. Delightful.


Thing #74: A new PR

I am not a fast runner, which I have said (and will say) over and over and over again. I am, however, persistent. I just keep at it even when I want to give up. This weekend was no different. It was time for yet another Shamrock Half (the third of them I've run), and I was determined to finish no slower than I had finished in the past. And I didn't.

I finished faster. Five minutes faster.

As I was running, I realized that I was running a steady pace, and I was even picking it up pretty regularly. At 9 miles, I was right at 1 hour 30 minutes, and I knew that the 4.1 miles ahead could bring me pretty close to my 2 hr 10 min goal from January, so I picked it up. I ran every mile after that under 10, and my final full mile (mile 13) was 9:17, which is SPEEDY for me. I kept saying to myself, "Mom thinks you can do this," "you CAN do this," and "God, help me do this!" And I did. I ran it in 2:11:45 which is pretty dang close to a lofty goal I set in January.

I feel strong, accomplished, and just plain amazed that my body (and I) could handle that little extra push. The feeling of a personal record is indescribable.

I'm going to shoot for under 2 hours. I will do it. I WILL.


Thing #73: Homemade Soup

Until 2011, I had never ventured into the realm of homemade soup. I had once ventured to make stew, and it was delightful. However, soup and stew seem different to me. Plus, stew always seems a little more involved, especially with the wait. Soup, though, soup is different.

The soup thing is so incredibly easy. Step one: open and poor in a little chicken or vegetable stock. Step two: open whatever variety of canned vegetables you happen to have in the pantry. Step three: cook and add whatever meat you have in the freezer/fridge. Step four: add seasoning to taste. Voila. Soup.

This is quite the exciting revelation for easy cooking that feeds me for many days.

Today's soup included tomato sauce, chicken stock, corn, green beans, kidney beans, peas, mushrooms, and a little ground turkey. It's delightful. And easy. And gosh, who doesn't like that combination?


Thing #72: Boast-less Love

Confession: I always check Facebook before I leave for school in the morning. I recognize that this is ridiculous and a waste of time; however, I will continue to do so. This morning, Facebook was full of pictures of flowers, accounts of dinners eaten, and boasts about the things that girls' significant others did for them.

I recognize that it's good to be happy. I know that it's great to give appreciation. Still, something just rubs me the wrong way about the accounts of what people did. I'm reminded of 1 Corinthians 13 - "love does not boast." I guess this just isn't my kind of love.

My kind of love is quiet, simple, everyday. We didn't do something fancy. John didn't surprise me. We just celebrated the way we are... and I'm grateful that he doesn't expect me to boast to others about what he did, and that I don't feel the need to put it out there. We are content. Private. The love we share is ours, and it's good to know that he and I are on the same page there.


Thing #71: Haircuts

It's hard to deny how wonderful a good haircut can be. You go in thinking, "Yeah, my hair is a little...eh" and leave thinking, "Wow, how fabulous is this?" It's a wonderful attitude pick-me-up. The wash is delightful - a massage that you simply can't give yourself. Then the cut lightens the load a bit. And finally, the blow dry is always better than what you could do. The shiny of the hair makes you wish you could have your hair done every day.

Just fabulous :)


Thing #70: The Perfect Jeans

Last week, I decided to run some errands on my way home from a doctor's appointment. As I was driving along, I thought, "Hey, I have that gift certificate for TJ Maxx that I haven't used yet. Maybe I should stop there and look for some jeans." You see, I was hurting for a new pair of jeans after I ripped my favorite pair while putting them on the week after Christmas. Alas, I stopped. I browsed the jean isle, and then I took a gander at the "designer" section, which though discounted, is generally above my price range. To my delight, there was a sale rack in the section, however. I found a pair of Seven jeans on sale, and they seemed to be about the right size, but they looked awfully small. I hesitated, ultimately deciding to take them with me to the dressing room.

And what a glorious decision that was. While the other jeans hugged in places they shouldn't and gapped in others, these hugged all the right places and fit at my waist perfectly. This is certainly an unusual event, so I looked closely at the jeans to insure there wasn't anything wrong. Perhaps in need of a wash, but other than that, they were pristine. So I bought them. $100 at TJ Maxx, marked down to $69, purchased with a gift card, costing roughly $45.

I think it was meant to be. These jeans called my name through the streets of Virginia Beach, "Come find me, Katie. I'm here." I love them in a way reserved for my favorite flip flops and maybe even my wedding dress. There's just something special about a pair of jeans that actually fits.


Thing #69: Hummus

Mmm...as I sit feeling relatively accomplished (I had graded two sets of essays in two days!) and watch as my freshmen wrap up their midterm exam, I am also delighting in one of my favorite treats: hummus. This delightful Middle Eastern/Mediterranean concoction came into my life in college when I discovered it as a delicious addition to the wrap station wraps. Then, I discovered I could buy it and eat it outside of school. And then, I started to eat it frequently. And now, I love it.

The current hummus of choice is the Mediterranean hummus from Trader Joe's. It includes another wonderful additon - the pine nut. The hummus along with pretzel chips has pretty much made my day. In fact, I am sad that its garlic-y goodness is all gone (I finished my consumption as I typed). What happiness. What joy. What hummus!


Thing #68: Wendy's Pick Two

John and I are eating healthier...really. At least we're trying, but it gets kind of exhausting cooking and preparing lunches and so on. Anyway, tonight, I was going to cook, but we stayed at church later than intended, and well, I didn't end up cooking. Instead, we picked up Wendy's...

which sounds awful, I know, but it wasn't, I swear!

The Wendy's Pick Two is such a great deal. For five dollars, I got a baked potato and a "small" salad. And it was delightful. We both got different salads, and both of them were yummy (with blue cheese!) and had "grilled" chicken (as opposed to breaded). There really was a lot of food there...the salad filled up one of my humongous dinner plates. That's a lot of food.

Anyway, I really don't have a lot to say about this subject, except that it's what I'm happy about right now, because it was a) fast, b) easy, c) cheap, and d) yummy.



Thing #67: Better Days

Tuesday was a series of unfortunate events that just didn't seem to end. I got a migraine during 2nd block that caused me to follow almost nothing going on in class; the power went out as I was cooking eggs on the stove; the power company came to fix the power, but so loudly that I woke up, only to realize my stomach felt bad because I had taken too my medicine for my still-present headache; I woke up with a slight headache and upset stomach, went to class, and discovered I had forgotten Splenda in my coffee (ick).

But it stopped there. Miracuously. Mysteriously. Incredibly.

I told my students that I was mad at the world and to be warned lest I take it out on them. Instead of being awful, they were kind, followed the instructions, and worked pretty hard on their projects. The day got better. I got the work graded I had intended to complete. I figured out lessons. I even napped, went for a run, and enjoyed Young Adult group.

So I'm really thankful for better days. Despite our best intentions to be angry, upset, or bitter, good comes anyway in the forms of smiles, productivity, and rest. I needed yesterday to be a better day, and it sure was :)


Thing #66: Yoga

First, let me preface this by saying that my experience in this realm is limited. Limited here means attendance at two Y yoga sessions and three sessions with my yoga DVDs. However, I recognize that limited does not mean that a.) I lack enough evidence to support the practice or that b.) I can't be happy about it.

After Christmas, I bought a yoga DVD and performed pathetic attempts at yoga on the mat that Drew bought me for Christmas (also, family, is it at all possible this mat was the source of the odd Christmas day smell? I think it may have been). I have now tried to faithfully perform the activities on the DVD three times (as previously mentioned). I am very proud of this AND convinced that the vague pain in my muscles is a fabulous sign of the strength to come.

And I have to say, it does wonders for my mental state. WONDERS. Part of my New Year's Resolutions is an exercise component, and yoga is a very vital part of it. I am stoked.