Sunday, April 26, 2009

BaltiMORE for LESS Weekend

Well, it was more like BaltiMORE for LESS "day" for us, since we only went on Saturday. But I'll tell you all about it anyway :)

Our adventure first began at 9am on Saturday morning when we went to our friend Ray's little league baseball game. We were picking him up from here to take him downtown. It was interesting to watch the game. The kids were all around 6 years old so they weren't stellar players by any stretch though a few of them showed promise. Ray has been interested in and playing baseball since he was big enough to throw, so he's a little more skilled than his teammates. Either way, the real comedy of it all was in the moms. We've all heard of soccer moms. I don't even know what you'd call these moms. The word pretentious comes to my mind, though. I'm talking about massive designer sunglasses, dress clothes, heeled sandals, and french-manicured toenails...... at a 6-year old's baseball game at 9am on a Saturday!! Mind you, they all have 2 carat rocks on their fingers as well, so it's not like they're trying to pick up a man [or maybe they were...?]. The dads weren't a whole lot better. One was decked out in his Mt. St. Joseph Athletics gear [I know I was instantly impressed], and another in his polo and gelled hair stood behind third base with his stainless steel travel coffee mug. Wait! I know the word! It just came to me - TOOLS. Hahahaha. I will give credit to the one dad who was sporting his own size team t-shirt. By the way, best part of it all was that the team was called the Sand Gnats! You can see the team logo on Ray's shirt in later pics.

Our first stop once downtown was at ESPNZone. We were meeting two Orioles players, Jeremy Guthrie and Koji Uehara with their wives and children to play some games. Here is Ray playing air hockey with Koji:

You can see Koji's wife and baby behind Ray. They didn't speak English so we didn't get
to interact much with them.

The games went on for a while [Ray's parents were also there with us] and we finally decided to stop and have some lunch. ESPNZone wasn't seating anyone else for lunch or dinner so we went to Hard Rock Cafe next door.

After lunch, we parted ways with Ray's parents and ventured out toward the Ravens' Stadium where their Spring Football Festival was just about to start. On the way we stopped into the World Trade Center building and went to the observation deck on the 27th floor. Part of BaltiMORE for LESS was that you got buy-one-get-one-free admission. And although Ray is 6, the very nice lady at the desk considered him "less than 3" so he was free! This is why we heart Baltimore :) And because of the lovely pictures below:
Harbor Place & USS Constellation

Looking west up Pratt Street / part of Harbor Place

The Camden Yards Warehouse and Oriole Park!!

Partial view of the prettiest, purplest place on earth -- M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens :)

Maryland Science Center

Famous Baltimore landmark, Domino Sugar plant. You can see the sign in the very center of the picture if you look carefully. It was midday, so the sign wasn't lit up yet.

Shot tower, Port Discovery, and Power Plant :)

Mr. Ray sat himself on this bench on our way over to the stadium. He was not a fan of walking and made that abundantly clear every 12 seconds or so....

And this was the only way to quiet him.

When we arrived at M&T Bank Stadium, we realized very quickly that this was one of those events that offered a lot, but you could only do one or two things if you tried. We arrived maybe 30 minutes after it began and the lines for all the kid activities literally snaked around the entire field. Plus it was out in direct sunlight and we couldn't bring ourselves to get in a 45-minute line just to kick or throw a ball. So we wandered around and took pictures instead!

Josh and Ray on the 50-yard line!

Ray in the endzone doing his touchdown dance - he wasn't very spirited, haha

Where the players run out! There was actually a pretty massive line right in front of this to take your picture there too. We refused to stand in it and just took our picture from here.

Running in for a touchdown!

The ONE thing we stood in line for only because it was under the shade of the concourse. It was about 30 minutes wait for him to attempt this field goal twice.

First in line at Oriole Park to get our purple Os hats!

Ravens Marching Band and cheerleaders helped get the game started. Also notice "The Bird" on the left getting the crowd pumped :)

Baltimore Raven LeRon McClain threw the first pitch

"The Bird" sporting his Ravens jersey while signing autographs

Nick Markakis warming up before the game

Tut-tut, looks like rain! There was thunder and lightning and enough rain to make me put on a giant orange poncho! Fortunately it all passed by very quickly :)

Poe on top the Os dugout helping The Bird lead the 7th Inning Stretch

An Oriole on first base was an uncommon occurrance at this game, so I had to snap a picture while I could to demonstrate the awesomeness of our seats [super thanks to Ray's parents!]

Possibly THE only other time there was an Oriole standing at first. Adam Jones almost saved the game in the bottom of the 9th, but we couldn't squeek out the one last run needed to tie things up for an extra inning. Good game, boys :)

After a very long day, we got home, showered, and slept like babies :) It was a lot of fun though.

Next weekend.... I'm painting the kitchen! We still haven't found the exact floor we want to use yet, but figured we need to go ahead and get the kitchen painting done anyway so when we find the floor, we'll be ready to install.
Wish me luck!

PS - I'm down to 8 weeks left of school! Hooray!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Deep Creek Weekend!

Well I guess I might as well begin with last weekend. It was our trip to beautiful Deep Creek Lake to visit my grandmother for her 91st birthday. It was a fun weekend with very few hiccups. We left Eldersburg around 10:45 Saturday morning, enjoyed a gorgeous drive [albeit a little squished for those of us in the back seat] and arrived in Deep Creek around 2. It was great to see my grandmother and uncles. She and my dad had a somewhat emotional reunion since it had been before his stroke in November that he last visited her. We hung out and talked, mostly about the same few things since grandmom has really poor short-term memory, for about 2-3 hours.

"Subaru to Tower 1 - we are ready for take off"

After that we headed over to the Wisp to check into our hotel rooms. We were originally sharing a room with Ben & Jenna, but Amberly and Evan were up sick all night Friday night so that whole crew stayed home. It was too late to cancel the other room, so we each got our own! They were actually pretty nice rooms - particularly Amberly's which had a queen bed, full size sofa which pulled out into a bed, coffee table, a sink, counter, mini-fridge and a table for two. Josh and I got that room because Ben and Jenna claimed they wanted the even numbered room before we ever opened the doors. After check in and dropping off our stuff, we went back over to the lake to have dinner with our friends the Cookes who live in Frostburg. That (sorry grandmom) was probably the highlight of the trip. We sat there and talked and talked and talked some more. The boys sat at one end of the table and the girls sat at the other! We of course had "boy" and "girl" things to talk about. We also had so much fun playing with their two little girls Lucy and Molly. Lucy is all energy at just about 2 years old. Molly is a little quieter at less than 2 months, but so so cute! Lucy ran around and talked and played and laughed and squealed. She was too much fun. Molly tolerated us all passing her around the table without a single sound of protest. Lucky parents, those Cookes are :)

Lucy creating what seemed to be greeting cards with her crayons. She was very proud - can't you tell?

(yes, she is always this surprised when you flash a camera in her face :)

Lucy worked very hard at creating some kind of concoction in Jenna's water glass... and clearly had a good time doing it!

Josh and Lucy bonded :) I particularly loved this.

And after hanging out with the Cookes [our old (and forever) poker-night buddies], we had to break out the chips back in our hotel room for the rest of the night!

Sunday morning was a little more visiting with grandmom and then my dad quickly decided he was ready to go. Not only that, but he decided my uncle would be taking him home. My dad is pretty hard to persuade or dissuade, so my uncle was kind enough to go with the flow and take him home. Ben, Jenna, Josh and I had a nice peaceful trip back home with a little more breathing room.

We couldn't have asked for better weather, or better company. The entire weekend was a success :) This weekend [or Saturday at least] Josh and I are taking our little buddy Ray - a 5-year old who has grown up sitting next to the O's dugout in his parents' front row season seats - to the city for BaltiMORE for LESS weekend. It's basically a big promotion the city of Baltimore is running where you can see and do all fun Baltimore things for cheaper than usual and in some cases for free. Our agenda looks lik this:
  • Watch Ray's baseball game starting at 9am, then head downtown
  • Meet one of Ray's fans [a woman from Japan who saw him on TV] at ESPNZone for lunch. Jeremy Guthrie and Koji Uehara of the O's will also be there [also friends/fans of Ray].
  • Go to the top of the World Trade Center building for pictures of beautiful BMore
  • Walk through the sports legends museum
  • Attend the Ravens' Spring Football Festival in honor of draft day [meet players, play games on the field, tour the place, etc.]
  • Head over to the O's stadium for their 7:05 game against the Texas Rangers!
All this fun, AND it's supposed to be a HEAVENLY 87-degrees!!! Hellllllloooooooo summer weather! I've missed you! I can not wait. No doubt a fabulous time will be had by all :)

Well, I for one am going to get ready for bed. It was a work day after all, and I've been particularly exhausted this week. It's going to be an early and loooong day tomorrow. Look for the pics!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Easter and an Update

I'll begin with Easter since that will be a load of pictures. It was our first Easter without my mom doing the cooking. She and Rich were in Tennessee to visit his family so the Secret Six were left on their own for the preparation of the Easter feast! It went oh-so-well. We even hosted Amberly's in-laws. How much do we rock?

Haha, ok, so for some reason Leo refused to smile for me. I was persistent and asked him to please smile so I could take his picture, and this is what I got.......

He's a real comedian, isn't he?

Then he just got carried away making faces and thought it would be fun to make this one.

I guess this counts for a smile..?

This is what we call a "Gregg Face"

Evan decided things had gotten a little too wild for him so he sought refuge in the dog crate

"You didn't see anyone follow me here, did you?"

So that was our Easter. I can't believe spring break has come and gone. It's kind of like Christmas or your wedding day. You look forward to it for sooooo long, and then when it's over it feels like minutes. I had a busy spring break and got to catch up with a bunch of people I don't always get to see, so that was nice. Now I only have 9 weeks left in the school year before summer time! I'm very excited for my summertime [another huge event that seems to go by lightning quick].

I also want to give a quick update on the moles I had removed. I know you've all been biting your nails and praying non-stop. I got a phone call from the dermatologist on Tuesday and she said that the results showed mild-moderately atypical cells. They weren't cancerous but had the potential to cause problems later if left alone. Additionally, I need to have a re-excision of both spots (removal of more tissue) for further testing and to make sure that everything problematic is gone. So while the news wasn't devastating, it definitely doesn't give me warm-fuzzies. I'm upset that there were atypical cells in two different places on my body and wonder where others might be. I don't like that the cells were atypical enough that they want to remove and test more tissue. I really hate that I feel scared to go out in the sun. Summer is my absolute favorite and as stupid as it sounds, I love a good summer tan. I'm going on a cruise for 9 days in the caribbean. I don't want to come home as white as the white-sand beaches I was too scared to lay on.

I think the key is not burning. And it makes sense that the atypical cells were found on the backs of my shoulders since that is probably the place that has seen the most sunburn in my life. My first reaction was to go out and buy SPF 70+ [aka, a parka] to wear any time I go out in the sun, but the truth is my skin is just not that sensitive. I wore SPF 30 in Aruba [just about ON the equator] in December and came home the same color as my husband who slathered himself in SPF50 and sat with the sun to the back of his beach chair with a cover over it and a towel over his head [see the slideshow in my sidebar]. So maybe I'll take some 15 and some 30 and see how that goes.

I'll let you know when I schedule my reexcisions so you can pray for them too. I have to have them done at 2 separate times since they will leave pretty decent incisions [about 8 stitches] and they are in a very moving-part location. They really advised me not to do much with the shoulder I have stitches in right now, so when it's an incision twice the size I'm sure it will be a little more inhibiting.

On a more exciting note, Jenna's stepdad Tim was generous enough to come to our house and give us some flooring advice. He does construction for a living so he knows how to do flooring and knows what a decent price is. He directed us to a place that he believes will have the very best prices on the flooring itself []. He also said we should get an installation estimate from them and if they can't do it for less than $1200, he and a friend of his will come do it for that much. Yippeeeeeee! We did some online shopping right away and didn't find exactly what we were looking for, but we plan to go to their store to look around some more next week. I'm very very excited. This also makes me wonder if I should go ahead and paint my kitchen before we put the floors in, then I don't have to worry about dripping paint on my brand new floors! I will update on that as soon as we know more - I'm very excited about this [if you couldn't tell :)]
And finally, I'm off to pack and prep for our annual Deep Creek weekend!!! We go every spring to visit my grandmother for her birthday. This is our 3rd annual trip. We started the tradition two years ago when she was turning 89. Grandmom has given us a few scares over the years and so we decided we'd better go visit since we don't know how many birthdays are left. Her birthday is April 12th - which was Easter Sunday this year, so we planned our trip for this weekend instead. It usually proves to be a BLAST and it's the perfect time of year to book a hotel room at Wisp Resort - skiing season is over, and the summer / lake activities haven't quite started up in full force yet. We get a killer cheap rate on a room and get to spend a few days enjoying the mountain air :) This year will be a little different because we'll be taking my dad up with us. Before his stroke he went to my grandmother's every fourth week (he and his 3 brothers all took turns) to take care of her. Now he hasn't been up there since before then. I'm sure they have missed each other, and though he put up some resistance about going he finally admitted that if he didn't go with us he'd "never live it down." Hahaha, so true. So Josh, myself, my dad, Ben and Jenna will all be piling into Sue for the 2+ hour trip to Deep Creek. There are a few hiccups I'm anticipating, but hopefully it won't get much worse than those. My dad will stay with my grandmom so we're planning on getting there in the early afternoon, visiting until evening and then heading over to the hotel to get ourselves settled in. We'll probably have dinner with the Cookes since they live so close to there and it would just be a pity not to visit with them when in such close proximity ;) Sunday we'll visit a little more and then get on the road back home. I'm looking forward to it, and I know YOU are eagerly anticipating the pictures!

Was this post long enough for you? I started to feel like Jenna [ha! I love you Jen and your SUPER long blog posts!!! :)]

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter :)

Just two things to share on Easter-

1) MckMama explains it all in her post titled "The Truth About Easter"

2) My feelings, explained well from the song Who am I by Casting Crowns:

Who am I
that the Lord of all the earth
would care to know my name,
would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I
that the bright and morning star
would choose to light the way
for my ever-wandering heart?

Who am I
that the eyes that see my sin
would look on me with love
and watch me rise again?
Who am I
that the voice that calmed the sea
would call out through the rain
and calm the storm in me?

I am a flower quickly fading,
here today and gone tomorrow,
a wave tossed in the ocean,
a vapor in the wind.
Still You hear me when I'm calling,
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling,
and You've told me who I am.
I am Yours.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ginger Ale and Failed Flooring

Most who know me know that I don't like ginger ale. The reason for this is because when we were little and had an upset stomach, my mom would always give us ginger ale. So to me, ginger ale tastes like the stomach bug. So why have I been sipping ginger ale? You guessed it, stomach bug. Well, I don't even know if I would say "bug." More like maybe something I ate. I haven't really been able to put my finger on it and I'll spare you the details, but the good news is I'm feeling a little better today.

Yesterday was a bust in general. We had Empire come over to give us an estimate on flooring for our main level. We want a dark wood all the way through. So the guy came and was really nice. He showed us some samples and we saw one we really liked. He did his measuring and then gave us the estimated price. Now, we didn't have any solid numbers in mind as our expectation here. We hadn't done any serious measuring ourselves, and weren't really sure what to expect for installation fees and all that. One might wonder, how can you be surprised when you don't have any expectation to begin with? The answer to that is: you can be surprised with the number $8,900.00. Right? Admit it, you're surprised right now! As were we. Sensing our surprise, he quickly threw out another number that he called "a significant discount" -- $6,500.00. Really? Josh and I kind of stated that that number was a little better, but that we would have to talk it over. At that, he then said that actually, if a few things lined up, and he wasn't sure they would, but he could potentially give us the whole shebang for $4,900.00. We left it with a big fat, "we'll have to get back to you."

O.M.G. We were no where near prepared for numbers like that. I hate to say it, but we had been to Lowes and Home Depot and we knew better. I even said something about the per-square-foot price on flooring at those places and the Empire guy claimed that those prices don't include anything... like quarter round. Sorry dude, I'll happily install my own quarter round. As soon as he left we did our own quick measurements to get a rough square-footage estimate and went straight to Lowes and Home Depot. While we didn't find anything there that we were immediately crazy about, we chose samples that came close and did the math. Then we added on installation fees. The numbers were in the ball park of $2,000-3,000 TOTAL. We didn't actually talk with anyone at Lowes or Home Depot to ask what the installation process involved (tear out of old floor? moving of furniture? moving of bathroom fixtures?), and what would be up to us to do. But really, I can't imagine that anything wouldn't be worth the $3,000-5,000 savings.

So while we thought we'd be getting a great deal from Empire -- since their commercials claim factory-direct pricing and 60% off sales -- it turns out you pay more than the difference in their installation fees. I know people who have installed this flooring themselves (it's just laminate wood), so I know that it can't be such a precise and complicated process that only the pros can handle it. I don't want to do it ourselves because of the time it would take and I have heard that it's hard work, but the bottom line is I'm not willing to pay thousands of dollars for something that could potentially be done by amateurs. The biggest bummer is that the Empire guy had a floor that we actually really liked and we weren't able to find anything we loved at either Lowes or Home Depot. Actually one thing we did really like at Lowes was real hard wood. It was a little more expensive, but I just don't think it's practical for this house and for the welcoming of small children. I'm not interested in having to refinish my floors every few years, or to have to obsess over them and not let the kids be kids. FUN is way more important than floor care.

At this point, I've kept down a few ounces of Gatorade and two pieces of toast. We have decided to stay home and recover as opposed to attending a large family Easter dinner in PA. I think I'm going to give showering a go and hopefully will feel even better once I'm clean!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Productivity Rules

Today was SUPER productive! I got lots done around the house. I chatted with my sister to coordinate Easter dinner, changed the bed sheets, got Sue's oil changed, vacuumed and mopped the whole main level and gave Sheppie a hair cut! How much do I rule? :)

Even with all that I obviously had time to research new blog backgrounds, choose one, and adjust it's fonts/colors. What do you think? I'm definitely happy with it for now. It's different. It looks a little more like a web page instead of a scrapbook page and I think I like that about it. A big plus is that it's a picture of a beach and I adore the beach.

I have had so much fun being productive today. There are so many things around my house that go undone while I'm trying to keep up with work. There are many more that I didn't get to, but whenever something gets clean, I always feel much better. Cleaning the floors was particularly important today because tomorrow we're having Empire come and give us an estimate for new flooring on the main level. I meant to go to Lowe's and Home Depot to get a comparison, but I just didn't get around to it today.

I can't wait to get our new floor down. We've been waiting to do it until Ben and Jenna were able to take their couches from us. We figured it would be easiest to do if there weren't couches in here to move around. Then we also decided that since we don't want dark wood on the floor with light wood cabinets in the kitchen, we had to decide what to do with the cabinets. We really don't want to have to tear out the ones we have and install new ones. That is the costliest option, and there's nothing wrong with the ones we have. Particularly since we don't want to invest heavily in this house and end up not getting our money back out of it. So I think we've decided to refinish the cabinets by painting them white. I've read a lot about re-doing kitchen cabinets and refinishing is always what is mentioned as the easiest way to give a kitchen a face-lift. Plus, to refinish them in any other stain of wood would still mean one wood on the floor with a different wood on the cabinets and I don't like that look. So while we're putting in new floor and refinishing the cabinets, we decided it's probably wise to go ahead and paint the walls too. Fortunately I already have a color picked out! Those improvements are going to be happening very soon in the next couple of weeks whenever we can find some free weekend time to get it done. The only things we aren't changing right now are the counter tops and appliances, but I wouldn't be sad to replace either of those in the next year or two either.

I think I might continue my productive streak by grading some papers that I brought home with me over the break. No fun, I know, but it's better than waiting until Monday (last day of break) to realize that I never worked on them and now it's crunch time. My grades have to be turned in I think by next Thursday for report cards, so they really shouldn't wait. I might as well get them done while I have the time. Josh is playing a video game because his tv show was a rerun, so this seems like an opportune time.

Here's to productivity!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Holy Moley

Have you ever had something removed by a dermatologist?

Today was my first experience seeing a dermatologist, much less having something removed from my body. I've always had a bunch of freckles and moles and never thought anything of them.... until I met Josh. Josh's mother used to work in a dermatologist's office. He grew up getting regular "mole checks" from a dermatologist to make sure all of his moles are normal. He's got at least a half dozen scars from having things removed (all of which turned out to be ok, but were removed as a precaution). So this got me thinking about my own spots and I decided a couple of them were worth checking out. So months ago I went to the regular primary care doctor and she said - yea they look atypical, you should see a dermatologist.

That brings me to today. I saw the dermatologist and she agreed that those spots (one on the back of each shoulder, and one on the back of my left arm) were not normal. Ick. As expected, she chose to remove one, leave one, and do a punch biopsy of the other. I didn't realize what a punch biopsy was, but apparently they use what is essentially a tiny post-hole-digger and take out a "core sample" of tissue. EW. That required stitches. The best part was that I had no idea it had been done. The PA said "ok, Wendy will numb you and I'll be back in a few minutes." I expected that Wendy was giving me a needle to numb me and then the PA would be doing whatever removal was being done. So Wendy does her thing, and says the PA will be in soon. While I'm laying there (on my stomach), I decided to look over my shoulder to make sure my hair wasn't in the way. What did I see? Definitely a wide open hole where the mole used to be. EW. I was pretty grossed out, but glad to know that it was over with and I felt nothing.

So now I get to wait and hear back from them whether there is anything serious to be worried about. The PA definitely did not like the looks of the one they biopsied. It was on the back of my right shoulder and was kind of pink with a brown rim. She said it looked like it was trying to "de-pigment" itself which is characteristic of some skin cancers and is unusual in someone my age. Blerg. So, yknow, if you have a spare second you could maybe say a little prayer that it's nothing.

Meanwhile, I'm going shoe shopping to make myself feel better :)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Nothing to Complain About

Today was the quintessential spring day. Temperatures were in the mid to upper 60s, nothing but sunshine as far as the eye could see. It's also the height of the blooming period for the cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. Tomorrow is my mom's birthday so my siblings and I thought it would be a great idea to take her down there to see them [for the first time!]. As it turns out, the forecast tomorrow is beans compared to today. Low 60s, showers and thunderstorms all day long. So my siblings decided today would be a much better day. The only problem with today was that I had an all-day lab for one of my grad classes and wouldn't be able to go. I really really wanted my mom to get to go on a gorgeous day and experience the cherry blossoms at their best, so I encouraged them to go today even knowing that I would have to miss out -- as heartbreaking as that was.

So if it wasn't bad enough that my whole family was taking my mom for her first cherry blossom experience while I sat in class on a gorgeous-beyond-words spring day... I arrive to my lab early by about 20 minutes. No one is there, and that's fine. But as a few people start to trickle in, they say that they were told our instructor called and is running late. SUPER. We were supposed to begin at 10:00, which I knew was unreasonable to begin with because if everyone arrived at 10, we certainly wouldn't be instantly closed in our little counseling rooms practicing therapy. So the teacher finally arrives around 10:15, but the doors to the counseling rooms are locked. Someone asks a security/building service person to send someone to unlock the doors. We wait. We wait some more. The teacher doesn't want us to just be idle, so she turns on some video from our last lab and we start critiquing a classmate's counseling abilities [that's what these labs are for :-D]. Half an hour or so passes and no one has come to unlock the doors. Meanwhile, all the students who are supposed to start their counseling practice at 11:00 are showing up. We explain to them what's going on, and at this point no one has still come up to open the doors for us. The teacher decides that all of the people who were supposed to counsel at 10:00 will now be bumped to 1:00 and sends us out. Go find something to do for two hours. SERIOUSLY?!?! I seriously got there at 9:30 this morning only to find out that no one bothered to set things up in advance enough that now our entire day is rearranged and I didn't have to be there until 1:00??? AND I'm missing a very important family outing? I was incredibly sad and crushed. I went to sit in my car in hopes of at least being able to take in some sunshine and fresh air. Soon my friends who had wisely signed up to counsel at 12:00 arrived and they were told they actually weren't counseling until 2:00 so they came to Chipotle with me to eat some lunch. I went back and got my stupid counseling out of the way and left.

It was easily one of the most frustrating days I've ever had. Even if we had been on time I wouldn't have been able to go with my family, and I get that. I just had a really hard time being there today 1- because it was gorgeous outside, and 2- because I wanted to celebrate my mom's birthday with my family. That was made even more annoying by the fact that everything about this lab was a holy disaster and there was nothing I could do about it. I think almost as disappointing as missing my mom's birthday celebration was the fact that my sister was taking a picture today for Stellan's Name Gallery, and it was my idea that I very much wanted to be a part of :(

However, all that being said, following Stellan's story has humbled me more than I can say. I realize that no matter how irritated I get with dumb everyday life type things, I really have nothing to complain about. How can I be mad that I missed the cherry blossoms? Is my baby fighting for his life in a hospital that has no answers to offer? Heck, is anyone I know fighting for their life? Stellan is a great reminder of all that we have to be thankful for and gives me the perspective I need to look past the little things [even when they seem big] and realize that things could be worse. I should be grateful that my mom is celebrating this birthday whether I was there or not. I should be grateful that I have the opportunity to work on a master's degree even if it means making small sacrifices. Stellan helps me to see how very little my problems and complaints are. In the words of my 5th period class of comedians: "Things could be worse, you could have one leg." That is their response to any and all complaints, and they think it is just hilarious. So I kept that in mind today and it made me smile a few times.

I'm off to count blessings.....

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Trying to be Spring

Today it finally feels like spring! The sun is out, the temperatures are somewhere in the 60s, and all the trees are blooming! See my header if you're wondering what the tree in our front yard looks like. SO pretty against the blue sky, sooo annoying all over the sidewalk :) Hahaha, but there are other reasons it feels like spring. One of which is because as of 11:10 am yesterday, I am officially on spring break until April 14th! Hooray! I celebrated by meeting my friend Leighanne (a fellow JHU grad student and Howard County social studies teacher) for a few drinks after school let out. In the spirit of nice weather I had Sam Adams Summer Ale and it was fantastic! Then we went to the Beck parents' house to have dinner with them, and Connor and Kelly, and Jennie and Michael. It made for an enjoyable, laid back Friday night.

Today we had no plans except Josh had a non-work-related meeting to go to this afternoon. So we got up, had a casual breakfast, I showered, and Josh went to his meeting. While he was gone I had to stop at Target where I bought not one, but TWO new pairs of flip-flops [see Jenna? other people blog about things that are not world-changing :)]. Both are incredibly cute and I'm wearing one pair right now. After Target I wanted to take Sheppie over to the park. Last time we had nice weather and tried to go to the park, there wasn't a parking space to be had. I expected the same today, but surprisingly found a spot right near our favorite tree [yes, in all of Centennial Park, we have a favorite tree]. It didn't take long to realize why there was an empty space. I lugged my backpack [full of papers to grade], the picnic blanket/cushions, dog on a leash, and can of coke over to the place I wanted to sit down. This was somewhat challenging but nothing compared to trying to get the picnic blanket spread out. What I failed to take into account here was that there is actually a weather advisory today for wind-gusts. As I'm trying to spread the blanket and it's flapping all over the place, Sheppie is freaking out and trying to get away from it. Since he's on a leash all that did was pull my hand and cause me to spill my coke. Grrrrr. All the while, the cushions that go with said blanket are flying away. So I put down the coke and the blanket and took off after the cushions dragging the dog behind me. Once I gathered the cushions I wadded up the blanket, threw my backpack back on my shoulder, picked up my coke and left. How lame.

I fully planned on setting up outside on my deck when I got home so I could still grad papers outside. But then I wanted to change my blog header, and that led to lots of blog reading, and then this here blog post. Lucky for you, I just got a call from our dinner guests- Jennie and Michael who are on their way to our house. So I will have to call it a day on here and get myself together a little bit before they arrive!

Happy spring :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Got My Back

Well, you've heard me do my share of complaining about work this school year. You've also heard me complain about grad school and some of the big concerns over my internship next year (where and when I'll be doing it in particular). I wish I could say that I have some reprieve from either of those issues right now, but instead I just have one of those tiny rainbows that lets you know someone's got your back.

Yesterday at lunch (our department eats lunch together instead of having after school meetings) the topic of next year came up in conversation. Someone who knew about my internship worries -- not being able to do my 200 hours at my school -- asked if I had gotten things taken care of. I said I hadn't and then the entire room suddenly became engaged in this giant brainstorming session about ways I could get my hours done while working full time. Some of their suggestions were things that just wouldn't work, but all were incredibly thoughtful and welcome.

If that wasn't nice enough, two guys in the department who have very much acted as mentors to me this year and really always offered me any advice and help I needed, approached me individually after that lunch. One stopped back in during my planning time and offered to cover my 6th period class (his planning period) here and there so I could leave school early to get in an extra hour or two at my internship school. The other came to me after school and offered me the opportunity to get in some hours by working with the counselors in the summer school program (which he runs). In addition to that, my principal has contacted the Counseling Department Chair personally by phone and email to request that I be able to complete my internship in our school.

I don't know if any of those things are possible, or if they'll happen, but in such an uncertain situation I find it very comforting to know that I am surrounded by people who are willing to bend and twist themselves and their schedules to help me out. This is a school where I've spent less than a year working. I probably haven't given it enough credit for being a really positive work environment through all of my complaints about the actual work-load. I do love the school and the people I work with. In fact, as scared as I was to work in Howard County's "ghetto" school, I think at this point I wouldn't want to teach anywhere else. I'm really looking forward to next year when I'll (hopefully) be able to take a deep breath and enjoy OM for all it's glory without being blinded by textbooks and lesson plans.

I love the half-full glass :)