Today, six years ago.

Nothing can really prepare you for loss. No quotes, no advice, no self- talk. When it happens, it's unlike anything you've experienced before.

Whether it was expected or sudden, when those people aren't in your life anymore, the void can never be filled. Their presence can never be replaced. 

Instead, it's often new people or experiences that are brought in to minimize the impact. 

It's a funny thing, what the grieving process does. They say time heals all things, and it does; however, it's unfair that at least one day out of the year you have to either live it all over again or plug your ears and get through the day, pretending it never happened.

Each year, February 15th gets easier and easier for me to get through. No longer are the details of the day as vivid as they were the year before. No longer am I suspended in remembering the agonizing minutes of blow after blow, learning the news of how our family would be changed forever.

Instead, a lot of that night is a blur now. I remember the major events: where I was when I found out there was an accident, where I was when I found out my mom and Chase had died, how I felt when I saw Taylor for the first time, alive and okay in a neck brace eating goldfish crackers. What I don't remember is everything else. What did I eat? When did I sleep? How did I fill my time in the subsequent days? The pain of each moment, each piece of news and feelings that followed, has been numbed indefinitely.

I'm faced now with this odd dilemma of how I can make it through a February 15th now without crying or needing to take time off. That I could actually teach my students today and forget that today was the day that changed my life forever is beyond me. In earlier years there was no way I could work or attend school-- I just needed to grieve the day. But slowly but surely, I've healed. I almost felt guilty today when it felt somewhat like a normal day. I wanted to have my grieving moment, but it never really came. 

I never want to forget the impact that February 15th had on my life and I want to respect it for the defining moment that it was. I am grateful though, that God brought me through that time and that I can spend the rest of my life here living in purpose from the lessons I learned through my mom and brother's deaths. 

Loss is unfathomable until you've been through it, and there is nothing you can do to prepare for it. However, you can also know that you can get through it; you will get through it...but your life will never be the same again.

Photobucket

What Love is..

Love is:


 Fresh coffee in the mornings before I wake up....





Emptying the dishwasher when he gets home from work ...





 Letting me decorate our home with things from Pottery Barn even though he thinks it's too girly and over-priced...





 Stopping by the store and bringing home organic half and half, even though he would much rather prefer to get next-day-old discounted stuff from Grocery Outlet...






 Faithfully bringing water to my bedside each night without me asking for it...


  


Making a fool out of himself dancing with a three and five year old, because that's what cool uncles do...






 Spending time with our five year old nephew and giving up the iPad for the night...





 Waking up to this sweet message on Valentine's Day...





...and then finding these in my classroom





I find that when I look for it; see it represented in the simple things, love is everywhere. I love Valentine's Day and I always will, but that's a day for the grandiose gestures. 364 other days of the year, love surrounds me in thoughtfulness, in kindness, in commitment, in patience, in laughter, in trust, in affection and in perseverance. 

Needless to say, I am a very blessed woman.
Photobucket

Quotes of the week from B & L

Naturally I'm biased in that I think I have the cutest 3 and 5 year old niece and nephew, but you have to admit... they are pretty adorable.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

-At church this morning-

Me: "Lacie, you are just too cute!"
Lacie: "Aunt Megan, you are just too cold!

-Driving home today-

Me: Beau, you are just the coolest five year old I know!
Beau: Well God and Jesus are both in our family and they are even cooler than me...

-Beau explaining his prayer predicament in the car-

Beau: "So I was praying to God, asking him to give me food in the car right when I asked for it and He didn't. I wanted a cupcake in my car seat but it didn't come. We just had to go to the store and buy them instead. That means that God didn't answer my prayer."

Me: "Beau, sometimes God answers our prayers in different ways than we might expect, like giving mommy money so that she could go and buy a special treat for you instead of it just appearing in thin air."
Beau: "So you mean people sometimes change their minds and ask God for help buying stuff instead of just asking him to give it to them?" 

Me: "Kind of, I guess? God wants to give us good things, but we have to trust Him that he'll answer our prayers somehow,  it just won't always be in the way we want Him to." 

Beau: "This is a long and complicated conversation. I'm getting a headache."
 
-Trying on a new dress from Nordstrom- 

Lacie gasps: "Aunt Megan! Now you look pretty like me! 

-Washing hands before dinner-

Lacie: "Could you help me wash my hands so I can smell good like a princess?"














Photobucket

1991


Guys, I grew UP on this album. 




I'm a product of the 80s... what can I say. My mom and I would drive around delivering AVON books in Burntwood in her 1990 white Taurus and we'd listen to this cassette tape on repeat. (Side B was my fav.) 

I secretly used to wish my name was Tiffany or Michelle (and then I met one of my best friends who was actually named Tiffany Michelle... so jealous), and would dream about the day that Doogie Howser would kiss me and I would bounce around with "How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston playing in the background as I winked back at the camera and twirled my hair. (I was going to be a famous actress when I got older and naturally imagined that everyone would think I was so cool and want to watch all of the movies I'd star in.) All the boys in the neighborhood would want to be my boyfriend, and I'd laugh sympathetically as I walked hand in hand with Doogie into the sunset (side ponytail, hot pink shorts, high tops and all). 

I'd rehearsed this rise-to-fame scene in my head hundreds of times and even choreographed my own music videos to all of Whitney's songs with the latest hot moves. I was destined for stardom, and my handsome doctor boyfriend and I were inevitably going to become the most famous people in the world.

I rocked this awesome outfit which was my favorite to create dance routines in (thank you JcPenney):



Anytime I wanted to feel totally confident, I'd put on this little number and turn up my jams. Unfortunately, said music videos got lost somewhere over time or else you know they'd be right up there with Rebecca Black & Charlie Bit My Finger in terms of YouTube popularity... what a shame. 

I was going to post on something entirely different tonight, but felt that a throwback to the best era of Whitney Houston's time was necessary. I was honestly SO sad when I heard that she had passed away today. My sister, Beau & Lacie and T and I have already had a Whitney dance party tonight because let's face it: she made some amazing music during her life.
  • "I Will Always Love You"
  • "I Believe in You and Me"
  • "How Will I Know"
  • and of course, one of my all time favs: "I Wanna Dance With Somebody."

So sit back and enjoy the best that Whitney brought to the 80s... girl, you rocked it. You will be missed.

"I Wanna Dance With Somebody"


"How Will I Know"


Photobucket

Five Things Friday


This Five Things Friday is dedicated to five of my students who have made the most growth this year and have surprised me so much. Looking back on this past semester, these guys are the ones that confirm for me why I teach. Through the budget cuts, through the stress, through the uncertainty, and through everything in between, these ones are why we do what we do. 

_________________________________

#1: For a student who started the year with his head on his desk, talking back at every chance he could. Countless times I had to ask him to leave the classroom because of defiance or disrespect. He was one I wasn't sure I could handle, as the day-to-day challenges were almost too much. Quarter one provided no assignments turned in. However, one day he stuck around after class because he wanted to re-take a test. During that time, he opened up about his family, his life, his worries, and why he did so poorly during the first quarter. He said he wanted quarter two to be different because he wanted to make his parents proud. Through staying after school, working after class and spending time with peer mentors, he totally turned his grades around and ended up with a B- instead of an F. The look on his face when he got his report card was a priceless moment!

#2: For a student I feel so bad for thinking just didn't care about school. She actually cared too much. She wanted to understand, but hadn't for a long time. When I realized that was the problem, we worked together one-on-one to get caught up. After that effort, she said she loved coming to class and couldn't believe that she was getting Bs. She said no one ever took the time to explain things to her in sixth grade before, and never thought she would pass middle school. She brought home a B+ report card for quarter two and told me that her mom cried when she got her grades. 

#3: For a student who started the year angry at everyone. Blow-ups, storm-outs, and everything in between. "Don't wake the sleeping giant" was an understatement. I wasn't sure what each class would be like on a day-to-day basis. He started opening up in his in-class journal and explaining in writing what he couldn't express with words. The conversations we exchanged taught me a lot about why he acted the way he did, and what kind of student he wanted to be deep down. We, along with other staff members, worked together to help him be as successful as he could and he brought home a B in my class from the F he had at the beginning of the quarter. He said last week, "I actually like turning stuff in because you give me feedback and I want to get better!"

#4: For the student who took matters into his own hands with more determination I've seen in a long time when he realized his grades were failing. He got rid of his video games himself when he knew they were interfering, and said that he never wanted to get Fs again because he was too lazy. He gave up lunches to get caught up and has had zero missing assignments in two months in my class. He said that getting Fs was the worst feeling he's had in middle school and never wants to disappoint himself like that again. A middle schooler giving up video games is like me giving up Starbucks... almost impossible. :)

#5: For the student who began the year not talking in class and not turning any work in. Who scurried out the door as quick as he could, but who I noticed and who I held accountable. When he realized he couldn't hide out in class and that I cared about his progress, he started trying... slowly but surely. Feedback turned into more effort which turned into better grades and less missing assignments. He surprised himself by the grades he got and with better grades came more confidence and with more confidence came more participation. Now he bounds into the classroom, is one of the first to raise his hands to answer a question, turns all of his assignments in on time and helps others with their work whenever he can. When I said, "did you know that you earned an A this quarter?" He said, "No way. You're joking. Are you kidding? Seriously? Really? I can't wait to tell my mom!"
_________________________

I could seriously tell you stories of dozens and dozens of kids making awesome growth in our school and who I think of when I get discouraged. The kids that we teach and our future generation are going to be really great. When you get frustrated by what is happening in the world, come visit a classroom. It will inspire you.
Photobucket

Facebook hibernation

In the next few days, I am going to be {slowly but surely} phasing off of Facebook.

I'm not sure whether it's going to be permanent or seasonal; all I know is that it's time for a break. I'm not going to be deactivating or removing my profile... just simply won't be logging on for awhile.



I want 2012 to be a year of relational change:

1. Calling friends instead of Facebook messaging them or writing on their wall

2. Printing pictures to put in tangible albums instead of posting photos on Facebook

3. Handing out business cards and having my photography spread by word-of-mouth instead of status updates

4. Having coffee with a friend to catch up on major life events instead of Facebook stalking. I don't want to hear of peoples' engagements over Facebook anymore for the first time-- I want to hear in person.

5. Writing is still my favorite and this blog will definitely be the major way to keep in touch with what's going on with us Loves. Travels, life changes, food, fashion... it will all be happening here. :)

6. Mailing at least one handwritten letter every two weeks. I want to be like my mom twenty years ago, who had an address book full of addresses and a desk full of stamps and envelopes (always used). 


_________________________________

So, my dear friends, if you'd like to keep in touch please send me your email addresses and home addresses if you don't mind at meganlove17@gmail.com. If you're a Facebook friend with me it's for a reason because I am particular about who I accept. :) Therefore, consider this your personal invitation to keep in touch outside of Facebook!

(you can also subscribe to this blog so you'll be notified of when posts are updated: www.love-lylife.blogspot.com)


Looking forward to graduating from facebook friend to face-to-face friend. :)

xo
Photobucket

Leap List

Oh my gosh.

I don't have one. 

Oh my. Oh my. Oh my. What does this mean for me?????

Leap Lists are all the rage these days (thank you Honda CR-Vs?) and there is absolutely nothing wrong with them... however, I had a minor freak-out-grown-up moment about thirty minutes ago when I was like... you know what? I'm good. 

___________________________

I'm ready. 
___________________________


My Leap List wouldn't be for marriage, but the next phase would be for starting a family. Do I have a list of things I want to accomplish before starting a family?

Last year, heck yes. This year.........................

ohmygoodness. No. 

I am being totally transparent right now in this because I've always felt a little awkward about my role as a potential parent. I've thought of myself as the cool aunt or the great babysitter... not as mom. 

I feel like I haven't been ready to let go of just being a daughter yet because I feel like I had to grow up too quick losing my own mom at such a young age. I felt like I was still waiting at certain times of my recent twenties for my mom to come back and magically help me navigate through life.

However, I feel like recently that as much as I miss my mom each and every day, I think I'm going to be okay being a mom without her. I have no stinking clue how to raise a baby on my own, but I have so many amazing women in my life (that could be receiving phone calls at 4am!), that I might just be able to figure it out myself, one day at a time. 

_______________________________

You have to understand: I've always had a leap list. I've always had a list of things I wanted accomplished before I got a job/ got married/had a baby/etc. etc. etc. 

It's kind of a weird epiphany that for the first time I can remember, I don't have one. 

Our newlywed accomplishments in the past year and a half of marriage:

  • Travels:
    • France
    • Spain
    • Colorado
    • Canada
    • Mexico (x2 in March)
    • New York
    • NW Staycations
    • Bend
    • Disneyland/LA
    • Costa Rica
    • Florida
 
  • Big life changes:
    • Bought a house
    • Jobs that we LOVE
    • Lots of fun, spontaneous weekends
    • Continually getting to know eachother as husband and wife and laying the future-family-foundation

Pure Craziness.
______________________________________________________________
Listen y'all. There is no baby yet. :) I have absolutely zero clue when God is going to bless us with that next installment of the Love-ly Life. I'm just saying-- I just now watched a Honda CR-V "Leap List" commercial and had a major epiphany moment that I had to write down and share. This is such a weird feeling... a big step for me. :)

There are about 500 other things I would LOVE to do in the upcoming years... but I don't need to wait on the next chapter of life to accomplish. These things can be a part of my next chapter of life if need be.

  • Go back to Europe on a monthlong trip
  • Visit Australia / New Zealand
  • Drive on a USA cross country road trip
  • Travel to Hawaii 
  • Write a novel
  • Vacation in wine country in California
  • Landscape my backyard / plant a garden
  • Adopt a puppy

Photobucket

Fun in the Sun


This past weekend was SO much fun. 

Saturday beach trip:




Date night:




Hanging out with the niece and nephew in the sun:





And lots and lots of...

*Wings
*Chips
*Junk food
*Kids running around & playing upstairs
*Commercial-rating
*Friends
*Football
*Sun
*Memories


<3 these kinds of weekends.
Photobucket

Five Things Friday... revived!

Hasn't today been amazing?

I actually drove with my sunroof open and sunglasses on. Fabulous!

Us Oregonians relish in this weather because everyone this side of the Cascades know that we don't get enough of it. I love how when the sun comes out, regardless of the temperature, so do shorts and flip flops in February (guilty).

I wanted to focus this Five Things Friday on one of my favorite splurges: day spas. 

Now, don't get all judgy on me and say "how can you afford day spas? didn't you just buy a house and book a vacation and _________ (fill-in-the-blank)" yes. yes and yes.

I've spent the better part of my twenties going to day spas because it's like my preventative medicine. I rarely ever get sick (not that I'm attributing that to getting a massage frequently....but... maybe?), and whenever I feel a big case of the worries or anxiety coming on, I'll book an appointment at one of my favorite places to relax. 

Here's the thing. 

I do my shopping and am not loyal to any particular spa in general. I will go where the deals are because that's how I can afford to indulge in my quarterly massage habit. My favorite way to find new places are Groupon deals, which is where I discovered my latest spa gem in the Hollywood District of Portland: Spa Willamina. More on them, later. 

I also sign up as email subscribers with various Aveda spas so that I can get emailed their coupons and discounts, ANNNNNND, another great way to save some $$$$ on pricey spa appointments is to "like" any of the metro-area spas (or ones that you have already visited as a client), and they will often post specials and deals to Facebook & Twitter followers only. 

I also ask for gift certificates to my favorite places for Christmas, and they will usually throw in a discount if you ask for it as well (i.e., buy two get the third one free; 20% off your next spa appointment if you book today...) etc. 

Point being: I hardly ever pay full price for massages, and I have found some GREAT venues through my bargain hunting. 

_____________________________________

in no particular order, my top-five day spa favorites (so far):


-- This is located in Tanasbourne near the Streets of Tanasbourne and Whole Foods and they are AWESOME. It's like a quiet little retreat in the midst of Hillsboro that I wasn't expecting. They also have great "rewards" bonuses for repeat gusts and frequently offer 25% discount cards when you book your next appointment. They always do a foot soak and "aromatherapy journey" (what they call it) before every appointment, so it just sets up the relaxation. They are definitely one of my west side favs.


So this was a Groupon package that I booked last summer and decided to redeem recently. They are located right off Sandy in the Hollywood District and are actually in a cute little renovated bungalow with all of the same vintage details-- huge fireplace, crown molding, hardwood floors, etc. But get this. They asked me when booking my appointment if I wanted to be in the "garden tent," and I said... "okay?...."-- they informed me that it was a cozy backyard experience with heated floors and flannel sheets, "perfect for the outdoors enthusiast." I've never had a massage in a Portland backyard tent before, so I decided to give it a shot. Oh. My. Goodness. It was awesome! I felt like I was camping in a luxury tent! It was SO cozy, and I loved being able to hear the rain falling above me but not feel cold in the slightest. I could even breathe in fresh air and smell the flowers in the garden-- I loved it! If you get the opportunity to visit Spa Willamina, definitely ask for the garden tent-- it's no extra charge and totally worth it!

These guys are also great for offering VIP discounts for repeat customers-- I just got 20% off my next booking PLUS a gift card for a buy-one-get-one free session. Great deal!


I love how small this location is and it's just off of Grand avenue by Lloyd Center. Both times I've been there I've had the entire loft to myself, and it's just so cozy. I bought a Groupon package with them over a year ago and saw that they offered one again recently for hair treatments. Definitely check them out if you live in NE or see them again on Groupon! 

This is the ultimate girl's day retreat. I can't say that I've ever been back because of price's sake to Gigi, but it was on a day when my friends and I went shopping, out to lunch at Cheesecake Factory, and then indulged in mani/pedis together all at Washington Square. It was definitely more expensive than other spas I've been to, BUT, it was so much fun and such a great location for a girls'-day-splurge. 


I love that Dosha spas offer complimentary steam room and shower w/Aveda products after appointments because that means you can get a massage or a facial and not have to worry about going out later that day with greasy hair or a red face. Plus it's like an extra hour of spa time! All Dosha locations offer this feature, but Dosha on SW 5th avenue is my favorite just because it's so quiet. I used to go to Dosha on 23rd street pretty often but it just got too noisy and busy for a calming experience. Dosha also offers VIP passes for 10% off for the entire year if you join their email club and attend one of their VIP holiday parties that they offer throughout the month of December. It's not a huge discount, but definitely helps! They also offer email-only specials and Facebook fan specials for $30 massage and facials and other great deals that help bring the price down. They are definitely the best bang for you buck if you're able to snag one of their email deals. 

---------------------------

Anyway, if you're interested in spa-ing, or wanting the day spa experience without the day spa price, definitely check out these places!



Photobucket

Semester one. check.

It's Feburary 2nd, people. 

As a teacher, this is a ridiculous notion because I can remember just yesterday when I started setting up my classroom, wondering who my students were going to be, what trials and successes we would experience, what life as an Evergreen Eagle would be like, and how I would juggle between three different preps, four different classes, after school clubs, buying a house, photography, conferences + professional development courses, and a million other things that come with transition and change. 

I remember about this time last year that my horizon was very ambiguous. I knew that God was going to provide a job and sustainability for us, but I had no clue what that would look like. I only know now that He had to literally pick me up out of Conestoga and transplant me into Evergreen for it all to make sense why my position had to be cut and why I had to experience the disappointment that comes with job loss. Praise Him for his blessings even when I don't deserve it, and for His faithfulness even when I can't see the road in front of me! 

Today I spent the day entering grades and silently clapping and cheering each time I entered an "A" for some students up from last quarter's "C," or entered a "B" from last quarter's "F." I tell you-- we've been hard at work in room fifteen this year. There's been some pushback, some resentment, and a lot of patience, sacrifice and TLC. These kids are phenomenal and smart and diligent, but a lot of them haven't heard that before or often enough. But it was worth it! We all high-fived after this semester because they made it. For many, their 3s in writing became 4s; for others, instead of reading 110 words per minute they read 130; For many more, instead of writing three sentences in a writing response they were able to write half a page. For some, it's small steps forward and others it was leaps. That's how we do it. We celebrate each and every one of them.

After grading I rolled up my sleeves and deep-cleaned the germies out of my room that creep under desks and on the grimy books that kids borrow and check out. When we say classrooms are like petrie dishes, we aren't lyin... but it sure felt good to de-gunkify my room!

I don't know about you, but de-cluttering, recycling and throwing things away is so incredibly liberating for me. I am a big saver-- wondering "am I going to need this someday?" Which then translates to piles and piles of unorganized junk that I'm going to get to "when I have time." (Which means never). So today I went through ALL my papers, and kept about 1/8th of them. (What was I thinking saving October's Scholastic book order catalog for so long?!?!?). 

It. Was. Lovely. 

Tomorrow equals all day lesson planning for me, figuring out how we're going to end this year better than where we're at now; to get ready for OAKS testing, Battle of the Books, "Playing Words While Hanging Out With Friends" club, and many other fun activities on the horizon for us Eagles. 

Bring it on. :)


Photobucket
 
Blogging tips