The end of an era

photo-31So, great news!

Chris and I are officially homeowners!!

The process was actually quick and painless.

We looked online, chose a list of houses,

and our relator took us through them.

House number 6 out of 7 was the one

so we put in an offer – and – long story short,

it’s ours!!

Of course, yesterday when we got the keys

I was out the door loading boxes into my little Honda.

But after the last load for the night was packed,

I looked around my apartment

and was met with unsuspecting tears falling from my face.

It’s the end of an era.

This apartment was a symbol of my independence.

And though I am ecstatic to start my newest journey and adventure,

it is a little hard to say goodbye.

5 years ago when I moved in to my first and only apartment without roommates,

I had no idea what adventures would come my way.

This apartment has seen me through the ups and downs of starting a career.

I subbed in every nearing district, praying for a job, but soon,

the downturn of the economy and lack of teaching jobs led to a stint of unemployment.

But this apartment also was the scene of the phone call

with news I’d been hired for my first teaching job.

This place was my safe haven during a crazy breakup,

a place to party during my single party girl phase,

and the place Chris picked me up for our first date.

I feel like so much has happened here.

I feel like I’ve grown up into the person I want to be in this place.

They say, “When one door closes, another one opens.”

Well, the door to my single girl life is closing,

and the door to an exciting future as Mrs. DiPlacito is opening.

When I look at it that way, it makes it hard to be sad.

The era of my Q street apartment ends here,

but may the memories never fade.

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Abuelas are better than grandmas

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This is Abuela.

She’s the one who is responsible for my Cuban heritage.

My espresso addiction.

My fiery bulldog ways on the soccer field.

The woman who inspired my sewing hobby

and taught me to sew a project for “10 dollars or less.”

The woman who will always greet me with,

“Hay que linda!  Gina, you look like a million dollars.”

(Yes, even if I’m in workout clothes.)

Who told me to never leave the house without earrings

and a little bit of lipstick (or chapstick in my case).

She’s hilarious, thoughtful and you better believe she’s a good negotiator.

I had the best time sifting through old family photos with her yesterday.

We belly laughed as we shared stories

and passed back and forth, “Remember when?”s.

Brought me back to the days I’d visit her in Miami

on my Spring Breaks in college.

While my friends would visit the beach or go on some crazy college group trip,

instead I took a flight to Miami to spend time with Abuela.

She and I would shop and take in movies,

and come home to eat Cuban food with Abuelo.

We’d practice speaking spanish.

We’d drink cafe con leche.

To me, those were the best Spring Breaks ever.

Though I really do miss my visits to Miami,

I’m pretty happy she’s here in California now.

Because now I don’t have to wait for Spring Break

just to hang out with her.

Thankfulness Thursdays – On the Radio

Back again for Thankfulness Thursdays,

inspired by the Domestic Fashionista.

I’ve enjoyed the time each week reflecting on at least one thing

that I am thankful for or that brings me happiness.

And today I am thankful for music.

I am an undercover country music lover.

Two of my go-to radio presets are country music stations.

Which is strange to me,

because I’ve been more of an alternative music listener for most of my life.

But I have to admit, all these political radio ads

forced me to turn the dial more frequently in the last few weeks.

And surprisingly, I think I’ve found a new favorite.

It’s a newer station in Sacramento, 94.7

but it reminds me of a station I used to love years ago.

About three years ago, there was a radio station in Sacramento

known as KWOD 106.5.

In my opinion, this was one of the greatest stations in the city.

Listening to this station created a happy place for me.

I honestly don’t think I appreciated music the way I do today

before I found KWOD.

In fact, I have fond memories of nodding my head to the music on KWOD,

half asleep on a yellow bus to and from my high school.

Not to mention those of my best friend, Jana, and I claiming

that if we heard a Beastie Boys song on the way to school,

it was sure to be a good day.

But if we heard Sublime’s “Bad Fish”

the day was not looking up.

(Why we decided on these rules, I’ll never know.)

KWOD’s DJ’s were always the coolest.

And I’m not lying when I say there was one in particular

that whenever he spoke, I felt like he was speaking to me personally,

like he could read my mind and understood me.

They’d play the best stretches of music,

where after each one ended and another began,

I’d find myself saying to myself “Ahhhh! I love this one too!”

KWOD also held a special place in my heart

because when I was a senior in high school

I got to host my own radio show as a guest DJ one evening.

I remember feeling so cool bringing my CD wallet,

covered in post-its of the order I wanted to play certain songs.

Ahhhh, those were the days of good radio.

It’s funny.  As I was driving to work this morning,

I heard “Sabotage” on 94.7,

and out of habit, I thought to myself

Beastie Boys! Today’s going to be a good day.

Perhaps the “good radio” is back in Sac.

For now, anyway.

Bonding over Books

It’s funny how certain books bring back school memories for me.

We finished our third after-lunch read aloud today –

Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

This was only my second time reading this book.

When I was in 3rd grade, my teacher always read to us after lunch.

The two books I most remember her reading were

Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Stuart Little.

The weird thing is, I don’t really love either of these books,

but I do love the memories of this after-lunch tradition.

Sweaty and pooped from running around on the playground,

I always felt thankful for Mrs. Marchi allowing us

to lay our heads down on our desks or draw while she read.

Those ten minutes of relaxation always felt like heaven,

or at least that’s how my eight year old self remembers it.

My hope is that my 4th graders only feel the same about this

sacred read aloud time we share together after lunch.

Even if they don’t like the books,

I sure hope they like being read to, just as I once did.

What books bring back school memories for you?

A day I won’t forget

When I think of the people who jumped out of buildings

instead of waiting for their death on that terrifying day

I still get goosebumps.

I was just sixteen.  But I remember that day clearly.

I woke up to get ready for school, to my mother staring at the television.

If you know my mother, she does not watch TV. It’s just not her thing.

That morning, however, she was glued.

“A plane crashed into the World Trade Center,” she had said.

“Tons of people are going to die.”

I swear, I thought the world was ending.

I had never seen her upset like this before.

Fast forward a few hours later.

I remember sitting in my car, listening to my favorite radio station

hearing them say that the second plane hit.

I can still hear the DJ’s voice vividly.

And then, forced to class, I was stunned

because instead of taking notes on a lecture,

we sat in front of the television.  Watching.

Then another hour later.

I’m out in the parking lot, decorating a friends car for her birthday.

It felt so wrong.  Helping someone celebrate this day,

when people were dying.

I am not still friends with her, but I always think of her on this day.

How would you feel to have this day as your birthday?

Does it feel strange?  Does it feel ruined?

As an educator, I feel it is important to share this day with my students.

Though I was not affected first hand, it still brings me some emotion.

How do you explain this horrific day to 9 year olds?

It’s tricky.  Yet, last year, a teacher blog I love to follow

posted this great Brain Pop video that puts it simply enough for them to understand,

yet doesn’t seem to leave anything out.

http://www.brainpop.com/socialstudies/ushistory/september11th/

If you are looking for a way to share this piece of history with your students,

I recommend this video.

It’s been 11 years, but I still haven’t forgotten.