Busy Holiday Season

It has been a very busy holiday season. Because I am a teacher not only is the holiday season busy because of holiday parties, gift-buying, etc. but also because I am grading final project and proctoring finals.

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I am in the count-down, not to Christmas, but to the end of the semester. T-minus 8 days. In those 8 days I have 25 final tests and 17 research papers to grade. Almost there (with many cups of coffee).

That of course does not include:: taking, creating, and writing holiday cards, strategizing long distance about presents and wish lists, and planning holiday travels or outings.

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In this busy-ness it is difficult to focus on the importance of the season, to find rest, to be present in the traditions and activities. But I have managed to enjoy participating in our church Christmas choir, going caroling, and of course holiday baking (more on this to come). These types of actives help me de-stress and re-focus.

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This weekend Luke and I plan to get and decorate our Christmas tree and  the outside of the house. Both will be new challenges since we were not home last Christmas.

Plus we have to consider what to put on the tree with a curious almost 6 month old puppy (who I have already had to scold for trying to steal candy canes off a shelf).

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But I am looking forward to it and am going to do my best to be in the moment enjoying these activities instead of thinking about grades and grading.

Anyone else struggle to stay focus on the importance of the season? Some advice I am working on myself: take breaks, do de-stressing activites, rest, laugh, determine to not over multi-task, and get time for yourself and others.

Hope you are enjoying the holiday season.

I’m Back

I’m back after my two month long hiatus from writing. It has been a very busy past two months trying to take on projects around the house, fighting car problems (yes still), adjusting to a still new job, among other things.

So here is an update:

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Moving: We moved into our new home moving van and all the weekend of our Anniversary October 11-12th. Fortunately we had the help of my brother and his wife who drove all the way from Tennessee to help us.

All of our larger items fit neatly into the moving truck with the help of some of Luke’s friends on Saturday afternoon. We were able to drive it all up to our new house in Wayland NY and unload the bed so our guest had somewhere to sleep at our new home that night.

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The next day; our anniversary, we unloaded the truck and returned it to Corning. That night we celebrated with a double date at Red Robin. The next day I was able to play tourist with my brother and his wife while Luke worked then Matt and Stina left in the evening. We were so grateful for their help and that they were around to take pictures even though we were distracted and in our moving clothes.

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Since moving into our home we have been unpacking boxes and creating a list for projects. We have gotten most of our boxes unpacked, done some cleaning, and got our new-to-us piano tuned. But some of our projects have been interrupted by weekends of taking both the CRV and the 300m in for repairs and maintenance which of course has been frustrating for both Luke and I.

Our first house project is a dishwasher! You may remember if you have read my blogs for awhile that I have been without a dishwasher for the past two years. For a couple that enjoys baking and cooking this has meant many sticky dishes filling the sink. With some time looking around we finally found a dishwasher we knew would be great for us. Then in the past weekend or two Luke has been cutting out a hole where cabinets used to be on the right side of our kitchen sink to fit in our dishwasher.

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We have been to Lowes several times to buy electrical wiring and piping for the installation with the guidance via Skype from Luke’s father who is in construction. The dishwasher is being delivered today (we hope) so our project for the Thanksgiving weekend is to get it installed. We will fill you in on progress with that soon!

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As for work: I am finally to the place in the semester where I am no longer creating new lesson plans, class activities, or worksheets. As any teacher will tell you the first time teaching a new course is always the hardest because you have to not only adjust to the routine and expectations but also create your own set of lesson plans and worksheets etc. for your students. Next semester will be much easier. But from now until December 12th all I have left is grading; which means more time to prepare for and enjoy the holidays.

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So that is a start to updating you on my absence the past two months. I hope to get back into a writing routine very soon. What have you been doing while I was gone?

 

August update

I know you probably all feel neglected. I have been more than little absent this July and August; this whole lack of a normal routine-thing is really messing with my attempts to consistently write. But enough excuses.

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Here’a brief update: We are doing well with the house process. The mortgage application paperwork is in, the insurance taken care of; now we are waiting as all the parties involved in making this happen for us to do the necessary paperwork. We scan in pieces of paperwork asked for by the bank, or insurance company, or realtor and then we wait. We also have been procrastinating actually put our lives in boxes as we hope to hear a set close date for the house soon.

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As for the cars: well they are still being worked on. The new-to-us car (300M) has been in for an initial check up and we are glad we brought it in because it needed new struts and for a filter to be replaced; still waiting on the filter piece because it has to be special ordered. As for the CRV? Almost there but not quite done; sadly it’s still being brought back and forth to the transmission place throughout the last month.

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In the mean time I have been busy finishing up my summer course with Keuka’s ASAP program and preparing for classes in the fall. One interesting note: after having almost a full unit prepped for the high-advanced reading and writing course I was asked to switch courses. So as of last week I am now teaching low-advanced reading and writing which is a nine hour a week course (MWF) with two hours of class and one hour of lab. It is a large course to prepare for but I am excited to teach summarizing, reading comprehension and analyzing, and research writing.

Overall, it has been a full summer requiring patience and flexibility. I am definitely being stretched in taking things as they come and one thing at a time; my control-freak perfectionistic nature has really been tested. At the same time this season has helped us  be grateful for what has gone smoothly and taught us to handle what hasn’t with grace.

How has your summer been going?

A transition of Grace

As I mentioned in my Transition Update life has gone from 0-60mph very quickly. Since I started teaching on March 11 today is the first day I feel life is leveling out and beginning to settle.

Monday night the 10th I attended our second week of Choir practice for the Easter production. Then Luke the next morning left for a VA ethics conference, on his birthday, in Minneapolis MN.

That day (March 11) I re-read and looked over my lesson plan for my first night of teaching a new course. I was obviously nervous. It was my first time teaching a four hour night class and I was feeling a little out of practice. This had made it difficult for me sleep . So tired and an odd combination of anxious and excited I ate dinner alone and headed up the hill to the community college to teach.

The first hour was a little rocky adjusting to student interactions, managing time, and bouncing between activities and my notes. But after that first hour I remember what it was like to teach again and it all came back to me. I came home beyond exhausted but still shared everything with Luke on the phone.

The next day I totally crashed. My mind couldn’t focus and I was all muddled. We had freezing rain and snow and I decided I just wasn’t up to going to the Y for my bi-weekly Zumba class. The next day I began to regroup and had a girls outing to attend which helped distract me from the empty house. When I came home I caught up with Luke as we looked forward to seeing each other the next day.

Since then it has been difficult to make it to the Y. I am still keeping our dinners healthy but getting even a half hour to work out at home everyday let alone doing more has been hard.

In this crazy time of transition I have to remember and re-learn to show myself a lot of grace.  I am a person who thrived on routines; they help me keep the everyday problems and anxieties at bay. So when that routine gets shaken-up it always takes me awhile to adjust.

This is especially true when the new changes require more responsibilities and/or more socializing. In that time of adjusting I often expect myself to keep up with the normal routine items such as :cleaning, cooking, dieting/eating right, and exercise. But keeping up these routines while the whole of the schedule/pattern is shifting is sometimes just not feasible. Still my control-freak mindset likes to have temper tantrums about this.

I have to remind myself that when new stressful situations occur it’s ok to take a nap instead of exercise, or cuddle up with a good book instead of brave the snow to go to the Y, or to eat a little extra because my brain is working overtime and trying to adjust to new/old patterns of thinking.

These reminders require showing myself grace. Because in the end, after the adjustment period has ended, I will come out of survival mode and be able to take on the new responsibilities and stressors and still maintain those important routines. I’ve done it before and I will do it again. It helps to look back and recognize I am still more balanced and overall my life is healthier than it was before even last year.

The hardest part is convincing myself that one or two weeks without the normal diet, exercise, sleep, or cleaning patterns will not be the end of me or the end of the world-just apart of a necessary adjustment while in transition.

How about you? In what areas of your life or times do you struggle to show yourself Grace?

A transition update

Yes I know it has been more than three weeks since I last posted. No I have not abandoned my blog or my audience. Yes I missed you too.

Now that that’s out of the way here’s why I haven’t been writing: I have been very busy.

I know it’s THAT excuse again. But I am being honest. We are in a major transition here and it is a positive one but it requires adjusting priorities and time. This means enjoyable hobbies such as blogging tend to go on a temporary invisible shelf until necessary adjustments have been made.

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So now that adjustments are underway let me take the blog off the shelf and start filling you in on the big stuff:

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1. Teaching: Yes! Starting tomorrow I will finally be back in the classroom geared up with my post it notes, paper clips, whiteboard pens, and binder full of handouts. Yesterday I pulled my teaching messenger bag out of its dark forgotten crumpled corner and filled it with books, binders, folders, and teaching supplies- you have no idea how good that felt.

I will be teaching a college level writing course on Tuesday nights through March and April with a local college. The classes are four hours long (eek! I think I will join most of my students in drinking copious amounts of coffee) once a week. I’m looking forward to be able to teach critical thinking and practical writing skills to students who will use them not only in their course work but also hopefully in their careers.  I’m excited by this new opportunity and challenge but of course nervous as well. But it will feel good to be back in the classroom (even if it is for a once a week night class).

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2. Freelance editing: Another big Yes!! If you didn’t know, for the past several years I have been editing my mother-in-law’s books and materials. Now after a few years of experience under my belt I am  branching out to do freelance editing for other clients.

Now let’s be clear I never anticipated going into business for myself even part-time let alone in editing-but as with most people’s careers things gradually change and editing  has become something I enjoy . . . a lot . . . and no it’s not all about the grammar.

I look forward to helping writers express their thoughts and intentions to their audience and that has more to do with word choice, phrasing, and writing structures then making sure the writing is spelled correctly or in the right verb tense (although I do that too). I started working with my first clients at the end of last month and so far it’s been great to read, interpret, and expound on their thoughts, and ideas in a way that will help them immerse their readers into their story.

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3. Social activities: After the holidays last year we put our couples small group on hold until we could re-evaluate it’s direction and focus. After several months of talk, we decided to join up with a new small group hosted by a couple who had previously attended our group in the fall. We are meeting on Sunday nights right now enjoying coffee, baked goodies, and open discussion on how to get beyond the positives/negatives of the label “Christian”.

Also we have just begun preparing for Easter. At our church that means a large production for the community that will be available to see five time the weekend of Easter! This year  I am excited to get back into music  performance by participating in a  Easter production choir. Luke will also be participating as part of the cast. This means practices every Monday night and as we get closer to Easter some Tuesday and weekend dress rehearsals as well. It’s hard to give up one more night of the week (a night previously reserved for exercise) but it’s temporary and gives us the opportunity to get to know more people in our community and be creative.

So those are the big reasons why I haven’t been writing. Yes you will be hearing more on these topics. Yes I will be getting back to sharing about festivals, celebrations, baking, cooking and all of those other “normal” topics . . . in time.

So how about you? Any major changes headed your way?

Are you in a transition as we move towards spring?

Anything you have had to put on the shelf temporarily?

Busy: an update

First and foremost I want to say: No I have not forgotten about all of you!

Second: I have been busy!! I am not telling you this to apologize from my blogging absence. Instead I am actually sharing with excitement that life is finally getting full.  We have been busy with social outings, holiday events, small group meetings, and of course work. So what have I been up to?

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1. Mama Mia: On Thursday the 21rst Luke called me early in the morning and shared that one of his co-workers was giving away two tickets to see a local production of Mama Mia for that night.  I was excited, it has been two years since I’ve seen a musical and how do you say no to free tickets?! Luke said he would go with me but I told him I would ask my friend Sarah to come along for a girls night out, sparing him from a night of ABBA . It was wonderful to get all dressed up and check out our closest preforming art center: Clemens Center . We had seats in the first few rows and this more informal performance included a three song sing-along after the curtain call (costume change and all).

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2. Thanksgiving x 2: This past Tuesday we had our first round of Thanksgiving meals with our small group from church. So Tuesday I was busy making stuffing, cranberry sauce, and a fresh salad. That was our first day of real  snow and the ground was wet and slippery so it took Luke awhile to get home from work. Running a little late to small group, we came in to our friends Scott and Sarah’s mudroom to the smell of turkey and gravy. It was a great laid-back night; a nice change of pace. We enjoyed just spending time together talking about hobbies and our Thanksgiving plans.

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Second round of Thanksgiving we shared with our good friends Tre and Miki. They moved out here 6 months before we did from San Diego and are also newly married. We went to their house in the dark and snow around 4:30pm and enjoyed a great Thanksgiving dinner just the four of us. We played a little Dominion, watched Charlie Brown and clips from the Thanksgiving football game while eating pumpkin bread and drinking coffee. We were grateful for a relaxing day with good food and great friends.

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3. New Job: Coming Soon!! :You read right! After months of applying, waiting, and frustration I will have a new teaching position starting in February. I will be teaching a Business/Professional Writing course for Keuka College’s ASAP program (Accelerated Studies Adult Program). Right now I am in the middle of the hiring paperwork followed up  by online teacher training and so on. This has been a long time coming and although it is only one class for now, I am grateful for a foot in the door!

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4. Winter Has Passed: No I’m not delusional. I realize winter is only beginning, evident by the snow falling outside, Winter Has Passed is the title to a new book about to be published. This is my mother-in-law Diana Greene’s 4th book and my second book as her editor in chief.  We have been working around the clock to get the final edits together for this second book in her Extraordinary in the Ordinary series so it can be sold for Christmas. I also had the privilege this time of writing the book’s introduction. For more on this book check out: Diana Greene Ministries or Diana Greene Ministries facebook page.

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What’s next?: Today I am baking like crazy for our first Christmas event of the season that has potential to become a new tradition. Then next weekend is Sparkle (Corning’s biggest winter festival) and a Christmas concert. All of which I will share more about later.

So now it’s time to catch up with all of you:

Are you still stuffed from Thanksgiving? What do you do with leftovers?

Are you ready for the Christmas season yet?

Transition reflection

I’ve posted most recently about festivals, food,  and holiday decorations but I’m taking a break for this to reflect and share about some transitions ahead for A.Greene.

In 6 weeks and we will have been NY residents for a year! In this past year there have been many new experiences and challenges. For me a large portion of this was adjusting to living completely on our own.

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When we first moved I had little social interaction outside of skype, phone calls, or the grocery clerk. There were long periods of loneliness and boredom and a whole lot of time on Netflix. I struggled to adjust to the new life-pace. I had been in survival mode for months planning for a wedding while working. When we moved less than a month after the wedding I needed a large amount of down-time to adjust, everyone said so and told me I had earned it.

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But the adjustment wasn’t easy. I at first felt guilty and purposeless.  It took a long time to realize what I was supposed to be doing with my time. In the long run the time was not wasted: I learned how to create boundaries, how to balance my life, how to recognize stressors and handle stress properly, I got in shape, I learned how to maintain a household, learned how to cook healthy for two (check out my transcend category), edited two books, applied to jobs, and wrote more than 100 blog posts (see 6 months=100 posts!) None of that includes the learning and growing in my relationship with Luke! (For more on that just type marriage into my search engine and you’ll see plenty of recent posts).

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All of this to say, it has been a major year of transition and with this fall even more is coming our way.

Here’s what we are looking forward to:

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1. We are now going to be weekly co-leading a Young Married small group with our church. On Tuesday night we will get the opportunity to gather with people at the same place in life as us and share the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m looking forward to making new friends and to sharing our experiences adjusting to married life.

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2. I have some great job opportunities coming down the line: continued editing work and possibly teaching college-level English courses and/or substituting. I am curious to see what I end up doing, it’s hard to not get anxious wondering where I may be starting my career on the East Coast.

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3. Next weekend we will be celebrating our 1rst year Anniversary!! We are headed to Niagara Falls for a fun filled Groupon getaway!

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4. It’s months from now but: My parent’s are coming for Christmas! After a year of celebrating every holiday just Luke and I, we are ready for company come the holiday season. I’m so excited that it’s hard not to want to plan out every second of time together months in advanced.

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Plus in general we are just getting busier! In the past several weeks there have been birthday parties, dinner meetings, conferences, day-trips to visit friends, co-worker events etc. They are taking up our evenings and weekends more than ever before! It’s a great change (no more boredom or loneliness) but it has been a stretch.

Just as it was difficult to adjust to so much time on my own, so it has also been difficult recently to get out of my introverted state and get out there and socialize more. With transitions (even when they are good ones) there comes new stressors and challenges. As the routine shifts, I have to again adjust  and re-learn how to balance all over again. But it is so worth it.

As we move into the time of holidays what changes or transitions are you anticipating?

What adjustments do they require of you?