Thursday, December 27, 2007

Awesome Bed & Breakfast and Laner's Wine Pick of the Month!

Hello, everyone!

I hope the Christmas holiday was a good one for you all! I spent Christmas in Kansas. All my sisters and brother were there, so I got to visit with people I haven't seen in quite awhile. We stayed at an awesome Bed & Breakfast, so I thought I'd put a plug in for them. It was a place in Stafford, Kansas, called the Henderson House. Henderson House is part of a group of older homes in Stafford, all in the same neighborhood, that have been renovated and are currently used as bed and breakfasts. There is even an old renovated church, so if anyone wants to have a wedding and house the wedding party in the old houses, it would be a cool place to do so! The house we were in was wonderful. Beautiful antique furnishings, interesting architectural features, and an owner who has ties to the Hendersons, which made the history of the home very available to visitors, all made for a wonderfully charming Christmas. The house was already decorated for Christmas, and I found myself wishing that we'd planned on having our own family Christmas there. We'll definitely find a reason to stay there again in the future!

Laner's Wine Pick of the Month:

Barossa Valley Shiraz. It's an inexpensive Shiraz with an exceptionally silky texture. A hint of spice finishes off this dry red. As a person who has "graduated" away from most Shiraz, I am happy to be able to include Barossa Valley Shiraz as one of my favorites. I was reminded of the quality of this wine on my recent trip to Birmingham, Alabama, where the hotel bar served me two bottles of Barossa Valley over the course of three days! Run out and buy one - let me know what you think!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Finally Saw Birmingham

Well, at least a little. I finished with the last session I decided to go to at about 3:15. Took my bags back to the hotel and was back at the conference center by 4:00. I had heard that the Pompeii exhibit was at the Birmingham Museum of Art and I decided that I wanted to do at least one thing outside of the conference while I'm here. I asked for directions, set off on foot, and found my way to the Museum.

The exhibit was going to close only an hour after I got there. Museum staff directed me to where they suggested I would find the best stuff and I headed up there. The exhibit was fascinating. I can remember when I was in elementary school, reading about and looking at pictures of the plaster casts of people who had died in Pompeii and Herculean when Vesuvius erupted. Here I was, finally standing in front of some of those casts, along with a lot of jewelry and other artifacts that have been excavated.

Standing before the large frescoes, looking at the beautiful jewelry, and reading about where they were found and what bodies had been found hit me profoundly. I imagined how awful that day must have been for those people, with the sky turning black, the ash closing in, and the final pyroclastic cloud that took their lives. Some of the plaster casts were so poignant, mothers clutching their children in death, some very young, others teenagers - in the end, mom's response to such an emergency is to protect her young and a child's natural instinct is to cling to mother.

I'm glad I went, although the walk home was a little scary for me - it was getting dark and I was not in the best part of town. Today was the end of my Birmingham experience - I plan to sleep a little late in the morning and head straight to the airport, so my convention-going is over. It's been a good visit, though.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sweet Home Alabama?

So I'm in Birmingham, Alabama, for the National Science Teacher's Association (NSTA) conference. It's going to be two days away from school, three nights away from home. I'm finding that, although I really, really needed some time away from all the demands my kids put on me, I don't like being totally alone for this much time in a strange city I've never been in. The hotel I'm in is historic and I have a really nice room with a huge bed and coffee in the morning, etc. But the bummer is that once I'm at the hotel for the evening, since I'm not here with collegues, I can't go out and experience Birmingham. For example, a local museum has a Pompeii exhibit right now that I would LOVE to go see, but I'm not adventurous enough to figure out how to get there on my own.

I don't know -- we'll see how I feel tomorrow night after another whole day of alone time. Maybe I'll just call a cab. Stay tuned . . .

Monday, December 3, 2007

Holidays ... they're here!

Wow, hard to believe I've already let another two months pass without blogging. Not that anyone notices, right? LOL

Anyway, the holidays are upon us and I'm busier than ever! It seems like I absolutely do not have the time to do much of anything. I've been thinking a lot lately about Christmases past. I've come to realize that nothing really changes for me as far as Christmas goes. The meaning of the season for me, the wonderful promise that was fulfilled, is as strong for me as ever. Although I do get caught up in the rush of buying presents and am very excited about the idea of seeing my kids' faces light up this year, I cannot lose sight of the "reason for the season."

Our minister this Sunday told a really nice little analogy in his sermon this week I thought I'd share: He talked about a little girl who had wrapped presents for her mom and dad and put them under the tree. On Christmas morning, the parents opened up the gifts. Dad got a blue tie that seemed really familiar to him. Mom received a nice pair of earrings that she recognized. When asked where she'd gotten the gifts, the little girl said "you had them packed away in the cedar chest." After telling this little story, our minister said "Jesus is here now." It hit me pretty hard. We all begin the season of Advent wondering - when will the messiah come again? The answer is, He is already here - the gift has been given and can never be taken back. Jesus is here, some of us just may have packed Him away and forgotten about him. It's time to take Him out of the cedar chest, don't you think?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Always my Fault!

Okay, so I'm finding out that I'm just as much of a procrastinator with a web blog as I always was with my journal! I'll end up making a post every few months - but I guess that's better than never. (Of course, that's a matter of opinion - y'all might really want me to just shut up!)

I had an interesting experience this weekend that I thought I'd share. I presented a workshop on Digital Storytelling. Woohoo! Big whoop, right? Well the big deal was that it was a workshop in Second Life - an online virtual world. It was a great experience. You can read my professional blog about it here.

Anyway, why did I title this post "Always my Fault!"? Well, I found out this week that my daughter's near-failing grade in her 7th grade math class is all my fault -- because I gave her the gene for forgetfulness! LOL - thought I'd share that so everyone can get a chuckle! Have a great day and don't forget to laugh!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Back to School

Okay, I'm sitting here on my last evening before I have to return to work for the year having mixed feelings. At one end, excited about the new year and trying out all the things I've learned this summer -- I really think I might be a better teacher this year -- and on the other end, sad to see my summer end, because it has been a wonderful one. The kids and I have gotten to spend so much time together, we got to take lots of trips, and well .... everyone who manages to have extended time off from work knows -- it's just FUN being able to define your own schedule!

That said, I'm approaching the new year determined to give it my best shot -- to try to provide an engaging atmosphere for my students, to be a good support resource for the department teachers (I am only a teacher part-time, the rest of the time I'm a teacher coach), and to be a good employee for the district. We'll see how I do!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Back to School?

Well, it's time to get into the mindset of "back to school", isn't it? I have to say, I'm not really looking forward to the school year. I think that I had too good of a summer. I really enjoyed being with my kids and I enjoyed being able to keep the house the way I want it and to explore whatever I felt like exploring.

I've been devoting a lot of time to my volunteer work with Discovery Education. Sometimes, it feels like a full-time job! On Wednesday, we had our grand-opening gala in Second Life. It was a huge success and proved to us that our efforts to start a workable collaborative educator group in Second Life IS possible! Hall Davidson blogged about the gala on the DEN Media Matters blog. Check it out!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Good Morning!

Okay, so I was up until 2:30 this morning, talking to a good friend of mine. Had to be up at 6:00 to get ready for my WW meeting. It was worth waking up, because I lost three pounds this week! Over this summer, I'd gained 10, so I'm on my way to getting back on track!

Wanted to share something that I heard this morning. You've all heard the quote "You are what you eat", right? Well, if that is really true, that could be a problem because that would mean we are all fast, cheap, and easy!

Have a great day!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Cel and JessieMarie SL in RL

Cel and JessieMarie SL in RL
Originally uploaded by atruger
Here's a picture of myself (on the left) and one of my new friends I met on the cruise. We are Celestia Cazalet (me) and JessieMarie Flanagan in Second Life. We had been collaborating on the Discovery Educator Network (DEN) in Second Life project for several months and finally got to meet in real life on the DEN National Institute cruise.

Summer's Over

Okay, so I'm a teacher and that means that during the summer, I'm pretty incognito. I did spend a lot of time on the net this summer, but posting to this blog didn't take the top priority.

My summer was filled with great things -- mission trip with my junior high kids to Waco, Texas -- family vacation to Colorado and New Mexico (thanks, John for the use of your cabin!) -- and a cruise to the Bahamas!!

The Bahamas cruise was awesome! It marked several "firsts" for me -- first time on a cruise, first time out of the country, first time to see and swim in the ocean! It was a great time, although it was a working vacation. You see, Discovery Education sent me on the cruise, free of charge, as a STAR Discovery Educator. Well, you can't beat that! Fun, great experiences, and valuable information and new collaborative relationships all wrapped up in one four-day cruise! It was great, and I really appreciate all my new friends I met on the cruise!

Now it is back-to-school time and to be honest, I've been dragging about that. During the summers I get used to being home and taking care of the house and kids and it is hard for me to get back into the swing, BUT the school I am at is an innovative school and it is a privilege to work there, so I'll jump back in and run with it and before you know it, it'll be time for another exciting summer!

P.S. I gained 10 pounds over the summer, so I'm also jumping back on the weight loss wagon, with 20 more pounds to lose before I hit my goal!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Spring Equals Life!

Wow, it sure is looking like spring out there! After all the unseasonal cold, and last week's tornado/hailstorm, it is nice to drive to work looking at beautiful trees and flowers, and to hear the birds singing. (is this where the sound of a record being scratched comes in?) But really, it is wonderful to be alive! Another wonderful thing is that my youngest son is alive! A cancer survivor since shortly after his first birthday, he will celebrate his fifth year off of treatment in November of this year! Every year, we try to make a point to especially appreciate our lives during the month of November, but this year we'll go all out -- with a party and lots of celebration! Part of that is our push this year for Relay for Life. Each year, we try to participate in some way and this year, Nathan will be a survivor participant. We are trying to raise $100 to donate to the American Cancer Society to represent our appreciation for life. If you'd like to donate, you can do it online, it's simple! Simply click here and you'll be directed to Nathan's donation page. Celebrate Life!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I'm back!

Had a bit of trouble remembering passwords, etc., so I was unable to post for awhile, but I finally figured it out and am back! In the meantime, I've taken on the responsibility of maintaining the Texas blog for the Discovery Educator Network, so you can always find me there.

I went on a wonderful bike ride called the Ride for Heroes a couple weeks ago! Hubby and I opted to take a moderate 32 mile route, instead of the heftier 40, 50, or 75 mile routes, and it ended up being a really nice ride. There were some killer hills in those 32 miles, it was slightly chilly, there were headwinds and crosswinds, and I managed to almost be hit by a truck and I did fall off my bike once -- so it was a ride that was just challenging enough to be interesting, but still fun! This Saturday, I will be participating in the Victory over Violence 5K walk/run with some of my pals from WW in Fort Worth -- I'm hoping the weather will be nice for it!

Hope everyone has a great day!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Okay, so today wasn't so good!

Woke up this morning to find out that I didn't have to go in to work. I'm a teacher, and the district I work for doesn't take MLK day off, but we got an ice day anyway! I started off my day well - worked out, played a little Wii. Problems started when DH woke up and made french toast and sausage for breakfast :( Oh well, I think I made fairly good decisions the rest of the day (with the exception of that Cinnamon Dolce Latte, hmmm). Anyway, today will be my high point day and the rest of the week I should be able to stay on track since I'll be back to school.

Managed to get my milk and oils in today, as well as all my water. My plans for the rest of the week are to continue getting those in, exercise, and try not to use any more of my flex points for the week.

Thought for today: Remember that life is a journey, not a destination .... so stop running!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The journey continues ...

This is the first post to my blog, but I am well into my journey already. I thought I'd start this blog to share my joys, concerns, tips, and frustrations with my weight loss journey. I began this journey in August by joining Weight Watchers. I have, so far, lost 43.8 pounds! I am a completely different person!

I've found that this journey has been a lot easier than I thought it would be, because my "diet" isn't a diet at all, but a lifestyle change. I do not feel like I am forbidden to have anything, I just make much better choices.

This week, my challenge to myself is to make sure to get my healthy oils and milk servings in every day. So far (two days into this week) I've made it!

Thought for today: "To try to be better is to be better." Charlotte Cushman

Have a great day!