Saturday, December 12, 2009

I am rich!

"We don't have to define wealth in terms of money. Why not define it by relationships, friendships and community well-being?" -- John D. Ivanko

If I define wealth in terms of friendships, I recognize that I am rich indeed. This week I have been blessed with time around some amazing friends. Last night Zac and I spent the evening with two of our friends who feel like family to us. What a gift it is to sit in the presence of friends and be comfortable with conversation or times of companionable silence. To be relaxed enough to let all sides of your personality show, even the awkward parts that you try to hide from others. What a relief to open yourself up, knowing that you will be loved no matter what you say or do.

This morning I had the pleasure of meeting a life-long friend for breakfast. For two hours we sat in the morning sunlight at Bruegger's Bagels and chatted vigorously, catching up on all that had happened in our lives in recent weeks and discussed all that was to come. I think we could have talked the whole day away!

It is an incredible feeling to walk away from time spent with friends and feel your heart smiling. What a joy to not recognize the cold air around you because you're reflecting on the warm conversation and thinking about the next time you can be around those friends.

I am rich.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Photos

I've been working on a photo project for a client of mine. Can you guess what his company does? Special thanks to our friend Peter from church for being my model. :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Our time with Julia

We visited Lake Harriet on a GORGEOUS fall day. One of the beautiful fall days Julia saw while she was here!

We went hiking around the twin cities together multiple times.
We celebrated Julia's 24th birthday with a homemade apple pie (it was Julia's and my first time making one!) and a gorgeous cake made by our friend Anne.

We took a boat cruise and got to see the St. Paul skyline and some fall colors!

We worked hard one Saturday on the farm to make apple juice. We made about 30 gallons! Yum!

Found My Peace Again

My hands, still spotted with dirt, hung up the rake in the garage. Satisfied with my yardwork, I brushed my hands on my pants and prepared to go inside. Something wouldn't let me. Maybe it was the setting sun casting light pinks and yellows across the fall clouds. Maybe it was the pleasantly warm air and its absence for so long. Who knows.

My feet led me to the front steps. The cement was cool on my hands as I eased myself down to sit. I sat. I listened. I watched.

Some kids walked by, as did the man who faithfully runs the neighborhood streets. I see him almost every day with his puppy running ahead on the leash and his big headphones on his ears. His gray hair seems longer today...maybe he'll get it cut soon.

An older man with no hair walked by in a red coat. As he passed he pulled a tissue out of his pocket to wipe his nose. The air does have a crispness about it this afternoon.

I watched the leaves of my neighbors' trees through the empty branches of ours. They pointed to which way the wind was blowing. They were somewhat sparse on the tree - almost as if it were spring but their color told otherwise.

Ah, and there's the feeling. Peace. Quiet and calm. Where have you been?

I settle in, leaning against the stucco of the garage and stretching my legs out in front of me on the top step. I lay my head against the wall and close my eyes. I breathe deeply.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Busy as Squirrels

Zac and I have stayed just as busy as the squirrels in our yard these days! Since my last post, we have worked hard to get our basement ready for our house guest. On September 26 we met Julia, our new friend from Germany. Since the 26th we have been taking in as much of Minnesota life as possible by hiking, taking a boat on the Mississippi, making apple juice, and shopping. Julia is getting plenty of opportunities to practice her English, and we are quickly learning what a blessing she is to our lives. She is a joy to be around, and a better fit for us than we ever could have imagined.

I'll soon put up some pictures of our adventures together, but for now, know that we are happy and well!

Friday, September 11, 2009

I Get It, Mom

Today I had breakfast duty. Subbing always leads to random things you never imagined yourself doing, and today was no different. At 9 o'clock I reported to the elementary cafeteria to help students navigate the breakfast routine, but mostly to remind them to walk, not run.

It was the fourth day of school, so most kids were still figuring things out. Kindergartners entered with crisp new clothes purchased big enough that they could get some wear out of them. Their big, overwhelmed eyes took in the cafeteria and other students as they slowly managed to find a seat with their gigantic plastic trays. If I saw a bowl of cereal and a carton of milk on their tray, but no utensils, I would softly remind them to pick up a spoon. I gestured with a smile and an extended arm where available spots were to sit.

Some mothers were present as well, helping their small students transition and get their breakfast started. As I scanned the room, I noticed a young Latino mother eating with her two children. An Asian mom was hovering, watching as her small boy hesitantly found a seat at a table. An African mom lingered at the doorway, her body positioned halfway behind the door frame, unsure if she should come in to check on her son, or if she should head home. The connection these mothers had with their children could almost be seen, as if a line was drawn from their hearts to their children's. The moms lingered, unable to leave their children who seemed ever so vulnerable in the large cafeteria. I felt for them, not because I have any children of my own, but because I saw how tiny their children were, how small and helpless they seemed.

No matter that these children could throw tantrums like nobody's business. They probably have been known to make sticky messes on every surface at home. They've probably colored on things they shouldn't have, and pulled their sister's hair in an argument. These aren't perfect children, but they're vulnerable. They're small. They could easily get lost in the sea of students.

I understood the lingering mothers. It didn't matter what skin color any of us had, or if we were mothers or not. All of us adults in the room - parents, teachers, helpers, cooks, subs - we all wanted the best for those kids. We all wanted to proect them, to help them, to nurture them, and to love them.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My Garden Song

On the first day of this week my garden gave to me....

1 and 1/2 wrinkly zucchini

On the second day of this week my garden gave to me

Two green bell peppers
and 1 and 1/2 wrinkly zucchini

On the third day of this week my garden gave to me

3 red tomatoes
2 green bell peppers
and 1 and 1/2 wrinkly zucchini

On the fourth day of this week my garden gave to me

215 green beans

Yes, listen as this song comes to a screeching halt. I said it. Two-hundred fifteen green beans. No exaggeration. I counted them myself just to see how many there were!

Zac got his wish - we certainly have green beans on hand! We've been harvesting at least this many each week for the last two weeks. Today when I was picking I saw new flowers blossoming. Looks like we'll be eating green beans for awhile!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The kid in me

Today we had a father-son duo come cut down some large, dead branches that were on our trees. I was privileged to be standing by the kitchen window when the big 30-foot branch came down. I couldn't hold it in, I giggled in delight as it crashed to the ground, busted into three pieces and made the coolest sound ever. I'm so glad I saw that!

Monday, August 31, 2009


Summer's coming to a close for me, which means time for some much-needed reflection. I have had this summer off, as I'm a substitute teacher now, and here's what I thought the summer would hold:

Spend time remodeling the house. Spend considerable time putting my feet up in the backyard and reading a good book. Visit every local park. Learn how to cook really good things. Visit with friends. Volunteer. Brush up on my Spanish. Brush up on my guitar. Brush up on all things teaching-related. Learn to play the drums. Spend time securing full-time employment for next year. Eradicate creeping charlie from the yard. Make those darn curtains that I bought the fabric for a year ago. Reupholster the couches. Give the house a really good, deep clean. Grow amazing things in the garden. Be superwife. Be superfriend. Be super.

Here's what the summer actually contained:

Laundry. Lots of laundry. Basic cleaning of the house, not nearly as frequently as I wanted to. Making lists of all the things I should do. Making new lists. Spending countless hours filling out online applications for teaching jobs. Trying to use up produce in the fridge before it went bad. Getting sucked into the computer (much like right now). Running errands around town. Going through the mail. Filling out paperwork. Picking up after myself. Mowing the lawn. Weeding the yard so the neighbors wouldn't be embarrassed to live next to us.

Sometimes when I look back over it all, I feel like a failure. I didn't do half the things I wanted to do. I wasn't very "productive" in my terms of productivity. I didn't do the things I set out to do. But I can't let my story stop there. I can't look at it this way, for my sake, and for the sake of the actual events that took place.

This summer wasn't nearly what I thought it would be, but I learned some major life lessons. I learned that I can still burn out without working at a full-time job. I get to doing too much and planning too much and I can still work myself into a migraine being at home.

I learned that I have poor time-management. Not that I don't do enough with the time I have, but I don't have a realistic idea of how long things are going to take, so I plan too much and feel discouraged when it doesn't all get done.

I was reminded that my worth doesn't come from how many things are checked off on the to-do list. My worth comes from being a child of God. I don't earn the love of friends and family, they give it to me freely, regardless of what I accomplish.

I have to fight for free time, sometimes that even means fighting myself and my busybody instincts.

I have to fight to truly live. Days can march by fairly mundane unless I make a point to seize the day in some wonderful adventure. Nobody is going to force me outside on a beautiful day; I must choose to sit in the sun before the snow covers the grass for another season.

AND, if I look back on the summer for what it actually was, here's what it was like:
Spent time weeding the yard and garden; have the satisfaction of enjoying the fresh produce, able to grow without the hindrance of weeds. Spent time with best friend and godson; godson now smiles when I drive up to their home. Spent time with friends in transition - those mourning the loss of a child and those celebrating the arrival of a baby. Spent time volunteering at old workplace; able to give back to a place that has given me much. Volunteered at church; now kids at church know me and come talk to me, also had the gift of holding little hands and seeing God through children's eyes. Spent two very memorable weeks with younger cousins; strengthened family bonds and came to love and appreciate them even more. Began paperwork for our adoption - what can be said about this except YES! That certainly was time well-spent and we can't wait for the reward on that one, to be able to hold our child in our arms. I DID get to read some books for fun, and really enjoyed that gift. I DID get to work on the house a little and make progress at remodeling. I DID make a touch of progress on the curtains; I bought more of the materials and have an idea of how to start. And I DID learn to cook new things -some were great, others I don't think I'll try again. :)

How can I sum up a whole summer? When I look back, it wasn't what I thought it would be, but it was truly wonderful for what it was. I loved being able to choose my own schedule. I loved having the days to myself (my introverted self really loved this). I loved being able to care for Zac by making most of our suppers and getting chores done so we'd have free time after dinner. I loved sitting next to a window. I loved no responsibility. I loved it.

Thank you, God, for a free summer. Thanks for time to reflect. Thanks for the things you taught me. Thanks for new adventures around the corner.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Happy House

Our house is happiest when it's filled with people. Today we welcomed 30 guests for a BBQ; these people are going on Youth Encounter teams next year, and many of them are from other countries. What a blessing it was to hear people chatting in German, Danish, Swahili, French, and English!

I loved the sounds of laughter floating up from the backyard, and the way each room was filled with great conversation.

Our house and our family are happiest when our days are filled with people.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


What is it all for? Why do we do the things we do? How come it's so hard to spend time on things that matter? Where has the summer gone? What can I do to slow down the passing of time? How did I get to be 28 already? How can I love more? How can I make the world a better place?

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Bible, Chai Tea, and Rain

This morning I woke to the whisper of soft rain. Not only does a good rain soothe me, but knowing how much the land here needs the rain, it's a double cause for celebration. I rejoice that it hasn't stopped yet; it's just maintained the steady soft hush the last three hours.

My routine this week (if I can even say I have one) has been helter skelter, and I haven't been the best about making sure I spend time reading my Bible each morning. Sometimes I have tossed a prayer up to God on my rush out the door, other times I've sat reading and re-reading the same passage because my mind keeps wandering to the things that need to be done during the day. Today I sat down next to the kitchen window, cup of chai tea in hand, and opened my Bible.

The feeling that came over me surprised me. The cool, damp breeze floating on the hush of the rain combined with the smell of my chai tea, and I was transported to Luther Dell Bible Camp. For the last 6 years, August has brought with it a mix of scurrying, packing, preparing, then living at Luther Dell for 3 weeks. For the last 6 years I have been a part of Youth Encounter's team training. This August marks the first year since 2002 that I will not be traveling up there. I'm not sure I know what to do with myself! On the one hand, I'm thankful for the time I'll get to spend with friends and family here because I won't be working 16 hours a day for a month. On the other hand, I will truly truly miss the quiet mornings, cup of chai in one hand, Bible in the other, when I sat lakeside at Luther Dell talking to God. If I close my eyes, I can feel the planks of the dock beneath me and see the placid lake stretching out in front of me. I can see the dew on the tall wildflowers beside me and hear the loons calling. I feel the cool morning air on me, and see the fog lifting from the lake. I long for those moments at Luther Dell, when the world seemed to stop and life could be seen so clearly.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Addition to the Family

That's right, it's not going to be just Zac and I anymore! In late September we will welcome...a 23-year-old girl from Germany! (what, that wasn't what you were expecting me to say?) Her name is Julia, and she's a friend of my friend Robert who also lives in Germany. Julia will stay with us for about 4 weeks to practice her English and get a taste of Minneapolis. Zac and I are looking forward to meeting this new friend and sharing our home with her. I'll be sure to post some pictures of the three of us when she comes!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Simple Joys

Rewind to 1 year ago. I entered the salon to greet Coley, a stylist I had never met before. She seemed nice enough, and when I saw the scissors tatoo on her arm, I knew she was a serious stylist. She treated me so well, asking me all about my lifestyle to know what kind of cut to give me. I walked out of there with a great haircut. It didn't stop there, though. As the weeks and months wore on, the haircut just seemed to get better and better. I didn't have to do ANYTHING to it, and it folded neatly under at the ends, and flared slightly out just where it needed to. This was the best haircut of my life.

Rewind to 6 months ago. Time to get another haircut. Coley is gone to a salon across town, so I try someone new. She came highly recommended by 3 of my coworkers, so I was confident I was going to get yet another great cut. Well...she must have misread me somehow. Maybe misheard me. Maybe was having an off day. I walked out of there looking like an Emo rocker. For those of you who know me, this is not at all who I am! I was given a rockstar haircut that I couldn't pull off each day without the help of 2 extra hours in the bathroom and 3 stylists! The days went painfully on until it slowly, but surely grew out. It may have been the first time I cried over a haircut. I shouldn't be so harsh - there were a couple days I thought it looked good, but overall, I hated what the mirror showed.

This month, I started to finally feel like my hair was long enough now to where I could get it cut short enough to do some damage control and rehab. I managed to track down Coley, the super stylist, at a new salon in St. Paul called Root. Can I just say she was totally worth the drive? She remembered me from last summer, and we caught up on all the last year had brought for each of us. She fixed what she could, and we laughed about how awful the last cut was. 40 minutes later, she had me walking out of there looking like a model.

You know, I'm not a girly girl, but I have to say I love my hair stylist. Unless Coley has a really really bad day, or moves out of state, I don't think I'll go to anyone else as long as I'm living here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Still Coming Together

Guess who now has business cards? That's right, I'm 100% professional now. :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Oh, Amber

Yesterday started out as the perfect day. The air was crisp, the wind cool, and the sky overcast. I opened the doors and windows of the house to let the breeze blow through. I even opened the basement walk-out door to air out that area. I made sure to put the lock on the screen door so that nobody would come in through the basement and kill me. One needs to think about these things, you know.

Upstairs I did the same; I opened the front door wide to let the breeze come in and make it look like this was a welcoming house. Then, I made sure to lock the screen door. I didn't want any cuckoos coming to the door, posing as salespeople, and killing me.

After seeing to the inside of the house, I deemed it necessary to earn a few wife points by mowing the lawn. (If you don't know about wife points, you'll want to ask my friend Anne. Every wife should know about wife points.) I opened the garage door, yanked the mower to the driveway, and began. It occurred to me that with the garage door open, anyone passing by would be able to see inside the garage and see the tools that Zac has been slowly acquiring. Anyone passing by would most likely want to steal them, and then come inside the house and kill me, so I closed the garage door and began mowing.

Can you see where this is going?

I had three passes of the lawn left when it occurred to me - I had successfully locked myself out of the house. Even the key we put in the "special spot" had no help for me because I locked those screen doors. The only way into the house was through the garage, and my garage door opener was locked in my car. Zac came to the rescue some time later, but that time in between gave me room to think. I sat in the backyard and realized that all my neighbors were home. One of the two guys on the right side was home, the guy on the left was in his backyard, and the wonderful woman down the street was home (as always). Most important of all, I didn't see any suspicious people lurking around the shrubs of any of our backyards, waiting for unlocked doors to use to gain entrance to our homes.

Yesterday's lock-out makes me think that my fears hurt ME the most.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Something About Today

Can wind carry feelings?
If so, today's wind is carrying inspiration.

It's one of those days where you know something great is going to happen.
It's one of those days that you see your to-do list and just don't care.
It's one of those days where you know you better have a pen in hand for the creativity that's about to hit.
It's one of those days where joy seems to burst out from every corner, and you hope you can document just a fraction of it.

The creative, cool wind enters in through the windows, moves with a mission, and leaves this house changed.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Visit to the Farm

Zac and I decided to be part of a CSA this year, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture. CSA programs are good because they spread the risk of farming out among many people, create a connection between the grower and consumer, and provide those who don't live on farms with fresh produce each week.

Every Tuesday Zac and I receive a box of produce which is sent to a nearby grocery store from Featherstone Fruits and Vegetables near Rushford, MN. It has been exciting to receive that box every week; it's like Christmas!

In each box, there's usually at least one new vegetable that I've never had before. I'm thankful for the recipes they include in their newsletter which have given me ideas on how to prepare these new-to-me foods! I've been eating the healthiest that I ever have (mom, you should be proud), and I even found a way to enjoy spinach! Look out, some Popeye pipes are on the way!

Zac and I have been very pleased with the quality and quantity of produce we've received, and I grew even fonder of the farm when I got to visit on Wednesday! My mom and I drove to Rushford and got a tour of Featherstone, where we met wonderful people who are working hard to farm responsibly and raise good produce. Below is one plot that they farm which is nestled next to a beautiful bluff.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Zac had been talking about this surprise date for weeks ahead of time. I kept trying to guess what it was, but he wouldn't let on about any of the details. Finally, the evening came and he told me we were going to a concert. An India.Arie concert. My mouth dropped open and a huge smile engulfed my face. I love India.Arie. Her music is guaranteed to make this awkward white girl dance, no matter my mood. When I'm needing a pick-me-up, I put her tunes on and dance around the house. She's GOOD.

We made our way down to the college of St. Catherine's and approached the concert hall. People of all colors and styles were filing nonstop toward the doorway. Energy, excitement, and anticipation filled in all the empty spaces where someone wasn't standing. We found our seats, high up and directly in front of the stage.

The concert was truly phenomenal. She captured my attention the entire time with a delightful, genuine, fun performance. She even got this white girl to dance a little, although I felt shy sandwiched between beautiful black people who put my moves to shame! What a great night!

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Zac and I went camping at Gooseberry Falls this weekend; we had a great time taking pictures, cooking food over the fire, reminiscing about the past and dreaming about the future.

Our proudest moments from the weekend were using good teamwork to set up the tent in the dark, and biking from Gooseberry Falls to Split Rock Lighthouse!

Friday, May 22, 2009

I Hope This Doesn't Suck

Recently I was hanging out with two friends of mine, Sarah and Sam. They shared that when one of them prepares a new dish for a meal, they set it on the table and say, "I hope this doesn't suck."

I feel like I say this every morning when I get up in front of a classroom. "I hope this doesn't suck," or more specifically, "I hope that I don't suck."

Today I was a third grade teacher. It started off as a challenging day with a difficult class and last-minute lesson plans, but we staggered along together and made it through. At various points during the day, a teacher or helper in my class would tell me "You're doing a good job" or "What you said there was perfect." I felt encouraged.

To top things off, as I was leaving the building and saying goodbye to some of the teachers that worked with me throughout the day, one of them asked if I had a job for next Tuesday. I didn't, and so she booked me.

I guess that must mean that I don't suck.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

So Much

I feel I have so much to say lately; it's as if my mind's been opened up and all the thoughts that have been stuck inside for so long, lingering unnoticed, are spilling out. If I took the time to let these fingers fly, you'd be reading the first paragraph of a novel.

I suppose this energy could be attributed in part to the medium Caribou Cooler cup that sits empty beside me, but I like to think it's genuine inspiration.

I'm learning heaps lately in my down time. I'm realizing how important it is for me to have time to process life and faith. An excerpt from "Messy Spirituality" rang true for me today. It reads:
Spiritual growth happens when we slow our activity down. If we want to meet Jesus, we can't do it on the run. If we want to stay on the road of faith, we have to hit the brakes, pull over to a rest area, and stop. Christianity is not about inviting Jesus to speed through life with us; it's about noticing Jesus sitting at the rest stop.
Lately I've been running at a breakneck pace, screaming, "Come on, Jesus, give me a sign! Speak to me!" but I can't hear him; all I hear is the wind whistling through my ears as I go faster and faster.

I slowed down today. I found myself sitting in a waiting room for over an hour, with nothing but a small book to read. I liked it. I'm not sure I could say I would have read had I not had that as my only option; and what's more, what I read seemed to be exactly what I needed to hear.

Afterward, I couldn't find the Caribou Coffee shop that I wanted to, and as a result found myself waiting at a long stoplight next to a homeless man. I remembered that sometimes the homeless feel unnoticed because everyone tries to avoid eye contact with them, fearing they will get asked for money. How many people have felt invisible because I've looked away all my life? I didn't have anything to give; no cash on hand, no food in the car. I didn't want to make eye contact without anything to give. Then I remembered an old pack of gum my sister gave to me. I said out my window, "Hey, do you want some gum?" He smiled and gladly accepted. He said when you're on the streets, it's hard to have good breath. I rummaged in my purse and presented him with a whole pack. I'm glad I had the time. I'm glad I had the gum to give.

I'm thankful for that moment.

I hope to take the rest of today slowly. It's a day off , so I have some down time to be and think. Here's hoping you find some down time to think today too. It will be well worth it!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Admittedly, Not a Good Day

I knew bad days would come with substitute teaching, but after so many good ones, I started to think that maybe I'd get by without any bad ones. Enter Monday.

All was set for the day to go well; the morning was warm and sunny, I was back at a familiar school, I was teaching a class and students I had taught before, and I reclaimed my lost Nalgene that very morning from the Elementary school next door. Life seemed pretty good.

It was a work day for the class, which I'm finding is what teachers assign 99.9% of the time when there's a sub. The class started out working - for the most part - which is great for this particular group. Well, halfway through the class a student decided they needed to see the counselor. After telling me what they were going to do (and not asking), they were gone. NOT OKAY! Then, another student asked to leave the room. After telling that student no, they left too! EVEN MORE NOT OKAY! I called the office and the Dean of Students tracked down my two missing sheep and had a nice talk with them. I was really appalled at their lack of respect. I mean, I know it's May, but really?!?

It poses the question for me, "When I'm a parent, how do I teach my children to respect authority?" And the funny thing is, I'm not even a mean authority figure! I've done my best to show students respect, and to show interest in the things they are doing in life. I've gone out of my way to talk with students, to help them, and to let them know that they are cared about. I felt hurt today that the respect I show the students was not reciprocated.

But I need to remember that they are just high schoolers. Life has a lot to teach them yet. They're learning, and for two of my students today was a life learning experience. I learned too.

I'm comforted by a quote I read on a teacher's desk last week from Emerson:
Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
I also don't think it's a coincidence that an excerpt from "Messy Spirituality" that I read this morning before school started said this:
We don't grow by studying the definition of consistency; we grow when we try to be consistent in an inconsistent world. We can talk about love all we want, but loving those who are unlovely is how we learn about love. Jesus gave Peter some excellent teaching about betrayal and arrogance, but Peter didn't understand what Jesus was talking about until he actually betrayed Jesus. Peter's failure was the primary cause of his understanding and maturity.
So, I learned today. I learned about disrespect, which makes me appreciate respect. I learned that to care for students means you'll get hurt sometimes; that doesn't mean you shouldn't stop caring about them. I learned what is acceptable for me to tolerate and what is not. I learned how comforting it is to have an evening with your friends planned when you go through a hard day. :)

p.s. They're both suspended.

Friday, May 15, 2009

"If I Run Too Much, I'll Die" and other classroom adventures

I've been subbing for 2 weeks now and have really been enjoying it. Each day brings new adventures, new faces, and new places. It's sometimes nervewracking to go up in front of a classroom of students I've never met before and request their respect, but I manage okay and I have had a good experience every day. A few funny things have happened along the way, the most recent one being a quote I heard today in my gym class. Yes, you read that right, I was a Gym teacher this morning for some 1st graders!

One girl was sitting out and I went up to ask her why. She said she wasn't supposed to run a lot. I asked her if she had asthma, and she said "No, my mom just says that if I run too much, I'll probably die." How can I argue with that? Needless to say, I let her sit out.

Last week a 9th grader asked me how long I had been subbing. I didn't want to tell him "3 days" because I thought that would only give him reason to give me a hard time. I said, as any good person dodging a question would, "Why do you want to know?" He replied with "Well, you just smile so much and you're so happy. It seems like you haven't been doing this very long."

Just thinking about that again I have to laugh out loud! Please stop me before I get so grumpy that people think I've been subbing for years!

I've had a few moments where I've felt like I've really connected with a student or some students. Yesterday I helped a little guy find the right bus, Monday I was able to encourage a few high schoolers to pursue their dreams, Last Wednesday I helped a student see a situation from another point of view, and today I encouraged students in a way that made them hold their heads higher with pride. That's pretty cool. So far, very good!

I didn't tell you the best thing yet...I got my very own whistle. I think this means I've reached teacher stardom. Here's a picture, just so you can see that it's the real deal.


New updates on the cards! Since my last post, I've printed up my first batch of cards! I have 5 different cards, and I printed between 50-100 of each. I attended my first craft sale in Robbinsdale, a nearby town, on a cold and windy Saturday. Zac sat with me all morning and we talked with people and sold some cards. I was so happy to have a few friends stop by, and also to have a friend of ours at her own table, just two down from us. What an unexpected, lovely surprise! It's been a fun journey. Next project: website.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Out with the Old, In with the New

A week ago today I put in my two weeks' notice at work. I was terrified and relieved all at the same time. I have really enjoyed my job, but in recent months have come to realize what an emotional toll it takes on my personal life. Somehow or other it came to the point where it just wasn't worth it anymore.

Now I'm embarking on an unknown journey. Most of my life I've made safe moves, ones where I know the answers before beginning. This is certainly not one of those moves. I don't know what I'm going to do for work next, and in an economy like this it would appear a foolish decision on my part. I don't feel foolish, though. I feel great.

I came home from work last Monday, according to Zac, "the happiest I've seen you since our wedding day." Was I really that drained before? I must have been. Already this has proven to be a good move. Each night that I come home from work now, I have more energy to spend with friends and family. I'm interested in doing projects and having adventures after work, unlike before when all I wanted to do was come home and veg in front of the TV. I feel like me again.

I'm also making big steps on Spectrum of Amber. I'm hoping to print the first cards next week, and attend some craft fairs throughout the summer to get my cards to the public. I've started my website,, and look forward to continue developing that. It's nothing too special right now, but feel free to peek anyway. :)

I'd like to thank those of you who have been my cheerleaders throughout this transition. Thanks to my family for encouraging me and supporting me; thank you to my friend Anne for your wonderful ideas, inspirations, and encouragements; thanks to my friends Jen and Tim for celebrating with me; and thanks to my husband Zac for shouldering a little more stress throughout this process and enabling me to find a new adventure. Zac, I appreciate you so much. Thank you.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Saturday Drive

My dad is in the process of selling his '58 Impala. He's had it since I was 3, and so I don't really remember life without it. I was determined to have one last spin in the car before it sold, so Zac and I made a spontaneous trip to Lewiston on Saturday. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the air was warm...we had all the elements for a wonderful cruise! Zac and I made sure to take some pictures to remember the car; after all, it was like a sibling to me!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Little Hands

I was privileged this weekend to spend some quality time with my college roommates. The purpose of the gathering was to meet the first baby, born three months ago to the day. What a joy it was to touch those little fingers!

Isn't it incredible how much potential each baby's hands hold? Who can count the number of mud puddles those hands will splash in, or how many jungle gym monkey bars they will cling to? How many times will those hands slip into mommy's or daddy's bigger ones? How many people will those hands help throughout his lifetime? The promise in those little fingers is indescribable.

It brings me hope.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


This is a unique photo that Zac took. Can you tell what it is?
This is one of my favorite pictures. I feel like it has a lot of energy and it always makes me smile when I see it.

Slowly but Surely

Spring in Minnesota has taken its time, but in the last few weeks I'd have to say there have been more Spring days than Winter days.

This makes me smile.

I just got in from a walk - my face is still cold to the touch and my clothes smell like fresh air. Life is good and I feel the satisfaction of knowing that even better things are to come.

Just like Spring has taken its time, Spectrum of Amber has taken its time too. My aspirations and motivation to start a business spent some time in hibernation, but now the hesitations are melting away. I'm proud to report that on Thursday I mailed in my forms to be an official business. I know that exciting things are to come. I look forward to the ride!

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Rest

This morning I went for a walk. This isn't anything unusual; each morning I hit the streets of our neighborhood as soon as it's light enough to see the sidewalk, but today my early-morning walk took on a relaxed tone. My office is closed in observance of Presidents' Day, and I was thrilled to have the whole day at my disposal.

My feet led me to a nearby park that has a small pond in the center of it. As I walked down the path through the trees, I circled the pond, taking in the quiet of the morning and the occasional creak of the shifting ice. It was wonderful. I don't remember the last time that I got away from the houses and streets and enjoyed pure nature.

After completing the circle, I began to make my way back to the street when a lone bench caught my eye. It was difficult for me to make the decision to sit down - I had become a little too task-oriented about my walk, I realized! As I sat and observed the quiet around me, I became a part of it. I felt the cool wind on my cheeks and heard the blowing dried leaves. I sat and thought, and sometimes didn't think, and it was wonderful.

Moments like that are what the book "Slow is Beautiful" advocates for. I've been making my way through that book since Christmas, sneaking a few minutes here and there to learn something new. Why do we always have to rush around? Why do we have to stick to a task list? Why in the world do I feel such a need to be productive on my days off? Why do I value myself based on what I can accomplish?

I think I need more bench moments. To stop. To appreciate. To let all the clutter in my head settle and to

Sunday, January 25, 2009


When I look out the window and see only snow and bare trees, I find it odd that I would feel so inspired. But I do. This past week has been a week of INSPIRATION for me. It started last Saturday when I met with my sister Lindsey to talk business. She helped me brainstorm ideas for Spectrum of Amber and we discussed numerous possibilities and obstacles. It was so fun to spend time with her, and very encouraging to continue digging into my dream of starting a business.

I followed up that brainstorming session with a Tuesday meeting. I was fortunate to sit down and glean some wisdom from a local business owner, the owner of the company that printed my cards, as a matter of fact! He had all sorts of suggestions and questions which got my brain spinning. It was wonderful! I walked away inspired. I couldn't shut my brain off for the rest of the day; I just kept thinking about all the possibilities.

I made the fortunate mistake of going to a Stampin' Up open house on Friday night, right before the weekend. Seeing other people's creations and card ideas also gets my wheels spinning! I may have holed up and spent all day stamping yesterday. And I may have been stamping since lunch today. And I may be planning to go back and continue stamping after I sign off here. It's hard to say. :)

I'm enjoying the feeling of inspiration, especially during a season when I usually find myself begging the seasons to change. I'm thankful for the creative energy I have had this week, and I hope to be able to run with it into next week and share it with others. So, if you're reading this, I dare you to leave the computer now and pick up a crayon, or a scrapbook-in-progress, or a camera. Go get inspired too!