Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Last week, I turned in a paper about...well, I know the vast majority of you don't care what it was about.  The point is, it was the last one of the semester.  The last 10 pages of original composition of the first half of my last foray into real school.  Did you get that?  Translation:  I'm halfway done!  Halfway to the advanced degree I'd always planned on, but never managed to squeeze in.  'Squeeze' being the operative word. 

The whole time we lived in Caracas I dreamed about coming home.  Back to the friends and family and sights and sounds that I love so much.  And, then, we did come home, and it was glorious.  Except.  Except suddenly there was homework and research papers and deadlines and hours and hours and hours of reading.  My dreams never included Georgetown.  And, really, they should have.  It took me a year to apply to grad school and the logistical hurdles were insane, considering the modern age we live in.  And even now, a year into this degree, I still pretend my obligations and commitments are only peripherally affected by my coursework.  But, its simply not true. 

This last semester I took 4 classes.  And, despite my protestations, it was rough.  Very.  I was tired.  A lot.  And spread very, very thin.  All those friends and family and sights and sounds?  I almost never called or wrote or saw or heard them.  It was like living in Venezuela again.  Well, not quite, but almost as lonely.  And, this time?  It was my fault.  Not the foreign services' fault or a crumbling government's fault.  It was because I was doing something out of sequence.  Never mind that it was important to me, never mind that it was a good pursuit, it was just bad timing. 

I've been thinking about that a lot this semester.  About timing and choices.  About how life is patterned in specific ways.  About how we make friends and grow together in our friendships even if our lives don't mirror each other.  There is something to be said for having lived for 35 years and not 24.  I remember being 24.  But, I am not 24 anymore, like my classmates.  They are wonderful people, and I am excited for all the possibilities that await them, but I am not interested in reliving the last decade.  One of my professors this semester told us that she viewed her job not just as to teach us the course material, but to help guide us to becoming the people we're going to be.  And, I thought: I am who I'm going to be when I grow up.  I am grown up.  And, I'm exhausted.   I don't regret going back to school, I just regret not preparing myself better for what it was really going to do to my life of leisure that I have grown so very accustomed to.

I have never been more excited about a summer break than I am about the one just embarked upon.  We are going to travel.  We will be very busy flitting from one coast to the other and across the Atlantic and back.  But, it is going to be 3 months of no school, so that is a business I can get behind.  I will call and see and write and hear again and embrace the freedom of no homework.  And, a year from now, when I am all the way done, I will rejoice.  I should have gone to grad school years ago and in my next life, I will.  In the meantime, I'm going to take a nap and then make a phone call...or 7!    

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How-to Tuesday: Candy Lei

Last week was teacher appreciate week, as anyone who blogs can't help but know that since every craft and pseudo-craft and wannabe craft blog was filled to overflowing with teacher appreciation gift ideas.  I saw some really clever things, things I would like to try someday, someday when I am not in the middle of grad school finals.  And, because of those finals, I was tempted just to skip teacher appreciation this year altogether.  

But, really? 

Caleb's teachers (there are 2 teachers and 2 aides) are wonderful.  
He loves them, we love them and we are grateful for them.  They work hard, really hard, in a difficult school district with limited parental support.  So, we carved out some time between our regular routine and my pages and pages of writing and exams to study for to make them something that shows them just how much we appreciate what they do.

I wanted something fast and relatively simple, so I thought back to my roots.  I grew up in Hawaii.  Every event of any significance in the islands is celebrated with a lei, especially the big ones, arrivals, farewells, graduation, weddings, births, etc.  I love leis.  I love breathing in the heavenly scent of plumeria and rosebud and ginger.  I miss celebrating milestones with leis.  But, even when pikake and maile and tuberose are impossible to come by, one can always get creative.  

Thus, How-to Tuesday: Candy Lei was born.

This is a simple project and Caleb was able to help with most of the steps. 
Now, just fair warning, these are not the fanciest non-floral leis I've ever made,
but they were quick and easy and inexpensive and very much appreciated by their recipients.

1) Gather your materials.  You will need about 3 feet of lei, so if you decide to go the strictly candy route, plan accordingly.  
We opted for a mix of candy and other teacher-y items (lotion, mints, pencils, drink mix, etc.).

2) Cut a piece of plastic wrap about 3.5 feet long 
and place it on a flat surface.

3) Line up your items leaving an inch or so between each thing.

4) Roll up the plastic wrap into a tube and use your hands to cinch it together between each item.

5) Cut lengths of ribbon into 12 to 18 inch pieces 
and tie one at each interval.

6) Wrap the ends together and tie another piece of ribbon around the ends making sure they are securely connected.

7) Curl the ends of the ribbon and add a bow or some embellishment to cover where the ends come together.

8) Present to your favorite teacher, graduate, citizen of the month, bride/groom, prom date, competition participant etc.

For other much more fabulous How-to ideas click here:


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