December 25

I grew up on the outskirts of a small town. Surrounded by fields, my childhood home is peaceful. A fire in the fireplace, ornaments from long ago, Holiday Inn, White Christmas and celebrating the birth of a baby that changed everything.

Despite my childhood, with a few Christmases spent in Colorado with my dad, memories of Christmas are at mom’s house. A house that was built by my Grampa 50 some years ago. With the exception of a Christmas spent in Omaha to visit the cousins, every single memory is Christmas morning at my mom’s.

Until this year. A moment I knew would come when I married The New Yorker.

This morning we woke up in midtown Manhattan. I traded the peaceful sound of the crackling fireplace and wind blowing across the field for sirens, squeaky brakes, big trucks.

I had a belief that the world stopped on Christmas Day.

But it does not. I ran across the street to the deli for a bagel and Shmear, stopped in Starbucks, picked up some Dr. Scholl’s for my aching feet and presently find myself with many people on a train bound for Long Island and family.

Yes. This year found us celebrating Christmas with my family a little early. A lazy morning and the joy of giving doesn’t have to happen on the 25th.

I once had a friend say, “Christmas is a state of mind”. And this year I find those words resonating deep in my soul.

It doesn’t matter where or when, Christmas is Christmas.

Last night we were able to join dear friends for Christmas Eve service at Marble with the most amazing choir. They sang a song I had never heard before, but absolutely adored:

What sweeter music can we bring than a carol for to sing the birth of this our heav’nly King?

Awake the voice! Awake the string!

We see Him come and know Him ours, who with His sunshine and His show’rs turns all the patient ground to flow’rs

Dark and dull night, fly hence away, and give the honor to this day, that sees December turned to May. If we may ask the reason, say :

We see Him come and know Him ours, who with His sunshine and His show’rs turns all the patient ground to flow’rs

The darling of the world is come, and fit it is we find a room to welcome Him. The nobler part of all the house here is the heart, which we will give Him, and bequeath this holly and ivy wreath, to do Him honor who’s our King, and Lord of all our reveling.

We see Him come and know Him ours, who with His sunshine and His show’rs turns all the patient ground to flow’rs

Merry Christmas, wherever you are and whomever you are with.
May you be filled with peace, joy and hope.

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The Start of Fall

It has been a busy, full weekend.

I can say weekend, because I had yesterday off. It is a non-attendance today. My Jewish friends are celebrating their new year. And I appreciate a school district that respects our religions to give us “non-attendance” days, so we may celebrate. (Yes, Good Friday is a non-attendance day too. And for that, I am grateful.)

We headed down to mom’s for the weekend to enjoy the official kickoff to fall, the Pumpkin Festival. And as a bonus, Arta (adopted grandma) was in town from New Mexico. Rob got his first taste of the fest with pumpkin pancakes and sausage Saturday morning. And we returned later for pumpkin ice cream and the entertainment of the pie eating contest. We also stopped off at Ackermans to pick up some pumpkins for our porch. All things that signal the start of fall. And this week I will slowly take out my fall decorations. I will hopefully make some new ones. And the Zanettis will snuggle into the blessed time of autumn.

I love the fall. I love all things pumpkin, butternut squash and the freedom to put cinnamon and nutmeg on just about anything. I love that I can unpack my fall clothes. They’re warm and cozy and the right color for my skin tone. I love the smell of bonfires in the air. I love a good football game, and a warm beverage in my hand. I love the beauty in the leaves changing colors.

This weekend I noticed that change slowly creeping onto a few trees on my mom’s street. Just a small glimpse of deep red blushing the top of the tree. But soon that tree will be on fire. And it will take my breath away with it’s simple beauty of change.

Yesterday morning was quiet and peaceful. A thick blanket of fog covered the earth. I woke thinking about a conversation with a good friend the night before and staring out into this beautiful view:

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I’ve recently begun working on some pieces of me that need to change. Many years of bad habits and negative thinking that need to be reversed. I have been reminded that change is not easy. Oh, that wretched process to stop and think. I must decide to not do what I’m prone to do, but stretch out and do something different. Yep. Change is not easy. And sometimes I don’t want to do it.

But then, I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

I’m struck by those words, “To have life, and have it to the full.”

Or in the NASB version “have it abundantly”.

There are pieces of me that get in the way of living life to the full. And for that reason, I want to change.

And someday that change will be something like that beautiful tree. Something beautiful.

So welcome fall. Bring your change. Bring your beauty.

Bikes and Hammocks

One of my favorite things this summer has been bike riding.

For Christmas, Rob broke the price cap rule and surprised me with a bike. He snuck it into the house while I was resting from surgery. We had claimed hiding spots with a pledge not to peak. I wasn’t allowed in the closet under the stairs. It’s filled with moving boxes, suitcases, picnic supplies and a box of handbags. So, I didn’t think there was THAT much room in there. But what a surprise when he gave me this!

Check out that wrapping job:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So this summer I’ve been enjoying my sweet ride. Rob also picked up some new wheels on Craig’s List. Now, he doesn’t have to ride his folding commuter bike when we go riding 🙂

In March, we picked up some hammocks at a cool little outdoor store in Asheville. We got two, instead of the one that was made for two people. That was Rob’s idea because, “What if Kate wants to hammock and I want to hammock. If we have two, then we can both have a hammock without it being awkward. And if you and I want to hammock, we can just put them together and it will feel like we’re in the same one.”

How his brain works astounds me.

We’ve brought these hammocks many places, but very rarely found a good place to hammock. Or we forgot about them. And don’t get me started when we actually brought them to Colorado, but forgot to bring them camping.

But finally, on Labor Day, we had the perfect moment.

We threw the bikes on the back of the car and went over to Harms Forest Preserve. There’s a great bike trail that runs near 94. Sometimes it’s very obvious we’re still in the suburbs. But some parts were absolutely lovely. Quiet. Serene. Perfect.

We stopped off at Skokie Lagoons – which I didn’t even know existed- and found the perfect spot. Yep! Two trees close enough together to string up the hammocks. Victory.

Rob’s long arms come in handy getting the hammock straps around the trees.

 

 

 

 

I am completely in love with my purple bike and pink helmet. All that’s missing is a bell.

 

 

 

 

Love these kind of days!

Hehehe

Yesterday, I got ready for work and I decided it was time for some fancy pants. So I chose a pair that I adore.

I will admit that they are a tad old. I bought them in 2002. Judge me if you will for wearing pants from 10 years ago…But I love, love, love, love, love them. I love them because they make me happy.

I love them because they have stripes. Long vertical stripes. They make me feel like my legs are long and thin. And who wants to part with a pair of pants that performs that kind of magic?

I love them because I got them at H&M before they came stateside. So I feel like they’re a fashion treasure.

But mostly, I love them because they represent a most wonderful moment in my life.

If someone were to ask me, “What is the best decision you ever made?” I believe my answer would have these pants involved. Yes, I love that I married Rob. Yes, I love that I went to New York on a whim and met him. Yes, I’m glad I have chosen to be a follower of Christ.

But I’m really glad I went to London on a whim in March of 2002. Because without that trip some of those things might not have happened.

There is something about that trip that changed my life for the better. If there is a moment that I thought I might close up shop and live under a rock, it was probably February of 2002. I had no idea what I was doing and where I was going.

But then, when pondering spring break, I looked at my roommate Beth and said, “Can you believe it’s cheaper to go to London than Portland?”

To which she answered “Well we should probably go”

“Okay” I said. And my life changed. I could make wonderful, fabulous choices about my life. All those things I wanted to be, could be!

And I am not kidding when I say there was this moment in Oxford where I was walking down Pusey Lane and I felt the page turn.  A new chapter was born. I felt it. I shed off that college, uncertainty skin. I had a blank page before me. And it was going to be a good, difficult, but good.

I embraced that moment of being young, independent and single. And life was good. Scary. But good.

And at some point on that trip I bought these pants. They represent independence. And I love them. They make me feel happy about that glorious, life-changing, spur of the moment trip to London.

Only yesterday I put them on and I giggled.

Yep. Those are my pants…looking like my curtains.

Push Aside the Curtains

Looks like my New Year’s resolution is going to be harder to keep than I thought.

Shoot. I’m not off to a good start.

Anyway.

The summer is over in my book, because school has started. I did have a long list of things to do for the summer. But the only one I HAD to accomplish was curtains for the kitchen. And the mission was accomplished the day before I had to return to school.

Ahh, nothing like the last minute.

We moved in a year ago. It came with some “vintage” blue gingham curtains. I did not prefer them. Neither did Rob. He took them down straightaway. And in return put up some leftover curtains from his old place.

Here’s an example:

You will notice the fantastic roller blinds at the top. And also these curtains that he picked up at a KMart in midtown are a little short all the way around.

The kitchen sink was no better.

 

Yeah. We don’t even have curtains over it. At one point I had some cute dishtowels from Anthropolgie hanging over the rod. But they didn’t really help the situation.

We spent a great deal of time the first several months checking out curtains at every store we walked into. They were too short, too long, too bland, too expensive. Man, this process was not as easy has I had hoped.

I kept thinking to myself, “I could sew something better than this.”

The reality is I couldn’t, I can’t. For several reasons. I don’t know how to sew. And I don’t have a working sewing machine.

But my dear friend, Kim, offered to help me. And I finally took her up on it. Her kids started school a week earlier than me. This worked out well for us. She sent them off to school and then scooted on over to my house.

I picked up the material the night before from Ikea (and maybe shared a cinnamon roll with Kate). It looked like this:

And on Tuesday morning, Kim brought her nice sewing machine and set up shop.

 

We had our work cut out for us. Two school days to get these two windows done. I just wanted simple rod pocket cafe curtains, so we didn’t use a pattern. But Kim took off and started to work – measuring, adding, cutting. She talked through it so I could catch on with what she was doing.

Then, she started to sew. I watched her do the first couple. Then, she let me try my hand. My straight lines were, ummm…okay. However, they weren’t okay enough that I felt comfortable letting them become my curtains. And so, I became Kim’s “special helper”. Although the curtains are not a true representation of my own handiwork, I’m okay with that. The tag team approach allowed us to work faster. I could iron while she worked on sewing.

Here’s how the end of Tuesday looked:

A whirlwind in the living room – the ironing board was set up behind the couch.

But we had one set done and the rest were close:

 

I did cut out the ties by myself 🙂

Kim came over on Wednesday morning to finish up. She was rushing to get them done in the morning, because I had to leave to pick up mom from the airport around 11:30. It felt like that moment on HGTV when everything is almost done but not quite and they shoe the homeowners out of the house. It felt like a big reveal when I got back with mom.

And I LOVE them. They are absolutely perfect. They give privacy and light. The best of both worlds.

Here’s the big reveal…


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Please disregard the dishes drying in the drainer and the lighting. Also, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day please appreciate the free press. Geranium scent is the best, please sell it at Target.

And here’s one last pic I took while I was cooking later that day. I could resist…the light, the tomatoes the curtains. Ah, I felt so content.

Life is good when you can push away the curtains (not snap the blinds) and let the sunshine   pour in!

 

 

Flashback

Today the 3-5 teachers in the district spent the day getting our hands dirty with our new writing curriculum. My K-2 friends had given me the lowdown on what to expect. And, as far as in-services go, they had given it pretty good reviews.

But there was one thing they left out…a seating chart.

That’s right.

I walked in with my friend and teammate Amy and that’s when we saw the preassigned seats. We were ripped apart to seats across the room. It was like finding out my BF was in another class.

And do you wanna guess where my seat was?

Yep.

The front. And not just the front. The corner spot right next to the easel with the large pad of paper. So close, my spot was the place where the presenter often left the projector remote.

Talk about flashbacks to elementary school.

It was just like the first day of school – every year – when I was stuck in the front. Somehow alphabetical order always had me in the front. Although, I secretly believed that my new teacher talked to my  old teacher and said, “Yeah. You should probably put her in the front”.

I was sitting by someone I didn’t know. But we got along smashingly. And when we got the first look of “disapproval”, I sent this to the seating chart maker (and Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction- who has a good sense of humor):

I should have had this as a t-shirt and worn it to every first day of school– of my life.

New Year’s Resolution

As a child, I can remember that moment when I realized that the academic year did not line up with the calendar year.

I looked at my Gramma perplexed and said, “What do you mean? It’s a new year, but I don’t start a new grade?”

This did not seem logical to me.

She patiently tried to explain it again. And I accepted that the year would change, and I would stay in the same grade.

I have never really fancied resolutions at the turn of the calendar year. It didn’t really make any sense to me. But, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always made a list for the beginning of the school year.

As a student they were…

Keep my desk neat.

Not lose so many pencils.

Make the honor roll.

Be organized.

Be early.

Have my stuff by the door the night before.

Pack a lunch the night before.

Pick out my outfits for the week – make sure they’re washed and ironed.

Wait a second. I think these were all my Gramma’s ideas. She hated the idea of scurrying in the morning. But she loved to see me succeed – and if keeping my desk neat got me there, we were going to work on it! (“Did you make sure your desk was neat before you left school today?”)

As a teacher, I still try to do most of these things. My Gramma’s ideas to make her life easier have severely rubbed off on me.  Just ask Kate and Rob, they don’t care for my stuff by the door.

I loathe packing a lunch- so I (usually) do it the night before.

I usually have a good idea about what I want to wear. And I love it when the ironing fairy shows up (that used to be Gramma, now it’s Rob).

My desk stays neater.

I’m usually early.

I still lose pens.

My documents folder is insanely organized.

And as long as I’m a student, I will always strive for the A(+).

But I’m adding one more to the list this year…keeping up the blog. Yep. I’m making it a resolution. I’ve severely failed blogging in the past. But now, it’s a resolution and it will be resolved.

At least once a week. Maybe more, but at least once. It will be about a hodgepodge of things. Whatever strikes my fancy…school, stories, travels, food, adventures. I know. I know. I’m breaking all of the blogging rules. But these writing muscles need to be stretched again. And I gotta start somewhere.

So, here goes nothin’.