Friday, August 17, 2012

'twas the weekend before Kindergarten...

I have been anxiously awaiting the first day of Kindergarten for some time now. After much preparation throughout the summer, especially over the last few weeks, Monday finally arrived and I welcomed my little nuggets to my classroom. Several people asked me "What are you going to do with them on the first day?!" Dance party. Obviously. And that is just what we did. A few tears were shed by some uncertain 5 year olds who hesitated entering this new classroom in their freshly pressed school uniforms. But the minute I turned on the music, they let loose and I knew we would be just fine.

Today is Friday which makes one full week! We are still doing our morning dance parties...they call it the "wiggle" song. I should have known starting day one off with this routine meant it was going to stick. I can't say I don't love it myself though.

So far it has been great! I'm still adjusting to the change from my summer schedule as well as having 5 year olds instead of 3 year olds. However, the pros far outweigh the cons and I am very excited for this year. 

I decided that before I began this adventure that is Kindergarten, I ought to have a good weekend before I dove in. I am a big fan of "doing things". Sounds silly I know...let me explain. Don't get me wrong I love my Friday nights and Saturdays with no agenda and downright laziness. However, I also love having "things" to do. Nashville is a very cool, hip, trendy place with lots of these "things" to do, but I've never seemed to be able to find them. I usually end up at my same favorite restaurants, in the same part of town, followed by the same weekend laziness of lounging in my "duster" (a duster is what we McKinneys call our pajamas). This past Saturday was a little different. I had a "visitor" coming in town for the weekend and I told him I had planned something fun for Saturday morning/afternoon. Sure enough, he had come up with an idea himself for Saturday night. Boom. We were in business. Saturday was booked with "things" to do that wouldn't allow me to wallow in my duster.

Much to his surprise, he and I would both be attending a cooking class at the Viking Store. Not just any cooking class, mind you. No, no. This was a Sushi Class. If you're thinking "AWESOME" that was my same thought prior to when I instinctively clicked "purchase". I was hesitant when I called "said visitor" to share the news of this class, but I'm pretty sure he was just as excited as I was.

We arrived Saturday morning in kitchen heaven. I wanted to buy the whole place. In fact "visitor" told me to "chill out" at one point. Oops. We were greeted by our chefs who had aprons, nametags, green tea, and edamame waiting for us. My eyes were probably as big as the plates because I was already having so much fun and we hadn't even started cooking yet! Our head chef was great and so informative and knowledgeable. She taught us the history of sushi, sushi etiquette, proper chop stick technique, and of course how to make the rolls! She demonstrated for us first, and for the last 30-45 minutes we got to create our own sushi rolls. I was literally having the time of my life.

We learned how to make California rolls (normal and fried...the latter being the better of course), Cucumber rolls, Hand rolls (OUR FAVORITE!!!!-pictured), and miso soup. They offer a variety of different classes and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun "thing" to do. You'll have a new addition to your resume: sushi chef. Don't think for a second I'm going to be humble about it.

After stuffing our faces with our (self prepared...) sushi, we packed up a picnic (we like food, can you tell?) and made our way out to Arrington Vineyards; a vineyard located about 25 minutes south of Nashville in Arrington, TN. The weather has been surprisingly pleasant lately and it didn't disappoint Saturday night either. We enjoyed our picnic, drank some dee-licous wine, and listened to Kix Brooks put on a free concert. Another highly recommended point of interest to anyone looking for something fun to do in Nashville. It was my first time to visit and I can't wait to go back when it isn't so crowded. 

My weekend couldn't have been better. I made sure it served as a kickoff to a great school year. But what really helped kick off my first day of school was the bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils I received that morning before I headed out. Flowers really are lovely....but isn't a bouquet of pencils just much more fitting for a teacher...? I think so. :) 

Kindergarten stories coming soon...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Be hospitable without complaint.

How many times have you been asked to "describe yourself in one word"? One of those interview questions I dread. How am I supposed to impress these people with one word in hopes I don't come off as one who thinks quite highly of themselves? I think this question should be restricted from interview questions simply because I believe it is near impossible to confine one's character and personality in a single word.

Now to completely contradict what I just said, I am going to celebrate someone on my blog today who deserves a million words to describe how wonderful and great and loving they are (see...there were 3 words already). Today is my mom's birthday. She quite possibly encompasses any adjective that has synonyms such as kind, loving, genuine, compassionate, caring, sweet, giving, beautiful, amazing, etc. etc. etc. You get the idea. But if I had to pick one word, that was also representative of her spiritual gift; it would be hospitable. Webster defines "hospitable" as "given to generous and cordial reception of guests".

In 1 Peter, Paul says "Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."

The Greek word, hospitable, as Paul used it meant quite literally "Stranger-loving, kind to strangers". Being from the south, we understand hospitable to be hosting friends and family wether it be parties, weddings, showers, tailgates, dinners, etc. However Paul tells us here to love strangers. Sounds simple, but more times than not we pass by opportunities to help or serve others. Maybe it is so out of our comfort zone, or maybe we aren't observant enough to notice the strangers that we could be loving.

If I've learned anything from my mother it is to love on others. She has been blessed with the gift of hospitality. She can cook for the masses and those masses will leave with full bellies of homemade goodness. She can turn a dining room table into a beautiful masterpiece with unique touches that draw everything together. She can throw a graduation party that will bring an entire class of seniors to one house just for her famous stuffed mushrooms and butter gooey cake. She can make a bride and her bridesmaids feel like princesses the day before the big day. She can love on people any where any time, given any circumstance simply because she sees people and has a desire to engage with them and put a smile on their face.

We often give her a hard time about her tendency to talk to anyone in public; especially anyone who she senses she might have some sort of connection with that could strike up a conversation. Just recently she and my dad went to Disney World. Coincidentally, they kept running into the same family throughout the day. As you would guess, my mom didn't hesitate to start small talk with the mother of this family. This small talk turned into several conversations throughout the day and by the end of the day my mom was able to tell my dad all about this woman's life; her friends back home, her marriage, her family. My dad asked if he had gotten her name. She hadn't. She had just simply conversed with her throughout the day.

She loves on people. She listens. And she gives great advice. She is "hospitable without complaint". Many of my friends feel just as comfortable confiding information in my mom as they do in me. She probably knows more about my friends' lives than she does mine. She has that connection and that ability to listen and show love in a way that is so comforting.

Today is her birthday. Today is the first day since high school I have been home for her birthday. Usually I am in the middle of sorority rush and don't get to properly celebrate. Today I will get to spend the day with my sweet mom and love on her as she has always loved on me. She is dedicated to her family and truly exemplifies what a Godly woman should be. I hope to be as hospitable as her some day. Big shoes to fill....I don't think my strawberry cake will ever be as good as hers.

Happy Birthday Mom! Love you.