Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Look who showed up to play

Well hello there Long time, no see. (Literally - I almost forgot my password.) For what it's worth I've written at least 25 blog posts in my head since the last time I actually showed up to type one out. Finding the time to type one out is proving the hard part.

As I sit here at 5:45 on a Wednesday night, drinking my second beer, I figured, why not actually try this whole blogging thing out again. So here we go.

I feel like I should at least update y'all on what's been going on in my life recently before I spill out some witty, yet pointless, post. Although after you read through what's been going on with me lately, you'll probably still consider it a pointless post.

I know the trend. Usually when bloggers take an unexplained leave of absence, they show up three months later with some Earth-shattering news. Like a pregnancy, or a career change, or a cross country move.

You should be able to figure out by the fact that I'm drinking at 5:45 on a Wednesday night that I am neither pregnant nor in a new career #teacherproblems. And I'll go ahead and kill the suspense for you...Robbie and I didn't move and we're not really planning to anytime soon. We still go house hunting at least once a month, you know, just for kicks and giggles. But again, that's nothing new.

Robbie's recovering nicely from his back surgery. Everything seems to be back to normal, which is such a relief. He's still not really supposed to do yard-work which means we are currently the disgrace of the neighborhood, because you know I'm not getting out there to do it.

We're officially a two pay-check family again, which is so nice. I never thought I'd be so excited about a NC Teacher's pay-check. And because of it, we've already called a landscaping guy to come fix the aforementioned problem.

The school year is in full swing and has brought some unexpected changes and challenges. That's the thing about teaching. It never ever stays the same. You, literally, start over every August. Which is a curse and a blessing. Sometimes I yearn for monotony.

I'm still working at BWW and yes, I'm probably a little bit crazy. But it's good money and usually pretty fun when I get there. Sleep is overrated anyway.

Football is going strong - across every domain. The tailgate crew is back in action and having a large time, as always.

I'm kicking butt and taking names in fantasy. And our Friday nights are once again spent at the high school football field, which I personally think is one of the best places to be.

I'm "training" for a half-marathon...kind of. I've signed up for one. And I've been working on running longer distances. I still don't feel anywhere close to prepared. But YOLO. My mom's afraid I'm going to croak out and die before it's all over with. I'm just hoping there's free beer at the finish line. Or at least a free protein bar. We'll find out in t-minus 3 weeks. Yikes.

I'm obsessed with almonds now. And Katy Perry's This is How We Do. Just FYI.

A few weeks ago, I joined a Bible Study with a group of girls and it's actually one of the highlights of my week. Admittedly, I still don't know where any of the books in the Bible are. If only I could remember that song we learned in Sunday School when I was little. But the table of contents works just fine. And I'm loving the fellowship.

All my siblings are in college right now. Which is pretty cool and depressing all at the same time.

My mom and step-dad finally sold their house - the house I grew up in - and are now renting the cutest little house while they build their "forever" home. It's surreal to think about someone else living in my childhood house but it's super exciting to see mom and Wave building their dream house together. Also, they still live 2.7 miles away (Literally. I run there often.) so not much has changed.

And that pretty much sums it up.
Not much has changed. Yet, in someways, everything has.

Things at school are very different.
Things at home are very different.
But still kind of just the same too.

It's a new month. And it's one of my favorite months. Possibilities are endless.
Who knows, you may even get a blog post out of me more than once in a blue moon.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Some Southern Style

Well folks, it's official. Back to school is kicking my tail. And today's only the first day with kids. Last week was a whirlwind, dusting the cobwebs off of summertime and setting up for another busy year ahead.

The end of summer is always bittersweet. It's nice to get back into a routine. I just wish that routine didn't start at 5:15 in the morning.

I also always wish I had had more time to get things done around the house. Remember that summer to-list I created? Yea...well, as usual, I veered off a bit and still have quite a few unchecked boxes. But I think I figured out my problem - my crafty eyes are always bigger than my patience. I have all these great ideas and then I realize how hard, and time consuming, executing them really is. Plus, nine times out of ten, the vision I have in my head is much better than what actually comes out.

That's why I am thankful for creative ladies like the one behind Some Southern Style. She not only has the amazing vision but she also has the skill to bring those visions to life.

Nicole specializes in custom pieces and turning old, boring furniture into true works of art. I seriously have found myself scrolling through her Facebook pictures in awe.

Up-cycled furniture is such a big thing right now. And for someone who comes from a family obsessed with antiques, it's something I personally love. Being able to take a piece and turn it into something new and unique to your home and your decor style is like the best of both worlds.

It's just hard to do on your own. Trust me, I've tried.

Some Southern Style also has the cutest pallet signs and canvases you could ever think of. And they're all custom ordered to your liking. Perfect for home decor or even adding that personalized touch to a wedding.

If you're like me, you can sit back in your world of denial and tell yourself that you'll eventually get around to re-doing that piece of furniture or you'll just paint something to fill that empty space on the wall above your couch. But let's be real. You won't. And neither will I. And if you do, you'll quickly remember how bad of a painter you are and you'll be disappointed in the "finished" product. 

Let's save us all the trouble and let Nicole help us out. She's got the real talent, plus she's just so stinkin cute and nice to work with. She'll put in the hard work and make it look ten times better than you ever could on your own. 

And while you're at it, go ahead and order this china cabinet. Can you say gorgeous? You know you want it.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Shift in Perspective

I'm going to skip the "sorry I've been MIA" speech for now. I'm afraid that line is getting a bit redundant. My bad.

The best thing happened to me today.
Like so good....I was literally brought to tears.
And obviously encouraged to blog all about it.

This summer I did what unfortunately a lot of teachers do, I picked up a summer job.
I'm fortunate enough to teach in a county that will be take my ten-month salary and spread it out through twelve-months so I still get a paycheck in the summer.
Which is a God send for "budgetly-challenged" folks like myself.

But having some extra cash has been so nice.
And almost a necessity after the past few months.

I got a job waiting tables and I actually really do enjoy it, all things considered.
It's so different than teaching, which is exactly what I need.
Plus I get to interact with a bunch of different people, which most of the time is pretty fun.

I worked the lunch shift today and admittedly was kind of dreading it.
When I say I enjoy waiting tables...I don't mean I love waiting tables.
But I had a table today, that completely altered my mood and has given me a whole new perspective on things.

There was a table close by with two kids, one of which was going into first grade.
I told him that I was a first grade teacher and that obviously first grade was the best grade.
We chatted about that a bit and then I moved on.

My other table had overheard the conversation and started talking to me about it.
Turns out the lady at the table was a former third grade teacher.
She had gotten out of the profession for the many reasons that so many others do.

Unrealistic standards and expectations.
Ridiculously low pay.
Unnecessary politics.
Very little to no respect.
Limited resources and support.
The list goes on and on.

We chatted about some of that but also talked about how admirable the profession is.
And talked about all the good that's in it...that not every one always sees. Teachers included.

When they left and I went to clear their table, I found my tip, which was extremely generous.
But I also found a note.
And the note is what meant more than anything else ever could.

"Thanks for what you do. Keep touching lives."

It was written on their credit card slip, so I couldn't save it.
But the words are ingrained in my heart.
Not because the words are all that profound, or even because they're words I've never heard before.
It was just something about seeing them today.
At my second job. 
Two days before I start back at school.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in all the bullshit yep, I said it that comes with teaching and public education. 
It's hard. It's not ever fair.
It's actually quite depressing 98% of the time.

When I graduated and started teaching, I just knew I'd stay in it forever. 
Now, I admittedly take it year by year. 

But there's a voice inside of me. 
It's inside of every teacher.
It's not very loud and it gets drowned out a lot.
But it's saying "keep touching lives".

Because whether I see it or not, that's what I'm doing. 
I knew going into teaching that I wouldn't make a lot of money.
Does that justify politicians continuing to stiff my pay? No, not at all.
Does the fact that I knew I wouldn't make a lot of money make it okay that I've got to get a second job to make ends meet? Definitely not.

But, it is what it is. 
And that's what I was reminded of today.

Other people (who don't always know what they're talking about) can dictate my pay, can dictate what I teach, can dictate how I judge a student's success. 

But they can't ever stop me from touching lives. 

As a new school year arrives, much too quickly, I'm going to keep that voice loud and up front. 
The one that's telling me I'm touching lives. 
That's the perspective I want to focus on. 
All the other stuff is going to be pushed to the side for now.

With all this being said, I completely understand why people leave teaching.
I know people, who are amazing teachers, who have left. 
Not because they stopped listening to the voice inside of them. 
But because they gained another voice. One telling them there's a better way for them to touch lives.
And I believe each one of them will.

That's the thing about teachers. 
We're doing what we're doing because it's ingrained in us. 
The outlet most of us choose to use is a school.
Until that one doesn't work for us anymore. 
Then we find another outlet for all our good life-changing lessons and hot-glue craft projects. 

One day, the rest of society will hopefully realize that. 
I just hope the schools aren't empty of all the great teachers by then.

For all the teachers getting ready to start school,
and the ones that have already gone back (ack)
don't let others drown out the voice.
Keep touching lives.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Things That (do and don't) Burn My Biscuit

Things that do burn my biscuit....

- Working during the day. Especially when it's sunny and 85. The. Worst.

- People who publicly start countdowns wayyyy too early. "385 days until I say I do." Hello? 385 days is still a long ass time. Public countdowns should not begin until we're in at least in double digits.

- The fact that so many people are already back at school setting up their classrooms. For one, it's too soon. Summer is still in full force...get out and enjoy it. For two, you're making the rest of us look like super slackers.

- When other people aren't on time.

- Crickets that chirp incessantly outside my bedroom window.

- The fact that I haven't been running in over a week and the fact that that bothers me.

- People who jump on bandwagons just for the sake of jumping on the bandwagon.


Things that do not burn my biscuit (and instead make me happy, happy, happy)...

- Dinners and drinks with teacher friends. Le duh.

- The Leadership Training I went to last week. So much good information. So many fun people. So much motivation for the year to come (that I'm bottling up and saving until August because summer is still in full force; see above.)

- Redbox movie nights at home with my family.

- Finally having making time for crafting.

- Robbie. Over and over again.

- Coming home to freshly mowed grass (thanks Carter).

- When blog friends write real books and get them published for the whole world to buy and read and love!

- Holding brand new babies.

- Listening to Pandora All. The. Time.

- Photobooths (only because these pictures are too funny not to share.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dear Robbie

Today marks our three year wedding anniversary. How has is already been three years?

Weren't we just leaving Tryon Palace, calling our parents, telling them that we were engaged?
And here we are - three years, two houses, one unemployment, three jobs, two careers, one back surgery, four cars, and countless kisses later. I couldn't imagine doing life with anyone other than you. I'm not sure I would even know how.

I am so blessed to have you as my husband and as my best friend. I have fallen in love with you harder than I ever thought I could.

Words can't express how proud I am of all you've accomplished, particularly in this past year. I know it's been crazy and nothing like we were expecting, but it has been perfect in every way. I wouldn't change one thing about these past three years even if I could.

I am so thankful for the way you love me, take care of me, make me laugh, and keep me safe. I am reassured everyday that God handpicked you for me and I could not be luckier to have you in my life.

Thanks for sitting through countless hours of Netflix marathons with me, for not laughing too hard at the ridiculous History questions I ask you, for being the best laundry folder in all the land, for making sure all our bills get paid on time because you know I have a mental block against numbers and deadlines, and really just for being you.

I can't wait to spend the next three times 30 years with you!

Love, M

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

You'll Never Guess What I Did.

Meet Juan.
The friendliest fish I've ever met.
Besides my college pet fish Bartholemew (RIP). 

Swimming with dolphins is something we've always wanted to do but every other time we've had the chance it's been ridiculously expensive. We never really thought it would be worth it.
In Cancun, it was included in our room credits, if we wanted to do it. So, obviously, we all signed up.
Robbie couldn't go because of his back surgery, which was the only bad part. 

I was terrified.
I have an irrational fear of sharks.
And therefore, am not a huge fan of the ocean.
I love love love the beach, but I'm fine laying in the sand or just wading in the water.
I have no interest in swimming out deep with all the critters.
The first time I went snorkeling in high school, I chewed a hole right through my mouthpiece because I was grinding my teeth so hard.
So swimming right beside, touching, and kissing an actual dolphin was quite possibly the most nerve-racking thing ever.

But it was also so cool.

Our instructor taught us a lot about dolphins.
He actually reminded me of one of my students last year who was fascinated with all things "ocean animals" and would spit out these random facts about them to me any time I'd listen.
Like did you know, dolphins have belly buttons?

Anyway...Juan was great and it was quite the experience.
However, we all learned that a family of mermaids, we are not.

Monday, July 21, 2014


The whole fam damily. 

Y'all. I don't even know where to begin.
There is not an adjective in the book to adequately describe our trip to Mexico.
Wonderful will have to do, but even that doesn't quite do it justice.

A little back story in case you're new around these parts....

My parents separated when I was 15 (whomp whomp) and it was then that my mom decided to start making meaningful memories with our "new" family unit. Not that the memories we had before weren't meaningful, we just needed some new ones. That summer my mom, my brother, and I went on a cruise and just like that we were hooked. White sandy beaches, clear blue water, all you could eat buffets. Sign us up.

Fast forward to my sophomore year of college when my mom got remarried and we gained not only a stepfather but two new step-siblings. Another shift in family dynamic meant another need for "new family" memories.

My mom and stepdad knew that with four busy teenage schedules, coordinating a week alone would be difficult. We took a few week-long trips to the beach, but living only 45 minutes away meant everyone was constantly coming and going or bringing friends for the day or something else that restricted us from completely "unplugging" as a family of six (seven once Robbie officially came along).

Dragging us out of the country seemed to be the only logical option. Plus finding something all-inclusive was a no-brainer in the money department.

Cue the Domincan Republic in 2012. Our first official "Stedunbert" (our mixed family name) vacation. We hadn't been there two days before we already knew we were going to have to plan another, equally amazing all-inclusive family vacation.

Which brings us to today, well a month ago...when we traveled to the Moon Palace in Cancun, Mexcio.

The food was delicious.
The pools were beautiful.
The alcohol was unlimited.
The people were amazing.

Overall, it was another perfect trip.

Disclaimer: My camera stayed in the room during the day because I was a bum and didn't feel like carrying anything around. Sooooo I have zero pictures of the actual resort, pools, beach, etc. I think my stepdad has some on his camera that might make an appearance in the near future.

5AM flight...ready to go!

As soon as we landed, my brother and I got a cold Corona. The only one I drank while there. It was the domestic beer on special, which kind of blew my mind. 

Night one at the lobby bar. 

"Mar" - my nickname!

Night two (I think).

The ladies. This was right before we ate at an Italian place. The food was delicious, but it was a little too fancy for me.

The cutest boys around.

Love my mama.

Brother/sister tequila shots. Judging by my face...this should have been the end of the night. It was not. I half way regretted that the next morning. 

This might have been our last night? It all kind of runs together. 

Our favorite bar by our favorite pool with our favorite bartender, Alberto (not in the picture). 
Live and die by the swing bar.

I really wanted this sombrero ha. We snagged a picture instead. 

KKCO in Mexico. #hottie

A few notes: Robbie and I traveled all-inclusive for our honeymoon for the first time and we are both such huge advocates for it now. It's a lot of money up front and airfare kicks you in the gut every time (woof) but it is worth every penny and more.

The simple fact that you don't have to worry about money at all once you get there is enough peace of mind for me, the girl who subconsciously keeps a running record of everything spent in her head.

We've now been the Hard Rock in Punta Cana, DR and the Moon Palace in Cancun, Mexico and both of these offered such a wide variety of everything. There's literally something for everyone. And it's all included. Massages, manicures, pedicures, paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling.

If you're feeling adventurous there are a ton of different "excursions" you can sign up for (two years ago my stepdad and brother swam with sharks)! Or if you're looking for some serious R&R, you can take your pick of pools, park your tush, and enjoy the free drinks coming your way.

And the food. Y'all. The. Food. There are so many different types of food, you're guaranteed to find something you like. My mouth is still watering over the sushi we ate while we were in Cancun.

Obviously the best part of our vacation was the time we got to spend together. We're all so close, it doesn't take a lot for us to have fun together. It's fun to be able to experience new things together. It's also, always nice, to be able to "escape" for a little while.

And what better place to escape to than something this beautiful?

Come back tomorrow because yes, I am actually blogging AND I have one more really cool thing to tell you about Mexico!