Saturday, December 31, 2011

How Do You Measure, Measure a Year?

Well it's that time again...a year in review as we bid farewell to 2011 and welcome in the new promise of 2012.  New Year's to me means a clean slate, a new chance that is bittersweet as you bask in the remembrance of what was, all of the experiences and lessons learned and usher in a new year.  

This year has been truly wonderful.  My mom made cancer her bitch.  Isabella has grown into a beautiful, intelligent, curious, independent, and precocious little girl.  I made a successful transition from an out of classroom position back into my role as a third grade teacher and I tried to make the best of it.  I took an amazing girls only trip to Las Vegas and got a little wild.  I've put time into my friendships cultivated at work.  Everyone was healthy, everyone has a job, and we didn't have to say goodbye to anyone.  And while nothing "WOW" really happened, it was a lot of ordinarily precious moments.  

Here is a year in pictures.

 We kicked off 2011 right by celebrating the 1st birthday of Charlie and the 3rd birthday of Daniella.

 A sweet dance from a special Valentine

In March we enjoyed some lollipops and puddle stomping.  We also enjoyed green bagels on St. Patrick's day and found a love of finger painting.  

In April we made sure to color eggs for the Easter Bunny to hide for us.  We also threw my sister a birthday party and enjoyed a lot of time at museums while we waited for the weather to warm.  

In May we spent a lot of time out doors at the park and going on flower hunts.  We also celebrated my 29th birthday.  It was very warm so we were able to visit the zoo and have a lot of BBQ's. 

In June Miss. Isabella Grace turned 2 years old.  We also started swim class, spent a lot of time at the pool, and started visiting Sesame Place.  

July was Isabella's first plane ride to Disney World where she fell in love with Mickey Mouse, Small World, and fireworks.  We also had a lot of fun with our cousins by the pool and taking day trips.  

August brought our second annual beach trip to Ocean City, where we played in the sand and in the waves.  We ate a lot of ice cream, danced on the boardwalk, and enjoyed a visit from my brother.  

As sad as we were to see the summer go, September brought tons of fall activities and crafts, including apple picking, pumpkin picking, and hay rides.   

In October we had tons of spooky fun, including a Halloween get together with crafts, lunch, and games.  It was unseasonably warm so we spent a lot of time outside picking pumpkins and taking hay rides.  We did a lot of baking and crafting.  

In November we celebrated the bridal shower of my cousin Christie.  Her wedding will be another highlight to look forward to in 2012 as will the wedding of my other cousin, Christina.  


December couldn't have been more magical as this was the first Christmas that Isabella truly understood and could participate in.  It included breakfast with Santa, a polar express train ride, a state police holiday party where Santa came in in a helicopter, cookie baking, gingerbread house making, Christmas carol singing, and near combustion on Christmas morning.  

So here's to a year that was filled with friends, family, love, and maybe a little bit too much wine.  And here's to all that 2012 will bring.  

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

I Did Everything Wrong

I like going to bars.  I like getting together with some laid back girlfriends, grabbing a beer, and relaxing...maybe a little dancing if the DJ is playing something I can groove to.  There are some people who think that a married woman has no place in a bar, let alone a married woman with a baby, but I see no harm in it.

Any who, so last Thursday I'm at work and it's so close to Christmas break and everyone is all crazed and stressed out with the holiday performance and the wrapping and the last minute gifts and the baking and the drama so when at lunch my friend suggested that we all go out for a drink after work instead of resorting to my usual, "Sounds like fun, but I can't" I said, "Let me see if I can work out the logistics."  So I lined up my mom to babysit and told the voice in my head that told me I should feel guilty to stfu and I decided to go and have a good time.   I had a hair appointment that day anyway, so I told the girls I'd just meet them there.

Now right about this point in my story I realized that, I was wearing my glasses, I didn't have any clothes to change into, and I had no makeup with me.  It gave me pause for a minute, because usually when I go out in public I like to look somewhat decent, but I just as quickly decided that I didn't care and it didn't matter anyway.

So I went to my hair appointment, cut off about six inches of hair and then strolled into the bar wearing my glasses, loose fitting jeans, flat boots, a belted sweater, and no makeup except for the red lipstick I always keep in my purse and you know what?  It was like I had beer flavored boobs or something.  I must have gotten hit on like 10 times that night.  Now I'm not a conceited person by any stretch of the imagination, you wouldn't even have to click the back button twice to find some post where I'm thinking I'm fat or that my nose is too long, or that my chin is weird or my butt is too big, I'm too unstylish.

 I just wanted to point out that I did everything that the fashion magazines say you shouldn't.  Don't listen to magazines that say you have to look a certain way or wear something special to be beautiful, to feel beautiful.  Just saying.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

De-Lurking

I used to be uber private about my blog.  It was my own private place and it took me a long time to get semi-used to the idea of people who I know in real life reading it.  But then I got nominated for some blogger award and I needed the votes so I sold out and put the link up on facebook and about 30 seconds after I hit "update" I had a mini panic attack because basically my deepest darkest secrets, fears, insecurities and all other sorts of ridiculousness were now on display to people who I had to look in the face.

But I was never ill received by anyone who clicked on the link that day.  In fact everyone who spoke to me about it really liked it and said that they had similar feelings as well.  That doesn't mean that there weren't haters who were making fun of me behind my back, but there's not much that can really be done about that.  There are even people it brought me closer with because there was a shared ground, a commonality to lay the groundwork down for friendship.  So thanks to Nicole, Michelle, Buffy, Christy, Regina, Amy, Rochelle, and Jasmine for reading.

But those are only the people I know about.  What if there are people who I know in real life who read this blog and I don't know that they read it.  That feels unfair.  If you're reading what equates to a very personal, yet very public diary, I should know about it so I can properly avert my eyes in shame if I run into you on the street or, gasp, in the hallway at work.  I don't care if you read it, I'd just like to know so send me a FB message, a comment or an e-mail and let me know that you lurk around here.  Or better yet, de-lurk and get yourself in the conversation.
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Special Kind of Happiness

It doesn't need checklists or resolutions or a month-by-month guide because it is pure happiness in and of itself.

Here I am in my pj's and glasses all over the interwebz

"It's Zazu! Oh my! Oh my! Oh my!"

Checking to make sure there aren't any left for her

My girl




I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas.



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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nostalgic

I have two things that I want to discuss with you guys today.  1:  I have been a bit youth obsessed lately.  2:  Most of my epiphanies/revelations take place during Glee.

I don't know why all of a sudden I'm really obsessed with youth.  Maybe it's because I feel like I woke up and just started feeling my age.  It takes me longer to look fresher, and it certainly requires a bit more products (ummm...hello erase paste from Sephora you magic maker).  I just feel like I get run down more quickly and I don't bounce back as fast as I used to.

I look at my sister and I look at her life and how free she is.  She has a really strong group of friends and they're always doing fun stuff:  going out dancing, shopping, out to dinner, bars, or just hanging out at each others houses.  They'll go on random road trips to nowhere and have amazing adventures.  I would never trade my life for hers, partially because I don't have the energy to keep up with it, but it makes me nostalgic for the times when I was like that; for when I used to burn as bright as the sun and I had my whole life ahead of me.  Mistakes were turned into legendary stories.  Decisions did not need to be made.  The world was open and I was ready for it.

I'm so glad I had so many wonderful, wild and carefree experiences, but that doesn't mean I don't ever wax nostalgic for those times.

When I first started at work there was a group of girls that I was so close with.  We would hang out after work and just talk in each others classrooms.  We would go out to dinner, see movies, go for coffee, and hang out on the weekends.  It was a blast.  As time has gone on, we've moved to different grades, different classrooms, made new work friends, gotten married, had kids, broken up with boyfriends and just generally moved on.  We're still close, but on a peripheral level and sometimes I get nostalgic for the easy way our friendship used to be.

What are you nostalgic about?
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Motherhood Means

Motherhood means...

...thinking you are making food for yourself and realizing that you are sadly mistaken.

...that you will be 15 minutes late to everything.

...you need 3 days advance notice of any plans so you can figure out a babysitter situation and mentally prepare yourself for a night out with adults.

...you will need to find clever spots to hide your iPhone to keep it out of sticky little hands.

...hiding in the bathroom so you can do your business in peace.

...your house will never be *really* clean.

...that a really amazing day consists of sleeping past 8am, a really great day trip/playdate, a long nap, a dinner that everyone eats, and an early bed time.

...making 3 different dinners in a night even though you swore you never would.

...you are always at least a little bit tired.

...you get really jazzed up about the new Spring line at Baby Gap.

...there have been several occasions where you've forgotten to shower/brush your teeth/put on deodorant.

...that you will always be loved and you will never truly ever be alone.
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

I Am Not a Babysitter

I am not a babysitter.  I am a teacher.  I don't just sit in front of the classroom and read a book or go over a worksheet that I have the teachers guide to.  I'm so much more than that.


I assess the needs of my students and plan lessons that address those needs, while keeping those lessons in line with the curriculum, and the new Common Core Standards.  I plan small groups to push students thinking further or to fill in the gaps.  I meet one on one with students to set learning goals.  I plan projects that allow my students to exercise their creativity within the framework for learning.  I find 10 different ways to teach fractions so that everyone can understand it.  I grade tests, book reports, and sort post-its.  I field questions from overzealous parents and I pull teeth from ones that are uninvolved.  I work with staff developers to improve my techniques.  I create interactive slides on the Smart Board to engage students and keep them current with technology.  I scour the internet for a video of cheetahs hunting because it fits in with my read aloud.

I'm a firm disciplinarian.  I'm a detective sorting out where missing pencils and silly banz have gone.  I'm a mediator, trying to fix an argument between to "bff's" gone awry.  I'm a motivator to get a lazy kid's rear in gear.  I'm a secretary filling out tons of paperwork.  I'm a student going back for several more degrees.  I am not a babysitter.  I am a teacher.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Baby Number 2?

A few weeks ago during an unseasonably warm December afternoon Andy and I took Miss. Isabella to the park to enjoy an hour or so of outdoor play.  Usually she makes a friend and plays with him/her, while Andy and I hover on the sideline drinking lattes and taking turns making sure she doesn't eat dirt or try to slide down the pole.  But no one was there, I guess they didn't get the memo that it was 60 degrees in December.  Isabella is kind of going through an "I don't want to play by myself I want to harass my parents and make them do ridiculous things in public" phase, so I was on my 6th slide down the slide when I said jokingly, that we should rent out my niece Daniella so they could slide together and I wouldn't have to squeeze my big ass down a kid sized slide and he said, "Well why don't we start trying to have another baby?"

I almost lost my shit.

Now you all know that motherhood is not something that comes naturally to me.  I'm selfish, impatient, and snippy.  I have to really work at being a good mom and I think I'm doing a great job, but again, it's not something that just comes as second nature.  But I got really excited about the thought of another baby.  Another tiny little baby, a sibling for Isabella, another chance to start it off right.  Sometimes it terrifies me the thought of another infant, but if I can just push through that, I'd love to see Isabella with a little brother or sister.

Now, it really is just a matter of timing.  We're putting the house up on the market after the holidays.  And I really don't want to be pregnant for my cousin Christie's wedding in March.  So we could start trying during the Feb/March cycle.  Or I could start in May after my 30th birthday, which I'm hoping to have a big bash *hint* *hint*, but honestly, now that the baby bug has been planted I don't know if I could wait that long.  I know it doesn't just happen on the first cycle, but it very well could and I'd like to be prepared for it.

So it looks like another baby will be happening, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Vintage Isabella



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Monday, December 12, 2011

Budgeting

I'm focusing on Money this month and considering all the spending that comes along with Christmas I'd say I'm doing fairly well.  I've been shopping the sales and couponing like crazy, but buying gifts for people that I know they will love is a weakness.  It brings me real happiness.  So it's been a bit difficult to curb that urge, but I just try to buy smart.  There have been several times that I wanted to pick up another present for Isabella, even though I'm finished buying her gifts, but I had to tell myself that she's getting tons of stuff and doesn't need anything else.  

I tried to wrap myself around budgeting this past week and thank goodness that I have the most awesome readers ever because I was turned on to www.mint.com where they basically budget for you.  They take all of your money info and figure out a way to make sure you spend less than you make.  I'm still playing around with it because it takes me like 3 times as long to figure out anything techy related as it does the average human.  

The main goal is to be in a bigger house by the end of the summer.  I'm beyond excited at the thought of moving out of our town house and into a place that we're going to stay in for the rest of our lives.  Not that I don't love our cozy little home, I have amazing memories here.  We're just outgrowing it.  

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Friday, December 9, 2011

The One on Vanity

Betty White was a fox, now she's completely
unbangable
I'm not afraid to admit that I'm vain.  I think appearances are important.  I like it when my hair and make up are done (I like it, doesn't mean it always happens), I don't like to run around in sweats all day, and I love to accessorize.  I'm sure we've all spent countless hours fretting over our appearance.  Is my stomach getting pudgy?  I can't get my hair to blow out straight!  Is this lipstick too much?  Why is my chin so big?  Ugh, these bags are never going away.

Sound familiar?  Because it does to me.

But I had a thought the other day.  The thought crept in and took hold and shook me way down deep.  One day, I'll be an old lady and no one will want me.

Ummmm....truth bomb right there.

Men won't take a second glance at me, young people will call me an old lady, I won't look sexy, I won't feel sexy, I won't be beautiful.

Isn't that sad?  It makes me really sad.  It makes me understand things like botox and facelifts and tummy tucks.  You're avoiding getting to that place.

Now you can spout off about aging gracefully or growing old with your husband, but homegirl...that's not what this is about.  We're all going to be old and ugly one day and no one is ever going to want to shag us.  I'm having a really hard time coming to grips with that.  I'll just be old and dried up.  Shudders. And I'm getting closer to that point...not further away.
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Thursday, December 8, 2011

The TV Chronicles

I used to feel all embarrassed about the amount of TV we let Isabella watches, but I'm over it.  Some days she watches a lot and some days none at all.  She'll sit and watch an entire movie, but she also does crafts, goes on play dates and day trips, colors, plays pretend, helps me cook, reads books, plays with her toys, colors and she's really really smart.  So I know TV isn't ruining her.  Sometimes we'll hunker down and watch TV together and sometimes I'll throw on a show and use the down time to make dinner.  I'm over feeling guilty about it, because I have other, more pressing things to feel badly about.

But I'm going off topic because that's not what this post is about.  Let me tell you a bit of a story.  I was watching Private Practice on my DVR one weekend when Isabella was napping and it was dark, like so dark I could barely see it.  So in my head I'm cursing ABC for making such a poorly lit show.  So then I watch a DVR'ed episode of Dr. Oz next and he's blurry too.  So I tell Andy when he gets home from work and he says the bulb is probably weak in the TV.  He goes on Amazon and orders a replacement bulb, but instead of overnighting that shit he goes for some free super saver shipping so he can save $5.17.  Of course the next day the bulb blows out, which leaves us TV-less for a week.

5 of those 7 days I was at work so that wasn't such a big deal for me.  According to my mom and Andy there was a lot of walks, going out to lunch, play dates, and coloring.  When I got home there was a lot of music and burned dinners.  After she went to bed, Andy and I would play yahtzee, go on the computer, or watch TV in bed, which we almost never do.

The weekend I thought would be really difficult.  I enjoy a quiet cup of coffee while Isabella watches Mickey Mouse.  Instead we had a tea party and then she quietly played with her puzzles and let me drink my coffee in peace.  I was surprised to say the least.  When the bulb came I was happy that I could see what Top Model All Star got the axe, but I was also a little bit bummed out because I was actually enjoying a little TV-free time.

While I still watch a lot of TV myself and Isabella also enjoys her shows, I'm trying to make more of an effort to keep it off, even from background noise for a while.  Everything in moderation right?
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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A New York City Christmas

There are many things I love about growing up in NYC, even if I was in an outer borough, but none of them top Christmas in New York.  The display lights at Macy's, the Christmas tree at Rockerfeller Center, all of the lights and decorations, the shops, the spirit, and of course, the Rockettes!

This year we thought Isabella was old enough to really enjoy this special time in the city, so we loaded up for a fun filled day.  First we hit up the Rock Center Christmas tree and she was just in awe at it's size.


Then we were off to FAO Schwartz where she was just beside herself in excitement, although honestly that store, while full of ambiance, is way overpriced.  Why would I pay $54 for a Lalaloopsy doll when I can pay $35 at Toys R Us?!



Anyway...then we had a quick bite to eat and it was off to see the Rocketts Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.  She was mesmerized.  She would dance and bop her head to the songs and every time a song was done she would say, "Again, Mommy, more!"  She loved it and she sat through the whole thing.




This is my favorite scene

And one final shot at our own humble abode.


I'm so glad that I get to make these special holiday memories with her.
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Monday, December 5, 2011

December Happiness...Money Money Money

Source
What a month to focus on cash money!  In December it feels like I get a fleeting sense of what the cash feels like for only a moment before it vanishes into some merchants cash register.  Le Sigh.  But Andy and I are hoping to purchase a new house soon which means we're really tightening the purse strings.  So this month I'm trying to balance my desire for everyone to have an amazing gift with the fact that I don't want to be recovering from a credit card hangover come January.

So here are my resolutions for my Happiness Project this month:

Create a Budget: And stick to it!  Not just for Christmas, but I have no idea where all of our money goes. I need to evaluate and create a budget plan.  And follow through with it.

Coupon: I've seen extreme couponing, I'm sure if I can even put one tenth in of their effort I can save some money.

Commit to Savings: I want to start putting some money away each week in an envelope just for me and putting more into our savings account.

Any money saving tips you guys care to share?

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Just Like Me

Looking at Isabella is like looking at a mini clone of myself, aside from her light hair and green eyes, she has basically my exact same face, but there are some other things that she got from me that I hoped would have eluded the gene pool.  In this case I only have myself to blame because these are behaviors she picked up from dear old mom, not physical traits.

She's really anal retentive and everything needs to be just so.  Some examples, there are certain foods that can't be cut up or broken, like donuts, granola bars, cookies, or apples.  Then there are foods that absolutely must be cut, pancakes, french toast, and strawberries.  A mistake in the wrong direction will make said food unedible.

Also, everything has to go in its right place.  The DVD's have to be stacked on the left side of the TV, if you're having a tea party you have to have a pink cup, with a pink spoon, on a pink saucer.  If you can't find one of those utensils, the party cannot go on until it's found.  Her crayons have to go in the blue zip up pencil case, not in the basket with the coloring books.  She has to go first into the house, into the room first, and up the stairs first.  She has to put the light on in the bathroom herself and if you do it first she will shut it off, leave the room, come back in and put it on herself.

Post-crab walk

She's slightly awkward in social settings,  for example...when we were at my cousin Christie's bridal shower, all of the little kids were playing duck-duck-goose and she was doing the crab walk by herself.

Those are all behaviors that she most certainly picked up from her neurotic mother.  But she does have some qualities that I don't possess:  she doesn't care what anyone thinks of her when out in public, she has a really easy time making friends, she's not afraid to say no or ask for what she wants, and that girl can boogie.
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