Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Chronicles

I'll begin by saying that my Christmas this year was SPLENDID. I don't know how else to effectively describe that it was everything I could have wished it would be, and everything Christmas is "supposed" to be. I can't think of a single aspect about it I would have changed (not even my dad being hospitalized... I'll explain that shortly).

Josh and I kicked off Christmas proper by spending Christmas eve wrapping presents together and listening to Christmas music at home. It was a bit of a nail-biter as I was still waiting for ONE more package to arrive. Thankfully it did, around mid-day, and I then could breathe a little easier. Once all the presents were wrapped, we just sat down and took some time to snuggle together and chat. A little later we drove up to my mom's for coffee and cookies with my siblings and some aunts and uncles.

On Christmas morning we woke up early because we had a busy day scheduled. We first opened presents together. Neither of us bought a lot of stuff (actually we had the exact same number of presents under the tree!), but we had chosen really good stuff. Best of all was the Canon digital Rebel xsi that Josh gave me! I had no idea that was even a consideration for this Christmas, but it's the camera of my dreams. My jaw hit the floor when I opened that one :) Then it was off to the Becks' for a big breakfast and more present opening. We had a good time there. Around 1:00 we packed it up and headed to Towson to visit my dad and bring him some goodies. He was in good spirits and started munching on the holiday trail mix I'd brought him right away. It's amazing that even though it's sad and depressing to be in the hospital at Christmas time, the truth is, I've spent more time with my dad this past month than I have since he and my mom divorced almost 20 years ago. This whole event has really brought us a lot closer to him and given us a lot of time to talk to him and build a relationship through helping him that we wouldn't have had otherwise. As tragic as it was for it all to happen, it has truly turned out to be a blessing for all of us. Amberly and Ben arrived there shortly after Josh and I, and they stayed a little later as well. I felt compelled to get to my mom's and help her out since the three of us all spend most of Christmas morning with our in-laws. I feel bad that our own mom is at home by herself preparing a great big dinner for all of us while we're spending time with other people. So Josh and I got there and helped get a few things together before it was dinner time. We all sat down together and ate, and then the kids started begging to open their presents - of course :) So we let them dig in first and snapped a few million pictures. Then we just kind of dug in ourselves without much rhyme or reason. It was fun. The gift of the night was without a doubt this gigantic Nerf gun that Amberly bought for Ben. Everyone wanted turns playing with it, shooting each other, shooting Evan's "Little People", and startling the pets. It was a hoot :)

On Friday I visited my dad in the morning and then we went down to D.C. with Nathan, Erin and Jennie. We walked around the American History Museum for a while, then went to dinner at the Hard Rock and finally made our way over to the National Christmas Tree. It was a good time. The weather was nice - very chilly but not unbearably cold. In the past Nathan and Erin have always gone to see the tree, and this year they invited all of the Beck kids to join them. I thought that was a fun thing since the Beck kids don't all get to hang out together very often. They're pretty scattered with Jennie and Connor in the Towson/Timonium area, Nathan in Germantown and Josh here in Columbia. Everyone is at least 30+ minutes apart from one another.

That's about it for our Christmas activities. Before I wrap this up though, I thought I would share a couple of things I learned this Christmas.
  1. Christmas is, in fact, the most perfectly romantic time of year for a wedding (learned not just from the example of my own wedding, but the Herdmans' wedding last weekend)!
  2. Nothing ruins a holiday manicure better than Scotch tape.
  3. Don't trust your neighbors when it comes to UPS deliveries.
  4. If you don't have it, Yankee makes a candle so you can pretend you do. In my house that was Christmas cookies and a live tree :)
  5. Everything happens for a reason, and even something that seems devastating can turn out to be a great blessing!

I hope everyone had a SPLENDID Christmas also and that a healthy and happy New Year lies ahead!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Wedding Every Day

Yesterday we went to the wedding of my best buddy from college, Phil and his beautiful bride, Daniella. This was the first wedding we've been to since our own, so we were very excited to enjoy a wedding from "the other side" of things. It was a lovely winter wedding. The ceremony was held at Christ Lutheran church in Baltimore, and the reception was at Martin's West. Pictures are below - some are a little blurred from being far away, sorry! :)

Phil & Daniella exchanging their vows

This is a happy bride!! Aren't they cute?

The happy couple dancing :)
We were definitely the 2nd cutest couple at this wedding
The old Towson crowd! What a crew....
Place cards & carrot cake

Because we were dressed so cute, I had to get a picture when we got home!
After the wedding, I started thinking about weddings in general. And I realized that we could live every day like a wedding day. Here's how I decided that would look:
  1. Begin with God. Not necessarily at church, but at least with the acknowledgement that the day is a gift from God and the willingness to seek His will and guidance. Some reflection on your blessings would also be a good start.
  2. Spend as much of your time as possible with your closest family and friends. Share a beverage with them, a meal, or even a party! Make the absolute best of your time with them.
  3. Play your favorite songs and sing along as loud as you want. Take the time to share a dance with your beloved, or heck everyone! Let loose and enjoy yourself.
  4. Always have dessert. Life is short, you may as well enjoy a really well-made dessert when one is available. There's no reason to cut that kind of enjoyment out of your life. If it's calories you're worried about, refer back to #3.
  5. Keep a guest book - i.e. letters, photos, cards, etc. that document the sentiments you and your friends/family shared. What better reminder of how important those people are to you or how important you are to them than a heartfelt note? Also a great opportunity to reminisce about all the great times, both hilarious and humiliating :)
  6. Count your gifts!! God is good and has given us MANY blessings. It's important to recognize that on a regular basis to truly understand what a great life we have been given. The better we understand this, the more fulfilling our lives will be.

Wouldn't life be so happy if we all lived every day like a wedding day? I'm so proud of that analogy I think I'll add it to my speech for Ben & Jenna's wedding. I'm rather excited for that speech :)

I just have two quick updates before I wrap this up for the night. The first is that I went to see my dad today and he was in quite a mood. Earlier in the day when he was walking down to physical therapy, he stopped in the hall and said to his therapist, "Watch my new trick!" and then he proceeded to stand there on his one BAD leg (really, they're both bad, but this is the one he just hurt with the recent fall). She told us he scared her to death and she told him not to move until she got to him. But he thought he was really funny. The other update is on our stolen Christmas presents. We did get in touch with Amazon this morning (where all 4 gifts were ordered from), and they were so nice about the whole situation. They told us they would either replace everything or refund our money. What a relief! So we asked for replacements on the items that were in stock and a refund on one that was out. We'll just re-order that one when more come in. So that was a pleasant resolution to a very unpleasant experience. Just thought I'd share :)

Thanks again, and as always, for reading. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pee First* :)

Look! A new post! Admit it, you're excited.

First, let me say Merry Christmas to everyone! I'm hoping to be able to blog a little more over the holiday break from school (officially now through January 4) but just in case, I want to make sure I got my holiday greeting in :)

Next let me say, this is going to be a GIANT update since I haven't blogged for so long. Fortunately for you, I have an amazing husband who said he would be willing to continue playing Rock Band until I was done writing this post, and then we can proceed with our cozy Friday night together. Lucky me :)

I'll start with my dad. He's doing so much better. He has made great strides with his intense routine of physical, occupational and speech therapy at least 5 days a week. Amberly, Ben and I have been vigilant about one of us visiting every single day to make sure he's well taken care of and everything is going well for him. We've got him set up with all kinds of conveniences to make his stay there as comfortable as possible. He has only had minor complaints about one nighttime tech who he says is mean to him and won't help him in the middle of the night. He is also getting really sick of hospital food, but who can blame him for that. We bring him "real" food from the cafeteria whenever we can. His biggest issue is trying to recover from the fall. He's older and he had a lot of leg problems before this happened. He shattered his ankle when we were kids (so probably around 20 years ago) and has limped ever since. He has arthritis in both knees, and he has previously broken a hip (also from falling alone at home). So he's not a sturdy guy as it is. He hurt the non-broken hip on this fall and is still feeling considerable pain from it when he tries to get around. When I was there the other day his walking speed was noticeably quicker. He's using a walker to prevent another fall, so it's not really fast at all, but when he first started standing and walking they were trying to get him to a wheel chair to take him for therapy, and he stood in the floor for a long time just trying to get turned around to sit in the wheel chair. He finally looked up and said, "Tell them I'll be there next week." So to see him moving around at a relatively normal pace is reassuring :) The therapists estimated about another 2 - 2.5 weeks and then he can go home... wherever that will be, because he can't go back to his apartment to live alone at this point. But that's another hurdle.

In other news....

I also got my new car! This was unexpected. We went to the dealership and ordered the car on the Thursday before Thanksgiving. My mental math puts that on the 20th of November. At that time they told us it would be about 5 weeks before it came in - so somewhere around the end of December, possibly into January because of the holidays. Two weeks later, Wednesday the 3rd of December, I got an email at work saying that the dealership had gotten the invoice on my car which meant the car would be delivered within a week! If that wasn't surprising enough, less than an hour later I got another email saying the car was actually there and ready to be picked up! We were unprepared on multiple levels: #1. I wasn't ready to part with my Integra, #2. my mom was on the title so I not only had to find that, but get to Eldersburg so she could sign it, and #3. I had a very nice stereo in the Integra that Ben had given me as a gift and I wasn't about to trade that in with the car, so I had to go to Eldersburg to find the stock stereo somewhere in my mom's basement AND we needed to find a quick (and free) way to switch them out. Well, I don't have to tell you that we were awesome enough to accomplish all of this on Thursday (even though I had originally found the wrong stereo in my mom's basement and had to make another trip to find the right one), and by Friday evening we were on our way to Annapolis Subaru to pick up our brand new car. It was bittersweet because as I mentioned before I thought I had a little more time to say goodbye to my Integra. If you remember when I bought that car, I had busted my butt for it and had had my heart set on it for a long time. I really loved it and it had gone so many places with me: Alabama for Jared's wedding, Cedar Point, New York city... just to name some big ones. Not to mention it had never given me any trouble. But I knew it was time for us to part. It had just barely under 150,000 miles, it was 10 years old, I hated the ice cold/blistering hot leather seats, and there was no way to fit a family in there. So I drove her her last drive to Annapolis, did some paper work, and drove home in my brand new Forester... but not before driving past to wave goodbye to the Integra :) Today is the Forester's 2-week birthday and I have loved her every second. So at this time, I'd like to introduce you to Sue.....

Isn't she so pretty?? I've gotten some criticism about her color [white], but I wanted a pretty car. The other colors were simply not for me. The only other colors I was considering were a charcoal gray (Josh's favorite) and black, but both of those came with a really dark gray interior and I didn't want essentially black with black. I thought it would feel too enclosed. Other than her beautiful exterior, some of Sue's best features include a remote engine starter so I don't have to go out in the cold to start the car up, fog lamps, heated cloth seats, side-mirror defrosters, all-weather floor mats, a cover for my trunk cargo, a cover to protect the rear bumper when you're loading/unloading cargo, and a gigantic moonroof... it's seriously like being at the planetarium.

Not only that......

We celebrated our first anniversary! I can't believe it's been a year already. Our actual anniversary was on Monday (the 15th) but I suggested we celebrate on Friday (the 12th) since Monday was a work day and we'd be tired. We decided to go out to a nice dinner at Gordon Biersch - a fabulous brewery in Annapolis. If you like DuClaw it's similar but a few steps up in class. I had the crab cake and the Marzen- a smooth, mildly sweet, auburn colored lager. Both were delectable. Josh had a Marzen barbeque burger and the Golden Export- a smooth lager, lightly hopped with a dry finish. He also liked both. I tried his beer and liked it, but I definitely enjoy the slightly darker lagers. After dinner we came back to the house and just snuggled on the couch in the dark by the Christmas tree. It was very romantic and nice. We don't get to do that often enough. Then came the super fun of gift exchange - we proved [yet again] how perfect we are for each other by getting spot-on perfect gifts for each other. I bought him a Nintendo Wii because I knew he would have it and enjoy it for a long time and it was something we could do together. He arranged for us to have portraits done since our last formal pictures were the wedding. They turned out SO great and we bought a bunch. It's something I'll keep and love for years and years to come. We also celebrated a little on Monday night since it was our actual anniversary. We just made dinner and ate by candle-light. We also had a really tasty wine. It's from Elk Run in Mt. Airy and it's called Annapolis Sunset. I highly recommend it if you like light and fruity wine. Unfortunately all wine causes me a nasty headache the next day so I had to wake up and take some medicine to get through the morning, but it was worth it :)

And my last update in this extremely long post.....

It's Christmas! How is my shopping going, you ask? Well it's not going great, but I have made some progress. I decided to do the majority of my shopping online this year simply because of time. Between work and visiting my dad I just don't have the time to drive far and wide searching for gifts and standing in lines. It sounded like a great idea. The packages started arriving, and then they stopped arriving. On Wednesday according to our shipment tracking, there were supposed to be four things delivered between Josh and I both. Well, we never saw them, and still haven't seen them, and have come to the conclusion that these packages were stolen from our front porch before we came home that day. It was Josh's gift for his mom which we have been looking for honestly for years - every year that we've been together. He finally found it and it got stolen. There was also a gift for his brother Nathan and his wife, in addition to a gift for my mom and one for my sister and her husband. We were furious, but realized there was absolutely nothing that could be done. We're still going to try calling Amazon and/or UPS and USPS to see if they can just double check everything. But it really looks like there was just some jerk who noticed four boxes sitting there at 2:30 in the afternoon when no one else is home and figured there must be something good in there. So we're trying to move on and focus on the positive... like the fact that Christmas break has officially started and we don't have to return to work for two solid weeks! Josh's job is that great that he can take off when I'm off. It's been a really difficult few months for us with my job keeping me so busy. These two weeks are going to be exactly what we need.

Overall I'm completely thrilled for the Christmas season and almost sad that we're so close to it being over. Tomorrow we're going to a wedding and then it's mostly just relaxing with the exception of Christmas day of course which we will spend with our families, and then New Years Eve which we are spending with Mr. Andrew Bokman and his lovely lady, Devon. Ex-cit-ing!

Alright, I know you're sick of reading this if you've made it this far so I'll wrap it up. Thanks for coming back after weeks of bloglessness on my part. I do appreciate it :) I'm off to curl up with my handsome husband and watch Wall-E!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Follow Up

Just to follow up on my previous post....

It's been a stressful couple of days, but my dad has made a lot of progress. On Sunday evening a physical therapist came in to start working with him and he didn't react so well. He wasn't able to stand on his own or walk at that point, and after trying, he complained a lot about his hip hurting (he was convinced that it was broken even after x-rays). Yesterday he had more physical therapy and did much better. He was able to stand and walk about 14 feet. He also did some occupational therapy yesterday and was able to walk another 20 feet as well as stand at the bathroom sink and shave his face for about 20 minutes.

I had planned to drive down and visit him today, but ended up getting out of work extremely late. By that time my sister had called to let me know that he got the OK from his doctor to be transferred to a stroke rehab center. My sister had done some legwork to get him into the stroke rehab at GBMC where she works so she's able to visit him frequently. The drive to Glen Burnie (where he was) took her almost an hour, and she is by far the one with the most schedule flexibility out of the three of us. So he was being transferred to GBMC this afternoon and she stayed with him through that and got him settled in when he got there. Tomorrow night I have my last Ethics class, and then on Thursday I'm free and plan to go up and visit him.

It's an absolute miracle that he survived at all. I can't get over how speedy his recovery appears to be going. I don't think he's out of the woods yet, he still needs vascular surgery to hopefully reduce his chances of another stroke. But given his health prior to the stroke (a smoker almost his entire life who refuses to take his medications because he "feels fine" and eats a lot of meat and potatoes), he is extremely fortunate.

So just in case anyone doesn't believe there's a God, I think this story does a good job of illustrating God's love. My dad isn't even officially a believer, that I know of, and this is what God has done for him. I'm also hoping this experience converts him :) So along with your prayers for health, throw in there a little prayer that my dad will "see the Light." Thanks!

AND... I hope you're enjoying the Christmas tunes on the radio, shopping for the perfect gifts, and getting your abodes warmly decorated for the season :) Happy Christmas time!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Counting Blessings

This post is going to be quick tonight, and that's because it's mostly a prayer request. Our Thanksgiving was lovely at Nathan & Erin's house, and we hosted another fun dinner at our house Friday night. Little did I know, that while we were eating, drinking, and being merry, my dad had fallen in his apartment by himself and was hurt badly enough that he couldn't get up for help. He layed in the hallway outside of his bathroom for two days - Wednesday through Friday - before my uncle got worried and went to his house. They took him to the hospital and discovered that he had had a pretty serious stroke which caused his fall. On top of that he was severely dehydrated and weak from being on the floor without food, water or his medicine for days. He is in the hospital recovering but the extent of the damage from the stroke is still unclear. He can talk, understand, move his arms and legs, feed himself and all that. But he's pretty banged up from taking the fall and his having some trouble with his speech and getting back on his feet. We're praying for full recovery, but know that it's all in God's hands. So all of you prayerful blog-readers of mine :) please pray also. He can use all the help he can get.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I think tomorrow officially kicks of the "holiday" season... Today I had the joy of shopping for Thanksgiving dinner! It was a very pleasant first experience, I have to say. For tomorrow I only need to toss a salad, but I had to shop for the dinner we're hosting on Friday. I had a variety of other errands to run today, so this was one of those days when I'm so glad we live in Columbia. Josh remembered that there was a Giant even closer to us than the one I had been using, so I ran in there for the food stuff we needed. Then I went to Bed Bath & Beyond for a meat thermometer since I'll be making turkey and my mom never bought me one (I give her a hard time about that, its a running joke). While I was there I realized we also don't have a gravy boat, and Yankee Candles were on sale 25% off. So I picked up one "Mistletoe" (since we use an artificial tree) and one "Christmas Cookie." Then it was home to unload groceries, have a bite to eat, and then a quick appointment at the eye doctor to replace one of the lenses in my glasses. Turns out the right eye was the wrong prescription - now they're just right and I'm so happy!

I couldn't resist and I lit the Mistletoe candle when I got home. The whole house soon smelled like Christmas. Something about that smell makes me all warm and fuzzy. I even turned on Christmas music for a little bit tonight too. I know there are a lot of people who celebrate Christmas who aren't Christians. And some people even try to change the holiday's meaning by acting like it's just about being nice and not the birth of our Savior. I feel so sorry for those people. They will never know and understand the joy and love that Christmas is really about. They think they get into the "holiday spirit" by tipping their hair-dresser and making cookies for the mailman, but they don't know the meaning of the gifts. It's not just being nice. It's the gift of forgiveness, the promise of everlasting life that the most powerful being in the universe gave to each of us because He loves us, His children, so much. Christmas is a billion times bigger than non-Christians could ever understand. I pray that those people who pretend this holiday is some superficial excuse to be friendly once a year will one day know and understand God's love and the real celebration of the Christmas season. Did you know the soldiers in the trenches during World War I actually stopped fighting and celebrated together on Christmas? That's the power of God. People who were in the middle of slaughtering each other in the bloodiest conflict in history up to that point, believed in the spirit of Christmas enough to stop a war and celebrate, not with their families or loved ones, with their enemies. Only God's love can do that.

If you can't tell, that is a topic I feel passionate about - the real meaning of Christmas. I couldn't be happier that the season is upon us. Friday, well tomorrow night really, Josh will go out in the cold and stand in the ridiculous lines. And when he gets home, we'll put up and decorate our Christmas tree. By Friday night when our company arrives the house will be fully Christma-tized! I shouldn't say fully, because there are some things I'd like to add this year. We'll see. I haven't begun to Christmas shop, though I do have some ideas for people. I started what is called a "gift organizer" on Basically you enter the names of people you'll be shopping for and can either make a list of what you want to buy, or see what you have bought for them. Well before I had a chance to get that far, Amazon kindly made suggestions for the people on my list. Obviously they were based on nothing but the person's name because that's the only information I entered, and therefore the suggestions made me laugh. They included:

Dad: the movie Wall-E (you'd laugh harder if you knew my dad)
Evan: an electric wine opener (the kid turned one today)
Josh: a year's subscription to Sports Illustrated for Kids
Lacy: an iPod
Leo: a 5 pound bag of gummy bears!
Mary Beth: "The Dark Knight" on BluRay

Hahaha, at least it made me laugh. Part of the comedy was that some of those suggestions weren't far off (Leo and the gummy bears, Lacy and the iPod). Others were just plain hysterical. So I may not be using the suggestions, but it will certainly help me document my gift ideas since I always seem to get good ones and then forget them when its time to shop. I'm pretty confident I'll be doing the majority of my shopping online this year too. I just don't forsee the time to go wander through stores or (gulp) the mall, and stand in lines.

Anyway, I know I use this blog to complain a lot, mostly about work. But since it's Thanksgiving, I'm willing to talk a little about things I'm thankful for too.... at least this once :)

Here's my short list:
  • My Joshua
  • Our families (even the crazy ones, and especially the babies)
  • Our wonderful, hilarious, quirky, weird, fun loving, always-there-for-us friends
  • Our home
  • Our Sheppie (even when he stinks)
  • Our jobs, ugh even though I complain about mine too much
  • Our health
  • Forgiveness

What else? Well lots of things. But the time is getting late and those things summarize nicely. Don't forget to take time to stop and think about how truly grateful you are, not just for what you have or where you are in life, but also for what you don't have and where you aren't in life. It's easy to forget how much worse life could be, and how much worse so many people have it than we do. And don't forget to actually stop and say, "Thank You." He'll appreciate it :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Making the Cut

Well, as I'm sure you've guessed, my hair is cut! It doesn't look like the picture I posted. I talked to Ashley about that hairstyle and she said in order to get that effect with my curly/wavy hair, I would probably have to blow dry and straighten every day, otherwise it would just look messy. Ugh. So I didn't want high-maintenance or lots of styling. So we decided to just go shorter with some thinning and lots of layers. Kind of hard to describe, but it's pretty cute. It's just brushing my shoulders when it's straightened and just above my shoulders when it's curly. I don't have a picture of it yet, but I'll post one soon I'm sure.

Another update to a recent topic, we went on Thursday night to place the order for my new car. It was pretty exciting. We didn't have to do a lot of the paperwork or anything yet, but we did sign a couple of things and made it all official. The dealership expects it to arrive in about 5 weeks but couldn't say for sure. Looks like I'll be getting an extra Christmas present :)

And finally (short post tonight), today was Evan's first birthday party! It's so hard to believe he's already one. You saw how I reacted to seeing him walk on the video. So to celebrate his first birthday was definitely another one of those moments. We took tons of pictures of everything. You would have thought he was the first and only baby our family has ever seen. He was way into opening his presents which was adorable. He promptly threw all the clothes out of their boxes onto the floor. He also had a good time tossing the tissue paper around. When he got to the toys he was totally fascinated, but really wanted them out of their boxes. We didn't even have time to light the candles on his cake before he had swiped his hand through it and was eating the frosting off of his fingers. He was happy as could be! It was so funny and so cute. I took pictures for Amberly with her camera, so I don't have any on mine. But I'll get her to email me some of them so I can post them here for you to enjoy (that is, for those of you who don't read Amberly's blog also).

I'm kind of hoping to be back this week for another post - by the weekend at latest because of the holiday. Tomorrow and Tuesday are half-days with students, but I have parent conferences until 8:30 at night. Yuck. I have nine conferences tomorrow evening between 5-8:30, and 10 on Tuesday. Tuesday's are a little more spread out though because they start at 11:45 am. However, in exchange for staying so late those two days I get to be off entirely on Wednesday. Hooray! Thursday we will be going to Nathan & Erin's for dinner and possibly to my mom's later on for dessert. Friday we'll be hosting Josh's old college roomies for another Thanksgiving dinner. And Saturday is a dinner/birthday celebration for Amberly at my mom's again. It's going to be a busy "break" to say the least, but I'm looking forward to it! :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

New = Fun

So for all (four) of you out there who are wondering.... I made my haircut appointment! I'm going on Tuesday at 5:00. I have to consult with my stylist, Ashley when I get there, but if she approves, the cut is on.

Also, I haven't mentioned this yet, but we have decided to buy a new car. We knew we wanted to before any children came along anyway since my car is small and only 2 doors. But recently we decided it was a good time to go for it. We're looking at the 2009 Subaru Forester. Josh talked to a few different dealerships about pricing and options. Today we went to a recommended salesman at the dealership in Annapolis and spent a good part of the day talking, test-driving, and running numbers. It looks like we're going to factory order so we can get all the options we want at the best price. Factory ordering means it will take a few weeks to come in, but the alternative is waiting however long for one to come into the dealership that has some of our desired options and then paying extra to have the others installed. It could end up being quicker than a factory order, or it could end up being a big pain. We figured we could wait a few weeks to save some money and get exactly what we want.

Those are my two fun news items for today. We're about to head up to Eldersburg to hang out with my family. It feels like we haven't done that in forever - it's really only been about 3 weeks. But in that time teeny baby Evan started walking! Josh and I saw it for the first time last night on a cell phone video. We were devastated that he's grown up so much since we saw him last! Next time I see him he'll be driving. Can you believe he'll be ONE already in 2 weeks? I guess we'd better hit the road and get up there before he gets married :)

Check back this week to see my hair cut!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Speaking of Change...

I promise this isn't political! :)

Some of you may know that recently I have been seriously considering cutting my hair... like cutting my hair. It started as just one of those ordinary moments when you realize your hair is getting too long. For me, it's when I have a hard time reaching the ends of it in the shower - and I have pretty long arms. It's also when I try to put it up (as you know I always do) and my hair ties struggle to fit around it, or it's so big and lumpy up there that it just looks stupid. So I reached that point about a week or two ago. And as I thought about getting a hair cut, I started to think how much easier it would be if my hair was short-short. I've always said if I had straight hair that I'd have a cute short cut. But with curly hair, sometimes short spells disaster. No one looks good in the "Orphan Annie" style. If you cut it bluntly it becomes a big bushy triangle. There's just a lot of risk with going short.

But my rationale for trying to go short is that I never wear my hair down anyway. Ok, sometimes I do. If there's an occasion for which I have enough prep time to shower and style my hair, I might wear it down. And even then, when I take the time and product to style it, it doesn't always cooperate. Sometimes it just decides to be big and bushy anyway, and then I'm mad because I've wasted my time and my hair is full of product and it still looks like crap. And it's really hard to go plan-B and pull my hair up once it's been styled. Last time it pulled this little trick on me I ended up looking like I belonged in an 80s hair band. It was just shaggy curls in my face and all over the place. Grrrr.

The bottom line is, the curls that I know everyone will gasp at me chopping off, usually aren't out in all their glory anyway. How can they be so missed? I'm sure I would have days where I'd feel like having them around, or see pictures that make me think - aw, they weren't so bad. But in the grand scheme, they're a lot of work, and clearly by my usual style, more work than I'm willing to put into them for questionable results. I feel like, if I do this right, I'll get just as many (or more) compliments on a cute short cut that people actually get to see.

With that said, I started doing some research on styles that just may work with my curly locks. Believe it or not, my hair doesn't turn into tiny tight spirals when it's short. If you cut it short enough (as I did once when I was a little kid) it actually just becomes waves. Now that I'm 20 years older and have a better grasp on what to do with my hair, I feel like it would be much more managable for me at that length. So I started combing the internet for all the short hairstyles I could find. I've found a few that are somewhat what I had in mind. I haven't made any appointments or anything yet, but I feel like I could just go on a whim one day and do it. I really trust my stylist, so I know she wouldn't let me do anything stupid and I also know she would do a great job.

Alright, well after all that, I know you're ready to see what I'm thinking of. So, here's the closest picture I could find. Keep in mind it will be a little different on me because my hair is curly/wavy and hers is straight. And try to disregard her creepy expression. I won't be making that face ever.

So, what do you think???

PS - I also have some motivation from Jenn, who said I wouldn't ever do this. I've gotten this far, so we'll see... ;)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I'm Trying to Quit

As I mentioned before, I had avoided politics in my blog. It's one of those things that I get tired of hearing other people go on about, and I really don't want to use my blog to air all of my political opinions. I understand that most people really don't care how I feel about the issues.

However, something has been on my mind that I'm struggling to understand. And to avoid it eating me up inside, I decided I'd just go ahead and post it since this is the only semi-public forum I have (besides my classroom which is way off limits for politics). I promise I'll try to leave politics at this as far as my blog is concerned so I don't drive away all 4 of my readers :)

So... here's what's bothering me:

Lots of people have various different reasons for why it is best to vote one way or another. Clearly. It is some of those explanations that I am struggling to make sense of. It bothers me most because it comes from a community that I associate myself with - Christians.

I am struggling very sincerely and very deeply to understand how a Christian person can vote for an extremely liberal candidate. I know it happens. And I've even heard the reasons, but my biggest struggle there is the issue of abortion. Obviously I'm going to lay it all out for you here. I am 100% without exception pro-life. I can not think of a more vicious, heinous or heartless crime than the murder of an innocent baby, under any circumstance. That's my opinion on that matter.

With that said, I have heard Christians explain that we (Christians) should vote for a liberal candidate who will do more for the less-fortunate in our country. After all, the Bible tells us that we will be blessed for caring for the poor and needy. Those who have enough should share and do so willingly. That is God's work and His will. I agree. We should. In my humble opinion, this is where charity comes in. I can gladly and willingly donate my time, money, clothing, shoes, food, etc. to charities everywhere who will pass along those things to people who are in need of them.

But, while we're looking out for the less fortunate, can you think of anyone less fortunate than an innocent baby who may be born to a mother who can't care for him or her, or who doesn't even want him or her? Let's be honest, many poor and homeless have made bad decisions that have led them to their current situation. They had a chance to do something different and made a bad choice along the way. Do they deserve eternal punishment? No. But the innocent baby - what does he or she deserve? Did he or she make a bad choice? Does he or she deserve scissors jammed into their skull? Our president-elect would not even vote to save the life of a viable baby who had survived such an atrocity. What kind of person does that take? One made of ice? Clearly, one who cares so deeply about those in need. Criminals and addicts deserve our hard-earned money, but an innocent baby who survived attempted murder by its mother deserves nothing? I can't wrap my brain around that.

I can't understand why the voters who feel so strongly about giving money to people who are likely to abuse it on the basis of doing what God wants us to do, give no regard to a poor innocent child. I can't understand how one person can claim that giving to poor people is a Christian act, and then turn around and vote to viciously murder God's most precious gift, His greatest miracle. They speak with a forked tongue, and I pray that God will have mercy on their souls for what they have done with His blessings. God said we should take care of the less fortunate. Where does He say, "My precious children are better off dead if you decide you don't want them"?

The two things do not add up. You can't claim the need to give to the poor because it's Christian like, and then say it's ok to murder God's children because you can't or don't want to take care of them. The Bible is not a buffet. We can't take from it what we want to buy into and just ignore the rest as it suits us. As Christians, we need to BOTH stand up for the poor and needy who do not have the means to get by in this life AND stand up for the defenseless innocent babies who have no voice and no ability to speak up for themselves.

So please, before you use the Bible to criticize my vote for lower taxes, make sure you have read it entirely...

"I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world." -Jeremiah 1:4-5

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous - and how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!" -Psalm 139

One last thought.... Consider how these people, or this family feel about mothers murdering their own children. It may make you think twice.

At this point we've got what we've got, it's time to make the best of it. I will try my best to leave it at this. I'm sure you can understand how deep feelings and convictions might make that tough.

Alright, back to lesson planning :)

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Two Cents

I've avoided a political post up until now. It's the night before election day and I just feel compelled to say a few words.

Most people who know me well know that I feel very strongly about politics. And as strongly as I feel, I'm actually very very reasonable when it comes to taking the good with the bad and being able to say - yes, I'm associated with this party, but here's where I disagree with them; or - that is not my party, but I see their point. Anyway, I have my notions and predictions about the outcome of tomorrow's election. And I believe it's not going to go the way I'd like. But I can honestly say, I can still see the upside to that. I'm very curious to see what happens and despite all the fear and predictions people have made over the past 2 years (or eternity) that this campaign has been going on, I am still hopefull that we will remain a great country no matter what. I like to think that the great Constitution our founding fathers put in place will provide the baseline and structure that keeps America amazing regardless of the particular leader.

Take George Bush, for example. So many people hate him, blame him, curse him, you name it. BUT, can anyone really say they'd rather be subject to any other government than the United States? Would all those people really rather live in another country? I know there are people who do.... but where are they? Here. They must not want to leave that badly. We have it better than anywhere else in the world because this country was founded by geniuses. Look back on history at all of America's mistakes. Look back on all the presidents that people hated. Look back on all the failed ideas and failed attempts and general bad choices that have been made. We're still #1, I don't care how you slice it. Other countries hate us because they want to be us. It's not a bad position to be in. And I'll say it again - it's thanks to our Constitution and our incredible founding fathers.

That said, regardless of who we elect, I am confident that America will be better for it. If mistakes are made, we will learn - just like we have from every other historical moment and event - and come out stronger. We are a nation of patriots, and if we get into a hole, we will dig ourselves out. More than anything, we are a nation of faith. No matter what this country is faced with, the American people will ask for God's help, and God will not forsake us.

So - down off the soap box - I hope everyone goes out to vote for whomever your heart desires. And remember to go to Starbucks and tell them you voted... you get free coffee! :) Happy voting.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's the Holiday Season! :)

My favorite scene from The Great Pumpkin - "you owe me restitution!"

So much going on... where do I start? I would tell you about our Halloween on Friday night but we didn't do anything out of the ordinary. We handed out candy at home and some friends came over later to play Rock Band. No surprises there :)

Yesterday was Josh's dad's 50th birthday. His mom wanted to throw a coctail party, so we were at his parents' house last night for that. It was an interesting experience. There were a lot of people from his dad's work that we didn't really know. We all had to dress up which was out of our usual comfort zone too. Thankfully his brothers and their wife & girlfriend were great company. We eventually took over the dining room with their uncle and kept each other entertained.

Today was mostly just relaxing and recovering. What an exciting weekend, right?

On Saturday morning we also went to get my new glasses that I told you about. I was expecting a little bit of an adjustment since it's been so long since I've gotten a new prescription. However, this adjustment was more than what I was prepared for. I love my new frames, they're so cute, but I was disappointed that it was so bothersome to wear them. Have you ever been in a "fun house" where things that are usually straight are set at odd angles, like door frames and walls? This was similar. When I got out of the car and stepped up on the curb it looked like a serious hill, and so did the steps up to our door. I wore them around for a while trying to adjust and then started getting a headache. It was such a relief to take them off. I tried again this morning and the same thing happened. Then this evening I decided to give it one more shot, but no luck. So now I have to call back in the morning and hope that there's something they can do.

So upcoming, tomorrow is a professional day because it's the end of the first quarter. That's right - I survived the first quarter of the school year!!! Hooray! I can't say it's gone by fast, but it's a fun milestone. Second quarter includes the upcoming holiday season, so I feel like it may go by quicker than this one did. I am also off on Tuesday for the elections, of course. It's pretty exciting.
And let's face it, now that it's November, the holidays are here! All the stores have Christmas stuff out, there are a mere 3 weekends until Thanksgiving and then *gasp* only 3 Saturdays before Christmas! I even changed into my winter purse! Knowing that such a wonderful time of year is approaching (with oh-so-many days off school...) makes me feel very warm and fuzzy inside :) We already have our turkey-day plans: we're having Thanksgiving on Thursday at Josh's brother Nathan's house, then hosting a Thanksgiving that Josh and his college roommates always have on "Black Friday" and also having a dinner at my mom's on Saturday that weekend. I'm not sure how Christmas is shaping up yet, but I do know I have 2 full weeks off school that Josh is taking off work with me!

So I guess I'll stop carrying on and get ready for bed. It's been a busy weekend and a very lazy day today. I still need to get into work at a decent time tomorrow even though there are no students. I hope everyone (like all 4 of you) had a great Halloween weekend and are getting as excited as I am for the Holiday Season!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Miraculous Occurrance

The end of the first marking period is almost here. My big unit tests are coming up next Friday - yes I'm going to be that awful teacher who gives a test on Halloween. I don't have time to wait around on silly holidays. I have to grade all those tests! Anyway, I've done a really good job with my planning this week. Last weekend I had gotten way behind and had to plan some 6-8 lessons over the weekend to get ahead. It was miserable, and just like other times that I've done that, I vowed not to let it happen again. See, I like to be planned a week ahead of myself so that on Monday I'm planning next Monday's lesson. So by some twist of fate or act of God, I am not only planned a week ahead, but I got today's planning done while I was still at work today so that all I had to do when I got home was enter some grades into my computer! It was outrageous. I haven't had so much free time since I started this job. I even thought up a dinner plan and had dinner done and overwith by 7:00. I know this sounds like normalcy for many, but my evenings usually consist of sitting down at the kitchen table with my computer as soon as I get in the house - sliding over one chair to eat dinner with Josh - sliding back over to the computer and working until it's time for bed. So tonight, to be finished with my work by the time he got home was amazing. All I can say is I feel like a normal person, and it is wonderful.

So of course having this time tonight - 2 full hours before the tv shows come on! - I couldn't decide what I wanted to do with myself! I decided to blog first and then do some of the other stuff with the time I have left. I'm always thinking of what I want to include in blog posts and then I never get to write them. So I hope you're ready for this one. I feel like there's a lot to talk about.

The last post was on Josh's birthday and in case anyone was wondering, he got a new golf bag. It was fun to surprise him with it and watch him examine it, not unlike me in the store, except he knew what he was looking at. His parents came over for dinner and ice cream and that was about it.

We had also made plans to go to New York City on Friday so that was partially a birthday present too. I was off work for the MSTA conference that no one goes to, so we decided it would be a good day to go to NY before it gets too cold. Our plan was to arrive, have lunch in Greenwich Village at the pizza place from Spider-Man 2, then get down to Battery Park to catch the boat over to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. After that we were kind of flexible but mentioned checking out the changing leaves in Central Park. If you know your Manhattan geography at all, this is a lot of walking. Our bus dropped us off at 32nd street and we headed for the Village.....

Joe's Pizza! It's kind of tough to see, but the menu in the background says "You saw us in Spider-Man" Where we were sitting was a little counter facing out an open window to a little park across the street. After 3 hours on a bus and a brisk walk from 32nd down to Bleeker, it was nice to sit down, enjoy some NY pizza and people watch... all with the breeze blowing.

After pizza we continued down the island. On the way we stopped at one of Josh's favorite spots, the Firehouse from the Ghostbusters movies. He even wore his Ghostbuster's shirt that day. While we were standing there taking our pictures, a fireman walked over to the doorway eating a sandwich. We said hi and joked about Josh being a big fan. Turns out, the firehouse sells t-shirts and other stuff with their logo (hook & ladder 8) and the Ghostbusters symbol! Josh promptly took a t-shirt. We thanked the guy and went on our way. Josh was elated :o)

We finally made it down to Battery Park just 15 minutes before our boat was supposed to leave at 1:30. We got in line and shortly realized it didn't matter what the time on our ticket was. We didn't leave until after 2:00... what a long process! You first go through airport-like security (put your stuff in trays, goes through the x-ray machine, take off all watches, belts, etc. empty your pockets, walk through the metal detector). Then you stand in a mob, not a line, but a mob for at least another 30 minutes before boarding the boat. Getting on and off the boat was another 20-minute ordeal because there were so many people. Sad to say, but I wouldn't do it again! Here's the pretty view of the city from the boat. You can tell it was a gorgeous day - just a little chilly and windy (as you'll notice by my hair!).

Here she is from our boat. She was smaller than I had imagined.

Josh took my picture. The reason I look so thrilled is because the sun is in my eyes so my nose is a little crinkled, haha. I just look like I'm overjoyed to be at the Statue of Liberty. That makes me laugh.

Me and Miss Liberty. Check out that crystal clear sky!

Hmmm... silly husband.

Us being cute in front of New York :o)

A pretty picture I took of the Flatiron building on our way back up town. I liked the lighting, and lets face it, it's just a really cool building.
We never did make it back up to Central Park. It's all the way up in the mid-50th streets. Because of the very slow process of getting on and off the boat for the Statue of Liberty, we didn't make it back on land until 4:00. As you can see in the flatiron picture, the sun was going down - and in between tall buildings, that makes it really chilly. By the time we made it back to 32nd/33rd (the Empire State Building) it was after 6:00. We were pretty tired from all the walking. We knew we wanted to eat at Heartland Brewery and there was a location up near Central Park and on the bottom floor of the Empire State Building. So we decided not to walk any further since our bus would be picking us up from there anyway. We enjoyed some great food and a few delicious microbrews. Josh had the Empire Premium and another I can't remember. I had the Oktoberfest.
After dinner we had some time to kill, so we walked across the street to H&M where I proceeded to look at everything - mostly because I have an amazing husband who doesn't mind. He just wishes he could buy me the whole store. Then, our best and most favorite NY tradition -- we stopped in Jamba Juice for smoothies before we went to catch our bus back home. The guy at the bus station laughed at us for drinking smoothies when it was 40-degrees outside, but we explained that we don't have Jamba Juice at home and he totally understood.
Alright, are you tired of hearing about New York?? But you're not yet ready for my blog post to be over?? Then I'll tell you something else exciting. This week I ordered new glasses!!! It has been years and years (so many that I can't remember) since I've gotten new glasses. Mine are so old I can't drive in them. So I was really excited for my eye exam - which I failed because I'm blind. The doctor couldn't get my vision to 20/20 :o( but the new glasses are really cute. I couldn't find their picture online, but I'll post one when I get them. Naturally, I searched through dozens of frames from the largest selection in Howard County only feeling luke warm about a few. As soon as the helper girl walks over she looks at my face, at a few pairs I'd been looking at, and pulls the perfect pair off the rack. I hadn't even seen them! It was like magic.
Ok, well that's sufficient I think for now. Thanks as always for continuing to read :o) I hope I'll be back soon!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

27 Things I Love About My Joshua

If you're like me and can't get enough of Josh, you'll love this post!! I borrowed the idea from the very clever Laura Cooke. In honor of Josh on his 27th birthday, here are a mere 27 of the zillions of things I love about him.

  1. He picked ME.
  2. He loves me more than just about anyone. Ever.
  3. He spoils me silly.
  4. He sings in the car and makes the songs about me, regardless of the actual song that's on.
  5. He is so talented and I love to listen to him play music.
  6. He is still very much a little kid at age 27.
  7. He is going to be the best dad I can ever imagine.
  8. He gets excited over anything that will make me smile (even just a tiny bit).
  9. He randomly gives me ILYs.
  10. He is uncommonly good looking.
  11. He believes deeply in good and evil.
  12. He writes me songs.
  13. We have just about everything in common.
  14. He likes to help me with anything from cleaning to grading papers.
  15. He is so frickin excited to see me in the morning... yes, after sleeping beside me.
  16. His resting body temperature is about 106 degrees, so I'm always warm when I'm with him.
  17. He is a very clean boy.
  18. He thinks I look amazing at all times and will tell me so.
  19. He is too cute for words.
  20. I'm his lobster.
  21. He is the best one of the best ones, which makes me the luckiest.
  22. He has a great sense of humor, and knows how to clean it up in front of ladies.
  23. My family loves him almost as much as they love me.
  24. He loves my family.
  25. He is the most thoughtful person I have ever met.
  26. He's everything I want, and everything I'm not.
  27. He is from God - otherwise we couldn't be so perfect for each other.

Awwwwww, wasn't that fun? It is also Jenna's birthday. And Jenna, it's not that I love you any less than I love my husband... but he's going to be home any minute and I don't have time to write 22 things I love about you before he gets here! I have to catch him at the door and make him close his eyes so he doesn't see his present sitting in the middle of the room. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

It's That Time

I'm not saying I was ready, but I can admit that it's time. I know it's fall. The trees and bushes are all trying very subtly to change colors. The mornings are cold and dark. So I put away my adorable hydrangeas that usually sit on this little table in our entry-way and pulled out the fall arrangement. In the back sitting on one of the steps you can see a piece that I made myself out of a clear picture frame and some fake leaves. I put it up today too. So I don't get terribly excited about fall in general. To me it just signals that extreme cold is on it's way and that depresses me. However, there are some fun things to look forward to.

The first big fun of fall is Josh's birthday! It's coming up on Tuesday and I absolutely can't wait. I was going to try to throw a party for him, whatever he wanted. But it turned out that he never said what he wanted or who he wanted to be there. So I let it go. Don't worry- there will be celebrating. Sunday we're having dinner at my mom's and doing special birthday stuff for Josh and Jenna since they have the same birthday. Then on Tuesday of course I will unfold my very special birthday plans for him. I of course will tell you about that later. Don't worry, it isn't dirty :o) We'll probably also go to his parents' house that night for dinner.

After Josh's birthday, it's really almost Thanksgiving. We have 2 days off school the first week of November (professional day for the end of the quarter and election day). Then after two full weeks it's Thanksgiving. Who doesn't love Thanksgiving? I think this year Josh's parents may be going out of town which means we only have to go to ONE house! That would be exciting.

And everyone knows that after Thanksgiving, it IS Christmas. I love the Christmas season. This year we have two full weeks off for Christmas and New Years because they fall on Thursdays and the eves are Wednesdays. It's beautiful and I'm looking forward to it. I think we're also going to do another sleepover with the kids at some point over that break. We really had a ton of fun with them and talked right away about when we could do it again.

Speaking of which... I added some more of the pictures from that weekend. These are from the picnic Josh's dad's work has every other year. As I mentioned last time, the kids had a great time and so did we. Have a look:

Lacy making sand art. It turned out awesome, by the way.

Josh looking stylish with my purse while I made a tie-dyed shirt :o)

Leo, mid-jump, in the Moonbounce - his favorite activity of the day.

The mansion where all this takes place
Lacy making her tie-dyed t-shirt

Leo enjoying his "special" drink - a Shirley Temple instead of Coke that he asked for!

I'm sure you're wondering how I managed a blog post on a random Thursday night. It turns out there was no school today due to a Jewish holiday. Therefore I got up at a leisurely hour this morning, went shopping for fun, and got my school work done in the afternoon all before making a fabulous dinner for my husband when he got home. I could use this kind of day every day.

And finally, some fun and exciting news.... Josh got a new job this week! He's working for the same company, really just across the hall from where he is now. But instead of being a recruiter for the company, he is now a staffing coordinator on one of the company's contracts. It's a lateral move but it has considerably more potential than the HR office. We're both so excited and looking forward to getting things underway with that.

Hopefully I'll be able to post again this weekend. We have some fun things going on!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hanging in there...

Wow. I can't really believe it's the next weekend already. This busy schedule of mine has really made the weeks go by quickly. Not that some of them don't feel long by Friday afternoon, but it seems like in social life they pass by like the wind.

I do have some more pictures from last weekend. We went to that fun picnic on Sunday. The weather was pretty and there was TONS there for kids to do. We had a great time. Lacy and I made bead necklaces, sand art, and tie-dyed shirts. There was also a moon bounce, various flavors of sugar to make oversized pixie-sticks, face-painting, temporary tattoos and let's not forget tons of food. Both kids were asleep within 10 minutes of getting in the car. I have pictures from that day but it's too late to start loading them. Sorry. I might try later.

This past week I was off work on Tuesday which was nice. Josh took off with me which made it even better. We slept in, had a delicious breakfast together, and then did some of the little things around the house we'd been wanting to do. The new Ben Folds CD came out so Josh picked that up early as well as the movie Iron Man (also released that day). We listened to Ben Folds while we worked around the house, and then watched Iron Man that night after dinner. It was such a treat to have a random day off work during the week. Strangely though, by Friday, Monday felt like it had been 2 weeks ago. I couldn't tell if the day off helped the week, or made it feel longer. This week we're off on Thursday for another Jewish holiday. I think it will be better to get Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday over with and then just have to come back for Friday. It will be a busy week nonetheless.

Today was Ben and Jenna's engagement party. That was also a lot of fun. I made pumpkin cheesecake and crab dip. For some reason I always get adventurous and try out new recipes when I'm making something for a party. It's not the best idea. Both things turned out fine, but really what am I thinking? What if I had totally done something wrong or the recipe was just not very good?? I actually didn't really like my crab dip. I'm used to creamy and cheesy crab dip. This was like crab meat that had soaked up some flavorful liquid. It tasted fine, but it didn't have the same consistency I'm used to. It was a Paula Deen recipe from Food Network. I wouldn't make it again. Otherwise the party was great. Everyone met and mingled. They had a box for people to write down a memory of one or both of them and then see if they could guess who wrote it. That was hilarious because Amberly and I shared a lot of childhood memories that were funny. Some that his groomsmen shared came as a bit of a shock to my mom, but overally she took it pretty well.

Tomorrow will be a busy day of lesson plans and writing a paper for my Monday night class (Counciling the Early Adolescent). It's just a "scholarly review" but I have a feeling it's going to annoy me and end up taking up all of my time. It might warrant a trip to Cold Stone, I can't say for sure.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kid Weekend!

First of all, THANK YOU for still checking my blog :o)

Second of all, as you can imagine, things have been just as busy as I've talked about before which is why my posts are still so few and far between. I'm honestly doing everything I can and have come to terms with the fact that this year is just going to be that way. I have gotten caught up on my grading, so I've decided to use my daily planning to stay on top of that and then just plan my lessons in the afternoons when I get home (so as not to live in my classroom). As much as I hate using my time with Josh to do my work, it's better than just not having time at home. Another teacher I work with - it's her 2nd year - stays at school until 8 at night so she doesn't have to take work home, but she also never sees her husband.

And third, my sister went out of town this weekend and left her children with US! My mom took the baby but we have Lacy and Leo today and tomorrow. This weekend is also my school's homecoming. So originally I thought it would be a lot of fun to take the kids to the parade and then to watch the football game. So we got up this morning to go get them and of course there's a tropical storm coming through. Lame. I held out hope as long as I could but when we arrived at the parade and it was pouring buckets and people were racing for their cars, we decided it was a no-go.

So instead of that we stopped at Target for some milk and something to eat for lunch. For some reason Josh and I failed to prepare for this weekend in the grocery sense. We were completely out of juice in the first 10 minutes (considering we only had 1/2 a glass each of orange juice and V8 Acai berry). So we picked up some lunch things, some candy since I had told Leo there would be candy at the parade, some break-n-bake halloween cookies for fun, and this random window-cling pumpkin set. The pumpkin turned out to be a smart move because the kids were completely involved with making different pumpkin faces on the window the whole time I was getting lunch ready.

After we ate we had to play Rock Band! Leo had been asking all day if we could play his favorite song, "Carrot for you" which is really the song Dani California by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The line is "California rest in peace" but Leo sings "Carrot for you, rest in cheese" which we find hilarious. We played a few songs on Rock Band and decided it was nap/quiet time so we turned on a Star Wars movie (surprise).

Later Ben and Jenna are coming over for dinner and I'm certain there will be more Rock Band. So far it's been a lot of fun even though we were trapped inside all day. And tomorrow we are planning to go to a picnic Josh's Dad's work is having. They always have tons of stuff for kids so as long as the weather holds out we should be good.

Enjoy today's pictures below:

Lacy posing with the pumpkin face she made

Leo with his pumpkin face

More fun with the pumpkin face

Lunch time - Uncle Josh enjoys a Kid Cuisine with the kids

And you can't play Rock Band without making the Rock Band Face. Here's Leo's:

Two more funny pumpkin faces

Singing "Dani California" ~ Carrot for ya, rest in cheeeeese.....

Rockin out on guitar

Hittin the drums like a pro

And.... nap time :o)

Hopefully some more cute ones tomorrow :o)

Friday, September 12, 2008

So long, so long....

Wow, it's been a week and a half! I can't believe you're still checking this thing.

I hate to make this my big comeback after such a long break because there's really not a lot new to report. As you can imagine I've been MIA due to the overload of lesson planning and paper grading (which, yes, I should be doing right now on my Friday afternoon). All I can say is that I'd better be teaching the same exact subjects (or only one or the other of them) next year because this life is for the birds.

On top of constant lesson planning and standing in lines at the copier that rival Toys 'R Us on black Friday, grad classes have started up again. So I am in class two nights a week and somehow trying to write papers and do homework while I'm keeping up with the demands of work. It's unfortunate, but as much as I love this new position, it has also made me really realize that I'm ready to be a guidance counselor and put lesson planning and grading out of my life for good. If I could choose a faction of my job (say just the teaching part, or just the planning part) it would be comparable to what most other people do for a living. I could spend about 8 hours a day on it and go home to enjoy my family. However, the three factions together on top of graduate school means I can't even plan things on the weekend because I have too much work to do.

I am so sorry that this has been nothing but complaining. Now you're really sorry that you're still checking it ;O)

I think recently I posted about using exercise to escape my stress. That worked for a few days, but then as I realized that it was yet another commitment, I began weighing its necessity against the other tasks it was competing with. Several days so far it has lost out completely. The other day I tried Pilates instead of a vigorous cardio workout on the elliptical. Pilates and Yoga are supposed to be good for stress and calming you down while still giving you a workout. It was nice. I think I liked it better (although I know they always say you should do cardio regularly). I'm going to try alternating between the different Pilates routines on my DVD (abs and hips/thighs/butt). I did abs the other day and could definitely feel it in the whole trunk of my body. Hopefully I'll build some muscle that will burn fat for me until I have the energy for the vigorous cardio stuff again.

On that note, I think I'll get my workout taken care of and then grade some papers until Josh gets home. Tonight we're having dinner with Jennie (Josh's sister) and her bf Michael for Michael's birthday. We love hanging out with them so it should also provide a fun break from all my work stress.

I hope you're willing to keep checking my blog even if my posts slow down. And I hope everyone has a great weekend :o)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

You Know You're At Your Wits' End When.....

Pardon the dramatic title. I'm not quite at my wits' end... yet. However, I did plan a workout and look forward to it all day (?!?!?!). Have I lost it? I really am not that fond of exercise, yet I found myself thinking about this workout all day.

It started with my realization that if I wanted this "diet" (yes "") to work, I was going to have to work out. Lame. So much for the easy way. It turned out that the diet was NOT easy. I've always gone back and forth about which I'd rather do and which was the more effective way to get/stay in shape: was it to watch carefully what I eat without being a super-strict maniac, or was it working out regularly? After two weeks of strict phase 1 on South Beach, I decided once and for all that working out was the easier way! Anyway, this weekend was the one month marker of the start of our diet: 2 weeks of very strict phase one, and 2 weeks of us being very not strict on phase two. Josh and I both hit a "plateau" (surely a term some man thought up to describe a situation relating to your body -- no woman would ever use LANDFORMS for this purpose) around the end of week one. We had both lost about 5 pounds, and by the end of week two it was around 7 for both of us. After ending the strict phase, we both still hovered right around the same weight. I thought... if I've stopped losing weight while still on the strict phase, what exactly is going to happen when I add back in the whole grain & berry carbs? I was afraid I would gain but fortunately my weight just stayed the same. Two weeks later I'm still at a 7-pound loss from the very beginning. Josh on the other hand recently added in a workout routine mostly consisting of strength training. Now he has doubled his loss and is down by 15. Seeing this I decided it was time to get my butt in gear and start working out as well.

There are many reasons I haven't exercised in the past. The two biggest are time and sweat. Exercise requires you to set aside time for it, and sometimes I just don't have it. This might be due to working late, errands, social plans or appointments after work, and let's not forget cooking dinner. Schedules fill up and we only have so many hours in the evening, and so many evenings in the week. So anything that needs to get done has to get scheduled during that time. All that aside, there is the sweat factor. If I have class or anything else to do in public in the afternoon or evening, I can not work out before hand. I will not go places in my sweaty workout clothes, and I will not shower, put on a fresh outfit, and re-do my hair and makeup just for 2 hours of class, dinner w/friends, or any other evening shenanigans. It's not worth it. So those have been my excuses.

Today was some freak of nature (or act of God). I had decided I was going to start working out. I planned on 45 minutes a day on the eliptical during Dr. Phil, Oprah, or the news depending on when I get home. I thought about it all day. I left work early with a blinding headache and an empty stomach but never even considered cancelling my workout plans. I popped some excedrine when I got home and had a snack (I won't mention that it was a little piece of cheesecake that I've been working on for a few days now). I even threw in some laundry to run while I was on the eliptical. In the past I've had a lot of difficulty getting the downstairs TV to work (it's hooked up to various dvd players and speaker systems - you have to push a lot of buttons to get sound AND picture, particularly the sound and picture you WANT). Today, it came right on with my first try. I stuck it out for 36 minutes and decided to cut myself a break since this was the first time in a long time that I'd exercised.

I thought about it and realized how important today was. Not only to break the long streak of non-exercise, but that if I could do it today in the condition I was in, I can do it any day. Granted I didn't have class or anything else to go to tonight, but I felt awful when I got home. I was proud of myself for just doing it anyway. I also thought about the combination of factors that pushed me. First, I know, was that I wanted to lose some more weight. But I also realized that I wanted to escape my lesson planning and paper grading. I actually got fed up enough with the recent deluge of work that I turned to exercise as my escape. At least it wasn't alcohol! Hahaha, and not that I want the stress of work to continue to burden me, but I hope I will continue to turn to exercise for stress relief. It was somewhat out of character for me, so I'm all impressed with myself.... sorry :o)

Ok and as if this post isn't long enough, I'll talk a little about how the school year is going. I had a surprise visit from one of the Central Office people today. That was a little awkward and stress-inducing. I didn't show it outwardly though, which was nice. She came in during my World history class and they aren't very enthusiastic about the 14th century. So unfortunately she really got to watch me pulling teeth. It worked out ok though. The class is overall really good. I also have my first official observation for the tenure process on Friday. I had to meet with one of the APs this afternoon to discuss my lesson. He's a really nice guy so I'm not concerned, but you always worry a little about things going well. Other than that I'm very much enjoying my students and the topics I'm teaching. I am very very happy with this job :o)

I'll leave you with that. Don't forget to watch Sarah Palin's speech tonight!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

One Crazy Week

Well, if you couldn't tell by my lack of posting, it was a LONG first week. Mostly the lesson planning is taking up all of my time. I'm using every free second I have to plan lessons. I've been at work until 4 and sometimes 5:00 every day last week. Starting over with new curriculum and no lessons has been tough. I have been able to use a few more of my co-worker's lessons that he generously donated to me. So that's helping. I just don't have enough resources (just my content outline and the textbook) to make any really creative lessons on my own right now. Maybe over the next few years if I'm still teaching the same subjects. Over all I can't complain though. It has gone really well. I have my first observation this coming Friday so I especially need to have a good lesson planned. I've been working on that this morning and will be again tomorrow.

Yesterday we had a cookout at Josh's parents house. Most of his family was there. It was fun. Later on we had Ben's 24th birthday party that Jenna threw for him. Um, I did not use my best discretion and partied a little harder than I had in a long time.... ok, I'll be honest: I played flip-cup with rum & coke. Yikes. But we did have an awesome time. Apparently there are photos of me that I'm not going to like (making the rock-band face, what was I thinking? proof of my non-existent inhibitions). Josh made me a nice breakfast this morning and now we're getting ready to go out to dinner to celebrate Ben's birthday with everyone. It should be more fun and shenanigans :o) I think tomorrow will just be a day of rest (and a little bit of work).

As soon as I get all this lesson planning under control (aka- I get more than 1 day ahead of what I'm teaching) I'll be able to post more. But in the mean time I'll try to post at least once a week, probably on the weekend.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Highlights (so far)

I apologize for the brevity. There is SO much work to do and I really shouldn't be using this time to blog... but I know you miss me :o)

  • Kiddos so far have been really nice. The freshman are great because they're new and don't know what's up yet. Plus they're honors so they're interested in doing well. There are lots of very nice girls in those three classes. And the juniors are cool because they're just laid back. We talk and joke and get off task from time to time but they're also great about doing what I ask and getting the work done.
  • l've been offered a lot of lesson plans as I may have mentioned, but I've discovered that it's not possible to teach entirely from someone else's. People apparently don't actually write "plans" anymore, therefore too much time is spent trying to figure out how they used the handouts and activities in their arsenal. I've decided to just make my own which is challenging when teaching 2 subjects because it's double the work. Lots of textbook reading and investigating. And we're only in a week of review! This has taken over my life.
  • Had some fun technical difficulties this week too. All the new staff laptops were programmed incorrectly so we couldn't install printers or updates. They finally fixed that after a lot of struggling with printers, multiple computers and a fried flash-drive that I had been relying on.
  • My fall grad classes start tonight. I have no idea when I'll have time for school work in addition to work work :o( I'm scared. I think it will honestly be harder than last fall when I was teaching, starting grad school, and getting married.
  • I think I qualify for Bachelor's +30 pay!

Thanks for listening. I will try so hard to take some time for this in between everything else. I know I'll hit my stride and get a routine down, but right now it's just plain crazy :o)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Weekend Update + Monday

Saturday: As you know, my parents are divorced and my mother is re-married. My stepdad has two sons, Ricky and Chris. You may not know that my mom and her husband met each other in 1991. In that year our ages were~ Ricky 13, Amberly 11, Me and Chris 9, Ben 7. Ok, we were little KIDS. Saturday was Ricky's 30th birthday. Of course we had to celebrate! So Ben, Jenna, Josh and I met Ricky and Annie (his wife) and some of their friends at Cancun Cantina for drinks. We had a fabulous time even though Josh and I completely abstained from carbohydrated beverages. I was pretty proud of us for that. Anyway, there are a whole boat load of great pictures of us from that night but they are all on Jenna's camera. I had mine but didn't want to make everyone take the same picture twice -- that's a pain. So I'll be sure and post those asap when I get them from Jenna. And as I always, I will post the whole shebang on Picasa (and probably some on Facebook too).

Sunday: We had a mostly lazy Sunday. Ben and Jenna had stayed the night with us so I made a big South Beach breakfast of cheesy eggs and turkey bacon. [By the way, Josh and I decided to stay on the strict phase of the diet for one more week. We had both only lost 7 pounds at the end of week 2 and decided we would make up for our cheating (remember the s'mores?) by staying strict for one more week. ] After Ben and Jenna left I finally painted the third bathroom a pale turquoise. It looks much better in person than it does in the photos. Later that afternoon I decided to drive up to Eldersburg to my mom's to have dinner with her and Amberly and the kids. Josh was very busy cleaning and organizing the basement so he decided to keep at it to get the stuff done. At my mom's she and I and Amberly had the funniest conversation with Leo. It was all about what he was going to be when he grew up. First he talked about a police officer (like his dad) and wanted to know if he could wear a police hat. He was very excited about that. When he asked, "what do guns do?" I promptly said, "Or you could be a scientist!" His response? "What's that?!" The conversation went on. He was totally into being a trash man also and announced to Ben and Jenna when they got there that that's what he was going to be when he got big. He really had us cracking up.

Monday: Today was a big day, as you know. I reported for work officially at my new school. Since it would be a lot to tell you about the WHOLE day, here are the highlights:
  • Our principal started the day by saying: I know you only want 2 things today, breakfast and time in your classrooms, so I'll keep this short. A truly understanding principal who cares more about the needs of his teachers than hearing himself jabber on all day long. Meetings only lasted until 10:30! The rest of the day I got to spend in my classroom. As a result, it's totally set up!
  • Everyone was incredibly helpful. People donated shelves and furniture to me since I had nothing. I got an old random coffee table that I used to create a reading corner in the back of my room... so cute! Others offered me all of their lesson plans since I'm starting fresh this year, not to mention help with any question or concern, and plenty of good advice.
  • OMG, my schedule. The school operates on 50-minute classes except 4th period which is 2 hours and has all the lunch shifts in it. My planning is the 2-hour block - holler! I also have one of my World History classes in the morning and one in the afternoon to break up the monotony. It's going to be sweet.
  • And anyone who has ever dealt with custodial staff can appreciate this -- my custodian is nice! The woman at Banneker was not friendly and would never look up when you walked by her or anything. I may have blogged before about how I used to run when heard her trash-can rolling down the hall at the end of the day so I didn't have to deal with the awkward silence/small talk while she cleaned my room.

So anyway, as I predicted, I'm more excited today than I was before. Tomorrow is going to be a little more meeting-intensive because I have to go through a new teacher "training camp" but I bet I'll still come home excited :o)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye

The time has come to bid my summer break farewell. Yes the warm weather is still here, and summer activities still fill the calendar, but alas I am returning to work on Monday. Please don't think I'm complaining, people LOVE to remind me that I'm luckier than most to have summers off. Trust me, I know. But there is a totally different feeling at this time of year for teachers than for anyone else.

Surprisingly after all the interviews and the heartbreaks this summer I am honestly excited to get this new job started. I've gotten little tastes over the past week but I know as I meet the other staff members -- in particular the ones I'll be working directly with -- I'm only going to feel more and more excited. I haven't felt this way since I was beginning my job at Banneker 3 years ago. I feel like I've learned a lot and grown a lot in that time. I've always started the school year with a new plan and new ideas that I couldn't wait to put into place. But in Montgomery county there were always other factors defeating me. For example- students who had failed all major academic subjects for all four quarters were promoted to the next grade level. Why would that student ever do his or her work? Also, any attempt at an assignment could earn no less than 50% credit. So students wouldn't try any harder than that.

Here are some things I'm excited about at my new school:
1. Teaching older students! I'm really looking forward to students who are a little bit older and a little bit more responsible. There will always be babies and clowns and others who make themselves annoying, but at least 9th and 11th graders are thinking about college and know that the classes really count for something so they generally take it a little more seriously.
2. Teaching 2 subjects I love! I've always adored US History (ever since the days of this Mr. Barnes fellow back at LHS) and can't wait to study it in more depth. I'm also teaching modern world history which I also really like. World War II is one of my favorite times in history. When you're interested in what you're teaching, that's when your lessons become creative and fun.
3. Working with an enthusiastic faculty! Every person I've been introduced to at this school has said to me, "Oh, you're going to love it here." I've been told that this staff is very young and they love to do social things together outside of school. There were some young people on the staff at Banneker, but only one or two were really good friends who I'd hang out with outside of work. And most people there hated the place. That made it really hard to have any school spirit or pride in my work. It's really hard to stay enthusiastic when everyone around you is constantly complaining. Don't get me wrong, they were totally justified, I'm just saying that it will be nice to be in a school where there's not so much to complain about :o)
4. A new way of teaching! I have been reading this book called The First Days of School by Harry Wong (he was the guest speaker on the first say of NTO this week). It's really intended for first-year teachers, but so many of his tips and tricks could be helpful to anyone. So I've been reading through it and picking out things I want to try. I'm really looking forward to implementing some of the strategies to see much they help both me and the students.
5. Tons of professional autonomy! My curriculum guide is basically an outline of topics with key objectives to meet and an assessment for each unit. We were told to create lessons as we wish, create assessments as we wish, use the assessment in the guide as part of our grades as we wish... we're professionals, we know what's best for our own students. This is revolutionary compared to Montgomery county. There, every lesson is scripted down to what you're supposed to say. I used to use it loosely as a guide and create some of my own activities in addition to using some from the book. But then we were told that we had to have the exact same lessons worth the exact same points as the person teaching on the other team. Since my counterpart on the other team was a more experienced teacher than myself, I wasn't going to tell her she had to do my activities because I wanted to use them. Thankfully she did not do that to me either. As a result, we just strictly followed the curriculum guide day-t0-day.

I'm sure you remember that I was originally not interested in this job at all and admittedly I was disappointed when I was offered it. But now I have all of these things to look forward to. How about that? I'd bet you're even excited for me :o) Unfortunately I'm still not looking forward to starting classes at 7:25 which pretty much means getting up at 5:30 to leave by 6:30. Yes, the day is over at 2:10 but I'll be falling asleep by 8, so it won't matter!

One last update: Ben and Jenna have chosen Turf Valley as their wedding location and will be tying the knot on May 29, 2009! <3