Friday, September 27, 2013

Hey T.C.

Just a quick note as a shout out to TC.

Honey, you're my favorite. I am one lucky girl.

He's really the best and I'm thankful for him every single second of the day... Even when I forget to act like I am.

(And no, mom. Nothing is wrong. Nothing dramatic has happened. Can't a girl just say she's thankful?)

(And I refuse to spell 'favorite' the Canadian way. There is no 'u' in favorite, color, neighbor or any other word that contains an 'or.' If you want to be my favorite, it will be the American spelling. Favourite -it looks funny, right?)

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Be sure to do something fun!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


The sailing season, along with summer, is slowing trickling away and morphing into fall. Much to my dismay. 

But fall is off to a nice start. A few last sailing sessions. A new house. Another teaching certificate, finally. Fresh apples. New reading glasses. Maybe even some pumpkin patching and hay rides? That would make my day.

It's late. Plus, it's only Tuesday and I'm already exhausted enough for Friday. So, I'll give you some of my favorite photos from our last sailing outing on Out of the Blue.

She's a good boat. Twenty four feet long and she sails fast. John, Tyler and TC had a blast getting her going in the wind.

Pay attention to the angle of the boat versus the horizon. That's how you can tell how fast we're going. 

It's also worth mentioning that I've really been enjoying my new lens (16-35mm L f/2.8). It's making photography more fun than I ever thought possible.

Enjoy the tour of our final sail for the year!

^^ she's a good boat. ^^

^^ always keep your head underneath the boom. ^^

^^ TC rocking some fine 80's aviators. ^^

^^ TC at the helm. god help us all. ^^

^^ captain John. ^^

^^ visiting the lasers. ^^

^^ sitting ballast. the most fun way to ride. ^^

^^ tacking and ducking under the boom. ^^

^^ flying the spinnaker downwind. ^^

^^ the crew. ^^

^^ coiling a line properly is an art form. ^^

^^ wishing he had his own sailboat. ^^

^^ Tyler's turn driving. ^^

^^ land ho! ^^

^^ "let's try not to hit ground again, guys." ^^

^^ so many lines. so little time. ^^

^^ lovin' life. ^^

Monday, September 23, 2013

Weekend Highlights.

Are you still there? I'm sorry for my m.i.a-ness last week. Life gets busy sometimes! I love it when things are busy. It makes me feel good. I got a lot done and spent lots of quality time on the phone with some of my favorite people.

I knew this weekend was going to be a doozy and I was ready for it. To start it off the right way, TC and I celebrated on Friday night because bubbly is always necessary when your offer on a house is accepted. We sat on the porch sipping champagne and talking about everything we were excited for. "What is your favorite part of the house?" he would ask. "All of it," I told him.

Every last piece of it, to be honest. I can't wait.

I'm trying to sleep more at night and feel more alive in the morning. With a photo session on the docket for Saturday morning I wanted to be ready. I woke up with time to spare and was able to enjoy two cups of coffee and a good book before heading out to the park. Plus, a little social networking never killed anybody.

I worked with this family last year and the four kids are so adorable and so energetic. I literally sprinted after them for ninety minutes and worked up a good sweat. My reward? Two delicious jars of homemade strawberry and peach jam. Can't beat that with a stick.

To keep the good times rolling I put my camera up and headed to meet TC and our realtor. We've been ready to buy a house for a while now and are fortunate enough to be in a position where time isn't an issue. We've simply been waiting patiently for the perfect house to come along. After some negotiation and a few signatures it looks like we'll be moving in at the end of November. Between American Thanksgiving and our closing date, that's going to be an exciting weekend.

From there I went to a baby shower to welcome the newest addition to TC's family. Sweet little Matt slept through the entire thing and missed out on the best cake I've ever tasted. He seemed to peaceful that I just couldn't bring myself to tell him what he was missing out on.

My beloved Tennessee Volunteers had a big weekend too. I've yet to meet a Canadian that gives a damn about college football but that doesn't stop me from wearing my orange every Saturday. Even TC has learned that he's better off putting on his shirt and acting like he cares. Bless his heart, I love that man almost as much as I love Tennessee football.

We had a party to go to Saturday night and I still managed to meet my goal of getting plenty of sleep. As usual we woke up today and headed to our weekly breakfast with Carla, Tyler and Gwen. Eggs Benny were calling my name and who am I to say no?

I made up for it with a solid workout in the afternoon and then sabotaged the whole thing with a bag of popcorn because I just can't stop myself. Seriously. I sat in the parking lot of the grocery store in a popcorn trance. My hand just wouldn't stop shoveling it into my mouth. It's a problem.

This week is looking super busy too - lots of painting, photo editing, work, and exercise.

Good thing I bought an extra bag of popcorn.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Public Service Announcement. much in my head right now. About life. About how it's hard... About how the sailing is never smooth...and that storms can come up at a moment's notice...and how they can disappear just as rapidly. And that storm you sailed through today? Yeah, there will be more. And maybe they won't be as severe...but maybe they will be even bigger and the storm you just fought wasn't all that bad. Even though it seemed like your sails were about to shred to persevered. And you will again.

It's life. It's hard.

Perspective. That's where it is at.

Today in a fifth grade classroom we talked about hurtful words. The teacher told the students to imagine a  piece of wood. It can be gleaming mahogany or a piece of scrap lumber. Now imagine that you pick up your hammer and pound a nail into the wood. Then tomorrow you hammer in another nail. Then maybe another one this weekend and another nail next month. Now, take your hammer and pull the nails out. How's the wood looking? It's still the same size and it's still the same color. But it is peppered with holes. The nails were the hurtful words and actions. And while apologies may have pulled the nails out of the wood, just as the hammer did, the wood is no longer the same.

Glennon, the writer of the Momastery blog, is celebrating today and reduced the price of her book to less than $4. As a long time blog follower, I took the opportunity and bought Carry On, Warrior this afternoon. Then I promptly curled up in my bed and read almost all of it today. I was having a rotten day for no good reason. I couldn't bring myself to vacuum, I couldn't bring myself to make the phone calls that need making. All I could do was lay in bed and read. In the book Glennon talks about the worst day of her sister's life - the day her marriage ended. She talks about how for months she did everything she could to protect her sister. She talks about the right things to say and the common catchphrases you should never use when faced with your loved one's catastrophes.

And then I read Katie's blog about how last week she ranted and complained and everything was wrong and the world was surely ending. Today she deleted that post and took a new stance - a stance where all the same problems and stress exist but she was choosing a new outlook and a new attitude.

Eventually, I pulled myself out of bed and put on my workout clothes. I didn't want to, but deep down I knew that for me the gym always makes me feel better. Tonight it made me feel great. For over an hour I pounded on the treadmill and thought about everything I had read and thought today. And I came home feeling better. I had  gained just a little bit of perspective, which seems like a lot when you start with none. As the evening wore on I was able to get a bit more perspective and hopefully passed on a smidge of it to another soul that was in need.

This has been your public service announcement for the day. You're welcome.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I Just Wanted To Ride A Ferris Wheel.

I've seen the signs for weeks. It's been announced on the radio every morning and all the kids at school were excited for it.

Somehow, in all my life, I've never been to a county fair.

Last Friday I decided that we had to go. We just had to. The stories I was hearing sounded hilarious. Cows? Goats? Cotton candy? All in one place?

I spent the day talking TC into it and then got on my phone in the afternoon to see what friends I could recruit.

The fair wasn't exactly in town. With fresh coffee in our hands on Saturday morning, we made the hour long drive out into the country.

I wasn't sure what to expect but every kid I talked to promised me there would be a ferris wheel. Really, that was the sole reason I wanted to go. I could just imagine the views we would see from the top. I envisioned a great big white ferris wheel with sparkling red, blue and yellow lights that would sway in the wind as we reached the top.

As we stood in line to buy our tickets, I stood on my tip toes trying to see if I could spot the ferris wheel. I could see a slide. I could see a carousel and games. But no ferris wheel. Maybe it was down the hill, I thought. Surely that's where it must be.

Once we were in it became very apparent that there was no ferris wheel. But, there was plenty of live stock! Several barns, in fact, filled with all kinds of farm animals to walk through.

This little goat must be something special because he had five different ribbons pinned above his stall.

The oxen were probably my favorite. They had gold capped horns and giant bells around their necks and they were absolutely gigantic.

With no ferris wheel to ride we spent some time watching a riding competition. As far as I could tell the goal was to ride your horse by the first barrel and grab a big stick. Then you rode as fast as possible to the other end of the ring, where you round another barrel and zip back to the first barrel and try to throw your stick back in. If you make it, the crowd cheers. If you miss, the crowd gives a collective Ohhhhhh... If you paid close enough attention you pick out the parents of the riders. They were the ones standing up with their fists clenched in anticipation.

Of course, there were also plenty of small animals to visit too. Chickens, rabbits, llamas, guinea pigs and even a donkey for Gwen to feed.

My personal favorite was the rows and rows of all the prize winning garden pieces. Sunflowers with blue ribbons, potatoes with red ribbons, peppers, corn, pies, carrots...if it can be grown, it can be judged in the county fair.

I was admiring some potatoes and wondering how exactly potatoes are judged when a nice man told me the blue ribbon potatoes belonged to his daughter. He then went on to show me the second place sunflower that his younger daughter had grown. I asked if they came straight from his backyard and he sort of laughed and said that no, the girls had grown them in the garden club at school. He went on to say that he was proud of his girls and proud to be part of the fair since it was such a nice way to bring their community together.

So, yeah. He's right. Sure, I wish there had been a ferris wheel. But it was an impressive display of community. Down to the cute kids making fresh squeezed lemonade, they were all working together and having a blast.

Ahhh, and my favorite moment at the end of the afternoon - Gwen taking her first ride on the merry-go-round. A little unsure at first, she quickly figured out to hold on and brightened right up with the music started. Based on the tears when she realized the ride was over, I'd say the day was a success....despite the missing ferris wheel.

Maybe next year...

Oh, and if we go next year I'm totally wearing a Duck Dynasty shirt with a picture of Phil on it so that I fit in with the rest of the crowd.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Big Day.

Watch out! I am on a roll. I took the day off from work today and knocked out so much of my to-do list that I barely know what to do with myself. I feel like a celebratory glass of wine is in order.

I love days like today.

Now, I'm no slacker. I had a good reason to take the day off. I've been meaning to have a mole removed from my eyebrow for years and I finally had my appointment today. This is Canada, so it took me almost a year and half to get the appointment but my dermatologist was great and it cost me almost nothing. Because it was cosmetic it wasn't free, but it was awfully close.

I also hit up the optometrist and got myself some shiny new navy glasses. Fun, right? A little different, a little big, a fun color - exactly the look I want in reading glasses. Can you see my little bandage poking out behind the glasses?

The good news is that my vision isn't terrible. The bad news is that my eyeballs are sun damaged. I guess that means that my obsession with sunglasses is warranted and I can forever justify buying fancy glasses. It should also serve as a lesson to all of us - eyeballs can be irreversibly sunburned causing them to become bumpy and/or yellow. Ain't nobody got time for that.

In other news, my awesome new scarf is from Aldo just in case you need a little retail therapy today.

I should also tell you that in recent months I have fallen completely off the fitness wagon. When I say fallen, I mean taken a flying leap, rolled down the road into a ditch and have been laying in the mud eating pizza ever since. So, yeah. I've been lazy.

But, dare I say, I think I'm getting back in my groove. The wagon is still a ways down the road, but at least I'm on my feet. After 45 solid minutes of cardio tonight I remembered why I love the gym.

Work is back on the agenda for tomorrow. That means I'll be surrounded by fifth graders that are in an intensive French program. They only refer to me as Madame now. It's the weirdest thing when you don't recognize your own name. Where did Mrs. G go? Who is Madame?!

I hope they still recognize me now that my face will be symmetrical for the first time in my life.

I'll leave you with this. All of my favorite mantras in one place. The last one is the most important.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sail Away.

The mission this weekend was to do something fun. I had big plans to check out the hot air balloon festival but the winds were so heavy that it wasn't in the cards.

Do you know what heavy winds are good for? Sailing.

TC and all of his friends are sailors. I grew up going to soccer camp, they grew up going to sailing school. John and Andrew both have big sail boats that the boys race regularly. We're lucky enough to live right on the coast so our local marina is packed full of boats that race several times a week in the summers.

The final race of the season was on Saturday. Since the balloon festival was out of the question, TC and I packed up and headed out to the big red boat named Courage. She's 33 feet long and, thankfully, has a bathroom. This is always a good thing when you're a girl and heading out to sail the seven seas for the day.

Just because the boys are skillful sailors doesn't mean that I have any clue what is going on. Sure, I know the basics. Courage has two sails - the main and the jib. She even has an extra fancy one called the spinnaker that is flown in certain situations. Other things I know include: ropes are called lines and sheets, the front is called the foredeck, the little strings on the sails are called tell-tails, and that I should always stay the hell out of the way because I don't know what I'm doing.

I've sailed in this particular race twice before. The first time it was so rough that we all spent the day barfing over the side. The second time it was so calm that we actually sailed backwards for a while. This time no one barfed but we did spend the entire time hanging on for dear life while the waves soaked us.

The boys have done this a million times so if there isn't a broken mast in the middle of a lightening storm, they don't panic. A little high wind is what they consider fun - definitely not enough to warrant squealing and screaming like I do.

I take my cues from John. I can squeal and scream all day, but if John is calm and relaxed than I know we are actually not in any danger of tipping over. Which, is called capsizing, by the way. Even though we cruised at a solid 45 degree angle for the trip, John remained calm. I, on the other hand, held on the to railings for dear life because I was convinced we were going to tip over at any moment.

Here's how this works. The majority of the crew is in the back manning the steering wheel and all the lines that control the sails. They are relatively dry, safe and on level ground back there. The rest of us sit on the side of the boat with our legs hanging over the side. Our legs go under the bottom railing, which is called a life line, and when the boat leans enough we put our head and bodies under the second one to help even out the weight. When you're in this position the boat is leaning way to the side and you're sitting on the high side, which means if you let go you will roll down and right into the water. My advice is to not look down.

Now here's the fun part - turning. When the boat turns it's called tacking or jibing, depending on the direction you turn. Tacking and jibing is pretty fierce in high winds. The boom is a big metal pole that holds the main sail. It comes violently swinging across the boat and if you don't duck under it than you can kiss your head goodbye. Also, you have to very quickly dive across the boat and get yourself to the other side. If not, have fun swimming. Remember, the boat is not level. It's very slanted so it's like quickly climbing a ladder.

On one of the tacks, I didn't move fast enough and TC had to grab me by the jacket and pull me across. On another Franco didn't move fast enough and, as he phrased it, took a 2.5 second dip in the water. Meanwhile, the boat is not exactly a smooth surface. There are bumps and bolts and other thingys that ensure your knees, hips and shins will be peppered with bruises for the next week.

Now, this is all only in really high wind. In normal wind, this is all more relaxed. However, the exhilaration of high wind is what makes it so much fun. Flying across the water with the boat leaning and waves crashing and squealing in slight panic is what makes it an adventure.

Not to mention that in all of this you're trying to not spill your beer. Let's be honest, it's the only way to sail. And probably what keeps John so calm. Remember, I take my panic cues from him. If John is calm, than I should be to. If John is tense, than we are going to die. It's a pretty simple equation.

It should be mentioned that John didn't get tense at all in the race. Neither did Andrew, who was steering. TC wasn't the least bit concerned and actually thought it was quite hilarious to calm my fears with comments like, "Yup, we're about to go over" or "Hang on, we might die."

He's helpful like that.

Once the race was over we dropped our sails and motored out a bit to enjoy the rest of the afternoon. With drinks in our hands, we recapped the day and talked about how awesome it was and how the wind wasn't really that bad and how we might have actually won the race. Wouldn't that be something?

And you know what, we took home the win. The proof is in the red flag.