Wednesday, November 28, 2012

On how I lost a tree and Chirstmas Decor at the Calvert-Boettcher Apartment

I'm going to preface this with a little story.
Caleb and I lost our Christmas Tree. My grandparents gave us their old (not really old, just too big for them to worry with anymore) tree two years ago. The Christmas before we got married, when we lived together in sin (GASP), we put it up in our tiny apartment and it was beautiful. Just plain lovely. Only problem was that after Christmas, we had no where to store a 7 foot tree in our apartment. This is where the losing of the tree takes place. We packed it up and took it....somewhere. To my parents, or his parents or grandparents...who knows. Last year, we searched high and low for our beloved tree, but it was nowhere to be found. We had no tree last Christmas.  :(

So this year, I was determined to buy a new one. Unfortunately, to get a pretty fake tree, you gotta spend the big bucks. Big bucks I do not have, my friends. I decided that Black Friday was my only hope. I staked out the ads and found some pretty good deals I was ready to snatch up. I wasn't going to get my big, beautiful tree back, but I would have a semi-nice starter tree. I was ok with this.

But wait! My some Christmas miracle, my parents found our original tree! It was tucked away back in the far cornor of their attic. I don't know how I didn't find it last year but I don't care. I have my tree back! Christmas is saved!

Here are my decorations this year. Some of it is old, some new, some borrowed. All of it has memories and meaning attached. All of it makes my heart warm and mushy.

This was an empty wreath my mom gave us. I just added extra ornaments to it.
PS- Please forgive how dirty my front door looks. I live next to a field that got tilled up not too long ago.

Caleb says it looks like Christmas threw-up on our mantle, but I love it. All of the decorations (minus the stockings) came from Caleb's Granny. She hand made all three of those cute little elves.

Sadie wasn't so sure about what we were doing. This is her first Christmas tree.

She has been such a good girl with the tree. Hasn't eaten an ornament yet! If you knew how much my dog loves to eat inappropriate things, you would know just how much of an accomplishment this is.

Our tree.
PS- We couldn't agree on the bow or the star...so we put up both. Compromise is the key to marriage, right?

Candle lights outside.

I think this one strand of lights was given to us last year. I couldn't find a good place for them, but they were just so dang festive, I had to put them SOMEWHERE! So there they are...around my mirror...extension cord visible to all...redneck as we can be...we are from Mississippi, afterall.


So that's my Christmas decor this year. It just makes my heart smile to walk into our apartment after a long day and see so much Christmas cheer. That feeling is the best.

Nicole

Allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is...

Becky from From Mrs. to Mama has got to be one of my all time favorite bloggers. And since she had an awesome link up going on and I've suddenly got 45 followers (!! I feel like I am in the big times, y'all!!) I feel like this is the perfect time to introduce myself properly.

So...

I'm Nicole.


I've been married about a year. I have two cats and a dog. I live in (and love) Mississippi. I'm about to graduate with a BA in French, minors in English and Communication Studies. I work in pharmacy to make the ends meet. I like shopping and television WAY too much.

.....have I put you to sleep yet? I feel like its the first day of school and everyone has to go around the room and say something int resting about themselves.

That stuff is pretty generic. It's what I write about 90% of the time because, you know what? My life's a little generic at the moment. And I am so not ok with that.

I am 22 years old and I am ready to do something BIG with my life. Granted, I have no idea what that BIG thing may be, but boy I am ready for it.

Maybe a baby?
Maybe graduate school?
Maybe a "big girl" job?
Maybe running away to Paris for a year?
Who knows?

Right now, I'm just chugging along, waiting for that opportunity to take me some place special. The opportunity that will allow me to make a difference. The opportunity to make a SPLASH.

So this blog right now...it's about my life. My lovely little boring life. But one day soon, one day right around the corner, I'll have news. News that my whole life is changing. News that my life will no longer be so generic.

So please, stick around. Enjoy the journey with me. It always helps to have friends along for the ride.

Post written as a link up to Women Connect 12 hosted by Becky @ From Mrs. to Mama


Nicole

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving!

Sorry for that blog hiatus there people. Our internet went out and then it was the holidays and...you know. Exscuses, exscuses.

Caleb and I got to go to our hometown  for a couple of days for Thanksgiving and boy, Southaven did a number on our wallets, bellies and hearts.

First day we were home we went shopping for the first time in forever! I got a new dress to wear to an upcoming wedding and a super cute pair of boots from Old Navy that were half off!

Sidenote: Does anyone else have massive big calves? It took me forever to find boots that would zip up all the way over my legs of steel...

We also went out to eat with my parents and brothers that night. It was the first time we had all been together in months and we had SO much fun. TOO much fun.



We went to the liquor store and my mom decided I needed a bottle of top shelf Patron. Sooo... margaritas at my house soon. Everyone is invited!

Cigar Bar.

Caleb, Dylan, Me, Carson

Thanksgiving day we went to Caleb's aunt's house to eat lunch and then to my grandparetns for dinner. Lots of turkey was had. Even more champagne was had. 



We decided to brave the Pre-Black Friday crowd at Target at 9pm that night. I didn't go to buy anything. I just wanted to see the craziness. And crazy it was. TVs EVERYWHERE. People EVERYWHERE. Nicole's exboyfriend and his family EVERYWHERE....akward...

All in all, a very successful holiday. Tiring, but successful. One day, I'll have a big house and I'll host Thanksgiving. Save me a ton of time and about $50 dollars on gas.

Nicole

Forever young

Yesterday I sat down to write an update post about Thanksgiving and my time in my home town. I got distracted from my post and never finished it enough to publish it. I assumed I would just come back to it later on in the evening and go on my way.

I still intend to publish such a post, but last night changed my plans.

Last night I got a phone call to tell me that one of my close friends from high school had died. I couldn't believe it. I had to get the person on the phone to repeat it three times before my mind comprehended what she was telling me. I still don't really believe it.

Caleb and I had the same core group of friends in high school. We were a loosely connected group of mutual friends, some closer than others, but we were in the same clubs, went to the same parties and literally had almost every single class together. Trey was an integral part of that group.

We all went away to college and grew apart as our lives took us all in separate directions, but through the wonders of Facebook, we could always check in on each other. No, we don't all talk much anymore, but I could tell you who got married, who went to medical school, and who has a "real" job now. I thought I knew what was going on in everyone's lives.

But that's the funny thing about people, myself included. We only post what we want to the world to know. We post our triumphs, not our failures. Our happiness, not our sadness. Our hopes, not our shattered dreams.

So to say I knew what was going on in Trey's life is a lie. I had no idea. And it breaks my heart.

We're still young, my group of friend. We still think nothing can happen to us. We plan out our whole lives because of course we have another good 50 years, at least. Sadly, it takes a tragedy to remind us that we are not infinite. We are not invincible.

Death has never been, nor will it ever be, easy for anyone. But this is especially hard. I know it's sad when a great aunt passes away or a friend of a friend's mom...but this is different. This was someone so young and so full of potential. I knew one day I would be voting for Trey to be state senator or enrolling one of my kids in his college polysci class, he just had that in him.

It's hard to accept what has happened. I can't imagine what his family must feel. That breaks my heart, too.

Sorry to be a downer on a Monday morning, but I needed to write this. I needed to start making sense of how this makes me feel. And if everyone could just take a moment and be thankful for all their friends, new or old, that would be great.

Nicole

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Best/Worst literature expereice plus why I want to be a teacher

Pfffttt!!!!
That would be how I feel about school right about now.
Writing 3 papers in three days is no joke, my friends.

However, I am slightly proud of one of those papers. And seeing as how it was more of a personal reflection essay than a paper, I'm posting it here for the world to see.

This blog's puprose is to provide insight into my little world, and this essay gives you a taste of what I am passionate about (other than my dog, food, husband, and television, that is).

Read if you like. I've edited out some of the more technical parts.

Growing up, I always strived to be my best when it came to school, and learning to read was no different. I quickly and easily picked up how to read and began doing so mostly to show off to my teachers and parents. I do not remember ever particularly loving reading, though I was good at it. It was something I did in school to please others. Fortunately, as I have gotten older and exposed to great literature, reading has become something that I enjoy and I wish I could spend more time doing. I have a list of authors that, when I finally have some free time, I cannot wait to delve into their works, with Zola and Camus being at the top of that list. French literature has become my greatest love and my greatest challenge. While reading in French is difficult for me, it is a labor of love that deserves more of my time and attention. Reading bits of French literature was what changed my whole perspective on learning French. Speaking French moved from being a neat skill to becoming an integral part of my identity through the works of Baudelaire Rimbaud. As full time student with a full time job, leisurely reading, especially in French, is a novel idea. I simply do not have time to read and appreciate literature of my own choosing. When I read now, it is almost always an assignment for class. Again, I have reverted back to reading for the purpose of pleasing others, not myself.


Reading a novel still can be hit or miss for me. If I have a connection to the story, be it emotional or intellectual, the experience is almost always positive. This connect is essential for me and the way I learn. I have to make important personal ties to the literature I read for it to have impact and meaning to me.

The most meaningful and positive experience I have had with literature came at a very disruptive time in my life. I was in the tenth grade and my first real boyfriend had just broken up with me. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. My whole world stopped. Things that had once been so secure and comforting were now confusing and scary. I began to question the goodness of people and society. I also had copious amounts of newly freed time. I spent a good portion of it crying and moping at first, but one day during study hall, I decided to go to the school library to find something to keep my mind occupied. I skimmed the shelves, and by some miracle, I decided to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Why and how I chose that particular book, I do not know, but I will forever be thankful that I did. Charlie, the book’s main character, made me laugh again, but also broke my heart. My sadness was his sadness. I cried for him and for myself. Even though my world was shattered, it made me feel better to know other people had shattered worlds too. I was no longer alone. I finished the book in two days, returned to the library, and checked out another. Again, I do not remember how I chose the books I did, but they were books that provided me with characters I saw myself in.: characters that I could understand and cry with. I must have read at least 10 books in the two-week period it took for me to finally get over being dumped. I could not have done it without the emotional catharsis those books gave me. It was through young adult literature that I began to see the world differently and mature my outlook on life.

My best experience with literature happened within school walls, but I came to the literature on my own as an independent reader. At a time when I had little control in my life, the freedom to choose what I read was an empowering choice. As Rosenblatt suggests, I was able to experience literature within my own context and arrange it into my schema accordingly. Instead of reading and thinking what the teacher told me to think, I was able to self-regulate my own learning. I could make sense of this literature without the guidance of a teacher. This independent learning style was an important keystone in moving out of Piaget’s Concrete Operational stage and into the Formal Operation stage. At first, I was drawn to the literature for emotional release, a concrete reason, but as I read more, I was able to take some of the “big questions” about life and use these books as a lens in which to see the world, which was the abstract thinking I was previously incapable of performing at a high level.

I have been fortunate enough not to have a truly terrible experience with literature. I was lucky to never have been turned off of reading by a horrible assignment or teacher. I never had to read something I disliked or at least did not see the purpose of reading. Of course there were reading assignments and books that I did not care for, but I always saw reason behind the assignment. I could always see what I was meant to learn from the literature, even if personally, I did not care for it.

However, I have had less than favorable experiences with literature. The experience that stands out the most for me was reading Macbeth in the twelfth grade. I never have been (nor ever will be, I fear) a fan of Shakespeare, but by twelfth grade, I was accustomed to spending a couple of weeks each school year on his works. I could power through it knowing we were reading Lord of the Flies, which I was excited about, when we finished Macbeth. As we began reading Macbeth, I settled in for my few obligatory weeks of Shakespeare. We read the play out of our textbook, mostly in class, and I am sure we had supplemental assignments to go along with the play, though those escape my memory. But we were also preparing extensively for the AP exam, reading poetry from the same time period and various other activities. Macbeth got pushed down on the list. We would read a scene or two one day, and then not pick it back up for a week. Or we would spend a whole week reading and discussing Act II extensively, but then not begin Act three for another week or two. Macbeth got extended into nearly a 9 weeklong unit that was stop and start. I struggled to retain information from one scene to the next. I completely confused characters and plot lines. The subtleties that make Shakespeare beautiful were either rushed over or discussed so long ago, and their meanings were lost. By the time we finally finished Macbeth, I could barely remember how it started. I did embarrassingly poor on the final test because I just could not remember the facts of the play, nor was I willing to go back and reread half of the play. The whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth for Shakespeare that I still carry to this day.

Now that I am learning to think like a teacher, I can see why I suffered so much through Macbeth. The main issues were with my cognitive information processing. The teenage brain is still developing at tremendous rates. Though a cognitive development lens, it is shown that the adolescent brain is still working though different ways to process information. Attention, recall ability, memory, constructing images and strategies, and problem solving are all areas that are still increasing and growing in the eighteen year old’s brain. Though Piaget suggest that I was at an Formal operational stage, capable of both logical and abstract thinking, I was not given the proper environment or time span to construct the knowledge necessary to operate at the Formal level. The learning was not scaffolded, but disjointed into bits and pieces, many of which were not connected. No patterns of thought were able to be created.

As a teenager, I was never an avid reader outside of school, especially in the ninth grade. One day, my mom and I were out shopping and decided to stop into the local bookstore. After flipping though all the magazines with Justin Timberlake on the cover, I was ready to leave. Just as we were purchasing my magazines, my mom noticed a display by the register. On it was J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. My mom picked up the book and slowly flipped though it. She looked like she had just seen an old friend. I was somewhat surprised by my mother’s reaction. I must have had a quizzical look on my face because she proceeded to explain that Catcher in the Rye was one of her favorite books when she was my age. I was intrigued at this point. She offered to buy the book for me (no small gesture if you know my tight-wad mother). I took the book home and began reading almost immediately. It is important to note here, that as a 15-year-old ninth grader in an affluent area, I had never felt lost, strange, hopeless, or even out of place in my world. That was to come a year later, as I mentioned above. But as a 15 year old, I was as happy as I could be. This was my state going into Catcher in the Rye. At 15, I was still shocked and disgusted at the use of foul language, so I immediately could not believe my mother had purchased a book for me full of it. Did she not remember the not infrequent use of certain four letter words? I continued to read on to hopefully discover the amazing qualities my mother had loved. But this Holden Caulfield character? He was a whiny, self-absorbed jerk. The kid has it all going for him and he just screws around and messes things up. What was the chip on his shoulder? I couldn’t get through the novel. I found it pointless, offensive and irritating.

Looking back, I see that I was not ready for Catcher in the Rye. As Piaget suggests, I was not able to make the world of Holden Caulfield fit into my schema. The story was too far removed from my life and I was not yet functioning fully at the formal operational stage. Also, I was given the novel with no instruction, background, or insight. The difficult book was not within my zone of proximal development and my mother was clearly unaware of the scaffolded support I would need when reading such a challenging book at that age. Most importantly, through Kohlberg’s theory, I realize that my moral development had not reached a level necessary to appreciate the novel. I was operating at Stage 2, Level 3 that indicated that I was concerned with being “good”. I was still trusting and secure with the world around me and had not begun to question things that Holden Caulfield saw so clearly.

As a teacher, whether it is English or French, reading literature in an integral part of any curriculum I create. I understand how reading something meaningful to students can aide in their personal lives and also give them the knowledge, power, and courage to begin to ask the really tough big questions. I want my students to have that same gut grabbing, raw, almost painfully wonderful experience I had with The Perks of Being a Wallflower, because without that first visceral reaction, I fear that many students will slip into the routine of believing that reading literature is only to be done in school when the teacher tells them to. I want literature to become part of my students’ lives and identities, like how the French Symbolist poet’s are a part of mine. Teenagers are at a great crossroads when they arrive in our classrooms. They are not yet adults, but their brains, hormones, and emotions all tell them they are. Reading great literature can ease them through this turbulent time because it can give a name to emotions that were previously unnamable, thoughts that were previously unthinkable, and feelings that were once intangible. I will be an accomplished teacher one day when my students’ find refuge, not in drinking, peers or drugs, but in the gut-wrenching stories of Charlie, Macbeth, or Holden.

Nicole

Monday, November 12, 2012

Show and Tell (a link up)

Today I am linking up with Becky @ From Mrs. to Mama for her weekly link up!

The topic for today's  link up is "cold weather"...which is slightly ironic considering it was 70 degrees in Mississippi all weekend.
I'm not complaining though, o weather gods. Keep it up!


1. Tell us what you like to do when it's cold outside.


Stay INSIDE. I do not like cold weather, especially Mississippi cold, which is dreary drizzle and clouds most of the time. Everything gets brown and soggy here in the winter. It's depressing.
On one of the 10 pretty days we get during the "winter", I like to walk around campus all bundled up and let Sadie play in the yard...and then go back inside.
Let's not kid ourselves and assume we get snow. That happens every couple of years if we are lucky.


The last snow day we had. It was on Caleb's birthday and probably the biggest snow I have ever seen.


2. Tell us some of your favorite "winter" recipes.

Soup! Soup, all the time! I don't actually know how to make soup from scratch (bad wife!) but Bear Creek has really yummy soup mixes that go on sale at Kroger a lot.  :)

3. Show a picture of something that makes you think of the cold.


My parent's dog (my sister) playing in the snow.

4. Tell us /show us some of your favorite accessories/outfits for the winter

I love scarves during the winter months. I wear them almost every day. Some of my favorites for this year:




5. Tell us if you had the option of snow or no snow, what would you pick?

SNOW! Only because people in Mississippi freak the flip out when it flurries outside. Like school canceled, grocery stores flooded with people preparing for the snowpocalypse. It's a sight.

Nicole




Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The beautiful thing about beer

You know the best part about drinking?
You can drink to celebrate
or
You can drink your loss away.

So what I'm saying is, win or lose, I will be consuming copious amounts of beer tonight.


Nicole

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Almond JOY.

Does anyone else go out the day after Halloween and snatch up all the left over, half-off candy? I am a self professed candy addict, so I can't help but load up on SALE candy.
I love sales.
I love candy.
Put those two together and this girl is well on her way to prediabetes. (btw...It's not cool of me to make fun of diabetes. It's a serious illness, people. I'm a bad person.)

Anyway, point of the story is coming. Caleb went to Kroger to score a bag of mixed chocolate candy last week. We snacked on the bag all weekend until today when all that was left were Almond Joys.
Ick. 
Almond Joys were always in the "reject" pile in my childhood days of candy swapping.
I don't like Almond Joys.
But I was desperate. I needed my morning dosage of sugary goodness. (I have a serious problem)
So I slowly unwrapped the Almond Joy and took a big bite.
OMG. My world is turned upside down.
Almond Joys are FABULOUS. 
Why has no one ever told me this???
 I finished off the bag in one sitting they were so good. Is there a Candy Addict Anonymous? (It's also not cool of me to make fun of addiction. I've seen "Intervention" Addiction is serious. I'm a super bad person)

This got me thinking. My whole life I have been turning down Almond Joys because I didn't think I liked them. In reality, I had actually never ever tried an Almond Joy. I just decided sometime long ago that they were gross.
But I was wrong.
How many other foods/people/experiences/things/relationships have I turned down because of some silly notion I conjured up out of nowhere?
I am so quick to judge and hold onto those judgements...to the point of not even knowing where/why they originated.

Failure, Nicole. Failure.

So here's to being open and trying new things.
Keeping and open mind and heart.
Going back to things I had written off.
Trying the unexpected.

Nicole