Friday, December 31, 2010

Measuring 525,600 Minutes

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life?

How about love?
(From the musical Rent)

525,600 minutes. It doesn't sound like a lot of time, really. And, in actuality, one year is not that much time in the grand scheme of a life. Yet so much can change in one year.

Change. You know, when we were young, my parents would label a year according to, "The year of ______." There was "The year of house projects" or "The year of the graduations." I remember there was one particular year they titled, "The year of change." But when you think about it, couldn't all years be given that title? One of the crazy, wonderful, frustrating, joyous things about this life is its fluidity. Things never stay the same (thank God).

This year has certainly been one of changes- all wonderful. I have seen many Facebook updates stating something to the affect of "Thank God 2010 is over!" Due to the fact that change is never easy, and the fact that I in particular am slow to accept change, I was tempted to feel the same towards 2010. However, as I began going over pictures from the past 525, 600 minutes, I realize there is so much to celebrate.

So here is a look back on the more memorable moments of my past year:

Snow 2010
I thought this was so amazing! Snow like this in Texas will probably never happen again in my lifetime. Although, I wouldn't mind if it did.

And yes, we happen to have one of the cutest dogs in the world. But we're biased. :)

End of school year '09-'10
The end of another school year this past spring was really a reminder in how much I love what I do. Teaching is a wonderful thing, particularly when you work with such great people. That year was particularly memorable because my kids were wonderful, I worked with an awesome team of teachers, and I had the opportunity to refine lessons I already had- therefore getting to really focus on my kids. Here are a couple of my favorite features from my classroom this past year.

Home Projects- Summer
How true is it that, as a homeowner, your house is never, ever finished? This is not something Teen Magazine, Hollywood movies, or any of my Barnes and Noble purchases prepared me for. Just something you learn as soon as you join the club. However, despite the effort it takes, working on the house was fun, especially because of who I got to work with!

By the way, the Lantana expanded practically over night. Thank goodness, I'm not sure I got my mom's green thumb.

Bahamas Trip
This past summer marked the second Thompson/Martin trip. Kyle and I absolutely love taking vacations with these two wonderful people. We are certain there are more in the future.
The above picture is particularly special. Not only was it taken on our last night in the Bahamas, but it was also taken on our fourth anniversary. Just before this picture, the four of us ate at the hibachi grill on the resort. We sat with other couples, as you often have to at hibachi restaurants, many of whom were newly weds. I remember thinking as we ate, "I can't believe we are not one of the newlyweds!" Four years have gone by very quickly. Now, I would say I have the best husband in the world, but any woman who loves her husband will say the same thing. What I can say is that he is the best husband for me, and that he is the most kind hearted, dedicated, sweet man with the best laugh that I have ever met. Marriage is something that requires constant work. (Which, by the way, is something magazines, Hollywood, novels, and-even better- friends and family- warn you about. You're just inclined to somewhat ignore them.) But I simply cannot think of a more wonderful person to experience this journey with.

Rangers Post Season
Now I will admit, I have never been a baseball fan. It has always seemed a slow sport to me. However, I am married to one of the biggest Rangers fans in history. So, what does a good wife do? Buy her husband tickets to one game of the best Rangers post season to date, that's what!

I don't believe I'm exaggerating when I say that the only other time I have seen that man's smile that big was on our wedding day. :)

Ella Raeann
One of my favorite parts of this year has been all the babies born or on the way. After knowing nine, yes NINE, women pregnant at once, I can officially say I am in the baby stage of life. It seems all our friends are expanding their families. One special one in particular requires mentioning. Barb and I have known each other now for five years (wow!). We have seen one another through many different things, but this takes the cake. Watching her become a momma has been eye-opening, fun, joyous, and simply too cool! She will tell you that Ella is the most beautiful baby girl in the world. But she is the mom, and, therefore, a touch biased. So I am here to say that, though I have not met all the baby girls born in the history of the world, I am certain that God put forth a little more effort in this precious baby. And she is, most definitely, a doll.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, not only did she look beautiful pregnant, but she is now back to her normal size. Lucky....

My baby sister is now a Texas Ex! I'm so very proud of her. She is as smart as she is beautiful. That entire day we were all grins, thinking about all her accomplishments. Not only has she achieved so much, but she is now moving on to continue her degree in Speech Pathology. Emily has a passion for helping others, and a drive like none other. She has and will continue to do so much for others and it's simply too cool watching her do it.

My dear friend, Kelley Allen, also graduated with her doctorate here at the end of the year. So proud of her!

Friend Christmas Party
I love that we have the chance to get together with those we love at Christmas time. I will have to raid my family members' cameras for family Christmas pictures, but here are a few pictures of our circle of friends getting together for Christmas. It seems that each year brings in a new kiddo!
The Sessums, it seems, tend to have models for kids. Just saying. :)
Some good looking people in that bunch, huh? :)

So, to sum it up, more than a few memorable minutes out of those 525,600. And it's pretty incredible that each and every one of those minutes- the good ones, the difficult ones, the touching ones, the humorous ones- all contain so much love. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for being the One who gave and demonstrated that love.

On to the next season!

For those of you still reading (if anyone is), one more memorable part of 2010:

Yes, that is what you think it is. :)

Happy New Years to all!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Giving Thanks

As the season of thanks kicks into high gear, I am reminded that I am so very blessed. It is amazing that in my 25 years, I have been given so much. And so, with thanksgiving on my mind and in my heart, I wanted to reflect on those blessings which are constant and the most important.

I am a fallen individual. I am a sinner. My God is a savior. For His love, His forgiveness, His guidance, His faithfulness, and His grace, I am and will always be thankful.

My Family
My husband and I celebrated four years of marriage this summer. Certainly not a milestone, but four years of being married to a loving, kind, funny, sweet, godly man is something to celebrate daily. I wake up each day with the knowledge that I am loved as much as I love him, and that the best is yet to come. What a blessing.

I have the best dad, mom, and sister in the world. They provide such support, love, and laughter. My dad is such a mentor. His option and advice is something that I have always cherished. My mom has taught me countless lessons and given me such indispensable advice. My sister is such a beautiful young woman. I am so very thankful for her humor, love for life, and sweet nature. It may seem natural for younger siblings to look up the the older one, but I am fortunate to say that I have a younger sister whom I greatly admire.

My mother and father in law are also such a blessing and have definitely become part of my family. I am constantly thankful for my mother-in-law's wisdom in the kitchen and my father-in-law's wisdom with house upkeep. They have both saved our butts, more than once. :)

My Grandma Emma is one of my biggest blessings. She taught me to love theater, to find joy in giving rather than receiving, to walk with God even in (and particularly during) difficult times, and to love others before yourself. My prayer is to become half the woman she is.

My Friends
We are as blessed with friends are we are with family. This summer, Kyle and I went on another vacation with the Thompsons. We do not get to see them often enough, and are always thankful when we do. They are such fun, kind friends and we look forward to all the vacations to come.

Kelley is a friend of mine for five years now. From the beginning I was so very surprised by her ability to overcome obstacles with grace as well as her innate tendency to put absolutely everyone before herself. She deserves everything good and beautiful in this world.

Liz is the friend that I am thankful for personally and professionally. She has helped me shape my teaching methods in addition to providing a patient, objective ear. In a perfect world, she and I will be teaching together until retirement. :)

And of course, there's my bestie, Barbara. I did not know when I met that beautiful, vivacious woman five years ago that I was meeting someone who I could laugh with, cry with, and trust with everything. She is so very dear to me.

Yes, I am thankful for all these precious little lives joining the world lately! I have so many friends who are recent parents or becoming parents. It is so wonderful to see my friends entrusted with these children of God. Such an honor! I know God has something so very special planned for Mason, Ella, Jack, Aubrey, Parker, Alison, and baby McGuinness. It's a blessing to watch as they grow up.

My Job
Yes, I am thankful for my job. I am blessed to have a job that I know I am called to. My students are so very precious to me. It is such a blessing to work with them as they become adults.

Mine is a life truly, undeservedly blessed. I am beyond thankful.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reflection on Football

Allow me to begin with this: I am a proud Texan.

As my New York raised close friend, Liz, points out often, Texans are proud. And really, can you blame us? We have much to be proud of. However, one thing that I cannot totally get into, despite my Texan heritage, is the high-competitive, borderline vicious, nature of Texas football. We are a state that attributes touchdowns on the field to overall success of a city or school. This is where I separate slightly from the masses.

I grew up in a city that had two high schools. There was one thing that puzzled me from the moment I walked into those big glass doors to the moment I walked across a stage holding a diploma- the fact that each high school cared more about beating the other on the field than any other high school on that season's schedule. I watched every fall as adults and teenagers alike threw everything from casual challenging comments to snide, even rude remarks at one another. Ultimately, this did not make sense to me. If we were from the same city, couldn't we be happy for one another's success? Friendly competition (if there is such a thing) is one thing, but wishing a loss on your neighbors is another.

It is because of that upbringing that I am proud to support Texas teams as a whole. I come from a family of proud Longhorns. However, I pull for all Texas universities, so long as they are not playing UT. On a smaller scale, I am very, very proud to be a MISD teacher. It thrills me when any of our high schools succeed. And when we happen to play against one another (such as last night), I refuse to act in a degrading manner by purposely insulting another school in our district.

So today, October 16th, while I am of course pulling for the Longhorns, I also wish A&M, Baylor, and especially Texas Tech much success. If one Texan team wins, then its Texas that wins. So, while I can't bring myself to say any of the slogans for all those other teams, I say Hook 'em to all.

That is enough ranting for now. I shall have to dedicate another blog to the sins committed by some native-born Texans who cheer for non-Texan teams....

Hook 'em (and go Rangers)!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why I'm Thankful for Pregnant Friends

Ok, so it's a funny topic, sure. But I am very thankful for all these pregnant ladies that I know and love. And no, I don't just say that because I'm excited to hold all them, although that is certainly a big part of it. :)

I have now taught for nearly four years. I absolutely love it. I am fortunate in that I've always known my calling. I knew very early on that I wanted to be a teacher. Thinking back on the conversations I would have with my parents about the idea of teaching, I can remember one topic in particular that someone would always mention: education versus parenting. My parents would typically mention that teachers and administrators were there to educate, not parent. I agreed then much as I do now.

Except I've now experienced the other side of this issue. I have had students come to me with a bruise on the cheek caused by a drunk mom, an empty stomach because dad spent all his money on drugs rather than food, or even just a lack of self-esteem because mom or dad was too busy working to care. I would like to say that I have been objective about these problems, that I reported them to the counselor and left it at that. But here's the crazy thing about teaching: those kids become my kids. Ultimately I cannot accept any credit for who they become, but I do play a part in shaping them. I can honestly say I love those kids. I love the innocence they still have when viewing the world. I love the excitement they experience at discovering something new. I love watching them accept others and love others without reservation. I love them, it's that simple.

So objectivity becomes hard. I cannot stand sitting on the sidelines as they are impacted by parents that are abusive, careless, selfish, or just plain indifferent.

One of my favorite movies ever is Parenthood. While I am not a parent yet, I have a feeling that it is just about as close to the truth as you can get. One of the best scenes is when Keanu Reeves's character, a less than intelligent person, makes an incredibly intelligent remark. He says, "You know, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car- hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father." How true.

So the point to all this (yes, I do have one) is this: I am thankful for pregnant friends because I know, whole-heartedly, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they will make amazing parents. I am so full of joy knowing that these little ones, these children of God, will be loved, provided for, and nurtured.

Thank you to those who are parents and who love your children to the point of daily sacrifice. You are admired and loved as well.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Let's start at the very beginning...

A very good place to start, if you know where the beginning is. I have been wanting to begin a blog for some time now. Imagine that, an English teacher wishes to write! Yet I find that the beginning is tricky. Writers typically know where they're going, but usually not how to start. So, I'll start simple.

I am blessed.

That just about wraps it up.


P.S. Thank you to my wonderful friend, Barbara, who helped me figure out this blogging world. Don't know what I'd do without her, in the blogging world or in the real one. :)