Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My Top 13 of 2013

Near the end of 2013, I received an email from someone with the subject line, “What a Year!” in reference to some things that had gone on in my life.   The phrase has stuck in my mind, as it really was quite a year for me.  I’m still new to blogging and I’m still trying to give you a full picture of what my life looks like.  I figure what better way than to re-cap the top 13 things of 2013 in my life.  So, here goes…

1.  Milestone Birthdays
There are pros and cons to marrying someone ten years older.  The fact that your milestone birthdays fall in the same year could probably be considered both.  Even though you’re both a little sad about getting older, at least you have each other!  And from my perspective, 30 sounded pretty manageable since I was busy planning Brent’s 40th.  Thanks to awesome celebrations with our amazing friends and family, our milestone birthdays were definitely high points and not low points of 2013. 

2.  Viva Las Vegas (again)
We kicked off 2013 travel with our third trip to Las Vegas over spring break.  We had originally visited Vegas about three years before, and I’ll admit I was skeptical about the destination at first.  However, we’ve loved it every time, which is what keeps us going back.  I highly recommend it if you haven’t been – there’s something for everyone and it is what you make it.

3.  NB and TOY (if you aren’t a teacher, read on to see what that means)
In the midst of turning 30 and going to Vegas for spring break, I was slaving away trying to achieve National Board certification for teaching.  This was the most challenging task I’ve conquered since college, and I spent more than one night crying over my laptop telling Brent that I’d made a mistake in starting the process.   However, thanks to support from the wonderful people in my life, including a fabulous student teacher who filled my teacher shoes for six weeks, I got it done and submitted by May 31st.   But this really was an “event” of 2013, because the scores didn’t come back until November!  I was so excited and surprised that I achieved certification on first try.  Only two weeks after finding out, I received another surprise in the professional realm.  One day while I was teaching, my principal and assistant principal showed up at the door with flowers, a balloon, and an announcement that I had been voted Teacher of the Year for my school.  My students screamed and jumped up and down like Ed McMahon was at the door.  Their reaction was the best, but the feeling of knowing my colleagues recognize and appreciate what I at least try to do well everyday was also pretty good. 

4. Lake White
A couple of years ago, my parents bought a house at White Lake, a vacation destination from my childhood.  We’ve enjoyed some fun times there the past few summers, and this summer was no exception.  We also just recently discovered that the only nearby town, Elizabethtown, has some fun shopping.  This just might help the place live up to the name that Donnay and I have given it: Lake White.  We decided that fancier, nicer lakes have the word “Lake” first, so we’d call it that.  This has caused plenty of laughs, but in all seriousness, I’d call the clear waters and warm temperatures of White Lake pretty nice any day.  (Especially today as I’m dreaming of summer in these frigid temperatures!)

5.  Everybody Down in Houston Calls Him Texas…
This spring, I got hooked on country newcomer Jana Kramer’s CD, which I’d highly recommend if you’re a country music dork like me  I have every song memorized.  I burned copies of the CD for a few people close to me because I felt like I needed to spread the love, and because I needed people to sing “Whiskey” with me at the top of our lungs, before it hit the radio.  As luck would have it, Jana opened for Darius Rucker in May in Greensboro.  Donnay got online and got us 4th row tickets as soon as they went on sale and it shaped up to be a night to remember for sure!

6. All Things Ashe County
The past few years, Brent and I have been spending more and more time with our friends, Jeff and Janice.  While we’d love them even without any added benefits, they have a cabin in West Jefferson that they frequent on weekends.  We love spending time there with them when we can, and in the process we’ve learned to love and appreciate all things Ashe County.  We’re hooked on the cheese, the restaurants, the people, the relaxation, the scenery, and we’ve put numerous miles on our kayaks on the New River.  My mountain boy at heart husband has been trying to grow my enthusiasm for the mountains for years, and I think he’s finally lucked up thanks to Jeff and Janice.

7.  A Random Road Trip
There really are good things about getting older, and one of those is you get to be friends with people that you used to babysit. Donnay and I have a joke with our friend Katie that we used to be her “baby-sitters” because she once referred to us as that, but really we were so much more.  When she was little, she was our pretend little sister, but it never really felt all that fake and it still doesn’t.  I hadn’t had a chance to go to the beach with Katie in the past 10 years or so, so I jumped at the chance for a quick road trip to join her, her grandma and her aunt (whom I also love) at the beach for a couple of days.  It was a lot different than it was more than a decade ago – more sunbathing and less building sand castles, but it was a 2013 memory that I definitely look back on and smile.

8.  Speak Up, Step Up, Stand Up
Every year, I plan my summers around two church events: Caswell and Vacation Bible School.  While the teacher in me loves VBS, I must say that Caswell gets me even more excited.  I’m probably a little off balance to get excited about taking 15 or so teenagers to camp for a week each summer, but what can I say?  It’s a great location and a really great group of teens.  And God always has a message for me as well.  This year’s theme was “Speak Up, Step Up, Stand Up” and it was so encouraging to be there with our youth group while they took in this message and to watch have watched them live it out upon our return.    

9.  Getting to Florida with a little Floo Powder…
Ever since Universal Studios opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I’ve been trying to talk Brent into going.  We went to Disneyworld right after we got married and he hated it, so it hasn’t been an easy sell.  However, Donnay and Brendan love Harry Potter even more than I do so once it became three against one, Brent eventually gave in.  We visited Universal in August and had an awesome time!  Even Brent liked it and has agreed another trip is in our future.

10. My First Roller Coaster
You’d think this one would go with the previous paragraph, but I avoided anything considered a roller coaster at Universal, in true Deana style.  I hate heights and I’m not a big fan of high speed, so I’m usually the one holding everyone else’s sunglasses and waiting on a bench.  However, my friend Lisa and her family had season passes to Carowinds this summer, so I planned a couple of day trips with them, mostly for the company of her awesome kids, Tommy and Lanie.  It turns out there is a roller coaster I can conquer!  Sweet Lanie held my hand the whole way and taught me to love the ole Goldrusher.  Brent laughed when I told him I was proud I rode it, if that tells you anything.  But for me and Lanie, it was a big deal, and not a moment I’ll soon forget.

11.  Niagara Falls
I won’t belabor this point since I’ve already written a whole post on it, but I couldn’t leave Niagara Falls off my Top 13 of 2013.  As I’ve said, this destination exceeded my expectations and needs to earn a place on everyone’s bucket list!

12.  It All Happened in the Country
While I already bragged about my youth group previously in this post, I have to also give a shout out to the kids at my church, who also add so much light to my life.  In December, along with the help of some other awesome ladies, we put on a full-length play at church for Christmas.  While I’m not so great at Christmas festivities, I do love to direct a bunch of kids and teens, and while the practices weren’t seamless, the kids and youth took the play very seriously and did an AMAZING job!  I was so proud of them and this play is definitely something I’ll look back on when I think of the highlights of 2013.
(*and I typed up the entire script and lyrics on PowerPoint, so if you ever do this play at your church, let me know…I’ll be glad to share!)

13.  Only Let Us Live
Last but not least, 2013 will go down as the year I started blogging.  I mulled over this idea for much of the year, but once I decided to start, I wanted to go all in.  It’s been a little scary but very gratifying, being as honest as I’ve ever been publicly about where I am personally and spiritually.  I hope to increase the reach, the topics covered, and the frequency of posts throughout 2014 and I hope you will continue with me on the journey. 

As we start a new year, I thank Him for all He allowed me to experience during the previous year and encourage us all to remember: only let us live up to what we have already attained!  

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