Friday, August 23, 2013

Adios, Blogger...

A Hundred Affections has moved!  Sorry, Blogger! Wordpress just fit my needs a little better!

Still the same blog, just has a new home. There are a lot more posts over there that I never duplicated over here.

If you'd like to come by, my new address is

I hope you will!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Gilbert Blythe, How I (Still) Love Thee

imageIf you had any part of growing up in the 80′s, I pray you did not miss the Anne of Green Gables phenomenon. Maybe there was only a cult-following in my small-Christian-school-neck-of-the-woods, but when I say that I grew up with Anne and Diana as my wanna-be best friends, Marilla and Matthew as my surrogate grandparents, Rachel Lynde as my own snarky neighbor, and Gilbert Blythe as my personal high school crush, I’m not kidding. My girlfriends and I were ob-sessed. I’m not exaggerating.



We were introduced to Anne in 7th grade by Miss Harner, our English teacher. She tortured the boys and reeled in the girls by showing us the full four hours of Anne of Green Gables. And that set us off on a course that literally shaped my growing-up years. We would quote it in the hallways, we would watch it (the full eight-hour mini-series – we were beyond excited to discover there was more – Anne of Avonlea) at just about every sleep-over, we would shout lines to each other during our softball games (Our Tom-Hanks-League-of-Their-Own-coach could not understand at allwhat Anne of Green Gables possibly had to do with softball. What’s not to get???)

As I matured past junior high and high-school (yes, we loved it all the way through high school), my friends in Avonlea slowly got put on the shelf, not unlike Woody and Buzz in Toy Story. However, old friends like that will always resurface.

The first resurgence happened last summer. Another former English teacher is now a friend, and he bought a summer house in none other than Prince Edward Island. And he invited us to visit. So last summer, while we were vacationing in New Hampshire, since we were in the ‘neighborhood’ (only 15 hours away as opposed to 24 – so close!), I begged my husband to go, and he agreed, although he did not know what the fuss was all about:

Was Anne real? Did she really live there?’

‘Well, no, she’s not real – but that is where the story is set. The author lived there. Some places in the story are based on real places.’

‘Well, is Green Gables really her house?’

‘Well….no…. they built a house based on the movie.’

‘So they filmed it there?’

‘Ummm….no. It’s just a model.’

‘So, we are going to a house that was built for a girl who does’t exist. A whole museum for a character in a book…This is a scam.’

‘James, if you ruin this for me, I will never forgive you!

Anyway, like I said, James agreed gave in, and we went. And driving through the island, I seriously felt like I was transported to Avonlea. It looked so familiar, like a home that I had never lived in but was mine all the same. I dragged James to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s house, to the shores, to the ‘fake’ Green Gables. There were even a few places that the movie used in their actual filming like the Haunted Forest and Lover’s Lane.

James thoroughly enjoying his visit to Green Gables.

James thoroughly enjoying his visit to Green Gables.

The farmhouse we stayed at

The farmhouse we stayed at

The real Prince Edward Island

The real Prince Edward Island

The 'fake' Green Gables House

The ‘fake’ Green Gables House

(Spoiler Alert: I was somewhat devastated to find out that the movie was filmed in Toronto; the cast never stepped foot onto PEI, although some scene shots were filmed on PEI. I was crushed to know that I was not walking the same hallowed steps of Anne, Gilbert and Diana.)

That trip took me down such a special nostalgic, reminiscent journey of my growing-up years. Anne had the feistiness that I wish I did; Gilbert became the prototype for what every girl wanted in a man; Diana and Anne as ‘bosom friends’ became the model for my relationship with my girlfriends. ‘Kindred spirits’ became a standard term in my vocabulary. I don’t think I realized it then, but Anne of Green Gablesbecame an intricate part of the fabricate of who I was – and probably on some level, who I still am. I even walked down the aisle to a beautiful harp version of the theme music at my wedding.

When I left, my teacher told me that we could visit again – and that I could bring my sister (she is 15 months younger than me, and equally obsessed.) And that got my wheels spinning…my sister has two girls – ages 9 and 7, close in age like Diana and I are. Wouldn’t it be great to take a road trip back to PEI one summer with Diana and her girls? I loved the idea, told Diana, and she loved the idea. However, there was one catch – the girls had to watch Anne of Green Gables before the trip. No exceptions.

Last summer, they were a little to young to appreciate it. This summer, my sister got the DVDs from the library and gave it a go. They loved it. Emilee (age 9) has been calling my sister ‘Carrots’ all week! This week, my sister brought the girls to the island (Long Island, where I live, not PEI) for a visit this week, and she planned to spend a night as well. I immediately told her, “Bring Anne.” So, she did.

As I watched the movie, the unintentionally memorized lines came rushing back and the door to my childhood burst open with forgotten memories: the Lake of Shining Waters, Matthew buying Anne the dress with “puff sleeves,” the sinking of the Lady of Shallott – and Gilbert’s heroic rescue, of course. And when Gilbert gave up the Avonlea school for her? It does not get any more romantic than that! And when I saw Gilbert Blythe appear on the TV screen for the first time in years, I felt like I was being reunited with a long-lost-love from my past. Sigh…

The Lady of Shalott

The Lady of Shalott

Gilbert's rescue of Anne

Gilbert’s rescue of Anne

It’s a crazy and silly obsession from the outside, but for those who were sucked in, you know exactly what I mean. You and I are kindred spirits who just haven’t met, because our common bond with Anne. Outsiders don’t get that.

In the classes I teach, sometimes there will be a literary connection to Anne of Green Gables. I’ll ask to see who has seen it, and my jaw drops when I see no hands. None? No one? Not one of you have taken advantage of the opportunity to be transported into this magical world? On occasion, I’ll see one or two (and those students instantly become my new favorites). It seems like such a shame that this generation is missing out on amazing piece of the feminine culture!

I’ve thought about forcing my students to watch it (I know they would LOVE it if they gave it a shot!), but unfortunately I can’t really justify an eight-hour movie based on a Canadian author’s book in my American Lit class – nor could I afford the time with these ridiculous assessments I have to prepare them for (Soap Box Interjection: Curses on NYS Regents and CCSS!)

However, I am doing my small part in brain-washing favoring a small remnant of the next generation with the sheer pleasure of being invited in the world of Green Gables and Avonlea: of allowing my nieces to sprinkle their childhood with memories of Anne, Diana, Marilla, Matthew, Rachel Lynde – and not the least of all – Gilbert Blythe. Why should they be denied the privilege of falling in love with Gilbert? That, I will not take away from them!

Ah, Gilbert Blythe, after all these years…you still have my heart (Sigh.)


Friday, July 26, 2013

Why Marty-From-the-Party Matters

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

I’m always intrigued by random assortments of people that get tossed together: people who,
for whatever reason, you were thrown together with, got to know in a superficial yet
strangely substantial way, felt like you really connected with and enjoyed their company, but
know you will never see again.

I always feels a little melancholy after we say goodbye, because on some level, I know there will never be another occasion where we will be thrown together like that. So, essentially, it’s “Goodbye, thank you. I had a genuinely nice evening in your company, but I will probably never see you again. Enjoy your life!”

And for some reason, that makes me sorta sad. There was something so human and connective about the whole interaction, but it was so isolated. Even if it ends up with, ‘That was great. We should try to get together sometime’ – you know it will never happen.

So what sparked this somber train of thought? A party I was at Saturday night with my husband. His friend Danny was turning 50, and Danny’s 21-year-old daughter Danielle threw him a surprise 50th at her mom’s (his ex-wife’s) house.  I didn’t know anyone but Danny, and James (my husband) knew only a few of Danny’s family members and friends. So we sat at a table with another couple, John (Danny’s ex-wife’s husband) and Danielle.

This couple was about 15 years old than we are, but we genuinely had a really nice conversation. James and Marty talked sports, Roseanne and I talked about our yards and how much we hated yardwork; Marty and Roseanne were going to Blake Shelton concert Sunday night, so we talked about our mutual like (I wouldn’t go so far as to say ‘love’) of country music. Sincerely, it was a really enjoyable evening. But in any other universe, I don’t think anything would have drawn us to even speak, let alone ever be friends.

It was the same with John. He told us all about his methods of replanting his hostas and trying to plant hibiscus this year, about the party Danielle had thrown the night before, about the story behind their house as they had it built. It was the same with Danielle – telling us about her internship doing research on hamsters’ brains (Whaaattt?!? She’s really smart), about her upcoming trip to St. Maarten, about her cheerleading experience when Lehigh made it the NCAA Final 64.

All of these random groups of people you sincerely enjoyed conversing with, but will never see again.
It’s a weird, surreal phenomenon to me. It feels like there should be something more after that, some kind of follow up: How was the concert? How did your hibiscus hold up over the winter this year? What happened to the hamsters???

But those questions will never get answered – or even asked – because I will never see them gain.
And this happens all the time: with the lady at the yard sale, with the people you are tailgating next to before the game starts, with the people you wait in line with for an hour at the amusement park…these random chance encounters that are enjoyable for the moment but will never go beyond it. And you feel just a smidge disappointed and maybe even a little sad that they won’t – even though this is totally normal, happens all the time, and is an unavoidable fact of life.

So, if those encounters only ever amount to just those isolated moments, did they matter? Were those minutes wasted if they never translate to anything more significant, lasting or meaningful?

To that, I have to say yes. Because if I say no, then what is the sum total of these “wasted” minutes in our lives, all of these experiences with random people that never go anywhere beyond the moment? They add up to nothing? Do you know how many wasted minutes we would have in our lives, then? Ugh. I just can’t stomach that.

So yes, I have to say they matter because the alternative is too nauseating. But, deep down, I do believe they matter. But why? Why do they matter?

The answer to that didn’t jump right out at me, but here’s what I came up with:

Because if they didn’t, then most of our life doesn’t mean much. We have lots of these random encounters. Our lives really are just strings of these small events connected together. I just can’t believe that they (and by extension, our lives) don’t matter.

Because you never know when a conversation can change someone’s life. Or yours. And even if it doesn’t change that person’s life, you certainly can add enjoyment, entertainment, or encouragement – and probably get it in return.

Because every person is important. Every person deserves to be valued and listened to, even if the topic is not necessarily relevant or meaningful to you. Everyone deserves to be respected, and it is good for our character to do this.

Because you really can learn something from everyone, some little nugget of truth or wisdom that you can assimilate into your own life.

Because I believe God is in control, even of those chance encounters. Everything said and done can potentially have a ripple effect in eternity. And we should treat every encounter that way.

Because, in the grand scheme of things, maybe these random moments with these random people aren’t – or at least don’t have to be – random after all.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Trying Something Different

Today is Opposite Day over at The Daily Post, so today I'm trying something different on my blog. Instead of my normal writing, today I am posting a poem, in the form of a picture.

I'm not a poetry writer, but I can appreciate a great poem when I see it.

Here's one of my favorites:

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Best Laid Plans

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” – Robert Burns

Do they ever.

That’s all I kept thinking about when I was in the our church membership class on Sunday. We’ve been attending a new church for about a year and a half, and recently we have gone through the membership process. Sunday was our last class, the one where shared our testimonies about how we each came to faith in Christ.

As I listened, what struck me was how some in the group found Christ – or found their way back to Chrisst – often on the heels of a poor decision. And I don’t mean little mistakes, but some really bad decisions – some committed in ignorance of God’s laws and standards and some committed with full knowledge of their willful sin.

But what I kept thinking was this: was it a poor decision if it ultimately led them to Jesus? Not trying to open a theological can of worms, I didn’t voice my question aloud, but I have been pondering it all week long.

And I began to contemplate that tenuous line between our free will and God’s sovereignty and plans. I admit that I have always struggled with this question. But the more I hear the stories of others, the more I have to conclude that God is still sovereign, even in the midst of us exercising our free will. I don’t fully understand the relationship between the two, but I am consistently confounded by the realization that our poor use of free will still does not thwart God’s plans for us – or maybe I should say,’does not have to’ thwart God’s plans for us.

Now I can already hear the protest: won’t that give license to people to make stupid choices because God will just clean up their messes? Well, sure, I guess people could pre-suppose that, but that is not what I am suggesting. What I’m thinking is that God’s plans for us were pre-ordained with foreknowledge of our free will, not without it. Knowing the choices we would make, God had a plan for us within those choices, to bring ultimate good from it, bringing glory to Himself in the process. That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a ‘perfect’ will of God for someone, should someone have the ability to choose perfectly, every single time. But God, knowing that no human being was ever going to hit the bull’s eye 100% of the time, knew that and planned for it. I heard Beth Moore once say, “You can’t separate God’s sovereignty from His foreknowlege,” and I think that is a good way of trying to understand it.

I’m not saying that this is a blank check to just do whatever you want because that must be God’s plan and that everything that happens is what God wanted. And honestly, I don’t have an explanation as to how it works. But for the believer, the person who has placed his trust in Christ, this has to be the reality: somehow, even in our poor, sinful, and weak choices, God, in His foreknowledge of those choices, has a plan to use those choices for our good.

Now I do think we have a responsibility to repent of our poor choices and ask for God’s intervention. And I don’t think it automatically happens all the time for everyone. But I think the offer is there. I heard my former pastor explain it this way: God’s ability to redeem a Plan B is so comprehensive, so awe-inspiring, that it almost seems like Plan B was Plan A.

God is the master-revisionist; He is able to ‘re-write’ a bad choice and still create a positive ending, in line with the plans He has for us.

God is the master-GPS; He is able to take every wrong turn and re-calibrate our course so we still get to the planned destination.

God is the master-McGyver; He is able to take the dregs of any poor choice we make and create something that is custom-made for the plans He has for us.

This doesn’t mean that we won’t experience delays in the plot or messy resolutions to the conflict; it doesn’t mean that there won’t be consequences or unneeded drama. It doesn’t mean that our route was ideal – the shortest, the one without traffic, delays, accidents; maybe our choices caused us to take the long way around – with lots of wrong turns, wasted time, dull scenery, and endless miles to no-where. It doesn’t mean that we didn’t squander time, opportunities, and resources – and possibly damage others in the fall-out.

But it does mean that He can somehow right our wrongs. I can’t explain how He does it, but I can’t deny that He does.

I don’t want to go so far as to say that there is no bad choice, but I think I can safely say that there is no choice that has to be permanently bad; every choice is redeemable, if we are willing. That, I believe. And that bring a tremendous amount of comfort to this indecisive perfectionist who fears making decisions, both big and small, for this very reason.

While the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, the plans of God do not. Ever.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

ode to room d-140

20130706-173618.jpgThe way it works in a small school like mine is that, more often than not, teachers’ classrooms get switched year by year. This is due to a few factors – class size, overall student population, schedules. However, I’ve been among the lucky few that have had the same classroom for 11 years. My first year teaching, just like all the rookie teachers, I was a ‘traveling’ teacher, meaning that I was lucky if I had two classes in the same room, let alone all of them. But after that year, room D-140 was my home.
We’ve had a few major and minor construction projects over the years, but somehow, I’ve always escaped the transitions. And I was happy about that. Back in the day, D-140 was a like a corner office overlooking Central Park. It had a large trio of windows with natural light (unlike some interior rooms with no windows at all). The room was big, unlike the annex rooms which were little more than glorified sardine cans. And, D-140 had nice, thick, sound-proof concrete walls, again unlike the annexes, where if someone in annex 1 sneezed, everyone in annex 2 would say, “God bless you.”
Even though it was prime real estate, D-140 wasn’t perfect. First, there were definitely climate control issues. No matter what, I was always cold. In the winter, I kept a space heater under my desk; in the spring, when the A/C kicked on (yes, I know, we have A/C. I shouldn’t complain), it only felt like it was winter. Some years, I literally wore my winter wardrobe all year round. Other years, I begged the custodians to set the A/C temperature high enough that it would have to be pretty hot before it kicked on. As uncomfortable as the heat might get, I still preferred that over the Arctic freezes; the A/C set just one degree cooler would result a non-stop wind-gust blowing down from above. What about my big window, you ask? Emergency exit – we weren’t allowed to open it. Security threat.
Over the years, D-140 got a little run-down. They pulled off some plywood above my board (yes, plywood), to set up a DVD system, which revealed a musty, smoker-tooth yellow, different than the foamy green on the plywood and the non-descript beige on the walls. There was a big hole above my door, where, I’m guessing, was an old bell or intercom system. Some permanent black stains blotted the back wall, the cabinets hung a little crooked, and the whiteboard had a big pock-mark that looked like a meteor crashed. Up until a year ago, I still had the same pull-down screen that was from the old district we purchased the building from. In 1987. As much as I tried to decorate – paint my bulletin boards, bring in plants, hang pictures and posters, the room just never looked neat or pretty.  It was the classroom equivalent of Christmas lights and plastic snowmen on the lawn in July - a little white-trashy.
There was also the distraction factor. D-building had gotten a little noisy over the years. There have always been lockers outside my room, but this year, they were 6th grade lockers...sixth graders who go to their lockers every forty minutes….sixth graders who don’t realize that not everyone is on the same schedule as they are….sixth graders who talk and act like they are in a contained classroom…sixth graders who have to come in for recess on rainy days and thus have the lunch aides yelling and monitoring them as they bounce between the two rooms. I don't fault the sixth graders -they are just acting their age, but it didn’t really make for the most conducive learning environment for the high school.  By the end of the year, I was pretty much done.
Because of the plans for next year, which all started because we needed a second 1st grade classroom, many classrooms were thrown up in the shuffle. So when I was told that I was vacating D-140 to be moved upstairs to the science wing (to abeautiful newly built room with a wall of windows), I was not upset. At all. “Awww, Katie- are you sad you are leaving this room?” “Nope,” without batting an eye. What I was upset about was the idea of sorting through and packing up 11 years of books, lesson plans (yes, I still had some from as far back as ’03), files, and material. That was daunting to me.
Lots of students and teachers asked if I will miss D-140. Teaching in D-140? No. Will I miss some of the memories made in D-140? Yes. Here are just a few I’ve pulled from the dusty corner of my closet as I packed up 11 years of teaching:
*My teaching roommates: It’s policy in my school that if you don’t have a room, at least you have a desk in a room. I shared the room with Naomi, the other English teacher, my first year (it was her room). I shared it with Josh, who actually was my former student – a senior during my first year of teaching; with Karen, who has become one my closest friends – I think that may have been the start of our friendship; with Eve, one of my partners in the English dept. I will miss those memories.
*Things I’ve learned from watching other teachers teach in my room: Bob and his insights in the Bible course; Eve, man-handling a very challenging class of college English; Franshuas, our soft-spoken Spanish teacher (who also was a former student) and her fiery side when her 9th graders got out of line; Karen and Lisa, teaching unruly 11th graders Career Planning 10th period, the pleasure heightened only by the minute-by-minute PA announcemens; Heidi, who taught health in a way that was as unique as her personality. I will miss those memories.
*My student teachers: I’ve been lucky enough to have two in my career: Jane – polished, dignified, brilliant – who went on to study in England, teach at a local college and is working on her doctorate; Mike – who started as one of my former students (and my nephew, by the way), miserable and wanting to be anywhere but there; he ended up teaching English in my classroom, to my students and having the kids eating out of his hand (‘Mr. T is the best!’), not wanting to be anywhere but there. Actually, now that I think about it, Jane was Mike’s student teacher! Seeing them both succeed – I will miss those memories.
*Moments with my fellow teachers: Times when Nancy, our principal, would pop in to go over a “few” things; when Katie, another teacher in my dept., my neighbor in the class next door, and another one of my former students, would wander in and say, “Lannnnddryyyy, listen to this!”; when Mr. C would make sure he came by after school to talk me through – and pray me through – another crisis, both personal and professional; when Heidi would swing open my emergency window in the middle of winter because she needed ‘oxygen’ (that was before it was outlawed); when we would have teacher’s meetings in my room and I felt like I needed to clean up because I was having ‘company; when Mr. T would pop his head in, point his index fingers at me and say, "How we doing today, Miss Mauro?" and then have a seat at a desk for a half hour to give a timely word, just at the moment I needed it.  I will miss those memories.
*My students: What would a classroom be without the students? I had lots of those in 11 years, but here are a few memories that stand out: Kim, who used to come and sit in the ‘blue chair’ next to my desk for our talks; the discipleship group of girls from ’06 – Kristin, Serena, Steph, Rachel, Rachel, Rebekah, Amanda, ChristaMarie and Krystal – who would come in during their lunch period so we could talk, pray, and do a Bible study together; Josh sitting on the back counter, chomping his gum and looking so angry that he had to be in school; Sarah, who would sit on my rolling chair (the blue chair was gone by this point), to talk and pray and ‘catch up’; Katie and Alexis sitting on my floor and grading papers for me...
...The senior poetry class in ’06, the only year we ever had that class – and it was because they requested it. I couldn’t have asked for more creative and enthusiastic group of students – and Buddy, performing his oral poetry reading with his soundtrack? I'll never forget it - I still can hear the music in my head. And Rachel T, yours too. I remember the class of 2011, who for the epic video project, made an hour long movie, with just about the entire class. I was stunned. One of the best gifts I’ve been given as a teacher. I remember the huge card I found in my room the day after I came back from my grandmother’s funeral – from the Class of ’04.
Here’s a few more: The ‘six-pack’ in 2005 who were devious and lovable at the same time. And then there was some of the rest of the class: the only class that ever made me so mad that I slammed my book closed, stopped teaching, went  back to my desk and made their assignment a test because their behavior was so awful. I remember Tiana and Oscar playing the sweetest Emily and George from Our Town that I have ever seen. I remember the Class of ’03 video-taping their modern versions of Act 3 in Macbeth (I still can hear Linda, in her southern accent:’Let it come dowwwwn!’)...
...I remember "L2AJAM", a group of friends who affectionately referred to me as "Maggie Mae," and talking about the 'best blessings' with Jenna, Michelle, and Daniella.   I remember the Class of ’04 creating their kingdom projects, as if they ruled the world. I remember Ben asking me if I actually liked ‘diagramming sentences’ because he ‘could tell,’ and my ‘awkward’ moment which Simren which evolved into deep conversations about books, God, and life. I remember Jackie coming in when she was passing by, just to give me a hug and Andrew’s daily “You look beautiful today, Miss Mauro.” I remember Tim sitting in the front row on his first day of school, saying that SCS was just like VBS, except there was no juice and cookies. I remember Casey always wanting to name his team 'Captian Poopie' for the vocab review game, and I was never able to keep a straight face when he said it...
...I remember a lot of laughs, teachable moments where they ‘got’ it, boring moments, kids falling asleep in class, never being able to create a good seating chart for some classes because they would talk to whoever was near them - and I remember my top-secret mission with Kyle and Jake, when they 'switched sides' and helped me make a seating chart that might work.. I remember the attentive faces of Cappy and Caite and Tori, whose eye contact and nods showed me that they were with me - and then there was Tim and Ronny, who slept more than they were awake. I remember the monotony of grammar and regents review; I remember lively and fierce debates: "Who is responsible for the Fall – Adam or Eve?" or “Who was a better leader – Jack or Ralph? Does a person have to be moral to be a good leader?” I remember video projects on Huck Finn, Lord of the Flies, and The Great Gatsby...
...I remember when I wore their school uniform on dress-down day; they couldn't handle me teaching dressed like that - too freaked out. I remember being freaked out myself by the random 'gassy releases' of Corey, Pete, and Matt - and even more freaked out that they weren't even embarrassed. At all. I remember hanging out by my little round table with Lizzie and Brianna, my fashionistas; I remember Angela’s over-the-top detective project, CSI-style, and Stephanie’s sensitively created memory box from My Antonia. I remember being amazed at the creativity of the Tomasini sisters in every project.  I remember Rachel's love for missions energizing mine- and Stephanie's heart to go overseas- which we did together a year later.  I remember 'circling up' on the last day of Bible class to give out the encouragment index cards.
I remember finding balloons and flowers on my desk the morning of Valentine’s Day, the first one when my husband and I were dating - all the 'awwws' from the girls because that was 'so sweeeeet.'
I remember being so exhausted and frustrated when I left my room at the end of some days that I didn’t know how I’d come back in the morning.
But I did. Every day. For 11 years.
On June 20th, I closed the door behind me out of D-140 as I know it for the last time. In September, it will be an elementary library, and I'll be climbing to the 3rd floor to my new home.
Do I remember every single moment? No. Every name? 
Every face? Absolutely.
If the walls in D-140 could talk, I don't know if they would remember things the way I do.

But to D-140, I say - thanks for the memories.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Project Summer

Photo credit: 
Whew. It's been a while.

Since I've had a real summer, that is.  Everyone thinks that teachers are so lucky because we get the summers off.  While that is true, that hasn't been true for me. I've been teaching for 12 years, and I've worked for 11 summers. I realized pretty fast that I couldn't afford to not work a summer. Unlike our other LI teacher counterparts, we do not receive a bulk paycheck at the end of the school year - or any paycheck at all over the summer. 

Well, in the fall, I decided to save my pennies and put aside a little stash so I wouldn't have to work this summer - or at least, not work as hard.  While it was tight throughout the school year, it paid off (no pun intended).  So, this summer, I'm doing a little Bible curriculum writing, which will generate some cash, but it's not the same as having a get-up-get-ready-put-in-a-day-at-the-office kind of job (the doctor's office, that is - which had been my part-time second job for about 9 years).

So. It's summer.  While I dream of the day when I can have a leisurely vacation and just wake up when I want, stroll to the beach, shop to my heart's content...umm, that will not be this summer. And let's be real...who actually does that? (Beside the L.I. Princesses?) Already, I have a feeling that my summer agenda might be a little ambitious.  I know I'm lucky compared to most people who just have a 2 or 3 weeks of vacation a year, but when I look at my Summer Project list, it feels like summer is too short.  However, I do have a few goals and things to accomplish, and I am beyond excited to get going on it.  True, it's only July 3, but I know how fast the time goes.  Chop, chop - not a day to be wasted!

Here are my goals:

Project #1: House Clean Up:  We have been in our house for three-and-a-half years, so we haven't had too much time to accumulate junk, but we have our fair share.  So, cleaning out the office (i.e. the-room-for-things-with-no-home room) and the basement are on the list.  We have a shed that is yet to be put together, covered with tarp, sitting in our yard; once that is assembled, lots of the stuff in the basement will be moved there. I would love it if I could transform the basement into some kind of usable, livable space by the end of the summer.

Project #2: Minor Re-models: Our bedroom needs to be painted and decorated. I haven't done too much with the bedroom besides paint, hang curtains and put up our wedding picture. But the room is small and doesn't have a lot of light.  The current colors and decor are a little too claustrophobic for that space.  I also want to paint the kitchen and see how I can spruce it up.  Those 80's formica cabinets are tying me down a bit, but I'm exploring how I can work around it.

Project #3: Yard Sale-ing: Already started this one with some friends, and I've gotten the bug.  Because of the Project #2, this is a valid use of my time (she said, as she tries to convince herself).  However, if I'm not careful, it actually could nullify Project #1.  But I'm optimistic.  There are a few pieces I am looking for, so if I can discipline myself to just focus on what I need, I think it will be time and money well spent.

Project #4: Menu Planning and Cooking: I'm a terrible cook, hand's down. I try, but if a recipe can be messed up, I'll be sure to find the way. Regardless, I'm determined to give it a college try. I've already made a few desserts from Pinterest. I know, not 'real' food -  but the ball is rolling, and I feel less guilty about the time I waste on Pinterest if at least a dessert can come out of it.  I've got a few good apps to help me organize my recipes and form a menu (Pepperplate is one of my favorites right now for gathering recipes and making a menu.  Ziplist is another great one to gather recipes as is Pinterest).  The school year is too crazy to spend energy learning all this, so if I am going to get a handle on this, it's gotta happen this summer.

Project #5: Landscaping: My green thumb is about as good as my cooking thumb.  My friend Karen LOVES gardening and landscaping and planting flowers.  Me? Not so much. I don't enjoy it, and I'm not good at it. I am all about the perennials.  Our front yard is pretty shady, so I've had some trouble trying to find flowers that are shade-friendly. Again, my goal is to get them planted this summer so next summer, they will take care of themselves.

Project #6: Blogging: Again, I've tried this so many times that it is embarrassing.  But today is proof that I'm not giving up.  I'm going to keep writing on this blog, although my master-blogger sister has been helping me come up with ways to really nail this down.  I'm back and forth between a few names, ideas, etc.,but I don't want to wait until it is solidified. I am going to write anyway and deal with the  secondary stuff...secondarily.

Those are my big projects - too ambitious???  Probably, but go hard or go home, right? I have a few other smaller items on my to-do list...hanging out my nieces, working on some school projects, getting in a good work-out schedule, getting a handle on clean-eating, catching up with some friends, exploring some cool features of L.I. that I pretty much ignore through the year.   How am I going to get all this done, you ask?  I'm not sure. I know that being organized and planning have to come into play, but who want to plan out their whole summer?

So, we'll see how it goes.  But at least for today - Project # 6: check.