Monday, March 17, 2014

Under Construction

Can you see what's wrong with the picture below?

Beautiful sunset, right?

Too bad it's being ruined by the sights and smells of smoke.....

This is the new view from our balcony. There use to be this huge field full of trees and tall grass behind our apartment complex. But now, most of the trees have been taken down and the grass has been replaced by dirt. Every morning for the past couple of weeks when I've left for work, there have been huge construction vehicles getting ready to do their thing.

It's sad really.

I'm told that they are planning on putting up a subdivision behind the complex. And, to make matters worse, they've cleared the land in front of the complex between it and the highway to start construction on a mini strip mall. And, the land beside the complex is for sale too - so I'm sure that will be under construction soon.

The one thing I am happy about is the fact that the large tree you see in the pictures has been spared. And I'm sure it's only due to the fact that it's on the complex's side of the property line.

This is just one more reason why I can't wait to find our first home and move out.... with that said, we are making progress, but I don't want to jinx anything. I'll share more on our house hunting another day.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

When Your Uncle is an EMT.... never know when he's going to get a call. Sometimes, he gets called out 5 minutes before you show up at the station to visit. So, you go and hang out at the park behind the station until he gets back.

Luckily, on this particular trip, you brought along your cousins, so you have playmates while you wait. Time flies fast when you're having fun! Before you know it, your Uncle is back at the station and you hurry over to see him and the ambulance.

Your Uncle even brings out some of his gear to show you how it works. He answers all of your questions about what kind of calls he's been on today (although he leaves out the gross details) and why he was gone when you got there.

He stays long enough to take a few more pictures before he needs to go inside to rest.

But, he won't be able to rest because he gets another call. So you get to see him in action, getting the truck in motion and turning on the lights and sirens.

And you wave to him and the paramedic as they zip off to help someone else.

Thanks again Uncle Danny for letting us all visit you at work today!   -- Your Nephew, T

Friday, March 14, 2014

Things My Students Say: Transparent Eyeball

So you can imagine, as a teacher, I hear all sorts of random and crazy things coming out of the mouths of teenage students on a pretty regular basis. Usually, I just laugh and move on. But sometimes, the things that they say are so funny that I have to stop and write it down so I can share it. I wish I was making this stuff up....

I projected the image above onto the screen and ask the students what it is. Of course, if they had completed their reading the night before, this would be an easy question. But we all know how that goes...

Me: What do we call this?
Student #1: Creepy!
Student #2: Grasshopper eyeball with chicken feathers for a tail.
Student #3: Weird!
Student #4: Won't you just tell us?

A couple of the classes got the answer right away. This particular class must have missed the homework memo. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Biting Babies

So the other day we were hanging out with our nephew....

On the way back from our miniature golf adventures, our conversation turned to the topic of his mother and her relationship status. Basically it went like this:

Mother: T said the other day that the divorce needed to hurry up so mommy can get remarried and have another baby.
Danny to T: Do you want a baby brother?
T: No. A sister.
Danny: Why not a brother?
T: They bite!

I think someone has learned a thing or two from his uncles!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Things My Students Say: Ponce de Leon

So you can imagine, as a teacher, I hear all sorts of random and crazy things coming out of the mouths of teenage students on a pretty regular basis. Usually, I just laugh and move on. But sometimes, the things they say are so funny that I have to stop and write it down so I can share it. I wish I was making this stuff up....

Student #1: Wait! Ponce de Leon is Spanish?
Student #2: Uh, yeah. What did you think he was?
Student #1: I thought he was French! His name sounds French!

And just because I couldn't resist....

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Weekend Adventures: Putt Putt

Last weekend we got to spend some time with our nephew. He said he wanted to go putt putt golfing, so that's what we did. 

Of course, before you can actually play a round of golf, you have to stop and look at the alligators.

Our nephew, we'll call him T, really wanted one of us to hold a live alligator. By "one of us" he meant anybody except him. We opted not to hold the baby gators this time around, but I did buy some fish food for him to feed the koi fish next to the gators.

Once we got onto the course, there was a little bit of a learning curve for T. Uncle Danny should him how to hold the club and hit the ball. In the end, T chose what we call the "shovel" method for moving the ball around. Overall, I'd say it was a success! We only had to fish the ball out of the water once (and luckily mom was smart and sneaked an extra ball just in case!).

After putt putt, we grabbed some pizza and then headed back to our sister-in-law's place to play some video games. The boys took it a little too seriously if you ask me. I'm not kidding. Check out Dan's "concentration face!"

Hehe! He'll probably kill me for sharing that on here. But I figured if I already posted it on Instagram, the blog wouldn't hurt either :)

Before we left, we played a round of Apples to Apples. Only in this version the red cards are pictures rather than nouns. Although I liked the fact that it made it easier for our nephew to play, some of the pictures were just out there in left field.

Overall it was a great day! I'm glad we took the time to go and see T and his mom - its not something we get to do all that often. I think we've decided that next time we all get together that we're heading to a bowling alley. No more Wii Bowling. It's time for the real thing!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Genuine Smile

This past weekend we celebrated this special little girl's first birthday. It was a small gathering of family & friends. The weather was absolutely perfect! I seriously don't think her parents could have picked a better day for a birthday party in the park.

Of all the photos I took that day, this one is by far my favorite.

I've always known that Dan was good with kids. I've seen how he interacts with our nieces and nephews numerous times. But seeing moments like this are little reminders. And the fact that he didn't even know I was snapping this photo makes it that much better. The smile on his face as he's helping her walk is pure and genuine. Photos like this make me fall in love with him all over again. :)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Weekend Adventures: Connecticut Road Trip

I mentioned in my last post that we had to make a last minute trip to Connecticut back in February because Dan's grandmother passed away. She was Dan's last living grandparent. Although he had not seen her since his family moved to Florida when he was two, his grandmother had always made a point to keep in contact through phone calls and holiday cards. Her health had been declining for the past few years, so her passing wasn't something that was totally unexpected. But, really, who isn't caught off guard by someone passing, even if they knew it was coming?

We left early on a Wednesday morning and started making the trip to Connecticut. Although everything told us it would only be an 18 hour trip, we knew better...

That 18 hours didn't include stopping for potty breaks, stopping to stretch our legs, stopping to eat, stopping just to make sure the driver was wide awake.... All in all, it took us 25 hours to get to the first house. Then, we had another half hour or so until the next house where we could finally catch some sleep.

Dan's mom rode with us on the trip up. His dad had flown up ahead of us to help his sister with arrangements. To say the car was a little cramped was an understatement.

Every had been telling us that it was below freezing and to pack warm. When you tell a Floridian to pack warm, you're essentially telling us to pack a lot! Because we don't own many "warm" clothes. Instead, we layer. So, Dan and I had packed our own suitcases. We didn't know until it was far too late that we needed to make sure we had room in the car for Dan's dad and his luggage when we came back home. We sent his dad the picture above and told him that he'd be sitting on the roof. For a few days there, I wasn't joking... I had no idea how we were going to downsize all of our stuff to fit another person. Luckily, we managed.

The trip up was long. None of us managed to get much sleep on the trip. We took turns driving, but Dan did 90% of it. He was a real trooper. 

We knew it was going to be cold where we were going. My father in law had sent us pictures of his sister's back porch with the snow piled high on her grill. But I don't think any of us really understood how much of a shock it would be to our bodies to go from the warm 70s to the below freezing 20s in a matter of 24 hours. We started our trip in shorts, flip flops, and t-shirts, and ended up bundled up in sweaters with gloves and hats before the night was over.

We had a bet going to see how long Dan would make it without having to put proper pants and shoes on. I think he last until Virginia. The Virginia Welcome Center was where we got our first glimpse of snow. I snapped a picture and posted it online.

Not too long later I was getting comments about how that wasn't "real" snow. Ok. I know I'm from Florida, but I do know what "real" snow is. I've traveled to Pennsylvania in the winter before. But I'm telling you - that was real snow. Really old, dirty, leftover snow. I knew there was much more snow waiting for us in Connecticut - at least a foot of snow had fallen a couple days before we got there. But, it was enough snow and enough of a temperature drop for me to retire my flip flops and grab my sneakers from the trunk. 

The rest of the trip went by uneventful. We were shocked by the tolls that we had to pay along the way. I think the total came out to like $40 one way! And when we finally got off of the main highway, we hit some roads that the snow plows had not yet gone down. Dan did a little fishtail coming off the exit ramp. The boy has no fear! He loved it! His mother and I on the other hand were a little worried about the fact that he didn't seem more concerned. But other than that, it was just a really long trip in the car.

We dropped my mother-in-law off at Dan's aunt's house, and then drove the final leg to his cousin's house where we crashed for a couple hours. She was so sweet! I had never met her before, and Dan hadn't seen her in a couple years, but it didn't seem to matter. She welcomed us into her home with open arms and it was as though no time had passed since the last time everyone had gotten together.

By the time we woke up, Dan's brother and his wife were just making it into town. We all headed out for some lunch. Dan's sister-in-law found a place that had been on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and suggested we try it out. I'm so glad she did! It was seriously some of the best food any of us had ever had. And the customer services was amazing. We've seriously contemplated making another trip up to visit family just so that we can eat there again.

After lunch, we headed back to Dan's cousin's house and had some fun in the snow. We were seriously like kids in a candy store. You would have thought that these Floridians had never seen snow before!

The only downside to all the snow was that it was the wrong kind of snow. Well, at least the wrong kind of snow if you were looking to make a snowman. Basically, there was a thick sheet of ice on top of some really fluffy snow. We had to literally break away ice just to have enough space to make a proper snow angel.

Friday morning was set aside for family time. Services were held at Grandma's church. Afterwards, we drove down the street to see the house Dan's mom grew up in. Then we headed over to a little restaurant that just so happened to be the same restaurant Dan's parents held their wedding reception at. The evening was spent with my father-in-law's side of the family.

Saturday, Dan's cousin and aunt had planned an afternoon get together with the cousins. It was great to meet everyone and get to know another side of Dan's family.

Dan's favorite part of the lunch had to be when we all went outside and took turns on the digger.

We had to leave lunch a little early so that we could hit the road again. Our goal was to get as far south as possible, then crash somewhere for the night before driving the rest of the way home Sunday. Luckily, we were able to condense some of our stuff and pawn some of it off on Dan's brother so that Dan's dad and his luggage could fit into the car. It was a serious game of Tetris to get everything into the trunk.

I was a little disappointed because we didn't get to explore much of the area. I was hoping to spend a day in New York City or Boston, but our plans were changed. My mom suggested that we should at least drive through Washington, D.C. so that we could see something, so we got off the interstate and drove down some of the local roads to catch glimpses of our nation's capital. 

Overall, it was a good trip. Dan and I have been talking about our next trip to Connecticut - a trip where hopefully we can spend a little more time relaxing, spend a little more time with family, and spend a little more time taking in the sights.


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