Sunday, August 26, 2012

Whew! Here Comes Fall!

Hey, y'all.  Hope all is well your way.

I've been MIA on my little blog trying to get off to a good start for the school year.  School started back for the students last week, and it was quite a week.  A good one, though.  Just super busy, as you could imagine.

It's going to be yet another great year.  I can feel it.  The iPad initiative is adding even more excitement.

This year will bring about change for me personally, too, since I'm teaching a new class.  I've been teaching the same course my entire six years of teaching -- which was mostly to freshmen students.  And I didn't mind that because I LOVE FRESHMEN.  And the nature of the content of the course (technology) changes frequently enough for me to never be bored.  But this year I volunteered to teach a management class -- a class that happens to be all seniors.  I thought it'd be good to change things up a bit.  Since it's been a while since the course was taught at our school, I'm getting to build the curriculum from scratch.  That means lots of work (and maybe even a little working at home in the beginning, which is something I try not to do), but a good experience.  While I have the state course of study to guide me (of course), the possibilities are endless. And the iPad initiative will expand the possibilities even more.

Teaching this new class also takes me off the main campus of our school for one period a day.  I get to teach in a small, more intimate environment that houses our five academies (IT, Finance, Law, Engineering, and Health Sciences).  It's quite the change from our main campus, which is busy and huge.  I enjoy the change and the chance to get "out" every day for fresh air.  That two-minute drive between campuses is actually pretty refreshing!

Change is good.  I'm excited, if you can't tell.  You guys know me, though.  I love my job.  I could talk about it all day.  But I'll stop there today.

The Krew and I are gearing up for a fun fall.  Super busy.  I've gotta focus on not losing my mind this fall.  I'm doing okay so far.  The past two weeks (which are the busiest of the year probably), I've managed to:
  • Go to bed at a decent time and run three days a week.  Sleep and exercise -- check! 
  • I've stayed away from minor distractions -- those that would steal even a few minutes out of my day.  Like Facebook.  I'm not a huge Facebooker, but I'd find myself checking it briefly every day.  Sometimes I'll sit there and read my timeline for no good reason at all.  But I've no time for that this fall. So I've deleted the app from my phone.
  • Not huge on Twitter, either, but I have been tweeting a little for work.  But my personal account?  It's pretty dead.
By the time I get M from preschool every day, go run, play, eat dinner, get baths, and all of that, it's bed time.  So finding time for my grad school work will be a challenge.  But I'll figure it out.

The fall also starts football season.  Being married to a football coach is another life in itself.  Exciting for sure, but it gets tough.  We live in an area where high school football is king, and DK many times works as many hours as he did when he was a graduate assistant coach at 'Bama.

Speaking of 'Bama (and if you know me or have read my blog for a while), you know I married into a college football-loving family.  And that means in the fall, there are a lot of good times that are hard to turn down (awesome tailgates for home games and a little traveling for away/bowl games).  Like next weekend we'll be at Dallas Cowboys Stadium for the 'Bama vs. Michigan game.  I'm pretty excited (and I've actually never been to the Lone Star State except for a flight layover a time or two).  But that means I've gotta work extra hard this week to be able to relax while I'm there.  The little one won't be going on this trip, unfortunately.  Maybe next time for her.

Speaking of our little one, I've signed her up for more soccer classes this fall.  We tried a few soccer classes a few months ago thanks to a Groupon/Living Social deal (pictured below), and she says she likes it.  So we're going to pursue it a little more this fall.  

We'll be doing it a little closer to home this time, though (the picture above is from a soccer center on the other side of our metropolitan area).  Plus the program we're doing has classes during the week, which is better for our schedule.

And speaking of soccer, we got a chance to go to M's big cousin's soccer game yesterday (like the last time).  They're really big into soccer, so it's cool to know I have someone to get "soccer mom" advice from should we find ourselves still doing this soccer thing 10 years from now.  :-)  

Anyhoo, enough rambling for today.  It's Sunday afternoon and my to do list includes chores, grad school work, lesson planning, and dancing to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and the Fresh Beat Band.  My beautiful, but jam-packed life.

Check back later this week to see my summer wrap-up post. I'm scheduling it to post around Wednesday.

In the meantime, enjoy your week!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back At It (+ An Early Birthday Present to Myself)

Hey, y'all.  As expected, I haven't been able to blog much this week.  But I wanted to pop in and say hello.  I still have a summer wrap-up post to do, but today I just wanted to give a quick update.

Monday was M's first day back at school.  She went a little this summer while I taught summer school, but Monday was her first regular day back.  We're blessed to be near some really good preschools, and are very grateful for the one M attends.  The stuff she knows at this age is unreal. Not only that, but they love the kids SO much at her school.  I love sending my kid there.

Work started back for me this week, too (though the students don't come back until next week).  I have said many times how I love my job.  Part of that is because I work at a school where innovation is encouraged (well, expected), and where every student comes first.  We're piloting an iPad initiative this year, and I couldn't be more excited.  While the technology component isn't really new to my content area, I do look forward to trying some new instructional strategies.  For example, I'll be flipping my classroom this year.  I'd heard a lot about it, but I now have the knowledge I need to give it a try.  Love. My. Job.

Also this week, I accomplished something pretty big:

Oh, yeah! I took on the Couch-to-5K challenge back at the beginning of summer.  I didn't talk about it much because it was my own little special goal to quietly work on.  I talked my husband into doing it with me, and I was so grateful to have him there (though his work schedule caused him to miss a few days).  

On Tuesday, I completed this nine-week training program.  And I'm proud to say that I never cheated.  Not once. 

My goal had nothing to do with losing weight (though I could stand to lose a few...or 20). I simply wanted to establish some good fitness routines. I'll be 30 next month, and apparently it's around that age that your metabolism starts playing tricks on you.  

So this was sort of a birthday present to myself.  And I while I didn't lose weight (I'm a terrible eater), I did tone up.  My clothes fit differently, and I feel better.  I love it.  


While I've done a few 5Ks in the past, this October will be my first one as a runner.  And while waiting on that day to get here, I'll continue to train three times a week.  There's lots of room for improvement for this beginner runner, and I look forward to watching myself grow. 

"Sometimes it's not about the destination, but the journey itself." ~Author Unknown

Anyhoo, hope everyone's having a great week.  I may post again this weekend.  Be back soon!

~ G

Friday, August 10, 2012

Beach Part III (Trip Wrap-Up)

Happy Friday, guys!  Today I'm wrapping up last week's beach trip with some tidbits and pictures.  I have a lot to do today, so I'm rolling bullet style on this one:
  • We stayed Saturday through Saturday. I could have stayed another week, which is not something I've said often since having a child.  Traveling with a little one can feel like work instead of a vacation sometimes, but I've learned to accept the help around me.  There was a time when I'd insist on doing everything myself.  You live and you learn, folks.
  • There was a big thunderstorm one day we were there (hardest thunder I've ever felt). After it died down, we chose that day to do a little shopping instead of heading out to the beach (along with everyone else in the area -- it was pretty crowded).
  • DK and I did date night one of the nights. We had dinner, a movie, and ice cream. We saw the Batman movie (we loved the last one).  When I learned that the movie was 2 hours and 45 minutes long, I had a feeling I wouldn't make it through.  I was already tired, but there was no way I was turning down a date with my husband.  I did better than expected, though.  I'd say I only dozed 25% of the movie.  I can tell you most of the stuff that happened, and I saw the whole ending.  Great movie.
  • As a family, we only ate out two of the nights we were there.  Boy, did I appreciate that.  Eating out with a little one (especially when they're tired from a long day of playing) isn't always easy.  As expected, M did fine one evening, and was tired and cranky the other.  All the other nights we cooked. We had poppyseed chicken, grilled steak and potatoes, and spaghetti on those nights.  Yum, yum.
  • I've been relaxer-free for a year now, and I'm still learning to manage the mixture of natural and processed hair.  With that being said, my hair was a HOT MESS during this beach trip.  It wasn't so bad on the beach and at the pool since I wore a visor, but the nights we were out?  There wasn't much I could do for it.  Hot. Mess.  I'm looking forward to the day I've gotten rid of all the processed hair.  It won't be long!
  • We got AMAZING tans while we were.  I loved my complexion after Miami, but I REALLY love this one. Hope it lasts a while. 

This was dinner our last night (the pic's dark because I, the genius, forgot to turn the flash on before giving it to the waiter). I love most beach restaurants because they're open and don't use air conditioning.  I hate being cold in restaurants.

I wanted to get some pics of M on the beach in regular clothes...

...but this was the same evening she was cranky. it didn't really happen.

(I also wanted to take a family pic on the beach, but...well, my hair.  No ma'am, no sir.)

Dinner one other evening.

The girls still had some leftover energy after dinner, so we went for a walk through the neighborhood.


Eating her Dora ice cream from the ice cream truck.

Our moms headed to the beach after dinner one night.
They go out there and talk the night away.

M drawing her people.  It's fun watching her drawings get more detailed. What used to be a face with two lines (legs) has turned into a person with shoes, arms, fingers, and even eyebrows.

It was a great trip!

I am so grateful for all the time we spent as a family.

Speaking of which, I'll probably be posting more pics next week of M and the beach trip she's currently on with more family.  My in-laws have texted me more pics since the last one I posted.

Also next week, I hope to wrap up the summer by reviewing our Summer To Do List -- summarizing all the things we did and didn't do.  Next week is also the beginning of our very busy fall, so I imagine it won't be a whole lot of posting going on after that.

Anyhoo, hope you have a great weekend!  Be back next week!

Old Links from this Same Annual Beach Trip:  2009 |  2010 |  2011

~ G

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Beach Part II

Though this post continues about our beach trip from last week, M is currently at the beach again this week with my in-laws and lots of cousins.  Here's the pic my father-in-law sent me this morning of all the kids -- I love it!  We talked with M last night on Facetime, and you can imagine just how enthused she was about taking a minute to talk to us...not at all.  She's having a blast.

So this is Day 2 of a kid-free house for me, and I plan to work and clean. Borrrrrinnng, I know.  I wish I could kick back, read, and maybe go catch a movie. But the crazy life kicks back in in four more days.  Gotta get off to a great start.  I DID sleep in this morning -- I got up at 8AM.  I actually could have gone back to sleep (and I should have), but my To Do list was ringing in my head.  But 8AM is still good for me.

Anyhoo, here are more pics from the beach last week.  More family was there the second day, so M had even more playmates.  

My niece getting ready for the pool.

The cousins that came included two other children --
one around M's age and one around my niece's age.

It was perfect.

With Cousin J.

W/her daddy.

I kept my kid slathered in sunscreen, and even my husband (who burns pretty easily) did a better job of keeping his applied.  I only applied mine once a day and I paid for it.  Face and shoulders were sore!

W/her PaPa.

Despite the age difference, they play so well together.

Trying to do what Cousin A does.

The kids napping.

We didn't get many naps in during the vacay, but we were grateful for the one or two they did take!

M and Cousin C.

These two fought a lot (not sharing, etc.), but there was one thing they could both agree on:  Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Tomorrow I'll wrap up the trip and tell you about the other random tidbits (what we ate every night, the date night DK and I took, the awful thunderstorm, maybe the hot mess my hair was the whole time, etc.).

In the meantime, I'm gonna start unpacking.  Yes, we've been back for five days and I've yet to unpack.  (Hey, I'm doing better.  There was that time I unpacked a whole month later...)

Happy Thursday, folks!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Beach Part I

Someone tell me why my 3.5 year old looks like such a big girl. :-(  I'm just thinking about how much she's grown over the summer.  It's a joy to watch, yet it's kinda mind-blowing.  

I took this pic this morning right before I sent her off to the beach with my in-laws -- her second beach trip in two weeks.  We just got back from seven days at the beach (look at her awesome tan) .  I miss her so much already.  The house is way too quiet when she's gone.  How am I supposed to handle it when she's 18 and gone? :-(

Anyhoo, I am proud of how productive I've been since the princess of the house has been gone.  I've:
  • Straightened my hair.
  • Made a dreaded call to our old cable company to clear some unfinished business.
  • Picked up some monogrammed back-to-school items (that were ready for me to pick up two weeks ago).
  • Went to the post office to mail some long overdue baby gifts.
  • Went to the mall to find a nice cardigan to wear over my dresses.  Gotta convert those summer dresses to "teacher" clothes.  No luck, though.  (I see cardigans ALL THE TIME, yet the one time I go looking for one, I can't find one I like.)
And there are still some hours left in the day!  Now I'm sitting at my computer about to plan a fun lesson that suddenly came to me yesterday.  It involves Pinterest, so I know my girl students will like it.  Gotta make my boys well-rounded, so they'll have to deal with this one. :-)  I am especially excited about it because this particular unit is probably my least favorite to teach (and it's so much info, I'm sure it's not the students' favorite either).  I hope involving Pinterest will spruce it up a little.

Anyhoo, I wanted to share some of the pics from our Santa Rosa (FL) trip last week (I have more that I'll share throughout the week).

M has been to the beach at least twice a year all her life, and there have been times where she's been skeptical of the sand.  She usually warms up to it pretty quickly, but this time it took her much longer.  It wasn't really the sand, but the seaweed washed up on the beach.  She wasn't feeling it.  She eventually warmed up to it, though.

Chillin' with her Daddy and PaPa.

My mother-in-law (left) and my mom (right).


One of my nieces came with my mom again this year.
(She came back in 2010, too).

Snack time.

Our moms.
I have this same shot for three separate years.

w/my Babycakes

And my mom.

So glad my niece came along.
They were perfect playmates.

We had more family at the beach the second day, so I'll post a few of those pics tomorrow.  I'm going to call my little one now.  She's enjoying the beach with ANOTHER set of cousins and I know she's having a blast.

Happy Wednesday, y'all!

Update:  Literally a few minutes after publishing this post, my father-in-law texted me this pic of M and her cousins about to eat dinner.  (For those of you who are familiar with the Gulf Coast, can you tell where they are?  They're about to catch some rolls!)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Under African Skies" (Our Version of an African Safari)

I've been a spotty blogger for two weeks now.  Maybe I'm preparing myself for what's to come.  In about a week, my life will be busier than ever (more on that later).  And if it weren't for this blog serving as my family scrapbook, I would go on a blogging hiatus until mid-December.  Because that's the next time I'll be coming up for air. I'm tired just thinking about it.

On a brighter note, we just wrapped up an awesome week at the beach with family. Of course there are plenty of pics to share. I hope to get those posted this week.

I still have several posts old posts that need to go up.  Just random stuff that need to go in this little scrapbook of mine.  And I want to post one of those today.

M recently received a pretty cool gift from a cousin.  Remember M went to Raleigh a couple of months ago to visit a great-great aunt?  Well, that aunt and her husband have traveled the world.  They raised a daughter, Cousin C, who obviously grew up traveling the world and still does today. Africa has been one of C's destinations for the past few years, and earlier this year she sent me the link to a photo book of her last safari.

Beautiful, beautiful pictures. When I noticed all the educational captions that went right along with them, all I could think of was how this book would be a priceless addition to M's book collection.  So I asked if she had a smaller/kid version.

And a couple of months ago, we received just that.  M has plenty of books with animals, but they're all store-bought.  None are as special as this book.  All of the pics were taken by Cousin C and her husband O, and I find that very special.  And since they live in Switzerland and M has only met C once or twice, I am so grateful for this part of her life that she has shared with my kid.

Best African safari book ever! 

My picture of the book could do it no justice, so here are some screenshots from C's original photo book.  (Check out the full version of her book, Under African SkiesHERE!)

The version she sent M focuses on the "Big Five" game, which are the most difficult (and most dangerous) African animals to hunt on foot:  the rhino, African elephant, Cape buffalo, lion, and leopard.  The thought of being on a safari so close to these animals in their natural habitats sort of freaks me out, but I'm sure it's an experience like no other.  And I'm thrilled that C has shared this with my baby.

(Okay, and me.  Africa is one of my dream destinations, so I kinda go through these pics and pretend I'm there!)

Is this not the coolest?  So, so special!

Anyhoo, I hope everyone's having a great week!  It's my last week of non-mandatory work, yet I've been kinda working to prepare for the whirlwind of a life that will start next week. 

I'll probably post again tomorrow after I send my sweet girl off for yet another camping/beach trip (this time, without Mama or Daddy).  I'm gonna miss my Babycakes, but it will give me time to get my house in order (literally and figuratively) so that we can have a smooth start to the school year.

Happy Tuesday!

~ G

Stuff I Talk About

2011 30 day shred age update AKA animals anniversary appreciation aquarium around the house art museum Atlanta baby/toddler sleep issues baking bama football beach birthday birthday party blog awards blog buddies blogher books camping causes celebrations celebrities cheer days childhood children's museum children's theater Christmas christmas card class reunion college days concert conference cousins crafts dance date night dating days deals decluttering dentist Disney dk easter engagement facebook faith fall fun family family fun fashion father's day favorite blogs field trip field trips football friday flashback friends fun event funny pic Gaylord Opryland genealogy girl scouts goals god grad school grateful graves' disease Halloween health holidays Hollywood honeymoon instagram Iron Bowl key west kindermusik learning letter to my daughter library Los Angeles m me miami mlk day morgan is three museum Nashville national championship game natural hair nature new look new orleans New Years nyc out on the town parks parties phone fun pinterest play days at home playdate playground action pregnancy professional development Race for the Cure raleigh ramblings reading Recipes relay for life school program shows singing skating snow soccer social networking sorority spring break spring fun stress summer summer fun summer reading summer to do list teacher life technical difficulties terrible twos Thanksgiving the girls the park theme park thomas and friends three thyroid tragedy trains traveling tricycle trips twitter valentine's day video walk for autism water play we love being outside wedding wordless wednesday work wrapup Yo Gabba Gabba zoo
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