Home, Music

On Ants and Jobs and Graduation

Greetings again!

I thought, back in March, that perhaps I would begin blogging more frequently since I had so much time at home. And I would have, too, except after my last post I realized I had absolutely nothing to write about.

We still had ants.

We were still eating chicken.

We still played gin rummy in the evenings.

What else could I have had to say?

However, with the passing of months, some things have changed, warranting a new blog post:

We no longer have ants!!!!

Exciting, yes? I’m sure any woman who’s ever dealt with a month-long infestation of ants in her kitchen will share my joy at being rid of the annoying little things. When we finally got rid of them for real, I wandered around the kitchen in amazement every single morning, marveling at the ant-less-ness of the sink, counter, cupboards, and dishdrainer.

Those were good days.

Aside from our ant-freedom, what else is new? Well, we’re still eating boatloads of chicken, but we have cut back on our gin rummy habit. Not because we’re tired of it (well, Logan might be, but he’s a champ and hasn’t said so), but because our evenings have gotten preciously short. God opened a door to a piano/violin teaching job at a local studio about a month ago, and the after-school lessons have dramatically reduced our gin rummy playing time. Sad, I know, but we’re adjusting.

And guys. I was made to be a music teacher. I love teaching lessons. I (briefly) toyed with the idea of being a classroom teacher several years ago, but my month-long experience in China showed me that I can’t handle large groups of kids. Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE kids. (See? Italicized AND capitalized means I’m for real.) But I’m not good at classroom management, and I hated trying to teach to the average: Johnny never learned anything because he was more advanced than the lessons I was preparing; Samuel struggled because we were moving too fast. I’m sure that real teachers would have all sorts of ideas for individualizing and modifying lessons for “exceptionalities,” but it wasn’t for me.

This, however, is for me. I love getting to know students one-on-one. I love the way their personalities and learning styles show so clearly when they’re on their own in the lesson room. I love being able to slow down to explain phrasing a little more clearly if I need to. I love coming up with fun ways to drill rhythms and note names. I love being able to move an exceptional student ahead to something that challenges her. I love seeing students come back after a week of practice having mastered something that had challenged them the last time. I love praising them and seeing their confidence grow. I love the little girls who skip into the room with enthusiasm. I love making the quiet teenage boys laugh, even if it’s the only non-piano noise he’ll make all lesson. I just love this job.

Looking back, God’s hand is so clear in every step that brought me here. Reflecting on His goodness in preparing me for this place is a long enough tale to warrant its own post, really. It’s embarrassing to think about all those times I cried during lessons (Mrs. Boone was a literal saint, and never once sounded even the slightest bit frustrated with my snotty sniffling). It’s odd to remember that I went through 2 1/2 years of college NOT intending to study music. It’s incredible (as in “completely unbelievable”) to realize I made a decent grade in every semester of ear training. And it’s wonderful to realize that God opened up this job at just the time I was ready to start working; that He directed me to the job posting when I hadn’t checked for music jobs in over a month; that the studio was willing to take a risk on someone who hasn’t taught violin before; that my interviewer was so gracious about the fact that I was an hour late to our meeting (unclear Google maps + accidentally getting on a highway that only has exits every two miles . . . ).

And not only did He provide a job that I absolutely love. . . God’s also provided a wonderful church family where I’ve been able to get involved musically. I’m using my violin and my voice, and yes, even playing handbells again! He’s so good to me.

In other news, congrats to all ABC’s graduating seniors! We wish we could be walking with you . . . but let’s be honest, we’re really happy about NOT walking with you. Not because of you. You’re awesome and I loved having you as my classmates for 2 1/2 years. Because of other things, like travel expenses and dumb hats and the fact that Logan’s parents can’t be at two graduations at once (and Charis’s doctorate is a lot more important) and stuff like that. Anyhow. If any of you are reading this (which you’re probably not because packing and family and Bible conference and wedding plans, for half of you at least), just know that Logan and I wish we could hug you goodbye once more before God scatters us to serve Him all over the earth.

Alright. I’ve rambled about ants and jobs and graduation, but it’s time for the really important stuff: laundry and cleaning and paying bills. And also putting on warmer clothes because North Carolina is SERIOUSLY bipolar and keeps tricking me into boxing up all my sweaters.

Rude.

 

 

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Celebrations, Home

Loose Ends

Soon–so very, very soon–I’ll be back in the midst of the Appalachian mountains. Also in the midst of homework.

However, I am in neither of those positions quite yet. Instead, I’m mainly packing and/or procrastinating on packing.

Guys. Packing. Not as bad as cave crickets, but on a scale of brownies to cave crickets, “packing” is definitely toward the cave cricket end. I feel like I’m doing pretty well consolidating, and then I see how full the van is already getting. And then I remember the 1001 “little things” that I just need to “shove in somewhere quick before we go” and then I feel sad about my life. And then I argue with myself about if I really need all this with me or if I can get by until November just fine. And then I remember that I’m going to be an RA so I really need to do a bunch of Pinterest crafts quick so my room is super cute so all my girls love me. And then Mom reminds me that I don’t have time to do that, so my room will look something less than super cute, which is just fine because I don’t have room for all that stuff anyhow. And then I remember that I’m still procrastinating on the whole packing deal and I should probably get to it.

But instead I read “just one chapter” of North and South, which I picked up at the Half-Price Books trip Ben and I took the other week. It was great fun just hanging out together and reading Lost States in the middle of the aisle because we were too cheap to actually buy it and take it home, even though it looked amazing. However, I just read the Amazon reviews and it actually looks like it wasn’t worth our money after all, so we made a good choice. North and South, however, was definitely worth the $2.99. And the brother-sister time was priceless.

Speaking of quality time, Ruth and I also got to visit our very own beloved Kathleen this week! I’m pretty sure she’s responsible for almost everything I know about library work, and no matter how much I love my job, employer, and coworkers at ABC…Kathleen and the BBI library cataloging project will probably always be my favorite library experience. If you’re reading this, thanks again. 🙂

Other loose ends wrapped up this week…

  • DQ! My manager told me I can still work over breaks, so I may be back…we’ll see. it was a great experience, even though I didn’t always lovelovelove it. Daddy-o took us out for celebratory Blizzards the other night (yay employee discounts!), and I designed my own: Cappuccino Double Fudge Cookie Dough. It was quite as fantastic as it sounds.
  • Mending. I had a box of things I’ve needed to mend for quite a while and I finally did…it’s like getting a resurrected wardrobe! And sewing is fun. I miss it during the school year.
  • Shopping… Thrift stores are my biggest weakness. On the bright side, I feel fabulous. And I have a super fluffy pillow that’s sort of ugly because I never got around to pinteresting it into an owl or anything, but it’s so fluffy I don’t really care. If I ever feel like crying it will hold all my tears.
  • Church partying. The couple in our church who usually throws the Valentine’s party had a 6 lb. 8. oz., 21″ long reason that they couldn’t do so in February…but now that those 6 lbs. are grown somewhat (it’s a baby, guys, in case I’m being too obscure here. And I have no idea how much it weighed. That just sounded like good dimensions for describing a newborn), it’s the perfect time for a party, complete with top-your-own spaghetti and charades. Our very own Levi welded himself an imitation fencing sword last night in order for his Dread Pirate Roberts costume to look authentic. That’s dedication, folks. I simply safety-pinned a piece of notebook paper to my back. In all fairness, I was in the middle of packing up almost every item I own and creating elaborate costumes was a little low on my priority list. However, no one was put out by my lack of effort, and a fabulous time was had by all. I’m going to miss my EBC family very, very much!
  • Family time-ing. All nine of us got to do special music in church together last Sunday and visit the shut-ins, and all nine of us got to eat our traditional Saturday morning waffles today. It’s been quite a while since we could get everyone together, and it will probably be a while before it happens again, so it was pretty fantastic. Also Lilly and Ruth and I had a tea party which was actually a chocolate milk party. And we played some final rounds of telephone pictionary in which the phrase “my hair goes up” turned into Ruthie dancing with a variety of breads. My family is pretty much my favorite thing ever, and as excited as I am to get back to school…I’ll probably cry just a little when we’re separated again.

In other news, my mumsie and popsicles celebrate their 28th wedding anniversary today! Mom and Dad, wishing you happy anniversary was actually most of the reason I started this post. It took me a while to get to that point, but I made it eventually. Your wonderful example of godly love and faithfulness has set the standard pretty stinkin’ high! Thanks for providing such a reliable home for us all these years; if there’s one thing I’ve always been sure of (besides, you know, God Himself), it’s been your love for and commitment to both each other and our family. If I ever have a relationship with anyone besides a cat, I fervently pray that it will be as solid and successful as yours. (If I ever have a cat, I won’t look to you for advice probably, because Mom will want me to send it to a barn.)

Anyhow, all that to say, happy anniversary Dad and Mom! May you have many more years together.

Also, I realize it’s pretty late so you won’t even see this until the day after your technical anniversary, but adjust for leap years and time zones and stuff and it will probably be like spot on.

But Seriously, Home

Life Lessons from Fast Food

In honor of only having two days left at DQ, I thought I would share some lessons from the summer…

  1. I really like being called Elisabeth. It’s a good name.
  2. I’m really slow. There’s this time chart competition thing, and I’ve been consistently in the low slots. It really hurts my pride. I don’t like coming in last or even close to last. Learning how slow I am has been humbling. I’m really not as great as I think I am.
  3. People are quick to criticize others and even quicker to excuse themselves. I’m pretty sure I learned about this concept in psychology last fall (the Fundamental Attribution Error, perhaps?), and I’m quite sure I heard a sermon or two on it this summer (Hypocrisy/Judgmentalism, perhaps?). Because of this…
  4. Learning to have a patient and meek attitude is invaluable in interactions. I don’t have that anything close to mastered yet, but I hope I developed it at least a little bit this summer.
  5. Speaking of being judgmental, I will be much more understanding next time I have to patronize any sort of fast food place. Maybe the kid behind the counter is a stereotypical fast-food worker type…or maybe she’s just very confuddled by having counted change all day and this simple math problem that you’re asking her to do is inexplicably escaping her. All sorts of numbers are floating in her brain, and so if she stares at you blankly, it could be drugs, or it could be just sheer change-counting tiredness. Give her a break. Please. Because that was totally me several times in the drive through this summer and it was really embarrassing.
  6. Speaking of drugs, if you jokingly remark to one of your coworkers who “sometimes does illegal stuff” that the cop going through the drive through asked to speak to her…she probably won’t think it’s funny. Oops. 
  7. Wearing headsets is gross. You know how much of other people’s ear sweat is in those things? Way more than I want close to me. Too bad I don’t have much of a choice.
  8. The easiest way to make sure you get all your breaks is to take up smoking.
  9. Vanilla shakes are nothing more than milky ice cream. Save your money, people. Especially if you don’t even want the whip cream or the cherry.
  10. America has some very messed up priorities. People who buys their dogs cups of DQ ice cream are crazy. That’s some expensive stuff to just feed to a dog.
  11. Not all high school seniors know if France is a city or a country. Weep for the state of the nation.
  12. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
  13. People really like justifying themselves. When I ask, as I’m supposed to do, if they want to donate “just $1!” to the Children’s Miracle Network, a surprising percentage of them take the time to explain why they can’t: I did last time, I do that at work, no one ever donates to me, “I’m broke.” (False. If you can afford our ice cream you are NOT broke!) People. I am neither God nor your conscience. I really could not care less why you choose not to donate. Just pull around and give me your money so I can get on to the next customer.
  14. Pop radio is one of the most terrible things I have ever been subjected to. You know how people complain about classical music being boring and all the same and stuff like that? I present to you: basically every pop song I’ve heard. Look at these lyrics:
    One less problem without ya!
    I got!
    One less problem without ya!
    I got!
    One less problem without ya!
    [Ariana Grande:]
    I got one less, one less problem
    [Big Sean:]
    One less problem without ya
    I got!
    One less problem without ya!
    I got!
    One less problem without ya!
    [Ariana Grande:]
    I got one less, one less problem
  15. No job can compare to my library job. Just a few more weeks until I’m back. I can make it.
  16. God is good. From providing work in the first place, to giving me grace shift by shift, to reminding me to do all things without complaining, to granting opportunities to witness…He’s been so good and kind and faithful to me through this entire summer. Will I miss blending blizzards and taking drive through orders? Not at all. But am I glad I got to do both this summer?

Absolutely.

Five Glass Slippers, Home

Cinderella? Me?

For the day, at least!

Amber Stokes (aka the Fairy Godmother) over at Seasons of Humility is hosting a week-long blog tour of Five Glass Slippers! (If you’re getting tired of me talking about this book so much…my boundless enthusiasm should calm itself a little bit eventually, and then I can get back to the weird holidays and sparkly cat stories you’re really here for).

Anyhow. Where was I? Oh yes! The blog tour! This is my first time taking part in something like this, so I’m pretty excited about it! We’ve got ballgowns, Cinderella anecdotes (I just love that word), interview questions, a sweet giveaway… My mother can tell you that I put a lot of thought and effort into answering some of the questions these delightful bloggers had, my Pinterest followers can tell you that I put a lot of thought and effort into picking the exact perfect ballgown, and I myself can tell you that I had a great idea of something I could contribute to the giveaway that I never made because working at Dairy Queen watching John Wayne doing important stuff making strawberry rhubarb jam okay, okay, just plain procrastination. Don’t be like me. It’s a fantastic prize though, so I wasn’t needed after all. (Also, Pinterest followers, sorry for flooding you with floofy dress pictures. Deadlines and stuff.) But you can go see all that for yourselves, if you’re interested. Don’t forget to follow along the rest of the week as Emma Clifton, Rachel Heffington, Stephanie Ricker, and Clara Diane Thompson all get their turn to be Cinderella for the day! And don’t forget that the Five Glass Slippers Kindle edition is just $0.99 this week. So that’s exciting if you’re into reading electronically. Continue reading “Cinderella? Me?”

Home

There’s Change Comin’…

(again, song source = bonus points…which I should probably update, hmm?)

So many things are going on at the House of Brown. (You know, when we moved, I really wanted to name our home. Elizabeth Bennet lived at Longbourne…Mr. Rochester lived at Thornfield…Mr. Darcy lived at Pemberly…why do we just live at “our house”? Anyhow, my suggestion was “Browncastle,” but that never caught on, so it’s still merely “the House of Brown.”) Anyhow. I’m talking about radical stuff, here.

Firstly. Sleeping habits. Back in the day when I was a youngster, I was most definitely a night person. Last summer, before I went to China, I would regularly stay up past midnight. After I came home from school this spring, I couldn’t force my eyelids open past like 10:00. And then I woke up early…well, relatively early, for me at least. I’m not numbering numbers because I’ve always felt touchy about that subject. Right now, it’s 9:30…and I’m seriously planning on going to bed when I’m done with this post. What happened to me? Am I getting old? Continue reading “There’s Change Comin’…”

Home

The Fatal Tendency

I have a Fatal Tendency. I think I was cursed by an evil fairy when I was a child.

It’s embarrassing, but I’m going to confess it to the world-wide interwebs anyhow.

Every food I make turns out really weird. I guess you could say I’m sort of like King Midas, but without the gold.

You remember the muffins, yes? Like that.

Also the brownies, about which I never told you. I didn’t even know you could do that to brownies. It’s a long story, which I’ll save for some other time. Multiple awkwards were involved. Then there was the time at school when I made cappuccino muffins for my church van. The muffins were actually good, but nobody in my van likes coffee. In fact, they have serious aversions to coffee so strong that they can’t even stand of teaspoon of it in a muffin. Accident? No. Fatal Tendency.

Yesterday I forgot to put sugar in the lemonade. Have you ever had unsweetened lemonade? If it were anyone else, we could just blame it on being careless, but with me…it’s simply a symptom of the Fatal Tendency. Like the time in highschool when I made burritos (or maybe they were enchiladas, I don’t know) for my family. The sauce I used was hot sauce, and my family only eats mild. My little brother started crying. My little sister drank twelve glasses of water. Since I didn’t purchase the hot sauce, you could say it wasn’t my fault…but since it ended up on a food I prepared, we know that the Fatal Tendency has struck once again. Last week, I was making bread, and accidentally confused the wheat flour with the malt-o-meal. Honest mistake? Nope, Fatal Tendency.

This morning, my younger siblings requested pancakes for breakfast. I happily obliged. After rummaging around to find the recipe–we have a lot of recipe books in this home–I finally discovered it in Ruth’s book. That means she copied it out of somewhere when she was probably eleven, because she’s always been ahead of me in these matters. The whole hand-written-by-Ruth-bit is important, so don’t forget it.

I set to mixing up the batter; her directions were simply “stir everything together,” so I sorted out the list of ingredients to add them in the most logical order. Batter is ready, syrup is being syruped, griddle is warming–how hot is this supposed to be? I tried my dad’s water-flicking trick and it sizzled, so I poured out six nice round pancakes to fry. They looked rather anemic, somehow. I worked on dishes as I waited for them to fry.

Apparently, my griddle wasn’t actually warm enough, because those things took forever, and looked anemic the whole time. I finally pried six pale, rubbery disks off the griddle, and poured on six more circles of batter. The griddle should be warmer now; hopefully these would be better.

Meh. These six also turned out sickly-looking, and they were similarly scooted off the griddle suspiciously. What is wrong with you, pancakes? Are you rising at all??

Wait. Were they supposed to rise?

I re-read the recipe. There, smushed on the very bottom of the list. 1 T. baking powder.

I know for a fact that those pancakes had exactly no baking powder.

Oops. Well, that would be the problem. The Fatal Tendency strikes again.

I didn’t say anything–just kept on making pancakes. Soon Jacob and Lilly showed up. They pronounced them delicious.

I love little kids.

Ben knew something was wrong with them as soon as he saw them, but like a man, he ate them anyhow.

I drowned mine in syrup.

This morning, I start a job at Dairy Queen. Should I tell them what happens to the food I touch? Or should I simply hope that I’ll be assigned the drive-thru?

Home

Ah, home.

Home. Sitting on the back porch swing, listening to chickens. Feeling the breeze on my face, and watching it dance through the maples. Hearing the wind chime play its wandering, melancholy notes. Laughing at the fierceness of the tiny hummingbirds jealously watching their feeder. Rocking oh-so-gently back and forth as I read my Bible, or pray, or just relax.

Home. Working in the garden with my family. Feeling the hot sun make sweat roll down my nose. Delightedly wiggling my toes in the bare dirt. Imagining with pleasure the happy meals my family will eat with these vegetables next fall and winter. Talking with Ben about lots of things–Civil Air Patrol, and Jeff Shaara, and summer camp, and Once Upon a Time. Hearing the kids laugh and play in the back yard. Avoiding the worms. Knowing that trying to have any sort of manicure for the rest of the summer is a ridiculous thought, and not caring at all. Continue reading “Ah, home.”