Family

Holiday Highlights

Christmas is over, the tree is down, the mustaches off, and it’s back to the real world.  Before heading back to school, here are a couple highlights.

SNOW DAY ROULETTE: 10

What I never knew as a student was that no matter how excited I was about the potential of a snow day (or an actual snow day), my teachers were TEN TIMES MORE EXCITED. Now I know this is a fact.

So Wednesday night I had a decision to make: already in the triangle for a basketball game, I could drive back to Gaston, or hope that we’d actually get snow and I could enjoy the day off.  While snow day roulette doesn’t always pan out, this time it did big time.  Forgetting for a second about the backlash I’m dealing with when it comes to my class due to the days off, this decision was definitely a 10.  Sadly no pictures to prove of the good times, but I promise they were real 🙂

Following the snow, my parents arrived from Pennsylvania for my grad school graduation.

GRADUATION PICTURES: 9

Many will know that the sole reason I wanted to attend my grad school graduation was to replace my horrible undergrad graduation pictures.  Due to a senior year full of partying and working at a (delicious) restaurant, I was about 15 pounds heavier than I am now.  The pictures show this, and while at the time I didn’t realize, an ex-boyfriend kindly called them my ‘fat pictures’ at one point.  I have yet to recover from this, so was determined to replace them.  Now that I have extra pictures of me in a graduation gown, I will promptly delete any memory of the old ones.

Sadly I had my cap on crooked for much of the ceremony, so I’m gonna have to take a point off.  Other than that, flawless 🙂

From there we headed north to visit the family in NH/New England.

SCENERY: 10

It’s nice to spend Christmas in a cute cabin surrounded by mountains and snow.  In fact, I can’t think of a better place to spend Christmas…

Yes, the picture is real.  My cousin took it on Christmas day on the slopes of Sugarloaf.  I love it.

CHRISTMAS DAY HIKE: 8

Thanks to an active family, it wouldn’t be a holiday without being outside.  So off my sister and I went with my aunt and grandpa to hike on a nearby path.  It was surprisingly warm (or not… maybe we just dressed well), and it was AWESOME to be outside enjoying the snow.  Plus it gave Cheryl and I plenty of opportunities to ham it up for the camera…

I must admit, however, that I always love hikes more when they lead to a peak, so the lack of uphill climbing and beautiful 360 at the top forces me to take off 2 points.

From there we headed down to NH to visit the other grandparents.

NEW HAMPSHIRE BLIZZARD: 8

Snow at Christmas is ALWAYS a good thing.  It’s a rule.  So clearly I was thrilled to see the snow the day after.  Only sad part was that it left us stranded inside with little to do.  Luckily I had a good book to keep me company 🙂   Stay tuned for a rating…

Plus, it’s HILARIOUS to watch Murphy play around in the snow with a cone on his head.  It’s like his own little bulldozer.

Next stop was PA for a day, and then off to DC for New Year’s!

GIRLS WITH MUSTACHES: 5

Probably not the most attractive accessory a girl can wear, but when it comes to theme parties I’m all in.  So there was no way I was going to a Mustache Fiesta to celebrate 2011, and not sport my own.  We started with home made versions, after looking at many stores with no luck.

Luckily Lupe Cantina provided us with an improved version once arriving…

After a couple fun nights in DC, visiting old friends along with new friends and staching it up, it was back to good old North Carolina 🙂

Phew.  That’s all friends.

Until next time, just living for the tens!

Advertisements

Turkey Day 2010

HAVING THREE DOGS IN ONE HOUSE: 6

If there were two, and they were Murphy and Dakota, or even Maggie and Dakota, this rating would be several points higher.  However, when you’ve got these three all together in one house, it’s CRAZY.

First, you’ve got Murphy and Maggie chasing each other around, with Maggie’s high pitched puppy yelping, literally one yelp per step (so imagine her sprinting, taking about 3 steps a second).

Then, add food in the mix and you’ve got two puggles, with killer instincts when it comes to food, about to draw blood.

Luckily Maggie and Dakota continue their love affair, which is both adorable and convenient.  Except when Maggie insists on following Dakota around everywhere and humping his legs.  Nice one Maggie.

However, the rating is still above a five, as I love dogs, I love my dogs even more, and I LOVE the motivator to walk 6 miles every day (yes, my parents are insane- one 3 mile walk, or even 2 1.5 mile walks are just not enough.  We took TWO 3 mile walks every day I was home).


RETURNING HOME WITH TWO THOROUGHLY POOPED PUPPIES: 10

SCRATCH BEGINNINGS: 9

Another reason I love holidays is the free time to actually read a book or two.  While I headed home with Manhunt in tow, a recommendation of a student as it follows the entire story of John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln assassination, I ended up reading a new book I recently discovered called Scratch Beginnings.  The concept is interesting, and I must admit I went into the read with mixed feelings, yet open minded to what I would find.

The author, Adam Shepard, decides to take off from Raleigh NC and head to Charleston SC with $25, a train ticket and a sleeping bag.  His goal is to prove that the American dream is still alive and well by making $2,500, furnishing an apartment and buying a car by the end of a year.

The book is mostly spent telling the stories of those he encounters along the way, and how he ended up making it happen within 8 months.  The epilogue talks a bit about the bigger issues of poverty in America, and what this social experiment means for the American dream and how we begin to address the problems that are preventing some from getting there and causing others to stand still where they are.

While I’m not sure I agree (yet) with all issues and opinions presented, it was a pretty great instigator for Thanksgiving conversation among my family, and has given me a much needed reason to reflect on my own thoughts.  I find I spend so much time thinking about day-to-day survival in the world of teaching that I forget about the things that brought me here (and back) in the first place.  I’m going back to reread Nickel and Dimed now, which was part of the inspiration for Scratch Beginnings, and I think I’ll have a more solid grasp of my thoughts at the end.  In the meantime, it comes as a highly recommended read 🙂

THANKSGIVING DINNER: 9

I’m pretty lucky to have a mom who supports whatever my eating habits are (as they’ve grown progressively more restrictive over time).  This year she had the added challenge of creating a vegan Thanksgiving dinner.  I will note that this is a challenge created by her, as I insisted that PB & J was good enough for this vegan.

Despite that, I must admit I’m grateful for the effort as I enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner as much as everyone else 🙂  Mashed potatoes (with fake butter and soy milk), corn, pumpkin rolls and stuffing not actually stuffed inside the turkey… A. MA. ZING.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that a point must be subtracted for the sickness I caused by eating too much.  Not unusual, not unfamiliar, but nonetheless pretty miserable.

This year was a small Thanksgiving, as it was just the immediate family and Ned, a blind man my mom met through the Blind Association and has now become a family friend over the past 7 (?) years.

2010 CHRISTMAS CARD PHOTO: 8

Posing with 3 dogs is not easy.  Why we insist on including all three, I’m not quite sure.  It does, however, provide some entertainment.

So considering the fact that we had to get all three dogs to look at the camera, while also catching all of us with our eyes open, I’d say we did pretty good 🙂

-2 for my decision (or lack of awareness really) to wear a shirt with reflective tape on it.  Oops… turns out it’s nothing a little iPhoto editing can’t fix 🙂

CELL PHONE HEADSETS: 8

While a 5 hour drive is definitely not bad, and I actually really appreciate the alone time to listen to incredible music, sing along, and brainstorm brilliant ideas for the classroom (or atleast ideas I think are brilliant :)), it’s also nice to use the time to catch up with people I don’t talk to nearly enough.  And people I already spend too much time talking to.  Either way, the “company” is great, and without a headset I’d be way more of a hazard on the road.

-1 for the difficulty it can sometimes cause hearing, or making me sound like I’m in a wind tunnel.

-1 for the hazard of attempting to plug in the headset, and get each ear piece in the right ear, during the 15 seconds I have while my phone is ringing.  Why don’t I just leave it plugged in, you wonder?  Sadly my phone doesn’t actually ring if I leave it in, meaning I have to unplug and replug each time.  Not cool…

RETURNING TO GASTON: 5

This rating is not an indication of my love of my kids, or my love for teaching, but instead my extroverted self sad at leaving people again.  Sometimes I love living alone, don’t get me wrong, but it’s always an adjustment for me to leave a house full of people and animals for my house in Gaston where it’s just me and the pups.  Thank goodness for the pups 🙂

The GREAT news is that these next three weeks may possibly be my favorite three weeks of the year.  I love holiday season more than anything, and tonight I’m planning to put on Elf and put up the tree… followed by three weeks of good friends, great holiday parties (including the first ever hosted at my Gaston house!) and Secret Santa wonderfulness at school.  I CANNOT WAIT!  I’m even thinking of attempting Christmas lights on my house (and/or fence) this year…

Until next time, just living for the tens 🙂

Road Trip: Part 2

After some exciting Freeport shopping on Day 2 of Maine time, I finally got my yearly lobster 🙂  My aunt, uncle and two cousins live about 15 minutes from my grandparents, and hosted an incredible lobster feast.  I ended up with a lobster and a half 🙂

YEARLY LOBSTER: 10

I’m not sure I’ve ever had a lobster up here that wasn’t a 10 now that I think about it… We did skip the usual lobster races pre-dunking, but now that I’m more aware of animal rights than I was as a kid, that’s probably a good thing.  Ethically I know at some point I should probably give up lobster, but I just can’t part with it yet.  Or ever maybe…

Why am I the only one smiling???  We’re eating LOBSTER!!!

The next day was my Grandmother’s official 80th birthday, so we went out to a sweet little restaurant on the water to celebrate.  Some delicious home-baked bread, fresh haddock and incredible mashed potatoes later it was time for the main event…

GRANDMA’S BIRTHDAY CAKE: 10!!!

This rating is two-fold:  1) the appearance, and 2) the flavor.

First, the cake was ADORABLE.  Perfect for a spring birthday, it was covered with cute flowers and even some adorable bumble-bees on top.  Have never seen anything like it, and thought it was great 🙂

Secondly, the flavor.  It was actually FOUR layers, and there was lemon icing and apricot flavoring in between each.  Had no idea I liked apricot until eating an apricot cake that was delicious 🙂

Overall a great birthday celebration, and definitely worth the 15 hour drive.

The next day my mom and I took off to Laconia to visit the other set of Grandparents.  Unfortunately my grandmother was recently hospitalized, so we didn’t get to spend nearly as much time with her as I would have liked.  Luckily we did get to see her at a nearby rehab facility 🙂

LUNCH AT FRIENDLY’S: 8

It’s not a trip up north without a stop at Friendly’s 🙂  So first thing upon arrival in Laconia we picked up my Grampy and brought him over to Friendly’s.

I went with the Turkey Club since it was the healthiest option (they’re certainly not known for their nutritional value), and while it was fine, it was no Chicken Parm Melt… -2.

However I went all out with the ice cream (there’s no choice when you’re at Friendly’s), trying out the Hunka Chunka PB Fudge with peanut butter topping…

A. MAZ. ING.

Next morning it was time to hit the road again, heading back to PA where I crashed for the night and took off for North Carolina the next morning.  Happy to be back and looking forward to a weekend full of tens!!!

Road Tripping It All the Way Up to Maine :)

Maine’s motto, ‘The way life should be’, really says it all.

On Wednesday I hit the road from North Carolina to Pennsylvania, stopping there for the night and picking up my mom.  Murph, Dakota, my mom and I then headed north on Thursday until we arrived in Topsham, Maine to celebrate my grandmother’s 80th.  Maine has been a summer trip every year since I can remember, and since I’ll be missing the August trip we decided to make it happen in May.  Unfortunately Maine summers don’t really get going until July, so we won’t be visiting camp (our family lake house) this year 😦  But, Maine still has plenty to offer 🙂

SHEETZ CARD: 9

Sheetz is an important part of every road trip, and clearly I stopped immediately upon leaving Wake Forest on Wednesday to grab a coffee.  The woman there told me about all the benefits of the Sheetz card, but they didn’t have any so I continued on my way.  During my second stop they had some available, and she informed me of the gas discounts (with enough points collected), permanent coffee and fountain soda discounts (totally key since that’s why I stop in the first place).  My first coffee with my new card was even free 🙂

-1 because the first Sheetz I hit up didn’t have any left, leaving me discountless for one of my stops.

HARRASEEKET’S: 6 (How do I keep messing up such simple math?!?)

As soon as I arrived in Maine I planned my visit to Harraseeket’s, one of my favorite places to get seafood and lobster in Maine.  Right on the water in Freeport, you order at a window and get to enjoy outside at picnic benches, surrounded by boats and other ‘Mainey’ things.  Perfect atmosphere 🙂

I must say, however, that unlike normal the service was BAD.  The girl taking our order at the counter got all confused by our order (a bit understandable seeing as we did add/change quite a bit).  I did make a point at the end of clarifying we wanted 5 fish sandwiches, 2 with cheese, all with tartar.  Well, when the food came out they all had cheese (bleh!  Who puts cheese on fish?!?), and none had tartar.  Interesting… additionally, they brought us out a huge order of onion rings that no one ordered.

When we found out they cost an extra $4, we decided to return them (which she had offered when she delivered them and realized there had been a mistake).  I offered to take them back, and dealt with a woman who basically accused me of lying about all of it, the original girl suddenly denied she had made a mistake, and basically I felt stupid even though I had done nothing wrong.  I hate complaining about a place I love, but when you’re that rude to me I have no choice.

Luckily the sandwich was still pretty good (despite the cheese), and the company and atmosphere was as good as usual.

-4 for the bad service.  Above 5 as I’ll obviously be returning 🙂  Hopefully that girl gets fired  by then…

Once we were done eating we headed outside to take some family pictures, and hopefully harass Kyle, my other cousin, a bit while working at the Marina.

TIME IT TAKES TO MOBILIZE MY FAMILY: 2

It took me about 45 minutes to get them all out of the house in the first place, and about another 45 to get them out of the stance you see below…

One thing after another, every time you think you’re about to move on to the next thing they have something else to talk about.  Geez oh pete!  I suppose it provides a good opportunity to work on my patience…

Finally, we made it off to the Freeport Outlets, where I scored tons of goodies, including these:

MY NEW NIKES: 10!

Can’t wait to start rocking these 🙂

Until then, just living for the tens!

Birthday Celebrating!

I love birthday weeks (a lot) and I must admit that I woke up a little sad this morning when I realized I’d ahve to wait 368 more days till my next one 😦

That being said, this year’s involved some pretty good times.

Starting with a road trip up to Philly…

And a stop at FRIENDLY’S!!!

PARTYING IT UP AT JENNY B’S WEDDING: 9.5

Weddings are great for many things.  Obviously celebrating someone else’s happiness is great, but reconnecting with old friends is also incredible!  Had the chance to do that with several of my favorites from college, and enjoyed every minute of it.

-.5 because it’s sad to realize how great people are, and then leave the next day to never see them again.  Or atleast not for a long time.

GETTING TO KEEP THE CENTERPIECE: 10!

Another advantage of having my birthday so close to a wedding is that usually they give away the centerpiece to whoever has the closest birthday.  Lucky for me the centerpieces were BEAUTIFUL!  I was pretty excited when Scott relayed the news…

CELEBRATING WITH THE FAMILY: 9

If only I weren’t so tired from the wedding celebrating that happened the night before…


DINNER AT MAGGIANO’S: 8

On my actual birthday the framily went out to one of my favorite restaurants to celebrate not only my birthday, but also Jay’s!!!  Ever since college I’ve been a Maggiano’s addict, and love them even more now that they have whole grain pasta.  Classic Italian style, it was a great combination of incredible food and fabulous company.

-1 because of how exhausted I was after eating all that filling food.

-1 all that food also meant I didn’t save any room for profiteroles- my favorite dessert EVER!

I wish you could hear the beautiful music Jay and I were playing behind the piano…

JAY WEARING PAUL’S GLASSES: 10!

Who knows how we got started trying on each other’s glasses, but as soon as I put on Paul’s I was shocked by my sudden lack of vision.  Never in my life have I met someone with such horrible vision.  I had no idea until I put on the glasses that blinded me.  No matter how painful it was for me, it was totally worth it for the face we got out of Jay when he put them on.  LOVE IT!

All in all another fabulous birthday 🙂

Jeff & Jill Visit North Carolina!

Don’t worry, The Bachelor Finale and After the Final Rose ratings will be up by this evening.  In the meantime, I’m going to finish the post I started from this weekend when Jill & Jeff came to visit from DC!

A lot was accomplished…

SHAMROCK 5K: 8

Jill and Jeff arrived late Friday night, so obviously an early morning 5K was appropriate for Saturday 🙂  We were in luck as a local UNC sorority was hosting a Shamrock 5k in downtown Chapel Hill.

I was a little concerned going in, as I’ve all but given up running due to marathon knee injuries from college.  Instead I’ve taken up spinning, step aerobics, water aerobics, and general cardio at the gym.  I’m definitely in better shape, but wasn’t quite sure about running shape.  However, what I love about 5K’s is the race atmosphere which makes the time fly by.  I ran the whole thing, finishing in 28 minutes, by far my personal best ever.  I will admit though, my knee was pretty sore for about two days afterwards.

Jeff & Jill kicked butt as well, and most importantly we had an awesome time and I got to show them Chapel Hill 🙂

-1: How can you have a Shamrock 5K in February?  They need either 1) a better name, or 2) to move the date.

-1: I forgot to ask if you could bring dogs, so left Murph behind.  We showed up to dogs everywhere… how perfect would it have been to have put Murph in his new shamrock shirt and had him run along???

*Huge bonus points for the long sleeved t-shirt 🙂  All for only $15!

We spent the rest of the day Saturday walking the dogs, attempting yoga (class was postponed once we arrived at the gym) and then hitting up some delicious Torero’s downtown with an awesome friend of Jill’s from the Peace Corps.  Unfortunately no pictures were taken, but this was probably a good thing considering the amount of tears that resulted from laughter.  I suppose that’s what 6 giant glasses of Diet Coke (after not having had any for MONTHS) and good people will do…

SUNDAY MORNING CLIMB: 9

Sunday morning I made them get up early again to head over to the Chapel Hill Community Center for a classic Sunday morning climb.  Thankfully Ben was there as well so I got to climb along with J&J.

I must say I was totally pumped with both their eagerness and bravery.  They both hopped right on and did awesome 🙂  Fun to watch.

-1: I’m still not climbing enough which leads to mental frustration every time I get tired and sore so quickly 😦

SUNDAY SPINNING: 9

After climbing we went to breakfast, and then got prepared for Sunday afternoon spinning (at this point they began calling this ‘Boot Camp’ vacation, and I realized they may never come back).

While Jill seemed a bit nervous at first, they both came out of the class pretty pleased.  Spinning is definitely tough, and I’ll admit there’s a 10-minute period at the beginning each week where you want to die, but then you get in the groove and end up loving it.  I’m glad they felt the same way 🙂

-1 because this instructor in particular always cuts the classes short at 45 minutes rather than an hour.  If I’m gonna be there in pain I’d rather just work it out for a full hour.

Covered in sweat we left to prepare for Scott’s birthday framily dinner!

The framily came over at 7 to celebrate, and the theme this week was ‘Scott’s favorite foods’, since it’s his birthday 🙂  Included were:

  • 3 pounds of gummie bears
  • hot chocolate with marshmallows
  • hot dogs
  • hamburgers
  • mac ‘n cheese
  • funfetti cake with funfetti frosting (made by yours truly)
  • Snooky’s special delicious dessert

JILL & JEFF’s MAC ‘N CHEESE: 10

For a last-minute plan, this sure did come out good.  Real, homemade mac ‘n cheese.  Plus, it left me with leftovers that will hold me over until July.  +10.

SCOTT’S BIRTHDAY CAKE: 9!

You can’t go wrong with funfetti cake topped with funfetti icing.  End of story.

-1 for forgetting candles.  Although I think this use of an Ikea candle was pretty clever 🙂  It made it into more of a doughnut cake…

SURPRISE VISIT FROM THE GRANDPARENTS: 10!

I knew the grandparents were stopping by North Carolina on Monday, but wasn’t expecting a call from them Sunday as they arrived a hotel about 5 minutes from me.  I convinced them to join the framily dinner, and it was nice to once again mix family and ‘framily’ 🙂

WORDS WITH FRIENDS: 9

While in town Jeff introduced me to a new iPhone app I’m in love with.  It’s called ‘Words with Friends’ and is free 🙂  Essentially it’s an ongoing scrabble game that is played between two people via iPhones.  You can play quickly or over time, whenever each person has time to play.  You get a message (like a text message) every time they’ve played, and there’s even a chat option so you can trash talk.  My fave 🙂

If anyone wants to play, my username is camidh672 (meant to be camish, like everything else in my life, but I accidentally typed d and they wouldn’t let me change it 😦 )

-1 for the many cheating options that exist when you’re not playing in person…

PEOPLE LEAVING: 2

While busy, it’s been nice to have my parents, Rodney, Kim, Jeff, Jill and my grandparents all stop by within two weeks.  I love life in North Carolina, but I love my friends and family from the north (and other parts of NC) as well, so it’s nice when the worlds collide.  That also makes it sad when they all have to leave 😦

All in all a fabulous weekend full of tens 🙂

Smith Family Smackdown!

Per Claudia’s request, I am updating despite the slow, and very inconsistent internet at home (I rate it a 4- it works, but every time the phone rings it shuts down indefinitely.  NOT COOL).  So, some more vacation highlights (that’s right, I’m still on vacation.  Be jealous :))…

MY MOM’S EGG SLICER: 9.

First of all, it’s been way too long since I put hardboiled eggs on a salad… IT IS SO GOOD!  It adds enough substance that I actually feel like I’m being fed.  And this slicer is a brilliant way to cut them quickly and easily.  I love it 🙂  -1 because I wish it produced smaller pieces, but that’s easy enough to fix.


CHRISTMAS DESSERTS: 8.

A combination of an ice cream ball, pumpkin cake and peppermint bark makes for a pretty fabulous end to any meal.  Plus over the course of the vacation my mom went on to make carrot cake, and ice cream balls with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.  While I most certainly love all these, maintaining any sort of moderation is difficult with this many options.  Still worth it- it’s vacation!

SUN POSITIONING: 1.

On Tuesday I headed to Philly to pick up Scott from the airport and I swear, the sun positioned itself perfectly in between my two sun shades for the entire drive.  No matter which way the road turned, or whether or not I switched from an East road to a South road, the sun was always right there.  Funny that Scott found my sunglasses as soon as he got in the car after I had suffered for two hours…

After I picked him up we headed to the King of Prussia mall.  Not entirely sure why, as we didn’t really need to buy anything, but it was there and therefore needed to be seen 🙂

For anyone who has never been there, it used to be the second largest mall in America (not sure if that’s still the case) and is HUGE.  While there’s no amusement park, there are a LOT of stores, and it’s super hard to find your way around.  Still, there are maps and we should have been able to figure it out.  But… we weren’t.

OUR SENSE OF DIRECTION: 2

We got lost.  A lot.  But this meant we saw a lot of the mall.  And a lot of the same parts over and over.  Good times…

We finally found the food court for lunch, and it was INSANE.  Seriously, people were going crazy over chairs.  There obviously weren’t enough and everyone was on the lookout.  Lines were super long (luckily I was in charge of grabbing a table and didn’t have to wait), and there were people everywhere.

Ended up with some delicious chicken teriyaki from one of those great Japanese places that hand out free samples and make it impossible to resist.

FIGHTING THE URGE TO GET FIVE GUYS EVEN THOUGH I DON’T EAT MEAT: 5.

I won, which is good, and didn’t revert back to my college eating habits.  I went a bit healthier, and managed to avoid a heart attack on a bun, plus fries.  But there is a big part of me that loves five guys so much it’s worth giving up my ‘vegetarianism’ for.  Maybe next time…

We got home that night in time for dinner and then the 2009 SMITH FAMILY SMACKDOWN!

Last years was held at Thanksgiving, but due to sickness (on my part) it was postponed until Christmas this year.  The sport of 2009 was… BOWLING!  I’ll admit, after the embarassment that was my performance at tennis last year, I figured I had a much better shot at bowling.

Turns out, a full year of bowling every Friday night (was part of an awesome league in Gaston) has not transferred to lifelong bowling talent.

GAME FACES: 10.

Badass.  That’s all I have to say about that.  If game faces were the competition, I would’ve been close to first.  Unfortunately, it was about the actual bowling.

MY BOWLING: 2.

I swear I used to be pretty decent.  I’ve scored as high as a 160 before, and between 110-120 on a regular basis.

During the Smackdown I scored about 85-90 both games.  Needless to say I came in last yet again this year.

Good thing it was fun 🙂

MATCHING: 10!

I love it so much I convinced my whole family to wear their t-shirts again today when we played some pickup volleyball 🙂  I can come up with nothing that I don’t like about it…

Now off to fight the snow and drive to Atlantic City to celebrate the New Year with a live David Gray concert!