Sunday, December 30, 2012

Our "forever" home

I've been MIA lately, but for good reason (at least I think it's a good reason...), we bought a house!!! 

We sold Will's house back in September, and began house hunting in late October/early November.  The house we bought was one of the first we saw on the very first day, and I fell in love with it from the beginning!  Of course, we had just started our search and Will kept urging me to look at other houses and keep an open mind.  There were other houses I liked, but my mind kept drifting back to this one. 

When we first pulled up to the house, there was no "For Sale" sign in the yard, which we thought was very odd.  As our realtor walked up to the front door, she noticed that there was no lock box on the front door.  As we were discussing this, a man opened the door and asked if we were the 10:00 appointment.  He told us their listing had expired the day before, but since we made the appointment earlier in the week, he decided to honor it (thank you, Lord!)!  While the house needed some work (wall paper removed, carpets cleaned, paint), I was in love and I saw myself cooking dinners in the kitchen, setting up kids rooms upstairs, and having family meals in this house. 

We saw several other houses and decided to make an offer on a different house.  It had a lot of things that we liked, and Will loved it, so I gave in.  We made an offer, but got a call the next day that the owners accepted another offer before ours was made.  I was heart broken and scared to make an offer on another house. 

We scheduled more appointments and saw a few more houses, plus made second appointments for others we had already seen.  I was hesitant to ask my realtor to make an appointment for the "Grand View" house since they had pulled it off the market, but the worst they could say was "no", right?  Our realtor called their realtor and at first, they weren't going to show it to us because they were concerned we weren't serious buyers.  Then, the owner called back and changed his mind, he would show!  I was thrilled!  We spent a good deal of time in the house, then went home to discuss it.  Will liked the house better the second time, but I don't think he loved it yet.  He could obviously see how much I loved it and agreed to make an offer.  After a few counters, we agreed on a price and bought a house!!!!

The inspection went fairly well (a few snags, but nothing that would cause us to back out of the deal), and we closed on December 19th, Merry Christmas to us! 

We've been working in the house since the 21st, so I'll save the other pics for later, but here are a few pictures of the "before". 
The informal dining/breakfast area

Huge kitchen!

Family room

Formal dining (don't worry, they took the light fixture!)

Formal living


My fireplace!!!

One of the guest bedrooms upstairs

Master bath
I will definitely  be posting more pictures when we finish! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The White Envelope

I read this story and it truely touched my heart!  I can't wait to start this tradition when I have kids! ~L

Editor’s Note: This is a true story that is provided to us by the family of the author. Even though Nancy passed away two years after her article first appeared in Woman’s Day Magazine in 1982, her family continues to keep alive the tradition of the white envelope. This article has also inspired The White Envelope Project and web site.
It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree at this time of the year for the past 10 years or so. It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it. You know, the overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma, the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.
Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner city church. The kids were mostly black. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.
As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without head gear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously couldn’t afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.”

Mike loved kids – all kids. He understood kids in competitive situations, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That’s when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner city church.

On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition – one year sending a group of mentally challenged youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas – on and on… The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. Still, the story doesn’t end there. You see, we lost Mike several years ago due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. Yet Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further, with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation, watching as their fathers take down their envelopes. Mike’s spirit, like the spirit of Christmas, will always be with us.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lately I've felt like I can't do anything right. I can never find the right words, I can't make decisions fast enough, and have just felt like I'm failing others.

It's been an emotional few weeks, and I can't really see the light at the moment.

Today, I spoke with a parent of a former student. He asked how I was doing, how I liked my new job, and whether I missed the classroom. We chatted for a few moments, then he said, "You know, Nate still talks about how great a teacher you were and how much of an influence you made on his life."

Wow, that comment changed my mood. It reminded me that I am doing this for a reason, that's it's not just wasting time. Sometimes it's really hard to be in a fairly thankless job, but comments like that surely help!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rough Monday

Mondays are always rough, but this one was the most disappointing in a while. 

I've been pretty open about the fact that we are house hunting.  As much as I love my little town house, it's simply not big enough for the two of us, plus two dogs, not to mention when we start a family. 

I hate house hunting, there is almost nothing I like about it.  I get frustrated enough shopping for clothes that fit correctly that I like, house hunting nearly sends me over the edge. 

The first day we went out, we looked at 13 houses.  We saw some we really liked and some we really didn't like.  The second day we went out we saw about 6 more, again, some we really liked and some we didn't.  

We thought it over for a week, went to the bank, and decided to take a second look at two houses.  After more discussion, we called our realtor and told her we wanted to make an offer on one of the houses. 

Early Sunday morning, she sent us the paperwork, we signed and initialed it and sent it back.  We waiting all day on Sunday, but never heard anything.  This morning (Monday), our realtor texted us to tell us the seller had already accepted an offer on Saturday morning. 

I got my hopes up...I pictured us in that house.  I pictured myself in that kitchen making breakfasts and dinners.  I pictured where the nursery would go and how the play rooms would be set up.  I let myself get really attached to a house and I'm now heartbroken that someone else gets it. 

I hate house hunting. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Things I've Been Wondering About

Things have been very busy around here lately, planning a wedding, trying to decide where to be for holidays, house hunting, working, and trying not to go crazy have taken up the majority of my life lately.
While all these things keep my body busy, my mind has been on overdrive. 
Here are a few things I've wondered about lately:

1.  Why are there so many "fad" diets and workouts popping up?  What happened to working out and eating healthy?  Why do we have to eat shakes with chemicals instead of fruit in the morning? 

2.  Why are parents letting their very young children listen to crappy music so much that a 3 year old or a 5 year old can go on The Ellen Show and sing Nicky Minaj (or however you spell it) word-for-word, but they can't count to twenty? 

3.  Why do people who put their house on the market when they don't want to take care of it?  We were in a house yesterday and in one of the kids' rooms (obviously a teenager) there was a poster with very vulgar words and phrases on it.  This poster was well displayed in the room.  Really?  Although, I will say, they also had Bama stuff in the room...just sayin...

4.  Why do people who are given so many amazing opportunities in life seem to believe they are owed more in life? 

5.  Why can everyone else find cute clothes, but me? Seriously, if you have a place where you find all of these super cute tops and dresses, please fill me in on them! 

6.  Why can I follow directions on a "crafty project" but mine looks nothing like the pictures?

Sunday, October 21, 2012


One of these days, I'm going to attempt to make my gumbo roux from scratch, like with flour and oil.  But not today, today, I cheat!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

We finally found time to update our registries and update the wedding website!

Wedding website  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Playing catch up

I feel like I've been a bad blogger lately.  I haven't been blogging, I haven't even been reading other people's blogs.  I honestly think this is the first time in two weeks that I've even turned on my personal laptop.  There has just been too much going on lately! 

A few weeks ago, our friend Ann (the one who introduced me to Will), Amanda, and Becky hosted a great engagement party for us!  We were surrounded by love!  My mom flew in, Will's parents and sister drove up, and many of our friends came to celebrate our engagement! 

While my mom was down, we did our cake tastings, picked our baker, and ordered the cake!  One more thing off the list! We also looked at a few florists, but I still have one more to visit before I make my final decision. 

Last weekend we took our engagement pictures and I absoutely cannot wait to see them! Due to weather issues, we had to re-schedule a few times, but it was totally worth the wait!  I also had to do a last minute wardrobe switch as the weather was about 40 degrees colder than I had planned for (stupid Texas weather, the next day it was back to the 80s), but some outfits I wasn't willing to part with and we just sucked it up and beared the cold!  If you need an awesome, fun photographer, I would totally recommend Kasey!!!

My wedding dress has also come in!  I haven't been to pick it up yet, but I'm so excited to!!! 

Work has been killing me lately...I've never felt like I'm drowning as much as I am now.  I come home and I am mentally and physically exhausted.  I'm in bed by around 9:30, but I still wake up feeling tired.  The weather has been changing here, so of course that's not helping anything. 

Will sold his house!  Come Wednesday, he will officially be homeless, as in he doesn't own a home, as in there will only be 1 mortgage between us!  That is until we find a house that we want to be our home.  I'm not looking forward to house shopping, it frustrates me beyond end.  I'm not a person who can take out other people's furniture and put mine in in my head.  I have trouble imagining a different color on the walls.  So if it doesn't look good to me on site, I don't like it...I'm weird like that.  I also am easily annoyed when I can't find something I like right away.  These two things together do not make for an easy house shopping experience.   Our relator has been sending me houses to look at on-line, so that has helped to weed out some and hopefully make the process better for me. 

We have been moving his stuff out of his house and into a storage unit.  Luckily, Will's friend Chris helped him with the big stuff, THANKS, CHRIS!!!

I think that's it for now (as if that wasn't enough).  I'll try to do better at updating!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Groom's gift

I ordered Will's groom's gift today, and I'm so very excited about it! 
You'll just have to wait until June to see what it is, but it's worth the wait (I think!)! 

So, here is what we have wedding planning wise so far:
My dress (which is in!)
Bridesmaids dresses (ordered)
Band for the reception
Invitations ordered
Photographer reserved
Save the Dates designed
Engagement pictures scheduled
Minister selected

We have one more cake tasting to attend, but it's going to have to be amazing for an amazing price to beat what we have already tasted! 


We've had some gloomy weather this weekend, but Sunday night, it stopped raining enough for us to head out for an excursion (we don't use the word walk in this house anymore). 

On the way home, Will spotted an amazing rainbow!  It was near perfect!  Of course the colors we the most bold near the ends, but you could see the whole rainbow!  Then as we turned the corner on our street, the sky looked too beautiful to not capture!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Color Me Rad!

A few months ago, I found this awesome deal on Groupon for the Color Me Rad 5k.  The Color Run (similar idea, different compamy) came to Dallas last year, but registration was full before we were able to register.  When I saw the Groupon, I knew we had to do it!  I bought the Groupon, then texted a few friends and invited them too!

I downloaded the Couck-to-5k app, and Will and I started running in the evenings.  I'm so not a runner, so this was a struggle for me.  Put me in a pool and I can swim all day, but running has never been my forte.  I think the words "I hate you" came out of my mouth a few times while we were running. 

Bright and early on the morning of the race, Josh, Lauren, Jessica, and Greer swung by the house and picked us up, then we headed to Fort Worth! 

Don't we look all nice and clean! 

Me and Greer

Josh and Will acting tough

We knew at some point we would be seperated, so we came up with a meeting point after the race.  It was a good thing too, because we were seperated before we even started running! 

This was not a normal 5k, at each K mark, color was either thrown at you or sprayed on you.  Apparently, the "color" was cornstarch that was dyed.  People actually volunteer to throw/spray color on you as you run! 

At the end of the run, they give you color packets for the "color throw".  An announcer will start a countdown and everyone throws their color in the's a trainwreck, but so much fun!

color throw

The girls (and Will)

Our group after the run!

This is what you look like after the Color Me Rad 5k

We will definitely be doing this next year!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Do you have your GOLD on?!?

Did you know that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month? 
Did you know that the GOLD ribbon is the symbol of Childhood Cancer?

So many of my own personal heroes have gone to battle with this horrible disease.  Some of them have won, some of them are still battling, some have won but have everlasting scars, and sadly, some have lost the battle, but ALL of them are heroes! 


The other day, Will was complaining that I look at Pinterest too much.  I politely reminded him that without Pinterest, he wouldn't have lots of yummy dinners and desserts. 

I've made these Mini Nutella Cups a couple of times and they have been a hit!  They are really easy, and honestly, it involves Nutella, enough said!

If you can mix ingredients in a bowl, you can make these!

1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 jar of Nutella

Preheat oven to 350 and grease mini muffin tin
Cream butter and both sugars in a bowl until smooth.  Beat in eggs an vanilla until fully incorporated.  Gradually add dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt) until fully mixed. (I added about 2 tablespoons of peanut butter to the ones I made for the kickoff, but you don’t have to do that)

Roll dough into ball and place in mini muffin tin.  You don’t want to fully fill the cups of the tin, then the cookie will be too big.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown, remove from oven and let cool for 2 minutes

Using the back of a spoon or the bottom of a shot class (my method) make a well in the cookies.  Add Nutella to each cup.  The heat from the cookie will begin to melt the Nutella and you can swirl it and make it look pretty. 

Remove them from the tin after about 10 minutes.  Nutella should solidify in about an hour, but they are even better when still warm!
Makes about 60 cups, but you can halve the recipe or make the whole thing and freeze the dough balls. 

Monday, August 27, 2012


I will warn you right now, this is not a happy's an annoyed one! 

One of the things I like about living in the subburbs is that I don't have to deal with traffic on a regular basis.  I don't have to deal with interstates on a daily basis, and when I do have to deal with them, it's my choice! 

Saturday, Will and I got an invitation to meet some friends at the Cowboys pre-season game.  We were all going to sit in the "party deck" and you can't order those tickets over the phone ahead of time.  The game started at 7, so when we left my house before 5:30, I thought we would be ok.  I don't live far from Arlington, and it usually takes about 30-40 minutes to get to Cowboy Stadium. 

About halfway there, we realize that we don't have cash on us for parking.  Will finds an ATM and we pull in. There are two lines for the ATM, one is long, the other short.  Thinking we are smart, we pick the short one...note to self, there is a reason that line is short, the touch screen didn't work.  So we drove around the parking lot to get in the other line.  I'm not sure what the person actually using the ATM was doing, but I don't think he knew the proper use of an ATM.  We sat in line for almost 10 minutes before giving up and trying to find another bank, in all that time, I never saw the guy actually put money in or take money out of the machine.  He kept leaning out and pressing buttons, but nothing happened.  I mean, it's an ATM, it's not rocket science people...

So we head off, find another ATM, get cash, then head back on the road.  We thought we were back on track.  Then we got caught in traffic...really, really, really bad traffic, like no one actually moving traffic.  We could see Cowboy stadium, but we were not getting any closer to it! 

At 6:45, we still were not anywhere close to parking, so we decided to give up and go home.  We figured that by the time we parked, got tickets, and were able to watch the game, they would already be in the 2nd quarter and all the starters would be out.  I called our friends and told them to enjoy the night without us, we were going to watch the game at home (which worked out for me- I watched Teen Mom/Saints game upstairs while Will watched Cowboys downstairs). 

Today was the first day of school, so I knew traffic would be heavier than normal, since parents like to drop their kids off on the first day.  I left my house at 7:15, thinking it would take me at MOST 40 minutes to get to work with the increased traffic.  At 7:35, I turned on to Keller Hicks Road, the road that my school is on.  At 8:45 I turned in to the parking lot of my school, about 1.5 miles away.  Yep, an hour and ten minutes to go 1.5 miles, not because there was an accident, but because people can't pay attention, there is incomplete construction, and the lights were not timed correctly.  So, I was 45 minutes late on the first day of school...thank goodness I'm not in the classroom anymore, or I would have been a horrible example!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Last Friday, Will and I boarded a bound for Seattle to visit my parents!  I hadn't seen my parents since April, so I was very anxious and not patient on our 6 hour trip!
When we arrived, Will and I had not had lunch yet, so Mom took us to a fish'n'chips place on Lake Washington.  We had beautiful weather, so we sat outside while we ate lunch and took a stroll around the lake. 
After dinner, we went to one of the many state parks near my parent's house and saw the Puget Sound. 

After breakfast on Saturday morning, my parents took us to Pike's Market, the original Starbucks, and the Space Needle.  We had more great weather (the high got up to 95!) and we all really enjoyed the day outside!  We got a coffee in the original Starbucks store, meandered through the market (which reminded me a lot of the French Market in NOLA, only with more fresh fruit/veggies/flowers) then had lunch on the pier in Seattle.  We headed over to the Space Needle, bought VIP passes to skip the line, then headed up to an amazing view!  Seafair, the famous airshow, was going on that weekend, and the Blue Angels were flying in the show.  We got to the top of the Space Needle just as the Blue Angels blew past us! 

After the Space Needle, we headed next door to the Chihuly museum.  If you don't know who Dale Chihuly, I highly recommend you look him up!  the museum was amazing, then we noticed that Dale Chihuly himself was walking around in the museum (he is the man with the eye patch in the pictures).  Coolest museum I have ever been to!

On Sunday, we headed up to the mountains for more amazing views!  First we headed to the Snoqualmie Falls.  During the spring, then the snow is melting, the falls are quite a bit bigger, but we still had a great time!  We headed further up the mountain and found some lakes and trails.  One of the trails led to an old railroad tunnel that is 2.3 miles long.  In the middle of the tunnel, you cannot see either end (it's completely dark) and if the temp is 100 outside, it is 50 inside the tunnel!  The tunnel is closed between November and May each year, because stalagtites will form on the roof of the tunnel and could fall on you!  We didn't come prepared with flashlights and warmer clothes, but it's definitely something we want to do next time! 

On Monday, we headed to Bellevue, the home of Microsoft!  We looked at all the really big Microsoft buildings, then went the the mall!  It was another great day weather wise, so we ate outside on the deck! 

All in all, we had a great trip and cannot wait to go back!!!  Mom, keep that room ready!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


First off, I want to say I think the whole Chic-fil-A thing has gotten out of hand.  Unfortunately, the radicals on both sides have let it get this way. 
I mentioned to Will the other day that I was kind of glad I lived in a conservative state, because then I won't have to vote for or against the legalization of gay marriage/civil unions.  I honestly don't know how I feel about it, and I don't think I could confidently vote either way. 

Some Christians preach that the biblical stance is against gay marriage, but I wonder if those same Christians check the clothing label on every item of clothing they wear, since the bible also discourages wearing clothes of blended thead (Leviticus 19:19). 

I wonder if they eat ham, bacon or anything else made from a pig (Leviticus 11:8).

I wonder if any of them have tattoos (Leviticus 19:28). 

I wonder if any of them eat lobster, crab, crawfish, oysters, clams, shrimp, etc (Leviticus 11:10). 

I wonder if any of the men shave their faces in the morning (Leviticus 19:27). 

I wonder if the women ever braid their hair, wear gold jewelry, or wear revealing/expensive clothes or shoes (1 Timothy 2:9).

I also wonder if people who are "boycotting" Chic-fil-A because of the owners comments or because the company is donating money to "undesirable causes" research what some of the other companies they buy products from donate to. Do they spend time looking up all the organizations that Wal-Mart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, Kroger, etc give to.  Are they judging other companies the same way they are judging Chic-fil-A?

Yes, most of the above bible verses are found in the Old Testament, and many Christians focus more on the New Testament, especially the Gospels where Jesus teaches us to love one another, forgive one another, and leave the judgement up to someone who is more powerful than us. 

I am not a biblical scholar (in fact, I'm probably lacking in most of my biblical knowledge), I'm not a political activist (I will admit, I don't research issues as much as I should), I AM however a Catholic sinner.  I trust that I am forgiven for my sins, and I believe that others are as well. 

I honestly don't know how I feel about gay marriage/civil unions.  I have friends who are gay/lesbian, and I certainly don't think I am any better than they are because I am in love with a member of the opposite sex.  I don't want to deprive anyone the rights that I have.  On the other side, I believe in my church, and my church doesn't support the right for gay marriage.  

On a recent Facebook post, a friend wrote that we should take the word "marriage" out of the discussion and focus on civil unions, but even when you are married in a religious setting or married by a priest/minister, you still have to get a marriage license from the state.  When you go to the JP and have a legal ceremony, it's still considered a marriage, not a civil union, right? 

I'm sure people will say I'm missing something here, but this is my opinion.   

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I am finally back at home after 3 weeks of traveling! 
I started off by headed to Lafayette for a night, then to Magnolia Springs for a night, then off to Camp Smile-A-Mile! 

Jennifer, the camp director, invited the counselors to spend the night of the 4th up at the lake to see the fireworks, so Sam, Meredith, and I made plans!  I drove to Sam's apartment, threw her stuff in my car, then we headed to meet Meredith at Sinclair's (a camp tradition) for dinner.  Both Sam and I were staying for the entire 10 days at camp, so between the two of us, my car was packed out and it looked like we were moving in! 

We unloaded our stuff into our cabin, made our beds, then headed down to the boat dock to watch the awesome fireworks!  We had a front row seat and had lots of fun laughing and talking with our Camp friends!

We started off Camp with Jr/Sr weekend on Thursday, July 5th!  It was a great, 4 day weekend with some awesome kids!  All the campers at this session were going to be Juniors or Seniors in high school, or just graduated.  They are an amazing group, and I feel so blessed to have watched many of them grow up. 

On Sunday, July 8th, the campers from the weekend left, and in the afternoon, the counselors for weeklong camp arrived!  It was like a mini-reunion for some of us! 

Monday morning we woke up, had a quick breakfast, then Sam, Joey, Taylor and I loaded up in the Camp surburban with Bruce (executive director) and headed to Birmingham to meet the campers at Children's hospital and ride the bus to Camp! 

We had an amazing week at Camp!  Unfortunately, I can't post many pictures.  A counselor from June Camp inappropriately photoshopped some pictures from June camp and posted them on facebook.  The counselors had a meeting with the directors and we were told we could no longer post pictures to facebook.  It sucks that because of the actions of one person, we cannot share our photos with our friends.  Here are a few pics I think I can share since they don't have people in them!

I'm sure to people outside of our camp family, these pictures look totally random, but each one has a very special story behind it.  Knowing that this was possibly my last camp session as a counselor, I took lots of pictures of what I see when I think of Camp.    

Our very last circle up of July camp was very hard for me.  I cried through the entire thing.  It was hard driving away as well.  Camp will always be a huge part of my soul, our campers and counselors will always be my heroes.  There are so many people at Camp who have taught me so many life lessons, who I admire, and who I strive to be like.  I truely hope that one day I am able to go back to Camp, even if it is just to visit for a day.   

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Living on Camp SAM time!

This week I got the emails I have been waiting for all summer, the emails I wait for all year!  The emails about CAMP! 

If you've read my blog before, you know that every summer, I make the trek to Alabama to volunteer at Camp Smile-A-Mile, a camp for children with cancer.  I became aware of Camp through my sorority's philanthropy.  Tri Delta's "official" philanthropy is St. Jude's Hospital, but we are also allowed to have local philanthropies to support as well.  Since Camp SAM's campsite is about 30 minutes from Auburn, we adopted Camp SAM as our local philanthropy, splitting our fundraising money between St. Jude and Camp SAM.  I began volunteering as a counselor in April/May of 2001.

When I first saw the emails, my initial reaction was sheer joy!  I sent a few texts out to other counselors asking about their plans and began re-arranging my plans.  I printed off my packing list, made a trip to Target to pick up a few items and began dreaming of the second that I made the turn into the campsite! 

As I really thought about it though, an extreme feeling of sadness came over me.  This may be my last year at Camp...

Next summer, Will and I will get married in June.  We also have weddings to attend in April, May and possible July, all weddings we will have to travel to.  We will hopefully will be moving into and unpacking a new home.  We have also talked about trying to start a family soon after we find a home.  With all of those changes, I'm not sure how Camp fits in...

Camp is hands down my favorite place in the world, and I doubt that will ever change.  I have laughed until my entire body ached, cried until I couldn't see anymore, and had every emotion in between.  Sure, Camp is set on the beautiful Lake Martin and waking up to that sight is breathtaking, but Camp is all about the people.  The staff that runs camp, the volunteers who come as counselors, activity staff, business owners who create special programs for our campers, and of course the campers and families who attend camp.  Each one of them has touched my life in a way I cannot even begin to express.  When I think of my favorite memories, many of them happen at Camp.  We have inside jokes, monkey fists, candle-lighting, dancing on tables, banana boat riding, and so much more.  They truely are more than just my Camp friends, they are my Camp FAMILY!   When Will proposed and we were telling people we were engaged, my camp family were some of the first people I wanted to tell.  A few weeks later at Camp Orientation (which I couldn't attend), the counselors who knew told the rest of our family, and I was overwhelmed with love and joy from them!  

I broke down this morning, and it's still a week before I have to be at Camp.  I hate to think of what I will do at closing ceremonies, especially after teen camp.  

To all those who have been involved in Camp SAM, I cannot thank you enough for all the memories I have.  They are certainly my most cherished!  
(Don't judge the is Alabama after all)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Check another item off the list!

Friday, Amanda, Greer and I headed to Uptown for a little girls lunch and bridesmaids dress shopping!  A boutique called Bella Bridesmaid had several of the designers that I liked, so I called and made our appointment! 

Traffic was horrible, so we didn't have as much time for lunch as we originally planned, but we found a quick bite, close to the boutique, then headed to try dresses on. 

We started off by just pulling any dress that we liked, then the girls started trying on!  Two of the designers had it set up so you could mix and match tops and bottoms...the piles of maybes kept growing!  I really liked the top of one designer and the skirt of another designer, but unfortunately, you can't mix and match designers...

After re-trying some dresses, we decided to go a totally different way!  As we were looking through dresses again, we found a dress that we totally missed the first time!  It ended up being totally different from what I though we would go with, but that seems to be par for the course for this wedding!  So excited about these dresses (and I want one too...can the bride get a bridesmaids dress?!?)!

Bridesmaid top- in navy
Bridesmaid skirt- in navy

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Why I love summer!

1.  On average, I've washed my hair 2-3x per week, and dried/flat ironed it once a week (for church).  Yes, I do still shower every day, but hair is not my priority.  My hair has been in a pony tail everyday since summer started!

2.  I get to sleep in, although, sleeping in is sleeping until 6:30-7.  I'm not one who can go back to sleep after waking up, so I go ahead and get up and get started with my day.  I guess this is good practice for when Will and I start a family.  Anyway, 6:30 is better than 6:00! 

3.  Water!  I've always loved being in the water (duh, I'm a swimmer!).  I've been in several pools, water parks, and lakes this year.  I thought I would be deprived when my parents moved to Seattle, leaving me without a backyard pool to visit, but boy was I wrong!  And summer is not even over yet! 

4.  I get to make my own schedule! I get to decide when to go to the gym, when to eat, when to get dressed, etc.  Love it!

5.  Reading, reading, reading!  I've already finished 3 books, and have a stacks of books ready to read!

6.  Traveling!  I won't leave for another week, but I get to make my annual trek to sweet home Alabama to go to my favorite place in the entire world, Camp Smile a Mile!

7.  Will and I have broken the mold of normal date nights.  Last weekend we went bowling at Main Event and then kayaking/swimming on Lake Grapevine.  I'm so glad we enjoying doing things like this together!

8.  Planning our wedding!  While I second guess everything I do, stress over picking a photographer and break down a cry over small details, I know everything will be great on June 15, 2013, because I will be walking down the aisle to spend the rest of my life with the man that I love!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I've seen several commercials lately that say the US is ranked (insert number here) when compared to other countries, especially in the areas of Science and Math.  While I agree something needs to be done, I think many people are going about it in the wrong way. 

1.  We need to create better teachers.  I partly agree with this, but not 100%.  Yes, there are crappy teachers who don't like their job and literally teach nothing in their class.  Students who are under-achievers usually love these teachers because they aren't held accountable in their class and they can be lazy and do whatever they want. Students who want to learn and be better hate these teachers because they realize they are being cheated (ask me how I know this...).   Unfortunately, school systems cannot get rid of these teachers because they are on "tenure".  Education is one of the only businesses I know that cannot fire employees for not doing their job. 

There are AWESOME teachers out there.  Teachers who really care about their students, and who really love their job.  It is evident to everyone who sees them teach that they have a passion for it.  

2.  We need to create harder/more challenging curriculums.  I'm not going to speak for other states (because I don't know what their curriculum is), but I don't think this is a valid argument.  Each student learns differently and to try to hold every 13 year old to the exact same standard is absurd.

3.  We need to incorporate more technology/more hands on/more fun in teaching.  Nope, sorry, if a kid doesn't want to learn, they don't want to learn.  Putting a computer in front of them won't make them magically want to learn, it will, however, make them see how far they can push the limits to use the technology incorrectly.  Previous generations learned without fancy computers. 

Not ONCE have I heard anything about parents holding their kids accountable.  No one does studies about involved parents vs uninvolved parents and how that effects students education.  
In my classroom experience, the students who continually did poorly were the same students whose parents never came to school events, never answered the phone when they saw the school's number pop up, who never emailed teachers, and who never checked their child's grades.  In the district I work in, we use "live" gradebooks that parents can access on-line 24 hours a day.  As soon as a teacher puts in grades, a parent can see them.  There is absoutely no excuse for not knowing what your child's grade is in my class.  
I don't buy the "But I'm a single parent" excuse.  Guess what, so was my mom.  My education was important to her, so she made it a priority.  She made sure she knew what my grades were and there were consequences when my grades weren't where she thought they should be.  I'm sure it wasn't easy for her and I'm sure there were things she would rather do than check on my grades, but it was important to her, and that taught me that education was important.  

There are TONS of parents who are involved in their kids lives, and those are the kids that do well.  Not saying that those kids don't miss deadlines everynow and then, don't fail a quiz every now and then, or forget to do homework sometimes, but on average, they do well.  These arents talk to teachers and ask about how their child is doing.  These parents know their child's teacher and check their grades on line. 

We can change everything we want in the classroom, but if parents don't find education important, chances are, students won't either.  We can have the best teachers, the most up-to-date technology, the most challenging curriculum, but until parents decide to step in and hold their children accountable, nothing is going to change.  No other country takes education for granted as much as the US does, and that's why they will always out rank us. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Furry Children

The other morning, we spent lots of time on the floor playing with our furry children.  Luckily, they play well together and just leave each other alone most of the time!
My sweet CC girl

Elvis loves his toy

Let's get Dad!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Check it off the list!

Strike venue off the list!  We have a wedding chapel and a wedding date! 

On June 15,2013, at 11:30 am, I will walk down the aisle to marry Will! 
We are getting married at Northeast Wedding Chapel!  

Next up is looking for a photographer, and trying to sort through all the "great photographers" that everyone recommends. 

I've also been looking at first dance songs and father/daughter songs.  I'm crying just listening to them...the next 12 months are going to be a lot of tears!

To recap, I have:
A fiance
A dress/veil
4 amazing bridesmaids
A beautiful wedding chapel!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Big 3-0!

I was nervous, I mean REALLY nervous for this birthday!  I'm not sure if I thought I would suddenly wake up with gray hair and wrinkles or what, but I was dreading turning 30! 

When I got to school, several people wished me a happy birthday, before I even got to my office.  Once I turned the hall to my office I knew why!
I had to sneak CC into the pics...she's just too cute! 
Anyway, the office staff at Lone Star decorated my office, had a cake, and even sang happy birthday to me!  I work with AMAZING people!!!

Throughout the day, I got tons of calls, texts, fb messages, etc from the awesome people in my life!  I hope I got a chance to thank each and every one of them!!!

When I got home, there were packages and cards just begging to be opened!  Then Will took me out to a fabulous dinner at Reunion Tower in Dallas, and we had dinner and got to "spin around the city"! Dinner was good, but dessert was AMAZING!  Chocolate souffle with cream fresh, chocolate ice cream, and warm chocolate syrup!  It was TOTALLY worth the calories!

Will ordered the painting on the top for me.  We had seen the artist at her booth at Southlake Art in the Square and I mentioned that I liked it, so he contacted her and had this one done especially for me!  She even signed the back of it! He also gave me the beautiful red roses!  My mom and Wayne gave me the print on the bottom right...they have a few prints by the same artist hanging in their house.  I also got a new Vera Bradley computer bag for work, a super cute summer scarf and lots and lots of love for my birthday! 

I guess 30 isn't so bad after all!


For Will's birthday last year, he told me he wanted to go ziplining.  We didn't go last year, so this year, I bought a Ziplining Tour down in wine country!  With everything going on (wedding plans taking a turn, my parents moving to Seattle, stress at work for both of us), it was great to leave town for a couple of days, just to two of us. 

Saturday morning, we woke up, threw bags in the car and headed south!  Our tour was scheduled for 12:30, but we arrived early and other people arrived late, so they swapped us out!  We geared up, met our tour guides, had a quick lesson in ziplining and then we were off in the trees! 

We had an awesome day and Will was so excited about his late birthday weekend!

After our adventure in the tree tops, we hit Stonehouse Winery.  We had been there before and went back for a tasting and a delicious glass of wine!  Then we headed to Horseshoe Bay for our night at the Marriott Resort!  I was quite excited about our reservation because rooms are normally anywhere from $300-$700 a night and I got it on expedia for $130!  The resort was completely booked that weekend and we ended up getting upgraded to a villa that normally runs for over $700/night on the weekends!  Thank you!

We had a great dinner over looking the lake!  I even got carded when I ordered my drink!  The waiter told Will, "Sorry dude, she looks really young!" Ha!

The resort was beautiful!  It had several pools, extensive grounds with all kinds of activities ( clay, grass, and cement tennis courts, putting greens, walking paths, bikes to rent, etc).  Like any Marriott resort, it was exquisite!  We very much enjoyed our stay!  Plus, his parents drove up from Austin to have brunch with us Sunday morning!