Sunday, August 29, 2010


As I said before, Brent and I headed to Annapolis, MD, yesterday. Our good friend, Teeman, attends the U.S. Naval Academy and gave us the best ever tour of the historic city of Annapolis.

We started the day with him driving out to see our apartment, and then we jumped in his car (a pretty blue mustang, I might add) and we drove to Annapolis, which is only about half an hour away. Since he is a senior (also called a 1st class midshipmen, I believe?), we were able to drive onto the Academy grounds and park there. Definitely a privilege! We immediately walked just a few minutes to old downtown Annapolis, which is a really neat, eclectic mix of shops and restaurants located in the same building where colonists and government leaders met to sign treaties and things. Did you know that Annapolis was once the capital of the United States, before Washington, D.C.? Teeman showed us the old national capitol building, which is now Maryland's state capitol building (Annapolis is the capital of MD, now). But yes, downtown was definitely a neat place! We had some amazing seafood for lunch, as well. Teeman definitely knows his way around!

Because it is located right near the naval academy (and because old towns just seem to be more like this), it was very patriotic. Here is a picture that Brent took of one of the streets downtown.

I love being in places like this. It makes me proud. :)

Another neat thing about downtown Annapolis . . . because so many people have dogs, many of the stores keep bowls of water and dog treats outside their doors. I think that's cute. :)

One more fun random tidbit . . . one of the downtown restaurants was host to Food Network's show "Man vs. Food." The restaurant makes 8 lb. milkshakes. Wow! It did seem funny that this famous restaurant was just an old, little, hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Here's the picture posted on the front window of the shop:

After lunch, we walked back over to the Naval Academy campus, where Teeman showed us around all of the buildings. It's amazing how much unique history you'll find there. The chapel basement even comes complete with the crypt of John Paul Jones, the father/founder (I think!) of the U.S. Navy. Take a look, and you'll agree that it looks like it comes from the set of Pirates of the Caribbean!

Crazy, huh?

The end of our on-campus tour ended by the Chesapeake Bay. What a pretty place to go to school! Teeman then surprised us with a run through the Navy's endurance and obstacle courses! Let's just say that the wall climbing, rope bridge-crossing, beam-balancing, and monkey-bar swinging left me sore today! But it was definitely worth it and so much fun!

Best part of the day, though, was just getting to hang out with a good friend. We got to see some cool things in the area, and the boys got to play Halo back at our apartment. :) It's great to have a friend up here! Hopefully Teeman enjoyed himself as much as we did. :)

Old friends. :)


P.S. Wedding photos are in! Posting those soon! :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Hello there friends!
I am writing to you today from my NEW computer that was delivered today! Ok, well it was "attempted" to be delivered but unable to thanks to the difficulties of living in an apartment. So, my wonderful husband drove with me to pick it up at the FedEx office! Yep, he's pretty awesome. :)

But, yeah, my new computer is so pretty! It is an HP Netbook, so it is little and white and cute and light and easy to move around, and I just love it! Brent and I have had extensive conversations about the importance of a "pretty" computer (let's just say it's high on my list of necessities for a computer, not so much on his . . . ). But I think he approves of this little guy, so we're good! Here's what it looks like . . . (I know, I just had to post a picture!)

 Isn't it so pretty? This pictures is not the greatest, but you get the idea. It's really small (only 10 1/2 inches I think! But it's awesome!)

And, enough about my computer. Sorry. :)

It has been a busy week around here, with me getting my classroom ready this week. It is coming along, though, and Brent has been a big help! It cuts so much time out when he can help me put the high stuff up on the walls instead of me getting up and down off a chair a gazillion times. (Yep, a gazillion) I sure appreciate him giving up his time after work to help me! It is really looking good and I can't wait to post pictures when it's all done! School starts on Tuesday, so it better be done soon! :)

More excitement for the week . . . I went with all of the teachers from my school to a high ropes course/teambuilding day on Tuesday. If any of you know me well, I am not the bravest person, but I did do everything! Brent told me when I dropped him off at work that I had to at least try everything . . . and I did! There was a zip line with ropes to cross to get to the platform (about 25 feet in the air), a giant swing (40 feet in the air), and the low level of the high ropes course (30 feet). The actual physical part wasn't bad (a huge log vs. a 4-in. wide beam, hmmm) but it was just so mentally CHALLENGING even if you know you are harnessed so you can't fall! I called my former coach, haha. I knew he would be proud since I was always the scared one trying new things! It was definitely a good experience though, and allowed me to get to know a lot of the other teachers.

Been thinking about something all week, since church on Sunday. The sermon was about Barnabas (many have heard of him), but I found out that his real name was Joseph. People knew him, though, as Barnabas, the "Son of Encouragement." The message was about how people know you. What is your "niche" or "sweet spot"? Each of has a specific role in the church:

"The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts . . . But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? . . . Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." -1 Cor. 12: 12,18-19, 27

As I listened to this sermon, it was impressed upon my heart how incredible it is that each of us was specifically created by God to fulfill a certain role. God molded me to fit a specific need in his church. He may not have created me for the upfront, seemingly uber-awesome position of beautiful-singing worship leader extraordinare . . . but he gave me a role that is just as important in his kingdom and to the body of Christ. I believe that part of that role is to minister to children, which is why it is such a fulfillment for me to teach children and help them realize their potential. And also, to simply love them. Barnabas had the understanding that God gave him specific opportunities to give encouragement to others. What is your role? Are you taking the opportunites God brings, even if they seem like an  impossible challenge at the time? Or are you just expecting that "someone else will do it." Newsflash: it's your job!

I'm going to brag on my parents for a minute. I won't share all of the details, but they have recently accepted an opportunity that is giving them the chance to love and care for someone whose needs are great. It is a huge task to take responsibility of another, without knowing exactly how things will go or what may transpire along the way. I'm proud to have parents who put others' needs above their own, in order to make a difference in another's life and show God's love to them. What an incredible opportunity! Pray for them as they continue along their journey.

My point here is to challenge you also to accept the challenges that God places in front of you. I am trying to embrace that thought as well as I settle into a new role, new church, new school, and new home. No one else has been placed in your same situation with your talents and abilities, because God designed you to fill that spot. Take God's word that He will be the "light to your path" as you trust Him to help you succeed. Accept the challenge and watch God work in your life!

Sorry about the long post! Lots going on this week. :) And just think, tomorrow's Friday! Oh, happiness! :)

I am for sure excited that it's almost the weekend! :) (Ok, so I just wanted to try out my new webcam!)

Next post: Our trip to Annapolis and the naval academy with a personal tour from Teeman himself!

 I hope you all have a blessed Friday and weekend! [hugs]

P.S. Here's a shout out to my girl, Brittany! Miss you friend. Btw, check my first post. ;)

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Lazy Days of Summer

Well, my lazy days of summer officially ended this week as I began doing some work up at my school. I worked summer camp for 3 days and then had 2 days of new teacher orientation. Not the most exciting week, but I did find out which classroom is mine, so I can finally start organizing and planning it! It is very bright and cheerful, with 2 walls of just windows! While I don't like the lack of wall space, I love how bright, open, clean, and airy the room feels. I will definitely post photos on here once I get it going.

Of course, Brent also continued work this week, and he is still really liking it. I guess they like him, too (I mean, who wouldn't?) because they asked him to go with them to recruit at MIT! He is super pumped and I am happy for him, too. He'll be gone overnight to Boston and spend all day talking to students at the career fair. He'll also get to catch up with friends there, so that will be nice, too! That happens in September.

Spent time today just taking care of more business, and am happy to say that I am officially a Maryland driver and also have a joint account as Mrs. Allison McLaughlin. Whew! Glad to have most of that process done. And I have to share, the woman from the credit union (who had all of the OK questions last time) had one more funny one today. She was telling me that sometimes schools cancel classes for the day in Hawaii if there are really awesome waves, so that everyone can go surfing (jealous!) and then proceeded to ask me if, for religious purposes, we ever cancelled school due to pow-wows in Oklahoma.

Um, no.

Another funny story about moving from OK . . . we were going through orientation stuff at school yesterday, including the fire drill, bomb threat procedures, etc. I was so confused as I was flipping through the book, searching for the tornado drill procedures. I almost raised my hand to ask, and then the lightbulb turned on . . . OH! They don't have tornados here! They don't have to do tornado drills. Isn't that weird. I have been doing tornado drills in school since I was a kid, and even went through actual tornado procedures while student teaching in Stillwater because the tornados were that close. Needless to say, it's weird that we won't have to talk about tornado drills here.

Other updates . . . let's see. We pretty much finished our apartment on Sunday, aside from hanging pictures on the wall because I am still waiting on family and wedding photos. It is so nice, though, to come home to a clean, decorated, and cozy apartment every night. We love it! When it is completely finished, I will post pictures . . . be looking for those!

For now, I will end with a few pictures of our dear cat, Pumpkin, who is currently sitting on my lap, making it very hard to type. I took these last week (with our new, awesome camera that we love!) and I think they pretty much sum of the phrase "lazy days of summer" . . .

Isn't she just precious? Oh, how I love summer.

Loving and missing all of you! [hugs]

Friday, August 13, 2010


So, for those of you who are not married, or have been married for awhile, I feel the need to explain the supreme hassle that defines the name-changing process (and everything else that has to have your name changed officially on it) compounded by the fact that I am changing states as well. Everyone wants to have some sort of official something that says "Allison McLaughlin" on it, but there it's so hard to get that first! I finally got my new social security card in the mail today, which I am hoping will make the rest of the process a little easier! Last week we spent 2 1/2 hours at the DMV getting new plates for my car (which are way more expensive in MD, in case you were wondering) and attempting to get the title changed with my new name and to have the car registered under my name. Difficult, to say the least. But, we got it figured out. Brent is the lucky one! He just has to hand in his old OK stuff and they just change it for him (along with a small [I mean rather large] fee)! Lucky kid.

Our next challenge was settting up our new account at the APL credit union. The woman we worked with was super nice, and quite in awe of the fact that we were from OK. She thought we were "just so cute" as newlyweds and then proceeded to ask us about our beloved Oklahoma.
     "How is OK different from MD?"
     "Well, MD has trees, and hills. Um, OK does not."
     "Oh, really?"
     "Well, we do have some trees. And, it's really hot there right now. Like, really hot."
     "Well, it's hot here. [Let me interject, that they have not gotten above 95 since we've been here.]
     "They've been around 110 or so for the last month."
     "Ooooh. And don't they have those, what are they called [picture her spinning her hands around in  the air] those spinney things?"
     "Yeah. It's called Tornado Alley."
     "Wow! Have you ever seen one?"
     "Not in awhile, but we go under tornado warnings all the time." . . .

 . . . And the conversation continued from there. I am not trying to make her out to be ignorant, it was just interesting to dialogue with someone who had such a different perspective on what is so familiar to us. She was also incredibly nice, helpful, and stayed past closing to explain everything to us and get us set up. People here in Columbia are incredibly nice for the most part. Aside from their driving that is. In general, turn signals are simply not in use. In the words of I believe it is Kayli's mom? (Correct me if I'm wrong!) "They must not have made them that year" (referring to turn signals). Haha. What a true statement here! I feel so out of place when I use my turn signals (which I will continue to do, even if it does make me stick out)!

Despite the changes and funny things that are different here, I do like it. It is beautiful and scenic and everyone is very kind. Brent has a job that he likes, and we are celebrating his first week with a delicious lemon-garlic roasted chicken dinner tonight that we are in the process of making right now. If only you could have a sniff in our apartment right now . . . it's delightful! Other good things . . .I have a job that is sounding more and more ideal everyday, and we are hanging out with another couple tomorrow that Brent has become friends with at work. Bonus: the wife is a teacher! So we are making friends . . . Movin' on up!

Counting my blessings. :)


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My husband, the engineer!

OK, so I'll take a break from being the center of attention for a few minutes (ha) and tell you about my awesome husband and his new job!

Brent started his new job at the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University (APL) this week! Since we currently only have one car, I get to take him to and from work everyday, which is good, because that means I have to get up and around and can be productive with my day, too! But back to Brent . . .

So, he goes to work on a computer, and codes for different projects. Unfortunately, his security clearance deems his work "classified" and he is therefore unable to tell you or me about what he is doing. So . . . what does Brent do at his job? Um, I don't really know! But it sounds awesome, even if I don't really know! Could make dinnertimes a little awkward though, kinda like tonight:

A- "So, how was work today?"
A-"What did you do?"
A-"Oh. Well, what kind of projects are you working on?"
B-"Defense stuff."
A-"What kind of defense stuff?"
A- "I think you just like saying "classified."
B- [smiles]

Oh well, I'm sure I'll have some interesting stories from my classroom once I get started that I can share at the dinner table. Kids never cease to provide you with funny and interesting stories to impart. Until then, I guess Brent will just have to listen about my fairly boring days of running errands and getting ready for school! That's definitely not classified.

Anyways, he really like the job so far and seems to like everyone with whom he is working, which is always a plus! I think he also enjoys the fact that the dress is casual, so he gets to wear jeans everyday (jealous!). :)

Hope you all are having a fantastic week! :)


Sunday, August 8, 2010


So, I spent 6 hours of my day yesterday writing thank you cards. 6 hours! That's a lot of cards because we were blessed by a lot of people at the wedding! I was going to update last night, but my poor little right hand just couldn't take any more. We were just so blessed to receive everything we could possibly need at the wedding. Thank you friends and family! We love you oh so much!

As I was writing the cards, and just reflecting on (once again) the many blessings God has given us, I was simply amazed. We have felt so loved and appreciated through this whole process. Even from the beginning of our long-distance relationship, we relied on friends and family for encouragement and support. As I graduated, began teaching, and planning a wedding, while Brent finished his last year at MIT, we again looked to friends and family for the help and support we needed. As the wedding approached, we were showered with gifts and more help. And at the wedding, we were surrounded by the largest crowd of people that we know, and I must say that I have never felt so loved in my whole life.

Thank you, everyone, for your love and support of us. Thank you for the continued notes and words of encouragement as we've made this move across the country. Thank you, Lord, for surrounding us with such amazing people. We love each and every one of you!

We took another step today in getting settled here. We attended a church about 20 minutes from us that was recommended by a minister back home. It was nice to be surrounded by a group of believers again, but it felt strange to walk into church and be the newbies. We liked the church, not sure if it's home yet, but plan to go back next week. We are really looking forward and ready to be plugged into a church family again. We are praying (and ask that you will as well) that God will plant us where he wants us!


Friday, August 6, 2010

God continues to amaze.

You are looking (well, not looking, but you know what I mean) at the newest 3rd grade teacher at Columbia Academy! God has had his hand in every step of this process. Like I said yesterday, there are just so many things that have "fallen into place," AKA God implementing, that enabled me to have this job. I originally interviewed for a full-time sub position, but then the 3rd grade positioned opened up, and they offered me the job! Let me tell you a little bit about this ideal position (hold onto your seats, it's pretty stinkin' awesome!):

1. There are two 3rd grade classes for this year. One class has 9 students, the other has 10. That is UNHEARD of to have have a class size that small. What amazing learning can take place when you have only 10 little minds to worry about, instead of 25-30?!

2. They will pay for "stuff" for my classroom: borders, resources, whatever . . . awesome! Much better than spending my own money, which I did plenty of last year.

3. The students have two special classes a day, meaning I will have two 40 minute plan periods per day. Bliss!

There are a ton of other amazing things about this school, but for now, I am just going to say that God has surely blessed me and placed me in this school for a reason. I am thankful and excited to see what He has in store for me here! And Brent is glad that I won't be sitting at home, bored, while he's at work! ;)

On another note, we had dinner with some of Brent's friends from MIT who live here in MD, Moji and Annie. Even though we've only been gone for almost 2 weeks, it was super nice to see some familiar faces. If any of you out there are looking for a nice MD vacation, Brent and I would love to have you! You might even be so lucky to sample some homemade chocolate chip cookies! ;) (see previous post)


New, new, new.

So, as I said before . . . new state, new town. Lots of new things. One thing I love about living in a new place (happens a lot throughout the college years! I have moved every year for the last 4 years! It's nice to plan to settle in this apartment for probably 2 years) is having a clean slate. With my lack of organizational skills (though I am trying to improve) and my inability to get rid of things (I'm very sentimental, even with silly things), it's nice to have a chance to really clean up and go through things before you move, and then find a specific place for them when you move. Of course, our little apartment doesn't seem to be yielding to Brent and I's need to put things in its place. We still have things that have no place yet. But, the point is, I like that feeling of deciding where things will go, what will work best, where will I use it, what will look cute, etc, etc. That's what makes it home! We added to that "cozy" feeling today when we did some painting! We painted accent walls in our bedroom (dark green) and the dining room (rusty red) and I love it! It makes it so much more personal.

I especially love our kitchen. It is the least stark room in the apartment and it seems to be the most full of things that I love.  Here are my 3 favorite things in the kitchen (besides when Brent is in there cooking with me, of course!):

1. My KitchenAid mixer! This is what it looked like before I used it for the first time tonight and made chocolate chip cookies . . .

Aaaand . . . this is after. Ahaha. I don't usually make this much of a mess but I accidentally spilled some flour and it was all downhill from there. Don't worry, though. The cookies were delicious! :)

My next favorite thing in the kitchen . . .

2. Photo that Dad took when he and Mom went to the east coast last fall. This is a real restaurant (even though the name is spelled wrong! ;) and the picture is just cool. The colors are vivid and I love the "welcome home" feel to it. So, it's framed in our kitchen. Thanks, Dad!

And the last . . .

3. My Colts apron that Brent got me for Valentine's Day! I also have a matching chef's hat. :) For my birthday, he got us tickets for a Colts game in DC . . . don't worry, you'll be hearing lots about that!

On a completely different subject, I have a 2nd interview with a school tomorrow! I had the first interview last Friday, and they called me today and asked if I could come back in tomorrow morning. I will give more details about the job later, if I get it! The whole situation surrounding this job has completely been in God's hands, which is just another reason why He is just so awesome. I first interviewed with another school district but could not make the 2nd interview due to us not moving until now. They weren't willing to wait or work with me, so that didn't work out. The surrounding public schools are on hiring freezes. I randomly searched private schools here in Columbia, and sent out resumes to the 2 schools. One school wasn't hiring, but I got a phone call from this school. They were able to set up an interview with me for when we moved, but couldn't guarantee they would still have the position available by then. But when I arrived and called to confirm, they still wanted to interview me. Brent and I looked up directions and were amazed to see that the school is less than 5 minutes from our apartment (quite a change from my 45 minute drive last year!) and that Brent's work is only 5 minutes past that! Considering we are having to share a car for awhile, we had been worrying about how that would work out. So, God has definitely had a hand in all of this, as He always does! And if it doesn't work out at my interview tomorrow, I know He has something else in mind for me! So, if you think of it . . . say a prayer for me at noon eastern/11 central time tomorrow! :)

I suppose I shall end there for today. I promise not all the posts will be this long. But, like I said . . . so much new stuff is going on, it's hard to share it all! Thanks for following along.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Good Morning, Baltimore!

Hellooooo, and welcome! Post title courtesy of the musical, Hairspray. :)

I suppose I should begin with an explanation about why I'm here, as in, why I'm writing this blog. I just spent the last year blogging about my first year of teaching, and, while I didn't write as much as I would have liked, I enjoyed it. I liked having a place to share the everyday victories, the more prominent challenges, and the funny things that I encountered in my first classroom. So, that's why I'm here. I'm beginning another new journey now, as a married woman, in a new city and state. And it's a journey I want my friends and family, who seem so far away, to be a part of. It's also a place where I can share my reflections (and hopefully recieve some accountablity) as I make a renewed effort in my daily walk. With the hectic-ness (is that a word?) leading up to getting married and moving, I spent less time with God than I should have. So, here are my goals for this blog, and I hope you will choose to make the journey with me!

1. Share the daily blessings of God. (I know there are plenty!)
2. Share the daily challenges I come across as an adult . . . a wife, a teacher, and life far from home!
3. Share the funny stuff. No explanation there! Life is funny. I want you to laugh with me.
4. Share my personal discoveries as I read God's word. It's amazing how, because of the Holy Spirit, we can read something and it really does apply to our personal lives. God is awesome like that.
5. Let everyone into the world of the McLaughlins in Maryland! Craziness for sure. Hope you can handle it!

I guess I should also include my inspiration for my blog. Big names include The Pioneer Woman and the movie Julie and Julia (I'm a sucker for those movies, it's true. Aaaaaand, I love to cook!). Other names: my dear friend, Brittany, who sparked my interest for journaling during our time together as small group leaders, and my mbf, who is a much more diligent blogger than I am. I am hoping to improve that here!

So, that will have to do for an introduction.

And now, let's jump in. My current position is in my huge comfy chair in our small apartment living room. The TV is on the floor, Brent is on his computer, and I am content to catch up on Skype time with Mom, facebook messages from friends at home, and the latest NEA articles about new teachers and the mistakes they make (don't worry, I made them all!). We are slowly transforming our apartment into a home, finally hanging some things on the wall today! Can't wait to paint tomorrow and hang up wedding pictures when we get them.

I feel the need to highlight the fact that Brent and I have not eaten out here in our new town. We have successfully lived off of sandwiches, spaghetti, roasted chicken, and delicious shrimp jambalaya, courtesy of Mom's recipe (ok, and we had frozen pizza 2 nights... but we were unpacking and didn't have access to kitchen stuff yet!). Our current snackage includes carrots, grapes (ok, and the zucchini bread from Grandma) so we're doing pretty well on the whole healthy eating thing. Looking forward to Brent starting his job and gaining access to a workout facility!

Last night, I jumped back into my bible reading. I started with 1 Thessalonians, where Paul is encouraging the Thessalonians in their faith, and celebrating their continued dedication in their faith (pardon my non-deep reflections here. I consider myself an amateur!) and also reminded them of the coming of the Lord. He ends the letter with some simple, but important reminders for us in the Christian faith. My favorite begins in verse 16 of chapter 5:

 "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

And that, friends, is my goal for this blog. Counting my joys and blessings, accountability to prayer and growth, and giving thanks in everything, both in trial and celebrations.