Posted in Opinion

Hillcrest Hawk

The past few years have been eventful -two babies and a home renovation!  Even more changes are coming… I am about to begin as a Third Grade Teacher at Hillcrest Elementary, and I can't wait!
I grew up in Lake Wales, FL.  I attended Lake Wales Senior High School, then I went off to Florida State University.  I moved back home, enrolled at Webber International University, got married, started my career, and finished up grad school. 
For the past 7.5 years, I worked at Florida’s Natural Growers, as a Data Analyst, crunching numbers and making projections, then as a Sales Merchandizer, traveling all over the U.S., and as finally as a Product Manger, organizing volunteers, leading events, making presentations, doing lots of graphic design, and whatever else came my way.   
Then wham! It hit me.  I wanted to spend more time with my kids.  I wanted to be on their schedule as they got closer to school age.  I did some researching, investigating, and soul searching, and after much encouragement and support from my family, I applied for and accepted the position at Hillcrest.  
The last few weeks have been crazy.  I’ve been cramming for tests, wrapping up things at FNG, and navigating through the world of Elementary Education.  The more I learn, the more passionate and excited I become.  This is a place I can harness my creativity in a purposeful and meaningful way! 
I remember all my favorite jobs/projects: life guard, work camp counselor, summer camp leader, volunteer coordinator, arts and crafts teacher, and I am reminded how my favorite jobs all revolved around teaching, kids, and learning.

Posted in DIY

How Not To Hang Curtains

I’ve been feeling a little helpless. I’m not supposed to climb ladders, paint with strong fumes, lift heavy things, be outside (Zika scare), run (too hot in Central Florida) or do many of my other pre-pregnant normal activities. So I’ve been focusing on small, safe tasks like sanding baseboards and trim, and cleaning up after the boys as they renovate. However, my impatience got the best of me. My girlfriend came over and we made up our mind to hang curtains in the newly painted baby room. After all, we had seen it done before. How hard could it be? I supervised as she carefully measured and pre-drilled holes. I handed her the anchor screws and she tapped them in. Then the metal fixtures went up along with the screws. We found a battery powered lighted electric drill with a hammer like tap. We thought it would be great. After stripping a few screw heads we admired our work. Upon inspecting the next morning, my husband informed me I was fired from being handy and banished back to sanding baseboards and trim. The hooks weren’t exactly flush because the anchors didn’t tap in all the way. On my lunch break, I carefully unscrewed the hooks and attempted to dislodge the anchors so I could re-drill the holes a bit larger, and tap them in properly. I yanked the little protrusion with the end of a splicing pliers (that’s all I could find). A huge chunk of drywall flew across the room and landed on the rug below. I looked up hopelessly. I found the spackle and at once tried to cover up my crater. 5 more hooks to go, 2 screws each. Spackle, sanding, paint. I created about 4 hours of unnecessary work and a mess. To top it off, I don’t have curtains in the baby’s room. Back to square one. Moral of the story – now I think I know how to hang curtains properly, but I’m too drained to try, and my hormones are getting the best of me. 

Posted in Reviews

The Children’s Garden at Bok Tower

As I unbuckled her car seat, squeals of delight came pouring out of her tiny pink lips. Bok Tower Gardens, a hidden gem in Lake Wales, had just opened their Children’s Garden and Lilly and I spent the morning exploring. We made our way through the Edible Gardens and along the people path until we came to a tiny orange canyon, spraying water up through misters to cool the warm air. With a push of the green button, larger streams of water squirted out sporadically, and Lilly splashed back and forth. Further down there was an acorn garden, a giant rope spider’s web, a dress up platform, and log coral all shaded by ancient giant oak trees. We didn’t get a chance to explore everything, but two hours later and soaking wet, we packed up and headed home for long naps. An amazing space to delight all ages! Great job Bok Tower!

Posted in Reviews

The Secret History

My ears were glued to Donna Tartt as she narrated her dark and twisted book, The Secret History. A group of college friends, deeply submersed in their own world and study of Greek Culture, find themselves in the middle of an experience they can’t seem to remember. I carried them with me as I cleaned house, painted trim, and spent time in the car. Her voice captured each character as she skillfully developed the storyline, wove together their journey, and made me feel like I was right there with them. She made me understand what they were thinking, described their surroundings, pulled at my emotions, and commiserated with their feelings as they struggled with finding themselves and a way out of their predicament. I’m in search of my next book — Any suggestions???

Some of my favorites have been: The Girl on the Train, The Goldfinch, The Fault in Our Stars, Middlesex, Me Before You, and The Fountainhead.

Posted in Places

Silver Bay

Maybe it’s the magical summer photos that splash across my Facebook feed, reminding me of a place from long ago, but every year between May and August, my heart longs for Silver Bay. Like a dense fog, it creeps into my still and quiet thoughts, engulfing everything, and then all of a sudden, evaporates.
When my mind is resting, between awake and asleep, sometimes I’m carried to the circle drive lined with little rocks beside the Inn; the familiar and slightly old smell at the back door where the porch ends. Sunnyside Cottage in the background, bright flowers spilling down over the grass. Other times, when I close my eyes, I am looking up from the folding hard, wooden seats towards the dark oak beams and wrought iron support braces of the Auditorium, the thick red velvet curtains framing the stage. 

And sometimes I’m transported to particular moments and places.  

The stone gray chapel, always dark and cool, beckoning passersby to come in and rest, nestled gently into the sloping hill, its diamond pane windows overlooking the side garden and the round stained glass window keeping one eye on the pebble path. 

Parlin Hall, the creaky wooden steps cockeyed, but strong, leading up to a common room, musty, with the soft splash of the creek beside it, raspberry bushes growing in a bramble outside the door.  

The boat house and its narrow porch with a view of the sleeping boats, waiting for their next adventure.  

Slim Point, soft and sandy, a thin piece of land making a safe cove for swimmers who dare brave the cold. Happy laughter filling the beaches. Lifeguard at attention with their red buoys and white chairs. 

Paine Hall, dark and shadowy. Painted a version of Haint Blue adorned in off white trim. Pinched narrow windows, hiding secrets of long ago. 

The Children’s Pavilion, new and happy. Full of hippy, uncombed kids on gluten free diets with bright faces. 

The big field where geese gather in the early morning and dusk. The soft grass, packed earth, and small yellow flowers that age in to fuzzy topped dandelions.

There’s Lookout with the lady’s silhouette, sprawled out in slumber.  

The Ice Cream Store with its screen door squeaking as it swings outward towards the cement slab of the stooped porch supported by columns of river rocks. Flanked with rocking chairs on either side, the view of the Lake just beyond the grassy parking lot. 

The sweet smell of freshly pressed waffle cones and warming chocolate filling the open space of the ice cream shop. 

Grammy’s house, perched above campus. A short distance between the tiny village and the mountain, just above 9N. A path up the steep incline of hard pressed earth, held in place by tall, straight pine trees stretching upward. 

Nestled in a clearing, a narrow wooden walkway and kitchen door greeting visitors like a warm embrace. Sunbeams shining down through the open space. Chipmunks scurrying around, making sharp chirping sounds in the woods.  

Grammy’s kitchen table, illuminated by a punched tin light shade, casting friendly shadows down on the green gingham table cloth. A view of the mountain from her kitchen window. Her refrigerator promising to always hold Vermont cheese curds and boxed wine.

Her back porch, with hummingbirds making soft buzzing sounds while flitting back and forth to drink the sweet water from the hanging feeders. The thick exposed pine bannister enclosing the wrap around porch, rocking chairs, and painted hunter green floorboards looking just beyond the tops of pines towards Lake George, where a gentle hum of boats slicing the water and happy voices playing drift up from below.

Off campus, The Firehouse, a serenade of laughter and talking, infused by the smell of delicious entrees making their way to the aluminum tables packed tightly in the open bay. The porch overlooking the creak below, barely audible above the voices. The coolness rolling off the side of the sloping mountain and into the warm atmosphere that never seems to change, year after year. Even the bar tenders remain the same.  

And even more vivid; light strobing through the trees driving along the narrow winding roads with rusty brown guard rails as guides. Windows down, hand out, flowing up and down around the curves, a cool nip in the air. Driving back toward camp. 

The Lake, cold and crystal clear. Void of alligators, algae, and snakes. Rock faces reaching straight up, only the strongest trees clinging on to the side where their roots find a foothold. Eagles soaring overhead. Blue expanse bordered by a dark tree line and dotted with tiny islands. 32 miles of beauty and wonder. Fresh. Enchanting. Alive.

Smooth cliffs tempting you to jump off of and splash into the Arctic water below. Rope swings to plummet you far into the depths.   

Mercury water in the early morning. The sun rising at 4:30am. Wooden hulled speedboats catching the light. 

Spending the night on the ERC allowing for the first glimpse of sun, peeking over the mountains. Hours after the satellites finally disappear.

It’s what I compare all other Summer’s to- Lake George and Silver Bay. 

I long for the fresh mountain air, the scent of pine and cool weather. The sound of the lake, deep within the Adirondack Mountains. 

Do I return and try to recapture every moment, sight and sound, or is it just as vivid in my memory?

Posted in Reviews

Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes


Because I have a lot of sanding to do as I renovate my new house, I found an audiobook that I could couldn’t stop listening to. I popped in my earbuds and got lost in the smooth rhythm of the sandpaper and the narrator’s voice, Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes.

A dark and soulful story of overcoming past demons and fining new sense of purpose, this book skillfully captured the surprising friendship between a young woman from a small town and a formally successful corporate business shark who found himself bound to a wheelchair after a terrible accident. The depth at which the characters evolve and the emotions they conjure brought this story to life. I finished it at record speed, all 26 hours – and 3 rooms of trim now complete. I’m on my quest for my next book.