Monday, January 27, 2014

Crazy Winter Weather

Much of the U.S. has been experiencing the wildest weather this winter. I've seen on Facebook many postings my my friends and family in Ohio about their kids not having school. One friend posted that her kids only had one day of school out of an entire week due to the weather. I also saw that Ohio's governor is saying how they need to add more school days for the schools this year.

It's been pretty crazy here in Florida too. This being our first winter here, we didn't really know what to expect. I was guessing that it would be colder than San Diego but warmer than New Bern, N.C. So far, we've been having a lot of "colder than average" days. The arctic blast that most of the country experienced affected us too. We had subfreezing temperatures and I'm pretty sure my poor hibiscus aren't going to survive the winter. I tried protecting them by putting them in the garage and then in the driveway, but they weren't getting enough sun in the front yard. That, combined with the cold-ass temps has really hurt them.

Today, we are getting ready for yet another dose of winter weather. Winter weather advisories were posted yesterday and now we have a winter weather watch. The weather "authorities" keep changing their minds about how much snow/sleet/freezing rain we're supposed to get, where, and when we're getting it. As a result, schools have been cancelled for both Tuesday and Wednesday. For an Ohio native as well as a person who has survived several harsh Vermont winters, that's pretty insane to me. Right now, it's a mild 63 degrees outside. Is that not craziness? I always chuckle when warm weather places panic over a little winter weather. I distinctly remember driving my girls to school in Vermont when we already had lots of inches on snow on the ground and it was snowing so hard on the way to school that I could barely see to get us there. If I hadn't had 4 wheel drive, they would've missed school that day. The only time I can remember them cancelling school in Vermont for weather was when it was due to cold temperatures and not because of snow. I also remember when New Bern got a dusting of snow. You could still see the grass and roads under the snow and it closed down the entire city. Schools, government offices, everything, lmao.

Pensacola Three Mile Bridge
However, even the jaded me is keeping a close eye on this storm. Why? Because if we get as much ice as they're forecasting, it's a pretty good bet we'll be losing power. Hardly any of the trees down here lose their leaves in the winter. The gigantic trees in my front and back yards are still very leafy. Add ice to leafy trees, and you have broken limbs and downed power lines. They're saying we could get as much as 3/4" of ice. I also worry about the Mister because he has to drive over four bridges between our house and his base. Bridges are especially dangerous in winter weather. One bridge is three miles long. I've been hearing on the interwebs that they might actually close this bridge so it might be a moot point.

On the up side, I'm hoping that the bad road conditions hold off long enough so that we can drive to the beach if and when it snows. I've always wanted to see snow at the beach. I know. How dumb. But I've always thought that it would be neat and unique. We've also laid in a supply of wood in case we do lose power and we just went to the commissary so we have a full pantry and lots of tp. From what I've been hearing on the interwebs, the stores are all out of milk, bread, and tp. And we have a cabinet full of liquor. There's more than one way to stay warm, heheh.

What's the weather been like in your neck of the woods this winter? Crazy, normal, mild?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Romantic Recharge

On Friday, Jan 17, the Mister surprised me with an overnight trip away from the kids, the pets, and the house. Do you ever have those times when you just need a break. A break from homework, cleaning the house, cooking dinner, feeding the pets, just EVERYTHING. I was having one of those times. It wasn't any one thing. The kids have been doing relatively okay and the pets are fine as is the house. But it was just the everyday minutia of the cats running around the house like monkeys and having to nag the kids to do their homework and having to figure out dinner every single day that was wearing me down. Because I have a wonderful husband, he listened to me bitch about it and planned an overnight trip just for the two of us.

Sandestin Village of Baytowne Wharf

He booked a terrific hotel at Miramar Beach, FL. He made dinner reservations at this fancy French restaurant. He planned it so that we could go out afterward for drinks and not have to worry about getting back to our hotel room.

The hotel was located in this village-type resort area that had several properties with accomodations and even streets with regular houses and town houses. It's hard to describe because I've never seen anything like it before. Our room was HUGE! with gigantic windows overlooking the courtyard/pool area (not that we could take advantage of the pool in winter). You walk out the lobby of the hotel and the restaurant was just around the corner.

We ate at the Bistro Bijous. I had the filet mignon which was so perfect that it was fork tender and melted in my mouth. Then I had the bread pudding with goat cheese ice cream for dessert. Goat cheese ice cream was pretty exotic for me but it was yummy. The presentation was so pretty it was almost a shame to eat it. The Mister had duck. Neither one of us had ever had duck before and it wasn't that bad. He also had a Russian coffee for dessert that was 99% Russian and 1% coffee.

After dinner, we walked across the way to Rum Runners which is a dueling piano bar. I had never been to such a thing but it was a lot of fun. The pianist was hilarious. Coincidentally, he told his audience that he attended the University of Michigan and it was on after that with the Mister. He heckled the piano player and requested he play "Hang on Sloopy", which is an Ohio song and he refused to do it replying by playing a few bars of Michigan's fight song. It was so funny.

Saturday, we spent the day recuperating from a night of overindulgence. Kinda made me feel old, lol, but it was so totally worth it.

I can't believe that the Mister managed to plan everything, tell the girls about it since they would be spending their first night alone, and keep it all a secret. It was the best surprise and I truly have the best husband and the best friend ever.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Making Changes...Making Improvements

 We breathe, therefore we live, therefore we evolve. Right? Oh. And we're open-minded which also allows for change.

Today marks the first day of graduate school for me. It's also the first day of the Mister's next to last semester in graduate school. I also made a hair color change. It's also a Monday and raining like cats and dogs. Just thought I'd throw that in there.

Today, I had to take a 200 question assessment of my IT skills. I had 1 hour and 20 minutes to take the assessment and I needed a 90 to test out of the first three "sessions" or weeks of my class. The test came with a disclaimer that it is hard and even IT professionals have a hard time scoring a 90. Needless to say, I didn't. I didn't expect to. Some of the questions were about things I had never even heard of. Some of them were statistical-type questions that I couldn't even begin to guess the answers. So, I have to partake in the first three weeks of class. I have to say, I'm not that disappointed. After all, I paid for an entire semester and I also paid for the book. Skipping three weeks might be easier, but I wouldn't have gotten a refund for those weeks. Anyway, the test gave me a pretty good reality check into the differences between an underdrad and graduate class. I can't remember ever having such an extensive test the very first day of any of my other classes. I'm taking a total of seven credits this spring semester; two full classes and a one credit, required "introductory-type" class. Blah blah.

So, back to the title of changes.

With both the Mister and my classes starting today, we've decided to implement a new homework routine. Out of the four of us, the Youngest child is the only one with good homework habits. The Mister and I both leave everything for the last minute and the Oldest a whole other story. This means that we all need a more structured and stringent homework routine. Like it or not.

Lastly, I colored my hair yesterday. I remember saying when I was an ignorant teenager, that I would grow old gracefully. The reality is, I am unable to embrace gray hair. I only have a few, but they're stupid and grow right where my hair meets me forehead and where I part my hair. So, they stick up and an old lady palm tree. I usually just pull them out but I figure this is only a short term solution unless I'd rather be bald at some point. I decided to color my hair to cover up my troupe of grays and I went with a darker color. Naturally, my hair is a mousy yuck color between true blonde and true brunette. I nudged my color fully into the brunette camp. I have to say that I am very pleased with this change. I like the darker color. Normally when I decided to color my hair, I go much lighter into the blonde arena. I like the brunette better. It's shiny and glossy and more natural looking than bottle-blonde.

Now, I have to go because it's homework time. Then I get to make dinner. Chicago dogs are on the menu. I figured we needed something fun to ease the pain of enforced homework time, lol.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Influencing the Mood

I don't know about you, but when I read, I like to read novels that are entertaining in some way. I don't mean that every novel I read is a comedy or romance, but every book that I read and have enjoyed has taken me away and allowed me to live outside of my tiny world for a little while.

Have you ever read The Lovely Bones? This is probably the only book that I've ever read that I regretted doing so. I'm not saying that it was terrible or full of typos or stupid analogies. What I didn't like about it was how depressing it was. If I'm depressed, I don't read sad books or watch tear-jerker movies. I listen to moody music or loud angry music. Or I clean the house angrily. Heheh. Anyway, The Lovely Bones was the kind of book that you want to put down just so that you can find the nearest tree and noose and hang yourself from it. I don't get why people like to read these kinds of books. Ok. That's not entirely accurate. I understand that everyone has their own personal tastes. What I mean, I guess, is that I don't get why someone would exclusively read these kinds of books.

I'm currently reading Juliet Grey's Confessions of Marie Antoinette. It's the third book in a trilogy. I love it and the whole series. Juliet Grey really immerses the reader in revolutionary France from the smells of the filthy palaces to the clothes that Marie and the people of France were wearing. I think she gives a good balance of historical fact and drama as well as giving Marie Antoinette a realistic voice. However, I have to put the book down every once in a while because it makes me sad. I know how it's going to end and every mistake that the King makes or the ignorant attitudes of the citizens make me clench my fists. I want to yell, "Don't take the heavy berline. You don't need two cook plates, picnic baskets, and writing desks inside of a coach when you're fleeing for your lives!!!!!" Yeah. I take Marie Antoinette's and the royalists side. ::sigh::  

The Oldest child has recently taken to reading depressing books. Books about teenaged pregnancy, breakups, Nazis, concentration camps. I mean, truly depressing stuff. She's 17 and has just now started to really enjoy reading. It's evolved into a pastime for her and not just boring assigned school work. I've been not-so-patiently waiting for this to happen and I'm thrilled that she's finally discovering the joys of a good book. I'm gently trying to steer her towards more lighthearted subject matter, but I don't want to discourage her from reading what she enjoys. This is just yet one more way that she's totally different from me, lol.

I've said this dozens of times of the years, but the only thing I wanted my kids to inherit from me was my love of reading. Instead, they both have my nasty hair color, the Oldest has my terrible attitude, and the Youngest has my anxiety. The fates are sometimes cruel, ya know?

Does what you read influence your moods? And if so, does that influence your reading choices?

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Ushering in 2014...Looking Back Over 2013

 Everyone is doing a "look back" post for the New Year so I figured I'd put on my Lemming shoes and join in on the fun.

2013 was a pretty busy year for us when I sit down to really think about it.
  • We celebrated the Youngest Child's 14th birthday in February. As usual, we did so at Joe's Crab Shack. She loves it, the rest of us tolerate it the one time a year we have to go there, lol. This year, she's decided on Flounders in Pensacola Beach. Their food is much better.
  • I finished my undergrad in March. It took me an embarrassing amount of years to do it. However, if you consider the fact that we lived in four different states and in six different houses and I transferred schools three different times, it's a miracle that I finished it at all.
  • The Mister and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary in May. 
  • We moved from San Diego, CA to Navarre, FL in June. I also celebrated my 36th birthday in June at a restaurant that will haunt me for the rest of my life.
  • We celebrated the Oldest Child's 17th birthday in July. Talk about a bittersweet birthday for a parent to celebrate.
  • I applied for and was admitted to grad school in August and September, respectively. I'm hoping that I can get this degree in a reasonable amount of time.
  • My grandmother passed away in October and we made the trip to Ohio for her funeral. We also got our cat, Winnie, in October. She's a sweetheart.
  • In November, the Mister and the Oldest Child attended the Marine Corps Ball. It was the Oldest Child's first Marine Corps Ball. We also had our first Thanksgiving in Florida.
  • December, of course, was all about the holidays. We had a really great holiday season here in Florida despite what most people think about celebrating Christmas in a warmer climate. We were actually more festive here than we had been since living in Vermont. We celebrated New Years with a bottle of actual champagne and it was pretty good.
For 2014, I'm hoping for a smooth transition into being a graduate student. I'd also like a better paying job that utilizes my skills and at a company that I can have some respect for. I'm also hoping that my kids finish out their first school year in Florida on a high note. I hope for the Oldest Child, that she opens her mind about school while she still has time and enjoys her senior year. I fervently wish that my dad's health improves. I'm not ready to think of my dad as being old and infirm. I wish for the Mister, that his job situation improves. I try to take comfort in the fact that at least it's not recruiting duty but there are too many similarities. ::sigh:: Aside from hopes and wishes...

I'm looking forward to having my second and third bookshelves built. I'm also looking forward to getting furniture for the sitting area in my living room so that it doesn't look so bare. It's going to be a tranquil and peaceful area to read and relax that's apart from the living room. I'm also looking forward to beach weather and flip flops!! Woot! And books and yarn. Lots of reading, knitting, and crocheting for 2014.