People Always Say "My Sister is Better Than Your Sister." But Mine Really Is.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Today is my sister Erin's 28th birthday.

As I said the other day, the majority of my memories from childhood involve Erin. She was my first friend and was my only friend for some time. It's hard to pick some favorite memories of Erin because there are just so many.

Sometime in 1986 I'm supposin'.
We shared a room pretty much forever, and not only was it where we slept and kept our clothes, but it was the place where all of our childhood imagination developed. Sometimes that bedroom was our store; the old, white hamper with the flip up lid was our check out counter. An old electronic learning game my grandparents gave me was our cash register. Our groceries and sundries were our hair ties, our books and whatever we had laying on our dresser.

Other days our room was our Barbie fashion studio. Never could Erin and I just get out our Barbies and play, no -- we always had a specific endgame in mind, with each doll to play a specific member of the cast and costuming was the most important part. Jazzie, Cecily, Stacey -- each Barbie had a name and a personality.

One of Erin's favorite photos of herself. She's always super
complimentary of her wrist fat roll. Haha.
We'd pretend to be the characters of our favorite books (like Molly's Pilgrim -- that's for you Erin), our closet could be a magic warp machine that could transport us anywhere we wanted to go in seconds. We were champion Trivial Pursuit for Juniors players ... we couldn't play against each other because each game would end in a stalemate. Because we memorized all the cards.

There are a lot of things to love about Erin, but one of my most favorite things is that Erin accepts people right where they are. She doesn't ever wish you were different than you are, she understands why you are why you are. But she's also the biggest champion of allowing people to change. She's very empathetic. She understands people really well, and she's always ready to explain people's motivations to you if you're having a problem. She likes peace; she likes when everyone gets along. She likes to celebrate things -- birthdays, graduations, even Snicks' birthday -- Erin always sends a card, a gift or plans a dinner or event. Erin makes you feel like a special and important person. She is also funny. FUN-NY. She's the kind of person who types the way she talks if you know what I mean. Vacation photos that would otherwise be insufferable to look through become an actual event when she gives them captions. I am on her all the time to start a blog because we'd be cracking up constantly.

I have had a lot of close friends in my life, but even if I get married one day, I don't think there will be anyone who ever knows me as well as she does. We grew up the same. Happy Birthday EDawg. I love you the mostest.

One of Life's Best Theme Songs

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Love like I'm not scared
Give when it's not fair
Live life for another
Take time for a brother
Fight for the weak ones
Speak out for freedom
Find faith in the battle
Stand tall
and above it all
Fix my eyes on You

For the People I Know Who Feel the Same Way.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Recently (and by recently I suppose I mean since the advent of the internet) there have been lists of things going around the web. Lists like 14 Things I Wish I Knew Before College, 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Full-Time Job and 25 Things I Wish I Knew and Did Before I Turned 25. There is always some value to these lists, and overall I enjoy reading them. I have even learned a thing or two from just such a list before.

But there's one thing about some of these lists that really bugs me.

One making its way around the world wide web right now is called What I Know Now at 29. I clicked on it because, hey, I'm 29 (at least for a couple more weeks), let's see if I know this stuff too. There were a lot of things on this list I agreed with and thought were great statements, such as

3. If you are lucky, your mom and dad will still be around. If you are really lucky, you will find yourself closer to them than ever before. If you are the luckiest of all, they will be the two most precious people in your life.


20. I have come to realize that most of the time, people are just doing the best they can. That might not be the best I can or the best I would like them to do, but it's the best they can do. Patience really is a virtue.

But there's always one on almost every list it seems that says something like the following:

5. Eventually, the most fun nights will be the ones with your loved ones in PJs, or at home with friends and family, a bottle of wine and maybe even their baby.

This is actually one of the less innocuous-sounding ones, and I do understand she said "friends" and family, but it's the most current example I came across. Here's the thing -- there are probably a lot of 29-year-olds (and 30-year-olds, and 35-year-olds, etc.) who would love nothing more than to spend their Saturday evenings at home with their loved ones or baby. But unfortunately, some of us have only ourselves to spend Saturday nights with if all we do is stay home. Some of us only have friends with kids or families or significant others, and they're not about drinking wine at our houses on Saturday nights. So as overjoyed as we'd be to skip the bar scene and stay home with our loved ones, we're not able to.

Sometimes what you saw in your head 10 years ago is not at all what your life looks like now. And if that's your reality it's okay to be sad about that for a little while. There might always be some grieving for the life you thought you'd have, but the important thing is not to grieve eternally, but to realize what is awesome about the life you do have. And if you got married at 23 and have two kids and your life looks an awful lot like you thought it would at your current age, then I am so happy for you, but I ask you to dig deep for some empathy and consider what it might be like to have the COMPLETELY opposite experience and wonder why God has left you out.

Both experiences are valid and have meaning.

And that's what I know now, at 29.

Shared Memory.

Monday, June 23, 2014

You know something I was thinking about today is shared memory. Not so much about things that happened necessarily -- which is also neat -- but memories about the sound of something or the smell of something, or something else like that, that could very rarely be recreated or found again.

The person I share most of my memories with is most likely my sister Erin.

Allow me to explain. When Erin and I were little, we had a cassette tape (dating ourselves here) that contained the story of Hansel and Gretel on one side. At the beginning of the tape, before the story started, there was this really creepy witch's laugh. Erin HATED it. The sound of it is still stuck in my memory to this day, and I bet Erin knows it too.

On the other side of that same tape was the story of Rumpelstiltskin. At the end of the story, after the queen guesses Rumpelstiltskin's name, he said, "Who told you? Who dared to tell you my name? You must be a witch, with terrible powers. I hate you, ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!" First thing, wow, I had no idea I remembered all of that till I started typing it, and second thing, I hear the voice of that character in my head, and I bet Erin knows it too!

We had these Strawberry Shortcake dolls that came with these little plastic muffins in a little plastic muffin "tin." They had this very distinct sweet smell that I can smell in my mind to this day, and, you guessed it, I know Erin can too.

It's things like that. Things that if I hear someone say something even in the neighborhood of "Who told you?" I'm like "WHOOOO TOLLDDDD YOUUUUU" in my head.

My shared memory sister Erin.

Soooo this is either making total and complete sense to you or absolutely none at all! 

Seven Quick Takes Friday: It's Been Awhile

Friday, June 20, 2014

Doing Jen's usual link up, hosted this week by Team Whitaker.

1. Look what I did!!!

I fried two eggs. TWO! By myself. Without breaking them. I've never been able to do that before today. In fact, I'm notorious for breaking them. In fact, my brother Thomas will only eat his fried eggs broken because I once attempted to make him fried eggs when he was a kid and ended up breaking them. I usually end up making scrambled for myself, even though I like fried better, because I just never could make fried correctly. I only ever got to eat fried eggs when in Morgantown with my grandma, like I was last week. I said something about how I can never flip them without breaking them, and my sister Erin told me the secret is to put some water in the pan before you flip them. I did so this evening, and voila! It's like I'm an adult now! Better late than never. I might not be able to make them as good as Mamaw can, but I never say I'm better than anybody else, but I'll be danged if I ain't just as good! (As they say in Oklahoma! The musical. Well maybe they say it in the state too, I couldn't say.)

2. So by saying this I am not trying to invite pity or anything like that (although I would appreciate your prayers), but I'm low on cash at the moment due to my return to school, so I've tried to make some cut backs. One area is in cable. I tried to cut if off altogether, but due to the fact I need the internet for school I ended up keeping some channels (sounds weird, long story). Basically I get the basic cable channels: NBC, ABC, CBS and PBS. Which limits what I can watch in the summer to things like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. But you know what? It's okay. When I was with my grandparents last week I watched NBC Nightly News every night, followed by Wheel and Jeopardy. Which I did at home by myself tonight. Oh and now I'm watching Celebrity Game Night. Who knew this was so fun? It's like living in the old days again where you only had like 8 channels.

3. Along those same lines of being poor, (Help me, I'm poor.) I have been worrying a LOT lately about how I'm going to make enough money to pay my bills. I really feel called by God to be a teacher, so I'm going back to school full-time. I have a part-time job (20 hours/week) this summer, and hope to get a 20/hour a week graduate assistant job starting August 1 also. (I have an interview on Monday!) I'm not sure I can go to school full-time and work 40 hours sometime between Monday and Friday also, but I'm trying to do all I can. The last thing I want to do is ask my (incredibly giving) parents for help, so I've been pretty stressed. Today I saw this on a friend's Facebook page:

I really appreciated seeing it. Like I said, I feel called by God to be a teacher, but if He's really calling me, then why would He be like "Anna, I need you to be a teacher. No clue how you're going to pay for it or pay your bills in the interim, but, yeah, okay, thanks, and I'll see you on the other side!" No.

4. My buddy (Heavenly helper/saint in training/whatever you want to call him) Fulton Sheen is one step closer to sainthood!

5. A. MEN.

6. As I mentioned on Instagram last night, I describe this face as dubious. Like the Tim Gunn of rabbits:


7. Speaking of Snicks, this time next week he'll be visiting my friend Jerica's church for their Vacation Bible School. He's done some things like this before and is usually very good about letting little kids pet him and things like that. He's boring, as we know, but he's sweet and soft and somewhat of a novelty. Should be fun!

Have a great weekend!

Anna Marie.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

You might remember my post from a few weeks back about my heart kid Anna Marie. She's the kid I spiritually adopted through Reece's Rainbow. I am praying for her to find a family because she is an orphan and, more importantly, she is seriously at risk of aging out of the orphanage and adoption availability. She has to be adopted before her next birthday. She will be 16 in December, so she only has six months.

I know not many people read this blog, but I want to share her again on the off chance that someone out there might see this and consider adopting her. There is $3,241.40 in donations available toward the cost of her adoption! With all my heart I wish I could adopt her, but with going back to school full-time and only being able to work part-time, I know I couldn't even be approved at this time. (But hopefully in a few years!)

If you can't adopt her, could you pray for her? I just truly cannot imagine what it's like to grow up with no one. No one who loves me or cares about me or gives me a gift on my birthday. It's horribly sad. Thank you!

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”
― Mother Teresa

Emma Grace is 20 Today!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Today is a very special day because it is the birthday of the one (the only) Emma Grace Lafferre!

I was one month and one day shy of my 10th birthday when Emmie entered this world at 12:51 a.m. When Emma was born, Mamaw (who had come to stay with us), my other sister Erin and I were downstairs in the family room of our old house watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show when we got the call Emma had been born.

I remember most everything about Emma's life since I was (um, am) so much older than she is. I helped my parents care for her, feed her, bathe her and entertain her. I often remember how she used to CRACK UP as a baby when I'd sit her in her high chair and attempt to throw Kix in the air and catch them in my mouth. When we'd sit around the table for dinner and someone said something funny, we'd all laugh, and even though Emma was too young to have any idea what we were laughing about, she laughed anyways. Which made everyone laugh harder.

She started learning to play the drums when she was only 5 years old, and she plays saxophone in the Pride of West Virginia now. She is also a lovely singer and sings in the shower (even if she denies she does it!).

She is Queen Bee of being laid back -- truly I've never seen anything like it. If Emma gets mad at you, watch out, because you must have really blown it! She likes for people to get along, so she always helps out so that other people are happy. She has a big big big heart -- I think it kind of looks like the Grinch's heart did after it grew three sizes that day.

She is studying Parks, Recreation and Tourism because she wants to work for the National Parks Service. She decided that years ago when she fell in love with Acadia National Park in Maine. I have no doubt she'll have a great career and do a wonderful job.

Some favorite stories about Emma:

- One day Emma came to me and Erin and said "I'm thinking about trying out for the school play." Erin and I were like "Okay. Great!" Emma was like "I mean yeah if I remember when the auditions are I might go." Anna and Erin: "................" Emma remembered when auditions were, went and was cast as a munchkin in The Wizard of Oz. On opening night, she rolled out on a chair with a flowerpot on her head and it was one of the best moments of my life. She also sang a part with just two other girls. Proud. She went on to play the old woman/sorceress in Beauty and the Beast the following year, and she also played a dinner plate in the "Be Our Guest" number. She couldn't high kick very high because of her costume. Again, one of the best moments of my life. (edit: as Erin correctly reminded me, Emma, in fact, played a sugar bowl, not a dinner plate. Erin jogged my memory when she reminded me Emma played "white sugar" while her cute African American friend played "brown sugar." Those girls!) 

- She once spent hours watching Gone With the Wind. Everyone else had seen it already, so she watched it by herself over a period of like two nights I think. After it's over, Emma comes and finds us and has this absolutely defeated look on her face and is like "I CANNOT BELIEVE RHETT AND SCARLETT DID NOT END UP TOGETHER." We were like "Um, we thought that was just like a cultural thing everyone knew." She was devastated and will never watch it again.

- This cannot be written, since the humour comes in how it was said, but since Erin's reading this, I'll just go ahead and say, "Have you guys ever seen that movie? I think it's called Pat-ton?"

She is a very special person and it's so hard for me to believe she is 20 today. Sunrise, sunset.

Love you forever Emma!

Clean Teeth and the Smell of Library Books

Monday, June 16, 2014

It's obvious that a lot of who we are and what we do comes from our parents. A lot of times what religion we are (or aren't), what time we eat dinner and our senses of humor come from our parents.

But did you ever think about the other things? The littler things I mean.

My parents always made sure that we saw doctors regularly. Once a year check up with our pediatrician, and twice a year cleanings from our dentist. You could set your yearly calendar based on those truths. I went to the dentist today because my parents hammered in me the importance of dental health. I was a little (okay a lot) late on this appointment, and I have been feeling super guilty about it like I've been letting my parents down. Haha. Also I LOVE the dentist. LOVE. I know most people hate to go, but overall, I love it. My teeth feel so squeaky clean when I leave!

Another thing my mom encouraged in me from before I was born was a love of reading. I talked about it in detail here, but what I have been thinking about a lot lately is how we spent our summers at the public library with my mom. As my grandmother said the other day, I really believe you can travel the world if you love to read books. So true! I was at the library in Morgantown the other day with my grandma, Aunt Elizabeth and 8-year-old cousin Katie. We were looking in the children's section with her, and I saw a solid shelf of some very old friends, the Boxcar Children (although when I said it out loud it came out like ohhhhh the Boxcarrrr ChildRENNNNNN)! Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny occupied a lot of my time growing up. It reminded me of some other lifelong friends like Ramona, Kristy, Nancy and Jane. When we got back to my grandparents' house Katie started reading me one of her books, and in the middle of reading she paused and sniffed her book. She didn't have to say another word, I knew exactly what she was feeling, but she said, "I love the smell of library books." AMEN!

So today after the dentist, I went to the library. I looked around at the stacks and stacks and stacks of books. But really, it's looking at stacks and stacks of adventures. I picked out four books, two by authors I'd read before and two to take a chance on. I'm so excited! And maybe when I return these, I'll check out Half Magic. For old times' sake.

Edit: I was looking inside Half Magic as you can do on Amazon, and I had forgotten what the first line of the book is. Check this out: "It began one day in summer, about thirty years ago ..." Kind of like me. :) Perfect, right? 

Before Zombies were Cool ...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

... Zombies Ate My Neighbors.

We got a Super Nintendo system when I was a little older, and one year my grandparents bought my brother Alex a game called Zombies Ate My Neighbors. It is exactly what it sounds like. Zombies are eating your neighbors and you have to save them. It is my all-time favorite video game.

Why am I talking about this you ask? 

Because I still have my family's old Super Nintendo, and I am also in possession of Zombies Ate My Neighbors. And I played it today.

Super Nintendo -- so hipster, right? There's actually a way more lame explanation: I never learned how to work a game controller past the Super Nintendo one, so that's where my video game playing fully matured. (Except I did know how to play Mario Kart on N64, but that's all.) 

Along with Zombies, I am in possession of Super Mario, Donkey Kong and Jeopardy. (Don't laugh, my cousins and siblings and I played Jeopardy at my grandparents' house -- they had a Super Nintendo too -- like it was going out of style.)  

That is what I'm talking ABOUT. 
I don't play that often, but today I pulled out the ole Super Nintendo and gave it a go.


Check these graphics hatas:

 It's so funny ... these graphics and overall game design are soooooooo out of date and old school but also soooooooo fun to play. What else is funny is that Super Nintendo is played solely on muscle memory. Solely. I grabbed that controller today to play Super Mario, and it's like my hands just knew what to do -- jump, shoot fire balls, get Yoshi to eat apples. I can't remember what I did three days ago, but darn if I can't remember EXACTLY how to defeat Iggy Koopa.

Y'all can keep your PS3s and your Wiis ... I'll stick with my Super Nintendo thankyouverymuch.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

I have been driving up and down and up and down I-79 to visit Mamaw and Pap for almost 26 years, ever since my family moved to Huntington from Morgantown when I was 4.

One thing has not changed in those 26 years, and that is I always cry when we drive away from Morgantown because I just don't want to leave. Last night was no exception. Last week went by so quickly, and I wish I could have stayed another month. I wish they didn't live three hours away.

I got up this morning and made some coffee and toast with jam. For some reason, my Keurig coffee doesn't taste as good as Mamaw and Pap's instant and my toast and blackberry jam doesn't taste as good as their toast with blackberry jam. Scientists should do a study on why identical foods always taste better at your grandparents' house.

I think often about moving to Morgantown, but then I realize I'd miss my mom and dad, brothers and my friends Melissa, Story and Sarah if I moved there, so it will always be a life of missing someone I love. I wish I could move all my favorite people to an island and we could all live there together. I think that is the only answer.

Nothing Bad is Happening

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Snickers (the World's Cutest Rabbit) sometimes suffers indignities at the hands of his mother (me). Indignities such as being taken to the groomer to have his nails clipped and being held and having his butt fur brushed. So, clearly, indignities of the worst kind. To hear Snicks tell it, there is nothing worse than a rabbit indignity. Because when he's put down after one of these harrowing challenges, his heart rate is up super high and he flips his feet at me. (Hater.) I always look at him and say in my calmest voice, "Snicks calm down. Nothing bad is happening to you."

One of his calmer moments.
This past weekend my cousin's son, who is not yet 2, was at my grandparents' house with his grandfather, my uncle. I had never met him before, and he was the cutest little thing! Like any child, he has the tendency to cry when he gets tired or is in a new environment, and he cried a bit. When I was near him and he'd cry, I'd say calmly, "Vinny, why are you crying? Nothing bad is happening to you."

My other uncle and aunt brought their teeny weenie dog over (so cute!) and the little pup whined a little bit. I'd look at him and calmly say,"Petey, why are you whining? Nothing bad is happening to you."

And I realized, maybe this is something I also need to be saying to myself. I am someone who tends toward anxiety, worry, stress and panic. I am super uptight. But most of the time I'm freaking out about things that probably won't really matter in the long run. So maybe I need to start telling myself Anna, nothing bad is happening to you.


Monday, June 9, 2014

This week I'm up in Morgantown visiting my grandparents and my other family. I'm spending the week here, which I'm really excited about. I used to spend a week up here with my grandparents every summer when I was growing up, but I haven't spent a solid week here since I was probably 17.

The big reason we came up this week is that Saturday was my cousin Rebecca's baby shower. Becca and I are exactly one year and one week apart, the daughters of my grandparents' only two daughters. We were really close growing up, and I really love and admire Rebecca. She is an awesome person who is one of the most hardworking people I have ever met.

A photo of Rebecca and me back in the day. Almost 30 years ago. Sheesh.
Becca and her husband Daniel are due to be the proud parents of a little boy named Sebastian (Bash! Well, at least that's what I'm calling him.) at the beginning of July. (Bec and I were also both born in July!) We had a really fun shower for them on Saturday. They are going to be wonderful parents!

Becca and Danny opening their gifts. Their son is a very, very lucky little fella to have them. How great does Becca look?
My mom came up for the weekend, and while she and I were both here we went to visit my great-grandmother's grave. My mother's mother's mother was named Anna Elizabeth, and my parents named me after her exactly. My mom loved her very, very much. Everyone called her Annie, which is what most of my family also calls me. She is also the person from whom I inherited the ring. She died when I was 9, but I really do remember her, which is so nice. We hadn't been to visit her grave in a while, so me, my mom, my grandmother and my other aunt went. It was nice to sit there and think about Grandma Annie for a while and visit my other family members that are all buried in the same area.

Anna E. Thomas who made me Anna E. Lafferre. Two Annies. I'm super fortunate her name wasn't Gertrude. :) 

I also realized that today is Grandma Annie's birthday. If she was still here, she'd be 109 years old. I just asked my grandmother, and she said for years Grandma Annie celebrated her birthday in May because she couldn't remember when her birthday actually was! It wasn't until her sisters found her birth certificate that they realized she was really born June 9.

Rebecca, Grandma Annie and me. Apparently Bec and I were obsessed with each other's outfits here! This picture is such a treasure.  
Obviously even if Grandma Annie hadn't died in 1993, she probably wouldn't have lived to be 109. But I do wonder sometimes what it would have been like for her to live longer than she did and to have known her as an adult person and not just as a kid. I know she was a great person, and my mom loved her so much, just like I love my grandmother so much. I'm very blessed to be named after such a great person. I have a lot to live up to.

I'm really looking forward to spending this week with my extended family!

Big News.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Since college I've held many jobs in many fields: preschool teacher overseas, how-to website, professional development for government employees, development at an art museum and managing editor at a magazine. I have met at least one wonderful, lasting friend at each one of these jobs, and for that I thank God. I have always envied people (like my dear friend Ashley) who always knew what they wanted to do as a career from a young age. For me, it's been more like trial and error -- weeding out what I don't like. 

A couple of years ago, while working at the museum, I realized that although I loved my workplace and the people I worked with, I was not cut out to be a professional fundraiser. At that time, I started evaluating my strengths and weaknesses, my interests and what I saw myself doing long-term. It was at that time that I start investigating the possibility of being a teacher, and even went down to Marshall University to speak with their education school about their Master's in Teaching program, which is a program designed for people like me who have degrees in something that's not education to help them become teachers. Around that same time, this job opening at the magazine came across my desk (literally) and, as working for a magazine had been a goal of  mine since high school, I decided I would regret it if I didn't throw my hat in the ring. As you know, I was hired for that job. Unfortunately, for many reasons, it became very clear, especially over the past couple of months, that that particular workplace was not the one for me, although I love writing and journalism.  

Me and one of the people who have given me so much courage, Mel. 
And, even more importantly, in the past several months I have felt a real calling from God to be a teacher. I have always loved taking care of kids and feel I'm good with them; I also do not think I'm cut out to be behind a desk for 8+ hours a day. I have always loved school and teaching preschool and ballet, and some of my favorite people are teachers. (Jen, Uncle Bobby, Uncle Marc, Aunt Caroyl, Uncle Paul, Danny, Katie.) I also think I need a career where I feel like I'm making a direct positive difference in someone else's life.

With that, I wanted to tell you all that, beginning part-time this summer and full-time in the fall, I am returning to school (again!) to pursue a Master's in Teaching from Marshall University. It should take two years, and when I leave school and pass the appropriate exams, I will be certified to teach Social Studies for grades 5 through Adult and Journalism to grades 9 through adult. God willing, exactly two years from now I will be looking for a job as a teacher. I have been told that statistics show many teachers will be retiring in the next year or two and it will be a great time to be looking for a teaching job. 

God has opened so many doors for me in this pursuit. In order to go back full-time I would not be able to also work full-time, and I was worried about finding a part-time job and/or a graduate assistantship to support  myself. Out of nowhere, a girl I had class with this past semester offered me a part-time job working with her. Additionally, although all the GA jobs were gone, I found out that there actually was ONE left -- a marketing job for which I'm qualified and have the appropriate degree. I do not have it for sure yet, but the prospects look very good. My last day at the magazine was today, and I also began my new part-time job June 2. Hopefully begin my GA in August. One of my journalism teachers also said he would like to talk to the dean about me teaching a journalism class at Marshall in the fall, which is also very exciting. 

Perhaps even more tellingly, I believe this plan was actually put into motion many years ago. When I first entered undergrad, it was as a Mass Communications major and a Political Science minor. In the first semester of my sophomore year I was taking my second political science class with a professor I loved and I started thinking about changing my major, with designs of working on the hill. So I talked to my professor, who agreed to advise me, and switched majors. But, although I loved all my poli sci classes at Shepherd, I realized that a legislative life wasn't for me, and I never really knew what I'd do with the poli sci degree. I actually have never had a job that used it directly. Fast forward to now ... this Master's in Teaching program works with your undergrad degree to certify you to teach something: English, social studies, math, science. Because of my political science degree and liberal arts education, I have most of the content classes I need to be certified to teach anything in the social studies field. Had I stuck with Mass Comm and still wanted to be a teacher now, I'd have to start all over again working toward an undergraduate degree in education. So I really think God had his hand in this years ago. 

Mom, Katie and me swinging on the day of my last ballet show.

Unfortunately, after months of thought, I also concluded that it was in the best interest of the dance studio for me to resign my position as director. I love my students and parents, I love dancing and I love our mission, but with a full-time course load and at least two or three part-time jobs I was not going to be able to give my students what they deserve, and it would be selfish for me to continue. Luckily, three teachers stepped up to take on the administrative duties so the studio's work will continue. It was a heartbreaking decision, but my students and their parents have also been very understanding and supportive, for which I am eternally grateful. 

Mel and I after the last show we directed.

I turn 30 this summer, and part of me is freaked out that I'm starting a whole new career (even though I know 30 is by no means "old"!). But I never want to make a decision -- or not make one -- because of fear. And, as my mom says, I will be 32 in 2 years whether I pursue this degree or not, so would I rather be 32 working at a job I don't like or 32 and a teacher. I am very fortunate to have the parents I have who support my dreams and goals, whatever they are and however old I am when I have them. 

I am really energized to become a teacher and I feel like I'm really following God's will for my life. Thank you all for your support and prayers! 

This post is one in a series on Turning Thirty. 

Grandma Annie, God and a Ring

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

For quite a few years now I have been in possession of a diamond ring designed by my great grandmother. I come from a family of immigrants and coal miners, so, needless to say, my great grandmother's diamond ring is a big deal. When she died, the ring went to my grandmother, who held onto it for many years until she gave it to me. My great grandmother's name was Anna Elizabeth, and I was named after her, so that's how this ring travelled down to me. I wear it on the ring finger of my right hand, and it's never been resized. It has always fit perfectly. It's the nicest and most special thing I have.

For a few years after my grandmother gave it to me I didn't wear it. Mamaw asked me once why I didn't wear it, and I said because it was just so special and I didn't want to risk losing it. Mamaw replied that Grandma Annie wore it all the time -- even when doing dishes -- and that it's meant to be worn, not kept away in a drawer. Ever since that day I've worn it all the time and rarely take it off.

Two summers ago my friend Melissa and I were at the dance studio doing some major cleaning and renovations. We arrived around 5 p.m. one day and by the time we left around 10 p.m. we had scrubbed floors, painted and laid down those sticky floor tiles. Man those things were sticky! We washed and washed our hands, but it was really hard to get the sticky off!

After we finished up I went home and went to bed. In the middle of the night -- and this is just the weirdest thing ever -- I woke up out of nowhere, sat up like a shot and was like WHERE IS MY RING?! I felt my hand. No ring. NO RING. I suddenly had visions of myself washing my hands over the sink in the dance studio bathroom and just knew the ring had somehow slipped off with all the soap and water and was now lost. I literally jumped out of bed begging God to please help me find this ring. I shook the sheets all over and didn't see it. I was getting so upset, knowing it was lost forever.

Then, suddenly, I looked down on the bed, and there my ring was. Just sitting there like it was the most normal thing in the world. I picked it up and put it back on my finger. The thing is -- there's no way that ring slipped off while I was sleeping. Just no way. It fits perfectly. Perfectly. Even now, as I pull on it, it does not budge over my knuckle. I shake my hand and it goes nowhere.

I figured out that night, and still believe now, that God rescued my ring and left it for me in my bed to find. There really is just no other explanation. And every time I look at it I am so glad to wear it and remember the great lady my mom loved so much she named me after her. And I know that I'll have this ring forever.

16 Kindergarteners

Monday, June 2, 2014

I signed up to help with Vacation Bible School at church this week. I found out yesterday that I was going to be in charge of the kindergarteners. Sounded good to me. I love kids that age. Frankly I love kids of every age because they are incredibly easy to talk to. I have a really hard time talking to adults, but I could chat with kids all day long! They don't judge your replies, they just answer your questions.

Yesterday I was told it might be 12-13 kids, but 16 showed up tonight! How awesome! No big deal, that's about the size of a ballet class. ... Except I forgot that ballet classes also come with a Miss Story. I was totally lost without my favorite sidekick! When someone needed to go to the bathroom I was like "Hey, Miss Sto--"  Nope. Although I had plenty of awesome help, it wasn't quite the same as my favorite class assistant Miss Story. She basically just read my mind. Required very little from me!

A couple highlights from the evening: First, our faith teacher asked the kids what songs they knew (about God). This kid yells out WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY! Class stopped for about two minutes while everyone over the age of 12 in the room cracked up! There was also the time when I asked Claire Little if anyone ever called her Claire Big. Blank stare. Taking the top spot, however, was when I asked the kids if they'd ever been on an airplane before (it is part of the theme). This one kid goes, "Yes. I threw up on one once." I checked to be sure he wasn't my actual kid. Kindred spirit. My multiple airplane barfs feel your pain kid.

Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!
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