Sunday, November 29, 2015

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 21--Can't Live Without

Music.  Beyond the basics such as God, food, love, etc. I could not live without music.  There is not a day that I can remember that I did not listen to, sing aloud or run through my head music.  I love music of all genres.  I love music that is new and music that is old.  I love music that is acoustic, instrumental, and some that has even been fully (over)produced in a studio.    I like to listen to music when I am getting ready in the morning, driving in the car, doing chores, making dinner, and sitting out on the back porch.  I enjoy musicals and concerts (both watching and performing).  Music is the one "ancillary" part of life that I simply could not live without.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 18--A Moment

Our wedding reception might count as longer than a moment, but it is definitely the time of my life that I treasure the most to date.  We had just vowed to spend the rest of our lives together and got to spend a wonderful evening full of good food, good drinks, good tunes and all of our friends and family under one roof.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 17--A book

I LOVE to read and am blessed with access and time to read probably on average 50 books a year.  As a result of having read so many books I am unable to drill it down to just one:

The Bible:  About four years ago I began reading and listening to the Bible daily and am only just now, on my fourth reading, beginning to scratch the surface.

Charlotte's Web:  The first book I remember reading all by myself.

The Giving Tree:  Even though I didn't discover this book until I was an adult, its message is timeless.

The Help, The Catcher in the Rye, My Sisters Keeper, The Diary of a Young Girl, A Time to Kill, The Color Purple,  and The Glass Castle are all books that struck me at various points of my life as meaningful.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 16--Food

What don't I love about food:).  I would say my favorite combos ALWAYS involve some form of bread and cheese.  Then a hint of something (tomatoes, spices, etc.) to add some extra kick.  It will come as no surprise then that my favorite kind of food is Italian.  I am also a big fan of appetizers.  I can live without dinner, but can't skip breakfast or lunch.

I also fully grasp that I am more than abundantly blessed in this arena since I began with a list of favorites, and don't for even a second have to think about having limited access to or the inability to secure whatever food I want, whenever I want.

I am fortunate to live in a country where no one is starving.  Yes, there are absolutely people who are not 100% certain where there next meal is coming from and there is a large segment of the population who cannot access fresh produce, meat, whole grains that allow them to live a life without fear of obesity, diabetes, etc., but in regard to the ability to access meals our country at large is truly blessed.

Monday, November 23, 2015

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 15--What you love about yourself

I have always been able to speak my mind...sometimes to a fault.  However, not saying something that I truly believed in has never been a regret of mine.  Fortunately I have gotten better at this over time.  You know finding the right time, being more graceful in articulating myself and sometimes recognizing that I can hold true to and advocate what I believe sometimes more by not saying a word.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 13--Family

I am blessed with an amazing, if unconventional, family.  Unconventional in that, despite all the wonderful things my parents did for us, not a one of my siblings or I has had a conventional path towards replicating a "traditional" family structure (i.e. married with 2.5 children) ourselves.

My older brother came the closest, but passed away when my nephew was only 6 months old and he never got to meet his beautiful daughter who was born 7 months after his sudden passing.  Clearly, we have been trying but despite our best efforts maintain the status of married without children.  My younger brother seems destined to be the eternal bachelor and my younger sister will live with my parents until she comes to live with us when my parents are no longer able to look after her.  \

Interestingly on my dad's side of the family are similar nontraditional family structures (only one of my 6 cousins is married with children, though 3 others have a child).  My mom's side is much more traditional with each of my two cousins on that side married with two children each.

Despite its unconventionality, I couldn't ask for a better family.  I truly count my parents and siblings among my friends.  My sister-in-law continues to remain close to my family, seeing my parents and sister often, and my brother and I at least 2-3 times a year.  My niece and nephew are teenagers, yet as a result of my sister-in-laws wonderful mothering, somehow managed to miss the bratty, self-indulgence that most teenagers seemed to feel entitled to (well at least in mixed company it appears this way:).  I enjoy vacationing with my maternal side of the family once to twice a year and see most of my paternal side of the family at least once each year.  All of my grandparents lived until I was adult living on my own, and I even had a great-grandmother who was an important part of my life until she passed away when I was a junior in college.

My husband is truly my best friend and whether we are on a trip or binge watching on Netflix, I am having a blast.  Even through the hard times, we are able to talk to and support one another.  We push one another to become the best version of ourselves we can be.

Even thought its corny I do consider our two dogs to be my furry children and they truly have proven themselves as (wo)man's best friend.

On top of all of that I even get along with my in-laws:).

The common thread in all of the relationships I have with each of the members of my family, beyond the biological or marital ties, is laughter.  There are few family gatherings I can recall that did not result in deep belly laughs and I think that it is the genuine enjoyment of one another's company that keeps us coming back for more.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 11--Beauty

While I love warm weather I would really struggle to live somewhere that did have for seasons because I would have to say the changing seasons are one of the most beautiful things about nature.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 10--My Parents

How do you begin to thank the people who gave you life, but also set you on a path to a life that you love?  They love and support me and are always willing to listen (even if they don't really understand what I'm talking about!).  They are fun to hang out with and as I've gotten older have become friends in addition to being my parents.  Their love for and devotion to one another has been an example for which I have modeled my own marriage, and should we be blessed with (a) child(ren) will model my parenting style after theirs.  There are not two other people I would choose in the world to be my parents and their presence in my life has been one of my greatest blessings.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 9--Something Funny

Even though it's been 20 years and I have seen each and every episode at least 20 times, I still literally LOL at nearly every episode I watch.

Monday, November 16, 2015

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 8--Adventure

If people I knew were asked to describe me, adventurous would not be in the list of top ten (maybe even in the top 20!).  As a result it took some time to process adventures in my life for which I am the most grateful.  I finally was able to come up with not one, but two!

White Water Rafting:  I have gone a few times in my life and would love to go again.  This is one truly adventurous activity that I truly do enjoy!

Becoming a Yankee Transplant in Dixie Land:  I am grateful to have had the means and moral support to move anywhere I wanted once I graduated from college.  I am grateful to have had a friend to do it with and I am grateful that the move led me to my husband, a life that I love, and winter means less than a foot of snow (total!).

And there's one more that once we reach our (hopefully!) happily ever after I will be able to add to the list:

Starting a family:  Clearly this adventure has not reached its conclusion and there has been virtually no action, the other defining qualities of "adventure" certainly come into play (i.e., risk, fear of the unknown).

Sunday, November 15, 2015

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 7--Talent/Skill

Growing up I participated in a ton of extra curricular activities.  I liked to be busy and liked to try new things so as I went through school I participated in:  Girl Scouts, softball, orchestra, basketball, student council, chorus, track, plays/musicals/drama club, literary magazine, volleyball, show choir (think Glee), swim team, Key Club, speech/debate, and that's all I can think of off the top of my head...but there were probably a few more!  Due to this rather intense schedule (and because I wasn't terribly motivated) I was a mostly honor roll student though with effort definitely could have done better.  I had friends, but was hardly what you would call popular.  

I like to summarize my K-12 career to say I was:

I recall more than once talking with my mom about the concept of talent and her response when I would lament that I didn't seem to have a talent for anything was always "You are a good person.  That is your talent.".  You know- exactly what every 10...13...16 year old wants to hear.  

As I have gotten older and my scope of interest has narrowed there are a few talents that have bubbled to the surface. 

Leadership:  When I was younger this seemed to show itself more as loud mouthed, bossy, and opinionated.  Throughout college and in the early years of my teaching career, it became more of an organizer role I took on in group work and collaborative pursuits with colleagues.  This then evolved into my work as an administrator over the last 6 years or so.

Wordsmith:  I love reading words, writing words, and sharing my thoughts & feelings with words.  More than once I have been complimented for my ability to put things into words especially when communicating a difficult concept in the most positive (and truthful) way possible.

Singing:  Very much in the part of a group or in the shower type of way, but I can definitely carry a tune.

 I truly attribute this talents to God because not a one of them I would have chosen for myself and have not devoted much time, energy, or effort into fine tuning them.  They just kind of are.  Like so many other things, I should say a word of thanks each day for them.  Note to self to do better!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 6--Freedom

I am humbled to admit that freedom is a gift that I take for granted almost more than any other I have been given.  To demonstrate just how much freedom I have been blessed with, I would like to compare the freedoms of my life with that of women around the world who have not been as blessed.

I was baptized as an infant.  My parents took me to church regularly as a child, but allowed for me to choose the church in which I was confirmed.  I have chosen to attend churches predominately in protestant religions.  
Christian South Sudanese living in Sudan are subject to harassment and intimidation by government agents and society at large, but untangling the religious and ethnic motivations for this persecution can be difficult. Muslims generally enjoy social, legal and economic privileges denied to the Christian minority population. Government authorities have reportedly destroyed churches in recent years, and Christian groups have reportedly been subject to disproportionate taxes and delays in building new houses of worship. (source

I learned to read somewhere around the age of 5-6.  I read, on average, about a book a week that I choose from literary millions of choices (and often get for free on my Nook).
Morocco has a high overall adult illiteracy rate, at 40% in 2007. 3/4 of women were considered to be illiterate in 2004, and in rural areas, education is even worse. Illiteracy for women in rural areas can be as high as 90%. (source

I voted in my first election at the age of 18 after first registering with the party for which I felt my beliefs best aligned.  I am free to change that affiliation at anytime.  I have voted against that particular party more often than not.  
Women who live in Vatican City are not permitted to vote for the Pope.  Women of Saudi Araba do not have the right to vote in any election.  

I went to college in 1997, graduate school in 2006 and have applied to begin my doctorate in 2016.  All in ares of study of my own selection.
In Guatemala, about 15.6 percent of the female population is educated to at least secondary school, compared to 21 percent of males. Women are traditionally viewed as having a domestic role and, thus, are not encouraged to attend school. On top of crippling poverty, the need to earn a living outweighs the expense and time that obtaining an education requires. Even if a family can afford to send at least one child to school, it will usually send the boy. ( source

I began working part time (by choice) at the age of 13 as a way of earning spending money.  I continued to work part time always selecting where to work throughout the rest of my school career.  Since graduating from college I have always held a job that I selected and earned enough money to support myself.
 Women are underrepresented in most aspects of professional life, and there are no laws for women’s rights in the workplace. Only 9.5% of women in Palestine are economically active. (source

I fell in love with my prince charming at the age of 25.  We got married five years later after living together for the previous three.
In fact, today up to 90 percent of marriages in India and 60 percent of all marriages in the world are arranged. Gulati and Paruthi, with the help of their parents, had separately worked out a list of what they were looking for in a partner with categories including education, family background and career. (source

Friday, November 13, 2015

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 5-Emotions (What Brings You Joy)

What a timely topic for gratitude given my recent focus on this particular emotion!

I have found joy in seeking what God wants first and what I want second.

I find joy in all the beauty that fall brings.

I have found joy in spending more time focusing on the moment versus what is next to come.

I find joy in spending time with my husband, my puppies, my friends and my family.

I have found joy in actively seeking out the MANY things in my life for which I am grateful.

I find joy in good books and good music.

I have found joy in a balance between seeking out new and interesting things to do and moments of just doing "nothing".

More than anything else making the following my daily mantra brings me joy...

Thursday, November 12, 2015

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 4- Teacher

Here's a little irony for you during 21 days of gratitude, I believe part of my drive to become a teacher was because I frankly did not like most of my teachers when I was in school.  I was the kid who talked too much, was disorganized, and in the class I was assigned throughout elementary school needed differentiated instruction about 20 years before its time.  Middle and high school weren't much better and even though I went to small colleges for under grad and graduate school I did not really connect with any of my professors.  So when I think of the teachers for whom I am the most grateful, they are hands down teachers with whom I have worked at various points over the last 14 years.

What all of these teachers have in common is that they see their students as children first, students second.  They intentionally build a relationship with them as individuals not because they HAVE to, but because they WANT to. They are open minded and are willing to learn and actively seek out new ways of meeting their students needs whatever they may be.  They know how to laugh at themselves and they know how to laugh with their students.  I am thankful to have had these people in my life and am thankful that each and everyone of them continues to enrich the lives of children each and every day.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

21 Days of Gratitude-Day 3: Kindness & Service

Day 126: The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention. -Oscar Wilde.

Once again I have my parents to thank for being models of the importance of being kind to others and I have also been blessed more times that I can count through the kindness of others.  
Given the personal and professional stresses of recent years, the ones that were most unexpected or arrived at just the right moment are the ones that stick in my mind.  

A card with a personal, encouraging message of a fellow infertility sufferer now "on the other side".  A bamboo plant given for luck in the coming year.  A random text to just check in from a friend who lives far away.  A gentle question of "how are you doing?" when we both know the real questions is "how are you holding up?" and the promise of prayer.  An email just checking in on a day when I seemed down.  

At school, offers to help when I seem to have more on plate than normal and agreeing to assist without batting an eye are hallmarks of many of the wonderful people with whom I am blessed to work.  A big wave or hello, compliments on my hair or boots, and random hugs are ways that kindness is shared with me from countless students. When it comes to receiving acts of kindness, my cup truly runneth over.

I would be remiss if I did not include a second gratitude reflection on this Veterans Day.  

Ever since learning the word pacifist once upon a time (probably in a social studies or history class) it was a term I felt described myself.  It was only this morning that I realized that for all this time I have taken for granted WHY I was able to (arrogantly) describe myself as such-I have never personally had to fight for my own safety or freedom.  I am blessed to live in a country with systems in place to keep me protected from bodily harm as well as protected from oppression.  

When we opened my school, Veteran's day was a school day on the inaugural calendar and we declared it Celebrate Our Soldiers Day.  We invited veterans to come and speak to our students and provided opportunities for our students to learn from and show gratitude toward veterans,  Today was our 6th Celebrate Our Soldiers Day.  Most of the local schools had the day off today, and while a day off certainly sounds nice I am much more grateful to have had the opportunity I had to personally thank and help serve brunch to the veterans that visited my school today.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

21 Days of Gratitude- Day 2: Health

Despite 2015 being the year of weird ailments for me (never before seen allergies, unexplained hives, unexplained problems with my left eye when I wear contacts, unexplained trifecta of colds, oh and of course there is the ever present unexplained infertility!) if it can be explained it doesn't seem to happen to me:).

All joking aside (at least for a moment) I am so blessed to live in a country where clean, running water, a variety of healthy food options, healthcare, and medicines are easily accessible to me.  This is not the case for large numbers of people around the world.  I need to make more of an effort not to take these things for granted.  


Although the percentage of the world’s population without access to essential medicines has fallen from an estimated 37% in 1987 to around 30% in 1999, the total number of people without access remains between 1.3 and 2.1 billion people.  World Health Organization

My good health is among the blessing I am thankful for each and everyday.  I am thankful for escaping major illnesses (growing up I had the chicken pox, an ear infection, the flu in 7th grade, and that was pretty much the extent of it).  I am fortunate to never experienced a broken bone and, other than having my wisdom teeth extracted (I was so wise there were 6 of them;), I have never undergone surgery.

Now I can't see clearly 6 inches away from my face without corrective lenses and I down painkillers like candy during one particular time of each month, but in the big scheme of things I am eternally grateful for the good health I have enjoyed over the last three decades and only hope to experience more of the same in the years to come.

Monday, November 9, 2015

21 Days of Gratitude-Day 1: Friendship

Friday, the word "Gratitude" stuck in my head.  It stuck throughout the weekend and led to me doing a Pinterest search on Gratitude.  Among other things, I found 21 days of writing prompts related to gratitude.  And so today begins day 1.
21 days of gratitude prompts:

First and foremost I am grateful to my mom, who has been a tremendous role model when it comes to friendship.  She has maintained friendships that have spanned almost six decades.  She has a huge circle of friends that she has fun with and would help out at the drop of a hat (and they would do the same).  She has spent a healthy part of her retirement sowing these friendships and making new friends.  She and my dad (who is 8 years her senior) went on a cruise with members of his high school class a few years ago and every few months or so she still meets the wives for lunch.  She is awesome at sending birthday cards, sympathy cards, and even just thinking of you cards.  I pale in comparison to her on many of these fronts, but it is not because I haven't had someone show me the way.

There are many shades of friendship and I am grateful that over my life I have experienced many of these shades.  I have friends whom I have known most of my life and friends whom I only met a few years ago.  I have friends who live in my neighborhood and friends who live states away.  I have friends I see a couple of times a month and friends I only get to see every couple of years.   I have friends from when I was in school and friends from the schools at which I have worked.  I have best friends who feel like a part of the family, and some of my best friends ARE members of my family (my husband, my brother, my mom).  

I am grateful for the good memories I have made with friends and the good times that are yet to come. I am grateful for ALL the laughs.  I am grateful to friends who reach out to hangout or just say hey.  I am grateful for their reciprocation when I do the same.  Most of all I am grateful that through our ongoing battle with infertility and fight to grow our family, my friends have done an amazing job of:   giving me the personal space I need,  supporting me when I am down, keeping the trite/trivial comments/advice to a minimum, and just letting me be me.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


It is amazing to me the amount of time, money, and energy that can be put into something and the net result is literally NOTHING.

We have put 5 years and 3 months into becoming parents and to the best of our knowledge are no closer to being parents than we were when we began

We have put tens of thousands of dollars into supplements, medications, fertility procedures and adoption all of which has led to not a single BFP or nibble of interest in having us become adoptive parents.

We have talked, prayed, cried, problem solved, considered options, saved, spent, rinse and repeat and not a single blip on the radar nor sign of a child joining our family.

Now I have expressed before that the time has been (for the most part) well spent and we are better versions of ourselves now than we were when this journey began, but it continues to blow my logic minded-you can do anything you set your mind to-brain that at the end of the day despite a remarkable amount of effort with have absolutely NOTHING to show for it in regard to the actual pursuit.  Nada, zero, zilch, none.

I attempted to close this post with some great words of wisdom of cute graphic that summarizes how I feel, but there are only two words that continue to play over and over again in my mind-this sucks.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween South of the Border

No. not that border.  The state border.  We spent last evening hanging out in SC.

We first had a delicious southern dinner at a totally cute little restaurant.  The most delicious shrimp and grits I have ever had and two yummy fall cocktails for me and chicken & waffles with a local brew for the mister.  They were having a costume festival out in front, so we still got to see all the costumes without the temptation of candy we would have by staying home for trick or treat.

Afterwards we left all that cuteness and charm behind to visit

Image result for campground nightmare

Normally, these are pretty cheesy, but this one actually kept me on my toes the entire time.  Even J.T. found himself surprised once or twice;).

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