Monday, December 31, 2012

Holiday Rewind

Another year is about to come and go, but before 2012 gets away from us I thought I'd share some of the moments from our Christmas celebrations this past week.

Last Friday was the last day of classes for my students. I had gotten sick the day before and was feeling miserable. No joke, I wore a school t-shirt and jogging pants that day. The fact that the jogging pants were our school colors helped me justify my wardrobe decision. Luckily it was an early dismissal day, so I got out a little early. After school I had to run and purchase one last Christmas gift for my sister. 

I think it turned out pretty good. What do you think?

After I got back from shopping, I had to rush and clean up around the apartment because we were having a few friends over to watch UCF football and play some board games. This is the first time we've really hosted anyone at our house. Most of our friends live in or near Orlando and they think we live too far away. Sadly, I don't really have any pictures from that night - all I have a videos of us playing charades. And I don't think my friends would appreciate those being posted.

Saturday we had to drive into Orlando because Dan had one more gift he needed to pick up for me. He dropped me off with my mom and did his thing. I helped mom clean up after the children's Christmas party at the VFW she volunteers at. By the time we were done cleaning, Dan was done with his shopping, so the three of us drove around town a little bit.

Sunday we hung around the apartment not really doing much. I had to finish putting together a Christmas gift for my stepdad (I'm planning on sharing it in a different post). Other than that, we just sort of bummed it. Nothing special. But I honestly soaked up every moment of being alone with Dan. I knew the next couple days were going to be crazy and family-filled and it was nice to just stop and enjoy "being us" for a day.

The "being us" didn't last too long because we got a text from Dan's brother wanting us to come over and hang out. So, we made the hour drive over to their house and enjoyed some dinner, gingerbread men, and gingerbread house building.

The gingerbread house had absolutely no input from the ladies. It was all the boys. That could be why some of the candy wasn't sticking so well to the house. Oh, and I can't forget! Dan's sister-in-law got an early Christmas present...

Isn't he the cutest little furball? They decided to name him T-I-double grr-ER. (That's Tigger for all those non-Pooh fans.)

Monday, Christmas Eve, Dan and I had our own little Christmas at our apartment. We had already dropped off all of the family gifts in Orlando, so it looked a little bare underneath our tree. Periwinkle wanted in an all the action, so she watched us from the dining room table.

Isn't Dan funny? He gave me two thermal shirts (which I really needed and had asked for) and a UCF t-shirt. There was a small box under the tree for him which had login/password information for a downloadable flight simulation game that he really wanted. Plus, he got chocolate & small tools in his stocking. Because we're focused on paying off debt we set a small budget of $50 for each of us to spend on the other.

After breakfast, we made the trip back into Orlando and headed over to my in-laws. We were the first of the kids to get there. After a while the other two brothers and their families showed up. We watched a Christmas movie before sitting around the dining room table for dinner. Our nephew was anxious for dinner to be over. Because that meant it was time for presents!

After presents were opened and dessert was eaten, Dan's oldest brother and his family headed out. Dan's middle brother and his wife were staying the night and we were headed out to my parent's house to stay the night there. We didn't see the need to drive all the way home just to turn around and drive back first thing in the morning.

By the time we got to my folks' house, my stepdad was already asleep. So my mom talked us into going to some house party. Not exactly our thing, but Dan and I really just wanted to get out and do something, so we tagged along. While we were there we mentioned to my mom that we jokingly told my brother-in-law that we should go and stomp on their roof and pretend we were Santa. My mom got that crazy look in her eyes... my husband had that crazy look in his eyes.... So, we called my sister and gave her the heads up. She was game! Then we had to go borrow a ladder from my in-laws because my sister lives in a two-story townhouse and the ladder  my mom had wasn't going to even come close.

We got to my sister's house and discovered that the ladder we borrowed was about 3 feet too short. Wah wah wah.... But we came up with some other fun ways to make it seem like Santa and his reindeer.

Mom & Dan hiding the evidence

Hehehe. I was so giddy with excitement! My sister made a template to paint little reindeer prints on the sidewalk where the kids had left "reindeer food" (glitter & oatmeal) while I melted some chocolate to make reindeer poop. Yes, I'm twisted like that! Don't judge.

I wish I had been there to see my niece & nephew's faces when they woke up. But I got this pic from my sister, which was almost just as good.

Christmas Day, my sister and her kids came over to our parents' house around lunch time. My oldest stepbrother thought it was a good idea to come around that time too. I don't want to pretend like I come from a perfect family. That is in no way close to being true. But I also don't want to air our family's dirty laundry all over the internet, let's just put it this way: I don't like my oldest brother. He and I don't get along. I refuse to be in the same room as him. So, while all the kids opened up their presents at my parents' house, the hubby and I holed ourselves up in the guest bedroom and waited until my oldest brother left. Then Dan and I had our own little unwrapping session with my sister and her kids before we headed home. I hate that we missed seeing the joy on their faces while they were opening all of their gifts from Grandma & Grandpa, but it is what it is.

We left my parents' house shortly after that and went back over to my in-laws to pick up the gifts we had opened the night before. But when we got there, no one was home. They were on their way to Downtown Disney. So we decided to join up with them. We ate dinner, walked around, checked out the Lego store and the Disney Christmas store, and then headed home. Didn't really take photos while we were there, but I did snap this shot of the Hubby rocking his new UCF hat.

So that was it for our Christmas festivities. Nothing super duper special. Sure, there was some family drama. But it wouldn't be the holidays with a little bit of it, right? But it was still nice. The nicest part about it? I didn't have to go back to work Wednesday like Dan did. 

Did you guys have fun surprising little ones with messages from Santa or his reindeer? Anyone have to split Christmas into a two-day celebration? Or maybe you're just glad all the craziness is over? Would love to hear about your holiday festivities!

I hope everyone has a fun & safe New Years! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Home Stretch

It’s the last week of school. Exams are the next two days. Friday is an early dismissal day. The students are getting antsy. They know vacation is coming, and they are impatiently waiting for it to begin. These last few days are always hectic. Between field trips (side note: who schedules a field trip the last week of school??), county assessments, exams reviews, and finals – it’s no wonder many of us have countdowns going.

Amazingly, I’m caught up on grading! That’s never happened before! I told the kiddos I would have their grades by today so that they’d know what to expect before exams. But I said that with a lot of doubt. I’m never good about keeping promises when it comes to grading deadlines. Not this time! This time I was done early! It feels so good. All that’s left is to wait on the county to upload the assessment scores online and then grade semester exams.

And I’ll be done!

That is such a good feeling! You have no idea. Or maybe you do. I don't know. What I do know is that this is a feeling I probably won’t feel again until this time next year. Because next semester I’m anticipating craziness. Next semester is going to be hectic. It always is. Next semester, I have two session of Advanced Placement. And that’s never pretty.

Late nights. Early mornings. Stress levels maxed out. That’s what AP usually means for me. I’m hoping since this is my 3rd year teaching it, it’ll be a little easier in terms of planning. But who am I kidding? The work load and pace is intense! Thirty one chapters in 4 months. Who does that? This girl. And her students. I like to call it boot camp. AP Boot Camp. I tell my kids if they can make it through this course, all of their future classes will seem much easier. They think I’m joking. I wish I was.

I'm trying to convert some of my course to online. All of the AP kids are going to be given iPads this semester. So I'm planning on using an online classroom software (provided by the district) to administer tests/quizzes. I'm still playing around with the idea of having them upload assignments and participate in discussion forums. We'll see. Not sure how involved I want to get. Especially when it took me nearly 30 minutes just to create a 10 question quiz. Time is not going to be my friend. Regardless, I'm excited to play around with some new technology.

I really don't know where I was going with all of that. And I hate to keep rambling on about school stuff. So.... Basically, all of that to say, I'm really looking forward to my Christmas Break!

Anyone else going to have a nice, long holiday vacation? Any tips or advice on how to incorporate iPads into the classroom? Maybe you have a favorite app you like to use with your students?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Melted Snowman

Ok, first of all, I live in Florida. So the idea of even having a snowman is a little crazy. Maybe a snowman built out of sand?

Yeah, that might work. But in all seriousness, it gets cold down here, but not that cold. We think it's cool when there's ice on the ground from an overnight freeze. And I might break out the credit card once a year to scrap that icy stuff off my windshield. Otherwise, it's mainly wet and windy. I think that's why I love to incorporate snowmen into my Christmas decorating. Makes me feel like I'm celebrating the winter months like everyone else up north.

Anyways, back to the topic at hand...

Melted snowmen.

While visiting my mom the other weekend, I noticed she had an ornament laying on her kitchen counter with what looked like salt & peppercorns in it. Now, I learned a long time ago that my mom is a little on the odd side and comes up with some of the wackiest ideas. When I asked her what it was, she told me it was a melted snowman. I guess she got the idea from a coworker of hers who saw it on Pinterest (examples here and here).

I told her that it didn't quite resemble a snowman. Her reply? "That's because I'm still missing the nose!" But of course! A little bit of orange would convince me that it was a snowman! But, you know what? She was right. All it was missing was the nose...

She used sea salt instead of table salt to make the ornament. The sea salt helped the peppercorns and clay stay more towards the top. Plus I think it looks a little more like snow, don't you? We both agreed that filling it up about a third of the way looked the best. As mentioned, peppercorns were used to represent the coal that you use to make the eyes and mouth. Mom bought a little bit of orange clay and made it into a carrot shape before dropping it into the ornament. I love the simplicity of it! Sure, you could add buttons, a scarf, twigs for arms, and a top hat. I think if I were going to add anything, it'd be the twigs. It might help it look more like a snowman. The other stuff? I think it would just clutter the ornament.

Mom loved the ornament so much, she even decided to make a miniature version:

Isn't the baby snowman cute?

I swear my mom comes up with some of the wackiest projects, but they almost always turn out looking great!

Are you crafting any ornaments this year? Or maybe you're making the gifts this year from scratch? I'm looking into mason jar gifts this year. Anyone else have a love for snowmen? Even the melted kind?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wet Money

So, I'm sitting down last night trying to get things ready for school. Of course I'm looking for any distraction to keep me from the task at hand. But, the Hubby was pretty adament about me getting stuff done so that I could make it to bed at a decent hour. Being the obedient wife that I am, I told Dan that there was clothes in the washing machine that needed to be put in the dryer that I couldn't possibly do with so much school work that needed to be done.
Couple minutes later, I'm being asked if I've been looking for $16.37. What? Again, he repeats the amount and says that it was in the washing machine.
Now, first of all, I don't normally carry cash. I make a point not too. It's easier that way when my students ask to borrow money for lunch. No joke.
So I'm sitting there racking my brain as to (1) why I would have had cash in a pant pocket, (2) when the last time I actually bought something with cash and (3) how that purchase would have amounted to $3.63.
Then it hits me! My stepdad gave me a twenty to buy milk and aluminum foil while we were in town for Thanksgiving. (Got to love those last minute items!) I guess I forgot to give them back the change. So, I snapped a picture of the money with my phone and sent it to my mom.
And this conversation happened...
Me: Look what we found in the washer! Lol. Took us forever to figure out what we spent $3.63 on...then I remembered Paul gave us money to get that gallon of milk. So we owe you some soggy bills :)
Mom: Please dry and iron first
Me: I don't iron. I'd be happy to throw them in the dryer though :)
Mom: Lol I forgot
Yep. That's my mom.
I should preface that I really don't iron if I can get away with it. If anything is wrinkled, I simply through it in the dryer. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. But, my clothes are nice and toasty which is always a plus in the winter time.
There was no real point in sharing this story except that I found it really funny and thought that others would find it funny too. We all need a little laugh on the Monday following a holiday break. At least I know I do!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Recap

Happy Saturday all! I hope everyone is recovering from their turkey coma and Black Friday shopping. I thought I'd stop by quickly and share our Thanksgiving. And to make things easy on myself, I thought I'd just share the photos we took via Instagram.

We left off on Tuesday, so I'll start with Wednesday. Dan got to have Wednesday off (I swear, this past week has been crazy in terms of his work), so we slept in a little bit. The original plan was for me to ride into Orlando with him, drop him off at work, then go to my mom's house to start prepping food for Thursday. But, sleeping in sounded like a much better idea. We eventually made our way to Orlando around lunch time. And we were welcomed by this:

Yep, you counted right. Seven. Seven turkeys thawing out. And yes, they are on a towel sitting on the floor. How else do you thaw out seven turkeys? Why seven turkeys? Well, only 2 were actually used at the dinner at my mom's house. The other 5 were cooked at our place and then taken to other people's homes. Mom baked two (one for us and one for the VFW) and my stepdad smoked four (one for the VFW, one for my sister, one for us, and one for a family friend). The last turkey was saved in the fridge for my stepbrother to come pick up and cook at his house. I should also mention that my brother-in-law works for a grocery store and can get turkeys really, really cheap. 

Once Dan got over the rafter of turkeys (did you know that a group of turkeys is called a rafter? we didn't - learned something new!), we settled in and started prepping food. Of course potatoes had to be peeled...

....onions and celery had to be chopped, and boiled eggs had to be peeled. Basically anything that we could do to make mom's job easier on Turkey Day. At some point we had to stop our prepping and run an 8th turkey up to my mom's office for a colleague. And when we got back, my sister and her family were at the house and my niece wanted to help prep food too. Her "help" consisted of watching me chop onions and laughing at how badly the tears were streaming down my cheeks.

After we said our goodbyes...

...Dan and I ran out to the mall to pick up a couple Christmas gifts. I packed our bags for this trip and forgot to pack the Hubby a jacket. I did, however, remember to pack myself two jackets. So he ended up with my purple hoodie. Needless to say, Dan wasn't thrilled by the color, but was thankful for the warmth.

When we got home, I helped mom clean up a little around the house while Dan watched t.v. and played on my iPad.

Thursday morning we woke up, got dressed, and had a small breakfast. My brother-in-law was already over and helping my stepdad smoke the turkeys. We headed over to my in-laws to have an early Thanksgiving lunch with them. Dan had fun visiting with the cats.

And the cats had fun sniffing the turkey...

After lunch at their house, we headed back over to my parents' house. We still had to cook the macaroni & cheese dishes. As those were cooking, the rest of my mom's family arrived. Mom pulled out the deviled eggs that I had made up the day before. They are my annual contribution to the Thanksgiving dinner. 

And within a couple minutes dinner was served. There was so much food, it was on 3 different countertops!

If this picture of Dan is any indication, the food was good!

To help him shake off the turkey coma, my niece asked him if he could start a fire for her. She wanted to roast marshmallows. So Uncle Danny's boy scout skills were put to the test. He didn't disappoint. 

While the fire was getting started, my niece caught the smallest frog I have ever seen.

She named him Fred the Jumper. Pretty appropriate, don't you think? My nephew wanted nothing to do with the frog or the fire. He was pretty content playing with toys and making up songs.

After dinner, dessert, and fire roasting, the Hubby and I headed back to our little apartment. We fed the cats their "Thanksgiving dinner" and called it a night. We thought about going out for Black Friday shopping, but Dan got called into work Friday. So, I spent a lazy day around the apartment catching up on t.v. shows and hanging out with the cats.

I hope everyone else enjoyed the holidays! Any fun stories to share?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Weekend Adventures: Family & Break

I love that word, don't you? Break. Thanksgiving break. A time of much needed rest before the craziness of December falls upon us. I'm pretty lucky to work in a school district that allows us to have the entire week off. Other districts in the area are in school today. Me? I'm still in my pajamas. And when I finally get around to changing my clothes, I'll probably put on another pair of pajamas. No shame.

Anyways, I thought I'd catch you up on some of the things that have been going on since school let out on Friday. First of all, Friday was a crazy day! I had a meeting in the morning and then came into my classroom half way through the day. We finished the chapters we were working through on Thursday, so I didn't see a point in starting a brand new concept before a week-long break. So, the kids got to watch a movie. Don't judge. At least the movie had something to do with the content. I thought the kids were going to be bored with it - a National Geographic film on Pearl Harbor. But they were mesmerized! And, some were even brought to tears when the survivors were telling their stories. Definitely going to show this one again.

Friday night we took our new roomie on a car tour of our area. Let's just say, where we live, there are more cows than people. That, and a whole lot of golf carts. The hubby and I planned on going to a local park (the same one we went to see fireworks in July) to see their Christmas lights. But after getting home from the little tour, we both sat down and never got back up. Oh well. Maybe next week.

Saturday we slept in a little and then headed into Orlando to spend some time with the family. Well, I spent some time with the family. Dan had to go to a BLS class to recertify. Meanwhile, I got to spend time with the nieces and nephews at my parents' house.

{my sister and the youngest nephew}

{my niece, the artist}

After Dan got done with his class, we went out to dinner with an old friend of his from the church we use to go to. The two of them get together whenever he's in town. I, on the other hand, hadn't seen him in 5 years. I was looking forward to catching up, but soon realized that I probably should have let the boys hang out by themselves. It was nothing but cars, trucks, and racing. I literally maybe said a total of 10 sentences the entire night.

Sunday, Dan had to go into work. (Notice a pattern here? I feel bad that he's not getting much of a break. Work is really killing him lately.) Mom and I went out to my sister's house (the one pictured above) and the three of us went shopping. I'm glad my sister was able to go because she helped us pick out clothes and things the kids would appreciate for Christmas. Here are some things that I saw along the way that I loved:

Ok, so I know the outfit is your classic "teacher's outfit," but I love it! The best part about the glasses - they're plastic! And I have a thing for owls, and this little guy was too darn cute! Ok, enough exclamation points...

By the time we got home Sunday, it was pretty late, but I had caught my second wind. So, I pulled out the Christmas decorations and started putting together the tree. Too bad one strand of lights was burnt out... womp womp. We decided to call it a night and pick up another string of lights when we went grocery shopping.

Monday, Dan finally had a day off! My mom met us up at our place and we headed out to one of my favorite flea markets, Webster.

There's technically two sides to the flea market. My favorite has to be the Westside. That side has more of the collectibles and antiques. Seriously my idea of a good time! Hands down, my favorite piece of the day was this guy:

It's a Lane's cedar chest. At least that's what the inside says. I tried doing a Google search to find a similar piece, but had no luck. The closest I could come to was this. It looks like it's been painted. Most cedar chests are simply stained wood. And, as you can see, it's missing a couple of pulls. The pull for the bottom drawer & one pull for that middle drawer were sitting inside the chest itself. But there were two holes in the middle drawer which led me to believe that one knob was still missing. The guy wanted $80 for it. Considering it had been painted and missing a knob, I thought it was too much. But, we didn't bother haggling because we both knew that we had no way of getting it home. Cedar chest on top of a Kia...yeah, that would have been fun!

I came home empty handed this time. But mom left with a few more Christmas gifts for the grandkids, so I think the trip was a success. After mom went home, Dan and I both fell asleep on the couch. Two hour nap on a dreary Monday afternoon? Yes please! Eventually we got our lazy butts off the couch and went shopping. A couple hours later, the Christmas tree was officially lit!

This year we decided to put the tree in the dining room. We moved over the buffet and removed one dining chair to make room. We still have to put ornaments on the tree, but we'll get to that some night this week. At least it's up! Oh, and you'll notice I finally hung up the broken mirror that I mentioned here. I spray painted the inside black, but am second guessing my ability to write something without it looking sloppy. I'm still trying to convince the Hubby to let me chalkboard it so that I can always erase my mistakes. I'll keep you posted!

So, that's the first half of my Thanksgiving break. Today I've got the apartment to myself, so I'm doing a little bit of cleaning, a little bit of tv watching, and a whole lot of being lazy. This afternoon the plan is to do a little bit of school work - but we'll see if that happens. I've got laundry calling my name, and right now that's screaming a louder than papers that need to be graded.

What about you? Do you have the week off too? Or maybe you decided to take it off anyways? What sort of plans do you guys have for the holidays? 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Year One


I can't believe it's already been a year since we said "I Do!" Time sure does fly. This past year has been full of both ups and downs, and I am so lucky to have you by my side to experience all of it. You are my best friend and I can't imagine my life with anyone else.

I'm looking forward to tonight's date & crossing my fingers that your anniversary gift comes in the mail today (even though you've already guessed what it is). I'm glad you liked the "bonus cards" that I've been sending you throughout the day.

One year down, many more to go! I love you! Happy anniversary!


P.S. Just so everyone knows, "bonus cards" is nothing raunchy. I had a hard time narrowing down the card I wanted to get Dan, so I picked the sappy one and took pictures of the two humorous ones that I liked and sent those pics to him throughout the school day. :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Blues

Normally Mondays don't bother me. Sure, I hate waking up early on Mondays. But once I'm up and moving, I'm good to go. I always pick on my students about how tired/worn out/sleepy they are on Mondays. Mondays don't phase me.

Except today. Today I am beyond tired. I felt like I was on stage all day in my classroom. My throat is sore from talking so much. I really need to work on creating more "discovery" lessons so I don't have to do all of the information loading... Anyways, today has just been one of those days, you know?

I feel like I've got a headache coming on. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I tried to wear my hair all down & cute with a headband. But still, I hate starting off the week with a headache. Because usually headaches turn into migraines. And then I'm down for the rest of the night.

Not to mention my body is sore. And I have no idea why. It's like someone decided to use my legs as punching bags last night. Maybe I can convince the hubby to give me a massage?? Yeah, right. It's Monday - he's been moving boxes all day. His body is probably worse off than mine right now.

I hate to sound like such a Debbie Downer. But today has really gotten to me. When I came across that image on Pinterest I thought it described what I'm feeling/thinking perfectly and I wanted to share. (sorry, I wish I had the original source to the image above, but whoever pinned it before me didn't link to of my pet peeves...)

See, tomorrow, Tuesday, is our first anniversary. So I'm definitely looking forward to a dinner date tomorrow night with the hubby.

And then Friday.... well, let's just say it has turned into a movie day in the classroom thanks to a lovely half-day meeting that I was just made aware of 2 hours ago. And then, a week long vacation! I cannot wait for the mental break from school. I just wish Dan were off all week too. I guess that's what happens when teachers marry people who aren't teachers, huh?

Anyways. I'm not really sure what the point of this post is except to share a quote that really rang true for me today.

Anyone else out there having a crummy Monday? Or maybe you're looking forward to the Thanksgiving holidays as much as I am?


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