Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year


We started New Year's Eve sledding with our FL nieces at a park near our house. I have a lower right side backache as my sledding reward. They girls got the chance to experience a goodly amount of snow (2-3 inches) and below freezing temperatures. I think they prefer FL.


Then Doug and I spent some time taking photos of our church's renovation in the lovely pre-dusk light. I've been chronicling in photos and sometimes in text the destruction, construction, and renovation of the church since June. This week they began installing the steel framing of the new narthex of the church.


We are celebrating the East Coast New Year. I love the Dick Clark Rock'n New Year's Eve. For the first few years here, I always waited till Central Time to tune into the TV and celebrate the new year. By midnight here it was all over in NY. Now I remember.

The bonus is that I can go to bed at any point now. Although my kids stay up till midnight Central Time, I sleep peacefully having celebrated Eastern Time.

I know I've said this before, but I always think of my grandmother on New Year's Eve. She would say how the new year finds you is how you'll be all year long. Well this year my house isn't perfectly clean. Although cleaner than it was several days ago. I did put closure to several projects, so here is hoping that I finish what I start.

Only my baby girl is home with us. She's determined to stay up while we go to bed. The oldest has been at a friend's house and is spending the night. My baby boy is in Costa Rica. I guess the new year is reflecting things to come with my babies leaving the nest or spending more time away from the nest.

Here's toasting that you have a fabulous year in 2010!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas



Here is our Christmas Card photo. I know that most of you have not received our card and letter because we mailed them out Tuesday. We have been sitting around listening to Christmas music. It's 37 degrees and rainy. All the snow from this past week has melted away. We've wrapped a few present, packed T-man up for his trip to Costa Rica, ran some last minute errands, and did some cleaning. Right now I'm baking Russian Tea Cakes, a family favorite. The first batch is out and need rolling in powdered sugar.

We'll go to mass at 10:30 tonight and then wait for Santa's visit.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Way

Last year I rambled on about Shel Silverstein and a song that I found because of the research I did on his life. In that post I mentioned that I was still trying to figure out the name/lyrics of a song I really liked when we lived in GA. I heard that very song during a quilting class!

During September and October I took a quilting class from the Jr. College's community education program. The class was held at one of the local high schools. We were using their home economic room. Anyway our teacher had told the night custodian that he could leave his music on while we had class; that it wouldn't disturb us.

About mid-October I had stayed late to get specific directions for piecing the backing material of my quilt. As the teacher and I were looking at the quilt top and backing material, discussing options, and sketching a plan; I heard this familiar tune. I thought, " Oh my, that's the song I've hunted for for years!" The teacher and I were in the middle of this discussion/plan and I couldn't fully hear the song and was working hard to stay focused on the teacher.

When we finished of course the song was over. I wondered what to do. I was so close to discovering the name and artist of this song and the opportunity had slipped by. I decided to walk down the hall and see if I could find the custodian. I knew the song came from the radio station he listened to. He popped out of one of the room as I had just taken a few steps down the long hallway. I asked him what station he listened to. He seemed pleased that I enjoyed the music and asked if I had liked listening to the station. He told me that he listened to two stations and gave me the call numbers for the stations and identified the station that had been on at the time I heard my song.

It was my hope that by listening to the station they would once again play the song. I immediately tuned the van radio to that station and began listening. Now the problem is that I'm not in the van all that much to hear the radio. A week went by and then someone changed the station in the van. @#&#!! Of course, I couldn't quite remember the call numbers but knew the name of the main DJ show. In the process of trying to find the station again I did find a newish song (country of all things) that I like and would have kindergarten slide show potential. Not all was lost and I did eventually find the station.

At the end of October we took two of the kids to the mall, in the evening during the school week, to get some pants. They didn't have any good pants that fit. Poor babies! On the way to the mall the song came on. I grabbed Doug's arm and said, " That's it, that's the song!" I grabbed a slip of paper from my purse and a pen and began writing as much of the lyrics as I could. After shopping I came home and began googling the words, "they didn't even know the way..." The song the way popped up by Fastball. You-Tube had the video and my song was found. YEA!!! No more haunting songs at least I don't think so...

The Way by Fastball- YouTube Video Liknk

Sometimes the memory of something makes it grander than it is. I have to say that I am thrilled with this song. The beat, melody, and lyrics are as great as I remembered. I do have to say that the the artist's inspiration story is sad if not disturbing to me. I am always interested in where artists get their inspiration and what things are inspiring. I have decided not to dwell on the story that inspired Tony Scalzo and just focus on my own perceptions of the song. No emotional pain there.

P.S. I heard the song again today while shopping at the grocery store. I think I did a little dance but quickly regained my composure so as not to embarrass my husband.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Boo-tiful Halloween


The last of my trick or treaters dressed as a masquerade girl. She and the neighbor girl dreamed up this costume. You might recognize the dress from her Youth America contemporary dance piece. I carved this pumpkin in the morning. It made a nice addition to our outdoor decorations.
I gave my address out to the students in my class and about seven of them stopped by to trick or treat. It was fun seeing them and sometimes their siblings all dressed up. Here is a family that is near and dear to my heart. I've taught three of their five children.The youngest told me today that next year (she's already planning) she is going to be a gift wrapped present and the sister that I taught last year is going as a traffic light. Dad is going to make the traffic light costume. Can't wait to see them next Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lost and Found

Around the end of September my teaching assistant had a doctor's appointment one Friday right before the end of the school day. She left about fifteen minutes before school ended. While I was teaching she said bye, I gave her a glance and a wave and off she went.

That Sunday I went into my classroom to drop-off snacks for the next few weeks. I found her shirt laying on the counter by the microwave. Now I thought that was interesting. Did she go to the doctor's shirtless? Now those that know my assistant know that would not necessarily be out of the realm of possibilities. Anyway, I folded the shirt like a good nurturer and placed it on her desk.

When we arrived at work Monday she asked about her shirt laying on her desk. I told her where I found it and wondered why she left without it. Her claim was she wanted to change her clothes before going to the doctor and a child was in our classroom bathroom. Therefore she changed in the kitchen area. She then asked if I found her pants. Evidently she changed and left those behind too.

She could not find those pants. Soon they became her most comfortable favorite pants. She searched her car then remembered she drove her daughter's car. So she searched that too. She searched the bedroom at her house to no avail.

We began asking around at school if anyone had seen her lost pants. No one ever believes us at school especially when we tell them that we've lost something. We have to clarify this loss with this is REALLY true and try not to laugh as we describe the missing pants.

Searching for the Traveling Pants: They are capri blue jeans, size 4 that look like a size 14. If found please return to the kindergarten room. These pants were missing for about two weeks.

One morning, before school, we are telling the story of the lost pants to a colleague. Mimi who spends the before school time in my room is lounging on the couch with her two friends. While my assistant and I are entertaining our friend with the woeful tale of the lost pants, Mimi calls out, "Are these your pants?" There Mimi stands across the room holding the jean capris. We scream and begin laughing. Mimi and her friends had seen them in the housekeeping dress-up basket and wondered why the kindergartners had such BIG dress-up pants. Don't know how those pants go in the basket but they are found now!

More Lost Items

On, Thursday, October 9th our class went to the apple orchard, an annual field trip. It happened to be two days after my toe surgeries. I wasn't sure how things would go walking for an extended period of time over uneven terrain. It also turned out to be a drizzly hazy day with a rainy downpour for a portion of the trip. When I left my house in the morning to go to school I bandaged my toes, put on some thin but support style running socks and my running shoes. I also put my USF crocs in my backpack with an addition pair of socks in case my toes began to hurt in the tennis shoes. I really did not know how I would fair on this field trip.

I made it through the day. I had to skip the teacher pumpkin picking contest. The bus driver was my designated pumpkin picker. I did get to take some pictures of the race. Our guide claimed to the other adults that my "condition" was a ruse to take pictures and not get wet. ( I still got wet, soaking wet.) Here is my assistant with her big pumpkin and long stalk. The winner was the one with the biggest, nicest pumpkin and longest stalk.
When we returned back to school exhausted and muddy, my feet were throbbing really bad. I took off my tennis shoes and socks, replaced the bandages, put my socks back on and reached in my backpack for my crocs. I only found one!! I could not believe it. My only crocs and USF ones to boot and one was gone. I'll never find USF crocs again. My assistant tried to lift my aching spirits by suggesting that I left the one croc at home. Right!

I went home and search but no croc. I know it must have gotten lost while at the apple orchard. I called the orchard people talked to out guide (who knows us pretty well after four years of us requesting him as a guide and harassing him). He tells me fat change of finding my shoe there after their busiest weekend of the year. It's probably buried in mud in the orchard.

I give up all hope of getting my croc back. As my toes are still sore I appropriate my daughter's USF crocs and wear those to school for our teacher work day Tuesday the 13th. It's just not the same those. I have bulls and American flags on mine and she has bulls and ballet slippers on hers.

In the afternoon on Tuesday my assistant comes in the room with a box and says that the front office says I had a delivery. Now I've spent all my school supply money and everything I ordered arrived a long time ago. I'm thinking this is some mistake. As I open the box I see my croc! Evidently someone found it on the school property and left it sitting on a window sill in the teacher work room. My assistant found it and decided to wrap it up as a gift. Whatever, my crocs and I are reunited.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Big Toe Saga Continues

Do you remember that at the beginning of the year I decided to fix my ingrown toe nail? If you don't remember here's the link: big toe.

My ingrown toe nail problem returned, same right foot. I had been ignoring it for a while thinking that it might just go away. It didn't. So on September 30th I tried to trim the edge of the nail to release the pressure and pain of the nail sticking into my skin. I did avoid pulling out all the dig in the skin tools I used last time. I didn't want to make it worse and embarrass myself at the doctor's office (should I have to make a return trip). I gently began clipping the edge of my nail. It quickly became painful and clear that the nail was deeply embedded into my skin not would not be easy to remove. As I tried to trim just a little bit more of the nail puss all of a sudden oozed out. Good sense prevailed this time and I quit digging and bandaged my toe. Of course this event took place in the evening so first thing in the morning I called the podiatrist's office and scheduled an appointment. The first available appointment wasn't for six more days.

The Tuesday after Columbus Day I limped in and showed off my sad toe. The nurse asked if I had any other problems for the doctor. I was in a very forthcoming mood so I spilled it all. I told her my other big toe felt like it had an ingrown toe nail too. So maybe the doctor could look at it. I also said my heel hurts really bad and I sometimes have to limp a lot. As long as he's checking out my feet he might as well check it all.

The doctor diagnoses my heel problem as plantar fasciitis. He gave me some stretching activities to do three times a day and recommended that I wear shoes that have instep support all the time. I'm thinking the cute summer flip flops with the bows on them that a kindergartner gave me causes the problem to occur.

Then he strongly recommended minor surgery for each toe. This surgery would kill a sliver of the nail bed thus preventing growth of the nail near the edge of my cuticle. I deferred to his expertise and agreed to the surgery. The doctor could do the surgery in the office right then. He said something about the time being good and I started to make some silly time remark when I remembered how precious and fleeting time is and proceeded to begin crying.

I might have scared him a bit. I don't know how many people cry in the podiatrist office. I assured him that I wasn't trying about the surgery and wanted to get my toes taken care of. This time I grabbed a magazine as soon as he grabbed the syringes and did not watch a bit of the procedure. I did chat incessantly from behind the magazine.

Anyway the surgery was completed. My left toe has been rather uncomfortable and my right toe that was causing the terrible pain had very minor discomfort. I was back to wearing my USF crocs until my feet quit aching when enclosed in shoes.

As I headed back home with bandaged toes, ointment, and post-op instructions I remembered two things, one I had the visitation of Dugger's friend to attend that night, and two my class was going to the apple orchard the next day on an all day walking outdoor field trip). Luckily my toes were numb from the shots so I squeezed my feet into a pair of dress shoes for the visitation. Then the next day I wore my Nike's and carried my crocs in my backpack for when my feet became too painful in the tennis shoes. My toes held up O.K. and I've had one successful follow-up appointment and will have one more soon.

I've saved the best for last, a picture of both toes. They look worse than they feel for the most part.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Heart Ache

A week ago today we had a tragic car accident here, a head-on collision. Two students at my school lost their mother. The driver of the other car turned out to be a Jr. High friend of Dugger's. This young man and Dugger were friends in 7th and 8th grade. The young man visited and spent the night many times at our house and Dugger at his. This was a child that had circumstances in his life where I think he needed Dugger's and our friendship. He was a very kind and somewhat quiet child and I felt that Dugger also benefited from this friendship. When they started high school they lost touch with each other.

During their eighth grade school year, I went on a couple of field trips with Dugger's class. I don't think too many people want to chaperon 8th graders because I clearly remember Dugger coming home and saying that his science/homeroom teacher wanted me to go on their spring trip to the Museum of Science and Industry. I had previously gone on their outdoor hiking trip earlier in the year. Doug chaperoned at their end of the year picnic. I'm pretty sure one of us went on every field trip they had that eighth grade year. Daniel's core group of friends included this child and he was in my assigned group for both field trips that year. For me going on the field trips was a chance to be a part of Dugger's school life at a school event. I got to be a parent and not the teacher. Dugger was the only one of my three children that never went to a school where I taught, so the opportunity to see him daily at school and capture the occasional school moments on film eluded me. This field trip was one of the few times that I had a chance to share his school day and capture a few memories. Here is Dugger and his friend chilling out.


I dug up this picture and another after the visitation and funeral announcements were made. I had given the photos to the boy's mom the year that I took them but wondered if they still had them and thought she might like to have them now. I took Dugger to the visitation. I felt strongly that we pay our respects to his mom, for her son had been a special person in our lives. Dugger didn't particularly want to go but I explained that this was not about us. It was about letting his mom know that we care about her and her son.

I wasn't sure if his mom would remember us, since it had been a good four years since we had seen each other. Yet when Dugger walked up to her at the funeral home her face lit up with a big smile and she said I didn't know you would come. She commented on how grown up Daniel had become. She and I hugged each other for a long time. How easily our roles could have been reversed. Two boys, one month's age difference, attending the same college, and driving on a rainy day. Graduation pictures sat on display by the coffin with her son in an open casket dressed a concert t-shirt and jeans. This picture I had given her all those years ago was in the DVD show that was playing in the back of the room.


My heart aches for my child who at his young age has yet again lost a classmate and friend. My heart aches for this mom who has lost her oldest child in a tragic accident. And my heart selfishly aches because I know that it could easily be one of my children. I think of all the times when I am in a rush and don't stop to say good-bye or I love you, or really look at them as they or I go out that door. A tragedy like this makes me hold them a little more tighter in spite of the fact that they are almost 19, 17, and 12. I hope it is something I never loose touch with again. That I always make that personal contact with them every day as they go out into the world.

I really appreciate my daughter who almost always runs after her dad or I, when we leave the house, and yells "bye, love you." She was compulsive about doing this when she was younger. She almost had a desperateness as she'd yell out from the far reaches of the house, "WAIT!" and would come running into the kitchen to say "Bye, love you" as we headed out to the garage. It use to drive me crazy until I finally thought about why it bothered me so much. Her behavior always brought up another tragic loss and my need to cling to my children with a desperate I Love You. For a long time it literally hurt to see them walk out the front door to go to school or walk down the sidewalk and disappear into the school building. Acknowledging why my daughter's behavior bothered me allowed me to let that painful association go and just accept her action as a gift.

Now days she doesn't have that desperate tone and doesn't always say bye but as you pull out from the garage and look toward the house she has her knees buried in our big comfy chair by the front window with her body facing the back of the chair as she waves and blows kisses to the driver. Often the dog is right beside her. I'm not sure why she started these behaviors but I've come to cherish and appreciate it.

Hug your loved ones a little tighter and cherish all the moment you have with them (even those frustrating, sad, or angry moments). Just think at least I have them with me today.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bulls Football



I'm suppose to be working but couldn't resist not posting this picture of the gang as we finished tailgating. Thought I'd post it here as I add it to my screen saver on my work computer. Our friends from Southern Illinois and Warner Robbins, GA are pictured with us. GO BULLS!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

FOOTBALL SEASON BEGINS

I know, I know for most of you football fans the football season started Sept. 3rd. For me it started this weekend with a road trip to Western Kentucky to see my beloved USF Bulls play.

College football is my all time absolute favorite sport. I like high school football too and the benefit to that is that the play action is often slower that college ball so I can grasp more of what's going on.

It's hard for me to get into going to high school football games here because I don't have a vested interest in the schools/teams. I guess for me the atmosphere, relationships, social and emotional ties to the team is as important as the game. Maybe more important than the game. I can't imagine not watching games during the season but I guess I don't have to spend my Friday nights at the field to have that seasonal experience.

Although there are times when I miss that tie to the games and wish to go home and see my high school team play or see one of the local high school games where I grew up. And I desperately miss going to Ray J. and seeing the Bulls play. It can be depressing and that's probably why I just don't have an interest in the games here. (Another Friday night and I ain't got no "team".)

Fortunately there are college games day plans for our viewing pleasure. Last weekend the Bulls were on ESPN Gameplan and we had purchased the game. As typical to the last few years, the first gameplan game of the season doesn't just automatically work. We can't just turn on the digital cable box and TV and tune in. For some reason the connector on the pole outside get water in it every year and then the pay channel don't work until the cable workers climb up the pole and fix it. We always check the channels out in the morning and then call the cable company when it doesn't work. So last weekend we called because the channels weren't coming in. Well they were so busy with problems that they never came out and we didn't get to see our first game of the season on TV.

Luckily the game was on ESPN 360 and we get that with our Internet and phone service. (NO switching to the cable Internet service now!) I have trouble watching the game on the computer although the quality was better this year than in previous years. So it was a less than satisfactory experience for me. Keeping focus on the bigger picture, the Bulls won. YEA!!

Now to the Good Stuff
This year the Bulls were playing reasonable close to our home. So we planned a road game. Yea, baby! Doug message boarded his Bull Game friends. We found a good crew of people who were headed to the road game. Two of the families that went are people that Doug became friends with on the Bull Board, met in person at the various games and events over the years, and bonded with. I've spent time with them as well and have developed a friendly affection for them. So we were excited to be planning a road trip where we would connect with them. Some of the others Doug had never met but converses with them on the Board. It would be fun to put faces and families with the conversations.

The game was all we talked about this past week. We needed a game plan. Would we tailgate? Where? How would we meet up with our friends? What time would we leave home? We had to get travel food and drinks. What stuff would we pack in the van to entertain us as we traveled? We also needed to set aside out Bull clothing and find our Bull accessories (earrings, hair bows, necklaces, wristbands, pompoms, etc.). As it turned out we forgot our Bull horn. I just remembered it as I was blogging. Since it was banned at Ray J. we just never took it to the games and it sits on our shelf collecting dust. It would have been a great tailgating accessory.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Are you in a teachable place?

This year's motivational theme at school and our school goal, revolves around this statement; "Are you on a teachable place?". Several years ago we had a motivational speaker, Kirk Weisler, come and talk to our faculty and staff. At our preplanning, this 09' school year, Kirk returned to speak about being in a teachable place. A phase his wife coined. The idea is that as we make mistakes, poor choices, feel the need to change, and/or face the task of needing to learn something new, are we then open to the feedback and learning required to make a change.

While I was in my teachable place a number of unusual things happened prior to the start of school. I have to preface this by saying that we have very little student turn over at our school. Since families have to apply and we take students from all over the area most stay til they finish 8th grade and then head to high school. This year, in part because of the economy, we were informed in August that a number of students would not be returning to our school. We are probably talking about eight to ten students across the K-8 school.

My class list had 18 students at preplanning on August 13th. I knew that we'd probably get two more students before classes began on Monday. During preplanning my teaching assistant and I were working on all the type of items that that kindergarten children need their name on. We were making name labels for two sets of cubbies, class lists for record keeping, nametags, leader lists, attendance cards, etc. Some of them we laminate so we have another step to complete before they are ready to be used in the classroom.

At lunch my assistant told me that I had been misspelling one child's name. His name ends with a "k" not a "c" which is the more traditional spelling. She tells me she knew the spelling because she check it in our school database, Skyward. I just looked at her. You know the look and said yes, so did I but obviously it didn't help. So off we go changing all the things that are misspelled. This is not just a simple task. For some of the items I use certain colors of card stock. Some have cute stickers or cute paper backgrounds. Rarely is anything just plain copy paper. These items many times are often in limited supply as I am using up leftovers from previous years.

We get young Mr. C corrected, laminated, and posted in the correct locations. Now I have fixed the typing error in our 11x14 class list that is mounted on construction paper and laminated. I've tossed out the hard copies of my record keeping spreadsheets and corrected the misspelling in the document and printed five copies of this new document. I want everything perfect as I embark on my new school year. I'm quite anal at this point.

Literally right as we finish, my lovely Dean of Students stops by to tell me that one of two of my newest additions is not going to attend school with us. So now I have names for a child who is not coming. I asked that if we get another child could he have the same name, thus saving us some work, paper, ink, and laminating film. My dean of students laughs.

On Friday afternoon as I get ready to walk out the door and head home. I make one last quick survey of the room hoping that I don't have to spend the weekend at school getting ready for Monday morning. As I glance at the bulletin board right by my classroom door I see all the puzzle pieces with our students names on their own puzzle piece. I'm reading off the names, picturing some of the kids in my head as I already know some of them. Thinking about who is related to siblings I've had in the past and then wham! I see the name of a student whose brother was in my class a couple of years ago. I know she does not use her given name but a nickname. I've been typing Lizzie. I knew that it was an "L nickname for Elizabeth. Her nickname is Libby and once again my assistant has been using the correct name and spelling. So once again all the name documents I worked on are wrong.

Over the weekend I get an e-mail from our secretary that my newest student, replacing the one that is not coming, is named Andre. So I decided to get his name things made and at the same time I can fix Lizzie/Libby. I'm still in my we can salvage the year and be perfect mode. Off I go to school to get my last 1/2 sheet of green cardstock, smiley face dice cuts, etc. and make more name labels. I run the ones that need laminating over to Kinkos and take care of that too. I return home and check my e-mail. My Dean of Students has e-mailed and says she doesn't know if I got the message or not but my new student is Andrew. I immediately e-mail her back and say you have got to be kidding. I received an e-mail yesterday that my new student was Andre and I have just finished redoing my third set of class documents. After my Dean of Students has that oh no moment she call the principal and secretary. Sure enough the child's name is Andrew not Andre. I tell the Dean I am fast moving from that teachable place.

School beings and all the children are as lovely as their names. unfortunately one is absent. No one has heard from the family as to why the child has not been coming to school. By Wednesday I call the Dean of Students and tell her about this child's absences. She goes off to contact the family and ends up leaving messages for them. They return her call and inform her that they were planning on withdrawing this students but hadn't done it yet. Now my class lists are wrong again and I have sets of name items for yet another student who isn't coming.

On Thursday of the first week of school my final class addition arrived. The child is lovely and we waited till Friday afternoon when we had her parents spelling of her name before we plastered her name all over the room. Sometimes it doesn't pay to be efficient.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sewing Classes

Mimi and I spend the summer taking several different sewing classes at one of the local sewing stores here in town. I started with Sewing I and made a pillow. I learned a lot of sewing basics that I just never incorporated into my previous sewing skills. I also learned how to operate my new machine that Doug had given me for my birthday. I now know more about that machine than I ever knew about the one I've had for 20 years. I've also learned how to use the button hole foot, the button sewing foot, and an overcast foot.

My first class involved making a decorative pillow. It took three Monday night classes to make. The funny thing is that my physician was in the class too. She could administer drugs as our blood pressure rose. A few weeks later I took a quilt in a day class. I made a Christmas quilt. It took me more than a day and I got some ribbing about that at home. I have finished the quilt top and am having it quilted by an expert. This lady will add the batting and backing fabric using all over stitching that helps lock the batting and keep the quilt from losing it's shape.

Then Mimi took a beginning sewing for teens class. The "Sewing for Kids I" class was full and you need Sewing I to continue with other classes. Even though she was not a teen the ladies let her take the class. Prior to the class she helped me make her a blouse so she got some experience with using the sewing machine.

Mimi had the same teacher that I had for Sewing I and they made the same kind of pillow. The teacher claimed that Mimi's group were much quicker learners than my class. When we finished the classes we had enough material to make a second pillow each. We got another chance to practice. I could not get my buttonholer to make buttonholes, so I called Mimi over and luckily she remembered a crucial step that I was missing. Then later I helped her finish her pillow. She just lacked the confidence to do it on her own.

Then I took a Sewing II class where we made pajama bottoms and Mimi took a Kids Can Sew II, making a pillowcase, coat hanger cover, and a stocking that will be for a soldiers overseas. In Mimi's last class the instructor has decided to try and offer a class for kids in the evening in the fall where they can make a peasant skirt. This because Mimi while waiting to be picked up was thumbing through the pattern books picking out outfits to make. She really wants to make the peasant skirt. We bought a pattern, but with school starting I'm not sure when we'll get it made. I'm going to start a Halloween quilt and we're back into dance performances with costume making an repairs.

The pillow making started Mimi off on the I want my room painted chant. That's another blog.

Graduation Party

As most of you know, my oldest, Dugger, graduated from high school on May 30th. Graduation was the day after final exams and one day after my school ended. It was a hurried but exciting day for us. We decided to have a graduation party in July as a graduation heading off to college party. It would afford us a little more time to get organized and allow for Dugger to go to his friend's parties without those parties conflicting.

We rented the local pool for an after hours party and July should provide hot weather and generate interest in cooling off. When the date arrived it came with a week of record low temperatures and overcast weather. Doug wore his sweatshirt the whole time. The great thing was that the pool was heated and felt great. We still managed to have fun and celebrate Dugger's accomplishment. Dugger had a couple of friends that he's had since we moved here, his sixth grade year, come to the party. Even though they went to different high schools they've stayed in touch.


The other two kids invited a few friends to keep them company and celebrate too.




Now Dugger is getting ready for his first semester of college. He is registered, has his college t-shirt, and id. We have ordered books. Now he needs a pert-time job.

Here is one last photo. This is a favorite of mine that was taken at one of the numerous senior event the last month of school.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bonding with Burn Notice

A couple of weeks back when I pulled out my scrapbook materials I had been in Dugger's room and noticed that the second album I bought him for his Costa Rica pictures has never been filled and the photos were spilling onto the floor of his room. I was encouraging him to "bond" with me over scrapbooking. He could fill his album at the kitchen table while I worked on my album.

When I scrapbook, I like to watch/listen to the T.V. as I work. We have a small T.V. on the kitchen counter and I pull it forward and turn it towards the table as it typically faces the sink and stove area. I was willing to put the T.V. aside and bond with Dugger, but I couldn't wait forever. Over the Fourth of July Weekend, while I was working on my album, I was watching my favorite channel HGTV. Dugger came up from the basement to tell me he was watching a T.V. series marathon and that I might like the show. It's called Burn Notice and is in it's second season.

My T.V. series luck is that I find a new show that I love and it get's canceled during the first season. This always happens. Last year I came across a show one night about vampires and liked it. It was right at my kitchen clean up time so I would miss portions of it picking up kids or getting kids off to bed, etc. The next week I tuned back in and watch it. The third week I can't find it and can't remember the name. I look for it again the fourth week and still can't find it. I begin a google search with bit's of the title and find the show online and it had been canceled. Anyway back to bonding.

So, Dugger heads back to the basement and I get up and change the channel of the T.V. think yeah, yeah, like I'm going to like this show but my channel is reruns anyway. This Burn Notice show is about an ex-spy who's been dumped from the spy business (CIA, FBI who knows). Supposedly when they get kicked out they are given this "burn notice" and sort of abandoned by the organization. This ex-spy is now an edgy do gooder privater investigator. Personally it reminds me of Magnum P.I. There are a lot of similar character elements. If you watch it let me know what you think.

I'm upstairs watching the show. Dugger is in the basement watching the show. We are probably no more than 30 feet from each other. When I tune out and miss parts I just yell down to him to catch me up in the commercials. He occasionally comes up and makes conversation about what's happening in the show. About three shows into the marathon Doug comes into the kitchen and wants to know why I'm watching this dumb show. I say I'm bonding with Dugger. Then I explain how Dugger got me to watch the show and he downstairs watching the same show. I yell down a question about the show to Dugger and he yells up an answer and I say, "See!" to Doug.

Now Dugger let's me know each week when the show is about to come on so I can watch the new episodes. He also keeps me informed about a new doctor show on the same channel that I expressed an interest in. I'll take my "bonds" wherever I can get them.

Some Finished Projects

I have finished some items off my summer list. Over the Fourth of July weekend, I finished the wedding photo album that I had been working on. We had a rainy and chilly Fourth of July Day so we just stayed home and laid around. It worked out well as project finishing day.

Doug was scheduled for surgery on Tuesday the 7th, so he encouraged me to choose painting the kitchen ceiling as my next project. My scrapbooking stuff was off the table and placed back in the basement, sewing projects were at a stand still, and the boys had already taken our family photos off the kitchen wall and placed them in the basement. It was a good time to begin this project and I should be able to finish it later in the day Tuesday while Doug was resting at home after the surgery.

The kitchen naturally divides into two sections, so it made sense to paint it that way and move the big furniture pieces to each side of the room. I covered the china cabinet with a tarp and left it where it was, moved the recycle bins and garbage can outside, moved the dining chairs and baker's rack to T-Man's room, and moved the table to the cooking area. Next I dusted the ceiling and swept the floor. I placed painters tape along the edge of the walls and then taped up a 24" wide layer of butcher paper against the walls to try and keep any paint splatter off the walls. Finally, I taped down plastic tarps to the floor to keep paint off our nice tiles.

I was ready to start painting. Surprise! The paint I bought last year, maybe even two years ago (since our floor is over a year old), had begun to harden. It had the consistency of hardening plaster. Now I had to go to the paint store and buy some new paint.

I had a lot of concerns that the paint would not hide the wall paint that had gotten on the ceiling and dried or the age marks left by the old light fixtures. That first coat of paint is often uneven and doesn't give a good indication of how the finished product will look. I was hot, sweaty, sore and unhappy with the ceiling when I finished that first coat.

Monday I had a meeting at school so I didn't get to apply the second coat until the late afternoon. As I was getting close to finishing T-man called and needed to be picked up from work at the zoo. Doug had left with Angelique so I needed to close things up and go get T-Man. When I returned it was hard to tell where I had left off and what needed to be finished. I did the best I could. Doug pointed out a few spots that need paint and I finished up. I took down the cover I had over the light fixture and turned on the lights. I still didn't like the ceiling. The paint seemed streaky. Anyway I cleaned up the area, taking off tarps, removing tape and paper, and returning furniture.

By that time I was too tired to begin set-up for the other side of the kitchen. That would have to wait until after Doug's surgery. Several days later I repeated the steps on the other side of the kitchen. This area was smaller (I kept telling myself that.)and didn't require moving furniture, just covering appliances. I started painting early in the day and was able to do a second coat in the evening. I touched up areas in the larger section and was finished. The ceiling looks tremendously better than it did before (I keep telling myself that!) and I am satisfied with the results.

That's two more projects off my list!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

From Tuesday to Tuesday

Beginning with June 15, Mimi has had at least one swim meet per week. Last Tuesday, June 23rd, we had a meet at our home pool (the pool right by our house). The temperature was 91° and it was humid. Doug was a lane timer and I was the Mimi supervisor. Just sitting in the folding chair somewhat in the shade, I was dripping in sweat. I felt like I was melting. These meets are at least four hours long when you factor in arrival time and warm-up prior to the start of the actual competition.

A storm came up as we hit the half-way point in the meet. The clouds rolled in, then we heard bits of rumbling in the distance, the meet continued. Then we heard loud claps of thunder and experienced some rain, the swimmers continued to swim that event. Then there was a loud claps of thunder,heavy rain, and lightening was sighted. The meet was immediately halted. The rule is to wait 20 minutes from the last bolt of lightening before returning to the pool. As the 20 minutes came to a close there was another streak of lightening. At this point the meet was over. Since we had passed the half-way point of the events for the meet a team winner can be named and the meet does not have to be finished at a later date or forfeited.

This Tuesday we had another swim meet, again at our home pool. Doug urged me to take a sweatshirt because he felt like after dark it would get cool. I was excited to grab a sweatshirt because my new high-school sweatshirt had just arrived. Doug made a special logo design of T-man's high school. You know how picky he is about his school T-shirt designs. When T-man's didn't have what he wanted, he made his own.

Anyway we head to the pool. Doug again was a timer and I was a supervisor. I can't time, because it requires eye/ear-hand coordination. When Doug is not the timer I do other things for the team such as ribbon writing/labeling, ribbon filing, hospitality, or time sheet runner and then he is the Mimi supervisor.

I was sitting in my chair reading a book. Mimi completed her warm-up in the pool and put on her sweats. I decided that it was a bit chilly and but on my sweatshirt. I wore my sweatshirt the entire meet from 5:00 pm till 9:15 pm. I even drew my hands up in my sleeves. I made a trip to the van to get a sweatshirt from my blizzard supplies for Mimi to wear over her sweatshirt (it was an XXL). Yes, I have a travel bag with blizzard supply items. In the summer I call it my hurricane supplies. In case we get stranded in our car during a hurricane (ha, ha).

Within a week's time we experienced extreme temperatures. Today is the first day this week that we have used the A/C.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Goals

Here is my summer goals list. I wrote down my goals in early May. They were suppose to be pretty realistic in terms of accomplishing them before the end of summer. Now as June is coming to a close, I have my doubts about closure.

1. Create a new garden.

2. Clean-up old gardens.

3. Paint ceiling in the kitchen.

4. Finish photo album from October wedding trip.
4a. Begin Christmas Album.

5. Clean basement. Organize pictures and papers.

6. Figure out how to use E-bay to sell helmets.

7. Finish scanning Doug's family slides. Begin work on a DVD slide show.

Well we've put in two gardens. Cleaned the front yard garden a couple of times and have begun to work on the back garden. I need to get a schedule and be disciplined about it.

I did organize the pictures, awards, and such from the 08-09 year. I still need to file papers.

I am slowly working on the wedding photo album. Today I finished two sheets (four pages). Some days I don't move too quickly. I just push forward instead of waiting for the artistic spirit to move me. Today I made myself sort through and lay out all the album items. Just doing that was my goal but I persevered and finished two sheets. Tomorrow should be easier since I'll leave all my supplies out.

I haven't touched the slides, although I keep looking at the boxes. They are calling my name but I need a book to read while the slides scan. Last summer I had a great book. This summer I've been checking out some large print books from the library and I read them while I walk on the treadmill. Large print is great for this. I haven't fallen off the treadmill yet. I have stumbled once or twice.

That's all I've finished on the list.

Not on the list:
I've reorganized my math curriculum and resources (Aug. - May) and mapped it on this web program our school uses. I've tweaked my school schedule for the coming school year and I've written lesson plans for Aug and Sept. I spent all day at a reading workshop.

I am taking a sewing class and have learned to use my new birthday present sewing machine. I am helping Mimi make a doll dress.

New projects:
Make a poster collage of Dugger. When T-man completed 8th grade, the kids were to make a collage of their life so far. I made the collage with T's very helpful input. I thought it would be great for Dugger to have one since he has graduated from high school. We can also display it at his summer graduation/going to college party. I'll need to get that done soon.

I'm also going to make a blouse and skirt for Mimi.

Paint my bedroom, hopefully (if I survive painting the kitchen ceiling).

That's it! We'll see what I accomplish this summer.

Finished Product- to date

The weekend following Memorial day and into early June we continued to add plants to our garden. We have three more boxwoods. They are tiny now, but I'm sure they will grow fast. We planted many of my favorite plants.

We placed three hydrangeas, Endless Summer (love that name). Hydrangeas aren't necessarily one of my favorites but we have had much success with others in our yard. The height and color will be perfect for the garden. Also, I remember being told that the flower was a favorite of my Grandma Gonzalez.

We added four cone flower plants. I do love these. I first noticed these flowers when we went to the National Zoo in D.C. I'm so glad they labeled many of their plants. I think Native Americans used parts of the plant for medicinal purposes. I'd have to check my D.C. notes to verify that, so don't quote me.

We put in a bunch of faux grasses. They grow like an ornamental grass but are a better fit for the shade and dry area. They will produce little purple flowers.

We added more hostas to complete the border and planted two Lily of the Valley (another favorite) plants at the entrance to the far stepping stone path (where it makes a "v" near the fence line).

Finally we added some stone crop (two varieties) a reddish/burgandy variety and a green varigated variety. This was not a favorite but we have had good success with others, so Doug convinced me that this would be a good plant to have. They are located around the lilac bush/tree.

There is room for lots more but we will see if we add anything else this season. I'd like to plant tulip and jonquil bulbs this fall for the spring. At least all our plants seems to be doing well. Of all the plants we've bought this season we've only lost one on the side of the house.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Almost Home Alone

Dugger and I are the only two at home. The other three are at hair appointments. With a few minutes of time on my hands, I thought I'd finish off our gardening blog. Over the Memorial Day Weekend we rented a tiller for Saturday morning. The only plants we had in the garden were a boxwood bush and about seven hostas. I dug up the hostas plants, since we wanted to keep them and spread them along the border of the garden. The boxwood was in a location that wouldn't get tilled so I didn't need to remove it.

The ground is rock hard because of the type of soil we have and the fact that the dog runs through the garden beating down a rock hard path. The tiller turned out to be a monster. I believe the tiller was a front-end tiller (didn't know there were different kinds of tillers). The pictures from the previous blog show the soil before we began tiller and after I dug out the hostas. Doug and I had to take turns tilling the soil because the tiller was so hard to control and manipulate. Doug and I finally got into a rhythm and learned how to get the most tilled soil out of the tiller. I have to admit that I scraped the side of the house two times.






Once we finished with the garden we moved the tiller to the vegetable garden area and tilled that soil. Now that soil is much softer and very good soil for planting. The problem here was that with such a powerful tiller we would get it stuck in the soil some and have to pull it out from the soft rows. Here is the pre-tiller vegetable garden shot.


After all this work we returned the tiller. Later in the day I laid out landscaping material and placed the hostas in their new location. Doug and I wanted large stepping stones as a way to keep Amber, the dog, out of the plants but still allow her access to the garden (that she would get into anyway).

We went to several home improvement stores and to a couple of nursery's looking for large and natural stepping stones. We had no luck. One of my friend's brother is a landscaper (his company did our front yard) so I called him in the hopes that he would have some stones in stock. We also headed out to his building, hoping that he or his co-owner would be there. Well the road to their place was blocked off because of road construction. As we turned around we we drove right by another nursery in town. One side of the street has the nursery with the typical garden plants and across the street they have their large trees, blocks, rocks, and stones. We spied what looked like potential stepping stones and pulled in to the nursery. We climbed on the stack of stones, dug through them, and picked the perfect ones. Three hundred pounds later we has some beautiful stones. One of them Doug had to have because it looks like the state of GA. See for yourself.


This wrapped up our Saturday. On Sunday we headed back to the nursery and bought more stones and a Japanese Maple. Using Frank Lloyd Wright's philosophy of path design, we placed out stones along the well worn path that Amber had created. Keeping her established route intact. Hopefully this will ensure that she will stay on the path. Our garden was coming along.
Sunday's work.


On Monday feeling much less sore we bought some plants to begin filling our garden. We also bought tomatoes, bell peppers, sunflowers, and cucumber seeds for the vegetable garden. T-man has tried to grow sunflowers in the past and not had any success. We think that the rabbits kept eating them. With Amber we think that the rabbits will not venture into the yard.


The crew is back so I'll wrap up the garden story later.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Weekend Warriors




This holiday weekend we decided to fix/finish our flower garden that runs the length of the back of our house. We've been attempting to tame and revitalize this garden for the past two years.

Our first summer here we removed a couple of dead bushes and in the fall we planted a lot of tulip bulbs. After that the dandelions took over. We seem to concentrate on our other gardens and then finally get to this one in mid-July. By August we are gearing up for school and sometimes a vacation so there goes the garden work.

Mother's Day weekend we were going to work on the back garden. I had bought some irises from the garden sale at school. I wanted to get them in the ground and not leave them in bags to die. They needed to go in the side garden where I have been slowly adding plants. Doug came and helped and decided that we needed to finish this garden by adding a border, mulch, and more plants. I insisted that the border be as level and straight as possible, so there went my plans for working on the backyard garden. This garden was pretty easy to work with because there were very few weeds and the soil was generally pretty soft. Here is our finished product.

After rehearsals, school projects, student dance concerts, baccalaureate, and on-line course development we were ready for the next yard project over the long holiday weekend. Last summer Doug and I hoed and pick axed out the weeds and the rock hard soil. We were on the verge of getting the bed ready and then we quit.

This year the weeds are not as bad yet but getting their foothold and the soil is once again rock hard. I felt like we needed a tiller to help break up the soil. Never having used a tiller, I did not realize what a workout that would be.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Shel Silverstein

At this time of year I introduce poetry to my kindergartners. We read poetry, begin to think like poets, and write poetry. It is one of my favorite units. You would be amazed at some of the poems these children write. They could rival some of the most famous poets. One of the poets that I am not tremendously wild about, but share his work with my class, is Shel Silverstein. Personally I enjoy his children's picture books much more than most of his poetry. His sense of humor doesn't always appeal to me. I carefully select a number of his poems to read aloud and offer the children the opportunity to read others from several of his poetry books.

On a completely different note but connected is this, I always seem to pull an old song from the back of my mind at the oddest of times. I'm not even sure what times trigger the vague notion of this song from my childhood. I can't even get the words of the song or the exact tune; it all seems to be on the fringe of my memories. Here is what I know: this song reminds me of my dad (Did he like the song?), Louisiana, swamp, swampy woman, voodoo, witches, and snakes. Weird huh?

How are Shel Silverstein and a childhood song related?

Well first I began to research Shel Silverstein to determine his ethnic background. As this is my blog, I'm going to be very direct here. The photo of Shel Silverstein on the back of his book The Giving Tree makes him look like a bald black man or maybe a Cuban, he has a Castro-esque look to him. I began to ask people if Silverstein was black. No one seemed to know and when I pointed out the Giving Tree photos they would agree that he did look black. Of course his ethnicity does not matter but it became this great mystery to me. Who is Shel Silverstein?

It seems that Mr. Silverstein was a very private person and allowed very little information to be published about himself. Most sites, articles, and literate all state that he was fiercely protective of his private life. Here is what is know. Shel Silverstein was born in Chicago on Sept. 25th in the year 1930 or 1932. Their is admitted conflicting information about the year of his birth. He served in the military. He had been married, divorced and was the father of a daughter. Recently I found an article that said he had a son and daughter. He died of a heart attack in Key West, FL May 10, 1999 where he had a residence. Oh, yea back to the ethnic origins. One of all the many sources I found stated that he was Jewish. So that mystery was solved for me. I could see where he looked like he was of Jewish descent. But it opened the door to much more fascinating pieces of information.

It seems Mr. Silverstein had never considered a career as an author of children's literature. He was a cartoonist for Playboy Magazine. He was encourage by his publisher to begin writing for children. Silverstein was also a screenwriter, composer and lyricist. He performed with Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. I somewhat remember Dr. Hook and continued to delve into the musical side of Shel Silverstein. Well it turns out he wrote A Boy Name Sue that Johnny Cash recorded and made famous. Along the way Shel Silverstein also collaborated with Bobby Bare and they had an award winning song, Marie Laveau. My song!!! This was the song in my head!!

I googled Bobby Bare. Amazon provided album covers and tidbits of his songs. Yes, I recognized at least one of the album covers. I think my parent's had a 8-track of this one (probably still have it somewhere). I found Marie Laveau and listened to the bit they had and it sure seemed like my song. I then pulled up Song Lyrics and hunted for the song. As I read the lyrics I knew I had found my song. Guess what?! A link took me to a U-Tube performance of Bobby Bare singing Marie Laveau.

Now, I still can't figure out what is so great about this Marie Laveau song. Although I love that name, it kind of trips off your tongue. Maybe the poetry/story of it catches my fancy. I just know that it doesn't seem like my kind of music especially since I don't particularly care for country music. But I am still drawn to that song. I play it every once in a while and just kind of smile as I listen to it.

Isn't it strange that one obsessive quest would give me answers to this bizarre memory. Wow!! May all your searches yield interesting results.

P.S. I have another song piece in my head. It is from the 1990's, has something to do with driving away, I get the sense of two kids or two people turning back and looking out the back window of the car as it drives away. Drives away is key, looking back, and gold (like gold coins/money). It has a catchy tune that on the fringe of that brain of mine. I always think that it has something to do with Kid Rock, and a fish song that I thought was recorded by Kid Rock, but it doesn't. I haven't found the answer to this one. Not yet!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Circus Is Coming

Well the circus came and went last weekend. We had a school-wide performance on Thursday afternoon. This is the circus dress rehearsal. Then the public performances were Friday and Sunday.


Mimi participated in three acts. Two of the three included performing at great heights. An amazing feat since she is scared of heights. Her poi performance (the only non-height act) which involves hand rhythm movements using objects like ribbons and balls on a string was an act that she has performed in for several years. She did not participate in adagio, a part gymnastic and dance act. She said that now that she is no longer a little one, she would have to lift and swing other kids (instead of being the one lifted and swung)and she didn't want to do that. She didn't participate in the acrodance (dance routine) because she was going to be a show clown. The practice for these activities were at the same time. It turned out that a bunch of younger boys were going to be clowns too and she didn't want to work with them. She found her niche and did plenty. She was partnered with two of her best school friends and had a lot of fun.


T-Man once again volunteered to help with the circus. He alternated between chess club practice and circus practice. Both circus and chess practice were on the same day of the week. T-Man was one of three high school students who helped out this year. Most of the helpers are college circus performers. T-Man and his friend have proven themselves as experts in globes and cylinders, acts they performed in during their elementary years. For the last two years they have choreographed the globes and cylinders acts.

Once again it was a busy weekend. Doug and I helped with concessions and entertained a couple of Mimi's dance friends who came to see her perform. I also took four hundred pictures over the three days of performances. The digital camera technology is fantastic. You can come home immediately download and edit pictures and in my case get a plan for taking more photos. I was able to move around to different areas of the gym to get photos and focus on specific acts. I have spared my family the viewing pleasure of my best 300+ photos. I only added photos of my two circus members to our family photo site. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

T-Man's Accomplishments


T-Man joined the chess team this year. He played for several years at the elementary school and did not play his Freshman year of high school. During the chess season they would play a varsity team and a J.V. group. The J.V. group were individual kids that were not playing on the varsity team. T-Man mostly played in the J.V. category.

In January T-Man's high school chess team went to a large competitive chess tournament, Illini Classic. For this tournament they split the kids into two teams representing their high school, Team A and Team B. T-bone competed with Team-B as this team has lesser rating than Team A. Interestingly enough, and much to the chagrin of Team A, Team B earned second place in the tournament with Team A placing third. Team B members earned the metal in the box of T-Man's hand and the trophy in his other hand. T-Man got to keep the trophy from this tournament because all the other kids received a 2nd place in the league metal. T-Man did not get one because they only sent a certain number and coach was one short. So coach gave T-Man the trophy that Team B won. T-Man was more than pleased with this. He scored big time.

The kids had a very good season finishing 2nd place in their league. They headed to state (the same weekend Mimi and I were at her dance competition) and finished in a five-way tie for second place. The tie breaker procedures left them finishing in sixth place, the last members of the tie. This was still great considering that they compete against some large Chicago schools with longstanding winning traditions. The kids and coaches were also pleased that in state the beat IMSA, the Illinois Math and Science Academy School. Unfortunately one of T-Man's team's best players is going to IMSA in the fall so they are not too optimistic that they will beat this school next year.

The metal around T-Man's neck is the award the team received at state. He amassed some serious metal from this season's play and I think that will carry him into next year's season.

Mimi's Accomplishments

Right after the holidays Mimi began "training" for an International Dance Scholarship Competition. She would compete with a contemporary piece and a classical ballet piece. We began by searching for some contemporary music that Mimi would like and with which teacher could choreograph. Of the eight or so choices Mimi and her teacher selected the song Pana by Malo. For the classical pience Mimi's teacher selected an excerpt from the ballet The Talisman (Schnietzhoeffer/Drigo/Petipa) for her to dance.

This led to some very serious dance lessons. Mimi spent Tuesday - Sunday at the studio learning her dance pieces. During non-competition preparation time Mimi does not dance on Wednesdays so that she can go to her religious education class. The last couple of weeks we allowed her to skip her religious classes so she could continue her competition training and get home at a reasonable time to complete homework, shower, and go to bed. It was a very rigorous and exhausting time.

There were times when I as a parent felt like I knew what it was like to live with an Olympic athlete in training. Mimi's dancing has really consumed her life. Besides dance she goes to school, circus, and church. Circus is on Wednesdays after school so she is still able to participate in that school activity. I had hoped that she would join the school's Scholastic Bowl team and follow in T-Man's footsteps. That was not to be this year; although she can attend the practices she dances all the days the team competes. It doesn't seem to bother her but it makes me sad.

Mimi and five other girls from the dance academy were preparing to compete at the competition. The moms spent the month of January sewing their costumes and/or making alterations to store bought costumes or some from the dance company. I tweaked Mimi's costume for her contemporary dance. I made her costume for the classical performance.

Ready or not February rolled around. I booked a hotel and hoped that the whole family would go or at least the boys would come up Friday after school. It turned out that T-Man's Chess State Tournament would be the same days. He would travel on the team van missing school Friday, return home that night, and return to competition Saturday. That ended the hope that everyone would go with Mimi and I.

I took Friday off from school. I packed the van double and triple checking that I had the costumes, shoes, make-up, and hair supplies necessary for the competition. Mimi would also need snacks and her I-pod loaded with her warm-up music. After map questing directions for the Chicago suburbs, loading up on toll road quarters we left at 5:30am to get to the hotel and meet the rest of the girls. The girls would get ready for the competition at the hotel. Here her jazz teacher fixes her hair.
Then the director/owner/ ballet teacher applied her make-up.


We then headed off the the hosting college campus theater for the competition. It was an all day experience. In the evening the girls returned for a hotel room celebration of pizza and fun. Saturday we did some shopping, watched some high school age girls compete and then watched the awards ceremony.

One of the girls from the academy earned a national competition spot in New York. She’ll compete again in April. Another of the girls placed in the top twelve for her age division. Angelique earned very good scores and was given good feedback from the judges. All in all it was a great experience.

We could not take pictures or video during the competition. The following couple of weekends had the Youth Ensemble participating in some community dance events. I was able to get some shots Of Mimi dancing her contemporary piece. At her student concert I hope to get some of her classical dance.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Spoke too soon!

Last night the rain turned into light snow. I had to switch back to my winter red coat. And this morning on the way to school the snow began swirling down. We're not talking Hollywood snow either.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Is it spring yet?

Last week we had some very nice weather by our standards at least, with temperatures in the 40's. In fact, Saturday the 7th, I headed out in search of a car wash. I resisted last year's temptation of washing the van myself. On Sunday we went to a car wash service and waited in line to get the van washed. We paid $16.00 but it was worth not slipping and sliding on the driveway washing it myself.

I can't always think of too many things that I liked better in GA, but I have to say that the car wash service they had was much superior to this one. The group in GA cleaned our van well and for about the same price. The group here left dirty spots on the back of the van and wet drippy spots too.

Anyway, back to the great weather. We had rain/thunderstorm mid-week and had almost an inch of rain. I was thankful for the rain because one inch of rain is equal to ten inches of snow. We have had many a February snow storm with school being canceled. The Valentine's weekend was to bring snow flurries. I was concerned because Mimi and I were headed to Chicago for a dance competition and I was not eager to drive in bad weather on unfamiliar roads.

In Chicago we ended up with a few flurries. The Hollywood snow, as I call it, medium size flakes fluttering around the sky with a light powdered sugar dusting on the ground. It was mild enough to walk with an open coat and no need to bundle up in extra clothing. I think at home where the guys were that had about one inch of snow. When Mimi and I arrived home in the late hours of Saturday the snow was off the roads and almost gone from the yards.

Today we are back to the rain and I am ditching my red wool winter pea coat in favor of my salmon rain coat. No gloves or hat required, maybe an umbrella though.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More Creatures

Doug came inside one evening and said where's the camera. I got the big camera and changed the lens to the large zoom optical. He took off and then realized that the battery was dead. So I dug in my purse for my trusty little 35mm camera and off he went again. This is what he captured.
We have heard and seen the screech owls over the years in our neighborhood. Two years ago we heard and saw nothing. Last summer I heard them on a few occasions. Now in February Doug spots one in our Blue Spruce.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Big Toe

Two weeks ago today I had a minor surgical procedure on one of my big toes. I have had an ingrown toe nail for a LONG time, at least since the summer. It had been just annoying because my nail kept breaking off at about the half way point on my nail bed. I finally got my toe nail to grow better and fill in the full length of the nail bed. Sounded good, but the ingrown toe tail nail continued to be ingrown and it was down around the mid-part of my nail, not at the top edge.

On the first evening of snow day stir crazyness, I took matters into my own hands and tried to dig out the ingrown toe nail. I soaked my foot in the tub, got my nail file, nail clippers, and cuticle scissors and went to work. I created a lot of pain and drew blood, but didn't have much success in eliminating the problem.

The days went by and my nail was still annoying but nothing unusual in that. On Saturday night I began feeling this throbbing pain in my big toe. I took off my shoe and sock and discovered that the right side of my toe was red and swollen. Oh boy this looked like a trip to the doctor. Sunday night I was miserable. Luckily my G.P. could see me on MLK day. I went in got the chastising lecture an antibiotic prescription, and an appointment with the podiatrist.

I left school early on Wednesday to see the podiatrist. He looked at my toe and said I could do one of three things. 1. Take the antibiotic and see if I that takes care of the inflammation and see if the ingrown toe nail quits bothering me. 2. Remove the ingrown nail, but in looking at my nail shape he said that I would most likely continue having ingrown toe nails because my shoes are too tight. I need to wear different shoe. 3. Permanently remove a sliver of the toe nail to eliminate the reoccurring of an ingrown toe nail.

Number one in my opinion was not really an option. I had already taken matters into my own hands. Should/Would I really just leave the nail alone and it wouldn't bother me? Number two sounded fine but who likes to hear that the problem is going to continue. And realistically in the past I did have other ingrown toe nail problems just not as deep as this one. I did ask how I would find better shoes. How do you select nice looking not tight shoes. The doc says you go to a specialty store and recommended two places in town. Not guarantee on the nice looking factor. Judging by the looks of his shoes he wouldn't know what I was talking about. Number three seemed like a good possibility. He agreed and pointed out that I still should look into shoes with a wider toe span.

He got the nurse to read all the surgical wrongs that could happen and sterilize my toe. He came back and injected my toe in at least three places maybe four with a numbing agent. Let me tell you, the part of the toe stemming form the foot is extremely sensitive to shots. That was one of the most painful shots I have ever received. The doctor leaves and will return once the medication takes effect. As the area became numb the toe really began to hurt.

The doctor returns and sits at the foot of my reclined chair (much like a chair in the dental exam rooms). He says I don't recommend that my patients watch the procedure, but I'm not oppose to having them watch. Of course, my curiosity is not going to let me sit back and ignore this process. So I lean forward and settle in to watch how this is done. The doctor takes a tool (knife) and literally digs down along the side of my nail beginning at the base of my toe near the nail bed and working his way to the tip of the nail. My flesh is wiggling around, is deathly white, and there is no blood. I was completely grossed out. As the doctor moved towards the tip of my toe, I did feel the knife and gave a little yelp. He immediately stopped and asked if I felt that. Yes!! So he pulls out the shot and shoots my toe up again and says he will be back in 15 minutes.

Now, I have a strong gross threshold. I'd even go so far as to say a fascination with the medical procedures. I've done my share of watching, hand holding during procedures, and giving basic first aid while getting those bleeding professional help. Watching this initial part of the procedure about did me in. I was ready to leave when the doctor left. I was freaking out. I had to do the mental cheer leading calm down talk to get stay and let the doctor finish.

I had a magazine in my lap from the wait time in the exam room. So when the doctor walked back into the room I immediately picked up the magazine and began reading. I am sure he was thinking, "Told you not to watch!"

Recovery has been great. I am mourning the change in my shoe situation. After the surgery I could only wear loose shoes for the first two or three days. The only thing I had that wouldn't hurt were my crocs. Crocs and socks are a nice combination. After that I still needed shoes that were wider in the toe area since my toe did seem sensitive when closed in. It was quite easy to eliminate those shoe that are too tight. So now I'm on the hunt for fashionable and comfortable shoes. Let me say that these shoes are not cheap. I mean NOT cheap. I've only paid more for a pair of boots and not much more. So I'm down to wearing two pairs of shoes and my running shoes. Although I mostly feel fine I'm holding off on trying to wear some of my old favorite shoes. I can take a bath or swim in four more weeks, so at that point I should be completely healed. Then I may try to wear some of my other shoes and see how they feel. The two new expensive, comfortable pairs may have spoiled me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Age of Technology

I asked my oldest, Dugger, to vacuum the basement carpet. He went down to the basement to retrieve the vacuum from the laundry room. Doug was loading the washing machine as Dugger entered the laundry room. Dugger grabs the handle of the vacuum and begins to look it over. He turns to Doug and says, "Is this wireless?".

Doug not expecting any conversation from Dugger wasn't really listening but noticed him closely examining the vacuum says, "What?"

Dugger says,"Uh, never mind." and begins to unwind the cord. At this point it registers in Doug's brain what Dugger first said, Is it wireless? Doug couldn't contain his smirk and laughter and had to come up and relay the tale to me. I wish I could have seen it for myself.

I don't know how many of you follow the Zits comic strip but Doug swears that one of the authors Jerry Scott or Jim Borgman must have our house under surveillance. At the very least they must know Dugger. I think that this event is one for the comic strip.

In this age of technology where phones can fit in a shoe, thousands of songs, hundreds of pictures, numerous videos can fit in a pocket, and a computer fit in a backpack all with wireless access, why not a wireless vacuum cleaner. Personally this would be quite nice. That cord is pretty limiting some days.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Keeping Busy

Over our extended unplanned holiday I got a few things accomplished. I organized and filed our home paperwork (bill receipts and such). I ironed some clothes while watching the first season DVD of Commander and Chief. Between Doug and I we diminished the clothing in our ironing basket to a handful of items. I altered one dance costume. I cut and began sewing another one. I even began work on my photo album. The creative juices were starting to flow so maybe I can get a few pages finished each night this week.

Monday for some reason I was in a cooking mood. I made an apple cake, finishing off some left over ingredients from a Life Teen meal that I prepared for the church's youth group two Sundays ago. I also cooked a meatloaf for tonight's dinner. That turned out to be a good thing because I got home late from a committee meeting and it only took 30 minutes to get the remaining parts of the meal together.

Second Winter Break

Now days we don't call Christmas Break, Christmas Break. We call it Winter Break. We truly had a winter break last week. We went to school Monday and Tuesday and then had the rest of the week off because of 1)snow and blowing wind (Wed.) and 2) extremely cold temperatures (Thurs. & Fri.). Then yesterday was MKL day thus an official holiday. We were home for six days. My dad said he could not begin to imagine how cold it was here. Some highlights:

1.) So cold that we didn't even venture outside Thursday.

2.) So cold we used electric heater in two of the bedrooms so the furnace heat wouldn't come on as much.

3.) So cold that the van in the garage would not start on Friday when we did venture out. We had to restart it later.

4.) So cold that the sodas, waters, and Power Aids froze in the garage. As I found out when I was cooking Sunday, so did the potatoes. Evidently they froze and later thawed. YUK!

5.) So cold that every time I let the dog out back I'd set the stove timer so I wouldn't forget to let her back in.

6.) So cold that I had to buy new gloves because my ski ones go ruined last year. (Now this is sure to create warmer temperatures.)

7.) So cold I began wearing Doug's large cozy cologne scented hooded sweatshirts at home. He broke down and bought me my own. I'll have to add the cologne or maybe have him break it in for me.

8.) So cold that I bought T-Man ski pants for a zoo outing on Monday. Interesting that on some of the coldest days in recent history the zoo group is bonding and building relationships to sustain them in the heat of Costa Rica.