Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

What a wonderful Christmas it has been! I can't believe it has already come and gone. I have been beyond blessed and couldn't have asked for a better day. I'll write more later on our exciting holiday activities, but just wanted to share a few pictures from Christmas as little ones to now. Where does the time go!?

Hope you had a very merry and blessed Christmas!

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 
--Luke 2:9-12

Friday, December 24, 2010

Double Points for red noses!

Last year right around Thanksgiving, a friend of mine and I were out driving through our suburban hometown of Brentwood when we began to notice a common trend among vehicles. The first time I saw it I just sort of stared and thought it peculiar. After driving down the main road that runs through Brentwood though, and seeing this "trend" on countless cars, I became fascinated and somewhat amused.

Before I explain this most recent Christmas phenomenon, let me preface by saying that I have several "Christmas quirks" I guess you could call them. I probably get them from my dad, who has many quirks himself, especially in regards to the holidays.

1. Christmas music is only allowed after Thanksgiving. 
2. I will never have an artificial Christmas tree. 
3. Don't overdo the outside lights...a little bit goes a long way.
4. Inflatable decorations...just don't.
5. Christmas presents should be opened slowly by taking turns. Everyone must watch everyone else open their presents. In addition, see #6...
6. I like Christmas to last. I'm "that kid" that sort of gathers my presents and enjoys it slowly. My family laughs because they say at the end when everyone else is done with presents I have barely started. (They tend to exaggerate)
7. People who send out Christmas letters need to adhere to certain guidelines...please see my dad's blog for his take on how it should be done. (Maybe after reading you'll see where I get some of my quirks?)

Number 8 has been added after last year. 8. Don't decorate your car for Christmas. This trend of which I speak is what I call the Reindeer Phenomenon, or Reindeer on Wheels. Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas. It is my favorite holiday and I love everything about it. But I think "being festive" must stop somewhere.

Let me give you a picture of what this looks like for those of you who don't know. If you really want to jump on the bandwagon, or Santa's sleigh I'll call it, then you can get a Reindeer car kit at your local Walgreen's. This seasonal set comes equipped with 2 antler attachments, (1 for each side of your car) and if you get the Rudolph Edition, you get a red nose for the front bumper. See below.

Last year was definitely more mild with fewer reindeer cruising the streets of Brentwood, but this year the trend has become contagious. It is very popular among minivans and luxury cars. A couple of my friends and I came up with a game last year in regards to this marvel. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, also the same day Christmas music can be played, a reindeer hunt begins. For every car that is seen displaying reindeer antlers, 1 point is received. But wait, there's more. If the front of the car is visible and you spot that very shiny nose, boom! Double points!

So far this Christmas, I have 223 points. Granted, a few of my points could be repeat cars, but we don't count that as a rule. If you'd like to play this game, please feel free. It's quite fun and turns comical once you get others involved. Total all players' scores in the end. There is no winner, just shock at the number of people involved in decorating their cars for Christmas.

To score a large number of guaranteed points visit the following places: mall, grocery store, YMCA, Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, McDonalds.

Merry Christmas and drive safely, there are reindeer on the roads!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How old do you think i am?...Don't answer that.

There are countless things I have learned from my classroom experiences thus far. One very consistent matter I have found in every school, in every classroom, with every age; is that children have no filter. At times I wish I had the confidence and certainty they have to say exactly how they feel with no hesitation. Other times I am so grateful for that "think before you speak" mentality that you acquire as you get older.

Ever since I started babysitting around the age of 11, I loved playing the "Guess How Old I Am" game with the young ones. It was much more fun as I got older. They would not only guess my age, but then proceed to ask if I was married, had children, even grandchildren one time. I've been aged anywhere between 15-45; yes, 45. I can only imagine their predictions as I get older.

Here are just a few instances from the classrooms in which students have made me feel old, and even sometimes ancient.

1. Walking down the halls of one of the schools a little boy passed me with a shirt on that read, "CLASS OF 2022". // This needs no explanation.

2. A little girl colored me a picture with my name in the middle. It read "Mrs. McKinney". She looked at me concerned after she handed it to me, "Ms. McKinney, I know you said you're not married, but you need to be. I don't know why you're not already. Surely you will be soon, so I thought I'd go ahead and put MRS". // Thank you for pointing out my singleness and also for proving the stereotype that we education majors only have one goal; to get that MRS degree.

3. While teaching a lesson on commas, I was explaining that we use commas when we write dates. We use them when we write our birthdays. After writing my birthday on the board as an example, the class went silent. I hear a little boy (8 years old) let out a huge gasp as if he's just seen a ghost. I asked him what was wrong. "Ms. McKinney! 1988! That is when my GRANDMOTHER was born!" // Thank you sweetie, but I highly doubt that.

4. Today I got to spend half of the day in my future sister-in-law, Ms. Hood's, classroom. She teaches 5th grade. She told her students that if they were good they would get to have their Christmas party after lunch and maybe even listen to music! (This is big incentive). I asked a little boy if their party was going to be fun. Ms. Hood cut in with "Oh yeah! We're gonna party like its 1999!" The little boy looked at us confused, "I don't know what that party is like, I was born in 1999". // Wow...that old song/saying should probably be updated?

5. This past semester I did my practicum at a school Monday and Wednesday for 3 hours each morning. My last day before Christmas break I received countless questions from the 2nd graders as to why I wasn't coming back. After explaining that I had to go back home to Nashville to where my family lived, I got more than a few raised eyebrows. Why would they understand that I didn't live with my parents? The questions started pouring after that. "Do you miss your mom? Who makes your lunch? Do you live by yourself? Do you live with your boyfriend? Do you have your own car? Do you have your own oven? What about your own TV?" I laughed to myself and responded with, "I live with one of my best friends in a little blue house. We each have our own bed rooms and we have a kitchen, and a living room with a TV. " One little girl raised her hand, "Ms. McKinney, you live with your best friend and you have your own TV! You're the luckiest woman ever, I wanna be old!" // I couldn't help but smile.

So I guess sometimes you just have to learn to look at things from a different perspective. In this case, realizing that maybe getting older isn't that bad after all. I guess I am "the luckiest woman ever". I'll just remember #5 whenever I'm feeling like a little bit of an antique.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I believe in Auburn and LOVE it

I am in my fourth and final year at Auburn University, and boy has it been amazing! If I had it my way I would get to linger a little longer in the loveliest village and take my time earning that prized diploma. Unfortunately, as I have learned through life, I don't always get my way. And I can guarantee you the idea of "lingering" as an out of state student, would not even be considered a funny joke if brought up to my parents.

Fortunately, I have been blessed with amazing friendships and learned so much from my experience at Auburn. It will be bittersweet graduating in May (but mostly bitter).

Although I am bias, Auburn is just different. Its special. Its beautiful. The people, the tradition, and the town itself create a euphoric world. I want everyone to experience the pride I feel from attending this school. I get this thrill every time I pull into campus, and even more of a thrill during football season; which brings me to my point.

Growing up with two brothers who are sports fanatics, I quickly became accustomed to the importance of the game of football. My parents are from Arkansas and both my brothers and I were born there. In my early years I grew up thinking I was a Razorback fan, calling the hogs. When we moved to Tennessee, I assumed I should be a Tennessee fan (that never happened, but I do love the Titans). And when my older brother decided to go to Auburn, I thought I'd try them out for a change. The first time I took a visit down to the plains was for a football game in the Fall of 2004. I was immediately drawn to the small college town and all of its' tradition. It wasn't until my senior year, Fall of 2006, that I took an official college visit. I had just visited Alabama and was very impressed with the way they presented their university and also their campus. My brother didn't like the sound of that and quickly became concerned we may have a house divided. He kept quiet though, allowing me to choose the path I wanted. While on my tour at Auburn we were on Samford lawn learning all about the many traditions of this iconic location. The clock struck noon, the fight song started ringing from the bell tower, and almost as if it were planned, my brother drove by and gave out a loud 'War Eagle!'. If that wasn't a sign then the chills I got were. I had fallen in love with this place and right then was when I decided I would be attending Auburn that following Fall.

That was almost five years ago. Now in my senior year, there is only one thing standing between me and my last semester as a student; the BCS National Championship Game. As silly as it sounds, football is not taken lightly in Auburn; or really in the state of Alabama. On game day, Auburn becomes the 4th most populated city in the state. Basically...the city shuts down every Saturday of a home game in the Fall.

This season we had a new player join the team, who if you haven't heard of (but that's ridiculous), I'd be glad to introduce; Cam Newton. If you are friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, you are probably familiar with my infatuation. In fact I think I've gone a little overboard, but I just can't help it. I try not to use the word obsessed...but sometimes I worry I am borderline.

Cam has had an incredible season. Let's be honest, he was just awarded the Heisman. See? I have good reason to be fascinated by him! Aside from his on-field accomplishments, he has had a very rough season and has put up with a lot of criticism. He has handled it all in such a way that even those who doubted him should respect. I can't say that there weren't some "sketchy" things that may have gone on in regards to money. I honestly don't know. But after extensive investigation, the NCAA did report that none of it involved Cam Newton or Auburn University. Cam is an eligible player (and bachelor...what?). He has joined the Auburn family and as a team they have fought this entire season against every opposing team and rightfully earned the SEC title, and a chance to earn the National title.

I don't love Cam just for his talent, or his looks, or his award winning smile; although those are all great, especially the smile. From what I can tell, Cam is just a normal person, blessed with a talent, but also blessed with a heart for people. Because I'm an Education major, and because I absolutely love children; I can't help but love his heart for children and his desire to be a role model to them. The video below is a brief summary of Cam's weekly contribution to a local elementary school in Auburn. The link at the bottom is an article on the students' big surprise sendoff for Cam to the Heisman ceremony. I challenge you not to have some sort of admiration for him after this if you don't already. Oh yeah! I also included a snapshot of my favorite Cam picture...just incase you needed to see that smile. I'll use the same final words Cam used in his Heisman Speech; WAR EAGLE.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's About Time

I have been saying for a long time now that I wanted to start a blog. Wanting to do something and actually doing it are two very different things, especially when it comes to my perfectionist self.  I think I actually have about 3 blank blog templates that I started and never finished. One of the main reasons I never completed a final blog was because "I couldn't find the time". I find myself saying that a lot, sounds like a personal problem to me. In my mind, a blog wasn't just for writing...oh no. It needed to be cute, colorful, darling and organized. I tend to overanalyze (a lot), so a blog to me required a lot of time that I just didn't have. If I had one I would have to maintain it and check on it...sounds like too much responsibility if you ask I suppressed my longing to enter the blogging world. All of that extra time it takes could definitely be used elsewhere. It's not like I am an unemployed college student still reaping the benefits of my parents and have no responsibility other than getting myself to class.....oh, wait.

After much consideration, and over a month's worth of Christmas break with not a whole lot to do (this may change after my dad reads that part), I decided I finally had some time to sit down and create my ideal blog. I'm still learning all of the little tricks, and I'd definitely say it's a work in progress, but thanks to my friend helping me with the basics,this is what I've come up with. Cute, colorful, darling and organized, just like I had in mind.

My Dad got me started on blogs. He majored in journalism, and is one of the most talented writers I know. He can sit down and write something beautifully with little to be changed or edited. I am envious of his talent and his ability to put things into words. He is a faithful blogger and I get my inspiration from him. However, because I know he'll be reading this, I will probably go through the entire writing process I learned in middle school just to ensure everything is perfect and grammatically correct. He would never criticize me of course, but he won't mind making suggestions/comments.

My little brother, 18, takes after him and has a vocabulary that is beyond both his years and mine. He writes for his high school newspaper and I am always amazed by his articles. I am kind of obsessed with my family, so you'll see that I mention them a lot in this blog. There are 5 of us and I'd say we make for some pretty good stories; more on that later.

Along with the pressure of making a visually appealing blog, just as important is the blog title. It doesn't stop there, add the burden of the blog description. Some people have specific blog subjects, mine will be a compilation of my life happenings, both present and past. And I can guarantee you I couldn't give you a "blog description" in the limited number of characters they allow you in that little box. After much consideration and deep thought, I came up with Delightfully Living. The definition of delight that I found was: a feeling of extreme pleasure or satisfaction; joy: a source of happiness. I find my life to be just that; satisfying, joyful, and happy. Delight isn't only found in the dictionary. One of my favorite bible verses is Psalm 37:4, hence my "blog description". The word delight is found throughout the Book of Psalms: Psalm 22:8, 35:9, 37:23, 111:2, 112:1, 147:11. All of these verses refer to us as believers delighting in the Lord, but also the Lord delighting in us. My desire is to live a life that glorifies God, and one that both He and I can delight in, together.

So I guess this is the beginning of my blogging journey. I promise to be somewhat consistent, but that doesn't mean at times I won't be inconsistent. I start my internship in January as a student teacher in a 2nd grade classroom. After being given a journal for my birthday last month and being requested to record stories and funny happenings, I figured a blog would be a perfect outlet for these things. I'm not even sure who will read this. I do know I can rely on my dad to be a faithful follower and probably commenter. I'll accept that. I can just be content with myself knowing that I finally overcame my fear of blogging and made one. Enjoy!