Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Saying Goodbye to 2013: Not with a fizzle, but with a bang.

Well, it's the end of another year. That means everyone is looking ahead, making plans and goals, waiting for better things to come. I'm doing that too, but I've also been thinking a lot about the stuff that has happened this year. 2013 certainly brought a lot of change.

Let's look at some of the highlights, shall we?

1) It snowed in Starkville.
Out of all of the fun times I've had-- nights out at the bars with friends, hilarious game nights, road trips, dates-- this day was the most fun. Everyone was happy and carefree that day. Our biggest concerns were winning snowball fights and keeping our cold toes from falling off.

2) A few of my best friends and I ran away to the middle of nowhere for a weekend.
Dedeaux, Mississippi, to be specific. But that's basically the middle of nowhere. We were supposed to be responsible, helpful adults at a high school retreat, which we totally were.. for approximately one hour each day. It was like going to the retreat when I was in high school, except it was better because I was an adult helper and could do whatever I wanted. Grown up life is so fun sometimes.

3) I pretended that I could actually be a sorority girl.
In case you're wondering: I cannot. I'm a sorority girl dropout. BUT I did have some really good times, and I met a few girls who make the greatest, most loyal friends. It was an, um, eye-opening experience, but I should've known it wasn't going to be my cup of tea since I've basically been more of a boy my whole life. (Not in the I-want-a-sex-change way, just in the I'd-rather-play-baseball-and-video-games-and-hate-shopping-and-most-girly-things way.) But hey, at least I've experienced it just in case I somehow end up having a daughter that is exactly like my sister, whose cup of tea contains the color pink, a lot of glitter, and the sorority life. Shudder. However, having to constantly hear my family tease me by quoting the SNL skit "DELTA DELTA DELTA, CAN I HELP YA HELP YA HELP YA?" makes me wonder if it was actually worth it. ;)

4) I was constantly reminded that I'm surrounded by the best family.
I celebrated another year of living surrounded by all of these people that I love, and--this is the part I never get over--love me back. A call from an aunt or cousin doesn't make me think something is wrong, because it's not unusual to hear from them. When we all get together, my younger cousins run and greet me with hugs and squeals, just like I used to greet my older cousins. It never gets old, and it's always a blessing.

5) MSU (my college) and UVA (JT's college) played each other in the NCAA Super Regional.
As most of you know by now, JT and I are very competitive. Pretty much everything we do is a competition. So when we found out our college baseball teams were playing against each other, a lot of (friendly) shit-talking took place. Zoe has never taken an interest in our need to turn everything into a competition, which makes her face in this picture even better. On top of taking a hilarious picture, MSU won. BOOM.

6) I gained another beautiful, sweet, wonderful baby girl cousin.
AND SHE IS JUST PERFECT. I pretty much gain at least one new cousin every year. What can I say, Italians are good at reproducing. This year, it was Lucy. My heart turns into a puddle every time I hold her.

7) I've started making grown-up plans.
JT went with me to check out a grad school in Maryland and I've started to read every single word and solve every single problem in my GRE study book. Scary. As. Hell. But I know it's all getting me one step close to my dream job. And yes, call me crazy, but teaching is, in fact, my dream job. This time next year, I'll (hopefully) be student teaching in the Maryland/DC/Virginia area while applying for grad school and a real teaching position. Scary. Exciting.

8) I had wrist surgery.
After 5-6 years of wrist pain, I discovered there was a cyst in my wrist. (Does anyone else enjoy the fact that it rhymes as much as I do?) So I had it taken out. It was just as obnoxiously annoying and painful as it sounds, and now I have another scar to add to my collection. My surgeon and physical therapist deserve a medal. So does my mom, because she was my post-surgery nurse, and I'm sure you can imagine how cheerful Independent Alexa was when she could only use one arm and could hardly do anything for herself. But it ended happily, because now my wrist is pain free, and I love being able to pick up and play with my kids without worrying about them hurting it.


9) My heart was stolen by humans who aren't even old enough to tie their own shoes.
My biggest fear has always been that I would start working with kids and not love them the way I thought I would. And then it just happened. I hold them when they are sick, and don't get upset when they accidentally throw up on me, even though I know I'll end up sick in a few days. I read someone their favorite book over and over and over again, even though I'm SO TIRED OF IT. I tie 12 pairs of shoes and unbutton/button pants 300 times a day because I guess velcro shoes and pants with elastic aren't a thing anymore. I stay up extra late to plan lessons and activities even though I know I could just slack off and just let them play in centers the whole time. But I love it. I love them. I think of them when I'm on vacation, I pray for them before I go to bed, and I cry at their daycare graduation. Every day, I get to teach and take care of people who are someone else's whole world. I get to learn about their favorite things and their little quirks. I get to love them and be loved back. How lucky am I?

10) I gained the most beautiful guardian angel.
I could have lived without this one happening. But it happened. Most days, I am so jealous of my aunt, my Nanas, my friends, and my other loved ones in Heaven who are getting to experience Dane's sweet smile and personality. I can only imagine it's even better now that he's an angel. They got to spend Christmas--his favorite time of year--with him, while I spent it here, feeling my heart break a little more every time I look at a Christmas decoration. But on some days, when somehow it's feels a little easier to breathe and carry on, I'm thankful to have such a wonderful person watching over me.

Life is weird sometimes. Last night, right after I typed that paragraph about having a guardian angel, I went to Walmart for my mom. She just needed a few things to make a certain dip for our New Years Eve party and even though I despise Walmart, I offered to go. I got in and out pretty quickly (because I hate Walmart) and I was waiting at the light to turn left onto highway 90. My light turned green, I waited a few seconds like you're supposed to, and then I pulled out. I blinked, and then a truck plowed into me right by the driver's side mirror, and sent me spinning at least 300 feet down the highway, after my head hit my window and shattered it. My mom has always said I have a hard head.

They say your life flashes before your eyes when something like that happens, but it doesn't. Or it didn't for me. When I was spinning and screaming all I thought was Dane, please help me. Help. Please help. And then the car stopped spinning. I screamed for help until a nice guy finally stopped and called the police and my parents. The rest was cloudy. Ambulance ride, CT scans, x-rays, an annoying thing wrapped around my neck, the stabbing pain of an IV, and a lot of really good drugs. My head isn't as cloudy today, but parts of these last few paragraphs may not make as much sense as they should.

I'm a little bitter, I must say. I can't move very well, there are huge bruises and little cuts on me, and we were still finding glass on me at 1am. But then again I'm thankful, because the police kept telling me I should have more than just bruises and a huge bump on my head. The woman in the truck ran a red light going at least 50 or 60. She didn't even put on her brakes until after she had already hit me.

Do I have the best guardian angels or what?

Overall, I'm kind of glad 2013 is over. I'm not one to wish the days away, but these last few months have been extra exhausting.

Please, please, please drink and drive responsibly tonight. And every night. Put your phone away, don't fight in the car, don't get distracted. Pay attention. PLEASE.

I hope you all have a fun night, and I hope the new year brings you a lot of happiness. As for me, I'll spend tonight surrounded by family and friends, along with some really good drugs and a lot of ice packs.

But hey, at least I'm here. I ended 2013 not with a fizzle, but with a bang.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

And May All Your Final Grades Be A's

My 5th semester of college has come to an end. Meaning I have two more semesters in Mississippi before moving to Maryland/DC/Virginia/somewhere in that area for student teaching and then hopefully grad school and a big girl job.


Every now and then the semester feels lke it's going by painfully slow, but it's usually just speeding by.

So, here we go. What I learned this semester: the fall 2013 edition.

1) TV shows make it look cool when your favorite coffee shop knows your name and your "usual", but it's actually just quite sad. And when they know your name, your 2 favorite coffee drinks, your favorite snack, AND the project you are currently working on, you probably live there and have hit a low point in life. Thanks for always having my back, 929.

2) Staying up extremely late to drink wine and watch lots of New Girl with your friends sounds like a good idea until the next morning, when you are surrounded by 3-year-olds who don't care that you only got 3 hours of sleep because MS. AWEXA HE TAKED MY TWUCK FWOM ME HEY MS. AWEXA MS. AWEXA HE TAKED IT. Yeah. Whoever said you can sleep when you're dead probably didn't work with children.

Getting twelve 3yos ready for their Christmas program: melts your heart and makes you want a drink all at the same time.
3) When you and your little sister, who looks exactly like you, attend the same college, life gets very confusing for you AND your friends. In August, I was at a party with my friends and I got asked, "Wait. Weren't you just wearing a different outfit a few minutes ago?" at LEAST 15 times. I had no idea what was going on until I turned around a while later and realized my sister was there too. It's only gotten worse since then. Tip: if you think it's me, but the girl has on a lot of pink/sparkly things on and has a bow in her hair.. it's DEFINITELY Zoe.

Us? Twins? Nahhhh. :)
4) In case you're wondering, group projects DO, in fact, still make me want to beat my head against a wall. Unless I'm in a group with my friends that I made in Early Block this semester. Otherwise, I'd rather stick my head in a blender.

5) Sometimes people don't care as much as you do. Care anyway. Don't let anyone make you feel stupid for being passionate about something. Never apologize for being smart and working hard.

6) Basically, I didn't know how awesome of a thing physical therapy is until I watched myself go from not being able to do more than move my fingers right after my wrist surgery to having my range of motion and strength back after 3 months. PS: wrists are really important in every day life. PPS: Drayer PT in Starkville is basically the best place ever. They didn't even pay me to say that. :)

7) People are worth so much more than the craziness of life or being on time for work. Walking into work 2 minutes late is nothing compared to the way you feel when you run into a friend and cut the visit short because you're rushing to work, only to wake up to a phone call two days later and find out that friend is gone forever. Slow down. Take the time.

One of my favorite pictures/memories. Missing you more every single day.

8) You don't fully appreciate a warm apartment until you pay your own bills. College Alexa, you are dumb. I know having your thermostat switched to "off" has made your electric bill SO CHEAP, but turn on the freakin' heat and stop freezing every night.

It's been a pretty good semester, even though it FLEW by. I can't believe Christmas is almost here. It's weird, because I used to dread growing up because I thought Christmas would stop being fun. But really, it's just different. I'm the one that moves our snowman that is "Santa's helper" around my daycare classroom every evening after my kids leave, and watch their eyes bulge out of their heads when they find Chilly (that's his name.. because he's a snowman.. get it?) the next morning. I'm the one making little treats arrive from the North Pole when the kids are extra sweet.

It's weird though, because I love being the one creating the happiness and doing the giving so much more than making a Christmas list and receiving gifts. I looove watching my kids' faces light up. And I guess my wants just aren't really things you can buy, ya know? I want my friend here, celebrating the holidays with his friends and family. And I want all of those sweet Starkville kids to have warm jackets and 3 meals a day during their Christmas break, because I'm 20 and I hate being cold and hungry so HOW do those babies do it? And I want my brother to be home on Christmas Eve for ornament riddles and gingerbread houses, because those special things only happen once a year.

I would give up my gifts for the rest of my life for those things, because if there's one thing I really learned this semester, it's that material things and all of those stupid things we obsess over just DO NOT MATTER. And let me tell ya, that lesson felt like a punch in the stomach. And the face. And the heart. Basically it's kinda like being run over by an 18-wheeler, which I'm assuming is something none of us have actually experienced. Are ya catching what I'm throwing, people?

Do lots of giving. Make time for the good stuff. Love your people. Be home for the holiday traditions.

The end of 2013 has been rough, but I'm still counting my blessings.

Blessing #1: I made it out of this insanely busy semester alive. Hallelujah.

Happy Holidays, sweet friends. May you catch up on sleep and have happy days, and may all your final grades be A's. :) See ya in 2014!