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!