Monday, December 31, 2007

Trying New Things

I think it's good for our health to try new things. I don't know, sometimes I make stuff like that up, but it sounds true. It gets our endorphins up, and that hormonally makes us happy - so that's always a good thing.
Anyway, that's why I resolved in 2007 to try something new every month. Sometimes, I got a few things in, so BONUS. I didn't so much write them down, so more may have happened than this. These are just the ones I remember:

*First time in Corpus Christi/North Padre Island
*First time creating curriculum for a youth camp
*First time leader at Southcliff's winter camp
(I know that sounds like I'm milking one thing for more than it's worth, but this weekend was very significant in our involvement in Southcliff)

*First Bowling Ball (you dress up and go bowling)

*First time enrolling in a Master's level course
*First time not being with family in St. Louis for St. Patrick's Day (b/c of previous)
*First time hosting my own St. Patrick's Day party (b/c of previous)

*First official state teacher exam (passed!)
*First time creating a resignation letter
*First time I was the main teacher of a Sunday School class

*First time I went to a homeschool graduation ceremony
*First time I changed my state cizitenship (I am now a Texan)
*First time I actually quit a job
*First time I became an aunt
*First time I saw my niece

*First time spending an anniversary on the roof of a restaurant
*First time my car got broken into (not really a good thing, but the experience happened nonetheless, so it makes the list)

*First time going to a baseball game on the 4th (I've attempted to before, but plans always fell through)
*First time I got hired as a teacher!

*First time I went to teacher training
*First time I drove a jet ski
*First time I crashed a jet ski
*First time I taught a class

*First time I traveled on a plane with a friend (instead of my husband or just myself)

*First time at the Texas State Fair

*First time I toured the Texas Rangers' stadium
*First time at a Kelly Clarkson concert

*First time a job gave me 2 weeks off for Christmas
*First time I've spent New Years in St. Louis since being married
*First time one of my youth got married

Admittedly, the beginning of my year was a lot more exciting than the end, but I'd say I had one heck of a year. I can't wait to tell you what I put up here for 2008.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Keepin on

Resolutions mean a lot to me. Anytime I get a chance to try something new, turn a new page, make new decisions, etc. I'm all over it. I love new chances.

I also like reflecting. I like looking back and evaluating. Trying to figure out what went right, what went wrong. What I liked, disliked, etc.

So you can imagine this is a great time of year for me. And so, without any further ado - let me go ahead and do both.

In 2007, I wanted to make some serious changes in my life. I was living a pathetic life of mediocrity. I was only making enough money to get by, in a job I absolutely LOATHED. I knew I wanted to go into teaching, but was making no effort. I was a volunteer for a youth group where I knew only 5% of the students and wasn't actively involved at all. So I made a resolution to quit my job, go into teaching and get more involved.

Anybody who knows me at all knows that I did all of these things - and I did them well. While actually turning in my resignation was the hardest thing I've ever done, in the end, it brought me great joy. I got to follow my heart into teaching, which has taken me on the wildest ride ever. I mean, really, this time last year, teaching was just a thought I had, and now I've already got a semester under my belt. And the youth group? Yeah, I'd say we're pretty involved. It's hard to quantify our interaction, but I am personally involved in a couple dozen lives, help teach the senior sunday school class and practically adopted one as our son (shout out: Dylan).

And I can't take credit for any of this. God has taken me on the craziest spiritual journey ever. And it started right away, too. In January, our church began a Journey of Faith, and week after week, we studied examples of characters with great faith and every different story came with more encouragement and inspiration. I could not see Dec 29, 2007 in my head, but I knew it would come one day. And I just had to trust in God to take me there. There's so much more I could write in this blog, but I have a tendency to go on too long...

So in 2008, I want to take another journey. Well, actually, I want to continue the same journey. Because what I didn't tell you was that part of my 07 resolution was also to move to a new apt and get a puppy, but when I realized that waiting to move would be financially smarter (Thanks, Dave), I put it off. Now this year, I'm hoping to conclude that resolution. Hopefully I can learn to prioritize my spending. I also like to throw in fun things to my resolution like trying something new every month. I accomplished this in 07 (more on this later), so I want to do it again in 08.

What about you? Reflections? Resolutions? Thoughts?

Thursday, December 20, 2007


i had some more "deep thoughts" to share, but darcie asked to hear some stories, so i thought id share some of those instead. the following story happened this week, and i think it's a story i will always take with me...

because i'm a first year teacher and on temporary certification, i have to be observed constantly. i got lucky enough to have my favorite professor as my observer. normally she just pops in for a few minutes to make sure i'm still alive, but in general trusts my teaching so doesn't stay long. well, she has to do a formal 45 min observation, and we decide for her to come on tuesday to my homeroom. they're my favorite bunch of kids and are usually well-behaved, focused, hard-working students. but i forgot about anthony.
anybody who's heard stories from me has probably heard one about little anthony (he wears size 3 shoes!). i pretty much have an anothony story every day. he's the most adorable kid, but in a very obnoxious way. one day, he comes in and tells me he told his mom i called him annoying and said i didnt like him. i never once said this and when i press him about it, he says he actually lied to me and never said anything to his mom. ::rolling eyes:: oh anthony. if he weren't so freakin adorable, i'd strangle him (in several ways, he reminds me of andrew - not even kidding).
so yeah, anthony is at his best today. he asks me who the lady is in the back and if she's my boss. i give him permission to talk to her (mistake), and keep monitoring my students and answering their questions. a few minutes later, anthony is back at his seat and dr. ford is smiling really big. so i go over and she tells me what anthony told her - that i'm only being nice b/c she is here watching.
so of course i confront anthony about this and when i quote what she said, he replies "i didnt say that. i said you were trying to be nice b/c she was here." "so im not even succeeding? im merely trying? just because she's here?" "yep."
so i lean down and say to him, "well if you think i'm only acting this nice because dr. ford is here, wait until health class when she's not here and we'll just see how hard i try."

believe it or not, he's still alive. but only because my prof knows me well enough to know anthony was lying, and well did i tell you how cute he is? you can't kill a kid that cute. you just tease him back.

Monday, December 17, 2007


if we're going to be honest (and i think we should), i have a lot of insecurities.
if we were all honest, we'd admit the same thing.

and i've decided there are a few options.

1. deny them/suppress them
i think anyone with a psychology degree (that's me in case you didn't know) would tell you that suppressing reality is not exactly healthy. so obviously i do not recommend this one. but it is, on simplest terms, the easiest option. because once we admit we are insecure about something, we have to admit that we don't believe fully in ourselves - and that's a dangerous admission. moreover, in doing so, we are telling others that we have reason to doubt. that we really aren't perfect, aren't the best, aren't amazingly awesome. and every time we have to admit that, even to ourselves, we shatter the dream that we might actually be those things. and that really sucks.

2. overcompensate
we're all familiar with this term. and quite frankly, i use it a lot. i see teenage boys revving their engine and i can't help but think they're overcompensating. and not in the way that you think. but they're sooo insecure with their "cool" level that they have to do something loud to prove that they are. however, the way this plays out for us non-teenage-boys is a little more discreet. we might develop one particular skill or talent in order to overshadow our lack of any others. or like in the movie Curly Sue (did that reference date me?) where she uses really big words so others won't notice she never actually learned to read or write. we put up a smoke screen of pride to hide our fear.

3. abuse them
how many times do i hear the excuse "i've just never been good at school, so why even try?" well at least they're admitting their insecurities, but refuse to overcome them. they use them as an excuse. and we can't pretend we don't do it with our own. "well i've never been a very good friend, so i suppose you shouldve just expected it" or "ive never been disciplined before, i dont know why you expect me to be now" or [insert your own insecurity here].

4. ask for assurance
this is my drug of choice. i cannot tell you how many times a week i ask andrew if he loves me and why. do i honestly believe he'll ever leave me or stop loving me? not particularly, but reasonable or not, that's one of insecurities. so i ask for assurance. ad nauseum. the other day, i made 5 points of a 20 point quiz a short essay where the students had to tell me their favorite part of my class just so that i'd know they had a favorite part - that something i'm doing is right. they didn't know i was being insecure. well, maybe my smarter students did, but they took the bait anyway. cause it did feel good, but only til monday where i started to doubt all over again.

5. improve it
if i really am so insecure about my teaching, maybe i should learn how to be a better teacher. this isn't necessarily admitting im a failure, but rather admitting that i could always improve. and upon improvement, perhaps gain confidence. and im so insecure about andrew's love, i could actually work harder to feel ive earned it, not that i need to earn it, but because in simply doing one action that im not doing now (like any of the basic chores), i might actually feel confident about myself, and not need andrew's assurances.

6. accept the truth
a lot of time, however, we really are insecure over nothing. it's almost as if we have body dysmorphic disorder (there's the psych degree coming out again), and we see fat where there is absolutely zero and the way we torture ourselves is sick. what if i really am a good teacher and im letting some foreign fear debilitate me from doing what i should do doing best...? what if im a great wife, except for the times i annoy my husband by asking him to list reasons why...? isn't that ironic? dont ya think? what if you really are smart but you're letting your fear of failure keep you from trying? what if you're really the best kind of friend, but you never allow yourself to get close to anybody because they might reject you once they figured out the "truth"? what if you're beautiful but the frown you wear believing you're ugly keeps people from seeing your smile?

you've already admitted you're insecure. at the beginning of the post, when you nodded along, it's because something specific came to mind. and you've probably, like me, identified the option you're currently trying. but i think today's the day to try something new. what do you think?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

the reality is

I don't actually hate Christmas. and I won't skip it.
Mostly because I don't think I could ever actually get away with it, but also because it has too many good things going for it to cancel it altogether.
This list won't be as entertaining as the last, but I want you to know I'm capable of being sweet and kind and that life sucks if all I do is complain,
So in keeping with the format of the last post, I thought I'd make a Top Ten Reasons to Celebrate Anyway...

10. Decorations
I hinted on my last list that I really don't like decorating. A lot of the stuff out there (including in our own collection) is sooo tacky and outdated. But there are some pieces that I love so much it makes it all worth it. Like snowmen. If my sister didn't collect them, I would. I love all things snowman related. And I'm collecting the Willow Tree Nativity Scene, so that's pretty exciting.

9. Bonus
This would be higher on my list, but I'm not getting one this year (that I know of)... but last year when I got a Christmas Bonus, it was an amazing blessing and a wonderful surprise. I think I should get it every year!

8. Sales
Let's face it... things are on sale all over the place. So much so, that you end up buying a lot for yourself, cause well, it's on sale. But let's not complain, cause we're getting stuff ON SALE. Those are like two of the most favored words among females. That's why they say "It's the most wonderful time of the year."

7. Parties
This was on the previous list, where it will remain, but there's an upside. Whether it's getting to see people I haven't seen for a while, or people I see everyday but now in a whole new light, Christmas parties are great social fun. And we know I love great social fun. This year, my work party is at the Assistant Principal's house... intimidating? yes. intriguing? double yes. Now not only will I know where she lives if she really gets on my bad side, but I actually have a chance to get to know her a bit more (and hopefully make a really great impression). Plus it's a chance to eat all those cookies I mentioned...

6. Getting Gifts
I really don't have to explain this one, at all. But I will cause otherwise it'll feel left out of the list (all the other items got at least a couple sentences). I go all year seeing things I want but never being able to buy them. But now I can tell others what I saw, and they'll get it for me. And I love that. Already, a student's mom bought me two books I wanted from the Book Fair and it made my day. I could never have justified that purchase on my own, but now I own something I really wanted.

5. Giving Gifts
This one actually is above "Getting Gifts" let me point that out. And not just cause it makes me look better. But I actually LOVE giving gifts. That whole rant on my last post? Yeah, this is why. I love putting thought into gifts and getting something I KNOW they'll really love. Andrew's past presents include a U2 concert, a Superman hoodie, Calvin's commentaries, a poem I wrote, Linkin Park concert, a mixed CD of his favorite songs I bought for him on iTunes, etc. He didn't write a single one of those things on a list for me. But when he got them and his face lit up and he said "Seriously???" I knew that gift giving is a true joy.

4. Vacation
With the exception of last year, every year since I've been alive I've had a Christmas break. 2 weeks of time off from anything and everything except friends, family and TV. What a glorious time. The past couple years I've actually gotten to travel for Christmas, and as annoying as it is, I actually kind of like it. It makes the break that much more special. That I get to get away from it all and escape to a familiar place.

3. Movies
Elf. A Christmas Story. Muppets. The Santa Clause. Home Alone. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Charlie Brown. Need I say more? I can, but you know them all. Classic Christmas movies. Sure, you can watch them anytime, but they mean more when played in December. Andrew and I actually started a tradition where we buy a new Christmas movie every year, and it's one of my favorite traditions.

2. Family
This one is especially important now that I've moved to Ft. Worth. Yeah, we're forced to try to cram everybody we know into two or three days, but I get to see everybody I'm related to in just two or three days. That's kind of cool. I love my family to death, and I'm so excited to get to spend this time with them, sharing in the traditions that we have had for years and years, and getting to know more about traditions I'm just now beginning to take part in because of my marriage. Every minute is treasured, whether it's watching Andrew's little cousin open up a new toy, or playing Scattergories with my aunt from Detroit, I love it.

1. Jesus' Birth
Yeah, this one had to be number one. Not just cause I know the Sunday School answers, but honestly, because this one has made the most significant change in my life. Jesus seriously didn't come to earth just for my Top 9 things. Actually, He wasn't thinking about a single one of those things when He was here. He came to accomplish God's will to save His people. He came so that I could have freedom from my sins, my worries, my complaints.
And the manner in which He came? sooo important. Because the details of His birth weren't so that we'd have a dramatic entertaining story to tell, and not even just to fulfill prophecy, but so that we, everyday humans, could identify with Him. He was born poor and rejected in a town known for losers. Who doesn't identify with being outcast or lonely or called a loser?
We can identify with Him in His birth. And we can identify with Him in His life, because He was faced with every single temptation that we are faced with. And we can identify with Him in His death, because we too can choose to deny ourselves and believe in something bigger than us to carry us through to the other side. And because I have chosen to identify with Him in those areas and accept His salvation, I can also identify with Him in His resurrection, knowing that death doesn't stop me. I have eternal life.

And that my friend is why I'll never actually skip Christmas.

[check out this video]

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Skipping Christmas

So I have hesitated to make my first real blog because I just didn't know what to say... I wanted to make sure it was worthy of being the inaugural blog. But in typical Teresa fashion, I have found a topic that I have enough to gripe about, it might actually be entertaining... so here goes (be warned):

Every year around Christmas, I get less and less "joyful" and more and more "scroogeful" (let's decide that's a real word)... and this was no exception. Quite the opposite, for some reason this year, I actually want to skip Christmas altogether. It could be that despite all the commercialism (more on that later), it kind of snuck up on me. Everything's been doing that this year, now that I have a life and all... But whatever the reason, one thing is sure, I'm a regular grinch and here are my top ten reasons for wanting to skip Christmas this year:

10. The Cookies
Nobody really needs to ever eat this many cookies in their life. But they're there, and they're so cute. And there are so many. SOOOO many. and they're all different. I never knew there were more species of cookie than of birds. You can't just sample one or two. What birdwatcher just ends their life satisfied with spotting two birds?? No, you have to try them all. And you blow your diet (even if you didn't have one), for what? a slab of sugar in the shape of Santa?

9. The Music
Each year it gets more annoying. I'd give examples, but I have purposefully not listened to any this year so I am a little out of touch. But some songs from the 80s come to mind, gosh those were awful. And all those new pop singers trying to remake classics? ::rolling eyes:: Bing Crosby is fine, I'll listen to his CD any time of year. But if I have to hear one more song about Mommy or Susie or Rudolph, I may just go insane.

8. The Cheese Factor
Fortunately, I have a great pastor that keeps his sermons fresh year round, including Christmas. But that's the exception. Most of the time, you get one sappy version of the story, year after year. Listen, just because the actual Scripture doesn't change, it doesn't mean you have to tell us the same thing every year. Especially because by doing that, you're just passing on wrong information, year after year. Everywhere you look, the story of Christ's birth has become this cheesy, watered-down version of the truth.

7. The Theology
Ok, let me preface this by saying, I'm not a crazy conservative. Let me just go ahead and vomit at the thought before I even begin. Alright... now it's time to go ahead and bring up good ole Santy Claus. Just the other day, I was thinking to myself how backwards this whole thing is. There's a list of good and a list of bad and your actions throughout the year dictate which list you're on.... Did a Catholic come up with this concept (no offense)? Geez. Talk about works-centered theology. And the thought of getting rewarded is the motivation behind the behavior? ohhh, see, now shouldn't a child behave, I dont know, because it's the right thing to do?? I know I'm going overboard here, and quite honestly, I'm still going to teach my kid about Santa because it encourages a child's imagination and is a cherished part of childhood... but still, does anybody else see the flaws here?

6. The Early Start
I'm shopping for Halloween stuff and I see Christmas stuff... yeah. It's early November at the grocery store and I hear Christmas songs overhead. I just can't take it. I personally LOVE Halloween and Thanksgiving and feel like they're ripped off by Christmas. It just can't wait its turn, so it has to overshadow two perfectly good holidays. Not cool Christmas. Not cool at all.

5. The Travel
Well booking a flight home didn't happen. If it did, I'm sure I'd complain about the idiots at the airport.... but it didn't, so now I have to complain about the idiots on the road... for 11 hours there and then 11 hours back. Well actually, it will be more than that, because we're making detours and stops and all that. Which, as a bright shiny moment in this blog, I will say something positive by letting you know I'm actually very happy we get to detour and see many friends of ours. And now we'll have our car and won't have to worry about fragile, awkwardly shaped or heavy/large presents. So really it's a good thing, but I have to complain about it anyway.

4. The Planning
It starts months ahead. Which one of the ten places we have to go will we go to first? Who will we see and how long will we stay? Then who's next? Did we make sure to include everybody? No, we missed your great-aunt's second cousin's step-daughter's neighbor? Dang, well maybe next year. Yeah, getting married always increases your family, but when he's got two families and all three of your families (all 6 parents) have extended families all within 20 miles of each other, the holidays require a detailed calendar... and a pencil with a good eraser.

3. The Parties
This doubles up on #4 cause everybody always has 10,000 Christmas parties to go to. All are "worthy" of your time and your lame white elephant gift, but gosh darn it, there are only so many days in one month to celebrate the same cheesy thing (which let's face it, is not at ALL what you're celebrating as you're slamming down that 5th shot or 10th cookie)... Does anybody ever walk away from those things with a gift worth keeping? Or do you, just like me, end up recycling the white elephant gift at the next Christmas party...?

2. The Stress
Having said all this, I think it's pretty obvious that Christmas is a source of stress. Throw annual things like Finals in there (progress reports in my case), and you have yourself quite an ordeal. And every year, I end up running around like a chicken with my head cut off: trying to bake cookies, wrap crappy presents, finalize lists, buy presents, book plane tickets, decorate the house (that surprisingly didn't make the list, but it should've, gosh I hate doing that. oh and the lame ornaments, sooo tacky!!), and I end up just saying to myself... ok so Jesus was born 2000+ years ago for this? really? cause I'm pretty sure in John 10:10 it says that He came so that we may have life abundantly... and for some reason I don't think making ourselves sick over to-do lists is what He had in mind when He said that... but ya know, I'd hate to put words in His mouth...

1. The List

My #1 gripe this year, by far: making a list. I mean, it seems fine enough on the surface, I'm just letting people know what I want for Christmas. It shouldn't be hard to come with stuff, and I shouldn't complain about doing it. It's an honor, some might say (namely, my husband who completely disagrees with me on this one). But it wouldn't be the holidays (or a very good Top Ten list) if I didn't complain... so here it is.
It's the principle of the idea. That I have to tell somebody what I like so that they don't disappoint me Christmas morning. And see here I thought, it was the thought that counts. Nope, not to Andrew. If I saw something I thought he'd like, so I thought I'd spend my money and get it for him, and I thought I'd give it to him to show him I was thinking of him, and he didn't like it, then apparently I failed. That's not how the system should work, I am told. I am told that the way to get the most out of Christmas presents is to give somebody a specific list (and actually he makes separate lists for each family to ensure he doesn't get doubles) so on Christmas morning, he knows exactly what he's going to get. And if somebody were to deviate from the list cause they saw something they thought he'd like? Oh geez, don't even joke about that. It's a crime against Christmas.
Whereas, I thought the whole concept was that I took the time to think about what that person likes, dislikes, wants, needs, should have, could use, might enjoy, etc. and then got that for the person. And what joy is there anyway in knowing exactly what your presents are? What originality is put into getting something somebody put on a list? There is absolutely no thought in that.
I shouldn't have to make a list. People should know me by now, and if they don't, then how else are they going to get to know me if I'm limiting their ability to even think about what I would want?

Bah Humbug.
Ok so perhaps I am being a bit dramatic ("A bit?!?")... but I thought I'd start this blog out right. Get used to me blogspot, cause I'm here and I'm ranting. And I'm not going to shut up any time soon.

As always, thoughts? comments? complaints (are just a waste of time, so dont bother)? agree/disagree? what would you put on your list? will you skip Christmas with me? We can go on a cruise in the Caribbean, cause if there's something else I hate about this time of year it's the weather, but that's not Christmas' fault...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

hmm im not so sure about all of this.