no place like home

Starting a post off with a complaint - admittedly, not a good way to start. That's why I'm starting with TWO complaints.

One: Is anyone else having problems uploading pictures to their blog?? As in, it takes forever & sometimes you get an error message? 

Two: Eew.

Today I saw the first bitty snowflakes of winter. They were stealthy little frickers, but they couldn't escape my eagle eyes. Get the heck out of here; it isn't even November yet.

Now that I've gotten that out of my system: home was amazing. 
Sweet western NY.

On Saturday, Victoria and I had a Good Apple sale in Rochester. Thanks to Mom, Jen, Kathleen & Katie for coming to see us & support us!

Hard at work...

Saturday evening we had a delicious meal at home. Dad & I made pie together, and we had family game night.

Sunday morning was cold, sunny & beautiful.

In the afternoon, clouds rolled in, but thankfully we were able to get a nice walk in before the rain hit.

Mookey & Elly were fast friends and a riot to watch together.

All in all - a fabulous weekend with people I love. Only one month until I see my fam again!


my first gig

So, today was my first paid experience as a "photographer". Yesterday when I told my small group about it, they remarked that they didn't know I was trying to do this. I didn't really know I was either; it just sort of happened.

My co-worker asked if I'd be interested in doing family portraits for her & I jumped at the opportunity. I offered to do the session for free, but she wouldn't have it. So, thank you, Marisa, for allowing me to spend the afternoon with your beautiful family.

The kiddos were a bit... squirrelly, but we were able to get some good shots.

Here's a taste:

Kallie, looking like a tiny dancer.

Riley's smirk.

Kris & Marisa

I love this picture because it captures exactly how the session went. Marisa smiled and tried to cajole the kids into sitting still and smiling, and Kris chased them after they inevitably squirmed away and ran off.

& this picture perfectly depicts exactly how Kallie & Riley felt about the whole thing.

Thanks again, guys - it was a really fun afternoon!


cardboard testimonies

Found this on Nicole Barczak's blog & wanted to share...


random things 2

As some of you (Victoria) may know, I LOVE Old Navy. 
Especially when they have amazing sales.

For example - I picked up 2 pairs of shorts today because I saw they were only $4.99 each!

And then I got to the register and my TOTAL was $4.22.

Too bad I'll have to wait through 7 months of snow & freezing before I can wear them.
In other news - I am practically jumping out of my skin in anticipation of this upcoming weekend; in fact, just earlier today I sang a little jingle of excitement, which caused Doug to look at me in bewilderment and ask, "Did you just sing 'Western New York, here we come'?"

I have a half day of school on Friday.
Victoria & I have a craft sale for Good Apple on Saturday - hope to see a lot of people there!
Cider n' Donut is Saturday night.
Sunday is family time and watching the Bills!

Here's a poem I wrote about my desire to be back in WNY, while trying to be content with where we are right now.

I'm dreaming once more in a golden haze
Of wandering through orchards and fields of maize.
As I drive past rows of houses on end,
I envision each a tree - weighted branches bed
With the pregnant strain of crisp, ripe fruit,
And the farmhands ransack as if gathering loot.
While I idle in a sea of metal and wheels,
My mind drifts eastward to Mom's homecooked meals.
A country girl in suburban sprawl
Longing to pacify her heart's deep call.
For with my love I live, and with my love I roam,
But still my heart daily cries for home. 
Someday, someday - hope's fondest sigh
In which promise and faith mingle, mount and fly.


TGI... T?

This is the first night since school started that I haven't had to do any lesson planning or grading! I am [momentarily] caught up! 

To celebrate, Doug & I drove to Plymouth Orchards to enjoy the beautiful autumn day.

Upon turning onto this road & seeing the farm, I let out a little cry & bemoaned the fact that Doug hadn't shared this treasure with me sooner. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the closest you'll get to a real farm in Plymouth, MI.

This pic is for Mom...

Amazing homemade cinnamon donuts!

I love fall.

I also cut Doug's hair tonight - or, as he likes to say, we "kept his lettuce tight." Not really sure what that means, but I like it.


I guess it was time. That first picture looks straight up like a mug shot.


what lies beneath...

So, relatively recently, Doug & I have discovered that there is something living under our bathtub.

I was the first to discover this freeloader. Let me set the scene.

It was late afternoon/early evening, and Doug & I were both home from work. I decided I needed to do something totally unrelated to school, so I decided to go paint our laundry chute. As I walked into the bathroom and was about to sit on the floor, I heard a loud, distinct Knock. Knock. Knock. - coming from behind our shower curtain. 

You know those moments where you swear your heart stopped for a second? Yeah, that'd be one of those. I froze, staring at the bathtub in the mirror, wondering who was in our shower. I turned slowly, and quickly whipped the shower curtain back. Nothing in there. I stared for a moment, not daring to breath, until I heard a brushing noise coming from the wall, at which point I backed out as quickly & silently as possible and ran to the living room to get Doug.
 Conversation as follows:
Me, panicked look on face: "Doug. Doug. There is someone or something in our wall behind the tub."
Doug: "What?"
Me: "Please come look at it."
Doug: "Okay."
Me: "... Please take a baseball bat."

Well, a baseball bat wasn't readily available, so Doug just grabbed the closest weapon at hand - a knife that had been left on the counter. I promise I'm not making this up, nor did I steal it from a Lifetime movie.

We head into the bathroom, and of course, there's no noise whatsoever. Doug assures me that it was just "the pipes" - because, as we all know, pipes frequently knock on your walls and brush against them, creating a furry sound.

Anyway, long story short, a couple days later I heard it again, got Doug, and we both heard it. We knocked on the bathtub, and heard a scampering. So, we've been trying to figure out exactly what it is that is under our bathtub. Here is the list we've compiled thus far.

-Black cat we've seen hanging around occasionally
*Note: I've told Doug that anything beyond this point will be cause for us to relocate.
-Raccoon (Pretty sure this is the most likely candidate, although Doug tries to assure me there are NO raccoons in Plymouth. Sorry, but if you've got trash & trees, you've got raccoons.) 
-Bobby Fischer
-And my favorite - an Orc, pirating Internet, because they obviously don't have any in Mordor.

Tell me - what else could be hiding under our tub!

Although... we haven't heard any movement for a few days now, so it's either moved on... or died. Great - just what we need. A rotting Orc under our bathtub.


Post #200

200 Things I Love, in no particular order

1. God 2. Doug 3. Family 4. Friends 5. Ice cream 6. Music 7. Photography 8. Teaching 9. My students 10. Puppies 11. Crafts 12. Camping 13. Figure Skating 14. Piano 15. Writing 16. Jeans 17. Ballet flats 18. Autumn leaves 19. Journals 20. The smell of books. 21. Getting snail mail. 22. Surprises 23. Chocolate 24. Ice water 25. Western New York 26. Excelsior Farms 27. Swinging 28. Warm breezes 29. Painting my toenails 30. Cuddling 31. Disney movies 32. Musicals 33. Country music in the summer 34. Daydreaming 35. Baby clothes 36. Laughing 37. My small groups 38. Sparkles in the snow 39. Making cookies 40. Eating all the dough 41. the Adirondacks... someday I’ll go back 42. Traveling 43. Reading a good book 44. Watching my students work quietly 45. Sitting on the couch in my family’s house when everyone is home 46. Buffalo Bills 47. Gymnastics 48. Soccer 49. Chelsea 50. Elly 51. Horses 52. Making ornaments 53. Making earrings 54. Coloring 55. Going for walks 56. Watching people do something they’re passionate about 57. People watching, in general 58. Boutiques 59. The last conscious moment before you fall asleep 60. Taking my contacts out 61. Bike rides 62. Rock climbing 63. Jay-z and Beyonce 64. Being silly with Doug 65. Being tan 66. The smell of suntan lotion 67. Pancake breakfast 68. Breakfast dinner 69. Caramel frappucinos 70. Libraries 71. Seashells 72. Old family pictures 73. Fresh laundry 74. Blossoms 75. Johnny Jump-ups 76. Candles 77. Apple orchards 78. Seasonal/holiday decorating 79. Family traditions 80. Car rides with my hubby 81. Hearing a new song I love and playing it over and over for a couple weeks straight 82. Hay rides 83. Baking 84. Antiques 85. Detroit Tigers 86. Making Doug laugh really hard 87. Bonfires 88. Chinese food 89. The Office 90. Sunsets 91. Conversation 92. Quiet time 93. The sound of people typing 94. Museums 95. Oxford 96. Sprawling fields 97. Mountains 98. Abandoned dirt roads 99. Ikea 100. Bare feet 101. Hymns 102. Weddings 103. Holding hands 104. Sitting on my dad’s lap 105. Stickers 106. French doors 107. Long Island accents with Mom 108. Quilts 109. Climbing trees 110. Unexpected compliments 111. Fruit roll ups 112. Homemade jam 113. Country Living magazine 114. Dooce 115. Engagement stories 116. Hungry Howie’s pizza 117. Pedicures 118. Cooking with garlic 119. Radiohead 120.  Thin-point Sharpie markers 121. Quiet Friday nights 122. Chipmunks 123. Writing poetry 124. The word “pernicious”, especially as applied to my sister Emily 125. Piece of Cake ice cream 126. Chocolate chip cookies 127. Mom’s apple pie 128. Mom’s potato soup 129. Mom’s homemade bread 130. Okay, Mom’s cooking overall. 131. Grandma B’s applesauce 132. Grandma L’s quilts 133. When Doug talks in his sleep 134. Making people laugh 135. Clear, starry nights 136. Wildflowers 137. Hot cider 138. Baby calves in spring 139. Listening to people’s life stories 140. Stomach gurgles 141. Pumpkin spice drink at Starbucks 142. Nectarines 143. Riding on the tractor with Dad 144. Inverting hay 145. Panek’s Pickin’ Patch 146. Corny phrases, like “the proof is in the pudding” 147. A solid pun 148. Roald Dahl 149. Orchestras 150. Having time for leisure reading 151. Fluffy blankets 152. Ethan’s pig squeal 153. Getting goose bumps when I listen to music 154. Baby elephants & hippos 155. When Robert says “Oh, werd?” and “Dood, no way.” 156. Cigar boxes 157. Christmas music 158. A good hug 159. Popcorn & Pepsi while watching a movie 160. Frozen Snickers bars 161. Steak 162. Dad’s chocolates 163. Bragging about my family 164. Driving with my windows down 165. Intricate details 166. Words 167. Percherons 168. Board games 169. Hot showers on a cold morning 170. Finding reasons to celebrate 171. Listening to people speak different languages 172. Sunshine & blue skies 173. Thunderstorms 174. God’s glorious creation 175. Baby chicks 176. Fried bread dough 177. J.D. Salinger 178. Mittens 179. Huge snowflakes 180. Jayne’s laugh 181. Creativity 182. When my recipe improvisations work 183. Thrift shops 184. Yard sales 185. When the light makes car tires look like they’re spinning backwards 186. High heels with long jeans 187. Old sheet music 188. Lego men 189. Old barns 190. Big, round hay bales 191. Paul 192. When little girls have adorable pigtails 193. The pond 194. Climbing trees 195. Painting 196. Harmony 197. Singing 198. A good sneeze 199. Today 200. Life.


fo shizzle, my dizzle

Happy birthday to...

the craziest girl I know...

the best dancer...

the cuddliest...

one of the funniest...

& one of my very best friends...

... til the very end.

Deb - It's always an adventure whenever we're together. An alarming, ridiculous, amazingly hilarious & wonderful adventure.
Love you, D - happy 26th.


looking ahead

Just a brief post to say:

This post by C.J. Koster is absolutely hilarious. 


Ah, this picture must have been taken around 2000... maybe 2001?

What exactly am I wearing? But that's besides the point.
That's me & the birthday girl!
A very happy 25th birthday to my dear cousin Becca! 
I hope your next year is filled with blessings & happiness. 
I love you! (& Culligan...)

Also, special birthday wishes to my favorite sister-in-law, Michele! 

I hope your day is filled with joy & I can't wait to see you again this Christmas!
I love you!


S is for Speech

My speech class is preparing to do their demonstration speeches, and many of them have decided to demonstrate how to make some sort of food so they'll be able to enjoy a snack with the class.

Since the speeches have to be 4-5 minutes, I wanted to demonstrate for the class the fact that reading from a recipe is not going to cut it. So I decided to read my mom's exquisite apple pie recipe to the class. 

After I was done reading it, there were a few groans of, "That sounds soooo good! Now I'm super hungry." One student asked, "Will you please promise to make one for us?" I smiled, said, "I suppose so," and whipped out this bad boy from behind a poster on my shelf & sent one of my students to go get the vanilla ice cream I purchased to go with it.

Um, the boys in class stood up and clapped when they saw it.

However, last night I heard Doug exclaim, "Hey! Why is there an 'S' on the pie?!"
How do you explain to your husband that the first apple pie of the year isn't for him? 
Oops. "It's for my... speech class..."
I did save him a small piece, but I definitely owe him another whole pie...


life is beautiful

Most days I have a journal prompt for my students to respond to when they first get to class. On Monday, the question was: "Define beauty. What are some things in life you think are beautiful?" 

The more I thought about it, the more I liked that question. 

So, here are a few things I find beautiful:

Beauty is what is real. 
What is pure. 
What is honest and unadulterated. 
What is true.
Beauty is the fog rolling in on a cool morning while the sun is rising. 
Beauty is a mother holding her child close. 
Two children giggling on the playground. 
My parents' marriage.
My husband's embrace.
Beauty is a father holding his son's hand.
Beauty is a still lake on a quiet night.
Beauty is a newborn foal struggling to stand on quaking legs.
An apple orchard in the peak of autumn.
Beauty is my little sister humming contentedly while she eats cereal.
A green pasture.
Wild flowers.
Beauty is the Creator's gift.
Beauty is the vivid, vibrant colors of the changing leaves.
Beauty is the sound of a voice on the phone from miles away.
Glistening droplets of rain clinging to leaves.
Beauty is watching your family laugh and interact.
A hug.
A freshly baked apple pie.
A genuine smile.
Seeing a kind act when they don't know anyone's looking.
Beauty is a vast sky strewn with sparkling stars.
Beauty is the way words dance together.
Memories of loved ones.
Seeing students praying together.
An old couple holding hands.
Beauty is the Cross.
The Resurrection.
The gift of grace.
Life is beautiful.

What are some things YOU find beautiful?