Sunday, December 31, 2006

Year-End Wrap-Up

Well, 2006 is officially coming to a close, and blogging sounds like more fun that finishing my grand office cleaning project. I do need to start getting ready for our party later, though.

Anyway, I was thinking about our year, and what we've accomplished/where we've been. It's not a huge list, and there are still some things that I had hoped to do, like lose a massive amount of weight, that haven't happened. There's always next year, right?

Here's my quick and dirty list:

Places I Went This Year:

--New Orleans, LA in March and June
--Austin, TX in April and June
--Newport, RI (new place for me) in May
--Boston, MA in May
--New Braunfels/San Marcos, Gruene, TX in July and September (new places for me)
--Chicago, IL in August
--Columbia, SC in October
--Baton Rouge, LA in August
--Lafayette, LA many times

So, no place exotic, and two of the trips were for weddings, but they were all fun. In the next year, I anticipate going to Dallas in January for a wedding, South Carolina for a baby shower or birth, and maybe Chicago twice in the spring for some training. Still no trip to Europe in my future. I will be riding to Austin on a bicycle in April. Scary.

Stuff I Accomplished (in no particular order):

--made some new friends
--cleaned out the garage, office, pantry, laundry room, our bathroom
--got a dog
--bought a new bike/found a hobby that Darren and I could enjoy together
--made some friends with kids Zach's age
--took a trip alone (very weird feeling to be without Zach)
--reconnected with an old friend from high school
--got contact lenses
--got caught up on uploading pictures/ordering prints (TODAY)
--took tap dancing lessons

Well, uh, I guess that's about it. Not such an impressive list, but that's all right.

Goals for the future are:

--Lose weight
--Get pregnant (hmm. could counteract lose weight)
--Make it to Austin on my bike
--Get caught up on my photo albums
--Get two cars in the garage
--Buy a Honda Pilot
--Buy a Nintendo Wii (we don't have any video games, and have decided to buy this as a reward for finishing the MS 150)
--Make a career change/get a new teaching position in art or elementary school
--Clean out my closet

OK, time to shower. Have a great night, and don't drink as much as I plan to.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas!

OK, Christmas technically ended almost half an hour ago, but I'm still awake, so it should count...

We have had a great time the past few days. It's been nice being home with my boys, trying to relax and enjoy each other's company. Zach and I did some mommy-son things this week, and I even enjoyed myself. If we do any more things together here, though, I will need to invest in some black exercise pants to wear out and about. Paired with an oversize t-shirt and visible panty line, they seem to be de riguer for outings in The Woodlands. I know I am not a fashion plate, but I do try to make an effort to look nice when I leave the house every day. Exercise pants, in my opinion, belong at the gym, or when you don't plan to leave the house.

Anyway, this week, Zach and I took a friend to Pump it Up, which is this indoor inflatable playplace. I am not big on outings with lots of other mommy-types, but I took a book and read while Zach and his friend jumped around for an hour. They both had a great time, and with lots of coaxing from me, managed to leave willingly before the session ended. Another day, I took Zach to see Santa Claus, and there was a huge area of "snow" right outside of Santa's house. We had to wait in line for 40 minutes, and Zach was very patient about waiting. He played in the snow for about 1 minute after having his picture taken with Santa, and decided that it was too cold and wet. We also saw some real reindeer, and Zach got to sit in an Old West stagecoach. We baked cookies together this week, and drove around to see Christmas lights a couple of times. I am so glad we have another week until we go back to school. I really like this slow pace that we are living.

Yesterday, Darren spent the entire day washing and folding laundry (that was a Christmas present in itself), and I spent the day in the kitchen. I made a chocolate bread pudding cake with eggnog sauce for today (YUM), and gumbo for dinner last night. It took all day to chop the veggies and cook the gumbo, but it was well worth it. Sitting down to dinner last night withe Darren and Zachary, I couldn't help but wonder how many families in South Louisiana were having the same thing for dinner. After we ate, we took Zach and Roux riding to see some Christmas lights in The Woodlands. We came home, put Zach to bed, then began the arduous task of setting out the Santa Claus presents. One Santa from our family ended up having to dash to a convenience store at 11:45 to get batteries for the Piston Cup race track, which was a huge hit today.

We crashed around 1:00, and I woke up at 7:30, wondering why no one had woken me up yet. I checked on Zachary, then went downstairs and let the dog out and started breakfast. By then, Darren was awake, so went in Zach's room, turned off his noise machine, and just stood there until he woke up (maybe a whole minute later). Thus commenced an hour of playing with Santa presents, then we ate breakfast and unwrapped gifts. Around 11:45, we started getting dressed and preparing for our trip to Galveston, to Darren's dad's house. We arrived there around 1:45, (not much traffic on I-45 today), and Sean and Jamie got there about five minutes later. We sat around and drank wine, then Mike and Tracie came over around 3:00. We drank more wine, then gorged ourselves on Christmas dinner around 5:00. Afterwards, we opened presents, and it was like a whirlwind of activity in that one room. There were 9 adults and 5 kids, and everyone was opening something at once. I didn't even get to see my nieces and nephews opening gifts, but everyone seemed to be excited about their presents.

We hung out and talked until 10:00, then drove home. Zach fell asleep in the car, and Darren and I tried to clean up as much of the present carnage as we could before we got too tired. Now, it is time for bed. We are going to go to the Houston Museum of Natural Science tomorrow to see a Ben Franklin exhibit, then to REI to spend our Christmas gift certificates on bike gear.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Things are going much better today, even though Darren stayed home sick. I finished (and mailed) the last of my 49 Christmas cards, finished my baking (the biscotti is in the oven, and the haystacks and oriental crunch mix are cooling), and Darren called his dad to tell him that we will go there for Christmas Day. Zach is going stir-crazy by staying inside all day, so we'll have to plan something fun for tomorrow. We have a vet appointment in the morning; does that count as our outing for the day? I just don't want to go anywhere right now. I like being at home, and have lots of things to keep me occupied. It's good for our bank account!

On the job front, I had my phone interview today, after I listened to a recorded message. Things are progressing pretty fast with this, but I guess they have to. I have to drive to Katy (the other side of the world to me) on January 5th, use one of the precious few personal days I have left for this school year, and take a reading and math test. The reading part won't be a problem; it's the math I'm concerned about. My last math class was the fall of 1992, and I didn't go to class a whole lot. I got a study guide from the library, and actually enjoyed working math problems last night. Call me a nerd...

After I pass the tests, I have to have another interview and register for the training cycle by January 15th. I will then fly to Chicago in March and May for training, costing me 8 days of time off. One and a half of those will be paid, but not the rest. At over $200 docked pay for each day, this could get expensive. I will sign the franchise agreement in early June, and be open by mid-July. At least I'll get paid by the school district until August 15th.

There is still a lot of information to find out, like the earning potential, and all of the exact details involved, but I am excited about this. VERY nervous and apprehensive, but excited.

6 more days until Christmas! The 5-year-old whirlwind can't wait to tear into his gifts, and I hope the dog doesn't help him do it ahead of time. I'm keeping a close eye on those two. I've already learned the lesson of putting bows on presents this year. Apparently they're quite tasty. The one good thing about the dog is that the cat isn't sleeping and shedding on the tree skirt.

Off to clean the kitchen. AGAIN.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Rush

Friday was our last day of school until January 4th. It was also the end of the nine weeks, day of the teacher talent show, and day that my parents came in to celebrate Christmas with us. Because of those things, I had to get my baking done for friends at my school and Zachary's teachers, as well as presents wrapped to send to South Carolina with my parents. No pressure, right? It seems like every time I try to do something to simplify my life, something else comes up to complicate it. Why is that?

As far as Christmas is concerned, I still need to finish and mail my Christmas cards, which I vow to cut back on every year. It seems like I send more, but receive less each year. Darren has such a large family, and rarely do we get cards from anyone in his family. I know it's the thought that counts, but it would be nice if there was some reciprocation. I am done with my shopping, but still have some gift wrapping to do, as well as baking for the neighbors and Darren's co-workers. I think it's all doable, considering the fact that we are staying home for Christmas, and not having any company. This is the first time EVER that I will spend Christmas away from my parents, and it feels really weird. I know we have to start new traditions, but I have such a small family, and we've spent every Christmas with my parents and sister. I think my sister has missed once or twice, because she lives so far away, and her in-laws live a few hours away from her. We'll go to Galveston to see Darren's dad Christmas afternoon, so that will be fun. I am sure that Zach will get to see several cousins, and run around and be loud with them. I hope the weather is decent; it snowed two years ago for Christmas. I am sure it will be shorts weather this year. We are not having a New Year's Eve party this year, for the first time in a while, and it feels weird. We have a friend who is having a small game night, but she hasn't said too much more, so maybe it's not going to happen. We have been invited to a party with some of Darren's co-workers, and that sounds like a lot of fun. If we find a babysitter, it may work out. I don't want to be on the couch at home that night, nor do I want to have a party and have to prepare lots of food, clean my house twice, and go back to work January 2nd.

As a teacher, it seems like I put off all projects around the house for Christmas and summer breaks. The two main things I want to accomplish over this break are to clean out my closet, and clean out our office. I did both this summer, but they have fallen by the wayside. My scrapbooking supplies, which don't seem to be selling faster than I am getting them in, are taking over our office. I made this nice little area this summer to sit and work, but it has become a dumping ground, and there is no room to sit and scrap. I want to do something about that, since it doesn't seem that I will be having any more Friday night crops over here. They are too much work for little profit, and I really do want to quit selling Creative Memories. I just have to figure out how to do that...

Remember how I was talking about changing jobs? Well, an opportunity for an almost entirely new career path has come my way this weekend. My dad and I were talking on Saturday morning, and he is going to help me buy a franchise. I won't elaborate too much just yet, but I would get to continue working with children, would have more flexible hours, and would be my own boss. It seems too good to be true right now, so I don't want to get my hopes up. I do have a phone interview with the company tomorrow afternoon, so we'll see what happens...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

MS 150--Am I Crazy?

I have signed up to ride my bike 187 miles over a 2-day period in April. The ride goes from Houston to Austin, and I, along with 17,000 other people, will be riding to raise money for MS research. Darren and his brother did it this past year, and I was so proud of him for finishing. It really inspired me to do it next year, but I am very scared. I bought my bike in September, and a friend found a trainer for me in a garage sale for $10. I rode 25 miles over Thanksgiving, but aside from that, have not ridden. I need to start training, so I can actually make it all the way to Austin. I know several people who are planning to do it, but I don't know if I will be able to keep up with them. It will be a good way to get in shape, if nothing else.

I am concerned about making enough time to ride. I am going to have to make it a priority, and at least get on the trainer every day, if nothing else. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Everyone who rides is required to raise at least $400. That is a huge amount of money, considering that Darren and I both have to raise that amount. I will have to start hitting family and friends up for the money after Christmas, and hope that I can get enough donated for me to ride. If anyone is interested in contributing, the link is in the sidebar, and no donation is too small. Every penny donated will be greatly appreciated, and I promise to try not to fall on my face!