Loving November for the first time, in a long time..

I have to say that this is the first November where I am actually enjoying the excitement of the approaching holiday season. I am not just trying to ‘get through’ the month. When I taught fifth grade, November was always a source of stress. It always meant tons of grading for report cards, then report cards, then conferences, and teaching on top of all of that.

November was always one of the most difficult months as a teacher because there was so much to do. It was plagued with worry and stress. How are you supposed to do all of this in the little amount of time you were given? You actually wonder how the hell you were going to make it to the end of the month!

It’s different for me now. I don’t have worries. I don’t have stress. I am not concerned with pleasing other people. Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoyed meeting the parents. There are those parents out there that you wonder why they don’t have more children because they are amazing. But those report cards and conferences, the anticipation of the first ‘this is how your child is doing’ stresses you out a bit.

Since I quit teaching, I’ve actually been enjoying every moment of November.

My house is clean.
I’ve enjoyed mid-day reading at Panera with a hot chocolate in hand.
I walked my dogs several times last week.
I’ve been sewing, crafting, and decorating my house for Thanksgiving.
I’ve even been Christmas shopping already. I’m almost done with everyone.
I had a wonderful lunch last week with a friend.
I’ve been volunteering my time- seriously there is nothing more rewarding than that.
I cook and bake now too (and not just on weekends). This week I made chicken corn soup, baked ziti, and banana bread.
I’ve been spending time with my nieces and nephews, which has been so much fun.
Last week, when my nieces spent the night, we made a project for their dad (who ran the NY marathon) and I enjoyed photographing them too.

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And this is the project they did for their dad including everything “New York.” Sorry it’s a bit blurry.

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I’ve been wishing on ‘Wishies’. You blow them in the air and make a wish and they carry your wish. I haven’t done that since I was a child. 🙂

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Let’s not forget the silly faces during lunch with my niece.

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Or Tuesday when we went to the playground. I can honestly say I was the only adult actually climbing and going down the slide too.

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I’ve been exercising too and I’m doing well on my weight-loss team. Oh yeah, I’m “Sandra” on the actual challenge chart, but as you can see I’m doing well for the Red Team.

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I’m not exhausted on Friday nights.
I went to the grocery store this week during the day.
I even had time to cut coupons!
I don’t stress out on Sunday nights.
I love sleeping in.

I have  nothing exactly new to post… Other than it has been very nice to stop and enjoy life for once. It’s so easy to go through the motions and get ‘caught up’ in life. I can honestly say it’s nice to enjoy November.

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We went on a Cruise!

We actually went on vacation. For any of you that know my husband, this was a huge feat. I mean an actual vacation. This was actually our 10-year anniversary trip. We went on a cruise through Norwegian Cruise Line.

We drove to Miami leaving on a Saturday 7/6. Got to Miami on Sunday and we stayed the night. We eagerly got on The Norwegian Sky Monday morning and each day we were on a new Bahama island.  Tuesday-Freeport, Wednesday-Nassau, and Thursday-Great Stirrup Cay (the cruise line’s private island). We arrived back in Miami on Friday and we spent two days with my grandmother in Florida (she lives near Delray Beach). My mom and stepfather were down there too, so we spent the mornings in the water.

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Although it’s nearly impossible to describe over a week’s vacation in a blog post without boring you, but I’ll try. I picked 10 things I loved about my vacation since it was our ten year anniversary vacation.

10.  The ship- It was a wonderful place to stay for a few days. There were 12 floors and the ship held (I think) over 2,000 passengers, but it didn’t feel crowded at all. This was actually one of their older ships, but they were updating everything. Also, if your thinking about going on a cruise, I didn’t get sea sick. I couldn’t even really feel the ship move. DSCN0474

9. Freestyle Dining: We could eat whenever we wanted and where ever we wanted. We didn’t have to get dressed up either. I loved the dinner where we celebrated our 10-year anniversary. Some crew members sang us a romantic song and even encouraged Tony to sing to me too. 🙂 It was so neat, although I was a little embarrassed with all that attention.

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8. The towels: I know. I know. It might sound strange, but we were looking forward to how they folded the towels each day. We teased that our room steward was like a ninja. We never saw him, but we always had a perfect room. I kind of messed this little guy up when I decided to hold it for the picture. See our complementary bottle of wine in the background too?!

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7. The views from the ship: They were absolutely beautiful. I wish I would have taken more pictures because the picture below really doesn’t do it justice. There is just something amazing about being with my best friend taking in breathtaking views.

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6. Activities on the ship: We loved all the activities on the ship. We won $120 on Bingo, $100 on the ship’s casino, and nothing on Deal or No Deal. Ironically, Deal or No Deal was my favorite because you could play along with the contestant chosen randomly from the audience. Tony and I had a good time! We also loved the comedian.

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5. Romantic Dinner Night- Tony and I chose to eat in one of the ship’s ‘special’ restaurants the second night on the cruise ship. This is where you get a beautiful meal, a gorgeous view, and amazing service. Our dinner consisted of shrimp cocktail, filet mignon, mashed potatoes, and a toffee brownie with homemade chocolate ice cream. This was our best dinner on the ship. Besides, the company was great too! Doesn’t he look so handsome?!

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4. Morning coffee on the deck– We spent our mornings drinking coffee with the beautiful views. As simple as this is, it was one of my favorite parts. I enjoyed the time with Tony talking about the day before and what our next adventure was going to be.

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3.Snorkeling- We chose to snorkel at Great Stirrup Cay. We didn’t see much, but we still had fun. Besides, Tony couldn’t really sit still, so this was a perfect adventure for both of us. 🙂 We did the same thing 10 years ago on our honeymoon at the same island. I loved it.

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2. Atlantis– We spent the day at the Aquaventure at Atlantis in Nassau. It was really amazing. My favorite part was going on their rapid river ride (I’m not really sure what it was called). We thought it was going to be a lazy river… ummm.. no. It wasn’t at all. We loved the built in water slides and waves! Although the double tube made it a bit scary.  🙂 We also got to go through aquariums with sharks, which was awesome!

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1. The best part about the cruise was spending time with the man that I love. 🙂 He is truly amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. It was perfect. IMG_0441

First Week of Freedom!

So, it’s official! I have ‘retired’ from my teaching career. After 7 years of teaching in a wonderful school district with amazing colleagues, I left teaching. It finally started to feel real last week when I packed my entire classroom. Those boxes are now in my craft room. Maybe I will have time to actually read some of those books.

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Yes, many people think I’m crazy, but I know that it is the right decision. At some point I will blog more about this decision (it was a few years in the making). I will update you on the sacrifices my husband and I have made and other reasons for my decision. It made sense. However I’m not quite ready to blog about that decision-making process. 🙂

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I loved the comment I got from a family friend, “But you have summers off and you still want to quit?” Ummmm, YES!  That is not true, as a teacher I never had summers off. I worked until the last week in June teaching summer camps and was back in setting up my classroom by the beginning of August. But what about July?  That’s the time for creating! Creating everything new and evaluating things that just didn’t work! It is also a time for revisiting lesson plans, filing all the stray papers into the correct binders, and organizing my computer files that I was too busy to do anything with during the school year… Let’s be real here, if I didn’t have “summers off” I would have made the choice sooner.   Everyone has such strong opinions on this topic, but unless you are a teacher, you never fully understand the time commitment. Yes. It was a wonderful, fulfilling job. Yes. It does take so much out of you.

So, with my first free summer, I have actually been enjoying so much time with my family! It is a nice change in my life right now.  Friday was my niece’s graduation. I’m so proud of her! She is such a bright young woman!

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Sunday was a day spent at Hershey Park with my sister and her family.  We had a blast! Although, I have to tell you, being at an amusement park with kids is just so much more fun!

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It was a little warm, but it was so nice to spend the day with them.

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We eventually split up and they went to The Boardwalk (water park) and Tony and I went on some roller coasters. When I rode the Skyrush, I screamed the entire time because I felt like I was going to fall out! In fact, I didn’t see the ride because I didn’t open my eyes once! I’m not sure when I became so terrified!

I also did my first summer craft today! Super hero costumes! My sister signed her girls up for a Super Hero Fun Run this Saturday. I somehow talked her into creating costumes for them. Overall it was a big success! It took us just under 3 hours and the total cost was about $25 for both costumes. The blog that I used for directions was A Beautiful Ruckus. It is a really neat blog I found through Pinterest! Might be worth checking out! 🙂 I only used about 5 yards for each girl! They loved their costumes! 

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It has been such a great start to the summer! Next week I will have help in the garden! Excited to start working! Hopefully it doesn’t keep storming like crazy!

A New Year

Tony and I invited our families over for a New Year’s Eve celebration. Although a few family members were missing,  it was a full house. I loved the time off and I truly enjoyed the time with them. 🙂

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A whole two weeks after January 1st and I have not made a “formal” resolution. I guess it is the thought that if you want to change, why would you need a New Year to decide? I know… I know… it’s not that easy. I guess it is easier to change with the date because the New Year represents a fresh start.   As I look back at 2012, although there were many good moments, it was an extremely trying year. Those of you that know me well, know this to be true.

Last night, while thinking about the New Year, I came across a quote on Pinterest. The quote applies to life in general and it certainly applies to 2012.

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So it’s time to look forward and make resolutions anyway. The truth is I have been reflecting quite a bit lately and none of the resolutions are really “new”. However, it is finally time to actually write them down.  Here they are:

  1. Pray more– I tend to complain about situations instead of praying about them. I have to remember, I am not the one in control.
  2. Become a better wife– I am married to an amazing man. He deserves to be loved like that.
  3. Be grateful- I have a wonderful life and I am very blessed. Writing down one thing I am thankful for a day is a good start. (Credit: Thanks Alicia for pinning the idea and helping me make my own Gratitude Journal).
  4. Become a better sister, daughter, aunt, and friend– The truth here is I am so consumed by my daily responsibilities that over the years I have not made enough time for the ones I love.
  5. Enjoy life- How am I suppose to give others my best if I do not take care of myself? Don’t we decide if we are happy or not? I choose to do more things that make me smile.

Like I said,  I have already been working on these for a few months (at least thinking about them), but it is a little strange to see them in writing. I can think of a few more, but I think I have quite a list here. Here’s to a New Year… a fresh start! Happy (2 weeks late) New year!