I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it!

Look what I found in our front and back yards this evening:

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p4050016p4050018 The flowers have been making an appearance for the past few days, but the buds on the tree were a new discovery for me as of ten minutes ago. Gah! I am so excited! There are times in the deep throes of February and March when I think that I will never see another flower or leaf on a tree again . . . and then April arrives and I am ecstatic.

And now here I sit, in our new comfy chair, with the sun porch door open, day light still illuminating (although somewhat dimly) the house, and my hubby spent a day doing outside work at my in-laws. Does life get any sweeter?

However, if you take a look at the first and third pictures, you will notice that we have plenty of yard work in our near future. Time to get out the rake and start hauling the mulch soon, I guess!

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How did I do?

Alright, time to take a look at my March goals and see how well I did. Don’t hold your breaths:

My March Goals:

  1. Spend at least 30 minutes cleaning after work every day, BEFORE t.v., computer, etc., Monday-Thursday (I figure I have some leeway on Fridays). – Kind of, sort of. Some days I slacked, and some days are really good. I’m going to try to redo this one in April.
  2. Go through my clothes and donate the unwanteds to charity. –  That was a big NADA.
  3. Read at least five books (this will also benefit my March’s book blog – February’s will be posted soon). – I got three read fully and two almost finished. So I didn’t quite make it. Boo.
  4. Have a great (not just good) day at work. – No. And I don’t see this happening any time soon.
  5. Walk the dogs at least once a week. – Yeah! Finally one accomplished. We even bought Molly a new harness to make our walking easier.
  6. Cook something from scratch at least twice. – Nope.
  7. Host a dinner party. – Another nope.
  8. Get all my lesson plans for the rest of the year done (this could help number 4, as well). – Almost. I have about one week of unaccounted school time – I just need to figure out what to do that last week of school.
  9. Cut back my internet time to 30 minutes a day (yikes!) – school work doesn’t count. – Yeah, I’m not so sure about this one.
  10. Figure out a better way to organize our recyclables in the garage. – I did figure it out – just haven’t put it into place yet

Alright, 20% fully completed is not a good number, although I guess I did get a lot of partially completeds in there (but they still don’t count). I need to work a bit on this. I’m going to think of my April goals and get back to this. Let’s hope April goes better than March!

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House hunting

No, no, no, we’re not looking for a house again (although it has been a year now since we’ve been house hunting!). But my husband’s brother and his fiancee are looking for a house right now, so I can’t help but get in on the action. And while I love our house now, I know that some day we will outgrow it. It is not our “forever house,” even though it is a perfect starter home.

However, I think I have found our forever house! Well, the plans for it, anyway. I’ve been really drawn to craftsman style houses lately, and in my recent googling, found this following beauty:

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Yep, I’m just slightly in love with this house a little. It has a great layout, it’s big but not TOO big, has the right number of bedrooms, and it has a FRONT PORCH (which I have been dying for). I’m tucking this baby away.

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Cooking blahs

First of all, I got my pictures uploaded to the computer, after a temporary freak-out when I thought the USB plug in the camera was broken (luckily for me, my helpful hubby gave me a hand!). So I will probably do a lot of blast-from-the-past posts as I blog about a lot of the pictures I have taken on it. (Ok, ok, I’ve only had the camera for five months so it won’t be THAT much of a past blast). Oh, and having all those pictures on my camera really, really makes me want to have photoshop so I can so some playing around (*hint*hint* J since my birthday is coming up!).

Anyway, way back approximately a year ago, J and I were house hunting. We found our house, the one we’re living in now, after only looking at one other house before it. Our realtor e-mailed me pictures, we went to look at the house the next day, made an offer later that week, waited nervously because there were three other offers on the table, and got the awesome 9:00 p.m. phone call on a Tuesday night letting us know that the house was ours!

I loved a lot of things about the house – the wood floors (which needed to be redone a bit), the two-sided brick fire place separating the dining room and living room, the huge windows, the space that was largeenoughbutnottoolargedoyouknowwhatImean?. The master bedroom was large, the backyard was cute (and a corner lot to boot!), and the house had a lot of character.

However, one thing I did not like about the house was the kitchen. While the previous homeowners tried to update it with new paint and a nice island (the only part of the kitchen I did like), overall, the kitchen felt dark, outdated, and not very homey. See exhibits A and B:

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Now, if we were looking to live in the house for 10+ years, I would say gut it all: new cabinets, new floors, new appliances sans the fridge since we just bought it. However, we are not planning on staying in this house for this long; we’re probably looking more at 5-7 years at the most. So the Ebenezer Scrooge in me, looking to save a buck or two, thinks it’s silly to gut the kitchen for how many (tens of?) thousands of dollars. Yes, yes, yes, I know that money in a house should be spent in the kitchen and bathrooms (I do watch my share of HGTV). However, I’m nervous that for a two-bedroom house, no matter how much we update the kitchen, we’re not going to see the return since it does only have 2 bedrooms. Plus, I don’t want to over-update the kitchen for the area. Many of the houses in our neighborhood are older, ranch-styles, and I can’t seem them having solid surface counter tops and high end appliances. I’m assuming many kitchens are similar to ours.

With that said, we have GOT to make some changes in the kitchen or I think I’ll go nuts. First of all, the pink tile (yes, that is PINK tile, it is also in the half bath) needs to go. Secondly, the oven and the stove are original to the house, circa 1968. Now, I think it’s pretty awesome that these appliances have lasted so long (how many people can say their brand new stove or oven will last the next 40 years) but they are so old and outdated. Plus, they don’t necessarily cook the best (in fact, the oven OVERcooks – I always have to lower my cooking time and/or the oven temperature). Also, the countertops and cupboards are horrendous. Despite some good windows in the space, the room always feels dark and drabby. Shall I go on? Needless to say, I need a culinary change, and quick!

Now, I love to cook, but all motivation I have felt to cook completely leaves me every time I step into the kitchen. I want a light, airy, homey kitchen that I want to spend a lot of time in and entertain in. The space is rather large, but half of it isn’t being used anyway. The island is really nice, and I want to keep that, but the rest of it . . . ug, I don’t know. I’m thinking painting the cabinets and changing the hardware? New countertops that aren’t too expensive (a nice laminate versus granite or other stone?). I would love to get working on it this summer even (cabinet painting, anyone?) but I don’t even know where to start!

So, can anyone help me with my kitchen dilemma? Pretty, pretty please?

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Blogging on the Brain

I’ve been thinking about my favorite blogs lately and what sets them apart. One of the things that I have noticed and have tried to incorporate more is the use of pictures. I don’t use a lot of pictures in my blogs, but I think that I need to start doing more. I got a brand new stinking camera in November (a beautiful one, I might add, that takes really good pictures) and I have not uploaded a single one. And I have a lot of pictures on that camera – pictures that I took especially to blog about, too. I hate being a slacker, and I want to take my blog up to the next level, so as soon as I hit the “Publish” button on this post, I am going to attempt to load the pictures on my camera and actually do some real, hardcore blogging. Whooooo.

Wish me luck.

P.S. Chattingatthesky, you made my day having you comment on my blog! 🙂

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I’ve got a spring in my step

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I’m feeling pretty good lately. Yesterday, the PSSAs ended and spring officially began. The countdown to the end of the year has officially begun. Days are longer (and a little bit warmer), Easter break is a mere two and a half weeks away, and next week ends our third marking period (which means only 9 more weeks of school to go!). Yes, life is feeling better.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I am still stressed. My students are going to get spring fever soon (if they don’t have it already), and any sense of productiveness or urgency that the PSSAs lended is out the window. My team teachers warned me of the “Last Nine Weeks” as this ominous time where nothing gets done and the students are even lazier than normal (great). I am sure I am going to get a lot of “can we watch a movie today?” or “can we play a game today?” or “do we HAVE to do something today?” – I’ll probably get those questions every day. And I still want to TEACH them – I’m planning on starting the big Greek Mythology Unit on Monday (which is going to take us a month) and I still want them to read and I still want them to write and I still want them to THINK because they seem not to do a lot of that outside of school.

And yet, the stresses of all that are underlined by the fact that summer is almost here. Almost here! Anyone who knows me knows I live for summer. Yes, I love the fall and Bloomsburg Fair week, and I love the holidays, but during both of those times, underneath it all, I am longing for summer. I can’t help it – warm weather, boating, swimming, no school  . . . how can you not love it? (unless you’re my husband who hates hot weather because he likes to be cold . . . but even he is looking forward to summer this year). Knowing that summer is only an arm’s length away makes all the stresses above that much tolerable. In January/February, it is like you’re stuck in this thick, black fog where the only thing you can see is the day ahead of you. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel; in fact, the only thing you’re moving towards are the state-mandated tests. In that fact it’s dark and depressing, and you feel as though you’ll never get out of it. Yet, now that the fog has lifted and it is bright and sunny (which it is right now, in fact), everything feels that much better, even if it’s not. I feel optimistic. I feel hopeful. (I kind of feel like campaign Barack Obama).

However, and I just told this to my husband yesterday,  I also think part of my optimism is that I am not resisting teaching middle school. In fact, I think I kind of like it. Yes, I do feel stressed out about it a lot, but a lot of that is because of our crazy schedule and the lack of walls/doors in our classrooms (did I ever mention that before? – we have no real walls or doors in most of the classrooms – noise carries. It sucks) and the stress of being a first-year teacher. While there are some high school openings coming up this summer that I could apply for, part of me is hesitating now. I can do a lot of cool things with middle schoolers. I have a lot of freedom with my curriculum. If I moved schools or taught high school, I am pretty sure that freedom would go out the window. Now, I don’t think that Milton is necessarily the right school for me – in fact, I’m leaning in the other direction on that one – but I’m willing to give it another shot or two.

So, with warm, sunny weekend ahead of me, and summer just down the road, it is easy, I think, to see why I have a spring in my step. And I must admit, I have been dragging my feet for so long lately, that it feels really good.

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February Book Blog

My husband has been (dare I say?) nagging me to post my book blog for this month. And yes, it is already March 10th (1/3 of the way through, yes!) and yes, I really need to get on it, so here goes. Unfortunately, I was lazy this month and only read two books. I blame it on the short month, however. Also, the lack of reading this month lead to one of my goals for March (see below).

This month I read Object Lessons by Anna Quindlen and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. Object Lessons was a Boston used book store find back in November, and it was sitting on my night stand for about two months before I finally picked it up and read it. And once I did, I couldn’t put it down. Once again, Anne Quindlen amazed me (I had read Blessings by her last year). The book focuses on the Scanlan family and the different generations. The Scanlan family is a notorious family in the town for both their clout and their riches. The family is dominated by John Scanlan, a business man who is despised by much of his family, yet is obeyed without question. Much of the family focuses on John, his outsider daughter-in-law Connie, and Connie’s daughter and John’s well-loved granddaughter, Maggie. Through this novel (which was categorized by some as YA Lit on Amazon.com but I don’t buy into that really), the reader is shown the pressures of family. While it took me some time, for one reason or another, to get past the first few pages, once I dove into this book, I rarely came up to breathe.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle might be considered a bit of a cop-out this month, since I had technically read it before, although it has been at least 10 years since I’ve read it. I picked it up one afternoon during silent reading time in my class (I had it on my classroom bookshelf and wanted to model good reading), took it home with me, and finished it that night (my students were amazed). In that short 24-hour period, everything that I loved about this book when I was a middle schooler came rushing back to me: the “adultness” of the book without it being risque or too mature, the action of the book, the true emotion. I think I remember wanting to BE Charlotte Doyle the first time I read it, and I am sure that I had written some of my own “adventure on the sea”-type novels soon afterwards. This book focuses on a young girl who is traveling across the ocean in the 1800s aboard a ship that is run by cruel and savage captain and his mutinous crew. Charlotte finds herself in the middle of it all and must take sides eventually. It was a good book, although I must admit, the ending had a “deux et machina” feel to it, although in young adult literature (YA Lit), a happy/hopeful ending is often the recipe. Overall, I really enjoyed reading the book again. It should be no surprise that the book I am currently reading is a YA Lit book as well.

Well, that’s all until March. I promise to better on the reading front this time. I need to achieve SOME of my goals for this month. 🙂

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