Tuesday, July 31, 2007

And the Award Goes To...

Last week Skittles bestowed upon me the great Schmooze Award and it is my duty to now pass it on to others. For those who forgot what this fantastic award looks like, here it is:

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The Schmooze award goes to bloggers who blog themselves and also comment on many other peoples' blogs. They truly have the power of schmooze...

I want to pass this award on to two people who were two of the first to stumble upon my blog and two people whose names I see on a lot of other blogs. They both have great things going on on their sites. So, drumroll, please!

The Myriad Musings of Marci--She approaches everything with such honesty and sensitivity and she always has some great link for her readers to check out.

The Jo Diary: JoJo's July Journey (hey, Marci--alliteration!) was a fantastic read and made me keep coming back for more. Not to mention the fears she lists in the sidebar--very original indeed.

So, ladies--I hope you enjoy your award. Pass it on to those you feel deserve it!

Monday, July 30, 2007

I Worry About Kids Today

Before you start reading, please know that this is based off my observations over the last few years of teaching and observing people. I know that it doesn't apply to everyone out there, so don't think this is a collective slam on all kids and all parents because it totally isn't. I know that most of us are doing the best we can, but some are not and those people are the ones I worry about.

I have been teaching high school for seven years now and one thing I can say for certain is that the kids I have now are COMPLETELY different from the kids I had when I started. The kids I had last year were the laziest, most apathetic and (for the most part) rude and manipulative bunch I have ever seen. They were, hands down, the worst group of kids that I have ever taught.

And it wasn't just one or two kids--it was them as a collective group. And it wasn't just me who felt that way--all the freshman teachers agreed. They wanted to be rewarded for everything, they thought that no rules should apply to them, and they also thought that we were the most unfair people ever to make them live up to any expectations at all. They were also the biggest group of cheaters I have ever had and they had ZERO interpersonal skills--they didn't care how they talked to people and they had no problem with words like "gay" "retarded" "queer" "fag" and the like. They hated to write anything over a paragraph (and that was even pushing it). As I think about all the reasons that this could be happening, I realize that there are many things I could blame (and I am not going to include the parents).

Video games: Sure, they are fun, but talk about not realistic. You get instant gratification, you are rewarded for every right thing you do and, if you screw up, you can simply turn on the console and start over. There are no actual penalties for doing things wrong and, if you can't get passed a certain level, boss, etc. guess what? You can get online and get CHEAT CODES and that is perfectly okay.

MP3 players: Again, nifty little invention, but it has made it possible for you to never have to actually talk to anyone. Kids walk around EVERYWHERE with headphones jammed on their heads and the music blaring so loudly that they couldn't hold a conversation if they wanted to. I see families out to dinner and one kid has his MP3 player going while the other has his head buried in a portable video game. Meanwhile, Dad is on his cell phone (I'll get to those in a minute) and Mom is checking her Blackberry. What happened to family time? Togetherness? Actually TALKING to your kids?

Cell phones: Oh, goodness--I could go on about this forever. Kids don't use them as cell phones--they use them as messaging devices, and it has gotten out of hand. I know that some kids are thinking: "OMG, BFD..." but what has happened is that this text messaging phenomenon has created a generation of kids who can't spell, write, read or even talk the right way. The "text speak" has appeared in formal writing and my students don't understand why I make them do it again. "Why do I have to write out the word because? You know what b/c means, right? Why isn't that as good?" Are you kidding me? There seems to be no clear cut line between where friend behavior stops and school behavior begins in relation to this type of stuff. Also, students use text messaging to aide in cheating in class--great use of technology.

Designer Stuff: Okay, so this is a general thing and I really don't think it has anything to do with what I am talking about, but I had to share this. I was wandering around QVC's site and came across the Dooney and Bourke purses. First of all, I would NEVER spend that much money on a purse (if any of you have, that is okay by me, but I just can't bring myself to do it). Anywho, I was reading the reviews written about a $130.00 bag and one said that she bought it for her TWELVE YEAR OLD daughter for Christmas...uh, what? 12? Really? First of all, I don't know if I was even carrying a purse at 12. Second of all, if I was it probably was plastic or something and cost like five dollars. When did a $130 purse become a gift for a 6th grader? I have girls who carry these kind of bags to school--one of my class rules is that all belongings have to be on the floor or in the basket under the desk (to cut down on text messaging during class). One girl said, "Uh, you want me to put my purse on the floor? It's Dooney and Bourke and cost like $150!" I told her I did indeed want her to get her purse off her lap--she was furious.

Miscellaneous Stuff that Baffles Me: Yesterday I was flipping through a K-Mart Back to School ad and I saw something that makes ZERO sense to me. Five Star (the maker of the binders, notebooks, etc.) has come up with the newest thing that every student has to have: The binder with built in MP3 speakers. All you have to do it hook up your MP3 player and you can listen to your music anywhere. You know, anywhere--like class when you are supposed to be listening to the teacher...

when you aren't busy text messaging test answers to your friend...

...complaining about your $150 purse being on the floor...

So, I worry about kids today. Anyone else?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Big Brother 8

I can't get enough! I even watch big Brother After Dark on Showtime Too.

Anyone else shamelessly addicted to this show?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Embarrass Yourself Lately?

You need to read my previous post to see why I am curious as to if anyone else has turned red in the face lately...

So, have you (unintentionally) embarrassed yourself (or been embarrassed for someone else) lately? I need to feel that I am not alone :-)

How Embarrassing!

Last night TJ and I decided to go out to dinner. We went to Cheddar's and, as always, had to wait (which is no big deal since Cheddar's is totally worth the wait). So, as we waited for our table we sat at the bar. Both TJ and I just wanted water, so we sat, enjoyed our water and waited for our table. The bar was getting rather crowded, and the guy next to me had scooted even closer in order to allow someone to get into a seat next to him.

When our name was called to go to our table, I stood up, grabbed my sweating water glass and tried to maneuver my way from between my stool and his. I had nearly made it when the scene suddenly switched to slow motion (I swear it did)...and the glass slipped out of my hand...and crashed to the floor...shattering and sending glass everywhere...and soaking the guy who was sitting next to me.

I was mortified...everyone within ear-shot was staring, pointing and laughing. I apologized profusely to the guy who was now wearing my water, and he just stared at me like "how dare you?" Like I did it on purpose or something. (I'm sure it didn't make him any happier to see that no water got on TJ or I)...To add to this embarrassing moment, the bartender had to be a real ass about it and say (loudly and quit sarcastically) "Uh, that doesn't go there."

No shit, Sherlock--what gave you your first clue?

Friday, July 27, 2007

My First Friday's Feast

Describe a toy you remember from your childhood.

I have a brown pot-bellied bear that I got when I was a baby. I kept it with me all the time when I was at home. My mom once tried to give it away but I found it in the pile and took it back up to my room. I still have it :-)

On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being highest) how observant are you?

I'm around a 9--I notice lots of things and I remember lots of things, too. (That drives my husband crazy--I remember stuff that happened years ago). I can also tell you what someone was wearing at work on any given day (I don't know why--I just can).

Where would you rather be at this very moment?

Somewhere other than here--I haven't taken a vacation anywhere in a long while. I'd like to go to Florida or Vegas, really.

Main Course
When was the last time you learned something new?

As a teacher I learn new things all the time, but, the most recent thing I learned was a new yoga posture in class last night. In doing that posture I also learned that I have more balance now than I did when I started yoga--so that's good.

Fill in the blank: I have ____________ but I haven’t ____________.

I have dogs but I haven't fed them yet. (lame, I know--but my brain stopped)

Thursday, July 26, 2007


In an earlier post on things that annoy me I mentioned the word "phenomenal" and added that it was a long story...well, ladies and gents, today is the day that that story must be told. Why today, you may ask? Simple: because I just spent three hours in a meeting with the person that made me hate this poor word.

A few years ago I was selected to go to a convention (for lack of a better word) in Pennsylvania. I live in Kentucky and, silly me, thought that we would fly. Nope--we were driving. And not only were we driving, the "we" that would be in a car was a guy I didn't know from our central office and me...for six a Pennsylvania. I am not a huge fan of long car trips UNLESS I can sleep--car rides have made me sleepy ever since I was a baby (and for those of you worried--that doesn't apply when I am driving--only when I am riding). But, considering this guy was from central office I didn't think it would be a good idea to sleep, so I stayed awake. And I have regretted it ever since because here is what I heard the whole way up there:

"Look at those trees--aren't they phenomenal?"
"Look at the bridge over there--isn't it phenomenal?"
"I saw this show on Broadway once--it was phenomenal!"
"Look at this little town we are going by--isn't it phenomenal?"
"We've been driving for over three hours--time has gone by phenomenally fast"

And it went on, and on, and on--the whole time we were in Pennsylvania ("this state is phenomenal") , when a group of us went to dinner ("this view is phenomenal"), when we were in training ("what a phenomenal idea!", when we were at the bar (it was so bad that a colleague I was with took one look at me and was like "I think we both need a drink." He couldn't have been more right), when we drove home ("look at how the leaves are changing--isn't it phenomenal?", when we got home ("Doesn't it feel phenomenal to be back?")


So, today when I arrived at training, imagine my surprise to be met with the man himself--and I thought to myself "If he says 'phenomenal' at any time today I will scream."

Luckily for me (and for those around me) the word did not appear.

Isn't that phenomenal?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I'm a Cryer

I will be the first to admit that I am an emotional person. I wear my emotions on my sleeve (so much so that I can't hide how I am feeling from anyone--even my students can tell how I feel and they don't even know me.)

I don't know how this all started but I do know that I have always been the one to feel bad for others first, to cry for others first, to laugh for others first and so on. This goes for stray animals, too, by the way--I had a stray dog on my porch the other day and I tried to feed it and give it water because it looked so damn sad and lonely. I thought about that poor dog all weekend and I am still wondering where she went and who could have let her go. This is also how we ended up with many outside cats when I was a kid--I got attached after thirty seconds and was begging to keep them. This is also the reason that TJ will not, under any circumstance, let me go to the animal shelter or even PetSmart on Saturdays (since they do adoptions there, too).

Back to the point at hand...because I am so emotional I cry. A lot. About a lot of things. I'm not ashamed to admit it (and you, in the back laughing at me--back off!)

Today I am here to admit...

  • The last book (besides the new Harry Potter) that made me cry was Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate.
  • The last movie to make me cry was Reign Over Me.
  • The movie that will make me cry every time is Moulin Rouge.
  • The last television show to make me cry was Grey's Anatomy when Denny died.
  • The song that will make me cry every time I hear it is "Strangers in the Night" by Sinatra
  • I have cried at every Pearl Jam concert I have been to (which would be five).
So, what about you? Are you a cryer? Are you stoic? Do you hold it in or let it out? What was the last thing that made you cry? (don't be ashamed to admit it--we all cry sometimes, right?)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Schmooze You Very Much!

Thanks to Skittles, my little blog won its first award! I am a Schmoozer (which means I love to read and comment on other peoples' blogs). Check it out:

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Skittles, thank you so much for passing this along to me--I never thought anyone but me would really read this thing so this is fantastic for me--you are fabulous! Your blog is the first I check each day because you always have so much going on.

I am supposed to pass this along to others who have the power of Schmooze (and I will because there are many of you), but right now I am off to bed (or Pogo...whichever comes first).

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Dear Cable Company...

My husband and I have had some serious problems with our cable lately--and much of it is due to incompetence on the side of the customer service people (one woman tried to tell my dad that TNT just wasn't broadcasting at 3:00 in the afternoon) and techs that keep coming to our house (we have had like 5 service calls in three weeks--they all say they have fixed the problem...riiiiight).

Anyway, our HD channels were so bad tonight we couldn't watch any of them, so we called again...and they said (again) they had to send a tech out to fix the problem they swear they have fixed five times. After that, I was so fired up I sent the following email (I have left out the company name in an effort to be slightly nice):

Over the last three weeks my husband and I have experienced severe technical problems with our digital cable. We have had numerous service calls (much to our inconvenience). The first call was during the day and we were told that, since our problem only happened at night there was nothing he could do. He said that he would put a note on our account and as soon as we had the problem we were to call and someone would be out right away. The next day we called at 9:00 in the evening because we were having the problem and we were told no one could come out and we had to schedule another service call for Friday, July 13. First, this is not what we were told by the first tech. Secondly, my husband clearly told them that the call had to be in the evening since that was when the problem occurred.

At 2:00 on the 13th, a call came in from your company saying that a technician was on the way. I informed the caller (again) that coming during the day would do no good since our problem only occurred in the evening. They rescheduled (again) for Wednesday, July 18th between 5-8.

The tech arrived, we were having the problem, and he could find nothing wrong with the cable in the house. A tech was sent out the following morning to check the lines into the house and it was found that we had a bad line and that it would be replaced. We were happy that our problem was going to be fixed. We were wrong to jump to such conclusions.

This evening (July 22) my husband and I sat down to watch our HD channels (which we pay extra for) and found that the majority of them were cutting in and out so badly that there was no way to watch them. We called, once again, and were told that the line was fixed and we had to schedule yet another service call for Tuesday night.

This is, by far, the worst service I have ever had from your company. Our problem has not been fixed, we have endured numerous phone calls and service calls that have yielded no results and we cannot watch the channels that we are paying you for. I am taking the time today to write this to you to let you know of our extreme displeasure with your digital cable service. I am hoping that this situation is resolved after this next (inconvenient) service call. There is no reason that a problem should occur for this long--especially since your company prides itself on keeping its customers happy. Thank you.

I just had to share this with people who may actually read it since (based on track record) I don't think our cable company has a brain cell to share amongst them, so silly me to think anyone can actually read this damn letter.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I am off to watch some more grainy, jumpy, unwatchable television that is apparently in my imagination since, according to my super fantastic cable people, my cable has been fixed.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter is Here!

I just got my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. You know what that means, right? That means that Shan will not be blogging for at least two days because she will be too busy reading! I may post updates of my progress, but I will NOT post spoilers (so those of you who are reading, have no fear--I will not ruin anything for you). I ask that any of you that comment do the same. There is nothing worse than having someone ruin the ending for you.

So, muggles--enjoy the last installment. See you on the flip side!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Your Last Thought Provoking Read

I am an avid reader. I read all the time...the curse of being an English teacher, I guess. I have always loved books. I read just about everything--Stephen King (I have all but two of his novels), Dan Brown, Ted Dekker, Gregory Maguire (I love his take on common fairy tales), Barbara Kingsolver (My copy of The Poisonwood Bible is worn out I have read it so much). Khaled Hosseini is a beautiful writer (The Kite Runner was his best) and I love the Harry Potter series (I have the last book on order and I am anxiously awaiting it). I have many favorite books and many favorite authors, but this post is about something quite different:

The last book that really made me think.


Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

My book club picked this book a couple of years ago. I bought it, sat down to read it and immediately HATED it. It was deep and philosophical and way too serious for me at the time. I was going through a lot of stress at work and I certainly didn't want to read something that was about some kid trapped on a life boat with a man eating tiger. I just couldn't do it. I put it down in disgust. (This, by the way, is a big deal for me--I finish every book I start in hopes that it will get better--and I just couldn't do it).

Then, last year I picked it up again. I was feeling a bit more calm and ready to try something deep. As I read I got more and more intrigued by the story. I wondered where Pi was and where he was going. Was he going to make it? Was Richard Parker going to eat Pi? Would Pi kill Richard Parker? And then I got to the last few chapters and I sat, jaw dropped open, and I finished the novel. I must have sat in the same spot, book on my lap for like ten minutes just thinking about the ending and the novel as a whole--and what it said about our human nature and our will to survive. I was moved and amazed and simply stunned by how well this novel was written. To this day I still think about how that book ended and how it made me feel when I finished it. Rumor has it they are turning it into a movie--I hope they do it justice. (unless they case Sanjaya from American Idol as Pi--then it is ruined from the get go...but that's another rumor for another post).

So, what was the last book that really made you stop and think?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

I have been looking at Skittles' Wordless Wednesday posts for a couple of weeks now and I decided to join in the fun this week...

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I'm Harry Potter!

No, not really--I just took a fun quiz over at Skittles' Place and it tells you your Harry Potter personality--beware, though...some of the answer choices aren't for kids (okay, so many of the possible choices aren't for kids)...

Who are you?

Monday, July 16, 2007

My Movie Heaven

I have had a serious case of blogger's block lately--I can't seem to find anything witty or wonderful or even close to thought provoking to say, so it looks like I will stick to easy subjects until my thoughts regroup.

Today's no-brainer: movies I can watch over and over again--AKA: Shan's Movie Heaven! (Thanks, Marci, for mentioning Dirty Dancing and Grease last night--it made me think of this.) I am a movie junkie, so this list is extensive (and I probably have left some out because my brain refuses to function)

In no particular order:

Moulin Rouge, Harry Potter, Star Wars (the original Trilogy--I don't like the new ones), Dirty Dancing, Grease, Reign Over Me, City of Angels, Secondhand Lions, Gone With the Wind, Pan's Labyrinth, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Finding Nemo, Toy Story (can you tell I like Disney), The Sixth Sense, The Village, The Green Mile, Strictly Ballroom, Steel Magnolias, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Beaches, Space Balls, Office Space, Happy Gilmore, The Rocky movies (except five--it was bad), Life is Beautiful, National Treasure, The Man in the Iron Mask, Psycho (the original--Hitchcock was a genius), Rear Window, Twister, With Honors, The Lion King, Rain Man, The Truman Show, The Wizard of Oz, Rope, The Sound of Music, Chicago, Jurassic Park, Mighty Joe Young, The Producers, West Side Story, Bring it On, Gladiator, Rudy, Life of Brian, My Cousin Vinny, Pirates of the Caribbean (I am dying to see the third, but have't yet), Ghostbusters, Pretty Woman, My Best Friend's Wedding, Legally Blonde, The Mummy, Troy, Knight's Tale, Dead Poets' Society...and many more (they will come to me later, you watch...)

So, what about you? What movies make up your movie heaven?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Just For Laughs

I am tired and on my way to bed this fine Friday, but I wanted to post something to make you chuckle. A friend of mine sent me a bunch of Maxine cartoons this morning and this was my favorite--

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Hope you had a laugh, friends. Enjoy your Friday night.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I've Been Tagged!

Skittles over at Skittles' Place tagged me this morning with my choice of two memes to complete and tag others with...I choose the Birthday Meme. Here are the rules:

Go to Wikipedia and type in your birthday (month and day)...Then write down 3 events, 2 births, 1 holiday, and tag 5 friends (leave them a comment saying their tagged and refer them to your blog for the rules).

Here goes:

On November 2nd...

Three Events:
1868: Time zone: New Zealand officially adopts a standard time to be observed nationally
1960: Penguin Books is found not guilty of obscenity in the Lady Chatterley's Lover case
2000: The first crew arrives at the International Space Station.

Two Births:
1734: Daniel Boone, American frontiersman
1865: Warren Harding, 29th President of the USA

One Holiday:
Day of the Dead (Mexico and the United States)

I tag:
The Cranky Librarian
Joker...I Jacked a Plane
My Crazy Pictures
The Jo Diary
The Myriad Musings of Marci

If you want to do the other meme (The Mutation Meme), Here are the rules:

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

If you want to see what this one looks like, check out Skittles' entry.

It's your choice! Have fun, and thanks, Skittles, for including me in the game :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Guilty Pleasures

Admit it--we all have them. Those things that we could technically go without but we don't want to. In no particular order, here are (some of) mine:

Gevalia coffee, candles from Yankee Candle, wine (Pinot Grigio is my fave right now), reality TV (summer is great for that--so much trash on, so little time), sleeping in, Rocky Road ice cream, hot baths (but I hate hot tubs--must be the chlorine), sun, X-Box 360, Dove chocolate, 400 thread count pillowcases, flip-flops from Old Navy, movie channels, the Cookie Monster (not from Sesame Street--it is a dessert at Chedder's...amazing), and shoes (I hate to wear them but love to buy them).

So, fess up--what are yours?

Saturday, July 7, 2007

People are Confusing Me...

In general, I have decided that people are just short, I don't understand why some people make the decisions that they do. Here are some reasons why:

  1. A year or so ago a man in Ohio shot and killed a kid who was walking across his lawn. Why? Because he was walking across his lawn. Uhhh...okay. Sure, the kid was labeled as a punk who was a smartass, and the guy had asked him a couple of times to not walk on his lawn, but the kids did it anyway. So, instead of calling to police, filing another complaint, etc., he went inside, got a gun and killed the kid. He then called the police to admit that he killed the kid. Crazy.
  2. Roy Pearson is asking a judge to rethink and/or clarify her ruling that he shouldn't get 54 million dollars because a dry cleaner lost his pants--What made this guy think that he could get that much money just because the sign said "satisfaction guaranteed?" I'm sure other people have been less than pleased with service and have decided to go about their business, or maybe they asked to be reimbursed for what was lost or ruined--but no one asks for 54 MILLION dollars because someone lost pants. Unless they were worn by Elvis and adorned with diamonds and lots of gold lame, no pants are worth that much money.
  3. Remember the woman who sued McDonald's because she burned herself on HOT coffee? Now McDonald's (and every other place that serves hot beverages) has to tell everyone "be careful, it's hot." Duh. And if it were cold, people would complain (and probably try to sue for 54 million dollars...or does that just apply to pants?)
  4. In Cleveland a group of 20 somethings were setting off fireworks (since it was the Fourth of July). Their neighbor (a firefighter) asked them to hold it down and the kids refused. Now, nearly all types of fireworks are illegal in Ohio, so the guy should have called the police, waited for them to take care of it and gone off to bed. Simple, right? Wrong. Instead, the guy goes into his house, gets a gun and open fires on the kids. He killed three of them, went back into his house and sat at his table until the police got there. Logic? None. Craziness? Plenty.

There are plenty more, but I am having blogger's block or something. I'm sure I could come up with something witty about the fact Paris Hilton getting out of jail was hot news (why???) or that professional athletes make more than the President (???), or that more people recognized Sanjaya from American Idol than the presidential candidates.

So, people confuse me...I will never understand why some people do what they do or say what they say. Maybe it's better that way...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Fourth of July

Yesterday was exactly midway through 2007. That is hard to believe--it seems that the older I get the more quickly time goes. Funny, really. When you are younger you can't wait for time to fly so you can be older and when you are older you have moments when you wish time would stop. It's that idea of being younger that made me have to post about Fourth of July today.

Let me start by saying that I was very fortunate to have grown up next to my grandparents on about eight acres of land. We had (have, really, since my husband and I got and acre and we are living there, too: my mom and dad, my grandpa and TJ and I all have houses on this land--it is very cool.) It was great to grow up next to your grandparents and it was great to have all that space to run around--especially when it came to the Fourth of July.

When I was little, Fourth of July was a huge deal. We would invite my other grandparents (Dad's side), my uncles, my aunts, my cousins, some of Mom and Dad's friends, and sometimes our friends and we would have wiffle ball, go swimming, have a huge cookout (usually with tomatoes right out of the garden) and, when the sun when down, we would have a fireworks show that lasted sometimes into the wee hours of the morning. My dad would spend hours planning the order (one year he even had musical accompaniment) and we would all take our lawn chairs and watch the show. We "ooh's" and "ahh'd" and got eaten by mosquitoes, but that was okay, because it was Fourth of July and it was expected. One year our crazy German Shepherd, Baron, took a Roman Candle out of the ground and ran across the yard with it. He shot flaming balls at all of us while singing off his whiskers. (He was fine...we were scared to death, but he was fine.)

But all those things aren't the best memories I have of the Fourth. See, we didn't just throw parties-for a few years, they had a theme. The two that stand out most vividly are the Hawaiian Fourth of July (where we all had to wear crazy flowered shirts and leis) and our hillbilly Fourth of July (yep, you guessed it: cowboy hats, bandannas, the works--and that year we even did a hay ride). Eventually my brother got old enough to help dad and it became a "passing of the torch" moment when he ran the show and Dad watched. Everyone always had a good time and we talked about it for weeks afterward. We started thinking about next year's Fourth on the fifth. We couldn't help it.

As I got older, the parties got smaller. Less people came, we stopped getting as many fireworks, and the themes vanished quickly. Our fireworks displays went from 4 hours to less than 30 minutes. When Eric joined the Navy, the fireworks pretty much stopped. Ironic, I brother defends our independence and we stop celebrating it. It just didn't seem right to do it without him, somehow.

When Eric returned, we started again. Not anything huge like we used to, but fireworks. And food. Last year Mom, Dad, and Eric provided the fireworks and TJ and I provided the food. We set up tables in our garage, ate, talked, played cornhole. and then, as it got dark, Eric and his friend Nathan began the fireworks. Some of TJ's family came over and we all sat in our lawn chairs watching the show. We're doing the same thing this year (add ping-pong to the mix, though). Sure, we have to do it on the third because everyone has to work on the fifth, but we're still doing it. And it is getting bigger.

It's almost like old times...without the leis, cowboy hats, crazy dogs and hay rides.

What's your favorite Fourth of July memory?