Tag Archives: memories

Appreciating the Ordinary (& a Giveaway)

Living Between Milestones | StairStories.com
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Sometimes it seems that we live only for highlights between ordinary days. Some of us live on weekends between work weeks or on holidays between classes. We seem in-between when we are out of school but not working, working but not at the jobs we want, working and not yet retired. We feel in-between when we are adults but not married, married but without children, have children who do not yet sleep through the nights, and so on.

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Field Notes on Resigning from a Job

Saying Goodbye

A year and a half ago, I left my accounting job to get married and move to a different town. Last week, I left my teaching assistant position to teach college. While my experiences do not make me an expert, I have made some observations. Here are my top five observations and advice for resigning from a job.

1. If you did a good job and got along well with people, coworkers and managers will be sad to see you go.

2. When you give two weeks notice, be prepared for an onslaught of writing procedures, communicating job duties, and sad faces. As word spread through the high school that I was leaving my last job, people’s faces would fall every time they saw me and remembered I would not be there much longer.

3. Write down the contact information for everyone you want to keep in contact with. You may think you will never, ever forget the email structure or extensions you used every day for eight years, but it only took me a year to get fuzzy on those things after I left my accounting job.

4. People who never seemed to like you or never seemed to notice you may go out of their way to wish you well or to say how much you will be missed. My favorite response is to smile and say, “Why, thank you!” Even while I am thinking, “I didn’t know you cared.”

5. Be gracious. Leaving is not all about you. Celebrations involving food were a big deal at both of my most recent jobs, so my departures were commemorated with snack days and kind words and lunches and lots of attention directed my way. As much as I would rather not be the center of attention, I tried to gratefully accept it all with gracious poise because I knew it meant my coworkers cared.

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Lows & Highs: Mission Trip

Low: There were numerous, random delays on our road trip from Memphis to Kansas but we made the best of it. With the help of Waze on my phone, we avoided one stretch of road construction but there was not a good detour around a second one. While we crept along in the two-lane construction zone, Brian noticed there was no traffic in the oncoming lane on the other side of the concrete dividers and guessed there was a wreck. He was right and we eventually came upon the scene of a semi versus car accident on a bridge with no room to get around in the narrow lane. We drove past about ten miles of cars stopped in the other lane, grateful that we were not headed that direction. 2014-03-21 18.32.38
High: My high this week was seeing what God did at Bible club on Whittier! It is so very easy to get attached to the kids in the few days we get to enjoy them. Also, I love seeing our college student team grow spiritually and emotionally during the week.

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Craft time is always hands-on, even for the leaders!

2-5 year-olds in a train!

Leading the youngest kids’ group (2-5 years) is like I imagine herding cats is. Sometimes we could get their attention by hollering, “Let’s make a train!”

Yoshi, Abby, Courtney

Yoshi (left) and Courtney are two-year-old who got attached to several of us and like to be carried around. It’s hard to see in this photo, but Courtney and I have matching purple eyeshadow.

 

Lows & Highs is a Stories from the Stairs weekly feature. Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs in the comments or by posting a link to your lows and highs blog post.

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Fashion Advice for a Stranger

Figuring out how to style my wig like Progressive Flo's hair for Halloween

I am not a fashion-savvy person at all and do not dress very fashionably. My everyday style is somewhere around the intersection of classic, casual, and boring. When we were in college, my sister asked to borrow a few of my summer tops to take on a trip abroad. I agreed and bemusedly commented that it was the first time i could remember her borrowing my clothes. “Well,” she replied, “I need boring clothes that aren’t very noticeable.”

Imagine my surprise when I was recently asked for fashion advice. I was browsing through the scarves at a local store when a lady came up to me. “I have a question for you.” I’m sure I looked surprised and confused as she continued, “I know you don’t know me, but I have no girly genes at all.”

Understanding began to dawn on me, “Oh, okay.”

She held out a peacock blue, peasant-style blouse on a hanger and her phone that showed a photo of printed fabric in shades of brown and blue. “I’m wearing this skirt to a wedding this weekend. Do you think this shirt will go with it?”

“Is the skirt kind of a flowing, full style?”

“Yeah.”

“In that case, you may not like this style of shirt with it. Every time I try two flowy pieces together, I think it makes me look like I’m wearing someone else’s clothes. I would try a more fitted or tailored top with the skirt.”

“Oh, that makes sense. I wondered about that. I have a cream-colored shirt I was going to wear, but wanted a scarf or something to add color. They don’t have the right color here, though.”

I suggested a couple other nearby stores that also carry colorful scarves and she thanked me for my help.

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When Traditions Change

BowlingThanksgiving is a little different every year, but many of us have our traditions that remain the same. For years, my family has had celebrated early Thanksgiving with Dad’s side of the extended family and Colorado Thanksgiving with Mom’s side (and whichever of us siblings who could go). Last year, Brian and I were dating and he had been looking forward to celebrating with his family in Oklahoma while I was excited to celebrate with mine in Colorado (especially since all my siblings came!). We agreed since we were dating and not married, it was more important to us to celebrate with our respective families than together.

This year was different because Brian and I planned to spend the holiday with our Oklahoma family and my two married siblings planned to visit their in-laws too. Then my Colorado grandparents moved to assisted living in Wyoming and my parents came along when I took my new husband to meet them over a long summer weekend. The family decided summer visits are nicer and easier in some ways, particularly since we have to drive further now. Suddenly, Thanksgiving was different for my parents too.

My new Oklahoma family had their traditional dinner on Thanksgiving Day and some of us played games afterward. Brian and I taught them how to play Golf (the card game) because it works for odd numbers of players and does not take long to learn. Later that weekend, we went bowling with the extended family. (From what I am told, that has not been a tradition in the past.) Most of the family did not know my opinion of bowling, though, and I think some of them felt bad for me at first because I bowl badly… very badly. In one of our two games, I scored under fifty. Nevertheless, I find bowling to be relaxing, hilarious fun because I know I am not skilled at it; there is absolutely no pressure to play well.  I like the social aspect of chatting with other players while waiting for our turns and cheering when someone has a good throw. I also enjoy having no expectation of excelling, so I am never disappointed with my score.

Brian and I have only been married for six months, so we are still experiencing some of each other’s family traditions for the first time and figuring out which ones fit our family. When I was younger, I was very attached to traditions because I liked life to be consistent and familiar and comfortable. As an adult, I still enjoy some traditions but also have fun trying new ones, experiencing the way others celebrate, simply making up new traditions for our new family of two.

What are some of your holiday traditions?

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Wedding Collages

We do not have our official wedding photos back yet but here are some of our favorite informal ones!

Wedding Party Collage
Clockwise from the top left:
1. Groomsmen looking sharp: Mark, Chris, Clay (the best man), and Ben.
2. Cool, secret-agent-like ushers: Luke, Brian, Conner, and Cliff.
3. Lovely bridesmaid (and new sister-in-law!) Shanna.
4. Beautiful bridesmaid Laura.
5. Officiant Jon, looking relaxed.
6. Us with our attendants and ushers, looking a bit formal.
7. Personal attendant Rene, a rock star at organizing and assisting (note the way she easily holds three phones, a water cup, and a bouquet!)
8. Glowing matron of honor Sara (my favorite biological sister)

Wedding FunLeft to right from top left:
1 & 2. Getting dressed: Mom safety-pinned my dress straps because she did not trust the snaps. She told me to have someone check them if I felt anything tear or give way. Sara added that I should get help if I felt stabbing or bleeding and we cracked up.

3. Mom kisses Ben, my brother, after helping with his boutonniere.

4. Clay is a good sport about getting drafted to hold a bouquet.

5. My side of the family.
6. Brian’s side of the family. Interestingly, both grandmas pictured are on our dad’s sides, are named Ruth, and were born January 17 (one year apart)! Crazy, huh?

7. One of Brian’s favorite wedding day photos of me. I was laughing at the groom and groomsmen antics while they were posing for photos.

8. Josh, my brother-in-law, with Eli, my nephew. Eli’s ensemble is a white onesie with attached gray vest and purple tie because my sister is creative and handy with sewing! She added a purple band to his favorite hat (because he doesn’t like sun in his eyes or sunglasses).

9. Wedding party picture. I think our instructions were something like, “Okay, now act silly… or really excited… or something.”

10. Brian with his grandma Ruth.

11. The five of us girls grew close during our years in senior high girls’ Bible study with Andrea, our youth pastor’s wife. When the first one of us got married in 2007, we decided this photo would have to be our special tradition. Five years later, this was the fifth wedding.

12. Jon prays with the bridesmaids and me right before the ceremony begins. He told me, “This has been the most relaxed, special, fun wedding.”

13. A kiss from Dad as we wait around the corner from the sanctuary.

14. A high five from my brother, Luke, right before he and Conner open the doors for our entrance.

15. “You may kiss your bride.” At the reception, a dear, long-time family friend quizzed me, “I have to ask, was that a first kiss? Like, the first kiss?”

I smiled, “Um, no. It wasn’t.”

“Dang, I lost a dollar!”

16. My parents kissing after we drove away in a shower of bubbles.

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Wedding Rehearsal Adventures

The day before our wedding was hot but cooled off a little in the late afternoon when thunderstorms rolled in. As we gathered for the rehearsal, my dad warned everyone we may have to take shelter because the storms were likely to produce tornados. My response was something like, “Okay, let us know if we have to move.”

We ended up having to take shelter twice in two of the church bathrooms (there were two consecutive storms or one big one with two parts). The second storm was the biggest and Dad had us take cover in the shelters right before the city tornado sirens sounded. (A storm-wary dad with a smart phone is better than a weather radio and faster than tornado sirens!)

While we were in the shelters/bathrooms the second time, the power went out. Eventually, the worst of the storm passed and we emerged to a dark church and flooded parking lot (as far as I know, no vehicles were damaged).

Taking shelter with friends & family

Taking shelter with friends & family

WeddingRehearsal2

Tornado buddies Gram & Eli (a.k.a. my mom & nephew)

Conveniently, we had planned to have the rehearsal dinner in the fellowship hall and the lasagna stayed warm in the ovens. There was still no power, though, so the hall was very dark. I saw someone start lighting tea lights on the tables and realized I had better candles. I recruited my brother-in-law, an usher, and a friend to help me get most of the pillar candles decorating the sanctuary and put them around the dinner tables.

One of the guests seemed surprised, “These are your wedding candles! Are you sure you want to use them?”

“Oh, sure! They won’t burn down much. At my sister’s wedding, we burned the pillar candles all day and barely made a dent.”

Before dinner was over, the power came back on. As people finished eating, Brian stood up to thank everyone. His speech began something like, “Abby and I would like to thank everyone for being a part and – oh, we have a fire!” By the time his sentence registered in my brain, he was already at a nearby table, snatching a burning paper napkin and dropping it on the floor to put it out. Everyone was fine and I found out later that one of the kids had been playing with a tea light. Poking a candle with a paper napkin is not advisable!

Brian finished his thank-you speech and we wrapped up the rest of the evening without further incidents. As Brian drove me to my apartment, I told him, “After what happened today, I think there’s something we need to discuss that most couples don’t think about.”

“What’s that?”

“If we have to take shelter during our wedding tomorrow, I’m not waiting anymore, I’d want Jon to marry us in the shelter.”

“I don’t think there are any storms forecasted for tomorrow.”

“I don’t care. If there’s another tornado, will you marry me in the shelter?”

He laughed, “Yes. Maybe we could stand with Jon between the two bathrooms and finish the ceremony there so people could see from both sides!”

What’s your funniest or most memorable rehearsal story? Ours is a tornado, a flood, a power outage, and a fire!

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Catching Up

I am back from my semi-unintentional three-month vacation from blogging! Here is a summary of what has been going on in my life. What have you been up to this summer?

April/May

At the end of April, a school where Brian applied in Oklahoma called for an interview. He had three rounds of interviews for one teaching job in May while preparing for our wedding.

At work, I wrote and updated what felt like 100 pages of procedures and trained people to cover my job. Let me tell you, it is challenging to explain how to analyze information I have handled automatically for the past eight years! My last day as a factory accountant was May 29 and we still did not know whether we would be living in GB or Oklahoma when we returned from the honeymoon.

June

We rehearsed, got married, and went on our honeymoon without major catastrophes. (There are fantastic stories and photos to go with each of those experiences, so they will have separate posts later.)

At the end of our honeymoon, we found out the Oklahoma job was offered to someone else. For three weeks, we prepared to live in GB and started packing my whimsical, single girl apartment with its lavender living room, sunshine-yellow kitchen, and royal purple doorway.

We made a home-hunting trip to GB again and bought a ranch-style house (more details in a separate post). Closing was mid-July, so we lived in Brian’s bachelor pad apartment for three weeks while he taught summer school in the afternoons.

July

We closed on our house and moved everything from both apartments. We are still sorting and finding places for things and decorating (it will take a while!).

We are preparing for student ministry kick-off as college students return for the fall semester.

Side note: I updated my blog header, The List, and About today and have more stories on the way!

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Lows & Highs: 4/17-4/23/13

Low: By the end of the day on Saturday, I felt as stuffed as if I had spent the whole day gorging on delicious food (which is true!). That is not much of a low but it is what I have!

Highs:
1) With the help of our mom, my sister planned and hosted the best wedding shower I have ever attended. (And I am not just saying that because it was mine!) She took all my “It would be fun if…” suggestions and blended them with her creativity to make a fun, laid-back shower. We invited ladies of all ages and let the youngest girls volunteer to be models for the toilet paper wedding dress game. I am not sure whether they had more fun letting us older ladies dress them up or tearing off the toilet paper at the end! We had delicious brunch food and a coffee/tea bar with my favorite homemade gingerbread syrup, too.
Shower1Collage
2) On Saturday afternoon, our group of five girls met up for coffee since the three out-of-towners were here for the shower. (We have been close since we were in senior high girls Bible study together). We caught up on new details and enthusiastically chatted about weddings, babies, pregnancy, husbands, and whether it is easier to parent boys or girls. (So far there are three sons in our group with another expected in May, so none of us really know.)

5 Girls April 2013

What were your lows and highs from the past week?

Lows & Highs is a Stories from the Stairs weekly feature. Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs in the comments or by posting a link to your lows and highs blog post.

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Field Notes on Boys #1-5

I am absolutely not an expert on boys. My information is based completely on my experience and observations from years of living with brothers and having friends who are boys. Many of these can apply to men as well as boys. This set of Field Notes is mainly addressed to girls.

1. Boys do not think the way girls do. (In general, I find people do not all think the same regardless of gender, so it is best to not assume anyone thinks like I do.)

2. Communicating through hints and subtlety usually does not work, so be clear about what you think, feel, or want.
A. Side Note: To improve the clarity of your communication, think about what message you want the other person to get. Summarize that message in one or two sentences. Tell the other person the summary.
B. Side Note: Just because you are clear does not mean they will do what you want.

2. Boys look for reactions. If you like something a boy does or says, respond positively and promptly. Do not try to play it cool or ignore them. They want a positive reaction. If they do not get it, they may try for a negative one.
A. Side Note: Sometimes they try for a negative reaction simply because it is fun to see girls get annoyed, embarrassed, or freaked out.

3. Boys generally love to watch girls get embarrassed, especially if they turn bright red! (See previous Note about reactions.)

4. Boys really can and do think nothing sometimes. This is very relaxing for them, so please do not stress them out by insisting they must have been thinking about something.

5. When young boys do not know what to do, they initiate a random, usually playful, physical altercation. (See earlier Note about reactions.) When one of my brothers was about ten, he saw me reading on the sofa and proceeded to fling himself onto, sprawling the entire length of said sofa and squishing my book. While freeing my book, I asked him nicely twice to get off, to which he just grinned and acted like he could not move. I marked my place in the book, hooked an arm under one of his legs and grabbed his ear with my other hand. Before he could react, I stood up and he hollered loudly as I carried him into another room where our mom was reading. “Mom,” I said depositing him next to her, “You need to deal with your son.” He still indignantly bemoans how “mean” I was in that instance, but he does so with a mischievous grin.

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