Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Made to Do

Did I ever tell you that I was voted "Most likely to become a teacher" in high school? I'm not sure exactly why I was voted that. Perhaps it was because they needed every person to have a "Most Likely" label and that was all they could think of for me. Maybe it was because I did well in school so the assumption was that I could teach because I knew the material. Or maybe, just maybe, those classmates of mine saw something in me that it took me awhile to see for myself.

I have have the gift of teaching.

It's hard for me to put it out there like that and actually say it publicly. I fear that maybe I really don't have this gift or talent and people who read this will laugh and say, "That girl thinks she can teach? Ha ha ha."

But you know what? I think I'm right.

I know this because of how I feel when I'm teaching. I love it. My brain gets so active it's as if I've had caffeine even though I haven't. Creativity practically oozes out of my pores. I smile a lot (see this blog for a smiling story), and I can't stop thinking about the kids I'm working with and how I can get them to understand the things we are studying.

I totally love it. I admit it, and I embrace it. I like being a teacher.

This summer I am doing a little tutoring on the side. I'm working with a middle school student in reading and writing. I just spent the last hour lost in a hunt for grammar worksheets, quizzes, and strategies. I had to pull myself away from that project just so that I could get some other stuff done today! That's when it hit me that maybe this is what I was made to do.

I think we know we're made to do something when we love talking about it and thinking about it. You can tell if someone loves something by the way they tell you about it. You can watch and notice that their eyes light up and they smile more. They get excited and the inflection in their voice even changes.

What makes your eyes light up when you talk about it? What were you made to do?

Monday, June 27, 2011

What a Scrumptious Day!

I don't know what the weather was like where you live, but here in Minneapolis, it was just about the most perfect day I could ever imagine today. The temperature was in the low 70's with a steady breeze and sunshine. I giggled just being outside in the incredible weather.

Tonight Zac and I finished planting the garden. We got to work in the dirt together, and that made tonight even more perfect. I don't know what it is, but being in the garden seems to be good therapy for me. I was talking to a woman from my home church last weekend and she said the same thing. She said she feels like she can clear her head when she's out in the garden. I agree! When I was turning up dirt and placing seeds in the ground there was no thought of work, the long adoption wait, or other irritations that sometimes plague my mind. All I could think about was what a beautiful day it was and how much joy I felt being out in it.

What are the things that bring you great joy? What makes you smile from the inside out? I hope you are surrounded by those things today.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Please Don't Leave!

This week we were privileged to have a long-time friend stay at our home. Zac and I both enjoy his company so much - he's one of those friends where even though you haven't talked on the phone or seen each other in months, you can just pick right up where you left off.

Most evenings when he was here, we all took an evening stroll through the neighborhood. It was great to take our time and enjoy the cool, comfortable summer evenings.

We talked and talked and talked about the most random of topics: how nuclear power plants work, sermon styles, growing potatoes, and public transportation, to name a few. What a joy to have our home filled with such thought-provoking conversation!

When it came time for him to leave, we asked him to stay one more day - and he did! We got a bonus 24 hours which we enjoyed with a meal on the front porch, an episode of Full House, Sarpino's pizza (with wine), and an evening campfire.

I wish there was some way to share with you through this blog the peace and comfort of spending time with such a quality friend. Although, you too are probably blessed to have someone or a few people in your life like that. What a gift those friends are - they feel like family.

Even though we asked him to stay for the rest of the week, he went home today. It was bound to happen. We will miss him but have some great memories of our conversations, walks, and of course laughing together! I love how he can get Zac laughing!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Opposite of Rushing - Fail

So while I am having some successes, I'm also having some failures.

We have a lovely nest of tiny baby bunnies that lives on the side of our house. I love uncovering the nest and peeking in at them. Their eyes just opened the other day and it was all I could do not to pick one up and cuddle it. They are so cute! However, Thursday night we heard some squeaking and shrieking and Friday morning found me faced with the task of removing 5 dead baby bunnies from our yard. Somebody's cat or something found them. All I can say is ew ew ew ew eeeewwww! I did not do this task with peace or contentment. It was one that I just tried to get through.

When I walked by the other side of our house I smelled something similar to moth balls. It was nasty, and within minutes I realized it was coming from our bags of lawn waste sitting along the side of the house. They'd been sitting there awhile...maybe over a month...or more. I know, right? I should have taken them to the compost site before, but there was always a reason not to. So, today was the day. I picked up the reeking 7 bags of leaves and grass clippings, loaded them into the car, and rolled the windows down so I wouldn't throw up on the way to the compost site. I called my mom from the road and complained and whined to her. I said, "I don't care what else I'm supposed to do today; I'm taking myself to Dairy Queen after this!" She gently said something along the lines of, "Is there any way you can enjoy this task more instead of just want to get through it?"

That was a moment when I really wished my mom didn't read my blog. Then she wouldn't be holding me to the standards I have set! She was right, though, as moms usually are. I was not enjoying any part of the task. I was not being thankful for anything, I was just wishing the moments away.

As I look back, I'm thankful that I realized the bags needed to be dumped then, rather than wait another month. I'm thankful we had plastic to put down to protect the car from the nasty. I'm thankful for time during the day to complete the task. I'm thankful for the chance to roll the windows down. I'm thankful for work gloves. I'm thankful for a body that can lift, haul, and throw bags of lawn waste. I am thankful. But just a little bit. I won't be more joyful than this, sorry friends!

So, I have a had some failures amidst the successes, but at least I'm thinking of it more now.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Opposite of Rushing

Do you rush to get through unpleasant tasks?

Me too.

Whether it be laundry, dishes, or paying bills, I want to get it done as fast as possible and move on with the fun parts of life.

However, recently I've realized that those little unpleasant things are life too. By rushing through them, I'm saying to myself that it's just a necessary pause in life before I can go and enjoy life again. I'm putting my life on pause, and you know how I feel about that.

Yesterday I had to do some laundry. One unique thing about our laundry process is that our dryer broke...over a year ago. We just haven't gotten around to replacing it yet, so we hang up all our clothes to dry on various clothes racks, drying racks, and clothes lines in the basement.

As I took wet shirts and pants out of the washer, I tried not to rush. I tried to enjoy the motion of hanging up the clothes. I tried to be thankful for a body that can do a simple task like laundry. I tried to smile.

And you know what?

I did.

Laundry was actually kind of a pleasant task. Now, don't get me wrong, I won't choose this in exchange for a Friday night on the town, but I felt content and peaceful doing laundry yesterday.

What tasks do you dislike? Can you think of a way you can enjoy them more? (and the answer "not doing them" doesn't count!)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


My life often feels chaotic. I know, I know, there isn't that much to be chaotic in my life (i.e. no kids), but it still feels chaotic and overcrowded.

I decided my summer resolution is to strive for balance. I would say "achieve balance" but then again I'm not sure if it's really possible. Therefore, I will strive for balance.

My first step in this plan is to get into a routine. While the last two years have been fun with piecing together work and creating my own schedule each week, I need a routine.

My wonderful workplace has allowed me to work everyday this summer for a set number of hours. It's still part-time, but I'm excited that I will be doing the same thing at the same place each day. I won't have to choose each day when to leave the house - I will already know. I won't have to decide what to wear based on what age group of kids I am teaching - just office attire. I won't have to pack a lunch that can be eaten with or without a microwave - I will always have one. I have loved the freedom associated with my temp life, but I am very excited to have a good dose of routine.

I think one of my challenges will be to stay focused when I have down time at home so I can be helpful around the house. I have these visions of a weeded garden, beautiful flower beds, and a clean house. I know I will have to stay focused to make this happen. I am looking forward to using routine to my advantage, and hopefully being able to get chores done throughout the day so that Zac and I can enjoy our summer evenings together.

Let me know if you have any words of wisdom. I need help as I strive for balance.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hawaii - Spouting Horn

One of the cool tourist things we saw while in Hawaii was Spouting Horn. This is a lava formation on the shore and when waves crash in, water is pushed through and underground tunnel and sprays up into the air, sorta like Old Faithful. However, Spouting Horn also makes a hissing sound like a dragon breathing fire.

Very cool.

Here is a picture of the hole where the water comes up. Look near the white frothy area and you can see how the water pours back into the hole.

And here is Spouting Horn erupting!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hawaii - The Waves

One of my favorite memories from Hawaii was playing in the waves with Zac. We stood within 20-30 feet of the shore where the waves would crash, and we'd try to stay standing while they pushed us back toward shore.

At times the waves were so powerful! I found I could stay standing best when I stood with one foot in front of the other, crouched down, and leaned into the wave. Usually this worked, but sometimes I still got pushed over!

Sometimes we would see a big wave coming, and just as it was about to hit us, we would jump and try to defy gravity and the wave at the same time.

Other times we just gave in and tried to coast in on the wave. When we saw a big one coming, we would turn toward shore and swim as hard and as fast as we possibly could and try to get the wave to push us onto shore. One of the times we did this, the wave REALLY carried me. It took me into the sandy shore bank and pushed me into it hard. I put my hands in front of me and tried not to do a faceplant into the sand! There was a lot of sandy water gushing over me and let's just say I really had to clean out my swimsuit after that!

It was so fun to play like kids in the waves. I giggled and giggled and squealed as the waves hit! We had a blast throwing our inhibitions aside and just being goofy together.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hawaii - The First Beach

When we landed in Kauai, we decided to go look for a beach. We flew out that morning as the thermometer read 46 degrees, so we weren't particular about which beach we found - any beach would do. We were just happy to be in a warmer climate!

We went to Poipu beach on the southern side of the island. I LOVED how the tan color of the sand mixed with the lovely blue of the ocean. What a great combination.

There were many hotels and condos near this beach where people could stay. Our rental was farther inland, but here's a shot of the oceanfront from the beach.

One of my favorite parts of the beach was a strip of sand leading to a sandbar. Waves came in on both sides of this small strip. It was very fun to walk on! Here I am doing my best runway walk:

I enjoyed watching the children play at the beach. One little girl in particular was so cute! She was dancing and running around in the sand. We snapped a photo of her cute little footprints.

It was fun to hear a mix of waves crashing in and the delighted squeals of children playing. Everyone at the beach was having such a fun time enjoying the sand and the water. There were no TVs, blogs :), or Facebook news feeds to distract us from the incredible beauty around us.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hawaii - The Waterfall Hike

I had heard from others who have visited Kauai about the Hanakapi'ai Falls. Apparently, there is a place where you can hike a few miles along the Na'Pali coastline (not accessible by car), and then head a few miles inland to a beautiful 300ft waterfall with a freshwater pool at the bottom you can swim in.

Sounds amazing, right?

Zac and I had to see for ourselves.

We estimated that the hike would be about 6 hours, so we tried to leave as soon as possible. I think we started hiking around 8:30 or 9:00am. We were on vacation, though, so we didn't keep track of time too much.

The first part of the hike was difficult. We had to climb the trail that was comprised of mostly large boulders. I watched my footwork carefully, and reminded myself every now and then to look around.

Here is a view of the beach area where we started the hike:

Soon we were on a smoother path that wound its way along the edge of the mountain line. The temperature wasn't bad, but we were working up a little bit of a sweat. That made the breeze we'd catch when we were near the ocean even sweeter!

We continued hiking the beautiful trail:

After a time of winding around the mountains, it was time to descend to Hanakapi'ai beach. We took switchbacks and finally came to a stream. There were large rocks we used to cross, and it was a lot of fun to choose our path!

Soon we started inland and the trail got considerably more narrow. We crossed the stream multiple times and were so thankful we packed our water socks which we bought on our honeymoon! Here is a picture of one of our crossings:

We continued for about two miles, getting closer and closer to the waterfall. The hike was the hardest at the end; the trail was difficult to find at times, and challenging to follow with the rocks we had to climb.

Here we are, getting very close to the waterfall!

In the end? ABSOLUTELY worth it! The trail opened up to the gigantic waterfall and we saw about 6 other people scattered on the rocks on the side of the pool and in the water.

It's hard to show just how big the waterfall was, but look at the edge of the pond in the forefront of the picture and you can see people swimming.

We quickly joined those in the pool where we discovered the water was VERY cold. We did get used to it after a time, and even braved the waterfall. We swam behind, around, and through it.

I remember the feeling I had as I swam below the waterfall, with the drops of water landing on my head. I thought to myself, "This is one of those moments to treasure for the rest of my life." It was amazing.

After a light lunch on the rocks, we packed up and headed back to the car. What a great hike!