Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday.

Today and for the rest of this month I am LOVING all things December!!!  I love Christmas and so I LOVE December.

 My auntie recently brought a WONDERFUL website to my attention on her blog LK's Grab Bag.  The site is called WishPot and it allows you create a wishlist of items that you would like.  Then you can invite friends/family to view your list and they can purchase your gifts by clicking on the links to the items you post.  Then, like a wedding registry, gifts show up as purchased or still needed.  When items are purchased the buyer can choose to keep them a secret or make their purchase public.  It is a great way to share your Christmas wishes with family/friends.  I strongly suggest doing this with your family if you exchange more ugly sweaters for you!

I am LOVING this website ChiChiMe.  They have very fashionable and affordable jewelry.  I strongly suggest taking a look.  Here are some of my favorite bracelet stacks.  Great for gifts!


I am LOVING that my family and co-workers are coming to support me as I receive an Excellence in Teaching award from OUSD on Thursday.
Finally, I LOVE that I am participating, via Instagram, in Fat Mum Slim's Photo A Day challenge for December.  It's should participate as well.

Happy Wednesday.  Until next time.

Now playing...Brand New Me by Alicia Keys

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thirty IS the new twenty...right?

This weekend marked the first of many 30th birthday celebrations among my core group of girlfriends.  It gets me thinking about how special all my friendships are.  Miss V is the first to turn 30 and we planned a surprise complete with tissue balls, birthday banners, best friends, and a grown up friendship bracelet.  She was totally surprised and delighted to find 40 of her nearest and dearest all together to celebrate her.  We laughed, danced, enjoyed tasty libations, and celebrated Miss V.  I am so blessed to have such great girlfriends in my life.  This weekend was just another reminder of that...
Hugs and tears were in abundance.
Surprise!!! Her sister flew in from New York.
And a 30th birthday tradition begins....with a beautiful Tiffany & Co. bracelet.
Love my girlfriend family.

Happy happy early birthday to my dear friend Miss V.  I love you more than words.

Now playing...Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Hello again!  It has been a LONG time since I last blogged but I am working on making a come back... A lot has changed in the past few months and I have missed taking time to sit and reflect on all of the great things in my life.  What better way to get back in the game than with a What I'm Loving Wednesday post. 
I'm LOVING this past weekend, I went to Lake Tahoe with five of my girlfriends for a much needed girls weekend.  It is amazing that as long as we have been friends we have NEVER done a girls weekend away.  We have had dinners and girls nights but never a whole weekend.  It was so great to spend time with some of my closest girls.  We watched movies, drank wine, cooked delicious meals, and snuggled by the fire talking about life, love, and leisure.

Obviously we had a blast!  After our girls weekend, I LOVE that I was able to venture over to my aunt and uncle's to spend a few more days in paradise.  I'm LOVING my homemade jewelry and spending time with my family.  Very successful vacation.


I am LOVING my comeback.  I hope you are happy to follow again.

Now playing...Adorn by Miguel

Friday, December 9, 2011

A letter for Mrs. Day...

A few months back, I was taking a walk around my neighborhood and listening to some music, when I noticed a fund raiser taking place right around the corner from my house.  I hate to say it, but I was hoping I could walk through the group of people trying to sell me hot dogs and candy for their organization without being noticed, and then I heard, "MS. GRAHAM!!"  When I turned, I realized that it was Mrs. Day.  Her son was in my very first class and her daughter would be in my class when the new school year started.  We hugged and exchanged pleasantries.  In our conversation, she told me about her non-profit organization, Project Darreis, honoring her son who had been killed a few years back.  Mrs. Day told me about all of the wonderful things her organization provided for young people in the community and families in need.  At the end of the chatI found myself agreeing to give a speech at the big holiday fund raiser that would be held toward the end of the year.  Now, I was HOPING that she might forget about this because, although I speak in front of people all day long, I HATE public speaking.  The people I am in front of all day are little people and they don't scare me...but adults are TERRIFYING.

So our school year progressed and nothing was ever mentioned about the event again...all clear riiiight????? WRONG.  Mrs. Day came into the school yesterday and said, "Oh Ms. Graham I am so busy with this event that I forgot to reschedule our conference....blah blah blah....I can't wait to see you on Saturday for the big event!!!" OH SH*T was the first thing I wanted to say.  But, being the polite lady that I am, I explained that I had completely forgotten and didn't even realize that it was happening tomorrow.  I also had already made plans to be Mr. Burbank's date to the Teach For America holiday party.  I did tell her that I would write something for her to read to the group on my behalf.   Below is what I wrote for Mrs. Day to share....I thought you might appreciate. :-)

My most sincere apologies for not being in attendance tonight.  My name is Dana Graham and for those who do not know, I teach Belinda’s daughter Stanya.  I have been a teacher for 6 years at Piedmont Avenue School right here in Oakland.  When I was a child, I grew up in a loving home with more than enough and access to all the resources I needed in order to ensure my success in school and life.  I graduated from high school near the top of my class and went on to attend Michigan State University.  It was at MSU that I made the choice to take on the most challenging and rewarding career; I decided that I would be a teacher.  As I progressed in school, I began to feel frustrated and discouraged by the overwhelming data that showed that the education urban America received was substandard.  It was then, I made the choice to teach in Oakland.  I chose Oakland because there was a need for hardworking, dedicated educators and I fit that mold.  I hoped to help provide for my students what I was provided in school – a high quality teaching and learning.  

The key to success is education.  Unfortunately, our society does not glorify schooling.  Many children today are more concerned about the newest fashion trends and music videos, than they are about reading and math.  It is our job - parents, teachers, community members – to instill the importance of learning in our children.  We must demand our children work hard in school and value their education.  

Sadly, many kids do not have supportive and encouraging families.  Too many children need the support from friends, teachers, and mentors in order to be successful.  I believe that all children have the ability to be something special.  I believe all children can work hard and achieve their goals.  It is our job to help the youth in our community believe in themselves.  It is through organizations like Project Darreis, that we can come together and provide assistance to families in need.  We can be sportive role models to our children and help them find the inspiration to go on when times are tough.

Two years ago, President Barack Obama spoke to America’s youth in a speech he gave at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia.  His words were powerful and inspiring.  President Obama addressed parents, teachers, and students about the importance of education and hard work.  He spoke directly to the young people of America and said:

“…at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life -- what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you've got going on at home -- none of that is an excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude in school. That's no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. There is no excuse for not trying.  Where you are right now doesn't have to determine where you'll end up. No one's written your destiny for you, because here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.”

So let’s work together – parents, community, and teachers – to help our children choose education.  Let us partner up and provide a supportive and nurturing environment for our children to flourish and pick a path that is both righteous and honorable.  I have committed myself to Oakland’s youth.  It is my hope that I can help my students pick up books and not weapons, use words and not fists, and be successful in life.  Violence is not the solution to our problems.  Love, support, and education conquer all.  

Now playing...The Greatest Love of All by Whitney Houston

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Santa's Ten Celebrate Again

14 years ago marked the very first Sexy Nine Christmas party.  Several 14 year olds got together to celebrate the Christmas season for the first time.  Some had been friends for years already and others had just met shortly after entering high school...all would be friends for many years to come.

I remember being so excited that this group of girls, this popular group of beautiful girls, had invited me to share in a night of laughs, merriment, and friendship.  Little did we know, this would be a tradition for so many years to come.  We decided that Secret Santa would be exciting and much more affordable than buying each girlfriend an individual gift.  On the menu were various items that we asked our mom's to cook or threw together ourselves with little or no culinary ability.

Years later, we left for college and began making new friends.  Yet, every Christmas season, we looked forward to planning and celebrating our annual Christmas party.  Secret Santa stopped and we signed up to bring an appetizers, main dish, dessert, or a vegetable.  After we celebrated with each other, we ventured for a night out on the town.

Then we graduated college and moved out of our parents' houses.  We began having parties at OUR own homes and condos and eating like queens.  As every year has brought firsts - boyfriends, apartments, careers, fiances, husbands, pregnancy- this year was no different.  Instead of spending money on gifts for each other, for the first time we spent money on a mother and her son who are much less fortunate than us.

After dinner, we shared our gifts for the baby boy, played Christmas music, and wrapped tons of presents for our adopt-a-family to open on Christmas morning.

Please enjoy a few photos from our magical and memorable evening...
The house was decorated
The holiday treats were abundant.
Tasty hor d'ourves
A beautiful tree with all the trimmings and trappings.
A festive table scape.
Friends that are family...
We drank...

We ate...

 We celebrated upcoming birthdays and laughed...
We shared our presents...
And we wrapped the presents for our family...
Thank you again Dr. Chavez-Grinde for hosting...
And thank you to my favorite ladies in the world.  The last 14 years have been unforgettable.  I will love you always and treasure our unique and lasing bond.  Things only keep getting better with time.
Now playing...You've got a friends by James Taylor