NYE 2010

1. New Year's is (awesome/lame/other) "other." I appreciate the excitement and the festivities, but I learned long ago that to expect too much will only lead to disappointment. You feel like you SHOULD have plans and if you don't it means that you are a loser. You feel like you SHOULD have somebody to kiss at midnight and if you don't means that you are ugly and alone and nobody will ever love you. You drink champagne at midnight because that is what you SHOULD drink. You feel like you SHOULD get wasted because that is what people do on NYE and if you don't it means you are a stick in the mud. No thanks. Instead, I will happily walk across the street to the neighbors for some dinner, kiss the Magical White Guy if I happen to still be awake at midnight and finally open my bottle of 2006 Jayson Pinot Noir to toast all that 2010 held and all that 2011 will bring.

2. Last New Year's Eve I actually cannot remember. At all. Perhaps I went over to the neighbors?

3. My New Year's resolution is to do more of all of the things that matter. Not really a NYE resolution - it is something I've been trying to work on for awhile now - but I'll go ahead and use resolutions as a way to make it official.

4. The best way to spend New Year's Eve is with a thankful heart and positive hopes and prayers for the year ahead. Sparkles are okay too.

5. My prediction for an up-and-coming trend in 2011 is well, since tiny bracelets that come in assorted shapes, a blend of jeans and leggings, and intentional holes in pantyhose have already happened, I am out of ideas.

6. This New Year's Eve I will finishing defensive driving, clean out the medicine cabinet to make way for the excessive amount of over-the-counter drugs I purchased yesterday (more on that another time), walk over to the neighbors to share the brisket that is smoking in the backyard and possibly watch the ball drop. I will be wearing jeans and a t-shirt that says "celebrate" on it. There will not be any champagne consumption, as it is typically too dry and yucky for my taste and also usually gives me a headache. (If you have any suggestions on good champagne, please enlighten me. Has to be less than $20 a bottle though.)

7. A fresh start is a great opportunity. What are you waiting for?

Fill in the blanks Friday comes from here.


lesson learned

Well, if you were waiting for a new blog post, you can just thank that "running a red light" ticket that I got a few months ago for keeping me away.... I'm finally getting around to completing the defensive driving class.

If I had paid the ticket on time, I would have paid $111 for the ticket and $25 for defensive driving. That would have been a total of $136.

Since I didn't pay on time, it cost $275. Since I didn't start defensive driving on time, I also have to pay $25 to overnight my certificate so that I can get it turned in on time and avoid a warrant.

Keeping in mind that my driving record cost me $12.50, this red light cost me $327.50.


slow news day

Today is the first official day of winter.

It was 80 degrees.

So, Lindsey and I went to Mount Bonnell. (FINALLY!)

In other news, is there anything cuter than dressing your wiener dog up in a santa suit?

Also - am I the only person that starts humming "Total Eclipse of the Heart" every time they talk about the lunar eclipse?


my life in a minute

Sarah introduced me to pummelvision, and I thought it was very, very neat. You may not care to watch a video of all of my facebook photos set to music, but then again, this isn't your blog. And you won't want to come back and visit it in several years to try and regain your youth. So if you don't want to watch it, don't. I am just putting it here for posterity's sake. You know, just in case something happens to facebook.


Week four

I can't really add anything to this weeks advent "food for thought." Except that I like the idea of being embraced right where I am.

This year the Fourth Week of Advent is six days long. Friday evening is Christmas Eve and Saturday, Christmas.

Perhaps we can use these days to try to heighten our awareness of whatever is going on in our lives these days, and how that can bring us to Christmas. For example:

For some of us, the Christmas we will celebrate this year pales in comparison to wonderful Christmases of our past - perhaps because we were younger or more "innocent" then, perhaps because some of our loved ones who were central to our Christmas are no longer living or not where I am, perhaps because the burdens and struggles of my life or the changes in our world and the war have robbed this Christmas of something that was there before.

For some of us, Christmas will be just another day. Unable to get out to go to church to be with a faith community, and without family or friends to be with, Christmas will be a day we are tempted to ignore.

For some of us, Christmas inevitably means family conflicts. Facing the days ahead, whether it be the last few remaining parties, or conflicting demands of family and friends, or the friend or relative who drinks too much, or the experience I'm having that I drink too much and this season is an easy excuse.

For some of us, Christmas challenges us with terrible financial burdens. Children today become victims of the gross commercial exploitation of the day. For those of us struggling to make ends meet on a day to day basis, feeling the cultural pressure of buying for our children things which we can't afford, can lead us to put more debt on the credit card in ways that simply push us further and further behind.

Some of us, might be really looking forward to Christmas, and not be aware of these struggles with Christmas, yet feel that, in spite of our best efforts to make Advent different this year, there is still something missing, and we still feel un-ready for Christmas.

For all of us, the story behind these days can draw us in, and invite us to bring our lives to the mystery of how Jesus came into this world and why. Our best preparation for the Holy Night ahead and the Joyful Morning to follow is for us to reflect upon how he came. He came in the midst of scandal and conflict. He came in poverty. He was rejected before he was born. He was born in a feed trough. He was hunted down. And he grew up in obscurity.

He did not shun our world and its poverty and conflict. He embraced it. And he desires to embrace us today, in this day. Right where we are. Right where we are feeling most distant. Right where we are feeling least "religious" or "ready." If we let him come into our hearts to be our Savior these challenging days, we will find ourselves entering the sacred night and morning of Christmas "joyful and triumphant" as never before.


fill in the blanks friday

Fill in the Blanks Friday, courtesy of The Little Things We Do.

1. Giving is
the best part of Christmas. And every other time of year for that matter. I love, love, love finding gifts for people. It is usually random and not for the person I am trying to find something for, but when I come across something great, I get that warm and fuzzy feeling.

2. Receiving is awkward. Don't get me wrong, I love presents. But I don't like to be the center of attention and don't like everyone looking at me. This does not mean I don't like to receive, but I think I like the "giving" part better.

3. The best gift I ever received was well, I do love my diamond earrings. But I love that I also love little gifts - when I was a kid and got the Pantene Pro-V shampoo or the eyelash curler I wanted, I was really excited. I also liked the dollhouse I got for my birthday when I was in about 3rd grade.

4. The best gift I ever gave was probably the baby book I made the Magical White Guy. He never had one. His dad and mom are no longer around, so I took a bunch of old slides and had them made into pictures and made a makeshift baby book for him. I also think the trip to a Duke basketball game that I gave him for his birthday this year was pretty awesome.

5. Something intangible that I wish I could receive is motivation - to do more. Do more with the gifts I've been given, do more to lose weight, do more to help the teachers I work with, do more around the house, do more to experience the awesome city I live in, do more to show my family and friends how much I love them, just DO more.

6. Something intangible that I wish I could give is peace. For all those people that walk around with heartache or depression or just a constant sick feeling in the pit of their stomach. I wish I could let them feel at peace - like they were in one big giant hug knowing that everything is going to be okay.

7. The one gift I always wanted as a child, but never got was I don't really remember wanting anything so bad that I never got. Wait - I wanted some Girbaud jeans when I was in Junior High but we could never afford them. You know, they had that little white tag on the front of the fly?


xoxo - Joe - xoxo

It all began innocently enough....

One never expects to fall in love with somebody else, but that is what happened to me 2 years ago while I was on vacation. We were on a "girls trip" in California and had to find a grocery store for Amy. (She was training for a marathon and needed some snacks for her 10 mile run the next day.) We all entered the grocery store and it happened.... My eyes fell upon Joe and was instantly enamored by his shiny black skin. I knew I had to have him.

So, I threw 2 of the boxes of "Dark Chocolate Covered Joe-Joe cookies" into my Trader Joe's reusable bag and called it a day. If you recall, it took 3 of us to open a bottle of wine that evening, and we all enjoyed a Joe-Joe cookie as we drank a glass of wine. (Think of an oreo. Covered in dark chocolate. And then multiply it by 1000.)

After that, we have fed our new addiction whenever possible. Without a Trader Joe's in town (or in the STATE for that matter), we have to rely on the kindness of friends or just wait until we go somewhere that has one. We have since discovered that the traditional dark chocolate covered Joe-Joes have been discontinued. (please pause for a moment of silence.)


Last Christmas, a friend in Arizona sent us a sleeve of the "Holiday Joe-Joes." These were Joe-Joes with peppermint chips in the filling and on the dark chocolate coating. Mmmmmmm.

Well, one of the "Cali Crew" texted me from a work trip a few weeks ago. It was a Saturday morning around 8am - I was preparing to teach class, she was checking out the area around her hotel. This is a transcript of the conversation:

Lana: Trader Joe's near my hotel, going on the hunt in a few!
Me: If they have Joe-Joes, you know what to do.
Lana: Score for all the Cali girls! Comin' your way!

So, when I saw Lana on Friday for dinner, she delivered the goods. She did not disappoint - she brought back the "Trader Joe's and the Astounding Multi-Flavor Joe-Joe's" tower. It includes:
1 sleeve of Double chocolate - dark chocolate coating with milk chocolate drizzle
1 sleeve of the Peppermint shown above
1 sleeve of Peanut butter - milk chocolate coating with dark chocolate drizzle
1 sleeve of Ginger - dipped in white chocolate with gingersnap sprinkles
I haven't opened them yet but will be happy to give a full report once I do.

(If Lana had a blog, she would have to tell about getting 6 boxes of Joe-Joes back to Texas in nothing but carry-on luggage....)

So anyway, now you all know the history of the Joe-Joe. (and a possible explanation for why my dresses don't fit as well as they used to...)


the third week

Our week begins with "Gaudete Sunday." Gaudete means "rejoice" in Latin. This joyful spirit is marked by the third candle of our Advent wreath, which is rose colored.

Each night this week we want to pause in gratitude. Whatever the day has brought, no matter how busy it has been, we can stop, before we fall asleep, to give thanks for a little more light, a little more freedom to walk by that light, in joy. (credit)

This got me thinking… what brings me joy? In no particular order, here are some of the first things that came to mind:

- Good olive oil

- Watching Blossom chase squirrels in the backyard

- Twinkling (not blinking) white Christmas lights

- Seeing pictures of my growing nieces and nephews – most recently, seeing Dawsen play with the science kit I got him and watching a video of Annie singing Justin Beiber

- Spending time with good girlfriends –Ray LaMontagne concerts, going for Italian food, hosting a lingerie shower, spending the night at Amy’s parents house, bonding over Joe-Joe cookies or just having a glass of wine

- Watching Larry build a magical fire on a cold night – and seeing the thermostat raise by 10 degrees

- Finding a crumpled dollar in the pocket of the winter coat that has been put away for months

- The smell of pine when I walk in the house

- Calling my parents every Sunday night just to check in

- Tucking my cold toes behind Larry when sitting on the couch watching TV

- Finding the perfect gift for somebody

- Trading some textbooks in for $115 Amazon.com credit

Hope your week is filled with joy. Even if you feel like it won’t be – because you’re struggling with something or are in a bad place right now, find something to rejoice in.There is always something


dare me?

In a former life, I taught high school. That was all I thought I was being hired to do, but oh.... was I so wrong.

Those of you who are either A.) Not in education or B.) Lazy (no offense) may not understand all of the "other duties as assigned" that come along with being a teacher. At the primary levels, well - let's just be honest: Elementary school teachers are crazy. They willingly let 20+ children with runny noses paw at them all day. So that is pretty time-consuming and whatnot. Plus, you have the whole "please go put your Dolphin on the beach" or "change your stop light from green to red" thing when misbehavior occurs. And they have the Room Mothers that go all crazy over planning parties and then there are all the field trips and the crying.....They have to do all sorts of crap that I would not have the patience for. Hence my decision to teach high school.

At the high school level, the additional duties take on a little different look. I started with one extracurricular club and ended up with all kinds of responsibilities. A sampling:
- FCCLA sponsor (formerly known as "FHA" for anyone who took Home Ec)
- faculty council for National Honor Society
- Advisory Period ("homeroom") planning committee
- Teacher's book club
- Junior class sponsor = plan prom
- Senior class sponsor = plan senior picnic and graduation
- "Sunshine Committee" - did all the recognizing of staff birthdays, weddings, funerals, etc.
- Diamond Dolls - kind of like a pep squad for the baseball team

Diamond Dolls led into the most time consuming extra duty available.... Assistant Cheerleading Coach. Granted, I did either volunteer or agree to all of these things, but still. I wonder how I ever had time to do lesson plans or grade papers. Or sleep. Being a cheer coach means that you are pretty much at school events ALL THE TIME. 6am practice. Football. Volleyball. Basketball. Cheer banquets. Cheer camp. Cheerleader tryouts. You get the idea. While I was there, the best the football team ever did was 2-8. Many years, we were 0-10. Ouch. When you are at every single football game, you REALLY want some wins.

I left teaching high school about 3 years ago. The year after I left, the football team got really good. And they have just continued to get better. They have been in the state playoffs for the past 3 years and are currently 14-0 on the season. They play a semi-finals game this weekend and we are probably going to go. I'm tempted to wear my old cheer coach outfit.
I bet I could get into the game for free.


shrunk? shrank? shrunken?

I never thought I'd wish for the dress code for a party to be "tacky Christmas sweater," but I'm there. I'm longing for the days of the red sweatshirt that I appliqued a Christmas tree onto - complete with glittery puff paint and jingle bells. I sounded like a cat, but I loved that sweatshirt.

We are going to some fancy dinner tomorrow night with our neighbors - the Colonel and his wife - and I..... well, I guess all of my nice dresses have shrunk. Shrank? Shrunken? Whatever. (Regardless, they must have all gotten smaller, because surely it has nothing to do with the fact that I haven't been to the gym in a month and have eaten my way through the semester!)

I'm going to have to get my "fancy" on. (Unrelated - I love that line in that Reba MacIntyre song.... something like, "I mighta been born just plain white trash, but Fancy was my name.")

Fortunately, I bought the Nordstrom Rack groupon not too long ago and was able to find a decent dress and was out of there for about $7. Sweet!

Sidenote - can I wear the same dress to a wedding in January if it is off-white? What are the rules regarding that?

Okay - never mind. I told Larry to call Colonel and get a few details and we aren't going anymore. Which is fine - I still got a dress for $7. I guess I should still know the rules for wearing off-white to a winter wedding so that I know if I am breaking them or not when I show up in it.


starting the second week

Each morning this week, if even for that brief moment at the side of our beds, we want to light a second inner candle. We want to let it represent "a bit more hope." Perhaps we can pause, breathe deeply and say,

"Lord, I place my trust in you."

Each day this week, as we encounter times that are rushed, even crazy, each time we face some darkness, some experience of "parched land" or desert, some place where we feel "defeated" or "trapped," we can take that deep breath, and make that profound prayer.