Thursday, March 31, 2016

Slice #31 - Done

I am done!


D – O – N – E !!!

Estoy listo – Spanish

Ich bin fertig – German

J'ai fini – French

我做完 Wǒ zuò wán – Chinese

Olen valmis - Finnish

Τελείωσα – Greek

Tá mé críochnaithe - Irish

Tôi xong rồi - Vietnamese

Et ego feci - Latin



I never thought this day would come…  Actually, honestly, it wasn’t so bad this time.  I’m not saying that I liked slicing and I’m certainly not implying that I ever want to do it again.  I do just have to admit, though, that it wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be. 

Last year, I put so much pressure on myself.  I wrote for an audience and poured over every sentence, every word just to make sure it was perfect.  This year, I just wrote.  I wrote what I felt in the moment and didn’t think twice about it.  Some slices were definitely better than others.  Some were downright pathetic.  But all that matters is that I wrote every single day, for thirty-one days!  For a mathematician, that is pretty alright…

Until next year!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Slice #30 - Fifty Days

Just 50 more days and then, the sun!
In 50 more days, we’ll relax – have fun!
There’s not much time before it’s through,
Then you and I must say, “Adieu!”
In 50 days and 50 nights,
We all will relish summer’s delights!

No books or grades or lessons to teach,
No lanyards to wear or goals to reach.

No meetings,
No emails,
No copies,
No calls!
No second tiles or single files or silence in the halls.

It’s almost here!  It’s come so fast!
I didn’t think that I could last.

No school in 50 days, it’s true…
But in 50 days, students, I’ll truly miss you!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Slice #29 - Happy Thoughts

At the very start of this new year, I decided something in my life had to change.  I was constantly finding myself frustrated at situations outside of my control or saddened by the various challenging events of my life.  I knew if I did not change my focus, these fears, heartaches, and trials would slowly begin to consume my thoughts, and worse, my life. 

So I made a promise to myself – each night before bed, for an entire year, I would write just three positive moments from my day in a journal.  For a self-proclaimed “non-writer,” this was a relatively ambitious endeavor, but I dug up an old journal from the depths of a drawer and started anyway. 

Nearly three months have passed, and I cannot even begin to describe how impactful this seemly insignificant action has been on my life!  Instead of allowing my mind to dwell on the negative experiences of my day, I force myself to center my heart and mind on the good – my “happy thoughts.”

Some days are most certainly easier than others!  For example, during my Disney trip, I could have listed just about any three events that occurred during the day and headed to bed happy!

Other days prove to be more difficult.  Some nights, I just stare at the blank page searching my brain for anything that could qualify as a “happy” moment.  It is on these tougher days, though, that I often find the most beautiful hidden bits of joy.  A little note from a student on the board, an encouraging hug from a friend, a finished project, an extra snuggle from my puppies, or a quiet moment with my husband are all beautiful experiences that might have otherwise been overlooked had I not chosen to seek them out. 

Life is hard. 

And sadly, it is much easier to focus on everything “wrong” than to search for the good, peace, and beauty.   For me, however, I am learning that if I will just look, even the tiniest bit, I can find hope and light in the darkest times and often in the most unexpected places. 

Slice #28 - 10 4 10 Plus One

Ok, so my Walt Disney World vacation was absolutely A-M-A-Z-I-N-G, and I just have to end with one more Ten for Ten blog!  Sorry!  I can't help it!!!

Tonight, please enjoy (or maybe I should say "tolerate") my Top Ten Favorite 2016 Disney Vacation Photos!!!

10.  This is an action shot of Aaron and I riding Aerosmith's Rock-N-Roller Coaster with my mom!  It is incredibly fast, turns upside-down several times, and is a total blast!  We were screaming our heads off!

9.  These two crazy characters are Baloo and King Louie from the Jungle Book!  They were so extra sweet with Heather!  They kept dancing with her and making her laugh!

8.  Only her big brother, Aaron, could EVER get her to do something silly like this!  We were just walking through the park, and next thing I knew, both Heather and Aaron had their heads in this stock!  Too funny!

7.  A trip to Walt Disney World would not be complete without a visit from two of our closest family friends, Cliff and Kathy McCullough!  I pretty much consider them my other aunt and uncle!  We always have a great time with them!

6.  No family vacation would be complete without a classic family photo!  This is my mom, dad, sister, Aaron, and I all enjoying the beautiful weather at the EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival.

5.  Sometimes, the Disney photographers were just at the right place at the right time.  One of them caught this sweet picture of my dad and Heather waiting for us outside the Tower of Terror ride.  The two of them are too precious!

4.  Heather LOVES her Disney characters, especially Mickey Mouse!  Mickey always goes above and beyond, showering her with love and hugs!  That's definitely a happy Heather smile!!!

3.  The sights, smells, and entertainment make evenings in EPCOT some of my most favorite moments at Disney World.  Here is Aaron sneaking a little smooch right outside of Japan!  I think he had a little encouragement from the crowd!

2.  The photographs that the Disney photographers take never disappoint, but this particular photographer snuck in his own extra special touch!  We had no idea what the picture would look like until we saw it later, but it's one of my most favorite from the whole trip!

1.  I love Disney more than I can say!  However, the part I love most is sharing it with my little sister.  She is my whole world and brings magic to my life every single day!

There you have it!  I promise, cross my heart, this is my last Disney post of the year!  Wishing you a little Disney magic of your own!


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Slice #27 - 10 4 10 Disney Princesses

In honor of my Spring Break vacation in Walt Disney World, I will be posting one of my top ten Disney favorites each day for ten days – my 10 for 10! 

Today is our very last day, and I could not be more heart-broken to leave the place I love and consider to be my other home.  We have had an amazing week – full of laughter, fun, adventures, and more!  To end this series, I feel it is only fitting to pay homage to the ones who rule it all, the Disney royalty.  Here are my Top Ten Favorite Disney Princesses:

10.  Tiana from The Princess and the Frog
9.  Pocahontas from Pocahontas
8.  Snow White from Snow White
7.  Belle from Beauty and the Beast
6.  Jasmine from Aladdin
5.  Cinderella from Cinderalla
4.  Merida from Brave
3.  Aurora from Sleeping Beauty
2.  Rapunzel from Tangled
1.  Ariel from The Little Mermaid

I hope you all have had a wonderful Spring Break as well!  See you bright and early tomorrow!!!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Slice #26 - 10 4 10 Disney Quotes

In honor of my Spring Break vacation in Walt Disney World, I will be posting one of my top ten Disney favorites each day for ten days – my 10 for 10! 

By now, I’m sure my deep love for all things Disney is quite clear!  I love the food, the music, the characters, the parks – all of it!  However, my favorite parts of Disney are the poignant messages and life-lessons sewn into the fabric of every single film.  Today, please enjoy my Top Ten Favorite Disney Quotes:

10.  Pinocchio:  “Always let your conscience be your guide.”
9.  Pocahontas:  “Listen with your heart.  You will understand.”
8.  The Lion King:  “Oh yes, the past can hurt.  But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”
7.  Alice in Wonderland:  “If you don’t know where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter which path you take.”
6.  Mulan:  “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.”
5.  Hercules:  “A true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart.”
4.  The Little Mermaid:  “I just don’t see how a world filled with such wonderful things could be bad.”
3.  The Incredibles:  “Everyone’s special, Dash.”  “Which is another way of saying no one is.”
2.  Cinderella:  “Even miracles take a little time.”
1.  Winnie the Pooh:  “You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Friday, March 25, 2016

Slice #25 - 10 4 10 Disney Villains

In honor of my Spring Break vacation in Walt Disney World, I will be posting one of my top ten Disney favorites each day for ten days – my 10 for 10! 

Several years ago, Hollywood Studios featured an exhibit honoring the greatest villains in Disney history!  I absolutely loved touring this “Hall of Fame” because it was the mere presence of these evil characters that allowed my heroes to truly shine!  Walt, himself, knew that every good story, even a fairy tale, needs a villain.  So for that reason, please enjoy my list Top Ten Favorite Disney Villains:

10.  Dr. Facilier (aka. The Shadow Man) from The Princess and the Frog
9.  Professor Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective
8.  Malificent from Sleeping Beauty
7.  Gaston from Beauty and the Beast
6.  Hades from Hercules
5.  Cruella de’Vil from 101 Dalmatians
4.  Randall Boggs from Monsters, Inc.
3.  Jafar from Aladdin
2.  Scar from The Lion King
1.  Ursula from The Little Mermaid

“Off with their heads!” – The Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Slice #24 - 10 4 10 Disney Rides

In honor of my Spring Break vacation in Walt Disney World, I will be posting one of my top ten Disney favorites each day for ten days – my 10 for 10! 

The last few days have been filled creating life-long memories with my parents, sister, and incredible husband!  However, thankfully, we are taking a bit of a break today to rest and reflect.  Below is a list of the Top Ten Favorite Rides and Attractions that we’ve experienced so far this trip:

10.  People Mover at EPCOT
9.  Indiana Jones Experience at Hollywood Studios
8.  Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom
7.  One Man’s Dream at Hollywood Studios
6.  Rockin’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios
5.  TIE – Buzz Light Year at Magic Kingdom and Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios
4.  Test Track at EPCOT
3.  Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom
2.  Soarin’ at EPCOT
1.  Tiki Room at Magic Kingdom

We have had a lot of thrilling adventures so far this week, and we aren’t even done yet!  So much more fun to come!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Slice #23 - 10 4 10 Disney Restaurants

In honor of my Spring Break vacation in Walt Disney World, I will be posting one of my top ten Disney favorites each day for ten days – my 10 for 10! 

We’re back at EPCOT today, and there is not much more that I love at EPCOT than the food!  In addition to the numerous food booth delights you may find at the current Flower and Garden Festival, you can also enjoy delectable meals from all across the Walt Disney World Resorts!  These are my Top Ten Favorite Restaurants at WDW:

10.  Tony’s Town Square Restaurant at Magic Kingdom
9.  Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom
8.  California Grill at the Contemporary Resort
7.  Cosmic Ray’s Café at Magic Kingdom
6.  San Angel at EPCOT
5.  Flying Fish Chef’s Table on the Disney Boardwalk
4.  Yak & Yeti at Animal Kingdom
3.  Akershus at EPCOT
2.  Biergarten at EPCOT
1.  Rose & Crown at EPCOT

Looks like I am going to have to do a LOT of walking after all this eating!  Yum yum yum!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Slice #22 - 10 4 10 Disney Scores

In honor of my Spring Break vacation in Walt Disney World, I will be posting one of my top ten Disney favorites each day for ten days – my 10 for 10! 

As you make your way through the streets of Disney’s Magic Kingdom, your ears will fill with sounds of the many Disney musical masterpieces!  Below are just a small few of my Top Ten Favorite Disney Scores:

10.  I Won’t Say (I’m in Love) – Hercules
9.  Colors of the Wind – Pocahontas
8.  Baby of Mine – Dumbo
7.  Friend Like Me – Aladdin
6.  A Whole New World – Aladdin
5.  Kiss the Girl – The Little Mermaid
4.  Tale as Old as Time – Beauty and the Beast
3.  Circle of Life – The Lion King
2.  Part of Your World – The Little Mermaid
1.  When You Wish Upon a Star – Pinocchio

I’m not ashamed to say, I know every single word to these and many, many more!  Remember…always keep a “Smile in Your Heart” and “When you wish upon a star, dreams come true!”

Monday, March 21, 2016

Slice #21 - 10 4 10 Disney Animals

In honor of my Spring Break vacation in Walt Disney World, I will be posting one of my top ten Disney favorites each day for ten days – my 10 for 10! 

We are visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom today, and in keeping with the “animal” theme, I will be listing my Top Ten Favorite Disney Animal Characters:

10.  Dumbo, the shy and misunderstood elephant, from Dumbo
9. Mecco, the trouble-making raccoon, from Pocahontas
8.  Doug, the easily-distracted dog, from Up
7.  Sven, the “talking” reindeer, from Frozen
6.  Dory, the absent-minded blue tang fish, from Finding Nemo
5.  Pegasus, the feisty pegasus, from Hercules
4.  Timon & Pumba, the lovable meerkat and warthog, from The Lion King
3.  Thumper, the foot-tappin’ rabbit, from Bambi
2.  Abu, the sneaky monkey, from Aladdin
1.  Flounder, the anxious guppy, from The Little Mermaid

This list barely even skims the surface of all the memorable animal characters that Disney has created!  Hoping to see some incredible real and fictional animal friends today!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Slice #20 - 10 4 10 Disney Movies

In honor of my Spring Break vacation in Walt Disney World, I will be posting one of my top ten Disney favorites each day for ten days – my 10 for 10! 

Hollywood Studios is where all the Disney movie magic comes to life!  Here, you can watch costume designers and cartoonists at work and even view artifacts from some of the most classic Disney films.  This is perhaps, the most difficult list for me to write because there are so many Disney movies I love!  For today (though it may change tomorrow), these are my Top Ten Favorite Disney Movies:

10.  Finding Nemo
9.  Tangled
8.  Pinocchio
7.  The Incredibles
6.  Aladdin
5.  Toy Story 1, 2, & 3
4.  Up
3.  Beauty and the Beast
2.  Monsters, Inc. 
1.  The Little Mermaid

This list could go on for days and days…  Truly, no matter which Disney movie you watch, you are certain to experience the magic!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Slice #19 - 10 4 10 Disney's EPCOT

In honor of my Spring Break vacation in Walt Disney World, I will be posting one of my top ten Disney favorites each day for ten days – my 10 for 10! 

We’re spending today at EPCOT (i.e. the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow).  For those unfamiliar with the Disney Parks, this is the one with the giant “golf ball!”  EPCOT is divided into two parts – Future World and the World Showcase.  The World Showcase is my very favorite because it features monuments, restaurants, and shopping from countries around the world.  My Top Ten Favorite World Showcase Countries (other than America, of course) are…

10.  China
9.  Mexico
8.  Japan
7.  Canada
6.  Morocco
5.  Norway
4.  France
3.  Italy
2.  United Kingdom
1.  Germany

No passport needed for this world tour!  And the best part, no jet lag either!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Slice #18 - 10 4 10 Disney Treats

In honor of my Spring Break vacation in Walt Disney World, I will be posting one of my top ten Disney favorites each day for ten days – my 10 for 10! 

After a very long week and an even longer evening of travel, we finally made it!!!!  And, since today is my first day at Disney World (plus I’m STARVING), we’ll start this journey with my Top Ten Favorite Disney Treats:

10.  Corn Dogs at Casey’s Corner
9.  Toluca Turkey Leg
8.  Cheese Plate in France
7.  Mickey Pretzel and Cheese
6.  School Bread in Norway
5.  Cannolis in Italy
4.  Olives in Morocco
3.  Mickey Ears Ice Cream Bars
2.  Cronuts at EPCOT
1.  Fish & Chips at EPCOT

Gosh, now I’m even hungrier!  Can’t wait to start eating my way through the parks tomorrow!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Slice #17 - Break

Let’s all jump and shout “Hooray!”

Tomorrow is the last school day

Before we have a week of fun.

Playing, laughing in the sun!

Tomorrow, hurry!  Hurry fast!

I do not have enough to last…

When the break finally is here,

I will breathe a sigh of cheer!

So please, tomorrow, don’t delay –

I just can’t wait another day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Slice #16 - Guest Post

*This post was written by one of my very best friends, Danny Hale!  Thanks, Danny, for your help and insight!  

"In today’s world, we have many amenities such as smartphones, laptops, iPods, and iPads.  We are surrounded by everything imaginable - dependent on devices without even thinking about it.  Why are we drawn to them more than wanting to experience life with others in real time?  Tonight I played a retro arcade game with a good friend.  We interacted, conversed, and had fun!  Instead of having our noses in our phones, we had a great time!  We did not miss Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. 

Put your phone down and know that in 2 weeks nobody will care about what you “liked” or commented on today.  Be present with your friends and enjoy your time with them!!!  You will look back in a few years and be glad you did."

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Slice #15 - Golf

My dad always says, “They call it ‘golf’ because all other four-letter words were taken!”  I honestly have to believe that’s true!  I consider myself a relatively athletic person.  I played softball, ran track, played soccer, and even tried out basketball for a while.  So when my husband and father asked me about a year ago to try golf, I figured, “Sure!  Why not!?  Piece of cake!”

Wrong.  Wrong.  Wrong. 

Golfing is SO hard!  Every bit of the swing is exactly what I was taught not to do in softball.  I feel like I have to unlearn everything I know – erase all of my muscle memory – just to try to learn this. 

But when I do hit the ball right, when it sings off my club and flies straight as arrow, I know why people love it!  And, I want to try again and again just to feel that feeling! 

Golf.  Just another four-letter word...

Monday, March 14, 2016

Slice #14 - Cook

Please cook! 

No really, please?!?  Nothing hurts my heart more than hearing the words, “It’s just cheaper to eat out.”

It’s not!

I promise! 

Tonight, Aaron and I enjoyed an absolutely lovely (and healthy) meal of orange and honey glazed salmon; salad with fresh tomatoes, shaved Italian cheese, and a homemade white balsamic vinaigrette; and steamed broccoli all for about $4 each!  Did you read that right?  FOUR DOLLARS EACH!  Can you honestly say you can eat that well at a restaurant for just four dollars?

I know, some naysayers will claim, “This takes planning!”  Nope.  With the salmon and broccoli in the freezer and a quick run to the store on Sunday afternoon, I had everything ready to make this meal in less than thirty minutes.  In truth, I had absolutely no clue what we were even having for dinner when I got home!

“Ok then,” the naysayers will add, “But you know how to cook.”  I didn’t always.  I started simply and easily – making things like spaghetti or grilled chicken.  As I practiced more, it naturally got easier and faster. 

However, at no point ever was it cheaper to eat out than cook at home.  Ever. 

If you compare bite-for-bite, quality-for-quality, cooking at home will always win!

For those new to cooking, just try it.  It might be scary at first, just like all new things are, but at some point you will grow more comfortable in the kitchen.  You will branch out and try new things.  You will eat healthier and better than you ever have before!  And in the process, you will grow closer to those you love.  You will sit around a table and discuss your day, instead of a menu.  You will talk to your family, instead of the server.  You will listen to each other, instead of the crazy people in line or at the table next to you.

Cook!  Please cook! 

You will be so glad you did. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Slice #13 - Struggle Bus

The “Struggle Bus” is a noun used to describe a difficult, challenging mental or emotional state.  Commonly, a person utilizes this term when he/she is particularly lacking drive or motivation in such situation.  On or around events like a full moon, district or state standardized test, mid-December, mid-April, and/or the week before a major holiday, one might hear this particular phrase spoken often…especially by teachers.

I, myself, am currently riding the struggle bus.  

Correction:  I am driving the struggle bus – straight towards the edge of a cliff! 

I know that a break is just an infinitesimal number of days away, but right now I can barely summon the energy it takes to make it out of my pajamas.  The thought of actually having to function – to “adult” – in a professional or social setting is all but unbearable! 

All I want is to curl up in the back seat of the struggle bus and SLEEP!!!

But, alas, I must, whether I like it or not, power through this struggle bus ride.  Hopefully Spring Break arrives before I actually make it to the edge of that cliff…