Thursday, February 17, 2011

Top Ten List...the Final Countdown

I know all of you have been waiting with bated breath for the final four events on my top 10 list.  Well, feel free to exhale, because here it is. 

4. Welcome to English 9 (& 10 & 11 & 12...oh and Psychology): my first teaching job.  I was fortunate enough to land a teaching job right out of my schooling (well, the 2nd time around).  I will never forget the phone call I received from the principal.  My heart fell to my stomach, did some splashing around, and stayed there until I almost threw it up.  I was beyond thrilled.  With my heart full of pride, I giddily drove to the school the following day only to discover that I was the only English teacher.  It was a small charter school of about 60 high school students...when soaking wet.  I would be teaching all four years of English as well as developing a Psychology curriculum for an elective class.  This time my heart went straight to my bum, whereafter I almost pooped it out.  I honestly did not think I would be able to do it.  I remember sitting on our living room floor trying to get ready for the year with binders and papers and books all around me breathing into a paper bag whilst crying.  But, the Lord is my shepherd...and I made it through...and I only came home crying for two weeks.  Even though the job was challenging, and my worst fear of having students who were smarter than me became a reality, I loved it.  It reaffirmed my decision to become a teacher.  The relationships I made with my students, my co-workers and parents will forever be blessings to me.  The hardest decision I've ever had to make was the decision to leave that job to stay home with Eli.

3. A baby makes 3: finding out I was pregnant.  Ben and I decided before we were married that we wanted to wait at least 5 years after tying the knot to expand our family tree.  Two months before our 5 year anniversary we discovered we had a little miracle on the way.  It was really hard for me to fully accept that we were actually having a baby.  We had tried for nearly a year, and I had convinced myself that it wasn't going to happen.  And I really regret not enjoying my first few months of pregnancy.  I was so consumed with anxiety and fear because I was afraid it was too good to be true, that I missed out on a special time with Ben.  During my first trimester, only our immediate families knew (and a lady at the church garage sale who made a dangerous inquiry about my burgeoning belly).  I wish I would have reveled in the moment with Ben during this time where only a few people knew.  All that aside, though, it was a great pregnancy (apart from a nasty minestrone soup episode and an overwhelming aversion to poultry).   The end result was pretty spectacular, as well.

Now, the next two are tied.  I couldn't decide which one to place first, because they both pretty much rock my socks off. That is why I don't have a number two (teehee...number two)

1. BENJAMIN BRUCE PARKER: I know he is not an event, but Ben and I started dating when I was almost 21.  A staple of my 20s, there really is not a specific event I could choose that would express how much he means to me.  So he is the event.  Funny story about how Ben and I met.  We had a mutual friend who was a senior at SAU when I was a freshman and Ben was a sophomore.  I remember she came up to me and said,  "I have the perfect guy for you...I know you two will get married.  You have to date him immediately."  When she told me it was Ben Parker, I was less than convinced.  I had met him earlier in the year and thought he was kind of conceited.  He, too, was not about it.  He thought that my Melissa Etheridge haircut automatically eliminated me as a viable choice.   The next year, though, we were both in our school's praise and worship team, we had a few psychology classes together and we started to become good friends.  The next year, his friend asked me out for him, we watched an Earnest movie and the rest is history.  I cannot imagine life without my perfect partner in crime.  He keeps me levelheaded when I am about to have a Meryl Steep moment.  He is the world's best father.  He makes me laugh like nobody else.  And I still get weak in the knees when he kisses me. He is my favorite.

1. ELIJAH STEVEN PARKER: I mean, have you met this kid?  I.n.c.r.e.d.i.b.l.e.  There are nights when I go into his room after he's fallen asleep and just marvel at his wonderfulness.  Also, its easier to do when he's not pulling a Rosemary's Baby.  Is being a parent challenging? The most challenging thing I've ever done.  Do I envision his future therapy sessions wherein he discovers I am the root of all his problems?  You betcha.  But I have never known a love like this.  I can only imagine that the love a parent has for a child is a small, small glimpse into the love the Father has for us.  Elijah is amazing, and I love every second that I have had the privilege of being his mother. 

Eli: 2 Years

I made this for Eli's 2nd birthday.  This is the condensed version (if you can believe it).  The actual version has video throughout, as well.  If you have 12 minutes to kill and are a fan of photo montages, well then prop up your feet, pull out that bag of doritos and enjoy.  If, however, if you'd rather have a lobotomy than watch 12 minutes of photos from a toddler's life, then move along.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Carrie, Carrie...Things They Change My Friend*

Happy Birthday to one my most favorite people in the world!  
I got you some embarrassment memories for your birthday.

 circa 1989
 Even then, her car was without interior lighting. 

 Sooooo cute. is not happy.  Look how comforting I was to her.

I call this, "Girl (with too much time on her hands) and her dog"

The amazingly awesome Rick sisters
"For there is no friend like a sister, in calm or stormy weather, to cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands."  -Christina Rossetti

My dearest Carol, you are more amazing to me than you'll ever know.  Your tenacity, your grace, your fearlessness, your humor, your style, your compassion, your drive, your friendship...everything about you makes me proud that I am able to call you my sister and best friend.  Happy Birthday, lovely!  

*This comes from a Europe song.  The song is kind of a downer, but how cool that Europe wrote a song about you, right?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Top 10 List -- Episode 2

Let's just pick up where we left off, shall we?

7. Puerrrto Ricooo, You Lovely Island - Our second year of marriage, Ben was asked/volunteered to take  a group of SAU students on a Spring Break missions trip to Puerto Rico.  Being the kind man that he is, he asked me to go with him.  We worked at a Christian campground run by a family straight from the golden streets of heaven (shout out to the Marshalls!). Ben ended up taking three trips, and I was able to go with him the first two years (the third year, I was doing my student teaching).

(I did end up going a third time with just Ben.  We went down for a week during the summer for our own vacation and stayed with the aforementioned saints, the Marshalls.)

Oh.em.gee.  Do not listen to Rita Moreno in West Side Story.  Puerto Rico should not sink back into the ocean.  First, the people we took on our trips are incredible people.  There are people from those trips that I hope I will have forever friendships with.  Our first trip included 12 women (including myself) and...Ben.  It was estrogen overload (you know, in a good way).  Honestly, these women had the brute strength of...of...I don't know...a group of manly men, but they smelled like a spring meadow (each one).  They worked tirelessly in the Puerto Rican heat using sledgehammers, mixing cement, painting buildings, warding off cockroaches, working with area youth, and just being all-around awesome.

Our second group was equally awesome.  This will forever be known at the poo trip, as our group worked on installing a new sewage line while trying to by-pass the old one (which we were not successful at doing...river of poo).

Along with working with incredibly motivated and awesome college students, I feel like this trip helped me and Ben learn how to work together.  Obviously we are married and work at our marriage.  But these trips allowed us to actually work on a project outside of our marriage together.  And, folks, it wasn't easy at times.  But, we learned from it.  I learned a lot from Ben's leadership style; he is someone who easily garners the respect of others.  He is able to lead with a level-head and perspective.  I got to see him in a whole new light.  I don't know what, if anything, he learned from me.  I hope he was able to see how dedicated I was to our teams and how much I loved every person on each trip. 

Finally, the people of Puerto Rico are some of the most genuine, giving people I have ever met (also,  the male inhabitants were very enthusiastic about the females...just sayin').  I fell in love with the Hispanic culture on this trip.  Life goes at a slower pace, which is refreshing. 

Our first PR group (minus Ben who was taking the pic)
6. Saying Good-bye.  Somber moment ahead, friends. 
I wanted this to be a list of memorable moments from my twenties.  I feel like the word memorable has a positive connotation.  We think of fun and good times.  I think, however,  I would be remiss if I left out a particularly sad memory from my twenties -- an event that impacted me greatly.  
Around Christmas time two years ago, when I was eight months large with Eli, I received a phone call from my parents telling me that my grandma had been in a serious accident.  My heart dropped.  My parents were unsure if she was going to survive.  Two hours later, one of the most influential women in my life left this world for her heavenly home.  And I was heartbroken.  My grandmother meant so much to me.  This woman taught me to swim, let me play dress up with all her fabulous jewelry, taught me the meaning of style.  I spent summer vacations with her, cooked with her, laughed with her.  She shared in my joys and heartaches.  I will never forget the last vacation we spent together and the tears of joy in her eyes when I told her I was pregnant.  And she never got to meet one of the most precious people in my life.  She was taken too soon.  And I was angry...for a long time.  I didn't (and still don't) understand.  She was so important to me, and she was gone too soon. 

I know, though, that she is with her heavenly king, which is far better than anything on this planet.  It is a comfort to know that someone I loved and cherished so much is in a place of pure joy.  And I can't wait to see her again.  

Alright...that was rough.

5.  You Can Call Me Mrs. Parker - My decision to go back to school to get my teaching certificate was an easy one.  I knew I loved my subject matter, and I loved to boss work with people, so teaching seemed a good fit (obviously those two were not the only reasons I wanted to be a teacher, come on).  Honestly, though, I was skirred to death when it came to anticipating my student teaching.  I was on someone else's turf, having them watch me (which, by-the-by ups my awkward factor tremendously) working with students who probably viewed me on the same plane as a substitute.  Also, I was not too fond of any student teacher I had as a student, so...yeah.
All my worries and fears were eradicated, though, when I met my cooperating teacher. Kim Shore should be nominated for a teacher of the forever award.  Her creativity puts Martha Stewart to shame, she understands teens like no one's business, she knows her subject matter, she is level-headed, she has a wicked-rad sense of humor, she is organized.  I mean every teenager should have her as a teacher.  And she was MY cooperating teacher.  Student teaching jackpot, my friends.

Then, there were my students.  A.W.E.S.O.M.E. Awesome!  There were challenging days, but I could not have asked for a better group of students.  Each class I taught made my day.

My student teaching experience will always be remembered as highlight of my life. 

The fabulous Mrs. Shore and me

Now, I realize that my math skills are not the best, and I'll actually have to include four events for tomorrow's post.  Until then...I bid you adieu.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Thirty, Flirty and Thriving

If you haven't seen 13 Going on 30,  a.) why not? and b.) that's where I got the title for my post.  If you have been living in a cave for the last couple months then you may not know that this Friday marks the 30th anniversary of my entrance into this world. Also known as my 20-10 birthday.  So, I don't think I'm flirty anymore, or ever was, and the word thriving makes me think of Eli as a young baby.  "Is he thriving?"  Totally freaked me out when I would read that.  I don't he?  Dear God, IS HE???!!


I've thought about what sage words I wanted to share with my fan (hey, Rachel).  How can I perfectly capture the past decade? I wanted to bid my 20s adieu with some style.  And what says style more than (bddddddddddd--that's my drumroll) -- a TOP 10 LIST FROM MY 20s!!! (3 exclamation points totally warranted). I've decided to recap the 10 most memorable moments from the past ten years of my life. Narrowing it down to 10 was tricky...because, let's face it, I'm awesome.  But, narrow it I did. 

I'm going to post three a know...because...I don't know...stop with the interrogation...geez.

We'll start with 10 and work our way down (not sure why I'm using the pronouns we/our...maybe it's my 30 year old brain losing its way).

10. Broadway Bound: I likes me some musical theater.  I have a playlist on my IPod entitled: Broadway Beats.  Also, I love to sing dramatically, which I know may shock you because I am not a very dramatic person (somewhere my mother is rolling her eyes).  I am totally an eyes-closed singer, which makes singing while I drive an interesting adventure.  In my early twenties I got to be a part of two amazing musical theater productions: The Mikado and Into the Woods.
The Mikado was my first (and, sadly, only) foray into community theater.  My super awesome, super flamboyant voice instructor got me to audition, and I am so glad he did.  I got to meet and work with some very talented, very gracious, very awesome people.  Also, the name of my character: Yum-Yum.  Oh, and I played a Geisha.  Oh, Gilber and crazy guys.
Into the Woods was put on by Spring Arbor University and directed by my very awesome, very flamboyant voice instructor.  There's something about being part of a theater ensemble.  You bond very quickly with people you may have otherwise never developed friendships.  Everyone in that cast was incredible, and, to pepper some Swayze on this, I had the time of my life. 

9. From Lowell with Love: My most cherished college memories include some of the most incredible women I will ever know.  I lived in Lowell Hall my first three years of college and then a house my senior year with these incredible women.  I knew I could count on these girls for anything.  They saw me at my worst (and believe me, I was pretty self-absorbed in college. Not like now...writing on my blog...about me.  *cough*cough*) and experienced my best with me.  Since college, we've all scattered (not me so much, but everyone else).  I think about them often. 
8. London Calling: The summer between my junior and senior year I had the opportunity to travel to the UK.  For a literary nerd like myself, visiting the stomping grounds of some of my favorites was sublime: Austen, Shakespeare, Tolkien, Dickens, Byron, Rowling (no, I am not comparing JK Rowling with Tolkien, but have you read Harry Potter?  Come on.)  Also, I got to travel with one of my best friends from college and hilarity abounded.  Cristin and I were very different in our approach to travel.   She was very organized,  I was very not.  She studied maps for our next day's adventures meticulously every night, I watched trashy British television.  She looked fabulous after five hour train rides, I looked like a hot mess.  It was a little tense sometimes, but it was hilarious the whole time.  It was the most incredible trip, even if I didn't get to see Nessie.

 At London Tower

Here's a preview for tomorrow: Puerrrto Rrrrrico, I believe the children are our future aaaannnd...