Sunday, November 9, 2008

Wesley Richard Woodruff Thomas

My dear friend Kristal's baby boy, Wesley, entered the world last Saturday, November 1st, at 2:58 am. He was a perfect 19 inches and 6 lbs 12 ounces, and is the sweetest baby in the world. Congrats Kristal and Dave, you two will be amazing parents, and I am so excited to be a part of your little boy's life.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

We Heart Shell Beach...and SLO-Town

For those of you who don't recognize this beach, it is my beach, Shell Beach. Our house is just off to the right side under the ridge. Sunset Magazine named San Luis as #2 in their list of the West's Top Ten Dream Towns, and this is the picture that accompanied the story. While I don't want everyone moving to the Central Coast, I am so proud of little Shell Beach! The article explains perfectly we we live in the best place in the world.

2. San Luis Obispo, Calif.: Pure California

By Matthew Jaffe, Sunset

Population: 44,359

Median home price: $655,323

For your consideration: San Luis Obispo is the most Californian place in all of California.

A historic mission town set among rolling hills halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, SLO buzzes with undergraduate energy, thanks to California Polytechnic State University. The Edna Valley wine country is a few minutes south, and the coast is 10 minutes west by car or, as many in this relentlessly fit community prefer, 30 minutes by bike.

And the climate? Well, let's see, how do you describe a place that's as ideal for people as it is for wine grapes? Where the annual average monthly highs range all the way from 62 to 74 degrees?

Oh, that's right: Perfect.

SLO is a town of 44,359 people who live outdoors, whether on the trail that winds through the oak forests and meadows on Bishop Peak or along the shaded downtown banks of its restored creek.

Some of its best neighborhoods — where the streets are lined by a mix of Queen Annes and Spanish bungalows — sit within a few blocks of the back patio at the local coffee-house classic, Linnaea's Cafe, or the eclectic offerings of the Palm Theatre, the only solar-powered picture show in the country.

And all year long, Thursday's evening farmers market sends the scent of barbecued tri-tip (and a soundtrack of live blues) across the tidy urban landscape.

Make a visit

San Luis Obispo is 12 miles inland from the coast on U.S. Highway 101, 190 miles north of Los Angeles and 230 miles south of San Francisco. Amtrak's Coast Starlight and Pacific Surfliner both stop here (800-872-7245). The local airport is served by American Eagle, Delta Connection, United Express and US Airways, with direct connections to and from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. Staying the night? Consider Petit Soleil Bed et Breakfast (from $159; 805-549-0321); it's charming and near downtown. More info at: Visitslo.

Make a move

If you're thinking about living the SLO life, figure on a median home price of $655,323 (2007). As for jobs, Cal Poly is the city's biggest employer — but the county is the third-largest wine-grape producer in California. For local news, try the free weekly, New Times, or the city's daily newspaper, The Tribune.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Summer Days

School is back in session, I have now been a real teacher for two weeks, and summer is officially over. We have been truly remiss in keeping our blog updated, so here is a photo story of some of the highlights of the last weeks of summer.

3 visits to the Mid-State Fair: Once for Colbie Caillat and
John Mayer, once for Still Time, and once for Ozomatli.

A fun week long visit from Janai on her break from China

Lots of beach days!

Concerts in the Plaza!

One last hurrah with Kristin, aka K-Baby, before she headed off to Lithuania!
We heart Wheels of Fun!

Disco Night at Native with Charity's coworkers

More Still Time at the Cliffs!

While I am sad to see the summer end and the seasons change, I am thrilled to be done with my credential and actually working. Teaching is exhausting but exhilarating. I love my students - they are all so energetic, enthusiatic, and just darn cute! I decided not to post any pics of them, but I will (as long as I have energy and time to) share stories about them, so stay tuned.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Solo in Tahoe

So this past week was an incredible adventure for me. I decided to take my first solo vacation ever...and the lucky destination was beautiful Lake Tahoe!

Why vacation alone? Well, making vacation plans with friends this summer just didn't work out (timing was bad), but as the summer progressed it became more and more apparent that not only did I need a vacation (change of pace and change of scenery), but also some much needed time alone. Those who know me well, know that I need my time of solitude, which is a bit of a Myer's Briggs enigma, since I seem to be the epitome of an extrovert at first glance, but I also have the heart of a true introvert when it comes to valuing solitude and reflection.

Anyways...Tahoe was a fabulous place to be as an introvert and extrovert, so it worked out well for me! I packed up the car on Sunday morning, and as usual I totally over-packed. But who cares how much space you take up when it's just you in the car!! Of course some would look at my little Altima and think I was trying to convert it to an SUV! Yes, I couldn't hold back--I had to bring the paddle board and my bike....both turned out to be very handy!

After a long 7 hour drive, I arrived in Tahoe. I stayed at a great Casino Hotel (mainly because it was cheap), but it had all the amenities I'd want...big room, nice pool/spa and close to the lake(and did I mention it was cheap?). I actually spent very little time in the hotel and a lot more time outdoors.

My typical day consisted of sleeping in as much as I wanted, having a leisurely morning of reading, prayer, reflection...and then around 11 or noon everyday, I'd say to myself, "what should I do today?!" It was always fun just coming up with a plan out of the blue. I rode my bike everywhere--more than I drove my car. There were lots of scenic bike paths that I could take along the lake to the various beaches and I loved not having to worry about parking.

In the evenings, I would typically go out for a late dinner to wherever sounded good. I had Sushi 2 nights in a row---after all, it is vacation! At first, the thought of eating dinner alone was a bit intimidating and somewhat depressing.....but I always sat at the bar of a restaurant and people around me always initiated conversation, which was pleasantly surprising to me, and totally made my meals fun! A lot of people were a bit enamoured that I was vacationing alone, so that was a good conversation piece....along with exchanging stories of the activities we had done or wanted to do while in Tahoe.

Highlights in PHOTO...

Parasailing--Gives a surprisingly calming, yet breathtaking view of the world below. Soaring over 600 feet above the lake, I found myself somewhat speechless and all I could do was praise God for the majestic world around me.

Sailing--A two hour sailboat ride around the lake, left me thinking that sailing may need to be in the cards for my retirement plans!

Paddle Boarding---My first time taking the board on the lake, it was such a different feeling and experience than paddling on the ocean. Tahoe has extremely clear water, so I could see down to the bottom, even in deep water, to huge underwater rocks and boulders. Above water, I was surrounded by pine covered mountains and scattered clouds...sigh. I could do that everyday and never get tired of it! (sorry no pix...didn't take my camera out on the water)

Biking----can I just say that I love the concept of biking to and fro? It's so much easier and more simple than driving; and just getting to the destination becomes part of the adventure/enjoyment. I also purchased a basket for my bike on the way up to Tahoe. Best purchase I made all week (besides parasailing)--it totally revolutionized my bike travel experience! I could now go anywhere with just about anything!

Hiking--Although I love hiking, it seemed a little too risky to hike alone, so I only did one short hike along the lake to beautiful Cascading Falls. There wasn't a whole lot of water, but as it poured over slide rock and stone, it was the most beautiful bubbling brook sound! Well worth the hike.

Beaches, beaches, beaches---Although I live on a coastal beach, there's something about a lake beach that is just so great. The weather was hot, the water was perfect and the tide never came up to steal my dry sand. I sat for hours just reading, re-applying sunscreen and soaking up the the outdoors!

Lessons learned this week:
1. Getting time away and going alone for the purpose of reflection, solitude and prayer is GREAT and so important for my soul. My biggest desire for my vaca was to have a time of rejuvenation and hopefully gain some perspective in my times with Jesus...and that's exactly what happened.

2. Vacationing alone is somewhat over-rated. Even for someone like me--who is pretty independent. Whenever I experienced something beautiful, adventurous or amusing, I found myself wanting to share it with someone. Thankfully, I met a lot of friendly and fun people along the way, which I believe was God's way of providing company when I needed it.

3. I LOVE my friends and family and I'm so grateful for them!!!! Being alone for even a few days highlights this fact and I found myself being more thankful than ever when I thought about returning home to friends.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tag - I'm it!

The ABC's of April

A. Attached or single? Single, and ready to mingle!

B. Best friend? I am so blessed to have so many amazing friends in my life! I can't even name them all.

C. Cake or Pie? I would pass over both for Girhadelli brownies or strawberry shortcake.

D. Day of choice? Saturdays in Shell Beach - sleep in, bike ride to Farmers and the Bean, hit the beach with the roommates, dinner on our deck, and Sundays to look forward to.

E. Essential items? A good book, sunscreen, mascara, my laptop.

F. Favorite color(s)? Any shade of pink! But I love wearing turquoise, red, orange, and blues (but not all together, although I do love blue and orange combos).

G. Gummy bears or worms? Both - I love gummy candy.

H. Hometown? Arroyo Grande, aka The Big Ditch or AG!

I. Favorite indulgence? Chocolate covered strawberries - I can't stop eating them once I start.

J. January or July? I love both, but now that I have summers off, July wins out.

K. Kids? none, aside from the 20 kindergarteners I am about to spend every weekday with.

L. Life isn't complete without? Jesus

M. Marriage date? n/a -see question A

N. Number of brothers and sisters? 2 younger brothers

O. Oranges or apples? Oranges, especially the ones off our tree this summer

P. Phobias? Great white sharks, although they don't stop me from going in the water. I am more concerned about my dad meeting one than me.

Q. Quotes- wait a few weeks and I will have some from my students

R. Reasons to smile?I am so incredibly blessed with friends, family, and a place I love, and I have a teaching job starting tomorrow.

S. Season of choice? The Indian Summers of Shell Beach

T. Tag 5 people: Charity, Devon, Holly, Kristin, Debra

U. Unknown fact about me? I was a State Champion in archery when I was 13.

V. Vacation of choice? For total kick-back and relax, the lake with friends, family and lots of good food, good books, and good waterskiing. For an adventure, anywhere in Central or South America for several weeks where I can experience the culture and language.

W. Worst habit? It is not a habit since I don't do it, and it is probably not the worst thing I ever do, but I really need to floss more often.

X. X-ray or ultrasound? I have never had either, and I am not sure how I feel about either one. X-rays make me think of broken bones, which probably hurt, and ultrasounds of babies, which are not in my future any time soon!

Y. Your favorite food? My dad's Santa Maria style BBQ'd tri-tip, with all the fixin's!

Z. Zodiac sign? Taurus.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Stand Up Paddle Surfing--my latest adventure

It's been about three months since I first laid eyes on this fascinating concept known as Stand Up Paddle Surfing! I saw a few random pics in People Magazine of celebrities trying it out in Hawaii followed by one sighting of a SUPer in Avila Beach. In typical "Charity" fashion, I was completely enamored with the idea and quickly began my quest for info--anything I could find on the web, blogs and any other SUP resources to get the scoop on this intriguing new ocean activity. I've spent the last 3 months telling my friends about how much I wanted to try it. But one can only talk about doing something for so long before everyone begins to wonder if it will ever happen! Finally, I decided to put my newfound free time (after graduating) to good use--I decided to try it out!

Went to Santa Barbara last weekend and tried out my first SUPBoard with Surfing Sports owner, AKA "Wardog". I talked with him quite a bit before I even tried a board. My biggest worry was if I would have the ability to balance on the board, but Wardog assured me that he had just the right board for me. And much to my surprise, he did. After plunging into the water and hoisting myself onto the board, I simply paddled out to calm water on my knees and followed the simple instructions to stand up. IT WAS NO PROBLEM! Balancing on the board was much easier than I expected and I had a blast paddling around from the very start. After about an hour of paddling, I was sold and knew that I wanted to get a board.
So I did! A 10'6'' beauty....

I still need to think of a name for her. Got any ideas?

My first "test drive" in Avila Beach....

Looking back on the week, I've been reflecting on the process of finding this new hobby and realized a key lesson for my personal growth...
I never want to lose the ability/drive to try new things and dive into challenges that might seem ridiculous...even to my closest friends. I'm learning that change and challenge is a good thing in my life and God has used it to build a character of openness, adventure and risk-taking. Ultimately, I believe and hope that He uses even these new (and seemingly simple) interests in my life for his Glory and purposes.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Anyone out there?

If the Shell Shack blog still has any faithful readers out there, we apologize for our lack of postings lately. Life has been busy at the Shell Shack: Charity graduates from her Master's in Counseling program this Saturday, Heather took her boards for her RN last Friday, and I made it through student teaching two weeks ago and have been completing last minute projects and filling out teaching applications for next year. Don't worry, the Shell Shack blog will be lit up once again with this summer. So keep checking back, and while you wait, enjoy this nugget I found while researching schools I am applying to.

Regulations for Creston Teachers, circa 1872...
1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys, and trim wicks.

2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and scuttle of coal for the day's sessions.

3. Make your pens carefully: you may whittle nibs to the individual taste of pupils.

4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings if they go to church regularly. After 10 hours in school, the teachers spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.

5. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.

6. Each teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.

7. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intentions, integrity and honesty.

8. The teacher who performs his labors faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of 25 cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves.

I didn't know shaves in barber shops were suspicious- I will be on guard for those kinds of men from now on. But seriosly, even though I dreamed of being Anne of Green Gables in her teaching days, this makes me thankful I am a circa 2008 teacher!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dia de Mamacitas

This is a shout out to my MOM!!!

My mom is one-of-a-kind.

She loves me and our family with all she is.

She is a comitted mother in every sense of the word.

She laughs whole-heartedly, is easily amused and especially fun when she gets silly.

Sometimes she worries, but it's just because she cares a lot about the people around her.

She is a natural counselor, especially to my friends who have enjoyed many "kitchen table" conversations with my mom about life, direction and future plans.

She's a woman of faith, leaning on the power of prayer.

She has signature little quirks that are uniquely her making up the way she pronounces certain words (scissors is my fav)...wearing aprons in the car...and not letting different foods touch on her dinner plate.

She's street-smart and very wise, but she also has a childish playful side.

She has the best expressions and can be so animated!

My favorite memories I have of her from when I was a kid is when she would faithfully pray for me & my brothers everyday before we left the house to go to school (she did this Elementary through high school). I also enjoyed when she would read out loud to me when I was really young.

And... of course, I love the smell of her spaghetti sauce!

So cheers MOM! I feel so blessed that God would give me such an amazing MOM!

above: We both tried out a Tandem bike for the first time last weekend! So fun!

Monday, April 7, 2008


3 Numbers: 007
2 Words: James Bond
1 Night: 4.5.08

The cards were stacked in our favor at the Shell Shack Casino & Lounge this weekend! We hosted a James Bond 007 Party on Saturday Night and had a blast! Of course, we had to transform the Shell Shack into a swanky Casino & Lounge with character and class.

We tried to include everything...

from Lighting...

o Martini glass tags...

to a red

and James
Bond himself!

What's the occasion, you ask. ....we've thought about this theme party idea for quite some time; and finally decided we needed no occasion; just one night filled with plenty of Bonds and even more Bond girls.

We were thrilled to have so many VIP's in attendance...

Shell Shackers extend a Special Thanks To...

Dev: Once a Shell Shacker, always a Shell Shacker! What's a party without you?

Tim (aka the BOYFRIEND): YOU ROCK! We owe you a free party set-up at your place! Thanks for your help!

K-Baby: Honorary Shell Shacker. You are fabulous!

Cecily: for the FABULOUS strawberries...and the incredible late night laughs. :)

Sara: for the cinema contribution!

Barnett Family: for all the legit casino decor and games!

Karie, Janelle & Katherine: for being our cheerleaders on the Bond idea.

Brother: for the red carpet

Lori: for the music

Connie: for the Bond Girl photo history

ALL: for coming in style, bringing the party and sharing the incredible appetizers! We are so blessed to have such FUN and amazing friends!!