Category: milestones

In the fall of 1998, I went off to college and found my tribe. The hills of Shorter College and the sisters of Epsilon Sigma sorority gave me an amazing three-and-a-half years of growth and love and challenge and grace and support and meaning. Ep Sig was a huge part of my identity during college, and when I got a few years out of school and didn’t feel like I could keep wearing all my old college T-shirts, I also couldn’t bear to throw them away.

Me in Sept. 1998 wearing a borrowed EpSig jersey on Pledge Night. Since it wasn’t a national sorority, there was no Bid Day stuff to deal with back then. Any unpledged woman could choose to join one of my school’s three sororities. On Pledge Night, she declared her choice in a ceremony that involved, among other things, racing through a series of dormitory hallways and hollering out of a 2nd story window. She received a jersey or shirt in her org’s colors and waited on all the other new pledges to declare, and then the real fun began.

Two years later on Pledge Night. 2000 was my FAVORITE year. In 1998, as a pledge, that night was busy and crazy and fun and stressful – we learned what felt like a million ceremonies, rules, songs, and cheers. In 1999, as a Prospective Big Sis, it was busy and crazy and fun and stressful – we were observing all the Pledges and figuring out who we were going to adopt as Littles (we had so many pledges in ’99 that I actually ended up with twins!). But in 2000, I was a seasoned pro and as a Grand-Big Sis, I got to calmly support my Littles while they were busily and crazily choosing their own Littles (one single and one set of twins).

A friend and sorority sister posted a photo on Facebook last week of her college shirts, transformed into a T-shirt quilt. A few days later, my Big Sis sent me a package in the mail saying “happy 20th anniversary.” Together, those two events prompted me to get my box of shirts off the shelf and finally do something with everything I’d been saving. I did a little bit of googling around and found that this was my favorite tutorial/how-to/tips post. (I will say that I’m regretting that I didn’t go get a Plexiglas square cut out at Home Depot like she suggests, because some of my squares were off and I have a little measurement issue I’m going to have to fix.)

So this is the shirt fronts and/or backs cut into squares, backed with lightweight interfacing, and stitched into rows. (See how the 4th row is a little shorter than the rest? That’s what I’ve got to work on next.)

I’ll update when I finish it. It will be neat to see & use (albeit in a new way) these shirts all the time again, twenty(ish) years later.

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I promised to get back into blogging this year, so how about a quick recap?

Abigail is four years old. She attends Parents’ Day Out at our church two mornings a week and dance (combination ballet & tap) class on Friday mornings. We started the school year doing preschool at home but – full honesty – I haven’t pushed her with academics nearly as much as I did her brother and sister. What can I say? Chris swears she’s the last baby and it just all feels so different with her.  She got glasses a few months ago, and our eye doctor diagnosed her with amblyopia – so she has to wear an eye patch a few hours each day to correct it. She’s in speech therapy for help with those adorable lispy mistakes she makes; I’m so proud of her progress but it’s always a little bittersweet when a kid leaves behind those babyisms and starts talking like a grown-up. She’s funny and tender and still a kid who’s smiley 99% of the time.

Susannah will be turning seven in a few days. She’s rocking the first grade at her Montessori school. She has lost a whole bunch of teeth – I have lost count and I didn’t write down every time she lost one. This seems like something a mom should keep track of. – and she always pulls them out by herself. She joined the Girl Scouts this year and is a Daisy in her school troop. (She’s selling cookies this week, if you need a Thin Mint fix. Just call me!) At church, she portrayed Mary in the Christmas pageant and she loves singing in the choir.

Jonas is nine (turning ten in February) and in fifth grade. He’s tall (Dad’s genes) and wears glasses (Mom’s genes) and such a smart young guy. He’s playing basketball this winter and played soccer in the fall. He’s also gotten a little more aware of Internet privacy, so sometimes he asks me not to put things on Facebook – I have a feeling that will extend to the blog, too.

Chris is happily practicing general surgery and really enjoys working with his partners. In addition to his dream car – the Mustang he bought in 2014 – in 2015, he got his dream truck! It’s a Ford F-150 something-or-other with a bunch of souped-up features that make him very happy (and that I don’t ever remember!)

And I’m making some changes. I’ve retired as a La Leche League Leader; even though I enjoy working with moms and babies, it had become difficult to continue doing volunteer work without much support. Plus, I need to make some margin in my time to add new things… like writing a book.

I’ve wanted to write a novel for my entire adult life, and most of my childhood, too. But I’ve always let fear hold me back – fear of failing. Fear that I couldn’t really write a long-form story that stays engaging and coherent. Fear that my ideas were too trite, too cliche, too tropey. Fear that people would read my stories and hate them – read my stories and hate me. So I just never did it. This summer I had a turning point about my fears, but that’s a post for another day; this fall I decided to join thousands of other participants crazy enough to try to write the first 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days.

I spent November doing NaNoWriMo and churned out 51,638 words of the first draft of my first novel. In December added another 11,000 words and then gave my (terrible, awful, okay maybe there are a few redeeming bits) baby to three trusted beta readers. Their feedback is coming in now, and I’m working through the wisdom in The Story Grid – so I have a plan for January to be a month of rewriting and new writing.

There are still several more steps before this book sees the light of a public day. Another round of beta readers, and the edits they suggest. Then querying agents, and probably getting a bunch of rejections, and maybe one acceptance. Then shopping the novel to publishers, and getting a bunch of rejections, and maybe (it only takes one!) a contract offer. And then – if all the stars align – maybe someday you’ll be able to find my book at your favorite bookstore or online retailer.

So tell me, chickadees, what’s new with you?

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This seems to be a moody, contemplative day. Have a glance inside my head. This is real talk.

  • I’m feeling twitchy, sitting at my kitchen table surrounded by stuff. We moved lots of things out of the upstairs bedrooms to facilitate the carpet project on Tuesday; when the guys left yesterday we headed off to a fellowship night at church and didn’t put everything away. Today they are working on the stairs themselves, so we can’t haul things back up. I am trapped in piles of mess, and my OCD-senses are tingling.
  • I don’t cope well when I have many tasks to do in a short time frame. My temper snaps and sizzles close to the surface. This is my biggest struggle in this season of life. I need to find a way to release the stress and anger. Rationally I know it’s pointless; spiritually I know it’s sin. A good word from the Apostle Paul: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” (Romans 7:15-20)
  • These last two weeks of summer vacation before our big kids start school remind me of the end of pregnancy… I am looking forward to the new season, to all the excitement of first days and meeting teachers and buying supplies. I feel stuck and draggy, waiting around for The Big Day, not able to do anything to hasten its arrival. And I’m also weepy and sad, mourning the loss of the old way of being and behaving. I already miss them, and they’re not even gone. I already worry about how Abigail will handle their absence. It’s a season of zwischen, and zwischen brings aches and growing pains.
  • We spent a couple of hours last night hanging out with our small group from church. We shared a meal and played Scattergories, and laughed and talked. I need more of that in my life – time to just be, as a person – not in my roles of mother or of wife or of doctor’s wife or expert on anything.

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For the first summer in a long time, I am not researching curriculum or making lesson plans. The laminator is unplugged; the handwriting posters are packed away. Big changes are underway at the Nebel house of learning…

NoTeacherEver

Jonas and Susannah are enrolled for the fall at Maximilian Montessori Academy.

If you’ve known me for very long, you know that I’m deeply passionate about education. Especially early childhood education. I’m an advocate for home education, and I believe that parents make amazing teachers. Our journey from birth through grade three (for Jonas) and birth through Kindergarten (for Susannah) has been full of delight and discovery.

I’ve watched my oldest two kids become readers and writers. I’ve been blessed beyond measure to spend my days teaching, guiding, and discipling.

Chris and I spent about a month in prayer before touring private schools, and we felt immense peace when we entered the doors of MMA. Both kids are ready for this step in their education, for different reasons and in different ways, but they are both excited and positive about this change.

We’re not anti-homeschoolers now, or even former-homeschoolers. Not really. After all, before we know it, Abigail will be ready to start Preschool With Mama and the cycle will begin again. 🙂

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I told Jonas yesterday that, ever since my 19th birthday, I’ve celebrated every single one of my birthdays with his Daddy. He grinned. He flashed me a thumbs-up. Then he solemnly observed, “That’s a LOT of birthdays.”

Yeah, little guy, it totally is. I’m okay with that. This is 33, and it’s a blessing.

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We celebrated Jonas’ 7th birthday on Saturday, 2/2. {Which is also Groundhog’s Day, and the 12th anniversary of our engagement. Fun times.} Nonna and Poppa came up from Cedartown so that the kids’ cousin Ethan could be at the party.
The newest obsession around here is Super Mario, so we had a fun theme for our party! I found a set of wall stickers with all the characters, and of course we had streamers and balloons:

We got a Starman Power pinata (and filled it with chocolate gold coins, gold-wrapped caramels, STARbursts, and “fireball” cinnamon candies).

The Cup Cakery did an amazing job with his two-tiered cake (I bought a set of five little character/block sets; everything else on the cake is edible).

We made a piranha plant centerpiece (painted a clay pot for the pipe; paint + felt + styrofoam ball for the plant’s head; painted a dowel for the stem). Jonas wanted a tray of nuggets, a fruit tray, chips & salsa, and a platter of pickles and olives for his “party food.” That was easy enough!

I bought a jumbo pack of adhesive mustaches so we could all look like Mario and Luigi (but most of the kids shed their ‘staches pretty quickly. I guess the adhesive tickled).

We played Goomba Stomp — brown balloons decorated with Goomba faces — and they had a blast popping them!

Pinata time! One of the kids swung so hard, he broke the foam bat. They took turns punching and kicking it, but we ended up letting them rip into it and then just pouring the candy all over the floor. 

Time to open presents — Jonas was so lucky to get so many wonderful things from his friends! 

Seven candles takes a lot of lung power!
After we ate cake, Chris turned on the Wii and supervised turn-taking while the boys played Super Mario. Some of our guests preferred the new Angry Birds game and Batman toys while they waited for their turn over watching the others.

This was the biggest party Jonas has ever had, and by the end –I don’t know about the birthday boy, but Mama was exhausted! We had a great time, though, and I know he’ll remember this one for YEARS. That makes it all worth it. 😉

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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