Friday, November 26, 2010

Many thanks...

To those of you who are still following! It's been months, and my temptation is to feel sorrowful and apologetic for it (which I do)...

But my absence has been 'the right thing.'

Yes, my computer did crash, which 'forced' me to take a break...no time for blogging at work, lol. But even when my school most graciously provided me with a new laptop, I just felt this compelling inside to take a break from blogging.

It was hard, because it is something I have really grown to enjoy and really wanted to get better at. There are a vast amount of reasons I could have employed to convince me to get back into it. But something inside was telling me 'Not now.'

I can't really say why...maybe because I just needed to get my life in order to the point where blogging could fit into my life, and not where I could my life into my blogs. I just knew I needed to disengage from 'virtual reality' to spend more time in 'actual reality.'

I actually have a day off where I'm not swamped with grading, James is at work, and I refuse to step into a store on Black Friday. For the first time in about a year and a half, I feel sorta 'caught up' on my life.

So, here I am at the computer, at 1:08 pm, still in my bathrobe and glasses, and I just wanted to check in...on all of your blogs...and to just stop by and at least show I didn't just disappear without a trace.

I am hoping blogging with be in my future, for all the obvious reasons, which you all know, because you all blog...and I believe it will. We'll just have to see how it all unfolds.

Just as a catch- up, James and I are good. All the typical (I think) growing pains of the first year of marriage, which I think we are handling pretty well. Some a little more intense than others, but we are committed - to God, to each other, and to our marriage.

Life has been good for us overall...we realized how blessed we are, in spite of our challenges both marriage-related and otherwise.

I'm hoping to fill in the blanks as time allows...

Lord-willing, I'll be popping in on your lives again, albeit in a random manner, and I hope you will feel free to do the same.

All the best for a wonderful, thankful, and blessing-filled holiday season...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dead and Gone...

My laptop, that is. It had a long life... got it almost 5 years ago and it will not turn on. Almost sounds like it fires up and then shuts off. Bummer~!

So, this time, I have a legitimate excuse for my blogging absence. But I have to say, it is refreshingly freeing not having a computer at home! I miss it, but I am realizing I can survive without it.

As for blogging...I can't really blog too much at work (unless it is a little free time now before our teacher's meeting) - but I think that there is a plan in this mishap somehow.

We'll see how it unfolds.

Til later, my girls...

But we are all well and busy, getting into the fall groove...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Back

To school, to routine...and hopefully to blogging.

The summer was so much more hectic than my school year, if that is even possible. But the routine, the schedule are back and I am in my glory. Even if it means my alarms goes off at 4:45 a.m.

My latest mission is to organize my life and prioritize. Trying to be very conscious of my time and how I manage it.

That has been a big switch since being married. I didn't think the time-factor would affect me all that much...James and I have never been the glued-at-the-hip type of couple. But living together, we do a lot more together (duh, obviously). But I guess I didn't anticipate not having as much time to just 'do what I do.'

I like it. A lot. But it's a work in progress. Trying not to put too much pressure on myself.

The latest in our world, post-summer:

James is finishing up one last college class, we are still getting (chiropractic) massages on Tuesday nights (the one good thing about his health insurance), the stray kitty we brought to the clinic to get spayed is pregnant, I am back in full swing teaching (and loving the fact that I am not planning a wedding at the same time), I am going to do a Beth Moore Bible study on my own (well, with my sister maybe), I go back to the nutritionist this after (5 lbs lighter) and we are zumba-ing at school on Fridays.

Oh, and baby sister is pregnant! Which has gotten me thinking....

Hope to be 'back' for good.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I Had Such High Hopes...

...for the summer, that is. Not excessively grandiose, but some things I really thought I would be able to accomplish and feel good about it. Some I touched (barely), others...not so much.

Here is my report card (you can take the teacher out of the school but you can't take the school out of the teacher...)

1. Fitness - I didn't really exercise a ton more, but I got the gyms a few times, did some mountain biking and kayaking. And I did go to zumba class 3x! (We are starting a class with the teachers after school, too Whoo- hoo!) I went to a nutritionist 2 weeks ago and I have been making some good life-styles changes (and lost 5 lbs of the post-wedding gain!), so I feel like I made some progress.

2. Nesting - none at all. Zero. I did not paint one wall or hang one picture. Just didn't have it in me. Just didn't feel like making any more decisions or anything that required thought! Planning the wedding wiped me out! lol I did plant some hostas that a friend gave me...but only because they would die if they didn't get planted immediately - and I couldn't waste a friend's generous gift.

3. Spiritual - my saddest disappointment. I didn't get on track like I wanted to. Not sure how to resolve that yet. I struggled with what to do for a Bible study or what to read in my quiet time. I do better with structure, but my mornings were erratic this summer with my three jobs, James' schedule, getting up at a different time every day. I just couldn't find my rhythm...but I still felt Him close to me in spite of my short-comings. We did have some moments...

4. Marriage - I didn't spend a lot of time reading like I wanted to. I started Sacred Marriage and flipped through a few others, but didn't get through any of them. James did order us a marriage series on DVD, so I am excited for that. But I didn't 'book-learn' like I wanted to.

5. Blogging - Well, that's obvious. :(

As you can sadly see, my last post was almost a month ago. :(

But I had so many stories to tell (and good ones!) I have a handful of half-written drafts saved that never made it to the page. It wasn't even the 'perfectionist-in-me' that kept them from being posted.

Honestly? Time and energy.

The three jobs this summer wiped.me.out. The continual adjustment to marriage took more time than I had anticipated (in a good way). Some of it was just being lazy...summer does that to me after a school year of teaching, especially this past year.

Hopefully, a few of those posts will make it out here, at some point. I am still struggling to see where and how blogging fits in my life. I love it ...but the hours in a day just don't seem to cooperate. I'm not giving up yet, though...

6. Friends - I did get to catch up with a few friends I haven't seen in a while, so I feel pretty good about that. Not all, but a few. And that counts.

7. Professional - Nope, not so much. I did a little work while I was working in the school office this summer, so that was super-helpful and got me caught up, if not ahead. So, at least I'm starting the year on level ground.

8. Fun and Relaxation -Now that I think about it...yeah, we did that :) We went away a few weekends, spent lots of nights BBQing in the backyard or watching moving, going out to eat, taking drives, playing yahtze, speculating our future plans...

And actually, now that I reflect on it...that probably was the most important thing I could have done this summer: spend time with my husband, building a strong foundation for our relationship. We had a lot of stress and anxiety going into the wedding - and the end of the school year was stressful for me as well. It was so nice to just enjoy each other. I remember feeling relaxed with James and laughing a lot. I definitely feel like we got closer and became more of a team.

I had such high hopes for the summer. Like I do every summer. And I think that this summer, I am going to do it, no matter what! Well...

You win some, you lose some. And that is just how it goes.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Marriage of Mr. Random and Ms. Routine

I've thought for about a week or so what I was going to blog about next - and I've got a bunch of thoughts and ideas (which inevitably come when I'm driving)

....and I think I hit a slump. :(

I felt a little better when a few of my favorite blog writers have been a little lax in posting as well. Maybe not for the same reason, but I was a little relieved that at least my irregularity in posting lately has good company.

I hate to blame everything on the adjustments of being married (and blame isn't really the right feel I'm going for), but I sort of feel like blogging is just one more thing I can't seem to a get a rhythm in. I just can't seem to find my groove in anything lately.

I'm a teacher and a routine-addict by nature, so being 'off' for the summer is, ironically, a little hard for me (if you could call having 3 jobs 'off'). I guess what I mean is the irregularity is hard for me. I feel like I even need to plan my free time.

I like my world to function in routines, in systems, in structures...I guess that is easier when you are single, when you are in control (or at least have the illusion of control) of your own world.

I don't mean James is in control of my world now (although sometimes he likes to think he is :) ) but just the awareness of someone else to consider in just about everything...well, it takes getting used to.

And James is the total opposite of a routine-guy. He is Mr. Random. He likes to 'feel' what we should do next...and see how things 'evolve.'

I am learning to find the joy in that and actually, when I let myself, it is sort of refreshing to let go of control of all my micro-managing (at least, the micro-managing I do in my mind). I'm finding fun in the spontaneity and just letting a day 'evolve' or seeing where we end up. And it has resulted in some cool excursions and experiences.

I'm struggling a bit with wanting to prioritize my marriage and our relationship - and finding time to do some of the things I enjoy - and need to do also. Now, James doesn't keep me from this...it is probably just some of the internal conflict inside of me. Add perfectionism to my routine-addiction- and....well... I guess I like routines because I like to do everything right.

Which leads me to my slump in blogging. The perfect post, the perfect topic, the perfect voice...which equal a blog that never gets posted.

I know, I need to break that mind set.

So, in the spirit of breaking out of my rut and perfectionism and releasing my claw grip on my-so-called-structured-life...

...in learning just to 'be' and sometimes just let things 'evolve', even if it is not planned and perfect....

I am posting this blog 'as-is'.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Reasons Why I Should Divorce Facebook (But I Probably Won't)

OK, so I will be the bad guy and say what I am sure many of us are thinking about Facebook. I, for one, admit, that I have this love/hate, addictionto/disgustwith Facebook. At the same time I am both annoyed by it and magnetically sucked into it.

So, here are some reasons, in no particular order, why I should divorce Facebook (but I probably won't):

10. Annoying Attention Seekers: These can be both positive and negative, but their status updates scream, "Everyone! Hey Everyone! Yoo -hooo! Look at me!"

It could be positive attention, sounding like: "My husband wastes so much money! I got flowers again for the 10th day in a row! (heart). I wish he wouldn't spend so much on me!" I mean, come on - what is the purpose of this? We are all smarter than that!

Or, it could be negative attention and sound something like this: "Why doesn't anything in my life ever go right? I must be cursed because my life just could not get any worse." I legitimately feel badly for this person, but what is the purpose of putting it on Facebook for everyone to see? Calling a good friend might be a better option? Now, this leads me to my next point:

9. Obligatory Commenting: Now that I have seen these above-mentioned posts (or birthdays or whatever), I usually feel obligated to comment. Even though that person might not know I have seen it, I know I have seen it - and I feel the pressure to say something. This can also be applied to people who comment on your wall or send you messages. Now typically, people who comment and whose comments we see are people we have 'friended' - but sometimes the source of this problem is this:

8. Awkward Friend Requests: Someone found you. And you didn't necessarily want to be found. What do you do with that??? Do you become friends with them out of obligation? Decline? Ignore? I admit, I usually take the cowardly way out and just do nothing. I don't accept, ignore, or decline; I just keep the request hanging out there in cyber FB. But honestly, I don't really want to invite anyone into my personal world that I am not comfortable having in there. Not that I am hiding anything, but you just never know. And as a teacher, I get a LOT of friend request from kids in my school that I do not even know. Don't want to hurt their feelings, but sorry...

7. Useless Minutia:

Status update - "Hey, I am going out for a run!"
30 minutes later: "What a great run! Now I gotta feed the dog!"
4 minutes later: " Junior is such a cute pup! I'm so lucky to have him!"
2 minutes later: "Going to make myself an egg-white omelet."

Do we really need to know about every.single.detail of a person's life in minute-by-minute intervals? Can I just say what most of us are thinking : "Who cares!!!!!!"( Is that mean???)

6. 700 Pictures of the Family Vacation: I am all for sharing pictures, but is it necessary to include every.single.shot. from Disney World? Do you think people are really going to look at all 700? Just a few of the highlights will suffice. Which leads me to my next point, which is even more annoying:

5. Endless Array of Self-Portraits: I mean, what are we doing here? If not for everyone to look at us, why - not only just take a thousand shots - but post them??? Does everyone need to see every picture a person has ever taken of him/herself? With every slight variation possible? 'Here's one of me with my head to the right, smiling.' 'Here is one of me with my head to the left, smiling.' 'Here's one of me with my chin tilted up, just slightly...' etc, etc, etc. The one that drives me crazy: that pucker-face-bad-girl-pout-with-slanted-peace-sign-across-the-chest-look. Don't mean to offend anyone, but grrrrrr!! I can understand if you are a teenager- maybe even a college student- but you are 45!!!!

4. Obsessive Profile Picture Changes: I don't understand why people change their profile pictures every other day. Have you really changed that much? I am fine with updating pictures in your album, but does everyone need to see a new picture of you every day?

3. Colossial Time Waster: Enough said. I am so guilty of this. My night usually goes something like this: "OK, it is 9:38 pm. I am only going to stay on Facebook until 9:45" (it has be an easily-rounded time, of course). And, typically, one page leads to another... and then I am saying, "OK, just until 10pm. I'll give myself 15 more minutes and then that's it!" Repeat this process several times through out the day, and I am frightened to see how much time I've wasted.

2. Creepers: These people just seem to know too much about people's lives. It's true, there are some people I've accepted as friends that I probably would have preferred not to, but it seemed harmless at the time. However, there are some people that sort of have this creepy-stalker-quality to them and based on conversation (or messages) with them at later points, it just seems they were a little too interested... In their defense, yes - I put it out there, and I accepted the friend request but...OK, fine, this one is probably my own fault, then.

1. Too Much Information: This could be in wall posts or pictures - but some details of life should really just be kept private - or at least only revealed to those who know us best. Some things are just better left unsaid - and some pictures (both mental and actual) are better left unseen by the outside world. I would say my students are guilty of this alot. Did you forget that you have teachers as friends? Did you really want your teachers to see that? Or know that? Especially when you are soliciting answers for tomorrow's homework. And more often than not, seeing my students' - both current and former - FB page has made me sad at some of the directions they have taken.

So, these are reasons why I should divorce FB. So, why don't I? Well, even though I have been guilty of some (or all) of these at times, maybe I'm a little nosy? Don't want to be out of the loop? And honestly, I do like it to keep in touch with far-away-friends - and close-by ones who I can't keep in touch with the way I'd like to.

I have even been able to re-connect with some old friends I never would have otherwise. I actually just had an ice-cream date with my best friend from 3rd grade who found me on FB. Hadn't seen her in about 25 years. And that was awesome.

It's nice to be able to keep up with people. I like being able to message my sister here and there through out the day and know some of the little details of her and my nieces. Sometimes some posts are thought-provoking. And sometimes it is a very fast, effective way to communicate quickly and to a lot of people.

And sometimes, I think God can use us to encourage or pray for some of those posts we see, annoying or not. And sometimes, someone will post a thought or a verse that we really needed to hear.

The downside is ...well...all of the above... And sometimes, it can take the place of real, face-to-face relationships with these people - or even the people who are actually in our lives because we are consumed with FB.

Overall, my biggest complaint is the narcissicism it can breed. Sometimes, I feel like people use FB to just scream, "LOOK AT ME!!!!" The sad thing is that I feel like that is so indicative of our culture. We are so self-obsessed. Me, me, me. As much as I loathe it, I sometimes find myself getting swept into that current and guilty of some of the same things I hate.

If anything, FB sometimes forces me to keep it real with myself. Katie, be careful not to look at the speck in my FB friend's eye while I have a big, fat plank in my own (yes, I even did that pucker-bad-girl-pose with some of my students a few years ago, now that I think about it).

Maybe I should re-read my own list and I'll get back to you later...

PS - Don't forget that today is New Friend Friday at my sister's page- The Girl Creative!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Year Ago, It All Started...

So, this weekend, James and I celebrated our 'engagement anniversary.' (For the record, James says we can only celebrate it this year. He says he cannot be responsible to remember more than one anniversary date.)

On July 18, 2009, we got engaged (full story here) and so it all began.




And since then, it has been a 12-month whirlwind (you can read about that here).

Our engagement day was actually one of our happiest - we got engaged at Montauk Point at sunrise.

It had been my hope that maybe we could go back for the weekend, but money, time and energy prevented it. Part of me wanted to push and make it happen (I am all about making memories), but the practical side won out.

But we had a great day...went out for breakfast (like we did the morning we got engaged), did a little shopping, ran a few errands (James got glasses! He looks like a such a wonderfully smart and handsome nerd! lol...He can't wait to bring them to work and use the pseudo-intelligent look to his advantage! He is the ultimate spin-master and can use anything to his advantage.)

And our night was topped off by seeing the L.I. Philharmonic in the park - VIP tickets and all (well, that just means better parking and sitting close up. In chairs. And being able to use the luxury trailer porter-potties, which, actually, were really nice. And you know how frequently I am in need of a good place to pee. Couldn't just go in the woods this time.)

Well, we actually just spread our blanket in the corner anyway, and...


with some great music...





and good friends...


a little wine-cheese-and-crackers by moonlight ....





and a top-of-the-line-fireworks show....


we celebrated our engagement.
It was cool to look back and see all that has transpired in the past 12 months. I am definitely one of those annoying people who frequently says things like, "This time last year, we were...." 'This time last year...we just got engaged. And now, just a year later, the wedding is behind us, we bought a house, and we have been married for 4 months now. Who would have thought last summer, that this time, just a year later, we would be married for 4 month, the wedding would be behind us and we would have bought a house???'

Back then, it was all just so nebulous and vague. There was no way we could have predicted how the year would unfold. But in retrospect, God just put the pieces in place in a way we could have never planned if we tried.

So, in the only year that I get to celebrate my engagement...we made the most of it. And it definitely feels different now that we are married, and not just dating. And not just engaged. I've reflected on this before, but our relationship just seems more real, more solid, more substantial and tangible. Like we are a solidified team. Committed. A family. Part of each other. Marriage does that.

And we actually went down to Great South Bay and stayed there til the sun came up (even though I hate staying up late!). In all honesty, it was kind of a deep night in the way of sharing. Not all of it easy...but it was good. Because, like it is supposed to do - I think it brought us closer. More of the nitty-gritty-talking-things-through that people should do in relationships to keep it honest, real and intimate. And although I don't think it was really tied up neatly with a bow by the morning, it felt good to do it. And I am glad we did. And I know it makes us stronger.

The cherry on top was that we saw this enormous sun rising as we drove home. I mean it was huge!!! Took up the whole horizon and it was this crazy mix of pink and orange both at the same time (Camera batteries were dead. #$%$#%^&!!) But I said to James this was the sunrise we should have gotten on our engagement morning (we got engaged at sunrise but it was a cloudy morning...no actual sun).

I sort of thought it was kind of symbolic in the way that there will always be new beginnings in relationships, fresh starts and new things to come. It's always a new day.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Camping Part 4: The Final Episode

After sleep finally found us, we got up pretty early because we had a 9am date with the kayak people. As I went to the jeep, I saw the neighbors up and about...I tried to look normal and have a natural smile on my face, but all in all, I just avoided eye contact. I had no animosity, really, (no, really) towards them, but I just thought it best to steer clear altogether.

We had a great 4th of July kayaking down the Delaware Water Gap. Picture perfect, so I'll just let the pictures tell the story:

Here we are before we start our 4th of July Kayak Trip (about 8 miles or so)



That's my man! I love this picture of him!



The guide had told us to stay to the right of the island because it was too shallow on the left.
Guess who just had to go left???




I didn't go left, so I busied myself on the island by taking a pee break (of course)
and taking pictures of myself while I waited for him.


Some sights along the way:


Nice 4th of July Surprise for those on the water!


A bald eagle! On 4th of July! Perfect!





Dingman's Bridge, right by the campground. Almost there.
And I was just about done by this point.


So, this was Sunday. We were both off for July 5th, and James was off for July 6th as well. All weekend he had been trying to convince me to call my two summer jobs (both of which I was starting my summer hours on the 6th) to see if I could skip Tues. I was sort of on the fence - at least about calling and asking - but once we got the new neighbors, James sort of lost his enthusiasm for the extra day.

Checkout was noon the next day, but he was hoping we could go for a hike in the morning and then check out later on on Monday, so we could use the showers.

After kayaking, we stopped at the general store to find out about it. Now, I was waiting in the car and James went in. After a few minutes of waiting, a guy wearing a 'Staff' T-shirt came storming out, spewed more than a few choice words, got into the camp van, slammed the door and sped off, leaving the trail of dust behind him. All I was thinking was, 'Oh my gosh...what did James do???'

Then,another younger guy came out next and went over to the girl who had been standing outside with her dog. I heard him say:

"Yeah, that guy who was on the other side of that tent was talking to the owners about the people who came last night. Turns out they aren't even allowed to be here. They never registered or paid."

OK, so that explained the angry guy.

The girl said, "See? I told you we should have said something about them! We are too easy!"

Well, it turned out the young couple were actually from site 3, the other people unfortunate enough to be on the opposite side of our new neighbors. In just another minute, James walked out and I grilled him: "What just happened in there?"

"Well, I was asking about us staying the extra half day, seeing if anyone was registered to be in our site tomorrow night. I told them that we had contemplated staying another day, but we weren't crazy about our new neighbors. The guy had a weird look on his face and said, 'What new neighbors?' I told him, 'The people who showed up late last night at site 4...with all the cackling and yelping.' The guy said, 'There is nobody registered to be at site 4. That site is empty.' So I said, 'Well, it's not empty now.'

And that was where I saw the angry staffer storm out. So....after all the upset the night before, those people had snuck in without paying or registering????? After the shock of their audacity sunk in, their stupidity soon followed.

I mean, if you are going to sneak in someplace, wouldn't you try to be as inconspicuous and quiet as possible???? Why would you draw unneeded attention to yourself??? Maybe they had done this before and no one had ever found out???

I told James about the guy I had seen leaving, and then about the young guy and girl and what they had said. James later told me that when he went to talk to the girls the night before, he heard someone from site 3 unzip their tent window - I guess to watch and listen. Apparently, we weren't the only ones disturbed.

So, when we got back to our site, we had missed the altercation, but our neighbors at site 4 were soon to be our neighbors no more. They were packing up- I guess they got the boot. I kind of felt bad, but then, I didn't. They had done something dishonest - and disturbed the honest, paying people while doing it. That's what happens.

And we hadn't turned them in on purpose. We were just looking to see if we could stay an extra day. James didn't intentionally get them in trouble; but it was a good idea for the owners to know that some of their guests (well, freeloaders) were disturbing other (paying) guests.

Besides our adventures with our neighbors, we had another bit of excitement: we saw a bear! Well, James did. He has eyes like a hawk and can see anything. I grabbed my camera, which has a killer zoom, and this is what I got:
I know it looks like a brown blur, but I promise! It was a bear!


In a returned state of peace and serenity, we finished out our last night grilling steaks after a long day on the water, hanging out by the fire and listening to music on our CD player with all 8 C batteries. I even pushed myself to stay up as late as James was - which was sometime around 3 am (and I hate staying up late!).


The next morning, we got up after sleeping in a little, packed up camp and headed home. Here is our friend at Dingman's Toll Bridge. This was really how they took the toll! She did not look happy.

So, all in all, I'd say a successful first camping trip. With all of the bumps, upsets, and unexpected disturbances, we still love each other - and actually - we still like each other. And we'd do it again. And honestly, I think it served us well. Not only did it give us time to just hang out uninterrupted and doing some things we love, we had lots of time to talk and contemplate, which we don't always have the luxury of. I felt like we were closer for the experience.

So if camping really tests the strength of a marriage, I think we are off to a pretty decent start.



{PS - Be sure to visit the Girl Creative for New Friend Friday. Buttons on right :) }

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Camping Part 3: Sharing Spaces

If you have been tracking our camping adventures both here and here, I left with our desperate quest for coffee, which, thankyoudingmangeneralstore, we had in our systems soon enough without incident.

After a morning of settling in, we decided to bike the trails a bit...of course we got lost, which seems to be our M.O. After trying to scout around to find the trail again (why don't they mark those things???), trekking across the dried up riverbed (with no bridge) and taking a pee break (it was getting annoying that James could pee whenever he wanted to, so the heck with it - we were camping), we somehow found the park ranger station, where the park ranger informed us that we had taken a wrong turn and ended up on the ranger fitness trail.

After a short detour to the Visitor's Center for a short nature walk to the waterfalls, we biked back without incident again and by this time, we were ready to shower and head to Shawnee Mountain in the Poconos to see the pre-4th-of-July fireworks.


Dingman's Waterfall (not my picture).

Fortuitously enough we made it to the showers just in time, as it seemed most of the campground was heading to Shawnee as well.

OK, let me insert here - showers. Facilities weren't too bad, but there were only two bathhouses - each with two toilets and two showers for women. Now, there were over 100 campsites. And 4 showers???? Obviously a man came up with that design. So you can appreciate my luck having gotten to the showers before the rush. So, I got out and saw this woman and a family of about 9 kids all standing there, just staring at me when I walked out. My eyes were as big as half-dollars when I walked out of the shower, saw the crowd and gave them this crooked, awkward half-smile. Kinda awkward for everyone, I think. That I was not expecting to see that was an understatement. Fortuitous indeed.

At Shawnee was a sort of festival before the celebration, but we got the inside scoop that the parking lot was actually the better place to watch the fireworks. And you could beat some of the crowd out of the parking lot.

Just as it was getting close to show-time, I said to James, "I have to pee." (This was becoming a bad habit).

"Go in the woods."(This also was becoming a bad habit.)

"James, we are in civilization now. I just can't keep peeing wherever and whenever I want to. Not everyone here just came from the woods."

"Wait til the fireworks start. No one will even notice. "

Well, it seemed reasonable, so I agreed. Sure, I would probably need to be retrained when we got home, that I just couldn't pee wherever I wanted to, but hey, we were where we were.

Finally the lights went out and I made my move. Sandwiched between two cars, I went to the edge of the woods and crouched. Then all of the sudden - after I started, I heard, "Would every one please rise for 'The Star-Spangled Banner'."

Oh my gosh. No, he did not just say that! Crap! I am peeing during the national anthem! That is so disrespectful!!!

James turned and glared at me, and I just shrugged and gave him a look that said, 'This was your idea!'

What could I do?? I was past the point of no return. Then there was this silent pause, and all you could hear was the pee hitting the leaves. Loudly. James turned and gave me this look as if to say, 'Shhhhh!' But there was nothing I could do! All the sudden, James started to kick the gravel and to cough really loud. Finally, the singing started and I could hear James singing. Loudly - but this time, on purpose.

Finally, I got done and James said to me, 'I can't believe you peed during the Star-Spangled Banner."

Traitor!

Well, the show was great and we didn't get caught behind too many bad drivers (i.e. everyone else) on the way home, but we were looking forward to relaxing around the fire and getting to bed early because we were kayaking the next day.

This is a small sampling of our fireworks show.


(I had to put her in because my sister and I used to do this every 4th of July!)

So, we got back and were relieved to see that site 4, the site next to ours was still empty. We had set up our tent as sort of a barrier to site 4, and the other side was just the woods and our band of Asian friends just beyond the woods. It seemed like we would have the privacy we wanted. This is sort of the set-up. Picture the tent to James' left, almost right in front of the picnic table:


This is our tent, blocking site 4.


Well, we were chilling out around the fire....probably around 11pm, and all the sudden I saw lights through our tent and heard the slamming of car doors.


"Hon, looks like site 4 is taken."

Immediately, I could see that James was getting distracted, tense, and irritated that we had been invaded. Well, it was late, and I was sure they would be quiet and courteous.

Then this silence-shattering-cackling pierced our serenity. We just looked at each other in disbelief. Was she for real???

It got worse. First of all, it was all girls. Enough said. Then, full-volume voices, laughing, giggling, cackling, shrieking, yelping, screeching...and a car alarm that went off every.single.time they went into the car to unload another piece of equipment. And the laughter that followed it.

Didn't they know about the quiet hours at the campground? Which had actually passed over an hour before? Didn't they realize they had neighbors? Or there were little kids sleeping near by?

Now, this was the icing on the cake for James who had been patient with our little Asian children-neighbors playing games right near our site well past dark (he got it - they are kids camping and having some innocent fun); James, who had been slightly less patient with the French-speaking Arab guys who decided they wanted to lay right next to my jeep, on our site, and talk and watch the stars together? (Which, in response, James just stood near our jeep and stared at them until they left. I mean, go lay on your own site! I don't get it!)

So already bear-like when his serenity is interrupted, this was, as I said, the proverbial icing on the cake. Now, I am typically non-confrontational, but this was ridiculous. Absolutely no respect for the rules of the campground or the people nearby. Or at least no understanding of it.

"Go say something to them!"

And James, who is definitely not-non-confrontational, didn't need much coaxing.

"Just be nice to them!"

Well, James was composed enough that I couldn't hear what he said to them, which was a good thing. So he came back and I said, 'So what did you say????'

"I just said, 'Ladies, I understand that you just got here. That it is dark and you have to set up. But do ya think you could do it without all the screeching and yelping???? I know you may not have known this since you probably didn't get a chance to check in, but there are quiet hours here.' "

"Did you really say that???

"Yeah, I said that. They just looked at me and then were like, 'Oh, Ok. Ok."

In retrospect, I don't know if we had the most Christ-like attitude or response. Maybe we should have offered to help them. Maybe I should have been more sympathetic, since we were in a similar predicament the night before. But honestly, even with our frustration, we didn't inflict it on our neighbors. And they definitely didn't sound frustrated.

I kinda felt bad, but then, not really.

So, they did lower their voices...until I heard them on a cell phone - well, more like a Nextel because I could hear the whole conversation (well, sort of, they weren't fully speaking English). And they were giving directions for someone else to come to their site. Are you kidding? How many of them were there???

Unfortunately, even all the lowered voices didn't resolve the problem of the car alarm. I mean it - seriously, every.five.minutes.

Finally - and actually thankfully - we decided to call it a night. This was getting unbearable.

"Where is the Tylenol PM? I'm taking that and Nyquil. I wanna be knocked out."

We got into bed and finally, all seemed quiet. Only faint whispering and movement. It seemed too good to be true.

Unfortunately, it was.

"Reeerer.....Reerer.....Reerer.....Reeeeeeeerer......Reeeeeeerer...."

"I'll turn that car alarm off myself..." James said as he started getting out of bed.

"Lay down, baby. Here, take my earplugs...that will help."

He stopped for a minute and was actually assessing which was the lesser of the evils: smashing their car or taking the chance that if he died in his sleep, he would be found wearing hot pink earplugs.

He wisely decided that, quite accurately and contrary to all appearances, the hot pink earplugs were actually the manliest choice.

And thankfully, we have no more recollection of what else happened that night because we were fortunate enough that sleep finally found us.

More adventures to come...(Wait til you hear the rest of the story with our new neighbors!!!)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Camping: Part 2 - The Next Morning

Picking up where I left off from the last post, I decided to call it a night while James listened to his I-pod. Sometime in the middle of the night...er....morning, I heard this singing. Loud singing. Oh geez, James had I-pod on and was singing...sorta loudly...

I thought it might only be for a song...but then, it just kept going. I started getting stressed and anxious; our spot was secluded, but the neighbors weren't that far.

I was getting so antsy and worried that I finally dragged myself off the air mattress, out of the protection of my covers, and into the chilly morning air (It was probably about 55-60 degrees. In July).

I fumbled around to get myself out from the tent.

Ziiiip, ziiiiip.

My contacts were out, so I couldn't see more than a few inches in front of me. Being too lazy to find flip-flips to actually step out and talk to James, I stuck my head out of the zipper and sort of whispered...loudly, 'Honey, you are singing kind of loud!'

I couldn't tell if he heard me or acknowledged it...because I couldn't see anything. So, just in case, I repeated myself: "Honey, you are singing kinda loud! We have neighbors."

I didn't really wait for a response - one, because I couldn't see; two, because I couldn't hear (earplugs). So I zipped myself back in and tried to go back to sleep. At this point, I'm freezing, tired, cranky....

James joined me a little later, and we slept in. I found out later that he never heard me; he just filled in what he didn't hear: he thought I said that I was mad that he was up late and that I wanted him to come to bed (Not the case at all, actually - just concerned about the neighbors; I'm pretty used to his nocturnal ways).

Well, in his classic self-redemptive way, he used this marital miscommunication to capitalize on a fortuitous comedy opportunity and developed it into this "demon-woman" routine.

"So, I hear this angry 'zip, zip' - and then this demon woman comes out of the tent.{Insert claws, scary demon snarl and scary demon face here} She comes out with this crazy hair and angry look and she hisses, 'Kkkkkkkkk' and then she turns around and 'zip, zip'. Back she goes into her lair..." he said with this self-satisfied chuckle.

Anyway, he seemed pretty impressed with himself and his joke and kept going. And going. And repeating it. And gave himself a good laugh. Every time. Several times. Over and over.

Obviously, that image didn't go over well with me and he stopped. Finally. Demon-woman...pleeeease!!! He has not even come close to seeing demon-woman from me!

Finally, mid-morning and groggy, we got up. I didn't really know the lay of the land yet, and I really had to pee.

"Just go in the woods," James said.

Now, I have been on many missions trips and have had to pee in the craziest foreign 'bathrooms' (I use that word loosely), so I wasn't opposed to this. But I could kind of hear voices around us, and I didn't know just how close our neighbors actually were.

Well, I went to the most private corner of our circle and dropped 'em. Just as I finished my business, I heard these voices getting dangerously close. Then, around the bend, this little band of Asian children appeared. What the.....???

Turned out they were at the group area of the campground which was right next to us,and they were exploring a dried-up riverbed that ran right behind our site. Well, let me tell you, if they had been about 15 seconds earlier, they would have discovered way more than I am sure they were looking for.

At the same time, James went to set up the little propane burner to make some coffee. "All I want is a cup of coffee." And I am feeling good right now: we have coffee, we have a camping coffee pot.

Well, James went to set up the burner... and...the propane container didn't fit.

"Is this the one that goes with this stove?"

"Well, it was near it in the store."

"Did you ask anyone?"

"Well....there was no one around to ask. I was kind of in a rush. I didn't know there was more than one kind."

Silence.

"All I wanted was a cup of coffee...."

OK, nix the home-brewed coffee. We knew the general store on the grounds had fresh coffee, so the general store to the rescue (several times that weekend, actually. I owe them a lot, including my marital cohesiveness for the weekend).

Well, in spite of our rough beginning, once we set up our tent and our area, got the batteries, the right propane, the wood for the fire and our cure-all - coffee, we started to settle into a rhythm for the weekend..

More adventures to come...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Camping: The Real Test of a Marriage's Strength (Part 1)


Or, so I have been told. And maybe experienced....just a little.

So we had decided a while ago to go camping for 4th of July weekend. Initially, we were going to a local park, only about 30 minutes from our house. But with the heatwave and all, James thought it would be better to go where there might be some water nearby. Fine by me.

Well, we lost about $50 by not going to the original park (Suffolk County is so lame in how they set this system up but that's another story), but we took the loss and headed to the Delaware Water Gap.




Now, I've been camping several times and love it, but I have never been the one to be in charge of the trip - you know, packing up all the gear, buying everything we need, etc.

I had a pretty extensive list and I kept my pad handy every time another thought crossed my mind. James threw a few reminders my way, so I thought I really had my bases covered. So while James was at work on Friday, I was running all over L.I. buying the essentials. I mean, I had nothing. A few old flashlights, some paper plates, bug spray, but that was about it.

So, I got the tent (this great 9-man tent James had seen that he loved - I was so glad I found it), the air mattress (I cannot do hard ground), a pump, the lantern, the propane stove, propane, the table grill, the coffee pot, batteries...all what I thought were the essentials. Then food. Then packing up. I felt this fun, wifely excitement getting all of this for our first camping trip together. But I did feel a little nervous...hoping I wouldn't forget anything.

We actually made great time and hit minimal traffic, which is unusual getting off Long Island on a regular day, let alone a holiday weekend. But I knew James just wanted to get there, and all of the bad drivers (i.e. everyone else) were making him a little edgey.

We arrived to our spot about 10pm... and that was when the "fun" began.

We had this great spot that was surrounded by woods, so we loved the seclusion. But we realized that we couldn't pull the car right up to the spot...and therefore, no light. We started lugging our gear to the spot, and I was digging through everything to find the lantern and praying I brought the right amount of batteries. Ok, success. So I did my best to shine the headlights on our spot, and the lantern provided some extra light.

"Where are the other lanterns?"

"Other lanterns?"

Silence.

"I only bought one."

I soon realized that all of the other flashlights I had dug up to bring with us (I'm so cheap - why buy new ones when we have them?) were either not working or severely inadequate. And I can see James' frustration starting to build.

And then I pulled out the tent that he has to set up. In the dark. With minimal light. For the first time. After a long day of work. And a three-hour drive.

Now, the idea of a 9 person tent seemed awesome while I was in the store that day...in broad daylight...in an air-conditioned store...in civilization. As the reality set in that it was dark, late, and the first time James had even seen this more complex tent, let alone set it up - well, maybe it wasn't such a great idea? In his delicate way, James off-handedly suggested that a quick 2-man pop-up might have been better, given the circumstances? Point noted.

Well, it's what we had and I was sure we'd love it once we were in it...we couldn't exactly pack up and go home. So, like a good husband, James set out to set it up, and he said, "OK, where's the hammer?"

Oh, crap. Hammer?

"I didn't bring a hammer. I'm so sorry, honey. I didn't even think of a hammer."

Silence.

Oh gosh, this isn't good. So, ingenious that he is, we found a small boulder near by which would have to do...but it didn't. It cracked one of the plastic buckles. So, we ended up digging up part of my car jack to do the trick.

While he was doing that, I thought it best to remove myself from the scenario and let him figure it out, so I went to go get some wood. And I am praying the whole time, "Jesus, give him strength, give him wisdom, help him to figure this out without problems..."

I came back and saw the tent starting to take shape and felt relieved, but still thought it wise to make myself scarce. So, I did the best I could to be helpful, unload the car and stay out of his way.

To his credit, he did amazingly, which I knew he would. I could tell he was super-frustrated, but he handled it great and the tent came together. After an hour and a half.

Considering the circumstances, not too bad.

At about 1am or so, I was wrecked, and he was all wired. I decided to crash, and he just wanted to stay up, unwind, sit by the fire and listen to some music.

Music. The CD player. I knew I bought batteries. Where were they????

Thankfully, I found the package and as James is putting them in, he asked, "Where's the other package?"

"Other package?"

"Yeah, it takes 8 batteries. There's only 4 here. Did you look to see how many you needed?"

"I looked to see that we needed C batteries... I didn't count."

Silence.

"Maybe you could listen to your I-pod instead?"

Silence.

I've heard in camping that when you encounter a bear, it is best to slip away quietly, unnoticed....

"OK, goodnight, honey...I'll see you in the morning..."

Stay tuned for the next episode. But here are some pics from our weekend homestead and the beautiful tent James set:





Sunday, June 27, 2010

State of The Our Union: The First 90 Days

This Saturday marked 3 months of marriage marital bliss - the first 90 days. I figured it was a good time to look back and reflect just a little.

Many well-meaning people ask me all the time - 'So how's married life?' I am sure, most of the time, it is the courteous question to ask - very similar to the 'How are you?': polite to ask but they don't really want to know.

And honestly, I don't always want to tell. Again, I know they are well-intended and are assuming it has been marital bliss. But it is funny - because lots of people will tell you that the first year can be the most challenging, but when people ask how married life is, they just expect you to say 'It is so awesome!'

To complicate a very simple question even more, I am the kind of person who hates to answer, 'Fine!' 'Great!' to the 'how are you' question if my ENTIRE life is not fine or great. Most of it might be, but if there is even just one area that is not, I feel I am being dishonest by saying 'fine' or 'great.' That's just me- black and white, all or nothing. Can make life a little difficult. So I feel a little internal obligation to elaborate (not that I always do - I just feel it), even though the question really does just require a 'fine' or 'great.'

Anyway, I digress majorly. So, the 'How's married life?' question. The first 90 days:

In general, it has been great. I love living with James and having someone around to share a house with. Even with the hard stuff, I like my life so much more being married than single. Single life was good but I just prefer this - as do most people who marry; otherwise, they wouldn't marry. Duh.

It is definitely more work - more laundry, food shopping, cleaning, juggling schedules - and I can't really slack off like I would when I lived alone. But I like doing those domestic kinds of things, so I don't mind.

I have learned a lot about James by living with him, even though I feel like there haven't been any huge surprises. More like - he likes to fall asleep with the TV timer on or a CD or tape playing (usually the Bible or a sermon). He hates having the covers over his feet because they need to 'breathe'; he sometimes has a little bit of RLS (restless leg syndrome - real or imagined I'm not sure, but very real in our house) so settling into sleep is usually a production.

He doesn't eat dinner like regular people. Doesn't require dinner, doesn't always like to have it. So, I figured one of us would be cooking dinner every night...it's not as regimented as I thought.

I've learned what particular foods he likes to have in the house: potato or white bread, not wheat; never light mayo or half-and-half; shrimp and cheese-and-crackers are a favorite snack to keep in the house; white albacore tuna in water, not oil.

He likes to keep his toothbrush in the shower, he does not like to sit in the backyard at night with the lights on (doesn't want to disturb the neighbors). He likes the lines in the carpet when he vacuums, and sometimes he will re-vacuum after I do it because I didn't do the lines right.

These have been some of the fun discoveries.

It has been fun to be able to go away together. We didn't live together before we were married and we saved sex for after marriage, so we didn't really travel together while we were dating.

But it has been fun to plan some short weekend trips. We went upstate Memorial Day Weekend to go mountain biking and we are going camping this weekend for the 4th of July. It is so fun to pack and buy supplies and plan all that together (oh yeah - I definitely learned to have the route planned out AHEAD of time...even if he says he knows where he is going. I should know the route too - it is the job of the co-pilot, so I am told!).

Our relationship itself hasn't changed a lot - but in a way, it has - and it is. The commitment is deeper, and the ripple effects of our decisions (and moods and behaviors) are a lot closer now. The reality is sinking in that we are each other's family now and the first loyalty is to each other - not to our former families, former friends, former hobbies...although those are still in our lives. It is just that we didn't make a life-long covenant with any of these people or things, but with each other. We are one now. Everything we do affects the other.

I feel like we are a little clumsy in adjusting to this reality - we are all creatures of habit so it takes getting used to this - but I am sure in time it will be more natural.

Of course, there are always miscommunications - most of the time the disagreements are results of misunderstandings or not communicating clearly. So, I am having to learn better ways to adapt my communication in a way he understands. Men and women are so different so I feel like I am always taking mental notes when I notice something.

I am also learning that change happens slowly. I tend to be a pretty flexible and can adapt fairly quickly; change takes a little more of a "process" (his favorite word) for James. So even the pace of our adjustments is different - and I am sure the male/female traits are a part of that - so I have tried to keep that in mind too.

There have been other issues we have had to deal with that have made the first 90 days a little challenging and not exactly the way I imagined it would be. We are working through it, which is good, but there were times when honestly, I felt a little sad because I would say to myself, "We shouldn't be dealing with this kind of stuff in our first few months of bliss!"

But who is to say that? Everyone is different - every couple and everyone brings different issues and baggage to the table (myself included - and we all have it). Everyone's relationship and timetable looks different.

So I have had to grow up a bit too, and not act like a spoiled girl but a mature wife and support and encouragement to my husband. Which, by the way, is the whole point...not just to have all of my expectations fulfilled. This is life. This is marriage.

And probably the biggest thing I have learned is this: it's all about me.

Before you freak, this is what I mean: It is all about me - me growing and developing into a more mature, Christ-like person, a quality human being. It is all about me in the sense that I am responsible for myself and how I act and how I choose to change and grow - and that I cannot force that on someone else.

I cannot control James or what he does or doesn't do - how he chooses to grow and change - or even if he chooses to grow or change (He does both, by the way, but my point is that I can't force him). I can only control myself. It is up to me to choose how I handle my emotions, my upset, my state of mind, and what I perceive as right or wrong. It is up to me and God to handle my part of the relationship - and it is up to God and James to handle his part. It is not for me to micro-manage him just so I can arrange my life to be exactly what I want it to be.

I could write more about all this - and probably will at some point - but one bit of advice that I was told I would need to incorporate every day (and they were right) is this:

Always keep giving, always keep forgiving. Give and forgive.

And getting that one down has taken me at least the first 90 days.

So, my final thoughts on the first 90 days: Marriage is wonderful and can be all it is cracked up to be - but it is not for the faint of heart.

Friday, June 25, 2010

D.O.N.E.

Yes, finally. The school year is O.V.E.R.

Graduation tomorrow....

But it was right down to the wire. I've debated whether is it professionally ethical or not to include pieces of emails I've gotten from my students just so you could read for yourself the insanity of what this week has been...but I decided that might somehow be a breech of confidentiality.

Needless to say...

Anyway, I have been so negative about the end of this year so I don't want to dwell on that anymore. I am just ready to look ahead to summer.

As you may have read, the past 12 months have been insane, and I am so excited to just enjoy a little...

So, some things on my to-do list for the next 2 months, in no particular order:

1. Fitness: I need to get in shape again! Ugh! I have been eating my frustration! Six point six pounds heavier since the wedding and that has got to go! So, I am planning to mountain bike with James, go walking outside, get back to the gym - and ZUMBA classes! I have heard great things about Zumba and I am psyched.

2. Nesting: We are moved in but the house isn't totally home yet. I haven't had a chance to decorate, hang pictures, curtains, paint, etc. So that is on my agenda - to get organized and make this home. I am not the picture of domesticity when it comes to cooking or gardening, but I plan to try to make some advances in that area: healthy cooking and planting some flowers in the yard.

3. Spiritual: I haven't involved myself in a good Bible study in almost a year or so - and I am feeling it. I have been 'getting by' spiritually, and I am feeling the void of not having that closeness with Jesus. So, I want to get back into a solid, regular quiet time - and hopefully do another really good Beth Moore Bible study. Those have always been great for me.

4. Marriage: I feel like I have a lot to learn about what it means to have a godly marriage and to be a godly wife. There are a few books about it I have been wanting to read: Sacred Marriage, Love and Respect, Boundaries in Marriage. I have a few others that have been given to me as well that I would like to read also. So I want to spend some time reading and in prayer about what this new role means and what it should look like.

5. Blogging: I am excited to be back on the bandwagon and I want to give some time and energy to really thinking through what I am hoping this blog will evolve into.

6. Friends: So many friends I haven't seen and want to catch up with! Some former students I have been wanting to have a cup of coffee with - and BBQs! I love them!

7. Professional: Give a little (very little!) thought to some professional development - really, just reading some classic novels that I haven't read to see if they might be good to teach in the future. I am going to stay away from curriculum for most of the summer. I need a break.

8. Fun and Relaxation: First summer as a newly-wed! This may be the only time in our lives that James and I can enjoy our freedom like this. I definitely want to make time for us, to do some day trips and make each day special, to make our marriage a priority. We have a beach close-by, which we both love. We have been blessed by our surroundings and I think it is fully honoring to God to enjoy this gift.

My goal for the summer is really just to make each.day.count.



PS - Hi to any friends visiting from New Friend Friday at The Girl Creative! A great place to visit and make new friends! And TGC is my sister :)



New Friend Fridays

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Angry Teacher Rant

I am so DONE!

On a typical day, I love my students, I love my job...but yesterday, I felt like I hated them. I am serious. In my mind, every one of them was lazy, apathetic, superficial, had no character, no work ethic. You would not have wanted to be inside my head yesterday - it was not pretty.

I've complained all semester long about grading their thesis papers. Grading these things are the bane of my professional existence, but I put a TON of time into assessing their rough drafts...going over it with a fine-toothed comb, marking every grammar error, error in development, organization, weak thesis statements, lack of unity...you name it.

It is so FRUSTRATING to get their final drafts and compare them to the rough drafts. Do you know what they fixed???? The commas, the periods, the capital letters, the spacing...anything that did not require THOUGHT and only mistakes the I POINTED OUT.

Anything that required them to THINK or DO MORE WORK they conveniently left out.

"You need another example here. Develop this paragraph a little more." I got nothing.

"How is this information tied to your thesis? Make a connection."Still nothing.

"Repetitive. Keep all like information together." Did they move it? Of course not!

"Too much quoting. You need to paraphrase." Do you know what was there? SAME.EXACT.WORDS.

Just to name a few.

In fairness, I did get some great papers. I do have students who work hard, take pride in their work and have an excellent work ethic.

But it just made me sad how many students don't. Shoddy work. No effort. They check out during class, do their work incorrectly, and then have the gall to ignore the corrections I MAKE FOR THEM!

They have been doing these kinds of papers since 9th grade. I don't get it.

The seniors need to get a 75 on their thesis in order to graduate. Some got a 70 or 75, and instead of just making all the corrections, they calculatively determine what they needed to do to get the 3 or 5 points needed to pass. That's it.

I was going over a paper with a student about what needed to be done to fix her paper, and she said, point blank, " Just tell me what I need to do to get 3 points." "Well, really, it would be best to..." " No, honestly, I just want the 3 points."

OK, summer vacation is more for the teacher than the student. Case in point.

You would not want me teaching your kids in this frame of mind. Look for a rebuttal in the future about how wonderful my students are and how motivated and enthusiastic and how bright....

But just not today.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I See It...

...the end, that is. The end is in sight.

We finished classes on Monday....NYS Regents and finals this week and next...and then....done.

I am so looking forward to....just....breathing....

I was talking to my mom on the phone, filling her in on my summer plans, and as we talked, I realized the past 12 months have been a whirlwind. Almost entirely, nonstop.

About this time last year, I had to finish up school a week early because I was going on a trip to Morocco. So, I had to get my classroom cleaned out and my grades in a week early. That was crazy.

Then, I was in Morocco for almost two weeks.



About two weeks after I got back from Morocco, James proposed.




Enter: wedding planning mania.

When we decided on a March wedding, the wind speed starting picking up.



September, I'm back teaching - and planning a wedding:

Getting the dress...


finding a church (ours was being used for the Easter Passion Play)...

finding a reception site....


picking the dresses, flowers, and color schemes...


picking the invitations...



By November, enter: house hunting.



I am teaching, planning a wedding, and looking for a house.

By December, I am teaching, planning a wedding, getting the house inspected, finalizing the mortgage, going to contract...


I don't even think we took a break for the holidays. Maybe Christmas Day.



By January, I am teaching, prepping for the NYS English Regents (a brutal 6- hour-4-essay test), planning the wedding, closing on our house...


....and just about going crazy.

By February, on top of all that, we are moving James into the house...



packing up my apartment,

planning our honeymoon...

and now wedding planning stress is in full swing...

picking the tuxes...

going over the guest list and tables...

finding the right favors...


Throw in a few hair trials, make-up trials and bridal showers....

Honestly, there are no words.

Another month or so of this...constant motion right up until the night before - making and setting up the centerpieces....





And finally, it arrives:

March 26, 2010...it has all been leading up to this. It was all worth it.


April...we had our honeymoon, which was super-relaxing...but a degree of stress, only in the sense of the newness of and getting used to each other.






When we got back, I had to move all the rest of my stuff out of the apartment and into the house, unpacking, buying furniture, settling in, adjusting to a new routine and a new role as a wife...





And go back to work and catch up on everything I put off while I was....well,....see above.

By May, I am super-stressed at work - the normal end of the year crunch, on top of all my back-work I didn't do while planning the wedding, figuring out what job(s) I'll be working for the summer, applying and training for those jobs....

Not to mention that in order for two students to graduate, I have to find an additional 21 hours in my life to privately tutor them.

...which brings me to today - June 17.

I see it.

The end is in sight.

Classes are done.

I can do my grading in school instead of bringing it home every night.

I can take a few minutes to blog while my students are re-taking the regents.

My summer schedule is mostly worked out (3 different jobs, mind you, but when I leave at the end of the day, I leave) and I am actually seeing vacant blocks of time in the near future that aren't booked with something that has to get done.

This whirlwind of a 12-month time period is just about drawing to a close, and honestly, I couldn't.be.happier.

There have been these huge, monumental life changes in the past 365 days that I haven't even really had a chance to fully contemplate, dream about - or even really fully enjoy.

But, that is what is on my agenda for the next 75 days....