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February 2017 entries

True Happiness

What a fabulous few weeks!  The weather has been absolutely amazing (I walked to school this FEBRUARY morning without a jacket!) and maybe just it's the general feeling of spring in the air, but we have had such a beautiful month.  

Gene and I have started on renovating the "town house," and I love the entire process.  We've been working in the attic, now that we have a pull-down ladder installed, so that it can become a storage space.  Once we saw how big the attic was, we automatically started brainstorming about adding dormers and a master bedroom up there . . . but then we came back to earth and decided to stick with our current plan and just be glad for the extra storage space.  


Starting this process has reinforced something I've known for a while:  Gene is an amazing person.  He works harder than anyone I know, and he never complains at all about it.  While I graded papers, he carried wood to the attic and started preparing the floor space.  He spends every free moment taking care of his family -- filling the pellet stove, checking in on his sons, maintaining his daughter's car, helping my kids with their homework, writing me thoughtful notes.  

Dating someone who is 10 years older than I am has been an interesting journey (as in, because his son is 23,  I'm going to be a grandmother in May) and because we have both been married before, we bring a lot of history and experiences to our relationship.  A common theme we've discovered is "I never knew life could be like this."  And it's so very true.  When you are in the right place in life, everything just clicks.  This doesn't mean, of course, that we don't have any problems.  But, it does mean that our problems come from outside sources, and not from within our relationship.  

Facing problems together with a united front is key to our relationship as well.  We don't take stress out on each other.  If I have a lot of essays to grade, or if he has to work overtime, or if the kids have an issue at school, we always say, "We've got this."  

And so, that is our approach to the house renovations.  Will it be challenging to remodel our house and move Gene and his kids?  Sure, but it will also be very rewarding because it's all part of the loving home we are creating and the beautiful life we are building together.  

I feel like I should apologize for gushing about how awesome my life is, but believe me, it's been a long time coming.  My advice would be: if you aren't happy in your life -- and I mean overall unhappiness, not just "I had a crappy Tuesday" -- then figure out what's wrong and fix it.  Don't blame other people.   Be honest with yourself if YOU are the toxic person in your own life.  Stop being jealous of those who have what you think you should have.   Take a hard look at your life, and change it if you need to.  It's not always easy; in fact, staying unhappy and maintaining the status quo is much easier than changing your life -- be it your relationship, your career, your health.  In the end, when you are truly satisfied and where you are meant to be, it is worth it.  Trust me.  Better yet -- trust yourself.  

Road Trip to Life Decisions

This weekend, we embarked on the first of several college visits with Kaylea, who is in her junior year.  Kale wants to major in criminal justice and minor in Spanish.  She'd also love to study abroad at some point in her collegiate career.  Tied for first on her Top Five List is the school we visited this weekend:  Arcadia University in Glenside, PA.  

Located just outside of Philadelphia on the former estate of a family that had a sugar company (they sold it to Domino, if that gives you any idea of how much money this family had), Arcadia has a gorgeous campus.  We had the good fortune of having spring-like weather in the middle of February on the day we visited as well, which made for some beautiful photo ops.  


The main campus building which houses Admissions is a castle that was modeled after the same castle Hogwarts was modeled after.  Our tour guide told us that Mr. and Mrs. Harrison did not get along, so they kept to separate sides of the castle.  Isn't that sad?  They had the money of Midas but didn't love each other and lived separate lives.  Both Gene and I remarked that we would much rather have our small house on the corner filled with love than a mansion and a cold marriage any day.  


Arcadia has a great criminal justice program, and it is also ranked #1 in the nation for their study abroad opportunities.  We learned of two such opportunities for first-year students:  Kale could study at their sister campus in either Scotland or London (Kale's true love is England) for a semester, or she could take a 2-credit course about a country's culture and then spend spring break in that country.  Either one sounds like an amazing experience for her! 

Because Arcadia is about 30 minutes from my family's farm, we stayed there on Friday and Saturday nights.  My nephew, Cole (AKA Cole Slaw) is in 10th grade, so we kidnapped him and brought him along for the visit.  He's also interested in criminal justice, and it was good for him to see a college.  Besides all that, he's a great kid and we love having him around.  After the visit, we decided to hop a train and go to Philly for lunch.  


After some fabulous burgers and time spent in the sunshine in the city, we rode the train back to Glenside.  We shopped at a local mall while Kale met up with a friend who lives in the area before going back to visit with my family.  


I'd say our first college road trip was definitely a success.  I'm looking forward to seeing the other schools on Kale's wish list (including Georgia State this summer!).  She has some big decisions ahead, and I am excited to see where her life's journey will take Kale next! 


Rambling Update: 5 AM Blogging

Well, hello there, Readers.  I have been a blogging delinquent lately.  I'll be honest: I have been completely swamped at work as our third marking period ramps up and we get closer to the AP Exam and SATs and scheduling and moving into a new building. Yes, the long-fought-over building is a reality, and instead of being able to pack up at the end of a school year and move over the summer, the arguing created a less-than-desirable timeline of packing while teaching and moving at an ambiguous time in the possibly near future.  Clear as mud, right?  

Since I also teach Drama and direct our plays, I get to not only pack up my English classroom but our abundant theatre attic storage as well.  Oh, and the paint room, the sound booth, the ticket booth, and the display cases.  Our maintenance crew is amazing (and really working hard right now), and we have collaborated, along with my drama students and parents, to purge and pack these extra areas.  I've only seen blueprints in the early stages of our new facilities, so I am sincerely hoping that we have room for everything we have been packing.  We have thrown a lot out, as well -- but that makes us all a little nervous because on one hand, we are told to purge; on the other, we are told the budget is frozen for the year.  

As always, we -- the students and teachers -- will make it work.  It's a remarkable feature of the district in which I work.  When the community was fighting over the school, we did our work.  When the building process started, we did our work.  As the building finishes and the moving begins, we do our work.  

An interesting byproduct of the building timeline is that the auditorium should be torn down in about 3 weeks.  We haven't performed our spring play yet, so we had to find an alternate location.  We will be crossing the green bridge to our usual rival school and staging our play, The Giver, at Loyalsock in April.  Even though we were told we would have the current auditorium for a full season, I had a feeling that timeline would change over the school year -- which was a contributing factor to my idea to stage the musical in the winter and a small-scale play in the spring.  Now that the timeline has in fact changed, I am very glad we are not looking for  a place to perform a 45-person musical.  A futuristic play with 9 actors and 2 stage managers travels much easier than a full-blown musical! 

I've also added an assistant director to my staff.  He recently graduated from Lycoming College with a theatre degree, and he helped immensely with the musical this winter.  After we closed White Christmas, I asked him to take more a lead on the spring play because the various demands placed on me at work (57 AP students; 50 Honors 11 students; 40 Drama students; packing for the move).  He eagerly agreed, and so far the process with The Giver has been great.  Having him involved has also allowed me to focus on my personal life and family. 

Which leads me to the next update -- we have decided to blend our families and renovate "the town house" to accommodate our Brady Bunch.  

 (Real Talk: I know I said I wouldn't move anyone in unless we were married, but due to circumstances beyond our control, Gene and I can't get married at this time.  I won't say much about this because of privacy issues and my fondest for the high road, but suffice it to say that sometimes toxic, controlling people hang on to the bitter end because they believe it hurts the person they can't control anymore.  We decided that we won't allow the vindictiveness of others to control what we do with our lives.)

Upward and onward!  We've had several contractors come in to give us prices, and we are moving ahead with various home improvements.  If you have ever done any kind of house renovations, then you know it's practically a part-time job on its own.  It's time-consuming and at times, stressful, but because it is ultimately bringing us closer to the life we are building together, it's all worth it.  I've loved picking out new furniture and paint and flooring and light fixtures with Gene.  I can't wait to see it all come together.

Oh, and as if we aren't busy enough, we are taking Kaylea on her first college visit this weekend! She is a marking period and a half away from her senior year, and we have several trips planned -- from Penn State to Georgia State; from Temple to Arcadia.  We are all really excited to see where life will take our girl!

Phew.  This blog is long, discursive, and paradoxically underdeveloped.  Things I didn't get to mention:  Aidan had an amazing 12th birthday party weekend; Ellie wrote and published her own newspaper on a snow day; Liam continues to learn and grow in kindergarten; Gene's oldest son and his finance invited us to a 3-D ultrasound of the newest member of the family, coming this May -- and I am sure I am forgetting things but I'll stop because it's 5:45 AM and this blog is already 900 words long.  

There you have it!  My excuses for not writing on a regular basis.  I will try to do better, I promise.  Happy Wednesday, folks! 

A Dozen Blessings

12 years ago, the world became a better place, and I changed my name from "Denise" to "Mom."  Happy Birthday, Aidan Michael!

Aidan Bday

This morning, we put a candle in his birthday breakfast and he opened a couple of presents.  Ellie and Liam got him two new Pokemon shirts, and I had a student make him a mini Pikachu on a 3-D printer.  He -- as I expected -- LOVED it.  Tonight, he's going to have a sleepover and tomorrow brings a skating party.   Let the festivities begin!