Tuesday, December 30, 2008

First Christmas Away from Home

“Christmas is a time when you get homesick - even when you're home.”
-Carol Nelson

This year we spent Christmas at my in-laws’ house in Florida. This was my first Christmas spent away from my family, away from our traditions, away from our holiday spirit.

I always got the impression that Christmas wasn’t a big celebration in my husband’s family, so I was surprised when I saw a huge stack of presents under the tree. However, after experiencing Christmas morning with them, I can see why they might not make a big deal out of the day—it doesn’t seem like a day that you would eagerly look forward to.

Let’s compare...
Every gift is thoughtful and personalized for the recipient. It might be small, it might be handmade, it might have been on sale, but it was given because the recipient might really like it.
Every gift was purchased because it was on sale, and everybody received the exact same things: a coin sorter, a picture frame arrangement, a food vacuum sealer, a basket of lotions, plug-ins home fragrance, an Applebee’s giftcard, and a Wal-Mart gift card.
Unique and handmade items are admired and appreciated, if not sought after.
My mother-in-law waits and begs to hear you ooh and aah over the gifts from her, but she just brushes aside the personalized, creative gift that you worked for hours and hours on, as if she already had one just like it.
Every gift is appreciated, even if it’s odd, random, and would never be used. Gratitude is shown no matter what.
They make awful faces when they receive a gift that’s not quite their style. And then say, “I hope you have the receipt because I’m going to have to return it,” as soon as they’ve pulled the last of the wrapping off. Even if they sent their husbands on a crazy Christmas Eve shopping spree to supplement the gifts he already has wrapped and under the tree.
Gifts are an expression of love.
Gifts are often an opportunity to “fix” a person and to show them where they’ve gone “wrong.” Along with the gift, you receive verbal criticism and “advice” on how to fix it your “problem.” Cookbooks are given to fat people who are told to eat healthier, banks are given to poor people who are told to manage their money better, “drama queen” teddy bears are given to teenagers who are told that they are the biggest drama queen in the world.
Gifts are given with thoughts about how/when they might be used, but never any specific instructions.
Toys are given to 5-year-olds with 100 pieces and a warning that they better not leave any pieces anywhere. [Solution: Designate a gallon-size plastic bag for each playset. Decorate with Sharpies and empower the 5-year-old to return the toys to the appropriate bag! He’s capable if he has the resources!] Popcorn machines are given to daughters, but they are opened first by the giver herself so that we can use it that evening, and maybe, just maybe, the recipient will forget to bring it home, so the giver can have it all to herself.

There’s always a lot of drama in this family, and as you can imagine, this visit was no exception. And, although it really got me down a couple of times, we made the best of it, and were able to enjoy the time with family, despite their peculiarities.

Christmas Comes Early

“Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.”
-Janice Maeditere

We brought back quite a stack of presents from Shreveport after Thanksgiving. More presents than our little minds could imagine. More presents that our little car would hold.

So instead of waiting for the 25th and our trip to Florida, Christmas came early to our house. Rob declared Saturday December 20th as our officially observed holiday. But we couldn’t wait even that long. On Friday evening, we changed into our Christmas clothes and emptied our stockings to find lots of great goodies. We also unwrapped some great gifts from my mom, from each other, and from our Secret Santas…

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dreams do come true

“Our life is composed greatly from dreams, from the unconscious, and they must be brought into connection with action. They must be woven together.”
-Anais Nin

Good-bye desk job!

I’ve cleaned out my desk. I’ve written detailed instructions on how to find files. I’ve been treated to a farewell lunch. My last days at my design job are numbered, and I’ve been given permission to “work” from home until the end of the year. (My boss added the quotes, not me!) My only commitment is to return to work laptop on the 30th.

My sister asked today if I was excited, sad, or both. In truth, I just don’t think that it has really sunk in yet. Two weeks from today I will be reporting to middle school, not to the design world. I’ll be a teacher, not a designer. I will manage students, not clients. I will work on lesson plans, not proposals.

My dreams are coming true.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Boy, am I going to miss these conversations...

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
-Elizabeth Stone

Stop right there…go read Callie’s blog entry from yesterday. And then read my comment from this morning. [No offense to Mormons meant...it's just not for me]

Here is the Google chat conversation we had today regarding parenting:

2:22 PM callienclac: haha i just read your comment on my blog
i believe the answer is not to become mormon
but to become a Parker
and be like L and G :)
me: maybe so
2:23 PM callienclac: every time i was at the beach i just watched them in awe of their parenting skills
A and E [their husbands] too
me: yeah, they're pretty good at it
and Aunt S, too
if i could just be a combination of all of that
2:24 PM callienclac: you'll be that
me: and as ive been pondering this magic...ive wondered where mama fits into this range
some would probably think that she fits on there, too--but that's just to close to home for me to quantify
callienclac: i totally agree
2:25 PM and i think the circumstances in which we watched her "parent" were totally different
me: true
quite different to be the kid

Potluck party

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things - not the great occasions - give off the greatest glow of happiness."
-Bob Hope

Last night was our annual company Christmas party—my last one—pause to celebrate! In light of the economy, this year we decided to just have a potluck dinner at one of my coworkers’ loft, instead of the usual company-paid restaurant dinner and creative activity. Easier said than done when you’ve moved an hour away and the party doesn’t start until 7pm.

After I finally got away from work yesterday evening at 5:15 and finished up a last minute trip to the supermarket at 5:45, I gathered up all of my cooking supplies and ingredients and settled for the next best kitchen, other than my own—the church kitchen. I boiled my potatoes in a giant industrial-sized pot, heated the stovetop of two ovens, and ran around opening cabinets, thinking they’ve got to have some salt and pepper stored around here.

I planned to document my progress with photos, but mashing potatoes and sautéing green beans for twelve people in an hour leaves little time to snap photos. This is the only one that I captured.
I also brought fancy jewelry and different boots to morph my day outfit into my night outfit as they always demonstrate on makeover shows; however, those makeover experts never take into account the fact that you might have bits of mashed potatoes flung at your versatile clothing in between a day of work and an evening out. Just in case you’re wondering, I think I picked all of the food off of me before I entered the party.

And what a dinner party it was… I’m not usually a fan of potluck dinners—I’m just too picky (“Hi, I’m Jana, and I’m a picky eater.”) But this dinner, it just came together—it made a real meal, a real yummy meal. I work with some really good cooks--perhaps I'm figuring this out a little too late. There was mojito chicken (the juiciest, most melt-in-my-mouth chicken I’ve ever had), marinated pork loin, mashed potatoes (not the best I’ve ever made, but still complimented the rest of the meal), green beans (my best and favorite recipe ever—I mean, it’s got nutmeg in it, who doesn’t love nutmeg?), and corn pudding. And for dessert, pumpkin pie, chocolate flan, and thumbprint cookies.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Teach them, don't chase them

“Don't try to fix the students, fix ourselves first. The good teacher makes the poor student good and the good student superior. When our students fail, we, as teachers, too, have failed.”
-Marva Collins

I’ve been skeptical about writing about my teaching gig for fear that it might evaporate into thin air. But here goes… in January I will begin a long-term substitute position for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade computer science classes. I’m guaranteed to be there for eight of the nine weeks period (and it’s only a 9-week curriculum!), and there’s a chance I might be needed even longer than that. I will be teaching middle-schoolers how to type, search the Internet, and use universal programs like Word and PowerPoint.

I’m gearing myself up to manage a classroom of often economically disadvantaged middle-schoolers who have a lot more on their minds than typing with their fingers on the home-row keys. I’ve been practicing scenarios in my head, trying to figure out how I would deal with an unruly student, a bratty student, or a student who just isn’t as challenged in the class as the rest of his peers.

And, the night before last I had my first nightmare about teaching. It was the first day of class, and when I arrived in my classroom, over half of the computers were gone. The bell rang immediately afterwards, before I could figure out where they went or how to rearrange the classroom. I tried to jump right into my agenda, but it took twice as long as I had planned, and I didn’t get to cover nearly half of what I had hoped—including the classroom rules.

As the end of the class neared, the students became increasingly disruptive. I was trying hard to remain strict with them—as the one piece of advice that I’ve received over and over again is to start off firm and make sure they know you mean business. One girl, in particular, was causing quite a commotion, and as I approached her to try to calm her down, she darted out of the classroom and into the hallway. With those words of wisdom echoing in my head, I made a split second decision to run after her. As I dashed out of the classroom, I knocked over and rumpled the hair of three other girls who had not been causing a problem. By the time I got to the hallway, the girl I was chasing was long gone, and all I could think about was, “I should have just let her run!”

So, come January 5th, if you see students running out of my classroom, know that I will not be chasing them.

Friday, December 12, 2008

O Tannebaum

“The perfect Christmas tree? All Christmas trees are perfect!"
-Charles N. Barnard

My favorite part of our new house… the front windows in our dining room. Which, without dining room furniture, makes the perfect place for our Christmas tree. Instead of unpacking boxes last weekend, this was on my to-do list.
Never mind, that this is what you see when you turn around.
And the best part… you can see the twinkling lights from the street as you drive by.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ornament Swap

“From home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another
The warmth and joy of Christmas, brings us closer to each other.”
-Emily Matthews

Our first annual family handmade ornament swap is well under way. A small group participated for this inaugural year, but I think this is a tradition that is here to stay. This is the ornament that I sent out:
I went through several (I mean, like 10) iterations of the pocket, trying to get it just right. Sometimes I settle for imperfections, but this time I just wasn’t happy with “almost” and “really close.” But now I’m really pleased with my sewing success.

So what’s inside of the little pouch, you ask. The core of the idea came from the Stories in Hand class and the notion of recording even the mundane. Hidden in the pouch is a small Christmas journal for this year. It includes prompts, such as “with who,” “best gifts given,” and “taste of christmas.” I hope my swap partners are just as excited as I am about this Christmas memory keeper.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Tidings of us

“A little smile, a word of cheer, A bit of love from someone near, A little gift from one held dear, Best wishes for the coming year… These make a Merry Christmas!”
-John Greenleaf Whittier
I caught an early penny per print sale at Snapfish back in October, took advantage, printed our untraditional Christmas cards with a lomo-like photo of the two of us at the Grand Canyon, and backed them with cardstock leftover from wedding projectes. Couldn’t resist the boast to tell everyone that we did indeed travel to the Grand Canyon this summer—I've told myself that that’s got to be less annoying than a three-page newsletter, detailing our super-awesome lifestyles. Although I have to admit those are always my favorite types of Christmas cards to receive, even though I could see how one might disagree with me.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Good enough to eat

“Put on your yarmulke, Here comes Hanukkah! So much funukah, To celebrate Hanukkah! Hanukkah is the festival of lights. Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights.”
-Adam Sandler
Going to the grocery store hungry last night = enjoying Hanukkah cookies for lunch today.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A handmade Christmas

“Probably the reason we all go so haywire at Christmas time with the endless unrestrained and often silly buying of gifts is that we don't quite know how to put our love into words.”
-Harlan Miller

Mama and I were discussing the value of craft gifts yesterday. Each year she gave us a handmade gift from her, not from Santa. Terry cloth robes with bunny ears, new purses, smocked pjs, and corduroy coats. She’s good at craft gifts.

As much as I love crafts and crafting, I recently came to the conclusion that crafts are difficult for me to give as presents—the style has to fit the recipient, the object has to fit the recipient, and the recipient has to be ok with imperfections. And, men... what do you make for men?

A couple of years ago I went the DIY route, and I have a feeling that few of the gifts were ever used—skirts were too big, cute hats were too cute, bags just weren’t their style. Then last year, we went store bought—we were thoroughly taking advantage of our DINKs status (dual income, no kids). We spent a lot, visited a lot of malls, but I didn't worry my little head about whether they would appreciate my craft.

However, this year we’re DINKS with a mortgage, so it’s back to DIY (and raiding the gift drawer). But I’m trying hard to only do handmade where I know I will succeed. I know it’s the thought that counts, but my thought should be if the recipient would be pleased about it or not.

There are a couple of handmade gifts that can’t be shown due to my readership (thanks for reading!). But, I think my favorite gifts for this holiday season are for my niece and nephew.

The t-shirts with my iron-on designs for my 4.5-year old nephew:
Of course, he will probably like the light-up shirt that we bought at a Halloween clearance sale much more than these ones that were crafted with love :)

And, my absolute favorite, the onesies with my iron-on designs for my 2-month old niece (I think actually she’s my first cousin-in-law, once removed, if you want to get specific!). Match these up with some pink and white leg warmers, and she'll be the cutest baby on the block.One note to remember if you attempt such a project… most printable iron-on transfers don’t work well on dark colors, as you can see below. (Picture is even with the flash)
So, instead I ironed them on to white fabric and then used the magic Steam-a-Seam II Lite to attach the design to the shirt. Of course, I did it the wrong way first and then had to affix the remedied design on top. Live and learn…

In the hands of the Postman

“Christmas is a spirit that flows from one heart to another. It is more precious than rubies and better than gold.”
-Agnes M. Pharo

The Christmas cards have been sent. The Christmas ornaments have been swapped. They are traveling at full speed around the country. Expect photos soon!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Ghost of Christmas Past

“What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.”
-Agnes M. Pharo
Flipping back through my biography, Christmas has every right to be a sad, depressing, disgusting, bah-humbug time of year. Twice, in my teenage years, Christmas time became a time of loss, instead of joy and hope like it’s touted to be.

In 1997 when I was 13 years old and in 8th grade, my father ended his battle with bipolar disorder just days before Christmas. Instead of baking cookies and attending Christmas parties, that season was filled with braving funerals and wiping away tears. Needless to say, the Christmas celebrations were low-key—I missed the annual youth group Christmas party, we distracted ourselves at my grandparents’ house with my cousin T.R. instead of attending the Christmas Eve service, and Christmas morning was a quiet affair. That year it felt we were just going through the motions. But, looking back, I take great pride in the fact that we even attempted that much.

A few years later, in my senior year of high school, we celebrated Christmas morning as usual, but our annual Christmas dinner was cancelled because Momo was ill. She had fought several recurrences of ovarian cancer, but this time the disease was too strong. We were never able to reschedule that dinner because Momo was in the hospital and hospice care until she died in April 2002. The historically joyous occasion became the beginning of her end.

Currently, my Monday night Bible study group is discussing the Advent lectionary in the context of four words: Anticipation, Hope, Patience, and Obedience. As we discuss our memories of Advent and the Christmas season, I’m in awe about how I look forward to Christmas with just as much excitement as everyone else. These tragedies don’t cloud my view of the holiday much at all. Christmas is so much more than all of that.

There are enough wonderful memories from years before and years after that those sad memories don’t poison my Christmas season. They become jumbled up with all of the merry ones, making Christmastime that much more special to me. The Christmas spirit—the goodness, the love, the wishes, the peace, the promise—that’s what it’s all about.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Christmas is in the air

“It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.”
-W. T. Ellis

Photo from Flickr by David Zellaby

Well, I can say that I’ve almost completed my holiday shopping. The only people left are the two relatives that we drew in our family’s 21st century-style “Secret Santa” exchange.
I’ve even got almost all of the gifts wrapped. And about half were delivered when we traveled to Shreveport this past week.

But the house… when am I going to get around to decorating the house? I won’t officially move in until the 18th, and we leave for Florida on the 23rd. Somehow I get the feeling that Rob won’t be too thrilled when we need to unpack boxes and hang blinds this weekend, but all I want to do is decorate the Christmas tree.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Blessings from the week

“Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy -- because we will always want to have something else or something more.”
-Brother David Steindl-Rast

  • Being able to “work from home” Tuesday morning, so I could run some last minute errands and finish packing before we left for Louisiana.
  • Playing the “baby name game” (for imaginary babies!) all the way through Alabama and Mississippi. We could settle on several boys’ names, but girls’ names are another story.
  • Giggling with my youngest cousin, Laura, as she played with the puppy, as she snuck chocolates, as she played Mad Gabs with us… as she did basically anything.
  • Eating at all of my favorite dining establishments in town: TacoMania, Strawn’s, Raisin’ Canes, and Gatti’s Pizza.
  • Celebrating Thanksgiving dinner at the country club—not the best meal I’ve ever had, mostly because the mashed potatoes lacked my special touch and because there was no pecan pie. But there were also no dirty dishes, so I can’t complain too much.
  • Running (or jogging!) the whole Turkey Trot with Rob, with only one sub-one-minute stop right at the end.
  • Convincing my teenage cousin to emerge from the text-messaging world she lives in to watch a movie.
  • I was able to get 4 new pairs of “school” pants at New York and Company on Black Friday. Pants that fit, are comfortable, look professional, and could be hemmed by my mom before we left to go home.
  • Raiding my old bedroom for cute decorations and books that I had forgotten about.
  • Chatting and catching up with my dad’s side of the family.
  • Georgia Tech beat Georgia. Hasn’t happened in 7 years. Enough said.
  • There’s no better way to learn “why I am the way I am” (or for Rob to learn it) than attempting a big project with my family. This year for her birthday, we offered to help my mom paint her bedroom (and hallway). A big task, but we were able to get much of it complete. The best part… pushing all of the furniture back into place and bringing Mama in to view the final product.
  • Waking up from my road-nap to find that Rob had stopped at Dairy Queen for lunch because he knew it would be a special treat.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Moving Weekend

"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
-Walt Disney
Rob now has a bed to sleep on at the new house, while I'm left to curl up on a futon mattress on the floor. Our apartment is left in chaos with just the random odds and ends left behind. It made for quite a frantic (and even unsuccessful) search this morning as I rooted around for certain odds and ends that I know I saved out from the moving boxes. But they certainly aren't where I last saw them.

I never felt too young to be looking at houses. I never felt too young to be putting an offer on a house. I never felt too young to buy a house. I never felt too young to fork over our life savings on a down payment.

But this weekend when we rented a moving truck on Friday night, I wondered, are we really old enough for all of this? Are we really adults already?

Friday, November 21, 2008


“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”
-W. T. Purkiser

Today I’m thankful for…

  • Phone calls to my mom after work and Google chats with my sister throughout the day
  • The financial wherewithal to purchase a new house
  • The faith my husband has in me to pursue a new career
  • Wonderful memories of my childhood
  • My Christmas shopping being almost complete
  • For a never-ending supply of inspiring blogs to read

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Falling in line

“There cannot be a crisis today; my schedule is already full."
-Henry Kissinger

Crazy how some things work out. I've been trying to schedule a day that I could attend a substitute training workshop and another day that I could observe the class that I will be subbing for in January. I was feeling bad about taking days off of work, especially now that my days are numbered there, and my vacation days are even less. (They're very lenient with vacation days, but I certainly don't want them to think that I'm abusing it.)

I finally got my complete job application (and references) in early this week to the school system, and when I tried to sign up for the December workshops they were all full. Panic mode!! However, I was able to get the principal at the school to email human resources, and they are now going to let me take the course by DVD. Hooray!!! Now I can use my "day off" to visit the school. This is all becoming a reality, right before my eyes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


“Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.”
-Kevin Arnold, from The Wonder Years

For the last week, I've been following along with Jessica Sprague's Stories in Hand online class. What a great exercise for anybody, scrapbooker or not, to participate in! Lots of memories have floated to the top of my head that I haven't thought about it a really long time.

Part of the adventure is figuring out the best way for me to tell my story. Lots of the students are using scrapbooks, journals, blogs as their medium of choice, but I haven't yet decided which format works best for me. They're very personal stories and it's a continual work in progress, but I also would like to have feedback on my stories, or to at least know there's an audience--isn't that why we write them down in the first place? for a future audience?

So my plan is to keep a Word document of the "snorkeling"--all of the story ideas, the notes, and the half-stories, but as I finish the "scuba dive"--diving deep into a story, I'm going to be posting them on a new blog: Stored for Safekeeping. They're still WIPs, and I may go back in to edit and embellish, but at least I can keep track of my progress.

However, given the personal details that may be revealed in these stories [I don't want to have to censor myself], I have chosen to increase the privacy settings. Please email or comment if you're interested in reading more about what makes me, me.

Friday, November 14, 2008


“There aren't enough days in the weekend.”
-Rod Schmidt

What I’m Loving today:

  • That I can snap an almond directly in half with my teeth, and then my tongue finds this really smooth surface that’s hidden inside.
  • That it’s almost the weekend again. I haven’t seen a lot of Rob this week, and I’ll be glad to get some uninterrupted face time.

What I’m not Loving today:

  • That I’m so overwhelmed with packing and moving that I become paralyzed and can’t make any progress at all.
  • That Rob’s moving into the new house next week, leaving me to hold down the fort at the apartment. I’m going to miss that boy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


“Preach faith until you have it”
-Peter Bohler

For Laity Sunday, 'tis tradition for the Lay Leader of the church to preach the sermon and lead worship that morning. This year, our Lay Leader refused to preach, so I was volunteered. Quite a task for someone who is pretty unsure of what she believes. Here's what I said (posted mainly for my mama to read):

“Bursting at the seams”

"I went to high school at one of the best schools in the state of Louisiana. I was taught by some of the best teachers in the state. But even among that caliber of teachers, you could easily tell the difference between a really good teacher and a spectacularly awesome, super duper teacher. I realized in my senior year that despite being afflicted with all-too-common “senioritis,” I was genuinely looking forward to my academic classes.

Why was that year so different? Because all of my teachers that year were passionate about what they taught. They lived and breathed calculus, physics, literature, and even art. And as a student in their classrooms, it was almost impossible not to get swept up in their enthusiasm.

Some of you may know that I’m currently pursuing a career change toward teaching, and these are the teachers that most inspired me. I, too, want to ooze with the love of learning, inspiring students and the next generation.

But who else do I hope to inspire?
My family… my family of today as well as Rob’s and my family of the future. My friends. My coworkers. And even the people that I walk by on the street.

I think that we would all agree that we have the power to stir other people with our words, with our silence, with our actions, with our emotions. So what message do we want to send? And more importantly, what message are we sending?

What would happen if the Holy Spirit and our love of God just overflowed out of us? If you could see it seeping out of our pores. Out of us as individuals, onto the streets as we walk by, out of our mouths as we speak, out of our eyes as we smile. Could it happen? Does it happen?

Does the Spirit spill out of the doors of the church on Sunday mornings? What about every other day of the week? Pouring out onto the sidewalks, into the community…. a visible sign of our commitment to Christ.

Psalm 64:10 says,
“Everyone sees it. God's work is the talk of the town. Be glad, good people! Fly to God! Good-hearted people, make praise your habit.”
Make praise your habit. What does that mean?

David Crowder, a contemporary Christian musician, says that praise is something we are, not something we do.
If that’s the truth (and I believe it is), then being a follower of God, means to live a life of praise. Bursting at the seams with an enthusiasm for the Lord. Praise must be an expression of our whole being. Not only with our voices, but also with our actions and our emotions. We tell the glory of God with our very existence.

Before we return to the passage, let me give you a little historical background:
The letter in 1 John was written in around 85-90 A.D. to the second generation of Christians by John, one of Jesus’s disciples who has firsthand knowledge of Christ’s life and death. At this time in history, the Church had faced and survived severe persecution, and the main problem that the Church was confronting was declining commitment. Sound familiar?

In today’s Scripture, John explains that by living in praise, you can grow in community and also bring people to Christ.

Let me read you an excerpt from The Message:
“3-4We saw it, we heard it, and now we're telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!”

We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!
Isn’t that the point of being a part of a church community? To share this wonderful Gospel with each other. To learn from each other. To rejoice with each other.

And what is the message that he’s talking about? John continues in the next verse, “This, in essence, is the message that we heard from Christ and are passing onto you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him.”

God is light. That which is good, pure, true, holy, and reliable. His Word sheds light on the world. As opposed to darkness, which is sin, evil, and the lack of God. Living in the light means that we no longer have to stumble in the dark.

I can get really wrapped up in metaphors, and I struggled not to make this whole sermon a giant light vs. dark metaphor. I mean, you’ve got to admit, this is an awesome metaphor. Light, where everything can be seen clearly vs. darkness, which might be a little exciting and alluring, but you have no way to see what you’re doing or to see what’s ahead.

But it’s important to remember that God’s light isn’t the physical electromagnetic spectrum, but it’s a spiritual light, a light sensed by our heart and by our conscience.

John says: “If we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another.”
By walking in the light, we grow closer together in our fellowship. With God and with one another.

The whole chapter of 1 John can be condensed into three sentences:
God is light, God is love, God is life.

John’s letter is an attempt to put the believers back on track as well as to encourage the Church to grow in genuine love for God and for one another. The key is genuine, real love. Not just on Sundays. Not just when we’re rested and worry-free. Not just when it benefits us.

Sure, it’s difficult to praise God when the world seems to be falling apart. In his writings, St. Augustine himself asks the same question. "Do you really expect me to sing alleluia to you in the midst of my anxiety?" He concludes that yes, because God is faithful and always sees us through… anxious, doubtful, stressful times are as good of a time as any.

On my sixth grade choir tour with our church youth choir, I was asked to sing a solo in one of our songs, the hymn, “I want to walk as a child of the light.” I’m sure many of you are familiar with it, but the chorus goes like this:
“In Him there is no darkness at all
The night and the day are both alike
The lamb is the Light of the city of God
Shine in my heart Lord Jesus.”
I think one of the best things about this song is that as you read the lyrics, you realize that you don’t have to understand it all, everything doesn’t have to make sense, and you can still call on the Lord to shine in your heart.
For 4 summers in high school and two in college, I attended my church youth group’s annual weeklong mission trip to the Appalachia Service Project in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia. We worked to repair homes for families in the county, making homes warmer, safer, and drier.

I made some really strong friendships on these trips, and I was always disappointed when we arrived back home and those friendships weakened as we returned to our everyday lives. I remember my mom trying to explain that the trip itself was what we had shared, and that maybe back at home we actually had little in common.

That might be part of it, but looking back, I think that there was something more. We were united by something more than the trip itself. We were united by God. United by our worship for Him. Worship, in the traditional sense, with singing and prayer, but also, and perhaps more importantly, our worship out in the world, as we worked, as we drove, as we spoke to the families, as we enjoyed simple pleasures like an ice cream cone. Someone called this awesome feeling, “the ASP high.”

These weeks definitely weren’t easy; in fact, they were some of the most physically strenuous, mentally challenging weeks of my life. I sweated, cried, and I even took home a few scars as souvenirs. But I also laughed, sang, discovered, and cried many happy tears as well. I was inspired by all of the luxuries that I am lucky to have, I was inspired by the families who lived with much less, and I was inspired by a group of teenagers who were willing to sacrifice a week of their summer to take on this work.

But when the vans pulled into the parking lot back in Louisiana, it was back to real life: back to work, back to other friends, back to school… and the awesomeness of the ASP experience was pushed aside to make room for these day-to-day activities.

The challenge is learning to live the “ASP high” after you’ve left—to live the “Epworth high” after you’ve walked out the door—to live the “Christ high” in a seemingly apathetic world.

Living in praise brings people together, it brings people to Christ. If God is shining in your heart, then you will reflect that light for the world. Live in the light, live in praise.

And sometimes that light and our praise are impossible to contain. Praise for our God should flow forth uninterrupted from our lives. We can find God in the pew this morning at Epworth United Methodist, in bedtime prayers at home, and even in the lunch that you’ll eat as soon as I get finished talking. Isn’t that awesome?!?! God is here among His people. If nothing else, I give praise for that.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!"

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sofa Shopping

“I would rather lie on a sofa than sweep beneath it”
-Shirley Conran

Let’s just say it’s difficult to shop for formal living room furniture with a man.
We did both agree on the last sofa (the one in the bottom right corner) though. It’s made our short list.

Painting 101

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”
-Henry Ward Beecher
Things we learned this weekend!

  • Taping up a room takes twice as long as you think. Don’t plan to tape up three rooms in one evening—you won’t finish.
  • Also, have more tape than you expect. Luckily, we had each brought our own rolls, not knowing the other person had already packed some.
  • Splurge on the wider tape—you can be a lot more haphazard with your painting that way.
  • Don’t judge a paint color until you have a whole wall painted. I promise it will look better once you start rolling.
  • Leave a pair of flipflops outside the door of the room, so that you don't track paint all over the house.
  • But if you do, paint will wipe of hardwood and tile, if you can catch it soon.
  • Our new house has great acoustics. You can turn the radio on in one end of the house, and hear it all over.
  • Invest in the more expensive roller extension (and handle, too). Over the course of the weekend, we broke three extension poles and two handles.
  • Don't bother with cleaning paint trays. Buy tray liners that you can toss!
  • A room with nooks and crannies take a whole lot longer to paint than a room with four straight walls.
  • It’s best if you don’t switch off the breaker before you paint, however, if it’s necessary, wait until daylight to paint—you won’t be able to see what you’re doing otherwise.
  • Bring socks because the metal ridges on the ladder will cause your feet a lot of pain.
  • Rob and I battle each other when conquering a familiar task (one where we both think we know the right way to do it), but when it comes to something new (like painting a room), we get along just splendidly.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Who needs window treatments when you've got curtains?

“Blow the dust off the clock. Your watches are behind the times. Throw open the heavy curtains which are so dear to you -- you do not even suspect that the day has already dawned outside.”
-Alexander Solzhenitsyn

This past weekend my mom came to town. How lucky that her visit coincided with our first weekend in the new house! We organized quite the curtain factory (the second one that she's led in the last few months), choosing fabrics and styles for each room of the house. Of course we didn't finish a single project but we're really close on all of them. Check out Flickr for photos of our creations.
Next weekend is a painting weekend. Wanna help?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Civic duty

"The future of this republic is in the hands of the American voter."
-Dwight D. Eisenhower

Rob and I stood in line for an hour and a half this morning, and now I'm proudly sporting this:
Now we wait...

Friday, October 31, 2008

A 1800's social movement, not a baby's name

“Every child begins the world again.”
-Henry David Thoreau

Temperance Cael. That’s the name of my husband’s cousin’s new baby. You think I’m kidding. Oh how I wish! I can’t even think it, much less say it without literally laughing out loud.

It seems to me that if you choose to raise a child against all the odds, you’d at least give the poor baby a normal name to give her a fighting chance.

Rob’s opinion… they should ask you your top three name choices in the hospital, and if they don’t make the cut… then you don’t get to take the baby home. That might solve a lot of the world's problems.

Our new nest

“A house is a home when it shelters the body and comforts the soul.”
-Phillip Moffitt

After the longest closing in my history (granted, this is the only one I’ve been to!), Rob and I are now homeowners. More pics and projects to follow in the next few weeks, but I left the camera at home today.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

oh the excitement

"An intense anticipation itself transforms possibility into reality; our desires being often but precursors of the things which we are capable of performing."
-Samuel Smiles

Tomorrow's the big day! Tomorrow at one o'clock to be exact!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Here a quirk, there a quirk

“Quirky is sexy, like scars or chipped teeth. I also like tattoos - they're rebellious.”
-Jennifer Aniston

He’s got some quirks. Some are easier to overlook than others. In fact, some are quite endearing.

On Friday, my fish Scooter died. It had been a long time coming, but I told Rob over the phone in our nightly “I’m headed home” call that I would need him to dump him in the toilet. I just couldn’t do that. So when he got home, he told me he had to make a secret phone call and went outside. I was confused, but whatever… When he came back in, he handed me the phone—he had gotten his friend Mark to play “Taps” on the trumpet as we flushed Scooter away to his home in the sky.

Then later in the night, he asked to help me as I collected No. 2 pencils and erasers for my teaching certification test the next morning. We sat down on the couch as we went through our pencil box, carefully weighing the pros and cons of each style and brand. I walked away with four different pencils: one of which was stolen in Rob’s junior high brush with the “law” and one which advertised Paula’s Educational Store in Shreveport. Keeping my fingers crossed that they were lucky!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A little bit of "outgoing" showing through

“Guys don't expect you to be as ambitious and outgoing as I am.”
-Ebele Ifedigbo

In real life…. I’m usually quiet. I’d rather listen than talk. I hate crowds. Sometimes I get tongue-tied. I’ve been known to be a wallflower at social events. There is nothing I hate worse than confrontation. You could call me an introvert.

However, sometimes I surprise even myself. Yesterday evening I went to an information session about alternative routes to teacher certification. It was very informative and the speakers were very enthusiastic about new teachers (btw… enthusiasm/enthusiastic are my favorite words this week!) I had a list of questions that I needed answered, and I was the first one in the group to break the ice and start asking questions. I was the first to introduce myself and tell my background story, which set the tone for everyone else.

If you were at that meeting yesterday, you would have thought I was an extrovert.

Oh, and by the way… the meeting itself was awesome and confirmed once again that teaching is the right path for me to be on.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Spelling Bee loser

“If Al Gore invented the Internet, I invented spell check.”
-Dan Quayle

Clemsongirl, this one's for you!

I love a good metaphor

“The ideal life is in our blood and never will be still. Sad will be the day for any man when he becomes contented with the thoughts he is thinking and the deeds he is doing - where there is not forever beating at the doors of his soul some great desire to do something larger; which he knows he was meant and made to do.”
-Phillip Brooks

This morning I had a metaphor epiphany, as I was getting ready for work. In the midst of getting dressed, I got distracted and found myself walking around the apartment without a shirt on.

And… ah ha! That’s a wonderful metaphor for how I’m walking in the world right now. Walking around without a shirt on. In my own house, mind you, not in public—I’m not talking about humiliation and lack of self-esteem here.

But something is missing, and although sometimes I’m not aware of it, sometimes I just can’t help but notice.

I’ve already got my pants on, my foundation—I’m probably not going to change that, but I’m stressing over how I will complement that foundation with my unique personality. Which direction will I pursue? What image will I project? Who will I be?

I haven’t picked out a shirt yet because I don’t know what the temperature is like outside, and I don’t know exactly what to be prepared for.
I could choose to wear a shirt with a message or a picture on the front, but I haven’t decided exactly what message I want to live. And, I’m not even sure that my closet contains the right message.
Do I want to be professional, uptight, and organized? Or do I lean towards casual, bohemian, and relaxed? I see people on either side of the continuum that I admire and want to emulate—but is that really me?
And, also, I’m just plain tired of the options hanging in my closet. I wish I had the resources to start over, but just like reality, I can only move forward from where I am today.

I’m comfortable where I am, without my shirt, but I’m not fully dressed yet. And in fact, putting on a shirt might actually be less comfortable than going without. I can just hope that I don’t pick out a shirt that’s too small, too warm, or too revealing, because then I will regret it for the rest of the day.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I love Lomo

“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”
-Alfred Stieglitz

[Continuing the day’s theme of “things that rhyme with ‘omo’”]

I’ve been admiring the over-saturated, shadow-filled photos that all the rage these days. You can purchase a Lomo or Holga camera reproduction for pretty cheap, but something about having to deal with film and processing just does not appeal to me. I mean, it’s the 21st century, I want to be able to review my photos and delete the bad ones before they’re printed—on the other hand... why even print them?

So I found a way to get the best of both worlds… Photoshop. You may be seeing more of this style around here.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Momo!
I love you, and I miss you!
-Your granddaughter, J

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Heart in a box

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever... it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”
-Aaron Siskind

I struggled over what to get/make/do for Rob for our first anniversary. With a house on the horizon, there’s not a whole lot of money to spend. But I hated not doing anything, especially on the “Year of Paper,” quite appropriate for budgeting newlyweds. I could think of so many paper crafts that a girl like me would swoon over, but my “macho” man… not so much.

Until I searched the archives of some of my favorite creative blogs and ran across Dan’s anniversary present to Marta last October…

Here’s my interpretation with photos that capture our first year of marriage, from the holidays and honeymoon to our favorite restaurants and retreats. All wrapped up in a decoupage box and tied with a bow. A box full of love and memories that he can open to relive the simple and wonderful moments from this year.

Sweet love of mine

“Love planted a rose, and the world turned sweet.”
-Katharine Lee Bates

One year ago, on October 6th, Rob and I were married in front of our friends and family on the campus of our alma mater. The weather was beautiful, and it was wonderful to have everybody that we love, together in one place. The day went off without any major hitch, and the next day, I proceeded to wave goodbye to my new husband as he drove away for a 3-week long training session for work.

A little deja vu this year, as Rob left Monday for another leadership workshop. This time it was only two days though, so the first thing Rob said to me last night when he arrived home was, “Can we eat our cake now?”

Here’s our beautiful wedding cake from 10/06/07...
And here it was last night--our anniversary dinner (I simply couldn't resist the celebratory candle!)...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

To sleep, perchance to dream

"Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night."
-William Blake

I've been yawning all afternoon. I thought it was due to my late nights this week, finishing Rob's anniversary present, while he's out of town. But everyone in my office seems afflicted. One person was asking for an ice cream break at 1:30, another person left for a coffee break at 3:00, and yet another went for a Diet Coke at 4:00.
I think it's just one of those days. Dark, dreary, and wet. But at least it's getting cool outside.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Moving On...

“The best way to make a good deal is to have the ability to walk away from it.”
-Brian Koslow

On Sunday afternoon, we put an offer on a house that we had no business even looking at in the first place. We wasted an afternoon of time, energy, and emotions. And I spent the night worrying that “Omigosh, what if they did actually accept our offer? What in the world would we do then?” Somebody somewhere is going to get a hell of a deal, but this deal just wasn’t for us.

Moving on to Plan B...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Crisis Averted

“There cannot be a crisis today; my schedule is already full”
-Henry Kissinger

So last night I learned (or was reminded) just how poorly my husband handles crisis. [Probably a characteristic one should look for in a soulmate, but hell, I gotta make life interesting.]

As we were going through our nightly routine, he noticed that one of the drawers in the bathroom wasn’t sliding correctly on its track. I bent down to look for the cause and discovered that not only had the track broken off from the back wall, but we also had an inch deep lake sitting in our bottom of our cabinet.

So here I go, pulling everything out of the cabinet, gathering towels to sop up the water, deciding there is way too much water for towels, running to the kitchen for a bowl, and pushing the water out into the bowl.

And where’s Rob in all of this? He had escaped to the kitchen to do the dishes, of all things. His chore--but he certainly was planning to go to bed last night without having done. He just couldn’t handle the bathroom crisis up close.

Surprisingly though, this morning when I turned on my car and there was an awful dashboard light and even more awful beeping noise, Rob was actually very helpful with my predicament. He interrupted his meeting to help me decide what to do and whether to take it to the dealership or not. [I did, and it turned out to be just low tire pressure from the temperature change :) ]

Maybe he just needs to be 50 miles away from the crisis epicenter.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Christmas Craftiness

“The only place where housework comes before needlework is in the dictionary.”
-Mary Kurtz

After a Saturday full of house-hunting, I volunteered to stay close to home on Sunday. For the benefits of saving our fuel and getting started on my crafty Christmas presents. I pulled out the sewing machine, scattered fabrics across the floor, and made as much progress as I could. [It’s time for another trip to the fabric store!] The project must stay secret, but here’s a sneak peek at one of the projects.

Yet another post as I dream about the future

“We should all be concerned about the future because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there.”
-Charles F. Kettering

We did venture out to house-hunt on Saturday. Rob asked if that risky use of fuel would count as an anniversary gift. Haha, not funny! But, aaaah… anniversary gift?? This year it’s 12 days earlier than years past… not yet accustomed to that.

But, back to the house search… as we ventured from one property to another, we tried to envision ourselves, our personalities, our futures in these houses. Could I pull into the driveway after work and know that I am home? Could we host a party here? Would our relatives comfortably fit in the guestroom? Could I be inspired to craft, dream, and live in this space? Might the kitchen motivate me to cook? And, even as Rob suggested over lunch, is this a great place that our future children might love, too?

Children… babies in our future… again, I will reiterate, not in the immediate future. But they are out there in the distance. Waiting until the time is right.

A conversation I had with A in Charlotte sums up our currently shared philosophy on motherhood. On the surface she and I seem to have such differing views on motherhood, but yet at the heart of it, we found that it’s very similar. When talking of our exciting career changes and how that seems to put motherhood on hold, we decided that “yes, we probably want children someday, but it’s perfectly fine not to want them right now.” Seems so elementary, but for some reason, it struck gold in my heart. Something someone could say to me all day long, but that I have to feel in my heart before I understand and accept.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mountains and molehills

“Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.”
-Orison Swett Marden

Just when I think things are working themselves out, smack, I’m hit with yet another obstacle. I can’t even celebrate the successes because I’m waiting, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

We were so excited about house-hunting and had a long list of properties to consider…none of them were exactly right.
We found a really good deal on a really nice house (and thought maybe, just maybe, this might be the one)… found out it’s a foreclosure with no opportunity to walk inside, and we’re just not that risky yet.
We fell in love with the historic homes of Charlotte, and thought we just need to find a house, a neighborhood like this…realized that that neighborhood just doesn’t exist in the suburban area where we are looking.
We got some more momentum, finding many more houses that could be possibilities, if only we could drive by them… the gas shortage has us reconsidering our weekend drive up to the suburbs.

Moving to the suburbs is the perfect precipice for changing careers… I’m bombarded with the different options.
Looks like there will be some teaching jobs open in the spring that only require a provisional certificate… not sure if I can teach for a semester and then join the alternative certification process.
My advisor suggests that there might be some permanent substitute positions available for the spring… only they’re in Cobb County—an hour away from our intended location.
A more temporary choice for spring employment is substitute teaching…subbing requires an all-day workshop and references from my current supervisor, neither of which I feel I can conquer right away.
Apparently there is a Masters with certification program at GSU specifically for teachers who are currently teaching—all classes are at night… it’s specifically for teachers with an undergraduate degree in Math, which is not me.
The GSU advisors might be able to work with me on the prerequisites for the Masters program… I’ll have to take at least two upper level Math classes to begin.
I would be certified in three semesters, and then choose whether to continue another year for my Masters… I’ll have to commute into the city several times a week after work, not to mention homework and studying for exams.

What’s a girl to do? I’m trying to get a plan in action, but every time I turn around there’s another obstacle to overcome. Perhaps I’m making mountains out of molehills, but it’s frustrating nevertheless.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Glamour shots

“If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever”
-Winnie the Pooh

We got the professional photos back from Callie's bachelorette party. They turned out great!! In addition to these group shots, everybody got portraits done as well. Now the guests can fill their photo album with these memories. Hope everybody had fun!

Monday, September 22, 2008


“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it's the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him with his friend.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
We spent a lovely weekend with our friends: A & W, in Charlotte. (A, you’ll have to share the photos with W!!) We ate well, got caught up on all the gossip, and fell in love with their 1930’s bungalow.

I was reminded of the most wonderful thing about this friendship: we are all inspired by each other. Not only do the four of us get along really well. We’re all in similar places in life, but we each see it from a different perspective. So after a weekend together, we leave rested and relaxed, but also motivated to try something new or do something a little differently. I left with my mojo refueled. I wish we could do it more often. Maybe someday we will live close enough!!

As we pulled away from their house yesterday evening, Rob sighed and said, “I sure like them.” I agree, I do, too.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A hunting we will go

“Fools build houses, and wise men buy them.”

For the last two nights, Rob and I have huddled up in the gym with the laptop propped up on the workout bench, “stealing” internet from the apartment complex’s clubhouse. We’re preparing for our first afternoon of househunting on Friday. It’s all we think about. It’s all we talk about. It’s all we dream about. Even while at work, we scurry around making lists and mapping out properties.

Some of the conversations we’ve had this week:

J: The only thing I really want in a house is a fireplace.
R: I was just about to say, ‘I don’t really think that we need a fireplace.'
J: Ok, let me clarify… if our house has a fireplace, it has to be a pretty fireplace.

J: Ooh, built-ins… honey, did you see the built-ins?

R: I want an unfinished basement so I never have to come out of it.
J: An unfinished basement? You know that means just concrete, studs, and rafters. No walls.
R: Exactly what I want in a man lair!

J: I though all you wanted was a decent-sized lawn to mow.
R: Yeah, but that would mean we’d have to keep it maintained.
J: But I though that’s why we were buying a house—for a yard!
R: No, the main reason for buying is to establish equity.
J: Oh yeah. I guess that’s one way to look at it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

$1 Hot Dogs, what a deal!

“Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.”
-Angela Monet

Last night we went with friends to the Braves game. It was $1 hot dog night, and the Braves actually won! More runs in this game than the last three or four games we’ve been to, combined.

Rob eating his 6th and final hot dog of the evening.
The girls ate pizza and cotton candy—much yummier than hot dogs!!
And even though the game actually provided a bit of entertainment, we were mostly entertained by the usher in the aisle over from us, who danced every time he heard music—from the Tomahawk chop to the batter’s intro music, and everything in between.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Wanted: help around the house

“They shared the chores of living as some couples do - she did most of the work and he appreciated it”
-Paula Gosling

This weekend Rob and I got in an argument. In the heat of the moment, I screamed, “If you’re not going to help me, then I’m not going to help you—not going to do your laundry, not going to cook your dinner.” Not exactly my finest moment…

I was in the middle of the week’s laundry, so I proceeded to weed out all of his clothes from the dirty pile that remained and throw them into the guest room, his “man lair.” Then I shut myself into our bedroom to read for the rest of the afternoon.

Monday morning when I was feeling more like myself I went in the guest room to gather his laundry before I left for work. His clothes were nowhere to be found. Apparently in his eagerness to show me that he can take care of himself, he put away all of those dirty clothes. Back into his drawers, back onto hangers, back into his closet. Yup, he sure showed me!

Monday, September 08, 2008

One step closer...

"I touch the future. I teach."
-Christa McAuliffe

So I’ve gone and done it. I’ve signed up to take two Content Assessment tests on October 25th. I’m one step closer to becoming a teacher. For the next month and a half, I’ll be brushing up on my Middle Grades Mathematics and Middle Grades Social Sciences.

I have the Alternative Teaching Program dates highlighted on my calendar, have figured out how to substitute teach in two counties should we choose to move before I have secured a full-time teaching position (which is my preference actually!), and have my husband on board with my plan—he’s even asking his coworkers for any resources they might have.

Regardless of their college studies, many of my fellow high school classmates have taken jobs as teachers in the last few semesters. Looking back at our extraordinary mentors, it makes perfect sense that our education paths would lead right back to the classroom. We want to make an impact just as our own lives have been impacted.

Blackboards, textbooks and lesson plans, I hear you calling.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Scavenging the city

“Searching is half the fun: life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party.”
-Jimmy Buffett

Eager for a cheap, entertaining activity outside the house, last weekend Rob and I met up with our friends M&H for a scavenger hunt around the city. We devised an elaborate set of rules, composed a set of 22 clues (including 2 bonus clues), swapped clue lists, and off we went. Boys against girls! We had two hours to photograph as many of the clues as possible.
We met back at our apartment to review the results and declare a winner. Even with all of the girls’ points that the boys threatened to disqualify (they were a bit too literal in their judging!), the girls still came out ahead!!

I think this just might become a tradition every time M is in town!

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