It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Winter is in full force here in New England. We had our real snow of the season two weekends ago, as well as a suburb snow last Wednesday (snow all around Boston but only rain and wind in Boston itself). Tonight the Museum held its staff holiday party, which made me realize that Christmas is only 11 days away. It's still hard to believe it's December, and then when I realize it's the middle of December, I just don't know what to think.

Two weekends ago (before the snow but in the midst of the rain and cold), I drove up to Salem for the Christmas in Salem house tour. The tour included 12 historic homes located around Salem Common. I've always loved going on house tours with my mom, and even though this one was different than those in the past, I really enjoyed seeing all the houses in their Christmas finest. Several of the houses were just so homey, and the fireplaces in each of them felt wonderful after walking around in the rain. Even though the tour was nice, I was glad to make it home that night, especially because it began to snow on the way back to Natick. I watched the Big 12 Championship that night and almost had a heart attack, but luckily Hunter Lawrence saved the day.

This past Saturday I had another dose of holiday spirit at a cookie exchange party held by a good friend. People not only made cookies for the party but savory food too, so I ate very well that night. It was nice to be around friendly people and share the fun of the holidays together. I also played Scattergories for the first time and enjoyed it quite a bit.

I have to admit I'm beginning a countdown for my time in Texas. I only have the rest of this week and two days next week, and then I'll fly home. It will be nice to spend time with my family again.

Joyeux Noel!

Skate America: The Final Report

I'm sitting in Logan Airport waiting for my flight back to TEXAS (yes, it must be capitalized) and realized that I had never followed up on my first blog about Skate America. While I was in Lake Placid, I was pretty much living and breathing skating, and since I got back to Natick on Monday night, I've just been trying to catch my breath. I have over an hour to go until my plane leaves, so I thought I would write a little bit more about my experience.

Saturday was another full day of skating for me, even though the competition didn't begin until 2 p.m. I spent the morning looking around the town of Lake Placid, which was a slight struggle since it was raining (rain was much better than snow, however, which was what I was afraid I would get). The skating that day covered all four disciplines, and it was wonderful to see Kim Yu-Na for the first time. She far outclassed the rest of the ladies' field, even though Rachael Flatt's program to "Sing, Sing, Sing" was really cute. That day also included two long programs and medal ceremonies. In the pairs competition, Shen & Zhao of China won the gold. In the men's competition, American Evan Lysacek won the gold. The other two men's medalists (Shawn Sawyer and Ryan Bradley) pulled up from way down in the pack to win the silver and bronze medals, respectively.

Sunday was my last full day in Lake Placid. I slept late that morning because I had been up so late the night before. Once I finally got out, I went to Starbucks for my first peppermint hot chocolate of the season (yum!) and then went to the Olympic Museum at the Olympic Center. The competition began at 2 p.m. again that day. The ladies' competition was the marquee event, especially for the many Korean-American fans of Kim Yu-Na. It was crazy to see all the Korean flags and banners and watch as they tried to get her autograph before she even skated (I felt a little sorry for her). The pressure may have gotten to her a little bit because she did not perform very well in the long program. She still won the gold medal because of the huge lead she had built up in the short program. Rachael Flatt, however, was the true star of the afternoon as she landed seven triples in her long program. If she keeps on skating as consistently as she has in the past, she could be the American female skater to watch for this Olympics.

After the excitement of the ladies' long program, the free dance was a bit anti-climatic. The posters for Kim Yu-Na had all been removed from the arena, and many of the fans who had come just to see her left. I still enjoyed the competition and in some ways enjoyed it more because all of the people who had come just to see the ladies skate were gone. Belbin & Agosto of the U.S.A. won the competition handily. However, I really enjoyed the performance of Kimberly Navarro & Brett Bommentre — I love that they skate for the fans instead of the judges' scores.

Sunday night was the exhibition. Even though show skating isn't my favorite, it was nice to be able to enjoy the skating without worrying about taking pictures. (Speaking of pictures, you can see a few of the many I took here.) Luckily, this night's skating ended sooner than the other nights, so I was able to come back to my room earlier.

This past weekend at Skate America was wonderful. I loved Lake Placid and am already planning to visit again soon. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for my wonderful birthday present!

Miracle on Ice, 2009 Style

I am currently in Lake Placid, NY, for Skate America. I left Natick around 8 a.m. yesterday morning and arrived here around 2:40 p.m. after stopping at a mall in Albany for lunch. The first competition of the day was the compulsory dance at 3 p.m. and then the pairs’ short program and men’s short program took place this evening.

Some of the highlights of the day:
  • Seeing Shen and Zhao skate a magical short program. I learned later that their score was the highest pairs’ short program score ever. In a word, wow.
  • Almost running into Emily Hughes as I was heading for the arena. I think I acted cool and didn’t react too much.
  • Finally seeing a compulsory dance competition. I didn’t really know what to watch for, but it was still interesting to see the same routine done by every couple.
  • The beautiful costume worn by ice dancer Anna Cappellini from Italy. Click here for a picture.
  • Seeing Evan Lysacek win the short program (even though France’s Florent Amodio’s program was even more impressive and surprising).
  • Overhearing Peter Carruthers' conversation at the restaurant. It almost made up for having to eat by myself.
  • Having DSLR envy. People have impressive cameras at this event. I don’t ever remember seeing fans with such long lenses . . . it can be a little distracting.
  • Seeing the Olympic rings everywhere around town. I was so excited driving past the Olympic Center.
  • The beautiful scenery driving up here.
Today I get to see the original dance, pairs' long program, ladies' short program, and men's long program. I'm really looking forward to seeing Kim Yu-Na from South Korea. She's the current world champion and just amazing. Since the competition doesn't begin until 2 p.m., I'll be exploring Lake Placid until then.

This is the (skating) life!

Silver Belle

Almost two weeks ago, my beautiful cat Silver passed away. My family and I adopted her in April 1998, and I named her Silver after Michelle Kwan's silver medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics. Over the last year or so, she had not been feeling her best. My parents tried to help her get better, but she was just too sick.

Since my mom told me the news, I've been thinking about her and remembering all the little things that made her special. I keep remembering how tiny and cute she was as a kitten when she would "do the dinosaur" and chase after any ball we would throw around. When she was a little older, Paul and I would feed her Chicken Express off the breakfast room table. Her hair stuck to everything; all of my clothes had Silver hairs, and certain chairs would always be covered. She loved to climb in suitcases while we were packing but would always hide when we tried to put her outside.

Silver was a loving cat most of the time; she loved to sit in my Dad's lap and spent many nights curled up on my bed. She also was a spitfire at times, as Parker and the unfortunate Buddy discovered.  As she grew older, her quiet moments became more frequent, but she still had spunk. During some of the hardest times in my life, she was always there to give me unconditional love.

In some ways, losing Silver really hasn't hit me yet. I haven't been home in almost a year, and when I was last there, she was still doing fine. Even with my Sammy cat here and Parker at home, I know that Thanksgiving will be a little different this year.

Silver was a special cat. After all, she was my figure skating cat. :)

Fabulous Fall

A few days ago I took a break at work to get a hot chocolate and began thinking about all the good things about winter (cute clothes, hot chocolate, the first snow). I was getting pretty excited about the upcoming winter season but then realized that I haven't really celebrated fall yet this year. After almost no summer this year (I heard someone refer to it as "summerish"), the fall seems to be planning the same "blink and you'll miss it" act as well. So before fall ends, I thought I would record some of the things I love most about this season.
  • Crisp air
  • Leaf-peeping
  • Apple cider and cider donuts
  • The back-to-school section at Target
  • My birthday
  • Curling up under a blanket again
  • Seeing the largest pumpkin at the Topsfield Fair
  • Annual visit from my parents
  • College football (especially UT)
  • Beginning of the figure skating season
  • Choosing pumpkins from a pumpkin patch
  • The colors: red, gold, orange, brown, yellow
Hopefully there will be a few more weeks of fall to enjoy. Even though winter offers some wonderful moments, I'll be happy to wait to experience them until much later in the year.

Weekend on the Cape

Last weekend my parents flew up to Boston to spend my birthday with me and visit Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard. I left work early on Friday so that we could drive down to Hyannis, our home base for the weekend. We spent a very rainy Saturday exploring the Cape and then took the ferry to Martha's Vineyard on Sunday. On Monday we did a few more things on the Cape and then headed back to the mainland for some birthday shopping and dinner (The Melting Pot . . . yum!). These are a few highlights from our weekend together:

Picking pumpkins at a pumpkin patch in front of a church.
I had never been to a pumpkin patch so this was very special. I chose one large pumpkin and a few smaller ones. When I pulled my large pumpkin from the pile, it caused an avalanche of pumpkins that landed on my feet. My mom had to come save me.

Looking at all the tiny gingerbread houses in Oak Bluff, Martha's Vineyard.
The houses were built on a church campground in the 19th century. The houses are so close together and painted in every color combination you can possibly imagine. I decided that my favorite combination was yellow and blue. (You can read more about them here.)


 Walking down this long pier to see the seashore.
The water was so clear that you could see minnows swimming around. It was a little windy at the end of the pier but oh so beautiful. Quintessential Cape Cod.


Riding the Flying Horses Carousel on Martha's Vineyard.
The carousel is the oldest one in the United States. As you ride around, you're supposed to try to catch the brass ring. If you catch it, you win a free ride. I got pretty good at catching the rings (pictured above), but I never caught the brass ring. Mom, however, caught it twice! The second time she caught it, she let me use her free ride.

Visiting Sandwich.
We almost didn't go to Sandwich, but Mom talked to the owner of our hotel and learned that Sandwich was a not-to-be-missed place. We were really glad we made it there. We toured Dexter's Grist Mill; visited Hoxie House, the oldest saltbox house on Cape Cod; and ate lunch at Dunbar Tea Room. It was a nice diversion during our last morning on the Cape.

Eating clam chowder.
We all enjoyed trying the chowder at different restaurants, including The Lobster Claw in Orleans.

It's hard to believe that a week ago we were just beginning our trip to Cape Cod. I'm so glad that I was able to visit the area for the first time and enjoy spending time with my parents on my birthday.

No Bull!

So the subhead for this blog is "Musings of a Texas Girl Living in Massachusetts," which makes it sound like I should be writing about the great cultural differences between Texas and Massachusetts (of which there are many). I feel like I haven't done that so far, but hopefully that will change . . . beginning now.

Today I drove out to the Burlington Mall because it has the closest Chick-fil-A to my home. I ate my lunch in the food court and then took the rest of my drink with me as I shopped. At the Hallmark store, I picked up a birthday card for a friend and walked up to the counter to pay for it. The woman at the register glanced at the Chick-fil-A cup in my hand and then saw my T-shirt (since it's game day, I was wearing my burnt-orange Longhorn shirt).

"They let you eat at Chick-fil-A with a bull shirt on?" she asked with a strange look on her face.

I panicked. Was she a Sooner? A closet Aggie fan?  A, gulp, Tech fan upset at the outcome of last week's game?

No, it turns out she really thought the Longhorn on my t-shirt was a bull. I didn't have time to explain anything and left the store slightly amused.

Thank goodness a man yelled out "Hook 'em, Horns" to me later this afternoon. At least some people up here understand the importance of Texas football.

A Town Like Alice

About a month ago, I came across a list of the top 100 books put out by the BBC (you can find the list here). One of the books on the list was A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute, which I had never heard of before. A few days later, I was visiting my local library and discovered the book on the librarians' choice bookshelf. Once I discovered that it took place in Australia, I was really excited to read it and checked it out (I loved reading The Thorn Birds last year).

The book can be divided into two parts. The first half takes place during World War II as the main character Jean Paget is forced to participate in a Japanese death march with other English female prisoners of war across the Malay peninsula. The second half takes place in Australia and follows the romance between Jean and Joe Harman, an Australian soldier she met during the war. The title of the book comes from Paget's desire to create a "town like Alice" (Alice Springs).

Some of the things I loved about the book:
  • Learning about such an interesting (and sad) part of history — the Japanese death march. Shute writes in a note at the end of the book that a death march similar to the one in the book did take place but in Sumatra, not Malaya.
  • The Australian setting. It was amazing to catch a glimpse of what life was like in rural Australia in the 1950s.
  • Jean Paget. She was such a strong female character who seemed to be able to do anything she set her mind to doing.
  • The beautiful love story between Jean and Joe. It was wonderful to read a story with an old-fashioned love story.

Sonic and Salem

This past Sunday I drove up to Peabody to try out the first Sonic in Massachusetts. People up here are CRAZY for Sonic . . . I don't think anyone back home in Henderson would believe that people would wait in line for over an hour (yes, an hour!) for the chance to try Sonic food. It just goes to show you the power of good advertising. Of course, I was one of those people waiting in line; the pull of a real cherry Dr Pepper was just too much. Since I waited that long, I also bought popcorn chicken and fries. The food was okay, but the drink was great. Now if Chicken Express would only open a branch in MA, I would be willing to wait 2 hours . . .

After I left Sonic, I drove on to Salem. Visiting Salem has become something of a Labor Day tradition. I went there last year to visit the Peabody Essex Museum. This year I ventured out a little farther and walked along the waterfront. I even got to see the small lighthouse there (Derby Wharf Lighthouse). It was quite breezy along the water, and I ended up wishing that I had worn jeans and brought a light jacket. I also decided to tour The House of the Seven Gables again. My family and I had toured it nine years ago on our PEI trip. The house was as neat as I remembered it; I just love the secret passageway. It was also amusing to be on a tour with other people.

Here are a few more pictures of my trip.

Lunch with a Seagull

During the summer, I love to go outside and eat lunch near the Fort Point Channel or Boston Harbor. Sometimes it's the one thing that gets me through the day — I know that I'll have at least one hour of "me time" to eat my lunch and read my book.

Today I had even better entertainment than any book could ever provide. This one seagull was determined to get whatever food he could from the trash can along the boardwalk. He kept pulling out lunch bags from the trash and then shaking the bag to get the contents out. I just happened to have my camera with me so I took a video of some of his antics.

What I've been reading . . .

After a long (hard) day at work, I thought I would write about some of the books I’ve been reading the last month and a half.

The latest book I finished was The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe. The book takes place in Marblehead, Salem, and Cambridge (among other Massachusetts towns), which made it easier to relate to. The book focuses on Connie Goodwin, a Ph.D. candidate, who makes an interesting discovery at her grandmother’s house one summer: a key inside a Bible with a tag that reads “Deliverance Dane.” This discovery leads her to search for Deliverance’s physick book, or book of spells and recipes. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, especially because I love books where the narrator has to do research in archives and libraries to solve the mystery. I would recommend the book for anyone interested in early American history.

In July I read The Girl with No Shadow by Joanne Harris. The book is a “sequel” to Chocolat but is definitely much darker and more mystical. Vianne Rocher (now Yanne Charbonneau) and her two daughters are now living in Montmartre in Paris and own a small chocolate shop. One day a woman calling herself Zozie de l'Alba enters the shop and shakes up their quiet life in Paris. While Zozie brings a lot of the light back into the chocolate shop, there is also a sinister side to her presence. I enjoyed this book even more than I thought I would and spent several days entranced by the world that Harris creates.

I also read The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón earlier this month. I really enjoyed Zafón’s previous book The Shadow of the Wind, but The Angel’s Game never grabbed me the same way. The ending also left me cold and a little confused. Zafon’s language is beautiful, however, and he always leaves you with the desire to book a trip to Barcelona.

Twilight was also on my summer reading list, but I can’t say I was too impressed. I think the story is supposed to be the best part, but since I had already seen the movie, the story didn’t pull me in. At least I can say I’ve read it, but I don’t think I’ll waste my time on the other three.

The best part about reading the last month or so is that I’ve checked all but one of these books out from the library (my mom bought me The Girl with No Shadow when she was up here). I love that I can make an online request and then usually pick up the book a few days later. I’m still waiting on Lisa See’s new book Shanghai Girls, but hopefully it will come in soon.

Postscript to the Last Entry

I thought of something else that I wanted to add to my entry about my Shakespeare adventure a few weekends ago.

After the play let out, I went to my car and grabbed my camera to take a few pictures around the theater. I was taking a picture of a flower when I heard three well-dressed people discussing the play. They didn't like the production and thought it took a lot of liberties with Shakespeare's work. It wasn't humor the way Shakespeare intended, the man said. One woman then asked if a certain line was from Shakespeare: "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em." No, the man said, that was definitely not Shakespeare. Since I had never read Twelfth Night, I figured the man was right.

Well, a few days ago, I decided to look up the quote and see who had originally written the line since it wasn't from Shakespeare. A quick Google search proved that Shakespeare did in fact write the line in Twelfth Night. After I realized that, it made me question the group's assertion that the play wasn't the way Shakespeare would have intended it. After all Shakespeare wrote more for the lower class than the rich and powerful, and his comedies usually were very bawdy. I guess it just goes to show you that you can't trust someone even if they say something with authority.

Shakespeare and Mexican Food

When I lived in Henderson, I loved going to the Texas Shakespeare Festival in Kilgore with my mom during the summer. The first play we saw was A Midsummer's Night Dream in 1995, and we attended at least one play almost every summer after that until I began graduate school in 2006. Since moving up to Massachusetts, we haven't been able to go to the plays together, and we've both really missed it.

A few weeks ago I read a review for Shakespeare & Company's production of Twelfth Night in the Globe. The reviewer just raved about the play, so I decided to purchase a ticket for the Saturday matinee performance last weekend. Shakespeare & Company is located in Lenox, which is right at the western edge of Massachusetts in the Berkshires. I left my apartment around 11 a.m. to make the play at 2 p.m. Unfortunately, traffic was backed up on the Pike for the longest time; I kept watching the arrival time on my GPS get later and later as I barely moved in the bumper-to-bumper traffic. By the time the traffic finally cleared out, I could tell that I was going to be several minutes late to the play. I did finally arrive at the theater around 15 minutes late and was able to get a seat near the back of the theater.

Twelfth Night
is one of Shakespeare's comedies, and this production was definitely very funny (and bawdy, according to some people I heard talking in the lobby). I was a little confused in the beginning since I had missed the first 15 minutes and hadn't read a synopsis of the play earlier. However, it was interesting just to experience the beauty of Shakespeare's language. All of the actors were just wonderful. I was especially impressed by the woman who played Viola (Cesario). She would throw herself (and have other actors throw her) across the stage, even climbing one of the poles around the stage at one point. Seeing the play made me want to attend more live theater.

After the play ended, I was starving. I had been planning to grab lunch along the way, but when I got stuck in traffic, I decided to just drive on. So I started the return trip on the lookout for something to eat. I took one of the Springfield exits to look for food and somehow ended up at On the Border, the place I had been thinking about eating at the whole day. I gathered up my courage and went in to ask for a table for one. Even though the enchiladas weren't as good as others I have had, they still tasted wonderful after the long day. I also really enjoyed the chips and hot sauce and the Dr. Pepper.

After leaving On the Border, I headed back home to Natick. Even though I was a little late to the play, the day definitely turned out to be a good adventure.

Shakespeare and Mexican food . . . what's better than that?


Last Saturday I went to Walden Pond to celebrate the arrival of spring in New England. The temperatures were in the 80s both Saturday and Sunday, which made this Texas girl feel much more at home. I didn't know what to expect at Walden Pond, but I ended up walking all the way around the pond during my time there. Some parts of the walk were incredibly peaceful, while others were marred by larger parties talking loudly amongst themselves. Other than those interruptions, the only bad part of the day was fighting off the bugs around the pond. Bugs love me, of course, so now I have small bumps all over the back of my hands.

After finishing my walk around the pond, I drove in to Concord to find a place to eat. I ended up finding a place that had cheese quesadillas, and they were surprisingly good. I also looked around some of the shops downtown but didn't buy anything. The bookstore there is really great, though. Before leaving, I bought myself a chocolate chip cookie and a fountain Dr. Pepper — yum!

The day ended with an interesting trip home, even with my GPS unit to guide me. I pressed the "home" button on the unit and thought I was set to make it back to Natick. The GPS led me a different way back than I had come out to Concord, but I assumed it was just taking me on smoother, better roads. I didn't realize I was truly lost until I was on a road that said I was 18 miles from Worcester. Whoops! Luckily the diversion led me to stop at a little grocery store where I bought some cider donuts for breakfast the next morning. After leaving the store, I plugged in my home address and managed to make it home in one piece. Nothing wrong with exploring, right? (I wonder what Thoreau would say about that diversion . . .)

Broadway Babies & Stars on Ice

Two weekends ago I had an action-packed weekend. On Saturday, April 4 I went to New York with a group from Keefe Tech in Framingham. The continuing education department offers the trip twice a year to people who want to visit NYC for the day to see a Broadway play, shop, or sightsee. I decided to see Guys and Dolls, starring Lauren Graham from Gilmore Girls. I thought the play was good, even if the seats were very tight (my knees touched the seat in front of me!) and I had trouble understanding some of the words (enunciation, people!). I was amazed to learn that Lauren Graham could sing that well.

Before and after the play, I had a chance to look around the area and shop. I made a special pilgrimage to the anthropologie at Rockefeller Center because it was so neat last Christmas, but I ended up not buying a thing. Luckily I found this huge Ann Taylor Loft near the theater later and was able to buy a couple of things there. I also went in the huge M&M store in Times Square, found a small item to buy, and quickly left. That store was way too crowded and a little too touristy for my tastes. I'm beginning to better understand the complaints about the "Disneyfication" of Times Square now. The bus home picked us up a little before 7, so we could make it home to Framingham by 11. It made for a slightly later night than usual, but at least the next day wasn't a work day.

On Sunday I went into Boston in the morning so that I could do some things around the city before Stars on Ice in the afternoon. I parked in the Common garage, so I went over to the Public Gardens to look around first. It was nice to see the first signs of spring, especially since it was such a beautiful spring day. The ducks were putting on quite a show that day. After looking around there and taking some pictures, I caught the Red Line for Harvard Square. I went to one of my favorite bookstores, Harvard Book Store, and ate at Qdoba. After that it was time to head to TD Banknorth Garden for Stars on Ice.

I love watching live skating! Seeing Stars on Ice reminds me of this every time I go. At this show, I especially enjoyed seeing Belbin & Agosto, Kimmie Meissner, and Evan Lysacek (coming off his recent win at the World Championships). Ilia Kulik is always amazing to watch, Yuka Sato is always so cute (in a "isn't she cute" way), and John Zimmerman is, well, just cute. It's interesting to see the cast interact with each other and with the audience. They are such amazing professionals.

My life hasn't been nearly as interesting the last two weeks, but it was nice to relive the weekend one more time to write this blog. Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Photography Class, Assignment #2

My photography class focused on flash and exposure compensation last week. We had to take pictures of the same subject using the different flash settings in our cameras. I learned that my camera has several different flash settings, which was really surprising to me since I thought I had only two: on and off. Sammy was the subject of my project this week.

Sammy with no flash

Sammy with flash

His natural color, of course, is more like the second picture than the first. I still like the first one because he looks softer, and his eyes aren't quite as scary.

Only one more assignment and class left! This class has gone by quickly.

Photography Class, Assignment #1

I'm taking a photography class this month at a local high school. We have an assignment each week to learn about different elements of photography. Since I can only turn in one sample of my work each week, I thought I would share the other pictures here.

Assignment #1
1. Photograph a subject at a distance from a background at the longest zoom setting (most telephoto).
2. Zoom out to the shortest zoom setting (most wide angle).
3. Move closer to your subject until it fills up the same amount of the frame as it did in #1 and take your second photograph.
4. Compare the relative sizes/perspectives of the subject and background in each image.

Bushes with the zoom

Bushes close up (Notice how you can see more space between them.)

My car from far away

My car at a closer angle

The Museum's steps from far away

The steps from close up

And the winning set, which just so happened to be the first set I took. I love the color in the first shot, and the contrast between the two.


Close up

This next picture wasn't for class, but I like it anyway. The light was just perfect to catch the reflection of the Hood Milk Bottle in the building across the way.

Kendra :)

25 Things About Me

(Borrowed from Facebook . . . my blog looked neglected)

1. I’m named after a character in a book my mom read (Calico Palace). My mom was also named after a fictional character (Richardson’s Pamela). I continued the tradition by naming my cat Parker after the tiger in The Life of Pi.

2. I lived in Henderson, Texas, for the first 18 years of my life. Since then, I’ve lived in 3 other states (Mississippi, Florida, and Massachusetts) and 6 cities (Jackson, Austin, Orlando, Nacogdoches, Boston, and Natick).

3. Long underwear is a now a permanent part of my winter wardrobe.

4. My first memory was telling my mom that I wanted a little sister like a girl in my class at preschool. I got Paul instead (and wouldn’t trade him for a million sisters).

5. I am a huge Michelle Kwan fan and am excited that she has hinted at a return to the ice.

6. I love to watch Dancing with the Stars.

7. My favorite book as a child was Anne of Green Gables (I still love it).

8. I don’t like peanut butter.

9. I would really like to visit Australia.

10. I’m a proud Texas Longhorn, but I appreciate the Aggie band more (military-style marching is so difficult to do well).

11. I was a majorette my senior year of high school.

12. My favorite vacations growing up were our trips to the national parks.

13. I have almost mastered the art of shoveling my car out of the snow.

14. I have Cheerios every morning for breakfast.

15. I love Mexican food (what Texas girl doesn’t?). I just wish good Mexican food was easier to find up here in Massachusetts.

16. My brother and I both broke our arms within a week of each other when we were little. I broke my left, and he broke his right. (Just in case you were wondering, these were two distinct incidents. Mine happened at home, and my brother’s happened at school.)

17. I like a lot of my mom’s music (Simon and Garfunkel, Elvis, Carole King, John Denver).

18. I have a fear of knives and apples.

19. I’ve been told I look like both my mom and my dad.

20. I really like ducks.

21. Burt and Ernie were my favorite characters on Sesame Street when I was younger. We still have Christmas tree ornaments that hang on our tree each year.

22. I’ve actually been to Wasilla, Alaska.

23. My cat Sammy is a great mouse killer (he begged me to put this one in).

24. I love that my brother and I have inside jokes (“Section C!”).

25. I’m so ready for summer already, but since I live in Massachusetts, I’ll probably have to wait until June.