Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Does Confidence Improve With Age?

Last night I went to see the movie The Help with two of my friends. I didn't like it better than the book, but for a book turned movie, it was very good. Abilene's attempt to instill confidence in Elizabeth's poor daughter with the lines "you is kind, you is smart, you is important" got me to thinking about confidence.

When I'm teaching kids, the number 1 way I develop their confidence is to build their independence. I wish I had a video of the day a girl in my summer school class put up a chair by herself with no help. To her, it was more exciting than winning the lottery or even extra recess. When a child proves to themselves they can do something, there is no greater confidence booster.

I remember being told more than once by people older than me that we gain confidence as we get older. Certainly in some areas of my life, I have absolutely gained confidence. In others though, I disagree with this statement. Here is a brief list of times I have exhibited confidence:

*I have a friend that I have gone to school with since kindergarten. Our paths really crossed in high school when I started dating one of his friends. Somehow I found out that he did not like me, for reasons I cannot remember now. What I do remember was my reaction, which was to make it my personal mission in life to get him "on my side." I made a serious effort to get to know him better, and he ended up being one of my best friends in college. I showed confidence in my belief that if he knew me better, he would like me.

Okay fine, this picture makes it look like he still doesn't like me, but I am dressed as a 50s housewife and he is a ?, so who knows really!

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*In July 2004, I got on a plane and traveled to the other side of the world by myself. I showed confidence in my belief that I could do it on my own.

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*In college, I had the same roommate all 4 years, still one of my best friends. Ash is a very smart and beautiful girl and many BC boys had crushes on her. A couple of times, they were turned down by her, and then decided I was the next best thing. Yeah... no amount of Keystone Lights can make that seem like a good idea :) (funny story now though!) I showed confidence in my belief that I am better than that.

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*In September 2007 some crazy person put 22-year-old me in charge of 21 kindergarten kids. I showed confidence in my belief that I could keep them safe, make them love school, and maybe even teach them to read.

*In April 2009 I started a blog. I showed confidence in my belief that someone, somewhere might actually care to read my stories.

Would I still do all of these things? Well, I'm sure I wouldn't get on a plane and move to Australia :) Experience improves our confidence as we get older. I have already jumped on that plane to Australia, I know I can do it and don't need to do it again to prove it to myself. I have already survived that first year of teaching and 4 years after it, I know I am a good teacher. By the time you reach your mid/late twenties, you've had people criticize you, you've failed many times, and hopefully you've come out stronger on the other end.

But, circumstance may also lower our confidence. In college, my confidence was tested weekly in many different ways. I was constantly put in situations that were unfamiliar, and forced to take new risks. I would still say my confidence continues to be tested on at-least a weekly basis, but now it's very often at work in very similar ways. Therefore, 90% of the time, it involves having confidence in myself as a teacher. I think when we "grow up" we have to really force ourselves to not get too comfortable :) That's especially hard for me because I am not a big risk taker, and I love comfort. Also, with my dearest husband- risks now involve much scarier things like helicopters with no doors...


Tell me about a time you showed confidence :) Do you think your confidence has improved with age?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

End of Summer Cape Adventures

Officially home from the Cape and preparing to be hit by Hurricane Irene tomorrow morning. Okay, fine... my version of "preparation" is actually having flashlights (I realized earlier this year we lived in our house for over 2 years without a single flashlight, oops), doing our weekly grocery shopping trip (no, we did not stock up, we just bought a normal weeks worth of food) and charging my Kindle... if by chance we do lose power, I need something to entertain myself :) I wonder if 3G works in a hurricane...

I have to admit that weather forecasters to me are a bit like the boy who cried wolf. They have overreacted so many times that I now generally believe they will be wrong. We did bring in our furniture at the Cape though, just in case :)

This week though, there was no sign of any hurricane :)

Beautiful running trail around Hathaway Pond...



Kite Surfers at the Beach...



Kayaking on Martha's Vineyard...




Salt Pond, Eastham


Cape Cod National Seashore, Coast Guard Beach



Cape Cod National Seashore, Marconi Beach




I don't think any time is ever long enough at the Cape.

Just like no summer is ever long enough...

If you could only go one place for vacation for the rest of your life, where would you go?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Are You a Planner?

I am a planner :) I'm also pretty go-with-the-flow as long as said change of plans does not affect my sleep in any way! But I really enjoy planning. When I read the book The Happiness Project the author talked a lot about how research has shown that a lot of the excitement and happiness that comes from things comes from the act of looking forward to them. Wahoo, that means the planners among us may be happier because we look forward to things AND enjoy them when they come (as long as you are not always, always looking to the next thing that is!).

Being the planner that I am, I really enjoy using a paper planner as my calendar. I love to write notes to myself in the margins and writing in huge letters trips or events I am super excited for. When Amber wrote last year about the Erin Condren life planner, I knew I had to have one. But, they are not the cheapest things ever and I already had a planner that was going to last me until August 2011, so I kept that one. However, as soon as the 2011-2012 life planners came out, I was ready to order one!

It took me quite awhile to decide which planner I wanted, but I finally decided to go with the one where you can put 6 of your own pictures on the front. It's a little more expensive but I figured it would make me happy when I am sitting in faculty meetings, and that's worth a few extra dollars :)

My planner arrived a couple of weeks later, and I swear opening it was like opening a present. The box was decorated, and the planner was wrapped in purple tissue paper. The planner itself? Beautiful...



I have only used it for a little over a week now but here are the top 10 things like about it...

1. I love the pictures on the front.

2. The planner is filled with great quotes.


3. I like the tabs for each month, it helps me flip to any given time pretty easily.

4. I like how each day is divided into morning, day, night.

5. I like how each week has a spot for goals and a to do list. You can see my to do list for vacation week is quite intense... haha, okay fine it's a "to NOT do" list


6. I like the zip pocket and the folder "keep it together" at the back of the planner. I stick checks I get from tutoring in my planner until I get to the bank and I need some kind of folder to hold them because I can't be losing those :)


7. Each planner comes with several free gift labels with your name on them, which is a nice bonus.


8. The overall planner is made well. I have a feeling it will last a long time even though I use it a lot and throw it into different bags and stacks of notebooks all day long.

9. It comes with fun stickers that you can add to important days. This is something I can see myself doing when I'm bored at a professional development training or something (cuz those are always so fascinating). I have put a few in already though...



10. Finally, I just love all the colors- they are bright and fun, but I think still look professional enough that I won't mind having my planner in my hand while talking to my boss.

I also have a couple of small complaints, although they are probably things I will get used to soon. The first is, if you look at the picture above, the spiral binding in the middle is really large, which means that if I want to write what I need to do on Wednesday, I have to fold back the whole page otherwise the binding gets in the way of my hand trying to write. Since I really like to be able to look at the whole week at once, this just annoys me a little sometimes. Also, the calendar itself focuses more on monthly blocks (as you can tell by the tabs) which means that at the end of the month you may not see a whole week on one page because the monthly calendar is in the middle. You can see what I mean below...


So when I get to the week of November 28th, I'll only be able to see 3 pages and then I'll have to turn a couple of pages to get to the rest of the week. I'm sure this is just something I'll have to get used to because I definitely live by life looking at the week to week schedule :) On the other hand, my old planner had all the monthly calendars at the front of the planner and so therefore I never used them.

The last thing I'm not used to yet is how big the planner is. It's measurements are 7" by 9" which is a little bigger than my old planner, but it's also a lot thicker. Again, I think I'll get used to this very quickly, but I was surprised by it at first.

Overall, I really like this planner and definitely recommend ordering it :) (In case it wasn't obvious by the fact that I said I waited a long time to buy this planner, I did not get this planner for free and was not in any way compensated for talking about it on my blog- I just had a lot of people ask me about it so I thought you may want to know)

Are you a planner? Do you use a paper planner?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Short Trip to Martha's Vineyard

Hola! I'm back from my trip within a trip and I have lots of fun pictures to show you. First though, a couple of "housekeeping" things- haha, I feel like such a teacher when I say that.

#1- One of my friends started a blog a few weeks ago and I just KEEP forgetting to tell you about it. Tiff and I have been friends since seventh grade, and we are now both teachers (she is a preschool special education teacher). She is blogging about her super healthy lifestyle, and some traveling... so, go check it out: Sun Run Fun.

#2- For any Boston readers out there, LUNA Chix is having a Walk/Run for Fun on Thursday September 8th at 6:30pm. It begins at Cambridge Common in Harvard Square. From there, everyone will split into groups of 10-20 women to either do a 2.7 mile run or a 1.5 mile walk. It costs $25 and your registration goes to The Breast Cancer Fund, and pays for your swag bag (including a tech t shirt), music, food etc :) There is even going to be a yoga-inspired cool down at the end. There is a very good chance I may do this if I can drag myself off my couch (it's the first day of school, so I might be dead haha). If you want more information or to register go to Team LUNA Chix Walk or Run For Fun.

So anyway, Martha's Vineyard. Since Amber has taught me so much about Canadian geography, it's time for all of you to learn a bit about Massachusetts geography.


So this week, I've been on vacation in Cape Cod. On Sunday, we took a drive up to Chatham (currently known for a high population of Great White Sharks) to see the Chatham Lighthouse. Chatham is all the way east on the map above, right before the Cape goes upward :)


The beach across the street was pretty awesome as well...


I then took Eric down some questionable roads to a place called Monomoy Wildlife Refuge. Fortunately, I've taken Eric enough random places that he knows to trust me even if we end up at a few dead ends at first. Luckily we found it because it was a huge stretch of beautiful shoreline with very few people on it.


On Monday, Eric and I took a ferry over to Martha's Vineyard which is one of the islands off the coast of the Cape If you are from the US, Martha's Vineyard may be familiar to you as a lot of celebrities have summer houses at the Vineyard and President Obama visits the Vineyard every summer and is there right now, in fact!



I learned while I was on the island one of the reasons why celebrities enjoy visiting this island (aside from the overall beauty). Apparently, the "cool thing" to do in the vineyard if you see a celebrity is to just say hi and then go back to minding your own business. It's considered not okay to bother them in any way. I am actually impressed a system like this works so well considering all the visitors who may not know this, but perhaps people are just too busy enjoying their own vacation to bother with a random movie star, who knows?

The ferry ride over is definitely part of the fun of getting to the islands, and when we arrived in Oak Bluffs I was already happy about sitting outside with the wind in my hair for the past hour. I was made a lot more happy by the delicious lobster pasta I ordered at lunch (Giordano's Restaurant).


After lunch, Eric and I did a bus tour of the whole island. I still haven't decided if I would recommend this tour to others. The tour guide was good and knew a lot about the island, plus it was a good way to see Aquinnah Cliffs without a car. However, it was hard to see most other attractions from the road, so I think if I was going to do it again I'd probably fork over more money to rent a car for the day. The cliffs were pretty worth it though...



On Monday night we ate some Mexican food at Sharky's and then we stayed at one of my friend's from work's house. Her parents have a beautiful house not far from Oak Bluffs and it was fun to catch up with her since I haven't seen her since school ended. We also greatly appreciated having a clean place to stay since hotels aren't really the best on Martha's Vineyard and yet still seem to cost an arm and a leg! Tuesday morning we woke up and caught the bus to Vineyard Haven for a kayak tour. Eric's mom bought us this tour for our anniversary, and it was really, really cool. We got to kayak for a few hours around a lagoon. It was beautiful weather and flat calm water. I do have pictures but they are on my other camera and the guide's waterproof camera so you'll have to wait for those.

After the kayak tour, we headed back to Oak Bluffs to relax for awhile before our ferry would take us back to the Cape :)


Overall, I really like Martha's Vineyard. I probably would never spend a ton of time there seeing as it's very, very expensive and seems silly to ever get a place when I have a free one at the Cape. However, I would like to visit in the winter sometime to see what it's like without as many tourists.

Have you ever been on a ferry to get some where? Do you think that is part of the fun of the trip? Have you ever been to Martha's Vineyard?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

New Camera Obsession

When I first started blogging (2 1/2 years ago!), I learned what a DSLR camera was. Turned out my dad had one long before that, but I had no idea. Even then, I still thought it sounded pretty silly to buy an expensive camera to take pictures of food. Don't get me wrong, I love my food pictures, but not that much.

Even as recently as last Christmas Eric asked me if I wanted him to get me a really nice camera and I still wasn't sold. By then, I had seen the amazing photos they can produce, especially from my friend Kathy who takes amazing pictures of her kids (her real kids and her students) with her fancy camera. But I was still worried I just wouldn't want to carry around a huge camera. I think I'm pretty good at getting pictures, but a lot of that is that I ALWAYS have my camera.

Finally something clicked this summer and I was like, wait...I want to take cool jumping shots! Seriously though, I just realized that I still have a working point and shoot camera which I can continue to keep in my purse for everyday instances. That doesn't mean I can't carry an awesome camera around as much as possible for trips and random other fun. Now was as good a time as any to get one, I've worked hard all summer and I have a nice week to play with my camera in a beautiful place. So last night I bought myself the Canon Rebel T3 :)

I then immediately put Eric to work to test out my action shots...


(Don't worry, I do eventually learn how to do it without blurriness, still more to learn though!)


God, it must be fun to have me as a wife :)

This morning Eric and I went to go play golf which I happily agreed to because I knew it meant more action shots....







Plus, I like golf in the right conditions. Par 3 course, fast, beautiful place and using only the 7 iron and putter. Oh I'm sorry, is that not normal?

Also my golf game likes the camera, since I got it in on 2 shots on the hole where Eric took the picture of me. Score.

After golf I had to head to the beach to get some beach shots on the new camera.



Did I mention I love action shots?




Ah, happy vacation to me!! I don't know why I bother traveling around the world. The best places ever are definitely right in good ol' Massachusetts.

What's your new obsession this weekend?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

10 Questions

I don't know about everyone else, but I really enjoy reading question and answer posts sometimes just to change it up and learn more about the bloggers I read. Caitlin started the 10 Personal Questions posts and Amberparticipated yesterday, so it's time for me to join. Plus I really like these questions.

What are you really good at? What are you really bad at?

I'm really good at: planning trips, staying organized (though it may not look clean!), teaching kindergarten/teaching kids to read, getting along well with most people, waking up early, having a sense of humor (can you be good at that? maybe I should say I'm good at laughing), writing (I hope),

I'm really bad at: keeping things clean/cleaning, fixing things, fitting things into spaces in the best way possible (for example loading the dishwasher so it holds the most amount of stuff), sleeping in places I'm not comfortable, sleeping late, exercises that require you to remember routines such as dancing classes, remembering things not essential to my existence (in my defense, I consider a wide variety of things essential to my existence).

Have you ever been in a car accident? What happened?

I've been in one or two minor accidents, only one while I was driving and it wasn't my fault (knock on wood). Even so, I still really fear car accidents and Eric says I am a very cautious driver :) (he doesn't mean it as a compliment but I'll take it as one).

Why did you attend your college?

My dad went to Boston College so I grew up going to football games, wearing sweatshirts etc. I looked at a lot of places but ultimately just thought BC was so beautiful and such a good school. In reality, BC is both a really amazing and a really frustrating place in many different ways. There were times when I wished I chose a different place but I think being 5 years out of college now I can say with certainty that if I could do it over again, I'd do the same thing. I made fantastic friends and was well prepared for my job, which is really what is important!

Describe your morning routine today.

6:00- Woke up and took a shower

6:20- Ate breakfast, read some blogs, caught up on e-mail

6:50- Drove to work to get some prep done and start interviewing for aide positions.

This is pretty typical of my routine most of the day (other than the interviews obviously). Sometimes I wake up earlier and I usually move a little quicker in the morning during the year. I sometimes work out in the morning too, so I guess it varies a bit. This summer I've been showering mid day because that is when I've been working out. But this morning I decided to shower in the AM because I was at the Sox game last night and I'd be interviewing with my principal and although she's not interviewing me, she may not like it if I was dirty :)

Have you ever snooped through someone else’s things? Did you find anything interesting?

Hmm... I know I have, but I can't think of anyone in particular or anything interesting I found.

What do you think happens when you die?

What really happens? I have no idea. But what I like to think happens? We go to Heaven and it's the best! It's always the perfect temperature and sunny. There is teleportation so you never miss anyone because you can go anywhere, anytime. You get to live near and/or with all the wonderful people you loved in your life (who are there already). You get to meet your great-great grandmother, chat with George Washington... really whatever you want to do. I mean still teach in Heaven, but my day will be much shorter, I'll just teach the kids whatever I want, and the kids and parents will all be lovely. You can eat whatever tastes good with no regard for what is good for you. You can exercise, but only if you want to- no obligation. All people are the best versions of themselves. No one worries about time because we have endless time. Ah... dreams.

Are you superstitious?

Not really, but I do knock on wood :)

Do people think you are younger or older than you actually are?

It depends. Most of my life people have always thought I was younger, and that still happens sometimes when people go by looks alone. However, I think when people learn I'm married, have a house etc- they sometimes think I am older. People at work often think I am older too because I work with a lot of people 3-4 years older than me, and I think most people just see me as the same age as them.

How did your parents’ relationship influence you?

1. I believe good, long-lasting marriages are possible.

2. I believe good, long-lasting marriages involve a lot of work and a lot of patience.

3. I will not tolerate someone who does not love me and treat me like they love me.

Plus, probably in many other ways as well.

What were the three happiest moments of your life?

I have been so lucky to have SO many happy moments in my life, I can't pick 3. So I did top 3 in the last 10 years since I was 17. This was STILL hard because the whole year of 17 was a great year for me, but luckily I couldn't remember anything in particular so we will just say it was a great year but not one of my top 3 moments!

1. Arriving home from Australia after being on the other side of the world for 5+ months- my family and friends greeted me at the airport :)

2. During Eric and my Euro-trip 4 years ago, Eric and I went to Italy. One night while we were there, Italy was playing in the final World Cup game and EVERYONE in Rome was inside watching the game. Except us. Eric and I roamed the streets of Rome, walking by ourselves around the Colosseum. It was a great moment and one of my favorite memories from that amazing trip.

3. My wedding ceremony (cliche, but very true) + sitting at my reception, by myself for a second, looking around the place and just knowing that everyone was there because they love me + Eric and support us. Also related to the wedding, I was really happy my entire honeymoon haha... I'm cheating, I know!

Answer 1 or more of these questions in the comments!

Monday, August 15, 2011

New York City: The Good and The Not-As-Good

I'm hoping to finish up my trip to NYC in blog form today, so this post will be a mix of recommendations, tips and of course, my own experience in New York City. I hope you enjoy!

Things I Love About NYC

1. Food.  Obviously I love food, and I also love convenient food. I love being able to walk to get my food. So when I'm staying in a hotel with Starbucks across the street, delicious frozen yogurt just steps from the front door, Whole Foods in the basement (not kidding), I am a very happy girl. Oh, and I should probably mention New York City clearly has some of the best restaurants out there. Some recommendations for special occasions? (If you are going to take these recommendations check prices first, I was celebrating with my family so this was out of the Kelly and Eric budget range).

Morimoto, home of the Iron Chef- Eric was psyched when he learned this was on our itinerary and the food was seriously delicious. I want some more lobster fritters right now...


or the striped bass special would be great as well...


But the best part of the restaurant? The bathrooms. I'm serious. I would seriously consider going into this restaurant just for a drink, JUST to try the bathroom. They have heated seats!!!! My mom and Eric thought they lost me in there but I was simply recovering from being freezing my whole meal. Oh, and taking a picture of how gorgeous the stall was...


Asiante- A very fancy restaurant, and a perfect place to celebrate my Dad's birthday. We had a gorgeous view of New York and perfect food. I got sea bass with potato noodles...


We got a taste of several desserts to celebrate- they were all good, but I only got a picture of the birthday cake :)



We also came back to this restaurant for an end of trip brunch on Sunday morning (and a change of pace from Starbucks haha). I got the best apple french toast, yum...


Trattoria Dell'Arte- amazing Italian food, perfect for a pre-theater meal :) I got my typical plain pasta, but I'm telling you, you can totally judge an Italian restaurant by this meal...



2. Views. But you already knew that if you read my post yesterday :)

3. Spending quality time with the fam. I love any opportunity to spend time with my awesome parents and siblings. New York gave us that opportunity this summer and so I love it for it :)  


4. Historical Sights and Museums. No one could ever see there is not enough to do in New York City. I'm pretty sure you could spend an entire summer touring New York every day and you may not have even explored Manhattan fully. I definitely had to give in to the desire to do it all this weekend, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the stuff we did do!





5. Relaxing in the hotel. We had this awesome seat in our hotel room that I wanted to bring home with me. The view and time to read trashy magazines also added to the greatness. I used to hate celebrity gossip magazines but I've recently decided the ridiculousness of them is a total stress reliever for me. Random, I know.


6. Broadway Shows. I have mixed feelings about musicals in general. I love Glee, but some musicals are just a bit much for me. Granted I was in 13 years old, but what the heck even HAPPENED in Cats? Anyone? However, I saw Wicked this weekend and it was fantastic. As in, go see it now fantastic. Even Eric liked it and I would say he is much less of a musical person than I am. See it. Now.




If you need any extra incentive, they have a full bar and they serve the drinks in cool travel mugs that you get to keep.


Things I Do Not Love About NYC

1. The Crowds. No matter where you walk, you WILL be dodging people. There is no method to the madness and it's every man for himself. I probably have bruises just from walking around the city.

2. The Lines. Okay, so to be fair, this probably goes with the crowds, but it's more specific than that. The Empire State Building was seriously a joke when it came to lines. We must have waited in like 12 different lines and when we finally got on the elevator, it only took us up to the 80th floor. When my mom questioned why we were not at 86, Eric joked that they wanted us to wait in another line. Turned out, he was RIGHT! Luckily we avoided this line by walking up the 6 flights (which turned out to be more than 6 but anyways). The Statue of Liberty was another story. They dealt with the lines better, but they loved this crazy herding technique and all I can say is, it's a wonder there has not yet been a stampede! My tips? #1- I don't think the Empire State Building is a total must, I've heard better things about the Top of the Rock and apparently there are no crazy lines. I'll probably try it next time I am there. #2- I don't think you HAVE to actually go to the Statue of Liberty personally. Take one of the many boats that goes near it and you'll get a great view. I've read good things about the free Staten Island ferry and my parents did a great hop on hop off boat that went right by it too. If you really want to go to the island, just make sure you arrive at Battery Park early. The line was twice as long as we were leaving.

3. Ellis Island. Okay, so I don't actually "hate" Ellis Island, but it can't go on the love list either. I was pretty excited about going there but... maybe I was missing something? I just didn't find it that interesting at all... It's probably worth a stop if you are at the Statue of Liberty anyway, but I personally don't think you are missing much if you decide to skip it.

Tell me what you love and don't love about New York, or about your own city if you've never been to New York.