Sunday, November 30, 2008

I've got the economy.

My family and I laughed at someone on the DIS who posted that she thought "people with the economy" would be cancelling their Disney vacations, and so Disney was going to do some huge promo. Yes, they're doing a huge promo now, but we were laughing at the idea of people actually having the ecomony... like a disease. It's become a running joke with us -- "look out for the economy! I hear it's catching!" Yes yes ha ha... but I have the economy. Seriously.

I've written about money woes before on my blog, and I'm totally comfortable talking money (gasp) bc we all have issues, we all have our own personal woes, and honestly, it's my blog, so if you don't like it, don't read it. :) I thought a progress report would be nice though, and I need to write to clear my head a bit.

When my Aunt Mary passed away about a month ago, and I looked at my credit card and realized it was super high, and I realized I couldn't afford to go to the funeral, I finally started facing the fact that I have a problem. Thankfully a co-worker bailed me out and got me to the funeral using some frequent flyer miles, but I didn't just thank God and continue about my life like nothing was wrong. I read some articles, I looked at my budget vs what I was really spending, and I got honest with myself.

I am a shopaholic. No jokes. No excuses. I shop to alleviate stress, to make myself feel better, to try to make people like me (oh yeah, I'm a gift giver). You name it, I can rationalize buying it (today, no hesitations, no second thoughts, and NO buyer's remorse). Want to know specifics? How about using my stimulus check on a 42 inch flat panel TV? Tax return you ask? New furniture for my living room. Those cute tops I wear? Well I need to look good to teach bc the kids notice. My $1000 cookware -- the Teflon gives you cancer. My china dishes? Well even if I'm not getting married, I still deserve nice china. I could go on. I'm not cheap. I've been like this for a while. It's been getting worse.

OK, you might be rolling your eyes right now, but I'm serious. This is a disease. This is a horrible horrible addiction I have decided is not ok and I have to break.

I started by going cold turkey on spending for a month. No buying anything but the neccessities (and comic books -- they were the only thing on the ok list but I'm working to cut back). I had to live off the food in my fridge and pantry but could buy things like milk, bread, and produce. I did not give up luxuries like internet and my DVR, but I didn't buy non-consumables -- no extra clothing, no jewelry, no purses, no trinkets, no stationary, you get the picture. Oh yeah, here's the worst part: no eating out.

I made it through my month. I greatly missed the eating out with my friends on Sundays. I missed the fellowship, but I found it in other ways, in other places, and for free. I didn't miss the crowds, waiting for a table, figuring out where to eat, the bad service, the cranky kids waiting for food that made us sick bc it was so fat laden. No, all of that I did not miss.

OK, so one month later, and I'm telling LaRae today that I feel empowered. I'm not just trying to pay off my credit card, I'm trying to fix the problem, and I'm winning... mostly. How in the world did I used to grocery shop without looking at prices?! How did I not pay attention to how much I was spending for ridiculous stuff??? It's getting easier to tell myself no to things. It's getting easier to plan a menu for the week. It's getting easier to miss those Sunday meals. It's partially easier bc my sister and her family are cutting back too. Besides the raving madness that it materialism/consumerism is sickening, and I'm ready to not be known for my stuff but for me.

Today it got hard. Change isn't easy. Today I realized that to do small presents for everyone on the math team (15 people!), to get to go to Pokeno, to get to BUY GAS to make my car run, I needed to cut back a few more things. That means no VRCC Christmas Party ($5 per person, hosting a table, and an ornament exchange!) -- which meant letting Jenn down by backing out of hosting a table with her. On the upside, it also meant that LaRae and Randy could have a much needed night out with friends bc I can provide free babysitting for them. It means no jackpot round at Pokeno. When you see $5 as a whole chicken that makes two full recipies and leftovers for a days on end, you don't want to gamble it away. It means watching where I drive and staying in even more. It means I cried on the way home from LaRae's tonight when I had to call Jenn and tell her I was sorry I couldn't do the party and when I realized my happy victory over a month of not spending was now tainted by the realization that this isn't easy.

Mostly it means I'm starting to feel like in the process of letting myself down, I let my friends down too. I mean, this is my problem. I have to fix it. As a result, I can't do my normal fellowship with my friends bc I'm choosing not to spend money on the things we used to do to socialize. I feel like it's making it seem like I'm pulling away, and I'm totally not... I just have to let them down sometimes (like with the hosting of the table). I miss going out. I miss my friends. I feel bad saying no, but I need them to understand why. This isn't a new kick I'm on that's going away. This is tightening up FOR REAL until my debt is gone, and I'm able to actually put real money into savings. One day I'll be able to go out to eat some again and go to movies and such, but understand -- that "one day" is not coming up soon. Please understand that I'm still here, I'm still fun, but if you want to be with me, we have to come up with something that's free to do. :) Let's share a potluck meal at each other's homes, let's have a game night, but let's not forget me. I haven't forgotten you.

I'll post something fun again soon -- I'm trying to update my blog again more often, so check back soon.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

It's almost 3pm, and it feels like it should be midnight! Wowza.

I got up this morning around 5:45 and was out the door and to Staples by 6:15! I ordered a new laptop a couple of days ago, so I found Office 2007 for $59.99 there, and I wanted to make sure I got a copy. I severely underestimated the crowds that would be at Staples. The lines were quite long but not ridiculous... until the woman 5 people in front of me had issues with how her printer was ringing up. (Oh yeah, this is after a couple cut in front of me in line, but I didn't want to have a Black Friday Altercation, so I just decided to stay calm, enjoy my day of shopping, and let them stay ahead of me since they were obviously in a bigger hurry than I!) Manager comes up, settles the issue, leaves, and irate shopper lady decides to continue arguing the SAME issue with the cashier again! 30 minutes later (I refused to go to another line figuring this one would start moving soon...) -- they move persistent annoying shopper lady to the front desk with the manager. When I left 10 minutes later, she was still there. Hun, the sales are great... give up your argument!

OK, so it's about 7:15 and drizzling rain when I get to Toys R Us (after a quick stop to feed Paul and Jennifer's cats). Before you pass me off as totally insane for going there on Black Friday, hear me out. I used the million and five (ok maybe a few less) credit card points I had accumulated to get gift cards to do Christmas shopping this year, and Toys R Us was just one of them. So I'm on the phone with my parents as I'm trying to get a parking place. It was in a HUGE puddle and "right out from the middle of nowhere" (as I told my mother when she helpfully reminded me to note where I was parked out from), but it was a parking place. I ignored the crowds and slowly and carefully hunted for the perfect gifts for Katelyn and Joshua. I found them (not telling!) and went to check out. I kid you not -- the line was wrapped around the entire store all the way to the back of the store, but it moved fast because unlike Staples, they had one line that fed to the registers, so problems at one register wouldn't stop a TON of shoppers. I loved this check out experience! It was great!

On to Bed, Bath, and Beyond! Here was a lot less crowded than other places. I found wonderful gifts for Mom, Dad, and LaRae (gift cards for spending again), but it took me a LONG time bc I kept going back to other things trying to decide. Anyhoo -- BBB was uneventful if you don't count the fact that when I left and put my bags in my car, I was really starting to feel panicky that I'd spent sooooo much money today, but then I told myself it was gift cards, so I calmed down. It's nice to spend money that isn't out of my paycheck. :)

Again, amazed at how early it was, I went on to Barnes and Noble. I cleaned my garage last night and found a gift card for there that a student had given me for Christmas last year! Rock on! So I was able to get the Twilight Movie Companion I've had my eye on for a while, and I have some money leftover on the card for the Tales of Beedle the Bard when it comes out! Yea!

It was almost 10 by that time, so I decided to go home and bone out the chicken that I'd cooked in the crock pot. Yum! I'll make something yummy for dinner tonight.

Then I decided it was time to go to the mall. Gasp! I went to see the 11:15 am showing of Twilight (2nd time I've seen it, but I deserved a treat). Here's another pic for all of you Rob Pattinson fans -- it's he hot??

After that I hit Lane Bryant for the buy one, get one sale (biggest sale I've seen there EVER). I actually called my mom before I went in and after I left. All I was getting was 2 pairs of jeans. I actually walked toward something maroon and sparkly and said "no" out loud! I'm still really learning to control my spending addiction, so it was actually nice to have the support. :) I did it too! I just got 2 pairs of jeans!

Anyways, so it's now 3:15-ish, and I've been all over and done so much today! It's really quite insane. I'm trying not to nap, so that I can go to bed early tonight and get a good night's sleep. Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving and fun Black Friday!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Rescued a Human Today

I don't normally post these email forwards, but this one brought a tear to my eye. In some ways, Sprinkles rescued my life (even though he wasn't from a shelter...).

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid.

As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life.
She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship.

A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well. Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms. I would promise to keep her safe. I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes. I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

10 Things I'm Loving at this Moment

1. The phrase "Aunt Joanna... I wuv you!" I can't hear that enough.
2. Joshua wanting to cuddle with me. It's going to be a bummer when he's too old to cuddle with his aunt. For now though I'll cuddle just as long as he wants!
3. Katelyn wanting to cuddle with me. Reading stories with her or combing her hair while we watch "Dancing with the Stars" are little memories I'll always cherish.
4. Eating dinner at home or at my sister's house with her family. Not spending the time driving to a restaurant and then waiting for a table, waiting to order, waiting for our food, waiting to pay, and driving home takes a lot of the crankiness out of the kids and leaves a lot more time to play. :) It's giving me more cheap quality time being the "cool" aunt.
5. My sister time... lately it's been a drive home together from church or a drive to Bunco together, but it's those times when I get to talk to LaRae without children distracting either of us that I get some great bonding time in.
6. My bro in law being cool with me being over and playing with the kids a lot. It makes a difference to have him actually mention something to the kids about how lucky they are to have their aunt around to play with. It makes me feel more a part of the family and much less like the lonely bother that I sometimes feel like. :)

OK I'll move out of the family stuff now.

7. Learning how to spend money wisely. Hi. My name is Joanna and I'm a shopaholic. No seriously, I'm fully admitting it now and am working on it. I've taken the Becky Bloomwood stance of MMM or CB (make more money or cut back). I've chosen (or life has chosen for me) to CB. After a week I'm already really learning that I don't need to go buy things to feel better about myself.
8. My puppy dog. OK I always love him, but Sprinkles has been extra cuddly and fun lately.
9. My job. I have to keep reminding myself of this. I love the challenge of teaching Geometry even if sometimes it's stressful. I have always felt that I was put on this earth to teach, and even when it's stressful (which it's really been lately), I need to lift my head, find my joy again, and focus on being the best I can be at what I do.
10. My DVR. Petty. Worldly. I know. I don't care! I LOVE my DVR. I love not being tied down to my TV but always being able to catch my shows. I love the random surprises that my series recordings catch like new "Jonas Brothers: Living the Dream" 5 minute segments. It's ok. I'll admit I love JB! lol.

I have more, but I thought it would be good to share a nice even 10 tonight. I need to start blogging with pictures again soon. Oh well. Stop for a moment and think about the 10 things you're loving at this moment. :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Putting Lives on the Line

Have I ever told you about my good friend Paul? He'll do anything for his friends, and I mean ANYTHING!

Tonight we had a slightly humorous occurrence. I took Sprinkles out around 10 pm for a quick walk, and when I walked out my door and across the street, I noticed a 2 ft by 2 ft box covered in white paper. On the box was written "STOP AND LOOK", and it appeared to have holes in it. After staring at it for a while I decide not to approach it, but I do start looking all over the place for the people who must be Punking me. Not a soul is around; I hear no quiet laughter; I see nothing but the now hugely freaky box. Look people, it's the post-9/11 era. People shouldn't leave oddly marked, wrapped packages around without a clear purpose!

So I walked Sprinkles elsewhere in the complex and came home. Fearful that LaRae and Randy were already asleep, I decided to call Paul. He lives close, and I knew he and Jennifer would be catching up on their DVR stuff tonight. Yeah, so I relay the info about the box to him, and he agrees it's freaky. However, I don't want to call emergency maintenance (bc the last time I did it was for a weird chemical smell in my apartment, and they thought I was insane, but I thought I was going to die in my sleep from breathing the strange gas), and I'm scared to call 911 for fear of a policeman yelling at me for being silly. Without hesitation Paul says he'll be over shortly.

I decided to go outside to wait for him, so I grabbed my broom (so we could poke the box), and I hunted for a safe spot to duck behind while Paul poked the box. I found a minivan nearby and decided that was a sturdy enough spot that maybe a bomb wouldn't kill me... Looking back, I think I was still too close. Anyways, Paul arrives with a flashlight (super smart since I forgot to tell him the box was right under a streetlight) and a baseball bat -- while it was sturdier than my broom, it wasn't as long. Did I mention my first fear wasn't a bomb but something live (bc I thought there were holes in the box) and dangerous?

At this point you're probably thinking, "Joanna, go to bed and leave it alone!" Well I'm not that person. What if it was dangerous, and I didn't do anything about it, and someone got hurt?! I'd never forgive myself. It HAD to be investigated for the people of my complex!

In all fairness, I've left out another part too. On the hydrant across the street from the box is an arrow with a sign saying Labradoodles will be "on sale" this weekend. Coincidence though, I'm sure...

Back to Paul and the baseball bat! So I was laughing like crazy bc I just know I'm being insane, and it's probably nothing. Paul is looking at me like I'm insane for laughing (mostly bc I think at that point he was praying but counting on being blown up). He actually told me that he thought I needed to be further away for this (him poking the box) -- which also made me laugh, but I did run behind my newly staked out minivan.

So Paul began the exploration of the box. He examined it from all sides. Nothing. He did stop to look around for the people punking us like I did (again I laughed bc I knew he was listening for quiet laughter from the bushes too). He poked it. Nothing. He then told me to get behind the van better. He rolled it over -- with the bat. I braced for the explosion. Nothing. Hm. I was starting to get a little sheepish feeling. He rolled to to one side and unwrapped it partially with the bat. Whew! Still nothing. OK so then after looking with the flashlight a bit better, he really went for it and reached into the box. I think there was paper or a piece of cardboard?? lol. Yeah, it was an empty box. So he sat it back up and sort of re-wrapped it.

Our bet is that it's either there to draw attention to the labradoodle sign or else people will be set up there with some labradoodles tomorrow... although why set up in a complex? I do think they'll be fairly confused as to why someone unwrapped their box. Lol. :) Oh well... don't leave a wrapped box with no clear purpose sitting out in a post-9/11 world!

The sobering thing in all of this is the thought that it could have really been something bad. Paul could be dead now... so could I. I should have called emergency maintenance and let them deal with it. While I super appreciate Paul for literally risking his life for me and my insane curiosity, it was sort of dumb for us to mess with that box. So scary event, turned out good. We'll laugh about my paranoia in weeks to come. Thank goodness for friends who indulge your fears and help you feel safe!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Follow Up

Well Folks -- I thought I should write a follow up to my last post -- if I even have any readers left. I did get to go to the funeral afterall. My next door teacher at work gave me some frequent flyer miles to help me be near my family. Isn't God great? :) It was where I needed to be. I don't really want to write about it much though. It was just so surreal; even seeing her doesn't make her feel truly gone. Please pray for my family for time to heal the pain.

On a totally different note: I'm struggling with an emotion tonight that I don't truly have too often... well is "hate" an emotion? I mean true, teeth-clenching, body-shaking, seeing-red hate. What bothers me the most is while I'm hating him, I'm hating myself too. I hate that I let him get in my head and bother me, that I spent so much wasted time with him, that I knew he would never fit in my world and I tried to force him in anyways. I hate that I was so desperate to have someone that I settled for someone totally wrong for me. I hate that he's trying to make me jealous by saying he has someone -- but he's lied to me before, so why believe him now?? I hate that while I don't want him anymore, I don't want anyone else to want him. Mostly I hate how moronic, ridiculous, and not a match for me that he is. It's not fair to feel like that about someone. It's not loving, it's not Christian. Hate isn't of God, but right now I can't see straight. I'm letting my emotions get the best of me, but I don't know where this emotion is coming from. Well maybe if I'm honest it's coming from disappointment in myself. My disappointment hinges on him and our past together. I regret that year or more of time I was with him. I regret the wasted time that I could have been doing something else -- something better with my life. Why did I fool myself into believing that being with someone who wasn't the One was better than being lonely? Lonely is always better. I need to get used to lonely. Make it my friend. Me and lonely -- we're together now.

I know most of that doesn't make sense, and right now I just don't care! I know it's childish to post this on my blog, but again I just don't care. I know I'm throwing a lot out there but ya know... you get the picture. Whatever.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Aunt Mary

This is my mom and Aunt Mary at the airport after one of Mom's many trips to Michigan when Grandma was sick.

My Aunt Mary passed away this afternoon. I know I haven't blogged in forever, but I can't sleep and I need to get this all out, so I'm sharing it with you, my friends. Aunt Mary was my mom's only sister. Everyone in my mom's family basically stayed in the area where they grew up in Michigan but my mom.

This morning at church LaRae leaned over and mentioned that this woman reminded her of Patty -- Mary's daughter in law -- our cousin. I smiled and thought about the last time I was in Michigan. It was less than a year ago for Grandma's funeral. Before I left, Aunt Mary hugged me close and told me that just because Grandma was gone, it didn't mean I couldn't visit. She said that she and Uncle Ken would come get me from the airport and let me stay with them and that she enjoyed my visit despite the circumstances. That was the last thing she said to me besides "I love you" and I told her I loved her too and that I'd try. This morning before I knew anything was wrong, I thought, " I should really go visit -- watch for cheap airfare deals -- I miss all of them!"

I went to lunch with friends; then I went home to get Sprinkles to go head to the school to do our typical Sunday afternoon work. He played fetch with me and ate ice cubes in the copy room as we waited for my unit's worth of copies. I didn't think to bring my cell phone with me because everyone knew I was at work -- they could wait. I stopped on the way out to chat with some co-workers without even looking at my phone.

As I was walking out of the school, I noticed I had a message from Mom. All she said was "hey it's Mom. Call me when you get this. Ok?" I could tell from her tone that something was wrong. I immediately thought of Nana. I love Nana, but I'm trying to be mentally prepared for a call that she's had an accident or worse since she's so old and her mind is going. Thinking it was that Nana had fallen and gotten hurt or something scary but heal-able, I went ahead and pulled out of the school onto the road.


As the phone rang, my heart started to fill with dread. Something about Mom's voice had been really really wrong. Was Dad ok? In four short rings my mind was already racing through how to deal with the loss of a parent or what horrible thing had happened. My copies were made fo the week. I could get a sub, and they could deal without me. I have 15 sick days built up. 4 rings is all it took for those ideas to all go flashing through my mind. This had to be big, something unexpected, but when you know something unexpected is coming, it doesn't make it any easier to believe.

Mom answered. Her "hello" sounded defeated, drained, lost. I don't recall what was said in between "hello" and "Aunt Mary passed away today." My face crumpled, I pulled over immediately (I hadn't gotten far), and choked out, "how? when?" Last week Aunt Mary had a pain in her leg, but they'd been walking about a lot at the grandkids' sports games. This morning she started to have trouble breathing. The called an ambulance around 10 am. At the hospital the doctors thought that it might be a blood clot in her lung, and they decided to move her to a different hosiptal. One of her sons and her husband were with her at the hospital, talking with her. Her brother was on his way. She told the nurse that she needed to go to the bathroom before they left for the other hospital. In the bathroom she had a seizure and before they got her back to the bed, she was gone. She was 58.

When I was talking to Mom we took some time to talk about memories of Aunt Mary. We would visit Michigan about once a year when I was little. I used to call Aunt Mary at work and ask her if she could come and play. Mom said that meant a lot to Aunt Mary. I loved her so much. She was always so fun! As I got older, Aunt Mary and I would always pick up right where we had left off: with a strong, loving bond. We got in trouble together and laughed (a lot) together. She loved me, and I know she missed getting to see me more often. I missed it too. The last couple of times I visited she would stay up late chatting with me about anything and everything. I cried with her the first night I saw Grandma this summer. I cried at the nursing home and I cried in Aunt Mary's arms that night. Our mutual sorrow for the loss of Grandma's motor abilties came out in our tears. She was an amazing, loving, Christian woman. I wish I'd had more time with her. Mom said that Aunt Mary really appreciated my last couple of visits and enjoyed that time with me.

It's just so sudden. I don't know how to handle it all really. This is the first family member that has passed so suddenly and whose funeral I won't get to attend. It's too far away and costs too much. I don't know how to handle not getting to say a formal goodbye to her. I don't get how I am supposed to mourn without my family. How can I get through this without a hug from/for my mom? Ah, my mom, I can't imagine losing LaRae. I think that's why this is hitting me even harder. Mom lost her sister. Everytime that hits me, it just makes me cry again. How can you go on without your sister? The bond between sisters is like nothing else.

This afternoon I've traded between shock and sobbing. I don't know how I'm supposed to just pick up and go on as if this world isn't missing someone I love. I feel a little cheated -- like she was too young to die -- I mean, she wasn't super young, but she wasn't old enough to die! I'm not ready for my aunts and uncles, my parents, my loved ones to pass on. I need some advance warning! They can't just be snatched away like this! I went grocery shopping tonight to distract me (just sitting on the couch wasn't cutting it anymore), and it felt so fake. Like I shouldn't be shopping. I don't know how to really explain it.

I am so deeply sorrowful. I am fearful that I will spend a lot of time crying over the next few days. My plan is to hole myself up in my classroom. If I don't talk to my friends, I won't talk about it. Then I won't break down at school. I don't want to break down in front of my classes.

It's almost midnight. I'm going to be a zombie tomorrow.

Please pray for my family. They say Uncle Ken is in shock. Please pray for him especially. He will need all the strength God can give him when it all really sinks in. I can't see him without Aunt Mary. She had two sons, both married with lots of kids each. So many loved ones that she has left behind. Please pray for strength and comfort. Death is never easy, but someone passing so unexpectedly, so suddenly is even harder it seems.

I guess I'll end this entry with my feelings of hope that are getting me through. I AM comforted that she's in Heaven. I'm sure Grandma was just as surprised to see Aunt Mary there so soon as we were to lose her so suddenly, but I bet Grandma is taking her on the grand tour now. Aunt Mary did have some health problems -- I bet they're dancing across the golden streets together. (Ya know, I still email Grandma. I emailed her tonight.) Shelley now has most of her grandparents, an aunt, and an uncle with her -- people I've had to love me my whole life. I believe we know each other in Heaven. I believe I'll see Aunt Mary again. My hope is in Christ and the grace that He gives. Without hope and grace, without faith in the promise God has given us, death would be final, but with all of that, with the hope, the grace, and the faith that I cling to, I know it's only the beginning. I still miss Aunt Mary. I am still crying. I am still mourning the loss of a great woman, but through it all, I still have hope.

I love you all. Thanks for reading. Please pray.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


I've been absent from blogging. Sorry I'll get back to it soon, but until then, I was looking at
PostSecret today and came across a video of Frank Warren speaking at a Post Secret event. Amongst all of the secrets in that video and on the web page, this one statement Frank made stood out to me the most:

Frank said that when he put his last book together he learned "that all of us have a secret that would break your heart if you just knew what it was."

Just think about that and all it implies. I think that's profound. I think what he's done with his books is profound. What an amazing project and an amazing man.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Does this mean summer is over??

Sigh. The pink highlights are gone. They had faded to blond mostly a couple of weeks ago, so I had started getting my hair wet in the pool which sped up the process. When I noticed on Tuesday that the pink was finally gone from my bangs, I knew that I had to dye my hair back. Paul says me reverting back to my natural color signifies that summer is really over. I think he's right.

Yesterday I bought some "soft black" hair color at Walmart. Today LaRae helped me to dye my hair back to its natural shade. I'm not sure it even looks natural. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure what natural looks like on my hair right now. I think the perm then the relaxer and then the summer sun had lightened my hair a little. Not helping matters, when I first got the pink, the girl bleached in too many highlights and covered some with brown. Yes, you read that right -- brown, not soft black -- thus creating hot pink and brown lighter than my natural hair color highlighted chunks. It wasn't too noticeable, and so I loved it! Anyways, my hair obviously looked a LOT lighter after the highlights. Now since I've had the blond highlights (chunks) for a couple of weeks, my hair has looked really light, so going back to black is really weird. What do you think?
In a sense, I look in the mirror now, and I think, "ah, there you are! It's good to see Joanna again." Already though (less than 12 hours since the dye job), I am missing the girl with the hot pink highlights. I am missing the looks I would get walking through a store. I still giggle thinking about when I flew into GA right after I got the pink highlights. I was walking through the airport with Sprinkles (in his awesome Ed Hardy-esque dog carrier) in his bag on my shoulder and listening to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on my iPod when I noticed people kept looking at me. Perhaps it was my cool grace, my confident stride, my amazing bag they all envied (after all I was "the girl with the amazing petflys dog carrier), my sweet puppy sticking his nose against the grates on his bag, or even my sweet little pink iPod shuffle that caught their attention. I didn't figure out why people were staring until my mom's eyes immediately zeroed in on my hair when I walked up! I was so used to it already that I was clueless. I can't believe it, but I miss the attention. I miss feeling like I was daring enough to finally do something totally out of the norm for most people -- something that would prompt people to say things like, "that totally rocks my face off" or "I've always wanted to do that but I'm not cool enough to pull it off" or "wow that's awesome!", etc. Always good reviews. (On a side note: I'm not cool enough to really pull it off, I just have always wanted to do it and went for it!) It was nice. Black hair doesn't exactly turn heads though, does it?
That expression doesn't quite have the same fun effect that it did in the picture of me with the pink highlights a few blog entries lower than this one now does it? Oh well, I'm embracing weird faces for the camera though -- here's another:
I'll get used to being normal again. I honestly really do like the black shade that my hair turned out. There's a bit in my bangs that still has a hint of red tones if you look closely, and in the back underneath there are a couple of blondish patches that don't show unless you dig for them. The cover up job was a success! Thank you, LaRae! The giggles that ensued from coloring my hair built a fun memory that made it so much easier to say goodbye to crazy fun hair color (even though it had already faded out). I love you! Thanks!
Finally, for those skeptics out there who don't believe that the color in these pictures is my natural hair color, I'm going to put up one more picture. This one is me student teaching my last semester at HU. (I was 22.) Ignore the horrid bags and shadows around my eyes. I was soooo busy, sleep deprived, and stressed at that point. I'd recently had surgery on both hands and was still teaching after only a week of recovery, so it was a bit crazy there for a while. :-)
Now I feel like I'm ready to go back to teaching. I'm ready to dive into putting my classroom back together and to delve into Geometry (which I'm teaching this year -- hurray!). Well, let's take baby steps actually -- I'm ready to start getting ready to go back to work. Give me another week to be ready for kids. :-)
On a quick side note - the assistant principal in charge of dress code is using a lot of my pics of my pink highlights for the slide show about what is NOT ok to wear. :-) She said she'd try to work in who it is in the pictures to give me some advance "street cred" with my kiddos. LOL. I'll also have the pictures up in my screen saver that ends up coming up during class, and I know they'll be in the staff slide show of our summer fun at in-service, so at least more people will get to see that I actually went through with it and was daring!
I'm signing off for now. Hopefully I can keep my blog up to date a little better. I've been spending a lot of my time lately learning PhotoShop and making designs for t-shirts for the DISboards. I know it's a silly excuse to not update, but it's been really fun! The link to my photobucket with my designs is in the last blog entry -- I've added a lot, so go check it out!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I'm a Moron!

It's 1:23 am. I am sitting here with Sprinkles asleep beside me, except for when he is woken up by me giggling or exclaiming over what just happened to me. I have to share with the blogosphere -- he doesn't understand English. :-)

I've been spending a lot of time learning Photoshop over the past week or so. LaRae got me started looking at designs (DISigns) on a Disney message board, and while some DISigners will make t-shirt DISigns for people for their trips, I decided to try my hand at making my own. So I've got this handy trial version of Photoshop CS3 on my computer, and I'm hardcore learning the ropes. We're talking made my DISigns for t-shirts for EVERY day of my trip, stayed up numerous nights until 3 am, and dream about new things I want to try and do once I do go to bed. (Here's the link to my DISigns if you are interested... notice multiple albums. I AM NOT selling these designs. I am using them for MY personal shirts. I do not produce them in mass, nor do I sell the shirts. Just thought anyone reading this should know... lol.)

I have finished my DISigns for our Disney trip in January. (I want to make my shirts before summer is over, so they'll be ready before I start really working again.) Tonight I'm just playing around in Photoshop while watching TV. I'm big on keyboard shortcuts, so I am using them but not paying super good attention. I finally figured out how to make Tinkerbell "sit" on my name without lots of trouble, and I go to type my text layer of "Joanna" and the "J" and the "O" will not type. No space, no nothing... will not type. The lower case "j" and "o" are showing as "1" and "6" though. Hm... I try it again... still not working. I figure Photoshop has a glitch, so I open Word. Nope, still not working. (Mark it -- time is about 11 pm at this point!)

Panic is starting to rise! (I bet some of you have already figured out the issue, haven't you??) I decide to try to type all the letters on the keyboard (upper and lower case), and the 7, 8, 9, -, u, i, o, [, j, k, l, ;, ', m, ., and / are not working. They are however typing numbers instead of some letters and making my cursor jump about the page. (Oh yeah, some of you really just figured it out, eh??)

I am in full on panic mode now! I am envisioning taking my district-issued laptop to the hell that is summer tech support. They do a great job, but in the summer time, if you have a laptop issue, you might as well kiss your laptop goodbye because work orders take a while! Can I stop and mention that I am actually really tech-savvy? I am good with computers! I pick up computer stuff really fast! So I decide I can fix this on my own. Granted, I can't just try restarting because my logon uses a lot of those "missing" letters, so I start doing virus/malware and spyware/grayware scans figuring that one of the fonts I downloaded might have had a virus. Well that's taking FOREVER, so I decide to search on my control panel, figuring that somehow the key assignments for my keyboard have been messed up. Keep in mind: I can't really type; all I can do is click with my mouse!

Ah, the panic! I am in a cold sweat. I have sat up completely on the couch - this is more lying about! I am trying to think of ANYONE who might be up at midnight (mark it!) that could possibly help me... no one comes to mind. I decide to persevere.

Wait! I recall and find the character map. I use it to slowly "type" out my search query for google, and I search for an explanation of what has happened along with a solution for how to change my key assignments back. By 12:30 I still have not found anything. I am honestly spazzing HUGELY internally! In my mind's eye I am running circles waving my arms about my head -- in reality, I'm sitting on the couch frantically typing and clicking away whist exclaiming to Sprinkles that his mommy is a moron and has broken her computer! I'm also betting that my computer will come back from tech support minus a lot of files I need, so I'm really starting to panic that I have to fix my computer myself!

Eureka! As I'm speed reading around 1 am I see something about keys with letters that have numbers on the front or something... What?! I look at my keys -- moron! Your keys on a laptop have the ability to "number lock" them to have the number keypad. I never use this feature because I have a USB number pad that I plug in for entering grades and such. If you haven't guessed it by now, at 1:20 am I pressed one simple key, the one that says "NumLk" on it and turned off the number lock thus enabling me to type normally again. Yep. I'm a moron. Right as I pressed that key, my virus scan popped up to tell me I did not have any malware, viruses, spyware, or grayware. Hurray! My computer is safe and usable!

So here I sit fully awake (because that freaked me out) and feeling stupid. Sprinkles is asleep draped over the edge of the arm of the couch. He woke up for a bit after I laughed (a bit maniacally) when I figured out the issue. He doesn't really care. Oh well. I guess it just goes to show you that the biggest problem on your computer can be something super simple. :-) Or that for a smart girl I can be sort of dumb sometimes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dixieland, Part II

Wow, wasn't my last post long and picture heavy?? Well this one is going to be too, so hold on for the ride! (Again, if you're reading this on Facebook, go ahead and visit my blog, so you can see all of the pictures!) I know I said that I'd talk about travelling Airtran in my next post, but that one will have to wait a few more days. Check back for it later.

While I spent most of my time with family, I did spend quite a bit of time on the side with friends. The majority of that time was spent with Katrina and Kelly, two friends I grew up with from church that I have held near and dear to my heart since childhood. When Woodstock C of C split when I was in elementary school, the three of us were about the only 3 young girls left. Kelly is a year younger than me and Kat a year older. We banded together and became these 3 musketeers of sorts. Katrina and I both ended up at Harding together. :-)
I spent one evening at Katrina's with her, her baby (Briley), and her hubby (Dave). We played Guitar Hero until Dave got home, and then we went out for Mexican food. Some of you in Texas have heard me lament the lack of "white cheese dip" in Texas. I got my fill of it when I went back to Georgia! Friday night I went to Katrina's apartment again, and Kelly got to join us with her youngest daughter, Cheyenne. We played more Guitar Hero and lots of Nertz and even a game of Spades - sigh, I miss playing spades! I didn't leave until around 1:30am! We had a blast though! We got to get together one last time on Sunday night, and we didn't leave until around 12:30am. Below are some pictures of the fun we had.

These first ones are Kelly and I playing Guitar Hero. I finally got to where I could play medium, but we LOVED to battle it out on easy playing "Slow Ride!" Look how serious we looked when we weren't purposely trying to smile for the camera! By the way... I won!!!

These next ones are the three of us playing Nertz -- a fast paced, multi-player, solitaire game. Lots of screaming and laughing happened while we were playing this game! Dave, Katrina's husband, is a SAINT for putting up with us for THREE nights!

Finally here are a ton of pictures of us goofing around with the camera timer. We tried to take nice pictures at first, but we got too silly to do that well. There's one with me holding up my hands bc I went to smack Katrina on the "rum" (the word I made up accidentally mixing "rump" and "bum") only to smack bare skin -- she's a dare devil trying to moon the camera -- lol! Good thing the camera was too high for that!It was so hard to say good-bye to these two girls. I miss them so much and being there made me realize how much I miss them. How much I miss that sort of friendship. You know I can count on one hand the people who aren't family who I actually hang out with?? I mean, I have friends at church who I do small groups with or go to lunch with after church (if my family is going too bc if they're not there, I typically get forgotten when the invite to lunch happens), but I'm talking about that friendship where you can call the person (or couple) up and say, "hey let's do dinner" or "wanna do something?". I got really depressed a while back when I realized this. Sometimes I don't think people see value in doing things with a single gal -- you don't all have to do things with other couples. I don't act like or feel like a 3rd or 5th wheel when I'm with other couples. Ask me! I'll probably come. :-) I digress -- I've just been feeling a little lonely sometimes lately. I had so many friends in college. There was always someone to do something with. I miss that.

Anyways, while I went out with friends for the night, Mom and Dad puppy-sat because Sprinkles didn't get along with Brody, Katrina's hyper little jack russell terrier. They said he was really good for them, but he would sit in one of their laps, then move to the other, and then go around "looking" for me, and then repeat the cycle. :-) They would go to bed before I got home, so he actually slept in their bed with them! The first night Mom woke up and told Dad to take Sprinkles out to potty around 1:30 (right when I was about to leave to come home). She doesn't recall doing that, but Dad was waiting for me with Sprinkles on the patio when I got home. The second night, I got home and walked into the bedroom to get Sprinkles, and he jumped up on Mom's hip and barked at me like I was a burglar! Somehow Mom slept through it and Dad almost did too. I whispered, "no no no shhhhh! It's me silly!" to which he barked at more, so I got closer and whispered to him again and reached for him. BIG MISTAKE! He jumped straight up in the air and landed smack dab in the middle of Dad -- right on his stomach! Well Dad just about folded in half! His feet came up as his head came up as the air "whoofed" out of him! As an observer to the whole thing, I of course got the giggles and quickly grabbed the dog and backed out of the room whispering my apologies! All in all, they had a good time puppy-sitting though I think!

I also got to see another friend I grew up with: Katie. We grew up down the street from each other and were best friends from 3rd grade on. She was a year behind me in school, but we still hung out a lot. It was soooo good to catch up with her over brunch at IHOP. I only have one picture of the two of us that the hostess took for us. The waiter was getting sick of us I think. He kept asking if we needed anything -- it's not like he really needed the table! Anyways, Katie is a professional ballerina! How cool is that?! I wish we'd had more time to spend together.

Those were the only friends I saw in Georgia (aside from all of the lovely people at Woodstock C of C that I love so dearly and miss so much!). I posted on Facebook that I was coming, but no one really contacted me. I think I got to see the best friends from Georgia anyways. :-) I wish they all lived closer. Heaven knows how much the visit meant to me. The time I spent with my friends was precious. There's something to be said for friends you've had since childhood. You can pick up again where you left off fairly easily. Old jokes resurface and new ones are created. Laughter leads to tears of joy and the comfort and ease with which you communicate and love each other is astounding. These girls have a special place in my heart and always will. I miss ya'll already!

Dixieland, Part I

I just got back from my almost 2 week visit to Woodstock, Georgia yesterday. This post is going to be about family time. In a few days I'll post friend pictures and will devote some time to the experience of travelling and Airtran. Mom and I took quite a few pictures, so I'm trying to put as many in this post as I can. Sorry if it takes a while to load! (So if you're reading this on Facebook, go look at it on my blog instead, so you can see the pictures!) Enjoy!

When Sprinkles and I arrived at the Atlanta Airport (my favorite airport by far!), Mom met us at baggage claim. She had NOT seen my hair yet. Her reaction was polite: she smiled all big, and as she hugged me she said, "oh wow! That's fun! Now I know what Sue was talking about!" I had emailed two of her friends, Pam and Sue, with the address to my blog saying to look but not mention it to Mom or Dad. Sue apparently sent a "I know something you don't know" email that morning to Mom. She decided it was cute. :-)
From the airport, Mom and I (with pup in tow) headed to Lake Butler, Florida to see Nana on the farm. Dad was already there; he noticed my hair at once. As expected, he smiled and laughed a bit. He's always pretty accepting of whatever crazy thing I do (like another piercing in my ears or a tattoo) as long as it's not toooooo insane! Nana however said, "oh Joanna! You've changed your hair! I sure did like it the way you used to have it!" Ha ha ha! Priceless! After a while people around me stop noticing the pink -- she did too. Sprinkles did GREAT on the farm. He loved to go sit in Nana's lap! (The top picture is Dad and I hand-churning ice cream while Sprinkles sat in Nana's lap to watch.)

We all drove back to Georgia on Sunday afternoon, and most of my time was spent with my family. Every morning except the first one I got up and went to work with Mom at the church office and goofed around there until she got off early at 12:30. Sprinkles even went with us a couple of times and played with the preacher, the Spanish preacher, the other secretary, and anyone and everyone who walked in the door! Everyone loved him! I should have known better thinking that I was going to get almost 2 weeks away from VBS planning though; also should have known better thinking that I would get out of painting backdrops and doing HUGE decorations this year. I helped paint one of Woodstock's backdrops and then helped decorate their stage for VBS! It started last Sunday night. Here's the backdrop I worked on:
Looks pretty good, eh? It's "Outrigger Island" -- a Hawaiian Island theme thing. Mom made that surf board; totally know who I got my talents of making paper into awesome decorations from! In the afternoons, Mom and I would go to lunch or shop or go to a movie until Dad got home from work.

When Dad got home, we would sometimes visit outside on the patio. Sprinkles really enjoyed the giant backyard, I think. He didn't stray far, and he loved to come jump up in Mom and Dad's laps. We only had one little scare when he found a brick of rat poison by the shed. He didn't ingest any, so he was ok -- his mommy just panicked a bit! (Hey, I didn't cry though - wonders never cease!)

I know Dad's eyes are closed in this picture, but I really liked how it showed how relaxed Sprinkles was in his lap. He really just naturally went to Mom and Dad and lounged on them!

Since it had been so long (a couple of years) since I had visited Georgia, I wanted to do some tourist-y stuff. One of the first nights back we met my aunt, her son, his wife, and their 3 kids for dinner and then went to the Laser Show at Stone Mountain, which I mentioned a while back here. Here I am standing in front of the 3+ acre carving. "The Memorial Carving depicts three Confederate heroes of the Civil War: Confederate President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee and Lt. General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson." Ah, good ole' Southern Pride -- can't beat it! The Laser Show was in its 25th year... just like me. :-)

The World of Coca-Cola has been torn down and rebuilt since I was last in Georgia. It is by far my favorite Atlanta attraction, well right after Stone Mountain. Basically it's a museum dedicated to Coca-Cola. The remodel really upgraded World of Coke and made it more organized... more categorized. There was a whole section of memorabilia, another of "artifacts", another showing a 4D movie, yet another showing Coke in pop culture. One section was a real working bottling plant -- much smaller and slower moving than the real thing, but it bottled coke in glass bottles that they gave you as you left the attraction. There was a smaller movie area where you could watch Coke ads from around the world and from the past. That was really fun! The tasting area is the last part you go in before the gift shop -- actually you can go in and out of it, so if you're thirsty, you can run grab a cup of coke and head back to continue looking around. There are 60 flavors that you can taste in 5 hubs in the tasting room that are organized geographically. The sixth tasting hub is devoted to Coca-Cola brands (anything with the word "Coke" in the name). It's really fun! Here I am tasting some Cherry Coke -- real daring of me, eh? Below are 2 more pictures in the World of Coke. The first is Mom and Dad in the lobby in front of this cool, giant, Coke bottle from, um, somewhere I couldn't pronounce. The second is the 3 of us on the couch from American Idol! Yes, THE COUCH. I don't watch the show... but that was sort of neat. :-)

It's almost midnight, and looking at all the pictures I have left, I realize I'm going to have to put up an entire post about time I spent with friends. I don't want to relegate them to a tiny mention at the end of this post! I really had a blast with Mom and Dad. I can't tell you how nice it was to just have some time with them and Sprinkles -- to just enjoy them. :-) I don't get a lot of alone time with my parents anymore because they like to spend most of their time with the grandkids with us when they come here. I don't blame them, but this was a nice change of pace. I need to visit again sooner rather than later. Hope you enjoyed seeing part of what I was up to! Check back in a couple of days to see more!

Sunday, June 08, 2008


Alrighty, it's summertime! Couldn't have waited any longer for it!

Here's a quick run down of what I'm up to just in case you're wondering.
Thursday was our last day of classes. In fact it was a half day for the kids, late day for the teachers. My classroom packed up pretty easy this year; all items have to be off of horizontal surfaces, so all items can be removed from the room for re-waxing the floors. My classroom lights are off, the door is locked, and it's going into its happy, peaceful rest for the summer.

Friday started the summer off with a bang. LaRae, Katelyn, Joshua, and I went swimming in the morning. Well Joshua played with pool toys in his stroller bc he apparently hates the pool! That's ok. With his mommy, sister, and aunt loving to swim, eventually we'll win him over. Katelyn was a lot of fun. The water was chilly, but she didn't care. That child LOVES the pool. :-) She jumped right in and giggled just about the whole time. :-) Really fun to watch.

Then after lunch, we went to LaRae's house to discover it had been broken in to. Thankfully they have good neighbors who called the cops and got the plate numbers and such, so hopefully the jerks will be caught. We all are having to monitor our credit and change account numbers bc our tax returns were on the laptops that were taken. While it was only just stuff, my heart goes out to them for the loss of their wedding rings, LaRae's engagement band, Katelyn's piggy bank, and their camera's memory sticks. Being there when we discovered the house had been broken into was really scary -- what if they were still there?! I was watching some of my worst nightmares happening to my sister and her family, and I hated that. So scary. I'm so thankful everyone is safe.

TO ALL THE THIEVES OUT THERE: You suck! I don't know what gives you this sense of entitlement -- that you are owed something or that you deserve something that isn't yours, but you're wrong. You work for what you get in life. You don't take it! Nothing gives you the right to come into someone's private domain and touch their things, invade their lives, and take what was never yours. Get a job. Get a life. In David's words, "GROW UP!" If you're bored or needing more money for drugs or just for games and fun, try the old fashioned way of earning it yourself! I can't stand a thief; I can't stand that there is a part of the youth of America that makes me fear for the future. I can't stand this attitude of entitlement and nose-thumbing at authority that's cropping up more and more. It's not ok. It's not cool. It's selfish, Godless, and makes you worthless as a human being. Make something of yourself other than a prison inmate. I hope you, the jerks who broke into that house, are found and that justice is done.

Done now. I know the thieves will never read that, but it made me feel a little better...
Yesterday I spent 4.5 hours at the salon getting hot pink highlights in my hair. Don't tell Mom and Dad! It should be a fun surprise! Here are a few pictures.
For those of you on facebook, here is the link to the album of more pictures. It's my real hair. They bleached highlights and then highlighted it with hot pink. :-) In the words of my friends, it's "sexy, hot, cool, and rocks [their] face off!" I've never gotten to rock someone's face off. It's really fun to finally have that ability! I know I'm going to get some "fun" comments at Woodstock, but I'm ready for it. I like it, and it's a lot of fun! :-) Hurray for pink hair!

So Monday through Wednesday I'm working for the district on a curriculum writing team I've been working with all school year. Friday I'm flying out to Georgia to see Mom and Dad. Once I land though we're driving to Florida for a quick stop to see Nana on the farm and then will be back in Woodstock on Sunday for church in the evening. Then I'll be in Woodstock until the 24th of so. VBS is the 28th, so June is basically full up! After that though, it's time for poolside relaxation and lazy fun for the rest of the summer. Can't wait to be in GA though -- I'm ready to get some quality time with the 'rents.
For those of you in GA - if you want to hang while I'm there, shoot me a message. :-)
Peace and love to all! Hope your summer's are starting out great!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sex and the City

In college I would spend slow weekends and even weeknights at Hastings, the local video rental store/bookstore/coffee house/music store. Yeah, Hastings had the best combinations -- comics they let me read for free, books I would randomly pick up and buy, caffeine, and movies -- all at my fingertips. I could go there alone and be perfectly content. In fact, I preferred to go alone. I would sometimes go study there. Studying for me had to be done away from my dorm room or apartment. Often one could find me studying in the student center; I welcomed the interruptions. Later in my college years though, I would happily tote my advanced math work to Hastings.

Why am I telling you this? Why would you care? I dunno - except I'm taking a quick walk down memory lane to simply say that Hastings is where I would rent episodes of Sex and the City one disc (4 episodes) at a time until I'd finished the whole series. I loved getting a quick glimpse of the world of New York that I would never get to really be in. You see in my head, in my dreams, I am one of those 4 women -- independent, strong, beautiful, skinny, stylish, wearing fabulous clothing, carrying fabulous bags, and having a fabulous time. Sigh. To be a Charlotte York or Carrie Bradshaw (not sure I'd like to be Miranda Hobbs even if I am more on the logical side like she is and definitely don't want to be Samantha Jones with her relationships)... I can't fully imagine that life, but I enjoyed getting to watch it.

Tonight I got to see the movie with LaRae. First off, I love spending time with my big sis. More than once I've written about how cool I thought she was growing up. She really still is one of the coolest people I know. Second though, the movie was wonderful! The friendship, the bond, those women share. I know, I know, they're fictional, but it's still so great to watch. (Mild spoiler alert!) There were numerous parts that I could call my favorite, but the one that stands out is Charlotte being fiercely protective of her friend, Carrie, who has just been hurt deeply. Out of all the love lost, love found, broken dreams, broken hearts, that is the moment that made me want to cry the most. The amount of warrior-like ferocity that came out of that woman lashing out at the man who hurt her best friend was amazing to behold. On the way home, LaRae and I talked about the movie. There were points in it where we were laughing until we about cried and points where we could have cried (but not tears of laughter), but that point in the movie stood out to both of us.

It makes me think about my friendships. My sister and I have the bond that turns us into "mama bears" if someone hurts the other. Lord help you if you hurt my sister; you will rue the day you come into contact with ME again! Same holds true for the opposite. Sisterhood is easy like that for me.

In a previous post I said I wanted my real smile to be seen more... now I'm thinking about real friendship. How many friends do I have that would tell someone "I curse the day that you were born!" if that person had hurt me?? How many friends would I do the same for? How many friends are so close that my pain really and truly is their pain, not just a story for them to listen to? How much of my friends' pain to do I really feel? I want to be that sort of friend; it's not possible to be that close to everyone, but it is possible to have a group like that. Who is my group? Where do I fit? Who loves me that much?? I have friends that come to mind when I ask those questions. We all do I think. Now, I'm not asking you to step up and say, "I love you that much, Joanna!" Ha! I'm just wondering "aloud" really.

Excuse my nostalgia for a bit longer. The picture below is some friends from college. Horrid picture of me, so ignore me. The Charlie Brown Christmas Tree in the background was $10 at WalMart, and I did the best I could do with it, hence the giant bow on top! The 4 of us got together my last Christmas at Harding. One of the girls I've been friends with since I was a child. I sometimes get to talk to another one of them and we try to stay up on what's going on in each other's lives, and the final one my eye hesitantly strays to, well I haven't talked to her since her wedding day. All 3 of them at one point or another I was so loyal to that I would have yanked my earrings out and bitch slapped another girl for (ok maybe not something so fierce...). Sadly out of the 3, only 2 of them were willing to do that in return for me and did (again more like a verbal bitch slap than a physical one!). To you two -- I will always thank you for turning in your GATA jersey when you knew what was happening was wrong. I told you both the other day that I'm finally able to look back at my GATA memories and separate the good from the bad. You two were so much of the good. Thank you for being that good. I love and miss you both. To the other - I do miss you and wish our friendship had been as deep as I thought it was. I wish you'd been more thoughtful and that I'd been less trusting. When lines are drawn in the sand when you're out of the country, you can't stay on the line; one side or the other will always pull you over. If you'd realized that, perhaps things would have been different. Again, I miss you.

Life is short. I hope I am really surrounding myself with good friends, with people I can really trust to have my back. Because when it all came down to it in Sex and the City, those women had each other's backs. See the movie -- even if you didn't watch the show -- you'll love it. :-)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tiny Update

I needed to update, and I have a lot to say, but I don't feel like doing a full on update tonight, so I'm going to do a tiny update to give you an update to a post from a while back. About 1 month ago I wrote about leash laws (click here to read again) and how people are not putting their dogs on leashing in my complex and the dilemma I was facing in how to respond when peoples' dogs run up to Sprinkles and I.

I've started "fighting back" in a couple of ways. The first way is that I'm being a little more vocal when the event actually happens. Typically someone's dog runs up to Sprinkles and I, freaks us both out, I get flustered, so when they apologize, I say "it's ok!" Now I say, "it's ok, just please find a leash!" Take that you freaky unsafe dog owners! I also have gotten a lot quicker at grabbing Sprinkles up from the ground to save us from growls, snaps, and being tangled in leashes.

Second I've started calling the apartment complex and leaving messages -- specific messages with the apartment number if possible. I also kindly remind the complex that there is a leash law in Lewisville, and that I'd appreciate a reminder being placed on that person's door. Not sure if this does anything, but I've left two voicemails so far, each with a different person. The one tonight was the voicemail of the manager of the complex. Ah yes -- this brings me to tonight.

Tonight I am still shaking a little. I was walking Sprinkles, and I saw my neighbor who has two boxers walking her dogs. We were all walking (about 10 feet away from each other) towards going around this circle in the parking lots -- like a large cul-de-sac of apartment buildings with parking in the middle -- when a HUGE dog came running at us. The boxers were closer, so it ran up to them. By the time it got there, Sprinkles and I had turned a different direction, and I had snatched him up into my arms. However, this was like a train wreck you have to watch. The owner of the HUGE dog was running up repeatedly yelling, "he's ok, he's ok!" to which the owner of the boxers screamed, "but they're NOT!" First off, you go girl! I was proud of her for yelling back that what was happening was NOT ok. Second though, she was scared, I was scared, the dogs were freaking out... someone was going to get hurt. She was screaming and begging the other owner to please get his dog (oh yeah another HUGE dog not on a leash ran up with him to get the other dog and joined the melee). Finally all dogs were grabbed and under control, the boxers' owner started to walk up fuming, when I spoke up. Yeah, not my battle, but that could have been Sprinkles, and he would have been bloody after that. I yelled, "man, you can't have your dogs not on a leash in a complex full of people! It's just not safe!" He said, "they're not off the leash!" With that the boxers' owner turned around and said in a very sarcastic tone, "oh, they're not?!" He's like, "yeah they're just walking between apartments with me!" What?! How is between apartments somehow becoming across the complex attacking other dogs?! He wasn't really apologetic, so we all walked off (I later ran across her and her boxers, and everyone was ok... still a little shaken up though).

On the way back into my apartment though, I was more than happy to call and leave a message for the manager of the complex telling her the building number and which garage they were grilling out in front of. Too bad I didn't have the apartment number. I also explained to her in the voicemail that this is not the first time I called, that this is a huge problem around these building, that I don't feel safe (with or without my dog), and that something needs to be done, at the least a reminder notice. Argh. I'm just going to call everytime this happens. The heck with it... I know if this happens enough, they can be evicted. Hope I can get apartment numbers from this point on. :-)

Sunday, April 27, 2008


I've been thinking about this post for a while now, and so here it goes... well at least the idea about smiling. Have you ever noticed when you're smiling? Like a real smile, not a fake, plastered on smile? Lately it feels like real smiles have been sneaking up on me in random places like when I'm playing with Katelyn and Joshua and honestly enjoying myself or watching something funny in a movie. I spend a lot of my time faking a smile:
- a person I don't really care to be around walks up
- someone tells me a joke I don't really think is funny
- everything is ok when it's not
- I'm hiding behind it
- I'm expected to smile
etc. There are so many times I'm expected to smile. It's refreshing to enjoy a rare moment when the smile is natural. When I'm smiling because I'm happy and enjoying life. When it's my real smile. Not all of you have seen the "real deal" smile. I want it to be seen more. I want my smile to be real.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Two Posts in Two Days!

That's right, I'm posting again. It's ok. Read this post and the one below it. Actually this one is a follow up to the post below, so I'd read it first and come back to this one. I'll wait while you scroll down and read...

Oh you're back? Good deal. On to today's drama! Last night I got the baby cake baked, and I decided to decorate it this morning and then run and get a camera battery at WalMart, so I could take my own picture of the cake. (Riss' blog said they were having camera issues, so I didn't want to chance missing a picture of this cake.) So I get up, actually get out of my pj's and get a shower, and decorate the cake. I have about 45 minutes until cake pick up, so I grab my keys and run out the door to head to WalMart.

*SCREECH!* Someone is parked in front of my garage! So I call Chapel Hill to explain what's going on, and they give me the number for the towing company. The tow place won't tow without management approval, so I call Chapel Hill back (very annoyed at this point), and they put me through to a voice mail box! So I call back, and I'm hot at this point, so I'm relaying what has happened to the guy who answers and tell him something like, "and I need this car towed like 30 minutes ago!" He is actually very nice and calls in the tow for me (I called the tow place to double check), and in about 45 minutes the car would be towed. Meanwhile, I left this note on the car, "You see the garage in front of your car?! Yeah, my car is STUCK in there since you chose to park here! You better hope you get your car moved before I can get it towed!" Not my nicest note, but I'm so angry about this I can hardly see straight! Who parks in front of another person's garage?! So I call a series of friends to help me, and all of them have very legitimate reasons why they can't until I get to Erin. Sweet Erin lives in my complex, and she very kindly took me to WalMart to get the battery.

When we got back, the car was gone, but I know it wasn't towed in that amount of time. I called the tow place to cancel the order. So whoever you are, driver of a blue Chrysler Pacifica -- you got away this time, but perhaps you won't be so lucky next time. Good job dodging a tow bill! Jerk.

Thankfully I got the battery, so here are pictures of the cake I just finished. Notice that the small one is Lukas' baby cake (simply decorated), and there is one picture of the rocket on the invitation by the rocket on the cake. I think it looks pretty close! The icing is pale pale green, and the dots on the side are actually giant sprinkles. I hope it's good enough. No I'm not just saying that... freehanding the rocket wasn't that easy, and I know the red isn't true red bc I can't achieve that without chocolate icing...

Cake H-E-Double Hockey Sticks

No, I didn't make another cake of shame, but I did make a dumb mistake that's costing me a lot of time.

Let me start at the beginning. It's apparently cake season right now. I made a birthday cake for Katelyn, a small cake for Joshua's birthday, and now I'm working on Lukas Swayne's first year birthday cake. His cake isn't too bad really - Eric and Larissa are awesome. They're laid back and happy to let me work my creative juices as long as the cake is marble cake and has a rocket ship on it. I really put a lot of thought into this one. I have the picture of the rocket from the invitation, and I've been deciding the best way to put it on the cake: fondant, painting it, freehand piping icing, etc. Finally I decided that freehand piping the rocket in icing would be the best bet.

Oh wait I need to start back even further! This week is TAKS Math "Camp." The math department does math tutoring for an hour after school every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for about 3 weeks. Seeing as how I had a meeting after school on Monday and then stayed after school Tuesday - Thursday, I've had a week of not getting home until almost 6 pm (so basically 10 hour days). Needless to say, I've been really really tired, and I didn't get to bake Lukas' cake until tonight. TOTALLY part of my master plan. I had time to relax, bake, take my time.... all good.

Fast forward to 11:30 tonight. I have baked the cake. I have carefully piped the rocket ship on the cake. I am finally putting the finishing touches on the cake -- the border, and I realize, "crap, Eric and Larissa wanted a small cake for Lukas to dig in to on his own!" Well poop, wouldn't ya know I didn't bake that small cake? And wouldn't ya know I didn't have another cake mix at home? Wouldn't you also know that when I went to WalMart, they were out of marble cake, so I had to get yellow cake? Yeah... me being sooooo dumb, so here I sit at 12:45 am waiting for cake to cool enough for me to decorate it. (Now Eric and Larissa, if you're reading this -- do NOT feel bad! I'm totally happy to make this cake! I love decorating cakes; I've missed getting to do so lately! HONEST!) Yep, good thing I need to catch up on stuff on my DVR. :-)

Good news is that I think the cake looks really cute. My camera is broken right now, so I'm hoping they'll take lots of pictures for me, so I can have some to post and put in my portfolio. I've got to do another one (same cake) for Lukas' second party next weekend, but that should be easy. Kinda cool really - I made the cake for Larissa's baby shower, and now I'm making that baby's first birthday cake. :-) Wait, I did that for Joshua as well technically...

Anyways, not much going on this week. A little drama, but that's over and done with. Only about 9 school days until the TAKS test and then summer will be here soon! Can't wait! :-)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

Today is Katelyn's 4th Birthday! Happy Birthday, Little Bear! Here she and I are with her Cinderella doll cake. Yes, it's another Joanna-made cake. :-)

Could I love my niece more? She is honestly one of the sweetest little girls I know. One of the best little additions to my life. She LOVED her cake and sat there looking at it all amazed for a while. It was such a joy for me to watch her play and enjoy her birthday. I am amazed at how old she is!

Speaking of sweet, sweet children. Joshua, my nephew, is also one of the sweetest additions to my life. I think we decided that he possibly enjoyed Katelyn's birthday more than she did! He ate pizza and cake. He had a blast watching everything, and he loved sitting with his Aunt Joanna. Here he is laughing with me. He kept putting up his cheek for me to kiss. What a cutie! He'll be ONE this week. Wow, how time flies!

I realize I've left my blog-readers without any reading material for a while. Sorry about that! The assignment from the last entry had its desired effects. Class had a great, deep discussion where we hit that personal level of connection that I was so desiring. Also, Ashley started a blog as a result of our class. Check her out!

Not much else is going on. I've been busy teaching, catching up on reading some comics, and making cakes. Should have more cake pictures in a week or so since I'm making Lukas' 1st Birthday cake(s) this week. On to a rocketship... sorry this one won't be standing up! :-)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Welcome to the Blogosphere!

Welcome to the Blogosphere VRCC Kitchen Class-ers! :-) For my regular readers who aren't in this class, bear with me. I just wanted to take a moment to re-explain what I want ya'll to do this week with the blogs and such. It's not hard! It promises to be quite entertaining in fact!

First off, blogs are posted online. They're meant to be read. They're meant to communicate thoughts & ideas. They're here and they're numerous, and they're a great way to connect with people.

The first part of your "assignment" is connections. I want ya'll to connect with one of our VRCC (or post-VRCC) bloggers. That means using one of the links on the right side of my blog to navigate to other blogs. Please don't read just the most recent entry! I use my blog as a pensieve (Harry Potter reference alert) to siphon off random thoughts, so sometimes my entries are deep; sometimes they're totally superficial and about my day. Most bloggers are like that. Read the first page of entries, or at least scan them. Find an entry that you enjoy, that speaks to you, that makes you laugh, and click on the comment button on the bottom of the entry and comment. You might need to sign in. Be bold. Get a sign in. It's free! :-) Come back ready to tell us which blogger you enjoyed and what you commented on. Just to help (so you know the best links to click on):

30...Really??? is Kelly S.
A Bored TX Mommy Shares Her HSO's is LaRae.
Perpetual Timothy is a preacher I went to HU with.
The A-Team is Jody and Janell.
The Book of Phylemon is Paul... The Mort Game is his too.
The PEAK Brothers is a blog that Paul, Alan, Eric, and Kent share (but don't update... lol).
The Swan Speaks is Eric.
The Swayne Diaries is Larissa.
Wade's Ranting is Wade S.
What Does That Mean is Mario.

I'm going to go ahead and ask forgiveness for any of you who I'm linked to who are shocked that you're part of the class, but know it's to build connections and not to embarrass you or anything weird.

The second part is secrets. The connection is a small part of what I want us to discuss in class. The main focus of what we'll be discussing will come from the link on the right to PostSecret. PostSecret was started by a man named Frank Warren. He left postcards around the country asking people to send him their secrets on postcards. He requested that they be creative and said they could be fun, serious, scary, anything. He posts a new batch of secrets every week on Sunday. In fact, he has best selling books of these secrets that you can find at most any bookstore, and people tend to leave their secrets tucked in the pages of these books! I'd like you to look at this week's secrets. As of this moment, I haven't even read the secrets this week, so I have no idea what is in store for you! As a quick disclaimer, some of these secrets can be a little PG 13 or higher, and I have no control on whether or not some are a little more risque than others, so bear with me here!

1. Pick your favorite secret from the site to discuss next week. It could be one that really speaks to you, makes you think, reminds you of someone, etc.

2. Think of what role secrets play in our lives. Have you had a secret that has gotten in the way of your relationship, your connection, with someone else? with God? Is there room for secrets in our relationship with God? What is a secret you have or had in the past that you can share? I'm not asking for anything deep and dark, but if you want to share one, you're welcome to do so. Just come ready to talk about secrets.

I know it's asking a lot for ya'll to do "homework!" Just think of it as directed web surfing. :-) Can't wait to hear what ya'll have to say!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

"It's ok, we're both a little skittish!"

As a matter of fact: IT'S NOT OK! ARGH! Whew... ok... let me take a step back now that I've screamed and tell you, my lovely readers, what has happened.

Precursor: Most of you know I don't take Sprinkles to the dog park anymore because when he was a puppy he was attacked by a large dog there who thought he was a chew toy. No blood was drawn, but we were both really shaken. Even with the numerous dog classes we took with large dogs, we're both a bit skittish when large dogs approach us on walks. There's really no point to take him to the dog park because he sits in my lap, sits by me on the bench, sits at my feet, and/or growls at other dogs who approach him. Sweetest dog ever with anyone who comes in his presence, but with other dogs, he's not a huge fan. He will get along with Julie's dog, Fletch... so I guess all hope isn't gone; it just takes some time one on one.

Present Situation: Some of my neighbors (2 or 3) have really large dogs. I'm sure they're the sweetest dogs ever, but that doesn't change the fact that there is something in place called a LEASH LAW! I don't know if people out there know this, but you can be fined for not having your dog on a leash.

1. The neighbors near my garage have two huge boxers that they let out the door to go potty. One ran into my garage when I had Sprinkles with me. I screamed, and they came running, but the woman's excuse was, "oh I didn't know there was another dog out here!" Really? Does that make it ok???

2. My ex-neighbor's boyfriend had a huge dog he would just let out to go to the bathroom. It came running around the corner into the breezeway one afternoon as Sprinkles and I were heading out. I screamed and was practically climbing the wall to get away from it because I had just locked my door. My neighbor and her bf's response? They laughed.

3. Tonight my upstairs neighbors are having a party outside of their first floor garage. Not too loud yet; however, large brown lab is out there without a leash. It approached Sprinkles and I when we went out earlier. They KNOW neighbors are coming and going with other dogs. I leave tonight to take Sprinkles out... as we come back towards the apartment to go in the breezeway the lab jumps up out of the ivy at us. With it being dark, he was camouflaged. Of course I screamed (we're not talking bloody murder scream; just startled), and they said sorry that he surprised us. I responded, "it's ok, we're both a little skittish!"
a. Wow wasn't that a great response? (sarcasm detected)
b. Didn't that rack up some cool points with them??
c. Why can't I ever come up with what I really want to say at the right time!?

The point of all of this is that I'm sick of these obnoxious people who don't follow the leash law. It's dangerous for the dog (people drive like maniacs around here!). It's dangerous for neighbors and their pets (you never know when your dog might snap!). It's freakin' against the law to not have your dog on the leash! I don't get it. I don't want to be that witchy neighbor that calls animal control or the front office to continually complain about these people, but it's getting ridiculous that I can't go out the door without being braced and ready to grab Sprinkles and run.

Any ideas out there for a solution for this? I swear I'll come beat you down if you dare comment that "this is just apartment life!" :-P OK, I'm done venting. Thanks for listening. :-)