Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Random Ruminations

Nothing much going on...we've been house cleaning and "hanging out." (My sister arrives from Ohio this Thursday, so we're prepping for her visit. And when she leaves next week, Em and I are going with her---so I have to have our laundry and packing ready.)

Barbies: Today Em was super excited to set up a "Barbie Wedding."

The Bride and Groom (sorry picture isn't vertical.)

Glued to the TV---watching the DVD from my wedding with DH back in '98

(Cracked me up when she tried to replicate some of our wedding stuff into her Barbie wedding. Too sweet!)

Em's favorite part was dressing all of her Barbies and placing them in seats to
"watch" the wedding. The Barbie wedding and preparations lasted about 2 1/2 hours. (Just like her mama...I spent maaaaaany hours playing with Barbies when I was young.)

As an aside---I found two B.arbies on clearance at W.algreen's last week for only $1.00 each. Wow! And I thought my prior B.ig L.ots $5 deal was good. :)

Anybody out there play with B.arbies in the '80's? Do you recognize the furniture her B.arbies are sitting on? It's the furniture from my old 3-story B.arbie D.reamhouse which I passed down to Em at Christmas time last year.

Zoo: Yesterday we went to the Zoo...

On the carousel

Brushing the goats....Goat #1 (Can't get my pics to "rotate" horizontal today, sorry.)

With Goat #2

Thanks to the J.acksonville J.aguars NF.L team and its owners, the Jax Zoo has the largest collection of Jaguars at any U.S. zoo. A baby jag, Harry, was born at the Zoo this past January. Em and I were excited to see him up and active yesterday, as at prior zoo visits he was sleeping, or laying quietly beside his mother...

Just scratching...

Mama Jaguar on left, baby Harry on right

Isn't he gorgeous?

Swimming: I'm still amazed that the City Pools here are FREE! There are 20 or so pools throughout the city that have free admission. Em and I went again this afternoon. We found a nice local pool that isn't crowded. This is the second time we've gone from about 3-5 p.m. Had a great not toooo hot swim. It was super. Em is getting the knack of going under water by herself, and kicking/doggie paddling independently (with floaties.) She'll take her first ever swim lessons at the pool in my hometown when we're in Ohio in 2 weeks. (The same pool my younger sister and I learned to swim in. Ahhh, the circle of life.)

School: I've loved procrastinating and putting off doing any school work. I WILL work on somethings (lesson planning, vocabulary ideas, etc.) during the time we're at my parents' house. I've enjoyed my three weeks with NO school work though. :)

House: DH painted much of the outside house trim this past weekend, and the railings on our front porch. The house looks MUCH better! :)

Exercise: I'm pleased with myself right now. I've stuck with the W.ii A.ctive 30-day challenge program. I still find the exercise program motivating and I like the variety of exercise movements. I believe today I'm on day 12 of the program. Yea!

I think that is all the latest. :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Show and Tell--Crooked Pinkies

I inherited "crooked pinkies," (as I call them) from my Dad's side of the family...

My Dad's uncle had crooked pinkies on both hands. However his brother (my grandfather) did not have them.) My Dad does not have crooked pinkies. Yet, my Dad's younger sister, my Aunt Nan has crooked pinkies on both of her hands. But, none of Nan's three daughters have crooked pinkies. I'm' my Dad's only child who has the "crooked pinkies" and I have them on both hands. I passed this on to my daughter...but she only has a crooked pinkie on her right hand. Guess she's trying to change the gene-dynamics after all these years?

This is a totally weird and random Show-and-Tell, but I guess I'm photographing our pinkies for future generations. (Yeah, that's it...)

At first glance, not so different, right?

Em's crooked pinky on top of mine...

Em's right hand (not nearly as crooked as mine, but still more so than her left hand.)

My crooked pinkies side by side.

Just to show how crooked and short my pinkies really are, the piece of paper above indicates where the top "knuckle" on my ring-finger is. This is the location where the top of most people's pinkies hits their ring fingers.

I knew my pinkies were crooked, but I didn't realize how significantly SHORTER they are as compared to the norm, until I took acoustic guitar lessons a few years ago. When I was having difficulty stretching my fingers to reach an F-chord, my instructor was awed by the short span between my pinkie and thumb. Interesting, hey?

To see what others are bringing to Show and Tell this week, click HERE to visit Mel's blog.

Support Needed

My blog-friend Looking4#3 at OneMoreLittleOne needs your support! She and her DH are undergoing secondary infertility. She recently was thrilled to learn that she was pregnant. However at this week's check-up, they were given the devastating news that her baby stopped growing over a week ago. She had to undergo a D&C yesterday morning. Please stop by and give her support. THANKS!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Outings Photo Montage

Em and I have enjoyed many outings during our first 2 weeks of summer...

Em in 3-D glasses today when we saw the movie "Up"

SPOILER ALERT (Please skip to next photo if you don't want to read about "Up" plot details):

(On a side note, I LOVED the movie. And I cried more regarding the sweet relationship between the husband and wife, than I did at their "baby situation." Whew! Prior to seeing the film, I read a few movie reviews and fellow blogger's posts and wasn't sure how sensitive I'd be to the issues the couple in the movie encounters as they try to conceive a child. Such a sweet movie! And I agree with the wonderful Mel's POST HERE , in which she states that the infertility signs within the film were "presented in such a way that families in the know will appreciate the ability to use it as a jumping board for discussion and those who have thankfully had no trouble with family building will miss the point entirely."

Ironically, I saw the film with my 4-year-old daughter whose only question after the film was, "What happened to his wife?" Whereas, I was left with multiple questions:

--Why did Ellie and Carl choose to remain childless?
--Did they suffer a miscarriage, or were they told they couldn't conceive a child? (I thought it was a miscarriage, but I can see how it could be interpreted either way.)
--Why did the movie creators not show any 2-parent families throughout the film? (The young boy Russell has a father who is rarely around, and the mama-bird Kevin is seen caring for her 3 babies with no father or partner around?)

Overall, I thought it was a great film, that as Mel said lends itself easily to infertility discussions. As I continue on my secondary infertility journey, I can see using this film to one day help explain to Emma the difficulty DH and I are having trying to conceive a sibling...



"Friendship Fountain" a Jacksonville landmark. We saw it when walking along the St. John's riverfront.

Near---Em in tree house at the MOSH (Museum of Science and History)

Far---Em in the same MOSH tree house

Baby dinosaur "hatching" in the dinosaur exhibit.

Baby Dino's mama

This dinosaur freaked Emma out a bit. "I'm done with this part, Mommy, let's go!"

Entrance to the museum

Em as we hiked on a nature trail at Ft. Caroline

Self portrait of us at the fort (excuse my double-chin, bleck!)

Em being silly with the "Junior Park Ranger" badge she earned when we completed the activity book at the Ft. Caroline park. (Did you know that most National Parks have free activities children can complete to earn "badges?" I didn't know until this visit. Awesome!)

Beside one of Ft. Caroline's cannons

"Aren't I sweet?" with the tail end of another cannon

Wearing her new mermaid hoodie-towel at the Metro Park water park

Just splashin' around

Using a water squirter at the water park

We aren't always on-the-go. We've had plenty of at home time too: including board games, Hide-n-Seek, and baking of No-Bake cookies. (When my younger sis was in college her roommate had a super delicious no-bake cookie recipe for creating oatmeal/chocolate/peanut butter cookies in the microwave. We made them this weekend. It was nice to have a "sweet treat" without heating the house up by using the oven. Yum!)
I've also been trying to get through the awesome ICLW list on Mel's blog. I'm trying to earn "Iron Commenter" status again. (And *salty tears* I won't be able to participate in next month's ICLW due to my NYC trip with my college girlfriends. But you can bet I'll be back in August!)
Whew! That's my summer so far. What have you been up to?

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Hello, visitors! Here are 10 random things I'd like you to know about me as I participate in ICLW for the 4th time.

1. The pronunciation of my name: Alana rhymes with iguana.

2. DH and I have been married 11 years in September (and "together" for 14!)

3. I am the middle child in a family with 3 daughters.

4. My sisters and I are all teachers. (Me--8th grade reading, Older Sis--just got her Ph.D and will be working at Drew University this fall, Younger Sis--high school Spanish)

5. I detest peas. Can't stand the smell, the taste, the look. Major yuck!

6. When I was a child I was fascinated by grandfather clocks... It started with Nancy Drew's "Secret of the Old Clock" (which turned out to be a mantel clock, but was a grandfather clock the way I pictured it in my head while reading,) continued with "Webster" (remember the 80's TV show?) who had a secret passageway hidden behind the grandfather clock in his house, and carried on with my middle school summer viewing of "The Price is Right" in which contestants could often win grandfather clocks as part of their living room "Showcase Showdown" packages.
When DH's grandmother died a few years ago, he inherited an amazing grandfather clock that his Pappaw hand-crafted years ago. It is now in our living room and is one of my favorite things in our home.

7. Other than one toe, I've never broken any bones. (*Knocking on wood...*)

8. Many things in my life involve the letter "A:"
--My 1st name (and married last name) begin with A
--DH's first and last name both start with A
--My blood type is A+
--I sing in the Alto range
--My birthday is in April
--My astrological sign is Aries
--My cat is named Abby
--I'm interested in Astronomy and stargazing
--I love word games. One Anagram for my first and last name is: Sandal on an ear

9. My daughter shares a birthday with one of my Dad's younger brothers.

10. I was having a rough time coming up with a #10. I asked my 4-year-old, "What's something you'd want people to know about you?" She responded, "I like to do arts and crafts."
GREAT answer---me too! :)

If interested in my IF history, click HERE

And last, but not least, a Happy Father's Day shout-out:
--To all the Fathers out there who have a child (or children) who is (are) no longer with them here on Earth...I know today is bittersweet for you.
--To my wonderful DH (From the jazz music played through headphones on my belly when I was pregnant, to the first time you held Em, to the wrestle-matches you have today, I love partnering with you as we raise our daughter. And I have extra love for you because of your support as we try to expand our family!)
--To my father-in-law (You cook and bake like a pro! And I SO admire your people-skills... you have the ability to strike up a conversation with anyone anywhere.)
--To my Dad (He's en route with my Mom right now from Ohio to Washington state, in part to help my sister move from Seattle, WA to New Jersey. Dad, you're awesome! I love your giving heart and willingness to help others!)

In closing, I'm looking forward to meeting new blog friends and finding new blogs to read! Happy ICLW week. :)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Random Ruminations

Summer: Em and I have been enjoying summer outings. Today we went to the amazing downtown library. We participated in Story Time (which always ends with a story and song sung by an animatronic owl---WAY cool!) and Family Art Time. The "Main Library" downtown is literally the largest public library in Florida. It is amazing! I'll have to take pics for Show&Tell one of these days. :)

Today our friends from Em's gymnastics class went with us. It was our first non-gymnastics related play date with them. It went really well---Em and M hit it off well. His Mom, G and I got along great. I even legitimately ogled his 7-month old brother WITHOUT jealousy pangs, yea me! (And of course somehow the conversation somehow led to IF at one point, wherein I learned G had 2 miscarriages and struggled to get PG prior to the birth of her baby. Sighs.) Hooray for new friends!!

"Cool" Play yards:
One thing that drives me insanely crazy is the LACK of inside and/or shaded play areas here in Florida. When it is in the 90's as it has been the past week and a half, it is difficult to find outings where Em can run/play/exercise in a cool environment. ALL of the B.urger K.ings nearby have taken down their play equipment...I'm guessing someone somewhere sued them. This is a bummer b/c there was a B.K. with a ginormous and amazing Kid's area...that now has tables and "Free WiFi" instead of the play yard equipment. We sometimes end up at C.hic F.ilet, which is fine, but their play yard isn't very large.
There are many local Mc.Donald's, however the majority of those with play areas have OUTDOOR play yards. I'm fine with this, as I enjoy spending time outside...except, they don't have shade. Who designs this stuff? Play yards in FL with NO shade?
Kind of like our favorite local park...great swings and jungle-gym type equipment...but we can only go in the evenings this time of year, or we'll scorch! Once again---no shade. Luckily, both malls that are nearby have indoor play areas.
This morning I searched online to see if there were any Mc.Donald's with indoor play yards. I found one---10 miles from the downtown library. Ahhh, what the heck...we didn't have anything planned after our library play date. Em and I lunched and then she played for TWO HOURS while I finished my 800+ page book "The Sweet, Far Thing"....all in the air conditioning. Super sweet...definitely worth the extra drive.

The first 2 sentences of a letter I received from my insurance company last month:
"Our records indicate that you may have already delivered, or are expecting in the very near future! We would like to remind you to schedule an after-delivery (also called postpartum) exam." If I go to the footnote at the bottom of the page it states, "If this is not the case, please call Member Services at the toll-free number on your ID card so that we can correct our records." ACK! Blasted insurance company. My summer was going great...I didn't need a January miscarriage 'reminder.' Not to mention, even if I was still pregnant, I wouldn't be due until mid-September, not the "very near future" in my book. Ugh!

Yesterday's mail included a letter to all teachers employed in my school district. It includes some "minor benefit changes" that went into effect on 10/1/08: Items no longer covered by our insurance include "routine eye exams, infertility treatment, and massage therapy." ARG. Though DH and I still don't know our next steps on the IF journey, it saddens me to know that my employer/insurance benefits no longer cover IF treatment for those who choose to pursue IF treatment options. (Not to mention my yearly eye exam, dang it!) Blasted insurance companies.

Exercise: On Thursday DH and I bought "Active," a new W.ii exercise game. (Click HERE for the info link.) We both enrolled in the "30 Day Challenge." WHEW! It is a killer! Even at the low-level, our quad muscles are killing us today! (This secretly makes me happy, as DH has been a runner for 5 years....knowing that he is in pain along with me and my newly-exercising-fat-butt makes me feel like the exercise is really working. Am I sick, or what?) We both LOVE it thus far. Especially as compared to the W.ii Fit. I enjoy W.ii Fit, but frankly it can take up to 2 hours for me to feel I've had a true workout. With the Active, my muscles are totally burning today, after only 22 minutes Thursday and 30 minutes yesterday. Sweet!

--Today marks the last day of my first full-week of summer vacation. Ahhh. I'm loving it! :)
--An Emmaism: On a picture of a volcano: "Why does that volcano keep interrupting?" LOL.
--My summer reading is underway. I've stayed up late reading the past few nights. LOVE it!
--ICLW starts tomorrow. :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Show and Tell--Perverted Cartoon?

Those who know me well know that I am a HUGE Scooby-Doo fan. I've loved the show since I was a young girl...

Part of my Scooby love carries over to its creators, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. I spent many a morning back in the 80's watching cartoons. Part of what made weekends special, was because the cartoons were ONLY available on Saturday mornings.

A few years ago I read, My Life In Toons: From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century, an autobiography by Joe Barbera. I loved reading the story of how he and William Hanna teamed together to create a plethora of cartoons. I enjoyed the trivia (They chose the name "Scooby-Doo" after hearing Frank Sinatra's scat "scooby-dooby-doo" during his "Strangers in the Night" song. Neat!)

I loved reading about the amazing quantity of cartoons that the Hanna/Barbera team created: Tom& Jerry, The Flintstones, Captain Caveman, The Shirttales, The Smurfs, The Jetsons, Johnny Quest, Richie Rich, Yogi Bear, Hong Kong Phooey, etc. Including my beloved Scooby-Doo, this amazing team spearheaded over 50 original cartoons.

One of my joys as a mother has been watching my daughter grow to love some of the cartoons I loved as a child. Em loves my Scooby-Doo boxed-set as much as I do! She has recently been VERY into "Cartoon Network" and many of the 1980's cartoons I mentioned above. One of her recent favorites is Wacky Races, (wherein 11 characters race across land and sea for the coveted "World's Wackiest Racer" title. )

I HAD to "pause" and take a photo when she was watching Wacky Races this week. Good ole Hanna-Barbera...I wonder how many other perverted things are contained within their cartoons and went completely over my head as a child. The pics below say it all....they had humor. And I love them for it!

Picture of the character Penelope Pitstop, driving her car in Wacky Races.

Upon being chased, by "Dick Dasterdly," she had to use a gadget within her car in an attempt to out-race her opponents...

Photo is of the dial on Penelope Pitstop's dashboard.

ROFL. After selecting the "vibrator" option, a large strap popped out of her seat, and surrounded her as an extra seatbelt, while her entire car then bounced up and down vigorously. TOO funny. I never knew there was "adult humor" within Hanna-Barbera cartoons. I'll be keeping an eye out now... :)

Monday, June 15, 2009


Whew! I just got back from run/walking 1.5 miles. I woke up early so I could get exercise time in before DH left for work. Otherwise, I'd be stuck running this afternoon with Em and/or the dog. And though I love them both, anyone out there who has ever tried to exercise accompanied by a young child who isn't in a stroller, knows what a hassle it is...

I've tried walking with Emma. The difficulty is, she stops every 2 steps 10 feet to look at the flowers, or the pretty leaves, or to notice the fire ants storming out of their ant mound. While I love that my child likes to "stop and smell the roses," her turtle-like speed doesn't allow the "workout" pace I was hoping for.

Sometimes I try to take walks escorted by Em on her tricycle. If we do this, we use her "trike" that has a pushing handle, so I can help move her along once her little legs poop out. This also leads to difficulties. Steering the tricycle is a pain in the neck, as it is a tug-of-war between Em and I. Though I really like the model of tricycle, the blasted handlebars for the child are connected to the push-handle for the grown-up. Thus, if she jerks the handlebars one way, I'm forced to realign so that she doesn't crash into neighbor's mailboxes, etc. And while this might sound like a good upper body workout, it is more frustrating than it is worth.

I should win the Mother of the Year Award receive special honors for the times I've walked with Em on her tricycle AND taken our dog with us at the same time. Picture me trying to balance the leash without having my arm pulled out of socket (remember, our dog is a large 100-pound mutt.) Along with maintaining the leash, I have to help steer/guide Emma's tricycle so that she doesn't dismount her tricycle to sight see the neighbor's flowers, thereby slowing down my already snail-like workout wreck and scar herself for life.

Also fun, is trying to take Em on a wagon ride, escorted by our dog. There I am trying to shed some pounds speed-walk. Meanwhile, with one arm, I'm towing the wagon precariously behind me, (it has nearly severed my ankles as we neared the bottom of hills in our neighborhood on several occasions) while our dog is tugging my other arm forward to lead the way. I'm like a walking wind-mill with one arm forward and the other arm back the entire walk. Though I do have to say that I am certain that this IS a good upper arm workout, as the times I've tried it, I've felt the results in my biceps for days afterward.

I wouldn't trade my Em or our dog for anything...but I learned long ago if I "walk" with them, it won't be for exercise, it will be for the adventure. And as our summer is already going to consist of many mommy-and-Emma adventures, I figure I'm entitled to a solo workout walk/run now and then.

Thus, this summer I plan to rise early in order to exercise before Em wakes up. This way I can exercise at my own pace, have some ME time, beat the mid-day summer heat, and return home before DH has to leave for work.

According to my N.ike mini i.Pod monitor thingamajig, as of this morning, I've run/walked 4 workouts, totaling 6.77 miles run/walked, with an average pace of 24 minutes per mile.

While totally stoked about this, as the first "goal" I set for myself was to go 12 miles in 4 weeks, I'm also a little bummed. I have 3 workouts that for some reason did not register at all. Thus, my "tracked" mileage should actually be higher than it is indicating. Bummer!

Em just woke up and told me I'm "too stinky" to give a good morning hug to. Guess it's time to hit the shower. If only I had the strength to get out of the computer chair...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Nothing new here. Just enjoying summer, even though it was already 94 degrees today. Yikes! DH and I took Em to the downtown water park this afternoon. (Free at Metro Park!) She was able to splash and play and wear herself out. Yea! All 3 of us napped when we got home. Gotta love summer days.

As always, I've been compiling a list of Em's humorous sayings. I'm posting the most recent ones now:

4/8/09: On getting her eyes checked...
"I liked going to the toptomitrist's office, they're up high and I like to look out the windows."
(TOP-tom-i-trist. I love it! Her optometrist's office is on the 3rd floor of a downtown building, and has an amazing view of the St. John's River.)

On making things tidy:
"Can you guys help me clean up this crap?"
(LOL...wonder where she's heard that before? Hmmm.)

: While rocking before bedtime....
Em: "Why do you wear your wedding ring all night?"
Me: "Because when you get married, you wear your ring all the time."
Em: "Yeah, so you don't lose it. Because if you lose it, it's expensive, and they won't get you another one."
(Bwaahahah! Not sure who "they" is, but she cracked me up!)

5/13/09: On gymnastics class...
"Tonight at the Gym, there were some mean boys. They were playing "Tackle the Kid" during Free Play. Now I have a headache since they jumped on me."
("Tackle the Kid." I've never heard of this one...too funny.)

5/18/09: Arguing because she wouldn't chew her chewable Tylenol...
Me: I need you to chew that up like a big girl. I don't want you to have to take the yucky medicine with a dropper instead.
Em: But, it tastes so sweet...I was trying to save it.
(UGH. Glad she "likes" the flavor...but perhaps it is too candy-like?)

5/23/09 While going on a long drive in our new minivan:
"Hey, those houses over there are dirty and ragged!"
(WOW! Nice freakin' vocabulary! I have 8th graders who couldn't use the word "ragged" appropriately in a sentence. Where does she come up with this stuff?)

5/25/09: Looking at a van similar to our new Dodge minivan:
"Hey, is that your Armadillo car?" to DH
(Because the "ram" symbol on the car hood apparently resembles an armadillo.)

5/30/09: On a sports car with a "bra" on it's grill:
"That car is wearing a coat! That's silly!"
(I've never understood the purpose of "bras" for cars either, Kiddo!)

Em has been VERY into jokes lately. She finally understands the punchline of many knock-knock jokes. Last night I taught her the oldie-but-goodie,

Pete and Repeat were sitting on a fence,
Pete fell off, so who was left?

Pete and Repeat were sitting on a fence,
Pete fell off, so who was left?

Pete and Repeat were sitting on a fence,
Pete fell off, so who was left?

She laughed hysterically every time. Her little giggle is so precious. How I love my sweetie.

6/4/09: On outdoor bugs...
"Hey, I wonder if we'll see any of those grass clippers today..."
(Took me a few minutes to figure out grass clippers = grasshoppers)

6/13/09: Dinner conversation:
Em was rambling on and on about random topics.
Jokingly, DH asked her, "What color is the sky in your world?"
Totally serious, Emma responded, "Forty-one."
(ROFL! Whatever they put in the Kid's Meal at Moe's...I'll have to try it next time!)
(I think she said this because when we were painting her toenails this week, she noticed the "82" on the lid of the nail polish bottle. I explained that most nail polishes have a "number." Still, she cracks me up!)

6/14/09: On retrieving lost items:
"M----ooooo----m! I need help!" When I went running into MY bedroom to see what the problem was, Em was adamant that she needed the "lawn mower stick." As our lawn mower has been broken for several months, I was stumped. It took some Mommy-detective work to figure out that she had dropped something behind my bed. She wanted the yard stick to help get it out.
(Lawn mower stick = yard stick. Tee hee!)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Crazy 8's

Last week, Sunny tagged me for the Crazy 8's game, but I was caught up in the end-of-the-school-year hubbub. But now, summer's here!

This morning I went shopping at my favorite store (Kohl's---new sandals for me, PJs for Em, and DH's Father's Day gifts purchased today) and I ate lunch at one of my favorite places (Tijuana Flats.) I finished my "ME" morning by talking on the phone with my Mom for over an hour. (Can't wait to see my family next month!) It's time to continue summer vacation with a blogging meme. Here goes...

The rules:

1. Mention the person who tagged me.
2. Complete the lists of 8.
3. Tag 8 more bloggers and tell them they've been tagged.

The lists:

Eight things I am looking forward to.
1. Having Mommy-and-Emma time this summer.
2. My sister Laurel's visit to Florida.
3. Our family vacation to visit our extended family (and friends) in Ohio.
4. Introducing my older sister Michelle and Emma to one another (in person for the 1st time.)
5. Summer reading. (Already underway! As I was alone for lunch today, I read during my entire meal!)
6. Fireworks. (I *heart* July 4th.)
7. Preparing some lesson plans and school-related stuff over the summer. (Sucks a little, but I look forward to having it done PRIOR to going back to school.)
8. Going to the beach. We've been to the beach a few times in the past 2 months, but just to walk around---no swim attire. I'm ready for swimming/playing in the sand/kite flying beach time!

Eight things I did yesterday.
1. Caught up on personal email. Went from 156 messages in inbox to 2!
2. Caught up on blog posting/reading/commenting.
3. Stayed in PJs until 4 p.m. (Sweet! Did I mention I love summer breaks from school?)
4. Delved into book I've been reading...I'm about a quarter of the way through "The Sweet Far Thing" now.
5. Took Em to her gymnastics class. Watched class and enjoyed it. Coach Kara said Em is "a natural gymnast." Awww!
6. Looked up movie times. Didn't go yesterday or today. Maybe tomorrow on my last "me" day?
7. Worked on some items for a retreat. (I'm a co-sponsor for my sister when she attends in July.)
8. Had a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal. I haven't had this sugary goodness in a long time. Yum!

Eight things I wish I could do.
1. Have a healthy full-term baby by the end of this year.
2. Play acoustic guitar.
3. Be a superb teacher without the need for planning or creating lessons. (Yeah, right!)
4. Sew. (Other than buttons, I'm clueless.)
5. Crochet. (Lovely baby blankets, warm winter scarves/hats, etc. Sighs. I don't get it!)
6. Run 5 miles (or more!) straight without side pains, gasping for air, or pausing to walk.
7. Climb/visit high places without freaking out. (I'm height phobic!)
8. Keep our landscaping groomed and looking lovely without assistance. (We have a lawn guy, because this it the time of year the grass, trees, and weeds grooooooow ever so quickly! He only mows every other week....but would/could mow weekly if we'd pay him more, because the grass grows that fast!)

Eight shows I watch.
1. Brothers and Sisters
2. Grey's Anatomy
4. Desperate Housewives
5. Hockey (Thanks DH for this list item. Stanley Cup final playoff game this week. Sweet!)
6. Private Practice
7. Pushing Daises (Big salty tears...it was cancelled for next season.)
8. Dancing with the Stars

Eight favorite fruits.
Insert Alana-ism here: WEIRD category!
1. Grapes
2. Apples
3. Peaches
4. Pears
5. Oranges
6. Kiwi
7. Banana
8. Strawberry
*EDIT: How could I have forgotten WATERMELON???? It's truly one of my favorites! Needs to bump to #1. Then bump strawberries off the list. Oh my!

Eight places I'd like to travel.
Alana-ism: I love history and learning about other cultures. So I'd truly be willing to go nearly anywhere if all expenses were paid. :) With that being said, here are the 8 on the top of my mind today...
1. Ireland
2. Machu Pichu
3. Disney World---for a full week at all 4 parks!
4. Spain
5. Australia
6. Italy
7. France
8. Egypt

Eight places I've lived.
1. Reynoldsburg, Ohio (ages: birth - 3)
2. Marysville, Ohio (ages: 3 - college)
3. Athens, Ohio--Washington Hall dorm at Ohio University with Michelle R.
4. Athens, Ohio--Shively Hall dorm at Ohio University with Michelle R.
5. Athens, Ohio--Lakeview student apartment #1 at OU with Sharon and Amy
6. Athens, Ohio--Lakeview student apartment #2 at OU with Karyn and then Vicki
Alana-ism: NONE of these apartments had a view of a lake. Just the Hocking River.
7. Jacksonville, FL--Lakeside Apartments---1st apartment with DH
Alana-ism: There was actually a lake here...on the opposite end of the complex, so we didn't have a view of it. We were across from one of the 2 swimming pools though.
8. Jacksonville, FL---current digs; our 1st house. This month marks 7 years we've owned it. :)

1. Mrs. Gamgee at Hobbit-ish Thoughts and Ramblings (If I didn't *heart* you so much, I wouldn't pick you for this stuff over and over and over and over!!)
2. Carrie at Letting it Out (You leave for a vacation at Disney World in less than a week, so I totally understand if you don't get to this!!)
3. Heather at Geek By Marriage (This is the goddess who SAVED my 3-column blog. Giving you an ode from Wayne's World... I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!)
4. Meghan (my rockin' sister-in-law-by-marriage) (At least that's what I call her. She's my brother-in-law's wife. Which means technically she and I both married into the family and aren't really "related." But, seriously?? We've got to keep ourselves sane from the wild bunch we married into, right? Therefore we ARE related! JOKE!!) Anyway, checkout her site and her cute twin boys over at: The Adventures of Tader Baby
5.-8. Sighs. It is TOOOOO difficult to pick only 8 of the wonderful women I've encountered in blogland. Not to mention the fact that many of you (Dani, Kristin, etc.) have already completed this meme.

I'm leaving #5-8 open for you, dear readers....if you want to complete the Crazy 8's game, come join in the fun. If not, I'm not offended. Xoxox

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Summer Ruminations

--All day yesterday I was singing the "What Time is It?" song from (I'm sad to admit) High School Musical 2...
What time is it?
It's our vacation.
What time is it?
Party time.
That's right, say it loud!

--Today is my first day of SUMMER!!!!!!!!! Woot woot! As we have to pay for Em's preschool/daycare a week at a time, she'll still be going through the end of this week so I can have some much needed ME time. Yippee!

--Part of my "me time" sadly includes some major household cleaning. But I'm trying not to do too much, as I know I can do some cleaning next week (and beyond) when Em is home with me.

--My sister sent me a gift certificate for a massage for my birthday...I wonder if it's too short notice to cash in on it this week? Hmmm....

--There are 40 books in the Scholastic Read180 collection, used in my reading classroom. I've brought the 35 I haven't read yet home with me so that I can read them this summer. This will really help me have "book talks" with my students next year. (And before you freak out, while some of the books are 200+ pages, many "Level 1" books are only 40 pages or so, enabling me to read multiple books in one day. I love to read---but even I wouldn't try to conquer 35 ginormous books in one summer!)

--I'm currently reading the 3rd book of the Gemma Doyle trilogy and am LOVING it. I have enjoyed these three books thoroughly and am eager to find some other great summer reads!

--I think I'll head to Kohl's today. I received a 15% off EVERYTHING in the store coupon in the mail this week. I can't resist! And I could use some new sandals anyway...

--I'm determined to enjoy every moment, as summer always flies by in a whirlwind. Our plans this year:
--June: Em and I will have local excursions---zoo, beach, parks, picnics, hanging out at
home, library, etc.
--July: My sister Laurel will be visiting the first week of the month. Can't wait to see her!
--After she visits with us, Em and I will travel to Ohio with her. Laurel will return to her
apartment, and Em and I will stay at my parents house. (Em touched my heart this week.
I asked her what she most wants to do this summer. She said, "Go to Grandma and
Grandpa's house." Awww!)
--We'll have playdates galore with our Ohio friends and family while we're in Ohio. Yippee!
DH will join us for his 2-week vacation for part of the month. Yea!
--My older sister, Michelle will also visit at some point. (I haven't seen her for several
years and Em has never met her...it will be nice to finally connect!) (She lives in Seattle,
WA. The distance and $$$ make it difficult for us to visit one another.) (She just
finished earning her Ph.D GO, MICHELLE!!! YOU SUPERSTAR! She was hired by Drew
University in New Jersey, so will be moving to the East Coast. Yippee! We can likely
see each other much more often now!)
--August: Em will stay with my parents while I attend a "Girl Power" reunion with my
college gal pals. (Click HERE to view my post about last year's fun Girl Power adventure.)
This year we're going to NYC for an extended weekend. Should be a blast!
--After GP weekend, Em and I will be returning to FL...where we'll only have 2 weeks left
before back-to-school time starts again.

--Ever since I typed the "What Time is It" lyric above, I keep having random summer-y songs pop into my head...
"Summer lovin' had me a blast...summer lovin' happened so fast." (Grease!)

"School's out for summer!" (Alice Cooper)

"It's a cruel ... cruel ... cruel summer. Leaving me here on my own. It's a cruel ... it's a
cruel ... cruel summer. Now you've gone" (Bananarama)

"Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime...." (The Jamies) (I admit, I had
to look the artist up on this one.)

"I got my first real 6-string. Bought it at the 5-and-dime. Played it 'til my fingers bled.
Was the summer of '69." (Bryan Adams)

--Some good 'ole Beach Boys: "We're waxing down our surfboards. We can't wait for
June. We'll all be gone for the summer. We're on safari to stay. Tell the teacher we're
surfin'. Surfin' U.S.A."

--"I remember how you loved me. Time was all we had until the day we said goodbye.
But I remember every moment of those endless summer nights." (Richard Marx)

--"Hot town, summer in the city. Back of my neck getting dirty
and gritty..." (The Lovin' Spoonful) (I had to G.oogle the artist on this one too.)

Cracking myself up here....I'll stop with one of my current favorites:
"And we were tryin' different things. And we were smokin' funny things. Makin' love down by the lake to our favorite song. Sipping whiskey out the bottle. Not thinking 'bout tomorrow. Singin' 'Sweet Home Alabama' all summer long." (LOVE this Kid Rock song. Though I didn't smoke, have sex, or drink in high school...I definitely relate to the "Sweet Home Alabama" and "caught between a boy and man" (girl and woman in my case, of course) that he sings about as he reminisces 1989---my freshman year of high school.

Hooray for summer!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Perfect Moment Monday--Tea Party

Today was one of two post-planning teacher work days at my school. (I'm FREE for summer after tomorrow---hurrah!)

I left work at 4 o'clock. This is very early, as during the school year the school day is over at 4:15 and I typically stick around for an hour or so each day after school is out. I picked Em up ("Mommy! You're early today!") and brought her home for a tea party in our living room.

We made lemonade for "tea," and set up a card table in the living room with my wedding China and favorite teapot. We had a variety of snacks (including cookies, of course!) We "dressed up" in Em's dress up clothes and play jewelry. She LOVED it! I had a blast watching her have such fun. She was very tickled that I allowed her to pour the "tea" all by herself. She drank nearly the entire pot because she was thrilled to repeatedly refill her teacup. What a fun time...how I love our summer adventures! :)

My pink lemonade tea is delicious!

Notice nearly every necklace from her dress up box? And her lacy-tutu-type dress (a gift from Grandma.)

Jasmine headband, Valentine heart clip-on earrings, a lace shawl, and many necklaces...gotta love dress-up time!

Check out other blogger's "perfect moments" HERE.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

End of the School Year Reflection

Today marks the last full-day for students for the 2008-09 school year. It is bittersweet in so many ways...

--This is my 1st year teaching 8th grade. It's different emotionally at the end of this year than my prior 7th grade teaching years. I know that when my students leave tomorrow, I will likely never see most of them again. In the past, I'd see my students in the hall the following school year. Or hear about them "through the grapevine" from other teachers. Some would make it a point to seek out my classroom and visit to update me how their year was going. This year, my students will venture on to high school...

--I grew up in a small Ohio community. There were only 3 high schools in the entire county. All of the students who attended my middle school filtered into the same high school I attended. We had 7 years (or more for those who knew each other from the various elementary schools) of friendships by the time we graduated our senior year.

--My teaching community is the total opposite. Duval County has 30 middle schools and 20 high schools. My students this week have been excited at the prospect of beginning high school, but also slightly disheartened that they will be separated from their friends, as they will not all be attending the same high school next year.

--My principal announced yesterday that he will be leaving our school at the end of the month. The county opted to "switch" him and another principal. I don't understand why, as our school and the school he is going to are both "A" schools. (Usually our county swaps "A" principals with "C" or "D" principals in an attempt to raise the school grade.) He stated at our faculty meeting that he does not want to go, but that in this economy he is grateful to have a job and will go wherever the county places him.

--Mr. N is the best principal I've had in my 6 years of teaching. He is a goal-oriented team player. He is approachable and wonderful to work with. The faculty is all a little "on edge" as we are now anxious about the incoming principal... Though not fair to pre-judge her, it seems impossible for anyone to adequately fill our current principal's shoes. Sighs.

--On a totally-doesn't-relate to anything note: This year I wrote a Haiku during the time my students were working on poetry projects. I really like it, so am going to type it here. (Haikus are Japanese poetry in which the first and third lines have 5 syllables, and the middle line has 7 syllables.)
Shiny, big, round, clear
Blow them on a sunny day,
Floating, falling, POP!

What do you think? :)

--All in all I've had a good year. I still LOVE the students here, especially as compared to my prior school. They are much better behaved and more respectful. (I wasn't called a "bitch" once this year...at my old school students cursed at the teachers on a frequent basis!)

--I do miss my prior faculty. Moving from a school with a teaching team of 40 to a team of 100...I lost the "family feel." However, I've made some teacher friends. The reading department has bonded and I feel connected with the other 3 reading teachers.

--I eagerly look forward to next year when I will be teaching only READING! (No more language arts and reading combo--hooray!) Reading is my passion, and I am pleased I will once again have more time to devote to the curriculum and to differentiating instruction in order to meet the needs of my students.

--But first...the last day of school. Hugs. Tears. And then summer!

Monday, June 1, 2009

May Books

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen. 4 out of 5. This novel tells of a modern day Jewish teenager, Hannah, who doesn't really comprehend or respect her heritage. Hannah ends up "time travelling" unknowingly, and arrives in a small Jewish town in 1942. She's able to view first-hand some of her elderly relatives during their youth. And then, the devastation of the 1940's occurs. Hannah and the entire Jewish village are taken to a Nazi concentration camp. I've read many teen-lit Holocaust related novels. I appreciated this novel's description of the families being shoved into the train cars like cattle...barely able to breathe, and some dying en route to the camps because they were overcrowded on the railway cars. This novel made the horror of the Holocaust real, but at a level my 8th graders could comprehend and respect. There is a particularly gut-wrenching scene in the novel where some men (who tried to escape) are executed in front of the entire camp. A woman leaves her spot in the line of prisoners to run to her beloved who is about to be executed...of course she ends up being shot as well. However, she made the choice: to die with her love, instead of living in Hell-on-Earth without him. I liked the way the author differentiated between "Hannah" the modern day teen and "Chaya" her 1942 persona. I don't want to ruin any more plot details----but I will say that the description near the end of the novel of what "The Devil's Arithmetic" means is a fitting depiction of the horror of the Holocaust.

The Film: On a side note, I also viewed "The Devil's Arithmetic" film, staring Kirsten Dunst. I thought the film did a better job portraying Hannah's difficulty understanding the Holocaust as a modern teen, than the novel did. However, the bulk of the book---the wonderful characters of Gitl and Shmuel (Hannah's aunt and uncle whom she stays with after "landing in" 1942) were not even in the film! In addition, my favorite part---the gut wrenching part I mentioned earlier, wherein Fayge leaves the camp to die with her love---this part didn't make the movie either. Overall, it was a good film for teens to understand the Holocaust. However, for adults..."Life is Beautiful" or "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" are better in my opinion.

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare This sequel to the City of Bones book I read in April was a good read. I'd give it a 3 out of 5. I enjoyed the continued journey of Clary, as she learned more about her Shadowhunter abilities. Clary's imperfection made her interesting. However, the book contained an incestuous relationship (no sex, just kissing!) throughout the book that makes it an especially intriguing read. I wanted to find out what happened---would the characters "hook up," or would they decide not to pursue their relationship...

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare. 5 out of 5. The last book in the "Mortal Instruments Trilogy" was my favorite of the 3. The question of whether or not Clary and Jace's relationship is or isn't incestuous is answered. There is a final battle between Valentine and the Shadowhunters. Much of the book describes the big decision as to if the werewolves, vampires, and other "underworlders" will be permitted to help in the battle against Valentine. I stayed up late reading to reach the conclusion of this book, and I was not disappointed! Great action scenes. Steamy romance. I was pleased with the conclusion and happy with the way things turned out for the major characters. Great read!

Twilight: Director's Notebook: The Story of How We Made the Movie Based on the Novel by Stephenie Meyer by Catherine Hardwicke 4 out of 5. Neat book that contains photos of on-set and behind-the-scenes items used in the filming of the "Twilight" movie. I especially enjoyed the way Hardwicke explained the way different shots were arranged. I also got a kick out of the 2-page layout showing photos and explanations of all the items she carried around with her daily on the set. Fun read for any fan of the film. :)

Because I Said So by Dawn Meehan. 4 out of 5. I LOVE Dawn's Blog about her life as a very busy stay-at-home-mom of 6 children. Her blog is realistic, yet has much humor. When I learned she had written a book about parenting, I jumped on the bandwagon. It was a fun book full of vignettes of her motherhood experiences. The humor I love from her blog was prevalent throughout the book. A fun read!

Dragon's Bait by Vivian Vande Velde 4 out of 5. My mom introduced me to the Vande Velde books at her Ohio library last summer. I've been hooked ever since. This teen lit author gets right to the fast-paced action and doesn't disappoint! Dragon's Bait is about a teenage girl who is accused of being a witch. Rather than drowning her or burning her at the stake, her fellow villagers decide to leave her on a mountaintop as bait for a dragon. However, the girl ends up befriending the dragon. The rest of the book depicts her turmoil as she faces decisions regarding whether or not she wants the dragon to help her seek revenge against the village. Great story!

Summer will be here soon....happy reading one and all! :)


What rhymes with 'geek?' GREEK! As in goddess! Visit Geek by Marriage 's blog sometime when you get a chance. She always has interesting things to view/read. And being the blogging guru that she is...SHE SAVED MY BLOG! Did you notice the lovely 3-column design? I'd love to claim credit....I got it half way there and then repeatedly botched the whole thing up! Geek fixed it all for me. I am SOOOOO happy!

Tomorrow I'll arrange my sidebar columns. But for now, I'm thrilled to have a 3-column layout. YIPPEE!

Off to rest now...

THANKS, Heather. You are wonderful!