Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Today is Thankful Thursday #14! Today I'm celebrating my passing score on the Human/Cultural Geography DSST exam, which I took last night. I'm thankful . . .

1.  that there are exams that award college credit. It's a lot faster and cheaper to get college credit this way than by enrolling in a traditional course.

2. for free study materials I found at the public library and online. I saved a lot of money not having to buy textbooks!

3. for a testing center that administers DSST exams. I had to call numerous places to find one!

4. for Dad, who graciously drove the round-trip to Lansing for me, and treated me to a shopping spree and dinner on our way home to celebrate.

5. that I'm one step closer to finishing my Master's degree and teacher certification.

God is faithful!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Today is Thankful Thursday #13!

My current facebook status reads, "The more frustrated I feel, the more grateful I must choose to be." In light of that wisdom, I have decided for today's Thankful Thursday post to list reasons I am grateful for my car. Lately, I've been only too aware of its quirks that irritate me. Earlier today when I was ranting to my brother about my car's latest idiosyncrasy, he convicted me that complaining or contentment is my choice. Since it's not in my budget anytime soon to replace it, I should be better about enjoying what I do have. Even though it's definitely not my dream car, when I stop to think about it, there are a lot of things about it for which I have to be grateful. . . .

1. Most importantly, it is a reliable vehicle. It gets me where I need to go.
2. I like the exterior color--a nice royal navy blue.
3. It has a comfortable interior. I'm especially glad the heat and defroster both work.
4. It has a spacious trunk.
5. It has low mileage, considering its age.

Thank you, Lord, for this vehicle that You have provided for me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sweet Blessings

This afternoon on my way home from school, I swung by the dollar store to pick up a few things. As I waited in the check-out line, this Butterfinger Crisp bar caught my eye. I had never seen a Butterfinger Crisp before. Since Butterfingers are one of the few kinds of candy bars that I like—I eat candy very sparingly—I decided on the spot to treat myself to trying a Butterfinger Crisp. Yum! I have a new favorite now!

Enjoying my little splurge this afternoon made me all the more aware of the fullness of sweet blessings in my life. Many women around the globe would only be able to dream of what I just did so casually this afternoon. . .

  • While many women live under social oppression, I have the freedom to keep my own schedule and drive about town at will.
  • While many women live in physical danger, I live with the safety and confidence to shop where I want.
  • While many women live in deprivation, I enjoy the abundance of discretionary money in my wallet and a prosperous economic system that provides me plenty of choice.
  • While many women live with serious illness, I have the good health to splurge on some candy without having to deal with adverse reactions.
Wow. I am awed to think about what is involved in the privilege of spontaneously buying a little afternoon snack candy bar. Thank You, Lord, for these sweet blessings.

Wedding Flowers

Checking facebook this afternoon, I noticed that my dear friend Rebekah had just posted pictures from her June wedding, taken by our mutual friend, the lovely and talented Sarah Eddy of Sarahdipity Photos.

Rebekah had asked me to do her flowers, so I was especially excited to see the professional images that she posted today. They brought a huge smile to my face, reminding me of the one-of-a-kind evening I had with my wonderful friend, Lisa, who had offered to help me with the floral arranging. When the bride's Plan A for fresh flowers didn't materialize as hoped, Lisa and I had to compensate with a resourceful Plan B--creating bridesmaids' bouquets from the blooming flowers we picked in the church parking lot! (Yes, we had permission!) That evening before the wedding has to rank as one of the most fun times I've ever had--despite me accidentally locking the two of us out of the church. What an adventure we had! Here are several of Sarah's beautiful pictures to prove it. =)

by Sarahdipity Photos

by Sarahdipity Photos

by Sarahdipity Photos

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Creative Classroom: Seatwork Folders

In my third grade class, there are several boys who struggle with organization, unintentionally losing and crumpling many of their unfinished worksheets and other important papers in their chronically messy desks. I saw a solution on Pinterest—a great idea shared by a 2nd grade teacher on her blog I relayed the idea to the teacher I assist, Mrs. D, and she was eager to give it a try. 

In the featured picture (from the blog), the teacher taped the file folders on the front of the students' desks. However, since we have aisle space between our desks, we taped the folders to the side of the desks.  We also let the children decorate their own folders before we taped them up.

Right now we're only two weeks into our new system, and I'm curious to see how durable the folders will be. I used scotch tape to create the pockets, but I think I should have used packaging tape instead. Today I stapled them, for reinforcement.

I love our new system! Not only is it much easier now for the kids to organize their unfinished papers, but also it's much more convenient for Mrs. D and me to keep track of the students' progress. With a mere glance around the room, we can easily tell who is finished, who has a little bit of work yet, and who is lagging with lots of work piled.    


Diggin' the Dictionary

This morning I had one of those heart-warming, morale-boosting, "Yay!" teacher moments. In third-grade English we are currently doing a unit on reference study skills, becoming more familiar with informational text such as an index, glossary, encyclopedia, and dictionary. During our indoor recess this morning, I couldn't help but smile when I noticed two of the boys looking through the dictionary together, just for the fun of it. Both of those boys have learning challenges—one of whom has dysgraphia and dyslexia. Schoolwork is usually very frustrating for him. But this morning those boys were diggin' that dictionary! They were so interested, that when recess ended and it was time to line up for restroom break, both boys asked me if they could take the dictionary to read during restroom time! (With a large class, restroom break takes so long that I encourage the children to read silently while we wait for everyone to get a turn.) It was so cute to see those two boys sitting quietly along the hallway wall, bent over the dictionary in their laps. =)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Because I tend to find wintertime in the Midwest rather dreary, I recently decided to liven up my life a little by creating weekly themes for the outfits I wear to school. I think this undertaking will help me to be more creative and to have more fun with my wardrobe during these gray winter months. =)

Last week, for my first theme I chose flowers. On one day I wore a floral scarf; on the next day I wore a hand-crafted, felted flower pin; etc. . . . Before last week I hadn't noticed the fact that most of my pairs of shoes are embellished with flowers. ;-)

Last week when I told my third graders about my weekly-themed outfits project, they loved it! This morning they were eager to know what my new theme is for this week. "Have you heard of the poem, Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue?" I asked them. Most of them nodded enthusiastically. "Well," I explained, "That's where I got the idea for this week's theme. Everyday I'm going to wear something that I've borrowed from my mom, that has the color blue in it. This scarf I'm wearing today is my mom's that she let me wear."

Here's my outfit from today:
Something old—skirt that I thrifted
Something new—top that I recently got on clearance
Something borrowed—scarf
Something blue—top, scarf, shoes


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Today I went for a little hike through the nearby Barstow Woods, enjoying the beauty of the freshly fallen snow. . . .

Here is one of my favorite pictures from my hike/photo-shoot earlier today. The double set of footprints in the snow conveys to me the idea that Jeremiah 10:23 expresses. It is not up to me to determine my own steps. God is walking alongside me as my Guide and Companion, giving me the direction and encouragement I need to keep going in the course He has set for me. It's a timely and much-needed reminder to me.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Today is Thankful Thursday #12! No big news this week, but lots of daily blessings for which to be thankful, including . . .
  1. Easy listening music to study by.
  2. Paychecks.
  3. My immune system, which is keeping me healthy so far this winter.
  4. A good start to my Biology lab class.
  5. Free online study resources for the Geography exam I'm preparing for.
Life is good, because God is good! "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning" (James 1:17).


    For Christmas my brother Peter and I agreed to treat each other to weekly tennis lessons. We've been having so much fun every Thursday evening! Enrolled in our current session of classes, there is one other student besides the two of us--a white-haired gentleman named Dave. At age 75 and despite arthritis, he's decided to get out there and learn how to play a new sport! Isn't that great?! How inspiring to be around someone like Dave, who is committed to life-long learning, growing, trying new things!

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Style Secret: Tie to Necklace

    I saw this upcycle DIY jewelry idea on Pinterest and loved it! The necklaces are made from men's silk neckties. They're fun, quick, easy, and inexpensive to make. Click on the link for the tutorial on the blog Artstar by Aletha.

    Here's how my first necklace turned out. I like how it can be worn at different lengths, for varied looks.

    Monday, January 9, 2012


    This evening I enjoyed a spectacular sunset while driving to my first Biology lab class. Pulling into the university parking lot I grabbed my camera just in time to capture the sun dipping below the horizon, behind the trees....

    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    Frosty View

    Climbing into the backseat of the car, to ride to church this morning, I was fascinated by the frosty view out my window....

    2012 in 2012!

    “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness...” (2 Peter 1:3-4). Scripture repeatedly declares that God freely gives us good gifts. (See Psalm 36:8; Psalm 68:19; John 1:16; Romans 8:32; James 1:17; 2 Peter 1:2-4.) Inspired by Ann Voskamp’s beautiful, best-selling book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, I've decided to go for 2012 in 2012! Throughout the year I will be keeping a journal of the gifts God brings in my life. A number of these gifts I look forward to posting in my weekly "Thankful Thursdays." Others will be shared only as far as my family's kitchen table, and some I'm sure will be just between God and me. I want to live this year, moment by moment, basking in His fullness; and I want to look back on this year, remembering His goodness. Here's to thanking. Trusting. Hoping. Celebrating. Living.

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Creative Classroom: Q is for Duck

    At my last visit to the public library, this book caught my eye. Q Is for Duck: An Alphabet Guessing Game by Mary Elting, Michael Folsom, and Jack Kent is an amusing read. Many of my third graders love telling riddles, so I thought they would enjoy this book. Today at lunch I read it to them. Sure enough, they had a lot of fun with it.

    The riddles in the book are very easy for third-graders, which I think makes this book a good inspiration for the children to create their own alphabet riddles, using their vocabulary and/or spelling words. What a fun and creative way to practice vocab!

    Creative Classroom: Super Soldiers

    As a newbie teacher's aide, I have been learning many things this school year. One of my big growing experiences has been getting my 28 third graders (18 of whom are boys) to keep a good line whenever we walk through the hallway. We've gotten a lot better since September, but there's still room for improvement. If you're an elementary teacher, what are your secrets for keeping your class "in line"?

    Earlier this week, at the end of one of our restroom breaks, as the children were finding their places in line, I praised one of the boys who was the first one ready: "I like how Eric is standing in line like a soldier."

    "Eric reminds me of a trip I took to London, England, when I was about your age. I got to see soldiers on duty, guarding Buckingham Palace. Do you know what? Those soldiers stand straight with their hands at their sides, and nothing distracts them from what they're supposed to be doing. They don't talk; they don't even smile or laugh. Now, I bet we can be like those soldiers. Except that we can smile. Let's be smiling, silent soldiers!"

    The kids loved my little story, and they got excited about being soldiers in line.

    Then I had another idea: "Oh! Smiling, silent soldiers! These words all start with the same sound, "s." Remember, in Reading we just worked on words that have the same beginning sounds. I wonder how many "s" words we can think of to describe the way our line should be."

    The kids got into it! As a class we came up with this motto: Super, Silent, Serious, Straight-stepping, Smiling, Student Soldiers. =)

    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    Thankful Thursday

    Today is Thankful Thursday #11 and my first Thankful Thursday in the new year! Today I've decided to jot down five every-day things that I'm thankful my dad does for our family. As I've been living at home again, I'm the daily recipient of his thoughtfulness and serving. Here are just a few examples . . .

    1) Every morning Dad gets up before any of us have to leave the house, to scrape the frost off the windshields of our vehicles. Depending on who has to leave first and whose car is blocked in by the others, he moves the cars out of the way, so that we each can leave without hassle.

    2) Dad keeps all of our cars filled with gas. He also makes sure all of our vehicles stay in good repair.

    3) Dad does all of our family grocery shopping.

    4) Dad prepares meals for us when Mom and I are too busy to do it (which is more often than not).

    5) Dad keeps our family finances, as well as my own personal finances, in order.

    I am thankful to be living at home with a father who daily demonstrates his love and commitment to our family.

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    of Textbooks, Tennis, and Thin Mints

    Last night’s brother-sister dialog is still making smile. Textbooks, tennis, and Thin Mints—these are the kinds of things that comprise daily life. Relationships. Memories. How blessed I am to share so many of them with my wonderful brother....

    Me: We need to sign up for our next session of tennis classes. One of us should swing by the tennis center on the way home from work on Tuesday.

    Peter: I can do it.

    Me: Great! Thanks. I’ll reimburse you for yours  [we had already agreed to treat each other to the tennis lessons, as our Christmas gifts to each other].

    Peter: Right. By the way, I need to transfer the money to you from my account, for that textbook I just sold for you on Amazon.

    Me: Come to think of it, the price of that textbook is about the price of the tennis class. Just call it a wash.

    Peter: That’s convenient!

    Me: So, how ’bout celebrating with a Thin Mint? [Peter and I both love Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies—so much so that I bought him several boxes for Christmas, which he kindly shares with me. ;-) ]

    Peter: Great idea! Cheers!

    Invitation to Abundant Life

    At the dawn of this new year, I have been meditating on Isaiah 55, an invitation to abundant life:

    1 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
    Come to the waters;
    And you who have no money,
    Come, buy and eat.
    Yes, come, buy wine and milk
    Without money and without price.
    2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
    And your wages for what does not satisfy?
    Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
    And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
    3 Incline your ear, and come to Me.
    Hear, and your soul shall live;
    And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—
    The sure mercies of David.
    4 Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people,
    A leader and commander for the people.
    5 Surely you shall call a nation you do not know,
    And nations who do not know you shall run to you,
    Because of the LORD your God,
    And the Holy One of Israel;
    For He has glorified you.”
    6 Seek the LORD while He may be found,
    Call upon Him while He is near.
    7 Let the wicked forsake his way,
    And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
    Let him return to the LORD,
    And He will have mercy on him;
    And to our God,
    For He will abundantly pardon.
    8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
    Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
    9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    So are My ways higher than your ways,
    And My thoughts than your thoughts.
    10 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
    And do not return there,
    But water the earth,
    And make it bring forth and bud,
    That it may give seed to the sower
    And bread to the eater,
    11 So shall My word that goes forth from My mouth;
    It shall not return to Me void,
    But it shall accomplish what I please,
    And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
    12 “For you shall go out with joy,
    And be led out with peace;
    The mountains and the hills
    Shall break forth into singing before you,
    And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
    13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
    And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
    And it shall be to the LORD for a name,
    For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
    (NKJV, copied from
    Oh, the poetry and promises that well up in this beautiful passage! My thirsty, weary, battered soul is renewed to be reminded of the power in God's Word. The perspective. The purpose. The provision. The prosperity. The peace. The pleasure. Yes, LORD, yes. Accomplish and prosper Your word in my life this year.

    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    Easy Green Beans

    On Pinterest I come across scores of pictures of tantalizing culinary delights. But in this season of life that I'm in, juggling work and graduate school, I have zero motivation or energy to tackle gourmet dishes. Anything I do cook these days has to be quick and easy. . .

    Last night for our New Year's Eve dinner I offered to make a side dish of green beans. I started with canned French-style cut green beans and stirred in some Italian dressing, Caesar dressing, and Parmesan cheese. Then I poured everything into a casserole dish, sprinkled French-fried onion rings on top, and set in the oven to bake. With a mere five minutes of prep (not including oven time), those beans were scrumptious. Score! =)

    Family Christmas Picture

    This morning following the worship service at church, we finally got around to taking our annual family Christmas picture. Here's to rejoicing in God's goodness to our family in 2011 and trusting in His continued faithfulness to us in 2012.