Thursday, February 28, 2013


I know I'm a little late to the party, but I think I've finally decided what my Lenten observance is going to be. It's been a few years since I really gave it ago, mostly because I was worshiping in a Protestant church that didn't really observe Lent.  But, lately my Catholic roots seem to be showing, and I felt the need to do something to mark this time before the celebration of the Resurrection.

Anyway, I say all of that to say this:  I'm not the best with spoken word.  I often don't say what I mean, or what I mean is betrayed by the way I say it.  This has been an issue all my life.  I really want to be a bold, say anything I'm thinking extrovert, but at heart I am a people pleasing introvert.  Add to this, my ever-so-slight social awkwardness, and let me tell you, I'm in business.  So, saying how I feel is pretty much out of any equation.  But writing has always been easy for me.  I'm so much better on paper than I am in person.  I think it's because I have the time to really look at the words and make sure they reflect my thoughts.  And I'm a person with a lot of people to be grateful to, but who probably doesn't make it known nearly enough.

Over the remainder of Lent, I intend to correct that.  I want to spend some time being openly grateful, letting people know that who they are and what they are hasn't gone unnoticed.  It feels like the right thing to do at this point in my life.

Are any of you doing something special for Lent?  I know some people choose to give something up, but historically, I've been pretty lousy at that practice.  I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 2/27

1.  When were you last facing an ocean? Using just ONE word, describe how you felt as you faced that ocean. 

It's been entirely too long.  Two springs ago, in fact.  And I am so ready to have sand between my toes again!  My one word:  peaceful.  I've always said the ocean is where I feel like my best self.

2. What are three sounds you hate to hear?

My alarm clock going off, any kind of metallic scraping sound (nails on a chalkboard, fork on a real plate), and off-pitch singing of any song I love.

3. This question comes to you courtesy of some real life friends. Hi real life friends! When you shop for yourself, do you try everything on in the store before buying or do you buy, try on at home, and then return what you don't like or what doesn't fit?

It depends on my mood.  Most of the time I try to try things on first because I know that I will forget to take them back to the stores in a timely fashion.  But if it's something that I buy often and am pretty familiar with the sizing and whatnot, I will probably just buy it and not worry with trying things on.

4. February 26th is National Pistachio Day...are you a fan of the little green nut? Do you use them in cooking and baking or prefer to eat them right out of the shell?

I do enjoy pistachios.  I don't cook with them, as I don't often cook, but I will eat them out of their little shells.

5. When did you last have to compromise with someone?  Were you happy to reach the compromise or slightly irritated it was necessary? 

Compromise is something I feel like I have to practice all too often.  This is probably because I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to things that I'm working on/involved in.  I'm usually a little irritated when I first have to make concessions, but eventually I get over it and move on.  Compromise is just part of working with people.  Unless you work alone, I don't know how you would avoid it.  

6.  Have you ever written a letter to an elected official? Did you get a response?

I have, but not on a political issue.  When I was working as an AmeriCorps tutor, I did a big bulletin board where I asked people (in the school and beyond) to post their favorite books.  I sent letters to famous people to ask them their favorites, as well.  I received responses back from several political figures, including George Bush, Sr. and Christie Todd Whitman, who was head of the EPA at the time.  I think there were a few others, but I don't remember.  

7. We 'March' into a new month at the end of this week...what's something on your March calendar guaranteed to make you smile?

Being done with the school musical!  I am enjoying this learning process, but it will be such a relief when it is all over.  I have a few other possible highlights for March, but I will tell you more about them when they get here!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Is it too early to start wondering who will host next year's Oscars?  I would love to see Neil Patrick Harris or Tina Fey and Amy Poehler give it a whirl.  But no matter who does it, they will probably get torn to shreds because people seem intent on being harsh to whoever is hosting the Oscars.

Monday, February 25, 2013

So, The Oscars Happened...

If you follow me on Twitter, I apologize for you were surely exhausted by my NASCAR/Oscar tweets yesterday.  This is what happens when the Daytona 500 and the Oscars are on the same day.  It's a wonder my head didn't explode from all the commentary happening over here.  As far as the racing goes, I'm not a huge Danica fan, but she earned her right to start on the pole and she ran well all day.  As far as finishing 8th, I think she had a little help from the boys who were fine with her setting a few records but weren't quite ready for her to be the winner at the Super Bowl of racing.  But that is solely my opinion.

Enough about racing, let's move on to my area of expertise, entertainment news.  And it doesn't get any better than the Oscars.  Or does it?  I really wanted to love last night's telecast.  I felt like Seth Macfarlane was an interesting choice, as the Academy usually plays it too safe with their choices as host.  Most of his opening fell flat with me, not bad but not really what I was hoping for either.  Though, I think we can all agree that Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron were charming in their dance sequence.  (Just reading that sentence over makes me wonder what exactly made them go to that as a first choice, but whatever.)  There was a lot of filler and music, which normally would make me very happy as I am a Broadway girl first and always, but it just lacked a cohesiveness.  ("And now some more people are going to come out and sing something to distract you from how boring this is becoming..."  It didn't really help.) 

Most of the best moments came towards the end in the form of speeches.  Adele, Jennifer Lawrence, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Ben Affleck all nailed their speeches.  (Ben's made me tear up a bit.)  They were sweet and funny, and you could feel their shock and gratitude in the moment.  They all made Anne Hathaway's feel more than a little manufactured, especially considering she was pretty much a lock to win.  I feel like maybe Anne's been a little overexposed recently, and that's getting her a bad rap when she doesn't really deserve one.  She did great work in Les Mis, but there were a lot of other actresses, even in her own movie (Samantha Barks) who were just as good this year.  

Jennifer Lawrence, however, is fast becoming my favorite actress for sound bites.  Please remember she is only 22, and she's been flung headlong into stardom. This isn't her first Oscars, she was previously nominated for Winter's Bone, but it's her first as such a noticeable actress.  The clip on Good Morning America of her and Jack Nicholson during her interview was so cute and shows a lot about how starstruck thing is no act.  

On the fashion front, I think my favorite dress was Jennifer Garner's.  Loved the color and pretty much everything else about it.  It seemed there was a lot of muted colors with sparkles happening, but I really enjoyed her magenta.  I also liked Adele's dresses.  I know a lot of people give her slack about dressing too old, but I'm all for someone who chooses class over flash.  My least favorite was Anne Hathaway.  Sheena's hubby was right when he said it looked like an apron--an ill-fitting, satin one at that.

Did you watch the show?  What did you love/hate?  Which dresses were you favorite?  Can we all agree that Joseph Gordon Levitt's handsomeness is wildly underrated?  Tell me all about it in the comments!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 2/20


1. When were you last 'on a mountaintop'?  You may answer in the literal or figurative sense.

It's been a while since I've been to a literal or figurative mountain top.  Probably should do something about that on both counts.

2.  Do you establish and maintain a strict budget in your household?  What is one piece of financial advice you would offer someone just starting out on their own? 

I am learning (the hard way) about budgets.  But since I've been keeping a fairly strict one, I have been pleased with my progress.  2013 is the year of me getting my finances in order and I really do feel like I will have reached at least a large portion of my goals by the end of the year.   I'm a spender who loves to lavish people with gifts and goodies, so to have to stick to a budget has been painful, at times.  My best advice to someone starting out is to budget your money from the start.  I didn't have a lot of money sense early on and have paid for it tenfold over the years.  

3.  Cherries-yay or nay?  Cherry pie, cherry cola, black forest cake, or a scoop ofBen and Jerry's Cherries Garcia...pick one. 

I like bing cherries, but I don't usually like cherry flavored things.  So, if I had to pick, I would go with black forest cake.  

4.  Should you ever discuss religion or politics with people you don't know? 

I suppose that depends on the level of discourse and the level of passion involved.  If everyone can stay civil, I've been known to discuss either with people I don't know.  (Even ended up in a Twitter debate over Christmas thanks to a response I gave to Jake Tapper.)  But, what I tend to find is that few people know how to agree to disagree anymore.  (And that goes double when you are talking politics.)  My general rule is that I don't shove my beliefs at other people or pretend they are the only right thoughts, and neither should anyone else.

5.  When you take a road trip do you prefer to be the driver or the passenger?  Where were you headed on your last road trip? 

I love a good road trip.  I don't mind to drive, but I get nervous in heavy traffic/lots of lanes situations if I don't know where to make exchanges and whatnot.  But I'm probably better doing navigation, music control, and food distribution in the passengers seat.  My last road trip was to the Gulf Coast and I am really looking forward to the prospect of another one later this year.

6. If we peeked inside your closet, what color would we say is most prevalent?

Blacks/greys.  I know they are technically neutrals and not colors, but I tend to go with basics and then add pops of color.   

7. Who's your favorite senior citizen and why are they special?

Hmmm.  I can't really pick on this one because both of my grandmothers are still alive.  My mom's mom still travels with her best friends from high school.  They meet for lunch every month, too.   She's in her 80's now, but still drives herself and is in wonderful health.  When I was in a moment of extreme need, she didn't hesitate to help me just because she could and that touched my heart in such a huge way.  My dad's mom hasn't been in good health for several years.  But her mind is still sharp as a tack.  She is nearing 90 and when I visit with her, I never fail to take away something new, be it in perspective or assisted living center gossip.  I live in the house she hared with my grandpa for many happy years.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

The older I get the more it becomes apparent that life is all about the brief, shining moments of happy.  And they tend to turn up in the most unexpected times and places.  

Monday, February 18, 2013

What I've Been Listening To

This is my no means an exhaustive list, but I felt like it was time to do a check on some of my favorite songs recently.  Please let me know what you've been loving in the comments.  I always love to check out new stuff.  (Even if it's old stuff!)

"Ten Thousand Hours" - Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - The Heist - I have always had a thing for rap that was smart.  Don't give me a cheap rhyme when you can think of an intelligent one.  And Macklemore does it every time.  The whole album is pretty brilliant, if that's your cup of tea.

"Anymore of This" - Mindy Smith and Matthew Perryman Jones - Single - I heard this song randomly while shopping iTunes and tweeted about how heartbreakingly beautiful was.  Both artists happened to see it (I didn't even know they had accounts) and were so sweet about it.  (Reason #623 I love Twitter!)  But even if that hadn't happened, I would insist you give this song a chance.

"Bleeding Out" - The Lone Bellow - The Lone Bellow - This was actually the free song one week.  I believe that they will be the next big thing in the bands that are in the same vein as Mumford and Sons.  And they have a girl in the band so that makes them instantly cooler.  ;)

"Ready or Not" or "Hurricane" - Bridgit Mendler - Hello My Name Is...-Sometimes a girl just loves a little mindless pop.  (Don't judge!)  And this fits the bill.  But I dare you to listen to this and not dance in your car just a little.

"Dancing On My Own" - Robyn - Body Talk  -  This is not a new song, but I fell in love with it thanks to some Girls promos.  Sure the lyrics are a little stalker-y but the beat is so good.

"On Top Of The World" - Imagine Dragons - Night Visions - I liked "It's Time" but this is my new favorite having a good day kind of song.  When it hits the chorus, it's impossible to not to get swept up in the celebration.  Plus, I like anything that uses a clap as percussion.

"I Ain't Your Mama" - Maggie Rose - Single - Who doesn't need a good country song to strut with?  This is just a wisp of a song at 2:36, but it's so fun.  There's just something about her voice that I love, too.

"Feel Again" - One Republic - Single - I am such a sucker for their stuff.  It's a formula at this point, but it doesn't feel old.  At least not to me.

"You Are Mine" - Enter The Worship Circle - Chair and Microphone, Vol. 3 - Again, not a new song, but one I found because of Hart of Dixie.  It was one of those moments where I stopped paying attention to the scene and wondered, "Who is that?  And why don't I already have it?"   It's rare that I listen to it and don't tear up, as it's become something of a personal anthem.

Pretty much any song - Nashville Cast - The Music of Nashville - Connie Britton is my hero.  Seriously love that woman.  And the songs they use on this show are written by some of the best songwriters in Nashville today because T-Bone Burnett picks the music for his wife, Callie Khouri's, show.  Love it.  Current favorite is "Boys and Buses" followed closely by "When The Right One Come Along."

"You Were Born" - Cloud Cult - Light Chasers - How sweet would this song be in a slideshow of baby pictures?  It's thanks to another TV show, How I Met Your Mother.  (Yes, I watch a lot of TV in my spare time.)

And one other music note, I have spent a few too many hours watching footage from the In The Heights Reunion Concert that happened last Monday in NYC.  Most of it is shot on cell phones and whatnot, but to see the whole cast of that show together again and having a blast is just priceless.  There are a ton of videos out there, but here's one where you get to see the whole cast being incredible.

And here's a bonus one that pictures local legend, Christopher Jackson, tearing it up on a song that they cut between the off-Broadway and the Broadway production called "Hear Me Out."

The music from this entire show is brilliant, just like its writer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and its entire cast.  I never got to see the show in person, but these videos make me feel like it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kindness and Valentine's Day

I always say that I don't consider something a real holiday unless I get off work for it.  That pretty much sums up my stance on Valentine's Day.  I'd love to pretend that if I weren't single I would still feel that way, but that's probably not the case.  If I had a boyfriend or a husband (but not both, because that's bad manners), I would probably be one of those obnoxious but well-intentioned people posting 14 days of Valentines and filling everyone in on our plans for the big day and making proclamations about how sweet my sweetie is.  My life would be the most saccharine romantic comedy of all time, because that's just the kind of girl I am deep inside.  But, since it's not, I'm a little bit bitter about those people who are happy.  (I know, I know.  That's wrong.  I'm trying to trample it down, trust me.)

It don't think it would really bother me if I didn't want so badly to be one of the girls getting bouquets at work.  I couldn't help but smile at all the husbands/boyfriends wandering around the local WalMart purchasing candy and flowers last night.  I was getting a pint of Ben and Jerry's Red Velvet Cake, in an effort to secure my spot as stereotypical singleton school marm.  The good news, if there really is any on a day like today, is that I have work followed by more work, so I don't really have a lot of time to be alone with my thoughts.  (Or alone with that pint of ice cream.)  It's just really difficult to get geared up about a day that is basically engineered to remind single people that they are.  We don't really need the help.

Instead, I am challenging my students to portray a different kind of love--love for humanity.  Following movements like #26Acts or #BeKind (started by Ellen Degeneres), over the next month (or hopefully longer), I am encouraging students to do a not-so-random act of kindness and then to post it on our message board outside my classroom, not to be applauded but to serve as a reminder that there is more good than evil in the world.  

Heroes may fail us, relationships may fall apart, but we must remember how the story ends.  Christ died and will come again because He loves us.  Love overcomes.  And we don't need a schlocky Valentine's card or a bunch of flowers to remember that.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge - The Better Late Than Never Edition

1.  This week marks the beginning of Lent...will you be giving something up or adding anything to your life during this season of the year? 

I have thought about this, but I am still not really sure.  I usually try to focus on adding something good rather than on giving up.  When I give up something, I seem to spend all my time trying to come up with exceptions to the rule, which is not exactly the point.  I'm still reflecting on it, and if I come to any real conclusions, I will let you know.

2. The day before Lent is Shrove Tuesday... tradition states you eat pancakes on this day. In some parts of the world Shrove Tuesday is actually known as 'pancake day'. How do you like your pancakes? Or don't you? 

I love pancakes!  They are one of my favorite foods.  I'm a butter and maple syrup kind of girl, and lately I've even been using sugar-free syrup and Brummel and Brown Butter, so it's not really that bad for you if you don't think about the carb situation.

3.  I'm sure there are many, but what's one love song you really love? 

My favorite is "True Companion" by Marc Cohn.  He wrote it for his wife, Elizabeth Vargas, and the imagery he uses is just perfect.  My favorite line  is, "Got this vision of a girl in white, made my decision that it's you alright."

4.  What are some things you do to let others know you love them? 

Being open about my feelings in person is not something I'm really good at.  I come from a people who aren't really big talkers about their feelings.  But I think that I am pretty good with words.  So, I try to take time to write down how I feel about the people in my life in cards or letters.   (Or emails.)  And what I have learned over the last couple of years is that sometimes, if you don't have the words, stepping up and being there counts just as much.  (Wish I didn't have to learn every lesson the hard way.)

5., pink, or do you prefer another color? Can you recall the last time someone gave you flowers? Given your choice would you like to open the door and see a dozen red roses, a dozen purple tulips, or a dozen pink peonies?

I like roses very much, and if I had a choose a color I would probably pick the traditional red.  It's been a long time since I received flowers, probably back when I used to do community theater (which I haven't done since I was 20).  If I had my pick I would want the peonies!  They are so beautiful and fragrant.

6.  President's Day will be celebrated in America next Monday. Does US Presidential history and trivia interest you?  Many Presidential homes are open to the public and offer guided tours...Monticello (Jefferson's home), Mount Vernon (Washington's home), Montpelier (James Madison's home), Hyde Park(FD Roosevelt's home) and The White House (home to the sitting President) to name just a few. Of those listed which would you be most interested in touring?  Why?

I'm a history teacher and a trivia lover, so I do like presidential history and trivia.  I have actually tours Mt. Vernon, but I think the one that most interests me that I haven't been to would be Monticello.  I think Jefferson was a man with thoughts bigger than the time in which he lived and I think it would be fascinating to see his architecture and inventions.  I would also really like to tour The White House, but I would want to see more than you probably get to see on the standard tour.  (When I was in DC, tours were not being given of The White House.)

7.  Are you good at keeping secrets? 

Nowadays, yes.  I can keep a secret with the best of them.  But that hasn't always been so.  In the past, I would get overly excited or just overly nosy and tell more things than I probably should have.  It's a character flaw that I am working on.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I've come the conclusion that things aren't going to stop being insane until school lets out.  But, the upside that's only three months away.  Until then, I'm trying to be as in the moment as possible, and focus on the really important things, like the awesome people I have in my life both online and in real life.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Back in January, I declared that my word for the year was presence, and that my goal was to remember that if I was following God's plan, then His presence was with me.  What this year has felt like so far can also be summed up in one word:  overwhelming.  Not exactly what I was going for...

Teaching seems to become harder with each and every year.  (I really thought it was supposed to get easier with time...)  More regulations, more testing, more hoops...all with less money, less time, and less help.  I love my job, I really do.  But it's such a huge responsibility.  I'm responsible not just for what I teach in five different subjects, but for my students' test scores (which is a conversation for another time), and the general public's perception of what I do every day.  And let's not even get into the now real and ever-present reminders that school could at any moment become a less than safe place for anyone.  Yet sadly, too many people in society think of teachers as glorified babysitters who are paid too much and have too much time off.  And I can't decide if that makes me want to cry or throw a fit.  Maybe both.  

As if that wasn't enough, my side job is exploding with life, too.  The national GED test is getting ready to change next year and so we are encouraging people to get in and finish their degree now.  The new test will be computerized, harder and more expensive, which is not great news for many people who haven't finished.  This means that my prep classes are bursting at the seams with people.  Great for job security, a little insane to try to keep up with.  Again, overwhelmed.

Forget that I'm trying to help stage a musical for the first time in my life, plot out a track schedule this spring and just live a somewhat normal life.  I feel like I don't get to see anyone or do anything, and all to frequently this leads to me stress-eating from a pan of brownies, crying on my couch about how hard everything is.  And I get that nothing in my life is actually that difficult.  But dealing with it all on my own makes it feel more difficult than it really is.  As I was laid up with a sinus infection this week, I thought about how nice it would be to have someone pick up my medicine for me or fix supper or run a load of laundry.  It's not that I can't do these things myself, but sometimes I just don't want to.  

And all of this means that I don't get a chance to deal with my blog like I'd like to.  I miss "talking" with you, my sweet and wonderful people.  But at the end of the day, something has to give, and a lot of times, it's the 15 or 20 minutes it takes me to collect my thoughts enough to put them down here (longer if I put up pictures).  I know I keep saying that it will get better and I will get more time, but I don't really know that it is true.  And making more goals like "I'm going to blog every day for a month" only adds to the list of things that are already overwhelming me.  So much of the time it feels like I just can't win.

I just feel like I am barely surviving most days.  Is that normal?