Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My 2017 Word List

Today I'm joining Shay and Erika for their monthly Workin' it Wednesday post and talking about my New Year's goals...

So who else is like me? You make New Year's Resolutions every year and then they slowly fizzle out not long after the year starts? Yep, you know it's true. There's no use in denying it. 

Oh and P.S. I feel like I'm speaking into a mirror right now and am totally talking to myself here. I'm so bad about this.

Anywho, on to my goals...

I had my all of my goals already picked out, and I had even started this post ahead of time, leaving it in draft mode 'til time for the link-up today. But then, I read this Family Share article and thought... Hey, picking one word for the year's a good idea. I'll do that. 

But then the thought of picking only one word didn't necessarily work out. So instead...

I've a list of 5 words to focus on this year.  

So what are my words?

1. JOY 

My goal is to share a bit more of the things that bring me joy each week. Sometimes they're big things. And other times, they're seemingly small things. No matter the size, I want to focus more on these and less on the opposite. I'm going to start focusing on these each Friday as part of the Friday Favorites link-up hosted by Andrea, Erika, and Narci. I figure by doing that, it'll give me a bit of accountability in mastering this goal word.


2017 is the year that Elisabeth gets her tail in gear. I'm finally using the Fitbit I treated myself to this past summer. I'm exercising. I'm eating better. I'mdrinking more water and I'm drinking less cokes. I'm not saying I'm perfect at those things... But overall, I'm definitely doing better. And I've given myself a long term (one year long) goal and then broken that longer goal into a few short term goals too. Because, after all, it's all about boosting my ego. Right? :) Kidding... 

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I'm totally kidding with this meme, but it's still funny ;)


I love to write! I love updating my blog, sending handwritten cards/notes/letters, journaling, etc. A little over a month I started back journaling on a regular (almost every day) basis and am really enjoying it. And I have a few writing projects I'm working on for work, one for my own classes (as a student), and  even one for fun. So yes... I see this being the year when I do quite a bit of writing. 

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I love to read. I do. But I rarely read "for fun" anymore. I read for ministry and teaching purposes. I read for my licensing classes. But to just curl up with a book and read for fun... That just doesn't happen much unless there's a school holiday or a huge chunk of time available (hello weekends!). But I want to change that. I have time each night to browse Facebook, catch up on blog reading, and even play Angry Birds. So then, why not read? That's why I've already started making myself read a little bit each night before bed. And I've even gotten to the point where it's become almost second nature to pick up a book when I first get home - mostly to help with #6 (see below) in resting/relaxing - but hey... At least it's helping me get in the habit of reading more "for fun." I'll try to do better about recapping what I read on here this time around too. ...if for no other reason than to help my often forgetful mind to remember what books I read this year :)

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This one is kind of two-fold. On the one hand, I have a tendency to go, go, go all the time. I love my days off. But when they get here, I can almost always be found with my computer out, doing work. I rarely am 100% "off." I also have a tendency to struggle saying "no," feeling immense guilt if I do. And in reality, I add far more onto my already full plate adding to the stress in my life. So my goal this year is to take part of my off days (Sat. and Sun.) and REST. Take the time to relax and recharge, hang out with friends, have fun. I'll also work harder at not saying "yes" to so much that I add undue stress on myself :)

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And then the other side of this is... RESTING in God. I have already gotten off to a good start with this, starting a new devotional. And I have also changed up my morning and my evening "quiet time" routines (the times that I spend with just me and God and His Word) a bit. And y'all... I love it. In fact, I will probably be writing a blog post on it pretty soon. But to wrap this up, I wil say this... Resting in the Lord is so incredibly important. I know that. But I truly do want 2017 to be the year that I improve in this area.

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So those are my 5 words for 2017. I'm planning to write a post each month, sharing the good and the bad, as 1) an update on how I'm doing in following this list and 2) as a form of accountability. If I know others (again... Hi Mom) are reading it, then I'm so much more likely to continue. Crazy? Perhaps. But hey... How boring would life be if we didn't have at least a little crazy? :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Coffee and a Chat

Today I'm joining Erin and some others for her bi-monthly Coffee Date link-up, where we pull up a pretend chair and act like we're having a chat with a friend, catching them up on life in your corner of the world. 

So what's on my mind?

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If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you all about my Christmas Break and tell you that I had the time of my life in Alabama with my family. I am a blessed girl! That is for sure!

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My favorites :)

If we were on a coffee date, I'd probably be that lame friend that's sitting there drinking water. I'm trying to eliminate caffeine from my diet. I hate coffee. And it's a little too hot outside to enjoy hot tea (hello Senegal and your warmth). So I'll just stick with my water.

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Operation Drink More Water is going well thanks to my new UM bottle. Go Falcons!

If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you that jet lag kicked my tail this time around. Last night was the first night since I returned to Dakar that I was able to actually get a good night's sleep. I'd been sleeping maybe 2 or 3 hours tops the other nights, which wouldn't be such a big deal, but I had to go to work. And principals typically frown upon teachers falling asleep during Professional Development meetings. But it's not all bad... One of those times I was wide awake around 2:30 a.m. and made a pecan pie. And even though I had to make it square shaped due to my lack of a pie tin/plate, it tasted delicious!

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Making lemonade out of lemons. Making pecan pie out of pecans :)

If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you all about this poster I bought for my classroom. The majority of the boys in my class absolutely love Star Wars. So when I saw it, I knew I had to have it. Anywho - I decided to let it be a part of our New Year's Goals/Resolutions activity. Then as I was preparing for my Bible lessons for the week, I realized that the quote on the poster went so amazingly well with what we were talking about today. Our lesson focused on the beginning of Proverbs 2, talking about wisdom and knowledge, understanding/learning and how God uses those to prepare us for the future. So I took a teachable moment and combined Proverbs 2 and a little Star Wars poster and formed a lesson/activity that held the interest of ALL of my students the ENTIRE time. They were engaged/interested and learning something the ENTIRE time. Seriously, all of my teacher friends out there know just how rare of an instance that get everyone at once :)

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If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you that 2017 is off to a good start for me. I started the year off with church and family and now I'm back in Senegal, doing what God's called me to do. I know it sounds a bit cliche, but I sometimes feel like I'm living a dream. I feel like I'm going to wake up one day and realize it's all been this amazing dream :)

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Hi Ho Hi Ho It's back to work I go :)

If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you that speaking of the new year, I just updated my bulletin board in my classroom. Every couple weeks or so, I will choose a word or phrase and then I will translate it into all of the languages spoken/communicated by each of my students and their families. This bulletin board is most definitely one of my favorite parts of our classroom. Anywho - This one is How do you say Happy New Year? I love it! :) And since we're talking about the new year, I'd tell you to check out my blog tomorrow because I'll be linking up with Shay, Erika, and a few other bloggers, sharing about my goals for the new year. You don't want to miss it. I'm just saying. It'll be awesome. 

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017


When my dad passed away, my mom started using his phone. It still had his Facebook account logged in, so my mom would periodically get on and just browse through his pictures. Then the other day we finally deactivated his account...


But first we went through and saved a bunch of pictures...


We wanted to cherish some of the memories...


...and remember the good times.


We wanted to remember my dad...


We wanted to remember how he made us smile... 


...and laugh.


We wanted to remember his love for family.


We wanted to remember his love for God.


We wanted to remember his adventurous spirit...


...and his tender heart.


We wanted to remember his joy for life...


...and living it to the fullest.


We wanted to remember his smile...


...and his encouraging nature.


We wanted to remember his support...


...and his "get up and go" attitude.


We wanted to remember his positivity...


...and his care.


We wanted to remember his fun nature...


His love...


His legacy...


And most of all, we wanted to remember all sorts of memories of the man who stood at the head of our family all those years...


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking Back at 2016

I thought today would be a good day to take a little look back at some of the highlights from 2016 as we get ready to say goodbye to this year...

* January *

2016 started off well. In January, I told a story which included the announcement that I was heading back to Senegal a little earlier than planned. I also wrote a letter to Selma, the city I'd taught in for a year and a half, sharing all the things/people I'd miss in the city I grew to love so very much. The ones at the top of the list were the 3 ladies (pictured below) and the kids that I worked the closest with at my school in Selma...

* February *

In February, I introduced you to the 10 main reasons I came back to Dakar earlier than planned. I celebrated my brother's birthday. And I wrote about an article that moved me to tears, talking about washing my student's feet.

* March *

March was a "slow" month on the blog. I did write a Life Lately post which included a few cute kid pictures. I shared my thoughts at the 11 month-iversary of my dad's passing. And I also shared my thoughts on a few issues at the end of the month...

* April *

April was the opposite of March on the blog. I wrote quite a bit, starting the month off by doing my part to spread awareness for World Autism Awareness Day. A few days later I shared some of my students' favorite parts of living in Senegal for Senegal's Independence Day. I shared a few of the silly things teachers say. I also shared my feelings on it being the one year anniversary of my dad's death. And while I'd been dreading the day for a full year, it turned out to not be as bad as I thought it'd be. I had AMAZING people "steal" me away that day, so I wouldn't have to be alone. I was blessed for sure.

* May *

May started off with a post all about moms, according to my 4th graders. Not long after that, I answered the question "Why Teach"... I then wrote a post about Love and Language, which involved one of my most favorite memories of 2016 - when a group of 10 fourth graders taught me so much about sharing love to another person. Later on, I shared a bit about Pentecost Sunday. And I ended the month with a post where I said See Ya Later to the group I dubbed, my "squirrels."

* June *

I started June off by sharing my Teacher's Stats. Not long after that, I dealt with an extremely painful loss and shared how saying, "I am blessed" helped me process the pain. A little later, I shared some lessons learned with nieces. I shared a bit about the good ol' Red, White, and Blue. And I ended the month talking about #theauntlife.

* July *

I wrote a few posts in July, but my favorites were my Teaching and Learning post, my Summer 2016 recap post, and my 7th anniversary of arriving in Senegal post.

* August *

August is a great month. Why? It's my birthday month, of course :) I wrote a letter to 31 and shared glimpses from my 31st birthday. And then 2 days after my big day is the birthday of one of my favorite people - my oldest niece! School started towards the middle of August and I became a 5th grade teacher to a fun group of kids I now call "mine." I wrote a letter to my high school self and I ended the month talking about some of the seemingly little things that made my life so worthwhile.

* September *

September was one of my busiest months on the blog, since I tried to conquer the Blogtember Challenge, where you write one post a day for every single day in the month. I didn't quite get that many written, but I came close with posts like... What Brings Me Joy, Daydreaming of England, Adventure, Stories from My Classroom, A Weekend Away, Laughter's Good for the Soul, and Advice to Anyone Reading.

* October *

I started off October with a bit of fun sarcasm. Then not long after that, I became serious and shared about one of my heroes. I listed some of the things that scare me as a teacher and also some of my thoughts on grief. I shared a few of the "quirks" that make me who I am. And then I ended the month with a pretend tea date with a friend.

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* November * 

I started off the month sharing some lessons learned in waiting. I shared a few of the things I'm most thankful for. And I ended November with a bang, so to speak, as the last post I wrote in November, If God Gives a Teacher a Dream, is currently my most viewed post EVER with a total (as of this post) of 623 views. In that post, I shared my big exciting news - that we were expanding our Special Education Dept. at my school, and starting in August, I'll be the teacher of the Self-Contained Special Education class, a class for students with academic, behavioral, and/or physical disabilities which prevent them from functioning 100% of the time in a "regular" education classroom. 

* December *

I started off December by introducing my 25 Days of Christmas Giving Project, where I'd hoped to raise $5000-$6000 to furnish my new Special Ed. classroom with all the supplies/equipment my students will need to succeed next school year (and beyond). P.S. Thanks to the generosity of truly AMAZING people, I totally exceeded that goal! I also did a quick Q & A post, answering questions about this new class. I shared all about our Kids Club's Happy Birthday Jesus party. I wrote all about my Bible and then a few days later, shared all about my most favorite person ever, all thanks to a verse in Isaiah.