Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve

I couldn't let yesterday's post be the way I ended the year.  Not that I feel badly about it, quite the opposite, but I just didn't want that to be the note I went out on.  So, bear with me.

While I can't really remember a New Year's Eve of the last ten or so years that has been much to crow about, the New Year's Eves of my childhood were magical.  My little brother was born on NYE, so each year my parents threw a party. They would invite my extended family and their friends, and there was always plenty of food and cake.  When the birthday part was over, the adults would play board games and watch movies while we kids did whatever it was kids did at the time.  I don't know that I lasted until midnight that often, but when I did, it was equal parts embarrassing and fun to see our parents hug and kiss and celebrate the coming of a squeaky-clean year.

As we got older, the kids declared the need for our own celebration, and I remember one year in particular. I would have been in eighth grade, thirteen (always young for my grade).  My friends and I got permission to go across the field and have our own after-dinner celebration at my cousins' house.  We thought we were big stuff.  Four teenage girls, five or six older teenage boys goofing off with no parents.  It was the stuff of coming-of-age films.  (Not the crappy ones now with too much, too soon. It was a celebration, not an after-school special.)  I remember watching Field of Dreams with my first teenage crush, wishing desperately for my first kiss (which I didn't get).  And laughing, oh how we laughed.  When I think of New Year's Eves, that's the one I always think of.  Not a party dress, confetti-littered, Hollywood-manufactured image, but one of laughing with friends in our early-90's clothes and big hair, hoping for a midnight kiss.

The years have come gone.  The kids of that night now have kids of their own.  We've lost parents, gotten married, gotten divorced, experienced highs and lows that we never could have imagined then.  And if we could have, would we have wanted to?  I think that's the real beauty of a new year.  We don't know what's going to happen.  Chances are, it will be a mixed bag.  And that has to be okay.  Each moment is golden if you hold it in the right light.  The mystery is part of the beauty.  And the kids will be alright.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Honesty -- Read At Your Own Risk

This break was not the break I thought it would be.  I don't really even know what I expected, probably too much.  That seems to be a theme with me.  I always build things up in my mind to be this certain way...more somehow...even when there's no real reason to.  And the optimist side of me thinks this is a good thing, but my realist side says that I'm setting myself up for failure.  I think we all know who usually wins this argument.

I spend a considerable amount of time trying to convince myself that I'm happy.  Is that normal?  I mean, I get real glimpses of happy from time to time--sweet, shining moments--but they are always braced with grounding reality.  Maybe I've just spent a little too much time snowed-in this week.  Being alone with my thoughts has always been dangerous for me.  Add in the reflection that comes with the beginning of a New Year, and I'm pretty well screwed.

Each year begins with so much hope.  And at the end, I look around and see how little is different with me.  Same job, same single life, same, same, same.  And it's not really that any of those things are inherently bad.  I like my job.  I like pajamas and popcorn for dinner.  But what if there are things out there that I might really love?

I know, I know.  We can't live our lives in the 'what if.'  That's not how it works.  We'll drive ourselves crazy and maybe that's what I've been doing.  Life isn't about how we expect it to turn out, it's about what we're actually given and learning to be grateful and all of that.  I know that in my head.  I get it, I repeat it, I try to live it.  But sometimes it's just not enough.  Right?

I'm not whining.  I'm just asking.  Because I'm 31, and I thought someday there would come a point where I didn't feel like such a kid.  Not in that 'kid at heart' way, but in that 'I don't have any idea what I'm doing' way.  I see these people who are my age around me with so much direction and sense of purpose and it feels like they know something I don't, attended a class I missed.  And I don't know what to do with that.  I've never known. And I just wonder if that's normal.  It would be nice to feel like I'm part of the majority, because I don't really know that I've ever felt like that.  (Yes, I know we aren't supposed to compare, but let's get real.)

And so, I spew all of this onto the internet, because I am really tired of talking to myself.  A little New Year's  catharsis is good for the soul, right?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Why I Hate Snow

We received almost a foot of snow on Christmas night.  I don't know exactly when it happened, but I am officially to the point in my life where I hate snow.  Don't get me wrong, I love cold weather because it's the only time of year I am comfortable outside, but snow is really hacking me off.  Here are a few reasons:

  1. It messes up the plans I had for Christmas Break. No visiting with Tara, no dinner with friends.  Nothing.
  2. What's worse than snow when you already have the time off?  Save that stuff for January or February when I am jonesing for a snow day.
  3. I don't have anyone in my household to help me, so if an emergency arises, I have to be a damsel in distress.
  4. You have to get snow off of every thing to even begin to think about going anywhere.
  5. Delilah, my insane cat, hates snow.  It really freaks her out and she screams and tries to attack me when I come in from outside.
All of this, and a little more, is how I ended up having the traumatic morning that I just survived.  I can't find my snow boots (which are actually muck boots), since I have only worn them to measure discus in the mud pit the last couple of years.  I've looked everywhere, but they are nowhere to be found.  Undeterred, I got bundled up and put on a pair of old Doc Marten's and went out.  The cleaning off of my car wasn't really that bad, if you forget that it's sort of sitting in a snow drift on one side.  However, somewhere in that process, my windshield wiper came apart, and I was not smart enough to put it back together.  I decided this wasn't a big deal and I would just run over and ask one of my neighbors to put it back together before I went anywhere.  

I go back inside to take off my snow covered stuff and what's sitting on the stairs?  A mouse, which Delilah had chased out of the main part of house onto the stairwell.  I stared at the poor little guy for a second or two, and then decided that being the liberated, single woman I was I would take care of it myself.  I opened the door and tried to shoo it out, then found a bucket and tried to convince the little guy to run into it.  Both were disasters, and the poor little guy was just scared and exhausted (and kinda cute, like Gus Gus on Cinderella!).  And so, I ended up going next door and my sweet neighbor, without flinching or questioning, came over and fixed the windshield wiper and took Gus outside and if I had a normal life this would be the end of the story, but I don't.

I took off all my snow clothes, but Delilah could still smell me (and the snow on me) and she began to flip out and try to attack me. Normally, this isn't a big deal and I can ignore her and she will calm down, but not so much today.  She chased me around the house until I could trick her onto the closed-in porch (where her litterbox and food are) and lock her up.  It was a comedy routine of throwing blankets and using a leather briefcase as a shield until that happened.  And I looked like I'd had a full workout, sweat and all.  

And I blame snow for it all.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!!

I'll be spending time with my family for the next couple of days, like I hope all of you will be as well, but I wanted to take a second and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!  If it snows here like they are forecasting, you may be stuck with a whole lot of blogging from me later this week!

May your holidays be filled with love and laughter and grateful hearts!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Observations on Kindness and Christmas Shopping

I went Christmas shopping today, because I am both a procrastinator and someone who hates to shop on the weekends when everyone else is if I can avoid it.  And as much as I dreaded it, it really wasn't that bad.  The trauma of last week seems to have made us a little nicer to one another. I didn't have or see one unpleasant interaction, and let's be honest, people tend not to be their best selves in the Christmas crowds.  Normal, mild mannered people will shank you for a bicycle or a 50%-off sweater.  But not today.  Today, people smiled and said hello to one other, even if they were strangers.  Shoppers were an extra measure of patient, sales associates a little more helpful. Everyone seemed to be taking care of everyone else. At least, that's how it felt.  Maybe I was just paying more attention.  But I hope people really were different.

I don't know if any of you follow Ann Curry on Twitter or have heard this somewhere else, but she (much like my dear internet friend, Joyce) asked people to commit random acts of kindness and it's really catching on.  It's been restoring my faith in humanity one tweet at time.  Seriously, search #20Acts or #26Acts on Twitter and read for yourself.  It's beautiful.

The only question I have is why do we have to wait for something so terrible to happen to remind us to be amazing.  If you are Christian, part of our call is to show Christ's love to others, and I know I fall short of that all of the time.  What if we committed 26 acts and followed it with 26 more over and over and over?  Evil will never truly overpower good.  I hope that we can all find ways to remind the world of that, now and always.

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 12/19

1. How will you spend 'the night before Christmas'? 

With my mom's side of the family eating too much food and reveling in the crazy of  having lots of relatives in one place, especially this year.

2.  What is one thing you are not?

I am a terrible housekeeper, which has been well documented here.  Get to take another shot at it after I finish my Christmas shopping now that I'm on break!

3.  Fudge-are you a fan?  Your favorite flavor?

Absolutely.  Especially my mom's ribbon fudge with peanut butter and chocolate.

4. Did you attend any craft/vendor fairs in the month of December?  Do you prefer homemade goodies or the more professional stalls? Are you giving any homemade gifts this year? 

The only craft fair I attended was in November, but it's become a yearly tradition with my mom and sister.  I like a mix the homespun and professional, and tend to buy at both.  This year, I am giving handmade spoons and a beautiful table runner (and neither of the people they are going to read my blog, so we are safe!)

5. What's your favorite type of holiday gathering? 

I like pretty much any gathering where everyone gets together and eats and celebrates.  But I am looking most forward to all of my friends being home and getting together.  Love those girls with all of my heart and they make me laugh until my belly hurts.  

6.  We're approaching a new year...what's going to be different in 2013? 

My attitude.

7. Share a favorite scripture, quote, saying, or song lyric relating to peace.

Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me. 
 Let there be peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be.  
With God as our father, Brothers all are we, 
Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony. 
Let there be peace on Earth,  Let this be the moment now.
Let there be peace on Earth, Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment, and live each moment in peace eternally.
Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.

I can't count the number of times that I sang this during Mass growing up.  It remains one of my very favorites, and the prayer of my heart.  A close second is this:
"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors and may each new year find you a better man." - Benjamin Franklin

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I'm wishing everyone a very lovely Christmas celebration!  Really hoping to actually get some blogging done while I am off!  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sandy Hook

UPDATE: 9:17 PM  Jason Robert Brown, a composer that I love, wrote this.  It is heartbreaking, yes, but let us focus on the names of those who were lost in this madness, and not the name of the one who did it.  Twenty-six names.  Twenty-six lives who went to school like every other day and never came home.  May God grant us all comfort and peace.

I need to confess that I've been avoiding the news since it happened, with great success because I won't even turn to a channel that's airing the news.  I've been on Twitter, read articles, cried over the list of names.  But I can't watch it.  There's no amount of footage or analysis that will explain this, because what happened in Sandy Hook is every teacher's greatest fear.  We want to believe that if we put enough precautions in place we can stop someone from doing the unthinkable, but really we can't.  And that is so very scary.  School is supposed to be the one place that I can guarantee my students are safe, and to imagine that space becoming anything else is just too much.  I would like to think that I would do anything necessary to protect my students, that I could be that brave in a time of such unthinkable crisis.  Trust me, every teacher in that building was a hero.  And my heart grieves for that school, those parents, that entire town.

Now is not the time for political rhetoric, it's just too soon, though that time will come.  We have to address accessibility to mental health care in this country.  There will be a time to have a hopefully reasonable discussion about the gun culture, about our overexposure to violent imagery, about all of this and more.  And hopefully some of those things will become action before this becomes another teacher's nightmare.

But those conversations are for another day.  For now, we as a nation need to grieve little lives and the lives of those who died protecting them.  And we need to pray.   In this Christmas season, let us hug our families and say "I love you" more and do all of things that some of the families in Newtown, CT won't be able to this year.  I choose to believe that there is more good in the world than evil.  I simply have to.  Maybe we just need to make the effort to let our love be louder than the evil.  Let's start today.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 12/12/12

1.  So, when did you last take a walk in the woods? A stroll along the beach? A drive going nowhere in particular in the car? 

I love a drive in the car.  I have always been the kind of girl who loves a gravel road and some good music.  There's nothing like getting lost in the country.  (Though I will always take a stroll on the beach when available.)

2.  Are you sending Christmas cards this year?  About how many do you send?  Photo card or something more traditional?  How do you display the cards you receive?

I am going to try to send Christmas cards this year, but I am absolutely terrible about it.  Mostly because I never really have time to get my act together until it's too close to Christmas.  On top of that, I'm just crap about getting things in the mail in general, even though I have a mailbox and live across the street from the post office.  (How sad, right?)  Also, it's a little weird to just send a card from only me when a lot of other people my age have the husband/kids combo.

3. What's a word you've heard too much of in the past week?

Finals.  My college friends are taking them and I'm busy trying to prep mine for next week!  I need to make more progress since our finals are next Monday and Tuesday!!

4. December 13th is National Cocoa Day-are you a fan?  Plain or flavored?  Marshmallows or no marshmallows?

Huge fan!  It's easily my favorite hot drink.  I actually love white chocolate hot chocolate from a local cafe the best, but I will drink about anything.  And always marshmallows...lots and lots of them!

5. What is something you do to help alleviate the hectic pace of the Christmas season?

I really try my best not get caught up in the hectic nature of the season.  I'm a big fan of taking each event as it comes and since I still have choir performances, finals, potlucks and shopping between now and Christmas, I have a lot of other things to focus on.  (Plus, I have a really fun night planned with Amber this weekend...more about that next week!)

6. Besides jewelry, what's a favorite sparkly-glittery item in your home or closet?

I'm a really big fan of sequins any time of the year.  Sparkly beading will work as well.  Mostly, I'm just a big fan of shiny things!

7. Share a favorite line or two from any Christmas carol.

"Long lay the world, in sin and error pining, 'Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth."  Pretty much all of "O Holy Night" is beautiful, but I love that line, especially.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

It really is hard to believe that we are already halfway through the school year!  It seems like we are just getting started.  But I'll welcome it, because I think we have good things in store next semester, including our school musical and, of course, track season!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

SUYL: Christmas Traditions

Since I don't have a husband or children, my Christmas traditions are still the ones that I have grown up with.    My younger sister, LuLu, is the keeper of all the family traditions.  Since she was born, if we dare to miss a tradition of any sort, we are sure to incur her wrath.  (Which, I suppose, is its own little Christmas tradition.) I actually love that there's someone who makes sure that we do all of the little things, because I would probably be a little lazy about them and let some fall by the wayside.

On Christmas Eve, we go to my mom's side of the family.  This is especially convenient, because it's less than a mile from my parents'.  We eat, mostly appetizer-style foods and desserts, and the little ones (anyone from birth to college) get their presents from the aunts and uncles.  The "little ones" is ever-expanding these days, as I have lots of cousins with kids.  The rest of us trade little things, and we shower lots of love on my grandmother, who is the only living grandparent on that side.  (She's in her eighties and still goes on vacations with her friends from high school.  She's pretty awesome!)

Afterwards, we go back to my parents' and open a couple of presents from them.  One is always pajamas, and the other is something small, maybe a sweater or something.  Then, we watch the local choirs and mock them a little, because we are cynical people with sick senses of humor.  While we are doing that, Santa visits.  That's right.  We are 31, 27, and 22 and Santa still visits.  (As Mom says, "If you don't believe, you don't receive.")  This will be the first Christmas with my niece, The Divine Miss M, so I'm an extra measure of excited!

On Christmas Day, we typically go to Mass (though this year, we will go on Christmas Eve) and then have sweet rolls for breakfast.  My dad's side of the family comes over for late lunch, and we visit and exchange gifts and just hang out and enjoy ourselves.  That side of the family is much smaller, so it's little more relaxed. (This is my parents' cat, Shredder.  He's pretty...evil.)

I can't wait to start some new traditions with my niece.  This year she's still too young to remember, but it won't be long before she will be able to really get into it.  I can't wait to see what everyone else does, too!  Thanks for visiting!

Random List Time!

I haven't done a random list in a while, if you excuse that most of the things I talk about on here are pretty random, so I figured now was as good a time as any.  You're welcome!

  • I don't have my Christmas shopping done, which is really sad because I don't really have that much shopping to do. But luckily, I will have several days off before Christmas to get myself together!  As usual, I can use all the help I can get!
  • I'm also hoping to get my house company ready during those days because I'm planning to host a little get-together for my friends while I'm off and everyone is home!  
  • My organizational skills need some serious help.  My small house has too much stuff, even though I'm lucky enough to have lots of storage space. Ideally, I would start using my attic space after giving it a good cleaning (with some help) and anything I don't need I will take to Goodwill or to the local clothes closet.  Whatever happens, I need to get rid of the excess in my life.
  • I really need to sit down and write a music post for you guys.  I have had one in the works for a while now, as I've been listening to some great music.  But it takes time and concentration, two things I've not had much of lately.
  • If you follow me on Twitter, you heard this already, but I survived my first choir concert as a co-director!  It went better than I could have ever dreamed.  Now if we can just make it through the other two performances before school lets out for break.
  • I have a list of movies I really want to see that I haven't.  Some will be in theaters over break, so I'm hoping to see them (particularly Guilt TripThis Is 40 and Les Miserables), but several are out on video soon.  I also have a long Netflix queqe and am looking at getting a Roku 2.  Do any of you (those that have stuck with all this rambling) have one?  Or use some other method to get Netflix on your TV?  Thoughts?  Suggestions?
I think that's it for now.  I know that I've been neglectful on commenting back and whatnot recently, but I promise I'm reading everything.  (And I'm serious about the technology help.  I could really use it!)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 12/5

1.  Share your traditions surrounding the Christmas stocking. 

Our stockings at my parents' house each have their own special hanger that was purchased for our first Christmas.  Mine is a creepy little elf.  But he holds my stocking, so I guess I really shouldn't complain.  They go over the mantle until they are filled with Christmas goodies.  Then they sit with our gifts from Santa.  (Yes, we are 31, 27, and 22 and our mom still does Santa gifts.  But in her words, "Those who don't believe, don't receive."  And she's a retired kindergarten teacher, so you know she means it.  

2.  How many hours of sleep do you average at night?  Is it enough?

On an average school night, I get about seven hours of sleep.  It is never enough, especially lately.  I tend to make up for it on the weekends.  I do my best on about 9-10 hours a night, but I am not willing to go to bed as soon as I get home to make that happen.

3.  If you had to give up one thing for the remainder of this year what would it be?

This question should not be that hard.  I think I would have to go with soda.  I really drink it rarely anymore, but I am trying to take it out of my diet completely.  Next, I am going to start on my beloved sweet tea.  I don't even want to talk about how traumatic that is going to be.

4.  The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (or Wills and Kate as I like to call them) have announced they're expecting a baby. Do you follow news of the Royals? 

I do follow news of the Royals, and I was very excited!  Maybe it's just because they are my age and they seem like such a nice, normal couple considering their circumstances.  Maybe it's my near lifelong obsession with English royalty.  Either way, I am so very happy for them!

5.  For me,  the sound of childhood is__________________.

I can think of a million smells that bring back thoughts of my childhood, but sound is harder.  I think it would have to be the sound of a tractor.  My grandpa used to take us on rides when we were little, and it was always a highlight of our days with him.  

6.  Fruit cake-yay or boo? What's your favorite dessert made with fruit?

Boo.  My favorite dessert made with fruit is crumb top apple pie.  I'm not a big pie fan, but this one is so very good!

7. What is one thing you want to accomplish before 2012 comes to an end?

I want to have made it through three quality choir performances.  We have one tonight and two more before school is out.  If we can get those done, I will certainly feel relieved.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I'm hoping that volunteering to host some of the Christmas Break festivities will give me the push I need to actually give my house the kind of cleaning and organization it actually needs.  Either that, or I am going to be pushing things in closets in a way I never have before.  It's really too early to tell at this point.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


My friends and I all went out last night for Amber's birthday.  It was one of those rare nights where pretty much everything was perfect.  Good food, good weather, lots of laughs.  I loved every minute of it.  And I was sad to go home.  Not that I find that particularly surprising.

One of the things I've been dealing with recently is that I am really lonely.  The thing about living alone is that you do get used to it.  There are times when I don't know if I am thinking things or actually saying them out loud.  And one of the things that happens after a while is that it is easier to be alone than to go out and be around people.  Even when you long to be around people, sometimes it just seems like it's entirely too much trouble.  Last night reminded me why it is usually worth the effort.

I don't know if I will ever end up in a relationship.  I would like to, but I can't sit here and say that I know that is going to happen for me.  It may not.  And while I don't know that I want children of my own, I also have this almost resentment that I might not get the chance to decide all of that with the husband I assumed I would have by this point.  And I don't really know what to do with that or how to resolve it.

The last year has brought about so much change in my life.  And much of  it was not particularly welcome when it showed up on my door step.  Like the changing of seasons, people have come and gone.  (Thankfully, some have even come back again.)  There is still much that remains a mystery to me.  But, at the end of the day, all you can ask for is to have people you love who love you back.  I have that.  No, in this season, that isn't a husband or children, maybe it never will be, but I'm learning to be content with receiving the love that comes my way in whatever form it may appear.  And better yet, I'm learning to love back, which is not really something I've always been very good at.

There are lessons to be learned in every season.  And I'm not even sure what all of my lessons in this one are yet, but I'm willing to keep trying.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's Okay Thursdays

I haven't joined in the fun for a few weeks, so I think it's time to get back on the wagon.  If you feel so inclined, write your own post of self-affirmations and link up over at Amber's blog by clicking on the button below!

Its Ok Thursdays

It's Okay....

  • ...that when I was feeling super crappy this week and medicine was making my heart race, my first thought was "I can't go to the hospital because it's been a while since I shaved my legs and if I have to wear a gown, Lord help us all!"
  • whine on the blog every once in a while, or so my commenters on that post reminded me!  (But I promise to keep it to a minimum!)
  • ...that dinner and bedtime happened in the same (early) hour last night.
  • be relieved when plans change to something decidedly more relaxed for the weekend.
  • ...that I'm more excited about what my niece may be getting for Christmas than in what I may be getting for Christmas!
  • know more about celebrity gossip than US History some days.  (My mind is like a steel trap, unless it's real and useful knowledge, in which case, it's more like a colander!)
  • love Pinterest simply because you like making lists and looking at them.  (Because goodness knows you aren't crafting, cooking, or throwing any dinner parties these days!)
  • skip grocery shopping tonight to make sure you are home in time to watch Scandal!
  • ...that visions of Christmas Break are already filling my head!  (All my fellow teachers know what I am talking about on this one!!)

I'd love to hear what you need to be "okay" about this week!  Let me hear you in the comments or link up!  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 11/28

1.  With that being said I think I need to dive right in to some Christmas related questions, don't you? Which do you prefer-pretty gift wrap with a bow or a pretty gift bag with/without a bow?  What percentage of your holiday gifts are currently (as in right this very minute) wrapped in some form or fashion? 

I prefer to wrap with a bag and a bow because I am the worst at wrapping with wrapping paper.  And currently not a single one of my gifts are wrapped.  I have given two of my Christmas presents already though.  I bought my parents tickets to a concert that happened on Sunday (Annie Moses Band) so, I kind of had to give those early.  And my little sister, LuLu, picked out a great bracelet when we were shopping a couple weeks ago, and I let her keep it rather than take it back and have her pretend to be surprised.  

2.  What is one item on your Christmas list this year?

I finally broke down and put a Nook on my list this year.  Not one of the fancy ones, just one of the simple readers.  As much as I love a real book, it will make it easier to borrow books from my parents since they have both gone digital.

3.  What makes a home?

A home is somewhere you are comfortable and have people who love you.  It doesn't have to be the place you sleep at night, but it certainly can be.  Some of my favorite homes were/are not my own.

4.  Motown founder Berry Gordy celebrates his birthday on Hodgepodge Day-November 28th. Are you a fan of the Motown sound?  If so, who's your favorite Motown artist and/or song? Here's a list in case you're stuck. 

I am a huge Motown fan!  When I was very young, maybe three or four, my dad taught me all the songs on The Big Chill soundtrack.  (Still one of my very favorites!)  I think that my favorites would have to be "Ain't To Proud to Beg" by The Temptations and "Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin.  (Which was written by Carole King!)

5.  Red or green-which one is more prevalent in your closet?

I would have to say blue.  But my favorite cardigan is grass green and I would wear it every day if I could.

6.  True or false-bacon makes it better? If you answered true, what's your favorite dish made with bacon? 

Bacon makes it better, for sure!  I love green beans with bacon!  But I am from far enough south that we will put bacon with anything!

7.  Share a favorite holiday memory.

Is it bad that one doesn't stand out right away?  We have a lot of little traditions that make the holiday, so it's hard to just have one.  Though I have to believe that our best holidays are ahead of us, watching my niece experience it all!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I've talked about it before, but when I win the Powerball, I have big plans.  Most of them involve going to the beach and going to NYC.  And I'm perfectly okay with that.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I have been sick with sinus stuff since some time after Thanksgiving.  This really shouldn't be that surprising since I seem to pretty much have this all the time.  (Thank you allergies and weather that can't seem to decide what season it is!)  When I get like this, I get kind of weirdly emotional.   Anyone else do this when they are sick?  Things that aren't big deals suddenly become huge, and things that are not at all that serious have me in tears.  And even though I recognize this, I can't seem to stop it.

This is why I haven't been blogging (this week, anyway).  When at all possible, I try not to embarrass myself on the internet for the whole world (or the tens of you who read this blog) to see.  Trust me, it would not have been pretty.  Because while people do come here to read all of the crazy, silly, sometimes boring things I have to say, no one wants to listen to me whine.  I don't want to hear me whine, either.

I know I keep saying this, but one of these days, things will get back to normal around here.  Or maybe this is a new sort of normal, I don't know.  Things are what they are..good, bad or somewhere in between.  And for now, I'm just along for the ride.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge-11/21

1. Turkey-love it or leave it?  White meat or dark?  What's your favorite thing to make using leftover turkey?

Love it!  It's one of the things I'm most looking forward to tomorrow!  I'm a white meat eater, but I'm not big on leftovers.  I will usually just eat some warmed up with a little gravy or spicy BBQ sauce.

2. Gotta burn off all those carbs the day after a holiday feast so which would you rather do-run a 10K or climb a mountain? 

I'm fairly sure both of those would kill me.  I'm not a big altitude fan, however I don't believe I could run 1K.  Hmmm...can I choose a Walk Away the Pounds DVD instead?

3.  Do you feel like social networking has made your relationships better or worse?  Explain.

I feel like it has actually mad them better because I feel like that's the easiest way to talk to most of my friends.  Especially The Chicks.  We all lead busy lives, but it's nice to have a place to check in as needed (or rant as necessary)!  And then there are all the awesome people on Twitter!

4. How do you find and express gratitude for the hard things in your life? 

One of the best things you can do is the simplest, actually saying "Thank you!"   I've been trying to practice actually telling people how grateful I am for them, as well.  The more I see of what is out there in the world, the easier it is to see how much I have to be grateful for.  (Which in turn makes me want to give back to others through donations, time, or prayer.)

5.  In the US, the day after Thanksgiving has been dubbed 'Black Friday'.  Is most of your holiday shopping done live and in person, or is it done more through the magic of the Internet? How do you feel about stores opening at midnight Thanksgiving night? Will you be out amongst the masses on Friday? 

I am not a Black Friday shopper.  If I do partake, it will be through the internet.  I talked about this yesterday, but it bugs me that stores are opening earlier and earlier, giving their employees less time with their own families.

6.  Speaking of the color black-which black item in your wardrobe would you say is your favorite?

I have this tank top that has little bows all over it.  It's versatile and lightweight and one of my favorite pieces.

7.  What do you appreciate about your life today? 

I hope there's little I don't appreciate.  My life is so blessed, and I know that saying that sounds like a brag, but that's not what I mean.  I'm not rich by any means, but by most country's standards I am.  And I have the things that are more important than a bank account--good work, a loving family, and really hilarious and witty friends.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I cannot wait until lunch tomorrow.  It will be crazy, but in the best way.  Lots of food, lots of children (at least eight under age ten), a little wine (okay, maybe a lot of wine), and so much happiness.  We have so much to be thankful for as a family--good reports after health scares, new babies on the way--that I just can't think of a better way to celebrate than by the great majority of my extended family being together.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's Almost Thanksgiving?!?

Once again, it's been almost a week since I posted.  I think this is probably because I'm just not that interesting.  I'm not putting myself down here.  Life's just been pretty routine the last couple of weeks.  I am thankful that Thanksgiving Break starts tomorrow.  I can always use a few days off to get myself together, which also might very well mean watching a lot of Netflix.  (Have you all seen Hart of Dixie?  It's simple, but it's cute.  Plus, I'm in love with Scott Porter, who you probably know as Jason Street from Friday Night Lights.)  

I don't have huge Thanksgiving plans.  We always go to my mom's side of the family for lunch.  I don't know for sure who is coming this year, but I'd say that we will be hitting somewhere close to 30 people.  The weather is supposed to be in the 60's (warm for November here), so maybe we can have some fun outside.  I have been given one goal--to make a cheesecake--at which I am relatively proficient.  We all know they don't want me making the entree, unless you really like Thanksgiving lasagna.  (And my family is pretty traditional!)  So I will leave the main dishes to Mama, the aunties, and Grandma.

I also don't Black Friday shop.  My reasoning for this is three-fold.  1)  I am not really a huge crowds of people person, and humanity tends to disappoint me as they fight over bicycles.  I refuse to shank someone over a sale item.  2)  I'm not sure how I feel about so many stores opening on Thanksgiving.  What about the workers and their families?  When it was 5 AM on Friday that was early enough.  Then it was midnight.  Now some stores are opening at 8 PM on Thanksgiving.  It just seems wrong.  And 3) I don't shop for that many people, and there's little that I would actually need to get.  Plus, most of the things I would actually need, I will probably order off of Amazon.  (I'm a Prime customer, so I can get it in two days without having to fight anyone, even if I am ordering a gross of kazoos and 300 glow sticks like I did last week for the school Christmas program.)  It's very possible that I will spend Black Friday cleaning out the attic at my parents.  Riveting, right?

What plans do you have for Thanksgiving?  Are you a Black Friday shopper?  Are you just looking forward to having a little downtime?  Tell me all about it in the comments!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 11/14

1.  What rule of life should never be broken?

It's okay to disagree, but it's not okay to let that disagreement fuel uglier emotions.  I've had enough of that to last a lifetime.

2.  What's your favorite family recipe? 

I can't make them to save my life, but my grandma's dumplings are just about my favorite thing in the world.  They are very temperamental, and no one but her can seem to get them just right.

3.  Is the media manipulative? 

The 24-news cycle has created an environment that prizes ratings over quality.  I think this push has caused the individual networks to move past competition into something that is less about news and more about sensationalism.  And I think that the manipulation is a product of that.  It doesn't matter if they lean more to the left or to the right, all media seems to do this to one degree or another.

4. Hubs and I saw Skyfall last weekend...are you a fan of the Bond films? If so, who's your favorite Bond?

As much as I love movies, I've never been a big Bond fan.  If I were to pick a favorite I would have to say Sean Connery, followed by Daniel Craig.  (Because seriously, have you SEEN that man?)

5. What is one thing you hope people never say about you?

That I wasn't kind when I had the opportunity to be.  I have been thinking a lot about this.  I'm not exactly rolling in the dough over here, but I am comfortable enough.  And in comparison with entirely too many people, I am wealthy.  God's really been laying it on my heart to find ways to give back.  Even if they seem small to me, they could be huge to someone else.  And I'm really excited about what that might mean, particularly as we move into the Christmas season.

6.  What's a nearby tourist attraction you'd like to see, but haven't gotten around to visiting? 

Lately, there have been these great commercials on about things to see in St. Louis, and as many times as I've been there, I have never been to some of those buildings.  Also, I have never been to Chicago.  Or the replica of the Parthenon in Nashville.  Perhaps some traveling needs to happen this summer...

7.  Where's your favorite tree?

My favorite trees are in my parents' yard.  When I was in third grade, they gave us pine and cypress saplings to plant at home.  Every time I see them, huge and healthy, it makes me smile.  I do have a fondness for the dogwood in my yard as well.  Is it possible to have an over-attachment to trees?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I'm ready for Thanksgiving Break (FIVE DAYS OFF!), but I will gladly take the three-day weekend ahead.  I'm especially excited about going to the Craft Fair with my mom, SIL, sister, and niece!  Spending a little girl time is always fun!  (Particularly while the boys are all out in the woods waiting for deer!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Musical Confession

How is it already the middle of November?  A month ago and a half ago, I was celebrating my birthday and that seems both like both a second and a lifetime ago after all the insanity that was October.  Let's just say my little blog break was needed because chances are my ability to put together a coherent thought was much lower than usual.  I didn't give up all social media, rest assured.  Twitter has become my new favorite hangout and I'm having the best time over there talking at celebrities and other people I don't really know (and a few I do).  Sometimes, they answer back, so that's a bonus.  I'm a person who's pretty good with blurbs, so 140 characters is my cup of tea.  I still love talking here, recording my life and whatnot, Twitter's just another fun outlet.  If you have an account and feel so inclined, you can follow me by clicking that button in the sidebar.

Speaking of,  recently I tweeted the following:  "I'm just going to say this and risk all music credibility...I actually like Taylor Swift's new album. Fresh and inventive."  I cannot stop listening to Red.  I may have been screaming it in the car on the way home today.  You can't help it.  One minute you are cursing that "we are never, ever getting back together" and the next you are singing along like it's your job.  It's just so catchy.  But that may be my least favorite song on the album.  Taylor (because we are on a first name basis, you know) gets a bad wrap that all of her songs are about ex-boyfriends, and she plays it up because that's the kind of stuff that sells albums.  But it's really an injustice because her music is more than that.  And, moreover, it's better than that.  I encourage you to give it a listen, not that she really needs my endorsement because she's already sold well over one million copies since it came out in late October.  

I'm not really listening to much else right now, but it's been a long time since I did a music post, so maybe I need to get on that this week.  Sounds like a good job for my day off on Friday, perhaps.  

What is your guilty pleasure?  Have you listened to Red?  I would love to hear your thoughts or your recommendations if there's something you just can't get enough of right now.  Share in the comments.  You know you want to....

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Glorious Fall Weekend

Last week was quite a week.  Nothing spectacular, but certainly full of day-to-day stuff.  For instance, if you were wondering what $11,000 of cookie dough looks like, I now know.  It came on a semi and in so many boxes.  SO many boxes.  Meanwhile, I've been prepping my choir for our first Christmas program.  They are actually excited about the music (as am I), and they are learning it faster than I could have dreamed.  For all of us being first-timers (them as a choir, me as a choir director), I will take any victory I can get!  We are running headlong into the busiest time of the year.  It's hard to believe that in a little over a week it will be Thanksgiving.  How did that happen?

Though I have no pictures to show for it, I had a great weekend!  My girls and I got together on Saturday at our favorite winery.  We hadn't been in over a month!  There was a fun band, and it was very busy because it was 72 degrees here on Saturday, but the atmosphere eventually got a little overwhelming.  Jessie, Casey and I ended up at a favorite local place and gorged ourselves until we were pretty sure we were food drunk. And it was worth every bite!  As if that wasn't glorious enough, I ended the night at my parents', listening to my sweet niece's giggles.  I went back over for lunch today (and more giggles) and then came home and took the best nap!  And I might still go to bed early, because now it's rainy and apparently going to go back to being cold and November-ish.

I actually have to work tomorrow, because we don't get Veteran's Day unless it falls during the week, but am off Friday, because we don't go to school on Friday.  (It's Shotgun Season for deer.  And yes, you read that right.)  Anyway you slice it, it's still a four-day week, so I can't really complain!

But the real question is:  Did you all do anything special over the weekend?  I want to hear all about it in the comments!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why I Vote

I don't get political too often here, and this isn't really going to be one of those times either.  But because I am a history nerd and a history teacher, I just can't let this day go by without commenting on why I think it's important to vote.  (After all, if I am going to make my kids write about it today, it's only fair that I write my thoughts down as well.)

I vote because for entirely too many years, women didn't have that right.  Though all of the mud slinging and inability to have civil conversations makes me want to upchuck my lunch, I vote because Susan B. Anthony went to jail for trying to exercise that right.  Alice Paul went on a hunger strike for that right.  People in countries all over the world have died and will die trying to get an opportunity to have a say in who represents them.  So, when I'm at the polling place, I think of them.

I'm not a Republican.  Nor a Democrat.  I am not swayed by commercials or Facebook statuses.  And I keep my opinions to myself.  The beauty of living in a country where I elect people by secret ballot is that I don't have to tell you who I voted for or why.

If you are eligible, I hope you voted.  But if not, then that's okay, too.  We will still be friends tomorrow, when I'm sure to be talking about something completely ridiculous.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Finding Comfort

I went to Mass on Saturday afternoon.  It's been a long time since I just randomly went to Mass when it wasn't for a special occasion.  I haven't been a practicing Catholic since I was in my early twenties, since before the girls and I became worship leaders.  But as I watched the coverage of the devastation of Sandy, I knew in my heart that I needed to go to my spiritual "home" this weekend.  I will admit that I've only watched the coverage sparingly.  I donated to the Red Cross and said prayers of thanks for those I know who were safe in the storm, and prayed for comfort for those that weren't.  But I couldn't even watch the telethon Friday night because the images just made me too sad.  And I know the kind of spiral that can trigger in my mind.  So, Mass it was.

My paternal grandfather, a lifelong Baptist, told me years and years ago that God doesn't care where you attend, He's just looking for you to show up. And I've generally found that when you show up in need, so will He.  Location doesn't really matter, but there's something deeply comforting about Mass to me.  Maybe it's the ritual, practiced time and time again, all over the world, and still very much the same.  Maybe it's the memories of the people who raised me, not just my family, but people like Linda, my godmother and First Communion teacher.  The church is small, and has a new priest whom I'd never met, but his homily brought tears to my eyes and hope to my heart.  And isn't that the point of church, no matter where you go?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 10/31

1. What creeps you out?

I don't like being outside in the dark.  I'm not a big fan of clowns.  I don't go to haunted houses or any of the many similar events this time of year.  And you will never find me eating Jello. 

2. What's your least favorite candy?

I don't really like Tootsie Roll Pops, which is weird because I do like Tootsie Rolls.  What can I say?  I'm complicated!

3. Are you a fan of scary movies?  What's the scariest movie you've ever seen?

I am a huge chicken and never watch scary movies.  There are enough really scary things in the world.  My overactive imagination doesn't need the help!  I remember watching It when I was in junior high at a slumber party and that pretty much scarred me for the rest of my life. 

4. What part of life confuses you the most?

When I find a part that doesn't, I'll let you know!  :)  I can be really bad at interpersonal relationships.  I have a hard time deciding what is prying and what is appropriate when someone is going through something and I'm always afraid I will somehow make a bad situation worse.  This means that I might give people more distance than they need and come off like I don't care, when I definitely do.

5. Pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, poppy...what's your favorite seed?

Probably sesame, because it makes me think about sesame chicken which is one of my favorites!

6. Imagine your life ten years from today...what's changed?

I've learned that life is often not at all how you imagine it.  I would like to be married, to travel, to be doing what I love (whether that is still teaching or something else).  Most of my friends will have kids, some will have 10-12 year olds, which is crazy to think about.  I don't know where life will take me, but I am certainly interested in finding out!

7.  What do you a) love the most and b) like the least about the Hodgepodge?

a)  I love the questions!  Sometimes I'm shocked by my own answers, but they keep me thinking.  Joyce, you put in such a great amount of work each week and it's just fun playing along.

b) I dislike taking the time to get all of my thoughts together.  This is often my longest post of the week, and sometimes it takes more than one try for my ADD brain to settle down and get to work!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I've been having a great lesson in gratitude this week.  I'm so thankful that all of the people I knew in the storm zone are safe, but my heart breaks for those who have lost everything and those who have lost loved ones.  Stuff is just stuff.  It's the people that matter. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dear Super Cool Party People:

I want you to know that I love you and I haven't forgotten about you.  I have been a very bad blogger this week.  Proving that procrastination was not just my college major, it's the end of term and I still have grading to do.  And it all has to be done by the end of the day.  Between being sick and second job and just life stuff in general, the blog has taken a back burner in a bad way.

But I promise if you hang with me through this little rough patch, I will get my act together.  I will be delightful and insightful and the darling of the interwebs once again.  (If I ever was any of those things...)  Until then, my friends...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 10/17

Ya'll I have been out of it this week so far.  I had a bug over the weekend and into Monday and I pretty much just slept for three days straight.  Not good for the blog, but probably good for me.  Unless I have malaria.  (It's possible I have been looking up symptoms on WebMD.  Nothing makes you feel better than hypocrondria!)  Anyway, I'm back and it's Hodgepodge time!

1. Noah Webster was born this week back in 1758....besides the online version, do you own a dictionary?  Do you ever use the hardback copy or is your hunt for a definition strictly online these days? 

I do own several dictionaries, because I have a classroom.  We do use the hardback version from time to time, just for reference sake.

2.  Should public schools ban Halloween celebrations?  What about other holiday celebrations currently under fire?  

I'm not a big Halloween person now, but I always did as a kid.  I don't think that they should ban the classroom celebrations.  I understand how important instruction is, but you have to break it up with fun sometimes.  As far as those who don't agree with the celebrations for religious regions, don't feel obligated to participate, but don't spoil everyone else's fun either.

3.  What's your favorite 'dog' movie?  

I don't know that I have a favorite dog movie.  Most of the ones I thought of are horribly sad and not ones that I want to revisit.  When I was younger, I remember really loving Beethoven, though.  It was funny and happy and no one had to kill their rabid pet dog (looking at you, Old Yeller).

4.  When were you last somewhere you'd describe as 'too quiet'?

I think it's weird being in the school late in the evening when everyone has gone home.  It always feels a little like the beginning of a horror movie.

5.  Are you a neat cook or a messy cook?  In other words do you clean as you go or make a big mess and then deal with it later? 

I'm a terrible cook.  And a messy one.  I always say I will deal with the mess later, and sometimes later is a couple days later.  Thankfully, I don't cook on a large scale that often.

6.  Did you hear about Felix Baumgartner, the skydiver who broke the sound barrier via parachute?  Was your first thought  COOL! or was your first thought CRAZY!  Are you adventurous? 

I watched the whole thing!  It was absolutely crazy, but very cool.  I was a little worried because he seemed sluggish, but he made 800+ miles per hour look easy.  I am not adventurous, but I admire those who are.

7.  What's not a word but should be? 

Gazillion.  I love to use it in moments of great exaggeration.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Confession:  I teach civics.  The thought of watching the presidential debates gave me anxiety.  I put on Season 5 of The Big Bang Theory instead and never gave it a second thought.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Junior High and the Movie Musical

My Music Appreciation class has been studying musicals.  Now, I should say that I have always had a love for musicals, whether movies or on stage.  I've been in them, gone to them, sang along to soundtracks with great passion with my fellow musical-loving friends---they're just kind of my thing.  But trying to parlay my passion for musicals into lessons that would interest a junior high student has proved, well, interesting.

Most of these kids have never seen anything more than the local community college productions.  They needed a Broadway primer in the worst way.  I started with clips off YouTube.  I showed them casts performing on various TV shows, even a few live (bootlegged) stage versions of things.  I discussed the Tony Awards and played Lin-Manuel Miranda rapping his acceptance speech.  (They did perk up for that.)  We have watched clips and documentaries until we were blue in the face and they were still pretty much like, "Can we get the rest of this lesson over with?"

Discouraged, but not hopeless, I turned to the movie musical.  I started with Newsies, which I have used in class before with some success.  They loved it!  So, charged up with that small victory, I went to one of my all-time favorites, Singin' In The Rain.  I love this movie (though not as much as Sheena), but I wasn't sure the kids would think Gene Kelley and Debbie Reynolds tap dancing while falling in love wasn't quite as great.  Thankfully, I was wrong.  They were disappointed when I had to stop the DVD at the end of class and were already picking out their favorite parts.  (They really loved "Make 'Em Laugh."  One kid said that Donald O'Connor reminded him of Jim Carrey. Score one for making real-world connections!)  I totally did a teacher happy dance at the end of the hour!

So, with that, if you love a bit of theater, what other movie musicals (in whole or particular scenes) do you think they need to see?  My plan for the rest of the unit includes footage from Annie, West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, and Hairspray as well as a few other cast CD's, but I am open to suggestions.  So comment away...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 10/10

1.  In what ways do you indulge yourself?

I'm entirely too self indulgent.  I love good food and good wine.  I adore shopping for clothes, shoes and purses.  I am just this side of obsessed with music and DVDs.  I probably should look into indulging just a little less.

2.  Have you ever taken a cooking class?  Any interest?  What type of class would you most like to try?

I have never taken a formal cooking class.  I don't really have an interest in learning either, which I probably shouldn't admit.  I just don't have a love for it, outside of the two or three things that I make very well.   If I did take a class I would want to learn more about how to cook main dishes, because I am more of a baker.

3. What does it mean to be a good citizen? 

Being a good citizen means that you exercise all of the rights and responsibilities, like voting.  It means you are kind to your fellow man, even if it's just something simple.  It means putting the greater good ahead of your own convenience at times.  I've been studying the early American heroes, like the signers of the Declaration, with my students and when you read what some of them were willing to give up for our country, it's very humbling.

4.  'Tis the season of the political these ads influence your vote? 

All the political ads do is annoy me.  November 7th will be the happiest day of the year where my television viewing is concerned.

5.  What's something you see today that makes you wish you were a kid again? 

Oh my goodness!  I'm always amazed at all of the new things they have for kids that they didn't when I was little.  But I think it's also hard to be a kid today because you are expected to grow up so fast.  One thing I love about my students, particularly the girls, is that they seem a little more fearless in going for what they want.  Looking back, I really wish that I would have gone out for more sports and taken the chance to look a little silly but be part of a team in that way.  I know that's kind of off topic, but that's what came to mind.

6.  What's your least favorite cliche?

Nothing came to mind right away, so I had to defer to my trusty friend, Google.  I looked through this post, and realized that I don't really have strong feelings about any cliches.  That said, if I had to pick one, I would say "like a bull in a china shop," because it was used to describe me for the majority of my life.  While it's true, it always hurt my feelings.

7.  What percentage of your Christmas shopping has been completed?  How does that make you feel?

I have 0% of my Christmas shopping done, but this doesn't really bother me.  I don't really like to rush the season, plus I don't have to buy for a large number of people so I don't really get stressed about it.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

A four day weekend and a four day week makes me so very happy.  It seems like things are slowing down a bit and I'm falling into a rhythm finally.  It's hard to believe that it's already almost the middle of October though!  Christmas will be here before I know it...maybe I should be a little stressed!  ;)