One Little Word 2016: Gather

“She carefully gathers the minutes of her life and lives them.”

I truly love the ritual of exploring words and choosing one to focus on for a year. Every year since 2007, I follow Ali Edwards’ example of taking a word and making it my own.

2007 Simple
2008 Curious
2009 Light
2010 Scribble
2011 Spice
2012 Muse
2014 Rhythm
2015 Splash

Each word acts as a lens for me to view myself, and the actions I intend to take.

This year’s word found me. It has been on the back burner since February 2015. I actually considered changing my 2015 word, but I wanted to see where “Splash” took me. Glad I did. “Splash” helped me break out of a rut and become more active, a little more fun. I played with recipes, and took every opportunity I could to go places with water. So, I kept commitment with “Splash” for 2015. But that word from February is begging for it’s chance to shine in 2016.

My One Little Word for 2016 is GATHER.

When this word found me I worried, slightly; I tend to gather and hold onto ‘things.’ I have been known as a pack rat. Then, one night, I actually laid on my pillow and thought of all the phrases I knew that featured “Gather.”

Gather sunshine.
Gather every needful thing.
Gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing.
Gather ’round.
Gather at the table.
Gather my wits.
Gather myself.
Gather memories.
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.
A rolling stone gathers no dust.
Gather up.
I gather she’s madly in love with him.
Wool gathering.
Gathering storm.
Gathering place.

The dimensions of this word encompass so many aspects I want to improve this year. It’s an action word through and through.

Verb: To search for and find similar things you want or need

Verb: To bring things closer together.

Transitive: If something gathers force, speed, or strength, its force, speed, or strength increases.

Verb: Collect, organize, to meet together as a group, look for and find information

There was a definition that surprised me. When I found it, there were tears because “Gather” settled deeply into my need to expand my faith:

Verb: To believe that something is true, although no one has directly told you about it.

Since I love bullet points here are some that highlight my intentional foci for 2016 encompasses:

  • Food storage
  • Making memories with the Sprogs while they are still around.
  • Provide a place for my family to gather
  • Provide reasons to gather in the future, when the sprogs go their separate ways.
  • Inertia – become more forceful, speedy, and strong.
  • Celebrate with activities and parties.
  • Baskets, the perfect gathering tool which also make for pretty presentations.

As I gather memories, items, and people, I also want to gather the pieces of “me”. I want to examine the stuff and the pieces and determine what to let go and keep. I just really want to be my best self: happy.

One Little Word 2015: SPLASH

2007 Simple
2008 Curious
2009 Light
2010 Scribble
2011 Spice
2012 Muse
2014 Rhythm

Words communicate ideas. They define traits and actions. Every year, Ali Edwards chooses One Little Word as her New Year’s focus. It’s a tradition I’ve adopted. I’m not so much a goal-setting personality as a happy-moment type. Choosing a word provides a lens for me to frame my perspective, to acknowledge the moments that help me align current me with better me. I believe the universe provides opportunities for growth when I choose a focus.

My first One Little Word ever was SIMPLE. SIMPLE changed my life. Literally. Helped me become a stronger person more willing to stand up for myself and my family. LIGHT and RHYTHM also made big dents in my life.

Back in August, I found my focus for 2015. It’s a direct continuation of RHYTHM, happily enough. As I rediscovered my rhythms, I was comforted as I re-synced with my family’s rhythms. Then, those rhythms became habits. And I stagnated. Just did the same thing over and over because it was easy. I took the last 6 months of the year to decompress from a stressful 3 years of school and a harsh working environment. Then I slid into a habit of feeling tired. It was a quiet rhythm. One I needed. But it is now repetitive and I’m in a rut.

Then. Pinterest. I found a quote that resonated with me, with a deep “bong.”


I need more than just getting by.

For months I’ve been playing with words to sum-up this quote. Some of the obvious words were INTENT or FOCUS. I even found an awesome Scottish word ETTLE, which means purpose, aim, and intent (it even starts with a letter E – love “E” words). I played with ALIGN, ONCE, and WHIM.

I found my word for 2015 looking through photos of my family at Bear Lake. There was lots of water – my element. There was lots of splashing. Giggling. Splashing in Bear Lake disrupts our everyday rhythm. Refreshes us as a family. Refreshes me as an individual.


My word is SPLASH. It’s a noun and a verb – multifunctional. It is:

  • unexpected
  • changes the flow
  • adds interest
  • changes habits
  • causes one to take a breath
  • scattered masses or particles
  • a patch of color or light
  • a striking impression
  • can be big or little

At work, I spent my time and energy identifying the purpose behind the needs and actions of my 37 students and 41 co-workers. I’m extremely good at sussing out the purpose behind people’s actions, and aligning the purpose of objectives and goals to address specific needs.

SPLASH is a word with purpose. The idea is that SPLASH will remind me to think about the purpose of my actions and habits. I may stop what I’m doing and change direction. I may proceed with my original intent with clarified purpose. I may just add a spot of happy interest. It’s a playful word, which fits the one little thing I need to connect with who I like to be. Right now, my world is filled with contentment. But my energy is draining into an excuse to recover. I’m done recovering. I need to spend that energy living with intent. Connecting with the purpose behind my feelings and actions. I need to develop a proactive, healthy rhythm.

The Life of Things

I am out of sync. As I’ve become aware of the rhythm of people and events around me, I’m realizing how truly out of sync I am. I’m also newly aware of the discomfort this creates for me. Now that I’ve recognized this, I’m not quite sure how to fix it. But I did find this quote, posted on Ali Edwards’ new journaling class at Big Picture Scrapbooking:

“…with an eye made quiet by the power of harmony,
and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things.”
– William Wordsworth/Tintern Abbey

I can feel the rhythm at work. I can feel the rhythm of my teenagers. I can feel the heartbeat of my sweetheart.

The next step is adjusting my rhythm to complement theirs.

One Little Word 2014

I pulled in and pushed through 2013. It was effective, and I now have a diploma and a teaching certificate to show for it. But I feel out of whack, like I don’t recognize the cadence of my own life. That I’m keeping up with tiring tempo. I didn’t even pick a Word for 2013. Felt a little guilty about that. So, I’ve been reading and thinking about my previous words, hoping to feel inspired.

  • Muse (2012)
  • Spice (2011)
  • Scribble (2010)
  • Light (2009)
  • Curious (2008)
  • Simple (2007)

I love Ali Edwards’ tradition of choosing a word and embracing it for a year. It’s a good way for me to evaluate my goals and hopes for 2014. MUSE drew me in again, but I’m not ready for that level of creative commitment. “Whisper” was another contender – a reminder to listen and be still. I also toyed with “linger.” Hesitating for just a moment, staying in a moment.

But the word I’m attached to for 2014 is RHYTHM: cadence, pulse, lilt. It’s a beat, or an accent in music.

I need to find my rhythm again, coordinate it with my sprogs, my sweetheart, and my own heart. My body has a rhythm, and I need to tune into it. I also desperately want to listen for the rhythm of my home, and sync up back up with my family. It’s also an excuse to add a little more music to my life. By listening and watching, I’m hoping to recognize the repeated patterns of my life and step back into them more fully.

2013 First Lines

Textbooks and peer-reviewed journals were my reading material for two years. As the homework demands decreased, I was drawn to mindless entertainment; I did a lot of farming in Hay Day. In September, I finally cracked a book for fun, and remembered that I love to read. That words convey beauty and imagination, along with information.

I teach my students that we learn 3 kinds of reading: Reading for Information, Reading for Speed, and Reading for Fun. I finally remembered how to read for fun. Here are all the first lines from the books I read for fun in 2013.

With a few groans and sighs, the old building settled down for the night.”
Rigg saw the stream before any of the others.”

It was a hodgepodge setup, that classroom, not unlike the rest of my life at the time.”
A killer wind hurled bitter November air, toothy little knives to gnaw at the bones.

 “It was the largest gathering of the Spirit clans Raisa had ever seen.

 “This is not a love story.”

I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one.”
Who wants a cheap rhinoceros?”
Through the chilly curtain of sleet, in the intermittent wash of the great light on the jutting cliff to the south, the massive silhouette of Bluff House loomed over Whiskey Beach.”
He watched the girl stumble from the motel office, room key glinting under the harsh lights of the parking lot.
For Beatrice Bottomwell, Friday began like any other day.
A warning for those who chance to meet a wild glump coming home late at night, down a dark street, past a graveyard, all alone in a storm: don’t bump the glump.”
If you had a giraffe...”
I was home alone on that Friday evening.”

The first thing you’ll notice about this book is that it’s a diet and workout guide for women, written by someone who isn’t a woman.”
The monster showed up just after midnight.”
It is a nipping and an eager air.”
“‘I’m afraid,’ said the little girl on the bed.”
It was the oak tree that distracted me.
Ten months had passed since I had last seen the sun.
In the beginning, there’s a boy standing in the trees.
He was sick to death of her nagging.”
In the dream, there’s sorrow.

The first thing I’m aware of is the dark.
I was born during the second holocaust.”
I woke to the cold kiss of steel on my throat.”
The story starts like something out of a fairy tale: I hated my stepfather.”

Mom and Dad had known about the wedding at my uncle Autry’s ranch for months.”
My hands close around the heavy drape, twisting it into a thick cord.”

Naked, Lieutenant Utisz stood on the frost-rimmed block of black obsidian before two tall doors made of intricately arrange human bones.”
Linden Avery’s fate may indeed have been written in water.
Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day.
“‘Siberia,’ Alek said.”
Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her parents’ house, where she washed the same pink-and-yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same small and amiable dog.”

Christmas Eve 2013

As I locked up my classroom for Christmas Break, I knew something was off. I had a sore throat, chills, fever, and fatigue. Got home and slept for 15 hours. Went to the on-call doc Saturday morning, and began treatment for Strep throat. I was quarantined to the master bedroom. Everywhere I went I used a Lysol wipe to touch surfaces. Curry moved to the family room. Butter Chicken flattened herself against the wall and threw snacks at me, reporting to Curry that, “I didn’t catch anything!” I took my monster antibiotics and 3 days later emerged. And waited. I changed out my toothbrush, washed everything I could wash, threw away pillows, and Lysoled everything else. It worked! I was the only one who got sick! I haven’t had Strep for 19 years, but since I’m a teacher? Yeah.

So, Christmas has been a simple affair. We stayed home. Curry and I wrapped gifts together on the 23rd. We watched Christmas movies. Rather than my big, formal Christmas Eve dinner I made Zuppa Toscana soup and bought French bread. My Mom and Dad joined us for an evening of card games and Christmas music. We laughed and enjoyed the company.

Sweet and simple.


I love my Kitchenaid mixer. Especially since figuring out how to make homemade pasta. The first batch we made was a bit of trial and error. But now we’ve got the feel for the dough and everybody in our family can make noodles.

My favorite recipe is one from the Kitchenaid booklet:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 Tbl water
  • 1 Tbl oil
  • 3 cups semolina flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Bring a pot of water to a boil.
Mix ingredients in mixer bowl with flat beater – Speed 2 for 30 seconds.
Switch to dough hook.
Knead at Speed 2 for 2 minutes.
Remove from bowl and knead for 1 to 2 minutes.
Roll and cut pasta.
Add a generous amount of salt to boiling water.
Cook pasta for 5-7 minutes.

I love serving this with our version of homemade-ish sauce:

  • 1 family-sized jar of Prego or Ragu sauce
  • 1 package mild Italian Sausage, browned and crumbled
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 5 shakes red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp salt

Combine in a Crockpot and cook on low 4-6 hours.

Or, we use Food Network’s Chicken, Sausage & Pepper Pasta.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, cut into chunks
3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 small onion, chopped
2 Italian green frying peppers, julienned
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
2 jarred pickled cherry peppers, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons liquid from the jar

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage until golden, about 2 minutes. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then toss with the flour in a bowl; add to the skillet and cook until browned but not cooked through, about 3 minutes.

Add the onion, peppers, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste and cook 3 minutes. Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits; bring to a boil and cook until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Add the broth and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook until the sausage and chicken are cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the chicken, sausage and vegetables to a platter with a slotted spoon. Increase the heat to high and stir the parsley and cherry peppers and their liquid into the skillet; boil until reduced by one-third, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Pour the sauce over the chicken mixture.


Thanksgiving 2013

I am so grateful for a family that accept us and invites us to share food with them.

Thanksgiving with this crew involves deep-fried turkeys, side dishes of all makes and models, and pies. This year, we had smoked turkey, too. I love the fact that we’re willing to add new things to our traditions.

I’m also extremely grateful for my sweetheart who has seen me through the last 3 years. I just finished my student teaching, and I’m finishing up the last of my classes. I’m almost legal! Wouldn’t have happened without Curry. He has taken on the chores and the Sprogs, both full-time jobs. He has calmed my crazies. Also a full-time job. He has truly held this family together.

September Testing

This testing was a Big Deal. The boys are starting their push towards their Black Belts. Tikka Masala not only participates in the testing, he conducts it. It is so amazing to watch him take control of a class and conduct with confidence.

His instructor said that Tikka Masala is the standard for his Junior Instructors.

I earned my Blue Belt.

The boys went from Deputy 1 to Deputy 2.

I love their board breaks.

Same break, different approaches.

Still looks way cool.

Brace For It!

Taekwondo has been good to us. We’ve met many good people. We’ve also met some interesting people. Then there are people who we’d rather not associate with. Like the highly competitive nincompoop who took our son’s knee out during a 2 minute game. “Couldn’t let him score.” Caused a buckle fracture in Tikka Masala’s knee. He went into an immobilizing brace at Thanksgiving. Will be in it until New Year’s. He’s frustrated with the lack of movement, but thrilled that he gets the elevator key at school. We’re not going to mess with this. Curry had knee surgery and never received the physical therapy that he needed. His knees are are just know strengthening and functioning better after decades of pain and limited movement. So, poor Tikka Masala has two parents who ride him to do his strengthening activities while keeping pressure off the fracture. Meanwhile, we’re keeping our distance from the idiot at Taekwondo.

Classes are filled with students age 5 to 75. This man is so competitive that he punches little kids and knocks people over. While the rest of us encourage each other and play fair. Not a fun addition to the environment.

Halloween 2013

Rather than going trick-or-treating, our “old” Sprogs got to have friends over for a Halloween party. We bobbed for apples.

Carved pumpkins.

Watched Halloween movies. Answered the knocks with full-sized candy bars. Yes. We were the cool house. This was our first Halloween at our house. Usually, we hang out at Grandma’s house to traipse the neighborhood with the cousins. Our little family is transitioning, though. Our kids are entering new phases and we’re forging a tighter family unit before the Sprogs are old enough to move out. Yikes!


No more off-the-rack! Tikka Masala decided he wanted to be Ezio from Assassin’s Creed. I had so much fun sewing this costume. We dyed white fabric a dove grey. I adapted a wizards cloak and hood for the outer jacket, downsized a men’s western jacket pattern for the vests, and free-handed the cape. All the trim is attached to the lining, and batiked on with a custom stencil.

Didn’t have time to finish the details like the pants, shirt, and vambraces. Nor are the belt buckle and pin what I wanted. But overall, this is one cool costume. I even got a new sewing machine out of it.

It’s got a touch screen!

Butter Chicken put her own costume together this year. Sniff! She’s growing right up! She wanted to become Lara Croft from the new Tomb Raider. Rips, blood, necklace, and all.

(Notice, the retainer? She’s out of braces!) She even found really great boots.

Halloween is fun again. Especially with two “teens” who are going to junior high dances in awesome costumes. Tikka Masala even danced a slow dance with 2 girls! He has a crush on one of them. Ah, puppy love.

Ain’t No Pants Are Long Enough

Butter Chicken had a growth spurt over the summer. Two months. Eight inches. You could watch her growing. I just counted our blessings that it happened over the summer. All of her pants became capris. Shopping for uniform pants went well, until she had a second growth spurt and grew another 2 inches. Now they are all floods. And don’t even mention shoes! She went from a size 3.5 to 8. We think she’s stabilized at 5’9″.

Bachelor’s of Science in Communicative Disorders

I’m finished.

The final semester for my Bachelor’s degree is complete.

As soon as my grades record, I will have my degree.

Here’s what I accomplished this summer:

May 10 – PRAXIS
May 17 – 5200 Standardized Assessment Quiz
May 22 – 5200 Unit 1 Proctored Quiz
May 23 – 5330 Hearing Aid Interviews Assignment
May 25 – 5330 Quiz 1
May 25 – 5330 Quiz 2
May 25 – 5330 Quiz 3
May 25 – 5330 Quiz 4
May 31 – 5200 ASGN 1 Language Facilitation
May 31 – 5330 Exam 1
Jun 5 – 5200 Unit 2 Proctored Quiz
Jun 8 – 5330 Unit 1 Case Study
Jun 21 – 5200 ASGN 2 CSBS-DP Diagnostic
Jun 22 – 5330 Interview with Professional
Jun 26 – 5200 Unit 3 Proctored Quiz
June 27 – 5330 Quiz 5
June 27 – 5330 Quiz 6
June 27 – 5330 Quiz 7
June 27 – 5330 Quiz 8
Jul 7 – 5330 Unit 2 Case Study
Jul 7 – 5330 Exam 2
Jul 12 – 5200 ASGN 3 Language Analysis
Jul 17 – 5200 Unit 4 Proctored Quiz
Jul 26 – 5200 ASGN 4 Predictable Book Language Intervention
Jul 31 – 5200 Unit 5 Proctored Quiz
Aug 4 – 5330 Quiz 9
Aug 4 – 5330 Quiz 10
Aug 4 – 5330 Quiz 11
Aug 4 – 5330 Quiz 12
Aug 8 – 5330 Final Exam
Aug 9 – 5200 Unit 6 Proctored Quiz
Aug 9 – 5200 Extra Credit IDEA

I pulled a 4.0.

It’s rather anticlimactic. I took my last final on Wednesday, we packed up, and drove to the mountains. Where I disconnected from studying. From tests.

Now that we’re home I find my brain is running itself in circles, trying to process information. But it has all seeped out, and I feel empty. It’s a good feeling. No pressure for the moment. Stress has been squeezing me, keeping me from flying apart. Now, I wonder what to do with myself. I read a book for fun. Watched two movies, one in a theater (Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters – lots of fun!) and a Netflix DVD (Jack the Giant Slayer – dark with moments of cuteness). I socialized with friends and family without talking about the co-morbidity of language disorders with a psychiatric diagnosis.

Work starts Monday. Student teaching starts in 2 weeks. My head will fill back up. So, I enjoy floating mindlessly for moment. I’ll reengage when it becomes necessary.