Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mooch's Birthday

As some of you know, Christmas Day is also Ann's (a.k.a Mooch's) birthday. This year, we wanted to do something special for her big day. On Christmas Eve, while Ann was at Mass with her parents and celebrating with them, my mom, Sara, and I set up a scavenger hunt for her. We took the gifts we had designated as her birthday presents (as opposed to her Christmas presents) and hid them throughout my mom's house, Sara's car, and the shed. We even went so far as to hide one in the bathroom, below the toilet seat cover! We wrote rhyming clues on winter stationary, so Ann would have to search for the presents. When Ann arrived on Christmas Day, we went right into the hunt. It was so much fun to see how excited she was about the game and the gifts. She ended up with some good loot, too! She got Batman Legos, several gift cards, shoes, and a hooded sweatshirt. I must say the best part was definitely when she looked in the toilet for a gift! Instead of cake, Ann asked my mom to make her a birthday pecan pie. It was cute seeing the candles coming out of the pie while we sang. I really hope that Ann enjoyed it as much as the rest of us did!

A Family Christmas

I hope that everyone had as wonderful of a Christmas as I did! My sister and Ann came into town to celebrate with my mom and me. We had a blast! We started out going to see Christmas lights around Great Bridge and Kempsville. Some people are so creative in their displays, especially Allen (who gives the Griswolds a run for their money) and Preston. We even went to see the house of one of my students. Their display is amazing, with the lights set to several Christmas songs. On Christmas Eve, we each got to open one present. My mom and I each got a calendar that my sister made for us, which is awesome and filled with pictures from the last year. My sister got a clock from Pottery Barn. Thanks to Sampras, we all woke up early on Christmas Day. I was downstairs around 5:30, and my mom was already waiting. Sara wandered down a few minutes later, and we eventually emptied our stockings. Mine was filled with perfume, lottery tickets (I won a dollar), candy, and many other goodies. Later in the day, we ate a buffet-style meal of ham, baked hashbrowns, corn, broccoli, rolls, green slushy punch, and sparkling cider. It was delicious, but my mom's cooking always is! Eventually, Ann came over (from her parents' house), and we got to opening presents. We were all quite spoiled, as usual. I finally got a Tivo, so now I won't miss all the good shows when I'm out and about or fast asleep! Perhaps my funniest gift was a chair to sit in at kickball games. The back of it reads "Kickball Superstar." I love it, but I am a little worried about living up to the expectations it will surely bring! At the end of the day, I received more wonderful gifts than I could ever deserve or list on here. In fact, we all did. Even Sampras got in on the gift action, opening a big purple ball, treats, and other toys. It was a blast to see him try to get it all out of the box to play with. It was a day when I really realized how blessed we all truly are, not just because of the gifts, but also because of the time we got to spend together!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Kickball Christmas

Last Friday, I was able to kick-off the weekend before Christmas with my second family, the Crazy Kickers. Preston and Karen were kind enough to invite the entire team over for a pre-Christmas celebration. It was great to see everyone. Since the kickball season ended in October, I haven't seen some of my teammates in a few months. We were all asked to bring a side dish/appetizer to go along with the ham provided by Dude and Ma. I brought Baked Hashbrowns (an Iowa recipe), which I thought tasted pretty good considering the fact that it was the first time I had ever made them (and the fact that I mess up everything I ever attempt in the kitchen). The food was all delicious! We also were asked to bring a $10 gift to use in a Yankee (Dirty Santa) gift swap. I am proud to say that the Best Buy gift card I provided was quite popular (the most stolen gift of the night). I was impressed by all of the creative gifts that people brought: games, lottery tickets, beer kegs, gift cards, cookie jars, etc. It was a lot of fun, but I must say that the best part was just talking to and spending time with friends. It was especially cool that Ben had come in from Florida, where he has been living since he got married in August. Also great was seeing Cattina, who is more than ready to welcome little Cali into the world any day now (so exciting)! It amazes me that all of us are soooo different but that we can get along so well. It may sound cliche, but I really do feel like we are family.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


I know that it has been a few months since I have written, but I wanted to share with everyone the experience that I had yesterday. For the second year in a row, I volunteered as a shopper for the Salvation Army's Toy Depot. I did it last year as well, and I had a blast. Therefore, when the opportunity presented itself to do it again this year, I jumped on it. This year, I was joined by my mom (who went last year, too) and my co-worker's daughter, Shay. We got to the toy depot at about 8:15 and spent the next four hours helping parents pick out toys for their children to open on Christmas Day. When you see these parents light up at the thought of being able to make their children's Christmas Day special, it really makes you realize how lucky you are. It is also nice to see all of the toys, clothing, and food items that generous people and companies have donated throughout the year to help families in need. To begin with, a marine introduces you to your client, usually a very shy mother, but we worked with a few fathers, too. You walk with your client through the toy isle (donated through Toys for Tots), picking out 2-3 toys for each of their children. Then, at the end of the toy isle, you pick up a box from the Angel Tree donations found in malls. The hardest part of doing this work each year has been realizing that some of these boxes are empty because the children's names weren't chosen from the Angel Tree. Just to try to help, Mom and I went out last night and bought for two teen-aged boys off the tree at Greenbrier Mall. At least we know those two boxes will be filled when their parents get to the depot this week. After picking up the clothing boxes, you take your client to pick up a "mommy gift," which was a cake-shaped candle this year. Finally, you walk your client to the checkout area, where their toys and clothes are packed up by more marines and where they are presented with a box of food and a chicken. The parents leave with the biggest smiles on their faces, knowing that this year will be special for their kids on Christmas Day. Both years I have done this, I have left with so many great stories about shocked parents saying, "we get all of this?" or thanking you every time you place something new in their cart. The highlight of this year's experience was definitely the mother who told us that her kids hadn't had Christmas in four years. I can just imagine what her four kids are going to feel like when they see all those toys and clothes on Christmas. Words cannot describe what it is like to be at the toy depot seeing all of the parents and volunteers working together for others. It really reminds you of the real meaning of Christmas!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloween All Around!!!

Halloween is just a few days away now! Of course there is no way that I could forget this since the kids are so pumped up for candy and costumes that they are bouncing off the walls! Because they are soooo ready, I figured it was about time that I got my act together and got into the Halloween spirit! My decorations have been out for weeks, but I finally got around to carving my pumpkin today. May I just say that I think this is the best pumpkin I have ever carved on my own? Growing up, my parents always did a majority of the work, and we just made simple faces in the pumpkins. When the pumpkin carving kits came out, my sister usually did a majority of the work, and since she is pretty artistically gifted, the pumpkins were always cool. In fact, I would usually start my own pumpkin, mess it up, and rely on her to fix my mistakes! I especially liked the Statue of Liberty she carved into one of our pumpkins after 9/11. This year, the pressure was on because I was all alone in the pumpkin carving department. I used a kit, of course, because I am not skilled enough to carve without a pattern, but I am still proud of how it turned out. In addition to getting in the spirit at home, I also made sure that the two classrooms my students are based out of had the doors decorated for the holiday. The kids have loved looking at their bats on the doors for the past few weeks (because each of them have their name listed on one of the bats), and they have been very protective of the doors! You can't be overtly Halloween-ish in a school building, so that is why the doors read, "Beeware...we're batty about learning!" If you look closely, you'll notice the giant bee in between the doors has vampire bat fangs as well. We've received tons of compliments from other teachers and students, so the pressure is on to come up with something clever for Thanksgiving! The pictures can't really do it justice! My TA, Lynn, really outdid herself! Happy Halloween everyone!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Last Weekend

Last weekend was such a great weekend that I figured all of you would want to hear about it! My cousin flew in from Massachusetts, and my Aunt Sara flew in from Iowa. My mom and I had not seen either of them since my Grandpa Harry died two years ago. It was soooo much fun to see them under happier circumstances. Every time we get together, it amazes me how we pick up right where we left off. It is never awkward like it can be with other people I haven't seen in ages! We spent the entire weekend catching up, talking about old times, laughing at each other, and simply enjoying each other's company! We spent Friday night (after they both got here) at my mom's house wearing matching pajamas my mom had bought us for the occasion. I think we could have talked all night without running out of things to say, but I had to come home so that Sampras could eat and powder his nose. We all got up early on Saturday and went to some antique stores (not my favorite but the other three collect them). We then took the ferry to Williamsburg from Smithfield Station, went shopping at the pottery and the outlets, and ended up at Macy's. It was a long day but tons of fun. On Sunday, we got up early again and went to church. Lindsay, my cousin, said she saw more young people walking into church that morning than she has seen in over two years at her house, so I am working on convincing her to move here. After church, we had hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill and headed to Home-a-Rama. While it was very interesting seeing all of the gynormous million dollar houses, I think they made all of us appreciate our cozy houses even more. Sadly, Sunday night saw the end of Lindsay's and Sara's visits. I had to go back to work on Monday, and they both had to fly home. Still, we have plans to get together each Columbus Day from now on. Plus, there is a good chance that Lindsay is going to come here for Thanksgiving this year. I'll just enjoy the pictures we took in the meantime! Nothing beats family!!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

My Kickball Souvenir

As most of you who read this already know, I play on a kickball team. As far as my position goes, most game nights are relatively uneventful. I rarely make it on base (usually because I forget to run after making contact with the ball), and opposing teams rarely kick the ball in my direction (which I am okay with because I'm not the best kickball catcher in the world). Still, last Thursday was an exception. During the second game of a double-header we were playing, a player from the other team kicked a pop-fly that went up somewhere between third base (where I have been playing while Kellie recovers) and the pitcher's mound. Allen, the captain and founder of the team, went running for the ball, but it didn't look like he had a good jump on it from my vantage point. In a truly un-Stacey-like move, I decided that there was a good possibility that I could catch the ball, so I went for it. Needless to say, Allen didn't see me coming, so we collided at full speed. I don't remember much about the fall or landing, but I do remember teammates trying to help me up while Allen was still sitting on my hair. Then, when he finally heard me say that he was on my hair, I got up and felt a terrible pain in my right leg. Kellie knows exactly where it hurt, but I'll choose not to share that on here (hehehe). The next couple of days brought quite a bit of pain, everywhere from my shoulder and ribs to my legs, head, and rear end (giggle). I limped through the school day on Friday and relaxed all day Saturday. The beginning of this week has seen a near complete reduction in pain. My ribs hurt a little when I sneeze, cough, or laugh, but it really isn't bad at all. Still, I do have a giant swollen bruise on my leg. Oddly enough, I have chosen to wear this bruise as a badge of honor. I am rather proud of it, feeling as though you can't be a real kickball player until the game has left its mark on you. Lesson Learned: stay out of Allen's way and never underestimate his amazing kickball skills!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Another Alphabet Update

Okay, so my summer officially ended with my return to work today....sad, but true! Looking at my blog, it would appear that I didn't get very far with completing my "alphabet activities," but that isn't actually the case. So I'll tell you about the things that I can cross off of the list after the last few weeks. About two weeks ago, my friend, Lynn, and I went to Colonial Williamsburg for a day. That covered the C from my list. We started the day walking Duke of Gloucester Street, going in the colonial shops, and watching the people in costume going about their daily activities. It was extremely hot outside, but I didn't mind because I absolutely love Williamsburg! Of course, while there we had to go to Bruton Parish Church, where we saw pews most likely occuppied at one time by George Washington and other famous Americans. I know that it is totally cheesy, but I love thinking that I am walking in the footsteps of people I teach my students about in school! After getting our "colonial fix," Lynn and I headed to Merchant's Square, thus covering the M on my list. We did a lot of window shopping, but very little buying. Still, I did get two birthday presents for my mom's upcoming big day in November. For lunch, Lynn and I headed to a cute little restaraunt called the "Library." It is called this because it is an old library that has been converted into a place to eat. The best part of the restaraunt was that all of the menu items were named after famous authors and books. I thought that was a cute touch. Later that same week, I headed up to my sister's house in Lanham, Maryland. Just entering her city helped me to cross off the L (Lanham) on my list, but the best was yet to come. I only spent four days with my sister this summer (most summers I go for a week), so our days were jam-packed with things to do. On the day that I arrived, Sara and I went to the campus of the University of Maryland, where she is currently working on getting her Ph.d. This was the U on my list. There, we went to see Sara's office and to get our pictures taken with a statue of Jim Henson with Kermit the Frog. It turns out that the famous muppet man was once a student at this school. Of course, we also went to see the Testudo statue, rubbing the mascot's nose for good luck. After leaving the campus, we headed straight for IKEA, which helped me to cross the I off my list. I love IKEA because you can get some quality items for very cheap prices. Still, my favorite part of the store is simply walking through all of the models that are set up. The only problem is that the beds are never made because weird people walk through and lay down in them. Don't they realize how many other people have done the same thing? Anyway, they had a lot of things that I wanted to buy there, but I only ended up getting a pretty, red-flowered bottle for my bedroom and a movie-strip-inspired frame that holds several pictures. The next day, Sara and I headed to the Egyptian Theater (my letter E) to see the movie "The Restaraunt." While we could have seen this movie at any theater, it just seems so much cooler to see the movie in a place with a Egyptian theme. Of course, I had to get my picture taken with some of the ancient decor! The movie was very good but a lot sadder than I expected. Despite that, I would still reccommend that everyone see it. After the movie, Sara and I ate at DuClaw, where they make several kinds of custom beer. Since I don't drink, that wasn't a big draw for me, but the food was yummy. Finally, we ended the night by meeting up with Ann, Sara's roommate and one of my best friends, at Dave and Buster's, the D on my list. We spent the next three hours playing Skiball, basketball, a very realistic tennis video game, football, and several other games. It was tons of fun, especially since I won most of the Skiball and basketball games! I will admit, though, that Sara kicked my butt in tennis every time (Sampras would have been so ashamed). One of the highlights of the evening was definitely when Ann won a kickball for me out of one of those giant claw machines (on the first try no less)! I just wanted to prove to the Crazy Kickers that while I may have missed the beginning of the season because I was out of town, I was still thinking about the team!!! Thanks for your help, Ann! On my third day with my sister, we went into Washington, D.C. (my W) on the metro. I think I am starting to get the hang of the metro, but I am still constantly surprised by some of the people you see while riding it, especially those who are clearly on drugs. Once in D.C., Sara and I headed to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, where we saw tons of fossils and dinosaur bones. The best part of this was that I got lots of pictures to use in my classroom during our fossil and energy units later in the year. At the museum, we also saw the Hope Diamond, but I must admit that it was pretty disappointing and not nearly as glamorous as anticipated. After another metro ride, Sara and I met up with Ann at the National Zoo. It was soooo much fun. Although things started out slowly with our being denied entrance into the panda house (due to time constraints) and with several animals hiding from visitors, things eventually picked up as we saw a slumbering cheetah, a very entertaining elephant bathing himself, the cutest red pandas, and many other animals! That took care of the Z on my list. After returning from Maryland, my friend, Sarah, and I decided to send out the summer with a bang by heading back up to Williamsburg to go on a ghost walk (the letter G) through the colonial city. The tour started at 8:00, which meant that it was a nice, dark time of the day. The tour started on campus at William and Mary (my future school) and covered a good portion of Duke of Gloucester Street. While it was very entertaining, our guide was extremely long-winded and could have probably told more stories if he hadn't taken so long to get each story out. I can't say that I was ever spooked by the stories, but I did learn the meanings behind many idioms that we all use everyday (such as "Put your best foot forward," "Pulling the wool over his eyes," and "Pulling your leg"). In the end, we had a good time, but we are going to try the ghost walk led by tavern employees who have, supposedly, "seen" the ghosts next year. Aside from all of these activities, I also completed my O twice over the last few weeks when I visited different outlet malls with my mom, Sara, and Sarah. First, I went to the Potomac Mills Outlet with my mom and my sister about a week ago. I got a few outfits for work while on this trip. Then, last weekend, Sarah and I went to the Williamsburg Outlets to again shop for work clothes. Unfortunately, I didn't see anything I had to have while on this excursion. Still, I love to shop, so I thoroughly enjoyed both shopping trips. So there you have it. All of the alphabet activities that I completed over the last few weeks. I may not have completely finished all of my planned activities, but I think I came pretty close. When all was said and done, it was a great summer! I'll have to come up with a new list for next summer (not that I'm already counting down the days....180....haha)!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Cheers All Around!

In recent weeks, my friends and I have been going through a whole bunch of new experiences. Of course, you already know that I bought my very own new house, but congratulations are also in order for many of my friends. Hopefully I don't leave anything out. Please forgive me if I do! As I've already mentioned on here, two of my kickball friends, Cattina and Allen, are expecting their first baby in January. Yesterday, they found out that they are having a girl! This is very exciting news! I know the whole Crazy Kicker family is anxious to meet her (and to shop for her)! Closely connected to this are Preston and Karen, who will become first-time grandparents when the little one arrives at the beginning of next year! They will be fabulous at it, too! Another Crazy Kicker, Kellie, was recently hired to teach art, photography, and graphic design at Norview High, which is right by her house. She is going to be a fabulous teacher because she has a passion for the subject matter and for the kids! I certainly look forward to sharing and comparing stories with her in the upcoming year! On to Ben, yet another Crazy Kicker with something big going on. In fact, Ben is about to take the huge step into wedded bliss! In just two short weeks, Ben will be marrying his long-time girlfriend in Florida. While I will miss Ben and his extreme speed on the kickball field, I wish him every happiness with Patrice! Leaving the kickball team behind, more congratulations must be extended to my friend, Triva, who is one of my best friends from my time at Wesleyan! She and her husband, Chad, recently welcomed their second son, Noah, into the world. Noah joins older brother Logan in completing this family of four. Both of the boys are just adorable! Well, that is all I can think of right now. I am sure to have further updates soon, seeing as how we are all at that age when weddings and babies (anytime now, Sarah) are running rampant! I am so glad to get to share in all of these special times!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

DANG, It's HOT!!

I am sure most would agree with me that it is just tooooo hot outside. I hate opening the door and feeling like I have walked into a brick wall. It is unbelievable that it is so hot outside that I start to sweat in the 20 or so steps that I have to take to my car. Then, the car offers no relief. I get inside and feel as though I have entered a sauna. Turning on the air conditioner offers very little relief (at first, anyway). It just blows a whole bunch of hot air when first turned on. Sheesh, it is just so much more comfortable to stay inside. I, for one, am very glad that I was born in a time with the convenience of air conditioning and ice machines. I don't really consider myself a pampered girly-girl, but I certainly am not a person that thrives in this kind of weather. I'll just consider myself lucky that I don't have a job that requires that I work outside (Allen and Preston) because I surely wouldn't make it through a single day. The funny thing is that I don't remember the heat bothering me so much as a kid. I was always outside, and it never bothered me! I guess a person's tolerance for heat is one thing that diminishes with age. Either that or we just can't get away with the cooling activities that we relied on as kids. After all, my neighbors may start to talk if I started running through a sprinkler or flying down a "Slip-n-Slide." I'll save myself that embarrassment and just stay inside.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Okay, I am finally going to fill you in on how I am doing with completing my alphabet tasks. The progress is slow, but I have a lot planned for my last few weeks of vacation. Starting with the letter "A," I have been to an amusement park. I went to Busch Gardens with, Jodi, one of my best friends from teaching. Jodi and I met my first year teaching, when we were both working on the third grade hall. Since then, Jodi has moved to our middle school, but we keep in touch since I spend two afternoons a week working at her school. Anyway, Jodi and I decided to go to Busch Gardens on a day when her kids were with other family members. She was especially excited about this because it was the first time she'd been to BG without children. In the end, we had a blast. The weather was perfect, not as hot as it had been on other days. Because we didn't go until early afternoon, we got premiere parking and didn't have to wait in any terribly long lines. Plus, we only rode the rides we really wanted to go on, and we got to take our time and see as many of the shows as we wanted to see. My personal favorite was the "More Pet Shenanigans" show, which displays adopted cats and dogs doing the cutest tricks! I wanted to bring them all home with me! I also enjoyed riding the new "Griffon" roller coaster. Jodi wanted to ride in the front row, but since I am not the biggest roller coaster fan, I convinced her to ride in the second row. After the ride, I had to admit that it was really fun and a very smooth ride. It is definitely one of the best there, right up there with "Apollo's Chariot." When all was said and done, it was an extremely fun day spent with a really great friend! On to the letter "B." I listed "backyard barbecue" as my task for this letter. I actually completed this task way back on the 4th of July, when some of the members of my kickball team got together to celebrate the holiday. Considering that this was a gathering of some of my favorite people, I knew that it would be a blast, but it far exceeded my expectations. I spent the beginning of the party playing basketball in the pool with some of the boys. Of course, the problem with this was that I didn't have my bathing suit with me, so I ended up soaked and had to borrow clothes from Karen so that I could comfortably enjoy the rest of the party. Still, I wouldn't have had it any other way. I love basketball, but hadn't really played at all in years. A little water wasn't going to keep me from having some fun! Also at the party, we had some delicious food and great conversations. At one point, I was playing air hockey with Cattina, but the results of that were so embarrassing that I don't care to share them on here! Let's just say I scored more than she did, but she won in the end.....argh!!! Skipping down to the letter "K," I have spent a little time sharpening my kickball skills this summer. To start with, there was one Sunday in particular when I raced from church to kickball practice. While I had fun that day, I must admit that it was incredibly hot and uncomfortable outside. On top of that, we got kicked off of the field we were originally supposed to practice/play on and then had trouble finding a new field to use. In the end, I played in a game and scored a run, so I considered it a successful day. Since then, I have been doing a little bit of practice, especially with Sampras. In fact, I even bought a huge kickball to use in the backyard, but since Sampras had it popped in less than a minute, that didn't really help very much. I must say that the MVP training isn't really going as planned. Looks like Kellie is a shoe-in for this season!!! "Q" is for "quiet time," which I thankfully have had a good amount of this summer. When I wake up in the morning (at whatever time....haha), I usually spend a couple of hours relaxing. It is soooo nice not to have anywhere where I have to be right away in the mornings. Most days, I spend a little time playing with Sampras and reading books or the newspaper. It is wonderful to start the days so calmly, especially since I know I'll be rushing to get to work in just a few weeks. I can't even tell you how nice it has been to relax! I have done a little bit of "Running" this summer, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. Because I have a difficult time being in the sun (due to my light sensitivity and the fact that I just don't like the heat), I usually find excuses not to run on the days that I plan to. I will say that I have taken Sampras for quite a few walks, so it isn't like I haven't gotten any exercise this summer. To tell the truth, I should have known when adding that letter to my list that I would be too lazy to actually stick to that plan. Who did I think I was kidding? Last week, I completed my letter "T" task by attending a Tides' game. That night, the Tides were playing the Louisville Bats. I went to the game with my best friend from college, Sarah. Sarah and I have attended at least one game for the last few summers, but this one was by far the worst. The Tides lost 11-0, and they basically couldn't do anything right the entire game. In fact, I think they only got two men on base the entire night. It was a sad showing, making the highlight of the game the extremely cute guy that played for the other team. Of course, Sarah and I weren't about to let some disappointing play by the home team ruin our night. We ended up laughing late into the night about professors and experiences that we had had in college. I certainly don't regret attending the game, seeing as how I don't think a summer can be complete without at least one live baseball game. The last letter that I have completed thus far is the letter "Y." After moving into my new house, I went to the Yankee Candle Store with my mom, my sister, and one of my best friends, Ann. It made for a very fun day. After spending the first part of our trip smelling every scent of candle known to man, our fun foursome then wandered through the other stores within the candle castle. My favorite store continues to be the one where snow falls year-round. I always hope for snow here, so I don't think you can beat a place where it snows all the time. It is just magical!! While I have been to the Yankee Candle Store several times at this point, this was the first time I ever participated in the candle-dipping process. Well, I actually just watched Ann dip a candle, but it was fun none-the-less. Ann ended up dipping a wax sunshine into red, orange, and yellow coloring, and it came out looking really cool. At the end of the trip, I walked away with about ten candle tarts, which I have been using to keep my house smelling wonderful. It was another fun day with great people, and I don't think you can ask for much more!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

One of those Nights

NOTE: I actually wrote this blog on Sunday night, but I didn't want to publish it until I warned my mom that it would be there. Once I got the go-ahead, I decided to include it on my blog because I did feel a lot better after writing it. So here it is:
I'm having one of those nights. I'm sure you know the kind. I have plenty of things I could be doing, but I can't think of anything that I actually want to do. So instead of doing one of the many things that need to get done, I'm just sitting here feeling sorry for myself. My thinking is that maybe if I type it out, I will start to feel better. Nothing has actually gone badly today. In fact, other than being tired, I am probably just in a bad mood because I have been harping on old issues today. My number one bother at this moment is my father. I haven't talked to him in months (March, maybe). I don't give it much thought on most days, but when I am in this kind of mood, thoughts of it constantly nag at me. The main reason we don't talk anymore is because he called and left a voicemail on my cell phone saying that if I wasn't going to call him more often or answer any of his phone calls (which he conveniently made when he knew I was at work), then I could just "have a nice life." The thing you should know is that my dad and I used to be very close. We used to go to Tides' games and college basketball games together all the time. We would have great conversations. When I was in high school, my dad was working nights, but I would call him every Tuesday and Friday night to tell him the scores of my basketball games or to keep him posted on the race for the home run record between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire. He was a fabulous builder, and he was constantly making things for our house; things that I have in my house to this day. It was his goal every Christmas to give my sister and me the best presents possible, whether they were cameras, a Mike Piazza jersey, or even my wonderful dog, Sampras. One time, we went to a Tides' game because they had advertised that they were giving out Piazza bobble heads. When we got there, they were only giving the collectibles to kids. Knowing I was disappointed, my dad went home and ordered me a much nicer bobble head off of eBay. That was just the kind of guy he was. He would tell me he loved me any time he was leaving the house or hanging up the phone, and I never had any reason to doubt him. I guess that is why it is so hard to believe that we don't talk at all anymore. My dad has no idea where I live or what my home phone number is, and I doubt that he cares most days. He has a classic case of a mid-life crisis, although he would never admit to that. It is amazing how much he has changed from the person he used to be. He is like a total stranger to me and my sister. The clean-cut man who always cared about his appearance has long greasy hair and wears nasty t-shirts and dirty jeans everywhere now. The man who used to be able to give everyone advice on the moral way to handle things can no longer be counted on to make moral decisions at all. So while it does bother me to have no kind of relationship with my father, I know it is much easier to not deal with him. When I was still talking to him, the conversations were very forced and shallow. For a week afterward, I would be upset and harping on things he had said that upset me. So why do I let it bother me at all? Well, I am one of those people who can't help but think "what if?". You know what I mean. What if something happens to him and we left things like this? What will it be like when I find that special person and I don't have my dad to walk me down the aisle? What if he isn't at my wedding at all? What if I run into him five years from now and I'm married with children that he doesn't even know? I know that that is all way down the road, but I still think about it. The truth is that only one person has ever broken my heart, and it was my father. I can still see him looking me in the eyes and lying to my face. It really makes it hard to trust anyone. Still, trying to be the positive, happy person that all my friends claim I am, I try to look at the bright side of things. All of this happening has taught me many valuable lessons. I am certainly less naive than I used to be about "white picket fences" and "happily ever afters." Don't get me wrong, I still want to find love, I just don't think I'll go into it as blindly as I would have before. Other good things to come out of all of this: I have much closer relationships with my mom and my sister, and I learned that true friends are the ones who will rush over and drive you around for hours while you cry (thank you Sarah) and who will let you crash their football party because you just don't want to go home (thank you Carolyn). In the end, I know that my faith will get me through all of this, even days like today. Things work out the way that they are intended to. One day, we may understand things that we don't at this time, but everything happens for a reason. While I know that things will never be the same between my father and me, I still have hope that we can have some kind of relationship in the future. In the meantime, I will just count my blessings that I have a wonderful mother and sister and wonderful friends. I will also consider myself lucky because I had a wonderful father for 22 years.

Friday, July 20, 2007


The long-awaited day has finally arrived! In just a matter of hours, people around the world will be purchasing their copy of the last book in the Harry Potter series. I have been thinking about it all day. Of course, it was hard not to when people were talking about it everywhere I went and when it was all over the news and in newspapers! The interesting thing is that I am not even a fan, not in the traditional sense anyway. I read the first book and saw the first movie, but that is as far as my Harry Potter following goes. So why am I so excited about the release of the last book in the Harry Potter series? The answer is simple: I am a teacher. Because of this, I am a fan of any book that gets kids interested in reading, and the Harry Potter books certainly seem to have that ability. As a third grade teacher, few of my students begin the school year with the ability to read a Harry Potter book from cover to cover. As a special ed inclusion teacher, many of my students still aren't able to read and comprehend an entire Potter book at the end of the school year. Still, in my three years of teaching, I have watched many students check out these books from our school library. Some students struggle through an entire book and walk away with a moderate understanding of the plot. Others struggle with reading the books to the point where they finally give up on reading them on their own, opting instead to take the books home and read them with their parents. However it is that they get through the books, students who have read these books always seem to end up with a new appreciation for books as a whole. They suddenly can't wait to check out the next book in the Potter series, or any other book; they just want to read! They finally have an understanding of what we, as teachers, are always trying to tell them, which is, "books can take you anywhere, even to worlds that don't really exist." I am aware that the Harry Potter books have not been without controversy. Still, I think we should all be able to appreciate a series of books that can magically instill of love of reading in children. I look at it this way: today, children all over the world have been anxiously awaiting the release of a book! They have been begging their parents to take them to wait in lines at bookstores! On top of that, these same children will spend their weekends preoccupied with reading, instead of with playing the Nintendo Wii or computer games. In my opinion, that is pretty impressive and downright fantastic!!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Summer Activities from A to Z

So I am reading a new book. What can I say? I'm a teacher; I read during the summer. Anyway, in this book, the characters decide to use the letters of the alphabet to plan their weekend activities. While reading last night, I began to think that it was a pretty good idea. At this point, I still have about six weeks left in my summer vacation (sounds like a lot, but it will surely fly by). Therefore, I have compiled a list of things to do and places to go over the next six weeks that begin with the letters of the alphabet. As of right now, the list is incomplete because I haven't come up with ideas for every letter. I have no idea what I'll do for Q, X, and Z. I figure I'll talk to my friends and see if they can come up with any ideas. Of course, my activities and trips won't be as wonderful as the ones discussed in the book, especially since the book characters took trips to places like Paris and Italy. Still, I figure it can lead to a lot of fun and to some stories to tell. My hope is that my friends will take a look at the list and pick some excursions they would like to join me on. I'll keep you posted!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Today is the birthday of one of my oldest friends, Cattina! Cattina and I have been friends since we worked together at the Navy Exchange my senior year in high school. We lived just around the corner from each other for a long time without really hanging out, but then the Exchange helped us to become friends. In fact, I even played a very small part in Cattina's engagement. I relieved her from the "dirty mart" so that her now husband would be able to propose. I just wish I had been able to witness the proposal instead of working on base with the roaches and dirty laundry! Still, I got to be present for Allen and Cattina's wedding, and it was beautiful! Sadly, soon after the wedding, Cattina and I lost touch. There was no particular reason for this loss of contact, just that both of us were living busy lives. As luck would have it though, Cattina got in touch with my sister on myspace, and she soon contacted me to play on the kickball team she was starting with her husband (Go Crazy Kickers!) Since then, we have been hanging out again, and I have been introduced to many of her great friends and family members. I look forward to staying friends with Cattina from now on, especially now that she has a little baby on the way. She is going to be an absolutely fabulous mother! Happy Birthday, Cattina!!!

Monday, July 9, 2007

It has been pointed out to me that perhaps I should describe my new house on here, especially since I have only had four people over so far. As I said before, the house isn't huge, but it is a good size for me and Sampras, my dog. It is one story with a nice living room/dining room. I have a fireplace, which makes me feel really special for some reason. There are two large windows in the front, which really let a lot of light in all day. I have a good-sized kitchen, probably a lot bigger than I need with my limited cooking skills. All of the appliances are rather new, but the fruity wallpaper on the kitchen walls will have to go as soon as possible. My bathroom is really nice, with a new bathtub that has a built-in towel holder, a seat to sit on, and all kinds of shelf space inside the shower. My house has two bedrooms. The master bedroom, which is currently the least decorated in the entire house, is huge and has a gynormous walk-in closet. The closet has a built-in shoe rack and plenty of room for my large quantity of clothing. Sampras could easily make a comfortable home in the huge closet. The spare bedroom is actually being used as my office. It is much smaller than the other bedroom, but that may be because there is more furniture in it. The spare room overlooks the backyard, which is fenced in and contains two sheds. One shed holds all of the lawn tools, and the other shed is currently holding holiday decorations. The carpet and paint is brand new throughout the house. Most of the house is decorated in blue and green, but the master bedroom is reddish-orange and gold. I really like the house and look forward to continuing to make it my own. I also look forward to meeting my neighbors.
So I have decided to start a blog. It seems like all of the "cool" kids are doing it, so I am jumping on the bandwagon. If it is anything like writing in a journal or a diary, I probably won't keep up with it, but I'll give it a try anyway.Last week, I finally moved into my very own house. I started looking for a house last summer, but due to my lackluster salary (you don't go into teaching for the money), I was unable to qualify for much of anything. After letting the market cool off for a year, receiving a slight salary increase, and shopping around for the perfect loan, I have a house. I really love it. It is a good size for me and the dog, although the yard may be a little more than I want to mow every week. Still, I am nearly done decorating it. I really only need some placemats and a tablecloth for the dining room and a bedroom set for the master bedroom (which will have to wait until I've saved some money). Other than that, everything is set. I think my family and friends would agree that the decor is very me, even if my mom and sister wouldn't decorate exactly as I did. The best part....I am no longer in an apartment. No loud neighbors below or beside me, no three flights of stairs to climb multiple times a day, and no rent being wasted monthly. Money will probably be tight for awhile, but it will certainly be worth it in the long run. I am definitely an adult now!!! A special thank you to my mom for helping to make it all possible though. While I may be an adult, I'll always need her. Love ya, MOM!