As the new year begins, I thought it was only appropriate to get back into blogging after taking a long, unintended break for a month and a half. I was clearly not successful with my plan of writing something every day in 2014, but I know that I did force myself to write down more than I did in any previous year. For that, I am grateful. I am glad to have memories recorded somewhere so that I can look back on what happened and how I felt.
There are, however, a few things that I missed. Here are some of the more important things that come to mind when I think about 2014:
I stopped taking one of the medications I've been taking since I was first diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
Years ago when I first started taking the pills, my gastroenterologist talked about how he hoped to slowly wean me off the medicine and that I would get better to the point where I wouldn't have to take it for the rest of my life. I actually started cutting back on the amount I took per day just because I had difficulty swallowing them. I was supposed to take 4 in the morning and then 4 at night, but I only took the ones at night. I would wait until Howard went to bed so that I could take my time because I would have to psych myself up to swallow each one. I let my doctor know about this, and his concern was whether or not I was okay with it, and I told him there was no difference in my daily life with my cutting back the medicine. He said as long as I was okay, it would be fine. So I kind of took a risk and eventually stopped taking it entirely!
Since I was home during the 2013-2014 school year, I figured that my health would improve because I wasn't around germs on a daily basis and because I was eliminating one of the largest reasons for my stress! And what do you know! There was no difference in my life on medicine and my life off medicine. Sure, there are times when my stomach bothers me, but the same would happen even when I was on medication. My health is dependent on whether or not I feel stress (I anticipate not being in the best of health as we approach the state tests in April), whether or not I'm eating properly (too much fiber does a number on me as well as things like Chinese food), or disgusting germs from my lovable kiddos at work. Now that things have also changed at work (I'll get into that in a moment!), my health has improved in comparison to past school years too. Normally, I'm absent for the first time in October or so. I made it all the way to just a few days before Christmas break! What?! With that, I know that I should be okay without taking that medication.
I became an aunt.
Howard's sister had her baby on August 5th, so I finally got to enjoy all the perks of being an aunt! I think it's so much being able to play with a baby without having the full responsibility. It was hilarious getting to see how Howard held baby Toby since he hadn't held a baby that small in his entire lifetime.
This little man has stolen my heart!
The other benefit of being an aunt is that I can buy things to spoil the little one! When we first found out that my sister-in-law was pregnant, I began doing some couponing for her. Whenever I saw baby deals, I snagged them so I was able to build up a nice collection of small items like baby wash/lotion, baby wipes, and spoons to put together a little bucket of goodies for Toby's birth. I would say that I stop by the baby clearance section more than I do the women's clearance section. When I'm at Target or Old Navy, I am drawn to the little itty-bitty clothes and will snag anything that's a great deal for a boy or for a girl. I think it's ridiculous just how expensive some items can be when the baby will only be wearing it for a short period of time! So I can't help purchasing items on clearance or with a coupon and storing it for a future gift. I did the same thing with some toys. That way when the next occasion comes up, I don't have to purchase things that are full price. I'm all for stretching our dollars so that for the price of just one shirts for baby Toby, I can get three instead! Howard laughed at me when I was at Target the other day buying tons of boy and girl baby clearance especially with the 20% off Cartwheel offer. I don't even shop that way for myself because my arms were literally full of items that I just grabbed in case someone else came and started doing the same. It's so much fun!
We went on a non-Disney vacation.
There are plenty of people out there who think it's strange that Howard and I continue to vacation in Disney World when there are so many other places in the world to see. But in the same way that you don't understand why we would want to stand in lines to get on attractions all day long, we don't understand the lure of laying on a beach.
Just recently, we heard a message at church that discussed the lion and the lamb, and it definitely touched my heart so I had to choose this photo to represent our Lancaster trip!
Back in August, we finally went somewhere else and were able to enjoy a brief time in Lancaster to learn about the Amish, shop, watch Moses at Sight & Sound, and tour the Wolf Sanctuary. We will definitely do that again in the future! I started a recap of that vacation but never finished it, so maybe I'll get to it this year!
I returned to teaching in September.
After the 2012-2013 school year, I was done with teaching. I had put in 6 years and was tired of the stress that came along with the job itself and dealing with the administration. I wanted a job where I could do whatever needed to be accomplished during a regular 9-5 time frame and then go home to relax. I wanted my weekends back! I wanted to sleep at normal hours and not have my world revolve around teaching. I never fully explained what happened in terms of leaving that job and working elsewhere, so maybe I will go into details in the future. However, in short, the new job that I took was not the right fit for me. The one good thing about it (other than getting paid more) was that it showed me that I can't shake my identity as a teacher because that is what God called me to do.
Teaching also means going back to carrying big bags to and from work!
There was no way I could have predicted that that would've happened. I did not expect missing the busyness of teaching. Sure, it has its daily challenges, and I probably look forward to days off and vacation breaks more than the kids do. But I was definitely more willing to take on those challenges than the ones at the other job. I missed my colleagues and the kids, and I felt that I wasn't using the gifts God gave me. I am extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to try something else to get a taste of the "outside world."
As mentioned above, I actually made it all the way to December without getting terribly sick. I had a cold earlier in the year, but the worst of it fell on the weekend when I was able to just stay in bed and sleep. I attribute my better health to the peace that I have in knowing I am where I'm supposed to be and because of the good changes that occurred with the new headmaster. I pray that despite the feelings of fatigue and the stress about the upcoming state tests dealing with the ridiculous Common Core, that joy in me never fades.
I began enjoying the art of taking pictures.
Okay, so to some degree, this isn't an entirely new thing for me. When my dad first got a digital camera, I used to take it with me in my bag so that I could capture whatever pictures I wanted to during the day. It was, in my opinion, one of the greatest inventions because before that, I had to pay for film and also shell out money to have the pictures developed! I'd take groups shots with my friends, and we'd take a bunch with hopes that one of them would come out! Since the digital camera was brought into my life, I rarely went anywhere without one in my bag.
Then Howard got me my iPhone the first year of our marriage. I loved it because I was able to take pictures with ease because I didn't have to dig through my bag for the camera or look awkward stopping to take a picture of something that seemed insignificant to others. Random pictures with long captions are the things you'll find on my Instagram feed, and it's just another way for me to continue capturing memories.
Well, the difference between this year and all the years beforehand is that my interest in photography has changed in that I want to start taking pictures with a DSLR instead! I still love my digital camera and my phone and will continue to use those on a daily basis. However, when Toby was born in August and then my cousin Nikki got married in October, I really understood more of why Howard lugs around a huge DSLR to these events. I don't have an idea about settings and don't really want to know about them. I'm fine with Howard setting the camera up to whatever fits the environment and then just taking it from him to shoot. He still does the post-processing, but I am so intrigued with how I can capture things on "film" the way that I see them through my own eyes. I still fully believe in photographs as a means of preserving a specific moment in time, so even if the subject in the photo doesn't look the best (ex. when Toby is making a face because he's upset and crying), I think it should be captured.
My cousin's wedding was the first time we both shot with DSLRs!
I have to say that throughout this year, there are three photos that I'm extra happy about. The first is on the first day we met Toby and I got a picture of him in sunglasses. The second one is a picture of Nikki and Dan on their wedding day during their first dance (I have to say I was so happy when Nik chose it as her new Facebook profile picture). The last one is one that I took when we celebrate Toby's first Christmas with the lights from the tree in the background (the picture I posted above).
We started attending a local church.
It's kind of strange not to be at my home church each Sunday. I never thought that we would worship elsewhere considering Howard and I met at my home church. However, for the past few months, we felt that God was leading us elsewhere. We began attending a church close to our apartment. This is definitely a huge change in our lives at the end of 2014 especially since I really detest change and am uncomfortable meeting new people and altering a set routine, but so far, we have been blessed at this new church. The pastor's messages are convicting to the point where I actually took action on something that was burdening my heart for the past two years. I know, I know. This is a rather vague description, but in the same way that I didn't quite explain everything that happened with my departure and return to teaching, I won't write more on this subject for this post either.
With a new year ahead of us, I'm a little nervous about what's in store. I know God is always present in my life, but I do hope that I draw closer to Him this year and can establish more discipline in my life with regards the big things like more consistent devotional times and the little things like getting the laundry and dishes done before it piles up, haha. I am a work in progress, but looking back at all that I've experienced in the previous year, I'm kind of curious to see what will happen! Stay tuned as I do my best to document more of the life-changing and, more likely, the mundane!