January 31, 2011

PETA's New Superbowl Ad


Dear PETA,

For a company that is so devoted to the ethical treatment of animals, I find it incredibly insulting that you show such disregard for women.  I get it - sex sells.  But I think it can be done tastefully.  Your most recent commercial featuring girls parading around in bikinis (or even topless) simulating fellatio with various vegetables is completely exploitative.  Last time I checked, the Superbowl was a family program (I thought we all learned that lesson back in 2004 with the Janet Jackson costume debacle).  Is this really the message you want to send to our youth?

OK.  End rant.  My burrito bowl is getting cold.

Sincerely,
Erin    

January 30, 2011

Healthy Living Weekend

I'm feeling super motivated today after a great weekend.  I kicked it off on Friday by attending a special Black Light Zumba class with my instructor and a couple girls from class.  It was an intense 90-minutes of sweaty fun, and I'm feeling it today (yay!). 


Saturday morning was a little rough.  Despite having enough sleep, my body was exhausted from a long week at work and a killer Zumba session the night before.  All I wanted desperately to stay cozy under my covers, but I knew I'd be disappointed in myself if I did.  So, I went to my regular Zumba class and was the only "Front Row Sally"... all the other girls were sleeping or busy.  Boo!  Good thing I was there to represent! 


After class, I had a quick sushi lunch with my mom followed by grocery shopping and an evening of cooking.  All that hard work really paid off because I got great feedback at Tom's Healthy Living Potluck today.  Despite being a picky eater, I honestly liked everything I tasted today, and vow here and now that I will make everything at least once.  And despite spending copious amounts of time in the kitchen yesterday, I'm actually looking forward to making some of these recipes to enjoy this week.


The first recipe I have to share was a definite crowd pleaser.  I don't know about you, but I love apple slices.  I bought one of those handy dandy apple slicer things from Pampered Chef a few years ago and use it all the time, but until now, I've only ever dipped my apples into peanut butter.  This recipe is a great (and, of course, healthy) alternative, and I bet your kids would love it too!  I liked it so much that I made Maria give me like half of her leftovers so I can bring it to work tomorrow!


Pumpkin Pie Dip (makes about 6 cups)
Also from skinnyrecipes.com


  • 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup Splenda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 6 oz fat free Greek yogurt
  • 8 oz Cool Whip free
Mix pumpkin with Splenda, vanilla and spices, blend well. Mix in yogurt. Fold in cool whip and chill in refrigerator until ready to eat.


Serve with cut apples, graham crackers, or salt-free rice cakes.  YUM!

January 29, 2011

Today, I Cooked

I spent the better part of this evening in the kitchen chopping vegetables, not a typical Saturday night for me.  To be honest, this wouldn't be typical for any night for me.  But... tomorrow, I'm headed to a Healthy Living Potluck and wanted found this new dish to try.

I won't lie to you, it was a TON of work.  I spent over 2 hours at the chopping board and slaving over a hot stove (though it would probably be much faster for someone who is skilled with a kitchen knife, unlike myself).  The results, though, are pretty tasty, if I do say so myself.  And now, I can officially say that I've made my very own soup from scratch (check that one off my bucket list)... and it's super healthy!

I originally found this recipe on skinnytaste.com, but I modified it to make it even healthier.  In my opinion, there is no reason to use white rice or sour cream when there are perfectly good substitutes with more health benefits.  The original recipe also called for only half the mushrooms, but I doubled it because well... I love my shrooms!  Haha!  I planned to add spinach but never got around to it because the pot was threatening to overflow (I doubled the recipe so I could keep some soup for myself), but I'm sure it would be a delicious addition.

Without further ado, here is said recipe ala Erin:
 
Chicken, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 8 cups (64 oz) fat free low sodium chicken broth 
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 4 skinless chicken thighs
  • 4.5 oz brown rice and wild rice combo
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp of fat-free Greek yogurt
  • salt and fresh pepper
Melt butter in a large pot on medium heat, add onion and saute until soft nut not browned, about 3-4 minutes.  Add flour and saute another minute.


Add chicken broth, water, carrots, garlic, celery, and chicken thighs, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add rice mix along with it's seasoning, mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste and simmer on low, covered 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Remove chicken from pot and shred with two forks, return to pot.  Add Greek yogurt and more water if too thick.  Add salt and pepper to taste.


Enjoy!

January 27, 2011

My Favorite Treat

For those that have been reading my blog for a while, you may recall that my family decided to do a Mediterranean theme for our Easter celebration.  After months of listening to my coworker rave about Greek yogurt, I knew this was something we had to have on the menu.

I have to tell you, I am hooked!  I love the creamy, thick texture because it reminds me of almost a custard, making non-Greek yogurts seem very watery to me now.  I also love that these little guys are packed with protein, which is perfect for my healthy eating plan. 

I swear I feel like I should be a spokesperson for Chobani, my favorite brand.  If you haven't tried this stuff, you are seriously missing out! 

I started with the flavored yogurts, but I didn't just get the basic flavors shown above.  Oh, no.  These little suckers are expensive, and in order to justify their price, I had to purchase flavors I couldn't get in another brand.

The two I started with were honey (which is the real Greek way to eat yogurt, by the way) and pomegranate.  Yum!!!  They were both super delicious!

I have since tried the pineapple flavor as well, which is also quite tasty.  (I read on their Facebook fan page that some people like to put a bit of coconut extract into their cups to make this a piƱa colada treat.  I haven't tried it yet, but I have no doubt that this would be a fantastic dessert option.) 

My new favorite thing is to buy the 0% (non-fat) plain Chobani and sweeten it with a little drizzle of honey or fruit.  I like being able to control the amount of sweetness myself since I'm trying to be good about my diet, and the added bonus is that the plain yogurt can be used in countless recipes as a healthier alternative to sour cream.

Seriously, get to your local supermarket and grab some.  It will change your life!   

January 24, 2011

Healthy Eating Recipes

So, now that exercising is a habit (NEVER thought I'd say that, by the way), I'm really concentrating on changing my eating habits as well.

This is hard.  Maybe even harder than the exercising (seriously... who am I?).

I'm picky.  Like a child.  And I, therefore, prefer to eat the same foods that your four year-old would choose. (True story: I took my students to the book fair at school today and had to talk myself out of buying a cook book for kids because it was filled with all the (unhealthy) foods I enjoy most.)

What can I say?  I prefer simple recipes; the less ingredients the better.  My sister calls this my "immature pallet."  And if it's fried... my taste buds are watering!  This is a slight problem. 

I'm working hard to improve this.  The last time I had a cheeseburger or french fries (my weakness) was on NYE, and that was only because we had to make a necessary stop at Portillo's for a certain man who was visiting Chi-town for the weekend.  Other than that, the extent of my eating out has been sushi or salads. (Although a certain family that shall remain nameless forced me to consume pizza this weekend.  Truly.  They forced me.  Held a gun to my head and everything.  So, it really wasn't my fault, and we can pretend it didn't happen, right?  I'm so glad you agree!)

And here's where I could use your help.  I'm looking for easy, healthy recipes to share at a recipe swap this weekend with my Zumba friends (who are an amazing support system.  Thanks, Tom, for suggesting this!!), and any suggestions are truly appreciated!

Teaching Acceptance

Working with my ELL students, I've heard many heartbreaking stories about how they're treated by their peers.  It's infuriating to know that this kind of bullying is happening anywhere, but it really hits home when it's happening to kids I care about so much.  Two of my newcomer students once told me that students on the bus would overhear them talking and say, "Spanish is stupid." or "Mexico sucks!" (Never mind that neither of said students are Mexican.)  I hate that other kids are making my students feel ashamed of who they are - I could honestly cry right now just thinking about this.

Their stories have really gotten me thinking about my own childhood with a lot of appreciation for the way I was raised.  I grew up in very diverse communities and was fortunate to have friends of many different races and ethnicities.  It was just never an issue for me.  (Huge props here to my parents for raising their children to be accepting to everyone.) 

It wouldn't be accurate to say I didn't notice the differences in my friends.  Of course, I could see that their skin color was darker, their hair was a different texture, or their facial features were significantly different than my own.  Those differences, however, held no value to me.  Those differences were no more important than the differences in my friends with blonde hair and blue eyes.  The physical differences were very matter of fact; they were not noticed with any biases attached.  (Once, however, I remember going to play with a friend and thinking that her house smelled "weird" because of the Korean spices simmering on the stove.  But this was still probably more about my adversity to new foods than to her culture.)

In fact, it wasn't until 8th grade (after my family moved to a new community) that I heard someone refer to 'The Mexicans" at the high school with negative connotations. It might sound stupid, but I was shocked to hear this reference because I hadn't ever considered them as a group (in an "us" vs. "them" way).  In my head, saying you were Mexican was like saying you were German or Irish (like me) except that you tanned easier (much like the many Italians in my neighborhood). 

As an adult, I don't just tolerate diversity, but I embrace it.  I have such an appreciation for diverse people and ideas, and this is something I try to instill in my students.  I make a point to teach my students about people and ideas that are different from their own.  Any of my former students can tell you my mantra for learning about others: "Different is different, not better or worse!"  It's completely natural to notice how others are similar or different than ourselves, but I try to teach them not to view these differences with judgment.      

And when I have my own children, I plan to raise them to love everyone, regardless of differences.  I hope we live somewhere they can be exposed to many people who are different from them so that "different" becomes the norm.  I hope this will help them to be open-minded and accepting of everyone and that they never, ever stand by while (or, God forbid, take participate in) others are made to feel less for who they are.

I'll Live Another Day

I'll admit I'm a sore loser.  I am completely heartbroken over yesterday's loss to the Green Bay Cheeseheads.  I hate them. 

With every fiber of my being.

And to say that I am disappointed in Jay Cutler would be the understatement of the year.

So, when my friend texted me last night and asked how I was taking the loss, I told her I was considering slitting my wrists.  (Have I ever mentioned that I have a tendency to be a little dramatic at times?)

"Oh, no!" she pleaded, "Come over tomorrow for lunch and meet the baby instead!"

"I guess I can put off my suicide another day," I replied.

And boy, am I glad that I did.  Holding her little man in my arms was probably the only thing that could have lessened my broken heart this week... I feel rejuvinated!  :)  I guess I'll keep living!

January 19, 2011

The Dilemma

Recently, I began recording The View on my DVR because I really enjoy listening to them discuss Hot Topics.  They always bring up interesting, relevant topics and get the wheels in my brain turning.  It's especially entertaining when things get political and the women get extremely defensive about their opinions.  Things often get pretty heated - as good reality television should!

One of the hot topics discussed recently was cheating spouses because of an upcoming movie, The Dilemma, starring Vince Vaughn, in which his character learns that his best friend's wife is having an affair.  It had the co-hosts asking each other what they would do if they were in such a predicament, and the opinions were contrasting. 

The first question to consider is whether or not you would tell your best friend if you knew, without a doubt, that her spouse was cheating.  Do you confront the husband and demand that he stop?  Do you make him tell his wife?  Do you bypass him and take this news directly to your friend and risk her being upset with you for giving her this news?  What considerations do you make before confronting either person?

The second question to consider is whether or not you would want to know if it were happening to you.  This, I think, is where the biggest contrasts in opinions were apparent.  Some said it would depend on how the length of the marriage.  Maybe it's different to learn that your husband of 20 years is being unfaithful than if you've been married only a year or two.  I felt these people were implying that if the investment was great enough, this information would be too detrimental and that they'd rather be ignorant about this behavior.  What if you throw kids into the mix?  Does that change anything?  

I pose these questions because I don't know, myself, how I would answer them.  I think it's one of those things that's much easier to talk about in a hypothetical sense, but if I were really faced with it, I might have a different answer.  What do you think?

January 18, 2011

How Much is Too Much When it Comes to Differentiation?

Today is the first day of second semester.  It's the start of my third week in my new long-term position.  I was lucky enough to be asked to cover a maternity leave in the same school I was in for the fall.  In fact, I am working with the exact same students, which has been great since I already have a rapport with them.

Except for the fact that I used to be the newcomer teacher, meaning I worked with the students new to the country who were still learning the English language, and now I'm teaching reading and writing to the sheltered students, meaning they are still behind in their academic language but can communicate otherwise.

Two weeks ago, it was decided at the district level, that the three newcomer students should be exited from that program and put into sheltered classes all day long effective at the new semester (today).  Immediately, I began to panic because as their main teacher for the year, I knew two of the three students could not, read, write, or speak well enough to survive in a sheltered class where they are going to be held accountable for the same work as their peers.

I talked to the counselor and my administrators about this, and even though they agree with me, their hands are tied because the director of the ELL program has made his decision.  The end.  There's nothing we can do about it.  And his decision was made solely on his personal philosophy of how long a child should be enrolled in a newcomer program.  Not once did he talk to their teacher (me) or assess these students, even informally to make an educated decision on whether or not they are ready for this step.

To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, my district uses Scholastic's Read 180 program.  There is a set of 'below level' books that come with the program, and the lowest book available is a 100.  This is the kind of book that says, "This is Jack.  This is Sam.  Jack and Sam are friends."  This is a 100 level.  I should also mention that this is the only 100 level book - they all go up from here.  When I assessed the newcomer students to get them started in the program, one scored a 7 and the other scored a 0.  Yes, a zero. 

Despite my assessment, these students are now enrolled in my reading and writing classes.  And I have been told that I should not treat them like newcomers in a sheltered class, that they should do the same things the rest of the class does.  How, though, are these students supposed to write essays on short stories we read in class (which is what my students were doing this morning) or discuss and take tests on stories in their textbooks (my afternoon classes) when I know they can't possibly understand it? 

To say I am concerned for them would be an understatement.

I have no choice but to differentiate my instruction, assessments, and activities for these students if I want them to have any level of success in my classroom.  I can't give them the same assignments as their peers; I have to work with them at their level. 

So, now I'm left wondering where is the line between differentiating instruction and teaching two classes in one room?

January 17, 2011

Grams & Jim


The beautiful bride on her big day!

Over the summer, grandma went down to the lake at her retirement community and asked a nice gentleman if she could fish next to him.  He tells everyone that's how she picked him up though she insists she was just looking to do some fishing.  I don't know if Grandma caught any fish that day, but she certainly hooked herself a man! 

After hearing rumblings of this man, I had to go pay Grandma a visit and meet him myself.  I remember that he grabbed her hand in the elevator on the way to lunch, and she was glowing like a little school girl. 

"Is he your boyfriend, Grandma?" I whispered when I had her alone for a moment.  The answer was obvious, but I wanted to hear it from the horse's mouth.

"Well, I guess so.  I've never really called him that, but I guess that's what he is," she replied with a coy smile.  
 
And her handsome groom.
And the rest, as they say, is history.  The two have been inseparable since.   

For a couple months, they've been talking about making their relationship official.  Ever the gentleman, Jim believed this to be a necessary step before he could move into her apartment.  Anything less would be inappropriate (dontcha just love old-fashioned values?).  Marriages and commitment ceremonies were discussed and the couple weighed their options.

Two weeks ago, Mom got a call that Grams and Jim had decided that they were going to go ahead with their commitment ceremony (an idea they've been toying with for a couple months now)... in six days.  
  
What a lovely couple!

Anyone who's ever planned a wedding before can imagine the stress level that hit my mother in that moment, but I have to give her a ton of credit because she pulled it off.  She even got Grams a new dress and shoes - and she is not an easy person to shop for.  Mom definitely deserves a gold medal for this one!   

Last weekend, our family (including my Aunt Linda and Uncle George who drove in from New Jersey)gathered to watch them exchange vows and celebrate their love.  It was the cutest thing I've ever seen! 

Congratulations, Grandma and Jim!  I'm so glad you've found each other and wish you many years of happiness together!
     
         


Are my Wrinkles Showing?

So, I was at lunch with my mom and sister this weekend enjoying our typical Saturday lunch and shopping (Mom would love if I point out here that we're not always just spending money because sometimes we return things... and therefore, making money.). 

I tried to ignore it but after three or so references, I couldn't help but complain to my mom about the fact that our server keeps referring to me as "ma'am" despite my clearly young appearance (child-like really... I mean, there's not a wrinkle in sight, and all of my greys have been adequately covered with hair dye).

"He's just being polite," my mother assured me.

No more than five minutes later, he brought my sister a refill on her water and said, "Here you go, Miss."

My jaw dropped to my chest.  Had I just heard what I thought I heard?

"Excuse me," I asked, calling him back to our table, "I couldn't help but notice that you've been referring to me as a ma'am and my sister here as a miss."

Silence.

"There are only two years between us," I assured him. (2 years and 8 months, but who's counting?)

More silence.  The panic on his face was apparent.  He knew he'd done it, but he just couldn't see that the obvious solution to this problem was to apologize profusely and make a show of calling me "Miss" for the remainder of our meal.

Instead... just silence.  (Typical man, huh?)

January 14, 2011

Body Image and Eating Disorders

You know how girls with anorexia look into the mirror and see themselves as obese?  When I was in college, my roommate and I used to joke that we have reverse anorexia because we see ourselves as much thinner versions of who we really are.  Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss! 

Unfortunately for me, there are always photographs to bring me back to reality.  I swear to you it's like I don't even recognize the person in the pictures sometimes.  Certainly that can't be me with that double chin or cheeks so chubby my eyes squish up like an Asian when I smile!  Do I really look like that?!  Is there a funhouse mirror inside this camera???  Ugh!

When I originally started Zumba, it wasn't with a weight loss or fitness goal in mind.  But after I decided I loved it, I certainly looked forward to those benefits.  Call me crazy, but I feel like I should be seeing the results of all this moving.  I mean, this is the most consistent exercise I've gotten since high school.  I should have dropped 50 pounds by now, right???? 

OK, I'm not that unrealistic, but I have been frustrated at not seeing my own progress like the other girls in class.  Even though others are starting to comment on my weight loss, I'm not seeing it in myself.  And I'm annoyed.

So, I've been trying extra hard to be even better about my eating habits.  I've always been a three meals a day kinda girl despite knowing better.  The problem is that if I don't eat often enough, I'm ready to gnaw off my own arm by meal time, and then I'm too hungry to cook so I binge on whatever food is fast and plentiful (and of course, unhealthy).  This is where my eating disorder comes into play: half-bulimia.  This is for those of us who are really good at binging but lack the follow through to purge.  Can anyone else relate to this???

Anyway, I'm really working on being mindful of my eating.  I'm trying not to let myself get too hungry, eating smaller portions, and making healthier choices.

It sounds so simple.  And on paper, it really is.  Putting it into play, however, is so much harder.

I can't even let myself stop for coffee on the way to work now for fear that I will be tempted into a sugary cappuccino.  I've been dutifully drinking my peppermint tea instead.

I turned down Portillo's on Wednesday with my family (my aunt and uncle are visiting from NJ and needed their Italian beef fix) even though I love, love, love it because I just don't need it!  Instead, I opted for a protein shake.  No cheese fries on the side for this girl. 

Last night, I made the mistake of letting myself get too hungry and really wanted to go pick something up for dinner, but I forced myself to open a can of tuna instead.  It wasn't nearly as good as the Chipotle I was craving, but I told myself I'd be glad about my choice later.

And today, I didn't let myself order Chinese take-out with the rest of the staff.  I stayed in my room and ate a Lean Cuisine and canned fruit because I couldn't bear the thought of watching them eat that deliciousness.

But I can't stop thinking about an egg roll, dammit!

Please tell me this will get easier!

January 12, 2011

Do You Want Me to Pay or Not?

I just tried to pay my Old Navy credit card bill online with a balance of $0.27 -- yes, you read that correctly. 

The problem?

The site does not accept payments of less than $1.00.

My solution?

Pay the whole dollar and give myself a $0.73 for my future purchase (which is certain to happen).

New problem?

The site also doesn't allow payments of more than the amount owed.

I tried calling customer service, but the stupid automated answering service thingy does not address my concern, and pressing 0 to get a person only results in them pushing me through to billing... and ultimately ending up at the same menu of options that I was stuck at in the beginning.

What do I do now??

My Commute Will Never Be the Same

Back in November, I wrote this post about my favorite morning radio show, Drex in the Morning.  As you know, I find great pleasure in all things trashy and inappropriate (Britney Spears, Jersey Shore, and as my mom calls them, The Real Housewives from Hell), and this show is no exception. 

My morning commute was always more enjoyable than the afternoon because I had all of this entertainment at the turn of a dial (okay... it's a preset, so I don't have to actually turn a dial, but you get the point here).  I love the "Wheel of Trash" segment on Fridays where listeners call in to share stories most of us would be embarrassed to admit to our closest friends and "Ask a Bitch" where Mel T and Angi Taylor would give you the honest answer to anything you've been pondering.

When school started last week and I resumed my morning routine, I was annoyed when I hit my preset to hear Top 40 songs blasting in my ear rather than my usual dose of morning smut.  (I don't know about you, but I simply cannot listen to music in the morning or else the songs are stuck in my head all day.) 

For more than a week, now, I've had this same frustration and promptly hit another preset and tuned in to my second choice morning show on The MIX -- the station I typically switch to during commercial breaks.  I kept meaning to look it up or ask around but would always forget once I walked into the building (I swear I'm too young to be losing my memory like that but it happens). 

Today, though, I remembered my quest, and I am more than displeased in what I've learned: Drex was canned... and Clear Channel isn't saying why, thought there's a lot of speculation that it's because the show has recently fallen to the #9 among their target demographic.

I'm so disappointed.  I now have only Eric & Kathy to keep me company each morning.  Boooo! 

January 11, 2011

The Power of Words

Let me start this post with this disclaimer: I am not, in any way, blaming Sarah Palin or any other conservative politician for the actions of Jared Lee Loughner in the shooting in Arizona on Friday. 

That being said, there has been a lot of talk in the media about where to place the blame.  This seems to be how we (I'm not sure if that's a global "we" or a societal "we") respond to these events that we can't seem to wrap our heads around: someone must be to blame.  Someone or something must have cause this/these person(s) to act in this way.  I think we feel better if we know where to point our fingers because it gives us something to fix, a way to right the wrong.  And in theory, if we have a known cause, we can prevent this behavior in the future.

While it's pretty obvious that Loughner suffered from severe mental illness, people are still wondering if an external source may have prompted or fueled the fire to his rage and led to the attacks.  This has started a lot of finger pointing in the direction of the political rhetoric in our country (notice, I gave credit to no party here... it's on both sides).  People are questioning the violent themes that have come from recent political speeches.  For example:

"I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back." and "...having a revolution every now and then is a good thing" - Michele Bachmann


"I hope that's not where we're going, but you know if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I'll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out. –Sharron Angle

"Don't retreat. Instead - reload" -Sarah Palin

"To the day I die, I am going to be a progressive hunter." -Glenn Beck

And certainly, there has been much talk about the crosshairs on Governor Palin's Facebook page (which has since been removed) targeting specific politicians, including the targeted victim of this shooting.
 
As I would expect, there has been a lot of defensiveness about this from the politicians and supporters.  And again, I'm not saying any of these politicians should be held accountable for Loughner's actions.  But I am saying that this might be a good time to step back and realize the power of words.  Isn't that something we try to teach our children? 

As a teacher, I can say that we have zero tolerance policies in place, which prevent students from making such threats because we realize that words can be dangerous.  Imagine if your child came home from school and told you that another student drew a picture with your child in crosshairs.  Even if it was meant in jest, I'm guessing you probably wouldn't find it very funny. 

How can we expect our children to treat each other respectfully when the leaders of our country can't?

The Reunion

I'm sorry to have kept you all in suspense since my last post.  I wanted to wait to share the details about THE VISIT until I was on my home computer and could share the pictures as well, but I've found myself with quite a bit of free time today (read: bored outta my mind) while my students are taking a district test in the computer lab so I thought I'd at least get started.

If you've ever driven to O'Hare Airport to pick up a loved one, you will certainly laugh at me when you hear that I arrived at exactly 11:40 for his 11:45 arrival.  For those that are unfamiliar, O'Hare is known for its delays, and it's huge, so even when the flight lands on time, you still have to make sure you account for the time it takes to navigate the airport to baggage claims.  Any person with an ounce of intelligence usually finds a spot away from the airport to wait for the "We've landed!" call before even heading toward the terminal.

I'm a smart girl.  I am well aware of how the airport pick up process works.  But... when you are eagerly awaiting the arrival of your love, those extra minutes sitting at Starbucks waiting for the arrival call take an eternity, and I simply couldn't wait to get there -- to be one step closer to being reunited. 

Of course, in the time it took me to drive to the airport, they pushed back his arrival time to 12:00, and then this plane was stuck taxiing for another 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, I am circling the arrival terminal at a speed of about 5 mph and pissing off all the airport shuttles behind me. (But, this is what everyone does... I promise.  Because if you stop for like 20 seconds at a terminal, you'll get a ticket from the Airport Parking Nazis.

After nearly 40 minutes of circling (and mentally kicking myself for not just parking my car and going in), I received THE CALL.  He was waiting for me!

I felt a surge of adrenaline as I tried to speedily navigate my way through the terminals one last time, and then... I saw him!  I immediately threw the car in park, jumped out and embraced my love with the biggest hug I've ever given anyone (and damn those Airport Parking Nazis for breaking it up too soon)!

I predicted that this would be the best moment of 2010, boy, was I right!  From that moment on, I was practically floating on Cloud 9.  My baby was home!  And I could hug him and kiss him and hold his hand and look into his eyes... all I wanted!