Thursday, November 27, 2014


During this season, specifically this day of thankfulness, I'm humbled with all I have to be thankful for.  The obvious, my faith, my little girls, my husband & little boy, a home, food, and clothes.  Today though, as I put over 200 miles on my odometer, I am really thankful for the place I call home.

For over 20 years of my life, my home was a tiny community nestled in the corner of three counties, population of less than 2,000.  I attended high school in a neighboring town where the student body measured less than 500.  My senior year, my principal was new to our school and the area, commented several times that the people that called this home were the "salt of the earth."  I didn't realize how true his words were until my address was no longer on that rural route.

As I traveled today, part of the journey just me and the girls, I had lots of time to think and sing along with the radio.  Luckily, Anna and Reagan slept, but it made the trip a little lonely. As I flipped back and forth between the Prime Country and the Y2Kountry stations, I heard a lot of songs that reminded me of my little hometown.  Everybody really is famous in a small town.  If your name is Hussey, Garner, Powers, Kidd, Harper... I'm pretty certain my fifth grade teacher can trace your entire family tree for you; she may have in class a time or two.  If you skipped school to cut town and grab some fries at the Chicken Hut, someone would probably see you and tell you parents.  However, these same folks would take your picture in the Homecoming parade, congratulate you after you got baptized at church, and hug you at your saddest moments.

This small town life is something I can't quite explain to even my husband, who grew up a few years ahead of me in a town over twelve times as large.  He's still very much a country boy and despite his office job with big cherry desk and fancy nameplate, is much more at home in the woods with a Husqvarna chainsaw in his hands.  But even so, traveling a half hour to the grocery store is something he's certain he never wants to do.  I feel a little differently though.  At 20, all I could imagine was getting out, getting married, starting a family, having a white picket fence, & living in a neighborhood near a Target.  I have all that, and a not so small part of me wants to load it all up and move where the green grass grows.

That said, I love my home, I love this town, and I love the kids I get the opportunity to teach.  I've taught at 3 different schools now, none of which were in my home community.  My mom was also a teacher.  One with small feet, but very large shoes I knew I couldn't fill.  So, when I graduated college, my goal was to get a job at least two towns away.  Once I got married, I moved homes, moved jobs, became a stepmomma like BAM! It was the hardest few months of my life, but it was an adjustment that left me unafraid of change.  Last year when an opening at a school in the same district as my stepson's, I tossed my application in the hat and thought, if it's meant to be, it's meant to be.  It's certainly been meant to be, for the first time in about 5 years, I feel like I'm almost at home.  You know that feeling when you take your shoes off at the end of a long day, like you can let your hair down and completely be yourself, like when you've eaten too much at Thanksgiving dinner and you just unbutton your jeans...yeah, like that.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm really thankful for my boondock upbringing.  It sheltered me from a whole lot, it made friends feel like family, and it completely shaped me into who I am as a momma, wife, sister, daughter, teacher, & friend.  But most of all as we traveled today, I started to realize as much as my heart craves to be back in the middle of nowhere, home isn't a place.  Home is a feeling.  It's the feeling I get when my family is under one roof, when laughter fills the air, when hugs and love abound.  That's something I'm rarely lacking, and for that I'm truly thankful.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Grown Up Christmas List

In September, my dear friend Monica got me to jump aboard her Jamberry bandwagon.  I really enjoy the product.  They are super awesome nail wraps that really live up to my crazy life, and with no dry time, I can actually have cute salon style nails at a fraction of the price while being able to keep up with my two very energetic little girls, their big brother, and 28 fourth graders.

This month in hopes of raising my sales (meeting my second fast start and being promoted to advanced consultant was motivating and exciting for the overachiever in me) and with the encouragement of our team leaders, I ran a promotion that one of our managers was running without much success.  The teacher in me likes to think outside of the box, and the little kid in me was already listening to Christmas music.  This combined caused me to decide to revamp the promotion.  I had been humming the tune to "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things" all day.  If you know me very well, you know I do love my weekly visits to Target, so I decided to offer a Target gift card with any qualifying Jamberry purchase.  This was a hit.  I felt like it was a more genuine incentive, because it was truly mine and I decided all month, when I did run a flash incentive for my little Jamberry business it would be something to do with my favorite things.

There's no doubt that I love Christmas.  As a child, I would run into my parents' room at an insanely early hour in hopes that everyone would sleepily crawl out of bed ready to see if that red suited father of Christmas had been down our chimney.  Apparently two o'clock is too early to open gifts, but by four, it was perfectly acceptable.  I did this until *looking down sheepishly* I was at least 20.  My Memaw had this same childlike spirit when it came to the holiday, and she often wanted to open gifts on Christmas BEFORE lunch which wasn't really okay being that family trickled in during the meal. Memaw was an incredible person, and after watching a funny round woman at staff development yesterday, I couldn't help of think of my Grandmother who may not be here in body, but her spirit is certainly alive in me.  Every time I hold a coin, I check the date; my grandmother saved all the coins made the years we were born.  She saved a "mile of pennies" along with the other members of our church congregation to be donated one Christmas to the North Carolina Baptist Children's Home (a cause very close to her heart).

When Kelly Clarkson started singing on my minivan radio speakers yesterday, I teared up a bit thinking about my Memaw and my very own grown up Christmas list. My oldest is starting to understand that anticipation that comes with Christmas and has started her list which right now has "everything" on it.  But as a grown up, I don't run and jump out of bed to see what's under my tree.  Truthfully, all I could ever want is usually right next to me in our king sized bed.  This holiday season, I want that sense of contentment and love to be felt by others.  So, starting today through this weekend, I'm donating my Jamberry commission to North Carolina Baptist Children's Home in memory of my wonderful grandmother.  I realize this incentive isn't giving you something as a customer, but in the true spirit of Christmas, when God gave us His perfect son to be our Savior, it is only fitting that we pay this love forward with a giving heart.