Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zero

Today is the last entry for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  I have been blogging about items on my bucket list, things that I want to do before I die.

'Z' is for zero:  I would like to be debt free, owe zero money to anyone or any place.

It would be awesome to know that the big ticket items -- house and car -- are paid for with no monthly payments, but I don't know if that will happen in the next ten to twenty years or if ever.  I do know that we can at least pay off other debts, like credit cards, and have those zeros smiling at us soon!

100 Books in 2012: Mockingbird by Erskine

Book 23:  Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

After a school shooting leaves her middle school brother Devon dead, Caitlin has trouble making sense of it all.  Devon was the one who helped the eleven year old understand the daily routines of life, and now she is struggling to understand even the simplest things.  But then Caitlin has always struggled.  As a child with Asperger's, Caitlin sees the world differently than the rest of her classmates and without Devon to help her understand the world, she is even more confused and lost.   While her patient dad is dealing with his own grief, her teacher, Mrs. Brook, counsels Caitlin about finding closure with finesse.

I wonderful read:  a real coming of age story told through an autistic child.  Erskine was moved to write the novel after the shooting on the Virginia Tech campus.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Y is for Yarn

Years ago I spent more of my free time on handicrafts, including cross-stitching and needlepoint.  My grandmother tried to teach me how to make Granny squares and how to crotchet, neither of which I have ever tried again in my adulthood.

I see a lot of folks learning to knit, forming knitting groups, the new social societies, perhaps.  And I think, Sure, I'd like to learn how to knit sometime.

It's probably not so much the actually handicraft that I am craving as much as the time spent with other women, enjoying conversation about family and friends and life.  But I would happily purchase some yarn and needles and have a go at a knitting circle.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

100 Books in 2012: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Book 22:  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This was the first John Green book that I had read.  Where have I been?!

This was the amazing story of Hazel Lancaster and Augustus Waters, two teenagers who meet at a cancer support group.  The characters are real, honest, and likable.  The story is funny, moving, and incredible.  I laughed.  I pondered.  I wondered.  I cried.  I loved this book.  (Thanks to a fellow teacher for recommending and sharing it with me.)

It's definitely the next book you should add to your reading list.  (And I see from Mr. Green's website, that the movie rights have been optioned!)

X is for Xyloses

Okay, so the letter 'X' was a really hard one in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge and it only sort of conveys a want, a need really, that I have on my bucket list.

xyloses - n. - A sugar extracted from wood or straw; used in foods for diabetics

I don't really want to use this sugar.  What I really want is to be sugar free.  I feel like I have such an addiction to sugar.  I crave sugar.  I crave white bread and potatoes and rice that are starchy that all turn into sugar in the body.

I've never liked artificial sugars like aspartame or sucrolose.  I don't really know what xyloses might even taste like.  I just think a sugar free life would help my system get  back to a healthy state:  a normal weight, less aches and pains, and more energy.

W is for Washington, D.C.

I think everyone should live in Washington, D.C. for at least one year.

I've had this on my bucket list for a long time.  I really enjoy visiting D.C., going to the Smithsonian, walking the Mall, seeing the monuments.  If I lived there for a year, I could finally see it all more in depth and get a better feel for the history of our country.

I picture myself working at the Library of Congress.  I would take the Metro to work every morning.  I would eat my lunch on the steps of one of the historic buildings or picnic in the Mall.  I would tour at least one museum in the afternoon:  maybe the Folger Shakespeare Library, perhaps the Air and Space Museum, or the National Gallery of Art.

My evenings would be filled with moonlit strolls by the Potomac and dinners at all the best restaurants (Citronelle or Vidalia) and performances at the Kennedy Center.  My weekends would be spent sitting in Union Station or on the Capitol steps or on Pennsylvania Avenue watching the tourists, the visitors, the residents enjoying their moments with friends and family and documenting it all in my journal.

I'm not sure why I am enamoured with D.C.  Maybe I picture my stay in Washington without politicians.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

V is for Voice

I love to sing.

Every night after I read my daughter a bedtime story and say her prayers with her, I sing her off into slumber land.  No, I don't sing a lullaby, not really, or some inspirational, soft melody.  Every night we sing a version of the closing theme song from The Lawrence Welk show: 

Good night, sleep tight, and pleasant dreams to you.
Make a wish, say a prayer, may all your dreams come true.
Tonight and until we meet again.
Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehn.

I really enjoy singing.  I grew up singing in the school choir.  I had the role of Mary Poppins, singing A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down, in a salute to Walt Disney production in the fourth grade.  I sang alto in the middle school choir and both alto and tenor in the high school choir, mainly because I had great pitch and was good at harmonizing.  In high school, I also started singing in my church choir.

I miss singing these days.  Sometimes I feel like I have lost my voice, although I really haven't.  I sing along to the radio, belt out songs with my girlfriends, especially on road trips, and giggle through songs with my daughter.  I just haven't performed in any organized singing group in quite a while.

Care to hum a little tune with me?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

U is for United States

I have visited 27 of our states, various destinations for conferences, vacations, and races.  But I would love to take a four to six week trip by car across the country.  The Great American Vacation, I would call it, really exploring the land, sights, people.  I would like to be able to eventually say that I have visited all our states.

Guess it'll be hard to drive to Alaska and Hawaii, though!

T is for Treehouse

When I was a kid, my dad built me a treehouse.  It was actually a house on posts situated between two big pine trees.  I loved climbing up the steps and hanging out on the porch or playing "house" in the 8' by 8' space.

That treehouse has long been torn down at my parents' home.  My husband and I live on three acres with about two of that covered in tress with paths cut through the woods and bordered by a creek.  We've talked about building a treehouse, not just for our daughter, but for us:  a small space with a porch overlooking the creek.  It makes me sigh and feel relaxed just thinking about it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

100 Books in 2012: Ten Miles Past Normal by Dowell

Book 21:  Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell

This is a great read by Dowell, whose Dovey Coe is one of my favorites.  Janie is trying to find her way in high school, and she is longing for a "normal" experience.  But her life on the farm interferes with her popularity (goat poop on her shoes!) and having no classes or interactions with her middle school friends leaves her hiding out in the library during lunch.  She meets some interesting folks along the way and realizes that "normal" is what you make out of life.

From the jacket:  Ten Miles Past Normal is a quirky road map for life that's full of offbeat heroes and delicious goat cheese.  Maybe life's little detours are not about missing out, but about finding a new way home.

S is for Swimming Pool

I love to swim.

For a while, I was frequenting the health center two to three times a week in order to get in the water.  I would either swim laps or participate in group water aerobics or make up my own water routine to workout.  I like working out in water because you don't sweat, or at least you can't feel it if you do.

There's something relaxing about being in and around the water.  But life has gotten in the way, and I don't get out to the health center at all now.

So on my bucket list, I would add "install a swimming pool in our backyard"; that way I would have easy access to swimming every day of the week!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

R is for Redwoods

Over ten years ago, I had a chance to visit my cousins  and a college friend just outside of Los Angeles.  While we did some touristy things during my visit, I did not get to as much of California as I would have liked to see.

I would love to visit the Redwoods.

Friends who have a cabin in the Redwoods have offered for us to stay there. I am definitely ready to take them up on their offer.  I can just imagine sleeping among those tremendous trees and wandering through the forest in amazement and awe.

My bags are almost packed!

Q is for Question

Continuing in my bucket list theme of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I struggled with letter 'Q' and finally settled on this:

'Q' is for question.  I want to answer the question:  what do I really want to do with my life to make a difference in this world?

P is for Parade

When I was either a sophomore or junior in high school, I had the excitement of dressing as our school mascot and walking in two Christmas parades one year.  As they say, everyone loves a parade, and I had a ton of fun walking with our marching band and waving at the crowds as we moved through the city streets in the Raleigh Christmas parade and the Rocky Mount Christmas parade.

I want to be in a parade again.  This time, however, I want to be riding with the Model T club and to be waving to the crowd from the front seat of our 1926 Model T Ford.

My husband inherited the car from his grandfather, and it currently sits in our garage with boxes and tools and other odds and ends piled up on it and in it.  The valves need to ground down and supposedly the car will be ready to crank and run.  (nudge, nudge, dear husband)

I'm ready for my parade debut as an adult in my fancy old car!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

100 Books in 2012: The Sweetest Thing by Mandelski

Book 20: The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski Just like the title, this is a sweet read. Sheridan is great at decorating cakes, working in her grandmother's bakery, but what she really wants is to find her mother who left her when she was young. Through very real and likeable characters, Mandelski makes her debut with this novel. Sheridan struggles to balance her time with her workaholic dad, her cake decorating schedule, schoolwork, her new boyfriend, and the revelation that her best friend has a crush on her. A sweet coming of age story. Thanks for getting this book for me, Jen!

Friday, April 20, 2012

O is for Opera

Remember that scene from Pretty Woman when Richard Gere takes Julia Roberts to the opera La Traviata for the first time.  She is deeply moved, cries profusely, and applauds at the end.  When the older lady asks her if she liked the performance, her response is "I liked it so much, I almost peed in my pants!"  To which Richard Gere says to the older lady, "She said it was better than Pirates of Penzance."

I've added "attend the opera" to my bucket list.  I'm not sure what opera I would want to see, but these seems like something everyone should do at least once in their life times.

Any suggestions of what should be my first opera to attend?

N is for New York

Yes, as surprising as it may be, I have never been to New York. I would love to go to New York and attend a Broadway show, walk in Central Park, visit F.A.O. Schwartz, see the Rockettes, visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and experience the hustle and bustle of the big city.

I have had a couple of opportunities to travel with my alma mater on extended weekend trips, itineraries set, but each time I have been unable to make this jaunt. A friend has offered to take me to the city, where we can stay with her aunt in the Bronx, and do all the things that tourists do.

Probably not this year, but eventually, I will be able to cross "go to New York" off my bucket list.

M is for Meredith College

When I decided to use my bucket list as a theme for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, some letters of the alphabet were harder to fit to my bucket list and other letters of the alphabet had multiple bucket list items that would fall under that letter.

The letter 'M' was easy: 'M' is for Meredith College.

I had a wonderful undergraduate experience as my alma mater, the largest women's college in the southeast. I enthusiastically support the college through my donations and my volunteering.

But one day I would love to work at Meredith. It almost doesn't matter what job I have. I just think it would be awesome to continue to help young women experience the same rich traditions and education that I did while I was a student.

So for more than 20 years now my bucket list has included "work at Meredith" on it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

L is for Lottery

How awesome would it have been to win the MegaMillions the other week when the jackpot was so high? I have some grand ideas about how I would use the lottery winnings: build a beautiful home on a large expanse of land, donate money to my alma mater, put a large portion in savings for my daughter, share with the charities that we support.

Winning the lottery could be a life changing experience. Not only could we take care of any debt that we had, we could guarantee our future. I would hope that I would be a responsible lottery winner, not one of those folks who spent it all and was bankrupt within a couple of years.

So 'L' is for lottery. I guess I need to actually buy a ticket if I expect to win!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

100 Book Challenge: Shine by Lauren Myracle

Book 19: Shine by Lauren Myracle

When her best friend is attacked, Cat retreats into herself, blowing off all of her other friends. But she is determined to find out why someone would have committed a hate crime against her gay friend, Patrick. Set in the mountains of NC, Myracle weaves a coming-of-age story involving poverty, drugs, and intolerance.

Definitely one you will not put down until you have finished it.

K is for Kid

When I was a teenager and dreamed of marrying my high school sweetheart, I also had dreams of having a family, a really large family. I thought that I wanted a whole softball team: a dozen kids sounded reasonable. Maybe this was because I was an only child that I thought a big family would be just right. Whatever the reason, that was what I thought that I wanted: a dozen kids.

As I got older (and wiser), I realized that a dozen kids would be a whole bunch of work! So in my mid-twenties, I reasoned that four or five kids sounded like a much better number. When my first marriage ended with no children, I had no idea if there were kids in my future.

But the idea of having a child was still on my bucket list.

When I married in 2001, we weren't in any rush to have children, but by our late 30's, we realized that we might want to try to see if that kid thing would actually work! In 2006, at almost 38 and 39 years old, we had a kid, most likely our only kid.

And while it's not a whole softball team, she's wonderful!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Joe

When I wrote my original bucket list in 1997, it was in response to an article that a friend and I had read entitled something like 50 Things I Want to do Before I Die, or something close to that. My friend was upset that she didn't have that many items on her list. I told her that was a good thing: she had accomplished much, taken risks, gone for it, whatever it was.

I added a few things to my list over the next few years and wrote dates next to items that I accomplished. On January 1, 2001, I added Marry Joe (It couldn't hurt) to my bucket list.

Joe is my high school sweetheart from the late 1980s. After high school through college and early adulthood, we talked infrequently, catching up on each others' lives every now and again. In November of 2000, he actually called me after probably almost four years of very little communication with one another and asked me out on a date. By March, we were officially dating, and that October 2001 we were married.

Somehow I guess I knew that January that we were meant to be together, so why not add it to my bucket list. It makes all those teenaged scrawlings of Mrs. Joe Lastname seem not so silly now.

And marrying Joe didn't hurt it all.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Testing Season is Here!

While for the most part, I am excited that I am not the test coordinator for my school this year, I am still in test coordinator mode and it's driving me bonkers. I have the organizational and communication skills to plan the pants off of testing for a school (even if I do think it contributed to my high blood pressure diagnosis). So when I think about the next 60 school days at my year-round school and the 22 days of testing (kinda crazy, ain't it?), my wheels are turning with all the logistical questions about who will test where, what the schedule will look like, and keeping the staff happy and informed.

I know it's not my problem this year, but it still concerns me. While I was only in charge of testing for two years at my school, I did a darn good job. Ask most any teacher or staffer at my school. Most people were pleased with how it all turned out on a daily basis and overall.

I have the confidence that this year's test coordinator will do a fine job of making it all happen the way it should. It may not be exactly how I would have done it or on my self-imposed time frame or with my flare or passion. But testing will happen. It's just still in my blood.

Once a test coordinator, always a test coordinator.

I is for Ice Cream

I love ice cream! My favorite is chocolate peanut butter ice cream, but almost any fruit flavored ice cream comes in a close second. As a child I remember my dad dragging out the old crank ice cream maker and the bag of rock salt and mixing up yummy peach or strawberry ice cream in the heat of the summer. Such a comforting, fun childhood memory, I want to recreate it as an adult and make memories of summertime ice cream fun with my daughter.

So 'I' is for ice cream. I've added "Buy an ice cream maker" to my bucket list.


Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Historic Home

My husband is a preservation specialist, taking care of old houses, fixing their aches and pains, and leaving them proud and stately. He has worked on many homes in our area and in the county in which we grew up. He can tell you about historic homes across our state, when they were built, who built them, who lived there, their importance in our state's history.

We don't live in a historic home, though. The kind of house we want would be pre-Civil War and probably need lots of work and updates. He says we'd probably kill each other trying to restore or rehabilitate an old property. I don't think so, though. I think we would love and care for and raise our old house so that it would be with us for a long time. (Photo: Bracebridge Hall, Edgecombe County, NC)

You can find great historic properties in our state at Preservation NC.

G is for Grandma

As I continue participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I'm still sticking with the theme that I chose -- my bucket list.

G is for grandma. I want to be a grandma some day.

Okay, so this isn't really something on my list that I have any control over. I can always travel to places that I want to visit. I can always go back to school, get more education, and get a different job. I can write, act, sing, any of the actionable items on my list.

I cannot make myself a grandma. But I see the wonderful relationship between my daughter and my mother, the love and kindness, the curiosity, the generations between them. I remember my own relationships with my grandmothers, especially Granny, my paternal grandmother, and I want to be the old woman doting on my granddaughter, taking her to the Pizza Inn, helping her plant flowers in the garden, reading her stories.

Great memories to make in the future.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

F is for Fresh Food

Ten years ago when we moved to our current home, I attempted a garden. It wasn't really much: three short rows with a few hills of tomatoes, okra, and green peppers. The okra produced way more than my husband and I could enjoy. After two weeks of fried and stewed okra almost every night with dinner, we were done.

I grew up with lots of fresh foods at the table. My dad always plotted out at least a 20x20 spot for planting vegetables: tomatoes (large and cherry), butter beans, peppers (red and green, sweet and hot), okra, pole beans, carrots, potatoes. And there was always a short row where I was allowed to plant flowers, usually zinnias.

I would love to be able to plant and maintain a REAL vegetable garden at some point in my life. While a big 20x20 plot isn't in my future this summer, maybe my daughter and I will attempt to plant a few seeds and a few hills of something.

Fresh food. It's what's for dinner!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for (New) England

Some of my friends think I'm odd that I really don't have a lot of desire to travel overseas. I really enjoy traveling in the U.S., and I'd rather visit the few states that I still haven't seen. That's why today's Blogging from A to Z Challenge entry from my bucket list theme is "E is for (New) England".

I really want to take a late summer or an early fall trip up through the New England states. I think the cooler temperatures and the beautiful scenery would be just what this gal would love! While I have been to Boston for another ALA conference, we didn't really have time to go sightseeing. (The fact that it was mid-January and snowing didn't help either!) I want to visit the lighthouses of Maine and eat some lobster. I want to see the incredible foliage of Vermont. I want to learn more about Paul Revere in Massachusetts. I want to walk the historic campus of Yale University in Connecticut.

I should call my travel agent!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Disney World

I was 35 years old when I finally went to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Two other friends, also in their 30's, and I decided to attend the American Library Association's annual conference in June of 2004. Since it was in Orlando, we added on a side trip to Disney. (Well, truth be told, the conference was more of the side trip!)

I had so much fun, playing and exploring like a kid, enjoying the thrilling rides and taking in the entertaining shows. And of course, we ate lots of yummy foods at the themed restaurants.

I want to go to Disney World again, but this time with my daughter who is currently five years old. I want to experience Disney with her! It should be awesome!

Raise your hand if you are ready to go to Disney with us!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Carriage Ride in Central Park

As I work my way through my bucket list for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, today is the letter 'C'. I want to take a carriage ride in Central Park in New York some day. I have taken a carriage ride in Charleston, SC, touring historic downtown, and that was a lovely experience. But I have never been to New York City, and it only seems fitting to take a carriage ride (romantic with my sweetie, of course) through Central Park.

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Book

I've been writing short stories and story ideas for years, but I've never had the guts to put anything together to submit for publication. Other than a few professional articles, I know that I need to pull some of my short stories and submit them to magazines, journals, papers, somewhere for publication. Ultimately, I would love to see the short stories put together in a book. I've also been writing stories, chapters about my Southern girl upbringing that I would like to see put together in a book.

So B is for Book. Maybe you would read it!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Alaska

For the Blogging A-Z Challenge, I decided to pick a theme: my bucket list. I found my list that I wrote over 12 years ago and realize that I have accomplished many of the items on the list. So I'll certainly be revising the list as I go. Here's one of the items still on my bucket list:


Lots of people put travel on their lists of things they want to do before they die. I want to go to Alaska. I think it would be incredible to travel to the 49th state, especially to fly into Anchorage or Juneau and explore the state and then head to port to take an Alaskan cruise. At least two of my good friends have gone on Alaskan trips with their husbands. They came back with gorgeous photographs of the landscape and enthusiastic stories of their travels. So an Alaskan trip and cruise make my bucket list.

Anybody ready to book a trip with me?!