Reading, Teaching, Learning

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Slice of Life Story Challenge - Day 31 - Farewell, Lebanon!

    It's Day 30 of the March Slice of Life Story Challenge, and I'm writing a goodbye letter to our                                   house in a series of memories since we will be moving in April.
 
This is the first year in the last three I've been participating the March Slice of Life Challenge that I didn't post every day.  I'm disappointed, but considering it was because of a cruise, I can't be TOO disappointed!  I've enjoyed writing about our home.  We officially move this weekend, so tonight I'm going to say goodbye to the town we've called home for the last 11 1/2 years.
 
 
Lebanon, Ohio is a beautiful, quaint, historic town in southwest Ohio, nestled in between Dayton and Cincinnati.  When you drive through our little town, it feels like you've been transported back to a simpler time - a time when people knew their neighbors, walked through town, sat on front porches, gathered for lunch after church on Sundays, and met for ice cream on a hot summer day.  So much so that we've been the site of a few movie sets (Harper Valley PTA, Milk Money, The Christmas Spirit. and partially, Carol).  I remember watching them put down fake snow and put up all the town's Christmas decorations during the production of Hallmark's The Christmas Spirit, and some people got to get pictures with Nicollette Sheridan.  Producers and directors love Lebanon because it looks like the perfect American small town...and it is.
 
We are the home of the historic  The Golden Lamb Restaurant and Hotel,  Ohio's oldest continually operated business (since 1803) and host to 12 American presidents.
The gazebo next to The Golden Lamb is a picture perfect site for prom photos.
 

 
So is the library!
Our library is beautiful.  I used to meet with my Mock Newbery Club in the gazebo behind it.
 
 
 
 
Our Village Ice Cream parlor has an old-fashioned feel with its wrought iron chairs and small round or square tables.  You can get a yummy lunch or dinner there and great ice cream.  We had one of Katie's birthday parties there.
 
 
 
 
 
The Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad Station is another landmark.  There is a fundraiser every year with Thomas the Tank Engine and many a senior picture was taken there.  In 2007 there was a special Harry Potter event - you had dinner at The Golden Lamb and a ride on the "Hogwart's Express".  Of course we went!

 
 
I taught at Berry Intermediate School for 8 years.  When I started, I was in a third floor room, and it was SO hot!!  I was very happy for the air conditioning when I went to Kings!  However, I loved teaching there with great colleagues. 
  Below is Libby's first day of 6th grade and my first classroom at Berry in 2004, right after we moved from Pittsburgh.
 

 
 
We started attending Lebanon Presbyterian Church soon after we moved to Lebanon.  I remember we first started visiting when two of my students invited me: Bre Bogaert and David Janusz.  They made a little invitation for me, so of course, we went!  It's been a wonderful place to attend church, and it's also beautiful!
 

And last but not least, Lebanon is the town where my some of my best friends live.  It's uncanny how the three of us ended up in Lebanon.  Karan and I have been friends since grade school in Mason (a neighboring town), and we both met Jill in college at Miami University (she's from Cleveland).  After college, we lived in different towns: Mason, Monroe, and Cincinnati, but after my family moved to Pittsburgh and back, we all ended up in Lebanon, which is nothing short of a miracle. Karan and her family built a house in 2002, Jill and her daughter moved to Karan's neighborhood in 2003, and we moved here and built our house in 2004. It's been a wonderful 11 1/2 years living only 10 minutes from them.  I'm glad it won't be much further when we move from here - only an extra 15 minutes away.  It's been great having our kids go to the same district, getting together frequently, and having that history together. 
 
Farewell, Lebanon.  What a wonderful city in which to raise a family, enjoy neighbors and friends, go to school and church, and make a home. 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Spiritual Journey Thursday - BOLD

 I look forward to Thursdays when I can publish thoughts on my spiritual journey and hear the thoughts of others on a weekly basis.  It has become a space for an encouraging and fortifying community to come together.  We welcome anyone who would like to join us!
 
For the last couple of months we have been writing about each other's One Little Words.  Please join us!  We're almost done after Donna Smith's word this week, BOLD.  One more week was added to the original schedule.  See below!
 
With Salva Dut and #ReadWalkWater co-leader, Tracy Kleis
 
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. - 2Corinthians 3:12
 
     If you follow my blog or social media sites, you know my school has been involved with Water of South Sudan for 3 years now.  We read A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park with our 6th graders and then hold several events to fundraise money to help WFSS build wells in the villages of South Sudan.  When we first began this project (which is part of a Social Injustice unit we've put together), we dreamed of sponsoring a well.  A well in South Sudan costs approximately $15,000.  To sponsor one, we had to raise $5,000.  That first year we raised just over $5,000 and were thrilled.  Last year, WFSS put out a new challenge called the Iron Giraffe Super Challenge.  The organization needed a new drill, so they put out a challenge to schools to raise $1,000 to put toward the drill, but they upped the ante for the Super Challenge.  The first school to raise $25,000 in two school years would have the honor of a visit from Salva Dut, the founder of WFSS, real live character in A Long Walk to Water, and a "Lost Boy of Sudan".
 
     Earlier this year, we got the notice that we had won!  The visit was yesterday.  Lynn Malooly, the executive director of WFSS, expressed that when they chose $25,000 as the winning goal, they didn't know if anyone could do it.  I can't possibly write everything I need or want to write yet.  It's too  overwhelming.  More blog posts will be forthcoming.  The day was unbelievably amazing and humbling. When I realized that this week's word was BOLD, I immediately knew I had to write about this experience with Salva. 
 
     Everything about Salva is bold.  His courage when fleeing for his life during Sudan's civil wars and leading a group of 1500 boys to Kenya.  His perseverance when spending years in refugee camps without a family.  His hope when relocating to America and beginning a new life.  His compassion when deciding to return to his country to help his people by bringing clean water to South Sudan.  His grace when choosing peace, not revenge or hate.  His leadership when encouraging young people to make a difference.  His humility when putting others before himself.  His  love when uniting races, religions, and cultures. Because Tracy and I spent the day with him, I can truly attest to his genuineness.  To have endured what he did when he was young and accomplish all that he has, those traits: hope, compassion, grace, leadership, humility, and love have to be bold.  
 
 
     Salva mentioned God several times during his presentations.  He gives God the credit, and points to his example.  So do I.   We can dream little dreams, but God makes them big.  He has a vision greater than we can imagine and can accomplish so much more than we can alone.  So often, we make God too small. Think big.  Think bold.  God is great.
 

 
January 14: Carol Varsalona - BELIEVE
January 21:  Margaret Simon - PRESENT
January 28:  Michelle Haseltine - SELAH
February 4:  Justin Stygles - (Blind) FAITH
February 11: Leigh Ann Eck - INTENT
February 18:  Irene Latham - DELIGHT
February 25:  Violet Nesdoly - MINDFULNESS
March 3:  Julieanne Harmatz - ADMIRE
March 10:  Holly Mueller - WAIT
March 17:  Linda Kulp - SIMPLIFY
March 24: Doraine Bennett - SHINE
March 31: Donna Smith - BOLD
April 7th: Bobbie Ann Taylor - MERCIFUL
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Slice of Life Story Challenge - Day 30 - New Year's Eve

    It's Day 30 of the March Slice of Life Story Challenge, and I'm writing a goodbye letter to our                                   house in a series of memories since we will be moving in April.
 

Cousins and Uncle T.J. 2012
 
     The best thing about a house, of course, is the family and friends that gather there.  People make a house a home.  This has certainly been a home.  We've been fortunate enough to host work parties, youth group parties, Christmas and New Year's parties, pre-dance dinners, Friends' Thanksgiving gatherings, showers, birthdays, 4th of July parties, church small groups, Thankgivings, Easters, and just ordinary hang outs with family and friends.  You've read many blogs about Friends' Thanksgivings, but another of my favorite traditions was New Year's Eve.  We didn't celebrate here every year, but when we did, we had a great time!
New Year's 2005-2006
 
New Year's 2006/2007
 
New Year's 2007-2008
 
New Year's 2008/2009
New Year's 2009-2010
 
New Year's 2012-2013
New Year's 2013-2014
New Year's 2014-2015
 
New Year's 2015-2016
 
There's something extra festive about New Year's Eve - it's a time of reflection, fun, and hope for a new year.  I loved celebrating them in our house.  Everyone would bring appetizers and drinks,  play air hockey, darts, pool, video, board, and card games downstairs, and make sure we made it upstairs to watch the ball drop on t.v. and toast to each other and the incoming year.  Fun!  I wonder how we'll bring in the New Year in the condo??
 
 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Slice of Life Story Challenge - Day 28 - Neighborhood Walks

    It's Day 28 of the March Slice of Life Story Challenge, and I'm writing a goodbye letter to our                                   house in a series of memories since we will be moving in April.
 
I wasn't able to post while on spring break because of limited Internet, but I'm still going to post a few more March slices.
 

     I took a walk tonight after getting home from our vacation.  I was thinking about what memory I wanted to write about, and realized that was it!  Walks around our neighborhood.  The above picture was taken last year - my faithful walking buddy, Ben.  I've always been a walker, and this neighborhood provides the perfect route.  If I do the whole thing, it's a little over 3 miles.  Most of it is flat, but there is one good hill that adds a little extra cardio to the routine. 

     There are other walkers and runners in the neighborhood, and that always provides an extra challenge since Ben isn't the best behaved dog on walks.  He pulls on his leash, barking or interested in visiting, and absolutely hates one of the neighbors who runs while pushing a stroller.  Nothing against her, but I dread it when I see her running down the street.  Ben goes berserk!  No matter how many times we pass her, he barks like crazy and tries to run after her.  He does NOT like that stroller! There are a lot of little kids in the neighborhood, so they love to run out and pet Ben as we go by. 

     In one part of the neighborhood, you go past an area where there are strange sounds coming from behind the woods.  Not long after I started hearing them, I asked around, seeing if anyone knew what they were.  Apparently, they're peacocks!  Someone has a peacock farm behind our neighborhood, and boy do they make a racket!  In that part of the neighborhood, I enjoy the tree line behind the houses in the fall.  They turn brilliant colors. 

     It's always enjoyable to see  new homes being built, new neighbors moving in, flowers popping up in spring, Christmas lights going up, blossoms blooming on pear trees and weeping cherries, kids playing in yards,  festive gatherings around graduations and dances, yards turning green after a long winter, or snow-topped roofs and smoke curling up from chimneys.  I wonder how many miles I've walked over the last 11 years?

     At the condo, there is a walking path around the lake.  It's about 3 miles if you walk completely around it - about the same as the walk here.  We've already walked Ben around it a couple times; he's just as obnoxious on those walks!  The scenery is a little different - lots of geese, ducks, and boats.  We look forward to getting to know our new surroundings by walking around that lake!

    
 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Slice of Life Story Challenge - Day 24 and Spiritual Journey Thursday - SHINE

  

I look forward to Thursdays when I can publish thoughts on my spiritual journey and hear the thoughts of others on a weekly basis.  It has become a space for an encouraging and fortifying community to come together.  We welcome anyone who would like to join us!

We have been writing about each other's One Little Words.  Please join us!  If you have a One Little Word this year and would like to explore the spiritual aspect of it, let me know, and I will add you to the schedule!  Today's OLW is Doraine Bennett 's word, SHINE.   

It's also Day 24 of the March Slice of Life Story Challenge, and I'm writing a goodbye letter to our house in a series of memories since we will be moving in April.  I haven't been able to post every day during the challenge this year because I have limited access to the Internet this week.  I will do my best to comment on bloggers who link up today, but it may be next week.  I apologize!


     I did a cross stitch years ago of the Irish blessing, and it's hung in all three of our houses, near a door so that it could be a blessing to our family and friends as they departed.  Unfortunately, it's packed away for the move, so I couldn't take a picture of it.  This image will have to do.  I've always loved the Irish blessing, especially the "May the sun SHINE warm upon your face" line.

     I think about all the places the sun shines on our home.  It streams through the kitchen window in the morning, cheering us on as we come down for breakfast.  In the summer, when I have coffee and breakfast outside, it creeps up over the trees in the east, drying the dew.  It shines full upon our deck in the afternoon,  warming chilly fall afternoons.  If you're lucky, you will see it set toward the front of our house, settling into the treeline in the west, turning the sky into streams of pink, lavender, and yellow.  The photo for the Spiritual Journey Thursday meme (above), was taken by the creek bed on a cold winter's day, the sun filtering through the bare branches.

     I wonder how I will follow the sun at our new home?  I know it rises over the lake, so that will be beautiful; I haven't been there that early to see it yet.  What windows will it stream into?  What will the sunsets look like?  Where will I sit throughout the day to enjoy it?  I may not know exactly how will shine, but I know God will be holding us in the palm of his hand there, just like he did in this home, and his blessings will shine on.

January 14: Carol Varsalona - BELIEVE
January 21:  Margaret Simon - PRESENT
January 28:  Michelle Haseltine - SELAH
February 4:  Justin Stygles - (Blind) FAITH
February 11: Leigh Ann Eck - INTENT
February 18:  Irene Latham - DELIGHT
February 25:  Violet Nesdoly - MINDFULNESS
March 3:  Julieanne Harmatz - ADMIRE
March 10:  Holly Mueller - WAIT
March 17:  Linda Kulp - SIMPLIFY
March 24: Doraine Bennett - SHINE
March 31: Donna Smith - BOLD


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Slice of Life Story Challenge - Day 19 - Christmas Puppy



  It's Day 19 of the March Slice of Life Story Challenge, and I'm writing a goodbye letter to our                                   house in a series of memories since we will be moving in April.



     One of my favorite memories of this house is getting Ben, our Cocker Spaniel, in 2009.  We planned it as a Christmas surprise.  Ed found him through a breeder in northern Ohio, and we began to strategize the best way to get him under the tree for Christmas morning.  

     We enlisted my friend, Bobby, to help us because he is an animal-lover.  He was staying at our friend, Jill's, for the holidays, dog-sitting her dog, Duke.  It worked out perfectly.  Ed went and got Ben on Christmas Eve and brought him over to Bobby.  I remember seeing him for the first time that day; he was TINY!  So cute.  Poor Bobby - he accidentally stepped on one of Ben's paws while taking him for a walk, and Ben yowled and limped around...giving us the first indications that he was a drama king.  Thus the hashtag DIVADOG whenever I post pictures of him on Instagram.

     He fully recovered from the injury (and so did Bobby).  Early Christmas morning, Ed went and got him, and we put him under the tree with his little tartan plaid bow tie.  He was so sweet and good.  When the girls got up, and Katie saw him sitting there, she could hardly believe it.  He just sat on Maddie's (our yellow Lab) doggy bed, waiting patiently.  He promptly fell asleep for the rest of the morning while we opened gifts.


     He is the quirkiest dog we've had, but we love him.  He's filled this house with his perpetual cheerfulness and ridiculousness.  He seems to know something is up these days.  We gave away two of his favorite places to sit and sleep - the front room chair and "man cave" couch.  Ben seems to be sulking a bit, but we know he will love the new place and will find a favorite chair or couch there.  



Maddie looking a little put out.

Maddie saying, "MAYBE we'll be friends."

Our friend, Bobby, passed away in 2011.  We miss him and his big heart.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Slice of Life Story Challenge - Day 17 and Spiritual Journey Thursday - SIMPLIFY

  

I look forward to Thursdays when I can publish thoughts on my spiritual journey and hear the thoughts of others on a weekly basis.  It has become a space for an encouraging and fortifying community to come together.  We welcome anyone who would like to join us!

We have been writing about each other's One Little Words.  Please join us! We have been writing about each other's One Little Words.  Please join us!  If you have a One Little Word this year and would like to explore the spiritual aspect of it, let me know, and I will add you to the schedule!  Today's OLW is  Linda Kulp 's word, SIMPLIFY.   

It's also Day 17 of the March Slice of Life Story Challenge, and I'm writing a goodbye letter to our house in a series of memories since we will be moving in April.



Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1,2

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 (NIV)

     What a perfect time, in the midst of our move to downsize, to reflect on Linda's OLW, SIMPLIFY.  When we started preparing our house to sell, we had to do a lot of purging.  Because we had lots of space, things never seemed to get sifted through - we just kept everything it seems!  The basement was the biggest culprit, so I started there right after Libby's wedding.  I found my baby clothes, the girls' baby clothes, unfinished projects, outgrown toys, LOTS of books, art supplies and crafts, even a juggling kit...

Baby clothes - mine and the girls'



One of Libby's favorite books when she was little - now I know the author!




Yes, a juggling kit...


Ah, the dreaded Bratz Dolls phase!


Everyone needs a magic wand.


A wall hanging from Libby's Peter Rabbit themed nursery.


Unfinished projects from my cross-stitching days.



I think this might be the halo I wore as the angel in my first grade Christmas pageant.


If you read Libby's blog about cooking, this would make you laugh!

     So much stuff!  It will be a miracle if we get it all, even after selling, donating, and trashing a ton, in our condo (and a storage unit)!  My husband and I couldn't help but feel like hoarders.  And all the paper!  He's been shredding papers for a week now.  How does all that accumulating and piling happen?!  We've promised ourselves not to let that happen again.  We need to SIMPLIFY and gain back control of stuff instead of stuff gaining control of us!

     Even though some of these objects symbolize precious and special memories (except for maybe the juggling kit?!), they are just things.  Matthew 6: 19-21 says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  Our treasures and hearts should be in heaven, not in our basements! 

January 14: Carol Varsalona - BELIEVE
January 21:  Margaret Simon - PRESENT
January 28:  Michelle Haseltine - SELAH
February 4:  Justin Stygles - (Blind) FAITH
February 11: Leigh Ann Eck - INTENT
February 18:  Irene Latham - DELIGHT
February 25:  Violet Nesdoly - MINDFULNESS
March 3:  Julieanne Harmatz - ADMIRE
March 10:  Holly Mueller - WAIT
March 17:  Linda Kulp - SIMPLIFY
March 24: Doraine Bennett - SHINE
March 31: Donna Smith - BOLD