Sunday, December 15, 2013

Seasons of Simplicity

Life is full of different seasons and those seasons are packed with experiences. While some seasons are wonderful, others would be better completely avoided. Some, we'd like to relive again and again, and others are painful enough we wish we could forget. Regardless, there is a valuable gift for us in each experience of every season if we are willing to look.

For me, this has been a season of change. Unfortunately, I've found myself numbly going through the motions waiting for the next big moment. I'm tired and restless.  As I often remind us, it isn't about the big moments, it is the simple pleasures that bring forth the most blessings. This season, I am thankful for the precious memories I am making each and every day. I am thankful for the moments that catch me by surprise and bring a smile to my face. And I anticipate so many more in the seasons to come.

Event of the month: Sammy turned 16 today! My, how time has flown. This girl has grown into a beautiful young lady and I am honored to spend so much time with her. She had the most wonderful party with live entertainment and more friends present than at any of my own birthday events. Her special friend, Jowon, got to join us for the festivities. If only I had captured her joy with him around in a photo! She truly felt loved and special this weekend and exhausted herself giggling so much. Sammy's spirit is her most beautiful asset. She brings joy to those around her and reminds us how beautiful life really is.

No one I know loves to dance as much as her.

What a party! Sammy and the sisters were the happiest :)

Happy Sweet 16 Sammy Love! We are so thankful for you.

As a kid, I remember how exciting the holiday season was. Waiting for Christmas Day was the hardest and greatest reward of the year. The Christmas season was full of hussle, bussle, and excitiment. As I got older, the holiday season became more of a stress. Though it was still fun, buying for everyone, making the holiday rounds, and being ready for Christmas Day became more of a chore.
What happened to the waiting? The whole point is there is something amazing worth waiting for! So, the waiting game is back on. This year, I am really trying to get back to enjoying the joy of the season. I am maximizing my time with loved ones and looking for beauty all around, even in the mundane.  

Here are a few of my seasonal obsessions...
I look forward to Pure Barre everyday.
A great workout and a nice change of pace from running all the time.
Frosted Cranberry 14.5 oz. 3-Wick Candle - Slatkin & Co. - Bath & Body Works
Frosted Cranberry Candles from Bath & Body Works
Blueberry Muffin Coffee
Blueberry Muffin Coffee from Dunkin Donuts.
I know, I know, it sounds weird, but it's tasty.

My dear friend Taylor has the cutest Etsy Shop!
She is so talented and has an eye for everything cute and customized.

I am obsessed! Best gift EVER!
Etsy of course...

Find it at your local Wal-Mart. Stock up, it's seasonal.

Oh talented! I made some
ornaments to go with it on the fireplace.

This week, I was reminded by someone very wise that happiness is a choice. We have the ability to make that choice each and every day despite the pain and brokeness aroudn us. It isn't always easy to choose to be happy, but I know for a fact that it is a choice worth making. So, find the happiness in Life's Simple Pleasures this holiday season and make the most of each and every moment.

Until next time...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Playing Catch Up

Welp, I did some much needed updating to the blog. Got my background from I like it much better than the last one.
I know, I know, it has been much too long since my last post. So, finally, to appease the wondering, I will quickly catch up on the last six months of life. So much to report, but I will recount the highlights.
As is true with me and all possible forms of communication, I fail to be consistent. However, sissykins has a most excellent blog to view at and she is always keeping it updated. Her life as a newlywed is far more exciting, check it out!
This is an accurate depiciton of my living room on a typical Tuesday/Wednesday/Saturday/Sunday. Grad school has taken over my life! Whoever decided that teaching full time and getting a graduate degree was NUTS! I never realized how much I would have to sacrifice for this...I sincerely hope it is worth it.
Working hard, one stack of reading at a time...

These girlies and their parents have been in my life since I was 11. Sweet Sammy Love has cerebral palsy and I have been blessed to work with her since she was 2. Her sixteenth birthday is just weeks away! I cannot believe how quickly she has grown and how much progress she has made over the years. These girls call me sister and share their lives with me. I am so proud of each of them and all of their accomplishments and thankful for the opportunity to watch them grow into amazing women of God.


               Moments with My Girls!

 Pops and I have continued our running streak, although our consistency has started to dwindle. With grad school and added stress on the work front, for both of us, running has proven to be quite a challenge this season. Pops informed me his long distance running days are coming to an end. That news was tragic...doesn't he know he isn't allowed to abandon me on the road until I have another long term running buddy?!?!

Spooky Science Day in my classroom.
Students created and observed chemical
reactions themed around Halloween.
 I guess I'd think that was pretty fun too!
"I'm a party dude so that's why I like your class u make it fun."
So, to reference my friend Jessie, I have 'taken a seat on the struggle bus' this year! Gah, teaching is not the thrilling experience I hoped it would be. I love it, don't get me wrong, but the fun has really been sucked out of this career. If you follow the fabulous Love, Teach Blog,, you know what I mean when I say it is not a year of puppies and rainbows. This year has been a challenge! I got this note last week and it made me giggle. No matter how tough the days are, I know God has placed me here for a purpose and there is beauty in His plan. This kid gets something out of my class each day and finds it relatable. I must be doing something right. Thankful for treasures like this...and yes, I will keep it for the future book.

But for the exciting part, CHRISTMAS IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER!!!! I have waited all year for this! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the holidays! It can't get here fast enough! We got to be completely selfish with Annie and BoPants during Thanksgiving...and I must say I loved every second of it! I wasn't sure if I was prepared for how holidays would change now that they are married, but I was pleasantly surprised with how much things stayed the same. They are just fabulous and I am so thankful lil BoPants fits in our family so well.

If you are a lucky recipient of The Ayers Annual Christmas Card, you know you have the legendary Bear Picture to look forward to. That's right, another glorius Ayers Family Tradition! This white bear stud has been around longer than I have been. My parents shot our first family Christmas card with that bear the year I was born. Every year, we take a 'Bear Picture' and include items nostalgic to what we are involved in for that year. I won't post the real deal photo in fears momma might be uuber upset that I spoiled her grand photo, but I thought you might enjoy the outtakes. And yes, BoPants has officially made the Christmas card this year! I was particularly uncooperative this year. Eh, we have to have at least a little fun with it.

Every year, for my mom's birthday, I purchase momma some unique holiday decorations and help her decorate her house for the holidays. We got quite a bit accomplished on Black Friday. BoPants even got a stocking to add to the mantle. However, we are still in search of the perfect stocking holder. Best part about the coming month is ALL of my Christmas shopping done. That's right, all presents purchased, and most of them wrapped. Yes, it is a remarkable feeling!! I cannot wait for the blessing of this holiday season!
One last inspirational nugget until next time! I always forget how much joy I find in writing. It is so easy to get caught up in the pressures of the world and the expectations today brings. But, there is more to life than living out the agenda. Take time out for you this Holiday season and do what makes you happy. Find joy in the small things and do something special to bless someone around you. After all, it's all about
Life's Simple Pleasures


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Endings As New Beginnings

As I was reading from my Kindle app on the airplane back to America, I noticed I had not actually finished any of my downloaded books from cover to cover. I start reading three at a time and never finish any of them! I have a history of this problem. I always start book and never finish them. I will listen to the same song 150 times in a row. Usually, I will restart it before the song actually ends. I do this with movies too. I don't often watch movies at home, but when I do, I usually don't watch them all the way through. Or, I'll watch only the first part every single time. The question is 'why'? 

I could deduce that I just get bored or distracted.  I have so much going on all the time, it would be easy to have other things to do. Or maybe, I want to savor the excitement to come back to later when I have nothing better to do. Perhaps I would prefer to create my own endings in my mind as they tend to be better than the author's ideas anyways. 

In all honesty, I think it's because I don't like things to end. This disdain for ending continued upon my return to The States. I didn't want the trip to end. I wasn't really ready to come home, I was just ready for a change of scenery. I added on addendums to my trip to make it last longer visiting a few more friends, my college roommate and my grandparents. Because, ending that trip meant 'now what?' until the next adventure. And the in between is not near as fun and exciting!

All my baggage...literally.
I have been home a week and my suitcases still lie in the living room awaiting to be unpacked. In fact, even as I pack up everything else in my house to move, I haven't touched those bags. I have been looking forward to moving, however, I am so not in the mood to pack that I have considered staying just to avoid closing out this lease. However, today, I made too much progress (thanks only to a friend who should consider being a professional packer), so it makes more sense to move than to stay. Again, it goes back to this fear of things ending. Moving means change and change means adjustment. Adjustment means stress and stress means running...lots and lots of running. 

Underground tunnel tag job in Canterbury
Running leads to over thinking. At this task, I am an expert! I never realized how much I over think things until I started talking through my thoughts with others and stressed them out by all my thinking. So here is what the over thinking has revealed. 
  • Some things have to end. 
  • Without endings, there cannot be new beginnings. 
  • The end of good things leads to great things. 
  • We would miss the magnitude of the great things if there weren't merely good things along the way. 
It shouldn't be about speed
And maybe it isn't about endings after all. Maybe it is more about the means to an end. I ran into a friend this week at a coffee shop and we started talking about our hobby of running. We both admitted we haven't been so great about doing it as of late. We started talking about speed and how it would be good to work on speed before working on endurance. In most areas of my life, I'm a bit of a speed demon. I am in a hurry to get everywhere, achieve everything, and get everything accomplished. I rarely slow down to smell the stinking roses...which could be because I don't like flowers! Anyhow, as much as I don't like things to end, I rush through the process to get to the end for closure. Yet, then, I am wondering what is supposed to happen now? 

So, the application: 
I recognize I am in a season of many new beginnings. I can continue to dread the endings and miss out on the beauty of the present, or I can try to appreciate the present. I can block out the parts I don't like and replay only what I do like. Or, I can recognize the importance of all parts of the process leading to the end and find significance in the present. One step at a time, one day at a time, one chapter at a time, one full track at a time, I am working on endurance of the journey.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Land of Tea and Crumpets

Mom, pops, and I in our hotel room.
Who was the monkey in the middle??

Mom and pops have arrived! It was so exciting to see them. It's like a sudden sense of comfort came over me when I saw them. I enjoy exploring by myself, but it's nice to have them along as companions. I have moved from the teeny tiny flat into the hotel with the parents. I am quite the nomad theses days. 

Thumbs up for basement Thai restaurant!

We lucked into a disabled hotel room which happens to be huge! In fact, I'm pretty sure the bathroom alone is the size of Annie and Bo's entire flat! Best part, I don't have to shimmy sideways to get in the shower...enough said. 

Best part about mom and dad being here is they were able to bring us some items we were missing. Mom brought me my favorite night lotion. I already feel more at home.  They also brought my favorite pillow case, which makes sleeping on the floor a bit more homely, and a couple packs of gum. FYI, gum is not cheap in Europe and tastes funny here. Never thought I'd be so happy to see Extra! 

I rarely travel with my mother without her having a plan. But, for the first evening, she didn't, so it was left to me to help us stumble upon a good supper venue. That, I can handle! We came across a Thai restaurant tucked away in the basement of a building. I know, what you're thinking...sketch. But, it was affordable, and delicious. Fastest and best service I've had in Europe. The jet lag was getting them,  so it was an early night for us all. 

Flash,Bang Wallop! Blowing things up at The Science Museum!
The following morning we embodied every aspect of tourism. I swear my parents snapped pictures of Big Ben from every possible angle. We went to Trafalgar Square, toured the Supreme Court of London, and walked along the river. Mom pulled out the map at every other corner. I shunned her for looking like a tourist and she said, "I think I'm obviously a tourist by the way I am dressed...I'm not worried about the map." 

Entering the Natural History Museum via the Earth's Interior Escalator!
We ate Mexican food for lunch (again), walked through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park,  and went back to my favorite destination...The Science Museum. This time, it was even better! We went to a show in the kiddie zone where they did demos that exploded. I'm pretty sure we were the only participants above the age of 12. But, I was loving it!! Then, we went through the medical exhibits. I spent forever in the gift shop, and both my parents were great sports about it.

Our annual flower picture...always mom's favorite.
High Tea Gluten Free set-up just for me!
What a treat! 
Friday brought with it lots of the rain. That's more like London, but thus far, I have been lucky to miss the rain. Don't get me wrong, rain is my favorite, but I like it when I can stay inside and drink coffee and read, not walk all over the city. We went to the Natural History Museum where my family allowed me to do more scientific research. This time pops became a nerd with me! We  met Bo for lunch at a delicious British restaurant and saw St. Paul's Cathedral and Harrod's before relaxing at High Tea. I think we all agreed that High Tea was the trip highlight so far...aside from the science museums of course! 

Tomorrow is the surprise excursion that momma and a family friend planned for us. The end of my trip is quick approaching so I'm living every experience to the fullest! 

Sissykins and I pretending to be rulers of our prospective
countries in courtroom 3 of the London Supreme Court.

Imitators of the swan. We were tired of the serious pose.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Welcome to London

I have been overseas a little over a week! The time has flown by since I've been here. There is so much to do and see. People everywhere! The weather has been perfect, overcast but sunny with the perfect amount of chill. Perfect cardigan weather...which is always my preference. However, I am looking forward to my beach trip when I get home! 

Annie and Bo have a teeny tiny flat. I'd say 500 sq feet is a generous estimate. They created a nice makeshift bed for me at the foot of their bed. They graciously gave up their mattress pad, which I have doubled over for a pallet. I am using a mattress pad cover and a towel as a blanket. But let me just say, it is rather comfortable! I sleep better here than I do at home. 

On a typical weekday Bo goes to work. He has a great internship that he really seems to be enjoying. He is full of facts about the city from all the reading he does. Annie and I appreciate having someone who likes to do the research around as neither one of us keeps up with current events or the local interests. Annie and I patiently wait for Moneybags to get home and then we head off to explore. 

This past week sister and I took a trip to Ireland. I have been dying to go there and finally got my chance! We decided on the cheapest travel option, a 12 hour overnight coach ride. We thought that would be an easy 12 hour sleep in the bus...but we didn't think about Ireland's island status which would require us to cross by water. We were awoken in the middle of the night to go through customs and board a ferry. We sleepily arrived at 6 am in the Land of Leprechauns. We had the whole day to explore and we were starving. However, the Irish don't wake up that early. In fact, breakfast places don't even open until 8am. Guess they have too much fun the night before...
So, we decided to work on our Old Glory list while we waited. 
We stayed in a hostel while in Ireland. Believe me, I had my reservations, but it really wasn't bad. It was very affordable and clean. We were in an all female room with 7 other girls from all over Europe. We made conversation with some of our bed mates, one from Holland and one from Australia. It was really cool to hear their perspectives on things. They know so much about America, and we know so little about their countries. We all spoke English, but it was fun to find differences in our words. We discussed cultural differences and social norms in our countries. Very enlightening conversation, but it made Annie and I that more aware of how great America is. I'm not ready to come home yet, but I'm thankful for the freedoms we have in our country.

I longed to run along the coast!
Malahide castle
Our favorite experience in Ireland was going through the countryside to Northern Ireland for a castle tour. Such a welcomed change from the hustle and bustle of the cities. 

Back in London, we have enjoyed some relaxing time. Yesterday was Bo's birthday, so we went out for mexican food at a restaurant that had been recommended to us. It was delicious! Best meal we've had yet, I'd say. No matter where we go, we can't survive without the mexican food! We have seen some of the great sights of London, but we are saving most of our sightseeing for the arrival of our parents. They will be here tomorrow and they want to see everything. We are resting up now knowing it will be non-stop exploration once they arrive. They have planned a surprise day trip away for us on Saturday. That should be a blast! 
The last time I was in London was four years ago. I was studying abroad as a college student. It's amazing how different the experience is when you are traveling for leisure. A lot has changed in my life in those four years, however, the city remains very much the same. I went back to the place I lived last time and walked the streets reminiscing of those experiences. In many ways, that trip shaped my love of travel. It gave me the confidence to go off on my own and make memories for myself. So, fast forward four years, and I am doing just that. One day at a time, documenting new memories for the future to come.
Trafalgar Square

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I'm Back!

In response to multiple requests, I am getting back to blogging. It has been FOREVER! Maybe this time I will be a little more consistent, but don't cross your fingers. I get distracted from blogging easily!

I am amazed at how quickly time goes. As I reflect over my journaling over the years, so much has changed, yet so much is exactly the same. Things that I have been 'working on' for years still have yet to be fixed. Places I plan on going still need to be visited. Goals I plan to reach are still in the being set stage.

Last week, I visited a friend and went to church with her family. It was senior Sunday and all the graduates were receiving a gift. Each student was introduced to the congregation and a synopsis of their life plans was shared, including where they plan to be in 10 years. Without fail, all the girls mentioned that they planned to be married with kids in 10 years. My friend and I giggled as it sounds so cliche. Yet, I'm certain that was my plan when I graduated too. It hasn't been 10 years, but it sure feels like it some days! However, with each year that passes, I get farther and farther away from that vision. I don't think I knew what would be possible for me when I created my life plan. But, life just happens and those plans change for the better. And, now, I'm content knowing there really isn't any sense in planning because God's got a way better planner than I do.

Granny and Grandpa them so much!
Daddy and his babies on wedding day!
Sissykins is married now! I can't believe they just got engaged in November and walked down the aisle in May. It went by so fast! I am still elated for them. I may be more excited than they are. They left the day after their wedding for Europe.

You can follow their adventure at I will be joining them on Saturday for a few weeks! I CANNOT wait! I studied abroad in London in 2010 and loved it. I have been dying to go back, and now is the perfect chance. Bo, Annie, and I are all in countdown mode. Three days to go!!!

England 2010...we'll compare here in a few weeks!

Who knew we'd be education partners in crime?!
Today, I am starting grad school with a dear friend of mine. This opportunity took both of us by surprise and acceptance seemed a bit of a long shot. We both got accepted and will be embarking on this journey together! I'm already ready to graduate! That's right, haven't even been to the campus yet! That pretty much sums up my issue with patience in all areas of my life.

I am so thankful for summer! I love getting to travel...well, let's be honest...I do that all the time, so summer doesn't really change that. I think I am in Lubbock for less than 13 days in the months of May-August. Wouldn't have it any other way! The world was meant to be explored one adventure at a time.