Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Holidays

Yes, I know I had a week away as we recovered from vacation. But now I am on a break from school - we have painting to do and some third quarter planning that needs to be done. And we want to rest and hang out and build Legos and celebrate birthdays and Christmas and all that good stuff. So, unless inspiration strikes and I have to blog, I'll be taking a break until after the first of the year. When I get back, we can see if I have come up with a new "word" for 2013 or if I will keep working on SAVOR next year and see what else there is to talk about.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and a safe and happy New Year's! See you in 2013!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Vacation Observations

One more post about our vacation and I'll move on (probably!)

This was our third trip to Florida with our primary destination being Disney World. This time we did two days off-site - one for Legoland and the other for Universal Studios. Here are some of my observations about our trip.

*We splurged on our hotel this time around (we usually go cheap and stay at an All Star resort at Disney - and have had great experiences there) and stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and got a room with a view of the savannah. It was well worth the expense. Our weather was nice enough that we could sit on our little balcony and watch the animals and just relax. The hotel does have some nice viewing spots if you want to stay there but don't want to spring for a room with a view.
*Since my son was old enough to not need a nap on this trip, we got tickets for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and the Candlelight Processional, two evening events. They were fun, and I'm glad we did them, but I'm not sure they would be "have to" activities next time.
*On the one day we started at Disney Hollywood Studios, we went to the new Toy Story Mania ride, got a FastPass, and then hopped right into the 30 minute line. The queue was a lot of fun which made the wait go pretty quickly. The ride itself was fantastic - you spin in your car and shoot at different fair-style games, hitting different objects for different point values. I would have ridden it all day, it was that much fun. But the lines were usually over an hour, so on the day we went, we did a few other activities, came back and used our FastPass for a second ride and that was it for the rest of our vacation. This will be top on my to do list the next time we go.
*Legoland was not all I had hoped for in my head. The Lego sculptures were pretty cool, but I had envisioned some great Lego-based merchandise and frankly, I find better things at my local Target than I did at the park. In fact, the Lego store in Downtown Disney had cooler/newer sets available and a great engraving service (get a personalized Lego brick!!) than the park did. Some of the things in the park looked run down/broken. My husband said the rides were not built for tall adults. Ask my son, and he will tell you the park was awesome. I was ready to get back to Disney World.
*Universal Studios was something I'm glad we did, but I don't feel drawn to return. We met the Grinch, saw the Grinchmas show (cute!) and rode some of the Seuss-based rides. Our primary goal was to check out the Harry Potter portion of the park, and we spent about 2 hours there. The themed pieces were well done - the merchandising, the setting. We didn't love the butterbeer, but we all tried it. We all rode the main castle ride. The warnings about people with motion sickness NOT riding it made me pretty anxious about the whole thing, even though I had already taken my Dramamine, but I really didn't feel sick from the bouncing around and climbs and drops. I did not care for the creepy parts of the ride and didn't feel the need to ride it again.
*I announced on this trip that there is nothing about being scared or sick that says "vacation" to me, so I happily skipped Test Track and Mission Space and several rounds of the Star Wars ride (I did go on that two or three times) and Tower of Terror, and I closed my eyes on anything I didn't like on the Harry ride. Call me a wimp, I don't care. That doesn't say "fun" to me. We all finally got to try Soarin' at Epcot and I loved it. My son was not a fan, so we only did it the one time, but I was content with that. It was great to finally experience it.
*I love that Disney has the PhotoPass system (although I have discovered several pictures that didn't get on our account) which allowed us to have lots of family pictures taken from our vacation without us having to bother other park guests. And we could get all of our pictures on a CD (for a price) whereas the other parks wanted you to buy each picture opportunity separately. (And our picture from the Harry ride was horrible. There was no way I was spending money for that kind of memory!)
*I also realized that the souvenirs are a big part of vacation for me - the t-shirts and the trinkets that will remind us of our adventure together once we are back into our usual routine.

Our vacation was a joy and I'm looking forward to getting our pictures back and getting them in books so we can look through them any time we want to re-live our trip!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Post-Vacation Recovery

Earlier this month, I went on vacation with my family. The "re-entry" process has been interesting. At home, there was a lot of recovery to do - bills to pay, souvenirs to sort out, Christmas decorations to pull out.

For work, I was back on track fairly quickly. I had kept up on my email while I was gone, and I had lesson plans in place so I knew what I was doing when I walked back into the building. The library itself was a little "off" - books not put back in the right spots or just left laying on top of other books, other things that weren't quite the way I would have them. I think it was just the idea that several other people had been running my space for awhile - there were little hints of it here and there for the first week I was back.

The hardest adjustment, though, has been emotional. The vacation was perfect - things went smoothly; the weather was ideal. On vacation, we did what we wanted. We ate what we wanted and we went where we wanted. If we wanted to chill at the hotel, we did. If we wanted to squeeze in a few more rides somewhere, we did. If we wanted to ride Space Ranger Spin five times in a row, we could. If I didn't want to ride something, I didn't. That meant while my family rode Mission Space - twice - I sat in the sun and soaked up the view of clear blue skies and palm trees. While my family went to Epcot one morning, I went to Animal Kingdom - alone - to take pictures and do whatever I wanted. I read two novels for grown ups - great, long ones that would have taken me a month to get through at home. I had really no complaints.

Coming home meant coming back to real life. Real life is messier than vacation. In real life, people wrestle with illness, death, hurt feelings, and betrayal - all things we came home to. Tragedy strikes half a country away and still feels like a kick in the gut. We're wading through projects that need attention and 1000+ emails that need to be skimmed if not deleted outright.

I have two things to keep me going - my pictures of our vacation together (ah, the palm trees), and the first hints of planning another vacation some time in the future.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Martha, Martha, Martha

I'm a doer.

I have little patience for people who want to complain about what's wrong but refuse to take action. It's one of the reasons I choose not to serve on church committees. I have sat for hours listening to people analyze a situation and talk about how it got to be as "bad" as it is, but not one wants to just address the problem and FIX it.

Because of this, I'm not a great intercessor/prayer warrior. I pray for my friends and for needs as I am aware of them, but it's usually a sentence or two, or I write the person a note, and then I move on. I pray more as the situation comes to mind, but I don't devote time to it on a daily basis. I keep moving, rather than sit and contemplate and pray.

I was thinking recently about a list of prayer concerns or focuses I had for my son as the school year started. I put the list in a nice journal I made, right along side the concerns from previous years. But I rarely revisit it once it has been written. I write the list down and then get busy with life. I don't quiet myself and pray over those concerns in a formal way. I "hit them" when I think of them or when something comes up and the need is pressing.

At teacher convention back in October, we watched a skit about Mary and Martha from the Bible. I have never identified more with Martha than I did while watching the skit. In fact, I had to work at not just sobbing outright as I saw myself in this character on the screen.

Martha is NOT held up as a role model in scripture. Her sister Mary is the one who sits at the feet of Jesus, soaking up his presence. Martha is busy making food and preparing the home - and she is quite put out that her sister isn't helping! In the end of the skit, Martha is heartbroken when she realizes that she missed her moment to just BE with Jesus. And she can't get the moment back. In my head, I know that is me and that there is a challenge and a lesson in the story. But I turn right back into Martha, to do list in hand, come Monday morning.

I like being a do-er. I like taking action to fix something that will make someone else's life a little easier. I like feeling like I can make a difference for someone else by taking one task off their plate, or addressing a simple-to-fix problem so they don't have to wait for the powers-that-be to work it out.

But I don't want to busy my life away, either. I don't want to miss the encounter with Jesus - or with a student in need or with my family. I don't want to miss the wisdom, the peace, and the personal depth that can come from choosing to just "be."

As often as I have this realization, as often as I think about "savoring" a moment, it does NOT come naturally. It's not the first response that comes to mind.

So, how do I re-train myself to slow down and just be?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bulletin Boards

Last year I felt like one of my (many) areas for growth in my job was the planning and use of bulletin boards. In fact, I can't really remember what I did with my bulletin board space for most of last year.

This year I have tried to be more intentional. I planned one to start the school year, and I figured out that if I keep the first one up until the end of September, then do a fall one for October and November and a winter one for December and January, I can avoid having to change my bulletin board during my busy seasons, like book fair and Christmas break. I haven't quite decided what to do for second semester, but here are the three from this year so far. I've painted on my bulletin boards twice this year, and I liked the result, although it is a little scary because if it turns out crummy I have to pull the whole thing down and start from scratch. So far I haven't had to do that (Phew!).

"A-B-Sea Read with Me"

"Fall into a Good Book"
[After I took this picture, I added some laminated pictures of book covers and had them leaning on the tree and on the pumpkins.]

"Reading in a Winter Wonderland"

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Art Journals

Lately I've become a little obsessed with Art Journals. I have a whole pinboard on Pinterest just for pinning images from other people's creations.

It probably has to do with the fact that I don't build enough time into my schedule to be crafty and creative. But I would love to be able to draw and express myself through art in this really cool way.

Do any of you do art journaling or doodling? Check out my pinboard and let me know what you think!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

SAVOR - an update

I haven't forgotten about my word for the year - SAVOR - although I haven't posted about it in awhile. Once school started, I think I allowed the busy-ness to sweep me along from day to day and week to week and before I knew it, it was December!

I really don't want to wish my life away like that. To look back and wonder where the time went and if I did anything of consequence with the time that I had.

A friend was telling me recently that people in America often plan vacations and they know what they are going to do for every minute they are gone. When they get back, they are miserable. This thing that consumed them in the planning stage for months was over in a blink of an eye.

This I know from experience - it's like planning a wedding. A year of decisions and dreams over in 30 minutes. POOF!

But the thing that caught my attention as I listened to this friend was that even while we are ON the vacation, we wish ourselves into the next step of the trip rather than enjoy the moment we are in.


It's so true. I was so sure my Thanksgiving break would be spent reading and stitching and just "being." But once it was done, I couldn't really tell you what I did with my time. I did not have a stack of books to review for my blog, because I didn't read that much. I did finish a stitching project and I got some Christmas shopping done. But I was often distracted by what was coming, the coming week of school or something else.

I think my best moment of the 5 days I had off from school (5 days! They zoomed by!) was laying on the floor, playing cards with my son. We played only one game, but it was in a moment where I wasn't trying to get something else done or distracted about whatever was coming next. We just played. It was one of the highlights of the long weekend for me. I hope I can build more moments in like that one in the future.