The Dufaus take New York City

Well, we finally did it: we took the boys to New York City! It’s been a long time coming, Brandon’s been waiting for this trip since at least 2007! We were able to go on vacation for five days during Spring Break due to some savvy planning. Since we purchased our home last summer, I’ve made it a point to not only put a little bit of money into our savings account every month, but also to not use our credit cards unless absolutely necessary. While we’ve had a few unplanned expenses in the last few months (mostly car related),  I was so happy when we were able to fund this trip with minimal use of our credit cards: the only thing we charged were the city tour bus tickets we purchased when we were there.

There were so many expectations with this trip, since it was the boys’ first. Brandon said his Bucket List included visiting Central Park Zoo, the Statue of Liberty and the 9/11 Memorial, seeing the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building, and hailing and riding in a yellow cab. Matthew’s Bucket List included visiting the New York City Library, The Museum of Natural History and Central Park. The one thing they both wanted was to see snow. I was thrilled that during our trip we were able to tick off almost all the items on their lists. The only thing we didn’t do was hail and ride in a yellow cab because we opted to travel by subway instead.

(Lots of pictures below the fold)

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Posted in Life Happens, Life with Boys, Travel | 1 Comment

Disney-Pixar’s INCREDIBLES 2 in theatres everywhere June 15th!

We are so Incredibly excited about this one!!! (See what I did there?)

Incredibles 2, the highly-anticipated sequel to 2004’s The Incredibles, hits theatres this summer!

In “Incredibles 2,” Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is called on to lead a campaign to bring Supers back, while Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) navigates the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell), Dash (voice of Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack—whose superpowers are about to be discovered. Their mission is derailed, however, when a new villain emerges with a brilliant and dangerous plot that threatens
everything. But the Parrs don’t shy away from a challenge, especially with Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) by their side. That’s what makes this family so Incredible.

Check out the official trailer:

I’m curious to see how Bob handles being a stay-at-home dad to a teen, a tween, and a baby! And speaking of babies, who knows what powers baby Jack-Jack will have!

While we wait for June, here are the best ways to stay up to date on all things #Incredibles2:

Like Incredibles 2 on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PixarTheIncredibles/

Follow Incredibles 2 on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheIncredibles

Follow Incredibles 2 on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theincredibles/

Visit the official Incredibles 2 website here: http://disney.com/incredibles2

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Disney’s Christopher Robin, in theaters August 3rd

If you have known me for any length of time, you know that a certain silly ol’ bear is my absolute favorite. So when I heard that Disney would be making a live action adventure featuring Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin, who is now all grown up, as well as some of the other residents of the Hundred Acre Wood, I knew I had to keep my eyes and ears open for more information about its release. And now it’s just a few months away: Disney’s Christopher Robin will be in theaters on August 3rd!

Ewan McGregor plays Christopher Robin opposite his longtime friend Winnie the Pooh in Disney’s heartwarming live action adventure CHRISTOPHER ROBIN.

In the heartwarming live action adventure Disney’s “Christopher Robin,” the young boy who embarked on countless adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood with his band of spirited and lovable stuffed animals, has grown up and lost his way. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into our world and help Christopher Robin remember the loving and playful boy who is still inside.

Now grown up, Christopher Robin is stuck in a job where he is overworked, underpaid and facing an uncertain future. He has a family of his own, but his work has become his life, leaving little time for his wife and daughter. Christopher has all but forgotten his idyllic childhood spent with a simple-minded, honey-loving stuffed bear and his friends. But when he is reunited with Winnie-the-Pooh, now tattered and soiled from years of hugs and play, their friendship is rekindled, reminding Christopher of the endless days of childlike wonder and make believe that defined his youth, when doing nothing was considered the very best something. Following an unfortunate mishap with Christopher Robin’s briefcase, Pooh and the rest of the gang including Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger, step out of the forest and venture into London to return the crucial possessions…because best friends will always be there for you.

Disney’s “Christopher Robin” is directed by Golden Globe® nominee Marc Forster (“Finding Neverland”) from a screenplay by Alex Ross Perry (“Golden Exits”) and Oscar® nominee Allison Schroeder (“Hidden Figures”) and a story by Perry based on characters created by A.A. Milne. The producers are Brigham Taylor and Kristin Burr with Renée Wolfe and Jeremy Johns serving as executive producers. The film stars Golden Globe winner Ewan McGregor (“Fargo”) as Christopher Robin; Golden Globe nominee Hayley Atwell (“Agent Carter”) as his wife Evelyn; Bronte Carmichael as his daughter Madeline; and Emmy® winner Mark Gatiss (“Sherlock”) as Keith Winslow, Robin’s boss. The film also features the voices of: Jim Cummings (“Winnie the Pooh”) as Winnie-the-Pooh; Chris O’Dowd (“Miss Peregrine’s 2 Home for Peculiar Children”) as Tigger; three-time Emmy winner Brad Garrett (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) as Eeyore; Golden Globe nominee Toby Jones (“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”) as Owl; Nick Mohammed (“The Martian”) as Piglet; Oscar winner Peter Capaldi (“Dr. Who”) as Rabbit; and Oscar nominee Sophie Okonedo (“The Secret Life of Bees”) as Kanga.

Disney has a history with the A.A. Milne characters dating back to 1966 when the studio released the animated short “Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree” featuring the character Christopher Robin, which was followed by the shorts “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day” and “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Too,” as well as several full-length features and numerous direct-to-DVD titles.

Here’s a sneak peek:

Yes, I got a bit emotional when I heard Pooh’s voice.

 

Stay up to date on all things #ChristopherRobin on Social Media:

Like Christopher Robin on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyChristopherRobin

Follow Disney Studios on Twitter: DisneyStudios

Follow Disney Studios on Instagram: DisneyStudios

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Our financial goals for 2018

2017 was a big year for us. Not only did I finish my teaching certification, and Brandon finished middle school, but we closed on our house in August. Two out of the three made a significant impact on our finances, and the third will in the near future. After all, four years go by in a flash, and before we know it Brandon will be off to college.

This year, I’ve made some ambitious goals for us to stay on track. Goal number one is to pay off our debt. The money we send to our credit cards takes a significant chunk of what’s left from our paychecks after our mortgage and utilities are paid. That money could be well spent in other ways, which leads me to goal number two. I’d like to have a new, or new to us, car by summer. While both of our current vehicles get us from point A to point B, both are over 10 years old, with repairs looming that cost more than the cars are worth.  We hope that by summer we’ll have paid off enough debt that our credit score will increase and we’ll be able to get an excellent interest rate, and subsequently a comfortable monthly payment, on a new car. Goal number three is more long-term, but probably the most important: manage our money in such a way that we save for things like college for the boys and potential repairs to our house, but also have enough that we can take at least one great family vacation a year. Time is fleeting, there are just a handful of years left before both boys are adults, building their own lives, and I want to spent as much quality time with them as I can.

I’d like to think that I’m well on my way to achieving Goal number one.  During my two most recent trips to Target, I’ve spent less than $30…if that’s not progress, I don’t know what is!

Posted in Here's What I Think, Life Happens | Leave a comment

Huge Sigh of Relief

A week ago, I walked across the stage at Miami-Dade College Wolfson Campus auditorium and received my completion certificate. While technically I am not quite finished as my last few assignments have yet to be graded, my portfolio needs reviewing, and once all that is done my documentation needs to be sent to the state office, my program has ended. I do not have any more classes to attend, no more clinical hours to complete, and best of all, no more tuition to pay. There were days, particularly during this last semester, where I truly just wanted to drop everything and quit. I was burnt out, and while I knew I wouldn’t actually quit, it sure felt like an enticing option. I’d hate to pat my own back, but I’m so proud of myself for completing this program, with honors (!!!), and achieving my childhood dream of becoming a teacher!

I’m not quite sure what my next step is. I won’t be actively looking for a teaching position until closer to the end of the school year or even summer, and even then there’s no guarantee something will be available that meets my criteria: i.e. teach at a school serving elementary grades within a five-mile radius. I know this is quite an ambitious request, but I paid my dues for 15 years driving 50 miles a day…like I tell hubby, I don’t want to leave my bubble!

In the meantime, I hope to get a routine going regarding both blogging and running. I’ve set another ambitious goal: top my half marathon PR of 2:53 during the Princess Half in February. I’m hoping for a finish around the 2:45 mark, but I’ll be happy with anything under 2:53. I’ve got roughly eight weeks to train…time to hit the pavement!

Posted in Health & Wellness, Life Happens, Run Manders Run | 1 Comment

I Had Good Intentions

I had really good intentions to blog more frequently. In fact I started writing this blog post about three weeks ago. Then Hurricane Irma happened. And my second to last class happened. Then my last class happened. And now I’m wrapping up assignments, completing my clinical service hours and getting observed, and updating my portfolio in preparation for my completion ceremony next month. And it’s not for lack of motivation: I wanted to write. But then I felt guilty if I didn’t spend my “extra” time working on assignments. And it really wasn’t extra time, there were just days were I was so burnt out I ditched the school work and just watched TV with the boys or hubby.  Oh, and there was one day me entró la locura and I finished unpacking and organizing the den.

Anyway, all this to apologize for being off the grid for longer than intended. I aspire to be more consistent once school is over. And I’m looking forward to that huge sense of accomplishment when I get my degree in a few weeks and make this lifelong aspiration come true.

In the meantime, let’s catch up:

My mango tree, which was knocked down by Hurricane Irma, is thriving!! We were able to put her upright about a week after the storm hit, and with lots of fresh dirt, some fertilizer, lots of rain and equal amounts of love, she’s recovering nicely! The fence is a whole other story….

When we bought our house, three windows needed replacing, and those were put in today. I’m so excited that this has been taken care of. I can finish decorating the boys’ rooms as well as the den (the locations of the three windows). Once that’s done, we’ll focus on getting funds together for the fence, and my little house will be perfect. Well, it’s already perfect for us, but it will be aesthetically perfect as well!

We are going on vacation for my birthday to North Georgia, and I’m counting the days! I honestly need the break and can’t wait to decompress, surrounded by nature and my little family. Speaking of little, and family, my nephew will be seven months old next week! Not sure how this is possible as he was just born. He’s a smiley, happy baby, and he’s just learning to crawl…watch out word, Mr. Squishy is mobile!

So tell me, what have you been up to?

Posted in Home Sweet Home, Life Happens | 1 Comment

Blogging will commence in 4, 3, 2….

I haven’t been blogging during the past two months, and there are some really, really good reasons. One of which is the Top Secret news I alluded to on June 4th: we are new homeowners!! The process was arduous, and frustrating, but the end result is amazing! We’ve been in our new home for a month, and things are slowly but surely moving along. All rooms are functional, some more than others. There is still lots to do, including some minor renovations, but I’m in love with our new home more and more everyday!

new home/>

I taught throughout the entire summer, and completed three classes towards my teaching degree. Fueled by lots and lots of cafecito. I got A’s in all three classes, making some of my sleepless nights well worth it.

Hubby and I both went out of town for work, he the week before our closing, and me the week after. Then we traveled together to Houston for a long weekend to see Queen + Adam Lambert in celebration of our 15th wedding anniversary. Because when you’re in the middle of the move, you need to have three back to back trips, just to make it more interesting. In spite of it being in the middle of moving chaos, four days away were a much needed break. We spent some time with friends in Houston, visited the Houston Museum of Natural ScienceHermann Park (which is lovely!!), and  the NASA Johnson Space Center, enjoyed the concert tremendously, and were happy to spend some quality time together.

Queen Adam Lambert HoustonHouston Museum of Natural Science

The boys started school this past Monday: B is now in high school (Yeah, I know…) and Matty is in his last year of elementary school. (Yeah, this one too…how did we get here so fast?!). It’s only been five days, but so far both boys are doing well. Matty’s teachers are the same ones Brandon had in 5th grade, which is awesome because they are great, and we are familiar with each other, which makes life so much easier. I’m looking forward to a busy but successful school year for both of them.

So besides teaching during the summer, and attending school to finish my teaching degree, and traveling, and moving into and out of homes, and the usual chaos life in general brings, blogging was put on hold.  I just started my second to last class on Friday. It will be a difficult one, but I will make it a point to blog more often, if for no other reason than to vent about school work…though I’ll do my best to make it more entertaining than that!

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There’s a first time for everything

And today was the first time, the very first time, I taught a class. (well, actually, four.) My amazing director, knowing that I’m about halfway done with my teaching certification, has given me the opportunity to get my feet wet and teach during our summer program. We have an enrichment program for school age students, and I’m teaching the Spanish component during the next seven weeks. I taught our four different groups for 30 minutes each this morning, and I think it went well. The hardest part was making sure I had sufficient material to avoid any idle time, and while 30 minutes doesn’t sound like a lot, it certainly goes by very fast. I was afraid I’d end up presenting my materials and have like 10 extra minutes with nothing to do, which is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Fortunately that was not the case: I was able to pace myself, I asked the students open-ended questions to get them to engage more with the topic, and I was flexible with the flow of the lesson, adding or taking away things as needed. I’m also happy that I remembered all the best practices I’ve learned so far in my first few courses regarding classroom management and maintaining control of the class. I do know most of the kids, but not in the teacher/student role, so I was nervous about that too.

I haven’t yet written the lesson plans for the next few weeks, but I’ve flipped through the textbook and have some ideas that I’ll work on this weekend. Ah, yes…and the harshest critic I know, my own Matty, said I did a great job, that he liked my lesson and that he wasn’t bored.  I know I won’t be an effective teacher overnight, but I’m sure of why I’m doing this, and I’m definitely passionate about making a difference in my students’ lives. I can’t say I’m ready to tackle my own class of 20+ students for a full work day, but this is a pretty good start.

Image of Scrabble Tiles showing the word TEACH

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I’m so excited, that I just can’t hide it!

top-secretWhy am I excited? Well, we got some really big news late Friday afternoon. It was news we were kind of expecting…I thought this news was coming, and I believed it was coming, but actually hearing the words confirming it had me close to tears. It was so exciting that I didn’t really sleep much that night. I went to bed at 10:30pm but couldn’t get to sleep until close to midnight. Then I was up from around 3am until more or less 5:30am, tossing and turning. I think I had the most restful sleep between 530am and 9am when I woke up Saturday morning to start our day. We are all excited, but it seems I’m the most excited since everyone else slept like a log that night!

A few of you who know us in person know what the great news is. And while I was warned not to say anything until the process is complete, I can’t help but plant this little tease here on the blog before it all comes to fruition. It will involve lots of preparation in a very short time, and a new beginning of sorts. It also means that with school still in session, I have to be very organized and prioritize what needs to be done in order to stay on track with everything I have to do. Thankfully, since the kids will be done with school over the next few days, they will be able to provide some much-needed help in the coming weeks. A few things we had planned will have to be put on hold for the time being, but it’s going to be so worth it. I’m a big ball of nerves: excitement, anxiety and eagerness, all rolled into one. This is going to be quite the eventful summer!

Posted in Life Happens | 2 Comments

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in Theaters Now!

Disclosure: I was invited to a pre-screening of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 by Disney Pictures. All opinions are my own.

It’s finally here, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hit theaters this weekend!

Best movie poster ever!

Guardians of the Galaxy is Brandon’s favorite Marvel movie, and I was so excited to take him to the screening last week, before Vol. 2 hit theaters (Yay, cool mom points for me!).

I will admit, when the first Guardians of the Galaxy came out, I was not really interested in seeing it (I know, I know, what was wrong with me?). I ended up watching it on DVD at a friend’s house one night, and oh my goodness: The music! Chris Pratt! The unconventional heroes! The music! Groot! The humor! And did I mention the music?! I loved it (how could I have doubted Marvel?), and off we went to buy our own copy of the DVD. The boys and I watch it often, and we we were all looking forward to the day we could see our friends Star Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and of course Groot again.

From the start of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, I knew it would be just as entertaining as the first. Three words: Baby Groot Dancing. But there is so much more to this movie than a cute sapling busting some moves. There is more of what we love from the first GotG installment: lots of humor, continuing romantic tension between Star Lord and Gamora, and a few surprises that you don’t see coming. And of course, a killer soundtrack!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is rated PG-13 and is written and directed by James Gunn. It stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Tommy Flanagan, Laura Haddock, Sylvester Stallone, and Kurt Russell. Kevin Feige is producing, and Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Jonathan Schwartz, Nikolas Korda and Stan Lee are the executive producers.

Go see it and come back and tell us what you think. Look out for the cameos, and make sure you stay until the very end, as this movie features FIVE mid and post credit scenes!

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Posted in Disney, Entertain Me, Movies | 1 Comment