Monday, November 30, 2015

#332: Just when I need a laugh...

A friend of mine and I sometimes send funny cartoons back and forth. His usually arrive just when I need to lighten up (which I've been told is pretty frequently). 

Here's a few that I hope brighten your day, too!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

#331: Geese luggage snow

 I was welcomed back to Boise with 3 fun things:
1. both my bags next to each other on the luggage carousel at baggage claim! [the purple bag didn't make it to Austin at the same time I did but rather got delivered Monday morning]

2. On the way back home, my friend that picked me up suddenly announced we were taking a "Goose Detour":

3. SNOW still in my yard!!!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

#330: Parents: I have some, and they're quite awesome.

When did this happen?  

When did my parents become such pleasant people to spend time with? I'm telling you, it's been in the last 6 months. I just had the best time with my parents this week! 

A sign I serendipitously ran into in Austin
I do realize that the only one that's changed in this situation is me. What's so wonderful about it is that it just happened. With the exception of a few things like looking my mother in the eye and not calling my brother names at the Thanksgiving dinner table, I didn't do anything to make the relationship better. I didn't have to "work" on it. I've just been busy getting comfortable with myself  and suddenly I find myself in Austin feeling delighted to be with my parents. I saw them in new ways that I have hope is a byproduct of a new perception of myself. 

We went out to dinner last night and all three of us contributed to the conversation. I didn't leave anybody out. Back at home we watched TCU beat Baylor and then I forced them to sit through all of my Ireland pictures from the summer. We laughed so much! I didn't take my dad's snide remarks personally, and he didn't take it personally when my mom and I made fun of him for asking questions about stuff we had talked about 3 minutes earlier. 

Then, most amazingly, I lay in bed with my mom talking before we all went to bed. We talked and talked. And laughed. Lots of laughter.  

I let her in, and I'm so glad I did. I'm telling you, I never thought it would happen. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

#329: Thanksgiving in Austin!

It has been years since I was with my parents & my brother on Thanksgiving Day, and it did not disappoint. It's been a busy but awesome day!

I ran the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot.

It was a little wet
 I found a Michigan State reminder along the way back...

No Thanksgiving is complete without the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Grandma's secret recipe chocolate pie is setting in the fridge.

Say hello to Santa!

Watch a little Pro Football. Took a nap.

Watch a little college football with my dad!
Dry at the beginning of the game.
Soaked by halftime.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

#328: The power of puzzles

When I was young we all, except my father and my grandfather, used to play hearts. My 80 year old grandmother usually sat back quietly, ran the table and beat us all to pieces while the rest of us laughed, sang made up songs about The Queen [of spades] and table talked.

My Aunt Debbie and I always have the Scrabble world championships when we get together, and for my birthday or Christmas one year she gave me the Deluxe Edition Scrabble game [a must have for nutso--about-Scrabble-people]. When I was in Dallas recently we played Bananagrams, a super fun word game that doesn't intimidate those who don't love Scrabble.

Tonight I saw this button while browsing the New York Times:

I clicked on it and started reading the puzzles to my parents. My dad listened with one ear but my mom walked in, sat down, and we worked on all six puzzles together!  Such happy memories being made this week! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

#327: Healthy friends!

I always look forward to seeing friends when I come to Austin for a visit, but I am not creative about what we do: it always involves eating and talking [not that I usually mind very much, as these are two of my favorite things to do].

I had plans to get together with a friend of mine in town and I texted her yesterday in my usual "let's-get-together" manner:

As usual, I've been eating my way through a visit to Austin (though I'm realizing that I've been eating my way through much of life lately, but that's a different story), so even as I wrote this I was thinking I didn't really want to focus on the food but I couldn't come up with a better idea. [if you know Austin, just leave me alone. I realize there are about 4,290 things to do at any given time in this city, but I just had nothing.]

Luckily, my friend solved my problem AND got us meeting up:

Unfortunate that she has plantar fasciitis, but such a great idea! We met this morning and are meeting again tomorrow morning and running the Turkey Trot together on Thursday.

THEN, I got to the gym. Oh. My. Gosh. I could live there. Lifetime Fitness is amazing. There were lots of towels. And happy people. A yummy restaurant. A spa. 3 pools. A steam room. A sauna. Tons of classes. A humungous room of aerobic equipment. A humungous room of free weights. A yoga studio I only heard about.

Best of all, a good friend.

Two beautiful ladies making good choices!

Monday, November 23, 2015

#325: Happy 111th, Nana!

Nana's birthday is today! Happy Birthday!
  • She would be 111, though she's been gone for ten years. She was my mom's mom. 
  • She was my best friend. She was a Southern Belle till the end: the day before she passed we had her nails done.
  • Usually on her birthday she visits my dreams, but she came early this year: last Friday night. She was so happy and her elegant, 1960s self you see in this picture [taken in Estes Park, CO].
  • My favorite story of Nana: She was 100 years old when she passed, born in 1905. This date, in fact, was already carved on her pre-purchased headstone (she was very pragmatic). 
  • When we were cleaning out her house after she died, I found her birth certificate. Guess what?  She was born in 1904!  She was really 101! Why she did it, we'll never know for sure. Our current theory is We decided that she lied all these years because she her real age would reveal that she was older than Poppee.

Nana, I hope you forgive me for telling your story, but it was shared only with love love love!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

324: Being consumed

I can't stop reading (still reading The Auschwitz Escape)!!!  And I don't have to because I'm off for a week. I can stay up late every night for quite some time.

I sat on the couch with my hot cocoa at 11:23...

and am just not putting my book down!

And I'm lying. After I took this picture I read for another half hour.

How luscious!

Friday, November 20, 2015

#323: Best. Email. Ever!

The Bogus Basin Mountain Hosts have been one of my families for the last 7 years or so, and I love volunteering at Bogus. However, each of the last 3 years I have been so incredibly busy and stressed during the spring that I have contemplated withdrawing, which I finally did this season when I realized I'd have to take a graduate course next spring.  

That was about 2 weeks ago.

Then I got an email from one of the mountain hosts with this as the subject:

It sat in my inbox for a few days and I read it last night.  I assumed it was a pair of ski boots or an old snowboard or something.  Here's what the email said once I finally opened it:

And here's the item that needed a good home:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

#322: Meanwhile, 5 years later...

I spent most of my time at the gym tonight zoning out to Rihanna Radio on Pandora, feeling quite lethargic and wondering how much longer it would take me to finish this workout. Every now and then I would notice a person around me: that super sweaty guy who didn't wipe off the machine he just left; that woman with legs I wish I had; that guy that always looks at me funny that I try to avoid.

Suddenly this blonde woman is walking towards me and I try to step out of the way because I think she's walking to a piece of equipment behind me.  Nope. She stops right in front of me, takes off her headphones and smiles.  Oh my gosh!!!

It's a woman I met about 10 years here in Boise. She wasn't doing well. There was kid drama. Her brother died suddenly. There was more drama. I'd run into her a few times a year, catch up on how she was doing [usually not so great] and we'd go another year or so. Then she went away for about 4 years and I haven't seen her in at least 5 years...Until tonight!

And she's doing wonderfully! I asked her what she was up to, and she gave the best answer ever: work, gym, home. No kid drama. No ex-husband or work drama.

There came a point in my life (rather recently, actually) where going out, being cool, having a million places to be and dozens of people to be around [very busy and important, I call it (see this scene from Love Actually)], seeking attention from men, seeking attention from women, trying to make my life look like the unrealistic picture in my head that I have cobbled together from movies, TV shows, People magazines read on flights to and from Texas, my interpretation of conversations with my parents in Texas, and random, taken-out-of-context tidbits people have said to me over the years, all fail to satisfy me in the way I hoped.

I was looking outside of myself for something or someone to make me feel complete and fulfilled but discovered, finally, that none of that stuff did it. It's like this: in the film Amelia with Hilary Swank, a man tells Amelia something [I Googled, I couldn't find the clip] like "I think I can make you happy," to which she replies, "But that's my job!"

Thus there were many great things about seeing my friend: she is happy, and I am happy for her (a post in its own right); she was brave enough to come up to me and risk having the wrong person; I got remembered by someone, which I always find miraculous [I'm like a dog: when I get out of your sight, I'm pretty sure you forget about me].

But best of all is that right there in the middle of the gym in Boise, ID, I realized that both of us, who used to be so traumatized by life and it's problems, have discovered what Amelia already knew: that each of us is in charge of making ourselves happy.

And we are both doing it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

#321: Books that you can't wait to get to bed to read

Two of my favorite things: reading and sleeping.

Superb when they are combined!

I'm going to bed early so I can keep reading The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenberg.
Thank you,  Aunt Debbie for the loan!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

#320: Da da da da...

Monday night football!!!!  Not only is it something to look forward to on Mondays; no only have there been some great Monday night games this season, but it gives me something entertaining to watch while I grade!!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

#319: Lazy Sunday mornings

I LOVE Sunday mornings. No alarm. Nowhere to be until church at 11. In the winter, up before the sun. 

Today is especially wonderful because

1) I cleaned up the clutter in my house on Friday night, and so actually want to sit around in my house because it is not inviting.

2) I cleaned up the clutter in my house on Friday night, and so actually have a place to sit in my house this morning.

3) There is quiet in my head these days like I've never had before, and I am relishing it! I always knew it was possible, and though there were/are times when I thought it wouldn't happen, I stuck it out (and will continue during the rough times) and am here to reap the benefits.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

#318: A surprise trip down Memory Lane

My mother sent me a box of "stuff" a few months ago which has been sitting in my back room ever since. Something in me wasn't interested in going through a bunch of crap—there are so many decisions to be made that are so exhausting: Keep this? Toss this? What do I do with this thing? I was also afraid it would bring up icky feelings that I didn't want to feel.

I was so wrong!  It was nothing but fun!  Here's some of the hidden gems:

#317: Hat Day!!

Who doesn't love hat [read: do-not-have-to-do-your-hair] day?

Especially when you get to wear your authentic Aran Island wool cap!

The best part of this hat is the story: the woman who made it runs a shop at the visitor center at Dun Aongnasa World Heritage Site (an amazing place, by the way), which I visited last summer. I found several hats and a scarf I loved, but she, like much of the Aran Islands, didn't take credit cards and I only had about 20 Euros. I said thank you and went to leave and she said, "Now just hold on a minute, there," in a beautiful Irish accent I wish I could relay to you.

Long story short, she sold me the hats and scarf anyways, gave me a card with her address on it and took my 20 Euros as a deposit. She trusted me to send her the balance, which I did before I left Ireland. How's that for hospitality?

#316: First early morning run of the school year

What a fantastic way to start the day! I felt great all day long.

How can you not when you start with fresh air, a beautiful view of the stars, running through downtown Boise before it's awake, and to top it off with jeans Friday at work?

Woops! That didn't work...
Need some sleep, but totally worth it!

Friday, November 13, 2015

#315: Realzing God was there all along!

I'm so grateful my parents named me "Joy" because it often serves as a reminder that life is full of joy if I am willing to look.

Since I've been reminiscing lately, my mind settled on my first job out of college—a clerk at the Learning Express in San Antonio and the joy I got from working there (One of my dreams is still to own my own toy store). In fact, I really love toys in general. At The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey I ran the museum store and got to buy all sorts of educational toys. I got to be a Park Ranger. Now I teach 8th graders.

Then there was the boyfriend had two daughters and previously quirky aspects of my personality suddenly made tons of sense. Like that I love fun night lights because I am afraid of the dark. That I am afraid of the dark. Or that I love to do crafts and play games. That I had a Winnie the Pooh wedding shower [no comment]. That the man I was married to for 9 years who wanted to always take the scenic route, not work in an office and was willing to drive 3 hours just to each good bar-b-que.

I didn't seem to be able to have fun when I was a kid. The parts I do remember were mostly painful and definitely not fun and life was a very serious business. My adult life, however, has always been full of these opportunities to never "grow up".

I've just realized that perhaps these have been the compensations my grandmother always told me God provides. Perhaps God has been with me all along, giving me night lights and kids and 8th graders to allow me to enjoy life now in a way I was never able to in childhood. How sweet it is to learn we were looked after all along!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

#314: My ex-husband

18 years ago today, the day before Veteran's Day, I met my ex-husband in San Antonio, TX. He is always on my mind this time of year, but this year I realized it's been eighteen years since we met. Oh, my.

I am so grateful that he came into my life:

  • He taught me how to swim
  • He taught me how to run
  • He did my very first race with me (5 miler [read: NOT km) at Randolf AFB in San Antonio
  • With him I had enough courage to sell all my stuff, leave Texas, and become a park ranger 
  • He taught me how to rock climb
  • He taught me how to fold t-shirts into 6-in squares
  • I learned from him that I really love owning dogs
  • I would not be in Boise if he hadn't been in wildland fire
  • Once we weren't married anymore, he became one of my greatest teachers in forgiveness (of both of us), humility (realizing I was not the perfect wife), and kindness
  • During our divorce someone told him something I have implemented a million times: Now is the time for kindness.
Though we don't talk anymore, I am thankful for having him in my life for 10 years. So much of who I am today was fueled in part by his support, encouragement and love. He loved me when I was totally unable to love myself. 

We should all be so lucky. We all are, if we look around.

#313: First snow of the season!

Boise's local ski hill, Bogus Basin, is getting snow!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

#310: Episcopal Bluegrass

I am this weekend in beautiful Burley, ID for the annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Idaho, to which I was lucky enough to be a delegate from my parish.

It was a reunion of sorts for me, as I used to work at the Diocesan Office for a couple of years about 9 years ago. At the banquet tonight we have the pleasure of a live bluegrass band!

#311: The [burnt] orange door

For my birthday my next door neighbor gave me a new door! The shed in my back yard had an old, awkward, non-standard door. It had holes in it into which bees had moved, the wood was peeling up, and the paint that once coated it had peeled off years ago. It looked awful.

I didn't think the old door was so bad, really, but my neighbor reminded me often [read: for last 2 years] that HE was the one that had to look at it all the time, because their patio looks directly at the front of my shed.

When I returned home from Burley today, the new door was in!

Please note the color: official burnt orange. Don't believe me? You can go look yourself here!

He also primed the rest of the shed so that first thing next spring, I can paint it white. And my second painting goal of the spring? To paint the trim on my house. Yes, you guessed it, HEX: #8F5700.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

#309: Flannel Sheets

What simple pleasure

indicates warmth, comfort, cozy, winter?

makes you want to get into bed?

makes you want to stay in bed?

brings images of snow and cold outside but keeps you warm and cozy inside?

do I get to enjoy this weekend while staying at a friend's house?


Friday, November 6, 2015

#308: The Power of Observation

Yesterday I spent my work day watching other math teachers do their craft. I highly suggest to anyone that teaches to go watch other teachers. Fantastic benefits await you including:

  • Getting great new ideas on ways to decorate your room like covering tables with contact paper so students can do math problems on the desks.
  • Watch amazing teachers interact with students. Current lesson: teachers are calm, kind and in control. Always it is a good reminder for me to see teachers being kind to students. I think I tend to forget that students are people with feelings. Very sensitive feelings.
  • Get cool ideas for new clocks. You can't tell from my picture, but this is a way nerdy math clock. Which I love. For a better view, click here.
  • Encounter other teachers who are just as hard on themselves as I am. And they are awesome. This leaves you feeling like you may not be doing as poorly as you think.
  • Spending the day with a colleague.
  • With said colleague, identify trouble spots in your classroom life and brainstorm lots of solutions!
  • Meet new people!
  • Expand your PLN (Personal Learning Network)!
  • Give a substitute an opportunity to make some money.
  • Return to work the next day rejuvenated and excited to be there!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

#307: The Dollar Store

I needed some supplies for my classroom and was on the hunt for a Wal-Mart. But none were near where I was.

But there WAS a Dollar Store...

I must be the last teaching on earth to figure out it is the best place to buy stuff for school!  

Row and rows of fun...

Frozen stickers. Nothing more to say.

And other cool, albeit useless things...
Mini boxes of Cap'n Crunch