Friday, December 30, 2011

Twenty Twelve Resolutions

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that a new year is upon us.  I absolutely have no clue where 2011 went.  That may have something to do with my life being swallowed whole consumed by a new baby, a new job and a new way of life.  Staying busy certainly doesn't make time stand still.

Feeling like I finally have everything under control, or maybe that I'm able to deal with my load with some sanity in tact, I am feeling refreshed welcoming 2012.  I'm coming into this year with a clear head, but with some definite changes in mind.  Behold, my twenty twelve resolutions:

1. Register for a 5K
I began training for a 5K (my marathoner mom is laughing at this right now, I'm sure) at the beginning of this year and did something to my ankle.  Taking time off to let my ankle heal turned into giving up on the race all together.  I was really disappointed in myself for not sticking with I joined the gym.  Two weeks later, I accepted a new job and all of my free time went right out the window, as well as my motivation to work out.  Not one year (since high school) have I not been dedicated to some form of exercise, except for 2011.  I will change that.  Time to get my fitness back.

2. Prepare more natural meals
Constantly feeling like I have no time and running on empty, I have resulted to those evil frozen meals, or worse, take-out.  I would say we currently take-out or dine out at least three to four times a week and the remaining days meals are literally just thrown together - usually in a microwave.  This year I want to plan my meals more effectively.  Buy fresh produce, buy foods with less preservatives, make meals from scratch.  I generally eat healthy, even given the habits listed above, but I want to learn to enjoy cooking as well.

3.  Have date night once a month
Robert and I actually started this trend a few months ago and, with the help of my mom, have been able to stick to it.  I want this to continue into 2012 so that I always have that special weekend to look forward to.  I love my children to pieces, but there's nothing better than a night alone with my husband doing things we used to do pre-kiddos.

4.  Start reading again 
Due to lack of time (are you beginning to see the theme here), I haven't read a book in its entirety in at least a year.  I hope to pick up a book and begin reading again - even it takes me a month to read it.  There was a time when I would read 1-2 books a week.  I miss that.

5.  Finish projects left undone 
Hello dining room chairs, memory boxes, photo books...

6.  Watch my tone
I am notorious for being really snappy when I'm tired, in a bad mood or what have you - and unfortunately I'm one of those who takes it out on the ones I love most, i.e. Robert.  This year I want to make a genuine effort to take a deep breath, think about how I'm coming off to others and keep my attitude in check.

7.  Pay off student loans
I'm almost there, but if I choose to take some money each week out of our normal weekly budget, I can get those bad boys paid off a lot quicker.

8.  Live a more balanced life
Be successful at work, as well as at home. My kids deserve me just as much as my students/readers - actually, a lot more.  Be a fantastic teacher/writer, but be an even more fantastic mother.

There's my list in all its glory.  Once it's published I become 100% accountable.  Here it goes...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Birthday Memories

My mom turned the big 6-0 yesterday.  Forty plus family and friends joined in on the celebration, but not in the traditional sense.  A swanky surprise party would've been great, but having a birthday three days after Christmas makes that kind of tough, if not impossible.  So instead, we surprised mom with memories - each one sent to me by her friends and family which I packaged separately.  The stack of envelopes was presented to her over dinner last night and the surprise was just as overwhelming as I thought it might be.  I introduced the surprise with this:


Happy 60th Birthday!  This is a milestone year for you, but for more significant reasons than just beginning a new decade.  You have overcome more in the last few years than most people will experience in a lifetime.  Your marriage ended after almost forty years, you lost a child and you were diagnosed with a life threatening disease – people probably expected you to wither away; become a changed person with no love for life.  But you chose to fight back.  Your strength brought you into work every day with a smile on your face when you probably wanted to stay in bed and cry.  You welcomed three more grandchildren into your life with enthusiasm and show them unconditional love every day.  You continue to do selfless things for others when you very easily could care less.  You have managed to face adversity with acceptance and grace. 
“Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.” ~Arthur Golden

You are a strong, courageous woman.  I admire you, I idolize you, but most importantly, I deeply love you.

            Turning 60 is a big deal.  It’s a new beginning.  And the 40+ envelopes in your hand are proof that you have friends and family who love you and want to see you happy.  Each and every one of these people have been touched in some way by your kindness, your great sense of humor, your love…you have left a permanent mark on their life.  They all wanted to share their memories of you – ones that they will never forget.  So I will begin:

            I will never forget waking up one morning (I was in 7th grade) and realizing that I just started my period.  Since several of my friends had already started theirs, I was somewhat giddy about it.  I instantly felt older, more mature.  I walked downstairs and woke you up to quietly tell you that “my friend” had arrived.  You staggered out of bed and brought me over to your vanity.  You dug deep into the back of the cabinet and pulled out a HUGE pad that must’ve been from the 1970’s.  I didn’t even recognize the packaging.  I wasn’t too thrilled, but I still took it and tried to adhere it to my underwear – but what do you know?  The damn thing was so old there wasn’t any sticky stuff left so it just fell out of my underwear.  I was mortified.  I immediately called Rosie Lopez and asked her to please bring me a tampon to school.   

            Another fond memory is your obsession with coloring your hair.  Thinking back I see shades of blonde, brown, red, orange…you name it, I saw it on your head.  But on this particular night you wanted to dye your hair back to its “original” hair color – whatever that was – I don’t think you really even knew.  After letting the color set for awhile, you washed it out and blew your hair dry.  I walked into the room to see Elvira standing before me.  Your hair was blacker than the ace of spades.  But the funniest part of the story was when Dad came home – you were already in bed asleep.  He came upstairs and asked me why Doobie was sleeping in his bed!  I said, “That’s not Doobie, Dad.  That’s mom’s new hair.”

            Most of all, l I remember our girl time.  I always felt special when we would go shopping together – just you and me.  I always got more clothes than the boys (of course you tricked me into getting cheaper ones – quantity over quality J )  There were a few years where we weren’t very close (we’ll blame it on teenage hormones), but now, more than ever, I realize how proud I am to be your daughter.  You are not only a wonderful mother, but you are a best friend.   


I Love you,

There were tears...

There was shock from who participated...

But most of all, there were laughs...and even sometimes howls...

Happy 60th Birthday to the greatest woman I know.  Thank you so, so much to everyone who sent their memories and shared this wonderful experience with my mom and me.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Christmas Story

It's hard to believe Christmas has already come and gone.  I still have a family Christmas card file saved on my computer that never got ordered or printed - maybe next year.  I'm thinking that might be my infamous line from here on out.

Our holiday began on the 16th at the BCLC Christmas Program.  Evan's three year old class filled the stage and opened the program with the Pledge of Allegiance and God Bless America.  It finally made sense why Evan was continuously singing this at home.  They also sang Here Comes Santa Claus and another one that slips my mind right now.  Evan did a fantastic job.  I was amazed there were no crying children - usually at least one kid cries and won't perform.

The following day we loaded up and headed to Tennessee.  We spent a few days with Grandpa and Grandma Stinnett and a few days with Grandma and Grandpa Bopp.  We also felt so fortunate to spend several days with Granny as her condition wavered some over the past few weeks.  She said hello to Evan and gave Mattie Jane sweet smiles.  I was not good about taking pictures while we were there, but managed to snap a few towards the end of our visit.

We got back just in time to get the house ready for Santa.  This was definitely the first year that Evan seemed to really get it.  We left cookies and milk for Santa and made sure the fireplace was clear so that he could come down with ease.  Evan gave no fuss when it was time to go to bed because he knew (and believed - hehe) that Santa wouldn't come if he was awake.  We may have been just as excited to see Evan open his presents as he was to receive them.  This was truly a special year.

Uncle Todd, Barnes and Mimi celebrated the holiday with us - we ate, opened presents and ate some more.  Perfect holiday.

We (my family, Tim's family, Todd & Barnes) surprised mom with an Ipad.  I think this last picture speaks for itself.  Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Eat Up Girl

How much can this girl actually get in her mouth?  That is the every meal.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Job Application

I was shocked when I found out my brother, Tim, was looking for a new job.  He sent me his application to review...

Dear Timothy Evans:

Please accept our sincere thanks for submitting your information for the following EPA non-faculty position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:

    Recruitment ID:    2502142
    Position Title:    Head Football Coach
    Department:    Ath Football Office

We are very pleased of your interest and welcome the opportunity to carefully consider your qualifications and credentials.  As a next step, your materials will be forwarded to the Committee that is conducting this search for their consideration. These materials remain confidential and are shared only with members of the Search Committee and administrative staff who assist the Committee in performing its duties.  The search Committee or the hiring department will contact you directly if your credentials are determined to be of further interest.

Please note that for some positions, we receive a large volume of applications and the length of the hiring process varies from position to position.  So while you may not receive a direct response from the hiring department regarding your application, please be assured it has been referred and will receive careful consideration.

If you experience any problems accessing the system or have questions about the application process, please contact the University's Equal Employment Opportunity Office at (919) 966-3576 or send an email to

Should you have any questions regarding this search or about the hiring department, please feel free to contact the following representative in the appointing department:

Bubba Cunningham, Athletic Director,

If you need to update your application or contact information, please click on the following link:

Again, we thank you for your interest in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Please be assured that your application will receive careful consideration.


Equal Opportunity/ADA Office
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

When I opened this email I laughed out loud and tears came to my eyes - sorry to say, bro, but the job has been filled.  Don't take the rejection too hard.  Looks like they genuinely gave some consideration to your qualifications.  We'll see if Larry Fedora matches up.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Like Father, Like Daughter

Apparently Santaphobia is genetic.  Mattie Jane clearly takes after her daddy.  And check out how much MJ looks like Sharon (Robert's sister) in this picture - it's those eyes and that nose.

 Thank you, Phil, for sending - an absolute classic.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Breakfast With Santa

Last year Santa was just a character of sorts that didn't carry too much significance for Evan.  This year, however, is a completely different story.  Santa is THE man.  All we have to say to Evan is, "Santa is watching you!"  The change in behavior is miraculous.  I may have to purchase Elf on a Shelf and use it all year long.  Is that wrong?

We took Evan and Mattie to the Hard Rock Cafe to have breakfast with Santa this morning.  Evan was literally shaking he was so excited.  He walked in asking a million questions like, "Does Santa live here?"  "Will he be wearing red pants and boots?"  "How old is Santa?"

Breakfast was served first - Evan didn't eat a morsel probably due to the butterflies in his stomach.  Mattie, on the other hand, had seconds.  When Santa finally arrived he descended the stairs into clear view of our table - Evan's reaction...

Santa then made his way around the dining room and made a special visit to our table.  Evan was completely overjoyed - Mattie was a bit uneasy...maybe a little suspicious of the bearded man dressed in red velvet.

After Santa made his table visits, he headed to center stage where he sat in his chair ready to make Christmas promises.  All the children lined up, eager to rattle off their wish lists - Evan included.

Then, the moment we all had been waiting for...

Evan was in love - Mattie wanted the hell outta there!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas is Officially Here

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here.  Thanks to our overly ambitious neighbors, we had to step it up this year.  We decided being the only unlit house on our block looked bad - especially when Evan was asking why we didn't have lights in our yard like everyone else.  Confessing our laziness wasn't gonna be a good enough excuse for a three year old.

So we started out our decorating by heading out to Conway to Booth's Christmas Tree Farm this afternoon to pick out the perfect tree - for us that means easy to cut down and not too much necessary trimming.   Evan told us in the car that he was gonna pick out "a big tree with presents under it."  Nothing like an all-inclusive Christmas.  We told him they didn't offer that combo, but that we would make sure that whatever tree we chose would have presents under it come Christmas morning.

We took a tractor ride down to the leyland cypress lot.  This type of tree was ideal for us last year with Evan being only two.  The needles are a lot softer and a little bit easier to maintain.  We knew this year was gonna be a challenge with Mattie and her very curious, mischievous self.  So we opted for another cypress.  Evan and Mattie roamed the lot until we finally came upon a tree that looked symmetrical and tall enough for our high lofty ceilings.

Paul Bunyan and his mighty saw took down our beautiful tree...

We literally picked out our tree and cut it down in a matter of 10 minutes - the tractor didn't return for at least 25 - 30 minutes.  So we took pictures - duh.

Evan of course had to "pee pee" while we waited - being a boy certainly has its advantages.

We finally made it back to our car to strap the nine footer to our rooftop.  The 45 minute trip home lulled both kids to sleep - but I did notice a very sweet gesture before they closed their eyes...

The tree is decorated, the stockings hung - outside decorations will be taken care of this week.  We are so ready for Santa here!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

School Pictures

Here's to another year that I will pass on purchasing school pictures.  The backgrounds are still ugly, the lighting is still morbid and the poses oh, so lame.  But I will absolutely file away the proofs as memories because there's nothing quite like a bad school picture (these however aren't THAT horrendous).

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Signing More

I've been very casually teaching Mattie Jane the sign for more during dinner.  It caught me by surprise this morning when I asked if she wanted more milk and, not only did she sign that she wanted more, but she also said "mo."  The learning capacity of children never ceases to amaze me.

Monday, November 7, 2011

God Bless America

In the spirit of Veteran's Day on 11-11-11, Evan wanted to display his national pride.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat

Evan wanted to be scarier this year - but he certainly had his limits.  Blood, fangs and ghosts were out of the question - so he finally settled on Frankenstein.

 We stuffed Mattie Jane into a chick costume and she couldn't have been happier.

We spent an hour walking around Broadway as Evan diligently collected candy from every participating business.  He was so serious as he went from door to door - it was almost like a job for him.  We were entertained by all of the other costumes and I enjoyed a few pieces of candy myself - shhh!  Don't tell Evan.