Friday, March 31, 2017

Slice of Life: March 31 -- Fundraiser Night

Tonight was our school's annual PTO fundraiser.  We had the largest crowd we have had since I have been at the middle school. We honored Kevin Owen, our custodian who passed away, before the game. I was really nervous about this part of the evening. I so wanted to honor Kevin in a way that was fitting and I wanted what was said and done to be appropriate and uplifting. My assistant principal and I took a lot of time preparing what to say. I prayed today that I would be able to contain my emotions as I read what was written. Our teachers held posters the kids had made for Kevin while Karen and I talked about Kevin. Our kids chanted his name at the beginning and everyone gave him a huge round of applause at the end. His daughter came and was able to accept Kevin's crown and sash as he was crowned fundraiser king. I certainly admired her strength and am so glad she was there to see our school's outpouring of love for her dad.

It was a hard day and sad in so many ways, but it ended with the fun of our fundraiser. I think Kevin would have wanted us to smile and enjoy ourselves this evening. He will be missed and I hope that we can continue to honor Kevin's memory through our service and acts of kindness.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Slice of Life: March 30 -- BIST

Today I attended a workshop on BIST. Behavior Intervention Support Team. Today's training was day two of theee days dealing with the topic. It's been really interesting and fun to learn more about this topic. The presenter, Marti, is both funny and insightful. She is one of those people that I can listen to all day and not get tired of listening to what she has to say. She is very experienced and mixes humor and lots of stories into her presentation. I am anxious to try some of the strategies she suggested and am all curious about what day three of the training will look like. I've been wanting to know more about BIST all school year, so it has been exciting to have had the opportunity to attend this training with some of my teachers. I am also hopeful that I will get to send more teachers to this training in the future.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Slice of Life: March 29 -- Brief Reflections on Slicing

This is my fourth year participating in a Slice of Life.  I've learned a lot about writing (and myself) over the course of "slicing."  Each year has been different and presented its own challenges.  Here's what I've learned this year from my participation:

  • It was much easier this year by deciding to focus on writing about small snippets of my day instead of trying to come up with something "profound" to write about.  My posts were much shorter this year and probably weren't as well written as previous years, but focusing on small yet meaningful parts of my day to write about helped me keep up with the challenge of writing.
  • It was helpful to try some new writing formats.  I stole a few ideas from some of my fellow slicers when I needed something to write about.  These were really helpful on the days when I was drawing a blank as I sat at my computer to write.  
  • Lists became my friend.  As evident by this post, lists of favorite things, places, etc. were helpful formats for me.  Once again, when I was stuck, I could turn to this format and could usually think of a topic.
  • While I'm not as proud of my writing this go round as I have been in previous years, I am proud of the fact that I stuck with it this year.  Last year I gave up halfway through March.  I felt overwhelmed with the task of writing about something really meaningful and inspiring.  I was out of ideas after two years of writing and 62 posts.  I knew I had to change my approach this year if I wanted to be successful.  I may not have offered words of wisdom, solved any great problems, or motivated anyone through my writing, but I will have written 31 posts when this month is over, and that's something I wasn't sure I would be able to do this year.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Slice of Life: March 28 -- Favorite Destinations

I don't travel much, but I have had the chance to visit a few pretty amazing places. For tonight's post, here are four of my favorite places I have visited:

  • Maui: My husband and I went to Maui on our honeymoon. Life is definitely more laid back on the island. The landscape is absolutely beautiful. From the gorgeous flowers, the "painted trees" whose bark is literally muted shades of purple and pink, to the amazing water falls, Maui has a little bit of everything to offer.  The food is pretty unforgettable, too. You can visit Mama's Fish House, where the seafood menu changes daily and features a variety of fish caught locally. For a unique touch, the menu tells you the name of the fisherman who caught the fish!
  • Cancun: My husband and I have been to Cancun twice. Both times we stayed at Secrets the Vine, a gorgeous all inclusive resort. With lots of different restaurants within the hotel, nightly entertainment, four pools, and a beautiful beach, you literally have no reason to step foot off the resort property. If you're feeling adventurous and want to get a little history lesson in the process, a guided tour of the Mayan ruins is a must. Most of all, this is a perfect place to lay by the pool, read a book or take a nap, and take a break from the stress of the "real" world. 
  • Italy: I had the chance to visit Italy during college. I spent an incredible 17 days touring the country with stops in Rome, Florence, Venice, Capri, Pisa, and Pompeii among others. This was a once in a lifetime trip that included tours of some of the world's most amazing and historical landmarks.  I could write an entire blog about all I saw and did during this trip. 
  • Destin, Florida: The first beach vacation I ever went on was to Destin with my family during spring break when I was in sixth grade. For that reason, it will always be one of my favorite vacation spots. I remember seeing the gulf for the first time, collecting shells with my dad along the beach, shopping with my mom, and playing miniature golf as a family. It was my very favorite vacation we ever took as a family. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Slice of Life: March 27 -- A Hard, Sad Day

Today was a sad day.  We found out last night that our beloved custodian and crossing guard, Kevin, passed away unexpectedly.  To say I was shocked and saddened would be an understatement.

Despite my shock, when I heard the news, I immediately went into "principal" mode.  Over the next three hours, my assistant principal and I contacted every staff member to notify them of Kevin's passing and made arrangements for our morning staff meeting, where we would discuss how to share the news with our students.

Our students absolutely adored Kevin and he adored them.  He greeted each student at the crosswalk with a smile, a high five, and a kind greeting to start their day.  He knew kids by name, took the time to get to know them, and went out of his way to make our kids feel special.  In much the same way, he made our staff feel special, too.  He did his work with a smile, was always eager to help, and would offer a kind word just when you needed it most.  Kevin wasn't just a co-worker or a custodian, he was a friend, father figure, role model, and family member.

This morning, as I stood before our staff and spoke of our loss, I was overcome with emotion.  I stepped out of "principal" mode and shed tears over the death of our friend.  I choked up as I spoke of his kindness and the great sadness that was palpable in the room.

Knowing Kevin, he would want us to smile.  He would want us to remember his legacy and continue the work of spreading kindness.  That's the challenge I now place on myself -- to smile more, remember life's blessings, and to show kindness in a way that would honor Kevin and the impact he made on so many.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Slice of Life: March 26 -- The End of Spring Break

Spring break has come to an end. I always feel like I spend the last day of break lamenting about everything I didn't get done or didn't enjoy during my weeklong vacation. Then I spend part of my day trying to squeeze in a few more moments of fun while also frantically crossing a few more items off my to do list. Here's what I have to "show" for my spring break:

  • I spent some much needed time with my parents. I really miss them since they moved to Springfield, so I truly appreciate and look forward to the time I get to spend with them. 
  • I spent lots of time with Wesley. We went to Bass Pro, the park, went on walks and golf cart rides, played, and enjoyed ice cream. Being a working mom is tough, so I really enjoyed the uninterrupted time I got to spend with him. 
  • I finally got my house cleaned. Well, mostly cleaned. 
  • I organized my closet. That was a major accomplishment. 
  • I didn't get my school work done. I still have a lot of school work to do and I'm feeling a little guilty that I didn't get more done. 
  • I didn't spend time with my friends like I would have liked. It seems like the week got away from me and I didn't get to see a couple of friends I planned on visiting during the break. 
  • I shopped. I didn't buy a lot of stuff and I still have birthday money to spend, but I did find a few things I needed (and wanted). 
Looking at my list makes me realize that perhaps I accomplished more than I thought. As for my laundry, it's still sitting at the foot of my bed. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Slice of Life: March 25 -- Writing About Nothing

I can't find any words tonight. The cursor is blinking at me on the screen, beckoning me to write. "Surely you have something to say." I can hear the condescending tone of its voice as it continues to blink in its rhythmic pattern. It's like a clock ticking, counting down the seconds, reminding me the day is coming to a close and my post still needs to be written. My brain searches for words, for any thought worth typing. There must be something I can type to stop the endless flashing of the tiny vertical line on my computer screen. 

Nothing. No cute poem. No top ten list. No throwback to a time of my youth. I already wrote about the piles of laundry resting at the foot of my bed. 

I've got nothing except to say that I've got nothing coming to my mind except to say that I can't think of anything to write about. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Slice of Life: March 24 -- Laundry

I hate laundry.

Hate is a pretty strong word that I don't use often, but I think it's fitting when I describe my relationship with one of my least favorite tasks. It's not the actual "doing" of the laundry that I hate.  I have a washer and dryer for that. No, it's everything else that comprises the task of laundry that I loathe.

Sorting. Handwash only, lay flat to dry, lights, darks, towels, dry clean only. So many piles and so many options.

Hanging up and folding. This can't be dried and has to be hung up. That can be dried but must be hung up immediately. These things will wrinkle and these can go in a basket to be folded later. This sock is missing its mate.

Putting away. Get enough hangers. Get enough of the right kind of hangers. Sort again when being placed in the closet. This won't fit in the drawer.

Ugh. Just the thought of the whole process makes me tired. I suppose that's why I have four baskets of clothes to wash, another basket that needs folded and put away, and I finally started a load at 10:30 tonight so I would have clothes to wear tomorrow.

Did I mention I hate laundry?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Slice of Life: March 23 -- My Life by the Numbers

One: I have been pulled over one time (I "coasted" through a stop sign and got a warning).

Two: I have traveled to Mexico twice, both times staying at the same resort.

Theee: I graduated third in my high school class.

Four: Four was my volleyball number in high school.

Five: I lived in five different houses growing up (not counting a rental house we lived in for a few months while one of our houses was being built).

Six: I taught sixth grade for theee years before becoming an administrator.

Seven: I have had seven different vehicles since I started driving.

Eight: My husband and I have known each other for eight and a half years and will celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary this June.

Nine: I am one of nine grandkids on my mom's side of the family.

Ten: I have been an administrator for ten years.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Slice of Life: March 22 -- A Good Day

Today was a busy but fun day.  I had an appointment to get my hair cut in Springfield today, so I asked my parents, who live in Springfield, if they could watch Wesley for me.  I decided to go up earlier in the day so I could take Wesley to Bass Pro to look at the fish and other animals.  My dad met us there this morning.  Wesley is still a little young to fully understand or see everything Bass Pro has to offer, but he enjoyed looking at the fish and all the "wa" (that's his word for water).  He was pretty fascinated by the big stuffed bears and he quickly noticed the stuffed ducks hanging from the ceiling.

We then went across the street to eat lunch at Chick-fil-A.  Wesley loves Chick-fil-A and so do I.  Not only is their food good, but it's a great, family friendly place to take kids.  Wesley enjoyed his chicken nuggets and apple sauce.

I then took Wesley to my parents' house.  He loves his Meme and PaPa and they were really excited to see Wesley.  He played for quite a while and then it was time for his nap.  I tried to lay him down to sleep, but he cried and refused to go to sleep.  My dad offered to rock him, and it didn't take long for Wesley to fall asleep.  I had to leave around 3:00 to make it to my appointment, but Wesley slept in my dad's lap for over two hours.

I got my hair cut and colored, which is always relaxing and makes me feel better.  After my appointment, I picked up Wesley and then stopped at my favorite Chinese restaurant for take-out on the way home.

It was a good but busy day.  I'm not sure who had more fun today -- my parents and me or Wesley.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Slice of Life: March 21 -- Getting Crafty

I'm not crafty.

Creative?  Perhaps.

Crafty?  Not so much.

My mom, on the other hand, is the epitome of "crafty."  She makes her own greeting cards, creates beautiful and intricate quilts, and makes all sorts of other projects.  I, however, didn't inherit those genes.

I have great ideas, but I usually struggle to turn them into reality.  I've tried my hand at more than a few projects, only to scrap them before they were ever finished because I could quickly tell there was no way my version was ever going to be worthy of the final product.

Lately, however, I've been trying my hand at a few somewhat crafty projects.  Somehow my desire to dip my toe in the waters of "craftiness" coincided with my venture into motherhood.  It started with the decorations for Wesley's nursery.  I must say I am quite proud of the frames I created that spell his name above his crib (even though I did have my mom's help).  For Father's Day, I made two signs for my husband, Stephen, using Wesley's footprints and photos I took of him holding letters to spell out "Dad."  For Wesley's first birthday, I went all out, making small campfires complete with tea lights and a large campfire using actual wood and rocks I retrieved from the drainage ditch next to our house.

Today, I decided to design a spring decoration for our front door.  My current spring wreath is looking a little shabby after years of enduring the beating of wind and rain.  I decided I would take a look at a couple of discount stores to see if I could find a new wreath.  Unable to find what I wanted, I ventured to Michael's today, hoping to find something on sale.  Not only were the prices high, but I didn't see anything that captured me eye.

I decided to walk down an aisle just to see what the store had to offer, when I spotted a ten by ten square of grass and a little box.  For some reason, I instantly thought that I could use it to make something to hang on my front door.  Knowing I needed something else to finish of my creation, I walked two aisles over and found a letter "Z" to include in my design.  I then found some ribbon to complete my vision.

It sounds like I was awfully confident in my creation, but I actually Face Timed my mom while I was in the store to get her opinion.  She assured me she thought my idea would work.  I headed to the checkout and was proud to find my grand total was $18.

As I left the store, I was still a little unsure how it would all come together.  Tonight, however, I grabbed my scissors and began making my vision a reality.  The ribbon still has to be hot glued to hold everything together, but I have to say that I am pretty happy with the finished product.

Who knows?  Maybe I am a little crafty after all.

Slice of Life: March 20 -- Cousins

I got to spend a little time with my nephews this past weekend.  I don't get to see them as often as I'd like, so it's fun when we are able to get together.  Hudson is five and the twins, Ashton and Preston, are almost three.  They are full of energy and are always on the go, so our time together is very busy and is spent moving from one activity to the next.  Wesley is finally old enough to play with them.  They do a great job including him and even share their toys with him.  It's fun to watch the four of them interact with one another.  I suppose it brings back memories of my cousins and me when we were growing up.  I was the second youngest in our family and one of four girls and five boys.  My female cousins were all quite a bit older than me and they lived several hours away, so most of my memories are of me playing with my brother and my three male cousins who lived close to us.  As a result, I often played cops and robbers, dressed up as Superman, and played whatever sport they were playing.  I was a bit of a tomboy, so I didn't mind playing with the boys.

I watch Wesley and his cousins play and I can't help but think about how much fun they will have together as they get older.  I can imagine baseball games in the backyard, fishing trips, dares, a few scraped knees, and lots of dirt.  Just thinking about it makes me smile.  I don't want any of them to grow up any faster than they already are, but I love the fact that they will have wonderful memories of their time growing up together.

Wesley and Hudson

Preston, Wesley, and Ashton

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Slice of Life: March 19 -- Turning 35

Thirty-five years ago on today, I entered this world two weeks ahead of schedule. It's hard to believe I'm 35. For some reason 35 sounds and seems so much older than 34. Perhaps it's because I am now just as close to 40 as I am to thirty. Perhaps it's because I'm now half way to 70. I hadn't really thought of that until a friend told me that 35 was a hard Birthday for her for that reason. I suppose age really is just a number and honestly, I don't feel like I'm 35.

Either way, I had a good day celebrating with my family. I spent time shopping in Branson, enjoyed a wonderful dinner with my family, spent time playing with Wesley and my nephews, and cheated on my diet for the day. As I sit here typing this, I am reminded how truly blessed I am.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Slice of Life: March 18 -- Spring Break

Today marked the start of spring break. Technically I suppose you could say Monday is actually the real start of spring break, but in my mind, the nine day break from school started today. This morning my husband and Wesley and I traveled to Springfield to visit my parents. We're planning on spending three days with them. Today my mom and Wesleyand I went shopping while my dad and husband went and looked and campers and other outdoor stuff. Tomorrow we are going to Branson and will be meeting up with my brother, sister-in-law, and nephews. It's going to be a pretty low key spring break and I am perfectly happy about that. I am definitely ready to spend some time at home relaxing while also getting caught up on a few things around the house. I hope to get to visit a couple of friends, too. Mostly, however, I'm looking forward to the little things, like taking an afternoon nap.

Slice of Life: March 17 -- St. Patrick's Day

I'm usually not that big a fan of St. Patrick's Day, but having a little boy to dress in green made it a little more fun. Wesley, of course, had no idea that the shirt he wore today was purchased especially for the occasion. Either way, I thought he looked pretty cute today in his "Irish I Had a Mustache" shirt. He ate a green St. Patrick's Day cookie at daycare (which I was told he enjoyed), but other than that, today was probably like any other day in Wesley's world. I, too, had to buy a shirt so I would have something green to wear today. I suppose it was a good excuse to get a new shirt. While I'm still not a big fan of St. Patrick's Day, I can't complain about getting a new shirt out of the deal.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Slice of Life: March 16 -- Throwback Thursday

Wesley turned 16 months old on March 1st.  He is growing up way too fast and this momma wishes time would slow down.  It is fun to see how much he is learning and how much he is changing.  It seems that every day he learns a new word, does something for the first time, or surprises me with what he knows and comprehends at such a young age.  While it's hard to believe he is 16 months old, it's also hard to remember what life was like before he was born.

This is one of my favorite pictures of him.  He's only a few weeks old and I so miss those days.  Granted, I don't miss sleeping in three hour intervals at night, the evenings he spent crying when he struggled with reflux, or the emotions of being a new mom who questioned whether or not I knew what I was doing.  I do miss, however, the times he spent snuggled in my arms sleeping, his little coos and grins, and the way it seemed like we could sit and stare at each other for hours.  While I have loved each phase of him growing up, and find that he is so much fun at his current age, I must admit that I miss my baby boy.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Slice of Life: March 15 -- Commitments

Lately I have found myself committing to a lot of new things. I often tend to overextend myself, so it's not surprising that I find myself committing to lots of things. However, this time some of the things I am committing to are things that are truly impactful in my life and are challenging at the same time. I'm realizing that I am pushing myself outside of my comfort zone in some areas and that it's not a bad thing. Here are a few things I've committed to that are making a difference in my life:
  • Bible Study on Wednesday Nights. I've been going to Wednesday night Bible study for a while now, but the current study has me really intrigued and excited about what I am learning. I still struggle to get my homework done each week, but I am discovering that this commitment to this particular study is having an impact in the way I view my walk with God and my response to situations in my life. 
  • A Memory Verse Challenge. In January a few friends and I joined Beth Moore's online Scripture Memory Verse Team. The challenge is to post a Bible verse on the first and the fifteenth of each month for the entire year. In addition, the goal is to memorize those 24 verses. I haven't done a good job memorizing yet, but I have kept up and posted my first six verses this year. It may not seem like much, but I've kept my commitment to posting and now just need to work on the memorizing. 
  • Dieting. Granted, it's only been a few weeks, but so far I have stuck with it and resisted the temptation to "cheat" on several occasions. It's not been easy, but I am working hard to keep my commitment and hope it pays dividends. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Slice of Life: March 14 -- Visiting MeMa

Today I took Wesley to see his great-grandma.  My aunt was in town visiting, so I thought it would be a good opportunity for Wesley to see both of them.  My grandma is 93 years old.  She has nine grandchildren and 26 great grandchildren.  She is an amazing woman who still lives on her own and manages to get around well with the help of a walker.  Wesley loves his MeMa, as she is called by her great grandkids.  Even as young as he is, he knows when we pull up outside her house and he instantly gets excited at the thought of seeing her.

We only spent about an hour and a half visiting, but Wesley definitely enjoyed himself.  He loves her stuffed toy, Bubba, and finds it funny to snatch a potato from the basket where she stores them.  He knows her cabinet doors aren't childproof and he enjoys opening them to see what's inside.  Most of all, however, he loves sitting on his MeMa's lap, grinning as she rocks back in forth in her chair.  

Monday, March 13, 2017

Slice of Life: March 13 -- Love Is...

Love is...

  • Waking up to a freshly cleaned house thanks to your husband.
  • Snuggling with your little boy in the wee hours of the morning.
  • A warm cup of coffee on a bitterly cold morning.
  • Laughter shared between two friends.
  • Visiting with my parents after not seeing them for a month.
  • Finding out you have enough daily "points" left on your diet plan to eat a breadstick at dinner.
  • A warm, comfy pair of sweatpants.
  • Your little boy falling asleep in your arms.
  • A fire crackling in the fireplace on a cold night.
  • Curling up to go to sleep at the end of a long day.
*Thanks, Kris Williams, for this writing suggestion!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Slice of Life: March 12 -- The Bounce House

Today we took Wesley to a birthday party at the House of Bounce. He was a little bit too little to play in the inflatables, but that didn't stop him from having fun. He spent the majority of his time running all over and playing with some large stuffed blocks. I assumed he would have worn himself out running and playing, but he didn't go to bed any earlier and he still woke up during the night.

I am sure he will love the inflatables when he is a little older. I will have to take him back when he is bigger. It's sad to see him grow up, but it's fun to watch him experience new things as he gets older. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Slice of Life: March 11 -- Dieting

I started a diet two weeks ago. For the most part, I do pretty well sticking to the guidelines. It's not too difficult to maintain at school since I'm so busy and often don't have time to stop and think about the fact that I wish I could eat a bag of chips or a Snicker's bar.

Today, however, has been hard. I had to turn down pancakes at breakfast because I had already eaten my whole grain waffles. At lunch, I ate a tiny piece of bread, a salad, and what must have been the world's smallest piece of grilled chicken. All the while, sitting on the table in front of me was Wesley's plate of chicken tenders and fries. Willpower is not eating those chicken tenders and fries when your son refuses to eat them. Willpower is also throwing away the leftovers after your son yet again refuses to eat the chicken tenders and fries for dinner. My dinner -- a leftover tiny hamburger with no bun and a can of green beans.

Dieting is hard, especially for a girl who loves chocolate, chips, and fried foods. I know I'll love the results if I stick with it, but right now I really want some chicken tenders and fries.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Slice of Life: March 10 -- Sleep

I just woke up.

It's 10:43 as I type those words.

10:43 p.m.

Yep. I fell asleep around 8:00 while rocking Wesley. The funny thing is I actually set an alarm on my phone to wake me up at 10:00 so I could write this post.  That means I knew I was going to fall asleep. It also means I hit snooze four times before I finally got up, laid Wesley in his crib, and started writing.

No, it wasn't an exciting Friday night, but after a crazy week at school that included three straight nights away from home, a little extra sleep was just what I needed.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Slice of Life: March 9 -- An Early Evening Hail Storm

I picked up my son from daycare today and then drove back to school to kill some time before grabbing dinner and then attending our school's PTO meeting.  It was starting to get a little cloudy when I arrived back at school, but I didn't think much of it.  By the time I got ready to walk to my car thirty minutes later, it was already raining.  I strapped Wesley in his car seat as quickly as I could to try to avoid getting wet standing in the rain.  As I started driving, the rain intensified, making my windshield wipers streak across the glass at breakneck speed.  Within minutes, hail began to mix with the rain, pelting my car as I drove across town.  I drove several blocks, trying to decide what to do, finally making up my mind to find the nearest gas station to seek cover for my vehicle.  About the same time I made that decision, the hail stopped and the rain quickly began to diminish.  Whew.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Slice of Life: March 8 -- Impeccable Timing

As I mentioned yesterday, it's been a rough couple of weeks.  Yesterday I wrote about a friend who spoke truth into my life when I needed it most.  Today, it was God's truth that spoke to me.

Wednesdays are notoriously difficult days at school.  I'm not sure why "hump" day is quite so bumpy.  What I do know, is that most Wednesdays leave me feeling exhausted.  It's the day of the week I would most like to come home, relax, curl up on the couch, spend time with my family, and go to bed early.  Instead, Wednesday evenings are reserved for Bible study at church.

I have to admit that many Wednesdays I fight the urge to stay home, justifying that desire by lamenting about my difficult day.  However, it's then that I realize that church is the exact place I need to be when I feel exhausted and at my wit's end.

This Wednesday was no different.  It was a busy, exhausting day.  Not only did I have church, but I also hadn't completed my homework for church.  When I woke up this morning, the first thing I thought of was my homework, and then I mentally ran through my day, realizing there would be little if any time to get it done before or after school.  Nonetheless, I decided to get done what I could and go to church anyway.

After school I had to take my son to the doctor for a follow-up appointment.  Feeling rushed and a little frantic, I was surprised when he fell asleep in the car on the way home.  I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and the nice day to pull over, park my car, roll down the window, and work on my homework while Wesley napped in his car seat.

As I began working, I immediately knew that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing at the exact moment I needed to be doing it.  The words on the page of my Bible study jumped off the page at me.  The very thing I had been struggling with and had talked about with my friend yesterday was staring at me in the pages of the book.  Had I completed my homework three days ago (like I should have) or this morning before my day began, I'm not sure I would have seen the words the same, nor would they have pierced my heart like they did tonight.

God's timing is impeccable.  It was still a tough Wednesday, but I'm thankful that God's promises are true no matter what the day brings.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Slice of Life: March 7 -- The Value of a True Friend

Today was a tough day.  Work was stressful, there didn't seem to be enough hours in the day, and I was feeling a little discouraged.  It's honestly been a rough few weeks, and I was feeling pretty frustrated and emotional after a day spent putting out fires and feeling less than effective.

At the end of the day, I sat down with a friend, venting about my day, lamenting about the past few weeks, and opening up about my frustrations.  It was in that moment that my friend was honest with me, speaking truth to me not just about my day or my rough few weeks, but about my feelings and my fears.  They were words I needed to hear, spoken at just the right moment, and offered out of genuine care, concern, and love.

I didn't sit down and intend to open up about my feelings.  If I'm being honest, I really just wanted to complain about a tough day.  Instead, my friend offered me a new perspective, made me think just a little differently, offered me a needed dose of encouragement, and above all, reminded me that my feelings matter.

Today I was reminded that having a friend you can count on is truly a blessing.  She was a bright spot in an otherwise cloudy day.  For that, and for all the other days she has and will be there for me, I am thankful.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Slice of Life: March 6 -- The Best Part of the Day

Crazy.  That's the one word that comes to mind when I think about today.  I didn't eat lunch until 3:00 if that gives you any indication how my day went.  Combine that with the fact that I have a to-do list that seems to be a mile long, and today was just downright frustrating.

Aren't some days like that?  They are hectic and exhausting.  They leave you weary and craving something that will take the sour taste out of your mouth.

It's days like today that I especially appreciate and love the opportunity to spend time with my son.  Sure, chasing him around the house and meeting his every need is not relaxing.  It honestly just adds to the exhaustion.  But there's something about his ornery giggle, his constant jabber, and the way he says "Momma" that just seems to make everything better.  Tonight, as he laid his head on my chest and began to softly snore, I couldn't help but smile.

My to-do list isn't any shorter.  My eyes are still heavy and my soul is still weary.  My heart, however, is filled with joy.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Slice of Life: March 5 -- Busy, Busy Sunday

Sundays are meant for relaxing.  They're meant for afternoon naps and time spent with family.  They're meant for doing what you love, for re-energizing for the start of another work week.  At least that's what I tell myself.

Today was a busy day.  There was a trip to the grocery store, food that needed made for tomorrow, a house that needed cleaned, laundry that needed done, errands that needed run, and school work that needed finished.  I wish I could say all those items got completed today.  At least then I could say my busy Sunday was a successful Sunday.  I crossed a few of those items off my list, but not all of them.  There are still several I wish I would have finished or even started.  Those will have to wait for tomorrow, or perhaps even another day.

Right now I'm going to relax and enjoy what's left of my Sunday.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Slice of Life: March 4 -- Random Ramblings

I waited a little late to get started on this evening's blog, and I'm feeling a little under the weather, so tonight you get five random things you might not know about me.

1.  I've had seven different vehicles since I started driving.  I've alternated between sports cars and SUVs, but now that I'm a mom, it will be a while before another sports car resides in my garage.

2.  I love shrimp.  My husband gives me a hard time when we go out to eat because nine times out of ten, the dish I order is likely to include some kind of shrimp.

3.  I hate being cold.  I get cold easily, and when I do, it usually takes me a while to warm back up.

4.  I don't like going to the dentist.  I have vague memories of at one point saying I wanted to be a dentist when I grew up.  I honestly have no idea where that came from.  Going to the dentist is one of my least favorite things to do and has been for years.

5.  I once was in a commercial for a funeral home.  Strange, right?  My parents' best friends own a funeral home.  When I was in college, they were creating a commercial and needed some people to participate.  My parents and I were part of the commercial.  If my memory serves me correctly, we were supposed to pretend we were looking at caskets.  A little odd, but true.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Slice of Life: March 3 -- Thankful for Friday

I'm not going to lie -- it was a long week. By long I mean one of those weeks when you can't remember if what happened Monday really happened this week or last week. It was one of those weeks when Tuesday felt like it should have been Wednesday, Wednesday felt like it should have been Thursday, and well, you get the drift.

All that said, I'm thankful it's Friday, and here are the reasons why:

1. I got to wear comfortable shoes to work. This probably seems silly to most, but after a long, busy week, there's something glorious about wearing tennis shoes to work.

2.  I usually don't cook on Fridays. I'm not a big fan of cooking the other six days of the week, but Fridays are for eating out or ordering in. Tonight was dinner out at one of my favorite restaurants.

3. I get to go to bed knowing I can sleep later in the morning. "Sleeping in" is a thing of the past now that I have a one year old, but even an extra hour of sleep in the morning is something to look forward to.

4. I get to look forward to a weekend with my family. After a week spent working and managing the daily routine, it's nice to look forward to a couple of days that aren't quite so structured and planned. That means spending time with my son and taking time to do things we enjoy that aren't part of our normal day to day routine.

5. I get to go to bed early without feeling guilty. During the week, I often struggle to stay up late and work or do chores around the house. There are many nights my eyes get heavy right around Wesley's bedtime and I feel guilty when I don't force myself to get up and accomplish something before I go to bed. On Fridays, however, I don't feel guilty when I go to bed early. There's something about knowing I have two days to tackle all the things on my to-do list that makes going to bed before 9:00 seem a little less guilt ridden.

That said, it's 8:47 and my eyelids are getting heavy...

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Slice of Life: March 2 -- "What's That?"

That's the vacuum cleaner.

That's the fireplace.

That's the clock.

That's your slide.

That's the fan.

Those are just a few of the answers to the question I am asked repeatedly throughout the day.  Sometimes the same answer is given more than once even though the question hasn't changed.  The vacuum cleaner is likely the most frequent reply given.  Under any other circumstances, I might tire of being asked the same question over and over, especially when my reply hasn't changed.  In this case, however, I love the question and answering it time and again never gets old.

The question, "What's that?" is asked in a tiny yet persistent voice, usually accompanied by the pointing of a slender little finger, by my sixteen month old son, Wesley.

Answering that question, asked multiple times each day, has become one of my favorite parts of my daily routine.  I love the curiosity and inflection in his voice when he asks the question when something new enters his little world.  I also love the orneriness that accompanies the question when I know he already knows the answer but still asks anyway.  I love that he wants to explore and learn new things, while at the same time, being affirmed that the tall, odd looking contraption in the pantry is still that vacuum cleaner.  Most of all, I love him.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Slice of Life: March 1st -- Here We Go Again

"I need to plan ahead if I intend to slice next year.  I need to have a game plan going into next March if I decide to take this challenge again.  It's hard to come up with writing ideas for 31 days, especially after a couple years of slicing.  However, I know that if I think ahead, I can be better prepared with writing ideas that will help me when I'm stuck and don't know what to write about.  I always tell my students that you have to have a plan if you want to meet a goal.  This year, I failed to heed my own advice."

Those were some painful words to read and perhaps they were even more painful to write.  Those are the words I typed on March 26 last year, after admitting that I had failed at my Slice of Life commitment.  Failure might as well be a four letter word in my book.  In some respects, failure is a four letter word because I equate it with fear -- a real four letter word that I wrestle with more often than I care to admit.

It seems odd to say that I am fearful of entering this commitment again.  Writing isn't scary.  Making myself vulnerable by sharing my thoughts doesn't make me uneasy.  Coming up with different topics for 31 days makes me a little concerned, but doesn't fill me with anxiety.  My fear, however, is real.  My fear is that of failing to meet my goal again.

As I sit here writing, it would be easy to focus on that fear.  It would be easy to make excuses, to give myself a free pass and a reason not to participate.  No one would blame me if I excused myself from this year's challenge, nor would anyone think less of me if I never wrote another post this year.  I could allow that fear of failing to honor my commitment keep me from committing in the first place.  Certainly that would be much easier.  It would be easier to say I don't have time, to say that I'm fresh out of ideas, or that my posts wouldn't be all that enlightening anyway.  Yes, that wold be easy.  Facing my fear -- that's much harder.  Recognizing that it's going to take planning and preparation to meet my goal is easy.  Putting that plan into action is much more difficult.

As I mentioned in my final post of last year's challenge, I failed to heed my own advice.  Granted, that's not all that surprising, as it's much easier for me to give advice than to take it.  This time, however, I realize that I must take my own advice.  The words I penned almost a year ago must be put into action.  I have set a goal to slice this year for 31 days, and in order to meet that goal, I have to have a concrete plan.  According to Antoine de Saint-Exupery "A goal without a plan is just a wish."

So here we go again.  I'm not wishing to complete a Slice of Life, I'm making it my goal.  And in doing so, I'm admitting that I'm a little fearful of not meeting my goal.  I'm a little hesitant to start and not be able to finish.  But truthfully, I'm more fearful of not making a goal in the first place.  I'd rather set a goal, make a plan, and perhaps fall short than be bound by my fear and fail to begin.  As I've come to realize, Winston Churchill's quote is true: "Success isn't final, failure isn't fatal.  It's the courage to continue that counts."

So here's to continuing.  Here's to having the courage to start.  And here's to realizing that last year wasn't a failure at all.