Why I Say “Happy Holidays”

tree1    As the first semester is coming to an end, the presents are coming in. I’ve tried to make sure to send a “thank you” email to parents for their gifts (as well as a card to the students). However, when I get to my valediction, I hesitate.

Since I teach internationally, the school has an extended break–over a month-long. I won’t be back in Costa Rica until the end of January, and Christmas isn’t the only holiday that happens between now and January. So saying “merry Christmas” doesn’t feel fitting. However, being a Christian, I feel like the Christian-society has made saying “merry Christmas” a HUGE ordeal. Am I denying my Christianity by intentionally NOT saying “merry Christmas”? Also, does me not saying “merry Christmas” really mean I’m “leaving Christ” out of “CHRISTmas”?

No and no. When I decide to conclude my emails with a “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas,” it’s because I am wishing them happy holidays. I am not only wishing them a merry Christmas, nor am I throwing my faith out the window. When I say “happy holidays,” I am not leaving Christ out of anything.

I’m not even going to spend my time discussing this so-called “argument” because it’s simply foolish. Moving on…

Now, if I’m literally wishing someone a merry Christmas, say on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, then of course I’m going to say “merry Christmas.” I guess my point to this whole rant is that if some people are so concerned with Christmas losing it’s meaning, then they should do more than pick an argument over saying “merry Christmas.”  DO something that will keep Christ as the focus. Words can only go so far. And now,  from what I see, people are spitefully wishing others a “merry CHRISTmas” and insisting that others say “merry Christmas,” too. In my mere opinion, this is FAR from keeping Christ the focal point.

I wish you all happy holidays.


It’s A Whirlwind

I’ve been married for a month, I’ve been in Costa Rica for 2.5 weeks, and tomorrow I start teaching. Whew! When I say a lot has been going on–I mean A LOT!

Being married has been great. I love spending time with John everyday and our conversations before bed the most. Obviously there has been some adjustments (wait… you mean, if we don’t go grocery shopping…there’s no snacks in the pantry?), but it’s still great. I’m learning how to cook…as I’m typing this, we have a BBQ chicken in the crock pot. I can’t take too much credit for making it–that’s why I said, “we have”. As soon as John told me I had to break the leg off of the whatever part of the chicken, I lost it.  So, for any recipes including raw meat, it will be a “we” instead of a “me”.

Our first home is definitely a work in progress. I’m learning just how intense my OCD tendencies are, especially when it comes to cob web on windows, muck on the floor, and bathroom drains that make even God plug his nose. Speaking of nasty drains, anyone have any solutions? We’ve tried Drain-o and bleach. Please, for the sake of our poor noses, offer up some feasible solutions.

Oh, yeah, to keep the complain train in motion, the shower head has the oddest shade of green mold I have ever seen. Perhaps, if it wasn’t mold, it would be a pretty eye color. And, in case you were wondering, it is slippery. Not that any of you would reach up and grab it to adjust the water. Advice: don’t.

But, in all seriousness, the place really has grown on me. I love the little bedrooms, the intimate living room, the land lord (what?! Yes.), the two bathrooms, and the location (we can walk to the mall! With my shopping history, I haven’t decided if this is good or not…). John and I are very fortunate for having a place to call home. As strange as it sounds, I do look forward to continuing our cleaning to make our home even more ours.

Tomorrow is the first day of school! Whoo-hooo! I haven’t slept well the past two nights, so hopefully tonight I will pass out. I feel like one of the 6th graders I will be teaching: I’ve already got my outfit picked out for tomorrow, I keep checking my book bag to make sure all my supplies are there, and I’ve got butterflies in my stomach. I’m excited with a sprinkle of nervousness. Okay, maybe more than a sprinkle.  I know it’ll all be fine, truly. It’s just the first part that will be hard–rip that bandaid of comfort off that wound of insecurities! I’ve got to stop procrastinating and making up terrible metaphors. Lesson planning time round…27?

Tips for brides

21 days I’m a wee bit behind on updating this blog–so much has been going on! From my first bridal shower, to my lingerie shower, to meeting with the wedding coordinator, to picking out my flowers, to packing, etc. Needless to say, I’ve been busy.

As all this wedding planning is coming to a close, I cannot help but to reflect on the planning process. There have been ups and downs to planning a wedding in such a short time (I had a little over 4 months). Some of the downs, I believe, are common things all brides will deal with–whether they’re engaged for 4 months or 4 years. And they’re things that I never thought of until I was in the middle of it. So, I decided to make a tip list for newly engaged ladies who are trying to figure out how in the world to plan for their start to “happily ever after”. Let me know your thoughts!

1. Book your venue quickly as possible and READ the contract. You need to know which decorations the place will allow you to have, fees for bartenders, how much time you have for set up and clean up, if they allow candles or sparklers, etc. You don’t want to have your thoughts going one way and finding that the venue will not allow certain things–it’s a bummer. Find a venue that fits you and your style, then book it, and figure out all the ins and outs.

2. Instead of spending the extra money to have return RSVP envelopes, consider setting up an email for people to RSVP to. It may also be wise to include a phone number for those who do not have email or rarely check it.

3. Still on the topic of RSVPs, set the final RSVP date earlier than you actually want people to respond by. If you set the date at the very last day possible, you will still have people who have not responded and you’ll be trying to figure out how to give a final head count to the venue and caterer.

4. Set up different email folders. Your email will be filled with things from DJs, venues, caterers, bakeries, etc. If you have different folders for each thing (such as “DJ”) it will make it easier for you to check appointments and past conversations. You will have your hands full with other things–you don’t want to have to resend an email asking for something that has already been answered.

5. Don’t allow too many cooks in the kitchen. Meaning, don’t ask the opinions of too many people. The more opinions you have, the more you’ll begin to question what you want vs. what others want. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll stress because you’ll try to please too many people and you simply can’t.  I suggest having your fiance, mom, and MOH being your “go to” people.

6. Make use of wedding websites, such as The Knot. It will help you organize different things and remind you of little details you may have over looked. I used it mostly for the guest list–which has different features to allow you to select who has responded to your RSVPs, if you have received a gift from someone, and if you’ve sent a thank you letter. They also have a free app that syncs to your website–awesome!

7. Use an agenda/planner. Girl, you will have so much stuff going on and sticky notes just won’t do it. Invest in a cute planner to mark appointments and showers. I also liked to set monthly goals of things I need to have done by the end of the month. It’s also fun to see your wedding day getting closer and closer.

8. If you’re moving, pack before the wedding. You don’t want to have to worry about packing when you get back from the honeymoon. If the two of you are getting a place together, try to close on it a couple weeks before the wedding so you can even move your stuff in there. That way, when you get back from the honeymoon, you’ll already be settled.

9.Have your  bridal shower before a lingerie shower or other intimate showers. This way some of the girls who may not know one another have an opportunity to get to know each other in a less awkward environment. Then, when it comes time for the crazy showers and parties, people already know one another and you can just enjoy yourself.

10. Keep receipts. Seriously, just keep them all. Even ones you think you won’t need.

11. Start writing thank you notes right after your first shower. If you let them build up, you’ll get overwhelmed and not put that “personal touch” in the notes because you’ll be too tired. Also, in case you were thinking it, don’t skip on the thank you notes. A lot of the traditional stuff can be skipped, but this is one that must stay. People expect them AND it’s the least you can do to show your appreciation. Oh–and remember to send thank you notes to people who also give you money. It’s still a gift.

12. Remember that you’re wedding may not go exactly how you thought–but that’s okay! The most important thing is that you get to marry the love of your life.

Pictures from my showers:

me and holly me and melaniethreecookies decorations flowers

Journal Keeping

Today is one of those days where I haven’t done much of anything. I over slept, I did dishes, I wrote in my journal, and I listened to music. However, it’s been a productive mental day. My mind has wandered so much! I love letting myself just lay on my bed and let the music take my thoughts where ever they choose to go.

I started keeping a journal in the spring of 2010, thanks to a professor I had at the time. Since then, I have scribbled down thoughts to fill my original journal, as well as 80 percent-ish of another. I love buying journals. Right now, my journal smells of leather and dust. When I open it, my mind just spills out through my finger tips.

Whenever I write, I always feel closer to myself. I gain a deeper understanding of who I am and what I’m going through. Normally, I don’t solve any of the questions I conjure up, but I do think a lot about the answers. There’s a quote I heard forever ago and it’s something like, “It’s not the destination that matters, but the journey.” Journal keeping has taken me on many journeys, often making me forget the destination altogether. Such a lovely thing it is to let your mind go here and there for no rhyme or reason.

Time Flies

Image     Santiago’s last day of school was yesterday. I cannot believe that he will be starting kindergarten next year! This little man is growing up so quickly! I know everyone always says that about every child, but still. Compare his first day of school picture and his last day of school picture–and that’s not even a full stinkin’ year! I guess having a nephew and watching him grow up will better prepare me for when I have my own children (years down the road).

Speaking of children, happy late mother’s day to all you wonderful mothers! I’ve still not picked up my mom’s present–whoops.Image I’m just creating anticipation, building up for the moment I do actually give her the present. Each year, at least it seems like it, I get the BEST of the BEST idea for mother’s day gifts. However, I always think of the gift a couple months in advance. Then, since it’s so early, I remind myself to get it later, closer to the date. But it NEVER fails, I always forget what my great idea was. I know, by now I should just go ahead and buy the gift when I think of it, but I never remember that until afterwards. I always assume since it’s such a good idea, I’ll remember it. Fool me once…twice…three…four times? So am I shameful fool now?

As the school year is finishing up, substituting jobs are becoming harder and harder to get. I need to look for another summer job. It’ll just be difficult with planning a wedding, packing, and working a summer job.I’m stressed just imagining it! Woe is the life of me. I wonder if I can work retail somewhere or go back to my teen years and babysit. Babysitting makes bank, y’all. People put their money where they put their values. And, thankfully, a lot of people value their children. Oh, the topic of children again. Now that I’ve made a full circle in my one-sided conversation, I need to start today’s tasks.

Happy Hump Day!