Dear SunChips,

I really like you. You are crunchy and flavorful. Yes, I realize that you really aren't any better for me than a traditional chip, but I like you anyway.

I also like the earth. I think it is super to be good stewards and I do my part to ensure that we leave a healthy and viable environment for generations to come.

But your new bag? Is ridiculous.
Whoever designed it obviously:
A.) Does not understand cubicle etiquette. (i.e. Don't make obnoxious noises with food wrappers when your dividing "wall" is only 1 inch thick)
B.) Is not ever surrounded by children, who find the crinkling noise fascinating and make the crinkling sound over and over and over.
C.) Does not try to silently grab a few chips here and there in a sneaky fashion.

That's all.


random fill in the blanks

You know the drill. Friday Fill in the Blanks, Saturday edition.

1. The most adventurous thing I've ever done is hmmmmm....I'm not that adventurous, but going rappelling in Italy or flying on a personal plane on a first date come to mind.

2. If I were a pair of shoes I would be my aqua nine west heels. Comfortable but so cute.

3. My preferred mode of digital communication is texting. I'm not big on phone conversations. Nothing personal, I just run out of things to say. I guess I prefer face to face conversations.

4. I feel happiest when I am with people I love. I'm really not picky - I like just about anywhere, doing just about anything. I like life.

5. A little dream I have for my life is to be the person I'm supposed to be. I'm not exactly sure who that is yet, but I think I'm getting there!

6. The one modern convenience I could NOT do without is well, I'm awfully fond of the blackberry. But I would have to say central A/C.

7. Music, movies, TV or books: if I could only choose one to enjoy I would pick books. No question. I love me some books. Larry keeps asking if I want a kindle, which makes me wonder if he already bought me one for my birthday or Christmas. But I love books. The feel, the smell, the way I can stand at the edge of a pool and read without worrying if the pages get wet.... Wait. I just realized that music was part of the question. I think I would actually choose music over books, as songs create their own stories, plus you can sing along or dance to them. So to make a long story short... MUSIC is my final answer.



I had several days of vacation that had to be used or I would lose them, yet we neither had the time nor the money to take an actual trip. So, when my friend offered us the use of her condo in downtown Austin, we took her up on it.

We packed up our swimsuits, clothes, beer and the wiener dog and hopped in the car.

We got there late in the evening, so we just went to a local bar around the corner to eat, then visited "The Tiniest Bar in Texas," which is right next to the condo. We went there because they allow dogs and we wanted Blossom to be a part of the downtown experience.The bar had a cabinet full of board games, which really excited me. However, Larry refused, as he doesn't like germs and didn't feel comfortable handling the Connect Four or Battleship pieces. When we saw 90's edition Trivial Pursuit, he agreed to answer some trivia questions. However, when we opened it, it was clear that some knuckle-heads had stolen the cards. We told the manager, who promptly took care of the problem....
Here is our family picture, complete with the manager running drinks to some people outside.
The next morning, we walked over and ate at Counter Cafe, then headed to the Farmer's Market. You can see Larry in front of the tents listening to some music.
Did you know that the Farmer's Market sells giant fish? And goat cheese? And Chipotle Cherry jelly? Well, they do.

After the Farmer's Market, we went to Mello Johnny's, since Larry is a cyclist and a Lance Armstrong fan. He was quite impressed with this bike hanging on the wall. Apparently it is an awfully sweet ride.

After that, we went and had pizza at Frank and Angies, then spent several hours at the pool. We met friends for dinner at TNT (Tacos and Tequila) then decided to go to West 6th for a couple drinks. I tried to take our picture before we headed out, but only discovered that Larry is, in fact, quite a bit taller than me.But you know how I know we are not the rock-star partiers that we once were? We left downtown by 11pm and promptly headed back to the apartment to watch 4 HOURS of the Food Network. (See, when you don't have cable, being somewhere that does have it is a special treat! AND it was in HD!)

Since we stayed up much later than usual watching Cupcake Wars and Iron Chef and my blackberry was dead (therefore no alarm), we unfortunately missed church. We walked over to Whole Foods and had breakfast and bought several bags of Pirate Booty. Then we spent more time at the pool before packing up and heading back north.

On the way home, we discussed the perks of living downtown - as it really is fun and super convenient to do just about anything. However, I really missed our backyard. I also missed being able to open the back door and let Blossom out rather than having to take her down the elevator several times a day. Nothing sounded better than a real beef burger grilled by the Magical White Guy.

Check out those home grown tomatoes. They were pretty much amazing if I do say so myself. On Monday, we went down and floated the San Marcos river... closer and cheaper than New Braunfels but just as much fun. Tuesday we went to Fort Worth and back for a retirement party - where Larry reverted to his ghetto voice and said, "Hey Tommy, I want to introduce you to my girl." Imagine him saying it and you might chuckle.

All in all, a very fun and relaxing weekend. It really felt like we were out of town even though we were only 15 miles from home. (I highly recommend accidentally forgetting to bring your blackberry charger on your next trip.)


instruments of inspiration

The day always begins with church, where you say a silent prayer that this year will go well. That you'll have great kids and you'll make an impact and that you'll always be in the right place at the right time to make a difference. You'll say "amen" and head to lunch.

During lunch, you'll be thinking that you should enjoy the feeling of real food as opposed to frozen TV dinners. You'll drag it out since you know the next time you eat lunch, you'll only have approximately 23 minutes to finish.

After lunch, you tell yourself that you are going to relax and enjoy your last day, but really that is pointless. Because you just keep thinking about what you're going to wear, and if you forgot to do anything during prep week, and the butterflies start.

They aren't bad butterflies, and you aren't nervous.... they are just anticipation butterflies. While you enjoyed summer, it has passed and you are just ready to get this show on the road. So you'll watch a few re-runs, grab some dinner and promise yourself that you'll go to bed early so that you can be "well-rested" for the first day. And you go to bed early. And lie there. And toss. And turn. And your thoughts race and your mind wanders. And you look at the clock and it is 2am and you think "I have GOT to go to sleep!" Eventually, sleep comes. But you wake up before the alarm clock goes off, and it is the one morning of the year that you don't hit "snooze." You jump out of bed and get ready, because today is the first day.

There is so much beauty in the first day. I mean, even calling it "the first day of school" is a perfect start to the year. The first day brings promise and opportunity and excitement. I'm no longer the kind of teacher that gets a typical first day of school.

But last night, I tossed and turned and had anticipation butterflies for those of you that are. Make it a great year!

“I've come to the frightening conclusioin that I am the decisive element in the classroom.
It's my daily mood that makes the weather.
As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous.
I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.
I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.
In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.” Dr. Haim Ginott


National Potato Day

Last summer, I was presenting at a conference in Fort Worth. We were at a hotel downtown - don't remember which one, but it had just been redone and was beautiful. It also had a really nice wine bar. Neither of my co-workers drink, so I went down one night to spend my per diem on a glass of wine. (Just kidding State Auditors. I would never do something like that.) So I'm talking to the bartender and saying I want a glass of Pinot Noir and he says - here, try this - we just got it. It was sooooooooo good. But it was $22 a glass, so I was like, no. I sampled another one and it wasn't near as good, so then I caved. I got the $22 glass of wine, an $8 truffle and read a book in the corner of the bar all by myself. It was seriously a very memorable and perfect evening.

I was telling Larry about this wine and how much I loved it, so he asked his "friends" at Specs to order it. (They didn't carry it.) He somehow managed to hide it from me until Christmas.... here I am opening it.

(Excuse the no makeup on my face. Do you wear makeup on Christmas morning?) Well. that was almost 8 months ago. This stuff cost a little bit more than our ol' standby wine, so I want to use it on something good. I'm all about celebrating the little things in life.... I've been known to celebrate just because it is Tuesday. But I'm trying to decide when I want to pop it open. I thought about celebrating my final car payment. But that has passed. So maybe my 33rd birthday? Or Larry's big birthday in November? Or should I wait until May and celebrate being done with grad school? I'm really wanting to open it, so I even consulted this list to see what National Days might be worthy. Today is "National Potato Day", so no. Not going to celebrate the fact that french fries are basically crack cocaine to me. September 6 is "Fight Procrastination Day" so I thought that might be appropriate - I need to fight procrastination and open the dang bottle already!!!


publishing without permission

At one point in my childhood, I really wanted to be a stewardess. Not a flight attendant - I wanted to be the stewardess that wore a dress and heels and had a blond, perfectly hairsprayed bob. I would've worn a scarf around my neck and had my nails painted a lovely shade of red at all times. I thought it would be such an exciting and glamorous life to travel from one city to the next and live out of a suitcase.

Once that dream faded, I contemplated being in corporate America - wearing power suits and hose and high heels every day, with my hair pulled back into a tight and classy bun. I would've worn glasses even if they didn't have prescription lenses. I would walk confidently and quickly through the airports as I traveled back and forth from my business meetings carrying an understated, yet expensive, attache case.

Fortunately, I ended up on a career path that has provided me with happiness and success, even if the only business trips I take are to places like Abliene, Victoria and Stephenville, Texas. One thing that I've learned is that traveling can be exhausting. It does a number on your skin and your waistline and isn't as glamorous as it's cracked up to be. However, one of my friends does travel all over the place for her job. I would say that within the past year or so, she has been to Japan, India, Brussels, Italy (twice), Paris (twice) and just got back from Brazil and South America. When I hear her stories, it reminds me of the flighty dreams I once had. So, since I'll never be able to blog about my work/travel adventures, I'm stealing my friend's snippets about her most recent trip:
  • The currency is different in every country. Some of the ATMs speak English...others not so much. It's winter here...kind of a strange feeling to dig out warmer clothes to pack for this trip when it's so hot back home.
  • Span-glish will get you some funny looks but ultimately gets the job done (even in places that speak Portuguese)
  • Brazil was serious about having a national cocktail...every one should try a Caipirinha at some point. You will be advised not to talk to the locals about meat, red wine or soccer in a business mtg...it will get ugly (each believes their country has the best).
  • The men have names like Enrique, Pedro & Roberto and dress very well. You should have seen me trying to figure out whether to do the single kiss cheek greeting or two (in case you were wondering, it's 1 cheek if you're from Sao Paolo, Mexico City, Chile and Buenos Aires. If you're in Rio de Janerio, plan for 2). There were some awkward moments... ha!
  • In Brazil, they serve this amazing cheese bread with their meals & coffee breaks. It's called pão de queijo and they say it tastes so good because of a special flour (google it to see pictures). You can buy a mix at grocery stores (just have to add water like a brownie mix).
  • The people in Argentina prefer their dulche de leche (think thick caramel jam). It's to the locals what peanut butter is to Americans. Buenos Aires has strong European influences (buildings walking around for example remind me of the streets of Europe). Approx 1/2 the population is of Italian descent (we had great Italian food last night). Lots of leather goods here...
I'm going with the "ask for forgiveness rather than permission" approach here, as well as intentionally withholding her name just in case she doesn't want the whole universe to know her thoughts. I just love to live vicariously through her, so I hope they send her to Greece next.


there was a time...

when I was able to read a novel a week for 2 months straight....

when I sunbathed 3-4 times a week and my skin turned a lovely golden brown...

when I would forget what day it was...

when I thought nothing of having a cocktail in the middle of the day...

when I could get up and decide to drive to see my parents or go to the zoo or float the river at any given moment...

when I could have friends over and stay up late enjoying a bottle (or two...) of wine...

when I got paid 12 months a year but only "worked" 10...

Ahhhhhh.......summer. When you're young, you survive each year of school with the promise of summer vacation. And then you go to college and may take summer school, but still get to partake in the loveliness of everything that is summer. And then you become a teacher and appreciate summer more than you EVER did as a child. (I now firmly believe that summer vacation is for the adults to regain their sanity - it just happens to also be a perk for the kids.)

Then you take a full-year job (230 days versus 187 days) in education and all of a sudden it is July and you realize that your skin is glowing white and you haven't read a book for pleasure in months and why is it so hot outside?!?!

I love my job. I am fortunate to be able to say that, I know. But oh, how I miss summer.


fill in the blanks friday

***Disclaimer*** I have no idea why there are 3 different fonts used. I have no control over it, tried to fix it and understand that it is somewhat annoying. Thanks for understanding.

1. Today for breakfast I ate
Vanilla Special K with some walnuts sprinkled on top. I think I have developed a walnut allergy, as my mouth is all of a sudden starting to swell up. I've been teaching all week and it is somewhat difficult to talk.

2. My go to/never fail recipe chicken spaghetti or chicken cordon bleu.

3. Something I eat that other people think is weird is I'm not really sure. Actually, I thought of an answer - my mom used to make this orange jello that has pineapples and celery in it. It is really good. Also, we used to have this dinner that was basically potatoes, hot dogs and celery in a cream sauce - DELISH. All of my sister in laws hate it (April nicknamed it "Hobo Casserole"), but my siblings and I love it. That is one of the joys of growing up poor - you enjoy all sorts of creative dishes. (Except beets. Don't care for the beets.)

4. My worst cooking disaster ever was well, one time we put queso in the microwave for what we thought was three minutes.... but it was actually 30 mintues. Not good.

5. If I could only eat one flavor of ice cream the rest of my life it would be peppermint stick. Although i also really enjoy any ice cream that has marshmallow cream in it. Come to think of it, I would trade ice cream for marshmallow creme.

6. One food I hate and avoid at all costs is well, beets - obviously. Also, I have not yet acquired a taste for menudo. I don't mind the broth, but the slimy tripe pretty much grosses me out.

7. What is your favorite meal? Breakfast, lunch, or dinner? Not breakfast. I prefer sleep, but am trying to eat breakfast for health reasons. My favorite meal is probably dinner, especially a long, relaxed meal with loved ones. Doesn't matter what we eat - it is more about the conversation and company to me.


like a good neighbor

If one of the houses near us come up for sale, you should buy it. Not only because I will make you a nice chicken spaghetti and cookies upon your arrival, but because the MWG is pretty much the best neighbor ever. I would even go as far as to say that he is who Mr. Rogers wanted to be neighbors with.

He mows other people's yards when they're out of town, he goes in and flushes the toilets of the house that stays unoccupied during the summer months, he gives golf balls to children when they walk by, he helps put up christmas trees, we dog sit, he helps trim tree branches, he lends people tarps and tools and whatnots, and all sorts of things that I probably don't even know about. Right now he is at the storage shed of a neighbor's daughter helping them move a dresser. (They needed somebody with a truck.)

If no good deed goes unpunished, then he is in major trouble.