Full

I really really really really really intended to be here more often.

And then life just got too full.

I am working very hard to keep afloat.  So far, I have been successful, but it means I can’t be here very often.

Quick update:

Since you last saw me I have been taking two classes working toward my SBL (School Building Leader) Certificate.  That has been keeping me quite busy in and of itself.

I am also keeping up with my School Board duties, and working on a newly born Parent Advocacy Group within my district.  This has been more time consuming than I expected it would be, but it has also been quite rewarding.

Zan is still working from home consulting, which adds an air of uncertainty to our lives, but we count our blessings that he is still bringing in a paycheck despite being technically unemployed.

Add to that keeping up with my three kids and their crazy schedules, and Mama doesn’t have much time for blogging.

Life is good, we are healthy and busy, and life is full.

I will be back to tell you all about our second trip on the Disney Dream later.  ;)

Home from Heaven

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Well, Zan and I are back from our Anniversary Cruise to the Bahamas on the Disney Dream, and all I can say is WOWIE-WOW-WOW-WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It

was

FABULOUS!!!!!!

Let me tell you all about it…

First of all, I didn’t die in a plane crash.  (YAY!) The ship did NOT sink. (DOUBLE YAY!) The children stayed healthy, homework got completed, and though they missed us a bit, they survived!!!  (YAY, YAY, and YAY!!!)  In all honesty, I think they might have missed their XBox more than they missed us.  ;)

The morning of the 16th dawned cold and snowy.  As we sat on the tarmac having the plane de-iced, I thought, “What the Hell am I doing???”  Not being a good flyer, and never having left my kids before, I was filled with nerves and regret.  But then we landed.  All nerves and regret were gone as soon as I stepped foot out of Orlando airport into the bright southern sunshine and boarded the familiar Disney Bus.

Heading out to open sea...

Heading out to open sea…

The rest of the trip is blissful history.  We were able to relax, speak in full sentences, replenish our Vitamin D stores, and unwind in full bellied contentment. It was divine.  We were spoiled and made to feel special by the most excellent crew aboard, greeted with smiles and catered to in the way only Disney knows how to do.

We met wonderful people along the way, including our table mates, another couple celebrating their Anniversary.  I was once again amazed by Disney magic, pairing us with two people who we hit it off with so very easily, and with whom we had so much in common.  What a delightful addition to our trip: new friends!! (Sorry for the blurry shot…this was taken on our last rushed morning by Zan with his phone. Sadly, I forgot to purchase our dinner photos before we left the ship.)

Kevin and Dawn

The ship itself is a wonder to behold.  I had never before seen a ship in person. The size was overwhelming!  And to think these giants stay afloat???  Even more impressive!  Everywhere we looked were those special Disney details we always expect, although much more subtly woven into the fabric of the decor than you will find in the parks.  Spotlessly clean, beautifully appointed, and pridefully cared for by the crew, the ship itself was an incredible experience.  I was afraid I would not like the motion, feared it would make me sick, didn’t like the idea of being out in the middle of nowhere, with no land in sight.  However, I came home a changed woman.  I LOVED the gentle rocking of the ship, was not at all bothered by the motion, and felt so free being out in the middle of nowhere.  Sitting on our balcony to watch the sunrises and sunsets while we sailed were grace filled moments in time I won’t soon forget.

Our favorite spot at the Cove Cafe

Our favorite spot at the Cove Cafe

The Disney Dream's Lobby

The Disney Dream’s Lobby

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Sunrise on our first morning…

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Sunset on our last night…

As a married couple traveling without kids, we found plenty to do.  We were surrounded by families, which were fun to watch, but were able to escape to the quiet, adults only spaces on board.  Our favorite place was the Cove Cafe…specialty coffees, yummies, and drinks were available early morning into late at night.  Coffee Toledo with a shot of Bailey’s at 7:00am in the hot tub???  Oh, yeah, we went there!!! ;)

We spent our first day docked in Nassau visiting a chocolate factory with our tour group.  We made our own yummy chocolates, and ate lots!  We did not venture too far into Nassau, as we were looking forward to relaxing back on the ship.  Next time, we may explore more.  Instead we went back to the ship, ordered room service for lunch, and wandered around exploring all the nooks and crannies.

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The Port in Nassau…Disney Dream on the right, Disney Wonder on the left, and the Norwegian Epic in the distance

The weather was cool-ish on our second day, so we weren’t able to take advantage of all that Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island) had to offer, but we did enjoy a nice long walk to the lookout tower, and a stop by Serenity Bay, the adults only beach. After about 7 minutes on the hammocks, we gave up and headed to the barbecue, then back to the ship to enjoy the rest of the afternoon. We even played a game of BINGO, Disney style, which means a whole lot of dancing and yelling and ‘whoopwhoop’-ing! Tried for the $5,000 jackpot, but no luck!

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View of the ship from the Lookout Tower

The blue waters of Castaway Cay

The blue waters of Castaway Cay

On our last night, we treated ourselves to an Anniversary dinner at Remy.  Remy is worthy of it’s own post and was an experience we will always cherish.  A three hour meal, with at least seven courses (I lost count) the food and service were exquisite.

We had so much fun, we are going back in March, this time WITH the kids!!!

WHOOPWHOOP!!!

If you are interested in more photos of our trip, visit my Set at Flickr.

Back to Reality

Christmas Vacation is over. The kids go back to school this morning leaving me with memories of fun, laughter, relaxation, and letting the house go to pot.

This is what I’m left to deal with….just me, myself, and a very big two-weeks-in-the-making MESS!

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Update: After an initial delay, school is now closed due to icy roads. So I guess I’m not alone with my mess after all.

The Post Just Bursting to Be Written???

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So reads the third task for the Zero to Hero Challenge.

I have NO idea how to complete this one…I have no wise words to impart.  I have no exciting news to share.  I have no new photos to post.  Sooo….maybe I will go back to a couple of past posts that did just “burst” out of me.

Flying”- March 2008

“The Flower”-March 2008

“Curse of the Teletubby”-April 2008

“God Built Them That Way”-May 2008

“Some Photos Squeeze My Heart”-February 2009

“Life Themes”- May 2009

“Self”-October 2010

“In Which She Discovers 74 Explicit Songs on Her Daughter’s iPod”-February 2011

“Parenting Teenagers for Dummies”-February 2011

“Room 12″-February 2012

And here’s a new one…this one has been sitting around in draft form, unpublished for awhile:

Remember this girl?

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Well, this girl is now a Junior in High School, a beautiful human being, heading God knows where, but it must be someplace really wonderful.  God didn’t create this beautiful soul for nothing.  I believe He has big plans for this one.  Only, this one has no idea what His plans are for her yet.

She is smart.

She is beautiful.

She is kind.

She is thoughtful.

She is a deep thinker.

And she trusts herself not at all.

She questions her path.

She questions her beliefs.

She questions her purpose.

She questions her intelligence.

She questions her beauty.

She feels “less.”

How do I make this girl see the beautiful soul that I see?

Pssst…Want to Hear Something Exciting?

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Zan and I….

wait for it!!!

Are going….

on….

a….

DISNEY CRUISE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wait…

there’s more!!

We are going…

WITHOUT THE KIDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know!!!!  CRAZY, right?!?!?!

We have never ever left them for more than a night before.  In nearly 17 years we have been parents, we have never taken a vacation, even a mini one, without them.  This is a three nighter, and I feel like I’m leaving them for weeks.

I will let you in on a little secret….

I am excited, and nervous in equal measure.  I’m so conflicted.

One minute I am giddy with anticipation:

Sleeping in!

Blue beach waters!

An uninterrupted three days with my husband!

No schedules!

No responsibilities!!

And the next minute, I am nauseous with reservations:

I am going to MISS them!

They will miss US!

What if someone gets sick while we are gone?

What if someone gets hurt while we are gone?

What if my boy wakes up with nightmares and I’m not there to comfort him?

What if my girls need help with their math homework and only Daddy can help?

What if they’re lonesome and sad?

What if our flights get delayed on our way home, extending our time away?

I won’t even mention the unmentionable scary worries.

BUT…there’s that saying on my bathroom mirror:  Let your Faith be bigger than your Fear.

So we are going for it.  Doing something out of our comfort zone for US.

And after their initial, “HOW COULD YOU?!?!?!” reactions, the kids are actually supportive and happy for us.

I guess we’ve done something right.

“If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” -Jim Rohn

 

 

 

Who Am I?

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So, WordPress is putting on a “Zero to Hero” Challenge to help new bloggers get started, and to bring those of us slacker bloggers back into the regular posting world.  I thought, “Why not?”  I could use some motivation as I attempt to infuse some life into this gasping blog.

The first task is:  INTRODUCE YOURSELF: Write a “Who am I and why am I here” Post.

“Well, that should be easy enough,” I thought.

Sadly, I couldn’t get this song out of my head to think clearly.  I assure you I am none of those things.  :)

So then I started The List.

I’m Mom.

I’m Wife.

I’m Daughter.

I’m Sister.

I’m Aunt.

I’m Cousin.

I’m Teacher.

I’m Board Member.

I’m Student.

But then, the list began to evolve into who I really am….

I’m impatient.

I’m intense.

I’m empathetic.

I’m loving.

I’m generous.

I’m creative.

I’m intelligent.

I’m anxious.

I’m dramatic.

I’m emotional.

I’m faithful.

I’m loyal.

I’m happy.

I am easily frustrated.

I don’t like to be interrupted.

I am a worrier.

I am a fighter.

I am learning to trust God.

I am fiercely determined to raise decent, kind, loving people.

I cannot imagine a life without my husband.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude at unexpected moments.

I am gifted and blessed with my extended family.

I value my friendships.

I find beauty in the simplest things, in the smallest gestures.

I like coffee.

I like chocolate.

I’m a lover of fantasy and historical fiction.

I love color.

I adore old architecture.

Disney World is my “happy place.”

I hate being cold.

I hate liver.

I despise dishonesty, disrespect, selfishness, and inconsideration.

Conniving people enrage me.

Drama Queens irritate me.

Loving people inspire me.

I am a Work in Progress.

As to the question, “Why am I here?”

On WordPress???  Or on the Planet???

I cannot answer either of these, but maybe as time goes on, I will find out.

“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” -Joseph Campbell

Here’s To New Beginnings!

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2013

The theme of last year was “TRANSITIONS.”

The kids are growing so fast…The Boy is a first grader now, loving Legos, video games, baseball, and books. “Little” Girl is a seventh grader, a talented musician and a budding Thespian, a texting fiend and learning how to apply makeup.  (Yikes!) “Big” Girl has transitioned into a Young Lady.  She is learning to drive, exploring her independence, and testing her wings to prepare for the flight from the nest.  My kids are healthy and strong, funny and kind, smart and thoughtful, and exasperating at times! But what a wonderful year for them, and for us. :)

My husband has seen his job wind down to a close in 2013.  He worked as Director of IT, and celebrated his 17th Anniversary with the company on December 23rd, knowing that December 31st would be his last day.  The company will be closing in 2014.  He is unemployed at the moment, but will be doing consulting work for the time being.  We are blessed to have a severance package to lean on temporarily, so we are not panicking yet and he is looking forward to starting fresh with new opportunities…transitions galore!

In 2013, things took a drastic turn for me when I was elected to my district’s Board of Education.  It woke the teacher in me from it’s six year sleep, and I decided to go back to school to work on my Certificate of Advanced Study in Administration.  I stepped foot into a college classroom as a student for the first time in 16 years and loved it! Three credits down, 27 to go for my Building Leadership Degree, 8 additional if I want to pursue my District Leadership Degree. Time will tell.  The family has adjusted very well to having Mommy out of the house a bit more often in the evenings to attend various meetings and functions, and Mommy has adjusted very well to being out of the house a bit more!

Highlights of the year included a trip to Disney World in April.  We spent our vacation on property for the first time in a decade, and enjoyed every single minute of it!  I would say it was my favorite Disney trip in our family’s history.  We also took a trip to Plymouth, Massachusetts for a few days to see friends who own a beach cottage in Duxbury.  Such fun!!  And we took a local camping trip with three other families in August and had a blast!  We hated for it to end and can’t wait to do it again this August.  And I can’t fail to mention Zan’s purchase of a beautiful clearwater blue ’67 Mustang in pristine condition. :)

We had some family losses last year with the death of my Memiere and my Uncle, whose losses were felt sorely over the holidays.  However, softening those losses, was the sweet face of my new niece who was born on October 9th!  Our family is so blessed!

And finally, I have this saying written on a mirror in my bathroom, and it’s daily reminder has been an inspiration to me and has caused an internal transition to my Soul:

“Let your Faith be bigger than your Fear.”

May 2014 bless you all with goodness and light.

Vomitous

You know, I’ve been thinking long and hard about this issue.  I really believe that if we want kids to be college and career ready when they leave high school, then we really need to have children be academic and school ready when they leave babyhood.  How do we do that?  Why, we raise standards and begin giving babies annual standardized assessments of course!  And in order to be sure that parents buy into these standards and assessments, we need to begin rating parents based on those assessments, combined with triannual home visits.  If the baby’s parent fails those performance reviews one year, we will devise an improvement plan for them.  If they fail two years in a row, they will lose custody of their child.  Sounds fair, doesn’t it?

Now, for just a small sampling of the new Standards I am proposing:

Babies will be able to smile in response to human interaction by the age of 4 weeks.  Spontaneous smiling due to gas or other bodily functions will not count.

Babies will be able to use basic signs and utterances to get adult attention by the age of three months.  Crying is not allowed as it is a crutch form of communication that must be discouraged.

Babies will be able to sit unsupported for 30 minutes by the age of four months.  They must not use hands to prop themselves because that would be cheating.

Babies must be able to stand independently, without interference from any well-meaning adult by the age of nine months.

Babies must be able to verbally produce three word sentences by the age of ten months.  Goo-goo-gaa-gaa does not count as a word.  Only those found in Webster’s Dictionary will be deemed acceptable.

Babies must be able to walk unassisted, without wobble, by the age of 10 1/2 months.

There will be no allowances given for children born with disabilities or medical frailties.  They must be held to the same high standards if we are to succeed in the global economy.

The assessment given annually will be in written form and will consist of ten multiple choice questions.

Sample Question taken from my proposed NYS Assessment for Baby School and Academic Readiness:

1)  Can you walk?

a. Sometimes

b. Not always

c.  Often

d.  Kind of

These Standards and Assessments will ensure that children will be prepared to enter pre-school by the age of three, ready to be successful.  We are losing precious time allowing babies to develop at their own rates.  That is an idea of the past which must give way for the future.  With all the technological advances available to us today, our babies should be developing at a much faster rate than our global competitors’ babies.  We must offer families support in helping their children reach these more rigorous standards, such as specially designed lesson plans and videos that will teach all the necessary skills.  Specialists could even be brought into the home if the local municipalities can figure out a way to fund them within their already overstretched budgets.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and if we work together, our babies can be the global leaders of the future, one developmentally inappropriate step at a time!

*This message is a personal spewing of frustration and shall not reflect upon those with whom I serve. If you cannot understand that this entire post is dripping with sarcasm, then there is no help for you.

To Everything There is a Season…

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My Memiere is transitioning from this life to the next.

It is a long, slow, painful process, not just for her, but for all of us who love her.

She has not been well for months, years really.  We have expected this before, but each time she has been on the brink of crossing over, she has clawed her way back to the land of the living.  This time is different.  Her body simply cannot go on.  She is in Stage “6” Renal failure….which isn’t even a stage.  Stage 5 is the last stage according to the books, yet somehow she has defied the definitions.  But now, she is transitioning.  She has one foot here and one foot there…the “space in between.”  Not quite here anymore, but not quite there, in and out of lucidity, unable to communicate effectively.  She is aware, and yet not.  It is difficult to explain.  At times she looks at you, at times she looks through you and I wish I could see what she see when she does.  It is as though she is looking beyond the “here” into the “there.”  It’s as though if I reached out to where she is looking, I might be able to touch my Pepiere, the one I hope she’s seeing.

I will miss her excruciatingly when she goes, and yet I hope her passing comes sooner than later.  Watching her suffer is much worse than watching her fly free of this body that has turned traitor.

I unexpectedly came across this today.  I shared it long ago, and somehow I think it was “placed” in front of me just when I needed to see it.

Ben Franklin Quote from Book

Happy Hydrangeas

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After spending last year sprucing up the inside of the house, it was time to concentrate some attention on the exterior of the house.  I do not possess the greenest of thumbs, and definitely wanted plantings that would take care of themselves for the most part.  An old photo of our house showed a hedge of white hydrangeas that (sadly) no longer exists in the side yard.  So after some research and an assurance that hydrangeas generally take care of themselves, we decided to plant a hedge of sorts around the front of the wrap around porch in keeping with the original plantings that surrounded the house.  We mixed White Annabelles with Purple hydrangeas, and crossed our fingers that they would survive their first season.  Not only are they surviving, but they are thriving!  The purple plants are absolutely gorgeous, and the whites are slowly coming to bud and growing stronger.  I love the variation in color as the flowers age…just beautiful!

 

 

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