Monday, November 30, 2009

A holiday hangover...

No... We didn't drink too much, or eat too much (well, not as much as we could have...) -- but I'm sure that Mom and I could both use a few days to get over our busy weekend!

Let's see... Where did we leave off? Oh yes. We went to Wilmington on Friday, but you knew that already I guess! Saturday we set out as planned to the Duplin Winery. Got a tour of the facility, which was a little unimpressive since it was the weekend and not in operation. But the lack of activity was more than made up for with the wine tasting that followed... Which, by the way... was all free... and in the words of TMB... Excellent.

Now, I'm not a wine critic by far. I do know a few things, but mostly, I drink what I like and don't really pay much attention to all the details. I prefer sweeter wine to dry... Which is just what Duplin produces... Lots of sweet wine made from muscadine grapes. Yum yum. We tried twelve different wines, and some wine mixes (a hot cider and a slush), and it was hard to pick which I liked more. The shop was cute, too... with lots of "stuff" with the wine/grape theme. And it was all dressed up for Christmas, which fit in with the homey feel. We ate dinner at their bistro -- good food at a decent price. I will definitely go there again... Once I come up with excuses. Anyone want to visit?

After we sobered up and left the winery, we decided to go back to Wilmington to shop, instead of Fayetteville, because we didn't want to waste the time (and gas) to back-track. And I don't need another excuse to get closer to the coast. We did a little shopping and got back later in the evening, tired from our day but in good spirits! We saw some of the meteor showers throughout the day... Something we thought was pretty cool. We thought about finding a dark area away from the lights to park so we could see more, but we were too tired and just wanted to put on our jammies and kick back.

Sunday came a little early, but I couldn't sleep very late despite trying to go past 7:30 am. Ibeth came over again and we all headed north this time... First to Smithfield and a really, really big outlet mall, and then to Raleigh and more retail fare. The outlet mall was sprawling and impressive, but I wasn't in the mood to break the bank. I guess the excitement weekend was catching up with me. Ibeth was really struck by the deals, and I told her I'd come back with her after Christmas and and spend a whole day there.

We ate dinner at the Cheesecake Factory -- a popular franchise but one I haven't been to since arriving down here. We decided to opt out of the entrees, snack on appetizers instead and save ourselves for dessert. Maybe we should have forgone the meal and just gotten dessert alone. It was so good. :o)

Dropped Mom off at her hotel with a big hug and a the hope that the next three weeks will go by quickly. It was a busy, yet comforting weekend -- very much needed. I can't wait for the next visit from home.

So now I'm beat, and want a solid 8-hours tonight. Pretty please?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Greetings from the East Coast!

Hi everyone!

Just thought I'd take a few moments to let you know what we've been up to the last couple of days...

Picked Mom up at the airport (on time) Wednesday afternoon. Tried not to shed too many tears as we shared a long, comforting embrace. We took advantage of the slow drive home (rush hour combined with holiday traffic), and had a nice dinner at the newest local Chinese buffet. We must have both been too keyed up, because we didn't get to sleep until after midnight. Still, we were up by 8 on Thursday morning, ready to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on TV.

We were about to have a small lunch when one of my coworkers called me up and invited both of us to a potluck lunch with her family and friends. We jumped on the opportunity to mingle with new people, and Hannah and her family were such wonderful and generous hosts. We tried not to eat too much though, because we'd planned our own Thanksgiving dinner with Ibeth later that evening. We cooked it all ourselves, and had a great visit with Ibeth, making plans to get together today to travel out to the east coast for a walk up and down the boardwalk.

Today was windy and cooler than usual, but bright and sunny! We drove out to Carolina Beach, parked and pointed ourselves towards the sound of the crashing waves. It was such an awesome sight! We walked down to the beach and took a few pictures, then walked up and down the boardwalk looking for anything that was open. Naturally, it's the off season, and the holiday weekend, so we didn't have much luck sucking up the local attractions. We did check out some holiday decorations as they were setting up for their opening festivities tonight. It was a little odd seeing palm trees dressed in garland and Santa sitting on a lifeguard stand, but I suppose that how they do Christmas at the beach! :o)

Tomorrow we plan to take a trip out to a nearby winery for a tour and a tasting, and then we'll probably head up to Fayetteville for some retail therapy. No, we didn't do and Black Friday shopping this morning... Neither of us felt like getting up at 3:00 AM. We'll see what Saturday and Sunday have leftover.

Here are some photos of our time at Carolina Beach this afternoon. Enjoy!

Not exactly Baywatch, but just as glamorous!

Mom and Boyd, this parrot that we met on the boardwalk. His owners were just riding their bikes, and he was sitting on the guy's shoulder riding along!

In Carolina Beach, Santa arrives on a boat pulled by nine dolphins... I guess reindeer don't swim very well...

Polar Bears and palm trees... Something tells me we're not in Manitoba anymore...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Count Those Blessings...


just a few weeks ago, Thanksgiving looked so far off, but at last, the holiday is just a day away and with it an extra long weekend to enjoy.

My plans over the next few days are to put my frustrations behind me and to concentrate on the things that I am thankful for. Like a visit from my Mom, and the opportunity to spend some quality time with her. It's been four months since I've been able to embrace someone I love... Something I suppose I took for granted just a little while ago. I'm also thankful for the time to go and do some of the things I've been wanting... Like visit a winery, walk along the east coast, maybe even do a little holiday shopping. (The thought of Black Friday is intimidating though... Not quite sure I'm up to going out in the middle of the night.)

I'm thankful that I'm healthy, and that my family is healthy and happy. I am thankful for the opportunities I've been given to challenge myself with this experience, and the strength to keep trying despite the highs and lows.

But most of all, I am thankful for each and every one of you who continue to support and cheer me on. You add to my perseverance. Finally, I am thankful that in four weeks, I will be back in Winnipeg for Christmas!

Happy American Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Only 3 Easy payments of $16.42...

I've caught myself watching QVC every now and then and wanting to buy whatever it was they were selling. Hmm... I might become a late-night home-shopper. Christmas gifts, anyone?

So I did it. I joined the choir at the United First Methodist Church. Wednesday was my first rehearsal, After a few weeks of saying -- maybe next week, or the week after... I finally just went. I miss being in a choir, learning new songs and singing with others. Of course, the choir I'm used to us not the traditional church choir, which this one is more like... But even still, it felt good. I already had a cubby in the choir room with my name on it, and a hook in the closet where my robe (!) hangs. The director is the father of a coworker, and there are a few other teachers who are also in the choir. We are singing at the community Thanksgiving service on Sunday night, and of course at the morning service. I'll be around for most of their Christmas stuff too, including singing with the high school band at their winter concert on Dec 14th. Should be fun! :o)

Next week is Thanksgiving! It feels like it's come so fast, and yet it's taking forever to get here. We've only got two days of classes, and I did a little charity to get Wednesday off too. It will be nice to have a five day break... Really looking forward to it... especially because Mom arrives Wednesday afternoon for the entire weekend. Do you know how long it's been since I've seen people I love? Okay... don't want to cry again!

So I've got a weekend of grading (report card marks due Monday), cleaning, singing and grocery shopping ahead of me. I might spread that out a little bit and not try to shove it all in at once. I'm in dire need of a good, solid night's sleep, too. Counting the weeks and days until I arrive in Winnipeg for Christmas! Only 32 days!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Where's my juice and cookies?!?!

There was a blood drive at the school today. I was so pumped to donate, especially since I would get a free t-shirt out of the deal. We were trying to beat the neighboring township's school drive of 33 pints... I waited all day -- even ate a good lunch -- so that I could donate during my planning block. Skipped a workshop to go donate... Waited for my turn... did all the paperwork and answered all the questions... had my finger poked... passed all the preliminary tests... was the very next person to hit the chair...

... And then I looked at the clock... and realized that I couldn't donate in 15 minutes, rest and still get back for my 5th block students. So I had to get up, and walk out -- as the very next person in line... so I could go back upstairs disappointed and frustrated that I'd wasted my time and didn't get anything done. By the time school was over, the drive was done.

ARGH! And I so wanted a t-shirt!

The next drive is in February, but I'll probably donate back home over the holidays and won't qualify again until after.

Can't help but feel overly bummed about the whole thing.

So... how was your day?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Don't Stop Believin'...

I had an awesome time in Greensboro. Barb was a terrific hostess, and the weather was fabulous. I definitely want to go back soon...

I brought a little friend along with me. Teddy was a gift from my ladies at home, and he came with a CD full of photos taken of him around town. So I could resist taking some Teddy-centric pics myself as we walked around the UNCG campus on a bright, sunny fall afternoon! Take a look at these...

Teddy and I on the UNCG campus...

Barb giving Ted some love

Ted checking out the time on the clocktower...

Chillin' with some statue outside the library...

Ted rides a Schwinn...

By a waterfall...

Grabbing some java at Barb's favorite bean place -- Tate Street Coffee.

Ted stays on top of current events...

Making friends with Scout...

Too bad Ted's underage...

A full week of work this week -- it's only Monday and I'm ready for a weekend! I've been doing some thinking about the future... Trying to figure out what exactly I see myself doing next year. I've definitely learned a lot about myself over the last three months (good and bad), and I hope that I can make the right decision about what's on the horizon for me.

Hope you're all still enjoying above normal weather conditions! Love to everyone!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rain, rain go away...

It started on Tuesday, and let up yesterday for a little while while the wind whipped up all the leaves that have fallen so far (and probably ripped a few more off the branches)... and then the rain, wind and lower temperatures all combined today to make it one miserable mess.

They call it a tropical depression. I call it summer in Manitoba. (Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration... maybe.)

I'm headed to Greensboro this weekend, so if I don't post tomorrow it's because I'm madly trying to get my "homework" done so I can enjoy a couple of days without thinking of what's waiting when I return! I am looking forward to the drive, the change of scenery, and of course... the friend I'm visiting!!

Two weeks until my mother comes for a visit!! It's hard to concentrate when something so exciting is peeking over the horizon. Please let the time she's here pass by as slowly as the time it's taking her to get here!

Peace out! :o)

Monday, November 9, 2009

I have the Taz Band-Aid to prove it...

Some of you may know, I have a certain... unusual... dislike for odd numbers. Unless they are multiples of 5, I try my best to avoid them if I can. If I'm adjusting the volume on the TV or on the car radio, I'll bump it up or down so that it sits on an even number. When I first got my class count for this semester, and saw that I had 27 students in one class, I felt a little uneasy. Just ask Mom, who helped me for 2 hours to try and arrange my classroom so that 27 desks felt more like 26 or 28 and less like something that made me feel jittery.

I don't know why I have this strangeness. Maybe it makes me a quirky. I'm not entirely obsessed with it... I mean, I still cope as a civilized human being.

Anyway, the point of this, and maybe you've guessed... Today is 11/9/09. It's a very odd day. The numbers 11, 9 and 9 add to 29, another odd number... And also my new age.

Yup. It's official. I have begun the last year of my 20's. Which seems rather unfair, because it doesn't feel like I've been hanging out in this bracket for 9 years already. I'm waiting for someone to shout "Psych!" and to give me back 5 years. Which doesn't mean that I WANT to be 24 again... or even 25 really. Well, maybe 25. I quite enjoy the experience and independence that each passing year brings. I'm not afraid of getting older... I just ... don't enjoy ... odd numbers.

Thanks everyone, for the birthday wishes. It was a decent day -- nothing overly dramatic, which is almost how I wanted it. I mean, would have been nice for a little extra fanfare, but then again, I don't know how much energy I have for that, either. I mean... I am a whole year older than I was yesterday.

I treated myself to a flu shot this afternoon. I actually signed up for it back in September, but they had problems getting enough vaccines shipped in, so we had to wait. It's not the H1N1 shot, which I haven't seen available in my area. I suppose if I found a primary physician I might be able to get one there. Hmm.

I got a couple of cards in the mail, a gift from Ibeth and a package from my best girls back home. That made me feel special, which was nice. I'm hoping to go out for dinner tomorrow with a few folks. With Wednesday being a holiday, we'll take advantage of some extra social time.

The play is over. I'm rather sad, but on the plus side I get a some spare time back. Which I might fill... or not! It was nice working on the play -- and feeling appreciated. One of the actors actually gave me flowers yesterday as a thank you for helping out. So it does exist. :o)

Okay. I told myself I was just going to lounge tonight -- and I plan to keep that pact. Thanks again everyone for all the support, encouragement and love that you're sending. I feel it all!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Two down... Two to go!

We've had two live performances of Kipling's "Just So Stories", and so far, we've managed to pull it off! Friday's show was not without it's opening night bumps, including a flub at a particularly dramatic part -- but the cast and the crew managed to cover well enough to make it seem less noticeable.

Yesterday, one of the actresses called the director an hour before the show started to tell her she was "stuck" in Jacksonville, which is about an hour away. We had to do some quick thinking, since we didn't have an understudy for this play. Our stage manager actually stepped into her role, and we did our best to feed her lines and help her out. She did a great job, and saved us all! Hopefully we won't have many other mishaps today -- fingers crossed! Tomorrow the show is for one of the elementary schools. I won't be able to work that show, because I have classes at the time. But by then the actors should all know what they should be doing and will be capable to be on their own for one performance.

Our audiences haven't been very big. We're hoping that a matinee performance will draw a larger crowd. We had about 25 on Friday and less than 10 last night. Not really encouraging -- especially since this play is supposed to be the moneymaker that helps fund the spring musical.

Other than that, I've been trying to have a low-key weekend. I'm bummed that I can't just stay home all day today, but I'm sucking it up!

Hope you're all well! Enjoy your Sunday! :o)

Friday, November 6, 2009

I don't care much for Tangeloes... too many seeds!

This will be a fast post (yeah right) because I've told myself that I want to be back at the school no later than 6 to get ready for the play. No, I'm not acting!! But I am working backstage, and that's a big enough job. I've really been enjoying it, and I'll be a little sad when it's over. It's been the highlight of my week -- pretty much the only highlight...

The rollercoaster of emotions is still speeding around. Bad days are very hard when you don't have loved ones around to help make you feel better. And I've been having a fair amount of bad days... Well, difficult days... Sometimes I wonder if I'm strong enough to do this for more than a year. Are the sacrifices really worth it?

The Day of the Dead event last Sunday was good. The kids were were good with their presentations, and I liked the facility they held it in -- and old house with a lot of interesting history. Ibeth came with me, and she shared a little of what they do back in Colombia to commemorate the occasion.

I was very excited to learn last weekend that the rumors were true -- the Subways in town are open again! Seriously -- this is great. I've missed Subway since coming here, and all three locations in the area were closed because the owner had some sort of tax problem. Well, two of them reopened under new management. The one in the Walmart is still closed... We're speculating on what might go in there... Someone said perhaps a Quizno's. I might just cry.

The regular football season ends tonight, and it's unlikely that our team will get a spot in the playoffs. Rats-ola. They can't all be winning seasons... But it's still disappointing.

I woke up this morning in a cold room in a cold house. The temperature was about 40 (about 4 degrees) when I left for work, but for the first time since I got here, there was frost on my windshield! Tonight's supposed to be cooler... They've actually issued a freeze warning for parts of the state. Brr! LOL!

I'm very much looking forward to the mid-week holiday next week. It'll be a nice change to be home during the day. I can check up on what my "daytime friends" are up to. And then it's only 2 weeks until Thanksgiving... :o)

I'm planning a drive to to Greensboro next weekend to checkout Barb's stomping grounds. It'll be good respite, I think. We'll roam around, drink coffee at some hip java joint... Maybe check out some local entertainment. Looking forward to it. :o)

Okay... I've got to end this now or I'll just keep on rambling. I've still got to change and grab a snack before I leave! Wish us luck! ;o)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dia des los Muertos

would you believe that I didn't have a single trick-or-treater last night? I've got the bowl full of candy to prove it! Sigh.

I enjoyed that extra hour of sleep we got today. Anyone else? Of course, I'll never remember that in spring when we lose it again. The clock in my bedroom was supposed to change on its own at 2am, but I didn't quite trust it. When I was awake in the morning and the clock read 7am, I didn't quite know if I should trust it!

I'm trying to get a fair amount of work done today in preparation for the week ahead. With the school play being next weekend, there are practices every evening, and I should probably make myself as useful as possible to the crew and actors. I've been given a few tasks for costumes, and I want to make sure I don't leave anyone hanging! If I'm absent for a few days, it's likely because I'm at the school late. I'm really hoping that everything goes smoothly and that the week goes by quickly!

I'm going out in a little while to a presentation by the school's Spanish Honors Society and Spanish Club about "All Souls Day" or "Day of the Dead", which falls on November 2nd. Ibeth says that Colombia is observing it tomorrow (no work for lucky Columbians). It'll be interesting to learn more about the holiday at today's presentation.

Anyway, I've got a number of things running at the same time, and I should probably start finishing up so I can cross some off my to-do list. Take care everyone!