Thursday, January 10, 2013

It's Been 6 Years


Today marks the 6th anniversary since my father's death. I have been looking through old pictures tonight, just to feel closer to him and relive some memories. I found the following passage that I wrote the year he died. I never published it, or shared it with anyone before now. It's a painful reminder of just how hard those days were, but I'm glad that I wrote it down. It reminds me that good things happened that year too! 

The day that I have been dreading for weeks is finally here.  This is the first Father’s Day since Pop passed away. I’ve tried to focus on my husband, making this day as special as I can for him, but it’s been hard not to let my mind wonder.  It’s Father’s Day and I don’t have a father to visit, call, or send a card to.  I’m only 29 years old, and already I’ve been denied that opportunity. It just doesn’t seem fair.

Yesterday was Logan’s last T-ball game of the season and the coach gave Aidan a jersey and let him take the last at bat. The look on his face was priceless, and all I could think was that my dad would have been so proud of him. He hit the ball on the first swing and they let him run all of the bases. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen him smile so big. I wish my dad could have seen him. I wish he could have seen Logan play pitcher and hit the ball into the outfield. I wish that he could teach my boys all that he taught me about baseball when I was young.

There are so many things that I wish for, but more than anything I just wish that I had one more day with him. I would tell him how much his unconditional love and support has meant to me over the years. I would tell him that no matter what, he will always be my hero, and I hope that I made him proud. I would reminisce about the old days with all of the hockey games, the trips to New Hampshire, the pool parties and the boyfriends that were never good enough for me in his eyes. I would sit with him and look at pictures of Christmas with Naoelle, and all of the vacations that we took to Mexico together. I would even watch the old M.A.S.H. reruns that I so frequently protested about when I was at his house. I would do anything that made him happy, if only I could have the chance.

I guess that I am luckier than some. When Pop died I didn’t have any regrets. I always told him that I loved him when I spoke to him on the phone. We spoke frequently and for long periods of time. He was a great listener.  I had also just spent Christmas with him and the rest of my family. I was scheduled to work that Christmas Eve, and when I didn’t go into work that day, I lost my job. My boss asked me, “What’s four hours away from your family, in the grand scheme of things?”  Little did we all know that that would be my last Christmas Eve with my Father. Spending that time with him and my family was well worth losing that job.  Those were four hours that I would never be able to get back, and I would have regretted it for the rest of my life.  So I have no regrets about the time that I spent with him, or the things that I said or didn’t say. I loved him everyday of my life, and he loved me with all of his heart.  That is what I hang onto now that he’s gone; that and all of our memories. 

My Dad and I on my wedding day


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ringing in the New Year


I can't believe that my last post on this blog was 4/30/12. I wish I had a better reason for being MIA, but the  truth is I was still dealing with the death of my mother, and I was depressed. I was struggling to deal with the pressures of being a full time student, a mother and a wife, all while trying to handle my mother's estate and the sale of her house. I started to snap out of it when the house finally closed. Shortly thereafter we went to Disney World with one of my best friends and her family. It was a great trip and we made a lot of good memories! The following month my grandmother passed away and my friend also suffered a huge loss in her family. I am so thankful that we had each other, and we got through it! For the New Year I took a trip to London and Paris with my French sister that I've known for 20 years. What a great experience it was! I'll post more about both trips soon!

In the meantime, I have decided that I need to stop procrastinating and spend more quality time with my family. Those are my 2 resolutions. Yesterday was my first full day home from Europe and I started my new year with a bang! I was super productive and got a good start on my resolutions. I am full of hope for 2013 and really want to make it a great year!

So what about you? Did you make any new year's resolutions?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Movie Mondays: The Lucky One

Theatrical Release Poster
I read this book a few months ago and loved it! I decided to read it because I saw a preview at the theater. I couldn't stop thinking about Zac Efton and how yummy grown up he looked in that movie trailer. I tore through the book, hoping that it wouldn't let me down, and it didn't.

The movie came out April 20th, and I had hoped to see it opening day, but my oldest son had a soccer tournament 2.5 hours away, so there was no time to see a movie. By the time we got home I was exhausted, so the movie had to wait! I asked a few friends to see it with me that week, but we couldn't link our schedules, so I finally went to see it all by myself. I had waited long enough since reading the book, and I couldn't wait any longer!

The day that I saw this movie was the perfect kind of day. I had the day all to myself, with all 3 boys at school, and no work needing to be done (except housework, but that doesn't count on Wednesdays). I was able to meet a good friend for lunch at a new (to me) Asian bistro downtown and then had the rest of the day to do as I pleased! The timing worked out perfectly that there was a showing of The Lucky One starting 15 minutes after I got to the theater. I sat all the way at the top and didn't even get any soda or popcorn! I needed to have NO distractions for this movie! I did notice on my way in that the theater was filled with a wide variety of people. There were senior citizens and teenagers watching in mixed gender groups, there were women watching with other women, and there was a man (probably in his 60's) watching all by himself. I really was expecting to see mostly women in small groups, but I was pleasantly surprised. I am guessing the variety had something to do with the fact that the movie is based on a Nicholas Sparks novel by the same  name. Sparks has written 7 novels that have been made into movies including: Dear John, Message in a Bottle, Nights in Rodanthe, and The Notebook.

So anyway...back to the movie. If you haven't read the book, please see my review from What I Read Wednesdays: The Lucky One.  I loved that the movie was pretty true to the book. They had to leave out some scenes from the book (like the scene at the pond where Logan first sees Keith taking pictures of sunbathing co-eds, and Logan's visit with Victor) in order to keep the movie at a reasonable length, but overall, I thought they did a good job of keeping with the spirit of the book.

If you've read a book prior to seeing the movie, you already know how the story is going to end, and that can sometimes take the thrill out of the movie when you go to see it. That was definitely the case for me this time. The movie was still good, but I wasn't holding my breath to see how it would all turn out. Although, if I'm honest, I really just wanted to see if Zac Efron could pull off a leading role in a romantic movie. I still remember him in High School Musical, so I was skeptical. He still isn't a great actor, but he is getting better. He definitely brought out the cougar in me, that's for sure! There is a scene where Taylor Schilling's character rushes into his outdoor shower after deciding that her ex-husband didn't have all of the control, and they finally spend the night together. He definitely pulled that off well!

Aside from Zac, I thought Blythe Danner was an excellent choice to play the role of Nana. She was just perfect! I also liked Jay Ferguson as Keith. He was exactly like I pictured him when I was reading the book. I'm not sure that I loved Taylor Schilling as Beth, but I think that is just because she was mostly an unknown to me. She was good, but I wouldn't say great.

Overall, I was happy with the movie, and I would see it again. I think it would be a good date night movie, or a good movie to watch with your girlfriends. I enjoyed watching it by myself too!

Have you seen it yet? If so, what did you think? If not, are you planning to see it in the theater or wait for it to come out on DVD?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

7 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day With Your Kids

On April 22, 1970, over 20 million Americans participated in demonstrations and protests across the US to bring attention to environmental issues. Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin founded the "national teach-in" about the environment, which became known as Earth Day. It was the start of the environmental movement in the United States and, subsequently, worldwide. The first Earth Day resulted in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and several key pieces of environmental legislation. Since 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated every year.  In 2009 the United Nations designated April 22 as International Mother Earth Day. More than a billion people across the globe participate in Earth Day activities each year.  

For more information about the history of Earth Day and 
the campaigns led by the Earth Day Network 
please visit www.earthday.org.

The theme for 2012's Earth Day is "A Billion Acts of Green."  You can visit http://act.earthday.org/ to pledge your act of green. As of the writing of this post, there were almost 1 billion pledges!!!

So how can you help/participate?  There are so many ways to make changes in your life that encourage greener living. The basic idea follows the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle concept. Get outside, spend time with your family learning about the environment and our impact on it, and make changes to minimize that impact.

Here are a few things you can do with your kids (or students) to celebrate earth day:
We planted a Flowering Red Plum Tree
1. Plant a tree in your yard. We did this in 2010 and it was so much fun! Trees filter harmful dust and pollutants from the air we breathe, improving our air quality. They also emit oxygen that we need to breathe, and provide food, protection and habitats for birds and animals. 

2. Go on a nature hike. Spending time outside with your kids is a great way to teach them to appreciate the environment, and the benefits that it provides. It is also a great opportunity to learn about the plant and animal life around you. The more your kids know about the environment, the more they should want to protect it!

3. Make crafts with items from you recycling bin. This is a great opportunity to repurpose items that you might otherwise throw away or recycle. You can turn a milk jug into a bird feeder, or try one of these other milk jug crafts. The internet is full of recycle craft ideas! 

4. Volunteer! Host an Earth Day event, or sign up to participate in one. You and your kids can help a non-profit plant some flowers, or pick up trash at a local park. It gets them involved and reminds them that we have to take care of our environment if we want to be able to continue to enjoy it. 

5. Cook a special Earth Day meal featuring local, organic produce. Buying from local farmers is a way to support your local economy and reduce your carbon footprint. 

6. Calculate your carbon footprint.  This is a great activity to do with older kids. It allows them to see what impact they are personally having, and how your family impacts the environment as a whole.

7. Make a list of changes your family can make to limit your carbon footprint. Be sure to include the small changes you can make to conserve energy, such as turning lights off, using less air conditioning, unplugging electronics not in use. Then move on to the bigger things like recycling, riding a bicycle or walking instead of driving, planting a garden, etc. This is an activity that you can involve the whole family in.  Be creative!

This is just a short list of simple ways that you can get your children involved in Earth Day. You can do most of these activities year round too! Do you have any Earth Day traditions? Why not start a new one?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Traveling to Anna Maria Island

We recently took a mini vacation to Florida. We stayed in Bradenton, about 7 miles from Anna Maria Island, at the house that I inherited from my mother when she died.  We took all 3 kids, my 18 year old cousin and her boyfriend. It was a full car, but we managed the 12 hour drive with little excitement.

The gang at Downtown Disney
Since traffic was backed up around Disney, we decided to stop at Downtown Disney to stretch our legs and get a bite to eat before the final 2 hours of our drive. It was insanely busy, but we enjoyed watching the street performers and walking through the gift shops and, of course, the giant Lego store.


Once in Bradenton we had to do some upkeep on the house my mother left to me and my brother, but we spent most of our free time at Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island. The weather was gorgeous and the water was warm enough to hang out in, unlike the beaches here in North Carolina. The kids built sand castles and kicked the soccer ball on the sand. It was so great!
Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island

If you've never been to Anna Maria Island, it is a small island (about 7 miles long) on the Gulf Coast of Florida, south of Tampa Bay. It's full of vacation rentals, restaurants and small tourist shops. The beach extends the entire western coast of the island. It is a beautiful sandy beach which is kept very clean. At Coquina Beach there is ample parking (except on Easter, which we found out the hard way), grills and picnic tables, life guards and public restrooms. It's a perfect place to spend the day with the family.


If you like to explore, you can rent scooters for an hour or more. We rent from Island Scooter Rentals on Gulf Dr. It's in a great spot and their rates are reasonable. My cousin and her boyfriend rented a scooter for half a day to check out the island. They had to show their driver's licenses and give a credit card for the refundable deposit, but they didn't need any parental permission since they're 18. They opted for helmets, but in Florida it's only required if you're under 16. After a brief training and several practice laps, they were off for 4 hours!

While they scooted, we ate ice cream at Joe's Eats and Sweets. They have a large variety of sundaes that they make with their homemade ice cream. It is a little bit pricey, but so worth it! They have great homemade waffle cones too!

One of my favorite things to do is watch the sunset on Anna Maria Island. Sometimes, as the sun sets below the horizon a flash of green light can be seen...or so I'm told. We held my mother's memorial at sunset on Coquina Beach and it was gorgeous. This may have been our last family trip to Bradenton, but it will always hold a special place in my heart!




Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What I Read Wednesdays: Getting Attached

Have you ever gotten so attached to a character, a book, a series, that when you're done reading you can't pick up another book immediately because you aren't ready to let go? I first had that problem with The Twilight Series. When I finished Breaking Dawn I didn't read anything for a while. Then I read the other books by Stephenie Meyer and I was sated.  I read The Hunger Games even faster than the Twilight books, but I think that is mainly because they're half as long. To get over my attachment to that series I read Divergent, by Veronica Roth. It's a similar book but with better characters and less killing of teenagers. Now I'm hooked on The Fifty Shades Trilogy, in case you hadn't noticed! I haven't been able to read anything else since I started reading Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.  I'm now almost done reading the entire series for the second time, and I think I've enjoyed it more the second time.

In the first book, you meet the characters and watch them fall in love. In the second book you watch their walls break down and they begin to understand each other and their love. In the third book you get to see their life together unfold. It's so captivating that I can't help but think about the books even after I'm finished reading them.

Last week I went to Florida and we saw a helicopter take off in Orlando, right next to the highway. Immediately I thought of Christian and Ana's first flight in Charlie Tango. Later we went to the beach, passing several large marinas on our way. I thought of Christian's boat, The Grace, and tried to pick out a boat that might be similar. I also notice the yachts off shore, imagining that one of them was the Fair Lady, the boat that Christian and Ana honeymooned on.  I neglected to share my thoughts with my husband because I'm pretty sure he already things I'm a little too obsessed with these books. I enjoyed keeping it to myself - almost like a fond memory that only I was privy to.

I have about 100 pages left of Fifty Shades Freed, and I have no idea what I'm going to read next. I have a ton of books on my nook just waiting to be read, but I'm not ready to let go!  Have you ever felt that way about a book?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What I Read Wednesday: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


After seeing all of the movie previews for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, I borrowed the ebook from a friend of mine. I didn't have any expectations when I started the book, so I can't say that I was disappointed, but I didn't love it. 


Brief Synopsis:
A young boy, Oskar Schell, loses his father in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, after which he finds a key in his father's belongings. He sets out to find the lock that the key goes to by visiting every person in the phone book with the last name black, in alphabetical order. Through a series of letters, a separate story unfolds about Oskar's Grandparents, which finally converges with the main story.

Overall Review: 
The overall story line is good, but the book was choppy and disjointed. I had a hard time keeping track of which character was narrating and found myself re-reading a lot. It was the telling of the two stories, and that fact that they were seemingly unrelated that made it confusing.

I didn't feel like the plot line built up to a good climax, and didn't love the ending. Overall, I would not recommend this book. I only finished it because I was hoping it would get better. Now that the movie is out on video, I might watch it, but it's not high on my list. I have to give this one a thumb's down.

Did you read this book? What did you think? Did you see the movie? I'm curious to know if others feel the same as I do about the book and if watching the movie might be better.  Please share!



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