Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Three More Days!

Ok, I know that Christmas is not technically for five more days.

So sue me.

But MY Christmas begins in three days and I am super excited.

December 23rd is the Lessons and Carols service at Tenth Presbyterian Church, and then a huge, family-style meal at Buca di Beppo's restaurant.

December 24th is (duh) Christmas Eve, and we do the big extended family meal and gift exchange.

And then I'm hosting Christmas morning!! I'm so excited. Due to all the change-ups in family living situations this year I decided it was the perfect opportunity to both help out and inject a little of my own Kline Christmas traditions into the festivities.

Basically our Christmas morns are the same (sleep in, do presents in pajamas, late lazy breakfast) but the menu is quite different. I'm not going to do anything radical, still good coffee and an egg casserole, simple and delicious. BUT, instead of MomMom's coffee cake (which is delicious in its own right) I'm making these.

It will be epic.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Late Night Post

Because my husband is out. Again. I texted him to ask when he'd be home, but then I left my cell phone in the kitchen.

This is the epitome of laziness.

Yes, that's Lily. She's an excellent pillow. 

I'm sick again still. I feel like I've been sick for ages. That flu shot did me no favors, especially since I've never had a flu. One cold after another, and now a lovely barking cough. Can't wait to showcase this at our party this weekend!!

Did I mention we're having a party this weekend?

We are.

We just love parties.

This is our third annual Christmas party, so hopefully it's safe to say it's a tradition. For me, it's a good chance to get lots of friends in one place and enjoy more delicious food than we could ever need.

Plus, the best way to get the apartment deep-cleaned, organized and fully scrubbed is to threaten me with lots of company.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


A truly productive day. There's just something about waking up when the alarm goes off, getting a shower, and leaving the house right away to put me in that "I'm going to accomplish things today" mindset.

I visited Jarrettown today, which was really fun. The best part of leaving for a week is that, upon returning, you are a rock star. The kiddos pounce, hug, cheer...you can do no wrong!!

It's awesome.

I also went to Elcy's Cafe today, which is one of my favorite places to just sit and chill. I got lunch and a coffee, and I worked on some job applications. Woot! I shall find a job.

Then I came home and kept right on truckin'...until tragedy struck.

Our first casualty of Christmas 2011.

Cue the sad music.

Dun dun dunnnnn. And the culprit?

She seems wholly unapologetic. Stupid tail.

Anyway, I didn't let that stop me. I strung up the lights and garland outside:

And I had an inspiration this year. For the last two years I've wrapped the lights and garland around the metal rail (only a plumber would find it convenient to use a huge mental pole as a handrail), but when it gets snowy and icy the lights and garland make holding the rail rather treacherous. And our stairs are fairly treacherous as it is.

So this year I wrapped the decorations around the wooden part, below the actual handrail. Still pretty and festive, but much safer. I'll take some pictures after dark when it's all lit up, it's a very cozy effect.

Lastly (so far) I attacked the attic.

I know this sounds dramatic.

But our attic will be the death of me.

If the stairs don't kill me first.

I'm a neatnik, an organizer, and a pretty minimalistic person. I love a plethora of food and books; other than that, I only need one or two pairs of jeans, enough sweaters to not wear the same one twice in one week, and I was perfectly fine sharing a car (which we did, until just recently). Our attic does not conform to any of these standards.

The reason for this is pretty simple. When my parents moved, I took everything that I thought I might want to keep; thus, all of my sentimental, don't-really-use-it-but-can't-bear-to-get-rid-of-it crap is in the attic. Then, when Dan and I got married his parents indiscriminately packed up his room and dropped it off at our apartment.

So our attic is a dump.

I'm slowly and surely purging it, every few months I throw away a couple more boxes of stuff. Over the summer I donated about six trash bags of clothes we hadn't worn since high school, and the next to-be-donated collection is my old books. I'll keep Laura Ingalls Wilder, but the rest are going to the local library.

So today, I got rid of this:

It doesn't look like much, but let me tell you, it made quite a difference.

And no, you won't be seeing photos of the attic anytime soon.

Nice try.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Caution: God At Work

I've been working on several things lately.

Especially now that I have time to think beyond what-does-this-child-want-please-don't-shout-we're-inside-raise-your-hand-don't-call-out-wash-your-hands-they-are-filthy-did-you-remember-to-flush-the-toilet-quiet-in-the-hallways and the other billion and a half things that are constantly running through my head and out my mouth when teaching kindergarten.

Aww, I miss those little buggers. Good thing I'm visiting soon!

One work-in-progress lately has been my deepening understanding of grace.

Yep. A serious post. You can always leave now and come back later when it's more muffins and Lily and whatnot, if that's what you really want.

But do you?!

Grace has always been my mom's thing (yeah, again, go ahead and laugh). I struggled more with the faithfulness part of my faith, where I really clung to God as my only strength and purpose and focus and all those good things. However, recently I've come to realize that I had it all wrong for a long time.

Are you surprised?

See, I'm not really that good at being faithful. I'm weak, I'm fickle, I get distracted eas--ooh, shiny!

You get the point.

So when the focus of my beliefs is on how I can be faithful to God, rather than really understanding how He is faithful to me, things turn pretty sour pretty quickly. I get discouraged, I get angry (mostly at myself) I get frustrated with what I think is God failing me, when in reality I've got the whole thing backwards from the beginning.

Christianity is not about what we, as humans, can do for God. It never has been, it never will be. See: the Pharisees. Rather, Christianity is about what God has done for us, by grace, through Jesus Christ and the redeeming power of the cross.

The whole point of grace is that I. DO NOT. DESERVE IT. 

It's not anything that I can do, it's not my faithfulness, it's not my choice to believe, it's not my goodness as a human that makes me worthwhile to God. And believe me, after spending one year with 2-year-olds and one semester with kindergarteners, it's really easy to believe that humans have no innate goodness whatsoever.

When I really step back and look at grace as God intended it to be, I find something so awesome (in the traditional sense--awe-inspiring, not like "awesome shoes dude"), so humbling, so overwhelming that I have no choice but to just sit back and let it overtake me. God loves me for no reason at all. He just does. He justified me to Himself, is redeeming me from myself, and will sanctify me to His purpose, all just because He can.

Let me say that again. JUST BECAUSE HE CAN.

When I accept this grace as it was meant to be (and I use the term "accept" loosely--who can resist such an overpowering gift of love?!) I find that I am nothing. And rather than being a deprecating realization, it is so peaceful, so right, that I no longer care about my worth. I'm not worrying about my self-worth, I'm not worrying about my rights, I'm not even worrying about working on myself to become the person I'm supposed to be, all because I'm covered by grace. I can bask in this grace, rest in God's faithfulness to me, and allow this grace the penetrate every area of my life.

In that way alone can I truly come to be faithful to God (as a response, rather than by my own initiative) and become who God intends me to be. It's a long way off, but each baby step reassures me that I'll get there eventually.

I know I'm not really saying anything original here. It's all been said, it's all been done, there's nothing new under the sun....but seriously. It's still pretty cool. And if-and-when it clicks for you, I promise. It will feel pretty new and cool to you.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Last Days

Yesterday was my last day of student teaching.

Cue the dramatic music.

I actually wan't that emotional while I was at school, but I'm still feeling kinda sad. It was a lot of time and effort, and I really loved the class. BUT! I already have plans to go back and visit, and I'm furiously beginning my job search. Because I want my own classroom. One that I can keep for more than 12 weeks.

But until that begins, here are some snapshots from my last days at Jarrettown:

 Snowman poems--we did a brief study of shapes, and then we sponge painted snowman using different shapes (triangle snowmen, star snowman, etc) and the kids wrote "poems" using describing words.

 My last bulletin board:

 The kids decorated the snowman and we cut out snowflakes from coffee filters (also using shapes!)

And, finally, they threw me an adorable little party yesterday afternoon.

There was a cake, but I didn't get any pre-cut pictures. The kids devoured it and promptly began bouncing off the walls. Our room mother, who is an incredibly sweet lady and is truly excellent at her job, was fine with the kids eating a slice of cake, two or three cookies, and a Capri Sun juice.


Just picture it.

Anyways, it was very fun. They all decorated the banner and my lovely new teacher bag has all their handprints (signed, of course--who doesn't love kindergartener handwriting?!), and the parents chipped in for some sweet gifts (flashcards, Becker store gift card, etc).

So all in all, it was a great experience and I'm ready for the next adventure. 6th grade class in a mostly Hispanic charter school? (read: job posted online that I will probably never have, but will pursue aggressively nonetheless) Bring it!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Far As the Curse is Found

I loooooove Christmas.

Thanks, Mama. Yes, you can laugh.

Truth is, I will always say that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it's simply and entirely about my two favorite things in the world--family and food. Yes please.

However, it is also my favorite because it is the gateway to my next favorite time of year, which is undoubtedly Christmas. I don't really care about presents or Santa or even Nativity scenes where the actors are freezing their *bleeps* off and everyone is trying to feel sappy and spiritual but is really just shivering. What I do care about is that feeling of warmth, of safety, of community, of thankfulness, of recognizing all that we have and celebrating in humility the wonderful gifts we have been given (both under the tree and otherwise). I have this very Norman-Rockwell-esque picture in my head of a cold wintry night, and the bright window of a house shining out with lots of people inside, staying warm and enjoying each other's company and laughing and talking. That's my Christmas.

I also love Christmas because we get trees.

I love trees.

I love them in general. And for some bizarre reason, during this time of year, we are invited, even encouraged, even looked-down-upon-if-you-don't-do-it, to bring a big wonderful smelling tree inside our homes.

(I wanted pictures of us decorating it too, but I couldn't find my camera. Turns out I left it at school, so you can just enjoy the finished product. I love the way the light streams in through the branches in the morning.)

This tree is kind of funny to me, because my mom always wants the biggest tree she can find on the lot, and there's always some crazy, good-natured argument about whether or not it will fit. This has happened every.single.year in my living memory. I, however, just like a medium-sized tree, big enough to fill the space without overwhelming my small living room, big enough to hold the ornaments without looking crowded, or empty. This tree looked great, but it was a little bigger than I anticipated once we got it in the actual space, but oh well. It looks nice, and we'll take it down a notch next year. I just have to remember that the stupid tree stand adds several inches.

Otherwise, though, I'm super happy with the way our holiday decorations are turning out so far.

The baker's rack Kate gave me as a wedding gift looks great, too!

I'm succumbing somewhat to the Henrich style of decorating. My house will always be a little brighter and more colorful than a true Henrich, but I like the rustic touches and earthy colors.

Even Lily is getting into the spirit!

Next up: finish student teaching (three days to go!) and decorate the outside. Oh, and Christmas shop. That's very important.