A Loving Surprise

During my second year of teaching, I married the man of my dreams.

I confess that I may have been a little distracted as I daydreamed about the ceremony, my groom, and the thought of driving off together, beginning a new adventure. 🙂 That the Lord had blessed me, of all people, with such a steadfast, lion-hearted man was (and is) beyond comprehension.

Luckily for me, the parents and co-workers around me were more than sympathetic to my Disney-princess-esque ideas of happily ever after, and showed me great love and kindness in the weeks leading up to our wedding.

One day, I happily waltzed into the cafeteria for snack, and an entire bridal shower had been set up for me! There were my favorite flowers, snacks, and gifts galore! I was blown away by the kindness, planning, and love that went into every detail.

One of those gifts has been used time and time again. It is from a student’s mom who simply oozes creativity and thoughtfulness. Here is the message on the back:

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This perfect gift has blessed us more than words can say. It’s been a happy surprise, and a stronghold for tenderness and intentional praise.

Today, I came home after a late day at work, and discovered this sweet message, from my man of action, but of few words:

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A pile of mush? Absolutely! The best message I could imagine receiving from my husband during this season of our lives? For sure. 🙂 I am in agreement that this message will be “an amazing way to start each day” for a good while.

The sweetest part of marriage is that, as smitten as I was before the “I Do,” the love and gratitude only grows.

For us, marriage doesn’t mean togetherness, laying down beside each other at night, or talking every day. But it is a bond beyond words, and we believe the Lord himself sealed the covenant we made to each other. Thankful that neither time nor distance can touch that which is hidden away in Christ.

I pray we continue to draw close during trials as they come, and never pull away.

“So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Matt 19:6

Mother’s Day in Learning Community 2

When friends ask what I like about teaching in an independent school, one of the qualities I am sure to highlight is our involved, dedicated parents. Yes, I know there are fantastic parents in every corner of the world and in all walks of life. However, caring, invested mothers and fathers is simply the “norm” around here, and I am deeply aware that our students’ success is largely due to that. For that, I am grateful!

One of my favorite events honoring our parents is our Mother’s Day celebration, held in Grades Pre-K through 2. We do our best to make a big fuss over our students’ mommas. 🙂 We recognize the value in the mothers who pull their children onto their laps to read together, who check Math homework religiously in spite of hectic days, and who communicate with us regularly.

They are our partners in education, and we hope we’re theirs in raising up their little ones to be all that they can be. The Mother’s Day Tea is a team effort involving all three team members and our students, but with our Learning Community Leader firmly at the “helm” steering the ship. 🙂 photo 2 The mothers were greeted in this area, where a line of melt-your-heart Second-Grade boys stood waiting to proudly offer, “May I escort you to your seat?” I love this tradition.

I believe that learning manners during childhood is an empowering practice that not only teaches respect, but also allows students to feel at ease in any situation later in life. We don’t shy away from taking our students to plays, symphony halls, or restaurants, because they are fabulous learning opportunities. When we raise our expectations, they never fail to blow us away by exceeding them.

Our mothers were graceful guests who beamed and accepted each offered elbow (in spite of having to crouch a bit to walk arm in arm). 🙂 photo 2 (1)photo 1A parent who owns an art studio, Uptown Art, invited our entire Learning Community to come in and create works of art for their moms. It was a great experience for the students, and they clearly know how to tailor their classes to young children. They were warm, friendly, and encouraging to every child.photo 1 (1)photo 5 (1) Our team leader added this thoughtful greeting. photo 3 (1) This table eventually featured “old-fashioned” root beer floats and cookies galore. We hoped to convey a sense of nostalgia for the simple moments that make childhood grand.

We spent a Math class making the batches of cookies together, and it turned out to be a perfect way to tie in our unit about measuring volume, temperature, and time! photo 4 (1) The floats featured paper straws and a cherry on top. 🙂 It was all hands on deck when our mothers sat down with their kids. Our administrators rolled up their sleeves to pour and prep floats, and I walked around with a tray of floats to offer to each table, mumbling prayers that I wouldn’t spill! photo 4 (2) Our Science room became a concert hall as each grade sang two songs to their mothers. Our Music teacher made great selections for the event. Picture adorable kids in their Sunday best, the smell of flowery perfume, children’s voices, and sniffling and crying galore.

As one dear child sang, the sight of her mother brought her to tears! The majority of us in the audience followed suit. 🙂 photo 1 (2) The Math room, all set for the “meal” of lots of sugar. Elementary School is not for the faint of heart or for people on a diet. photo 3 Isn’t my co-teacher’s Reading room precious? She worked so hard to make it inviting and cozy.photo 4photo 2 (2) The students made these pinwheels themselves! I love that this simple, kid-friendly (and CHEAP) decoration made such a big impact. They also made cards, place mats, and pouches to house the cookies they baked. photo 5 As for my team, you’ve never met two more lovely mothers than ones on either side of me. Their love for their respective daughters is unspeakably beautiful.

We are truly the three amigas. 🙂 I like the way this translation puts it:

Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (NLT)

Mother’s Day 2014

We had some “getting ready” to do around here, both in preparation for summer and for Mother’s Day, which in some ways feels like the truest beginning of the warm, humid weather to come. The first day of Spring and Easter can still be pretty cool, but with upcoming highs in the 80’s and 90’s, it feels the heat is finally upon us.  I can sense the fireflies, porch fans, and sweet tea (my favorites of summer) creeping closer… DSC_0042

Daisies, a gift from a beloved student during teacher appreciation week have replaced the faded hyacinths, tulips, and daffodils of early Spring with its scattered frosts.DSC_0049Once-blossom-less petunias are now putting on a show in the planters Brother built and stained for me from scrap wood. DSC_0112I’ll take a moment to share that I am displaying Mr. S’s flag with pride. It flew over the Police Academy during his time there, and it brings me joy to remember that, whether he is away from home for police work or serving around the world, he is doing what he loves. I love that the Lord gave him such a servant’s heart. I take comfort in knowing whom he serves, from the American flag patch on his uniform’s shoulder (symbolically leading the way into battle), to his current favorite scripture, “And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD Is My Banner.” With the recent loss of yet another Metro police officer Mr. S truly respected, along with some military commitments upon us, I am clinging to these things even more dearly than usual. 

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We’ve switched from a thick comforter to a light, white quilt.DSC_0110

Since our table is under construction, we were left without one for hosting Mr. S’s parents for Mother’s Day. Thankfully, my parents’ neighbors came to the rescue and loaned us a folding table for the day. I had too much fun setting the table late at night. DSC_0070DSC_0078

Roses from a very special student and her family. I looked at them, and smiled to think of her recent baptism I was blessed to witness. DSC_0055

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We made a little “coffee bar” of sorts, as the only people who drink more coffee than we do are my in laws. 🙂 That’s an impressive amount. I take it black, but delight in the prettiness of laying out creamer and sugar.

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The menu for the morning was kielbasa, biscuits, gravy, and plenty of fresh fruit, DSC_0102

O.J. and milk served from a pitcher somehow felt nostalgic.
DSC_0099Warm biscuits. That’s more than enough for a stand-alone sentence in my book. 🙂

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The closest claim I have to motherhood for now. 🙂

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Our guest of honor arrived with some pretty fun accessories. She is a jewelry lover! DSC_0124DSC_0149

Rick’s wonderful dad sporting the beard he was rocking long before the Dynasty boys… You can read about his amazing role in Mr. S’s life hereDSC_0146

We know where he got those baby blues! This is a mother who fiercely loves her son. She is not only a mother to her three children, she also has an extra special place in the lives of several grandchildren, too. There’s no end to her generosity.

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Next, it was off to my momma’s place to celebrate her sweet, perfect heart. A little graduation gift for Brother was also tucked away inside a card.  DSC_0170

If you’re not a dog person, you might be thinking this one gets too much attention. You’d be right. DSC_0177

All three of us are thankful to have this beautiful woman in our lives. To say her heart is made of gold would be an understatement. I cry just thinking about her patience, peacemaking, laughter, love, and more. If you’d like to have a great conversation about things that truly matter, just sit down with this lady. DSC_0187

The boys captured a four-legged escapee…DSC_0191

Brother, whose graduation I’ll have to share soon, ran barefoot to save little Lucy.
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Mr. S soiled his jeans sliding “baseball style” to catch that energetic pup. DSC_0207

Momma and her handsome boys. 🙂 DSC_0210Her children rise up and call her blessed…” Prov 31:28a 

20140511-203847.jpgWhite, “lacey” cotton hand towel with an embroidered “G” for Mr. S’s mother, a linen pair embroidered with “N” for mine.

 

Table: Apron Complete

There’s progress on our table!

Brother and I measured and cut 8 tenons (two per apron plank) last week.

These are apparently the easy part. Even though I was comfortable doing calculations, scoring, and marking, I was pretty nervous about making such crucial cuts. Thankfully, my brother wasn’t nervous at all and did a fine job. 🙂

It was essential that they were cut well to ensure they’d fit snugly inside the mortises.

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Here’s a diagram in case you, like me, hadn’t heard of a mortise and tenon joint before.

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Dad and Brother cut the much trickier mortises in each leg, and now the apron and legs are assembled.

We decided to save money on the (pine) legs and (poplar) apron, so they’ll receive coats of fresh, white paint.

It seems to be a trend to build your own furniture from pine or other cheap soft woods, then stain it.

Luckily for me, Dad educated me about the difference in finish on soft and hardwoods. That blotchy, uneven look is not really desirable in the world of woodworking, apparently.

Since I wanted a natural wood finish on at least part of the table, we’ll construct the top from a hardwood, stain it, and seal it. We’re settling for hard maple, which is a cheaper hardwood that will still be suitable for a tabletop. 🙂 This wood will accept a stain more evenly than pine or poplar, and (theoretically) hold up a little better over time.

Maple is apparently still tricky to finish. So far, I’ve ready that seasoning the wood (from about.com: “[wood should be] acclimatized to the environmental surroundings in which the project will be used permanently”), sanding with progressively finer sandpaper (giving special care to the edges), and using a pre-stain conditioner will help to minimize uneven absorption.

I’m so thankful to have two guys with years of experience, plenty of know-how, and willingness to spend hours blessing me. 🙂

The Strawberry Patch Barn Sale (Spring)

Hey, friends! Hope you’re ready for another little adventure. This time, the location is Hartsville, Tennessee at the Strawberry Patch Barn Sale.

Let me set the scene for you:

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Sigh. Isn’t it beautiful? Mr. S would declare the land “God’s country” and mean it. If you’re not in Tennessee as you read this, it’s crucial that you click on over to this track to set the mood.

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We could sing love songs to Tennessee all day together if you’d like to. I might need to write a separate post just to thank the Lord for the fireflies (lightning bugs), sweet tea, and irises around here.

Anyhow, apart from a wonderful location, the Strawberry Patch Barn Sale features carefully-selected vendors who artfully re-invent vintage finds and make things from scratch. 🙂 I was invited to tag along with a precious co-worker, her husband, and their friends as they explored the sale.

Between good company, gorgeous weather home decor “eye candy”, and a shrimp po’ boy from Fried Green Tomato, I can’t complain about my Saturday.

Without further ado, I’ll share some favorites from the day.

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I seriously considered taking this hutch home with me. IMG_1987 IMG_2001

This was painted by Southern Honey Workshop with their own line of Chalk Paint (Chawk Paint, I think). IMG_1998 IMG_1993

See the trio of lamps on the right side of these lamps from Barn Junk? You might see two of them again… IMG_1999 IMG_2028 IMG_1996 IMG_1997 IMG_2033

You may not know that the hymn “It is Well with My Soul” was written after composer Horatio Spafford’s family endured a series of horrifying tragedies. A fire had destroyed his financial investments, his child had died of Scarlet Fever, and his wife and four surviving children had lost their lives in a shipwreck (all in terrible succession). Yet, he wrote,

“When sorrows like sea billows roll, 
Whatever my lot,
Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, 
With my soul”

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Genius sales pitch, really. Monogramming goes over well here. 🙂 IMG_2003IMG_2005 IMG_2010 IMG_2009

Looks like I accidentally got my outfit in this photo. 🙂 IMG_2008 IMG_2006IMG_2012IMG_2013IMG_2015IMG_2016

Chippy goodness and stripey fabric. IMG_2023

Mr. S would have loved this map if he were able to come along.IMG_2022

Cuff bracelets galore.
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Beautiful handmade pottery by a local artisan who I believe is named “Evelyn White.” IMG_2018IMG_2024IMG_2025

I confess that I couldn’t resist picking this flute up out of its case a playing it for a moment. IMG_2026IMG_2027IMG_2039

Remember how I said those lamps would show up again? They came home with me! 🙂

Thanks for coming by! For the vendor list, click here.