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photo1P I N I T
A few short weeks after we set the date for our Spring 2014 wedding, things changed.  We found out that Tom’s brother is getting deployed in December, so we were forced with the decision to move the wedding up, move it back, or just not have his brother there.  One of those choices was not an option, and we weighed the pros and cons of both.

Fortunately, we had a meeting scheduled with the pre-marital counselor at our church that weekend, so we were able to meet with him and nail down date availability.  We were also given our 186-question FOCCUS test.  Yes, you read that right – 186 questions about who we are, what we expect, how we feel, and what we know about ourselves and our relationship.  As we completed the FOCCUS, we decided that we would look at fall availability for our wedding, and we now have a September 7, 2013 wedding date.  Yep.  88 days away.

Luckily, I have an amazing team of friends who immediately sprang into action to support our [crazy] decision to get married in three months.  Truthfully, there are some advantages to this.  It means that I have to make decisions quickly, and I can’t talk myself out of things or wait for the next best thing.  It means that I will have to be organized and on top of everything.  It means that I’ll have to rely on friends and family for a lot of support and patience.  It also means that I’ll get a honeymoon right after the wedding and not after college admissions season ends.

It also means that I will be married to the man I love a lot sooner than next year, and letsbehonest, I’m pretty excited about that.  🙂

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  • erin vancura - It also means no time to order a erin condren wedding planner… Buuuuut that’s ok- because 88 says is pretty damn happy!ReplyCancel

  • Choosing our church » my journey of doing - […] to Pre-Cana with Mr. Hare who was also incredible in easing my nerves about the church.  We were assigned a really long questionnaire (FOCCUS), attended a Pre-Cana weekend retreat focused on communication, and suddenly, we were ready to be […]ReplyCancel

HillcrestP I N I T

My Dear Seniors,

Though we have all only known each other a few short months, I know how you have prayed for this day to arrive.  I have, too.  Though, now that it is here, I find that I’m not necessarily ready for it.  In the few short months I have known you all, you have changed my life, my purpose, my mission.

I had never met a “real” DISD kid.  It was an arbitrary thing that never crossed my path.  Though I was born in Dallas, I always attended private schools.  When I moved back after college, I worked in the suburbs and all my colleagues sent their kids to suburban schools.  Some sent their kids to private schools.  And, as a result, a DISD kid had never crossed my path.  In the world of college admissions, I had consulted for the very private schools I attended and sought to attend.  Though I live in the bubble, there was no crossover in my life.  Yet, I believed in ASP and the idea that through ASP, we could change lives and our community, and so I agreed to take on a development role and share my knowledge of highly selective college admissions by overseeing the college advisors.

In November, I was forced to take on the greatest challenge of my life, taking over your high school – a week before the December 1 deadline.  The first day I walked into Hillcrest High School alone, I was scared.  I was scared that you wouldn’t accept me, that you wouldn’t want my help, and most of all, that I would let you down.  I walked to my new office, put my head down, started to get to work, and prayed you would come into my room.

To my surprise, you all welcomed me.  Some more slowly than others, but everyone welcomed me warmly.  I never felt like an outsider.  You answered my questions, and more importantly, you trusted me.  Together, we worked endless hours on college applications and essays.  We submitted the first round of early application deadlines late in the night on November 30th and then got to work for those December 1 deadlines.  From there, we turned our attention to those pesky December 31 and January 1 deadlines, and we kept applying to college.  You each worked beside me, long into the night, and you thanked me for helping you.  Your thanks made me uncomfortable.  I felt undeserving – that I was simply doing what any good college advisor would do.  Word got around.  You brought me your friends.  We shared stories and laughs, and together, we overcame the obstacles that plague urban schools – bureaucracy, mediocrity, and low expectations – just to name a few.

With each passing day, I became more inspired by your stories and the challenges you each had overcome to become a high school senior.  We sent those stories across the nation — first to colleges, then to scholarships, and then we began the agonizing wait (and financial aid process).  There was never a day where I didn’t have work to do, but with each of you working right along side me, I didn’t ever think there was an alternative.  With each hour we worked, I became convinced of the one thing I knew always to be true — Hillcrest High School goes to college.

As decisions poured in, we celebrated and cried together.  We analyzed financial aid packages and offers of admission.  We practiced interviews and sent more scholarship applications.  We called schools and tried to shake them down for more money.  Sometimes, we were successful.  And through it all, you each never gave up on your dreams – even when things didn’t turn out exactly how we had planned – and you never gave up on me.  I told everyone I met stories about “my babies” and how you encouraged and inspired me, and through everything, this year never felt like work to me.  You each made my days bright with your laughter, your smiles, and your genuine compassion and goodwill towards each other.  I am not sure I’ve ever seen anything like it.

On May 30, Senior Awards Day, your day, you publicly thanked me, and I was brought to tears sitting alone in the back of the auditorium.  Your Senior Class President acknowledged that I had walked into a mess, but I took over the school and the ASP office, and I sent you to college.  I didn’t send you to college though – you each sent yourselves and your peers – by the work you did.  I simply facilitated the process.  And your words, not for the first time, left me humbled.  Unsteady.  Unwilling to accept that the end of time together had arrived.

I became quiet.  Somber.  Reflective.
Almost sad that this crazy year had come to an end.

Together, we have sent more than 1200 college applications in 5 months for a 280 member senior class.    We have obtained over $6 million dollars in scholarships and grants for you to attend college.

Today, I have to send you, my babies, off into the world.  I have been blessed, challenged and loved unconditionally by each of you.  I have tried to teach you how to be an advocate for yourself and a voice for others who cannot speak for themselves through my words and actions.  I have tried to push you to your fullest potential, and I hope you believe me when I say that I know you are capable of everything and beyond.  Should you ever doubt yourself, please remember that I will always believe in what you are capable of and that you have no limits to your ability to achieve.

You will forever be my little world changers – if for no other reason than you changed my world.

At times, and today especially, it is beyond my comprehension.

Miss Miller

Hillcrest ThanksP I N I T Hillcrest Thank YouP I N I T

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  • erin vancura - i kinda totally love that your “ms miller”. and you know what ms miller. . YOU ROCK.ReplyCancel

  • The Weekend without Enough Words » journey of doing - […] of 2013 graduate from college (and on time!) has been incredible.  I’ve been wanting to write them a letter like I did for their high school graduation, but I’m so overcome with emotion that I don’t have the words yet.  Yet, the words I […]ReplyCancel

I don’t take the ability to do laundry for granted.  When I moved into my first house without a washer and dryer, it was one of the first things I bought.  When Tom and I first got together, he didn’t have a washer and dryer, and so I was faced with the arduous task of going to the laundry mat or lugging my laundry to the cleaners and paying per pound.  More often than not, due to my schedule, the later often won.  When we started looking for a new apartment, I insisted that we have a washer and dryer, and my life has been happier ever since.

This morning, after a week of very little sleep, I pulled out a t-shirt I’ve only worn once, and it reeked of mildew.  Absolutely reeked.  I pulled out shirt after shirt and they all had a weird smell.  I knew I was due for cleaning the washing machine and I looked to one of my favorite blogs, One Good Thing by Jillee for guidance.  (How do people come up with these things?  How do they know them?  I’m a little jealous.)

Cleaning the Washing Machine – Supplies:

  • 4 cups of bleach (I use Target generic.  It gets the job done.)
  • 4 cups of distilled white vinegar (Again, I use Target.  Is there a difference?)

Cleaning the Washing Machine – Procedure:

1.  Fill washer with hot water.  Add bleach.  Agitate for 1 minute.  Let water and bleach sit for one hour.
2.  Run washer through longest wash and spin cycle.
3.  Immediately fill washer with hot water again.  Add vinegar.  Agitate for 1 minute.  Let sit for another hour.

Cleaning the Washing Machine – Results:

  • My washer was filled with all kinds of lint and string that I managed to get loose. Yay!
  • My washer is back to being white. Yay!
  • My first load was CLEAN and fresh smelling. YAY!
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LMSaraFinalSM1P I N I T

Last year, I commissioned my sweet friend and Italy amica, Emma Weisman, to do this beautiful drawing Alexandria’s nursery.  I cannot brag on Emma enough – she did a fantastic job on this!  The colors were so beautiful and so vibrant; I don’t think my explanation can do it justice.

Naturally, when Kristin found out she was pregnant, I commissioned a sketch for her sweet baby, too!  I’ve seen the sketch, and I CANNOT wait to see how it turns out.  I love that Emma personalizes the whole thing to things and experiences that are relevant to each family.  I think it’s a great way to teach little ones about their ABCs, too!

If you’re in the market for a unique baby shower gift, Emma is the best recommendation I can give you!  I always like to have a special and unique gift to celebrate certain milestones, and this is now my go-to baby gift!

Tell Emma I sent you!  😉

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This weekend, Tom and I went to the church he has attended off and on since he moved to Dallas for a meeting with the priest.  We have always talked about being married in the church – it’s always been something Tom wanted, and admittedly, despite my love of beautiful beach-y venues (and destination weddings!), letsbehonest, I live in Dallas and I’m southern:  I grew up thinking I would get married in a church.  I have been looking for a church home since I moved back in 2008 and nowhere ever came close to my favorite church from my college days.  So, when it came down to choosing a church for our wedding, Tom proposed getting married in “his” church, and I was agreeable to some extent… with my own reservations.

journey of doing - choosing a church for our weddingP I N I T

We have been trying to get a meeting with the priest for almost a month.  After a few phone calls, a transfer waiver, and moving our schedules around to accommodate a last minute meeting, we finally met with the priest on Saturday morning.

He was so nice.  SO nice.  I was really nervous about getting married in the Catholic church, but he made us both feel comfortable.  There were no hard questions, no lectures, no problems whatsoever.  (I had some really bad experiences with the church when I was growing up.)  By the end of our meeting, he gave us our first choice date and we even had the option of choosing our ceremony time – and I think we mostly have that nailed down now.

After our meeting, he took us on a tour of the church.  He showed us the groom’s room, the bride’s room, and then he walked us down the aisle.  He stood us at the alter and had us recite our vows to each other.  Not going to lie – I totally started crying.  He apologized for catching me off guard and mentioned we could do the interrogatory form where all I had to do was eek out an “I do”.  (Whew… except I totally won’t be doing that.)

After all that, he gave us a book of readings, vows, and prayers, a CD, and sent us on our way.  We’re getting married!  (Well, next year… after we finish all the other requirements that we find out about in two weeks!)

journey of doing - choosing a church for our weddingP I N I T

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