Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

(well, almost)

To most, I know it's a tiny bit early for Christmas music, but not according to my dad! AND, my pictures and other goodies I have to post are just too fun and cheery...

So, even though I will be busting out the Christmas music very soon, for now I will just say that November has been the most wonderful time, so far!

Back in the beginning of the month, we we're down in Deland visiting family and Stephen played in a gold tournament with my dad. Fun! (for them) :-)

Then, my school had an assembly where we learned about this place from a mom who had been stationed there as a JAG lawyer. She gave a GREAT presentation about the country, culture, history, and children there. Afterwards, our school participated in a warm clothing and blanket drive for the many orhpaned and neglected children she had told us about! I was very proud of all the clothes our students (led by the fifth graders) collected to send to that place. I believe they have already been transported there and are being distributed just in time for winter!

Stephen and I were invited by some friends to attend a Trans Siberian Orchestra concert at the Jacksonville Arena. It was a lot of fun!

I didn't really know what we were going to see, but it turned out to be equal parts:

-Made for TV Christmas Movie Musical

-Laser Light Show (a la Stone Mountain!)

-Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Mania!

-And Symphonic Rock Concert

Here is a little video I sneaked with my camera! It's a very awesome version of "Flight of the Bumblebee" (Just imagine 2+ hours pretty much like this! I'm glad I don't have epilepsy!)

Then, last weekend we had a Friends Thanksgiving Dinner at our friend Joel's house. We made so much good food- I didn't know we have such talented cooks as friends!

I was proud to pick up the torch for our long-held family tradition of making fried turkey. It turned out pretty good for my first time!

Have you ever seen a real cornucopia? I have.

One of the many businesses based in Jacksonville is Peterbrooke Chocolatiers. This chocolate-coating machine is in the little store near our house... yeah, let's just say the smell alone is AMAZING. 'Tis the season for CHOCOLATE!!!!

I'm sure with all the holiday things coming up, more pictures will be coming! Until then, Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Monster Mash

Yeah, so I am not a very big Halloween person, but today was a teacher work day at school and Susanne (my co-teacher) and I was a little loopy after some heavy-duty lesson planning.... so, we raided our costume closet- to dress up Bella (who is here today hanging out while we work.) This is our first Halloween with a dog, and I didn't think I'd be into doggie costumes, but it was VERY funny and Bell was a good sport. However, she is back to her regular costume: disguised as Black Beauty. :-)

Little Red Riding Hood

Blurry Close-up, but the expression was too priceless!

She was not really a fan of the princess hat. I guess she takes after me!

Butterfly Bella!

Ooh la la! She makes a tre' good french maid, no?

Tarzan! (Imagine her doing the Tarzan yell!)

Court Jester

Lady Bug

Lamenting her hard life as a Cabaret Singer. Or maybe she is ready to be a red-hat lady!Hahaha!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Over the River and Through the Woods

So, things have been BUSY lately. But, I must say, well worth the effort. So a little over a week ago I began my epic journey out West and (UP NORTH) to visit some friends from African Children's Choir and go to a wedding. It was a ton of fun! We hadn't seen each other in at least 2 years, if not more for some of us... so it was great to catch up. Although few people understand this: once an Auntie, always an Auntie.

Enjoy the slideshow! Click on the link to go to Picasa where my web album is shared for any who want to snag these pictures (Jackson!!!) :-)

PS- in an unrelated note, congrats to my sister-in-law who just had her fourth child- a little boy named Jackson!

I'm sure with all of the events on the horizon, more will be coming (soon, I hope!)


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

happy talk

Given the state of things lately (bad economy, bitter politicians, broke government, bailout on wallstreet, and brazen dictators...) I have decided to post a blog of only happy things.

So, if you can't blog anything nice....

First of all (of course) is my cute dog at the dog park! Tell me this isn't such a happy picture!

Last Friday night, Stephen and I (plus Joel) were able to score free tickets to the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. There, we were fortunate to hear Sarah Chang play Sibelius' Symphony in D. And OH MAN!!! She is about 50 times more talented than she is pretty, so as you can see, she is a total freak of nature! It was such a beautiful performance, I would have even paid to go! (But still, hooray for free!)

These are two of the turtles on campus at school. Their names are Ursula and Squirt and I strolled past their window one day to find them sunning happily under their UV lamp. They are about the size of your hand, and c'mon aren't their faces so funny?!?!

Happy evenings at home with Stephen and Bella. Enough said!

Pretty Orchids set out for a parent meeting at school. Click on the picture to see it bigger- the detail on the petals is just stunning!

Last week (all of the sudden, out of the blue, completely unexpectedly!!!) the weather got cool for a few days. It was even in the 50's in the morning for a few days. It got me all excited for Fall. Everything was so pretty and crisp and the colors of earth and sky just seem so much more vibrant when the sweat isn't pouring into your eyes. Bring on the Global Cooling!!!

This past Saturday, Stephen and I got MORE FREE TICKETS (courtesy of Steve's work) to the FSU vs. Colorado football game. We even got to sit in the luxury box! And on top of everything, miracle of miracles: we won!!!

And lastly, this weekend I will be in a concert in Orlando with a new (and outstanding) group of singers! I even have solos!!! Wish me luck and come by if you're anywhere near!

With all that happiness, I almost forgot about all that crisis.
It's almost like I've heard that somewhere before... :-)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My country tis of thee

My country 'tis of thee- sweet land of liberty- of thee I sing.

You know, I never noticed how grammatically strange the lyrics to that song are. Anyways, it's old.

I went to a John McCain rally in Jacksonville last Monday and here are a few pictures from it. The one of me is pretty unflattering, but it's the only one I have that proves I was there. Follow the link at the bottom of the post for more. Adios!

Here's the link for more photos and witty comments:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

come rain or come shine

Well, we made it through Tropical Storm Fay and the first days of a new school year, but it has been an eventful last little while. Here we were, just minding our own business and trying to get ready for last week...

And then, in one very slow and rainy swoop, Fay crawled near, school was cancelled, Fay arrived, and we lost electrical power.
As you can see, last Thursday was a taxing day.

When our power refused to come back on and Fay stalled and poured and crashed around us we decided to abandon ship. Fortunately, we have very nice friends (John and Katie) who let us stay with them at night so we could sleep in airconditioning. And Bella was glad cause she got to stay with her "brothers" Ben and Jack.

On Friday Stephen had to go into work and so Bella and I went along because, well, we didn't really have anything else to do.
Bella: "See how good I am?"

In the end, our power came back on Sunday morning and I was thankful for at least one day at home before starting school on Monday. But here are a few pictures of what it was like for any of you who haven't been through hurricanes and the like.
Lots of streets were flooded and closed. The ones with barricades were lucky because at least it was a clear "no-go" at the outset, instead of driving for a while only to have to three-point turn it in the middle of the road.

I am truly appreciative of our emergency, law-enforcement, and fire department workers who braved the downpour.

Yeah, see that street covered in water. The river is coming to get you. Watch out!

Last but not least, here is a cute picture of me and Bella. Maybe next time, Stephen will make it in the blog. :-)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Long and Winding Road

So, this blog is loooooooooooooong. I have been terrible about posting, so pace yourself, take it easy and I'll try not to drag on forever. But just know, it's long. I warned you.

Near the end of June Stephen and I took a vacation to North Carolina for my family's annual reunion. It's at Lake Junaluska in the very Western part and we had great weather.

Another pretty one.

The chapel at the Lake.

We went hiking with the family. Stephen and I climbed around on these waterfalls and lived to tell the tale. So that was fun!

Then we tromped around in the stream for a while. It was such a nice day for streams. And rocks.

Stairway to heaven.

Stephen and I went camping in a small town over the mountain, accessible via the most curvy road ever. We passed through this tiny, TINY town. The town of Luck.

Our campsite with the pretty view.

We tried to go for another stream adventure, but this steam was lukewarm from the nearby hot springs and full of algae and stream plants so it was a short-lived adventure.

After a tasty campfire dinner, we had smores and enjoyed the sunset.

Then we came back and went hiking again with the family. This is a real, live, beehive. It made me think of Winnie the Pooh.

The park area was called Big Creek and it was so cool and shady under the big, green trees.

We hiked up the mountain for a while. Shelly worked it.

We stopped for a picture with this large tree. And to catch our breath, whew! We got quite the workout!

But thankfully, a beautiful, clear, cold, spring-fed, mountain stream awaited us after our hike.

It was the coolest swimming spot! So many big rocks to climb and little pools to swim in. Ahhh....

Yea! for cousins. And hiking. AND STREAMS!

The next day, we played putt-putt golf. Steve beat me by ONE STROKE! ARGH!

Then later we decided to try our best at real golf at the driving range. It was fun. Steve, Shelly, Dad and I hit about a million balls between all of us.

On the way back to Florida, we stopped in for a visit at my Aunt and Uncle's house in Ellijay, Georgia. This is one of Aunt Martha's many gardening triumphs.

What's Georgia without.......
(Okay, so these are Nectarines, I think... but they sure look like Peaches)

Back in Jacksonville, we visited John and Katie's new house. Jack got scared of the thunderstorm and needed a buddy, which worked out well because I needed a nap! :-)

Out for a nice dinner on Stevie's birthday! Yea!!!

We got to go to an event held at the Stadium where there was a catered dinner in the Jacksonville Jaguars' locker room! This sign was outside. Just in case you need a refresher...

Look! There's David Garrard's soap! Awesome!

Paul, Stephen, me and Evan. Go Jaguars!

Watch out- there's a Jaguar behind that bush!

Then we went to the moon. Not really, but that would be cool.

Right at the end of July, we ended up going to NYC on a very-last-minute work trip for Stephen. We flew on the smallest plane ever. There AND back. But we survived.

This was the first time I'd ever had a rental car in the city. We drove through lower Manhattan on our way to New Jersey and didn't even hit any pedestrians!!! Way to go, Stephen!

While we were up there, we got to visit a lot of friends. Tara Leigh, Brendan, Jonathan, Robbie, and Sarah. While we were sitting on a park bench chatting the evening away with TLC, the old brick square looked pretty. Like this:

A bit rainy, but still pretty.

On my last night there, Stephen and I saw Legally Blonde: the Musical. So, we had to go to Times Square. But thankfully only that once.

The show was sooo much fun and afterwards we ended up seeing the cast signing autographs. Here's Autumn (the runner-up from the MTV show to cast Elle Woods, and my favorite). She's soooo tiny.

And here's Bailey, the new Elle Woods. She did well. Also, very small.

It was hot outside, but we had a fun night on the town!

Then I came back early and stayed at my parents' house in Deland. Dad's yard work was looking mighty fine.

Hydrangea's have pretty leaves, too!

Bella had a fun time visiting them also. She loooooves windows.

Whew! Sorry that was sooo long, hopefully you made it through eventually!!! Til next time! Over and out...