Thursday, July 31, 2014

Last Day

Today is the last day of summer vacation. Well, the last day for teachers in my county, anyways. The students still have a few more days to sleep in. And our neighboring counties all have a couple weeks left (we go back pretty early).

How am I spending my last day of summer? Why, in my classroom of course! I've already been by the school every day this week: twice to work in my room and once just to drop off some paperwork. Even though we get a few days of pre-planning before the kiddos show up, I don't always feel like its enough time to get everything ready for that first day of school.

This year will be my 5th year teaching. It's crazy to think that I'm not a "newbie" anymore. But I don't quite feel like a "veteran" yet. I still feel like I don't know what I'm doing some days. But I'm looking forward to the upcoming school year.

The curriculum for my AP course has gotten a total face lift, so that should keep me on my toes in the Spring. I went to a summer institute in Tampa last week so I could learn all about the new changes. I'm hopeful that it will mean diving into history more and less about simply memorizing facts.

Between three sections of APUSH and being junior class sponsor again this year, I'm sure my plate will be full. As if I wasn't sporadic enough with my blogging throughout the summer, I'm sure it will be worse once the tardy bell rings. History has confirmed this. This is me warning you apologizing now.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Another Speed Bump

Frustrated. Annoyed. Irritated. 

These are the emotions we've been dealing with this past weekend. 

We put an offer in on a house, that we're hoping will be our first home, back in March. March! And it seems like every little thing that can go wrong, has. No, we haven't lost the house, but there has been yet another set back.

When we first put in our offer, we naively thought that we'd be able to move at the beginning of summer. Being a teacher, that would have been ideal. I could have had weeks to work on little projects around the house without having to worry about work. But, the more we learned about the home buying process, the more we realized that was a pipe dream.

Once the sellers were all done with their bank, and the ball was finally in our court, we were told by our banker that there wasn't any reason why we couldn't be moved in before school started. We had already been pre-qualified once before (which is different than just being pre-approved), so it was just a matter of resubmitting our financial information. We were making more money, had more money in savings, and were asking for considerably less than we had previously been told we qualified for. What could go wrong?

Well, that was over a month ago, and since then we've hit more speed bumps than we'd like. The home inspection went fine, but there was a minor fix that needed to be done to apply for home owners insurance. A minor fix that would have cost us less than $10 to do. But, since the report had been submitted, now required a "professional" to do it. Which means it turned into a $87 fix...

And the appraisal came back. We thought it was fine. However, the appraiser decided to include comments about their opinion of the house without checking the facts first, so it has added a whole bunch of stuff to our checklist. Most of these things have had to wait on the sellers' agent to provide answers/documentation, so it's all stuff that is currently out of our control.

We finally got a hold of our banker Friday and asked for an update. She said she still couldn't provide us with a closing date and that we'd be lucky if we could move in the next month. So much for moving in before school.... Now it's looking like we'll be lucky if we can move in before Labor Day.

We know everything will happen when it's suppose to happen. That we've got to trust there's a greater reason why we haven't been able to move yet. But it's still frustrating. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

That One Movie I Can Watch a Million Times

Everyone has that movie that they can watch over and over and never get tired of. That movie that they can recite nearly every line to. The one that they can immediately recognize by a simple measure of music or a character's voice.

For me, that movie is Forrest Gump.

My momma always said,
"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

I remember watching Forrest Gump on t.v. growing up over the summer when there was nothing else on. At first, being just a kid, I didn't understand everything that was happening in the movie. But I didn't care. I liked the characters and I liked all the different places Forrest got to travel to. 

The first time I truly appreciated all of the history within the movie was when my 11th grade US History teacher, Mr. Russell, played the film at the end of the school year. Having just learned all about our country's history, I now understood who each of the presidents were. And, I understood why my teacher joked about the fact that Watergate all started thanks to Forrest.

Now, I watch Forrest Gump at least 7 times a year - once for each of the classes I teach. It's one of those things that I incorporate in my classroom because I remember how much I enjoyed it as a student. It's become one of my annual traditions. And, would you believe, every year I have a handful of students who have no idea who Forrest Gump is?! It seems like each year the number gets larger and larger. Seriously, what are these parents teaching their kids? Don't they appreciate a classic?

I have so many favorite lines/moments from the movie that it would be pointless to share them all here - you'd basically be watching the movie all over again. But, I do have one line from the end of the movie that always makes me stop and think:

"...I don't know if Momma was right or if, if it's Lieutenant Dan. I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it's both. Maybe both is happening at the same time."

For a character which is portrayed in the movie as less than smart, it's a pretty profound line. I really think the best part about Forrest Gump is the fact that he doesn't realize how smart he truly is.

So, that's my favorite movie. What's yours? What's that one movie you could watch a million times, and still never tire of?

P.S. Considering my love of Forrest Gump, I was really hoping to visit the infamous bench in Savannah during our recent trip. Boy was I disappointed when I found out that the bench was simply a Hollywood prop and was never actually a part of the local square. #bubbleofficiallyburst

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What I Will Miss About Renting

A couple of weeks ago I shared the things I won't miss about renting when we finally move into our own home. I realize that I only shared the negatives about renting. So I thought, why not share the things I actually enjoyed about renting and what I'll miss when we move.

Probably the thing I'll miss the most about renting an apartment is free maintenance. If something breaks in the middle of the night (like our a/c), we don't have to worry about the cost of having a repair guy come out and fix it. It's all included! One of the things that scares me about owning a home is the fact that we're financially responsible for everything that happens to the house - that adds up to a lot of money! So the lack of stress with keeping up with all of the maintenance is something I will definitely miss.

Something I know Dan will miss probably more than I will is the pool. He was a swimmer in high school, as well as a life guard at summer camp, so he has always had a love for water. I loved the pool because it was an excuse for friends to come over and hang out. Dan's going to miss it because it was his favorite way to cool down in the Florida heat.

Next to the pool, is the gym. Again, Dan will probably miss this one more than I will. He went down to the gym a lot more frequently. He's definitely more dedicated to staying fit than I am. I'm pretty self-conscious about working out in front of people, so a home gym is more up my alley. But, those can be expensive. I'll definitely miss having the much cheaper alternative within footsteps of our door.

Another thing I'm not looking forward to in this new house is the amount of yard work that will be associated with it. We're *fingers crossed* buying a house that sits on an acre lot. Do you know how much grass that is? Considering we've only ever lived in apartments, we have absolutely nothing we need to maintain a yard. Not to mention, I don't exactly have a green thumb. So the idea of working on the lawn and making it look nice is a little daunting.

The last thing I'm going to miss about renting is living on the second floor. Sure, it sucks having to lug groceries upstairs every weekend. And moving in/out takes a lot more work. But I liked the security of living on the second floor. Call me paranoid, but I've always had this fear that someone would break into my apartment through the windows. Living on the second floor always gave me that peace of mind that no one could break in. Well, at least not through the windows anyways.

I wish I could come up with more positives about renting, but I struggled just coming up with this list of five. Can you tell I'm ready to move? Maybe you can add to the list. What are some of your favorite things about renting that you missed or will miss when you move?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Recipe Review: Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

First of all, let me just start this post off by saying that this are the most gooey delicious cookies I've ever made. Probably even better than these. And, what makes them so great? Besides being amazing, of course... They are the so simple to make! Two ingredients. Yes, you read that right, two ingredients!

I found this recipe on Pinterest one night, and knew I just had to try it. This recipe is from Averie at Averie Cooks has instantly become a favorite around here.

I'm not going to go into details about how to make these delicious cookies, but you can check out Averie's step-by-step here. Just trust me when I say that you'll never need to know another cookie recipe again! People will seriously beg you to make these for your next get-together. And, you can keep the fact that they are so easy to make as your little secret. I promise I won't tell!

Oh, and by the way, we used regular cookie dough instead of gluten free, and they came out fine. Here's what ours looked like:

Not as good as Averie's picture, but don't let that fool you! They were still the best cookies to have come out of my kitchen oven - hands down!

I've made these cookie bars twice now, and both times they've turned out great. The hardest part? Waiting for the cookies to cool so that you can cut into them. But, if I'm being honest, we only wait maybe 5 minutes. We don't mind if the cookie is still ooey gooey and falling apart. Just means we grab a bowl, add a couple scoops of ice cream, and eat it all with a spoon. Yum!

I bet you're craving cookies now, huh? What's your favorite type of cookie? Normally I'm a sugar cookie kinda girl, but I think these may have officially converted me to the world of chocolate chips and peanut butter.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Graduation Gift: Mini Diploma

Last week, I shared photos from our recent trip to Tybee Island and Savannah. Although it was nice to get away for an extended weekend and spend some time with my husband's family, that wasn't the sole purpose of the trip. My father-in-law, after many years of hard work, graduated from college! It was a huge accomplishment, and I'm so glad we were all able to be there to cheer him on as he crossed the stage.

Since graduating from college is something that should be celebrated, we all wanted to get my father-in-law a gift to remember the occasion. A quick search online for graduation gifts brings up many ideas - but most of them are geared towards high school or younger college students, not for someone who has gone back to college later in life.

There was only one thing that we knew he wanted: a nice frame to display his diploma in. 

But there were a couple of problems with that. (1) We didn't know which style frame he wanted. (2) We weren't quite sure the dimensions of his diploma. From what we remembered, it was larger than the average diploma. And (3), there was no way that if we ordered it that it would arrive in time. So, we decided that we'd all chip in a little money, give it to him on graduation day, and let him pick out his own diploma frame.

But I find that to be boring. A card and money? Sure, its what every college graduate wants. But I wanted to do something a little more than that. Something special.

So, I came up with the idea of presenting him with a mini diploma in a mini frame so that he knew why we were giving him money.

Isn't it cute?

The frame was $4 from Michaels and it came with its own matting. I just typed up the diploma in Word and printed it on regular printer paper. The hubby suggested that I should have printed it on fancier paper (we did have a stack of resume paper lying in a desk drawer somewhere), but I didn't feel like reprinting it. The box was in my gift wrap stash, and the frame fit perfectly inside. When we got to Savannah, we collected money from everyone and bunched it up to act as the tissue paper underneath the frame.

It was a simple gift to put together. But I'm glad with the way it turned out. So much nicer than just a greeting card. And Dan's dad loved it! Mission accomplished!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Weekend Adventures: Tybee Revisited

Last summer, the hubby and I took a mini vacation to Savannah, Georgia. During that trip, we had made plans to spend one of our days at nearby Tybee Island. Well, last weekend, we went back to Savannah to watch my father-in-law walk across the stage and receive his Bachelor's degree. Only, this time, instead of staying in Savannah, we booked a room on Tybee so we could be within walking distance of the beach. Best idea ever!

Our room was pretty small (which is probably an understatement), but it did the job. It had a mini kitchen, so we brought food to make our own breakfasts and lunches, which allowed us to save some money and let us splurge more on dinner. Our only complaint is that the room was so small, that it didn't really have enough space for us to sit down and eat, unless we ate in the bed. The only other option was to eat in the patio area downstairs, which would have been fine, except it rained a lot while we were there.

We arrived in town a day before the rest of the family, so Dan and I went over to our favorite local pizza place for dinner, then walked around the beach as the sun was setting.

One of the benefits of staying where we did was the fact that we were less than a block from the beach (which you can see in the street photo above), which meant we could walk there and back whenever we felt like it.

The next morning, Dan and I had planned on waking up to catch the sunrise, but we both hit the snooze on our alarms and slept in. Dan's parents arrived late morning, so we headed over to the Tybee Lighthouse. My mother-in-law loves lighthouses, but, to our surprise, had never actually walked to the top of one before until Tybee.

It was 178 stairs to the top, but the view was totally worth it! Our running joke for the rest of the trip was, "Hey look! More stairs!" Our legs definitely got a workout that day.

After the lighthouse, we headed over to the Fort Pulaski National Monument. The fort was used by the Confederate forces during the Civil War, but they were force to surrender to the Union army during the first half of the war when the Union artillery proved to be more advanced than the fort's walls.

There wasn't much to do at the fort. There were tours offered twice a day, but we didn't arrived at the right time. For the most part, you just walk around and take everything in. Some of the rooms and items are label, but not all. I think the best part was the short 20 minute film they show in the gift shop, but then again, I'm a history teacher, so those kinds of things interest me.

When we got to the top of the fort, we were able to see the Cockspur Lighthouse in the distance. We also saw that there was a walking path that would take you closer to the lighthouse. On our way to the path, we walked around the fort so that we could see where it was attacked by the Union forces. There are still artillery shells stuck in parts of the wall.

You can't actually reach the Cockspur Lighthouse by foot. Although, the footpath did take us a lot closer than I thought it would. Probably within about 200 feet or so. The only way to really get to the lighthouse is to kayak over there during low tide. When high tide comes in, the beach area disappears and the water level reaches the bottom steps of the lighthouse.

Seeing the kayakers walking around the beach and standing at the top of the lighthouse makes me really want to go back to Tybee just to tour the lighthouse. Maybe next summer?

About the time we were turning around to head back to the fort, my father-in-law pointed out that my shoulders were getting red. Yep. Someone forgot to put sunscreen on.....

After the fort we headed back to the room to eat lunch and take a short nap. Dan's brother and wife were coming into town around dinner time, so we headed into Savannah (where everyone else was staying) to spend the evening with everyone.

The next morning, which was Saturday, we managed to wake up before the sunrise and head down to the beach for some amazing pictures! I wish I could share them all, but that would be a lot of pictures for one post. So, I'll share some of my favorites.

Saturday afternoon, Dan's dad graduated from college! We drove over to the convention center in Savannah and got to watch him walk across the stage.

Once graduation was over and we took the obligatory family pictures outside (which are all on my in-laws cameras by the way), we grabbed a quick snack and changed clothes before heading out for a dinner cruise along the Savannah River.

If I'm being honest, the food on the cruise wasn't all that great. All of the food is cooked off-site and brought on board. Everyone at the table complained that all of the meat (besides the chicken) was dry and overcooked. When it came to dessert, everyone liked the chocolate cake, but the cheesecake was inedible (if you couldn't tell by witty comment above). I think had it just simply been a sight-seeing cruise, we would have enjoyed it a whole lot more.

We joke that Dan's dad looks like a one-legged pirate in the photo above :)

Sunday was our last morning at Tybee. We managed to talk Dan's brother into waking up early and catching in the sunrise with us again. I'm really glad they were able to join us - it gave us some time to catch up and just enjoy the quietness of the beach in the morning.

After we washed up from the beach, we headed over to a local spot for breakfast, appropriately titled The Breakfast Club.

The food was really good! Dan ordered the chicken fried chick with a side of bacon, and I ordered the cinnamon raisin french toast. The only downside was that the food was also really expensive. I think for just the two of us the cost was close to $30 after tip, which is closer to what we tend to pay for a dinner out.

After breakfast, Dan's parents joined us to check out some of the shops along Tybrisa Street before all of us loaded up the cars and headed our separate ways.

Overall, it was a really good trip. I'm glad we were able to spend some time together as a family, something that doesn't happen too often anymore. We're even talking about doing this again next year or the year after. We're hoping to find a spot that we can all road trip to, so it can't be too far.

Any suggestions for where we should go next? We were thinking Charleston or Myrtle Beach, but would love to hear about any other spots you've traveled to and would recommend.


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