Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back to School -- how you can help teachers be their best

I still love back-to-school hoopla. Going to Target or Wal-Mart and seeing all of the shiny new school supplies gives me such a thrill that I have to restrain myself from loading up my cart with brand-spanking-new notebooks, folders and pens.

Although I am no longer in school and don’t have any kids of my own to prep for back to school, I have many friends who are parents and even more who are teachers that are currently getting back to school and gearing up for another school year. And let’s not forget, my mom and Coach are teachers too! So I know all too well the trials, tribulations and STRESS that comes along with back-to-school season.

Given that I grew up with two teachers for parents, I was really not surprised to learn that on average, teachers spend nearly $500 out of their own pockets on school supplies each year for their students and classrooms. Given the (lower than they should be) salaries for teachers in our country, that amount is really significant.

I was really pleased to get an email from Procter & Gamble about an exciting online initiative aimed at helping out these dedicated teachers and their students. School Family Media, with support from P&G’s Bounty brand, have launched TeacherWishList.com. This site houses wish lists of essential supplies that teachers are lacking in their schools and allows parents and other friends in the community to help make a difference my fulfilling these unmet needs. This initiative will not only provide much needed supplies, but it will allow teachers to focus on what is really important -- educating children.

Now through Tuesday, September 27, teachers who register their school wish lists on TeacherWishList.com are entered for a chance to win a grant from Bounty to fulfill items on their wish list. Additionally, schools with five or more registered teachers are entered for a chance to win a grand prize $25,000 art classroom makeover. And, when you print out a teacher’s wish lists, you can receive a $1 off coupon good on any Bounty product.

In addition to this initiative, P&G has teamed up with Communities in Schools to launch GIVE Education, a campaign to increase awareness or the student dropout crises and help keep more than one million kids in school. For each P&G coupon you use the next time you go shopping, P&G will donate two cents to Communities In Schools to provide much-needed resources to students.

These efforts are a win-win for everyone, right? I encourage teachers to go upload your wish lists so that parents (and friends of parents like me!) can help you get your classrooms stocked and make this the best school year ever. Not just for the kids, but for the teachers too.

Wishing everyone -- parents, kids, and all of my teacher friends out there -- a happy and successful new school year!

Help Our Teachers. Visit TeacherWishlist.com

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Feelings

What a freaking sappy, Oprah-y, wussy title, right? I know, I cringed a little too. But I am in a bit of a funk today and just feel kind of off. Out of it. BLAH.

Maybe it's this Irene situation and not really knowing if it's just going to be a minor annoyance here in the DC area or power-out, full-blown clusterf&ck.

Maybe it's the whole company I just started working for last month announcing it was being sold yesterday thingamajig. We have a huge company-wide meeting about it on Monday morning and hopefully that may help either calm my nerves or confirm my fears. I'm going back and forth between feeling "maybe this will be a not-so-bad thing and I will get to keep this here job" and then feeling all "FML I am going to go from gainfully employed to on the streets in like 6 weeks. Because of this horrible choice I made. Maybe I should have stayed at the firm?!?" It is getting to be downright exhausting going back and forth between those two emotions. Maybe Monday's meeting will at least help me to pick a side and move on from there.

Maybe it's that I realized today that I have exactly one month until my Birthday. And with the exception of last year's weekend full of festivities and fun, I really really hate my birthday. I'm having all kinds of feelings lately about being older but not feeling like a grown up. And not in a "I'm so young at heart" kind of way. More in a "If I died tomorrow all I may leave behind is a bunch of nice purses" kind of way.

Maybe it's that I feel like I am not doing what I wanted to do with this here little blog. For a good long while there I was passionate about this little space of the interwebs that I got to call my own. I constantly thought about things I could write about and felt good about pursuing a creative endeavor. But I really do feel like I've lost my writing mojo. Or at the very least, really misplaced it. I went all the way to San Diego to try and find it and I often feel like what I got out of being there was realizing how far behind I am in so very many ways. And also that I need to have a kid to be seriously socially relevant in the blogoshpere. Not fair, but very very true.

SO right now I am just all those sorts of BLAH feelings. And I'm thinking being holed up for two days while it rains outside with nothing to do but think about my thoughts is going to either cure me of this, or make me certifiably crazy. Let's hope for the former!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

All I can muster is...*sigh*

This week has proven to be quite a roller coaster. And I am so very ready to get off this dang ride.

We had that little earthquake the other day. Even more awesome to still be a new employee with no clue about the evacuation procedures in your large, high-rise office building.

That day also brought my first legit disagreement/problem with MVP. It's not worth getting into right here/now and the important thing is we are fine now. We've talked through the issue and it's resolved and we're are all systems go. But it wasn't great at the time and I went through a lot of emotions on Tuesday that were unrelated to the earthquake.

Then the weather peeps are coming at us with a "Not so fast, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast..." when discussing Hurricane Irene. While we were always supposed to have a fairly rainy Sunday, not we may be having some legit severe weather. Not that I had fabulous and fanciful outdoor plans that are ruined or anything. But still, not something to look forward to.

And that was all enough. Heck, it was more than plenty to deal with for the week.

Then I get an email at work. My company is being sold.

So right now I am running through a range of emotions and possible scenarios. Some of them not great - keeping the job I just started exactly one month ago today but losing a lot of the benefits/incentives that drew me to the company in the first place. Some of them really not great - losing my job and being completely SOL.

It's a wait and see for now. The whole situation is made worse by the fact that my boss is out of the office today, so I can't even get any sort of "read" on what may or may not happen. There is chatter in the hallways. Office doors are closed. The mood here matches the gloomy gray weather outside today eerily well.

I'm feeling a little bit like this image -- although I'd like the option to write someone a strongly worded email about the situation.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I feel like I could write a much longer post on what I'm NOT loving today, but I'll try and keep this all sunshine and lollipops and link up with This Kind of Love for What I'm Loving Wednesday.
I will tell you that right now I am NOT loving that Blogger will not allow me to upload photos...so I am including links where I can. Because I kind of need your help/opinions towards the end of this post, please-and-thank-you.

I'm loving... that the earthquake got me an unexpected early leave yesterday. Thankfully because of my new office location, my commute home was not as bad as I think it would have been from my old office. Now there were still some major @ssclowns on the train and bus rides, but I think that's just totally unavoidable when riding public transpo in the DC area.

I'm loving...that the only earthquake casualty at the apartment was this poor guy. I let him lay there for awhile just to remind me of what we had all survived yesterday. Powerful stuff, right?

I'm loving...that I get to see my favorite hair stylist today. My hair's looking pretty darn tired at the moment and needs his help! I am not looking forward to the lecture I am going to get about my latest root touch up debacle where I kind-of sort-of just colored my whole head of hair instead -- oopsies!

I'm loving...the deals I scored at the Lilly P sale. I definitely had to restrain myself...I thought the online sale was really, really good this year (and free of a lot of the troubles of last year's!) I picked myself up two new dresses. You know, because I have this terrible habit of collecting dresses, but never actually wearing them. I'm weird, I know. I got the Jonah, in this really pretty shade of purple.

And the Saemus, which I was just drawn to. Although I am worried that I might have gotten it a size too small and may need to stop eating for a week or two to be able to fit into it. Maybe it will be just the thing to help me kick this nasty Chik-Fil-A habit I have picked up since starting the new job.

Unfortunately I went back to poke around in the sale again today and am kind of crushing on the Mandy...it feels very cocktail-y but you could probably dress it down a bit with gold sandals. I'm also nervous about how this might fit or run sizing wise....feels like it may look "dumpy" if it is even a little too big. What do you all think?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A very abbreviated weekend recap

The meet-the-parents weekend went off without a hitch. The Phillies even managed to win the game we attended. My parents were pretty well behaved. My mom's only real embarrassment was telling MVP he had a cute accent. I think it was natural for me to be stressed out about it and on Sunday night I just felt relieved that it was over. Not that it didn't go well....I had just worn myself down getting so stressed over it. When I was spending time alone with my parents on Sunday during the day, I just felt completely out of it, I was so exhausted.

Thanks to everyone for the words of encouragement and emails asking how it was going and how it went. Made me feel much better knowing I had some people over in my corner rooting for me.

As excited as I am that it went well (and also that it's over!), I thought I would feel different somehow. Like, more comfortable with this suddenly feeling very "real" to me. But I still feel somewhat unsettled with it or something. I think I vacillate between being really happy and content to feeling incredibly scared and nervous. But who knows, maybe that's just some lingering effects from today's DC earthquake?

I'm hopeful if I just give myself some time, everything will fall into place. Seems like a reasonable plan, right?

Friday, August 19, 2011

I wasn't stressed out...you know, until I started really stressing out

This weekend, my mom and Coach are coming to visit. And also, to meet MVP. And I wasn't stressed about it at all a few weeks ago. Even earlier this week, it was just another item on my checklist for this week. I wasn't stressed about it AT ALL. That is, until I realized this was actually happening and then I started actually freaking out about it.

I am amazingly good with talking about things that are in the future or just hypotheticals. But yesterday it sort of all hit me at once that this is, in fact, happening. This all got really real, really quick.

To be fair, I brought this all on myself. This wasn't something my parents were forcing on me; I'm the one who brought it up and suggested this weekend would work best because the Phillies would be playing down here in DC. They probably would have wanted to visit then anyway, so why not kill two birds with one stone? My parents do not ever talk to me about guys or dating. They have only ever met one boyfriend and maybe even only knew of one other's existence. I may have mentioned before, I am a super private person when it comes to this sort of stuff, even in talking to my close friends and, in this case, my family. Hell, my mom even had one talk with me when I was in high school about how her and my dad "would love me no matter what...and not matter who I loved..." Because she thought my lack of talking to her about boys probably meant I was a lesbian. Awesome to know your parents will support you no matter what. A kick in the pants for them to think you aren't dating boys because you're gay.

Anywhoozle, they will be here tomorrow and will meet MVP. And I am super confident they will really like him. And I have already briefed him on some things to talk about/avoid talking about and warned him that my mom has likely brought some sort of gift for him. That's how she rolls. For my friends IRL who get random presents from me, now you know why -- it's likely genetic.

I started freaking out a little trying to work out the timeline for the weekend - what we would be doing when, and all of that - in an effort to eliminate any of the standing around figuring out what to do next. I hate that enough when it is just me and my parents, I don't want MVP to suffer through them as well.

But then I started freaking out a lot because everything starting feeling really REAL at this point. Like yes, this is happening and there is no turning back. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to turn back. I am happier than I could have hoped with MVP and where things are going with us. But as he keeps passing these hurdles -- meeting my friends and meeting my family -- my mind wanders sometimes to how many people I would have to notify if things with me and MVP didn't work out.

THAT FEAR is often what has prevented me from mixing a guy in with my friends/family/personal life. There's less mess to clean up when it doesn't work out. No one needs to know about a failed relationship. No one needs to feel bad for me or offer me words of encouragement. I compartmentalized that part of my life really well. And maybe that's why it didn't often work out too well, who knows.

What I do know is this - for a really long time in my life, I stopped myself from doing things because of what would happen if they didn't work out. This time I am doing something because of how wonderfully it could turn out. This is such a new concept and process for me that sometimes it gets a bit scary. And I can get really stressed.

You know, like now...when I am sitting here on a verge of a "meet the parents" weekend and I'm working my stomach into knots.

I know it will all be great, but if anyone has some words of advice or encouragement or generally wants to talk be down off the stress-ledge, I'm all ears....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I keep promising I am going to get back in the swing of things with posting, and then I keep coming up short. To be truthful, I have been spending a lot of my days trying to figure out what in the heck I am doing at my new job, and getting a little stressed about busy schedules. So hopefully you people of the internet can cut me a little slack for that. But, in an effort to just post a little something, I am linking up with This Kind of Love for What I'm Loving Wednesday.

I'm loving...that the weather is freakishly un-August like lately. Cooler more reasonable temperatures ... some rain here and there but nothing too crazy ... Of course I say that now, and watch this weekend when my parents are here it will swing back to being 100 degrees with completely oppressive humidity. I'll keep knocking on wood and hoping the weather stays pleasant.

I'm loving...my new breakfast obsession - vanilla greek yogurt sprinkled with Kellogg's Bran Buds. I measure out my cereal for the week in little snack bags, and in the morning can just grab it and one of my yogurts and go. Between the protein in the greek yogurt and the fiber in the cereal, I stay seriously full until lunchtime.

Speaking of food, I'm loving... DC Restaurant Week. I was able to make it to one place last Friday (gotta love it when places like Art & Soul start the fun early!), another tonight, and then another when my parents visit this weekend. Getting back into a more sensible eating plan is definitely on hold until next week.

I'm loving...being home again. For a awhile there it felt like I was always coming back from one trip and getting ready for another. It's nice to just stay put for a few weeks. You know, until I brave the hoardes of traffic going to the shore for Labor Day weekend.

I'm loving...MVP's eyelashes. I know that is an absolutely cuckoo-crazy thing to say, but seriously. They are super long and have a natural curl to them and I may have the slightest urge to try and put a coat of mascara on them while he's sleeping. Don't worry people, I would never actually do that. But I can't say that fleeting thought hasn't come to me a few times. Why oh why do boys get things like super pretty lashes that girls would give their right arm for?

And on a related note...I'm loving...that MVP knows this blog exists but has made the decision for himself not to read. I'd hate to have to withold things from you all like my urge to put makeup on him while he's sleeping.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Here I Am...I'm Here!

Only, I am not quite sure where "here" is these days. I've been either coming or going for weeks now without ever really staying put for more than a few days. And while I have enjoyed all the fun trips and the nights out and all of it...well...I am ready to settle down.

I know the one thing stressing me out and keeping me from feeling settled at the moment is that I am still trying to get the swing of things at the new job. Don't get me wrong, I know that things are going to be good eventually. But for right now? I don't know who to ask for what. And that's if I even know enough to know what to ask for. Does that make sense? There is not a whole lot of training associated with the position - and that's fine, I am more than used to just being thrown in and having to figure things out. But for whatever reasons, I seem to be struggling with the figuring it out part. Or maybe I am just so used to my other job and the stresses and pressure involved that given anything else, I am not quite sure how to react?

Outside of the lack of feeling settled at work, I don't really feel settled at home either. The past month has felt like a constant cycle of laundry, packing and unpacking. If it wasn't for a trip then it was packing for or unpacking from staying at MVP's house. And trust me, I know these are high-class problems to have -- fun trips with friends and having sleepovers at a boy's house. But the thing is, I tend to get stressed out over this kind of thing. Trust me, I know that that is a little cuckoo.

Right now the trouble is, I really have time to truly settle down. I have parents coming to visit this weekend (yes, Coach and my mom and coming to meet MVP), my sorority chapter advisor obligations kicking in with the start of the fall semester, fundraising for a charity drive, and the start of my new member year for Junior League. I took some time today to note everything on my calendar and feel tired thinking about it all. I mean I am just one person and I am most definitely not all that important. Can it really be this troublesome and exhausting to manage it all?

I have tried things here and there to get myself on track or at least a little better organized. For example, I have a second set of toiletries and such over at MVP's house so I never need to worry about packing it when I am going to stay there. I am also thinking about organizing myself to the point where I plan out my clothes for work for the whole week on Sunday night, the same way I try to plan out my meals. Hoping that will save me time (and more importantly stress) when getting ready in the mornings.

I am also thinking I need to do a serious PURGE of extra crap from my life. I did a sort of top-line trim of my closet a few weeks back and just doing that once over yielded about 2.5-3 garbage bags full of clothes, shoes and purses to donate.

Anyone else have tips or strategies to share of what I can do do consolidate, streamline, and make sure all the trains are running on time in my life?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday -- BlogHer edition

I am so so very far behind on posting things that I want, nay, NEED to write about (um...BlogHer 2011!), but in the interest of posting something on this neglected little corner of the Internet, I am linking up with This Kind of Love for What I'm Loving Wednesday. Some of these "likes" may be BlogHer influenced. Ok, maybe all of them are. Whatevs.

I'm loving...that I made a real life FRIEND at BlogHer. She is wonderful and fabulous and all importantly, hilarious. She blogs over at Internet Therapy and you should totes read her. Well, not right NOW. At least wait until you've finished this here post. Where are your manners?

I'm loving... the free stuff I got at BlogHer. I'll admit it - I'm a whore for free sh*t. I took things I didn't even need let alone want. Like baby/child related products. Just because they were free. Clearly I have issues. But I did score TWO of these Temperpedic Travel pillows. It's like a little bean shaped slice of heaven.

I'm loving... that I got to spend time with one of my besties while out in San Diego. I love staying with her because she cooks me tasty meals we can always fall comfortably back into our face-to-face friendship as if no time has passed since the last time we saw one another. We can talk about pretty much anything and are usually really blunt with one another. She used to be a voice of questionable decision making back when we were in college, but has matured into a voice of reason I can trust. And yes, she feeds me well.

I'm loving...that I had someone to pick me up from the airport. Doesn't that always make you feel a little better about coming home? Dealing with a surly cabbie or one of those Nascar-driver-wannabes from SuperShuttle is the last thing I need when a trip is coming to a close.

I'm loving...that it was MVP who picked me up from the airport. And that he got my over sized bag off the luggage carousel for me. And brought me a sandwich from my favorite, Taylor Gourmet. And just the fact that he missed me. It felt nice to be missed.

OK so clearly you can see that BlogHer made me a little warm and fuzzy around the edges. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I do vow to get a better posting up about it really soon!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Good Morning, San Diego!

After a less-than-stellar flight yesterday, I am happy to be waking up in San Diego today. Oh and for the record, "less-than-stellar" is defined as waking up to the woman seated next to you dumping salsa all over you.

In just a few hours, I will be reporting for duty at BlogHer'11! I feel like it's the first day at a new school or something...I'm excited and nervous and anxious. Will I make friends? Will I fit in? And obviously the all-too-important question - what should I wear??

I am really looking forward to this experience and hoping that the conference gives my writing a much needed kick in the @ss. This may sound totally nuts, but when I'm pretty dang happy and enjoying some good fortune for a change, I feel like I have less to write about. Is that just crazy? Maybe I've just always used humor to cope with tough times or difficult situations. Now I'm pretty intrigued about the concept of writing through the happy times.

So me and my spiffy little business cards (thanks, Tricia!)are amping up for this wonderful experience...and looking forward to better blogging for all! Oh and swag. Lots and lots of glorious swag.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tales from the Trenches Tuesday -- coming clean

Haven’t posted one of these in awhile, I know. So hopefully this one makes up for me pretty much hanging up Tales from the Trenches back in at the end of 2010. Things were kind of gloomy at the time, and I just needed time to reset myself. It’s usually just a period of time where I go through a phase of keeping to myself and preferring to spend nights by myself, wearing matching pajama sets and watching horrible reality TV shows and whatever junk I can get through Netflix.

After I have hermited for awhile, then I like to do a total 180 and try and go out and be social as much as humanly possible. I kind of kick myself out of the nest a bit. This whole period of time is also usually marked by an increase in online shopping. Retail therapy may not heal all, but for me it sure helps me feel better.

So after all of that, I decided to go and try a little bit of dating again. Was I ready? Probably not. But if I waited until I felt truly ready for anything, I figure my whole life might pass me by before I ever got around to doing anything. I went back to my old friend/foe match.com because as much as it may stink sometimes, for people like me who are busy with work and not into going out every night of the week to try and meet people in bars…well, it really is the best solution for trying to meet new people.

I started emailing with MVP. And I wasn’t very good at emailing. This was also a really tough period of time at the firm where I was working like a crazy person and dealing with too much stress. At times, I forced myself out on match meetings but none of them really left me with a great feeling. So it was hard to muster up the energy and emotion to go out even more after having draining days at the firm.

After a couple months, I’m pretty sure MVP had pretty much given up on me (hell, I would have) when I decided to email him again after I was finally finished with my huge client event on the west coast. His office was a few blocks from mine so we finally set up a meeting for a Friday right after work. Early enough that if it wasn’t all that great I could still salvage the evening. I was running late to that meeting and trying to walk fast enough to get to the meeting spot quickly while not getting myself sweaty and mussed up in the process. I walked by a wedding rehearsal taking place in a hotel courtyard. While waiting to cross the street I texted a friend to see if maybe that might be a good sign. Her text back to me? Weddings suck.

So really at this point, I have the bar set low. Like so low, it's basically just on the ground. I’m late, semi-mussed up from almost running to get to the place, and my friend has text-sucked any faint romantic hopes I may have had right out of me.

But surprisingly? I had a really nice time. MVP was easy to talk to and I feel like before I knew it, 3 or 4 hours had gone by. And while I knew I had had a really nice time…I had absolutely zero read on MVP. So I hoped he might ask me out again, but was also prepared for him to just drop off the face of the earth. Again, I was setting the bar really low. Experience sort of showed me that’s the best way to handle these things.

After we each respectively battled miserable colds, we did go out. And basically roasted in the heat at the Phillies game on Memorial Day. I was still getting over the last traces of illness and trying not to burst into flames in the scorching sun. Not really ideal conditions for being charming and putting your best foot forward, you know? I think at one point I actually used a stack of napkins to wipe the sweat off of my chest. Classy, yes? Despite the heat, I had another great time with MVP…but I still could not get a read on him. There wasn’t really any flirting. I think the closest we came to any sort of physical contact might have been when he watched my tote bag while I used the ladies room.

So now I was kind of annoyed. Was he just not interested? Was he one of those people using match.com to just meet a bunch of new friends?

A week later I was at the NKOTBSB concert with my fabulous hair stylist and 2 of his fabulous friends. I had been texting back and forth with MVP earlier that afternoon and he invited me to meet him out after the concert. Maybe it was the strong drinks the bartender was pouring us at the concert. Maybe it was the fact that after the concert I was feeling like the odd man out as one of the only girls at a gay sports bar. Whatever the reason, I decided to give it one last shot and hopped on the Metro to go meet him.

And given enough time, I can talk myself out of anything. So the time spent standing there waiting on the metro platform…and then the train ride to where he was…I had basically made up my mind to just go home. I was tired. I was a little drunk. And I didn’t even know if MVP liked me. And that made me feel pretty dumb for just dropping what I was doing to Metro on over to him.

So as I walked up to the bar he was at and saw the line of people waiting to get in, I took it as a sign that I should go home. And I sent him a text telling him just that. As I turned to look for a cab to get into, I saw MVP coming out to meet me. And while I thought he looked pretty handsome in his suit from work (I blame the vodka sodas for trying to talk me out of my own decision!), I quickly reminded myself that I was finding a cab and heading home.

He walked with me for a bit and listened as I explained that I had such a long day, was tired, and needed to go home. And then he stopped me and kissed me. In the middle of a crowded sidewalk in DC on a busy Friday night. And people walked by and probably didn’t even notice us. But I finally got my answer – MVP did, in fact, like me.

So for the last few months when I haven’t been at work or out of town…I’ve pretty much been with MVP. He is a really good guy and I feel really lucky that I met him. He holds doors open for strangers. He makes friendly small talk with waiters and cashiers. He changes his flights to surprise me by coming home a day early. He watches Real Housewives of New Jersey with me. He likes wandering around Costco for 2 and a half hours almost as much as I do. He goes to 7-11 in the middle of the night to get me ginger ale when I wake up sick.

We are open and honest with one another and talk things through. He isn’t like anyone before and I mean that in the very best way possible. We are figuring each other out as we go. We are realistic enough to know we are going to have little bumps along the way and that neither of us is perfect. But for me? He’s My Version of Perfect right now and I don’t think I could be happier.

So there it is…my very long winded way of coming clean. Now I don’t know if I am going to be writing about all this or not. But just not writing about it at all sort of felt inauthentic. I feel better getting that all off my chest. And a special thanks to the three of you that may have read this posting all the way through :)