Thursday, March 31, 2016

Currently... (Vol. 2)

Planning… a girl’s trip with two of my speech path buddies to Las Vegas this summer to ring in one of the girl’s big 4-0.

Buying… tickets to “Thurby.”  What in the world is that, you ask?  Thurby is what Churchill Downs has branded the Thursday before Derby Day. 

Thursday + Derby = Thurby.  

It's a day of horse racing at Churchill downs that many locals like myself have started attending in lieu of the very crowded and more expensive Oaks Day and Kentucky Derby.  

Shopping… for a hat to fit my head for Thurby.  The dress code for Thurby is anything goes, so you will see some people dressed in rags and others who look like they are going to the Kentucky Derby instead of Thursday racing.  The crew I’m going with wants to get fancy this year so we are all supposed to sport headgear of some kind.  So far, I’m not having much luck finding a hat that doesn’t feel like a vise around my cranium.

Reading… Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan.  It’s supposed to be funny.  So far, for me anyway, it’s not.  I’m having a hard time keeping the characters straight and the never ending description of high end cars, fashion, jewelry, and the like is getting on my nerves.  But, I'm not even halfway through the book yet, so the jury’s still out.  We shall see.

Looking… forward to Spring Break next week.  Only 15 or so hours more with these crazy Yahoo-ligans!

Dreading… the work I MUST do over Spring Break.  I don’t typically do any work over breaks, but this is a have-to situation.

Cleaning… out my stepson’s bedroom.  He moved out last week in to his very first apartment.  We are planning to repurpose the room so it needs a thorough cleaning and some repair work.

Enjoying… the very mild, Spring weather.

Admiring... the beautiful flowers and flowering trees.  The colors seem ultra vivid this year in my part of Kentucky.

Taking… my full arsenal of medicines (Zyrtec, Singulair, and Nasacort) to combat the spring allergies that notoriously are associated with beautiful spring flowers and flowering trees.

Composing… a piece titled “K is for Kentucky” for my participation in next months Blogging A to Z Challenge.  My first post "A is for Appalachia" will be published tomorrow.

What are you up to?  Feel free to chime in below.  Thanks for stopping by!  Have a good one!

Linking up with Kristin @ Stuff, Things, Etc. 
and Joey @ Hodgepodges.

Linking up with Penny @ Penny's Passion 
and Vanessa @ X-tremely V.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Three Photos - Friday Reflections (Not on Friday) Vol. 10

One of the prompts for this week's Friday Reflections is to choose three photos of yourself across your lifetime and write how you feel when looking at them, where you were, what you were doing, what you were like, etc.  Here goes...

My dad's 67th birthday is today, so I was inspired to use one of the few pictures in which he and I are pictured together.  This oldie but goodie was taken in the late 1970s and I was probably three, maybe four years old.  We are in the front yard of my paternal grandparent's house.  I vaguely remember the lane when it was graveled, for it was paved with asphalt sometime in the 80s and that's how I picture it in my mind.  My parents' Chrysler is behind us and even further in the background, partially obscured by overgrown weeds, is the Winnebago that belonged to my grandparents' neighbors.

I don't remember the moment when this picture was taken, but apparently, from what I've been told, sitting atop my father's shoulders was a favorite place of mine when I was young.  

Looking at this picture now, I feel a mixture of emotions. I feel a certain amount of wistfulness along with a certain amount of disconnect.  My relationship with my father is... complicated, so as I look at this picture, I long for a time when things were much simpler between us.

This is a picture of myself along with my best friend of 28 years, Christina, and Peggy, our very good friend from high school and college, who just happens to also be my cousin-in-law.  This picture was taken in Washington D.C. twenty-two years ago today. The three of us made a road trip to our nation's capital during our spring break from college.  We were the guests of one of our college friend's family who lived in nearby Alexandria, VA.

I remember this day quite vividly, for the weather was terrible.  It was overcast, quite chilly, and rained on and off all day. Despite the less than desirable weather conditions, we trudged on, so excited to be on our first ever trip as "adults."  

Looking at this picture now makes me smile, for I have so many fond memories of that trip. That trip to Washington D.C. was the only spring break trip I ever took in college. Although Washington D.C. is a non-traditional college spring break destination, I couldn't imagine a more fun spring break. I was with my two dearest friends.  We were on our own, exploring a big, busting city and we were young with very few cares in the world.  It was perfect. 

This picture was also taken in Washington D.C. during my spring break, but this one was taken 19 years after the previous picture.  In 2013, I went with my mom and stepdad to our nation's capital in hopes of seeing the famed cherry blossoms that make their annual spring appearance in D.C. anytime between mid March to mid April.  The bloom is dependent on the weather and unfortunately, we arrived about a week before the blossoms bloomed that year. We saw a few budding blossoms, but they were few and far between. Most of what we saw was a red hue on the trees, indicative of the impending bloom.

As I look at this picture now, I'm reminded of the close bond I share with my mother and stepfather.  We have taken many trips together during my lifetime. Although I didn't appreciate them when I was a teenager, I mean, it wasn't cool at all to take educational trips with your parents, I appreciate the trips we took and the time we spent together now that I am an adult. This trip to Washington D.C. was my stepfather's first time to the capital city and I'm glad I was able to share that experience with him.

Linking up with Mackenzie @ Reflections from Me 
and Janine @ Reflections from a Redhead. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sweet - Hugh's Weekly Photo Challenge (Week 18)

JELL-O Layered Easter Eggs

My sister-in-law made these for Easter dinner.  She made them using six different Jello flavors and plastic Easter eggs as the mold.  Once the Jello set up, she sliced them in half and served them on a deviled egg serving tray.  They provided just enough sweetness to satisfy a craving without being too overwhelming or loaded in calories.

Interested in my previous photo submissions?  Click below.

Friday, March 25, 2016

10 Things That Made Me Happy This Week (Vol. 21)

I finished and posted my first ever guest post this week. To read it, click here.

A friend of mine who recently was diagnosed with breast cancer got some great news this week.  It is Stage 1 and was caught early.

My officemate at work shared this on Facebook:

Taking down the kids' snowflakes in my room at work and having them work on spring pictures.

Last Friday, I saw a friend from college, a gal I hadn't seen in 20 years.  She and her family were in town to watch the JMU lady basketball team play in the women's tournament.  It was fun to catch up!

No jacket (for me) temperatures in the 50s (mornings) and 60s (afternoons)!

Watching Rocky, Rocky II, and Rocky III consecutively back to back last weekend.  I love me some Rocky.

This Rocky quote:

Watching this rabbit through the window bravely get closer and closer to my house as to munch on the clover in my backyard.

Seeing my former officemate, Suzie, at a baby shower this week.  I don't get to see her often anymore, so it was good to see her and catch up. 

What are some things that made you happy this week?  Hoping this find you well!  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Guest Blogging at Quirky Pickings

Hey, hey everyone!  Today I'm guest blogging over on Jenn's blog, Quirky Pickings.  This is my first ever guest blog post and I'm super excited!  Feel free to come over and check out my post. Have a good one!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Lessons From the Ledge - Friday Reflections (Not on Friday) Vol. 9

The mood was somber.  It was a Tuesday and we were gathered in the library just as we do every Tuesday for a faculty meeting. Normally, despite our end of the day tiredness, we're a talkative bunch, but on that particular afternoon, the library was eerily silent.  We knew what was coming, we could feel it.  That was the day we learned that our school's scores on the state assessment had not increased from the previous year, but rather decreased.  This is considered a big no-no in the world of education and high stakes accountability.  It was also the day I first viewed "Lessons from the Ledge," a TED Talk by Alison Levine.

But, before the news of our plummeting test scores was officially shared with us, my principal played us a portion (approximately the first four minutes) of this TED Talk video. 

In her talk, Levine, an American climber, explorer, mountaineer, and entrepreneur who has completed the Explorers Grand Slam, discussed her experience of ascending the world's highest peak, Mt. Everest.  

During the portion of the video we saw that day, she described how the common assumption that climbers start at base camp and simply work their way up from camp to camp until they reach the summit is not true. In reality, climbers must ascend and descend the mountain, going back and forth between base camp and the higher elevation camps multiple times before finally making an attempt to reach the peak. The reason for the repeated trek down the mountain to base camp is to allow the body to hydrate, rest, and gain the necessary strength needed to continue the climb to the summit.

The message was simple.  
Progress doesn't always occur in one direction.  Sometimes it is necessary to move backwards in order to later move forward and get to the place you want to be.

That is exactly what we needed to hear that day, because our spirits were down and we honestly felt like failures.  The previous year, our school had made tremendous gains on the state assessment.  But, that year, as I mentioned before, our scores had gone down. My principal likened this decline to the downhill return trip to base camp after having made it up to camp number one. She stressed that our descent was not a failure, but rather a vital and necessary part of our overall journey.

After returning home that evening, I thought about the simple message conveyed in the first four minutes of "Lessons from the Ledge" and how it could apply to so many aspects of life. My quest to complete a half marathon several years earlier required similar "downward treks" in order to rest and recoup from injuries, but I eventually crossed that finish line. Curious about what lessons remained in the portion of Levine's talk that I had not yet seen, I found the video online and watched it.

In the remaining 14 minutes, Levine continued chronicling her Mt. Everest experience, peppering it with lessons she learned along the way.  She hit on themes such as "digging deep," the importance of being adaptable in an ever-changing environment, and knowing when to cut your losses. The most important message is, in my opinion, that the process and the lessons learned along the way are more important than the end result.  

It's not about the destination, but rather the journey.

I haven't watched many TED Talks, but of the ones I have viewed, this one is by far my favorite.  Although Levine's experience is about Mt. Everest, the lessons she learned while climbing that mountain can be applied to everyone.  Sure, not everyone will make the attempt to climb Mt. Everest, nor does everyone want to - I sure don't.  But, the point is that we all have mountains in our lives.  We all have obstacles.  We are all on some sort of quest.  

Everyone has a Mt. Everest in their life.

"Lessons from the Ledge" is a mere 18 minutes long, so viewing it doesn't require a large time commitment.  I strongly recommend it.  Watch it and let me know what you think.

As always, thanks for stopping by!  

Linking up with Mackenzie @ Reflections from Me 
and Janine @ Reflections from a Redhead. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

10 Things That Made Me Happy This Week (Vol. 20)

This week turned out much, much better than I thought it would given my difficulty adjusting to the spring time change.  In addition to my easier than normal transition to EDT, here are 10 more things that made me happy this week:

Date night with R to see Cabaret.

It was sunny and 80F degrees on Tuesday.  

My St. Patrick's Day t-shirt. It reminds me of my trip to the windy city a few years ago on St. Patrick's Day to see the Chicago River turned green.

Even though this didn't happen this week, I'm going to include it anyway. On Monday, March 7, I met author Caroline Kepnes, author of YOU and Hidden Bodies.

The internet at work is working smoothly again. (Fingers crossed it stays that way!) The previous 3 weeks have been super frustrating when I wasn't able to do things that are an essential part of my job - such as IEP writing, because I couldn't access the IEP documents online.

A hilarious after the kids had left chat with my roommate and school custodian.  I laughed so hard that I cried!

Listening to The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  This audiobook has been in my Audible library for over 3 years, but for whatever reason, I just never got around to listening to it.  It's really good so far.

Kristin's "More Screenshots From My iPad" blog post on Thursday.

Spending some time with this sweet, but stinky gal who desperately needs a bath.


Hoping this finds you well!  Thanks for stopping by.  Have a terrific weekend!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

March Madness Widow Survival 101

Ladies and gentlemen, it's that time of year, the time we Americans have collectively come to know as March Madness.

Ah, March Madness, the time of year when our annual obsession with college basketball is front and center; a time when basketball dominates the news, when the words bracket and busted are used in common, everyday conversations. It is the time when, for three weeks out of the year, our culture's passion for and obsession with college hoops disrupts work productivity as employees work feverishly filling out their brackets and watch the games on their smartphones. It is also a time when many women find themselves "put on the back burner" by their husbands or boyfriends, becoming what many call "March Madness Widows."

I am one of those widows. 

Yes, every year, shortly after the flowers and tree buds emerge from their winter hibernation, I get... benched.  How 'bout that for an appropriate metaphor! Basketball is in the forefront of my husband's mind as well as the topic of most of his conversations.  Basketball games dominate our tv, trumping all other shows, and all plans that include him must work around his basketball viewing schedule.  

I'll be honest. There were several years in which March Madness caused some serious problems between my husband and I, but that's another post for another day. The important thing is that my husband and I are still together and that I learned how to not let March Madness get the best of me. 

Given that I'm not a college basketball fan and my husband is, I've learned a thing or two about how to survive this trying time over the past thirteen years. If you find yourself in competition with the Wildcats, the Aggies, the Tarheels, or one of the other 64 teams that start tournament play today, don't fret - you are not alone.  Take comfort in knowing that this will not last forever.   And from one widow to another, here are some ideas of things to do during the upcoming weeks that will help you survive this annual event.

Make your own plans.
Is there a concert in town that you want to go to? Is there a movie that you really want to see? How about a museum exhibit or perhaps a book reading? Go. Do those things. Get with some gal pals who might also be "widowed" during these three weeks or go by yourself. Over the years, I've gone to see The Hunger Games and Divergent. One year, I even saw Daughtry in concert. My point is, don't put your life on hold during these three weeks. Go. Do. See. Experience.

Catch up on shows that you've meant to watch.
I have several friends who save their binge watching for the last two weeks of March, when their husbands and boyfriends are glued to the TV. I prefer to do my binge watching in January, but I digress... This year, however, I may re-watch several episodes from Outlander's first season in preparation of season two which starts April 9. With Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, On Demand, and DVRs, the options are limitless. 

Catch up on things you need to do around the house. 
Do you need to do some closet purging? Need to switch out seasonal clothes? Have you been tempted to try out the KonMari decluttering method? Although these activities may not be that fun, they are essential. You may want to use this time to your advantage and get ahead in your spring cleaning. Do it now and that way you won't have to worry about it later when the weather is more consistent and warm.

Try something new.
It's easy to get stuck in a rut and blame our stagnation on not having time to explore new things. March Madness, from the selection show to the championship game, spans the course of three weeks. There will be dozens of hours of televised basketball during this period. This allows for ample time to try out a new hobby or perhaps a class that has piqued your interest. If you need ideas, peruse Living Social or Groupon for discounted fun things to do in your area. Several years ago, I attended a glass mosaic class one Sunday when my husband was busy watching games all day. I bought the voucher on Groupon. Since then, I've made 7 more tile mosaic pieces. Little did I know how much I would love it.  Had it not been for March Madness, I might not have ever tried it out.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
HA HA! Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. Someone once suggested that I watch the games with my husband and I couldn't help but laugh.  I already watch small quantities of basketball with him throughout the season, but I draw the line at March Madness.  That's just more basketball than I care to watch. However, if basketball is your thing, go for it! For two or three years, just for kicks, I filled out brackets.  I had no clue what I was doing, but I did it anyway. Even though I wasn't actively watching the games, I kept up with the winners and this gave my husband and I something to talk about during the basketball saturated three weeks. 

Don't try to change your significant other. 
This one is, in my opinion, the most important tip I can offer you today. If your significant other is a die hard college basketball fan, then March Madness is to him (or her) what Christmas is to children. My husband loves this time of year, absolutely loves it. He watches the selection show, dutifully fills out his bracket(s), and watches hours upon hours of televised b-ball with utter and absolute joy. His love for the game is part of what makes him him and therefore the man that I love. Why would I want to change that? I wouldn't want him to try to change me or get me to not participate in something I loved doing, so why would I do that to him.

Lastly, take comfort in knowing that March Madness will not last forever.
As my grandmother used to say, "This too shall pass." While in the midst of all the March Madness madness, I know it sometimes feels as if the endless stream of ballgames will never end, but it will. Remember, March Madness only accounts for about 0.057 of the year.  Even though it's just a small snippet of time, you can definitely use it to your advantage.  Make the most of it and hang in there!

If you are a college basketball fan, best of luck to your team!  I hope you enjoy the next three weeks.  If you are a March Madness Widow, hang in there!  Now, get out there and do something productive and/or fun!

Do you have any tips for surviving March Madness?  If so, please share.  As always, thanks for stopping by.

P.S.  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Linking up with Kristin @ Stuff, Things, Etc. 
and Joey @ Hodgepodges.

Linking up with Penny @ Penny's Passion 
and Vanessa @ X-tremely V.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Calm - Hugh's Photo Challenge (Week 17)

I do not practice Buddhism, but I have this statue on my deck.  It is called The Forgiving Buddha and it features Buddha in meditation.  Supposedly, the tight-knit spirals adorning Buddha’s head represent a group of snails that, as legend has it, kept his head cool as he sat deeply meditating in the afternoon heat.  Like I said, I don’t practice Buddhism, so I don’t know how much truth there is to that claim.  

I bought this statue because Buddha looks so peaceful and serene.  It is a reminder to forgive, to let go of things that are out of my control, to quiet my mind, and to be still.  To breathe.  To be calm.   Apparently, Forgiving Buddha has a calming effect on my typically uber hyper beagle, too.

Do you have anything in or around your home that gives you a calming effect? Please feel free to share.

Interested in my previous photo submissions?  Click below.

Behind - Under - Wrong Position - Love 
Games - Rust 

Linking up with Hugh @ Hugh's Views and News.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Memes That Say EXACTLY What I'm Thinking (Vol. 3)

Consider yourself warned...  

I get why we participate in the the whole Daylight Saving Time ritual, I really do. We get more evening light which helps conserve energy because people are outside longer and don't need interior lights on as long, blah, blah, blah... And, after a week or two, once I acclimate to driving to work in the pitch blackness again and get in the habit of telling myself, "Hey, I know it's only 2 hours after sunset, but it's 10 o'clock... Get your butt in bed!" I'll be fine. Until then, I will be a complete, off kilter mess. If you see me wandering about aimlessly, just deduce where I'm supposed to be based on the time of day and point me in the right direction.

One of my biggest complaints, other than the two I already mentioned, is the timing of this biannual switch over. Granted, I'm grateful it is executed over a weekend because if it wasn't, it's a guarantee that I'd be late for the work the following morning, but still...  Why can't we fast forward ourselves on a Friday afternoon? Most weekday employees are already mentally "weekending" on Friday afternoons anyway, so losing one teensy, little  hour wouldn't hurt.

Okay, okay... I know the powers that be will never, ever let the above proposal fly. A second suggestion is this:

Here's an interesting tidbit about how Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight Savings Time as most Americans seem to want to call it (and how it's written on most of these memes and someecards), affects me.  The fall time change doesn't bother me much. No, I don't really like the fact that it gets dark at 5:00pm, but the moving of the clock back an hour doesn't adversely affect the way I feel. The losing of the hour in the spring, well, that's a completely different story.

I feel like...

Yep, pretty much for the next 5 to 7 days, I will feel completely and utterly jet lagged. I will feel out of sync with the time and with the environment. You know, if I'm going to feel jet lagged, then I'd at least like to have gone somewhere other than back and forth to work. Shouldn't I at least have some great travel stories or at least a tan in exchange for feeling this way?

And lastly, as I already alluded to earlier, this all too common practice of adding of the S at the end of "Saving" is a pet peeve of mine. Here's my public service announcement for the week:

Anyone else out there suffer from this "Springing Forward Jet Lag?"  If so, I hope this finds you not late for anything this morning and acclimating to the change as best as you can. As my grandmother used to say, "And this, too, soon shall pass..." 

Oh, and to you all you math nerds out there including my college roommate/cousin-in-law who teaches math to middle schoolers in Tennessee, Happy Pi Day!

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Linking up with Mackenzie @ Reflections from Me

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Behind - Hugh's Photo Challenge (Week 16)

As Molly and I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, I looked in my rear view mirror. Behind me, the bridge's north tower rose up through the fog, reaching skyward. We saw no bay to the east, no Alcatraz, no Angel Island.  Nor did we see San Francisco to the southeast or the deep blue Pacific to the west.  All we saw was the bridge and the vehicles and the gray that enveloped everything.

Interested in my previous photo submissions?  Click below.
Under - Wrong Position - Love - Games - Rust

Linking up with Hugh @ Hugh's Views and News.
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