Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 highlights!

In 2009 I:
  • ...traveled to seven new states and one new country
  • ...watched SIX friends get married! 2009 was definitely a year of weddings for us. We were invited to nine weddings this year, and I made it to six of the nine. This was a big year of love!
  • ...moved to a HOUSE! We left our little apartment and we're now living in a house with our own yard and driveway. It couldn't be better!
  • ...learned that I can wear skinny jean and boots! It was a scary thing to try out, but now I'm loving and embracing this look!
  • ...got a new (well, almost new, gently used) car! I love my Honda Pilot!
  • ..tried dozens of new recipes. Cooking has become one of my biggest and most favorite hobbies.
  • ...started my third year of teaching. I'm sort of, kind of, just maybe starting to feel like I'm getting the hang of this crazy job.
  • ...paid hundreds of dollars in vet bills for this little gal. She has had some bad allergies which result in lots of skin irritation and ear infections, but it looks like we might just have things under control for the new year. She only eats organic and we have a whole jar of doggy antihistamines. Hopefully, this will keep everyone healthy in the new year!
  • ...went to see Wicked with my mom. We absolutely loved this show! I can't wait to see it again in March of the new year!
  • ...saw a major storm come through my town, and it got me out of school for two days!
  • ...joined a gym and got myself in shape. Haven't reached my goal, but I've made progress! And I even kind of like the treadmill now...words I never thought I'd say a year ago.
  • ...saw my baby brother start HIGH SCHOOL! I was 11 when he was born back in '95, so it's crazy for me to see him as a freshman.
  • ...took advantage of living by the beach. Many summer days were spent with a book by the ocean.
  • ...fell a little more in love with this guy
  • ...got to celebrate my one year wedding anniversary and eat horrible year old cake!
  • ...became a serious blogger! Before this year, I had a blog with a few sweet readers and I updated infrquently, but this year I somehow watched my comments and followers increase. Don't know who you all are, but thanks for reading this silly little thing! I have made some wonderful "friends" through this blog, and I so grateful for each of you! Who knew a blog could be such a blessing?
I hope your year was a great one!
I am excited for the new year and all of the great things to come!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Curlers

Being the former show choir girl that I am, I love to curl my hair. I love my hot rollers, and it's one of my favorite ways to wear my hair.

Up until 5 days ago, the hot curlers that I was using belonged to my GREAT GRANDMOTHER in the 1960's. At some point, she gave them to my mother, and when I was in high school, I kind of stole them for myself. They are excellent rollers, and still work well, however, the amount of hairspray crud on them could possibly be poisonous.


This year for Christmas, my mom bought me a new set. They are lighter and easier to transport places, they aren't covered in gunk, they heat up so fast, and they even are in a smaller storage case.


I tried them out yesterday, and while I love them, I'm a little sad to give up the old ones. I know. They're curlers, for crying out loud, but getting rid of them is too much for me. Am I crazy? Probably. But I just can't find it in me to throw 'em out. They're practically a family heirloom at this point!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Recap 2009

Christmas '09 was a lovely one for us! We got to celebrate Christmas 3 times! Once with my family, once with my grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, and then a third time with all of J's family.

I did a terrible job of taking photos. but thanks goodness my mom took lots. Several of these are hers.

My mom's pretty table setting for Christmas Eve dinner.

Stockings at my parents' house.

This is my mom opening her present from my dad, a trip to Las Vegas with tickets to see The Beatles LOVE show. My dad totally shocked her!

A lovely Christmas morning photo of yours truly! These are cloth napkins from Crate & Barrel. I love them!

J looking at the gift I got him, a National Geographic Atlas. For a man who loves maps and geography, he doesn't own an atlas. I think he likes it!

Mom on Christmas morning with breakfast casserole, fruit, and cinnamon rolls. Christmas breakfast is my favorite meal of the day!

At my grandparents' house.

My cousins, siblings, J and me. Apparently no one but me wanted to pose here!

Christmas #3 with J's family.

Our littlest niece...a total ham.

I got a backscratcher this year!

It really was a great Christmas. Busy, but great! In addition to that fine backscratcher, I also got Photoshop Elements from my darling husband. So glad to finally own this. I got this beautiful sweater in turquoise from my inlaws. It's so cozy and I've kind of been living in it since Christmas day! I'm gonna blog about a present from my parents tomorrow. My little sister got me this whole set, and I LOVE them! They also match a set of juice glass she gave me for my birthday last month. I love anything for the kitchen! Especially when it's cute!

So there ya have it. We had a great Christmas! Now I can't wait to relax and enjoy the rest of my week off!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful holiday!
Merry Christmas from our family to yours!


He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Vacation is here!

School is out and I am happily on vacation. If you follow my twitter, than you know that yesterday was a bit of a struggle. I hate class parties, and yesterday was no exception. But I made it. Ornaments were made, lots of junk food was consumed, and then I came home and drank a few glasses of vino. All was well.

This evening, we're leaving for Richmond to be with our families for Christmas. We're lucky because our parents live about 25 minutes form each other. It makes it easy to do the holidays with both families. We'll be with my family through the 25th, and then off to be with J's family on the 26th. Hopefully, at some point in there we'll get to visit with a few friends.

Just want to share with you how sweet my little students are. While my job is certainly a challenge at times, my kids are sweet as can be. Look at all of the sweet things they brought me. This is just a small handful of all my goodies. In addition to all this, there were lots of candles, lots of candy, and lots of cute handmade cards and ornaments!

Love the card she made me!

But the cookies are even better! Iced ginger bread = simply divine!

These are just a few of the Starbucks cards. These children hooked me up this year. Mrs. W now has $40 to feed her peppermint mocha addiction!

And the yummiest candies ever!

Aren't they the greatest? I am really blessed to work at my school. My students and parents are top notch; however, it's still nice to have a break for a week and half!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

3 more days!

Need a last minute gift? Let me suggest one of my favorite gifts with you...

Kiva.org is a nonprofit company that focuses on giving loans to those in need. Here's a little info from their website:

Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend to unique entrepreneurs around the globe.

We first heard of Kiva when a cousin of J's gave us a $100 gift certificate as wedding gift. We had no idea what it was, but quickly learned that this was one the best gifts we could have received. Kiva allows you to loan money to someone living in poverty, they pay you back, and you get to give again. With the $100 he gave us, we've given $275 to people all over the world. It's wonderful company and the site is so easy to use.

So, for those of you still looking for that last gift for that person who is hard to shop for, visit Kiva!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy First Day of Winter!

Tomorrow is my last day of school for 2009. I could not be happier! I need a break, and I need it badly. I love my kids, I really do, but it's been an exhausting school year.

This morning during our planning at school, we had a little Christmas Brunch as a 4th grade team. My teammates and I all brought in something to share. I made monkey bread (PW recipe), and like always, it was completly divine and wonderful! This recipe may have a lot of sugar and 2 sticks of butter, but it's so well worth it. Trust me. And your friends and coworkers will love you more than they already do.


And then, in an attempt to just fill time and control my wild little students, we went to the computer lab and played on this site. This little website is a bit addicting once you start playing on it. They enjoyed it, and when we got back to the room, the kids begged to make their own snowflakes. Voila! A winter wonderland!

While we may have received no REAL snow here at the beach (not that I'm bitter and jealous or anything), this is second best! I plan on keeping these up in our window 'til mid February.

Thanks for all your book suggestions on my last post! I've added a bunch to my 2010 list. If you have other suggestions, please feel free to add 'em!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2009: Books

Every year I try to read 12 books. This would work out to a book a month. It's a realistic goal for me and something I know I can do. I track what I read on Goodreads. If you're not a member, I definitely recommend joining. It's a great place to find new books, and I love tracking what I've read and when I read it. If you are a member, add me as a friend here.

Here are my 2009 reads (click on any of the images below to see them on Amazon):

February/March 2009
Anne Lamott is one of my favorite authors. I read her book Bird by Bird in a college writing class and it's one of a few books I didn't sell back at the end of the semester. It's an excellent read on faith, and her writing is just beautiful. Took me awhile to get through it, mainly because it's not one story. It's lots of little stories and snippets from Lamott's life. I love this quote from it...
"I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us."

March 2009

April 2009
I love Emily Giffin's books. She's one of my favorite Chick Lit authors out there. In 2008 I read Something Borrowed and Something Blue. Loved both of 'em, so I was happy to find these on the shelves of my local library. I flew through each of these. I think I liked her first two books more, but these were both fun, easy reads.

May 2009
I read this book for my first book club! I blogged about it here.

June 2009
This is one of three Picoult books I read this year. I've blogged about my love/hate relationship with her before, but I'll restate it again. Her writing to me is like a bad Lifetime movie. She draws me in with these elaborate, crazy plots. She uses the SAME formula in every book (some sort of medical or ethical issue, a lawyer to solve the problem, big twist at the end). I continue to read her stuff though, mainly because it's a quick read and I find myself enjoying it. Do I think she's a good author? No. Will I still read her stuff? Of course. Just like Lifetime, I can't turn away.

July 2009
Probably my favorite book I read all year. I loved every second of this book. Never read Sittenfeld's first book, Prep, but I have it on my list. I blogged a little more about American Wife here.

July 2009
Jennifer Weiner is another Chick Lit author who I love. This is a quick read, so sweet, but very real. One reason I love Weiner's books is that they go past the surface. Unlike other chick lit authors (Sophie Kinsella, Emily Giffin, Jane Greene), I think Weiner writes rich stories that are witty and honest. This book is about motherhood (something I know very little about it), and she didn't hide anything from it. She writes openly about the good and bad of having babies. If you've never read her stuff, give it a try!

July 2009
I'm sure most of you have heard of Randy Pausch. I know I had seen on Oprah last year and all over the internet. I didn't have any desire to read this book, as I figured it'd be the same things he said in his speech that I had seen. Before vacation with J's family this summer, they asked that we all read this book so we could have "family book club"at the lake. J and I each read the book, and found it to be a wonderful take on how to live life to the fullest. This book might not be for everyone, but it certainly was enjoyed by me.

July 2009
This is another vacation read. I read most of this book as we drove from New York, through Canada, to Michigan. I enjoyed it, but I'll admit that it's all fluff. I like Kinsella, but she is by no means a deep writer. This was a cute, fun, mindless read.

August 2009
A little professional development reading. If you're an elementary teacher who teaches language arts, this book has some wonderful ideas. I have implemented the program into my classroom and I'm really enjoying how easy it has made my job during my reading groups. There are no "teacher made centers"; instead, my students are independent workers in the classroom.

September 2009
I really disliked this book. Way too far fetched and over the top for me. Someone blogged about it last spring (cannot remember who...) so I added it to my list since I usually Sophie Kinsella's writing. Sadly, this book was a big let down. I love the cover artwork though!

September 2009
I know said American Wife was my favorite read of the year, but this book is a very close second. I saw a review of this book on D.A.R.'s blog , and I added it to my reserve list at the library. Watch this video from Kelly Corrigan's website, and you'll want to give this book a try.

October/November 2009
I actually listened to this book in my car as I wrote about here. Like I wrote above, Jodi Picoult let me down again. This was one of my more favorite books be her, but it was still her writing and her story which made it just so-so.


November 2009
My Horizontal Life was definitely the funniest read of the year. I am not a Chelsea Handler fan, but a friend read this in book club and recommended it to me. It's certainly funny and a little raunchy, and I'm sure it's not for everyone. If you want a book that will make you laugh, this one will definitely do it.

December 2009
I know...I keep complaining about her, but this is her 3rd books I've read this year. What's wrong with me? This is another audio book for me. It was good, but just like the last two, it's nothing new from Picoult.

December 2009
I've been reading this juvenile fiction book aloud to my kids this fall. They (and I) have really enjoyed it. Spinelli writes some of my favorite children's literature. If you're a parent of an upper elementary or middle schooler, this is a great book with a wonderful message to get for your child.


December 2009
I just started this book a few weeks ago, and it's so sweet. I'm hoping to have it finished by the end of the year. If you're a dog lover, you need to read this. Makes me really think about what's going through my little dog's head!

So that is it! It's been a busy year of reading for me, and I surpassed my goal of just 12 books. I have a big list already made for 2010. I just hope I get to them all.

What books did you read this year that you loved?
What do I need to read in 2010?