Tuesday, December 29, 2009


This is a little late in coming, but with the holidays and everything, it's been too crazy to get this all up!

About a month and a half ago, my best friend and I realized that we had been friends for 10 years. For a military kid, moving from state-to-state every few years (or months in some cases) this was a huge feat for me. Having a constant friend for 10 years seemed like something to celebrate, and as we had both moved recently and hadn't seen each other in a while, we decided to do something about it. Less than two days later, she was flying from Seattle to Raleigh, and we both had some ideas up our sleeves on what to do for what we dubbed our "friendiversary."

We originally planned to hang out in DC or New York, but since May had never been down to the real south, we decided to head down to Charleston and Savannah.

When planning our trip, we came across a Samantha Brown episode, where she spent the weekend in the very same cities, so we took a page out of her book and planned to visit some of the places she did while visiting the south.

Even coming from California, we were shocked at all the fireworks werehouses. We passed at least 5 of these on our way down to Charleston.

In downtown Charleston, we found the best burger EVER. (They also had the best fried pickles I've ever had, a southern delicacy you must try.)

We found a great pier along the waterfront. We had a great view of the bay, the reeds, and the boats.

Couldn't resist snapping some pics of May along the cobblestone streets of Charleston.

A gorgeous cathedral we passed by.

On the waterfront, near the Aquarium.

We were so excited! As we were snapping pictures along the waterfront, this dolphin just swam up beside us. It was the coolest!

The regal bald eagle at the aquarium. I had never seen a bald eagle before. This was our favorite part of the aquarium experience.

This was one of the many alligators at the aquarium. This one was probably 6 feet long.

After spending our evening in Charleston, we drove down to Savannah for the night. In the morning, we drove out to Tybee Island, where we saw a beautiful lighthouse, found a secret trail leading to a private beach, and found the retirement home we want to go to when we're old biddies!

After Tybee Island, we returned to Savannah to check out some of the local places. One included the Honey Shop, which we saw on Samantha Brown. This is the best little shop! They carry a variety of honey products, ranging from grilling honey to lotion to honeycomb and cheese appetizers.

We also visited St. Vincent Cathedral, which was built in the mid 1800's. It was truly the most beautiful building I've stepped foot in. It makes me want to visit Europe to see some of the truly old cathedrals there.

While in Savannah, we also did a cemetery tour (which I'll post separately one of these days) and walked along the riverfront to find a genuine, southern restaurant to eat at. Around twilight, we began the 5 hour trip back to Sanford. Along the way, we kept seeing all of these billboards for a place called Fort Pedro, which advertised the biggest mini golf course in the state. As we reached Fort Pedro, though, it looked more like Vegas, with neon signs running down the main drag of the town. It even had a huge tower in the shape of a sombrero. We turned in, interested to see what the hype was all about, only to find that it was mostly motels and seedy diners. It struck a strange cord, and we couldn't help but take some pictures of it!

All in all, it was a great weekend, filled with laughter and friendship. Happy friendiversary, friend

Sunday, December 6, 2009

the holidays are here

So this has been an interesting transition. It's the first holiday season I've ever spent apart from my family. We have all these traditions for Thanksgiving and Black Friday and the following holidays, and it's been a bittersweet time doing all of those things thousands of miles away.

The turkey turned out beautifully, as well as the rest of the Thanksgiving dinner, so that was an accomplishment on its own! We're finishing the house decorating and gift-wrapping and are ready for Christmas! All we need now is a good layer of snow, some holiday movies, and some hot chocolate!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

tales from the classroom: patriots and starbucks

My kids this year are hilarious. Smart, sassy, sarcastic, and hilarious.

I have a thing I like to do involving a classroom economy. Each student gets paid weekly for doing jobs, as if they were each on the job site every day. They get money for coming to school, for completing tasks correctly the first time, and for classroom jobs (we have a bulletin board for different jobs the kids can apply for). They also pay money for optional supplies or extra supplies that they have depleted (ie pencils they lost or markers that ran out of ink).

On the first week of school, I allow each student to create a money template that we'll use all year, and then the class votes on the one they like the best. Usually, I get pictures of whatever our school's mascot is. Being the Patriots, I recieved the expected bills with pictures of flags, patriot soldiers, eagles, and other patriotic emblems. One student, though, drew a simple shooting star on the front of his dollar, and sarcastically called it a "star buck." Of course, this one won the vote, so our new classroom currency is in Starbucks.

Har har har.

Monday, September 21, 2009

southernisms 101 -- aka "hymns and sweet tea"

You know you're in the south when you have to differentiate your choice of teas. You can't just say "tea" in a restaurant (or even a fast food joint). You have to say sun tea, hot tea, or sweet tea. It's just one of those things one forgets about when coming from the west.

Another is the fact that when you ask someone how they are, they actually TELL you. At Waffle House, we heard all about the server's long day and her other job. At Cracker Barrel, we heard all about a vacation one of the ladies went on. Even at Walmart, you get the full story and not the western "good, how are you?" that comes so naturally. I LOVE it! It just makes your day wonderful, getting to know people you've never met and share in their lives, even if it's only for thirty seconds.

The last is the music. I was listening to the radio, and they bleep out the funniest words. In Sacramento, the radio stations hardly ever bleep out a word, but here, they can't even say the word "drugs" without getting censored. And they listen to gospel music everywhere! I went to lunch at a Chinese buffet with one of my new coworkers and they were playing worship music! I don't think I've ever heard blatantly religious music in a public place before, other than a religious family-based establishment or religious store of some sort.

Welcome to the south!

searched and sworn in

Today was interesting, to say the least. I really can't wait until we get settled and don't have to be running every second of the day!

I'm still in the process of getting my military ID, so every time I go on base, I have to be searched and allow for the car to be searched. It takes a bit of time, but it's not a big deal. BUT, our registration tags hadn't arrived by the time we had to move, so it looks as if the registration has expired, so each time I try to get on base, they call the MP's (Military Police) on me and I have to go through background checks and they double search the car. It's crazy! I'm sure it's something I'll look back on with amusement, but it's really time consuming now.

On a good note, though, I found a house I LOOOOOVE! It's got a huge backyard for Seamus, a modern kitchen, and an awesome, very southern, front porch! I'm hoping we qualify for it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

day 4 (and 5)??

It's been a long couple of days.

Yesterday, we went to see the St. Louis Arch and then left Missouri, excited at the prospect of coming back someday and exploring St. Louis quite a bit more than we were able to on this trip. We drove through Indiana and Illinois, and then stopped in Louisville, KY for...as if you didn't know...some lunch at Spaghetti Factory. It was by far the biggest (and probably nicest) OSF I've ever been to, though the food wasn't nearly as good and we're used to. It was amusing, though, so have the option of iced tea or sweet tea to go with our meal.

We left Louisville and traveled through West Virgina, which took FOREVER; Virginia, which was full of fog and rain; and finally entered North Carolina at around 2 am. We drove down to Spring Lake, which is right outside the base, and crashed at an icky, smoky hotel. Don't stay in Spring Lake if ever you come through here! (Well...if you do come you should stay with us anyway, but you get the picture.)

So after two hours of sleep, we got up this morning and met with a realtor. We were able to look at a few houses and neighborhoods and have pretty much decided on Sanford as our town of choice. Then we recouped at Waffle House (which, I have to say, is just as yummy as I remember it being years and years ago! It was the only thing I really missed about leaving the south as a kid...and Ben loved it too, so I'm pretty sure we'll make it a weekly weekend-breakfast habit) and then it was off to the airport so Ben could fly home in order to finish his last two weeks of work and packing up of the house.

I was able to check in at the base lodge at Fort Bragg (MUCH better than the lame hotel from last night) and am about to eat dinner and then crash for the night.

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers!

Pictures from the trip, and from around NC, will be coming shortly!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

day 3

First, let me tell you that google maps is not accurate when you're planning for long road trips, and it will ALWAYS take you longer than the amount of time it tells you it will.

We saw some interesting things along the road on Day 3.

In Colorado, we saw a man spray painting the grass along the highway to make it look green. In Kansas, we saw Truckhenge, a garden of trucks (and boats as well) in a dry creek bed. It was awesome, and pics will be coming soon! In Missouri, we saw the converging of about 10 highways and freeways all smack dab in the middle of downtown. (The city all lit up was beautiful.)

We tried to go by the Kit Carson County Carousel in Burlington, Colorado, but apparently a bunch of the roads were closed off and it just would have taken too long.

We finally stopped at Andrea's around 1 am (we crossed through another time zone) and got to catch up with her a bit before catching up on some much-needed sleep.

Today is the St. Louis Gateway Arch, Spaghetti Factory in Louisville, crossing through 7 states, and finally, our arrival into North Carolina!

Friday, September 18, 2009

day 2

Day 2 was a long one.

We started from Elko in the morning, excited for the drive ahead. It's funny, because the landscape along the drive was actually pretty nice. Nice, of course, for the Nevada desert, but still, not nearly as bad as we were expecting.

Then, we crossed the border. It was just funny that, as we were starting to really enjoy looking out the windows, Utah came along and ruined it. We crossed the border, and all we could see were miles and miles of salt flats. There was even a rest stop a mile in with an overlook so one could view all the ugly salt flats. It seems amusing that they build an observation tower for that, but none for Pacific Coast Highway or even 80 across Donner Pass, both beautiful roads. But I digress.

From Elko, we continued onto Salt Lake City, where we stopped for lunch at Spaghetti Factory. (Some of you know the story behind the restaurant..for you others, I'll put that in another blog. No time here!)

After Salt Lake, and even a bit before it, was a much prettier drive than the first part. We passed through some gorgeous mountain areas, hit some rain and fog, and got some awesome pictures of it all! I still don't have a card reader, though, so the pics will have to wait.

We reached Denver around 2 am and crashed. Again, we took a while and found a cheap motel that ended up being pretty nice, except for the roofers, who decided to wake us up by pounding on our roof at 7 in the morning.

So, we're on to St. Louis.

Some sites we hope to see today: Truckhenge and the Kit Carson County Carousel (and of course the Spaghetti Factory in St. Louis)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

day 1

Well, we arrived in Elko late last night. We had planned to get at least to Salt Lake City, but circumstances just didn't allow it. We got a late start, since Ben had to work, and then had a late lunch with family in Reno and dinner with a friend in Winnemucca. Then there was a TON of construction the whole way. By the time we got to Elko, we were exhausted from the long days we've had so far this week.

After an hour of searching (We finally drove to a Starbucks parking lot and used their wi-fi instead of driving around too much longer) we found a decent motel we could afford. I'm not sure why Elko has so many expensive hotels. Even the Rodeway Inn was around 80 bucks. Ben hypothesized that since it's the last major stopping point on the way to Salk Lake, but also going North to Boise, it must get a lot of
cross travel.

We finally found the Budget Inn, which was only $49 a night, and were pleasantly surprised to find that it was a pretty nice room with a comfy bed AND air conditioning (We haven't had much luck in that area lately...)

So, after a not-so-long sleep, we're about to head back out onto the road. We're hoping to make it as far (if not a bit further than)Denver tonight.

Pictures to come soon!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

all the craziness


I have to let that sink in for a minute. Things have happened so quickly, that I almost feel guilty for spending the time to sit down and write this. I do need a break from all the craziness though, so this is how I'm spending it!

For those of you who haven't heard yet, we are moving to North Carolina. Tomorrow. Wow.

Here's the story if you haven't heard it (if you have, you can skip this next part!) I had an interview on Thursday with three principals of Department of Defense Schools. Prior to the interview, I researched the schools I was interviewing for, and found out that one of them was named after a man who was stationed in Somalia with my dad. It seemed like it was just too much to be coincidence that such a position would have finally arrived. Even better, several other teachers at this school had spouses or other relatives who were there at the same time also. Awesome, huh?

The principal let me know that they had to make their decision that day, and that HR would be getting back to the person they hired sometime within a week or two.

So yesterday (only 2 workdays after the interview) I awoke to a phone call saying that I got the third grade position and would start the next Monday. So here we are two days later, in the midst of frantic packing and planning, and we head out tomorrow! Ben and I finally get to do the cross-country road trip we've been planning for years, only without a lot of the fun stops we had planned to do along the way.

Pictures and road-trip (and house-finding and teaching) stories will soon commence as well!

I never thought I'd say this, but goodbye, California!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

i guess this is growing up

I've never really felt like an adult. I have a friend who comments each time we see each other on how we are really growing up, citing the fact that I am married, have a house, a career, pets -- every marking of the stereotypical American adult, minus the 2.5 kids and mini-van (or SUV??)

But I guess I have never really agreed. Honestly, I have always felt just the same as I always have, somewhere between those confinements of teen-dom and old age. I always wondered if I would ever feel that "adult-ness" feeling coming on or if it would just happen. If it didn't happen with finding the love of my life, being married, moving away from home or even finishing college and starting my career, what would it be? Having kids? Buying a house? Turning 30 or even 40?

I hadn't thought about it for a while, but I realized recently that feeling like a grown up isn't always a great thing. If being an adult means being knocked down by the failing economy just as so many others have, knowing that our parents won't be there to bail us out, I don't know if I want to join those ranks! We are seeing so many of our friends having their second or even third kids, and we are nowhere near that phase in our own lives. We keep seeing friends, as young as we are, who have already divorced. We have seen death and life and everything in between...and it's made me realize that feeling like a grown up may not be all that it's cracked up to be.

The feeling is bound to appear eventually and I can't help but wonder if it's a good thing. Will it be a relief to finally be that grown-up I always dreamed of becoming, even though it comes complete with the same fears and worries of the older generations who lived before us; or should I be clinging to that security blanket of youth, never letting go? I know we can't have it both ways, not really, but it's difficult to make the choice. 

Or maybe it isn't a choice at all. Maybe it just happens out of the blue, when we realize we have finally reached that stage of life. All I know is that I haven't reached that place yet.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


So I just realized that I haven't written in this thing since October. Seven months! Seven months full of nothing and everything at the same time.

Well, here is what the last seven months have held.

I still don't have a job, and that fact is growing more and more difficult as each month rolls by. Somehow by the grace of God we are still making it financially, but the prospects are ever dwindling as more and more money is taken from our state (and country's) educational budget. We are looking for teaching positions across the country, and it is very possible that we'll be moving to North Carolina in the next few months.

On that same note, I started a photography business. It's been a lot of fun and we've met some great people. I'm hoping that it builds up enough that I can put teaching on hold until the recession is over, so we'll see. It's a popular thing now for photogs to have their own portraiture blogs, with a few portraits and quick spiel about their clients...so that's where I've been doing my writing for the past few months. The link is here if you are interested in checking it out!

Other than that, things are moving right along, I supposed. We've been in Tahoe off and on for Ben's work. It's nice getting to stay in a hotel for free in one of the world's most beautiful bodies of water for several days on end!

That's about it...see you in another seven months (hopefully it won't be that long!)