Day 18 is a day of favorites, but the problem is that I have a lot of favorites, especially in these categories. For example, if you were to ask me what my favorite animal was, I would ask you, “domestic or wild?” See, there are a lot of different components of favorites to consider. I will do my best, as I am sure Madi will also, but know that in no way is this list exhaustive, nor will it be true tomorrow.
Book: This will be the hardest. I am an avid reader I read usually four-five books a month, and that is a slow month, during the school year. During summer I don’t know how many books I read because there are so many. Right now, I’m asking myself if I should start with my favorite of all time or choose a classic. I can tell you that one of my favorite themes in literature is “things aren’t always what they seem.” My favorite YA book would be Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban which is all about the way things appear versus what they actually are. I also loved The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia. I believe in magic because of books like these. Jane Austen inspires me as a woman, and Sarah Addison Allen helps me to keep my belief in magic, even as an adult. John Green and Sarah Dessen help me stay in touch with my inner teenager so that I can more easily relate to my learners. I’m stopping here now, or I won’t have room for the rest of my favorites.
Movies: So, I’m not a huge movie buff. I want to be, but I get al fidgety. It’s weird, but I can sit and read for hours, but try to get me to sit for an extended period of time for anything else and I start to get all antsy in my pantsy. So, I loved The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and I’ve loved both Hobbit movies so far. I loved all the HP movies. My secret, which is about to no longer be a secret, movie guilty pleasure is Legally Blonde. I watch that movie when I need a girl power or motivation. That’s a pretty huge secret, so don’t tell anyone.
Song: Right now, my favorite song is easily “Begging You Not To Go” by Tired Pony. First of all, the lyrics are beautiful. I can just imagine these two people who are at the cusp of being in love; it’s the time when moments are both shorter and longer, when every word is poetry and love has never felt so close. There is this line, and it took me a while to interpret it. He says, “We’re the last to fall all around us sleeping bodies Drunken satellites in the orbit of our earth,” and I remember this feeling with Nathan. Your surrounded by people but the gravity between you and the person is so strong it seems to disrupt everything else. The satellites look drunk because of the pull between the two of you. This song, in only eight lines, captures so much about love.
Food: Easy. Chips and Salsa. Love.
Color: Depends on my mood and the weather. In the winter my color is typically black because I’m solar powered and I start feeling a little bit melancholy. In the summer my favorite color is the color of sunflowers.
Animal: Domestically speaking it would have to be dogs. I mean, look at these two. They are precious.
Wild, I don’t know. Wolves are cool. Nathan likes bears, so I think that’s pretty awesome. Owls are cool, too. And Ravens. I like birds for all the things that they can symbolize, but I would never keep one. Otters are cute. Obviously, I don’t know.
There you go. What are your favorites?
I’ve been teaching at Rogers New Tech for about five months now. In that time, I have learned that ninth graders can in fact do their own research and think their own thoughts. I’ve learned that they can, most of the time, be trusted to do their work, even when I am not hovering over them. I have learned to use my own judgement and to trust my own instincts because they are typically dead on. The most important thing I have learned is to value a Growth Mindset.
Mr. Morley, one of the most brilliant men that I have ever worked with, talks a lot about “failing up,” the idea that if you fail, just like Edison said, you have learned a new way not to do something. At our school, the emphasis is, or at least we facilitators are trying our hardest to place the value on the learning, not on the grade.
At New Tech, we are going against a lot of societal norms, especially in the school system, because we are saying NO to teaching to the test. We are saying that we value learning. We’re saying that there is a different way to learn for every child and it is our job as teachers to figure that way out. We’re saying that sometimes a kid is going to have to fall down to realize the value of working hard, and that they should be allowed to fall down as long as we are there to give them a hand up when they are ready to get back up again. That is the shift in thinking that America as a country must make before we will be able to “catch up” with our European and Asian competition in the education field.
Something that I miss is college; not college the way that I did it, but college where learning and experience took precedence over a grade. I miss learning about new things. I hate that I dropped my math major because I got a high B so I thought I wasn’t going to be successful in the other math classes. I hate that I didn’t take anthropology and philosophy classes because I would have loved them. I hate that I was so focused on that GPA, the one that no one has ever looked at, that I missed out on a chance to learn something new and become a better person.
I miss learning more than anything else. Luckily, that is something that I have control over. What do you miss?
So, I skipped yesterday. I didn’t like the prompt and I couldn’t find a substitute, so I just skipped. Sorry if you waited for my post and found yourself disappointed. I just wasn’t that into it yesterday. I had a new kitchen on the brain because Nathan and I are finally talking to kitchen planners for the remodel that we’ve been planning since we moved into the house. I don’t want to give too many spoilers, but it is a beautiful design. Today in the December Challenge, Madi and I are letting you in on our fears.
At one point in my life, I would have had a hard time choosing a fear because I had so many, and I’m not referring to being afraid of spiders or being afraid of snakes. I’m talking about fear, “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” Now, those fears are mostly gone, but two remain.
The first fear that I have, and it isn’t one that I lose sleep over or anything, it is just something that when I think about it I get nervous, is that something could happen to Nathan and I would be alone. Just writing that statement caused a twitch in the pit of my stomach and an ache in my heart. I combat that fear by living as much as I can, by spending as much time together as possible.
The second fear that I struggle with is one that I would assume most over-achievers and type A personalities struggle with. I don’t want to be a failure. The problem is that I can’t seem to settle on a definition of failure. I think it is me giving up on what I want or what I love. If I ever stopped writing just because I wasn’t getting published would be a failure in my eyes. I would feel like a failure if I didn’t do what I loved because I was afraid of failing.
Failure has morphed as I’ve gotten older into this idea of not trying. I think that this opinion on failure is much healthier. Trying new things is something that helps me to become a better person. Keep trying, I will.
What are you afraid of?
The December challenge is steadily moving forward, and Madi and I have shared quite a lot with our readers. Today is a little bit lighter, a post about our favorite holiday. Enjoy, and feel free to join in on the madness.
I’ve been called a Scrooge and occasionally a Grinch because Christmas is far from my favorite holiday. In fact, the only holiday that Christmas beats, at least that I can think of, is Valentine’s day. So, with all my Scroog-iness out in the open for the world to see, lets talk about a holiday that I actually love: Halloween.
Halloween is the absolute best holiday there is. There is all of this cool history surrounding it, you get to dress up, which is super fun, and for one night of the year you, as a grown-up adult, can pretend to be something that you aren’t.
So, a little bit of history:
Halloween comes from ancient Celtic (Irish) festival known as Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”). For the Gaelic culture, Samhain was the end of the harvest season; they would take stock of their goods and prepare for the coming winter. Ancient pagans also believed that the boundaries between the living and the dead were compromised on this night and that the dead would come back and wreak havoc on the physical world.
The ancients would wear masks and costumes, usually scary in nature, to mimic the evil spirits and appease them. This is where we get our tradition of wearing costumes. Another really interesting story from Samhain was the story of Jack. If you’re interested, you should go read it here.
Halloween is a time of bonfires and crisp fall weather. It is a breath of fresh air after a long, hot summer, and it is a chance to get out into the world and be someone else for a while. It is for friends and families, trick-or-treaters and candy givers. It’s for carving pumpkins in the back yard and drinking spiced apple cider.
Halloween is the best holiday of the year! What’s your favorite?
This December Challenge has been just that, a challenge. Writing everyday for my blog is difficult, but I love seeing all the readers that I am gaining, so if your a frequent flyer at ccriley.com or if this is your first visit, thank you! I hope that all of the blogging world is enjoying learning a little bit more about me and my friend over at And So I Did as we venture out to tell you all kinds of interesting things about ourselves!
Snow-pocalypse happened, that’s what happened. On Wednesday the weather men and women around the world warned the NW Arkansas people of the coming blizzard. We didn’t believe them. We thought we might get enough to miss one day of school, maybe.
Over eight inches of snow later, we, being school, my husband, my friends, missed five days of school, from Thursday to the next Thursday. This snow-pocalypse was extraordinary because it happened in December, and I can’t remember ever having snow in December. Normally, here in Arkansas, we may get snow in February, and last year we even got a little bit of snow in May, but I can’t remember ever getting snow in December.
So, as most of you probably know, I am horrible at being lazy. I just can’t do it. I have to be productive. By about day two of being on house arrest, I was ready to call it quits, and I love snow. I love the magical feeling of the world being covered in a white blanket, and I love that every time I go outside my cheeks turn rosy and I feel refreshed and happy.
What I don’t love- being trapped. The only upside? I was trapped with Nathan, and he’s my favorite. The only way that I could truly handle being caught in the snow-pocalypse was to be productive at something. Thanks to Madi and her sewing skills, and the fact that she lives about a mile and a half from me, I sewed pillow cases and helped sew curtains. After all that was done, I repainted the trim and several doors in the house, rearranged mine and Nathan’s bedroom, cleaned out the master closet, cleaned out and painted the master bathroom closet, and created art for the living room.
We’ve lived in this cozy cottage for two years now, and it was feeling a little clinical. I take forever to make decisions and I’m afraid (literally, I sometimes have nightmares) of clutter, so my whole design plan walks a fine line between cozy and having just enough stuff that it isn’t cluttered.
Seriously, I would have been less busy if I had just gone to work, but now, our house looks like a home, and that makes me happy.
If you were part of Snow-Pocalypse 2013, what did you do? If you weren’t, tell me you were lounging on the beach and soaking in the sun!
December 12 is all about my best friends. I have quite a few of those, and I am lucky to have every one of them. Remember, join Madi and I on this December challenge! You never know what you might learn about others, but more importantly, what you will learn about yourself!
If you read my review of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, one of the truths that is in that novel is “you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” This quote didn’t quite make it into the review, but it was close. Throughout that entire novel, you learn that sometimes you don’t get to choose the friends you have. Sometimes, the universe calls you together, for better or for worse.
I can think of so many friends that are in my life and that I value. Some, like Holly Humphries and Nathan Ward, were the best things that could have happened to me in high school. I have so many memories with those two, and my life would not be the same without them. But, as it is accustomed to doing, life got in the way in the form of college and they became more memories, happy ones that I can always smile about. Then came college, filled with the girls in the dorm. More amazing, fun, wonderful, life changing memories happened in that dorm and in the four years that followed.
Chelsy Larson and I had some serious fun in college. This picture was taken at Haley, one of our dorm girl’s wedding. We still get together every time we can, and the one thing I would change is that we would live closer together.
Casey Jo, Madi, Sam, Stephanie, and Alex. These are the people that I text when I need something, when I need to vent, when I’m quoting something silly I heard at school, and even sometimes when I’m feeling a little bit melancholy. When I want to go out and do something new, like Yoga, I know that I can count on them to come with me. I know that Alex and I can’t live in the same town because we would probably take over the world with our genius ideas (mostly hers, I’m just a contributor). I know that Sam is going to be a great mother because I got to witness first hand what it looks like when a regular woman becomes a Mom. It’s like something in the face changes. I know that Stephanie will always be there to laugh with me and cry with me, and she even still likes me after living with me. Nathan can attest to the fact that it is not a simple or easy endeavor. Casey Jo and I have an entire conversation before the rest of the world wakes up, about random things mostly. We share our fears and likes and dislikes and even some of our more “snotty” qualities.
And when you look closer at the image, I know you can see a lot of men in there, too. All of those men are some of the best that I’ve ever met. My best friends chose great husbands and boyfriends and I know that I can count on any one of them to be there for me, just like their wives.
People don’t get lucky enough to have so many best friends that often. I love these women and men, and my life would be much worse off if they weren’t around to share it with me. I know that the universe had a hand in putting me with these strong, individual women. Thanks universe.
Who are your best friends?
Today is day 11 of the December Blog Challenge that Madi and I are working through, and neither one of us is in high school anymore. We decided to switch it up a bit, and since we both love cooking, we thought that sharing a recipe might be a great way to get us both into the holiday mindset.
My family is made up of really strong women. My grandmother, Aloma, spelled and pronounced Alamo when you want to see her get annoyed, had three daughters, my Aunt Paula, My mom, Stacye, and my Aunt Niki. As the fates would have it, today is my Aunt Niki’s birthday, so happy birthday to her!
There were so many different times in our lives where men just weren’t present. The only constant that I can remember growing up was Uncle Jason, Niki’s husband, and he is a story in and of himself. At one point, in a house that I really can’t remember, all the women lived together; all I really know about that house is that it was called “the house on Moses Street” and it will always be called that.
After a few marriages, life took on a more normal routine. We all lived in separate houses and had separate lives. More children were born and I was no longer the only niece, grand baby, or daughter. I feel like I adjusted well.
Even though all of these normal things were happening, every once in a while, all the women would get together again. One of the houses that we lived in was gray and on five acres. There was a gravel circle drive and a basketball goal for me. We would have horses and cows occasionally, and I really loved this house.
Sometimes, we would get lucky and the men would go somewhere at the same time. It didn’t really matter where because the going was all that mattered. Aunt Niki, Aunt Paula, Mamaw, Taylor, and Nic (who at this point did not count as a boy), would come over to the gray house to spend time with Dallas, me, and Mom.
Everything in the gray house was smaller than normal, except for the kitchen. My mom and I painted the bottom half of the walls red and the top half was painted to look like leather. Everything was decorated in chili peppers and the kitchen and dining room were big enough for all of us.
Now, before this recipe will make sense, you have to understand that the men in the family don’t like a lot of veggies. They’re what I call “meat and potatoes” folk. Anytime the women got together, you could be guaranteed that whatever we were cooking would have lots of veggies in it.
This recipe is one of my favorites because of the happy memories I associate with it. I know there was fighting and bickering and probably more than one temper tantrum from my little sister, Dallas, but these memories, the ones where we are all standing in the kitchen or leaning across the bar talking are some of the most important that I have.
Oh , and last thing before the recipe: we don’t measure. “Just eyeball it” is going to be written on all of our tombstones.
- Angel hair pasta
- cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- mushrooms, sliced
- artichoke hearts in water, drained and quartered
- capers, drained
- bacon bits (homemade is better)
- asparagus, fresh, not canned, and cut into a more manageable size
- any other veggie you are fond of
In a pan with olive oil, cook the sliced asparagus, mushrooms, and artichoke hearts until tender, salt and pepper to taste. Boil water, olive oil, and salt in a large pan. WHen asparagus is tender, add all other ingredients, including fresh squeezed lemon juice. Cook noodles “until they taste right: and combine all ingredients. Top off with a few extra bacon bits.
There you have it. This is my go to recipe when I’m feeling a little bit homesick. What is yours?