China, random

World ’round count down…

Chengdu, China

And the countdown to China is officially on.  My ticket has been purchased for August 5th to give me a little bit of time to explore the city of Chengdu before new teachers report to work on August 13th.  That means I leave in 134 days.  I have so much I have to do before I move and so much I want to do before I leave the states.  So, we have the Fredericksburg Bucket List…a few things I really want to do while I’m still in the states:

1) Go to a musical with Meghan
2) Visit relatives in Knoxville, TN
3) Hang out with all the Super Seniors
4) Explore at least 3 wineries near here that I’ve never been to before
5) Spend a night in the Kenmore Inn
6) Go on a good vacation with parents and Meghan
7) Go out to eat in Richmond with the boys
8) Finish Breaking Bad
9) Visit the Mr. Rodgers’ Memorial Statue when near Pittsburgh
10) See the Benders again
11) Carl’s Ice Cream
12) Go on a riverboat cruise somewhere
13) Take a long barefoot walk along an east coast beach in warm weather
14) Have a happy hour with my team (and any other staff mates who are up for it)
15) Kappa Gardens at least once a month until it’s time to go…

songs, teaching

On Top of the World, Ay!

Crazy day, crazy week, crazy life!  We found out last night that our work day is going to be extended by about 30 minutes for the rest of the school year to make up for all the snow days we’ve had, so we spent part of our planning today trying to figure out how to best utilize that time.  Half an hour more, an hour, or three, there still never seems to be enough time in the day.

Today, however, has me in a great mood.  The weather was wonderful with sunny skies and temperatures pushing up into the 70s.  It felt like full-fledged spring.  The birds and frogs are engaged in cacophonic vocals (okay, I’m waxing poetic; I really find their songs quite relaxing despite their discordance) and seeing snow still in the forecast has me shaking both my head and fist at Mother Nature.  For the first time in forever (as the kids would tell it anyway), we went outside for recess.  After we dropped the kids off at lunch, the fifth grade teachers even ate outside at one of the picnic tables at the school.

Although I stayed late at school for a PTO meeting, after work, I drove over to Pete’s for dinner and a bit of Breaking Bad (yeah, I’m still not through it).  Didn’t get home ’til nearly 11pm, but for the first time in a while, I feel energized.  I guess sunlight will do that to you.

Now, Imagine Dragons with my present mood:

celebrations, holidays, travel

Alphabet Memories

I was trying to capture the memories of 2013 in an effort to use this blog as a time capsule of sorts.  I got as far as listing the few adventures I had over the past year.  But one post will hardly help me reminisce about my year a few months from now when I’m trying to remember what on earth happened in 2013…

So, the first 13 letters of the alphabet help me with my ABC memories…

A=Adventures.  Post already done.  Moving on.

B=Babies.  Jenni and Ryan gave birth to a beautiful girl, Rachel and Drew are expecting a boy in February, and a bunch of coworkers had a child this year or are anxiously counting down to their due date.  Between the baby showers, the babysitting, and the random lunch dates with cute children, there was a lot of tiny goodness to fill up this year.

MotorbikeThe motorbike gift I always make for baby showers

C=Chilling.  I spent a lot of down time this year just hanging with friends.  Whether I was at Peter’s house watching Breaking Bad, grabbing sushi with old coworkers, or going on walks by the river with old roommates, I spent a lot of peaceful time enjoying the quiet moments of life.

Dancing with Ivy

The River

Both these pictures were taking on evening strolls around the city with Diana.



D=Drinks.  No longer am I in any sort of bar-hopping phase, but a couple of my great nights this year did involve conversation over a good drink.  Whether it was giggling with champagne or more serious conversation with a Hefeweizen, I got to know a lot of things about a lot of people over a drink.  I even tried Scotch this year…although I think I can manage quite well without it.

summer wine

E=Encore.  In July, I got to go back up to New Hartford, CT to volunteer at Trinita.  Peer groups, family time, community meals, Olympics, campfires, pool time, basketball, volleyball, lodge nights, birthday parties, and just…fun, faith, and togetherness.  My heart is so happy here.

F=Family.  On the way up to Trinita, I got to visit my Aunt Barbara in Philadelphia.  On the way south, I picked her up and drove her back with me to Fredericksburg.  We ate at my mother’s favorite restaurant, explored Monticello, and just enjoyed her company. 

Monticello GardensThe Monticello gardens

G=Graduation.  This year, the students I had taught for two years graduated and moved onto middle school.  While it was rough to say goodbye to them, I really got a class of incredibly endearing children to make up for their leaving.  One of them, I student-taught when he was in first grade.  He said he had been hoping to get me because he knew me back with I was a “young thing, fresh outta college.”  Oh, the things children say…

grad nightKaren and me at 5th grade graduation

H=Housemates.  In August, Diana and Hoang both moved out to be closer to their jobs.  While I miss conversation with them, searching for batteries for the fire alarm at 2am, junk food runs to Food Lion, and girls’ nights, I didn’t have to wait long to find a roommate.  About 3 weeks after the girls moved out, Chris moved in.  Yeah for roommate hunting made easy!

I=Intermissions.  In November, I tricked my brother, Sean.  I had my brother, Ryan, text us asking us to come listen to a speech he was giving in Richmond.  Ryan really outdid himself in the text and Sean really thought we were being dragged down to Richmond to listen to some college transfer fair spiel and give feedback.  (Sounded far-fetched to me, but hey, it worked.)  In reality, I had purchased tickets to see Mozart’s The Magic Flute.  We had great seats, it was a great show, and Sean was thoroughly surprised and pleased.

J=July Fourth.  Regrettably, I didn’t get to spend much time with my age-old college friends this year.  That’s what made the Fourth of July so special.  I spent the holiday in Virginia Beach, spending time with Maria, Yianni, and the cutest Greek baby ever.  We spent the night of the Fourth of July watching fireworks on the beach and just enjoying the amazing weather.  Nostalgia!

K=Knoxville!  More people I don’t see enough…family.  Ryan, Sean, and I drove to Knoxville in June.  We spent time with family in Knoxville before heading out to Jamestown, TN to go on a family picnic with my Uncle Kenny, Aunt Donna, and Cousin Sara.  We were so spoiled in Tennessee.  Relatives took us in for meals, let us play with their children, and just spent quality time with us.  This was one of the most low-key, amazing vacations I’ve had in a very, very long time.

RyanRyan, hanging out in downtown Knoxville

L=Love.  Over the course of one week in September, I kept getting big, life-changing messages.  Friends found out they were pregnant, found out the gender of their baby, or got engaged.  What a whirlwind week.  One of those women to get engaged was…my old roommate, Diana!  Woot!  Her wedding is scheduled for July 2014 and I’m so tickled that I get to be a part of it!

And finally, the thirteenth letter of the alphabet…M

M=Meghan.  Some of the best memories this year involve my little sister…and being dragged places by her.  In January, she made me take her up to DC to see the Struck by Lightning premier.  She worked backstage in her high school’s spring musical, Once On This Island, we started a sister blog in June (okay, that was kinda more my thing), and she made me take her to see Legally Blonde, the Musical in November down in Charlottesville, where I suavely got us in to an all-but-sold-out show, skipping about 60 people who were in the queue before us.  So, I’ll end with a picture that typifies my little sister…