Wednesday, December 31, 2008

winner winner!

SJ won herself a copy of my buzzing sunflowers. What a way to end your daily blogging month!

(Sorry, Mike, I guess your luck finally ran out.)

Thanks for participating in my first blog giveaway!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

it's like summer in here!

Except there's winter gear all around and it's cold. But hey, I hung out a load of laundry! It was in my kitchen, sure, and I had to dry it in the dryer for about 30 minutes to have a chance of clothes being wearable by morning, but it's better than it was. Thanks, Santa, for the new and improved drying rack. I love it!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

for Beth

Let me talk a bit about my relationship with cake making: I do it all the time, but it's not obvious that I have years of experience. I have made every birthday cake for our kids (and I believe one each for my other kids!). I love making them their themed cakes, but I'm not technically good at it. I mean, it's really hard to screw up a box mix, but my cakes are always lopsided, and ALWAYS have bits of cake mixed into the frosting. I would never, ever make a cake for someone I didn't know-- and I would only make one for someone I did know if they understood what they were getting. That being said, no child (or adult, for that matter) has ever complained.

The checkerboard bit of this didn't really show up-- the colors were too similar to stand out as being distinct. I'm sure I'll have another opportunity to try again in a year or so...

birthday girly!

Today Girly is 9! It's amazing to me that it has been that long, but the math doesn't lie.

Up until this year, we have had her party in the summer. Family celebrated the real date, but all the little friends came on her half birthdate of June 28. But this year she wanted a sleep over party on her actual birthday. So last night I made a cake (fun-fetti and vanilla checkerboard cake--let's hope it comes out right!) and we cleaned her bedroom. The tree is down so we can focus on the birthday alone. My bestfriend's birthday is in 2 days, and we have learned from his experiences that it is worth the extra effort to make her so-close-to-Christmas birthday as special as those of us lucky to be born far removed from the major gift-giving holiday of the year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

spirit of giving

In honor of the day, I'm sponsoring my first comment giveaway!

If you'd like your own copy of this photo, tell me your highlight of the last 24 hours. One winner will be chosen randomly from all the responders. The winner can chose either a 5x7 or 8x10 print.

Merry merry to all my loyal readers!

(In response to Beth: we cannot claim this sunflower as our own, but I did take the shot. Ricker Hill Orchards had this huge patch of them, and instead of letting my students take one, I took pictures for them. Turns out I took one that would have earned me a fine grade in Photography with Mr. C!)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


When I was in high school, my sister's best friend since forever became one of my dear friends too. We all ran on the cross country team together, and often shared rides to and from events as we were only about 3 miles from each other. Every year we would stop at her house on our way to Christmas Eve services. Her mom would always serve us ginger ale (in a paper cup) and Greek pastries as we traded our trinkets. Throughout high school and college it was part of what we did. When we all moved away, I missed our little tradition, done amongst her aunts baking and preparing for the holiday.

Today I took Boy and Girly to their friend's to exchange gifts. They live about half a mile from us, and are in the same grade as ours. We have already started trading off ("I'd like to take the boys fishing if you'd keep the girls") and it only proves to happen more as the boys head to the middle school next year and leave the girls behind in elementary school. Girly had made her friend some homemade cards, and Boy gave his bud a little picture of them together during baseball season.

Tonight, we head to our friend's house for our Christmas Eve tradition here. It is with our group of friends here in town, and I described it as my church earlier this season, and it is. These people are a very accepting, loving, giving group, and we're lucky to be a part of their world. The details are different this year-- music instead of Christmas readings, a different house, and bestfriends joining us (!)-- but we will all be together, celebrating each other.

Christmas for me is about the people, and while my Christmas Eve memories begin with ginger ale in a paper cup, sandwiched between family commitments, they do not end there. Tonight when I lift my ginger ale cup in my friend's mom's memory (she died of cancer about 10 years ago) I will also toast to many years of the kids heading to their friends house for a few stolen hours of fun before each family heads to their event.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

should we stay or should we go?

Boy has stated publicly that he thinks we're in for a snow day. WB thinks we should... but is afraid it'll stop early enough to fool the Deciders into thinking that since the main roads are plowed, the back roads are too. Girly is really hoping for snow day, so her judgment is colored. Me? I hope not, but I'm afraid last Wednesday's folly will keep us home tomorrow.

What do you all think?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

because I enjoy making Katie and SJ happy

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? whatever I have saved to reuse from Christmas' past. And I have a lot saved...

2. Real tree or Artificial? always real

3. When do you put up the tree? this week-- Monday night.

4. When do you take the tree down? usually Dec 27-- the day before Cate's birthday!

5. Do you like eggnog? no. If it was called something else I'm sure I'd love it, but I can't get beyond the idea of drinking raw eggs...

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I got a dr. kit one year that I loved...

7. Hardest person to buy for? depends on the year. This year, my brother.

8. Easiest person to buy for? the kids, especially Girly. She just loves everything.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? yes. My mom got it for me. It's made of olive wood, and it looks like the one she got from her mother. I have the same cookie cutter set my mom has, too. I love those sorts of traditions.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? mail

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I"m sure there is one, but I can't think of it.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? When the mood hits. Usually December, although this year I started in early fall trying to spread out the payments!

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I recycle EVERYTHING (see #1) so yes, if I get something I won't use and someone else will, you bet!

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? yes

16. Lights on the tree? yes, all white

17. Favorite Christmas song? Fairytale of New York by the Pogues with Kirsty McCall.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home? Home Christmas day, but travel all around before.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all….Rudolph!

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? star. made it myself the year we were married of this stuff probably meant to top a gift. It's ugly, but there it is.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Morning. Always.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? When people do things because they "have to" and don't enjoy the season.

23. What theme or color are you using? um.... theme?

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? lamb roast, but I've never met a dinner I didn't like.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? a debt free season!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

tis the season

to be tired!

Man, am I tired. I crashed on the couch at about 8:30, waiting for WB and Boy to come back from archery. Girly and I had treated ourselves to some chinese, and I had a full belly in a slightly chilled house.

I should have been making my dad's half dips, but I couldn't keep my head up. So today, I head off to see my new grand-student born yesterday, take Girly to her gymnastics show, and then pick up the kids to bring them back to decorate sugar cookies while I do up dad's candy. Tomorrow we head to Boy's first qualifying shoot, then to my parents to exchange gifts. Sunday is a baby shower for our VT friends and then caroling in the afternoon. Monday may have a gathering, Tuesday definitely does, as does Wed and of course Thurs. Friday may take us to Mass for another gathering... so yes, tired is an extremely acceptable consequence of loving and being loved by so many people.

Monday, December 15, 2008

love train?

I inadvertantly pulled out behind The Music Man and SJ this morning. I recognized TMM first, and then checked to see that, yes, it was SJ right behind. I don't believe either of them recognized me-- I don't usually see them in the mornings so we're not time markers for each other. (I see a school board member most mornings, and we can tell how early or late we each are by where we pass and wave.) Anyhow, it made me chuckle to join a mini RVB train moving along 108.

Friday, December 12, 2008

snow day!

The first snow day of the year is usually my favorite: it reminds me of Christmas anticipation from my childhood. I love it when it's predicted days in advance, giving time for the excitement to build. And then-- added bonus-- the storm is predicted for a Friday! We got the call before 6, and went back to sleep until 9. I got the cards done and last packages mailed out, although none of the baking I had contemplated. Oh well-- the kids came over and went sledding, WB got the yard cleaned up, and Mike and Katie stayed for a beef stew and fresh bread dinner. What a great way to start the snow day season! By March I'll be praying for the storm to pass, but now, it was a perfect way to create a long weekend!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jon Stewart rocks my world

Seven minutes of your life you will not regret sitting still for.

my turn

So I was observed today. I really had no idea what to expect, what with The New Guy as my principal this year. It was fairly painless, except my kids were so nervous that they made me nervous. I talked to them about the Cuban Missile Crisis-- one of my favorite topics in recent US History. Kennedy may have been a lot of things, but he was a really good President. I mean, dude, he talked his way out of a nuclear war off the coast of Florida in the height of the Cold War-- and came out making Krushchev looking a bit weak! Anyhow, this is one of those topics that I want them to at least recognize when someone mentions it. (Yes, a lot of my lessons are built around them not looking dumb in some future hypothetical conversation, but I gotta use something as a filter, right?) Anyhow, I think it went ok, and the kids actually got involved in the conversation, and no one let an F-bomb slip. In short, they tried to make me look good. I'm not sure how New Guy defines success, but that works for me.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

ghosts of Christmases yet to come

I am sure that when I look back upon today, I will only remember that we went, and were successful, and had fun. "That was a great day"... and it was. But right now, I'm going to tell the whole story.

I wanted to take the kids to see A Christmas Carol live. We watch the George C. Scott version and the Muppet version every year, so they are well acquainted with the tale, but I felt they would benefit from seeing it done live, and by a very reputable company. WB decided he is Caroled out, so I took them alone. I also brought along my other 2 kids-- their mom had worked last night and was going to sleep all day anyway, but really, I took them because that's just what we do. I like packing up all my kids into the van and heading off on an adventure. But I digress; this is about a trip to the Big City to see a Show! They spent the night last night so we were ready to hit the road early, even as the predicted snow started to fly. The roads weren't that bad-- the snow was coming down for real around Gray, but I've driven in much, much worse. We got into town about 40 minutes early, to find that my normal parking lot was closed. Hmmm.... so I drove around the block and found onstreet parking. Sweet! When we got into the lobby, there was no one there. I mean NO ONE. The box office was closed, and no one was anywhere to be seen. After I called the box office (from 10 feet away-- one of my favorite tricks) and didn't hear our show listed, I finally stumbled upon someone who informed me I was at the wrong venue-- our show was about 5 blocks away... but she didn't give great directions, and I really didn't know where we were going. This is where the story takes it's turn.

And so we left, quickly, as we only had about 15 minutes to make curtain. I drove off to where I thought the theater was, but didn't see it. So we went around the block... to encounter one way streets. After a long drive through the Old Port, I got back to a known landmark. The one time I needed WB to be at home on the couch with the laptop open, he was working on getting the 4-wheeler ready to plow the snow. Luckily Mike was available. He googled me directions, got me a phone number, and talked me around the block again. I ended up passing the theater 3 times, but finally saw it. Another quick turnaround, into the parking garage, and we got there about 10 minutes into the show. The 4 kids sat in late seating on the left side of the house, while I was taken to the right side because there weren't enough seats for us together. After a few heated words with the stage manager ("One of them could have come with you.." "I know, but they're in, seated, quiet, and fine. Just take me to the other side.") At intermission, we found our correct seats. All was right in the world.

I have to say, through all of this, the kids were amazing. Now, they've been with me enough-- and with me as the sole adult enough-- to know how stressed I was, and how one little thing would cause me to break. So they walked quickly, sat quietly, and helped by not saying anything. There was only one big sigh as I explained how, on the third trip by, I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever find it. One quick bark from me (and I think some stares from the fellow passengers) was all that was necessary. When we were finally seated, a section apart, I heard other children talking, but not a peep from my chickens. They were happy to move, and NOT A ONE OF THEM asked for a snack at intermission. (For those of you who have not taken 8,9, 10, & 11 year olds to a noontime event, that's a super big deal!) Yes, Santa, they all earned Good Kid points today.

After the show we got some lunch and did a bit of shopping (getting lost, again, finding my way from the theater to the mall). Now I spent most of my childhood about 30 miles south of this city, and had a passing familiarity when I was in high school... twenty years ago. It took about 10 years of living up here to change my landmarks and successfully navigate the city from the north, but I don't do it often, so while I know about where I am, I don't always remember how to get from point A to B. Let's just say "I HATE the city!" was uttered more than once...

Anyhow, it really was a great day. We made it, we didn't miss much, the play was awesome, and we got some shopping done. Most importantly, we got through a rough spell together, without any of us losing it. They rallied around me as only your kids can when you're lost in the city and there's not a damn thing they can do to help. When I had calmed down enough to laugh, they laughed with me. When the show was over, they asked to fill their bellies, but didn't make demands on where. When I said it would have to be fast and cheap, they were thankful for the Happy Meals. When we shopped for WB and teacher gifts, they didn't complain. I got to walk through the city, with 4 kids in tow, and see the amazement on others faces. So yea, it was a great day. No hindsight necessary.

Friday, December 05, 2008

it's 11.

Oven: fixed. No idea on the bill, but right now, who cares?
Windshield: fixed. $100 deductible. Do-able.
Exploded pen: off my fingers. (ok, it wasn't really worthy of being the 3rd in the string, but I was hoping to end it quickly.)
Nausea: gone. Didn't even hurl. Yea me!

And the credit card is paid off. Super Duper Yea Us! Now to the equity line...

time to make the cookies.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

believe it

I jinxed myself the other post, when I said there would be more news to my updates. There is another update: the van is at Portland Glass getting it's cracked windshield replaced.

humph indeed.

Monday, December 01, 2008

it's official

The Grinch's heart has grown 3 sizes: it is now officially the Christmas season.

(FYI: We are still only watching the Boris Karlov TV half hour special: I hope to never see more of the Jim Carey movie than the teasers I had to endure when it was first released.)

Time to carve the Roast Beast. (Well, theoretically, of course, since it's 9PM and because of the whole oven thing, but you get the refrence...)


The oven: not the news I was hoping for. Friday at the earliest. We need a new ignitor, and need the part to get here, which takes 3-5 days. So, it's either stove top cooking or using the oven at school. Cookie swap cookies may just get baked with my students on Friday. Service learning or something, right?

The sunshines: I got a visit from a student today needing help. The situation is not good, but between a bunch of support people, we've got him on the path to resolving the issue. I had some resources from my fall alted conference that were very helpful ($100 well spent!!). While it pains me to have to help them all through these messes, it's further confirmation that I'm where I belong. "I didn't know what else to do, so I came to you."

The budget: working on next year's budget, which means I need to have next year's schedule. What is that going to look like? I don't know exactally.... so I'm throwing arrows in the dark.

The shopping: almost everything is purchased. I believe we're down to less than than half a dozen things to get. Then I just have a few CDs to burn and cookies to bake, and we're good to know. Feeling good about that.

Stay tuned. More news at 11.