Thursday, January 5, 2012

This is the year.

We're 5 days into 2012 and I know that if I am going to post my resolutions, I better do it soon! I'm not usually a resolution posting kinda person but if there is ever a year that I need a resolution, it's this year. And if there is ever a way to get me to stick to something, it's by declaring it publicly.

2012 is a big year for me. First of all, we are getting married this year. April 28, 2012! I have been waiting for this day for 2 years. Or at least that's how long we've been engaged. I didn't want a long engagement and somehow I got one, so it feels even more special that the big day is only months away. I've watched friends who got engaged after us, get married before us and it made it feel like our time was even further away than it really was. When the ball dropped at midnight, I looked over at Jeff and we just smiled. This is our year.

To keep myself accountable... I am listing (for the first time ever) my resolutions for 2012.
(To clarify, this is the first year of making resolutions and sharing them for all the world to see. If you read my teaching blog, you have already seen a condensed version of this.)

Personal Goals

1. Get healthy. Seriously. It's no secret that I've been slowly putting weight on since college and it's time to get rid of it. While I didn't consider myself to be very active in college, looking back now, I really was. I walked to all my classes and all over campus, everyday. There was a salad bar at our dining hall and I always made myself make a salad. I drank skim milk with almost every meal and ate three reasonably healthy meals a day. Now that I'm teaching, I can hardly find time to pee during the day, never mind eat. My lunch ends up being about 20 minutes and whatever doesn't get inhaled, usually gets thrown away. The only thing less appealing than a salad every day, is a salad that is warm and wilting at my desk. By the time I get home from work, I eat whatever I can and have no energy to work out. I normally cannot even stomach the thought of being on my feet for another minute, never mind for another hour, while sweating! That's about to change. This year, I will make more time for myself to be healthy. That includes... joining Weight Watchers (done!), finding a local gym with affordable classes/bootcamp (in progress), and using the elyptical at home three days a week. Jeff will appreciate that last one since he was so excited to buy it and I've used it twice. Yes, I want to lose weight. More importantly, I want to feel good about myself again.

2. Develop a deep and meaningful relationship with Jesus. I never thought I would find myself saying this and meaning it, though I always dreamed about it. After growing up without any direction in faith, I can honestly say that I have found my faith, my church home, and church family. Part of that is due to the courses we have taken to learn more about Christianity and part of it is because the people of my church have embraced me so openly and whole heartedly. I am looking forward to our small group that is starting up and pray that it will bring me the understanding of and relationship with God, that I am seeking.

3. Finish wedding planning and have a stress-free wedding! Ok, I know that weddings end up being stressful because so much goes into planning them. However, I want to know that I've done everything I can do and that whatever happens, happens. I don't want to feel stressed two weeks before the wedding because I haven't picked the right tablecloth color, the flower I want isn't in season, or the "do not play" list hasn't been created for the DJ yet. I have a hefty list to finish up for January and that should bring me closer to my goal. I have a plan for each month until the wedding (four months to go) and hopefully that should do it. The ultimate reward is getting to marry my best friend and I won't let anything take away from how special that really is.

4. More blogging! I have LOVED blogging and "meeting" people through the blog world and I need to keep up! While my blog isn't brand new, I haven't really spent any time developing it. I enjoyed looking back to read some of what I wrote a couple of months ago and wished that more of our memories were written down on here. Maybe someday I can turn this into a scrapbook of sorts and look back and remember this time in our lives fondly. I also really enjoy having some "me" time at the end of the day to read blogs and update mine. Here's to more of that in 2012!

Professional Goals

1. Be more positive at work. I love my job and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my students. It's the adults that get to me! I need to focus more on MY job and what I do for the KIDS. If someone isn't doing what they're supposed to, shame on them. We're all adults and I need to try not to fix everyone and everything. I am so blessed to be able to be a strong role model for so many students in such a trying time for them, (remember middle school? Ugh!) and the way that I respond to everything around me is what they will see and remember.

2. Complete 4 graduate courses. Starting last summer, I completed my first three classes towards my Master's degree in Special Education. While I came close to dying under a text book, I still plan on taking more courses. I want to take one in the spring, two in the summer, and one in the fall. I tried two during the fall semester and it was too much, so this plan should work better. I would like to have my Master's degree completed before we start a family.

3. Work smarter, not harder. Prep time is more precious than diamonds to teachers and unfortunately, (in my opinion) it is not being used effectively in many schools. While I appreciate the "team meeting", meeting with parents, and analyzing data that will help my students grow, it really shouldn't take up so much of my prep period that I don't have time to use the bathroom or I don't know, actually plan for my classes. It should not take me two weeks to get 100 tests back, or enter grades online, or return phone calls. I should be able to use my prep period for some of that. I know what I signed up for when I started teaching. I get it. But waiting until 5:00 to pee and dropping food on my papers because I don't have any other time to grade than when I'm eating dinner, is unacceptable. It's also unacceptable to sit in data driven meetings and then not have the opportunity to ever look at or use the the data to help my students achieve their potential. I think it's a matter of me speaking up more and not letting a single minute of my planning period be used for anything other than planning, prepping, or grading. Furthermore, as much as I love my students, they move on at the end of the year. Jeff, my family, and friends will still be there. They deserve more of my time.

How am I going to hold myself accountable?? I haven't really gotten that far, yet. I'm thinking of maybe a monthly update. Just writing them out makes me feel more serious about them. This list wasn't just thrown together, either. I spent a long time thinking about what I really wanted to accomplish this year. I think that these goals are flexible enough to include some changes but firm enough to make a positive difference in my life. Of course, there are a million things that could use improvement, but I didn't want to get too carried away! I am SO looking forward to seeing where 2012 takes me! Hoping that this year holds just as much promise for you!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bling Bling Linkup & Engagement Story

In an effort to blog more in 2012, I could not pass up this opportunity. C Mae is having a Bling Bling Linkup and since we just celebrated our engagement-versary, I am all in! We've been searching for wedding bands and I can't wait to browse through all of the gorgeous engagement rings and bands and get some ideas.

Our engagement story

Jeff and I were engaged on December 26, 2009. I swore I knew it was coming and since Jeff is such a Christmas-lover, I was sure that it would happen by the Christmas tree. I was wrong. Christmas came and went with no sign of a ring. It was Christmas night and we were opening our gifts with his family. I was already over the potential engagement because I figured if it were going to happen, it would have been done already and privately. Jeff handed me my Christmas card and said it was the last one. Inside were tickets to see Blue Man Group for the following night. I was SO excited because every year we go to a Broadway show but I have been dying to see Blue Man. I really put any hopes of a proposal behind me because he had already spoiled me at Christmas.

The next night, we went out to dinner at a local Italian restaurant. At dinner, we talked about how much our lives have changed and that all of our friends were starting to get married and how strange it all felt. We started talking about our own wedding dreams and I said I wanted an October wedding and he said he wanted April. When I told him how many bridesmaids I was thinking of, he nearly fell out of his chair. He seemed relieved that we were not engaged and wouldn't have to worry about any of that yet.

After dinner we went to the show and had such a blast. I would go back again and again. Thinking back now, he was adamant about me sitting on his right side but I didn't think much of it then. When the show finished, Jeff asked if I wanted to take a walk in the Boston Common. Since I love the city and Jeff doesn't, I'll take any opportunity I get to enjoy it, even on a cold December night. Jeff didn't have a jacket with him and said it wasn't a big deal if we went for a walk or went back to my apartment and got a movie. We decided on the walk and held hands through the park as we admired the Christmas lights and talked about how we should go into the city more. Again, as we walked, Jeff made sure to keep me on his right side. Jeff started looking back constantly and for a minute, I thought we were being followed. I started looking back, too, and getting a bit nervous. All of a sudden, he said... "April and October, huh?... 9 bridesmaids??" My heart literally dropped out of my chest. I was suddenly aware of what was going on. My usually cool, calm, and collected boyfriend was checking over his shoulder and saying random wedding-related things out of the blue. He stopped walking and said, "I have a question for you... will you marry me?" I was 99% sure this was a cruel joke because he wasn't down on one knee (his excuse was that it had just rained!) and I was totally blindsighted. All of a sudden, he pulled out a ring and was holding it out to me.

I don't remember too much else besides lots of crying and saying "Are you serious?" over and over. He started to put the ring on and asked if this (the crying and smiling) meant yes. I said, "Yes! Yes! I will!" He put the ring on and I didn't even look at it. All I could do was smile and cry and kiss him and hug him. It was all so surreal. I came back to reality when he said, "Do you want to call your parents? Because my parents are probably sitting by the phone going crazy!" We called our parents and then headed over to my parents' house where they had champagne waiting for us. It was such a fun night! My roommate had left wine out for us with a message and we celebrated again and again. I do wish we had spent more time just the two of us before telling people but I was afraid it would leak out on Facebook and I didn't want my best friends or family to hear the news over the internet. The best thing was that my family Christmas party was the next day and we got to announce it to everyone in person. It such a fond memory for us and I will cherish that time forever.

{ps. he was keeping the ring box in his left pocket, which was why he was apparently trying to keep me on his right side!}

He picked out the ring himself and we had never gone ring shopping. I did tell him that I wanted a princess cut diamond solitaire. He decided to go with the three-stone ring but with princess cut diamonds on a platinum band. I love that he chose the ring and was so proud of the clarity and quality of the band and diamond. I really have no clue what any of it means but the ring is gorgeous and I love it!! I am SO looking forward to our wedding on April 28, 2012!! Four months to go!

{So sparkly!}

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Looking back at 2011

While I haven't been blogging very much, I have had a wildly busy, crazy fun 2011. One of my resolutions is to blog more in 2012. I'm getting started with a look back at some of the highlights of 2011.


We were snowed in more than a few times, which left me lots of time to try new recipes and enjoy the Nook I received for Christmas.

We celebrated Dylan's Senior Night as a family. We had about 30 seconds to get on the ice and get in the picture and somehow we were all looking at the same camera at the same time.

Jeff was finally given an answer for his mystery skin condition and diagnosed with a gluten-allergy in late December. We went gluten-free on January 1st. We had so much to learn but we are much healthier, happier people now.


During the school break, my friend Nicole & I took the babes to an indoor petting zoo. It was a blast and it was hilarious trying to get the two kids to look at the camera at the same time. I was busy snapping away while the kids were practically jumping into the goat pen. LOVE these kids!

{Look how brave this boy is! Just like his mama!}

Anytime there's a vacation week, you can bet I'm having a sleepover with this little girl.

{This was definitely the year of the "pretty toes".}


We partied for DG DK's bachelorette party in Newport, RI. It was a great weekend with wine tasting, good food, a night out on the town, and ginormous sleepover.There were lots of obnoxious pictures, but this is the only one I'm posting.

We had a great time celebrating my mom's 50th and we actually surprised her!

My sweet girl turned two!! She is too funny; she had us lighting the candles and singing over and over, all while she snuck bits of frosting.

Jeff started a company with two dear friends and became the co-owner of what is looking to be a very successful commercial roofing business.


This cutie pie turned one! I could just kiss that face all day!


I started my blog with hopes of documenting our lives but did a pretty good job neglecting it instead. 


Donna & James got hitched! You can read about it here, here, and here.


Dylan's Senior Prom!

My baby brother graduated from high school! (Still can't believe it!)

We celebrated Jeff's 26th birthday.

Dylan turned 18!

We replaced the shrubs in front of the house! What a difference it made!


We had lots of summer fun and more sleepovers!

My sweet baby had surgery. This was a tough time for both of us but she did really well!


Nicole & I visited the splash park with the kiddos. We had SO. MUCH. FUN. I have way too many pictures but this is one of my favorites.

We were able to spend lots of time at the lake with great friends & family this summer. We always have such a great time there. The highlight of this trip was easily watching the boys  try to get on the jetski & playing the Real Housewives of NJ game!

{waiting patiently for the "word"}

We celebrated the last of KDubs KG's time as a single gal by spending the weekend on the Cape. We went to the beach, made lots of sangria, and had the best time going out to the beach bars & dancing outside!

I made some changes in my classroom & started my teaching blog.

We had more sleepovers! These two crack me up! They're the best of friends.

My Princess came to live with us forever! :)


Kristin & Scott got married! It was beautiful and we had such a great time!

I began my first semester of grad school!


We completed our pre-marriage courses required for our church & took our engagement pics on the Boston Common & Frog Pond, where we were engaged. :)

We hosted two Halloween parties and loved getting to dress up! Halloween is right up there with Christmas for us.

{Melissa & Joe Gorga from Real Housewives of NJ}

{Popeye & Olive}

We had another sleepover, filled with lots of dress-up, baking, reading, and playing.

Apple picking is our fall favorite. Every year we pick a different orchard and this year it was pretty quiet. It was so nice to just pick apples and enjoy the season.

Of course, when we got back we carved pumpkins. Another favorite activity.

{How precious is Jeff's carving of Princess??}

I turned 26 and had the most amazing birthday!

We began taking the Alpha course at our church, which was a wonderful experience. We also were able to go on a retreat with our group to Lake Winnipesaukee. We had an awesome time!


More sleepovers! I have treasured every moment with this little love! She is too much fun!


We celebrated for the entire month of December, had a beautiful Christmas, and hosted our first Christmas dinner.

This is the Christmas card we sent out, courtesy of Shutterfly. We also used Shutterfly for our Save the Date and the quality of the cards can't be beat. This was another engagement picture.

Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.
Hope your year was just as filled with all things wonderful and that 2012 is even better! Happy New Year!