Omelets, Moms, my toothbrush and other things to be thankful for today

Every November, I have a tradition. I write down one thing I’m thankful for every day. It helps me remember my many privileges and blessings.  It’s a chance to pause and show gratitude to God and the people around me.  It helps me reflect on how I can help those who are not as fortunate. It’s a good tradition that has brought a lot of joy into my life. Here’s my list so far.

Day 1: Recess (It is a huge blessing the day after Halloween.)
Day 2: Indoor plumbing
Day 3: I’m grateful I was able to spend time with my friend Sara. We went shopping this morning. Shopping with friends is the best type of shopping. I’m also thankful for my breakfast omelet. Omelets are delicious.

omelet

Day 4: Sunsets
Day 5: I’m grateful for music.

Day 6: I am thankful I can vote. I honor the many brave woman who marched, went to jail and stood up to oppression.

I’m also thankful for my voting sticker. I absolutely loved stickers as a kid. I still think stickers are fun. It makes me smile to get my sticker. In fact, I have saved every voting sticker I’ve ever gotten and put it in my journal.

I voted sticker

Day 7: My Mom is incredible. I love her so much. I’m grateful for all she has done for me. We talked on the phone yesterday. It’s a blessing to have a Mom.

Day 8: My car runs.

Day 9: I love my toothbrush.  It makes the most delightful sound. Sometimes, I dance a little jig when it starts to buzz. There are so many simple things that brighten my day.  I’m thankful for my toothbrush.

Toothbrush picture

Day 10: Hugs. I’m thankful for hugs.  I had a rough day. It was the kind of day that I just sat on my bed and cried. It was the kind of day that I told God that life is incredibly unfair. It was painful. It hurt. I’m thankful for the friend who gave me a hug. Hugs are a blessing. Friends are a blessing.

Day 11: I’m thankful to be alive. Life is not perfect. It’s good to be alive though. I’m thankful to learn, love and survive another day. I believe in happy endings. I haven’t gotten mine yet, but there’s always tomorrow. God be thanked for a new day.

It’s a good day to be thankful.  That is why I do the Thankful Challenge every year. It helps me remember. What are you thankful for today?

“This a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.”  — Maya Angelou

 

 

Book Bag: What I’m Reading Right Now

Book Cover

I just finished reading a book called Le Ménagier de Paris. I don’t speak French so I had to read the English translation The Goodman of Paris. It has been absolutely fascinating to read this primary source document and ponder on the social realities of medieval Europe.

Here’s the plot. It’s 1393 and a rich, older man of 60 decided to get married again. His bride is around 20.  The modern woman in me is a bit shocked with the age difference. The historian in me understands it was common practice for men to be older than their wives.  As a present, he writes a book for his new bride on how to be a good wife, take care of the house and live without him after he dies.

The first few chapters are all about religion and how to live a moral life. It paints a picture of the role of faith in medieval Europe. Christianity and religious festivals were their life. The next chapter discussed how his new wife can make him a happy man in the bedroom.  I’ve read the Bible enough to understand exactly what the Goodman of Paris was talking about when he said his bride needed to “know him”.

This man had a lot of opinions on everything. The rest of the book explained how he thinks his manor should be organized.  He explained how to to boil water, cook soup, skin a chicken, hire household staff, argue with temporary workers, do needlework, prepare medicinal herbs, keep the pots clean, get stains out of clothing, keep the gossips in town from ruining her reputation and a bunch of other things that were critical for life as a 1393 young woman.  Some of the advice was actually pretty sound and still applies to modern-day life. For example, there was one section that said tradesman like to take advantage of female buyers. He recommended that his wife get two opinions before agreeing to any household repairs. I’ve had car mechanics try to cheat me before so this advice is still valid. Some of the advice was ridiculous. I rolled my eyes when I read the section on how to wear pious, black and white wife clothing in public. Really? Why can’t a 20-year-old wear purple?  I love the color purple so I would have made a terrible medieval wife.

I got a little teary-eyed when I read the chapter on why the The Goodman of Paris wrote his book. He expected to die before his bride did. He wanted to make sure she could make it in a world ruled by men.  He may have been a man of his time in many ways, but I got the impression that he did love his wife and desired her happiness.

Overall, I would recommend Le Ménagier de Paris. It was very informative. I got the added benefit of feeling like a scholar while reading it.  I also learned a few useful skills that will come in handy in case of the Zombie Apocalypse. For example, I now know how to skin a chicken and hire a maid to do my laundry.

What’s in your book bag?

 

My Parents Love Me

I’ve written before about my incredible parents. I had another experience today that confirmed again how much these two human beings are good people who love me.

Today was a hard day and I was feeling a bit emotional.  In the middle of this day, I was accidently forgotten and not given Skittles like everyone else in a Church class.  I felt left out. I knew it was an accident. It wasn’t anybody’s fault and I wasn’t angry at the person who forgot me. It just happened in the craziness of the moment. My logical side knew it wasn’t on purpose. My emotional side started remembering every other time in my life that I have been left-out or not gotten what I wanted.

I try to visit my parents a few times a month. Today was one of those planned visits. I ended up telling them how I felt.  Yes, I’m a 40 year-old who sat on my parent’s couch this afternoon and cried that I didn’t get candy. It’s not about the candy though. Even though it was completly an accident, my feelings of being left-out were real. We talked for a bit. I felt lighter when I drove home. It helped to talk about my feelings.

Then my Dad did something so incredibly loving and kind. He came and gave me a bag of Skittles.

skiddles-candy.jpg

Let me tell you something about my folks. They are true believers in keeping all of the 10 Commandments. They don’t lie, cheat, covet or do any of those other don’ts. Mom and Dad go to Church every Sunday and growing up my siblings and I would never even think about asking to go to the movies or the mall on a Sunday. It wasn’t keeping the Sabbath day holy. My parents also hate Skittles. They don’t keep them at the house which means that my father made a special trip to the store just to buy them.

He went to the store for me.   I felt so incredibly loved. As I held the bag of candy, I remembered a scripture written by the Apostle John.

“We love Him because He first loved us”. (1 John 4: 18-19)

The scripture is speaking about my Savior Jesus Christ and his great love for all mankind. Today it was also talking about my parents and their example of true love for me–their daughter.

I love you, Mom and Dad. You will always be my favorite people.  I am who I am today because of your goodness and light. I will remember your example of Christian  discipleship for the rest of my life. I hope to be like you when I grow up.

My parents

With love forever,

Amee

 

 

 

The Alarm Clock is Against Me

I think my alarm clock is against me. Take a look at this picture.

Alarm Clock picture

The Snooze button is huge. It’s larger than the button I press to get going for my day. My alarm clock does not want me to get up. It wants me to keep sleeping. It wants me to be late for work. This realization made me giggle this morning. I added it to my joyful list.

The conspiring alarm clock is my #311 joyful moment since I started this blog. What made you joyful today?

 

 

Joyful Moments: Summer Edition

The summer is coming to an end. The Arizona heat will continue to beat down on me until Halloween but my summer holiday is over. I get to go back to work tomorrow and prepare for the new school year. I added several joyful moments to my Joyful Journal this summer.

Joyful Moment #307

I had the chance to visit Sedona. Sedona is magestic.  It’s hard not to feel incredibly joyful when you see this view.Sedona

Joyful Moment #308

Georgine and Amee

The Accountant’s Great-Aunt Georgine turned 95 this year. We had the chance to attend her birthday party and spend some one-on-one time with Aunt Georgine and her little dog Sophia after the celebrations. Georgine has lived an incredible life. She is still a fiesty, loveable woman with strong opinions. I love fiesty 95 year-olds with strong opinions. I hope to be one of them some day.

Sophia the dog

I wanted to take Sophia home with me. She was so cute.

Joyful Moment #309

Summer means more time for cooking good food. I learned how to make chicken masala and crepes this summer. Crepes

MaslaThey were both delicious!

Joyful Moment #310

The sink was sparkling clean and stayed really clean for one entire day.  I celebrate the little joys so this one made the list. I may have just clapped my hands at the excitement of such a clean sink.

Clean sink

You may be wondering if I had any sad moments this summer. I did. I bet you did as well. I’ve got a talent for thinking of all the sad things in my life which is why I purposely count and record the joyful moments in my Joyful Journal.  I acknowledge the sad moments, endure them and then I try to get to the point where I can give the sad a hearty thank you for being part of my life. Am I the perfect guru of living in peaceful existence with all  aspects of my life?   Ha ha ha.  No,  I’m much better at being grateful in happy times.  I am working on it though. The Bible says it really well.

“Let us come before him with thanksgiving  and sing joyful songs of praise.” (Psalms 95:2)

What made you  joyful today?

 

 

 

 

Cookie Cutters

cookie cutter picture

Some people live in this world

Like a cookie cutter.

Never being more than

What everybody else is

Never doing more than

What everyone else does

Never venturing out to discover a beautiful world

Beyond their mold.

I wrote this poem when I was in high school. I rediscovered it today when I was cleaning out some papers.  At the end of the poem, I had written the following in bright red ink.  “I pray that is not my fate. It would be very sad if as a really old 40-year-old I wake up with gray hair and realize that I am a cookie cutter person without a single spark of Amee left in me. Oh, how very tragic indeed.”

At first, I laughed.  I am now that really old 40 year-old with a few gray hairs starting to appear out of nowhere. 40 just doesn’t seem as old as it used to be. Then, I got reflective.  Have I turned into that cookie cutter person that I feared so much? Am I a person who just lives her life, checks off her to-do list but has forgotten she was going to change the world? Am I still me? ”

It was a hard question to ask and an even harder answer to accept.

Sometimes, I am that cookie cutter person. Life. Work. Family. There are molds you accept in order to get a job done.  You can call it growing up or you can call it the great tragedy. It really depends on your perspective. Other times, I am still the sparkling soul who loves greatly, grieves greatly and wants to leave her mark on this spinning planet in some heroic way. There is one thing for certain. I must never stop being Amee.

100_3272

 

 

 

 

 

A Royal Wedding: The dollar store version

My Aunt and I went to the royal wedding this morning. You might have heard about this wedding. It’s been on the news for months. Since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle  forgot to send us an invite, we did our best to enjoy the festivities on a teacher’s and an artist’s salary. (In case you didn’t know, I’m the teacher and the Aunt is the artist.)

We watched the ceremony on the TV while sitting on my hand-me-down couch. We wore  plastic tiaras that I bought from the dollar store. We ate pastries on my thrift store china and toasted the new couple with sparkling apple juice that was purchased with a coupon.

We both oohed over the wedding dress. It was simple and beautiful.  The news said the dress is estimated to cost 100,000 pounds which is around $135,000 US dollars. Given that the average American worker has an income in the $40,000’s, you would have to be pretty rich to afford a dress like that. The social justice side of me started calculating how many school lunches you could buy for disadvantaged children with that kind of money. The “Happily Ever After” side of me started imagining that it was my wedding day with a beautiful dress, adoring groom and enough money to never have to worry about paying the bills ever again. The last part about having enough money to never have to worry about bills sounds very nice.

It was a lovely wedding. The couple seems to really like and love each other. I enjoyed watching the little glances between them. There’s something sweet about watching a couple in love. You feel hopeful for the world. The real star of the show was the Episcopalian minister. He was delightful. Reverend Michael Curry gave an amazing sermon. I said Amen a couple of times when he was talking. I completely agree with him. God is love and we can make the world a better place by treating each other like brothers and sisters. He was also just plain fun to watch. He was so animated and passionate about the word of God. It was like I was sitting in a revival meeting and not a wedding.

This is what the Esteemed Duchess of the Dollar Store looks like at 3:00 a.m. in the morning. I’ve got frizzled hair, bags under my eyes but I’m still smiling.

1 am photo

Her Royal Highness Princess Aunt Marla declined to have her 3:00 a.m. photo taken for this blog. There are some benefits to being an average American at times. Privacy is one of them.

food for the party

It was a memorable royal wedding even though it was dollar-store style. I’m a little tired. I think I will go back to bed now for a much deserved nap.

 

 

 

What I learned the Day I Marched

I don’t like confrontation. I’m usually the one at the social event who finds a way to change the subject once a controversial topic comes up. It’s not that I don’t have an opinion on whatever issue you are discussing. I do. I’ve just lived long enough to see good people stop being friends with other good people just because they voted differently than them. I don’t want lose my friends so I bite my tongue.

The last few months my  state has been in a huge debate about public education. I felt strongly about the topic of educational funding and I wanted to participate.

Picture of teacher walk out

So, I marched. I participated in some of the events at the AZ State Capitol and the Stand Out to Stand Up event on Baseline Road.

I felt a change when I went to the Capitol. Yes, the rally was fun. The crowds had energy but the change inside of me was more than the change in the state budget.  As I stood there with my sign and red shirt, I decided it was okay to talk about the hard topics.

Changing the subject may not always be the best idea. Especially if it is something you believe in.

You may have a different opinion than me on the Red For Ed movement. That’s okay. We can have an open and honest dialogue with each other and still be friends. That’s what I learned the day I marched.

 

 

 

A poem about a busted water pipe

Pipe pictureThis is the girl who was peacefully sleeping

Unaware that disaster was silently brewing.

This is the pipe that leaked in a wall

Where water was collecting  for who knows how long.

This is moment the girl walked in the room

And felt a river of water and saw a gushing typhoon.

This is the valve in the front of the yard

That the girl pulled and then sat by to cry really hard.

This is the husband who was out of state at the time

Who got the phone call that the house was now slime.

These are the fans and the bills and  demolition holes

This  whole experience is vexing to one’s soul.

(A Note for my family and friends:  Nate and I were able to file an insurance claim. We  will be able to fix the damage. I am always happy to accept homemade dinners though.  Just kidding about dinner. You are not obligated to cook me dinner. I know how to order pizza.  Life is never boring around here. I hope I never see water again. It’s a mess to clean up.)

 

 

 

Joyful moment #306: My talking purse

I arrived home after a long day at work and threw my purse on the kitchen counter. I sat down to eat some almonds and decompress a bit. I couldn’t help but notice my purse was sitting there all by itself. It got me thinking.  What would my purse say to me if it could talk?

My purse

Purse: Hello, Amee. How are you doing today? Look, I know you’re a little busy but we need to talk.

Me: (eating some almonds) I’ve been giving standardized tests all day. I’m too tired to chat.

Purse: That’s okay. Just listen. You’ve probably noticed that I’m a little bloated with old receipts, pens, makeup, extra earings, paper, a half-eaten granola bar and a bunch of other things. I’d like to be cleaned out least once a week. All the other purses in the neighborhood are neat and tidy.

Me: (still eating almonds)  If you don’t stop complaining, I will give you to a thrift store.

Purse:  You bought me at the thrift store so it would be like going home for me.

Me: Yeah, you’re right.  Okay, you win. I will tidy you up.

After giggling about a talking purse, I really did clean it. I threw out the old receipts, put the makeup back in the makeup bag and got rid of the half-eaten granola bar. My purse looks much happier now. It’s so neat and tidy.

As most of you know, I have been tracking my joyful moments the last few years. I write them down in my little journal. The really funny ones I put on this blog. I just had joyful moment #306 with my talking purse.

What made you smile today?