Thursday, December 31, 2009
I have a Christmas album dedicated to these yearly letters. It has a copy of each year's letter, and includes the photo and/or card which accompanied the letters we sent. Each winter, I enjoy re-reading all of the letters. It's a neat reminder of what has happened since DH and I were married. From our first post-college jobs to getting our first pets, to announcing the birth of Emma...our letters capture all of the events which stand out as we reflect on each year.
This year's letter was the 10th Christmas letter I've mailed. Yet it was the most difficult to write. As I started to write this year's letter, I noted that Emma had her first hair cut the first weekend of January. This was a big event for us---most kids don't wait until they turn 4 to get their hair cut. But Em had such fine, baby fuzz hair and was nearly bald until she was 2. She didn't really have "pony tail" hair until she turned 3. So, though I felt lame including it in a holiday letter, Em's haircut was mentioned in the Christmas letter this year.
The next significant event of 2009, was my miscarriage. January 13th is when I was told that I was miscarrying Peanut. I came to a standstill. I wanted to include this in my holiday letter, as it was definitely a significant event in 2009. I tried. At first I included the miscarriage. But it was really difficult for me to keep a lighthearted Christmas cheer type of tone when discussing the despair I felt at losing a baby. Thus, I decided not to mention it at all.
Therefore, the entire time I was sifting through my calendar, asking DH and Emma what events stood out for them in 2009, and writing our yearly letter...I kept thinking that the event which stands out the most for me would not be included.
Shortly after mailing off the Christmas letters I eventually composed, I participated in ICLW---International Comment Leaving Week. It's an event wherein blog writers commit to reading and commenting on 6 other blogs every day for a week. As it is sponsored by Mel the majority of bloggers involved are usually part of the ALI (Adoption, Loss, Infertility) community. Two days after Christmas, I came across a blog I don't think I've visited before. I was struck by the post... The blog author and her DH had endured the loss of their sweet baby boy at only 18 weeks gestation. I was saddened for their loss. If I still hurt a year later over a baby who I never met, imagine their heartache at having to deliver, hold, and say good-bye to their infant?
What I was especially moved by, was the writer's Christmas card. She and her DH had dedicated their entire card to the memory of their sweet Baby, and to thanking their family and friends for the support they've received. Why didn't I think of that?? Two parts of their Christmas greeting stood out to me: First, " Unfortunately, the plan for our lives was a little different than we anticipated." YES! That line called out to me---my 2009 outcome was also very different than I anticipated. And second, "Christmas seems the most appropriate time to share these blessings and thank everyone for the amazing amount of support we have received. Your prayers, caring words, love, and kindness have truly changed our lives. " YES! As I continue to move on (and still long for another child) it is important for me to be grateful for the outpouring of love we've experienced this year. Thank you, to the blog writer at My Journey with Endometriosis your words described exactly how I am feeling and helped me find closure for 2009.
So if you are reading this, thank you. To those who let me rant and vent and ramble when I need to , I appreciate you. To those who've been there for hugs in person or hugs via the Internet or telephone, I have felt your love. Thank you for the prayers and well wishes and caring. I truly appreciate it!
I went from being misty-eyed while decorating for Christmas (dwelling on not having a newborn) to being even more grateful and appreciative for what I do have. Farewell 2009...I bid you adieu and thank you for the lessons learned, family treasured and friendships gained.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
When she first saw the bicycle. (See the little tiny bike attached to the handlebars? It's removable, but is there so that a B.arbie can ride along with Em as she bike rides.)
Excuse the red eye, I haven't edited this batch of pics yet. Em in her nightgown, Christmas socks, and posing on her new bike. She even opened some presents ON the bike, as she didn't want to get down. Too cute!
Unfortunately for Em, it was rainy all day on Christmas, so she was unable to ride much other than in our kitchen and foyer.
Yesterday, however was nice out. We headed to the park where Em quickly became acclimated with her new bike and was pedaling around the sidewalk trails like a pro by the end of our park visit.
We cracked up when after riding for awhile, Em agreed to "park her bike" and play on the park equipment. DH and I meant that she could leave the bike near the area where we were standing, but Em insisted on parking it by the actual bike rack. Too funny!
"Mom, you're embarrassing me...stop taking all of these pictures!"
And before I get a lot of bike helmet safety comments---yes, we've adjusted her helmet so that it sits lower on her forehead now. :)
We enjoyed watching Em do laps around the park, singing nearly the entire way. I'm afraid she's inherited my habit (which was passed to me from my Mom and her mother before her) of making up songs to sing. Example, "I'm pedaling around the park, around the park, yes I'm pedaling around the park on my bike from Santa."
When asked what her favorite part of the day was, Em responded it was when DH and I sat down at a picnic table and let her ride around by herself. Ode to Miss Independent. My heart smiled. :)
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I bought the snowman trio below the first Christmas DH and I were married. I like the "crafty" look of this set. I remember being thrilled at the low cost as we didn't have a lot of extra dough those first few years.
Growing up, my sisters (and sometimes parents) each got a new ornament every year. Usually they were all the same theme. When I was in 5th grade I LOVED rainbows and unicorns. I remember shopping with my Mom and being SO excited to find cool unicorn ornaments. To top it off---we found one that was rollerskating, one of my favorite pastimes! I remember we had a tennis playing unicorn and skateboarding unicorn also on the tree---I don't remember which sister had which. But MY rollerskating unicorn is below. One of my favs to unpack each year. :)
I helped Em make this abstract Rudolph this year. It's framed in a cool red-metallic frame I found on sale at T.arget. I'm thrilled with the way it turned out! On the green paper is a poem I found online:
This isn't just a reindeer as you can plainly see.
I made it with my hands which are a part of me.
It comes with lots of love especially to say,
I hope you have a very, Merry Christmas Day!
Scooby-Doo has been my favorite cartoon since I was a small child. I have many Scooby ornaments I've received over the years. The Scooby-in-a-chimney below is one of my favorites.
Snowmen are my decoration preference. A few years ago DH's bro and sis-in-law sent us this awesome snowman who pays homage to our Alma Mater, Ohio University. He's one of my favorites from my snowman collection. (Go, OU!)
We only have a few ornaments that belonged to DH when he was a boy. The candycane below is signed by DH and indicates that he created it in the 2nd grade. Aww!
I have a set of 8 snowmen ornaments that are an "Around the World" set. Each snowman is dressed in traditional garb from the country he represents, and is holding a flag from his country. I LOVE this set...it is one of the first I purchased after DH and I got married. The Irish snowman below is my favorite from the set.
Another ornament from childhood. One year all of my family members got a reindeer from this set. My "Dancer" is below.
In December 2003, the year I became pregnant with Emma, was the only year DH's Mamma and Aunt visited us in Florida for Christmas. Mamma bought the star-shaped Santa ornament for me when we went shopping while she was here. It's always been one of my favorites, but has special meaning since Mamma died 2 years ago. We still miss her!
The best present I've ever received from a student. 3 years ago when I was still teaching at my prior school, Cory H. and his grandma made this reindeer family set for me. I LOVE them!
My senior year at Ohio U., I bought this Santa. He's one of my favorite pieces!
So there they are....some of my favorites. What do you think?
To see what others are showing, click HERE to visit Show & Tell as hosted by the wonderful Mel.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
I'm copying this Christmas survey from Kristin over at Dragondreamer's Lair.
Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your friends. Okay, here's what you're supposed to do, and try not to be a SCROOGE!!! Just copy this entire post. Change all the answers so that they apply to you. Then post this on your blog.
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Definitely wrapping paper, though sadly my wrapping style isn't too grand. I've always envied "perfect" packages with their perfectly aligned corners and big, lovely bows. Just the same, I'm a gift wrap gal.
2. Real tree or Artificial? Fake. I like having the tree stored in the garage and ready for decorating whenever WE'RE ready for it. And needles seem like such a hassle...
3. When do you put up the tree? My preference is the day after Thanksgiving. Although years like this when we travel for Turkey Day, it doesn't get done until the first weekend of December.
4. When do you take the tree down? The last weekend of winter break before I return to school. (Once I return to school after winter break I won't feel up to dismantling the tree, so it MUST be done before I return to work.)
5. Do you like eggnog? Unfortunately no. My DH and Dad love it and I've tried it many times over the years, but just can't get into it.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? I remember turning the corner into our living room and seeing my 3-story B.arbie Drea.m house waiting for me----how awesome!
7. Hardest person to buy for? My mother-in-law and father-in-law. They buy things as they need them throughout the year, so are never really in "need" of anything at Christmas time.
8. Easiest person to buy for? Emma, my 5 year old. She's easy to please!
9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, we have a full set with manger, Jesus, wisemen, etc.
However, the statuette below is in my China Cabinet year-round. I helped my mother pick it out for my paternal grandmother when I was a little girl. My Grandma L. kept it on her dresser. When she died in '93 it came back to me...it's one of my favorite items in my home. I love the sentiment that it was at Granny's. Also I like the depiction---I think it is special that Joseph is close to Mary and Jesus. So often in nativity sets, Mary and Jesus are close, but Joseph is a bystander.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Definitely mail. To me part of the fun of Christmas is getting and sending sentiments in the mail.
11. Worst Christmas ever? I don't remember any "bad" Christmases.
A funny memory though---I was in 7th grade. My sisters and parents and I were traveling from Ohio to be with my Mom's family in Washington state. Unlike myself, my Dad is an amazing gift wrapper---precise corners, perfectly placed bows, etc. His carry-on item was a box filled with gift wrapped presents for our family. This is waaaay before 9/11. Yet, for some reason the box of gifts kept triggering the beeping alarm when Dad would walk through the scanner with it. The airport workers made him start UNwrapping the gifts. POOR DAD! Not only had he spent hours gift wrapping, he is also a Tetris-like packer. You know, one of those guys who can strategically pack a suitcase or a moving truck so that all of the items fit perfectly and then give you extra room to spare?? Anyway, Dad doesn't lose his temper easily. But boy was he hot! Many of his packages were unwrapped....and his box that had been packed just-so was now in disarray. Whewie. By the way---turned out it was a brass eyeglasses case my Mom had gotten for one of her brothers that was triggering the alarm. What an ordeal! Hee hee!
12. Favorite Christmas Movie(s)? "You'll shoot your eye out, Kid." I love A Christmas Story. A close second would be Home Alone.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Stocking stuffers and small items as early as September (after Em's birthday.) Most "big" items not until November or December.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes...but nothing from family members. Just lotion or Christmassy gifts received in "Secret Santa" type gift exchanges at work.
15 .Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Sugar cookies with icing. Yum!
16. Lights on the tree? Definitely. We have colored lights to match our eclectic colored ornaments.
17. Favorite Christmas song? Non-secular: What Child is This? Secular: It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? This is the 2nd year since Emma was born that we'll be staying home. I miss my Ohio family and friends, but it has been nice to start our own family traditions.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yup. I can also recite the entire "Night Before Christmas" story from memory. (Partially because we sung it as a song in my high school show choir, but that's a story for another time.)
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Growing up, we always opened family gifts on Christmas Eve night, and then Santa gifts on Christmas morning. Now we usually do everything on Christmas morning.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? People driving around like asshats trying to ace one another out of the open parking spots.
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? My decorating theme is snowmen. However, our tree itself is very eclectic. Nothing color specific.
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Turkey is my preference...but even more important is that I'm NOT the one cooking! :)
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? "I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!"
Now it's your turn. If you play, please leave me the link so I can read your answers.
Monday, December 21, 2009
The lovely Sunny at Sunny in Seattle honored me with a "Beautiful Blogger Award" this week. I thought I'd answer the 7 random items about me as an ICLW intro. :)
Seven Random Things About Me:
1. I've been having a little bit of mama-guilt all day because my daughter is at preschool/daycare while I have a "me" day/cleaning day at home.
2. Part of why I hate living far away from my younger sister is because I miss laughing the way I do with her. We frequently crack ourselves up to the point that we have tears rolling down our faces and stitches in our sides. She is hilarious! I like to think that I'm a bit funny too. So when the two of us are together, it's a guarantee that we'll get the giggles at some point. (She lives in Ohio and I'm in Florida.)
3. I love Broadway musicals. This year I was able to see "Wi.cked" here in Jacksonville, "In the H.eights" in Columbus, and "H.air"on Broadway. LOVED it! Wish we had extra $$ to purchase season tickets to the traveling series here. (Though the reality is that we wouldn't be able to attend them all anyway---babysitters, time off work, etc.) I'm hoping to see the movie adaptation of "N.ine"while I'm on winter break next week. :)
4. Though I've lived in Florida for 10+ years, I only recently started wearing flip flops. I have brachymetatarsia in the 4th toe of my left foot. I've had it since approximately 6th grade, when my feet had a large growth spurt. It makes my 4th toe and pinky toe the same length. For years I was self conscious about showing my toes. I'd only wear sandals that show my first 3 toes, so my brachymetatarsia wasn't visible. Last summer I wore flip flops for the first time. I'm starting to show my "funny toe" (as I call it) little by little. Fortunately, mine is not painful nor difficult to purchase shoes for. In addition, my right foot is completely normal.
5. Snowmen are my Christmas decor of choice. Yes I have some Santas, yes I have some Nativity scenes. But for some reason, I LOVE snowmen decor. Which is actually quite ironic considering I detest the cold...and though really wanting to live closer to my family and Ohio friends I'm not willing to live in somewhere with frequent winter snow again!
6. I am one of the few teachers I know who has NO desire to become an administrator at some point. I would like to continue teaching until Emma (and hopefully Child #2 someday) are school aged and are able to care for themselves after school. Then...I'm not sure what. My bachelor's is in social work. I've considered getting my masters to become a school guidance counselor. I'm still not exactly sure what my future career goal is.
7. I enjoy reading, especially teen lit that I can recommend to my 8th grade reading students. I also seem to gravitate towards series. Some series that I've read in 2009: Har.ry Pot.ter 1-7, Gem.ma Doy.le 1-3, Cit.y of Gla.ss 1-3, Twil.ight Saga 1-4, Amo.ng the Hid.den 1-7, and Pet.er & the Star.catc.hers 1-3. I'm currently reading the last novel in the "Vampire Diaries" series.
Sharing the love with these beautiful bloggers...My Nominees:
1. Mrs. Gamgee at Hobbit-ish Thoughts and Ramblings.
This lovely woman is one of the first fellow bloggers I considered a friend. Though we live at opposite ends of the continent (she's freezing her tuckus off in Canada!) I look forward to her heartfelt posts and comments. A truly beautiful person inside and out!
2. Erika at Parenthood for Me. This beautiful woman is co-founder of a non-profit organization which helps support women/families going through infertility and/or adoption.
3. Danifred at Sippycups are Not for Starbucks.
I love her writing style. I love reading about how she juggles her career with being a mother to 2 girls who are growing into lovely women just like their mama.
4. Skylay at Double the Blessings.
This is the first (and only thus far) blog buddy I've been able to meet in real life. I loved her Thanksgiving post which was a great reminder to be thankful for the "little things."
5. Jen at In One Ear.
She is the mother to SIX and still finds time to make amazing craft projects. I enjoy reading about all of it!
6. Marie at My Expected End.
Marie pours her soul into her writing. Her amazing faith and strength continue to endure despite the loss of her 2 sweet babies. I admire her perseverance!
7. YOU. If you haven't been tagged for this yet, and you'd like to join the fun---consider yourself nominated! :)
Thanks for stopping by! Happy ICLW week! (Those interested in my SIF story, click HERE.)
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Emma's Reading/Writing: Em has had many milestones which have touched my heart as a mother. Currently, she is learning to read and write....it melts my heart and makes me SO proud! I have a hobby of writing quirky poems...they usually are rhyming and silly about events that have happened in my life. Yesterday, Em heard me reading a poem I wrote for my college girlfriends about the GP weekend we went on this summer. When I got off the phone, Em had written the following note on her art easel:
"Mom islu bes ritr poum :)" = "Mom is the best writer poem :)"
My little sweetie. I love the way she sounded it out so that lu=the. I love that she hasn't figured out grammatically correct sentence structure yet. But mostly, I just love the sentiment...LOVE IT! :)
Car Damage: In 2002 we bought a new H.onda C.ivic in January. In September of that year, a woman ran a red light and smashed into me...luckily the car wasn't totaled and no one was severely hurt. (Though I did have to have several months of physical therapy for my back afterwords.) I believe it took about a month of repairs and rental cars before I had my Civic back.
Continuing our poor luck with new cars... Remember when I posted THIS back in May---pictures of our new mini van? DH was off of work on Thursday. He and I had a nice date day. We finished our Christmas shopping for Emma. We ate lunch at the C.heese.cake F.actory. We saw the "New M.oon" movie. (I still love it. DH disliked it. He said it was too long and drawn out. I thought it was true to the novel.) At the end of the day we went together to pick Em up from preschool/daycare. While we were in the building, someone backed into DH's van leaving a huge dent in the tailgate and rear bumper. (What's the deal with us getting hit in cars that are less than a year old? UGH!) The driver left the scene...we didn't discover the damage until we were walking back to the van with Emma. Luckily the father of another preschool child wrote down the license plate # of the driver and the make/model of her car. He gave us his contact information as a "witness." He stated the other driver hit our car, got out and looked at HER car (a Ca.dillac Es.calade) and upon seeing no damage to HER car, she got back in it and drove away.
Luckily, being the savvy person that I am, I have the "Jacks.onville She.riff Office's Non-Emergency" line saved in my cell phone. It was cold and rainy, so Em and I went back into the school building while DH dealt with the JSO and car issues.
DH came into Em's classroom a few minutes later. Apparently the driver of the car came back. She is the OWNER of the building! (Em's preschool/daycare is one of 3 businesses that lease space in the building.) She actually said to DH, "Oh, did someone hit your car?" DH played it cool, not telling her at first that he had her license plate number and a witness. He said that the car had been hit while he was inside picking up his daughter. The lady said, "I wonder if I did that?" To which DH responded, "Well, your license plate number does match the vehicle that was seen leaving the scene." HA! Wish I could've seen her face with that statement....
The woman was rude to DH...saying it was her birthday and she was running late. But, she did enter the building and make a copy of her insurance card for DH. DH was nice
We were able to get an appraisal from her insurance on Friday. ($793 and 4 days estimated repair/paint.) As soon as we get the check from her insurance company, we'll figure out rental car and repair dates.
Gift Status: I want to pick up 2 more items for DH this week. Other than that all of my shopping is done. ALL items are wrapped and under the tree. I even helped elves finish wrapping some Santa items which are carefully hidden
Yesterday Em helped me with the stamping and mailing of our family Christmas letter and photo card and some gift items.
This week, Em and her class had a field trip to the mall to see Santa. DH and I were a little worried. As she had already seen Santa in Ohio, we were hoping her gift request list wouldn't be too drastically different. The main item she requested: "Heart notebooks to write and draw in."
On our shopping expedition on Thursday, DH and I tried many options and could not find heart notebooks. I finally found some heart stickers at a craft store (in the Valentine section---they actually had Valentine stuff out already. What the heck?) And was pleased with my results, which I sent to the elves
Me Time: This week I'll be participating in ICLW for the first time in many months. I look forward to catching up with old blog friends, and to making new blog acquaintances.
Now I'm off to
Monday, December 14, 2009
I've been away for awhile...School Stuff/Pain in my Arse:
--School has really been rough this year. The 8th grade house administrator is ill. In addition, his mother is terminally ill. Thus he misses school frequently. The "bad" students are AWFUL. In the hall roaming around up to 10 minutes after the bell. Yelling in the hallway. Acting like complete hooligans. Disrupting the learning process for those attempting to do the right thing. It has been very difficult. Only receiving "silent lunch" or a "conference with an administrator" when teachers write discipline referrals. The students are getting away with awful behavior---and they know it! SOOOOO frustrating!--I'm the reading department head. This is an unpaid position, and the 3rd year I've had it. Generally, I've enjoyed the duties---attending meetings with other department heads, the principal, and house administrators; helping others in my department; pulling data and reports from the reading software programs we use, etc. This year, I'm a bit overwhelmed. I am the department head---no problem. However, I am also the "S.A.M. Administrator." This is a position that is held by a reading coach at most schools. My school doesn't have a reading coach because we're an "A" school....so the role fell to me. As S.A.M. Administrator I am responsible for adding or deleting all reading students to the software system as students move into or out of our school. I'm also responsible for printing/presenting data reports to my principal and administrators as needed. I also attend quarterly (at a minimum) meetings with other S.A.M. workers in my county. I don't mind the "S.A.M." aspects overall...they just can be time consuming. (And it's also another unpaid duty.)
--The icing on the cake is that our contract requires each department to have a "Senate Rep" on the School Senate. The Senate meets twice a month to discuss "issues" in the school (everything from safety to testing to grading, etc.) I am one of only 2 department heads in my school who is also the Senate Rep for their department. (Also unpaid.) I spoke with my principal about feeling overwhelmed. I mentioned that I planned to ask one of the other 4 teachers in my department to take over the Senate Rep role. My principal was in agreement with this, even stating that she understands how it feels having so many meetings to attend. Last week at our department meeting I explained that due to Senate and Department Head meetings, I literally am booked for a meeting EVERY THURSDAY morning. I said that I was seeking help and would appreciate it if someone else would finish Senate for the year. I even suggested that perhaps people cover Senate for only one quarter---that way it wouldn't be all on one person. I even dangled the carrot that 2nd quarter is nearly over, so whoever picks up this quarter wouldn't have to do much, because I've already attended all the Senate meetings for the first half of the quarter. NO ONE was willing to take the rep position. I am stuck. I feel like I do EVERYTHING for my department. AAAACCCK!
--Another pain in my bum is reading quizzes. The reading program we use requires students to take a minimum of three book comprehension quizzes per quarter. Teachers have the ability to create quizzes as needed. I feel like I'm a little screwed---because I teach 8th graders, I am the only person in the department who has students who have been in the reading program for 3 years. Thus to date, I've made FORTY-TWO quizzes (including all the "Twilight," "Harry Potter," "Eragon," and "Bluford Series" books among others.) I make the quizzes, because by the time students are in my class, they've already tested on the majority of pre-made quizzes. In addition, they often want to read: a. Series books and b. High Interest books. Wanna take a wild guess how many quizzes the other teachers in my department have made? NADA. ZILCH. Zippo. Yup....it's like I'm running a one-woman show and the others are benefiting from my work. UGH!--Anyway, I've been staying late after school nearly everyday because between Senate, SAM, and Department Chair, it's difficult to find time for my regular (paid and important) teaching duties. You know---like lesson planning and grading amongst other things. I'm behind on blogging and typing my holiday letter and other things that are important to ME because I keep doing all of these other school related duties. Sighs.
--I don't really see an "out" right now. But I do feel somewhat better now that I've vented. Thanks! :)
1) Do you like sprinkles on your ice cream? Nah...I don't hate them, but don't really see the "need" either.
2) If you had to choose one word to banish from the English language, what would it be and why? (Sorry for the vulgarity...) I'm going to have to say "twat." Why? I just find it a disgusting word with gross connotation for female anatomy.
3) If you were a flavor, what would it be? My first thought was "garlic." Followed closely by, "a flavor of what?" I mean if I'm going to be ice cream or fruit, I certainly wouldn't want to taste like garlic! But I am a big garlic fan, so I'll stick with my original answer. :)
4) What’s the most pointless annoying chore you can think of that you do on a daily/weekly basis?
--Home--I HATE mopping. Oh, wait. I don't do that daily/weekly. How about washing dishes?? Our dishwasher is broken, and I'm the one who hand washes 99% of the time.
--School/Work--I HATE that teachers are required to escort their classes to/from assigned tables in the cafeteria. Surely 8th graders could make it to/from lunch independently?5) What’s your favorite nickname? (For yourself.) Lon. Only my closest friends and family call me Lon instead of Alana. I love it!
6) You’re stuck on a desert island with the collective works of 5 (and only five) musical artists for the rest of your life. Who are they?
--Bare Naked Ladies---LOVE their humor, sarcasm, and sound. One of the only groups DH and I own literally EVERY album they've ever had. (Including their fun "Snacktime" kids album from a few years ago.)
--Les Miserables Original Broadway Recording--I love Broadway musicals. I had a tough time narrowing the "Broadway" genre to only one soundtrack...but because Les Mis is long (2 discs) and is one of my favorites, it won out.
--Alanis Morrissette--angst, raw emotion, and mostly alto so I can sing along....gotta love it. (Hope I didn't butcher the spelling of her name.)
--SO hard to pick only 5. Hmmm.... I guess I'll end with "Lon's Jazz Jingles" a self-made CD I created a few years ago with many of my favorite jazz tunes. (Everything from Etta James to Lena Horne to "Sing, Sing, Sing" to Harry Connick, Jr.)
8 ) If you could go back in time, what would you tell your young self? Keep singing. I was always involved in chorus in elementary school, and Show Choir and Symphonic Choirs in my middle and high school years. I participated in the Women's Glee Club while at Ohio U. Now other than in the shower or as an outlet while driving, I don't sing much... I miss it.
I like Mrs. Gamgee's idea---are there any other random questions you'd like me to answer?
Two more school days until winter break. Definitely counting down!
Sunday, November 29, 2009
On the Panda sculptures.
Walking along one of the zoo pathways. (Too cute!)
Counting the Koi fish in the pond.
Posing on a carousel zebra. (The morning attire, before it warmed up enough that the kiddos could wear short sleeves.)
Travel Moments: Em and I left Florida on Saturday 11/21 at around 7:30 a.m. We drove all day until we arrived at my parents' home in Ohio. Em was a SUPER traveler. I was very pleased with her behavior. And though I was grateful for the L.eapster2 we had purchased, she actually kept busy with drawing and "arts and crafts" projects just as much as she played with the L2.
Sunday 11/22 was a take-it-easy day. Since DH was unable to travel with us, Em and I shared the guest bed. I thought I would dislike this, as Em tends to be a squirm-worm when she sleeps. However, sleeping with Em was a treat...I enjoyed our cuddle time in the mornings, and our end of the day conversations in the evenings. And she didn't move around nearly as much as she used to.
Sunday night we were able to go to the Colu.mbus Z.oo with my parents. Each December they display lights there in the evening time. I hadn't attended the light show event since my freshman year of college. It's come a long way! From just white lights in the front part of the zoo to colored lights and animal lights throughout the entire zoo. We had a super time!
Zoo Moment 2:
Grandma and Emma inside the zoo entrance
Pretty light display
The pond near the main entrance of the zoo. So pretty to view the lights and their reflections in the water.
Cool giraffe lights
I LOVED this baby monkey. Super cute!
Em petting a sea urchin inside the zoo's aquarium.
Emma and Grandpa
Paying homage to our friends and family who were in Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Unfortunately, my pics of the reindeer didn't turn out.
Em was thrilled: "Oooh! Look! REAL reindeer! Their antlers are sooooo long! Hey, where's Rudolph? I don't see a reindeer with a red nose? Huh."
Em was able to hug Santa and tell him what she'd like for Christmas ("A big kitchen for my Barbies.")
Em and Santa converse.
I have a SUPER cute pic of Em and Santa I'm saving for later....it will be our Christmas card pic this year. :)
Em was tickled to be able to decorate her own sugar cookie with Mrs. Claus.
Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday: We were able to hang out and have family time with my parents and sister, Laurel.
Monday night Laurel and I went to see the New Moon movie. LOVED it! This book is my least favorite of the 4 in the Twilight saga, but I thought the film was super. (I'm longing to see it again however, as the couple we sat in front of "whispered" loudly the entire movie. And the girl in front of us kept texting and the light from her phone was shining right at me. SOOO annoying!)
Wednesday night Laurel and I were able to attend the "In the Heights" musical production showing in the lovely Ohio Theater in downtown Columbus. We had a fun girls night out. The musical was really well done---they incorporated rap and Latin music into the storyline. It was very unique. And though not my favorite type of music, I enjoyed the show. Our tickets were an early Christmas present from our parents who also kindly babysat Emma while we attended the show. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)
Thursday Brought: Board games, cookie decorating, family time, the aroma of Thanksgiving dinner, and Emma's first meal in my parents' formal dining room. (My mom reminded me that Emma has asked every summer if we could "eat in there sometime" while pointing to the dining room.)
Some of the crazy turkey/pilgrim/candy hodgepodge cookies that we decorated.
Em's cookie "Don't eat this one. It's for me, cuz' I already licked it." LOL!
3 of my favorite ladies on the planet---My mom, daughter, and younger sister.
Flu Moments: I woke up around 2 a.m. Emma was hot to the touch. She had stripped down to just her underwear, but was still extremely hot. (Meanwhile, I was in pants/longsleeve shirt PJs with socks and was "just right" temperature wise.) I re-covered Em with a sheet and light blanket, which she promptly kicked off.
I woke my Mom to ask if they had a thermometer. They didn't. However, Mom felt Em and agreed she definitely had a high fever. My Mom then woke my Dad who quickly dressed and went to find a 24-hour store to purchase T.ylenol for Em. (Windy, rainy weather of course---Thanks, Dad for trooping through it for us!)
While my Dad was gone, Emma woke up, ran to the toilet, and vomited. I held her hair and rubbed her back as she whimpered. We found a "barf bucket" to place by our bed, and headed back to bed. Em fell asleep in my arms. A few minutes later, Emma woke up, jumped out of bed, threw up, got a sip of water, and groggily climbed back into bed. She repeated this process SIX times before my Dad got home with medicine. Wow. That's a lot of vomit for her little stomach. (And NO, she didn't eat her chocolate covered cookie...this definitely wasn't over indulgence.)
Dad got home around 3 a.m. He had also purchased a thermometer. Em's temp was 102.8. Poor baby! We coaxed her as best we could to take the T.ylenol. (Dad couldn't find any chewables and Em hates the liquid kind.) After she finally took some medicine, we returned to bed. Em slept for 2 hours before waking and vomiting again.
When we woke in the morning on Friday, Em was listless and still not feeling well. Though her temp was down to 99.3, I was concerned. First and foremost I was worried about Em's illness. Secondly, I was freaking out---we were scheduled to drive all day on Saturday to return to Florida. What if she was still sick?
We ended up taking Em to an Urgent Care center. (Thank goodness we took the "barf bucket" with us, as Em threw up again in the car on the way to the doctor.) We quickly learned that both urgent care centers in my hometown were closed due to the holiday. Dad drove us to an urgent care center in a neighboring town. Meanwhile, Em was dozing on and off against my arm.
They tried to complete a strep throat culture, but Em wouldn't cooperate. She kept closing her mouth and refusing to open wide. (Little booger!) The doctor ended up prescribing an antibiotic.
By Friday evening, Em was starting to perk up again. Whew!
Saturday we were able to leave as scheduled. Em was fabulous in the car again! (Thank God we've had NO vomiting since we were on the way to the doctor on Friday.) We drove all day again and arrived home in Jacksonville last night at around 10:30 p.m.
Em finished her antibiotic today. She seems to be back to normal....so it's back to school and work for all tomorrow.
Thanks: What I'm thankful for this year...
--A DH who cleaned the house while Em and I were away.
--A DH who has stuck to his guns with his writing project...I hope you get published, my Sweet! And either way, I'm proud of you for finishing your first novel!
--A daughter who travels loooong distances without excessive whining or complaining.
--A daughter who has a great musical ear. I love hearing her sing from the backseat. "Hit me with your best shot...fire away!"
--Parents who are so loving and caring towards Emma. I love watching you interact with my girl!
--A sister who is fun to hang out with...wish you lived closer, Lal!
--A job I care about. Though at times overwhelming, I am glad to have a job that I enjoy.
--Blog buddies. Since I began this blog, it has been an emotional outlet. However, I never anticipated the love and encouragement I've encountered from others...from people whom I've never met in real life, yet feel close to. Thank you, dear readers!
Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to all. Two and a half weeks until winter break....I can't wait! I am looking forward to catching up with all my blog friends. I feel like work has been kicking my butt this quarter, so I've been negligent about blogging as much as I'd like to.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Bonus Money: For the first time in 7 years of teaching, I qualified for bonus pay! I received a $1700 check on Nov 6th. YIPPEE!!!!!!! We were able to "catch up" after last month's huge car repair bill, buy a few fun items, and still have a little to put away. Awesome!
I wasn't on the original list of employees to receive bonus pay. But I completed an appeal form, First they emailed saying I didn't qualify. A few weeks later I received a letter saying they still had funds in the "bonus pot" after giving out bonuses to those who qualified. Thus they gave the remaining money to the "tier 2" teachers. So, I'm a "tier 2" ---whatever the heck that means---but I'll take it!! I told DH it will be worth it to appeal from now on just to see how often I qualify.
Also, I've spoken to the union rep at my school about finding out how bonus recipients are determined. Because I only teach level 1 students, I think I have a lower chance of making the "gains" required of teachers. We'll see what comes of it... But, I'm feeling good about things overall, as I know several teachers who have taught for many years and have never received the bonus.
L.eapster 2: We purchased a L2 for Emma with some of my bonus dough. Normally, we wouldn't buy an electronic game this close to Christmas. However, since she and I are travelling alone on a 14 hour road trip, I wanted her to have something to
Zoo Day: This weekend Em and I went to the Zoo with friends made when I was teaching at my prior school. (KB is a teacher there.) Em and KB's son KRB are both 5 and got along wonderfully. I'll post pictures soon... LB (the wife) is pregnant again. She gives me hope that after a long lull between kiddos it CAN HAPPEN again. We hope to spend time with their family more often! Last year we all went to the B.ethlehem village set up at a local church together, I think we'll go together this year too. Yay!
I love how children connect. The entire car ride to the zoo, Em and KRB were bashful and didn't say much. But after a few moments in the zoo they were chasing after each other, "Emma, c'mon" and even holding hands at a few points. SOOOO cute!
Blogging: I've been a lurker, dear Blog Buddies. I've popped on, read entries without commenting. I've been a busy bee. Had to get allllll of my grading and lesson plans done before vacation. (Now my lesson plans are finished 3 weeks ahead---woot woot!)
Anyway...hopefully during my week in Ohio, I'll be able to catch up with you, my fellow bloggies. I've been thinking of you!!
Monday, November 9, 2009
We've gotten our morning routine down to a science. We load up our separate cars and then DH and Em follow me as we drive a few blocks to merge onto the highway. After a few miles of driving, I slow up as DH turns off at the exit for Em's school. This enables us to have a few moments of "waving" time each day. I always wave and then end with the sign language "I love you" sign...
I have fond memories of using the "I love you" symbol with my family when I was growing up. I remember being in a school concert in 3rd grade. As I stood on the risers with my classmates, I scanned the audience until I found my parents. My Mom discretely held up an "I love you" hand. I was tickled pink!
The Christmas I was in 5th grade, I was in the hospital for 2 days due to an infection in my stomach lining. (Bleck!) My sisters made a huge posterboard card for me. As my younger sister, was too young for visiting hours, they stood outside the hospital window and waved the card at me. I remember my 6 year old sister, Laurel holding the giant card so I could see her "get well" and Christmas wishes. At the end of her card holding, she put the card down and held up an "I love you" hand. I can still visualize her tiny body wrapped in a large pink coat. I can see her pink and purple gloved hands...
(FYI---the hospital staff had mercy for us since it was Christmas. They allowed her in to visit even though she was under the age limit.)
The "I love yous" have continued into adult hood. I still get teary thinking about my parents and Laurel standing on the porch waving good-bye and "I love you" to DH and I when we left their house after our first vacation/visit from Florida to Ohio.
Today my daughter joined in the trend...
As she and DH drove onto the exit ramp we had our usual good-bye waving. But this time, before I held up my daily "I love you sign," my little girl held up her own "I love you" for me.
What a perfect moment!
To read about other perfect moments, check out Weebles Wobblog HERE.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
We went to DH's parents' house last night. We hadn't seen them since August! Due to us being out of town for Emma's birthday, DH's Mom working most weekends, and them being out of state for 2 weeks on vacation last month, we just hadn't been able to connect with them in person.
Em was thrilled with the B.arbie items and H.ighSchoolMus.ical dolls Nana and Papa gave her as a belated birthday present.
Paycheck Vacuum: Sighs. My car started making a loud noise on Thursday afternoon. We were able to get it into the repair shop...$957 for a broken air conditioning compressor. Yikes! Sucked my paycheck right out from under us. And while part of me was willing to go without A.C. for a bit, the mechanic advised against it, as it could lead to further belt and/or engine damage. Argh!
Emma "The Bad": I spoke with her teacher in person. Ms. T admitted that she DID show students "some" of the news on TV. She claims to have only shown a news clip from when Summer was still missing and her mother was crying and distraught saying that she missed her. The teacher said she wanted to reiterate to the students how sad their parents would be if they were ever lost or ran away. And to help remind students not to ever go somewhere with a stranger. I was extremely fired up by this...especially since the school director told me she had asked the teacher NOT to turn the news into a stranger-danger lesson... However, as time has gone on, I'm mostly over it now. I don't like the way things were handled, but I believe Ms. T really had the students' best interest at heart. Ms. T mentioned multiple times that like me, she was disappointed that students parents had allowed their 4/5 year olds to view the entire newscast. She said that students discussing the news had been going on the entire week---from when Summer was only missing, to when Summer was found dead, to news footage of her funeral. And while the way she "taught" students the importance of staying with their parents is NOT what I would have wanted for Em...the reality is that I cannot control what happens when Em is at school. Gulp!
Emma "The Good/Funny": DH was at work on Saturday while I was home with Em. I was in the shower and DH called. DH and I have specific ring tones attached to our cells, so when we are the ones making incoming "home" calls, we're able to identify the call by sound. Em can't reach our home phone when it is hanging in the receiver. So she got my cell phone off the table in our foyer and CALLED DH's CELL and left him a voicemail: "Hi Daddy. This is your little girl, Emma. Mommy is in the shower. You can call us back after lunch time, okay?" I didn't know she even knew HOW to dial my cell, let alone how to locate DH's number on it. Too, too funny!
Books: I've been updating my Books Read list on the left sidebar of my blog. However, it's been awhile since I posted about anything that I've read. Recently I read the first 4 books in L.J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries series. I found the books to be enjoyable, fast reads. However, I was stunned by how similar some of the vampire characteristics are to the vampires in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga. I was further surprised in researching the Internet and publishing dates to learn that the Vampire Diaries novels were released a decade before Meyer's books. And though I LOVE the Twilight books and think Edward and the Cullen family could kick the Salvatore family's vampire butts any day...it was a bit of an eye opener for me to see that some of Meyer's ideas weren't 100% original. What a bummer!
This weekend I've started a new young adult series: The Shadow Children by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I read the first two books (Among the Hidden and Among the Impostors) yesterday, and started on Among the Betrayed today. The books are about a society that only permits families to have 2 children or less. There is a "Population Police" that captures (and sometimes kills) any 3rd (or higher) children. The main character of the first 2 books is a 12-year-old boy named Luke, who is an illegal 3rd child. I don't want to give away plot details....but the books have been entertaining and suspenseful. I will definitely be recommending them to my 8th graders.
DH's Novel: He has promised to let me read the ENTIRE first draft over Thanksgiving weekend. Yay! Meanwhile, he toggles between editing his first book and working on writing his second. Super cool!
Emmaisms: Let's close with some Emmaisms. First, a conversation I jotted down from July 4th, regarding excellent teachers and bendable straws:
Em: These are called antignal straws.
Me: They are? Who taught you that?
Em: Let's just say that I have a really good teacher.
Me: Oh. Did Miss Stephanie teach you that?
Me: Then where did you learn it?
Em: I just taught myself.
(She may be a "really good teacher," but how about some modesty?)
10/13/09 On learning more about the world:
Daddy, did you know there's a place in this world called Duval County?
(Yup...and you've lived in it your whole life, Kid.)
10/17/09 On transportation:
"A long, long time ago people didn't have any cars....they only had taxis."
(Forget the camel, donkey, horse, or elephant...taxis have apparently been around for years.)
11/1/09 On elderly parents:
"I get to have 5 scoops of Mac&Cheese, since I'm 5. Sorry, Mommy. I know you're 101. But we don't have 101 scoops, so you'll have to just have 5 too."
(I'm aging quite nicely, if I do say so myself...)
Saturday, October 24, 2009
--Verify that a little girl named Summer was killed by a stranger on her way home from school
--Explain that Summer is in Heaven now
--Say a prayer for Summer
--NOT focus on "stranger-danger" type lessons, so as not to scare the children
--Say, "Yes, it's very sad" (or something similar) and steer the conversation elsewhere if kiddos continued to bring it up during the day
I am saddened that multiple parents allowed their 4 and 5 year olds to view the news this week. However, I am comfortable with how Ms. K handled the situation. And being a teacher, I know we often have "teachable moments" that are not necessarily related to our standards or curriculum.
My only remaining concern is whether or not the news was viewed in the classroom. However, I will speak with Ms. T about this directly...
--Pumpkin Patch: Today we had a wonderful 80 degree sunny day. DH, Em and I travelled to C.onnor's A.cres farm to experience the hayride, pumpkin patch, corn maze and fun. We had a great time! I was thrilled with our fun fall photos. (And just as an FYI, Em dressed herself in her orange and pink outfit today.)
Em on the PVC Pipe Slide
Queen of the Haystack
Bonding with Daddy
Family on the hayride cart (which DH says should have been advertised as a "tractor ride," rather than a "hayride," as there was hay on the floor of the cart, but not on the benches where people sat to ride. Valid point!)
Haystack Sliding (Em wore herself out---she must have climbed up and slid down this haystack 40 times. She LOVED it!)