Monday, May 30, 2011

My Nana

We lost our Nana on Friday. It was very sudden and happened very fast. My mom texted me around 6am telling me to call her when I got up. Well, my anxiety-filled self could not wait, so I called her right then. Nana was in the hospital and she was not doing well. Dad got to the hospital around 8 and I went up to be with him. There were alot of things that happened fast but they think it ended up being a stroke. I stayed at the hospital pretty much all day. She passed away around 9pm, surrounded by 3 of her 6 sons & their wives, one of her SILs, and a close friend. I am so glad she is at peace now with Jesus and has regained her sharp mind!

I went to visit her the Saturday after the tornado, which was the last time I saw her. She was talking up a storm to Dad and I and I am SO glad I got to spend some one on one time with her. She fell and broke her hip a few weeks ago and so I'm assuming alot of what happened could have been a result of the surgery.

As much as I'm going to miss her, I am SO glad she is finally with Poppy. She had a VERY hard time when he went to be with Jesus 11 years ago. She loved him with every ounce of her being and I just KNOW that Poppy was waiting for her at the gates of Heaven with Jesus. I am picturing them dancing right now :). She missed him every single second of the past 11 years. I was looking at a scrapbook last night that she had made of pictures of them, notes she had written to him, and poems she had written to him. I had to hold back the tears. Their love was so deep. She even kept little notes she had written to him when he was alive, such as "Hey honey, I'm going to K-Mart, be back soon". I thought it was so neat that she kept literally everything that had to do with them. It was precious to see.

I made a list of some things I will miss most about my sweet Nana:
1. her laugh
2. her hugs
3. her love for betty boop
4. her pastina - only she could make it PERFECT
5. her spaghetti
6. her lasagna (we do have the recipes for #5 and #6)
7. her house
8. her love for her grandchildren
9. her voice
10. how excited she got when she saw me

Rest in Peace sweet Nana. I love you very much and I will never forget you. You will always be in my heart wherever I go. I hope you and Poppy are having fun up there. Tell him I miss him and love him too!

I love you Nana!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

An Amazing Tribute...

This video brings tears to my eyes. What a great tribute to the victims of the horrible tornado that changed our lives forever...

Yesterday was the last day for my kids...I will post about the "teacher" moments I had yesterday. For now, I will leave you with this picture of how I spent my first day of summer...

love him!

Christen and the kids took me out for a "celebratory" lunch today! They are so sweet! When I walked in Luke said "Aunt Kafween, we are gonna take you out to lunch!!!" After we got back, Christen had to go run an errand for Ryan so I watched the kids. Luke and Aubrey went down for a nap and Levi and I played until we both got tired and he fell asleep on my chest and we both took a nap!!! Nothing sweeter than my nephew sleeping on my chest!!!!! I love being an aunt!!!!!!!

Thats all for now, I am off to the lake for a few days!!! :) 

Happy Summer to all my teacher friends!!!!!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Its still there....

Sometimes I try to avoid the tornado hit areas in Tuscaloosa. I see it eveyday when I pull out of my apartment to go to work but I turn the other way and try not to look too much. I think about how many times I drove those roads a week before the storm, and how many times I have driven them since - significantly less. I think I'm avoiding them, not even realizing it. But sometimes I can't. Like today. I drove through 2 of the hit areas and my heart still stops and I have to catch my breath as I pass by. Especially on our main road here in t-town. All the places I've been so many times over the past 6 years. Where I've locked my keys in my car, gotten heart sprinkle donuts with Molly, went to fancy dinners before formals, gotten my lights on my jeep fixed for free, and the list goes on and on. I live in my little bubble of school and home, I think sometimes I pretend it didn't happen, even though I do see piles and piles of rubble every morning and afternoon to and from work.

Last week I went by our old house. I've heard it was gone but I hadnt gone to see it myself. The neighborhood was leveled so I was very nervous. As I drove down our street and saw that evey single house had significant damage, my heart sank. I dodged rubble and trees that were still in the street, 3 weeks later. Suprisingly, our house is still standing! But the garage apartment next to our house was gone. There was a huge pile of rubble in our side yard but the house was still there! I think I might have lost I if it was no longer there! I also drove by our friends house which was across the neighbohood where we spent many many days and nights. It had roof damage and tons of debris and rubble in the yard but it was still there too. Many many memories in those 2 houses....

Today I was walking from the gym to my apartment and just happened to look back exactly where you can see across the street through the trees and buildings. As I turned back around, I had to remind myself, yes, it's still there Kathleen. It's not going anywhere. For a long long time. This is your new normal, seeing piles of rubble where houses and churches and businesses used to be. I know my town will never be the same but it will come back and it will be a new normal. I think change is sometimes very hard to swallow though :(

Please continue to pray for my Tuscaloosa. And please pray for those affected by yesterday's tornadoes. My heart breaks knowing they Are going through our nightmare.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Still no internet :(

Sorry friends, another pictureless post...boring, I know! My Internet worked last week at school so I guess it just doesnt like the Internet at my apt!

My weekend was wonderful! I threw a wedding shower with My cousin for our friend Tyler. The theme was monograms and mimosas and we wore our pjs! It was super fun and went really well!

After the shower, Lauren, Tyler and I went to the scholastic book warehouse sale! The books were super super cheap... I got like 24 new books for $42. Go me!!! Since I dont know what grade I will be teaching next year, I got all levels of books. Now let's hope and pray I get a job! :)

Yesterday afternoon, I got to babysit Luke and Aubrey. We had a blast swinging outside! Whenever I get my Internet working on my computer, I will upload some funny videos of them swinging! Ty played with us too...They are completely obsessed with Ty. I think it's safe to say that they like him better than me! Ty was pulling out of the driveway yesterday and Aubrey stood there screaming "TY! TY! TY! Ty!" with this confused, sad look on her face! It just about broke my heart! When he came back, both of them ran around the house to greet him at his truck! I love watching the kids with him, it always melts my heart.

Today I laid out for about 2 hrs and finally got some color! I was so pasty! Ty left to go on a deep sea fishing trip with his friends! I won't get to talk to him tomorrow or Tuesday! :( this will be the first time we haven't talked for days! Yes, you can call me pathetic, I don't mind.

Last but not least....3 more days of school!!!! :)

Have a blessed week!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


So the kids got to play with our new iPads today!! We got them all set up a few months ago but I kept forgetting to check them out for the kids! I finally did today and they had a blast! All I heard all day was "look Ms. Alfano!" "whoa look at this!" "hey this is cool!"

I had such a blast watching their little minds work! My classroom was the quietest it has ever been today! Ha! They were so into them. They got to play history games, research presidents, watch videos on PBS, look at pictures on the Discovery app, find their houses on google earth, and look at science pictures on the discovery television app.

I had other things planned for today and we got to none of it. But that's ok, because they might have learned more today on those iPads than they ever have from me! What a great way to bring technology and their "world" into school!

I think I just might have to check them out again tomorrow :)

There are so many great educational apps so teachers- if your school has iPads, use them!!!!!

Monday, May 16, 2011


So my internet is not working. I think it's the computer though because my roommates Internet is working. I have said this before but I am using Ty's old laptop that is about 7 years old because mine crashed last fall. I have GOT to get a new computer soon. Maybe that will be first on my summer purchases! Anyways, for now you will get short, no picture posts! My apologies!

Here are some things that call for some YAYs!!

1. 7 more days of school until summer!
2. We found out today that we don't have a teacher workday the day after the kids get out like we normally do!
3. In 3 weeks, I will be at the beach!!!
4. In 6 weeks, I get to see my best friend Molly! She is coming from Boston for her wedding shower in Tuscaloosa! I haven't seen her in a year! (speaking of Molly, check out her new blog...go to the right side of my blog and go down the list and click on "Molly"!
5. 7 more days of school! Did I already say that?
6. The new season of The Bachelorette starts next Monday!!!!


One prayer request: my nana fell and broke her hip and had to have surgery. She will be in the hospital for a few days. Please pray for little pain and a fast recovery!!!

Happy Monday!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

You've got to be kidding...

What a lovely weekend I had until late last night. I went to a beautiful wedding in Huntsville and then made the hour and a half trek back to Trussville. My GPS took me all back roads. I drove through boondox Alabama and was loving being the only car on the road. I had my music up and was sipping my oh so yummy McDonalds sweet tea to keep me awake. The roads were dark and I was unfamiliar with the roads so I kept my brights on most of the drive. Of course I would turn them off when a car came which was only about every 10 to 15 minutes. And then, just my luck, the one time I totally forget my brights are on and a car passes, guess who? A cop! Long story short, he Accuses me of being drunk, gives me a breathalyzer and then when he realizes I was FINE he obviously has to write me a ticket for something so I get a ticket for "failure to dim lights".

Seriously? Is that even illegal!?

He clearly wanted to get me for drinking but when he couldn't he had nothin better to do than give me a ridiculous ticket.

So, I officially received my first ticket ever.

Funny thing is...I have been pulled over a total of 3 times now since I got my license. And every single time they have accused me of drinking and driving!! The first time I had to do a sobriety test and when I passed they let me go, the second time he just believed me that i hadnt been drinking and let me go, and this time he gave me a breathalyzer and made me do a sobriety test!

What is it about me? Do I look like I'm drunk all the time? If they only knew I'm the girl who has a glass of wine about once a month!!

So in closing, I'd like to thank the po-dunk, middle of nowhere policeman who ruined my lovely Saturday night because he had nothing better to do than give this poor girl a ridiculous ticket!!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

i don't know where to start....

bare with me. this might be a long post, and quite frankly all over the place.

I will start with last Wednesday (4/27), the day that changed Tuscaloosa and the state of Alabama forever. I woke up at 5am to hail beating against my window. I was mad because I knew I wasn't going to be able to go back to sleep before my alarm went off at 5:40. I laid there and laid there until my stupid alarm went off. I quickly checked our school's website to see if we were going to school - nothing. About 6:20, I was finally about to get out of bed when I got a text saying we didn't have school. I called 2 co-workers ranting a raving because I didn't want to make up that day at the end of the year and I didn't understand WHY we were getting out. One of them said there was another line of storms coming from Mississippi and she thought that was why they called it. Well, ok, but I was NOT happy about it. We already got 2 days off taken away from us due to snow days, I was not happy about having to make this day up. Little did I know what was in store for that day.

My old roommate, Lauren lost power so she ended up coming over around 8:30. We were both mad because we couldn't ever go back to sleep so we just gave up and she came over. She brought me Chick-fil-a and we ate it in bed and watched Friends for a good 3 hours. She needed to run some errands that day and wanted to go get them done before the next round of storms came. The time the next storms were coming were all over the place, I heard 1, then 2, then catch my drift.

I went to lunch with a co-worker and we chatted for a good hour after lunch. It got a little eerie outside so we decided it was time to go. Again, little did we know what was about to come. At lunch, we were joking that we would be mad if a storm didn't come because we would have gotten out of school for nothing. I have never regretted words as much as I regret those!

I went home and snuggled in my bed more. I put the news on and our oh so amazing weather man, James Spann, was on the tv updating us every second on what was going on. Casey and Brooke (my roommates) returned home withing the next hours.

I wasn't really keeping up with time after that but we kept hearing 4, then 4:30, then 5 as to when the tornado was coming. We went out on our balcony for at least an hour "waiting for it" with our neighbors who were also on their balcony. The boys next door decided they were going to go downstairs to the 1st floor breezeway (we live on the 3rd floor) but I was against that. I just did not think that was safe. We talked about going and knocking on someone's door on the 1st floor and asking them if we could ride it out with them but decided against that too. We have been through SO many tornado warnings, why was this one any different? I talked Casey and Brooke into just riding it out in our apartment. We concluded that my bathroom was the innermost room in the apartment so we got Casey's mattress and went in the bathroom to get ready. We finally heard James Spann say...IF YOU ARE IN TUSCALOOSA CITY, GO TO YOUR SAFE PLACE!!!! So we ran to the bathroom and I immediately got in the bathtub.

The mama in me came out when Casey and Brooke decided it was a good idea to stare out my window and watch the tornado come for us! All I heard was, "It's coming! I see debris EVERYWHERE!" and I screamed, "GET IN THIS TUB WITH ME!!!!!" They finally listened and closed the bathroom door and we hid under the mattress. The power quickly went out (our power NEVER goes out) and we were all alone, no tv or radio to tell us anything, in the dark. I can't really remember what I heard. Kinda like hard rain but it was probably debris and wind that I heard. I did get really scared when our power went out. But I never thought it would be as bad as what I was about to see. When the noises subsided, Casey and Brooke thought it was over. They thought it was fine to get out of the tub so we did. My phone was blowing up with people checking on me. I'm glad I could quickly tell my parents I was ok because soon after, the phone lines were ALL messed up and I might not have been able to get through to them.

The next few hours were very surreal. I felt like I was walking around in a movie.

When we first went outside, we saw our tree behind our apartment tat had fallen on our fence. We didn't think it was that bad. Just a few trees that had fallen. Brooke noticed that across the street from us looked weird but we couldn't really see much because our view is blocked.

We ventured out from our building and started walking around our complex. Buildings right next to ours had some damage but nothing really huge. There was debris everywhere but we still had no idea how horrible it was.

We quickly found out.

We heard some other buildings had some holes in them so we went across the complex to check them out. When we got to the other side of the complex, which faces the neighborhood across the street, we saw pure devastation  The whole neighborhood RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from us was GONE. I had never seen anything like it. I was in shock. There were people walking around everywhere. People from that neighborhood were walking over to us. There was twisted metal in our complex, cars were damaged, trees were gone, houses were gone, wood was everywhere. The power line pole across the street was cut in half and the power line was hanging. I really felt like I was walking around in a movie. It was very surreal and it was starting to sink in just how close we were to the tornado's path. I kept thinking, we would probably be dead if it would have hit us because it definitely would have taken the 3rd floor off our apartment.

We tried to leave the complex in Brooke's car about an hour later but we couldn't really get anywhere. On our way out of the complex, we saw more devastation. The street that my complex is off of was gone. The houses were just literally gone. I couldn't believe it. All the businesses across from our complex were gone or badly damaged. It looked like the tornado was heading right for us and then literally turned and skipped right over us. A very weird feeling. God had his hand right over us. When we tried to leave, hundreds of people were walking towards us that had just lost their homes. I don't think I will ever get that image out of my head. I remember this man holding his infant to his chest walking towards us. The look on his face was the saddest thing I have ever seen. A face of fear, heartbreak, and loss. I wanted so badly to tell him to jump in the car with us and everything would be ok.

Within the next few hours we were getting sporadic calls and texts from friends and family members. Sadly, we did not think to charge our phones before the storm so ALL of our phone's were dying. We were hearing rumors of the devastation around Tuscaloosa and my heart was breaking. I just couldn't imagine all these places I have gone to so many times within the last 6 years just gone? How is that possible?

After a few hours we tried to venture out again and we went to Lauren's house to spend the night since we didn't have power. We hadn't eaten in HOURS and tried to go get food but every restaurant was PACKED.

I had a VERY hard time sleeping that night. I couldn't stop thinking about my kids. I live in our school's district and we got hit HARD. Everytime I closed my eyes I had a horrifying imagine in my head. Were my kids ok? Were they homeless? Where are they? How can I find them? My brain could not rest.

The next day we tried to drive around some but traffic was awful. It took us forever just to get to my apartment because so many roads were closed right around my complex. We finally made it and I packed my things and left to go to Birmingham. I felt guilty leaving but I had to get out.

The next few days are a blur. I couldn't be happy and not feel guilty. I didn't go ten minutes without thinking of my babies. I NEEDED to know if they were ok. I kept thinking to myself, "What was the last thing I said to them?" It was truly an awful feeling.

Saturday, dad and I went back to Tuscaloosa to help out. I saw most of the hard hit areas and I had to hold back the tears. I just couldn't believe it. The only word I can use to describe it is surreal. There are no other words.

Monday the teachers went back to school and we welcomed another middle school into our building because their school was destroyed. :( We gathered supplies to bring to the teachers across the city and county who lost their schools. It was a blessing to help those sweet teachers. It broke my heart to see them. Some lost years and years worth of stuff in their classrooms.

Wednesday the kids came back. I was full of emotions as I saw those babies walk down the hall. I teared up as I almost got tackled by my girls. I am so thankful for those hugs. I prayed for those hugs, and God granted me them that day.

Most of our kids disappointed us with their lack of understanding the severity of what had happened. Some lost their houses and still didn't really "get it". I guess its the age of immaturity, which could be a blessing that they are sheltered from the pain of what has happened to our town.

Our days have gone on and the clean up has begun. They have already started to bulldoze some of the businesses and gas stations on the main road in Tuscaloosa. It gives me chills to drive down that road and see our main intersection in town. The same road I have driven down THOUSANDS of times. That I literally don't recognize now. It is unbelievable to see all the neighborhoods just gone. Like they never existed. Completely flat. The old house I lived in is destroyed. Very hard to swallow.

It is still weird to believe that this devastating thing "happened to us". You never think it will. But it can, and it did to MY town.

I still catch myself wanting to "run by" some places such as Hobby Lobby or CVS (which are places I went at least once a week) only to stop and remind myself that those places are gone. Just today I wanted so badly to run into BigLots to try to find some bins to pack up my classroom and then I remembered that BigLots is just a pile of rubble. :(

I am very very thankful to be alive and have a roof over my head. The tornado came close enough to cause a huge wake up call for me. Snap me back into reality. I am not invincible. God had his hand RIGHT over me and for that I am forever thankful to my Savior.

I did take alot of pictures and if you are friends with me on facebook, you have probably seen them. I might post them later, but not in this post. This was for me to get my thoughts out. To vent, if you will. I'm sure you have all seen videos and pictures anyway, and if not, you can google them. They are all over the internet. Pictures really don't even do it justice anyways. It is nothing compared to seeing it in person. Especially when its YOUR town. YOUR restaurants. YOUR stores. YOUR neighborhoods. YOUR streets. Very surreal.

I will update later this week with ways you can help - no matter where you are. You can help.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I'm ok

This will be short because I am on my iPhone because I still don't have cable and Internet. I am ok. My town is not. The tornado literally skipped right over my apartment. Everything around me is gone. God has his hand right over us. The destruction I have seen leaves me speechless. I have thought about what to write but there are no words. My heart is broken for my sweet Tuscaloosa and for all the people who lost their lives and/or lost their house. My heart hurts for my babies at school who have already had a hard enough life and it just got harder. Some will have experienced things that No one should have to experience some will have seen things that noone should have to see. I cannot wait to see them Wednesday. I hope I see all of them walk through that door. They just HAVE to or I will lose it. Please pray for my babies, and my town. I have never in my life seen this kind of devastation. Prayers and help will be needed for a long long time. I will update later with more details.