Saturday, December 22, 2007

Is It Christmas Yet??

I can't believe that it is the 22nd of December and I still haven't finished shopping, wrapping, or mailed all of our Christmas cards. I can't remember being so behind at Christmas time. I even took a day off from work early in the month.

I had an early morning doctor's appointment. I shopped and mailed packages the rest of that day. We had an ice storm that weekend and my appoint was first thing Monday morning. Our local schools were not canceled much to my oldest's chagrin, but the roads were quite slick and messy with clumps of snow scattered throughout the roads. Anyway the nurse was telling me that there had been a lot of canceled appointment and that I could call the Women's Centre and probably get my mamagram done that day. I'm thinking are you crazy! I'm not wasting the rest of my day on that. Sounds like another day off to me.

Today I went shopping by myself for a few items. Later Doug and I have a few more to get. I plan on starting some holiday baking. The crew has requested extra batches of Russian Tea Cakes and I'm going to make Sausage Balls and maybe Banana Bread. I have blackberries for pie, too.

Here are some pictures of the interior of the house. I forget that most of you have never seen our place.

This is my baby boy's permanent perch. He has taken over the coffee table we purchased this fall.

This is also the family room taken from the dining room that we use as a study/computer room. To the left is the couch.

This is my perch. The study/dining room. I do occasionally have to fight the cat for the chair.

This one is for you sis. This is the beginning of my photo collection. I have my favorite pictures of the grands printed. I just need to decide on frames for them. This wall is where the computer is located.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Decorations

We decided to decorate our outdoor living Christmas trees. Our first year with a lovely landscaped yard needed some winter accents. We used three hundred lights for each tree with the exception of the tiniest one, which has two hundred lights.

Saturday, December 15th, mother nature chose to add to our decorating. She dropped close to five inches of snow over the course of the day. Our yard was picturesque.

Unfortunately we couldn't stay home, sit by the window and watch it all come down. The little one had a full day of ballet performances. Her youth ensemble performed the ballet, The Nutcracker, in the afternoon and then she was a gingerbread in the ballet, Twas The Night Before Christmas, that evening. In the Nutcracker her solo was that of a Chinese toy. Mrs. Bello was thrilled with her performance. So thrilled that our little girl is ready to move to pointe shoes.

The two weeks leading up to the ballet kept me occupied. I made alterations to her costume, made her little partner's Chinese costume, and made five mouse masks for the little mice. Twice the week of the ballet I stayed up until 2:30 trying to get costumes finished. I'm convinced that the "easy" pattern I used omitted several steps in the making of the Chinese jacket, fooling novices like me into thinking that it easy because there are only a few steps to follow. I suppose the more I sew the better I'll get. I'm sure a more experienced person could have made three jackets in the time it took me to make the one. One of these days when I have time I'll take a couple of classes.

I worked backstage the day of the ballet sewing, hunting for props, and managing the mice. One of my kindergarten students was a mouse. It was fun to hang out with her and my daughter's group outside of school. I watched much of my daughter's performance from the wings. Doug missed the show because he went to graduation.

Doug and I didn't get to see her in her gingerbread role that evening because my school was having it's big fundraiser/faculty party. Every two years we have a huge silent and live auction for donated items. Doug and I didn't outbid any one for items but the basket of oldies music we donated was sold for $135.00.

All in all it was a fun hectic evening. I don't know why everything happens on the same day/night.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Season of The Bulls

This has sure been a great football season for us. Here are some highlights.

September 8th- Beat Auburn at Auburn.

September 22nd- ranked 23rd in the nation. First time to ever be ranked.

September 25- Play West Virgina at a sold out Raymond James Stadium. First ever sell out game. Beat West Virginia.

October 7th- Bulls move up to #5 in AP Poll.

October 13th- Bull beat UCF in with second sell out crowd. Longest undefeated season run 6-0.

October 14th- Bulls #2 in BCS rankings.

November 24th- First win in temperatures below 45 degrees (Although some disagree when you factor in wind chill.) Ended the season 9-3. Ranked 25th in the AP poll and 20th in the BCS poll.

We are waiting for that bowl invitation!!

New Tradition??

Last year my classroom parents organized a parent night at the local pottery place. The other kinder teacher and I went too. It was fun talking, painting, looking at everyone's work. It was interesting to see what piece of pottery they choose, the colors they used, and the decorating style.

While I was there I noticed that they had ornament shapes. It made me think of the plaster angel ornaments we made with my mom forever ago. I thought it would be nice to have the kids make an ornament for our tree and then when they got older they'd have a special ornament that they had made.

Of course the youngest one was thrilled with the idea. The oldest didn't want to go. Not an option! I even suggested that he bring his girlfriend along so she could make something for her parents. He still wasn't receptive. Since this was not an opt out event he stated that he would not sit with us if he had to go.

The hard part was finding an evening where we could all go at relatively the same time. I chose Friday the 16th, two for one night. The youngest finishes dance at 5:30. We could go out to eat and then head to the pottery place. It was almost perfect. Unfortunately the youngest had to go back to the dance studio for a rehearsal for a special promotional performance the next day. We ate, went to the pottery place, received basic instructions for pottery painting, and selected items. The youngest then had to go back to dance, luckily the studio is only a couple of miles from the pottery location. Doug was chauffeur since he wasn't interested in painting something.

The oldest settled in with us at the same table (no girlfriend). He painted two ornaments; one for the family tree and one for his girlfriend. The youngest son painted a light bulb for the family tree (I was wanting an ornament bulb. Miscommunication??) and a dragon for himself. The youngest painted a snowflake ornament when her rehearsal ended and Doug brought her back. I painted a large plate/platter in honor of The Season of The Bulls. (That's what I'm calling our football season this year.) Doug was needed to select the correct Bull's colors and give advice. Good thing he was there because those were not the shaded I would have chosen. Since he is a college t-shirt collector, he has an eye for athletic colors.

The oldest finished up and Doug took him home. Doug returns and the youngest boy is now finished and ready to go home, so he takes him home. The youngest and I were left still painting away. Doug came back and selected some add-ons for the plate. He did paint the basketball. Closing time came and I still wasn't quite finished so I had to return the next day to finish the football add-on.

It takes about a week to get your items back, after they have been fired in the kiln. We were eager to pick up our works of art Saturday. I have to say that each ornament is so reflected of my children's personalities.

The oldest paints a snowman and snowflakes on a flat circle ornament. The snowman is small and made of two balls and has no hat. This seemed to take him quite a bit of time although it looked like more effort went into the girlfriend's ornament. I have to say that he did enjoy himself and got into the project.

The youngest son painted the light bulb pear green with sprinkles and wrote X-mas 2007. I say, "That's so pagan." He says, "Oops, my bad. There wasn't enough space to write Christmas."

The youngest rag painted her snowflake, adds six add-on tiny snowflakes in various shades of blue/purple to the spokes of the snowflake. She then writes her name and the year in a shade that won't show up against the blues and purples. Doug points this out and suggests a couple of other colors, but oh no she knows best.

We are all pleased with our creations. My youngest thinks this should be an annual tradition. Saying this several times over the course of the evening. I agree with her. Tune in next year to see if we return. All we need now is the tree. Actually we have the tree. All we need is the box with the ornament hooks.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Basement Floor

In February we had another home emergency. Our sunk pump over heated because there was frozen water in the line and it was trying to pump melting water away from the house. On a Sunday morning we woke to find the basement floor coated with a thin layer of water. We immediately called our plumber, the one who replaced our water line from the house. (The beginning of my blogging.) He was definitely working over time. We were one of numerous people who encountered the same problem that weekend.

Doug and I tried to remove the water ourselves from the basement. After about an hour and backaches with little suctioned water to show for the amount of work, we called the professionals. They dried out the basement and removed the old red carpet we had. Luckily the new bedroom carpet for the oldest did not have to be removed. They were able to salvage it because of the pad underneath.

Of course the sunk pump situation was not an easy fix. The plumber rigged up a temporary solution that dumped water in the backyard and created a river in both our yard and the neighbor's. The plumber came back with what was suppose to be the final strategy but it didn't work. We still had water pouring out into the backyard and not out the old route that went along the side of the house. Doug came up with a potential solution. The plumber liked it and it worked.

We then had to haggle with the insurance people for the appropriate coverage of the damage. Luckily the group we hired to dry out the basement were familiar with this type of damage and costs. They hounded the insurance people and helped us know what was fair and reasonable. Unfortunately fair and reasonable didn't cover the replacement of the basement flooring (because of its age and condition). As a result, since February, we had been living with the concrete slab as the floor. We had some remnant carpet pieces that we strategically placed on the floor for some level of comfort when we were down there. The concrete floor made the basement look so dark and gloomy.

In October we were able to buy and have our new flooring installed. I was amazed by how much brighter the room looks considering we have a darkish carpet. It is so nice to have a soft flooring. Our old carpet didn't even have a pad underneath so we were pretty use to hard flooring.

We used the flooring to divide the room. From the stairs down into the TV area we have a dark tan carpet and then the back half that leads to the oldest's bedroom we had industrial tiles put in (they remind me of school tiles). This is our multipurpose area. I use it for crafts, the little one uses it as a play and dance area, Doug uses it for part of his collection, and the boys have not found a specific use for that space.

What a chore it was moving our belongings completely out of the room so the flooring could be laid. It's become a great space. See what you think. We use the basement area for guest sleeping too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

T.P. Neighbors

Hey, in looking for some photos I came across some I took the night the neighbor's house got toilet papered. This is an annual tradition. Our neighbor is a high schoolteacher at one of the many schools in town. It seems that every year during their homecoming week students come by and toilet paper the house. I thought it was because he had daughters at the high school, but they have graduated. I guess he is the popular one.

The kids were hooting and hollering and the cul de sac was filled with cars. Amid their laughter we watched from our window and could see flashes of light going off. It was obvious that they were taking pictures of their handiwork, probably with their cell phones. I thought this was a great idea and took my camera out to get pictures, well I guess my picture taking scared them off. They all took off running for their cars and left. Oh, well.

Busy Times

We started school with a bang. I'd say that in the first two to three weeks of school we went to three open house, one I.E.P. meeting, and I had my own open house for parents. Then things settled down until conferences rolled around the 1st week of October. I was busy for several nights and we had the youngest one's school conference.

We had one weekend where the little girl had a ballet performance, the youngest boy had a evening zoo keeper's meeting and there was a party hosted by the man the he works for, and the oldest was going to his girlfriends. We ran and ran and ran that day.

The next weekend we visited the pumpkin patch and brought home all kinds of items to decorate the front yard. I love standing dried cornstalks up around our light post and tying them together with raffia. Then I place a hay bale at the foot of the light post and the kids help decorate the area with gourds and pumpkins. It really quite festive and I leave it up through Thanksgiving.

The following weekend the oldest went to his first homecoming. Dress clothes, corsage, dinner, and dance were on the agenda that night. Sunday night we had the parent and child Costa Rica meeting, discussing rules, expectations, recommended supplies, itinerary, etc. After two years of talk and preparations, can you believe that we are only two months away from this trip??!!

Good-bye To Summer

Now that we are well into fall, I have given up on the summer chronicles. We end our summer with a trip to FL to visit family and the Orlando tourist spots. We celebrated the twins' birthday. We always miss the birthday parties so it was fun to see the little one play and chase each other and fuss at the pouting big kids.

There was the challenge of putting together the playhouse kitchen. My brother-in-law couldn't get the electric screwdriver to screw the screws into the hard molded plastic. As we struggled by hand to get the screw into the playhouse my brother discovered that the screwdriver was set to rotate backwards not forwards. We USF grads had a good time teasing the brother-in-law that it was understandable that he was a bit backwards since he's an FSU grad.

We had a good time visiting the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Universal Studios. I'm thinking of using one of the pictures for our Christmas card. I've also declared this the Year of The Bulls and we may go with a Bull themed card. I've found what I think will be a super local spot for a photo.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Wrapping Up July

I did get the CD of family pictures finished before Doug left for our nephew's wedding. He was able to take a number of completed CD's with him. Summer school at the high school ended the same week that Doug left. I was in the last two weeks of teaching my online class. I was busily grading the latest papers before Doug left so that I would feel less stress managing the household. It not really the stress, it's my ability to care out a chunk of time to work in peace. I don't do well with little bursts of starts and finishes.

I managed to accomplish one goal, which was to paint the main rooms of the house. After much debate over paint color and multiple trips to the store getting samples, we went with a golden yellow color for the family room and dining/computer room. We painted the hallway a very light yellow that is almost white. The golden yellow goes well with my curtains and couch, yet I'm not sure this is THE color. I was hoping for a darker tone. So days I really like the color and other days I think I need to repaint. Oh well. I was afraid this would happen. I just love the colors I used in the kitchen. It is just what I envisioned. I just had this feeling that the main rooms wouldn't be as easy to decorate.

I had hoped to paint the little girl's room this summer too but I ran out of money (and energy). Maybe next spring. I still need to repaint our master bedroom, bathroom, and family bathroom. I'm debating between a Tiffany Blue and a tan/taupe color for our room. The main bathroom walls need a lot of prep work. I'm not sure what I'll do there. I'm trying to decided whether to cover the yuck with a faux finish or sand down the walls and have more options available. I've done the sanding before and it is such hard and time consuming work.

My second goal was to clean up a CD of research and pictures that I had gather prior to and during Spring Break and goal three was to continue researching my family history. I did make a bit more progress with goal three in August (more about that later). I only had three goals this summer and still didn't accomplish all I hoped for. Although, at the time I made my goals I didn't plan on the Hatch CD or teaching a summer class. ....Tomorrow is another day.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Fourth of July

We don't have a traditional Fourth of July activity or plan. Most of the time Doug will Bar-B-Que a meal and we'll go somewhere locally to see fireworks. A couple of times in the last few years we have gone to the local pool to celebrate. The pools celebrate their opening anniversary on the fourth with games and cake. Later in the evening we go to the local high school and sit in the field to watch fireworks.

Last year we were in WA and celebrated the holiday with family at the lake. This year we helped sell glow lights at the park attached to the local zoo. The boys are Jr. Zoo Keepers and if they stay in the program they'll have an opportunty to travel with members of the Jr. Zoo Keeper Organization to Costa Rica. (The oldest is going in December.) The boys earn a percentage of money for helping sell the glow necklaces and that is placed in their Costa Rica account at the zoo.

The park has an outdoor ampitheatre, lake/large pond, playground, pavilions and picnic areas. For the Fourth of July the park has a musical performance and a fireworks show. There were about six or eight groups of people helping sell glow necklaces for the zoo. The boys with dad headed to the far side of the lake to sell glow necklaces. That left my girl and me to sell on the other side of the lake near the playground and ampitheatre. It was quite hot and sales were slow during the daylight. As dusk arrived sales picked up a bit. It seems that the boys faired better than us, selling more than 100 necklaces while we girls sold close to 50.

Once the first of the fireworks began we headed back to the side entrance of the zoo. We stayed inside the gates of the zoo, enjoyed drinks that we had left in a cooler in the zoo classroom, and watched fireworks from the gazebo. We had a great view and the booming of the fireworks was muted, which made the youngest one happy since she can't stand the loud booming sound. It was a wonderful relaxing time.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Summer Project

I'm back..... I thought I'd fill you in from where I left off in June. When Doug returned from Washington, he brought back a lot of family photos that his father still had. Doug wanted me to scan them and put the images on a CD. Doug was returning for our nephew's wedding in July so he wanted to be able to return the pictures to his siblings at that time.

I got busy scanning those photos, some photos that Doug's dad had given us many years ago, and some photos that one of Doug's sisters loaned us. Approximately 300 photos later I'd say we have a pretty nice product of images that span six or seven generations. I have to thank my youngest boy for sharing his computer with me. I felt so "techo-savy" using two computers at the same time, one to view the images and the other for typing a document to identify the images.

Although it was time consuming and threw off a couple of my other summer project plans (kept me from blogging, too). I really enjoyed going through those photos. I find the clothing, the environment, the objects in the pictures fascinating. I feel like the photos provide a connection to those past lives that can't be compared to anything other than the memories we hold in our heart.

Here I am working. I did paint the living room, computer area, and hall this summer. One of those summer projects on my original list. Like the color?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Lots of Firsts

The oldest went to his first concert last night, Foreigner and Styx. He had a great time.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

First Job

The oldest managed to get his first job this summer. He was interviewed right after the Memorial Day weekend. I, of course, worry about how he will do working for someone. I guess things are going fine. He has been working for about three weeks now and works a decent number of hours a week. He was given a second work shirt. A good sign. He also received his first paycheck. We had him open a local saving account. He even helped his friend get a job.

He doesn't have a photo id. Permits here don't have photos. We are so lucky that he has a passport because he had to have that or a state id for his job forms and to open a bank account. His boss said he was the first one to ever bring in a passport as id.

We remind him about getting ready for work, but he seems to be conscious of the time as well. He was very responsible when Doug was in WA, going to work early and waiting around for his shift to start because I couldn't get him there right before work started.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Relay For Life

Our Relay For Life event began yesterday. This past week I had not been excited about going. It seems that it is always the same four or six of us who go and walk. Not that we aren't the most fun four or six, it's just that it gets old. It has also been so hot this week with temperatures in the 90s.

Our blessing was that it stormed on Thursday night bringing cooler daytime temperatures Friday. I was scheduled to walk in the early evening with my Metcalf group. This is Daniel's first year participating with a team. His Costa Rica Zoo Group was bonding at the Relay. Angelique really wanted to go this year and see what it was all about. She went with me about 7:00. We walked with our team mates, we ate, we bought a glow light bracelet. She was amazed by the number of people out on the track. She also like checking out all the signs at the campsites. Our Metcalf group had a bronze award for raising 2060.00 this year. One group the Mardi Gras raised 17,000 and had a Platinum award. Isn't that fantastic!

All day the weather report was predicting thunderstorms and rain for the day. We only had a little rain in the morning. Around 9:00 pm we could see lightening off in the distance and Relay volunteers had come by sites to tell everyone to that a storm was 45 minutes away. My daughter had to be up early Saturday for an event so I brought her home about 10:00. At 10:00 when we returned home there was still no storm and I knew Daniel's team was determined to stay the night. It was getting cool and Mr. Minimalist hadn't brought a sleeping bag or sweatshirt. Doug had gathered a jacket and the outdoor ed. sleeping bag for Daniel. So after bringing Angelique home I went back out to take Daniel his stuff. I returned back home, Doug and I sat down to watch a movie, and the phone rings. Guess who?! Daniel. The Relay volunteers are telling everyone to go home because the storm is suppose to have hail. They will start back up in the morning at 6:00 am. So off I go to get Daniel.

It seemed like Daniel had a good time. Their group had tie dyed their shirts earlier in the week and they looked cool. I saw them getting their picture taken as a group and Daniel said that one of the parents took a picture of him with Darth Vader. There is a Star Wars group who has participated for the last three years. One of the men is married to one of our team members. They have some kind of Star Wars club or organization. They have authentic Star Wars Storm Trooper Costumes. It's very interesting. Patty don't share this info with Chris.

Anyway, it is alway a fun time with friends and a sad time as we think of those who have lost the cancer battle. Just in the five years that we have been at Metcalf we have lost two wonderful co-workers to cancer. Three months before one co-worker died he walked the survivor lap at Relay and became an honorary "Red Hot Mama". (Now we are Metcalf, Paws For a Cause). I do have to say that I was so impressed by their dignity, will to live, and desire to come to work and be with us for as long as they could. They were such a good example of living life with fullness in spite of a terminal illness.

Daniel is still sleeping and the rain is still dripping. Timothy and I are heading back out to see what's going on at Relay and participate in closing ceremonies if there is one.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Jury Duty

As you know Doug's father passed away on June 6th. Doug traveled to WA that Friday to be with his family. It was good for him to be with his brother and sisters. They had a chance to talk and reminisce. They will all hopefully get together again at our nephew Sam's wedding later this summer.

Before Doug left I made a schedule of all the things the kids were doing and the basic things that needed to get done that week regarding the house and work. Fortunately my last professional development day had been June 6th. I was a week into an online course that I am teaching this summer. We made a list. Checked it twice and off Doug went. Late Saturday night it dawned on me that I had jury duty the week of June 11th. Jury duty that had already been deferred from December 06. There goes the list and being able to chauffeur the kids to their programs and work. Luckily the kids are old enough to stay home by themselves and even cook for themselves. One of my friends agreed to be a contact person for the kids in case of an emergency.

The week went remarkably well. One child missed a dance class, and one had to walk home from summer school twice and one had to get a ride to work. I of course was a basket case worrying about the chances of getting to places on time and picked-up with the uncertainty of serving on a jury. I mostly sat around Monday and Wednesday. I was never selected to serve on a jury. Not necessarily a bad thing, but quite boring.

Anyway Doug's back home. Home improvements, my course, and projects are back on schedule. Hopefully I'm off the jury duty list for the next five to ten years.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Home For Wayward Pets

I have become the donation place for unwanted pets. Two years ago my teaching partner retired and gave me her two turtles. Taco and Tiny now live in my classroom. Luckily they are pretty low maintenance.

Last spring '06, I was given a hamster from the teacher of the hearing impaired. It seems a college student taught a lesson about pets, bought this creature as an example, and then couldn't keep it. It escaped their classroom and was found late in the evening by the teacher. So in the summer Speedy, whom I called Houdini, became mine. You know that I just adore hamsters but have no luck keeping them alive. This is somehow relate to my love of cats. When the hamster comes to our house for the holidays they alway run into cat problems.

Well, Houdini stayed at school and over the holidays I would go to school to care for the classroom critters and plants. Houdini made it till the end of Spring Break, a hamster longevity record. Someone had broken the top plastic latch that secured the upper most hide away in the habitrail. Our rooms are not very secure and often people come in them after hours if they are left unlocked and sometimes organizations reserve classrooms for programs. These people are not always respectful of our property or take responsibility for things that get damaged.

Anyway, Houdini made his second escape. We moved his cage to the floor and left him water and food, thinking he would return at some point and we'd capture him. This time he was not so lucky. I had gone back to school one evening to do some work and took Amber with me. She loves my classroom and playground. I think Amber found Houdini while I was working. The next morning when Angelique went to change the bulletin board calendar and daily schedule for me she found Houdini slightly flattened and sprawled on the circle time rug. This of course was a difficult life lesson to explain amidst tear and incoherent speech Angelique's not mine.

On to the next acquisition. The fourth grade teacher, who is moving, gave me his Oscar fish. It is huge. He put it in my 10 gallon tank with my other fish. Another teacher pointed out that Oscars are carnivorous and will eat my other fish. The fourth grade teacher sheepishly agreed that this would happen. I put "Oscar" in a rubbermaid container and took him home to Daniel's tank. I thought his tank was empty of fish. Of course this was not the case. There were two little fish still living in the tank. I said, "Well you're not attached to them are you." Needless to say Daniel and I fished them out of the tank and took them to my class, leaving "Oscar" alone in our home tank.

Now Doug and I are pricing 30 gallon tanks. Free animals are costly.

"Oscar" has a story. The fourth graders call the fish Oscar (how original). Angelique was in charge of feeding Oscar one day during the school year. Her class was the fourth grade class where Oscar lived. Oscar decided to jump out and escape when she lifted the lid to feed him. Well... you can just imagine how well Angelique took this. She became hysterical. I'm told it was quite a site. I had the privilege of witnessing the second act. As she came down the stairs (at the end of the school) and was in eye sight of my room, she burst into slobbering wailing tears. I couldn't understand a word she said. One of her friends explained what happened. I thought this tiny little fish jumped out of the tank and lay floundering on the ground dying. No this huge fish did not die, nor did it eat Angelique, and now it lives on with me.

I am now the proud owner of a gecko. This gecko has escaped twice from two different people in the school. It had been in the other kindergarten room last summer. When the teacher came back from break it was gone. In January, a first grade teacher returned to her room one evening and found a gecko scurrying across the floor of her room. It was captured and given to the 7 & 8th grade science teacher. It was later found out that this was the same gecko who disappeared from kindergarten over the summer. Guess what? The teaching assistant didn't want him back. So he stayed upstairs in the middle school until he escaped three weeks ago.

Over the weekend the custodian found him in her storage room. The principal called the other kindergarten teacher to claim the gecko. She has now passed him onto me. So now I've invested in special vitamin enriched gecko sand and a $20.00 lamp for this hand-me-down pet. I'm rooting for a third and final breakout.

For part of Daniel's lit. final he had to discuss and analyze elements of the the Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. I wonder if we are the Pet Menagerie and what that says about the dynamics of our life.

School's Out For Summer

Yea! I finished my final day of work Wednesday, June 6th. At our school the students' year ended with a half day on May 29th. The eighth graders finished on Wed. May 23rd. The discrepancy in dates came from snow days. They couldn't change graduation because it would then interfere with the high school graduation, so our oldest group finished quite early.

The local district school system finished Wednesday, June 6th. Daniel's last day was Tuesday, since there were no exams on Wednesday at his high school.

I had staff development days Friday - Wednesday. The good thing is that we were paid extra for the days and the worked kept us busy but not overwhelmed. Now we are all out for the summer.

Doug and I are both teaching summer classes on the Internet. His finishes soon while my class goes to the end of July.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Dance Costumes

O.K. I got Dan to finish part of his science study guide. I cleaned two bathrooms, helped clean two bedrooms, picked out possible paint chips for the family room and hall, filed family papers, and finished off my spring semester course paperwork.

Now about the dance costumes. Angelique had her first solo. She and another girl needed white skirts. Mrs. B gave me some beautiful satin curtain like material and an adult company costume. She wanted a white circular skirt with a dropped hem in the back. No pattern came with this request. By the way she said, " Make due with the fabric." Basically the fabric was a remnant and not really enough material to make two skirts. In fact, I think the material was given to me to make Papa's nightgown in Twas and it wasn't enough fabric for that costume.

With my limit skills, an old pattern I'd bought when Angelique first started dancing, and a gymnastic pattern that showed an angled side hem; I began making a pattern from tissue paper. Days later frustrated and positive that I could not get two skirts from this material, I hunted for more material at the stores, cried, and cursed.

Well I managed. I learned a lot about making a circular skirt, the flow of material, how to get that flowing graceful effect, fullness of a skirt, and sizing a waist band. I did have to re-cut the waists because they were too small. I even had to reuse the waist band after I cut it out of the first skirt. I pieced a waist band together from three pieces of material because I didn't have a long enough piece of material left. I had to re-hem one skirt because it turned out to be the longer of the two and of course one girl was two inches longer than the other. The dresses were different lengths because of material remnant was not the same amount. Circular hems are HARD.

Anyway Mrs. B loved them. I was so happy. She has such high standards and a vision of how ballets/performance should look, sound, & be executed. I even finished them five days before the performance (a record for me). I wish that they had been a little bit more full, especially Angelique's. Her's was the shorter one and had the less full circle. The girls were beautiful and Angelique was amazing. She has really come a long was as a dancer. Sometimes she has these fantastic moves that are so professional. I think that Mrs. B is hopeful that she'll be a talented ballerina.
In the first part of her solo, Angelique's skirt was backwards. The long part was in the front and not in the back. Someone got it turned around when she went off stage, so when she came out again to dance it was correct. Angelique danced her solo in two show. One with the little girls in the morning and in the evening with the older girls.

Earth Day Celebration

Most years a pair of Mallard Ducks comes to our school and nests. This year was no exception. They chose a spot in front of the school in the grass across from the circle drive. The only busier and more dangerous spot would have been the playground, where they have nested before.

The librarian and animal protector of our school called maintenance and they put up temporary fencing around the nesting area to keep people out. You could still view the nesting mom and we'd often see dad bringing food.

With much kindness and consideration on the part of the students the mother successfully hatched fourteen chicks. There was a debate about moving the crew to a safer place where they could easily find water without crossing some busy streets. Finally it was decided to just let nature take it course. I don't know where they went or if they successfully found water, but I'm hopeful. Obviously these ducks have a history of survival since they or their offspring keep coming back to school year after year.

I was able to capture them in film for my class. Aren't they adorable.

May and Graduation

I know its been a while. What a month we've had. I thought that graduation and the end of the year would not be a big deal. Boy was I wrong!!! First of all, I with the help of my Teen Club partner, got roped into arranging the 8th grade trip to Six Flags. That was quite the management task and time consuming. We also had to deal with grumbling parents. The kids seemed to have had a great time. I would post picture but my 8th grader forgot to take pictures.

Then I ended up on the parent graduation planning committee. My good friend was the chair so how can you say no to that. This planning committee is basically in charge of the reception, reception decorations, and the student dance afterwards. Myself and another teacher were in charge of the memory boards the students/parents create. This involved borrowing some boards from previous students as examples. Buying and handing out poster board to the students, setting a deadline for the due date of the poster board. Hosting two after school dates for students to decorate their boards and collecting and storing the boards till gym decorating night.

Of course my 8th grade missed the due date. The weekend before graduation we were busily cutting down the huge number of pictures we had and I was trimming and arranging them on the board.

This all happened in the midst of my professional job, teaching CCD, and teaching a night class at the University. Oh yea, and sewing two skirts without a pattern for a dance recital. Attending an all day dance recital and the weekend before attending a piano recital. More about the dance costumes later. Patty, I literally had the breakdown and cried.

Anyway, I am still behind on a few things. I haven't finished the electronic documentation of my college students work (for accreditation purposes). The house is a mess and I just finished report cards for my class. I still need to write personal comments. My goals for the rest of this weekend. Ha, ha. There are still twelve hours left of the weekend!

Oh yea, how could I forget that I was also working on the finishing touches of my brother's birthday DVD that turned out to be a year earlier than planned. I also had to come up with some wild, yet kindergarten appropriate party for my teaching assistant, who has a birthday in May.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

We had our Jr. Gamma Phi Circus on the 13th and 14th. The kids performed again. Angelique danced and Timothy roller bladed, performed on the gym wheel, and the balancing activities. Timothy also worked as the circus crew.

Now we are getting ready for Angelique's piano recital and her dance student concert. Timothy has started his first week of baseball practice. Daniel has applied for one job and is somewhat interested in applying for others.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

What A Beautiful Yard

Here is our finished yard. On Friday the landscapers brought our trees, plants, and sod. Isn't it lovely? Doug called me at work to come and see it. After an after school meeting, driving to dance, leaving one at school for circus; I was finally able to drive home and see the landscapers put the finishing touches on the yard.

What a stir we have created. One man driving down the street stopped his car and told Doug how much he liked the yard. Our neighbor in the two-story came by and talked with Doug for 10 minutes. Doug said that was the most conversation they have had in the past five years. Our walking mailman was at the circus and commented on the yard. I'm sure he's glad that he doesn't have to step precariously through the sinking uneven yard.

Now on to the next home repair project.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Yard Work

On Monday our landscapers came and worked on righting our front yard. For those of you who don't know, in October we had to replace the pipe from the house to the road. The old one was clay and one of the trees in the yard had finally done permanent damage. We had to remove the tree and replace the pipe.

We were left with a HUGE pile of dirt running from the main window of the house to the street. The plumber indicated that it would need to stay this way until spring. The weather would help the dirt settle. The winter snow made it look lovely. The rest of the time our yard was a muddy eyesore with roots, leaves, and twigs embedded in the yard.

We decided that the yard was too much work for Doug and I to tackle ourselves. We had a vision of how the yard could look and now was the time to fix the ugly stuff such as another offending tree and a sparse lawn. While saving for a landscaper, we agreed to have the other tree (the same type as the first tree) removed. When we had a few mild days in February, we hired someone to remove the tree. Now we added a big pile of wood chips to the mess.

With the first whiffs of spring in the air, we contacted a landscaper. Once we communicated our dream yard, dealt with the budget reality, and found a middle ground we were ready to go. Or so we thought. Then came the rains. This of course put the landscapers behind schedule. As mud slid down the street, we received all kinds of flyers from other landscapers.

I had planned to take a before photo and just never did. I think I just hated looking at the mess. Finally the landscapers arrived. In one day they carved a wonderful template of our future yard. They leveled the ground, replaced the brick trim lining the flowerbed near the house that had been dug up to remove the broken pipe and bury the new pipe, added mulch, and created a berm. It looks amazing.

Of course the weather has interrupted our progress. It rained today and there is a prediction of snow tonight. Trees, plants, and sod are on hold. At least this morning our yard was not sliding down the street in a muddy river. I do find myself looking out our window admiring the progress. We'll see what the next few days will bring.