Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Note to self...

...watching the Biggest Loser while baking Christmas cookies does not do wonders for the self-esteem.

On the bright side. It started snowing this afternoon and my world is now blanketed in a soft, fluffy white snow! If I were brave enough and not scared of being outside, alone, in the dark, I would go outside and sit in the peacefulness. I love the calming effect that snow has. It's somehow spiritual to me. I could sit there and just lose it all. Ah, what I wouldn't give for that.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thoughts about Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving... The time when family gathers around and gives thanks.

Does anyone else think that it seems like Thanksgiving is almost a forgotten holiday? Maybe not forgotten, but more of like a speed bump? I feel like we love summer and celebrate Labor Day as the last "hurrah" for summer. Them we gear up for back to school and Halloween. Then, as soon as Halloween is over, it's the mad dash for Christmas. They start rolling out Christmas decorations and Christmas commercials well before Thanksgiving. People are focused on getting ready for that all important day AFTER Thanksgiving when the literal "Holiday Rush" starts. So, does anyone else feel like we kind of skim over Thanksgiving, or is it just me?

Maybe it's because I'm grown up now and Thanksgiving traditions have changed, so in some ways it doesn't really feel like Thanksgiving used to. We used to wake up to the smell of turkey in the oven. We would watch the beginning of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and then load up the car for the drive that took us over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house. We'd carry in all of the goodies. Grandma would have transformed her sitting room into a wonderful dining room with tables covered in white cloth tablecloths, the good plates, cut glass dishes and bowls of fruit. We would all sit on the stairs and watch the happenings below. The aunts and older sisters busy in the kitchen and carrying out the rolls and cranberry salad. We'd finish watching the Macy's parade. All of the cousins and aunts and uncles would come in until the house was full. Then we'd sit down to eat and carry on. Grapes had been known to go flying through the air. And if you asked for a roll when it was near one of your uncles or older cousins, you better be a good catcher. After the meal was over, the women would clean up and then sit around the room discussing the happenings of the area or what the family would be doing for Christmas. We'd exchange names to see what family member we would buy a Christmas present for. The men would all head out to the barns to practice their shooting. I'd usually always end up out their with them because they were more fun than sitting around talking. Plus, I liked being outside. Grandma's was always magical that time of year. Things were bustling and everyone was there. And, most of the time, there was snow!!!

Now, I'm older and I understand the work that goes into planning and making Thanksgiving. I help make the pies and other things. We don't make the trip to Grandma's house because Grandma isn't here any more. We've made new traditions. Now we stay at my parents house. My two older sisters and their families come to this house. Lately, we haven't even had both of my older sisters here for Thanksgiving. They have obligations to go to their in-laws or on a family trip.

Things have changed and maybe that's why I feel like Thanksgiving isn't as big of a deal as it used to be. But, as I write this, I'm smelling the turkey in the oven and I'm planning on going and getting "dressed up" for guests to come. And, there is snow on the ground. So, maybe things haven't changed all that much. Maybe it's just all in the way you look at Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

New York City!!

So, I finally went to New York City. I can cross that off of my places to visit. I figured up that in the past two years, I have been to a lot of new places...Toronto, Baltimore, west of the Mississippi (which included 11 states and Mexico and cities like Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego). In the past seven or so years, I have also had the opportunity to go to places like Atlanta and Boston. I'm very fortunate to have been all of these places. Now that I think about it, maybe I should post about all of my trips that I have been on. But, for now, I'll post about New York City!

It all started in the last part of August when a group of teachers were at a training for the school district. The speaker was...well...not interesting and we all had our computers, so needless to say, we did other things. Some of the teachers that I work with at one elementary school...my favorite elementary school...decided that it would be fun if we could all take a trip together and hang out with each other outside of school. Someone came upon the idea of taking a bus trip to NYC to see the Rockettes Christmas Show.

They decided that it was a plan and set about starting the signing ups. We could all take one other person, husband, friend, child, etc.. I immediately texted my sister, Karen, figuring that I would have to talk her into going. She's not so much of the spontaneous type. But, she totally shocked me on this one. When I called her that night to see if she got my text and if she wanted to go, I didn't have to talk her into it at all...she wanted to go.

So, last weekend, we boarded the bus and started out on the 3 1/2 hour trip to NYC! There were 13 in our group from school. Just the trip up and back was fun...hearing everyones stories and laughing together. Karen and I had talked about what we wanted to do and had somewhat of a plan. We were somewhat worried about the weather. It rained on the way up and neither of us brought an umbrella. We had about 4 hours before we had to be at Radio City to see the Christmas Spectacular. We knew we didn't want to stray too far from our destination because neither of us knew anything about the city, other than what we could glean from maps and the internet.

We were dropped off about five blocks from Times Square. We decided that since we were so close, we'd walk down a ways to see it. It was drizzling only a little, so we didn't mind walking. On the way we found the M&M store and took a look inside. Pretty much what you'd expect from a touristy M&M store...lots of M&Ms and random things to buy. We were about two blocks from Times Square and we took a picture, but saw no need to actually be in the center of Times Square.

We turned towards Rockefeller Center and walked down the street. We decided that we wouldn't want to live in the city, be in New York for New Years Eve, or be walking the streets alone in the dark. We found the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center. It had just been trucked in the morning before...we watched it on the Today Show. It wasn't lit up and there was the scaffolding around it, but it was still cool to see. We looked at the ice rink for a bit and decided we were hungry. We ended up eating at the Rock Center Cafe, which looks out onto the ice rink at Rockefeller Center.

We wanted to go to the Top of the Rock observation deck, but when we went the first time, the nice doorman told us to save our money and come back a little later. There was so much fog that the visibility was at zero. Such a nice doorman! So, we went to see St. Patrick's Cathedral. I love architecture, so it was a must on our tour. Sadly, I found the outside to be overshadowed by all of the skyscrapers. I guess I need wide open spaces in which to enjoy the stature of things. Anyway, we went inside. Karen said that she couldn't imagine walking down that huge isle if she got married there! It was really cool architecture on the inside and amazing stained glass windows. And really neat stations of the cross. I've seen the stations of the cross as pictures in Catholic Churches, but these were sculptures and stained glass and candles at each one. I was hoping to find more on the history of the church, but sadly, I didn't.

We then walked around the other side of Rockefeller Center. I got a picture of Saks Fifth Avenue. The windows weren't done yet for Christmas, but still cool to say I've seen Saks. We took in the view of Rockefeller Center that is usually on TV. It looks so much bigger on tv. I don't know how they get those long shots of the tree, as the Saks Fifth Avenue building sits right at the end of it. I guess they have a long lens or something. I just thought that it was this really narrow like sidewalk/park, but it's not really.

By this point, the fog was starting to clear, so we decided to go up to the Top of the Rock...the top of Rockefeller Center. I'm so glad we went up. We had a view of Central Park, the Brooklyn bridge, Trump towers...less impressive than what I thought it would be, the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty...we had to use the zoom lens to guess that that's what it was, and a bird's eye view of St. Patrick's Cathedral...more impressive from that angle, but still small in comparison. We took lots of pictures up there...in fact, we had to buy new batteries for the camera up there :) I'm glad that we decided to do Top of the Rock because we got to see most of the NYC sites that you hear about, but that we wouldn't have had time to see.

So, then, it was time to head over to Radio City Music Hall to see the Christmas Spectacular. It was an hour before the show and the line was already starting to snake around the building. We made it inside in less time than I thought it would take. Once the show started, all I can say is WOW!!! It started off with organ music, then Santa, then the Rockettes, who were the stars of the show! They had a 3-D show for the second part. We had to dodge snowballs thrown by polar bears and geese in the sky as Santa made his way from the North Pole to NYC. The show was amazing. How those ladies can be in perfect synchronization all of the time is astounding!!!! The best part was the Rockettes and the snow "bubbles" that they blew into the auditorium. It was fun looking around and seeing everyone in amazement about the snow. It was also great to look over and see my sister having such a good time. I compare people watching the Rockettes to people watching fireworks. If you've never watched someone watching fireworks, add it to your list of things to do. It's so cool.

Well, it was time to head out, find a bite to eat and meet the bus. We had wanted to head up to Bar Americain, Bobby Flay's one restaurant in NYC, but we didn't make it there. We found a little deli and bought sandwiches and a raspberry cookie. We ate the cookie there and took the sandwiches for the bus. As we were all standing on the corner of 7th Ave and 50th Street, talking about our days and what everyone had done, one of the teachers spotted Bobby Flay coming around the corner!!! Yes, no lie! I have seen Bobby Flay in person on the streets of NYC!!!!!! The teacher, Missy, said, "Hey, that's Bobby Flay!" and pointed her finger at him. He noticed and heard her and said "Hey! How's it going?" and continued on his way!

We boarded the bus and heard that another teacher and her husband, were standing eating their Godiva chocolate and saw Ivanka Trump (Donald's daughter) walking into the Rainbow Room.

Needless to say, as you can see from how long my post was, it was a great trip. The weather cleared up and it was actually warm for the middle of November...we didn't need our coats. The weather was actually perfect...it rained on the way up, drizzled a little then cleared up, then rained on the way back. I wouldn't mind visiting again, but there is no way I could live there. But, I'm glad to say that I've been to NYC and I'm glad to say that I went there with my sister!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'm still here...I think...

Yeah, so, my last post was back in October and I was complaining about how busy I was and that I should be caught up in a little while. Right... Now it's almost the end of November. I don't think I really, truly realized how behind I was. On top of that, I've been busy with family...either having them visit me or me visiting them. Don't get me wrong, I really love being with my family. A couple years ago, I don't know if I would have said that, but perhaps absence makes the heart grow fonder. I don't know. Being 4 1/2 hours away is not so conducive to frequent visits, even though I think I can keep up with it. I basically lose an entire day driving. It sucks, to say the least. Maybe I need to be closer??...

Or maybe I need to just keep up with all of my work stuff so that I can have time for fun things.

Every thing I'm behind on is all work stuff. The thing is that when I cross one thing off of my list, I remember two or three more things that I need to add. I don't really know how I got so far behind. I guess that just going to work, trying my best, and coming home at the end of the day isn't just good enough. Don't ever become a teacher. You think that it's going to be all about hanging out with kids and encouraging them...but, it's not. It's all about paperwork and money and parents. I'm sure that's not just the case with being a teacher. I'm sure lots of other jobs have a lot of shit to deal with that aren't told to you upon being hired. No one tells you this when you are in college or grad school, either. No one tells you that it's really about how many clients you can see and how much money you can bring in and that you won't actually see any of that money in order to advance your program. You have to fight to get what you have. No one tells you that you won't just work from 8-4. No, you'll work longer hours than that doing paperwork, writing reports, making homework, billing, emailing. And you'll spend even more time worrying about things that you don't have finished yet. It will ruin your nights and weekends. It will stress you out trying to get caught up that you will have to eat tums and look up what anxiety attack symptoms are on Web MD because your chest is pounding and your left arm hurts.

The thing is that I never learn my lesson. Procrastination is a nasty, nasty habit. Don't befriend it. It's not nice. And when you want it to leave, it won't. I keep thinking that if I can just get caught up I'll be okay. The thing is that I don't know what it will take to get caught up, because, like I said, when I cross one thing off, two or three more things get added. It never ends. It ends when summer break comes. And I have some repreive. But, I don't know if I was meant to work like this. A friend once told me that basically, I shouldn't complain about how much I work because I have summers off and that makes up for it. I guess it does. Maybe.

Anyway, I'm complaining too much. And I have so many ideas for other things to post about. Like my NYC trip or Thanksgiving or seasons. I'll save those for later. Maybe later tonight or tomorrow. I keep putting off writing about these things and I really shouldn't. I'll be back soon.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Where did the past few weeks go??

It has been a long couple of weeks. Things just seem to have gotten away from me. I'm really behind at work, which isn't good when you have to abide by state deadlines. My house is a mess, and I just keep having visions of how nice it would be to have my whole place cleaned from top to bottom and all decked out for fall. This past week flew by and I feel like I didn't do anything. Hopefully I'm getting back on track. I have lots of things rolling around in my head that I'd like to blog about, including fall and what's really important...at least more important than work. But, those ideas will have to keep rolling around in there for a little while longer...at least until I feel like I have a handle on things again.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Welcome, Hayden!!!

I know that this isn't really my news to share, but I just got the call...

Hayden John Tyler Jackson
3:05 p.m. (that's the time his great grandma thought he was born)

I'll leave the rest of the details to Sandy to tell.

Congratulations Sandy, David and Erin!!!
I can't wait to meet him!!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Family Dynamics

A week or so ago Sandy wrote a post about how her family has changed. Today, my sister and I had a similar conversation about our family. So, I thought I'd post part of an email that covers some of my thoughts on the matter.
I read your blog post about things not being
the same as you remember them. It's crazy, isn't it? I think that's
what happens when you become an adult. I've been thinking about your post
and how true that is for my family too and I'm wondering if that's the "loss of
innocence" they talk about...or at least one facet of it. I don't know
about you, but when I look back at growing up, I usually remember the good
parts, the feelings of belonging and being part of something important and
big. And now I look at it and just see the brokenness and lonelyness and
wish that it could go back to the way it was. Maybe things really were
like that...warm and cozy. Maybe they weren't. Maybe it's because we
now realize the responsibilities our parents and grandparents had to take on to
make life like that for us. Maybe it's because times have changed.
Or maybe this happens to everyone as they grow up...even as far back as our
great great grandparents. Who knows. All I know is that I still long
for that feeling of belonging and wish that family was as close as I
remember us all being. But, I do think that the thing that
causes change is that some of that "glue" that held our families
together...our grandparents, our aunts, our great aunts, whoever...have
passed on and taken the memories and the strength with them. But,
perhaps it's just the passing of a torch from one family member to the
next. Now it's our turn to make that feeling of belonging for others in
our family, our turn to remember the memories and pass them on, our turn to
insist on traditions that will hold our family together. Somebody
wrote a comment about not being able to go back home. I think
you can go back home. But, we just have to remember that, just as we grew
when we moved away from home, our families grew when we moved away too.
Although I have a hard time digesting that.
I'm still trying to figure out my role in my family
now that I'm an adult. And in some ways, I don't think that some of my
family views me as an adult. I often still feel like I'm being treated
like a 12 year old by some people. And I don't know how to handle

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

They Really Like Me!!

I think I said this in another post... I'm trying to focus on the positives of my job. There are so many things that I don't like, that I need to find the good things.

Well, yesterday and today were good days at work. I've been reaffirmed as to why I like to work with kids... Yesterday and today were some of the first days that I've seen "my kids" this year. I've been busy doing paperwork and setting up my therapy schedule. So, the best part of my job is seeing the kids faces either in the hall or when I show up at the door for the first time during the school year. They light up! I've had several students see me in the hall and make a point of asking "when can I come to speech?" or "when can I come and see you?". Teachers have told me that their students had been asking when speech was going to start. One student even did the little "yes!" hand-pump when I knocked on her classroom door and asked her teacher if I could see her. That made my whole day!!

This is why I like working with kids...

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Turning 27 was much better than turning 26! Even though I spent it at work...all day (tonight was parent night, so all the teachers had to be there...happy birthday to me), this years birthday was much better than last years. I'm not sure why, but I'm feeling good about turing this age.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Baseball and Western TV shows...These are a few of my favorite things!!!

My parents and one sister were down at my place this past weekend. It was nice, but I always hate to see them leave and it takes me a couple days to adjust back to the normal routine of living alone. I go through the same thing when I go home (to my parents) and then have to come back to my place. It just seems so empty.
Anyway, we had a nice time. My dad went to a woodworking store and a seed store, so he seemed happy. My mom was able to get into my apartment and kept remarking that she really liked my place. She's trying to convince my dad to come back at the end of October...I think she'll win him over to the idea. My sister, Karen, is such a good person. She is always willing to help me out. It seems like she is always helping me to either pack or unpack boxes since I've moved so many times. But she never complains, only asks what else she can do to help. I'm so blessed to have her as my sister and blessed that we are best friends.
We also celebrated my birthday a few days early. My parents bought me a grill! My dad and I put that together on Sunday and it was actually easier to put together than I thought it would be. They also bought me the 3rd season of Little House on the Prairie! I love Little House on the Prairie!!!! Seriously...you have no idea! If I could only go back in time, I'd go back to that time in history. My sister bought me gift cards to Starbucks and iTunes and a Pittsburgh Pirates t-shirt. To be more exact, it's a PNC Park t-shirt! I love baseball and the Pittsburgh Pirates...probably with the same ferocity that I love Little House on the Prairie, maybe even more! Oh...and...my mom made me Oh Henry Bars... These things are amazing...much better than any typical birthday cake! I'm not talking about the candy bar. This is Rice Krispies mixed with hot sugar and corn syrup and peanut butter. Pour that in a pan and let is set. Then heat chocolate bits in the microwave and pour that on top of the rice krispie mixture. It's heaven!! Anyway, Karen found Pittsburgh Pirate batting helmet candles at a party store and put those on the Oh Henry Bars! How perfect...chocolate, peanut butter and the Pirates!! It was an awesome birthday a few days early!
But, now it's back to the normal work week and all the joys that that brings.........

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Long Weekend!

Well, somehow I survived the first week...four days...of school. Granted, it wasn't a normal week. I didn't see students. I spent the entire week going through paperwork, talking to teachers, trying to set up my schedule and organizing my room. And the craziness begins. This year, my goal is to not take things so personally. When a parent has a complaint or my supervisor or prinicipal asks me to do yet one more thing or when a teacher questions my rationale, I won't take it personally. I always carry those things around, as if it was some attack on me as a person. I need to learn to let it go. I've had to remind myself that serveral times this week. I've had to tell myself to not get worked up and that I really do know what I'm doing (for the most part). And hopefully by doing that, I will have a better year. That's the hope, at least.

My family is coming down to my place this weekend...my mom, dad and one of my sisters. They're coming to spend the long weekend with me. It's one of the reasons I moved. I wanted to make sure my family could stay with me and not in a hotel. So, I moved to a first floor apartment so my parents wouldn't have to do the 20 some steep stairs. It's also nice for carrying in the groceries, I must admit :) So, we'll hang out at my place, they'll help me do some things (plant mums, figure out how to make tie backs for my curtains, help me pick out lamps) and we'll go see the sights in Amish Country. And, of course, we'll go out to eat at one or two of those Amish Country restaurants that are famous for their down home cooking...mmm...

But, for now, it's time to stop procrastinating and get back to laundry, dishes, and sorting through boxes before they come!

Have a great weekend...anyone else up to anything fun this weekend?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Why I Need to Blog

"No man is an island" - John Donne

This quote is one of the few things I remember from my three semesters of humanities in college. In fact, I even had to look up the author of the quote before posting this. In any case, this has stuck with me and often comes to mind. If I remember correctly from class discussions, this quote basically means that man (or woman) can't exist by themselves, they need to have others around them, to interact with. Last night I watched "Into the Wild". Pretty good movie. If you haven't seen it...stop reading now. The movie is about a guy who basically removes himself from society...living pretty much without material things, he burns his money, walks the country and finally ends up in the Alaskan wilderness. He's trying to find happiness. He lives in the wilderness alone, finding shelter and food and creating a pretty good life for himself. When he thinks he is content, he tries to go back home, only to find that he can't...he's stranded. At the end of the movie, when he realizes that he can't go back to people, he writes down his understanding of happiness: "happiness only real when shared".

I often feel like I am on this search for happiness. In the last 5 years I have lived in three different towns. All of the towns were at least 1 1/2 hours from where I grew up. The more I move, the further away I go. I feel like if I keep moving, I'll find that thing that has been illuding me...happiness. But I haven't found it yet, and I'm getting tired of the search.

I tend to keep all of my thoughts inside. When I hang out with friends, I usually steer the conversation to how they are doing or other topics and I don't let it get to how I am or what my life is. I seem to do that best through really long emails to them. I also live by myself, so I have no one to share things with at the end of the day...good or bad. So, that is my hope for my blog. That it will be a place where I can share my day, good or bad, where I can share my thoughts. I'm not a very good writer. I tend to ramble. I tend to make bigger deals out of things than I probably should. So, maybe I should call this blog my online therapy.

Hopefully my introductory blog wasn't too heavy. Perhaps I should say the other reason why I decided to blog... I read my friends blogs and their friends blogs and blogs of people I don't know. And when something fun happens to me, I find myself wondering how I would post that on a blog...what wording I would use! So, I thought maybe it was time to start my own :)