Sunday, September 07, 2014


     Yep, that's my take on my mood today.  Bleh.  Just bleh.  This past week was definitely a rough one.  Classes began and I got my first real taste of what my schedule will feel like this year.  Let's just say it that in a nutshell: it sucks. It. Sucks. Rotten. Eggs.  I will have to be on top of my game everyday to make sure I can keep organized and caught up on grading, otherwise my weekends will quickly disappear into catch up days.  The transitions and prep hours for each of us sound okay on paper, but the reality of it all is too choppy and quick for a traveling teacher.  There's plenty of time to change classrooms, but not quite enough time to do much else of value (i.e. planning).  When you are in a new location for each successive class, you have to bring all of your stuff with you, which is another headache, and work wherever you are the best that you can.  My prep also overlaps with my lunch, but not with the rest of the department, like it always did before. I don't mind a working lunch per se, but it is also my only window to recharge before heading off to the next class.  We used to have 15 minute transitions, a 45 minute lunch, and at least one full hour for prep...maybe we were spoiled.  Now it just sucks so much.  I am in a new place constantly and cannot get focused.  I have been spending all of my time just trying to figure out systems, lesson plans, and of course prep work.  I'm sure I will figure it all out in time, but until then I will be a tad frazzled, which is never fun.  Trying to keep a positive outlook regardless, but it is HARD.  Gonna be praying for a lot of strength and guidance this year.

     My family life has also been a bit challenging.  My anxiety is going into overdrive.  My kids started back to school and while they seem to be doing well, I can't keep my demons at bay.  Last fall, we battled head lice on my daughter for nearly two months.  I swore I would never go through that again.  I am being very proactive and keeping her hair up and trained her to be vigilante about taking care of her stuff at school.  This is a tall order for an 11 year old girl who is not the most attentive child when it comes to stuff like this, especially in a classroom with 37 kids!  My son has a tough class load in middle school and it will be a struggle for him stay on top of things organizationally-speaking, which means I will be aiding him along the way.  These things are not overly stressful, just one more log on the fire so to speak.

     What really tainted my whole mood was our chihuahua.  Little Tia has been a ray of sunshine since she entered our lives three years ago.  She is sweet, cuddly, craves love and attention all the time, and is hilarious to play with. However, she can be a bit protective and yappy when it comes to strangers.  She is not mean, but she is anklebiter in the truest sense sometimes.  We keep her on a leash, but occasionally let her off in our yard to get her energy out.  Once she knows you and your scent, she's a lover.  Well, a couple of days ago, this neighbor man was outside and Tia saw him.  She was on her leash, but K had let go of it.  She made a beeline for him and apparently nipped him.  He was immediately upset and when K ran over to get her.  He informed my daughter that if this ever happens again, he would "kick her," meaning Tia.  That bothered K quite a bit to hear this. Then she went back to playing with her friends.

     Fast forward to Friday, I get a call at work from Animal Services and am grilled about this incident that I had heard nothing about.  When I finally piece together the whole story from K later on, I am immediately freaked out as to what could happen.  Turns out the man was not at all seriously hurt, but was pissed off that it happened and supposedly "afraid for his kids' safety."  That's so ridiculous, considering Tia was playing with K and her little friends when the incident occurred. We got paid a visit yesterday from Animal Services (aka dog catcher) and were informed of the consequences.  The man's bit was basically two puncture wounds, but nothing major.  Thankfully, Tia was up to date on all of her shots and is licensed, so the man went easy on her.  She has to be quarantined in our home for 10 days and has a bite record.  If she ever does it again, she will have to either leave the county of be euthanized.

     In case you are wondering, yes I am very upset and frustrated by this situation.  I don't condone what happened to the guy and understand that our dog was wrong to do this.  That said, she is not some ferocious beast that is a danger to the community.  She is a tiny chihuahua that can be an occasional anklebiter.  I was bit by my childcare provider's dog once and I didn't call the county dog catcher and cry about it.  I informed the owner and left it at that. I wish they would have just approached us and told us so that we could apologize.  Maybe I'm in a bit of denial, but put yourself in my shoes.  If you have a dog that you love, you probably can empathize that these things occasionally happen.  Anyone who knows our chihuahua knows that she is harmless.  Just so frustrated by this neighbor.  Just feeling like he overreacted and now Tia is under a tight watch for the rest of her life.

Is it next week yet?  Please God let it be a good one!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Zen Life

     I have been battling an anxiety disorder for several years now.  In a nutshell, my life has had its share of ups and downs, much like everybody else.  In the past, I often let the anxiety rule me and take over, thus resulting in creating even more stress.  When you feel like you are drowning in a sea of stress, you look for any kind of lifeline to hold onto.  Then a number of years back, I vowed to adopt a more simplified mindset when dealing with life's stresses or risk sinking into that black abyss.  While I still have "those days" from time to time, I find that I can center my thoughts better and cling to the things that bring me joy.  
Here is a list of 12 things one can do to keep a zen-like attitude.  

Back to School

     Well, the leaves are turning amber and gold and the stores are advertising tons of sales for everything from glittery tees to flashy pencil cases.  This all must mean one thing:  September has arrived and with that all things back to school.

     I approach this time of year with some anticipation and always much trepidation. On the professional side, I juggle many responsibilities as a teacher or more specifically, an English Specialist for multiple elementary grades.  For the last couple of years, I have tried to steel my nerves against the inevitable anxiety and have prevailed to some degree.  I try to go in with zero expectations (hard task!) other than to expect the unexpected.  Things will always change from the way they were and I have to adapt with that or die trying.  With the launch of every school year, there are always new things coming down the pike to complicate and suck up our time and this has been no different.

     During summer, I try to go into zen mode and just focus on my family and friends. By early July, I usually accomplish this goal.  Then come August, I begin to contemplate anything I want to improve upon in my teaching.  Now that the first day of school is a few mere days away, I am spending part of this Labor Day weekend getting my mindset back into the swing of lesson planning.  Once I do that, I am much more focused and productive.  Just this morning, I've been planning activities for the first few days as well as getting a picture of what direction the first month or two should be for four different grade levels.  We're talking about planning activities for learning the alphabet and initial letter blending, story element skills for a literature unit, an author study, a unit on informational text features and structures, and of course early essay skills.  Is your head spinning yet?  Yeah, well mine is too.  These topics are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the areas I need to cover and often make me dizzy just thinking about them.

     Remember when you were in school and had a book report due?  And a math test to study for?  And a research paper to write?  And about twenty other things that needed to be done all by the next day?  That sort of stress is an occupational hazard in the life of a teacher and you accept it when you join the profession.  Doesn't make it any easier on your brain though!  The funny thing here is that I actually relish the challenge.  It's part of the creative joy in this job at my school where we are afforded a certain amount of autonomy.  The public school system is definitely better funded and supported than in the private sector (in most cases anyway), but you are also hamstrung by many district, state, and national expectations such the CCSS and NCLB.  Our school has its flaws for sure and we often have to learn to do without or work within space confines that limit our options.  However, I am grateful for the general freedom I am given as a teacher to educate my students in a way that honors the best practices methodology as well as giving me personal discretion to instruct them as I deem best suits their learning styles and my teaching style.

     In addition, to starting off the year with the normal stuff, I am also aiming to add to my plate (yes I must be crazy).  I've been teaching a freelance art class after school for the past three years and I love it!  I get to teach drawing and be the artist I always longed to be as a child.  In addition to that, I hope to join the PBIS committee as my school pushes forward to create a school-wide expectation system.  It has been a long time coming and I need to flex my professional muscles a bit more. I've devoted much of my energies to learning my craft and balancing my home life.  We'll see how it all plays out.

     Speaking of my home life, many changes continue to take place on that front.  The kids have some new clothes, shoes, and school supplies ready to go.  They are growing like weeds!  N now wears a size 12, so we got him size 13 to give him room to grow. He stands at about 5'8" and has to look down at me now.  Oh where did my baby boy go?  He is fast becoming a young man with his 14th birthday just a month away.  K is in a size 7-7/12, just a size or so behind my feet.  I often hand off my smaller clothes now to her.  They are still a bit too big on her, but at the rate she is sprouting it won't be that way for long.  We are bracing ourselves for the onslaught of homework this year and potential extracurricular commitments they will participate in.

     With the plan to move sell our house in the spring still looming over us, I shudder at the thought of all that will entail. We have much to pack, fix, and purge in the coming months.  It will be a busy school year.  Again, I just have to go back to my plan to just breathe it all in and take each day as it comes.  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Summer Days

     It has been a fairly quiet, but fun-filled summer.  We opted not to go on any BIG trips this year in an effort to save money, however we did try to get out and about whenever possible. Here are some of the highlights of our summer break:

 We started the summer in June with a trip to the Oregon coast and stayed in at the Port of Garibaldi.  It is a small fishing village with only three hotels.  Ours was a nice little one and it had an indoor pool shaped like the state of Oklahoma...I kid you not.  We drove all up and down the 101 to visit many of the little towns along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).  As we headed north, we went to Rockaway Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Cannon Beach, Seaside, and Ft. Stevens.  At Ft. Stevens, we toured the remnants of old military installations and hiked along the South Jetty located along the mouth of the Columbia River.  In Cannon Beach, we indulged in some of Mo's famous clam chowder and walked along the beach at Haystack Rock.  As we headed south, we toured the Tillamook Cheese Factory and explored Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City. In addition, we drove through some of the Tillamook National Forest to see the Nehalem River and Munson Creek Falls.  All in all, we ate well, played hard, and enjoyed ourselves tremendously.  It was a much-needed respite for the family.  

     On the 4th of July, we went to the St. Paul Rodeo for the first time.  It is considered one of the biggest rodeos around and attracts people from all over.  I grew up attending rodeos and even learned how to barrel race at horse camp as a kid.  However, my hubby and the kids had never experienced a rodeo before, so this was their first time literally. The kids burned off some steam by enjoying some of the carnival rides.  We also filled our bellies with some amazing food at the BBQ Cookoff.  It was a fairly warm day, but thankfully we enjoyed the rodeo from under cover, which helped a lot.  The kids had some cotton candy, which is always an awesome treat.  It was a long rodeo (3+ hourse), but I think hubby and the kids had a terrific time.  Later in the evening, we lit some fireworks at home and then kicked back in a nearby field in North Plains to watch the fireworks display.  

In mid-July, hubby went with some of his buddies to the Hell's Canyon Motorcycle Rally in Baker City, OR.  The kids and I drove to Bend (first trip back to my hometown in over a year) to see my folks.  My parents had been on a yearlong excursion around the country, so we hadn't been to Bend for a visit in a very long time.  My parents sold their old house and were now settling in to an apartment that was considerably cozier.  We made due with the limited space and spent a lot of time out and about.  On Saturday, N spent some quality time with Grandpa, while K, my mom, and I went to the Sisters Quilt Show.  it was only my second time and K's first.  Some of the quilts are absolutely beautiful and always intricate in detail.  We walked around admiring quilts for a few hours, ate an early lunch, and then met up with my Dad and N at the Bend Fest.  Later that day, the kids went swimming at the apartment pool to cool off. In the evening, we visited my nephew's family and had dinner with them. It was a very long, eventful day.  On Sunday, K and I packed up and headed home as she had volleyball camp starting.  N stayed on for a few extra days in Bend.  Before we left, we stopped off to visit my brother and his wife and to see their horses. K loves horses anywhere anytime!  When K and I got home, we had a lot of fun just having some mommy-daughter alone time with no boys at home.  

     At the end of July, we went on our annual camp out with friends.  This time, we went to the Tillamook National Forest, camping near Cook Creek (a feeder into the Nehalem River).  We were way back in the woods and although we didn't get the best campsite, we made the best of it.  The kids had a blast as always.  They got to ride their bikes around without helmets (gasp!) and even rode in the back of the truck (oh the horror!).  Life is so controlled and careful these days, it was wonderful to have the kids experience a small taste of the carefree ways of our youth. All in all, it was a fantastic weekend, except for the inch long bubble blister that formed on my heel from wearing my new Teva sandals.  Oh well, it only took a month to heal. :)

     All summer long, the kids kept very busy (with me as their chauffeur) with their various activities.  K went
to volleyball camp, where she improved her serving and setting skills.  N went to archery camp and learned how to properly hold and aim the bow, as well as went on nature hikes. The location of the camp was in a beautiful, wooded setting in a rural part of the North Plains/Mountaindale area. Both kids took swimming lessons, went berry-picking, played outside with some friends, and hung around the house.  Every summer, we always take weekly trips to the library as the kids are voracious readers and this summer was no exception. There were many days when we were out all day and many where we just had lazy days.  

     Hubby and I also had a couple of days where we sneaked in some riding.  He had been bugging me for over a year to go on a long ride with him and I finally caved.  Along with a few friends, we went on a couples ride from Hillsboro to Cannon Beach to Waldport to Hillsboro again.  We made frequent stops in many of the coastal communities along the PCH.  In Waldport, we saw my brother at his knife shop.  I hadn't seen him in many years, so it was good to see him again.  When the ride was over, it was dark and my bum was SORE.  I soaked in the bathtub for quite awhile afterwards, but it was an amazing ride.  I don't do well with twists and turns, but I worked through my fears, so I was proud of that.

     And now here I sit and write this blog on the last day of my summer vacation.  There were many days in between the experiences I've described here, but these are the days that stood out to me.  I am always grateful to have these summer days with my family as a stay-at-home-mom.  I am saddened when I think of how fast every year seems to be flying by.  My kids are growing up quicker than this mommy can handle. Oh well, one day at at time, right?  Cheers to sunny rays and summer days!   




Friday, August 15, 2014


     Yep, I finally worked up the courage to get a tattoo.  I first seriously contemplated getting one back in college.  I once took an art design class during my sophomore year and one of our assignments was to create our dream tattoo.  What did I design?  A larger than life portrait of Abu.  Yep, this was not too long after the movie Aladdin had come out and I was a super fan of this adorable primate.  As much as I loved this little guy, I'm grateful that common sense kicked in and helped me envision the future.  Did I really want to have this tattoo on my body in fifty years?  Nope, I wasn't ready to commit yet.

     The desire would remain, but the money factor often scared me away.  As a poor college student and for the first few years after, every penny was pinched, so frivolous things went out the window real quick.  Then as life often does, it kinda took over and the desire for a tattoo was put on the back burner for several years.  I focused on my career, then later my husband and kids, and then one day I turned around to see that tons of time had passed.  When my bestie and I went took a trip to Las Vegas together, we visited a tattoo parlor on a whim.  I very seriously thought about getting one then to commemorate our friendship, but once again, the crazy prices drove me away.  What I failed to consider then was that Vegas prices are not necessarily reflective of prices in other areas.

     The desire would continue to build over the next few years until I finally realized I truly wanted a tattoo and would figure out a way to pay for it.  Once I made the decision, the real confusion began.  I figured that one day soon I would set aside the funds and just take the plunge.  Yet it was indecision about the design that held me back.  After celebrating a milestone birthday, I knew the clock was ticking and I needed to get on with it.  After about a year of serious consideration and a great deal of consideration, I settled on my the design.  Don't think I didn't waiver right up until the moment of truth though.  A thousand designs crossed my mind over the years, so to settle on one was a challenge.

     I went in for a consultation and did some checking around about the reputation of this place.  I got a crash course on the do's and don'ts of the tattoo industry.  I submitted a picture of what I wanted and the tattoo artist informed me that she preferred to put her own creative spin on the tattoos that she does.  Being a newbie, I conceded to her on this point, but we closely collaborated via email over the next couple of weeks.  I told her what I wanted and she drew inspiration from two pictures I gave her.  In the end, she made what I felt to be a beautiful marriage of our visions.  I wanted a fairly simplistic rendering of a dragonfly enveloped in swirly lines, natural elements, and for my kids' initials to be integrated into the design somehow. She magically pulled it all together into what I hoped for.

     On a side note, the one requirement I had made for myself was that I wanted a tattoo that was meaningful to me so that I would be happy with it long term. Too many times, people I knew had gotten tattoos that looked "cool" in the moment, but they later regretted.  I opted to get a dragonfly.  This was because there were tons of them around a lake I grew up going to with my family.  It connected me to my childhood and the place I grew up.  I also wanted my kids' initials as a loving gesture to my children. The design has many layers of meaning for me, many of which I won't bore you with here. However, the important point is that the design is sentimental to me and I love it.

      On the day of my appointment, I made sure that I took pain pill early that morning (just to be on the safe side).  I went off to a work function, but didn't tell anyone what I was planning (except my hubby and kids of course).  As I was told to do, I made sure to eat something. I showed up for my appointment and the artist put the finishing touches on the design.  She did her thing and went to work on me.  I cannot was painful, but mostly bearable.  She put the tattoo on around my left ankle.  In the end, I was very pleased with her work.  I am currently in the healing process, so for the next few weeks I have to wash the area daily, dab it it dry, and be sure to moisturize it with lotion a 3-5 times a day.  Sadly, I also have to avoid the sun and water (except for showers).  These are not easy tasks in August, but since I only have a week left before I return to work, I figure it's a small price to pay for the awesome tattoo that I always wanted and finally got. Thankfully, reactions from my friends and family have been positive, which reinforces my belief that it was the right decision.  Here it is:

Friday, August 08, 2014


     So yeah.  It's been a year and a half since my last post.  A lot has happened to say the least.  I never truly thought I would become one of those people who blog blog blog and then one allow real life to take over, but yet here I of those people.  In a way, it's a good thing.  I haven't been completely MIA online, as a matter of fact, I am on Facebook quite frequently.  It's about all I have time for though.  I don't tweet on Twitter, I don't use Instagram, and rarely indulge in the many game apps available.  I did once upon a time, but as I said life has a way of taking over.

     I will try to provide the nutshell version of the last year and a half.  I'll start with work.  The primary thing I've been up to is trying to stay afloat at work.  I continue to teach at the same school and am starting my 7th year there.  I keep hoping each year will be smooth sailing, but something always seems to come down the pike to keep me on my toes.  I will admit though that last year was a pretty decent year.  Even though I taught a very challenging group of kids, I was very pleased overall.  After five years of teaching language arts to four different grade levels, we were given the chance to specialize in just two grades. I taught two sections of first and fourth apiece.  For the first time, I began to feel truly confident and not beating myself over the head with what I could've done better.  I always strive to improve upon what I do, but I began to distance myself from the rookie teacher I always felt like and moved closer to the seasoned teacher category.  Well, all good things must come to an end. For a variety of reasons, our admin took away this new schedule and replaced it with one similar to our old one.  As of now, I will be resuming teaching four grade levels. I'm still adjusting to the change, so I hoping for the best.

     On the family front, the kids are growing like weeds, blossoming like little flowers, and acting like monkeys.  Yes, I am comparing my two lovelies to floral and fauna.  N is turning 14 next month and will be entering 8th grade.  Entering middle school was a tough transition for him at first.  He struggled to get organized and realized that there was more work involved.  N always seem to luck out in elementary school and had pretty great teachers.  Middle school has been eye-opening for him as he was thrust into several classrooms with tons of new faces. Thankfully, school work has never intimidated him and he was up for the challenge. He also competed in track.  It took a lot of convincing, but he reluctantly got out there and did his best.  Athletics are not N's thing as he is much more content to be reading a book or sketching a picture, which he continues to excel at both.  However, I think in the end he was proud of himself for doing it.  Hopefully this next school year he will be a little more confident and open to joining in.

Our biggest challenge with N is getting him to try new things.  He usually has fun once he's doing whatever the new thing is, but drags his feet getting there.  At the end of 6th grade he went to Outdoor School and then during the summer went to an Outdoor Adventure Day Camp that included canoeing and kayaking skills. This summer, he will be taking archery.  While his art will always be his first love, I am glad that he is learning to balance that with other things.

The biggest change for N has been his growth spurt.  He is now a few inches taller than his dear old mom and his feet are quickly catching up to dad's size 14. It feels like I'm replacing clothes quite often simply because he just doesn't fit them.  When did I start shopping in the men's section for my baby boy?  Seriously, when did that happen?

     K has had us on quite a roller coaster the last year or two.  Fourth grade was not a fun year for any of us.  Although she had a sweet teacher, there were a number of kids that bullied her in class and on the bus. Her energy level and academic challenges didn't help either.  Her grades plummeted and so did her self-esteem. Her saving grace (and ours) was her resilient spirit.  She has always been a spunky kid with loads of battery power to keep on going.  Although she had her low moments, she was never down for long and would be onto the next thing.  However, we couldn't sit idly by and watch her spiral anymore, so we took her to the doctor.  Our old pediatrician changed specialties, and honestly we didn't mind.  Our new doctor proved to be a wonderful change for the better.  She diagnosed K with ADHD and put her on medication.  With N, we had opted out of meds due to the complications of his other afflictions.  However, with K we knew she needed medical intervention.  After several months of different dosages, we finally seemed to find the right one.

     We began to see some improvements at school, but it wasn't until the summertime that we saw the real changes take place.  I knew that meds alone would not be enough, so I convinced hubby to splurge on horseback riding lessons for her.  Like many little girls, she has always loved horses and had fond memories of riding our cousin's horse.  I had an instinct that this might be the thing she needed. When I was a kid, I went to horse camp for four years in a row and to this day am forever grateful for those experiences. With the help of her riding coach, her confidence began to emerge and many of her fears slowly faded away.  The relationship she has with the horse, Princess, is truly adorable to watch.  She has taking lessons for about a year now and continues to do well with that. We don't own our own horse and have no aspirations of her becoming a competing equestrian.  However, she loves to ride and that's all that matters.  Due to finances, we can't send her as often as we'd like, but we are committed to letting her continue for as long as we can.

     Fifth grade turned out to be a pretty decent year, with a few minor exceptions.  K began to make some friends and she really began to shine.  She was involved in a girls group and helped launch an anti-bullying program at the school.  She even won an award for her efforts.  She also go involved with volleyball.  She demonstrates a talent for it and seems to enjoy it.  She competed in a rec league and also took a volleyball camp this past summer.  While I was not totally pleased with her teacher, K seemed to learn well from her. Her grades were on the upswing for the first time in ages.  At the urging of our pediatrician and past teachers, we requested that K be tested for learning disabilities.  She had struggled in some of her subjects for too long and so we wanted to leave no stone unturned.  The special ed dept. dragged its heels forever and communication was pretty much nonexistent.  We had already been through this years ago when we first dealt with N's issues.  That was a 3 year odyssey.  Once everyone was on the same page, he began to thrive.  I was not about to endure another 3 years of jumping through every unnecessary hoops.

     I quietly let the wheels of education turn at a painfully slow rate and after months of waiting and excuses for the delays, I began to put on the pressure. I've learned from others that the squeaky wheel gets the oil, while the quiet one gets ignored.  They kept trying to put us off, but after months of keeping us at bay, they must've finally realized that we weren't going to let this go.  Finally, I got a meeting and expressed our interest in getting K tested...a year after her 4th grade teacher gave the initial referral for testing.  Seriously?  All we wanted was to have our daughter tested.  To make a tediously long story short, they agreed to give her partial testing and go from there.  Overall, she tested well, except for math. To this day, I will never understand why they were so difficult to deal with.  As a teacher myself, I completely get the other side, but not in this case.  While it was a frustrating battle, I was grateful it was finally over and that we could cross it off the list of concerns.  K still has her ups and downs in math and in writing, but her reading is off the charts.  Sixth grade will be an interesting challenge for her and I'm excited (and nervous) to see where the year my budding beauty. While there are many more layers to her story, I believe this onion need not be completely peeled.

     Well, there is so much more to tell, but I think that's good for now.  Crossing my fingers that I find more time to devote to this blog.  I honestly miss it.  I can trace this all back to entering the profession of teaching.  It is a time-sucker for sure.  Maybe this will be the year I find that balance.  Here's hoping!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Disney Treats

To save a little time on this first round, I'm gonna skip some of the narrative and instead tell part of our Disney Trip through pictures.  There will be more to come, I promise! In the meantime, here are some pictures taken of the kids doing some special activities.  Kirsten was on a mission to get as many of the princess' autographs as she could.  Both kids were among the lucky who participated in the Jedi Academy.  Nicholas faced Darth Maul and Kirsten faced Darth Vader.  Enjoy!    

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Where have I been?

Yes, I know I know. The frequency with which I should be blogging has been a total disgrace.  My schedule over the last year was insane.  I became a "traveling" teacher in every sense of the word. I went from having a small classroom space of my own to sharing multiple spaces in multiple buildings.  It was definitely a challenge for me, organizationally-speaking.  Then my car began to have transmission problems, so I began commuting to work by public transit.  I took the bus, the train, and the streetcar for an almost 3 hour round trip.  Oh, and did I mention that I started freelance teaching an after school class for extra money to save for our trip to Disneyland. Let's just say I wasn't home much.  That alone took a toll on the family as a whole.  After surviving all of that and more, blogging slipped way down the priority list. Many of my old vices have gone by the wayside and now I'm trying to rekindle my passions a bit.  I make no promises, but I will try to blog more often. Not even gonna try to recap the last year, so I will just begin anew with our recent trip to Disneyland.  I'll add that shortly!