Thursday, December 31, 2009

Independence Bowl

Though I had been running a temperature on the 27th, I felt much better and was fever free on Dec 28th. So it seemed like a good idea to attend an Independence Bowl Viewing Party with our third family - the Sosebees. The Sosebees are our good friends Nan and Daniel. And their parents, Dan and Jan. Plus the younger brother Dustin. And what Sosebee party is complete without the Johnsons and the Machens. This is the same crowd we traveled to Destin with in July and we always have a good time together whether it is to watch 24, play trivia at Old Towne Tavern or to cheer on the Dawgs.

Brad and I arrived right in time for the beginning of the first play. I was a little hesitant about attending in my glasses as I was still tending to what was thought to be a sty (more on that later) and wearing my contacts was not an option. Still, my family welcomed me with open arms. We had a good time and the Dawgs played equally with the Aggies. We had a secret weapon in our corner, Dumplin. Dumplin is Nan and Daniel's Maltie Poo and she was dressed accordingly for the game.

After the first half of play ( and nothing too spectacular from either team), it was time for a chili dinner. We all ate and conversed. The food was great and the desserts were plentiful. In fact there was even Meredith birthday dessert. My wonderful friend Nan made one of my favorites - red velvet cake - into cupcakes to celebrate my birthday. Dustin even serenaded me with his guitar as Happy Birthday was sung. How special!

We stayed throughout the whole game and were happy with the victory. We then played the new game of Things. Finally, probably too late, we headed for home. Thanks Sosebees for a lovely time and thanks dawgs for a good finish to a not so good year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Blogging Boom

Since I have been sick ( see below), my blog has received more updates in one day than it usually sees in a month, please scroll down and enjoy and leave your comments!

Boom, Downhill from there

We went to Brad's grandparents house and had a good time but as I was there I grew hoarse. Then it started to hurt to swallow. I figured it was the onset of a cold.

The 26th we laid low and it still hurt to swallow but I was okay with that. I took it easy only eating cereal, tomato soup for lunch and homemade turkey veggie soup while taking in some episodes of Muppet Show on DVDs. I still had great hope for celebrating Christmas with my mom's side of the family on the 27th and with my mom on the evening of the 27th. i went to bed after reluctantly taking Nyquil and waking up an hour later to go to the much for being knocked out.

The 27th came and I got ready to go to my mom's. I made a broccoli casserole while I sent Brad on to church. I took my shower and dried and curled my hair. That was when I decided I needed to lay down. My hips hurt, my head was spinning a little and my throat still hurt. Brad forced a thermometer in my mouth....100.8. Boo! I was sick and didn't want to risk getting Granddaddy sick so I didn't get to go to Christmas. I laid in the bed all day and then upon one round of sleep... my eye started oozing a discharge. Ugh! I thought I had pink eye but it turned out a sty I had been too unconcerned about had opened and was releasing a discharge. Still I was alone all day while my hubby attended the family gathering. He must have had a good time because he didn't get home til almost 10pm. I waited all day for my helping of apple cake made by my mom. I encouraged Brad to sleep in the guest room since I had been germing up his side of the bed all day in order to have access to the nightstand. I hoped to be better.

Today is the 28th. The eyelid is still sensitive but the eye is no longer discharging. My throat still hurts a little to the swallow but is very manageable. And my temp is 97.4. I am on the mend.

Tomorrow, my mom and I are going to celebrate my Christmas with her and my birthday. I hate to have it all lumped together. However, this year it is necessity.

Christmas with the Griswolds

No , Chevy Chase was not present. Just Jackie, Jan, Florene, Suzanne and Brad and Meredith. We enjoyed a lunch of ham, green bean casserole, butter peas, yeast rolls , mashed potatoes, the mac and cheese, and salad I brought and cake mix cookies, german chocolate cake and chocolate cake. It was a great way to spend an afternoon in my dad's new house.

The Christmas Scene in Hoschton

We were happy to have Grandma join us in our festivities this year!

Dad and Jan enjoyed opening their gifts

Brad got a new hat

I spent time with my sister

And of course there was a banjo involved ( my sister is trying to learn how to play and my dad was interested, refusing to put it down for a family shot)

I really enjoyed the time we spent together. I got some very nice gifts from my dad and Jan including a lazy susan for my overflow of spices in my pantry, the Glee soundtrack, Reba McEntire's new CD, James Morrison CD, One Tree Hill Season Six on DVD and Wii Sports Resort. I didn't want to leave and we stayed for quite a while but we were due to the Dillard grandparent house. So on up the road we went.

Christmas Morning

On Christmas morning, we got up early. 7:30 to be exact. I wanted to make sure that we had plenty of time to enjoy our presents, to get ready for Dad's, to cook for Dad's and to get to Dad's. My dad and his wife have moved to their house in Hoschton so it takes a little less than an hour to get there. I was baking homemade Macaroni and Cheese and making a salad with mandarin oranges and raspberries in it. So getting up was a necessity. It turned out to be well worth it though because apparently I was a very good girl! We alternate opening gifts first and then doing our stockings. By the time I was done opening my gifts , I had a printer, a purple Ipod nano with my name engraved on it, the Muppet Show Season One DVD, A Bug's Life on DVD and a pink fleece jacket.

Brad did well on the gifts too. He had opened up two tickets to the UGA vs South Carolina basketball game, a new UGA hat, The Office Clue game, Season 7 of 24 on DVD and Lego Indiana Jones for the Wii by the time he was done.

The stockings didn't disappoint either. I was lucky enough to get a matching necklace and bracelet set, a Swedish Chef Hallmark Christmas tree ornament and Carrie Underwood's new CD. Brad found the book The Shack, a tie to go with dark brown slacks, a bass scales book and GIJoe the movie on DVD in his stocking.

Merry Christmas to one and all!

Christmas Eve at Home

So Christmas Eve at the Dillard House occurred between Christmas Eve at Home before and after. As mentioned in the previous post, we have traditionally gone to our church service for Christmas Eve. Also, the past four years we have taken a picture in front of our church's Christmas tree. I have always enjoyed that tradition. This year would have been our fifth year taking a picture. Brad let me know recently that the pictures we take in front of our Christmas trees at home have always been more special to him so Christmas Eve came with another Christmas tree picture before going out to his parents.

Then when we got home from his parents' house, we got into our Christmas pajamas ( last year I bought us coordinating navy pj pants - his have polar bears and mine Christmas trees...I decided with no kiddos around it wasn't worth the investment to get new ones. I hadn't worn mine since last year so they are still in great condition) and watched Mickey's Christmas Carol and Winnie the Pooh and Christmas too while sipping on hot cocoa. This is another activity that I hope will become a Christmas tradition between us and additional little Dillards as they appear.

Christmas Eve

After a night of fun cookie making on December 23rd, Christmas Eve came in. We traditionally spend Christmas Eve with Brad's parents. We usually attend the Christmas Eve service at our church as well but this year it was not possible. That was okay as it allowed us more time with family. We had Christmas dinner breakfast at the "Dillard House". There were three chefs this year, all adourned in professional attire and armed with two waffle irons to meet the needs of this crowd.

Brad and Linda

Brad and his Brother Jack

After eating a breakfast of waffles and omelettes, it was time to open the presents. That was a lot of fun this year as Carter was old enough to really get into it. We got him an outfit , a Pooh Christmas book and a Dusty the Talking Vacuum. As any boy would do, he quickly threw the clothes to the side, had some interest in the book and was mesmerized by the talking vacuum. That was good as the talking vacuum was an Ebay item because after passing him up on the Kohls website to go get him in Kohls, he was nowhere to be found - including the Kohls website. In an interesting turn of events, post Christmas Jack and Christina saw one in Kohls. But still Aunt Meredith was happy to be on the hunt for something meaningful to her favorite nephew.

Opening the Clothes

" Yes Uncle Brad, this book is mildly entertaining"

Let the Good Times Roll

It was also very special to watch Linda and Mr. Jack open one of our gifts to them - a snapfish picture book of our cruise together over the summer. I think it was a big hit.

So we had a great time at the "Dillard House". I got some quality Carter time, a Vera Bradley lanyard for my keys to go on at work, a pair of purple and black Argyle socks, an apron with my name monogrammed on it, an umbrella with polka dots on it for my car and $25. It was a great time.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Eve Eve

The Eve before Christmas Eve is a special time in the Dillard house. It is a week before my birthday and getting oh so close to a certain favorite holiday. This year, we got a chance to spend some special time together. We made Christmas cookies using a Pampered Chef cookie press that we had received as a wedding present. I hope this will be a tradition for years to come, maybe to help lay cookies out for Santa in the future.

Brad manned the KitchenAid mixer

We were armed with the proper equipment i.e. dough and press

With the help of an encouraging husband, a perfectionist decided to work through her frustrations

And it all paid off. Cookie making was a success!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

We are Definitely Ready for Christmas.

A few short weeks ago, December 5th to be exact, this is what it looked like in here:

But now, we are definitely ready for Christmas, it almost looks as though Santa has already been here!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Oh, How I Miss Thanksgiving Break

As I sit here and work on another Masters portfolio assignment and look forward to being done with it in time to enjoy my Christmas break fully, I look back to our Thanksgiving Break. We had a great time. Wednesday we traveled to the lake and spent time with Brad's parents and Carter. Jack and Christina joined us that night. Thursday we woke up and traveled to Warner Robins after a family shot on the deck of the lakehouse.

In Warner Robins, we ate lunch with about 80 of Linda's extended family and relatives at a church where the Dobson clan convene each year. The meal was satisfying to say the least because on the way home this is what the van looked like ( Brad woke up just before the pic was taken).

We played a little more at the lakehouse. To my surprise, Carter tried to say my name a few times. It was something that sounded like Meme once and then something that sounded an awful lot like a muh and duh lead two syllable word. Yay! Then a desire to shop on Black Friday and to be able to get ready for Friday's Griswold Thanksgiving festivities put us heading out from the lakehouse on Thursday night. Frigid temperatures met us in Loganville as we scrambled to find a paper with ads ( to no avail). We opted for Internet Black Friday shopping, went to my aunt Joyce's for Thanksgiving with Dad's side of the family and game playing. Saturday brought IMAX theater time with our adoptive family The Sosebees. And then the weekend wrapped up with church. Here's to more fun like that in two weeks.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Sad Day

Such a hard thing to hear from my husband last night that this cute soul had passed on. What a cute face and sweet friend to all of us UGA fans. As they have said, "He was 10-3 last year which is not bad for a freshman.....Uga VII was not as active or mischievous as his father but more distinguished. He realized his role when he put his shirt on. He was well-behaved and always appreciated the significance of his role."

Monday, November 16, 2009


I got an email today telling me that I passed the GACE for School Counseling. It is two tests and I passed both of them. YAY!!!!!!

One step closer to a Masters Degree and Masters Level Pay.

Left to do:
Complete Portfolio
28 hours left on a 300 hour internship

Saturday, November 14, 2009

This Time Last Weekend....

I had been in Pine Mountain , Georgia for approximately 24 hours in my beautiful cozy cabin home pictured here:

I served as a chaperone for our youth girls' retreat last weekend we departed Friday at 5pm and came home Sunday around 3pm. The trip was great . Our speaker did a fabulous job of building unity in our group and even made me think seriously about my God time andmy life right now. We took one of our former youth with us as our personal chef ( he is studying at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School) and we also went to the Spa at Callaway Gardens where all of the girls got a manicure, I got a pedicure and my fellow chaperone got a massage. While all of that was nice, my favorite moments were bonding with the girls ( staying up til 12:30 watching the dumbest "scary" movie, playing Uno, going through the lessons) and a little alone time on Saturday while half the girls were at the spa and my girls were taking showers. I got to go out on a walk/jog through our mountain community. Now I love cozy cabin time at anytime of the year but in the fall it was just breathtaking. The leaves were perfect colors and there was a little creek that gave the perfect soundtrack for my run. I loved how I was just doing something for me and just getting out there in God's beauty. I thought how nice it would be if I could do it more often. It was fabulous. Here are some more pics from the weekend:

God's Beauty

Me and the Girls

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bargains Galore!

I have done some major bargain shopping today. Here's the details:

Ann Taylor Loft - All of their clearance is an extra 40% off right now. I got a pair of dress pants, a wool skirt and a nice embellished tshirt to wear with jeans. Just at the markdown price, these three items would have rung up at around $119. Let's not even talk about what regular price totals would be. With the extra 40% off the total went down to $69. That is as much as you could pay for one of these items at regular price. I was happy! And I found another pair of pants that I put on hold for Mom to buy me for Christmas. That is a great victory. Pants are hard to find for the short people.

Old Navy - Brad needed a new black coat . We went to Old Navy armed with a $5 off a $25 purchase. The black wool coat was originally $69.50. It was on sale for $50. With the coupon and tax, we got it for $47.

VistaPrint - As advertised on Money Saving Mom (thanks Jen and Christina), many products were on sale for up to 90% off today. Brad has wanted some return address labels so I ordered some. 140 labels usually run for $7.99 plus shipping. Today they were 79 cents! So with shipping I only paid $3.74! Yay!

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Relaxing, Yet Mentally Challenging Saturday :0)

After sleeping in late and cleaning the kitchen in our house during the morning hours, Saturday left Brad and I with no scheduled plans. That is a rarity and certainly more pleasurable than the GACE I endured for four hours last weekend. So we decided to venture out to Walnut Grove and take on yet another mentally challenging weekend task - navigating our way through a corn maze. This is our third corn maze in probably as many years. We did one in Cleveland GA at least two years ago at night when it was FREEZING!!! And last year we did one in Watkinsville with the youth at our church. This time it was just the two of us and it was cloudy, increasingly cloudy as we went through but we dodged any chance for rain and made it out of the maze together. We found all but two of the riddle answers in the maze and all of the picture rubbings. After getting out of the maze, we quickly went home to warm up and watch a classic film, Dead Poets Society. A really good Saturday for sure.

One of the Cutest Corn Cobs Around

Mrs. Corn Cob

Making Our Way Through the Maze of Maize

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I am still here but just really busy. This past weekend I took the GACE for School Counseling. I felt really good about the essays but the multiple choice I waffled on some. The test actually included two exams, each with two essays and 60 multiple choice questions. I have already taken the PRAXIS and passed it and simply don't understand Georgia's need to do their own thing except for the GREEN money involved.

I had a fall break October 9th through the 12th. Brad went off and did a boy's retreat with the youth at church so my mom and aunt came to stay. We lived it up big and went shopping as well as eating at Urban Flats, and Chow Baby throughout the course of the weekend. I learned that neither my aunt or my mom can play Mario Kart. It was hilarious. And we divided up on the GA TN game because my aunt now resides in TN. She left happier than me.

Now we are looking ahead to Brad's birthday. He turns 32 a week from tomorrow. And then before you know it we will be making our way to Christmas and my birthday. Oh which brings me to my next exciting announcement.....Brad bought a new bass and as part of that exchange I was guaranteed a REAL Christmas tree for Christmas this year. Yay!! I had a real Christmas tree all my life before I met Brad. It just says Christmas to me through its wonderful smell. Additionally, our fake is really fake looking so I scored a real , genuine Christmas tree this year. YAY!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


The news from Arizona this morning:

Anna born 12:46 AM (that's Az time) 9/29/09. Nancy and Anna are fine. Weighs 8 lbs. 14 ozs. and is 21 inches long. More later.

So exciting! I am so proud of my cousin and wish I was close enough to hold that baby! Can't wait to see pictures.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Some Exciting News

My cousin Nancy, who we threw the shower for earlier this year, is experiencing early labor symptoms. She was having one contraction every so often last night and ended up being all night with contractions. This is exciting because her original due date was October 8th but this baby has been growing and making it seem like she would be here much earlier.

My aunt is in flight to be with her because they are out in Arizona. My other cousin, Mark, is there with his sister. Things are getting excited for the arrival of the newest Griswold family member. Nancy has kept her name a secret so all will be revealed when the little Hartgrove girl makes her arrival. Yay!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Unexpected Vacation

So I was all ready for work Monday morning when we found out that school was delayed an hour and a half due to the flooding. There was no flooding here at our house but it had thunder stormed all night which meant Meredith didn't sleep well so I cooled my jets and took my time getting ready. Since school would now be letting the kids in at 9:15, I figured I would leave for work about 8am. Brad did the same.

On my way to work, Mom called me and said "Go back to bed. School is cancelled." I couldn't take her word for it so I called Brad and asked if he had heard it. He hadn't so I switched to WSB and started listening. They did say it. I called him back, and he said he was still going into work. I decided to call the school directly. I got my friend Pam on the phone and told her that I just had heard school was cancelled and asked if it was true. She said she had not heard that but given she was at work and hadn't even heard about the delay...she would check. I pulled over in to a neighborhood at this point. It took so long for her to answer me ( and I bet the million of other calls that came in) that I got disconnected. I called the school back and got a different secretary. She confirmed that yes, we were out. I happily and carefully turned around and went home. Brad worked half the day and came home.

I now understand why it was all so necessary to cancel school. At the high school I attended (also in Gwinnett), the flooding was so bad that 12 school buses were turned over and damaged and the road in front of the school washed away. Supposedly, at my high school's rival there is water in the building. Many bridges in Gwinnett were washed out. So here we are at the end of two days of flood days. I am sure we will use snow make ups to fix the miss. But it was nice to have a break and I thank God that things were not worse in our lives and send out warm thoughts for those who have lost loved ones or belongings. We just need to trust that God will provide the rain when we need it and will provide the provisions we need to get through the abundance of rain.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Loving Husband

After a bumpy and hectic week last week in terms of work and home, my weekend and current week are going really well. Why one might ask? Because of my loving husband, that is why :0) This weekend we escaped to the lake together where all we did was relax . We took walks, cooked out, canoed, played games , watched movies and just got to enjoy each other. It was very nice and a refreshing change of pace for a couple that stays busy. Thanks to my awesome inlaws for allowing us to go to their most awesome lake house.

And since I have been at work, my husband has still been as wonderful. It isn't that this is surprising or infrequent behavior but I just really appreciate it at this time because I am actively working on wrapping up the internship portion of my Masters Degree and along with it my portfolio. With all the stress of that major step and work going on, the extra attention and assistance at home sure is nice and goes completely noticed. We have walked together this week and he cooked dinner last night. Not only did he cook dinner, he set up a picnic in the backyard for us to share in as a break from article reviews for me. It was very pleasant and something I didn't expect on a Tuesday. Thank you to my husband for showering me with love and attention at this busy crossroads in my life. I love you!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Young Geniuses

We have been working on similes in 2nd grade FOCUS and here is what some of my students feel about boys:

A boy is as tall as a skyscraper

A Boy is as smart as Einstein

A Boy is as quiet as a mouse.

A boy is as nice as a neighbor.
( I also have to share that another example for this was A boy is as nice as a senior citizen)

A boy is crazy as a monkey.

A boy is as awesome as a rockstar.

A boy is as mean as a badger.

Tomorrow we tackle girls so we will see how it goes.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Week One of School : Over!

I haven't blogged in awhile. I have been busy and the majority of my time has been spent in this place:

Yes, the first week of school. It is such an overwhelming force, even in this my seventh year of teaching. And even more silly sounding, is that I haven't taught at all this week. However, I have kept busy performing other duties. Most of Monday and Tuesday were spent escorting late registering students to their classrooms. Even with that extra push of students, our numbers are low. Much of the rest of the week was spent finding records at other schools for my TEN!! new FOCUS friends who have moved into Norton. I am really excited about this increase in students but dealing with other schools ( particularly DeKalb County) is not an easy experience. However, I am down to just one child lacking their records from their previous school ( Calling Houston County out here). I also spent the last part of this week lesson planning and getting ahead on my copy requests as well as preparing my materials for curriculum night. So I feel very prepared for the start of my classes Monday and I am so excited to see my students as the majority of them were mine last year. It is so wonderful to know they are excited too as I heard many times walking down the hall this week " Mrs Dillard when are we coming to FOCUS!??!?"

Another accomplishment I am proud of this week is that I hit the one month mark of my walking effort. In one month, I have walked every night with the exception of six. Three of those were due to weather.That is very exciting to me as schedules and lack of motivation often get in the way. Now here's hoping that this month ( Aug 13th - Sept 13th ) will see better or similar results.

Coming Monday : Pictures of my Brand New , Full Sized Classroom (Before my Nearly 60 students touch it)

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Family" Vacation to Destin

We got back last night from a "family" vacation to Destin. Why was it a "family" vacation ? Well, this was a trip that started out as a couples trip with our good friends Nan and Daniel. When we were planning, Daniel's family caught wind of it so they came too, with their younger son Dustin and his girlfriend Kristen. Then their friends that they always vacation with, the Johnsons, came as well. Nan's parents also ended up being in Destin and they had a couple that they were vacationing with. So we had a big family, just none of our own. Still, we had a great time.

I had not been to Destin in ten years. It was still sugary white sand and crystal clear waters. Small enough wave presence that we played frisbee in the ocean and just had a great time. We did some great eating, great playing ( mini golf where I got two hole in ones and go carts) and some great relaxing! I got most of the way through New Moon from the Twilight series while we were there and just enjoyed the last of my time off. This was the second vacation that we had taken with Nan and Daniel and will definitely not be the last.

Here are some pictures from the four day excursion:

The Girls - Kristen, Nan and Me

The Dillards

The Couples and David- Dustin and Kristen, Daniel and Nan, Brad and Me

The Dillards

By the end of the second full day at the beach, my beachmates were tired!

We went out to eat Saturday night just as couples and took some pics on the beach:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

You've Heard of Krogering....This is Kohl'sing :0)

Yesterday I met my Mom at Kohl's during her lunch break. I was armed with a 15% off coupon and thought I would look for some work appropriate clothes before the crazy crowds are out doing the same thing during the next couple of weeks. I wasn't the only one with the idea as I did run into one of my colleagues, but the store was pretty free of crazy crowds. I had much better luck than I usually do. I even bought a matching outfit....that never happens.
Here is my spread:
Total Spent : $ 92.05 Total Saved: $150.15

This is what we call Kohl'sing friends. Let's break down each of the deals.

A Black V-Neck Shirt

Original Price- $20.00 On Clearance for $6.00 Plus 20% off Coupon = $4.80

A Black Sweatjacket

Original Price- $30.00 On Clearance for $6.00 Plus 20% off Coupon = $4.80

A Top and Skirt to Match

Each Original Price- $36.00 On Sale for $18.00 Plus 20% off Coupon = $14.40

A Shirt and Pair of Capris

Shirt Original Price- $24.00 On Sale for $14.99 Plus 20% off Coupon = $11.99

Capri Original Price- $36.00 On Sale for $21.60 Plus 20% off Coupon = $17.28

Sandals ...Sadly a Size 6 but I am so tired of looking for the nonexistant cute size 5.5

Original Price- $54.99 On Sale for $23.97 Plus 20% off Coupon = $19.18

So overall I did great and you will notice that my coupon value changed. Since I couldn't do any worse than the 15% coupon I got in the mail I decided to test my luck at the scratch offs they have in the store. I got a 20% one. Yay. Now let's just hope I do so well in Destin at the outlets on my shopping outing with Nan.