Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Sanctuary

I take no credit for this concept- I'm 100% borrowing it from Rachel Anne over at Home Sanctuary.

This is our little townhome.

(Sadly, I just realized that this picture is two years old- because both my sister's car (the white jeep) and my car (the red Saturn) have been totaled since then.)

It's pretty cute.... they're not new, but we like the brick and we have the ONLY tree on our row. I love decorating it- we have simple fall decorations outside, as you can see, and put up a wreath and a simple lighted garland for winter. This past summer, I planted some perennial flowers under the tree and put potted plants everywhere- it was definitely the cutest house on the row.

Inside I've tried to create a homey little place, even with all our mis-matched hand-me-down furniture. (Alas, I can't find the camera anywhere, or I'd show you a picture... when I find it, I'll add one.) I have some cute fall and winter decorations I place about, and I think Husband and I like it and a are glad it's home.

But often, it's quite messy. Somehow the laundry never gets put away, and we're always digging through the laundry baskets to find our clothes for the day. The dresser and any other flat surface gets loaded with piles of goodness knows what. The kitchen seems to always be dirty, whether it's the stove or the floor or the counters or the sink.... and I often lament how cleaning and tidying and laundry NEVER end.

And I have a very bad attitude about it.

See, I inherited the direct correlation between cleanliness/order and my personal functionality from my mom, but still, I've realized I have a bad attitude about having to put things away, clean things up, etc. etc. etc. (and I do mean three etceteras, because it really feels like the minute I finish, I have to start again.) And I get crabby, because I have a full-time job as a teacher and, until recently, have been in grad school, and I don't want to spend my evenings tidying and cleaning and putting laundry away.

But here's where the idea-borrowing comes into play. A few months ago I stumbled onto Rachel Anne's blog, Home Sanctuary. Each day she posts a "small thing" that can make a difference in the idea of making your home a sanctuary. I never really got into them, because I was cranky and crabby about doing more work, even if they were "small things." But, because, I love being a Company girl, I kept reading, often thinking, "I wish I had time to do that."

Anyway, the other day, Rachel Anne was reflecting on how Small Things Matter. In it, she wrote something that really stuck with me.

"My reality is that I'm a tired mom, living on a shoestring.
I'm haphazard in my organization and quite a few of my ideas are half baked, at best.
But I've got this unshakable belief that a home can be wonderful,
even if you don't have it all together.
I believe that God takes the little bit that you have,
and He can make much of it.
I've seen what can happen when I give just a little extra effort into making my home feel nice."

Here's what really got me.
She goes on:

"I've noticed a change in the atmosphere when I approach things with a "sanctuary" mindset instead of a begrudging one. I've even seen beauty in the chaos of family life. Those aren't just "small things." Those are BIG things. AMAZING things!"

Oh, okay, I get it. I have a crabby attitude. I am VERY bregrudging of the fact that I need to clean and tidy and order.

But perhaps, if I chance my mindset, if I choose my attitude, desiring that my home be a sanctuary for myself, for Husband, for our basement rent-ing friend, and for anyone else who might stop in, well, then perhaps I won't mind so much.

In fact, I believe it's NOT just a perhaps. I believe I will NOT mind as much. I believe I'll be able to take joy in the things I do to make our home a sanctuary.

If I were going to have a New Year's Resolution, this would be it. I want to have a different attitude. I want to find joy in cleaning and tidying and doing small things.

I want to make my home a sanctuary.

Thanks, Rachel Anne. (And God.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Transition, Please

So the radio stations around here started playing 100% Christmas December 1st (one even started after Thanksgiving). I LOVED it. I mean, sometimes I got tired of hearing the same songs over and over, but mostly, I enjoy Christmas music. But what drives me crazy is that they give us nearly a month to prepare for Christmas, but come December 26th, bye bye Christmas music!

I decided I needed a transition period. A few days to wean myself off of the Christmas music. I can't just go cold turkey.

So I've found my new favorite "Christmas" song(s), and I'd like to share it here for those of you who need a transition period, along with me. Stick it out to the end- that's my favorite part.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

1...2...3... Jump!

Obviously this isn't us (we don't live near water, it's currently snowy and cold at our house, and we look nothing like that), but this is how Husband and I feel because...

I'm D.O.N.E. with Grad school!

I just sumbitted my portfolio of everything important I've done for the program for the last year and a half and now ...

Now I can really take a day off and finish Christmas presents that I'm making and just breathe.

(Just thought I'd share.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

LOTS of Coffee Company Today

Good morning, girls! Hope you’re enjoying your coffee, tea, hot chocolate, Diet Coke, or whatever beverage is your personal Friday favorite. I’m currently sipping on a Starbucks Gingerbread Latte. (You can read about my obsession with them here.)

Anyway, I have a confession to make. This morning when I went to Starbucks, I bought two Gingerbread lattes. I thought I might need them, and here’s why.

If you don’t know, I’m a high school Spanish teacher, and its finals week. I’m the teacher that gives her students a 7 page exam (total, including front to back, not that bad) that asks them to do a lot of writing to show what they know. I have about 150 students total, which means 150 finals and the accompanying review packets.

I’m also finishing my Masters degree (D.O.N.E. next week!), and had a big project that took over 90 hours to complete (I feel like that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it was pretty challenging to get done on time and get my “real” job done, too) to turn in on Wednesday night. By yesterday afternoon, I’d given all 150 finals but not graded a single one. Last night I got through about 30 before crashing, which leaves the other 120 for today. I don’t have any classes, which means I’ll be sitting at my desk grading the whole day….

I wish I had the ability to upload pictures from work so I could show you, but I'll just leave you to imagine what a stack of 120 7-page exams and review packets looks like. Do you see why I thought it might be a two- Gingerbread Latte kind of a day? :)

The fun part is that our staff decided to wear Christmas PJs to school today, so although I'm sitting at my desk in my classroom, I'm wearing comfy PJs and drinking my favorite holiday beverage. Just need to get to work! (Cuz once I'm done with this, then I have to figure out how to get/make the family and in-laws inexpensive Christmas presents done before next week.... any suggestions????)

Hope YOUR Friday is full of something joyful (or that you can take joy in, like I do in my coffee company)!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Bend in the Road

Today I'm looking at the bend in the road.

I see the path, but I can't quite see what's beyond it.

Around that bend,

there might be something beautiful.



Or, there could be more road.
But there's a bend in the road.

And the anticipation of what might come is


What might be around your bend in the road?

Let's unwrap the possibilities!
Join Emily and others over at Chatting at the Sky for Tuesdays Unwrapped.

(P.S. - that particular bend in the road pictures is from a park in Seoul.... snagged it off their site)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

501 Days Ago

Yesterday Husband's Facebook wedding counter told us we've been married for 500 days! (Since that was yesterday, today it's 501.... and by the time anyone reads this.... it'll be more lik 502 or more!)

July 26, 2008- after several hours of getting ready, laughing and crying our way through the ceremony, eating a delicious dinner, dancing and talking with friends and family, John and I took a quick breather on the porch before making some more rounds. We were tired.... :)

Perhaps one of my favorite things to do with Husband is walk and talk.... and often that involves quite a bit of laughing. On this particular walk (our engagement shoot), I had definitely worn the wrong shoes, which is why they're in my hand.

Bonded by our mutual dislike for CU, I became a Huskers fan. Husband grew up in Lincoln, so last year when we were in town for Thanksgiving we were super excited to get tickets to the monumental Nebraska-Colorado game, where Nebraska totally kicked CU's rear!

Our first Charlie Brown Christmas tree (last year- this year we are pretty excited to have a nicer one!) This involved lots of laughter, a bit of frustration (I hate hate hate putting the lights on), and, of course, hot chocolate. This year we had lots of laughter, no frustration (at least I didn't!), and, of course, hot chocolate.... but we forgot to a take a picture of us with the tree.

On our one-year anniversary weekend trip to Estes Park, where we hiked, ate, laughed, window-shopped, and enjoyed each other's company away from the hustle and bustle of life.

I know it's a little silly to celebrate 500 days of marriage, but hey, I think it's super cool!

Love you, Husband!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Worthy to be Praised

I always have trouble thinking of what to "unwrap" on Tuesdays.

It's not that I'm not thankful, I am!

I'm thankful for a lot of things. But my friend Dawn always writes these totally incredible posts for Tuesdays Unwrapped, posts that make me really think and posts that make me laugh, and so I feel like my bar is set pretty high. So I get to Tuesdays and try to think of what I could really write about that is an unexpected joy-maker.

Well, the other morning I woke up and decided to have quiet time. I know, that's something to be thankful for in and of itself. How many mornings do we wake up and not have quiet time? For me, a whole lot of them! So I woke up, decided to have quiet time, and actually had it. Something more to be thankful about- followthrough! (Maybe I should quit my post here?? :)

Anyway, as I was writing in my journal (that's the way I keep myself focused on God), I was thinking about how the previous Sunday I'd subbed for teaching the high school Sunday school class and we'd been talking about how David shamelessly worshipped God and what that would like for us. As I was reflecting on this, I wrote, "Recently Mom told me she thinks I'm being a bit discontent, and while I hate to think that's true, it probably is." I decided that, for that morning, I would focus my prayers on why God is worthy to be praised.

So here's the list I came up with:

1. You are worthy because, even though I'm still trying to learn what Lord means, You ARE LORD over all.

2. You are more than worthy, because you humbled yourself and became a baby who had to grow up and live just like the rest of us.

3. You are worthy because you did that so we might be free and truly live.

4. You are worthy because all nature proclaims you. The mountains show your splendor, the oceans tell of your vastness, the flowers speak of your beauty, the animals tell of your care.

5. I praise You because, though we all fail, You love us yet.

6. I praise You because, though you told King David that there will be consequeneces when he fell, that You would never withdraw your love. I praise You for the consequences just as much as I praise You for the love.

7. You are worthy because You alone can bring people through dark times.

8. I praise You for bringing Michelle home to You and for relieving her of all her pain. I praise you for loving her and bringing her to you.

9. I praise you for the creation of new life growing inside another friend, and for the joy and hope this brings. I priase for the ways this will teach family and friends to rely on you more.

10. You are worthy to be praised because not only do you take care of the big things, but you also give us simple things to tak joy from, because you love us so much. You gift me with Christmas lights, Gingerbread lattes, time spent with family, books to read, laughter, sunrises and sunsets, cloudy days, the ability to laugh at myself, and more.

You, God, are beyond worthy to be praised. May I continue to remember these and other ways that you work, and may I take the time to show you my worship, to be thankful and come before you with an attitude of praise.

I know that this heart, this attitude, will bless me as much as it blesses you, which is another reason that

You are worthy to be praised.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Come Home, Come Home

Today, I'm linking up with the Coffee Company girls to share what's going on in our lives. I've been so busy recently with the end of the school semester for both my graduate program and the high school classes I teach that I've barely had the chance to blog or read others' blogs, but I look forward to a few stolen minutes to catch up.

Thursday, I had the hymn "Softly and Tenderly" in my head. I'm not terribly familiar with it, but about a month ago I heard my husband sing it in a way I had never heard him sing before. It was incredible.

At about 6 am Thursday morning, Husband's Dad called to tell us that Michelle, a close family friend, had lost her battle to cancer early in the morning. Michelle and her husband have two little boys, one of whom probably cannot remember a time where his mommy wasn't sick. Still, Michelle put up quite a fight over the last two years, and was an incredible wife and mom. About a month ago she was told her organs were failing, and the family decided to set up a home-hospice care situation for her. On Thanksgiving, things were so bad, Michelle and her husband decided she should go to the actual hospice so they boys wouldn't have to see her that way. Through it all, friends who visited her noted her warmth and love and character shining through everything.

Michelle and her family just a few weekends ago with a John Denver-impersonator. While I wasn't able to attend this party, I heard it was incredible. Michelle and her husband had John Denver played at their wedding and wanted to have another special moment together as a family and with friends.

I've spent the day thinking about how I'm not really sad for Michelle. I'm ecstatic that she is in Heaven, pain-free, cancer-free, most likely having a huge party with other loved ones. I think we all are as joyful as we can be about that. I think that's why the hymn has been in my head all day. What's more perfect?

Softly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
calling for you and for me.
See, on the portals he's waiting and watching,
watching for you and for me.

Come home, come home.
ye who are weary come home.
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
calling, O sinner, come home.

Welcome home, Michelle. You'll be incredibly missed, but welcome home.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

With a Thankful Heart

Have you ever seen the Muppet Christmas Carol? If not, you should. It's my favorite version of the Christmas Carol EVER, and my family watches it on Thanksgiving Day every year, and then a couple of more times during the season. At the end of the movie, Scrooge and company sing a song about having a thankful heart, and I love it, and it's perfect for this week. I've had a lovely week off, visited with my bff-cousin, enjoyed two Thanksgiving dinners with my two families (mine and Husbands), sewed a quilt (pictures to follow soon), and more.

Becca cracking up about something John said or did.

Sisters. Gotta love it!

So, it's with a thankful heart I get ready for another week!

With a thankful heart, with an endless joy
With a growing family, every girl and boy
Will be nephew and niece to me (Nephew and niece to me)
Will bring love, hope and peace to me (Love, hope and peace to me)

Yes and every night will end, and every day will start
With a greatful prayer and a thankful heart
With an open smile and with open doorsI will bid you welcome, what is mine is yours
With a glass raised to toast your health (With a glass raised to toast your health)
And a promise to share the wealth (Promise to share the wealth)
I will sail a friendly course, file a friendly chart
On A sea of love and a thankful heart
Life is like a jouney, who knows when it ends?
Yes and if you need to know the measure of a man
You simply count his friends
Stop and look around you, the glory that you see
Is born again each day, don't let is slip away
How precious life can be
With a thankful heart that is wide awake
I do make this promise, every breath I take
Will be used now to sing your praise (Used now to sing your praise)
And to beg you to share my days (Beg you to share my days)
With a loving guarantee that even if we part
I will hold you close in a thankful heart

I will hold you close in a thankful heart

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Going on a Visit

Good morning, Company Girls! Don't really have much of a chance to write right now, because as soon as I'm done teaching my 2nd period class, I'm heading straight to the airport to fly to Virginia! I'll just be gone for the weekend, but it's going to be fun...

This is my cousin Caroline and I about a year and a half ago at my wedding. Caroline (Linie) is exactly 5 months older than I am, to the day, and since our mom's are best friends (sisters), we've been besties our whole lives, too. Couldn't imagine life without her!

We've been talking for years about me coming out to see her for a visit, but never could get our timing right. This year we decided it was just time to make it happen, so here I go!

Looking forward to a fun-filled, laughter-filled, talking-filled, walking-filled, incredible weekend, followed by a week of from teaching!

Hope your weekend is wonderful, too.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Today I'm joining my friends over at Chatting at the Sky, where on Tuesdays we think about the little things we're thankful. According to Emily (who writes Chatting at the Sky), November is the official month to be thankful for the small things, but she (and I agree) thinks it's pretty cool we do that every month. (When I say "we," I use the term relatively... I've only been joining in for a few weeks now!)

Lately I've been working on a journey (because for a little while, I'm pretty sure I was standing still if not moving backwords) towards knowing God as Lord and King. In the last week, Husband and I have been spending more time with God separately, and then sharing about what we're learning with each other, and that in and of itself is an incredible gift to unwrap. I feel like I have a long, long way to go.... but just as I am seeing the Lord and King in the sights around me, I'm learning a little about who He could be (and will be) in my life.

But, today I'm going to be thankful for what, to some, would seem like an pretty small gift, compared to the richness found in things of God..... but I think most of you will agree with me that the gift of laughter is indeed one of the best gifts God gives. Today I celebrate the laughter my family got as we looked a this series of photos that Husband and I took of ourselves at a baseball game this summer. We didn't realize what was going on until we looked at all three pictures in succession..... and then we laughed and laughed and laughed as we joined in on the joke.

Darn, didn't really get into their picture....

Now I'm in!

Guys, guys, I got into their picture!

Whether it's laughing so hard you make the crying face, that milk comes out your nose, that you can't breathe, or that your face hurts, laughter is indeed one of the best little gifts I can think of. Hope you laugh today!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Baking 101

This is the story of how I today, for one of the first times in my marriage, I acted like I never had baked before.... and how Mom-in-law and Dad-in-law got to be a part of it.

Let me back up. Last night, while putting on our Night of Neon dance at school to raise money for the food drive, it began to snow. And not just a light, fine snow, but snow. And this was like no snow I'd ever seen. Should have gotten a picture. It was like the stuff that's inside a bean bag chair. Small round grains of snow. It was crazy! We ended up shutting down the dance early, because the roads were getting worse and worse and worse. When the last students had been picked up and I had set the school's alarm, I ventured out to my little car....

crunch crunch crunch, went the snow, as I tromped through three inches of this weird, slippery, bean-bag-filling snow. It was an interesting drive home.

Anyway, I tell you that story so you'll understand why I was excited about this morning. You see, Husband had a long week at work, and even worked all day Saturday, so it was a huge blessing to have a "snowy Sunday" where we wouldn't feel bad about sleeping in a little and having breakfast at home and missing church.
Anyway, I got it into my head that it would be fun to make my mom's biscuits. They're delicious. And I've made them before, I promise, and they've turned out fine.

So we invite Mom and Dad-in-law to come over for biscuits since we haven't seen them for a week or so, and it's going to be very cozy and happy. I made a pot of coffee and timed it perfectly so that the biscuits would come out just as they got here, and be hot and fresh. There was even honey butter to go on top.

Of course I served everyone else first. That's polite, right? In this case, wrong. I should have tried the biscuits first! I thought they looked a little flat, but I figured I'd just made them too small. And I've been having trouble with my oven, so I wasn't surpised they looked a little crunchy on the outside.

Mom-and-Dad-in-law spread the honey butter on top and start eating, and didn't say a word. Finally, I got around to putting butter on mine and taking a bite. It was HORRIBLE!

I insisted they stop eating them, although they kept trying to be polite, even as I was going on and on about how disgusting the biscuits were. Finally, I convinced my family to throw them all away, and we had pancakes instead.

Later, I called my mom to discuss my disaster. She asked, "Did you put the baking powder in?" And I said, "no, you said baking soda." Well, it turns out, nope, she definitely said baking powder, as can be clearly seen by the notes I myself wrote. I just wasn't paying attention.

Rookie mistake, some would say. I suppose it's futile to argue that I'm not a rookie.... but after today's episode, who will believe me? :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

With My Eyes

Yesterday, with a Gingerbread Latte in hand (brought to me by one of my students), I meant to link up with the Coffee Company Girls to share. Sadly, even though I was three quarters of the way finished with my post, the rest of the day got away from me and I didn't. So I'm "linking up" today anyway, even though nobody might be there. :) If you stumble upon this, thanks for coming on my journey with me! Enjoy!

Lately I've been re-reading journal entries as I try to embark on a new stage of my journey. In them, I write to God using all sorts of God names. "God." "Father." "Jesus." "Savior." "Holy Spirit." "Lord." And I wondered, do I really KNOW God in those ways? Father? Yes, He's held me in His arms several times. Savior? Yes, I learned a lot about Him and grace during "the bad year" (which I might write about sometime). Lord? I don't think I know Him well. And I think, that at this stage of my journey, He- the Lord and King- is who I need to know.

So I started looking for Him. And I realized, how could the Being that created this NOT be Lord and King? Many people look but they do not see. I want to see.

And this. The vastness of the ocean makes me bow down in awe. How could someone NOT see God here?

So. It is my goal to see how God is Lord and King, but not just to see with my eyes..... but also with my heart.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Little Sip Of Heaven in the Midst of Chaos

Man, life is busy.

As Christmas decorations go up (who are we kidding, stores have had decorations and holiday stuff since before Halloween!), festive feelings are supposed to abound. And don't get me wrong, they do abound. I LOVE the Holiday season. Thanksgiving to Christmas is perhaps one of my favorite favorite favorite times of the year.

BUT. We all know that it is also one of the most stressful times of the year. As a teacher, I have to somehow get my students ready for their final exams, which means reminding them of all the things we've been working for the last semester and getting them to the point where we're supposed to be, in the midst of all the typical end-of-semester interruptions- assemblies, snow days, Thanksgiving break.... all wonderful, but all adding to the stress level. Then there's the whole Christmas-present-shopping and we're-out-of-money thing. Husband and are I trying to be good stewards of our money, but that always seems to fly out the window when presents are expected. And the whole two-family thing is always a bit stressful to manage, too. We love both families and want to spend time with both families, but it's hard dividing the time and being willing to compromise on some traditions.

Needless to say, even amongst the festivities, there's some stress.

And that is when I remember that God has given me a gift. Well really, two gifts. The holiday season is always an excellent reminder of what He's done for us and the gift of His son and my new life. Which, let's face it, is the greatest gift we could get and we always need the reminder.

But God is super nice to me and, during this season, gives me a personal gift. Seriously, I tell everyone that I consider it God's personal gift to me, Beth. What is it, you ask? A little sip of heaven...... the Gingerbread Latte at Starbucks.

Seriously, I love it. I wait for it ALL year. No matter what mood I'm in, the first sip of one makes me happy happy happy, puts a smile on my face, thrills me.

Today I'm linking up with my friends at Chatting at the Sky, where on Tuesday's we Unwrap different presents, be they big or small. Today I'm unwrapping the Gingerbread Latte.

And yes, I'm drinking one RIGHT NOW.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A New Journey

Good morning!

Photo by: Jonathon Fashbaugh

Even though I didn't take this picture, I could have a dozen times. Sunrises in this state are often colorful, creative, welcoming, inviting.... on Friday we had a BEAUTIFUL one, that, on my way to work, I was wishing I'd had my camera. My friend Dawn captured a snapshot, though.
Anyway, it's been a week since I've written. I've already mentioned I'm an external processor, but I didn't mention that writing has been one of my most effective and meaningful ways of dealing with life. When I was in school, I wrote stories, stories that were real and stories that let me imagine how life could be. As a college student and adult, journaling keeps me focused, processed, and usually, in check and in balance.

So why haven't I written in this new little processing venue? Well, there are lots of reasons, I suppose.

On Monday my cockateil, Taylor, who has been chirping and whistling welcoming greetings in my home for 15 years, whistled no more. I cried and cried and cried and cried, even though I felt sort of silly for being so upset over a bird. I cleaned the bird cage and put it away, but every time I go down to my living room, I look for the birdie. Sigh. This picture is from an old scrapbook and is about 10 years old. The caption in the scrapbook read "Look, we're related!"

On Wednesday, my sister and I went to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra. She won tickets off the radio, which was quite exciting, because she'd been wanting to see them for years. If you've never heard of them, first, be warned- they're basically a rock orchestra, and it's loud! But also, they're incredible. You've probably heard their Christmas music, or seen the video of that house all lit up to the tune of one of the songs. Anyway, their concerts ROCK. (Literally.) And they have major light shows.

The rest of the week was busy, too. Small group, college football game, high school musical performance..... not to mention teaching and working on grad school.

So there could be lots of reasons I didn't write. I was busy.
But I've noticed, in my life, that when there are big gaps in the dates of my journal entries, it usually means I'm in a spiritually dry place. There's a big correlation between how much and often I write and how much and often I spend time with my Father and Lord. If you were to glance through the last pages in my journal, you'd see that the dates of the entries span months... a sure sign I've been dry.

Today I started a new journal (it's symbolic) and wrote several pages to my Lord, mostly just telling Him where I'm at and asking for His help to begin a fresh journey, one where I spend time with Him regularly. While I may not be able to find time to blog and journal, I want to make sure I am writing, because writing helps me process, and processing helps me connect to the One whom I most need to connect.

So here's to a new journey and a new journal!

One other thing that happened this week is that Mom-in-law gave me a Willow Tree statue as a present because she knew how sad I was about Taylor. I LOVE Willow Trees. They make me happy. This particular Willow Tree was a girl holding a bird. It's called Peace. I thought it was interesting that she towers above all my other Willow Trees (learning, celebrate, and the angels of love, heart, and wishes), because it was a visual reminder to me that PEACE is something God desires for us above all else. Regardless of whatever we're facing, He brings us PEACE.

Isn't she beautiful? I think so. A perfect representation that the God I seek to know more seeks to bring me peace, something I have been feeling without. Beautiful.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trick or Treat: Sisters

My sister (we'll call her Hermanita- "little sister" in Spanish) and I are the only children in our immediate family, and we're nearly six years apart in age. Bummer, some might say. Are you crazy? I'd reply. Being six years apart made it so that we didn't fight nearly as much as sisters do who are closer in age. Don't get me wrong- we still fought- but it wasn't that often-territorial-rooted-in-jealousy-mean kind of fighting that leaves scars on the relationship. Hermanita has been my best friend for her whole life.

Last night we popped by my mom-and-dad-in-laws on our way home from seeing the musical "Wicked" in Denver. Mom-and-dad-in-law live on a street that goes INSANE for Halloween, somthing Hermanita doesn't really get since she spent most of her childhood living in a forest neighboorhood- it was a long walk to trick-or-treat, so there weren't ever many people out. Last night she was astonished to see that in five minutes, the doorbell rang more times in five minutes than in an entire year or two of Halloween at our house growing up. We took a walk up the street where some of the neighbors had transformed their cul-de-sac into a Pirate Cove- complete with HUGE ships. (Regretting that I didn't have my camera to show you the pictures..... they even had about 20 people decked out as pirates as the "cast" of the street.) Anyway, Hermanita was feeling a little as if she'd missed out on what trick-or-treating could be like, so I reminded her of a few different costumes we had.

Here Hermanita and I are dressed up as nurses. Hermanita's about 3 years old and I'm about 9. (Notice that she's wearing sweatpants and I'm wearing tights and a sweatshirt- it's always cold at Halloweeen here.) We've been princesses, angels, and a variety of other fun "girly" type things. We've trick-or-treated in big neighborhoods and little neighborhoods and we've had "fall parties" with neighbors. We've gone trick-or-treating for canned goods with the youth group instead of for candy (except peope always gave us candy, too). We, as my students would say, are "BFFs"(best friends forever). Hermanita teases me and calls me "Hermanita mayor"- which means "little older sister," because there have been many, many times in our lives where she has been more like my big sister, than I have been hers. We trade roles.

Almost 20 years later, here we are again, just yesterday standing outside the theater where we saw "Wicked." We may not be dressed up in costumes, but we had a ton of fun, as we almost always do when we're together.

Having a little sister- trick or treat? Well, I'd say it's a treat, at least 99% of the time.

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