Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 11 in 2011

Happy Last Day of 2011!

I have to say that after the years I got engaged (2008), bought a house (2009), and got married (2010), 2011 had a lot to live up to! It wasn't even close to as exciting as all those years, but it was still a great year nonetheless. I am hopeful that 2012 will be even better.

Here are my Top 11 Memories in no particular order:

1. Visiting Newport (Jan) and New Hampshire (August) with Eric's family :) In Newport, we explored the town with some wine and beer tasting, as well as some delicious restaurants. In New Hampshire, we enjoyed summer relaxation at it's finest and of course a beautiful boat ride to the Loon Sanctuary.


2. Celebrating my Dad's birthday in NYC! We spent a long weekend celebrating my Dad's 60th birthday and showing Eric New York City (he had never been!).


3. Year 2 of visiting Sedona! It was not any less amazing the second time. In 2012 we will bring new visitors to our favorite place :)


4. Celebrating Eric's cousin and my cousin getting married!


5. Discovering hidden gems at the Cape.


6. Reading 35 books! This was the year of reading for me, and I read about 35 books. I'm hoping next year to read just as many. One thing that made reading even more fun was chatting about books at Emily's blogger book club, and going to see books we loved turned into movies with my friends Sarah and Susanne :)

7. Running the Res with Eric. I was able to get back into running this year, which was basically my only goal for 2011 that I actually kept, oops :) I didn't meet any crazy distance goals this year and I only did one single race, but I learned that I don't care about any of that. All I really want is to be able to run in beautiful places whenever I feel like it. And that, I did.


8. Watching Caroline run the marathon! My sister, on the other hand, wants to conquer the crazy distances and that SHE did with 26.2 miles in Chicago. I had a blast watching her run and catching up with my friend Gerry who moved to Chicago this year.


9. Visiting my brother and sister's homes in Connecticut. My brother goes to school in CT and my sister moved their for her first job out of college this year. At the end of September, Eric and I joined my parents to go to Family Weekend at Jake's school. I got to see where both of my siblings live, tailgate a football game and enjoy the restaurants and frozen yogurt of their cities!


10. Katie's Quilting Class Days. Haha I know you are like sorry, WHAT? I'm sure those of you who read this blog often know my friend Katie. Well Katie and I have never lived super close to each other (since college when we lived in the same suite for 3 years) and this year she bought a house and moved even farther away. Don't get me wrong, it's maybe 40 minutes away so it's really not terrible but it's a bit too far for watching American Idol together let's just say. However, this year Katie also accepted a new job that involves her going relatively close to my house to get to it. Wahoo. Her sucky commute = my happiness :) I kid. But seriously, Katie has been taking quilting classes near my house and on those nights she comes over and we hang out and eat dinner together. We get to chat and pretend we still live in the same suite. Thank you Quilting Class.

11. Celebrating 5 year Reunion. This year was my 5 year College Reunion. I was a bit hesitant about the whole thing I have to admit, but like Vera Bradley bags and the color pink, it won me over in the end. I had a great time catching up with my college friends and thanking God I no longer live in those tiny dorm rooms :)


I hope everyone has a Happy New Year's Eve tonight :) I'll see you guys in 2012.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Photo Organization and Storage

As you may remember, after a summer of hard work tutoring I treated myself to a new camera. I definitely have loved every second of having it, and I realize that I don't even know 1/10th of what it can really do. When I bought my camera, the Best Buy salesman kept telling Eric how he'd definitely be buying me a new lens, flash or some other camera part for Christmas. Besides being annoying, this guy obviously did not know me at all. My first camera gift would obviously be CAMERA BAGS! Well, and also a beautiful pink camera strap. Sorry, but are new flashes pink? I thought not. Yes, I do need 2 bags. One big one for traveling and days when I need multiple things and one tiny one that literally only fits the camera that I can just put over my shoulder and go. I'll post a picture of the new bags in the near future, right now I don't think Eric would enjoy waking up to the sound of me taking photos of my camera bag with my phone. I know, he is so unreasonable :)

Now that it's easier for me to actually have my camera with me at times, I have a re-obsession with it. Specifically, I want to learn how to use it. I recently pinned 31 Days to a Better Photo and have slowly started to read through these blog posts and learn a little bit. My first exploration was with shutter speed...



Still have much, much more to learn about this one topic, but taking my camera off an automatic settings was the first step for me.

Another major goal I have during this break from work is to organize my photos a bit. Well, most importantly delete some. As of earlier this week I had 24,773 pictures that I have taken since I got my first digital camera Christmas 2002: 9 years ago! That is a LOT of pictures, and I know many of them could be deleted. I've already deleted about 1,000 pictures and many of those were completely dark, blurry or of something I clearly did not ever mean to take a picture of... like a table at a bar... or a wall? Since I started blogging I also have an absurd number of pictures of random food and God knows what else. I deleted many of these. I mean really, how many pictures of oatmeal and foam rolling does one really need to have? I still am not even close to done with this process. My next major target is to delete pictures that are of the exact same thing. Particularly since I got my new camera I have had a desire to take at least 7 photos of any given landscape, object, person etc. In the future, I plan to employ the tips in this article called, "Delete Ruthlessly," sent to me by another photo happy friend. At some point I will probably get to the point that I will need to store my photos somewhere other than right on my computer...but at least I can prolong this a bit.

So my question for you on this lovely Friday (man Friday always comes super fast when you don't have to work, huh?) is: Where on your computer do you store your photos? (or have you moved some off your computer?) Do you have them organized by date or do you have folders for different events/topics? Do you delete ruthlessly or are you guilty of possibly having a few blurry/all black/photos with heads cut off in your collection?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Highlights Christmas 2011

So it's taken me awhile to actually go back and recap Christmas. All I can say is I've been trying to relax, sleep and do enough of nothing to get rid of what has now become about 3 weeks of a cough. However, it's actually getting WORSE again so now all bets are off. Let the drinking and staying up late begin! Haha... yeah right, like I'll make it past 8 tonight after I spent half of last night up reading because every time I lied down, I coughed. I did finish a great book though.

So here are my Christmas highlights:

Gingerbread House Decorating Competition 2011



Year 2 of Christmas Eve at my house




Christmas Day with my fam


I got several amazing presents and many were wrapped in amazing pink paper :)


After present opening + a delicious Christmas lunch, we headed over to my grandmothers to see my grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Overall it was a relaxing day and successful Christmas. :) Plus Eric got me two new camera bags that have helped me fall in love with my camera all over again. I'll show you some pictures from this week in the next few days. I've gotta get my blogging mojo back!

How was your Christmas, if you celebrate? Otherwise, how was your long weekend?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pre-Christmas Excitement

I'm so happy another weekend has arrived :) I hope I can survive one more week of work next week before vacation. It seems like it should be easiest to survive the week before vacation but with children involved, it's the hardest week of the year! Way too much excitement all around. There are some exciting things to look forward to though- our winter concert is on Friday and I love listening to all the kids sing. Then, we will be sharing an awesome slideshow completed entirely by my amazing classroom assistant with the parents. She scanned in the kids drawing/writing about their family traditions and then she recorded their voices saying what they wrote.

Yesterday I had the following conversation with one of my girls. She LOVES fashion and always wears crazy outfits with even crazier accessories.

G: What are you doing after school today?

me: Actually, I'm going to a party for teachers.

G: Are you going to wear... that? (looks my outfit up and down)

me: haha, no I was going to go home and change first.

G: Oh good... you should wear a dress.

Haha. Nothing better than having your Friday casual outfits insulted by a 6 year old. I'm hoping when I wear my sparkly Uggs next Friday she will change her opinion on my wardrobe completely. She may even want to borrow them.

In other fun kid news, I had my annual (well second year in a row) Gingerbread Decorating Party for some of my former students. As always, I can't show pictures of the kids, but I took some others.

The Pre-Party Set Up:


Amazing Kiddo Creations:




Oh and of course, my husband the marshmallow gun master:


Good times. Even with an all out candy war, the clean up was still easy thanks to my mom's disposable table cloth and the help of the kids who basically found all the run away candy (let's hope).

Do you have any holiday season traditions?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Grass is Greener in Your Office

When I was younger, most people I knew (at least my age) were all in school. We went to school every day, we had vacations when most other school people did, and we never thought much about what else we could be doing because when you are a kid, you just go to school, that's what you do.

Now that I am an adult, the people I know have a lot more choices over how they spend their days. But this has brought about something new... the constant comparisons of my job to yours. Who has it harder? Who is paid what they should be? Who has more/better vacation time? Who has better hours? A few weeks ago Eric's family was over and in a room of just a few people- his dad wanted our vacation time, his brother wanted his dad's flex hours and Eric and I wanted a day where we could just shut the door to our office an send some personal e-mails :)

I love my job, I really do. Not every day, not even every week, but overall I love it. I love that moment when a child realizes he or she can *really* read. I love that moment when my kids clap because I just read them the best book or played a game they love. I love that moment when a parent tells me their child loves school. I love that moment about a month into school when I realize all the kids have made new friends already. I love that moment when kids have their first kindergarten play date and they can hardly focus all day they are so excited about it. I love that moment when I find or get a really great idea for a lesson and it really, really works. I love that I have a job where I get scheduled vacations after what I consider to be a reasonable amount of time. I love that I have a job where I can switch jobs in the summer to get a change of scenery. I love that I have a job with solid benefits, medical insurance, a retirement plan etc. I love that I have a secure job. There is even more I love.

Even still, there are things that sometimes I wish I could have...

I wish I didn't have to be "on" every minute at work. I wish I could make phone calls and get things done during "down time." I wish I could have flex time (aka work longer for 4 days to have the 5th off). I wish I could come in an hour late if I had a dentist appointment, or take a day off sick without getting out of bed to write multiple pages of plans. I wish I got paid like people do in the business world. I know they work more days than me, but even if you add to my salary for the summer months, I still would never make as much- even with 6 years of experience and a Master's degree.

You know what though? Who doesn't want to get paid more? Who doesn't want to work less or have an even more flexible schedule? Are there really people out there who feel like they don't work really hard at work? (I'm sure there are, but I don't know them).

Teachers get a lot of crap for various myths people have about our jobs. We "play" with kids all day. We have way too much time off. We are home at 3 every day. Eric, in particular, takes the brunt of many of the teacher jokes. He often hears "wait so, you get paid to play dodgeball all day in mesh shorts?" What is Eric's response to these clueless individuals (often teachers themselves!)?

You could've been a PE teacher too.

Oh yeah... we could've! I could've gone into business to make more money. I could leave my job right now for a job where I could read blogs all day. I could quit my job tomorrow and travel the world, living in hostels and taking on odd-jobs just to pay for my housing and food. I *could* do what I want, assuming I am willing to make the sacrifices to do it. But I'm not. And so... please take my complaints with a grain of salt as I will take yours. Sure, I will always have to pay absolutely absurd air fare to fly anywhere on school vacations week. But you know what? The grass is always greener on the other side. No one has the perfect job. If that job was out there, we would all do it.

So today, I will appreciate those kiddos in all their Christmas excitement glory. Well, make that tomorrow because today I'm home sick with a terrible cough. Haha. What do you appreciate about YOUR job?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Spirit + Giveaway Winner

Thank you to all who entered my Shabby Apple dress giveaway. There were a total of 42 entries so I wrote them all out and got a number through and the winner is...

#23 Blair from Wild and Precious!

Blair commented that she was asking Santa and obviously Santa + are connected. Then again, what is Santa not connected to? For those who did not win, I know how you feel because I myself really want this dress too!

This weekend I finally realized Christmas is in two weeks! I've been enjoying our beautiful Christmas tree for two weeks now, so I know how quickly that time will go!



Saturday morning I went on a big shopping spree. I got to the mall when it opened at 8am, and was home by 11. I finished almost all my work people and both of the kids I tutor. I got my third grade boy the game Apples to Apples and I got my second grade boy two Fly Guy books.

When I got home I started on my project for the office staff at work. I always get the principal, two secretaries and nurse a little gift like chocolates. Last year I made them Mama Pea's Christmas cookie dough balls. This year I decided to make them note cards with my favorite photos from the past year. I ended up with 2 from Sedona, 2 from my favorite Cape Cod beach, 1 from a beautiful pond at the Cape and one from the reservoir near my house.



I really like the way they came out and I'm happy this year I will not be contributing to their holiday unhealthy eating :)

Now I'm focused on the family gifts. Eric's family is all doing a big trip to Sedona in February, so they are set. Caroline is also set thanks to her fabulous blog wish list, and the fact that I know her so well and planned to get her a couple of those things anyway. Ha. I think I plan to go the event gift route with the rest of the family but I'm still working out the details of that.

I ALSO finally told Eric what I want and I could not be more pumped about the amazing camera bag I am going to have in a couple of weeks. I'm having a second round of love for my camera right now because I discovered the greatness of using the action feature on kids who tend to make weird faces but then have this one second of awesome smile. Now I just hold down the button while my camera takes photo after photo and at least one of them gets the kid in the cutest smile possible. Seriously, this is why parents spend the big bucks on a DSLR camera even when they have more pressing day care payments to worry about.

How are you guys doing on your Christmas shopping? What is your favorite gift you have purchased and/or made for someone so far?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Shabby Apple Dress Giveaway!

So we all know about my love for dresses right? If it was warm enough I would seriously consider wearing a dress every day forever. I should probably move to Hawaii.

That's why I am so excited to bring you guys this fantastic giveaway from Shabby Apple. Have you heard of this company? They offer vintage inspired clothing- everything from dresses to skirts to fitness attire! They also have bathing suits and jewelry. Plus, they support bloggers which means I automatically love them.

Want to see some of their dresses that I want?



These make me wish we could go back to summer so I can buy and wear these beautiful dresses!

Lucky for you guys, Shabby Apple has offered to giveaway one of their beautiful dresses to one of YOU. I love this dress and I could totally see myself wearing it to a Christmas or New Year's party.


You can see it on the model here.

So how can you win this dress?! First, you have to be a US reader. Wah! I know, I'm so sorry to my Canadian friends. I do still love you! :)

1. You must like Shabby Apple on Facebook. Leave me a comment to let me know you do :)

2. Tweet about this giveaway and let me know you did.

3. While you are at it, follow Shabby Apple on Twitter for another entry.

This giveaway will end on Friday December 9th! I'll announce the winner this weekend.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Weekend Ups and Down

Weekend Ups

1. Freaking delicious dinner on Friday night. I swear to God I just want to move into Il Casale. Or better yet... I could just hire them to be my personal chefs and cook dinner for me every night? Yes, yes, I will put that on my "when I win the lottery" list. The list is long friends.

2. Bruins Game! A few weeks ago my friend Becca messaged me to see if Eric and I want to go to a Bruins game with her. I haven't been to a game in a few years (read: since they have been good) so I was psyched. Plus I haven't seen Becca in way too long. We ended up having a great night, and the Bruins won!




3. Boston weather still hasn't realized it's December and I am loving every second of it. Eric and I went for a really long walk on Sunday and it literally changed my Sunday around. I swear no matter how exhausted and crappy I feel, a walk outside is always a good solution.


Weekend Downs

1. I slept crappy all weekend. Friday night I just had trouble sleeping for no apparent reason. Then Saturday I went to bed late and obviously still woke up at 7am. Why oh why? I really am just not good at losing sleep. Yes, hiring a night nurse for my future babies is on my "when I win the lottery" list too.

2. I had class on Saturday. God I hate class. I know it will be worth it when I reach Masters + 15 credits and get a pay raise. But until then, having class on Saturdays should be outlawed. Also on the outlaw list? Getting out of class 25 minutes late and classes on Mondays which I also have right now. Mental note to self: In the same way your 7th grade math teacher declared you "not a back of the room person," you are also not an in-class person, take only online classes from now on. PS. Eric is right, you do enjoy self torture.

Tell me the ups and downs of your weekend. Also, check back tomorrow for a giveaway! :)