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End of the Year Musings

As 2014 draws to a close, I find myself in a reflective mood.

It’s natural…and healthy…to look back.

Last Christmas season, I spent nearly two weeks with Chicky, helping her get back on her feet after her ACL reconstruction surgery.  Those were difficult days that had finished off a stressful fall.

The winter and spring seasons found me rejuvenated, though.  I hit my stride with my teaching, and my students responded very well to my carefully crafted lessons.

I developed a good rapport with my kiddos and ended the school year very confident.

During the summer, the Mr. and I spent a week at Disney World…our first adult-only vacation since our children were in elementary school.  It was a wonderful time for us…a time that strengthened our marriage.  Empty nest syndrome has been challenging for me.  Our trip helped me see what lies ahead…after Rooster flies the coop permanently.

When the new school year started in August, I was resentful.

One of my best friends had been assigned to another school, and my mentor was also being moved to cover other schools.

I felt alone.

At the same time, I was called on to mentor a couple of teachers.  My heart is in helping people, and I’ve had such wonderful mentors (thanks, Barb and Cinda), that I’m channeling their wise words to the new teachers.

Still, it’s been a tough few months with some very challenging moments.

I’ve begun to doubt myself again…my effectiveness as a teacher, as rated by a ridiculous VAM score that makes absolutely no sense given what my kids accomplished last school year.

At the same time, former students have been coming back to visit.  I’m positive that God is using their visits to show me that on a personal level, I am more than effective.

The imprint I’m leaving on my students’ lives isn’t going unnoticed by those who matter the most…the kids themselves.

My workload at the beginning of the year was overwhelming, and I have cried a lot this school year.  It reminds me of my first couple of years in this profession.

As a result, I’ve made some adjustments.

I’m normally a workaholic.

For the last four years, I’ve worked nearly nonstop…until 1am on weeknights…entire weekends…to fine-tune lesson plans.

I’m burned out.

So, I started making lesson plans on either Monday or Tuesday nights.  That leaves me the rest of the week and weekends to whatever I want, whether it’s taking care of the family, house, or indulging in non-school related activities such as knitting, reading, or watching TV.

I think that a lot of my resentment stemmed from fatigue and the inability to set firm boundaries between work and home.

I’m beginning to feel more balanced.  I’ve started giving myself permission to leave things undone if they aren’t finished by 3pm, as long as those things don’t run past deadlines, without stressing too much.  A cluttered desk doesn’t always make me want to puke.

This year, I’ve learned that being an overachiever can be good, when it means that I’m working hard in my relationships, but it crosses a line when I allow my over-reaching standards to interfere with those same relationships.

I’ve seen some immediate results to my most recent changes.  Thanksgiving and Christmas were nearly drama-free.  I think I was easy to be around and didn’t grump or run and hide from family.  Yeah.  I can be a hot mess sometimes…sad to say.

The ultimate lesson I’ve learned this year is that it’s not worth stressing over things that I cannot control.  Doing the best I can, despite what others might think or how some asinine evaluation formula might rate me, is all I can do.

For most of my life, I have placed too much value on others‘ standards.  I somehow keep forgetting that man-made standards are subjective.  God’s standards are the only ones I can trust to stay constant and true, so His approval is all I need.

My prayer for myself is that I would continue to strive for balance in my life…that I would say yes to those things that draw me into a life that honors God…that I would say no to attitudes, inner voices, and nay sayers that try to pull my attention from God.

I don’t know what 2015 will bring.  I do know that I serve a living, loving God who will be with me through every challenge and success.

New Year’s Eve Hodgepodge

I haven’t participated in the Hodgepodge the last few weeks because time has always gotten away from me.  I’m here this week and would like to take the opportunity to wish my fellow Hodgepodgers a Happy New Year!  Joyce, hugs to you as you watch your eldest marry the man of her dreams.  I cannot imagine the many emotions that have been flooding your tender Mama heart.  I cannot wait to read all about the festivities!!

1.  Share a favorite moment from your Christmas holiday celebration.

Gosh, but you want me to pick just one?

Hmmm…whenever you get ten family members together, there are bound to be TONS of memorable moments.

There was the real Family Feud that ensued when we tried to play the game by the same title.


There was the realization, when my father-in-law opened his Auburn Dockers, that every male in the family could now boast owning a pair and, thus, could say they would be properly attired when watching our Tigers play.

There was the quiet conversation that Super Sis and I had while washing Coupon Queen’s dishes after dinner…the kind of dialogue that forty years of a sister-to-sister relationship brings on…and the way that God ministered to both of our hearts as we were reminded that He has bound them together perfectly.

There was the selfie moment that Super Sis, Coupon Queen, and I took…which I wish I could post but can’t because I respect their privacy.

Which reminds me of another funny series of moments that happened after I sent a group text message to the nine other members of the family.  I had taken a selfie picture of the Mr., Rooster, and me in the car as we left for Bigger Podunk City, Florida.  I was letting everyone know we’d be there shortly.

To which I got responses from EVERYONE…selfies.  One included Chicky and my nephews, who were out shopping.  Super Sis sent a picture that depicted her in the kitchen, making chocolate covered peanut butter Ritz crackers.  Coupon Queen sent a picture of Cali, Chicky’s dog, and Super Sis sent a picture of Gracie, her dog.  The picture that cracked me up the most was of my brother-in-law…holding up a flexed muscle as he ate lunch during his work day.


Ultimately, my favorite moment was a quieter one…during the Christmas Eve service that the family attended…when voices were lifted up as we sang Silent Night and lit candles.

It was a poignant reminder that it is only because of the birth of the Savior that we celebrate moments like those I described above.

2.  What would you say has been the biggest news event during your life so far?

I’d have to say that the biggest news event would be 911.  This event affected thousands of lives and really did cause life in the US to pause in shock and sadness.  It removed the sense of safety and naivety that many, including myself, possessed.

3.  The Pantone Color of the Year for 2015 is Marsala. What say you-like or no like? Would I find this color anywhere in your home or wardrobe? Will you add something in this shade to either? 

I like this color…a lot!!!  I have a sweater this color and wouldn’t be opposed to adding more items of this color to my wardrobe.  I also have a throw on my couch that is this color.  It’s a color that definitely suits my style!!

4.  Would you rather meet your ancestors or your great grandchildren? Explain why.

I think I’d rather meet my great grandchildren.  I want to see what kind of legacy I and my children have passed down.  I want to know if they are Christ-following and Christ-loving.  If not, I’d straighten them up really fast!

5.  Share one life lesson learned in 2014?

My biggest life lesson this year is that it is possible to lead a balanced life…that it’s all about choice.

I’ve learned, the hard way, that I will NEVER be able to please everyone…that no matter how hard I work or what results my efforts yield, someone will be unhappy, be it a person or a system.

As such, I’m putting less pressure on myself, doing what needs to be done, but allowing myself down time…more of it than in the past.  In other words, I refuse to be a workaholic.  It’s not worth it when other things go by the wayside…time with family…time with my fur babies…time spent on hobbies…time just being quiet.

I’ve made it through what are normally very stressful holidays for me…while being completely (or nearly completely) relaxed.  I am determined to keep up this slower pace.

6.  What was your best or favorite purchase made in 2014?

I’m going to have to say that the recent purchase of my new RAV4…welcomed to my home this past Saturday…tops my list this year.

I blogged about it a few days ago.

The purchase was much needed because of the many, many breakdowns my other car had over the last couple of years.  Relying on others to take me to work or pick me up when I was stranded had gotten old, as had the expensive car repairs.

This car is perfect for me.  It’s a little bigger than the Ford Escape I had before but turns on a dime.

I am loving it!!!

7.  What is one thing you’re looking forward to in the new year?

One thing I am looking forward to in 2015 is a Spring Break trip to Universal Studios.  The Mr. and I spent a week at Disney last summer…without children…best thing ever!  Now that I knit for a Harry Potter group, I’m all about this book series.  The Mr., bless his heart, has agreed to endure an entire park dedicated to all things HP.  This is love, wouldn’t you agree?

8.  My Random Thought

As mentioned before, I’ve been able to relax this Christmas season.

I’ve done a lot of this…Trivia Crack, I cannot get enough of you (hence your name, I suppose)…

I got this one right. Don’t know the answer? Google it! I didn’t though…to my credit!!!

I’ve enjoyed wearing new clothes…courtesy of Hopes, Express, and American Eagle.

Love this dress from ShopHopes!

I’ve done more shopping…hello Kohl’s…

Had my nails done…

Snuggled with fur babies…

And begun watching Season 4, which left me boo hooing…

Oh Carson, how I love you…

I plan on enjoying every single moment left of my Christmas vacation!

Happy New Year, all!!!

Books I Read in 2014

I read.

A lot.

It’s kind of part of my job, but it’s a task I don’t mind.

Because I teach high school remedial reading, it’s important that I know the plots of books that might interest my students.  This knowledge helps me recommend books according to individual students’ needs.

Having read the books myself lends credibility to my recommendations.

I also tend to get a bit excited about books, and that feeling transfers to what are usually reluctant readers.

I keep track of my books on Goodreads.  If you’ve never used this site, run to it, set up your free account, and post your own reviews.

During 2014, I was able to finish reading 59 books.  I read thirteen of those books during my summer break.

Click to embiggen

Favorites that stood out:

All of Jennifer Brown’s books.  Seriously.  Bitter End made me cry.  Thousand Words needs to be read by every single middle and high schooler.  Seriously.

Neal Shusterman’s Bruiser also made me cry.  I fear that I have become a sap in my middle age.  The message of this book is poignant.  I might do this as a lengthy read aloud next year.

Unbroken…this will forever be in my top ten of biographies.  I cannot wait to see the movie!!!

Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver series was beautifully crafted, as was her Scorpio Races book.  Ahmazing (spelling purposely skewed for effect).

Positive, by Paige Rawl made me cry…several times…and angered my mama heart for this gentle young woman.  I am currently reading this to my students, and you should hear the discussions we are having!  This is the true story of a young woman, now currently twenty years old, who was born with HIV.  She was tormented by bullies until she finally found her voice.  I adore her…her courage…her classiness through what would normally have people cursing.  You must add it to your reading list.

Now, I have to say that I did not enjoy a few of the books I read.

NOS4A2…a horror-like ditty that had a decidedly inappropriate feel to it.  I had purchased it for my classroom but threw it in the trash after I finished.

Matched was good.  The other two books in the series were not.

The same thing happened with Wither.  This book was good.  The other two were not.  The term sister wives will forever make me want to puke.

Surprisingly, I did not enjoy the book Heaven is for Real.  I felt like the father, the author of the book, spent more time talking about himself than was necessary.  The point of the book was that his son glimpsed heaven.  I think that there wasn’t enough material to justify an entire book so he filled in.

Wendy Corsi Staub’s books drove me nuts.  The story lines were good.  Her usage of verb tenses was horrid.  I won’t read any more of her books.

The Duff had a good message but was too explicit for me.  I’m still debating whether or not I’ll put it back in my classroom.

The same goes for Looking for AlaskaI hated the first half of this book but enjoyed the latter third.  Still, a few of the scenes had me picking my jaw off the floor.  There are ways for writers of young adult fiction to let their readers know that teenage characters are engaging in sexual activities without describing those activities in detail.  Sheesh.

That, my friends, are just a few of my thoughts.

I’m eager to see what I can finish in 2015.

Christmas Happenings – The AuburnChick Way

So, a few days late but better than never, here is a recap of Christmas happenings in the AuburnChick family…

First of all, let me say that this has been one of the most relaxing Christmas holidays that I’ve had in many years.

I’d lesson planned early the week before I got out of school, so that took away a lot of the pressure I’ve felt the last five years.

This is also the first year in six that I haven’t had alternative certification or reading certification classes hanging over my head.


I’m discovering the joy that comes from priortizing life.  That’s another topic…one I’ll save for my New Year’s post, I think.

Anyhoo…as usual, I digress…

When I left my classroom the Friday before Christmas, it looked like this…

I was smiling…

Seeing this on my phone made me do the happy dance out of school…

Once I left, my brain began to decompress, and I found myself enjoying the shopping process.

I started off vacation the way I always do…with a nap…

I dressed the dogs in their finery, courtesy of Target…

Thank goodness the dogs were decorated.  The rest of the house wasn’t…my second year in a row of no Christmas tree or decorations.


I was able to help the Mr. with gift wrapping.  We worked out an assembly line system.  He wrapped…

I ribbonized…

After lots of last-minute errands, present-hiding, and packing, we were finally ready to leave…

Gambit was not happy…

Fortunately, we had a trusted young man who had agreed to love on my fur babies through Christmas, so I wasn’t worried.

What did make me nervous was the bad weather that tore through the South.

This is what we drove through…the entire way…to the Mr’s parents’ house…

Ugh.  The rain added almost an hour to our drive!  Praise to God that we got there safely, though!

We were greeted by Cali, Chicky’s pup…aka my grandpuppy.  I had not seen her in a year, so the reunion was sweet.

Christmas Eve was rainy, so I stayed inside, read, and relaxed…

Coupon Queen (the Mr.’s mom) had made vegetable soup…a delicious treat that I enjoyed for lunch…

I went to Super Sis’s house after lunch, and she very kindly acquiesced my request to remove the nail polish from my toe nails.  I was not allowed to take photos, though, on threat of my throat being strangled.  heehee

Later, we returned to the in-laws’ house and ate a delicious Christmas dinner before heading to church for the Christmas Eve service…so moving…especially at the end when we lit candles…

Later that evening, the Mr., Chicky, Rooster, and I spent a few minutes exchanging gifts.  Chicky and Rooster had gotten their gifts during our cruise…watches for both of them…

Rooster’s Watch

Still, we managed to surprise them with a few things.

Chicky bought me a dress (no photo, I’m afraid), and Rooster bought me two seasons of Downton Abbey

The Mr. bought me a few tops from American Eagle and some other goodies.

My new camera, the one I took on our cruise, was my main gift…

Rooster and I surprised the Mr. with a Bo Jackson jersey (we’ll get it framed later)…

It was a good time of sweet fellowship that we are rarely afforded now that the kids are grown up.

Before I knew it, the time had come to say goodnight so that Santa could do his thing…

Chicky had left her stocking at her house, so Santa had to fill a hat instead.  Cali had to check out the goodies first, though…

After heading to bed, I was unable to sleep.

I reluctantly got out of bed in the wee hours of Christmas morning to be surprised by this Ruzzle game invitation…

I guess Santa’s sleigh has a navigation system that actually allows him to fly and play games simultaneously.


For the record, I beat him!

:::thumbs up::

After getting dressed and all fixed up, I waited on sister dear…

That’s my grainy phone image…

I swear, but Super Sis’s family took forever to arrive.  Finally, though, they did, and we took family photos.

Sorry, folks, but they are blog-shy.


We quickly commenced with the gift-opening, beginning, as usual, with the youngest member.

I love the way we open presents because 1) It takes longer and 2) We get to ooohhh and ahhhh over each person’s gift.

Round and round we went.

Much laughter was to be had because every gift had its own story.

My gift from Super Sis and family was no exception.

You see, I’d asked for a new wallet and was happy to discover that Super Sis’s crew had gotten me one.

After opening my gift, she said, “But wait, there’s more.”  She then pulled a wrapped gift from behind her.

I was so excited because I thought I was getting ANOTHER present!

I opened it, and it was a SECOND wallet.

To my chagrin, she explained that I was not hearing the word “more” but the word “or.” In other words, I had to make a choice because she’d seen several she liked.

Then, she pulled another package from thin air.

Yes, folks, it was a third wallet.

For the record, I chose the blue/green one.  I love it!

The Mr.’s parents gave me a freshwater pearl bracelet that has silvery bling on it…

They also gave me “Boot Loot…”

I used it, the next day, to purchase these (their VISA gift card helped too!)…

We had a lot of fun watching the guys open their Dockers Auburn pants…

If you were a male in the family, you got a pair of these.  heehee

Super Sis’s family gave Chicky these slippers…too cute…a bonus gift to accompany the gift card they’d purchased…

As always, the gift-opening aftermath wasn’t pretty…

So much laughter and love was exchanged as each present was opened.

I am always reminded how blessed I am…doubly so because my sister married the Mr’s brother, so we can ALL spend Christmas together.

But wait…the trip wasn’t over!

You see, although Chicky left on Christmas night (BOO!!!), we still had post-Christmas shopping to do!  I woke up and took this selfie, of course…

The Mr. wanted to take me to the mall to buy me new pants at Express, where Chicky had gotten some that she’d been wearing during her visit.

Let me just say that I LOVE this store!  Their pants have Short options, so petite people like me can find things to fit!  I walked out, after their 50% sale, with FOUR pairs of pants/blue jeans!!!

In fact, it was a productive day, shopping-wise!

It was a wonderful Christmas and the least amount of drama to date.

With the kids getting older, the activity level has slowed a bit, which is fine for my tired self.  It’s refreshing to just enjoy life…to take joy in the pretty lights and sweet music…to savor sweet moments with family members who you don’t get to see very often.

AuburnChick Gets a New Car

I was going to write a post about my family’s Christmas happenings, but then an unexpected thing happened.

My car died.


The Mr. and Rooster were out shopping, and I was taking it easy at home, comfy in my sweats, when I received a phone call from Rooster.

They were stranded.  The car would not start.

This happened a couple of weeks ago, and it spent a few days in a friend’s shop.

This car has had gremlins for a year and a half or more.  To say we were tired of its unpredictability would be an understatement.

Still, my heart was broken.

Not because I loved the car.

I loved not having car payments for the last four or more years.


I picked up the guys from the mall, and we headed home, where I donned an outfit suitable for car shopping.

The frown was real.

Upset, I was.

The Mr. and I drove Rooster’s car, dropping him off at work.

We didn’t even know where to start.  All I knew was that I wanted an SUV because I’m short and need to sit higher.

Because we live in Podunk, USA, our options were somewhat limited.

We drove to the Mazda dealership first and test-drove a CX-5.

Honestly, I wasn’t impressed.  The one we tried out was watered down.  It rode very smoothly, but it just didn’t feel right, if you know what I mean.

Still, we asked important questions like, “How much will this cost me a month?”  That sort of thing.

I was nauseous the entire time the Mr. talked.  He does most of our car talking, you see…especially when we start discussing numbers.

I frantically texted my family, asking them to pray.

We wound up leaving without a new car and headed to stop #2, the Buick dealership.

They had lovely cars, but they didn’t have booklets to give out and instructed us to look everything up online.

Personally, I think that was a dumb move on their part.

We left.

Onward to stop #3…the Toyota place.

As we began inspecting the SUVs on display, I began to feel my heart grow lighter.

Then, we spotted this…

It was a 2015 RAV4 and had a gorgeous interior…

Of course, the technology grabbed my attention right away…

My nearly nine year old Ford didn’t have that…nor did it have a moon roof…

The salesman was a very nice, no-pressure kind of guy…young and easy going.  He showed me how to let let the back seats down, how to recline them (yes, the back seats actually recline!!), and how to set up a couple of other things.

I turned to the Mr. and told him I was starting to feel happy again and that I wanted to test drive the car.

He agreed, and after signing off on paperwork, we headed down the road.

What a smooth ride!  The interior was big enough that I didn’t feel claustrophobic but small enough for my petite self to handle.

The Mr. and I switched seats halfway through so he could get a feel for it.

When we drove it back, the haggling began.

So did my texting as I asked people to pray.

The Mr. and I had prayed before we began shopping, but the more prayers the better!

We finally got the dealership down where we wanted in what was a fairly painless negotiation and then signed our lives away…and least for the next known-to-me-but-not-to-you-number-of-months…and walked out the proud new owners of a new car.

Despite the growing knot in the pit of my stomach, knowing that my days of having a little bit of wiggle room in the old budget were gone, I was excited.

While the Mr. drove Rooster’s car back, I started calling family, using the hands-free, Bluetooth connection that I didn’t have BEFORE this car.



You know me and gadgets!

We ran home for a few minutes to feed the dogs, and I couldn’t resist another selfie with the car…

After dinner and a couple of errands, we returned home to find Rooster waiting for us.  After sitting down to do some reading about the car…

…Rooster and I set up the built-in garage door opener (it’s called something fancier, but I’m feeling new-car-stupid right now).

I’m thrilled about the car despite feeling a tad resentful that the choice of WHEN to buy it was taken from me.

I’m thankful, though, that my old car held out for so long and through over 175,000 miles.  Despite not being in love with it…ever…because it replaced the beloved Durango that I gave up when gas prices went through the roof (we were spending over $400 a month on gas just to drive Chicky back and forth to practices several hours away several times a week), I know that it is finally time to say goodbye to what I’ve called the Crap Car.

Oh, and you want to hear something funny?

We didn’t use it as a trade in because IT WOULDN’T START, and thus, we didn’t have it with us.

The Mr. and I went back to the mall to retrieve my hand-held garage door opener and, on a whim, he tried to start it.

It didn’t even sputter, turning over beautifully as if to say, “Neener neener.”

To which the Mr. replied, “I hate this car.”

It’s sitting in front of my house, waiting to be cleaned out, photographed, and put on Craigs List.

Meanwhile, I’m trusting the Lord to help me pay off a few bills quickly so that I can breathe a little easier money-wise with the new baby I brought home yesterday.

Early Christmas Morning Musings

Although I am 44 years old, there resides inside of me the heart of a child.

This I felt as each minute ticked by last night.

To put it simply, I could not go to sleep.

I tried everything…

Praying…for EVERYONE.

I thought about books I’d recently read.

I tried to picture what it was like that very first Christmas when the shepherds heard the Good News.

I envisioned Mary, sitting in awe as the Magi came to see her baby.

I believe I dozed off for a while, only to awakened around 3:30am.

I never really went back to sleep. I’m sure there’s a nap in my not-too-distant future.

Finally, I gave up and got dressed.


In case you need proof of the time, take a look…


Cali and I had some quality time together…


We enjoyed the view of the tree…


As I type this, I’m still waiting for the rest of my crew to get up.


It pales in comparison to that which was felt by all who waited for the Savior.

His arrival was not what people expected. I sincerely doubt that in that day and age, where stories of formidable gods and goddesses abounded, anyone expected the King of Kings to descend upon them so humbly.

A few willing hearts recognized Him, though. Their diligent waiting paid off, and they were rewarded with the revelation given to few so early on.

I pray that I will always carry with me this child-like anticipation…daily looking for God’s revelations to me in the midst of everyday tasks.

I am humbled that He came down, in the mere form of a human, to save the likes of me.

Merry Christmas, my friends

Vacation Shenanigans – Part 3

Our second official day on the ship found us at Grand Turk.

It’s a small island with a beautiful view.

If you ever visit Grand Turk, do not waste money on a cab tour.  It’s not worth it because there’s not much to see.  Just enjoy the beach!

Immediately upon settling in, Super Sis and I were approached by a lady offering to put braids or wraps in our hair.

We had decided that we wanted to do this, but we didn’t want to spend much money.  Everything on the islands is negotiable…this we knew from our past traveling experiences, so we began to haggle.

The Mr. had agreed to spend $20 on our wraps.  I was going to pay for hers, and she would pay me back later.

We finally got the gal down from her original price, and another girl began making the wrap…

I had chosen blues and greens because they are my favorite colors…

Super Sis got her hair done after mine was finished, and we then sat, contented, while we chatted and the boys threw a Nerf football.

The weather was absolutely divine and much appreciated after some cold temps we’d back home!  The water at Grand Turk was a gorgeous shade of blue.

After a teensy bit of shopping, I needed a bottle of water, so I headed for the bar in the pool area of the resort that is on the island.  What a lovely setting, eh?

Can you say Cabana Boy?  🙂

We eventually headed back to the ship where we enjoyed a round of trivia…our daily dose of fun.

A word about trivia.

We take it very seriously.  It’s boys vs girls.

The boys think they are smarter than we are…not that previous scores would indicate this.

:::rolling my eyes:::

Take a moment to admire my cleverly-added hats to hide the boys’ faces.  Go me.  🙂

Here’s our scorecard…please take notice of our name…because we are still have some ripening to do…

Take a look at how the boys…aka “The Lighbulbs” – gag – did…

They claimed it wasn’t a real victory for us because we gained a new partner…Eddie…a kind older gentleman who didn’t belong to a group.  We, being the friendly Southern women that we are, welcomed him with open arms.  He was our secret weapon and brought a smile to our faces each day he met with us.

After trivia, it was time to get ready for dinner.  The ship had pulled away from Grand Turk, taking to the high seas on its way to Puerto Rico…

I couldn’t help but take some time to enjoy the sunset.  If you’ve never cruised, you must.  The sight of the sun setting over the ocean is awe-inspiring and such a reminder of God’s beauty…

The day of fun wasn’t over though.  You see, cruise lines have tons and tons of activities planned.  Pick and choose according to your preference!

After dinner, we headed to the auditorium/theater for a special show…

I don’t even know what to say about this group.  It was on America’s Got Talent, and I remember watching the guys.  Seeing them in person was something else altogether.

The show was interactive with audience members picking out various pots and pans, along with ear plugs, so we could drum out a beat along with the talented artists.

Each member of the group brought his own unique flair to the performance…

What I loved about this act was the way the routines were changed up.  There was body percussion…

There were percussion duets…

There was some sort of chain saw fireworks thing going (freaked me out a bit…didn’t want anything to catch fire)…

One of funniest acts was the dueling drummers.  Oh word, but these guys were hysterical!!!!

During one part of the set, one of the percussionists got the older lady you see pictured in the bottom left to throw in a drum stick.  The poor woman’s aim was horrid, so he tried to walk her through how to properly throw a drumstick.  Her timing was off…she didn’t speak much English, I think…which made for a lot of laughter as the musician ad-libbed.

The absolute best part of the show happened when the group asked for volunteers, previously selected, to come to the stage.

The Mr. had been selected.

The men had to put on masks, and the audience was shown the following message on the mounted monitors…

We were in for a treat.

It was a training zoo.

Fortunately, the Mr. wasn’t the one who couldn’t see.  The poor guy in the middle (the one with both hands down) was the unlucky fellow.

If you want a good laugh for the day, check out this video…

The Mr. is wearing the purple shirt and blue jeans.

Please note that he doesn’t usually dance in public…nor does he slow dance with other men.


The booty song…he’s practiced those moves at home for the family a few times…as a joke.

He got some of the loudest applause.

He did us proud.

After the guys did their thing, it was time for a cookie break…

Yes, the guys doled out cookies.  So generous of them…especially after a very filling dinner, which nearly every audience member had just emerged from…

Then, it was time for a PSA about bullying.  The group has created an anti-bullying campaign with proceeds from the sales of their merchandise on the ship going toward their nonprofit organization, Legacy X.

After one final hodgepodge of classic rock and roll songs, the group finished its performance.  Group members met members of the audience outside.  They were very friendly and more than willing to pose for pictures.  I was too shy to ask (if they had been my favorite YA authors, I would have totally gone fangirl on them).

After the show, we hit the karaoke scene and listened to my talented nephew, Music Man, belt out a couple of tunes.  This guy is amazing and had the audience cheering loudly.

Later, he and Chicky saved me from embarrassing myself when the host of the evening tagged my girl and me to do a duet.  I know I cannot carry a tune, so it would have been disastrous.  Music Man filled in for me, and he and Chicky sang “You’re the One that I Want,” from Grease.  It was hysterical!  Music Man tried, accidentally, to sing Chicky’s part, to which she waved him off.  They giggled through the entire thing but still had the crowd into it.  They were acknowledged throughout the rest of the cruise by people who had seen them.  Very funny.

I can’t remember if we hit the late night buffet after that.  All I know is that we were pretty tired.  The sun, the music fun, the dancing…they were a lot to take in for just one day, and we knew Puerto Rico was just over the horizon…

Vacation Shenanigans – Part 2

We are the family that likes to be as close to the front of the line as possible.  This translates to checking out of the hotel early to drive to Port Everglades.

I didn’t mind though, as evidenced by my smile…

We stopped at a Walgreens on the way, picking up last-minute items.  We bought our youngest nephew a Nerf ball to throw around.  We are awesome that way.

Poor Walgreens.  Store employees were probably glad to see our large group of ten pay and depart.

We kept on driving, went through the security checkpoint at the port, and pulled up to the terminal.  It was exciting to see our ship come into view…

We filled out the required health forms, assuring the Powers-That-Be that we weren’t sick with the flu or some other stomach ailment.

Then we waited.

I got in trouble when I pulled out my camera…an early Christmas present from the Mr….and started taking pictures.

By the way, that’s my first SLR camera!  I have much to learn.

Anyhoo, apparently there’s some sort of rule that you’re not supposed to take pictures inside the waiting area.  There were no signs posted…only a rude employee who persisted in giving me the stank eye across the room.


We only had to wait about an hour before we boarded.

This was the cleanest our room would be the entire trip.  Imagine four people’s stuff in there!!

I stepped out on the balcony and got a better look at the Intercoastal…

After eating lunch, we walked around the ship to get our bearings.

Super Sis giggled as she took the following picture…

Folks, we were STILL IN PORT and that man behind me was in his skivvies.


Later, everyone headed to our rooms so we could watch as we left port.  The weather was divine…humid but still warmer from where we’d left the day before.

Dinner that night was delicious.  Sorbet, a milk-free option, was on the menu, so the Mr. and I were happy!

We went to the show in the big theater that night.  It was a preview of the different acts we would be seeing that week.  We eventually hit the hay.  The next day, we would be at sea, en route to Puerto Rico.

Vacation Shenanigans

Dear Blog,

I realize I’ve been absent of late.

Blame it on work.

Blame it on fatigue.

Actually, blame it mainly on the trip the AuburnChick family took the week of Thanksgiving.

You see, the Grand Poobas of the family are a generous couple who enjoy getting their loved ones together, in one place, whenever possible.

As you know from past posts, our adventures often find us cruising on the high seas.

This Thanksgiving, we were blessed to return to Grand Turk, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and Holland America’s private island, Half Moon Cay.

I’ll spend the next few posts sharing photos and memories from the trip.

Let’s begin with the day we left.

We had to travel nearly the entire length of the state to get to the port in Ft. Lauderdale.  Of course, getting to the point of driving down was first met with packing…lots of it.

A girl can never pack enough, don’t you know.  What a tragedy it would be to not have the perfect outfit for a particular outing or activity.

Haters be hatin’ my organized, think-ahead brain.


Getting up that Saturday to make the long drive to Ft. Lauderdale was easy…seeing this on my phone app made me smile…

For nine blessed days, my little family of four would once again be together.  We had not seen Chicky since early June and could not wait to reunite with her.  We stopped a few hours into our trip to pick her up.  A friend had driven her to a place not too far from the interstate.

Girl in-tow, we continued to make our way to the hotel, a few hours away.  We met up with the other part of the family, ate dinner and watched football on the big screens, and called it a night.  We probably had at least fifteen alarms set among all of us…all in the effort to not oversleep so we could board early.

Come back for my next post where I’ll share photos and thoughts from Sunday, our first afternoon/evening on the ship.

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