Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Scrappy Holidays!
No, don't worry, I'm not becoming one of those anti-Merry Christmas people. It's just that this holiday season seems to have been one big scrapfest. I wrote on a recent blog about giving from the heart and making most of my gifts. Well, they were a hit!
The picture on the left is an altered muffin tin that my cats gave to my parents. OK, I made it, but they did help. They didn't steal any of the pieces and they didn't step in the paint. Mom and Dad loved it, and Mom has already chosen a place of honor in the kitchen to hang it. There was no hole in the top of the pan, so Daddy will be using his new drill to put a hole in it. Speaking of giving from the heart, Daddy got a new drill for Christmas from Debbie and Jamie. He really wanted one, and Jamie had a ball picking it out for him. Mom and I are afraid, though, that Daddy will try to fix things around the house. He's just not that handy!

The picture on the right is one of the altered composition books I made. I made several of them as gifts, and they were hits. My cousins and friends loved them. I was really pleased. I didn't know how people would react to them. I had so much fun making them. They're easy to do and quite practical.
I also received some scrapbook gifts. The furbabies gave me a gift certificate to my LSS Scrappin Buds. I can't wait to spend it! I also got a set of foam alphabet stamps from my friends the Miserendinos. Eight-year-old Jenna picked them out for me. I'm eager to use them too.

I've been doing a lot of scrapbooking since the storm and especially during this holiday season. One reason is because I have so much free time on my hands, but another reason is that Hurricane Katrina has taught me what is important--family and friends. Scrapbooking helps me preserve that.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Please feel free to comment and let me know what you got for Christmas or what you think of this blog. :-)

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!
I just wanted to wish all of my blog readers a very merry Christmas! To all of you who have stuck by me through the last four months I can't even begin to thank you enough. I hope you know how much of a blessing you are to me and how great a gift your friendship has been. This Christmas will be different, but the reason we celebrate is the same. We are celebrating the birthday of Jesus! You can't get much better than that. Merry Christmas and love to all!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Yes, Bridget, There Is a Santa Claus
It's amazing how children can bring certain things into perspective. I believed in Santa Claus until I was nearly 13 years old. I was very naive. No, maybe I was just innocent and wanted to be a child a little longer. That's what I love about children, their innocence. Anyway, Mom made Christmas cookies the other night, and she invited our friends' daughters over to decorate them. That's Jenna, Mom, and Emily in the photo making the icing. I helped the girls, and as we decorated the conversation turned to Santa. They said that some kids at school said Santa wasn't real, but they knew he was. Their parents couldn't possibly be the ones who put out the presents, they explained. Emily said that her parents slept all night and her daddy snored too much, so they couldn't possibly put her presents under the tree. It had to be Santa Claus. Jenna said that she knew kids who got the same things from their parents and from Santa Claus. The only reason to explain the duplicate gifts was Santa. When they asked me if I believed, I told them I did. I said that Santa represents the goodness in people's hearts, so of course I believed in him.

I believe in children. They are the most amazing little people. And let's face it, the reason we celebrate Christmas is the birth of a child, a child who would grow up to save the world. Isn't that reason enough? Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Giving from the Heart
Being unemployed means I don't have a lot of money to buy Christmas gifts. It also means I have a lot of time on my hands. I couldn't not buy gifts, but I couldn't go into debt either. Instead I decided to put my crafting skills to work and make my own presents. Oh, I did buy things for my parents and my sister and her boyfriend, but I tried to buy meaningful things. Rather than buy something for the sake of buying, I tried to buy things that I knew would make them happy. I chose things that were related to hobbies or interests or their favorite things. I think they will be pleased.

When it came to other family members and friends, though, the funds were running dry. I chose to make gifts for those loved ones. And you know what? I had so much fun making my presents! It just felt so good. And isn't that what Christmas is all about? Come on, did the Three Wise Men fight the mall crowds to buy gifts for baby Jesus? No, they gave gifts that were appropriate for a king. Well I feel that my gifts will be appropriate for my loved ones. They may not be fancy or expensive, but they were made with and will be given with love.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

You Wanna Know Something?

1. What color are your kitchen plates? Um, blue and white with Santa Claus on them. They're paper plates!

2. What book are you reading now? Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (again)

3. What's your favorite board game? Trivial Pursuit, any version

4.Favorite magazine? Creating Keepsakes and Lucky

5. Least favorite smell? Cat poop

6. Favorite color? PINK!

7. Least favorite color? poop green

8. How many rings before you answer the phone? On the home phone it's two.

9. Future children's names? I've said Brent and Madison before, but I may name the kids after members of the Manning family. No, seriously.

10. What's your goal in life? To be the best person I can possibly be.

11. Favorite actor? George Clooney

12. Favorite actress? Julia Roberts

13. Favorite non-alcoholic drink? Diet Coke

14. If you could meet anyone, alive or dead, who would it be? Jesus

15. Favorite alcoholic drink? Beer--any kind as long as it's not skanky

16. What is your sign and birthday? Scorpio, November 18

17. If you could have any color hair what would it be? I like my hair color now--dark brown with blonde highlights.

18. Favorite movie? Gone with the Wind. A recent favorite is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

19. Do you type with the right fingers on the keys? Yes

20. What's under your bed? Cat toys

21. What is your favorite number? 8

22. Ketchup or mustard? Actually, I prefer barbecue sauce.

23. Hamburgers or Hot dogs? Hamburgers

24. Favorite soft drink? Diet Coke

25. The best place you have ever been? Edinburgh, Scotland

26. Burger King or McDonald's? Wendy's LOL

27. What screen saver is on your computer right now? A slideshow of photos.

28. What do you want for Christmas? Flannel sheets

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

White Christmases, Monday Night Football, and Scrapping with Kids

If you read my blog on a regular basis, you've seen the picture of what my house looks like since Hurricane Katrina. If not and you really want to see the house, inside and out, check my Webshots page at http://community.webshots.com/user/birdee18. Anyway, tonight I thought I'd post a picture of how my house used to look. This, however, is a very special picture. It was taken on the morning of December 26, 2004, one day after I celebrated my first white Christmas! Yes, can you believe it, a white Christmas in New Orleans? It was probably the greatest Christmas gift I've received because I truly believe it was a miracle. That snow totally made up for all those Christmases we were in shorts. That snow was a gift. It made me stop and appreciate the forces of nature. It showed me that material things aren't everything. It amazed me to see how quickly everyone forgot about the presents and just ran outside to play in the snow. We had such a wonderful day. What a difference a year makes. This year we are celebrating Christmas in a new town and a new home. There probably won't be snow. But that's OK. We still have each other. Yes, this has been a difficult and stressful holiday because of our situation, but at least I will be spending Christmas with my loved ones. Not everyone will be so lucky.

I'm sure you've noticed the Monday Night Football banner at the top too. You're probably wondering what that has to do with anything. Well, tonight my New Orleans Saints played the Atlanta Falcons on MNF. Yes, the Saints lost. I wasn't surprised considering the way their season has gone. Even if the Saints weren't playing, I'd still have watched. Monday Night Football is something I very rarely miss. I watch it every week, no matter who is playing. Even if the teams playing are bad, it doesn't matter. There's some sort of mystique associated with MNF. As a football fanatic I've witnessed so many memorable moments on MNF. I remember one in particular, one that I was lucky enough to be a part of. It was New Year's Eve about 13 years ago (I'm terrible, I can't remember the year!). My parents and I were at the Superdome to watch the Saints play the Rams on MNF. Saints kicker Morten Andersen (sigh, swoon) kicked a last-minute field goal to win the game and clinch a playoff spot. It was awesome!

Now the scrapping with kids part. One of my oldest and dearest friends now lives two doors down from me. She and her family also lost their home in the hurricane. Her eight-year-old daughter Jenna is my buddy, and she loves to come over and spend time with us. She's been watching me scrapbook and has been very eager to make one of her own. Today my LSS (that's Local Scrapbook Store for all you non-scrappers) had a kids' craft class. Jenna and I went, and we made the cutest decorated Altoid tins. We used KI Memories paper, which is one of my favorite lines, and added ribbon embellishments. I loooove using ribbon on my scrapbooking and craft projects! Afterwards, Jenna picked out some paper and we went back to my house so she could make her own scrapbook. I helped her make a paper bag book so she could scrap pictures of the four seasons. She did a great job! She still wants to add a few embellishments, though. I've scrapped with my cousin Lauren and with the kids I worked with in the after-school and summer programs at PGT. Scrapping with kids is an awesome experience. They aren't worried about their pages being perfect. They are more concerned with the pages reflecting their true personalities. I always tell kids that there is no right way to scrap. I think they truly believe that. I've seen kids create some awesome scrapbook projects.

While I'm on the topic of scrapbooking, I want to give a shout out to two of my most favorite places. The first is Scrapbooks Etc. in Metairie. I've been shopping there since the day the store opened. It's huge! I swear they have everything there. The second is the store I've adopted since I moved to Pearl River. It's Scrappin Buds in Slidell. This store has all the latest and greatest. If you're in these areas, stop by. Tell 'em Birdee sent ya!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Survivor New Orleans
I'm not much of a reality show junkie, but I do love "Survivor." I got hooked on it during its second season when it was in Australia. I was home sick with a stomach bug, and I was too lazy to get up and change the channel. It was the episode when Michael fell into the fire. Maybe it was because I was sick, but I just lay on the sofa and cried. (I know, TMI!) I watched faithfully from that point on.

While watching tonight's finale of Survivor Guatemala, I came up with what I thought was a brilliant idea. Why not have a Survivor New Orleans? I think it's perfect! Take 16 castaways and divide them into two tribes, the "Where Y'ats" and the "Ya Mama n'Ems." Drop them off in the middle of St. Bernard Parish. The tribes will have to survive in the hurricane-ravaged area. There are plenty of opportunities for challenges. They can gut houses, stay on hold forever with insurance companies until they get a human on the line, and clear debris. The rewards would be pretty good too: Red Cross debit cards, blue roof tarps, FEMA trailers. Just like the Survivor castaways on TV have to earn fire, we could make our castaways earn certain necessities for post-Katrina life: rubber boots, respirator masks, and rubber gloves. Food is always an issue for castaways, but not for ours. There are plenty of MREs to go around! Tribal council would be held in the Super Wal-Mart parking lot amid the relief agency tents and FEMA trailers. To give this whole thing a little star power, we might want to throw in some "celebrities." Who wouldn't love to see former FEMA director Michael Brown as a castaway? That would be fun. I think we ought to have Governor Blanco in there too.

You can laugh all you want, but I think I've got something here. Perhaps I should call CBS and pitch my idea. Come on down to New Orleans!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Merry Christmas from Ya Mama n'Em!
The picture you see on the left is my new favorite Christmas CD. Benny Grunch and the Bunch are a great New Orleans band, and they are quite irreverent. Why do I say irreverent? What else would you call a group whose homage to Fat Tuesday is titled "Ain't No Place to Pee on Mardi Gras Day"?

This is probably Benny's fourth or fifth edition of the Yats Christmas CD. The old favorites are always there along with a few new ones. I think everyone in New Orleans sings along with "The 12 Yats of Christmas." Forget the partridge in a pear tree. Benny gives us "da crawfish dey caught in Arabi." Being from St. Bernard means I love "Christmas in Chalmette." What other Christmas song mentions drive-thru daiquiri places? Today I was driving around and singing "Norris the Nocturnal Nutria," a song about a little nutria who is trying to stay up all night to wait for Santa.

Benny does get a little serious on us too. "I Could See the Aluminum Tree Throught the Pitcha Window" is a poignant tribute to the New Orleans Christmas traditions of the 1950s and 60s. "Ya Mama N'Em" is a new song this year, and it is a bittersweet nod to our first post-Katrina Christmas. Not everyone will get to celebrate with their mama n'em.

Speaking of post-Katrina Christmas, Benny does a cute song about St. Bernard and Lakeview, two heavily damaged areas in New Orleans. The song is titled "Temporarily Ain't Dere No More," and it mentions all the great places that once were and will be again.

No, I don't work for Benny Grunch. I don't even know him personally. (Maybe he should pay me, though, for this promotion!) I just love his songs and the way he captures New Orleans life. Check out his website if you'd like at Benny Grunch - Hey, Where Yat?! Y'all at BennyGrunch.com. Tell Benny ya mama n'em sent ya!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Agony of Being a Saints Fan
Oh yes, you definitely have to like pain to be a Saints fan. We have been suffering for many years, just waiting and hoping for that one team that will take us to the promised land known as the Super Bowl. It hasn't happened yet, and it surely won't happen this year.

I have been a Saints fan since I was a little girl. My dad has had season tickets since day 1, and I was always so jealous when he would go to the games and I couldn't. During my teenage years I studied stats, and I literally became a walking encyclopedia on the Saints. I memorized statistics and team records and could tell you anything you wanted to know about the team. Normal people count sheep when they can't sleep. Not me. My sister would call out numbers, and I would tell her which Saints player it belonged to.

I remember the horrible 1-15 year of 1980. Many fans stopped going to the games, and some of those who did wore bags over their heads. Not my dad. He went, and he said the bag-wearing Aints were "disgusting." We had to wait seven more years before we finally got that first winning season and playoff berth. The elation totally wiped away those Aints memories. When the Saints finally did earn that first playoff victory in 2000 against the Rams, I cried. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before.

I finally got my own season ticket when I was in college. There was nothing else like it, spending Sunday afternoons in my end zone seat in the Superdome. I'm pretty mild-mannered when I watch the games on TV, but put me in the Dome and I go nuts. Even when I sat through some pretty awful games (and there have been many through the years), I never lost faith. I know our day is coming. I just don't know when.

This season has been quite surreal thanks to Hurricane Katrina. The Superdome is heavily damaged and my Saints are playing in San Antonio and Baton Rouge. I haven't seen them play in person since their third pre-season game, the Friday before Katrina hit. The effects of the storm have taken their toll on the team as well. I'm not saying that's why they are playing so poorly this year. Saints fans have learned not to make excuses. We just wait until next year.

The Saints' motto for 2005 is "You Gotta Have Faith." Whether it's recovering from a hurricane or rooting for a 3-9 team, faith is something you have to have a lot of.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Heaux, Heaux, Heaux!
Yes, it's Christmastime again. Even here in the New Orleans area, Katrina can't stop the holidays from coming. Actually, I'm glad Christmas is on its way. It's a nice diversion from everything that's been going on. Our tree is up. It's smaller than we've had in the past, but I swear it's even more beautiful than any tree we've ever had. (Sorry I don't have a picture of it yet!) We were able to recover all of our Christmas decorations from our attic. Putting those ornaments on the tree yesterday was wonderful. Mom and I reminisced as we hung them. There's the wreath I made in kindergarten. We have a labrador retriever ornament for our late dog Ginger. I have several ornaments that were given to me by students. I haven't had this much fun decorating the tree in years.

If you're wondering just what the heck is in that picture, let me explain. This is part of a Christmas village display at a local mall. The blue tarps represent the ones put on homes by the Army Corps of Engineers. They protect homes that had roof damage during the hurricane. The mall apparently wanted to accurately display Christmas in New Orleans in 2005!

Yes, this will be a different kind of Christmas. The important things, however, will remain the same. Family and friends will come together for the holiday. The Christmas spirit will surround us. Most importantly, we will celebrate the birth of Christ. And isn't that really the reason for the season?
Bad Luck, Giving Thanks, and Football It's been a crazy couple of weeks here. It all started two and a half weeks ago. Mom was playing with Ollie, my youngest cat, when his tooth accidentally caught her hand. He didn't bite her on purpose. By that evening her hand was red and swollen. She went to the doctor the next morning, and he put her on antibiotics. He told her that if the hand wasn't any better within 48 hours he wanted her to go to the ER. Well, the hand only got worse, so Mom went to the ER. She wound up spending four days in the hospital! The hand abcessed, so she had to have it lanced and debrieded. Yuck! Fortunately she is now OK. She went to the doctor today and had the stitches removed. Then on Saturday I had my own little accident. It had been raining all morning, and our front steps were wet and slick. I had the bright idea to go out in flip flops so I wouldn't mess up my good shoes. I only got as far as the first step. I slipped and bounced down the steps on my rear end. It hurt! I have large, lovely bruises on my butt and back. My left side has been very sore for the last two days. Guess that'll teach me to wear the proper shoes when it rains! Thank goodness neither of us had serious injuries. That reminds me, Thanksgiving was last Thursday. Despite everything that's happened over the last couple of months, we still have a lot to be thankful for. Any illnesses or injuries have been minor. We lost our home, but we have each other. We are living in a strange place, but we are surrounded by friends. Every night when I go to bed I thank God for the day. Something else to be thankful for, however trivial, is that the Saints finally won again last night! After six straight losses it was nice to have something to celebrate. I miss seeing my Saints in person. Hopefully next year they will be playing closer to N.O. and we will be in a position to go and see them again. Maybe next year things will be closer to normal. But then again, when you're talking about my family, nothing's ever quite normal!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Princess Is Back!
Yes, I am finally back online! I have missed blogging sooooo much. My parents and I have settled into a mobile home in Pearl River, LA. This is our home away from home until we can rebuild in St. Bernard. I don't mind living here since I am pretty familiar with the area. Dad is settling in nicely, but Mom isn't happy here. I know she misses our home terribly. Our home was her life. She loved cooking, cleaning, working in the yard, and taking care of her family. She still cooks (very well, I might add!) and takes care of Dad and me, but she just doesn't feel at home here. We are buying furniture and trying to make this place feel as homey as possible. I hope that she soon feels at peace here. We will be living here for at least a year I imagine. BTW, the picture at the left is of Mom and me on Halloween.

I know one thing that upsets Mom is that my sister Debbie is not here. Deb is living in Birmingham with her boyfriend. She has a job and a cool apartment there. I know that it's important for family to stick together in times of crisis, but Deb also needs to spread her wings and see what's out there for her. She isn't gone forever. We talk and text message a lot. She loves and misses us, but this is something that she has to do. One day she will come home, and things will be even better than they were before.

We are very blessed to be surrounded by friends. Our dear friends live in the two trailers next to us. It is so nice to have close friends and familiar faces nearby. Everywhere I go in the area I see someone I know. It's funny. My friend and co-worker Tara lives close to me, so we have begun a weekly ritual. We meet once a week for coffee and conversation. The conversation lasts longer than the coffee! I always have a wonderful time. It is so nice to just have a friend to talk to about anything and everything. I am blessed to have her so close.

Today Tara and I drove into New Orleans for a faculty reunion. Our school was destroyed by Katrina, and I have only been in touch with a few of my co-workers. I was so happy to see everyone. We had a nice turnout. Sadly, most of us are in the same boat: unemployed and unsure of our futures. I know that something good will happen, something will turn around for us. I just hate waiting so long for it to happen.

I am also blessed to have my online scrapbooking family. I missed them so much in the weeks I was offline. These ladies are so wonderful and generous. I love them so much, and they are such an important part of my life. They gave me so much strength during this whole ordeal. They surrounded me with their love and prayers, and I will always be grateful to them for that.

I know there's a lot more I can say, but right now I have such random thoughts running through my head that I can't think of what to say next. I am back, though, and I will be blogging regularly!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Displaced Citizen Refugees of America
I hate to say that I'm homeless because I do have a roof over my head, but I guess technically I am. My family is very lucky. We were able to stay in hotels for two weeks, and now we are living in an apartment. In the next few weeks we will be moving into a trailer of our own. We will be surrounded by friends.
Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. Some poor souls had nowhere to go and had to stay in shelters. The conditions in some of these shelters were horrible. We were very lucky that our friends in Texas opened their hearts to us and gave people a place to stay.
Another difficult part of this whole thing is that some families have been separated. Either they evacuated to wherever they could or had to move because of a job. Right now my parents and I are near to my aunt and uncle and cousins. Not everyone is nearby, though. My other aunt and two of my cousins are still in Texas. Another cousin is near Baton Rouge because of her job. And the one that makes me saddest of all is that my sister is in Alabama. I miss her so much. There is one good thing about the trailer we are buying. For the first time in my life I will have my own bathroom. Yes, I grew up in a house with only one bathroom. I am actually excited about that! That's one thing that keeps me going. I think about what I want my new room to look like. I hope there's enough room for my scrapping stuff! It won't be a permanent home, but it will be ours. That means a lot these days when so many people still don't know where they will go.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Angels Among Us
Since Hurricane Katrina struck nearly three weeks ago, it has been quite easy to focus on the awful things that have happened and the way my life has been changed. Well, I've done enough of that, and now I want to focus on the positives. Yes, there have been some positives during this awful time. My family and I have been blessed by many angels we have met during this journey.

We met our first angels the day we evacuated. My sister called our hotel as we drove into Houston only to learn that they did not have our reservations. We were crushed. What were we supposed to do? We stopped at several hotels along the way, but no one had available rooms. Finally, as we walked out of yet another hotel, near tears, two young men approached us. One was originally from New Orleans, and the other was his friend who still lived there. They had a room on hold at a nearby LaQuinta, but they no longer needed it. Did we want it? We excitedly followed them to the hotel, where the staff happily welcomed us and our cats.

We met many wonderful people at the LaQuinta. There were many evacuees there, and we formed a very tight-knit group. Lots of angels from the area came by to take care of us. Churches and restaurants delivered food daily. Donations poured in from all over the community. Restaurants offered free or discounted meals to evacuees. I had my oil changed at Wal-Mart, and the lady at the register gave me a discount and came from behind the counter to hug me. Perhaps the biggest angel of all was Giovanni, the manager of the LaQuinta. He took us under his wing and took great care of us. He is a wonderful, friendly, caring person. When we checked out, we only had to pay for one night's stay. The corporation took care of the rest. He cried with us and hugged us as we left to head back to Louisiana. If you are ever in the Kingwood, TX, area, stay at the LaQuinta. You won't regret it!

We met another angel in Texas, in a Target parking lot of all places. A gentleman in scrubs noticed our Louisiana license plate and asked if we were from New Orleans. He was a doctor. My dad had been bitten by one of our cats as we prepared to evacuate, and his hand was now infected. The doctor walked in to Target with us and went to the pharmacy to write a prescription. He also insisted on paying for it. What happened next was unbelievable. He had an apartment in back of his home, and he wanted to let us live there for free! We followed him to his beautiful home on Lake Houston. The home was amazing, and his family was lovely. Sadly, the apartment was too small for all of us and our cats. I will never forget his kindness, though. Not many people would open their homes to total strangers.

We returned to Louisiana over the Labor Day weekend and checked out some apartments. While in a drugstore in our new community, we met a fellow St. Bernard resident. She told us of a group of volunteers who was doing what they could to help evacuees. They weren't affiliated with any group, just concerned citizens who wanted to help. We stopped by and were whisked off my volunteers. They gave us everything we needed: groceries, personal care items, linens. Their kindness was overwhelming. If you ever pass through Moss Bluff while in Louisiana, stop by. The people are very friendly there!

I also have many angels from around the country watching over me. My online scrapbooking friends have rallied around me and taken such good care of me. I have been receiving care packages daily for the last week. I've gotten some very sweet e-mails as well as some phone calls. These amazing women have totally rallied around me. I hope they know how much I love them and how much I appreciate everything they do for me. Their love and prayers have kept me going even on the toughest of days.

So yes, there is still a lot of good in the world. People still do love and care for their fellow humans. I only hope that one day I can return the favor.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Katrina The last two weeks have been the most awful and most surreal of my life. You've all seen the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. Well, my home was one of the ones that was destroyed. It wasn't just my home. It was my friends' and family's homes, the school where I teach, the stores I shop in, the restaurants where we eat. The worst part is not being able to go home. We haven't even been able to go in yet to survey the damage. We know that the water got to within a foot of our ceiling. But I want to see it for myself. I have to. I need this closure so I can put all of this behind me and start over.
Will we go home? Of course. My family and I can't imagine living anywhere else. It's our home. Our roots are there. It's going to be a long rebuilding process though. More than likely we will not be able to start rebuilding our home until next summer. But you can bet that when it's all over, we will be stronger than ever.

Monday, August 22, 2005

You're Not Supposed to Question the Man Upstairs, but...
All my life I've been told that God has a plan for us all. We may not always agree or want to deal with the hand we've been dealt, but still we persevere. I do believe that God has a plan for us, but today I'm left wondering what His plan is supposed to be.

This morning I got the awful news that a co-worker's 16-year-old daughter had been killed in a car accident. Rachel was a beautiful, vibrant young woman, the kind of girl you hoped your daughter would turn out to be. Now because of a stupid mistake, she will never know the joys that other teenagers experience: prom, graduation, going to college. Her parents will never see their daughter get married and have a family. A boy now has to grow up without his big sister. It just stinks.

And it's not just Rachel's death that has me thinking this. Saturday night a football player for the San Francisco 49ers collapsed and died after a game. All of his teammates have described him as a happy young man, always laughing, someone who wanted nothing more than to help his family financially. Why him?

Death happens. It's a fact of life. I guess God doesn't want the bad ones. He only takes the good. But then as I wonder why these young people's lives were cut so short, I do feel good knowing that they are now guardian angels. I don't know. I know that God has a plan. I just wish He'd let me in on it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Well, it is if you're not a kid. It's Back to School time! I still can't believe I'm beginning the ninth year of my teaching career. It's unbelievable! I had a busy summer, and I wasn't all that ready to get back to school. Now that I'm there, though, it's like I never left for the summer. My first two days have been great. I realize this may be the calm before the storm, but I'm hoping that's not the case.

I'm very lucky to teach in a great school. Our school gets a bad rap in the community. Many of our students do come from poor families and broken homes, but they're still kids. I love teaching them. Our faculty is so wonderful and supportive. I used to teach in a Catholic high school that prided themselves on being a "family." Yeah, right! The only way that school could have been a family is if it was a dysfunctional one. My current school truly is a family.

Today I received a wonderful compliment from a student. I began teaching 8th grade honors English this year. This group of students had the misfortune of going through about three teachers last year. One of the young ladies in that class came in my room at the end of the day to tell me that she was glad to be in my class. She said she was already learning. Her sweet comments totally made my day. It's kids like that who make my job so worthwhile.

I know it sounds cliched, but I want to make a difference in kids' lives. I know I can't reach every child, but if I can help just a few then I know I've done my job. I don't teach 7th and 8th grade; I don't teach reading and English. I teach kids.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar
OK, since the title of this blog is "Confessions of a Wannabe Princess," I have a confession to make. I am a big weenie. Oh sure, I seem crazy and outgoing, and I am to an extent. But when it comes to doing certain things I'm just a big wimp.

I am a really big wimp when it comes to guys. I have several close male friends, but I always strike out in the boyfriend department. One reason is because I have always lacked the nerve to talk to cute guys or ask a guy out. Give me a guy who wants to talk football and I am so there. Give me a guy I want to ask out and I am gone. I guess I've always been afraid of rejection. Heck, who isn't! Well, you'll be proud of me. Last week I finally got up the courage to ask out a guy that I've liked for some time. Unfortunately he said no, but I'm not crawling back into my corner and hiding. On the contrary, I'm quite proud of myself. I can't believe I actually took a chance like that. Things may not work out with this particular guy, but perhaps in the future I'll be more willing to take chances and ask out another guy.

I've talked about my problem with being spastic already here. Well, I have another accomplishment under my proverbial belt. I am not mechanically inclined at all! Can't fix anything, can't put anything together. The other day I bought a new CD shelf, and it needed to be put together. Last night I took a look at it and figured it couldn't be all that hard to do. It wasn't! I put it together all by myself! I was feeling pretty empowered, so tonight I took on another challenge. I put together a bookcase that I bought for my classroom. Except for a teeny bit of help from Dad, I put that bad boy together on my own! I am so proud! I can't believe I did it! Now it might collapse when I put books on it, but I did it.

The sky's the limit for me now. I can do anything. Maybe I'll call some old flames and see if they have any furniture they need assembled.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Things You Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask
A few days ago my post consisted of questions from a survey I received in e-mail. Well I got another one, and since I think they're fun I'll answer the questions here.

1. What color are your kitchen plates? Whatever color paper plates I bought the other day.
2. What book are you reading now? Nothing currently, but the last one I read was Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
3. What's on your mouse pad? Other than the mouse? I have a New Orleans Saints mouse pad.
4. What's your favorite board game? Trivial Pursuit
5.Favorite magazine? Creating Keepsakes
6. Favorite smell? Warm Vanilla Sugar Wallflower from Bath and Body Works
7. Least favorite smell? Farts and cat poop.
8. What's the first thing you think of first thing inthe morning? What time is it, and what day is it?
9. Favorite color? PINK
10. Least favorite color? poop green
11. How many rings before you answer the phone? At least 2
12. Future children's names? Brent and Madison
13. What's your goal in life? To make a difference in a child's life and to wear really cute clothes
14. Favorite actor? Tom Hanks
15. Favorite actress? Julia Roberts
16. Favorite non alcoholic drink? Diet Coke
17. If you could meet anyone, alive or dead who would it be? Jesus
18. If you were stranded on a deserted island, who would you want with you? Mom, Dad, & Debbie
19. How many brothers and sisters do you have? 1 baby sister
20. Favorite alcoholic drink? Chardonnay
21. What is your sign and birthday? Scorpio--November 18
22. Do you eat the stems of broccoli? Nope
23. If you could have any job what would it be? I like the job I have now, being a teacher.
24. If you could have any color hair what would it be? I like my hair color now, dark brown with blonde highlights.
25. Is the glass half full or half empty? Half full, always!
26. Favorite movie? Gone with the Wind and all of the Harry Potter movies
27. Do you type with the right fingers on the keys? Yes
28. What's under your bed? Storage boxes and cat hair
29. What is your favorite number? 8
30. What is your favorite food? Stuffed artichokes
31. What is your single biggest fear? You know, I've never really thought about it. I guess it would be not being able to go shopping.
32. Favorite CD? Geez, this one's hard. "Decade" by Duran Duran. I don't know.
33. Favorite TV show? "Survivor" and "American Idol" They're also the only reality shows I like.
34. Ketchup or mustard? Actually, I prefer barbecue sauce.
35. Hamburgers or Hot dogs? Hamburgers
36. Favorite soft drink? Diet Coke
37. The best place you have ever been? Edinburgh, Scotland
38. What screen saver is on your computer right now? A slide show of the pictures I've uploaded on the 'puter
39. Burger king or McDonald's? McDonald's
40. Favorite pet? My wonderful furbabies: Puddy, Kirby, & Ollie. I wouldn't mind having a penguin, though.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

School Daze
Ahhh, those lazy summer days with nothing to do. Yeah, right! All too soon I will be going back to school. Now don't get me wrong, I love being a teacher and can't imagine doing anything else. It just seems like the summers are getting shorter. Usually by this point in the summer I'm ready to go back and see the kids and my colleagues. Not this year. I worked this summer, but I worked the previous two summers as well so that's not it. I don't know.

This year we start school on August 15. That seems awful early to me. I remember as a kid that we never went back to school before August 25 or so. We didn't get as many holidays off either, so maybe the school year seemed faster. Back in the day when my parents went to school, they didn't start until after Labor Day. (I just love saying "back in the day"!) That would make sense to me, but I don't have that power. The first school I taught at was a private school, and they go ten days longer than everyone else. I think we started on August 5 or something crazy like that!

Something else I remember about my school days is the hot weather schedule. Our district's schools weren't air conditioned until a few years ago. Because the heat in August was so stifling, the schedule was adjusted so we would be out by the hottest part of the day. For example, our high school schedule was 7:30-2:30. The hot weather schedule was something like 6:30-1:30. Getting up early wasn't fun, but we liked that early dismissal! Now that I think of it, I really don't remember being all that hot without air conditioning in the schools. I guess we were so used to it that it didn't bother us.

My classroom is just about ready, the lesson plans are being worked on, and I've even bought a couple of new outfits for the upcoming year. I may not be ready now, but once the kids are in the classroom it'll all just fall into place again.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Survey Says......

From time to time I get those fun little surveys from my friends in e-mail that ask a little about myself. You know, the ones where you answer the questions and then you in turn send your answers on, and so on. Well, my friend Deana sent me one the other day, and I thought it would be fun to answer it here. After all, I'm sure you all want to know more about me! LOL Here goes:

1. Time now: 4:09 P.M.
2. Name as it appears on birth certificate: Bridget Ann Derbyshire
3. Nicknames: Bird, Bee, Ms. Derb, some I can't repeat here
4. What is the most recent movie you've seen in the theater? Sharks 3D at the IMAX
5. Eye color: Brown
6. Place of birth: New Orleans, Louisiana
7. Favorite Foods: chicken fingers, artichokes, BBQ
8. Ever been toilet papering: Who me?
9. Love someone so much it made you cry: Yeah
10. Been in a car accident: Sadly, yes
11. Anchovies: Yeah, right. Get real.
12. Favorite day of the week: Saturday
13. Favorite restaurants: Arabi Diner, Wow, Chili's
14. Favorite sport to watch: Football, baby! Geaux Saints!
15. Favorite drink: Diet Coke & Diet Sprite (it's a tie)
16. Favorite ice cream: Anything chocolate
17. Favorite movies: Gone with the Wind, Forrest Gump, Shrek 2, Airplane!
18. Favorite Fastfood: McDonald's Grilled Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad
19. What color is your bedroom carpet: Beige
20. How many times you failed your driver's test: Once
21. Who is your favorite singer? Elton John
22. Which store would you choose to max out your creditcard: Old Navy
23. What do you do most often when you are bored: Scrapbook, do crossword puzzles, or read
24. Bedtime: 11:00 on school nights, much later on summers & holidays
25. Favorite TV shows: Survivor, American Idol, Monday Night Football
26. Last person you went to dinner with: Mom & Dad
27. Favorite make of car: Saturn (why else would I drive one?! :-) )
28. What are you listening to right now? "She Works Hard for the Money" by Donna Summer. It's on a CD I burned.
29. What is your favorite color: PINK
30. How many tattoos do you have: Absolutely none
31. Time you finished this e-mail: 4:18 P.M.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Who Let the Owls Out?
I have always been a night owl. It started way back when I was an itty bitty baby. I never slept at night. I did a great job of keeping my mom up all night. I was a few months old before I slept through the night. Mom was still up all night because she thought something was wrong with me. Well, I never outgrew that. As a teenager I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning watching MTV. I wasn't much of a party animal, but there were a few times in college where I stayed out until very late. Now as an adult I still enjoy being up late, although I'm still not much of a party animal. I use the wee hours to watch TV, scrapbook, do crossword puzzles, or play around on the computer (which I'm doing now). I spent one night a couple of years ago at an all night crop at my favorite scrapbook store. I created one of my favorite scrapbook pages at four in the morning! Sometimes, though, I'm not awake because I want to be. Last September my family evacuated to Texas because of the threat of Hurricane Ivan. When we returned home I went through a period of several weeks where I had trouble sleeping. I don' t know if it was the stress of the situation or the change in routine, but I couldn't fall asleep at night if my life depended on it.

Since I like to stay up so late at night, I also like to sleep late in the mornings. As a kid I'd sleep sometimes until noon. Mom used to fuss and say that I was sleeping my life away. I didn't see it that way. Nighttime was prime time. There was a lot more going on at 2 A.M. than there was at 8 A.M. It's kind of funny now because if I get up too early on my days off Mom will ask me why I didn't sleep in. I told her to make up her mind, am I sleeping my life away or not sleeping enough!

What's my problem tonight? I don't know. I didn't sleep particularly late this morning. OK, so I got up at 10 A.M., but that's early for me. Maybe it was the frozen coffee I drank earlier. (Note to self: Don't drink too much caffeine so late at night!) Perhaps I'm trying to be nocturnal like my cats. In fact, my sweet Kirby girl is on my lap now, wide awake and wanting to be loved. I guess I'd better try and get to sleep though. 10 A.M. comes awful early.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Cleaning Can Be Hazardous to Your Health
I have a confession to make. I hate to clean. I don't just dislike it. I hate it. I do keep a clean classroom, but when it comes to my own bedroom I hate to clean. My mother has been on my back all summer to clean my room, but I made tons of excuses. Well, I finally ran out of excuses. Slowly but surely the room is getting clean. Today I decided to tackle my armoire. I don't use it as a closet; I keep stuff in there that I have no other place for. I actually got it neat and organized. I called Mom in to show her just how good it looked. I opened the armoire door for her, and I caught myself in the forehead with the corner of the armoire door. Can you say OUCH? I now have a lovely little cut right about my left eyebrow. Thank goodness it wasn't big or deep, but it does hurt. If anyone sees me with my little cut and my busted knee, they're going to think I'm abused or just plain clumsy. (Well, I am clumsy!) The only good thing is that the cat scratches and bruise have healed. Oh, I haven't told you about those. We'll save that story for another day.

All these years I've had such an aversion to cleaning, and now I know why. I could get seriously hurt! I still have to dust the furniture in my room, so I'm not out of the woods yet. I'll let you know how that one turns out.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

It's Not the Heat, It's the Stupidity
Ahhh, summer in New Orleans. It's such a miserable time of year. Don't get me wrong, I love the city I live in. I just can't take the summertime weather. New Orleans summers aren't just hot, they're also horribly humid! I start sweating just walking from the house to the car. When I'm cold I can just put more clothes on. When I'm hot I'm just hot. There's no taking clothes off for me unless I want to be arrested for indecent exposure!

What just cracks me up are the local weatherpeople. I could do the weathercast in the summer and give the same info they're giving. "It's going to be a hot one!" they say. Well, duh! My favorite are the days when there are heat advisories. Another well, duh! When it's 95 degrees out with 100% humidity, it's going to be oppressively hot. It doesn't take a genius to figure that one out. Every summer it's the same thing. You'd swear we've never heard it before.

I do feel for those poor souls who have to work outside in the summer. It has to be just miserable for them. There was a story on last night's news about some elderly people who cannot afford air conditioning. Several groups are working to provide free fans for them, but is that really enough? Bless those poor souls!

I'm anxiously awaiting winter. It should arrive sometime around Christmas and last until at least mid-January. Well, maybe we'll be lucky this year and have it last until Mardi Gras.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What Goes up Must Come Down
No, I'm not talking about the law of gravity here. Tonight I attended my weekly Weight Watchers meeting. I've been on this weight loss journey for a year and a half now. Yes, I've had my ups and downs, but happily the downs are winning!

I wasn't a very happy camper when I joined WW. I was at the highest weight of my life, and my self-esteem was in the toilet. Sure, I had a job I loved, family who cared for me, good friends, and of course my faith, but I wasn't happy with myself. I knew losing weight wasn't the only answer for me, but it was a great place to start. And believe me, as the pounds came off, my self-esteem came up. Now I realize that losing weight isn't what makes me a better person. It's the fact that I can do anything I set my mind to. This weight loss journey is something that I have control over. I may not be able to control other factors in my life, but I can control this. I am invincible. I can do anything. I am woman. (OK, sorry about the tangent.)

Of course this isn't the only great accomplishment in my life. I graduated from college with a 3.0 GPA. I changed careers and went back to school. I've survived unemployment. But this gives me such a feeling of control. I'm also much healthier. I'm also willing to try new things. Last year I danced on stage in a dance recital. It was an awesome feeling. I love to exercise, and I decided to share my passion for exercise with kids in my school's after-school program this past year. In the past I would have been embarrassed to get up in front of teenagers and work out, but I'm not anymore.

I don't like to pass on unsolicited advice, but I will today. Do what makes you happy. I have. :-)
That's What Friends Are For
All day I have been thinking about how blessed I am to have such wonderful friends. Nothing in particular happened to remind me of this, but every now and then I just think about it. I was thinking of writing today's post about what my friends mean to me, but I decided I should after an online conversation about being able to tell your girlfriends anything, even gross stuff. (Thanks, Lena!)

My oldest friend is Vicki. I've known her literally since she was born. (I was a mature 10 month old at the time.) I think we did everything together growing up. Until last year she always lived down the block from me. I was maid of honor at her wedding, and I am godmother to her son Jonathon. We used to work together. When my beloved grandmother died, she was the one who had me over to her house to have a little fun and forget about the pain for a while. She helped me through my breakup with my longtime boyfriend. Last summer she moved, and for the first time she wasn't three houses away. Distance doesn't matter, though. Vicki will always be my friend, no matter what life has in store for us.

Kim and I have been friends since we started high school. I consider her my wise friend. We know how to make each other laugh. We have had some crazy adventures together. We took our very first plane trip together, a trip to Disneyworld after our high school graduation. I still cherish those memories. Her children call me Aunt Bird, and I consider them to be part of my family. It was wonderful when she and my next door neighbor met, fell in love, and wound up marrying each other. The best part was that they continued to live next door until just a couple of years ago. With Kim I can totally be myself and not worry about what she thinks.

Another dear, longtime friend is Maureen. We met in high school, but we became really close when she opened her dance studio several years ago. She is one of my most thoughtful friends. She remembers everything even though she juggles an extremely busy schedule. She's also been a very good friend to my sister. When my sister broke her leg eight years ago, Maureen visited at least once a week. She always brought some kind of goodies--snacks, coloring books, puzzle books. She will make time for anyone who needs her, no matter what. We can be and have been very goofy together.

There are lots of other friends who mean so much to me. I wish there was enough room here to name them all. I still have friends from my school days. I may not see them on a regular basis, but I still call them my friends. I have made some wonderful friends at the school where I teach. I've also met some great girlfriends through dancing. All of my friends, old and new, have left an indelible mark on my heart. I will always treasure the special part you have played in my life.

Please feel free to leave comments after reading my posts. Do you like what I have to say? Do you wish I'd stop rambling so much? Let me know! :-)

Sunday, July 24, 2005

All Hail the Queen!
OK, you may be wondering what I'm talking about. After all, this blog is titled "Confessions of a Wannabe Princess." Well, I'm referring to the title a group of students gave to me about five years ago. They crowned me "Queen of the Spastics." I hope I don't offend anyone with that, but I've always thought it was funny. Let me explain how I got to that point.

I have been clumsy since I could walk. My mom even asked the pediatrician if something was wrong with me. It's so bad that I have tripped over cracks in the tile. Many times I've just tripped over my own feet. One time when I was about 13 years old I opened my front door and fell out. These acts of clumsiness are not limited to the confines of my own home. I've had many mishaps in public. At one point three years ago my students wanted to buy me knee pads since I fell twice at school within a two month period. It's bad. Imagine me as a little kid learning to ride a bike. It wasn't pretty. Even though I'm in a mom's dance class, I have no rhythm. I can do our dances for the recital, but otherwise I stink at dancing. You'd think having athletic parents would help. Also, my mom and sister were both dancers. Guess I missed out on those genes.

Well, today the Queen of the Spastics struck again. I was in church by myself this morning after Mass gathering my things and picking up reserved signs off of the pews. I was walking up the main aisle juggling everything when I stepped out of my shoe. Yep, you guessed it. I went down on both knees. Once I got up and dusted myself off I had to laugh. What else could I do? I do have a lovely souvenir from this trip--a brushburn on my left knee.

I hoped I'd eventually grow out of being a klutz, but I guess it's not going to happen. I could try and take a positive approach to this whole thing. It makes me unique. It's part of who I am. No, as a kid I never aspired to grow up to be a klutz, but I did. And I have to live with it. I just have to be more careful, that's all. I may start wearing knee pads to church, though, just in case I have a repeat performance.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

It's a cat's world. We just live in it.
I really do have a great life, but sometimes I look at my three cats and think they have it made. Imagine what life would be like if all you had to worry about was eating, sleeping, and pooping. I shouldn't talk that way. My three cats have brought me more happiness than I could have ever imagined.

Growing up we always had dogs. In fact, we had our beloved Labrador retriever Ginger for over 16 years. When she died in 1999, it was like losing a family member. After that my mom announced that there would be no more dogs. After a while we missed having a pet, so my dad and I decided we'd get a cat. Mom didn't say we couldn't have one! Puddy joined our family in 2001 when he was six weeks old. We weren't used to having a pet who climbed on the furniture and liked to lie on top of us, but we all adjusted great. Then in May 2002, we took Kirby in. She is Puddy's sister. Their mother disappeared when Kirby was only three weeks old. We couldn't just leave her all alone without her mother, so we took her in too. Since she was so tiny, she had to be fed whenever she was hungry because she didn't have a mom to nurse from. I never thought I'd do two A.M. feedings with a kitten, but I did. Kirby grew quickly, and she and Puddy formed a great relationship. We thought our cat family was complete until last year. A cute little furball showed up. He was obviously someone's pet because this little guy was too sweet and friendly. A couple of weeks passed without anyone coming to claim him, so that's when Ollie became our third cat. Boy did he have us fooled! Once he came inside he was holy terror! He is bad, always into everything. Surprisingly, he is our most affectionate cat. Ollie loves strangers. He is especially good with children.

There are many times when I feel like our house belongs to the cats and they are just nice enough to let us live here. Cats are nothing like dogs. I once read a quote that is quite true: "Dogs come when they are called. Cats take a message." My furbabies do what they want when they want. They want to be loved when they're ready to be loved. They'll come to bed with me at night when they're ready to, not when I am. They chase each other around the house and cause a ruckus whether it's 3 P.M. or 3 A.M. Forget having a quiet meal. I've learned to eat with at least one of the cats vying for my attention.

Would I change any of this? Absolutely not! These cats have brought me more joy than I could have ever thought possible. Puddy is very aloof, but he's the first one to console me if I'm sad. Kirby waits for me at the door when she hears my car pull up, and she's in my room waiting for me before I can even make it back there. Ollie likes to be loved and to lie next to us in bed. They are just amazing animals, and I know I'm blessed to have them in my life.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

If only I knew then what I know now...
Today I was at the mall pursuing one of my favorite pastimes--shopping! Shopping has become more fun over the last few months. In the last 18 months I have lost over 25 pounds on Weight Watchers, and I still have at least 15 more to go. Since I've lost the weight, I now get to shop at some of the "younger" stores at the mall. As I was surrounded by teenagers in Forever 21, an interesting thought occurred to me. Would I want to be a teenager again?

Surprisingly, the answer is no. My teenage years were fabulous, and I wouldn't trade them for anything. The truth is I like being 35. Do I like the gray hairs? Heck, no! There's so much more to being mature than gray hair, lots of good things. First of all, I am much more self-confident than I was in my teens and twenties. I feel like a woman who can do anything she puts her mind to. I have a better sense of style, but more importantly, I have a better sense of self. I feel free to make mistakes and act silly. I also feel free to take chances and enjoy life. I feel younger now than I did at 25. Back then I was worried about the future. Now I live for the present. Don't get me wrong, I do think about what's to come down the road. I just don't take little things for granted anymore. I enjoy life. I feel like I have a purpose. I don't have everything I hoped I would have at this age, but I am happy with the hand I've been dealt. Life is definitely good.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

My dance recital photo, April 2005 Posted by Picasa
Who is this girl? And why does she want to be a princess?
Both of those are legitimate questions. Let me start with the first one. My name is Bridget. I live in Meraux, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans. But really, who am I? Let's see. I'm a daughter, a sister, a friend, a cat mommy. I am a teacher, a dancer, a scrapbooker. I am outgoing, yet shy. I am emotional, but reserved. I love to laugh, but I understand the seriousness of life. I seem pretty complex, yet I'm really not.

Why do I want to be a princess? Well, that stems back to my teenage years. Being the pampered, snotty brat that I was, my parents concluded that the only job I was qualified for was princess. It became a joke over time, and the title has stuck all these years. I'm still trying to figure out how I can live in the lap of luxury! Of course, I know real life doesn't work that way, and I'm OK with that. I'm happy with my life, and it doesn't get much better than that. Maybe that makes me a princess after all. Well, at least in my own mind maybe.