Creative Ways to Stay In Touch (When Your Friends Live Far Away)

62c049e82db4c40674b934e7a9a00443One of my favorite shows to watch is the old show “I Love Lucy.” In fact, occasionally I love to have a date night with Abe and stay home, order food, and watch I Love Lucy. Besides the hilarious Lucy/Ricky disputes, I think the adventurous best-friend relationship between Lucy and Ethel is one of my favorite parts of the show. I’ve told Abe before that there’s a part of me that wishes I lived in the 50s when milk was delivered to your door and your neighbor was your best friend. But today our world is so different from Lucy and Ethel’s…now, our neighbors are strangers and our closest friends are sometimes miles away! Maybe because very few people marry their highschool sweetheart and live their whole life in the same place these days? Or it could be that so many go off to college in a different state, different town, and make close friends from all over the world. Whatever the reason, lots of us are finding ourselves with contacts all over the country and it can be hard to stay in touch. I’ve kept in contact with several of my college friends, as well as some of my parents’ old friends, and thought I would give a few ideas of what helps to keep in touch.

Let’s start with the obvious, Facebook. I have one friend in particular from college who, after graduation, moved to Vienna, Austria. I can’t remember exactly how it started, but I believe I messaged her on Facebook the summer after we graduated, prior to her wedding, to wish her congratulations and say I’m sorry I couldn’t be there. We then started up a thread of messages that have lasted for three years! We still message quite often, and I feel as if we are very close and up-to-date on each other’s lives, even though we didn’t see each other in person for over two years.

When communicating over Facebook, I’ve found a few tricks to make it more meaningful.

  • Be Open –if you’re in a busy season of life, and your friend sent pages of messages filling you in on life, don’t be afraid to send a short note back saying your life is hectic at the moment, but can’t wait to “reply more later” (Alayna and I used that phrase all the time!) and then give a time frame when you think you’ll be able to reply.
  • Include stories –if you’re really trying to keep a close friendship thousands of miles apart, take the time to be specific or tell a story. For instance, Alayna and I both are piano teachers, and we often would trade funny teaching stories or mistakes, etc. It kept us excited and looking forward to the next message!
  • Allow for enough time –occasionally, I found myself reading her messages at a good time for me to reply right away. Don’t do that to your friend!! Read it, and make a mental note to reply in a few days, or weeks. When they need a week or two or three to reply, and you continually send back long messages an hour or two after they wrote, it can get tiring and create pressure. Take a step back and let some time pass, then go back and write what’s been going on recently.

Secondly, let’s look at Snail Mail. Do you know how many creative ways you can stay in touch using the old-fashioned postal system?? I had two particular close girlfriends my senior year of college. They were both graduate students who would be graduating the same year as I graduated with my bachelors. We hit it off in so many ways, but one of our favorite things to do was gather in Emily’s room late at night, do puzzles, and watch, of course…I Love Lucy! Since all three of us loved puzzles so much, and were heading three different directions after spending an entire year doing everything together, we came up with a plan. We each bought puzzles from the dollar store. Then we split up the pieces in our puzzle evenly into two plastic bags. So for my puzzle (a cat in a wheelbarrow in a garden), I gave Emily a bag with half of the pieces in it, and Maria a bag with the other half. Then we parted our ways, taking each other’s puzzle pieces with us. Over the course of two and a half years, we wrote back and forth to each other, and included a puzzle piece in each letter. We slowly began building our puzzles…I kept mine on my dresser, and I cannot tell you how exciting it was to continuously get letters in the mailbox and rush back to see if it matched any of my other pieces! I have to admit, it was easier to stay in touch with my Facebook friend. It was MUCH harder to find time to hand-write a letter, but it was SO worth it. For those of you who are puzzle lovers, this is a terrific, fun, and special way to keep in touch.

Here are some more fun, cheap ways to use snail mail:

  • Use a special code—either a made-up language (pig-latin, the “Ob” Language, etc.), pictures, or numbers indicating certain pages and words in a book you both have. The options are endless if you use your imagination!
  • Start a newsletter. This works best for kids—if your far-away friends have children the same age as yours, make up your own wacky newsletter/paper and send it out to them. It could include birthday dates and wish-lists, highlights of certain members of either family, funny stories, or upcoming events. Cute pictures and bold fonts will capture their attention and keep the kids looking for the next one!
  • Send a care package. This is more familiar to most everyone—loads of ideas on Pinterest! Pick one you like and customize it to your recipient!
  • Don’t forget to decorate the envelopes, and include postcards from anywhere fun you’ve been.

Have more snail mail ideas? Let me know! The puzzle pieces idea gets my imagination running to think of other things that could work like that, but let me know if you think of anything else!

Lastly, I’m grouping together Email, Phone Calls, and Visits. If you’re not into Facebook, emails can be used pretty much the same way as messages so look back up to the first point. However, I did want to just say that if you’re not really into emailing back and forth or used to writing long emails, you can use this to network and keep connections open. I would never Facebook message my college professor with my most recent embarrassing moment, but I have sent out a brief, kind email to thank them for their time with me at school and let them know how I’m doing professionally. I always tried to include a memory that I missed from their classes or involvement in my life, and have always received a kind, positive response back. Teachers especially like to hear back from old students and know that their teaching has made a difference! And it helps to keep your name out there too. Email or hand-written letters are best for that type of keeping in contact.

I have a friend who has friends literally all over the country and world. And on top of just having friends all over the world, she actually calls them and will spend hours talking to all of her friends! I’ve seen her hang up her phone after telling a particular friend all the recent developments in her life, then dial a new number and repeat the story again! I could never do that. I despise talking on the phone. I used to be worse than I am now—I used to literally not be able to answer the phone, and let everything go to voicemail. If it was important I called or texted back, and if not…oh well! Now that I’m older, I’m much better than I used to be. But I still don’t like it! My sister and I are best friends, and we only once in a blue moon have phone conversations. When I was dating Abe, I have to admit we did talk on the phone occasionally but neither of us are that into it either. We did like to hear each other’s voices though, especially if we hadn’t seen each other in a while. So if you are one of those people who like to talk for hours on the phone, I’m sure this is a great way to stay in touch. Here are a few ideas, from my limited phone-talking experience, that you could try:

  • Watch a movie together. This is for super close friends, or dating relationships. Super close friends are the ones who you probably talked to for hours yesterday getting caught up, and there’s not much new today. Abe and I hadn’t seen each other for a couple days (horrific, I know) and we watched Aladdin “together” on the phone. We pressed play at the same time, and listened to it all together while holding the phone.
  • Play games—like I Spy (it’s possible! Just modify J Tell them what room of the house you are in if they are familiar with your house, and then let them blind guess. If they don’t know your house…don’t play this game 🙂 ) or a rhyming game.
  • Ask questions—make a list ahead of time.
  • Call when you have plenty of time and a quiet space to talk.
  • Make sure your phone battery is charged!

Finally, I hope you make time to visit your friends! It’s a great way to get some travelling in and experience that face-to-face friendship again. My family has friends that live in Tennessee, but vacation in our Eastern PA area every summer. So once a year, after liking each other’s pictures on Facebook and loosely keeping up on their lives, we have desserts and conversations that normally keep us up way into the night hours. And surprisingly, we feel very close to their family. We don’t send regular messages on Facebook, have long phone calls or even send post cards, but just a yearly visit with lots of laughter and animated stories keeps our hearts knitted close.

In summary, the key to staying close is to make them a priority. To some it can be a matter of insecurity—you go from being best friends or roommates or whatever the case, to “out of sight, out of mind.” I know that there were some that I would have liked to keep in contact with, but had no reason to message or email and felt insecure just reaching out. Don’t be afraid to start the conversations—most of the time the other person is thrilled and excited to have a chance to keep a lifelong friend!

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Any experience having close friends who live far away? Would love any more ideas!

~Flossie

Let It Snow

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I don’t know about you, but there’s something about snow that gives me this energy and excitement, and a generally good outlook on life. Maybe it’s from a deep-rooted remembrance of waking up to snow and hearing that school has been cancelled, and then having the most wonderful day with family and neighbors sledding, drinking hot chocolate, and watching movies in front of a fireplace. Snow days were just such happy days! J I thought I would share some encouraging blessings, websites, and verses that came my way yesterday and lifted my spirits. Hopefully they will lift yours too, if you are in need of a renewing “snow day” too!

So yesterday, when I got the news that our school was closing at 12:30 due to snow and icy roads, I was more uplifted than usual by a snow day. It always amazes me how God knows exactly what we need, and has control over the whole UNIVERSE and can make things work for our good.

My grandmom told me a story once when I was younger that I’ve always remembered—she said when she was a girl and lived in a poor county in South Carolina, she would have to work out in the cotton fields with her brothers all day in the hot summer sun. She said she used to just pray that God would give her one tiny bit of shade. She told me, in her aged faith-steeped tone of voice, that “He always did”—He always sent a little cloud for a little while or some other form of shade to give her some relief.

I remember wanting that same story of faith—to be able to say, “He always did.”  So when I went into school overwhelmed, barely able to pray but quoting over and over in my mind Ps. 62:1 “Lead me to that rock that is higher than I,” I was intensely relieved and awed to think that He sent beautiful snow to remind me how much He loves me. I surprised myself by how positive I was feeling as I drove home, knowing that I would have the rest of the day with Kali, the house, Abe (when he got home), and beautiful snow. My car radio was on 107.5, and I happened to hear James MacDonald’s “Trusting God in Crisis” message. It was exactly what I needed! I was so thankful that God cared enough to allow some of the pressure in my heart to ease by giving me some time to get stuff done. He also knew that I needed to hear His truth that afternoon, and wouldn’t have heard it if I were teaching piano lessons. God is so good!

I picked up Kali, and spent my snow day putting the house in order. J By the time we got home, it was time for Kali’s nap—she went right to sleep and slept four hours!! I set up the ipad on my kitchen counter and found James MacDonald’s website, and listened to that same sermon three times in a row while I washed and dried dishes, emptied some trash, cleaned the kitchen, and swept the floors then used the Swiffer. Then when I moved into the dining room and piano room to sweep the floors and straighten up stuff, I found other sermon series on the site that were interesting to listen to. (BTW—I’m not sure I agree with all of MacDonald’s views—this was the first I had ever heard of him, but he is an excellent speaker and you should check out his “Always True” series on walkintheword.com, under broadcasts. If you want to be encouraged by God’s promises and faithfulness, it will definitely bless your heart.) Anyway, by the time I made it upstairs to tackle our overflowing spare room, Kali was waking up. By now it was snowing heavy and gorgeous outside, so we looked out the window a little while before going downstairs to do wash together (she LOVES helping me do laundry) and then watch a movie.

Through all of these little normal happenings, I realized I have so much to be thankful for. I have a house to clean! I have an ipad to listen to sermons on while I clean—my grandmother never had that! I have a daughter who is adorable all the time, but especially when she’s still sleepy from a nap and just wants me to hold her. And I know that I won’t always be able to have quiet afternoons at home while kids are napping and snow is falling, but I’m thankful that I’m in that stage of life right now and can enjoy it while I have it. And maybe in a few years when no one takes naps anymore and the schedule is just as busy and the snow never comes…I will still be able to trust my God, because I know that He loves me and His love never changes, no matter what happens in my life.

Psalm 116:1-2 “I love the Lord, because He hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because He hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live.”

Maybe we all could use a spiritual snow day…I know I need those times where I can listen to messages, read my Bible, or just enjoy the beautiful scenery around me. Our church’s theme this year is “Renew”—I hope you can take the time to renew your heart and find God in the midst of whatever you’re going through right now!

Eat It or Starve!

“Today’s Menu: Eat It or Starve!” I need to get this hanging in my kitchen somewhere! I am not, and never have been, an extraordinary cook. In fact, not much in the kitchen is familiar to me. Growing up, I was always the one that had music lessons, piano competitions, cheerleading practice, or other busy activities that kept me out of the kitchen. My younger sister, however, got enough kitchen time for both of us! She became very good at both cooking and baking. To this day, at family gatherings Tricia brings home-made cheesecake, delicious strawberry pretzel jello, or perfectly soft cookies. Me on the other hand? I feel accomplished when I bring brownies that I added chocolate chips to!

So last Friday night, with a fire going in the fireplace and snow outside, I decided to actually do what I’ve pinned a million times—Meal Plan! I read lots of blogs and got ideas from Pinterest, but I ended up combining some of their ideas and making my own plan that works for me. One blogger plans food for the whole month, takes a couple of hours on Saturday morning and buys ALL the ingredients that she’ll need, and then spends a few hours sorting and putting food away and storing it in her basement. Another blogger writes meal names (ex. Spaghetti) on decorative cards, then puts the recipe and ingredients on the back of the cards, and hangs them on a pretty calendar board on her fridge. Then, each week, she takes a card and clips it to each day of the week, and does her planning week-by-week.

I printed out some healthy recipes from Pinterest (we’re trying to eat healthy in 2015), and started my planning. I used my January calendar and planned for the next two weeks in January. Then the next day, Saturday, Abe and Kali and I went to Home Depot and Aldi’s (we love doing family trips to those two stores that are right next to each other—almost every weekend!) and we bought a long list of ingredients that I had made after going through my meal plan recipes on Friday. So yesterday was my first day on the meal plan—chicken avocado burritos. We loved them, and they were actually really easy!! I’ll share the recipe below, but it is SOO nice and freeing to have a schedule of meals. I like doing it on a two-week basis, too, instead of a month, because I have a better idea of our schedule and can plan the meals accordingly. (For instance, I knew that tonight we have a meeting at 4:00, then going to King of Prussia to pick up some furniture, so a big lasagna dinner wouldn’t work. Also, 7 AM-7 PM is a little long for a crockpot, so I found a quick recipe for “French Bread Pizza.” It’s healthier than store-bought or frozen pizzas, and I can add whatever I want on top. Again, I love the freedom of knowing ahead of time and then being able to adjust it to whatever you want!)

Now, I did leave some days empty. Saturdays and Sunday I left open—either for leftovers, for going out, for visiting our parents, or for trying a new meal if I have lots of time. I also left some days like tomorrow, Wednesday, open—because I’ll be on the rotation of teen visitation and won’t be home until 5:15, and also because we want to have one night a week for pizza night and we just might pick Wednesdays. J I love meal-planning because it gives you a general structure and schedule, but is soo flexible and can be changed when needed. If we go out unexpectedly, I can save a meal for the next night or save it for an open night.

Do you meal plan? Do you have a method that you love and that works for your family? Abe and I are excited (especially after the success the first day) to eat healthy and not be stressed about dinner. Kali is still in the chicken nuggets/macaroni stage, but we are working on introducing more foods to her taste buds. 🙂  She still enjoyed helping me meal plan though!

~Flossie


Burrito Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • Half jalapeno pepper, diced (Can use the whole thing if you like spicy!)
  • 2 cups Mexican mix cheese (Can use mozzerella, chedder, taco cheese, whatever you like!)
  • Four large tortillas
  • 1 Tbs olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in skillet on medium-high heat.
  2. Mix chicken, pepper, and cheese in a bowl together.
  3. Spread out one tortilla, and put 1/4 of the mix in the tortilla.
  4. Fold up the tortilla like a burrito (I’m not that talented at stuff like that, mine were falling all over the place but still tasted good. :)) and place in the skillet.
  5. Heat on one side for about 2-3 minutes, then flip and heat the other side.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 for each tortilla, until the mix is gone.

It’s so easy! Hope you enjoy them! 🙂

My kitchen table set-up: Pinterest, lists, recipes, schedules!

My kitchen table set-up: Pinterest, lists, recipes, schedules!

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My meal-planning helper, eating her snacks and watching Strawberry Shortcake episodes 🙂

Be that one person

Lately I’ve been realizing that I really need to get organized! (I probably should have realized that a lot sooner, I know..) But when I think about everything that I’ve just recently added new to my schedule and life in general, it can just overwhelm my mind sometimes! It hasn’t happened to me that often yet, but last night it’s like I physically felt all of my responsibilities weighing on top of me. My husband, of almost a month, came down the steps to the kitchen where I was putting dishes away (another endless responsibility) and asked, “Have you done wash in a while? I have no jeans upstairs.” My mind instantly remembered that I had put a load in about an hour before we went to church and in the busyness of getting ready to go to church and clean up from dinner and get Kali ready, I must have not heard it beep and forgotten to put it in the dryer!

So that’s not a huge deal, and I went and put them in the dryer and Abe got his jeans this morning before going to work. (Poor guy!) But for some reason it just dawned on me that now I understand what it means to be “mom” and “wife” and the lady of a house. In the space of a month, I have gone from:

-Having just a little room at my parents house, to owning a whole house with Abe.

-Doing dishes on Sunday afternoons, to doing dishes a minimum of 4x a day or else watching them sit there because no one else will do them. (Abe will occasionally though.)

-Throwing my clothes in a hamper and magically seeing them appear folded on my bed, to doing mine, Abe’s, and Kali’s wash all the time.

-Living with no one under 18, to stopping what I’m doing every 5 minutes to either take Kali to go potty (she’s in the process of being potty trained, so we are CONSTANTLY trying to go so that she doesn’t have an   accident) or answer endless questions, or fix endless toys.

-Seeing a messy floor or no towels in the bathroom and thinking “Mom will get it,” to knowing that it’s up to me if I want it fixed.

-Casually wondering what’s for dinner tonight, to intensely concentrating on figuring something out to make for dinner.

I could probably go on and on! And add to that, having a full time job, extra outside piano students, being the church and choir pianist, and our house being a fixer-upper! It’s a lot. J It makes me so thankful for my mom. She homeschooled five kids, kept the house going and food on the table and clothes in our drawers. It seems so basic, but I’m now wondering, how did she do that?? And she STILL finds ways to take care of us, on a different level now. I came home from my honeymoon to find beautiful curtains hung in both mine and Abe’s and Kali’s bedrooms. I wouldn’t have a clue how to do that, and she took care of it! Our bed was made and our house was clean, with even some added cute touches—the table set beautifully with a candle in the middle! Another way she still is there for me: I had told my mom that I was trying to potty-train Kali but don’t know what I’m doing, and when we came over to mom’s house, she had bought cute Dora underwear for Kali to start wearing….all the motivation she needed! It’s been going basically pretty smooth!

There’s tons of other ways that my mom has helped me in this transition to being the mom of my own family. She listens, she sympathizes, and she laughs with me. She tells me her own stories and little by little I have been seeing the quiet faith that she had to have to raise our family. It amazes and inspires me! We have plenty of crazy stories about mom, but I’m beginning to think…how could she not be crazy with five kids like us?? I love the quote from Abraham Lincoln, “Everything I am, I owe to my angel mother.” I can definitely relate! She was my #1 supporter when I was dating and then engaged to Abe. She is the one who makes me able to face life’s problems and difficulties. Because she believes in me, I know I can make it. And THAT is what I want to be for MY kids, too. I want to pass down to Kali the godly heritage that I have in my own mom!

So…if your life is pressing in on you too and you don’t think you can do it, find that person in your life that gives you courage, and keep going! And then make sure that you are that person in someone else’s life too, to encourage them to never give up!

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“For I know the plans I have for you…saith the Lord”

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” –Isaiah 55:9

Has anything ever happened to you that you would have never thought? That only God could make happen?

I did not ever expect to be a step-mom. I’m sure I had thought about step-moms before, but probably not in a positive light. My view of step-mothers came from Disney, where they were all evil and mean. Of course I knew that they all weren’t like Cinderella’s evil stepmother, but I always had this view of a step-mom being a lady who had no type of connecting ability with the children, and who took this nice caring dad away from his kids and turned him into a stressed man trying to please his new wife. I definitely stereotyped the stepmom role.

My view is a little different now.  I’ll tell you a little bit of a backstory with Abe—I met him in our singles class, having known about him and his family for a while but never actually interacting with him. So when I saw Abe carrying a cute little girl to the nursery on Sundays I assumed it was his niece and never gave it a second thought. When we started going to singles activities and hanging out with everyone together, I kept being very attracted to him. I liked everything I saw about him—his cute blonde hair, awesome smile, and big muscles (to me, he seemed like the strongest guy I had ever seen.) J  Some of the things I first noticed and liked about him were the ways he treated and loved our singles’ director’s kids, the way he was liked by all the guys, the way he didn’t flirt with any of the girls (most single guys did), and the way he didn’t have to be the center of attention. We played hide and go seek in the dark at our church until 2 AM one night, and when my phone died he volunteered to let me have his for a light and he would hide without a light. I thought that was so gentlemanly…I didn’t find out until later that he had liked me from afar the whole time and that’s why he volunteered his phone. 😉 We had a pool party with our class and while most the guys were busy pushing the girls in the pool, Abe was doing flips and stunts with our director’s sons, and they were having the time of their lives. (Abe did come around later though and push me in the pool…and then helped me out with his strong muscles! J) Then when we played Capture the Flag, he split up the teams and made sure we were on the same team. Again, I thought that was coincidence and felt like I was just lucky, only to find out later it was Abe’s plan all along! So slowly over the summer of 2013 I felt my heart and emotions leaning towards and falling for Abe Phillips. I began to search for him at church, and my brothers could always tell if I had seen or talked to him or not, based on my countenance when we were driving home. THEN, my sister dropped a bombshell on me. I finally had the courage to admit what my family all knew, that I really liked this guy in the singles class. So I told Tricia about it, and she made the little comment that made a big difference in my life. “Oh, he’s the one with the little girl? She’s so cute!” Umm, what?? I had no idea about Kali until after I knew I liked Abe. He never hid her from me, I was just oblivious…I remembered some of the girls talking to him about how cute Kali was, but I honestly thought it was his niece. Every time she was mentioned, it went straight over my head. But now I knew. And my sister willingly filled me in on a lot of other stuff that I had missed about him too. Apparently he had had a crazy life while I was away at college! 😉  Now, Abe and I weren’t even talking at this point…I was just majorly crushing on him and was excited even just to catch sight of him up in the balcony while I was playing the piano. We had never texted, had a full length conversation, or admitted we liked each other. It was very early on, so there would be no reason for him to tell me about his background at this point. I was pretty surprised, to put it mildly, but we weren’t in a relationship so all I could do was wait and see what happened. It honestly didn’t diminish how much I liked him… I knew he was getting his life back together, and I knew that every Sunday morning and night and Wednesday I saw him in the balcony from the piano.  And that my interest in him was still there, even after knowing everything. So I decided to just wait and see what God did. If he liked me back, then I could see where it leads. If not, then I knew God had different plans. And all the while he already liked me…he actually liked me before I ever liked him so much! We FINALLY started texting (on a group message with all our singles friends…sorry guys!) and I remember the exact Monday night after texting on a group message all weekend, when he texted me on my own phone from his phone for the first time. I remember teaching my Monday night piano lessons and thinking, was he just being nice and carrying on the conversation on Friday and Saturday, or will he text me again tonight? If he texts me again I KNOW he must like me! And in the middle of the lesson my phone buzzed…and after the lesson I excitedly checked and my heart overflowed to see his name and a “How was your day” text. So….the rest is history…..and now, I find myself, of all things, a step-mom to the love of my life’s other love, his daughter Kali.

So two weeks into the step-mom life, how’s it going? It’s going…good. It really is good. I wake up earlier than I ever used to…including Saturdays. I’ve changed a lot of diapers…I used to literally be incapable of doing that (ask Bob and Mal!) I’m still getting used to being called ‘Mommy,’ but Kali is still getting used to calling me that so we’re working on it together. I bought a book called “My Mom and Me” that you can personalize with pictures and spaces to write stuff in, and asked Abe if that was overdoing the whole “mom” thing and he said it wasn’t. Kali loved it! I love living with Kali. And Abe of course. J We have some fun moments and cute moments and tough moments. She’s had a lot of changes and a lot of hard things in her three little years and I hope to make it the best for her that I possibly can. I love being Kali’s stepmom.

I love it when she looks at me and says, “I was polite today mom!” after we’ve had several talks about asking nicely for things.

I love it when she wakes up and comes in our room in the morning and comes over to my side and just wants to cuddle with me.

I love it when she wants to be with me, doing whatever I’m doing, 24/7. Even when I’m trying to sweep the floor or do the dishes…

I love it when she copies me. She hates cereal with milk in it…and then she looked at my bowl and wanted her own, and ate it all.

I love it when she wants me to do her hair like Elsa’s. Or better yet, when she asks me to do her hair so it looks like mine.

I love it when she begs me to match with her. She knows her colors, and she knows if we’re really matching or not!

I love it when she says I love you mommy, when she calls me Flossie and then giggles and says I mean mommy, or when she calls me “Flossie-mommy” all one word.

I just love it all!

The first month that Abe and I were dating, even though I didn’t know if we would get married or not, I bought a pretty notebook and wrote a letter to Kali. I knew she wouldn’t have many special things from her mom and I wanted her to have something special if I ever did become her mom. I wrote to her every month that Abe and I have been together so far. I told her about how she got used to me, the first time she spent the night with me, the way she grew to love my family, how she reacted when daddy and I got engaged. I told her how brave she is walking with her braces and casts and how she doesn’t let her physical limitations limit her spirit—she still does everything all the other kids do, and works twice as hard at it! I told her how her courage gives me courage to face life’s hardships with faith and determination. I wrote to her how she at three years old has changed my life, and that no matter how many other kids I have she will always be my oldest, the first child who called me mom and taught me what it meant to love with a mother’s love.

I know that Kali and I might never share the bond that biological moms and daughters have, but I love her with all of my heart and hope to always be there for her when she needs me.

Being a step-mom is going good.

~Flossie

“So How’s Marriage Going?”

December 19th was my D-Day…my own infamous day that I was counting down to, preparing for, dreaming about, and going crazy over. My desk calendar was full of scribbles of appointments and to-do lists, as well as descending little numbers written in next to the ascending month dates…December 1, 18 days…December 2, 17 days.  Now that I’m eight days into the New Year, and 20 days past my wedding day, I am still adjusting to not mentally counting down whenever I look at the calendar date! It’s hard to believe I am now on “this” side of marriage.

Before the wedding, Abe and I were constantly bombarded with “Are you ready?” or “Things coming together?” and countless other questions. Now that we’re married, it has turned into “How’s it going?” and “So, do you like being married?” For the thousands of times I’ve been asked that, I’ll try to answer a little bit now.

I like marriage. I like having someone to intertwine my life with completely. It’s fun figuring out how to get a good night’s sleep in the same bed…without me waking up in the middle of the night with a knee in my side or listening to loud snore-like breathing (that’s what I call it), or Abe waking up to me carrying on a full conversation with myself in my sleep and gradually twisting the covers to wrap completely around me while he’s lucky to still have an edge of the sheets. I like when he kisses me goodbye in the morning and reminds me to start my car before leaving. I like hearing the front door close and knowing he’s on his way to work and I still have fifteen minutes to sleep before I need to get up. 😉 I like going through the day and knowing I’ll see him at home later tonight. I like not having to watch the time when we’re watching a movie, because I don’t have to drive an hour back home…it’s nice just walking up the stairs together. I like packing our lunches together at night, and making food on Saturdays that will last us through the whole week.

Of course, there are tough things. (Says the girl who’s been married all of three weeks…I know!) Like when my tire gets a flat, and we have to use a spare in the snow and ice. But I like how when you’re married, problems like that are opportunities to show love—like the way Abe drove my car to work every morning and let me use his car, the safer one. And then there was the time that I realized I don’t have a clue how to cook hamburgers….yeah, we ate hockey pucks with ketchup on them. And I ruined one of his favorite shirts in the washer. (I PROMISE I know how to do laundry…it’s just a machine that I’m not used to…I think)

I’ve learned that we both like to sleep with noise in the background. Works out good right? Well we figured out early on that actually, I like to sleep with a specific noise in the background. Like a fan, or heater humming, or wind blowing…anything that is low and indistinguishable. Abe, on the other hand, likes to sleep to voices talking or the TV on, or basically any loud commotion will put him to sleep. So maybe that doesn’t work out as good as we thought!

In just three short weeks, I’ve realized that you don’t really know what marriage is until you get married. And then it hits you…the whole, entire, life-long relationship staring you in the face and you realize there’s no hiding from it. And surprisingly, you like it. The other day we were walking through Walmart (waiting for our tire to get fixed) and I noticed Abe stop and stare for a while at a little plaque with a quote on it. I went over to see it, and it said “I never said it would be easy….I said it would be worth it. I didn’t say anything and we kept walking, but I think that is kind of how marriage is. It takes patience. We quoted that “love is patient” a million times when we memorized 1 Cor. 13, but now it just seems to weigh more. Because now I know, yes, love really is patient. It’s washing the dishes a million more times until Abe can get around to installing our new dishwasher. It’s accepting the fact that no matter how many times I clean our hard vinyl floor, it’s going to get dirty again. (I am still trying to accept that…why can’t it just stay clean??) It’s being kind when you’ve been inconvenienced. Love is when Abe eats what I cook! J

I remember when we were dating I tried to make coffee for Abe and my dad one night. I don’t like coffee and had never made it before, but I figured it can’t be that hard. I used our little coffee maker thing, but put in real coffee when I should have used instant. (I think that’s what I did…I still don’t understand completely how I messed it up!) When their mugs were ready, it was basically hot water clouded by milk, sugar clumped at the bottom, and real coffee leaves floating around the top. I knew that didn’t look right…so I kept stirring and stirring and still the leaves were just swirling around and it didn’t look like coffee at all. Abe came in and drank almost half of it, while looking confused and trying to tell me that it wasn’t too bad. Then my dad came in and took one sip and dumped his and Abe’s down the drain, saying he’ll make the coffee. At least I tried, right?? I’m so thankful to have married someone like Abe. He knows how to put up with a lot, and he knows how to take care of the important things.

We’ve had fun times already and crazy times.

I’ve learned to never try to help him put dry wall up on the ceiling.

I’ve learned that we don’t make a good team when it comes to catching mice.

I’ve learned that if we get phones that don’t have internet, we need to buy a GPS.

I’ve learned that God’s ways are not our ways, and real love and real forgiveness are not cheap.

I’ve learned that God’s love being the common bond between two opposite sinners makes it all worth it.

So that’s a little bit about how marriage is going. I like being married. I love Abe. I love our house and our friends and our jobs and our family. I love our daughter and I love being parents together. We’ve talked about how we can’t wait to be 60 years old and look back at our life and say Wow, those were some crazy days, but it was worth it. Look what God did for us. And I never want to forget the moments looking into each other’s eyes and vowing our lives together. I never want to forget our first kiss, or our first dates, or our first night being dropped off at that nice hotel, and walking through the lobby thinking, “That guy walking in front of me is my husband…am I dreaming??” J  Now three weeks into it we have a lot to figure out, but we knew from the beginning it wouldn’t be easy. It’ll just be worth it.

Oh and did I mention we have a killer cat that catches any mice in our house in the middle of the night and brings them up and plays with them under our bed and all around our room? That’s always exciting.

I’ll write the next post about how it’s going being a first time mom right away! Kali is showing me how incredible it is to be a mom, and I love it! J

~Mrs. Abraham Phillips ❤

First Year of Teaching…Check!

Well, my first year of teaching is over. I feel like I closed my eyes for a minute and I opened them to find the whole year has passed! It went so fast, and I loved it. It’s interesting finishing a year and planning/getting ready for “next year.” In school, “next year” always meant the next level—the next grade, the next class and schedule, one year closer to the end! But now it’s just plain next year. No new level to progress to, except maybe to be past the whole ‘first year’ stage! I’m still deciding how I feel about that sameness each year. I like it and I don’t like it. Any thoughts? 🙂

 

I started a list of things I’ve learned this year, so I thought I would just keep it in a list format. It’s already long enough without adding full sentences.  Not sure whether you will get anything out of it or not, but this is what I got out of my first year of “real life.”

 

-I learned that I LOVEEE my students and the little elementary classes! (How can you get so attached to such small people??)

-I learned that I can teach a class. And I even like it. 🙂

-I learned that it’s not enough to demand silence or respect in the classroom, they pay attention best when you convince them that what you’re saying is important. And you have to be convinced of that, first!

-I learned that all that glitters isn’t gold.

-I learned that I don’t teach piano; I teach people. (Francis Clark)  

-Drama: is everywhere. It doesn’t end in high school…or college!

-Criticism will come from everywhere. Just keep going.

-Wise advice can come from the most unlikely places.

-I learned that I hate keeping secrets. 😉

-I learned that sometimes it’s the youngest people you know who are the kindest and most likely to make your day.

-I learned that I get hungry every day at 10am. Thank goodness for prize-box candy.

-I learned that you really have no idea what someone else may be going through–so don’t jump to conclusions.

-I learned that sometimes you have to explain things a million times, and then another million, and then on the thirty millionth time they get it! 🙂

-But most of the time, you have to figure out how they learn and explain it a bunch of different ways until it clicks. It’s a lot of fun—especially when they finally understand and know that they got it.

-Even big kids like stickers.

-They remember what you said better than you do.

-A smile goes a long way.

-A second grader’s drawing given to you is more valuable than any expensive painting you could ever find.

-I learned that all the activities I used to look forward to in high school aren’t quite as fun without your best friends going through it with you.

-I learned that having brothers on two equally-close-to-my-heart opposing teams shows you a lot about yourself. Talk about finding out where your true loyalty lies!

-I learned that car rides are great bonding times. Nothing like a long drive and disagreeing music tastes to get you talking about life’s deep and confusing issues.

-I learned that younger brothers grown up are just as protective as older brothers!

-I learned that God always provides a way of escape.

-I learned that once you begin teaching, you develop a deep and desperate appreciation for all of your teachers growing up.

-I learned that if you can make it through a first grade piano lesson…God has given you the gift of patience.

-Singles retreats…can…be fun.

-I learned that you need those close friends to go on trips and outings with and to just share your struggles with.

-Having to say “hi”, give a hug, or high five every individual child as a long line of class goes out to recess makes all the work worth it.

-Hearing little voices singing makes it all worth it.

-Teacher Appreciation Week: WOW! Totally worth it 😉

-Seeing more kids add after hearing their friends play at the recital and talk about it as ‘fun’—worth it.

-I learned that when you let God lead your life, it’s totally worth it.

 

I know I’ll probably keep re-learning these things and add new ones to the list as life keeps going. I guess that’s kind of what I signed up for when I became a teacher—to never stop learning! But that’s a good thing. I want to keep learning, and see things I’ve never seen before and discover new things all the time. I’m so thankful for this year. I wouldn’t trade it—being home with my family, going to my home church, teaching at my brother’s school, watching my nephew grow!—for anything.

Well…another blog post down. Maybe I’ll do another one again next year. 🙂

The Things Kids Say…and Happy October :)

“I practiced 9 days this week!”

“Easy peasy, lemon squeezey!”

I had to laugh when a cute 1st grade girl said that last one in reference to playing her new “Old Clock” song. Where do they learn these things?? And the second grader that was confused about how many days are in a week made me look at my office partner and try not to laugh. I have had a MARVELOUS first month of being a music teacher at a Christian school. Happy October 1st, by the way!!

I have 21 students here, mostly between the ages of 6-11. Adds up to a lot of beginner lessons. Fun, fun! Our theme at school this year is “Build Up”, and I am definitely in the ‘building’ stage of my piano studio. I have such cute precious kids who are in love with the piano and music right now. I have challenged myself to do my best to help grow that love and motivation for music even as they get older! I’ve noticed in this last month of teaching that once the students hit about 7th grade, a huge percentage drop out of piano lessons. I have only 2 students above 7th grade! Oh how I miss Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Bach, Tchaikovsky . . . Oh well, for now I am stuck with Faber and Faber.  🙂 Except I’m not really stuck–there is soo much amazing music out there even for a first grade level. I love Martha Mier, for example, and am using some of Burgmuller’s pieces for the older ones. (I knew that project I did on him in college would come in handy some day!) So, even if it’s not as challenging or amazing sounding as the Classical composers, my students still enjoy and find it exciting to play some new music outside of the lesson book.

There’s so much I could write about what I’ve learned this month–through the lessons, teaching out of Faber’s Primer Level book (I have stopped going in order of the pages!), and my music classes. Playing Strauss and waltzing while playing musical chairs, listening to Bach and eating candy corn, and using rhythm instruments with the March of the Toy Soldiers from the Nutcracker are just a few of the fun things we’ve been doing in 1st Grade Music. 🙂 I definitely have a job that I love, and I’m so thankful for it! And I’m thankful it’s fall! I love the colors that I missed so much when I was in SC!! My day is done here at school, and I’m off to my brother’s soccer game. 🙂 

Happy October!!

 

 

 

Hello world!

I’ve graduated college (Hooray!) and just started teaching music at a Christian school, and since I’m starting a whole bunch of new things recently, I thought I’d start a blog too. We’ll see how it goes!

I guess this is my “Hello World” post. Hm, what should you know about me before I start writing about music classes and my awesome nephew and adventures with my brothers this year? I named my blog “He Made Something Beautiful” because I love the song “Something Beautiful” (someone already had that blog name! so I added “He made”) and I believe that God can change lives and make them beautiful if we let Him. I love music, so you might see a lot of that on here! My sister is my best friend and I miss her while she’s at college. I have a nephew who’s almost 10 months old–he convinced me that maybe I do like little kids. 🙂 Today was my first day ever of teaching a music class, and I loved it! I teach Kindergarten and 1st grade music, as well as piano lessons to varied ages. I never used to think I was a kid person–I hated babysitting! but I LOVE teaching them music.

Other than that, I’m just a young American ready to see what God has for my life. Hello World!