Sunday, August 31, 2008

Three Years Ago (Hurricane Related)

Three years ago I was about three weeks out from colon cancer surgery. I'd been home from the hospital for about two weeks and was still adjusting to having a colostomy. (THAT'S an understatement!)

I was not in school due to the surgery, upcoming chemo, the colostomy, and a "woe is me" attitude.

However, I was thanking God every moment for my wonderful husband who was doing his absolute best to see our family through this situation. He waited on me hand and foot. He held me when I cried. He fielded phone calls. He took me for rides when I needed to get out. But above all else, he changed my colostomy appliance each and every time it needed to be done for the first month, until I felt confident enough to do it myself.

An appliance is supposed to last 5-7 days before it needs changed. There are a bunch of steps to do it properly, and it can irritate your skin unbelievably. The first time he did it, it took almost an hour. By the time I had my surgery to reverse it (six months later), it was only a 20-25 minute procedure.

Unfortunately, my skin seemed to reject the adhesive that was used. We tried several different kinds, and none of them really worked. That meant that the appliance leaked. And had to be changed. Often. Instead of lasting 5-7 days, mine only lasted anywhere from 12 hours to 2 days.

My skin where the adhesive was supposed to be sticking was raw, and bleeding. There is a little wipe that is supposed to be used before applying the adhesive, so that it will stick better. When that went over my raw skin, it sent me through the roof with the burning.

I was feeling sorry for myself.

Very sorry for myself.

Then Hurricane Katrina hit the New Orleans coast.

Because Ted was back to work and Joey and Alex were both in school, I was home alone for most of the day, watching TV.

As I watched the horrendous conditions brought on by Katrina, my outlook began to change.


I knew that within a year or less I would be finished with chemo. I would also have gone through colostomy reversal surgery. I would be back to my regular routine. My cancer would be over and done with.

So many of the lives of people affected by Katrina would still be in upheaval a year later, with no end in sight. Their problems would still be raging on.

My problems were insignificant compared to theirs.

So with Hurricane Gustav threatening the New Orleans area again, I'm reminded of how truly fortunate I am. I thank God for that every day.

And I've added everyone in Gustav's path to my prayers.

Friday, August 29, 2008

An Oliver Update


Believe it or not, we're still in an adjustment period, even though he's been here for 3 months.

He really doesn't care to be held, but I worked with him over the summer and he will now tolerate it for up to 5 minutes, as long as he's held in a swaddling manner. Of course, when he's had enough, he'll meow and try to swat at my face with his paw.

He still evokes deep gutteral growls from Pepina. She does NOT like him in the least and she lets that be known continually. She ignores him completely....UNLESS he gets within about 2 feet of her, and then she lets out this low growl that you would swear is coming from some kind of a jungle animal.

Marina is just a tad better at tolerating him. She will actually play (or maybe it's really fighting?) with him for a couple of minutes at a time. When she wants nothing to do with him, she hisses at him and bares her teeth in his direction. She will antagonize him by pouncing on him or putting her paws up in the air as though she's telling him to put up his can be quite hilarious.

He makes more sounds than either Pepina or Marina. He meows quite often. He can even do it without opening his mouth. When he and Marina go at it and are chasing each other and rolling around playing/fighting, and the fur is flying through the air (yes, it really is!) he can let out sounds that make you think he is being tortured beyond belief. We spent many nights this past summer, jumping out of bed to horrible sounds, only to find the two of them just chasing each other through the hall or the living room, or simply rolling around the floor nowhere NEAR each other. One night I heard some awful thuds and when I went to investigate I just knew I was going to find an unconscious cat somewhere.


They were both in the living room, one on the chair, the other on the floor, just licking themselves.

Oliver can eat like no cat I've ever seen! The cats get dry food in the morning, and around 5:00 pm they each get a can of Fancy Feast.

Pepina is served first, because she is the matriarch. Oliver gets his second, because he can't wait and will drive us crazy. Marina gets hers third, because she is so patient.

Pepina eats almost all of hers. Marina eats about 5 bites of hers. Oliver DEVOURS his, then finishes up Marina's, then goes over to Pepina's to get the last few bites of hers. By the time he's finished, all three bowls are absolutely spotless! He'd eat another can himself if we'd let him, but our vet said that he eats just the right amount.

After he eats his evening meal, Oliver saunters into our bedroom, jumps up on the bed and promptly goes to sleep. He can be in a deep sleep for a couple of hours. If we interrupt him, he's not happy.

He's been quite an addition to our feline family. He and Pepina still have to work things out, but I think it will eventually be okay.

But three is our limit.

I mean it.

No more.

Unless another calico would happen to show up at our back door.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Parenthood, Part Eight

By the end of September, I knew, without a doubt, that I was once again pregnant.

Talk about conflicting emotions! We were both going through them! We were very excited to be pregnant again, but we were not naive. It was going to be a scary ride, and one that we were not sure we could handle if it didn't go "our" way.

Other than Ted and I, the only other person who knew of our issues (besides my doctor, of course) was my mom. She was an RN at our local hospital and I would ask her questions. Throughout her years as a nurse, she had worked in every department...EXCEPT obstetrics. Just my luck. Even though the OB department deals with newborns and their mothers, there is an occasional horrible situation and information as to why or how things happened comes to light.

At this point, any information she could give me could quite possibly be helpful. But she never worked in OB, so I was out of luck. I would occasionally ask Shannon some technical questions, but her situation was different than mine, in that she could not get pregnant, and I was turning into a "Fertile Myrtle" but just not able to stay pregnant. I didn't want to arouse any suspicion, so I kept my questions to a minimum.

So here we were...pregnant for the third time, hoping and praying that this one would "stick" and we could become parents.

Each day that I was pregnant was a gift. And with each passing day, our confidence levels grew by just a hair.

We got through October with our fingers crossed and all was well. Whew. Maybe we could get through another week. That magical 12 weeks threshhold was in mid December. Could we make it? Maybe....maybe not. But I didn't want to think that far ahead. We were really only thinking one day at a time. That was it.

In November my doctor prescribed natural progesterone for me, so that I could create a wonderful, hormone enriched environment for what was growing inside of me (can you tell I was almost in denial?) So twice a day I inserted progesterone inside of me, then laid down for an hour so that as it melted, it wouldn't leak out. It must have worked because we got through the entire month with no spotting. Come on... I don't like being teased. Could we possibly make it to 12 weeks? Maybe so....but that was too far away.

One day at a time.

Suddenly we were approaching the middle of December. A year earlier I was pregnant for the first time and things went into a downward spiral quickly and pretty much ruined our Christmas. But this year? Things were looking....okay.

I had no morning sickness, but would have welcomed it with open arms if it showed up.

No spotting, and we were almost to 12 weeks.

Of course I had an appointment in early January with my doctor. Was it too early to actually think about being able to really GO to that appointment?? After that appointment we were going to tell people that we were expecting a baby in late June.

On Friday, December 13 (can you believe it??) I would be 12 weeks and maybe, just maybe, we could breathe a sigh of relief.

I woke up that morning feeling just fine and dandy, and decided that it would be okay if I finally admitted to myself that I was pregnant.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Bedtime

I need to go to bed by 10:00 pm if I'm to be worth anything the next day at school.

Last night we had a couple of calls about some family business and six of us need to attend a meeting tonight at 8:00. One of the professionals involved has appointments up until then. Our meeting could easily go two hours or longer. I even told this guy on the phone that my bedtime is 10:00 and must be strictly adhered to. He chuckled. I didn't.

I just told Ted that I'm going to take my shower and show up at the meeting in my robe and slippers.

Ted said that I can take a shower before we go, but I have to wear real clothes.

This could get ugly.

Believe me, I am NOT pleasant to be around if I haven't had enough sleep.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Deadliest Catch

I just love this Discovery Channel show. Ted was watching it one Sunday this summer and had me sit down to watch it with him. By the time it was over, I was hooked on it. I wish I could actually pinpoint what it is that makes me like it so much, but I just can't quite put my finger on it.

It could be that they are all living life on the edge. One wrong move on a crab boat, and you could end up in the water. It could be that the men seem to really know their trade, for the most part. They need to work together like a well oiled machine. It could be that there's competition between the boats, comparing how much crab they can bring in. It could be that they occasionally face serious issues out on the water and can't always count on the Coast Guard to help them, due to the weather. It could be that the men on the boats are a little on the "rough" side, if you know what I mean. Sometimes that gruffness can be intriguing. It could be any number of things, but whatever it is, I keep going back for more.

A few weeks ago I was watching "Martha" (Martha Stewart) one morning, and one of her guests was Sig Hansen, the captain of the Northwestern, one of the fishing boats from "Deadliest Catch." They talked about crab fishing and the boats up in the Bering Sea. Sig said that now there are college guys saying that they work on crab boats, as a pick-up line! At the risk of stereo-typing, it is definitely a "manly" type job. Martha had a chef on the same episode and he made a fancy crab dish (okay, so I don't like fish that well, and therefore don't know exactly what these fish dishes are called). After it was made, Martha invited Sig and one of his brothers, who also works on the boat, up to taste it. They both really liked it, but to be honest, they looked as though they were into quantity, rather than quality.

Sig Hansen

So now I've admitted that I have a new found obsession with "Deadliest Catch."

Is there a television show that you're hooked on?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Great Weekend

We had a wonderful Saturday evening! A frequent commenter here (Terre) and I first met at Buckeye Girls State in June of 1975. Although we lost touch for a long time, the Virginia Tech tragedy in April of 2007 actually brought us back in contact. (It's a long story for another time.)

Terre lives in Virginia but still has some family a county over from us. She, her husband, and her youngest son came to see her father and to attend a family birthday party Saturday, then came here to see us for the evening.

Although we met Terre, her youngest son, her oldest daughter and her boyfriend for lunch one day last summer, this was the first time we'd met her husband. Terre always said he'd get along with anyone, and she's absolutely right! By the time they left, it was as though we'd known him forever!

Terre has gone through a difficult experience this summer and she can now put it behind her, so she has one more week to relax before she starts back to school. I, for one, am very grateful that she decided to relax by heading back to Ohio for an all too brief visit.

We had the BEST time with them! They have had so many life experiences and have made sure that their children have too. Not only are they both intelligent, articulate people, they are also funny and witty. Their son is too. He just says exactly what he's thinking and holds nothing back...I love it! With him, you will always know where you stand!

As I've stated many times here, we don't do a lot, so when something happens, it's well worth writing about. It was so refreshing to spend some time with other adults, ahhhhhhh.... They are such a great couple too. It's so obvious that after 22 years of marriage he still absolutely adores her, and vice versa. I felt as though they're like us...the starts just happened to be in the right alignment when we got together, and things just all went RIGHT from there on.

Yesterday I spent about 4 hours in the pool. I was in for about an hour and a half, then Patty, my sister in law, came over. We were both in the water for a while, then my parents showed up. My mom is still doing well with her floating with a noodle. I'm very proud of her! We all had a nice time, but by the time I came in I could tell that I'd had a little too much sun. My lips are sunburned. Yep, who would have thought that could happen? Several years ago I had some sunblock lip balm, but do you think I have any clue where it is?? Of course not...that would make things way too simple. So my lips are fried. They're starting to feel a little bit better now though.

All in all, it was a very nice relaxing weekend...and for that I'm thankful!

Friday, August 22, 2008

One Week Down

It's been a busy week here and I am definitely ready for a break! A day filled with meetings, a work day, Open House, an inservice day, and two school days with students. And the best part tears! (at least on my part. yet.)

Usually I can't sleep the night before our first staff day, but this year I slept just fine. In fact, I slept pretty well most nights this week, with just a little help from Tylenol PM. Now that I'm getting into the groove, it shouldn't be too bad. We only have 180 more days to go until summer vacation, whew!

Joey starts classes next Monday, and he's just as thrilled as he can possibly be. NOT. But the end of his classwork is in sight. This will be his last year, we hope. He's 1 semester hour short of senior status, and he's hoping that when the spring schedule comes out, it will have all the classes he needs to finish up. Then it will be time to take that college degree and head out to the real world! What a scary thought....yikes!

Alex also starts next Monday, as a hot-shot senior in high school. He's been thinking about college, but doesn't really know what he wants to major in. He will more than likely start off at our local campus of a major university. If he wants to go away to college after that, then that's fine. As long as it isn't too far from home. And has decided on a major. He's sort of beginning to lean toward one direction, but he's just not sure yet.

I normally do not like to shop. I never have. I know, I's totally against the grain for a female to not enjoy shopping, but I just don't.

HOWEVER, when it comes to school supplies, I can ram my cart down the Target or Wal*Mart aisles with the best of them! I have a small room in our basement dedicated to school supplies... if I need something or the kids need something, they can just go down there and look for it, because chances are, I've got it.

Even though it's only August 22, I consider it to be fall, just because school has begun. I complain about it, but then once I'm settled in, it's okay.

Enough rambling about school stuff, at least for now. Time to have a chat with my housekeeper, my laundress, and my cook to see how the weekend is shaping up.

(That would be ME, in case you haven't figured it out yet.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Parenthood, Part Seven

Since the second miscarriage occurred at just a couple of days past 10 weeks, my doctor felt that a D&C was not necessary. He met with me a few weeks later and checked me out, and said that (once again) these things happen and it doesn't mean that we wouldn't be able to have a baby. He said that we shouldn't panic, but that we should just relax.

(Oh, my many times have we heard THAT??)

Two miscarriages.


I again went to the library and checked out some books. I read them over and over, copying down certain information. This was back before people had computers in their homes and NO ONE had a copy machine or a printer that would copy! I could take the books back to the library and make copies there at 10 cents a page, but I just felt better writing it all down.

Hey, I was two thirds of the way to becoming a "habitual aborter!" Gee, now THERE'S something to write home about. That's the designation you get after three unexplained miscarriages. Honestly, could they have come up with a worse term?

This is where things got tricky. I was really struggling with my emotions. Why did so many other women get pregnant and deliver babies? It just wasn't fair. There were high school girls out there having babies that they really didn't plan for and I couldn't have a baby that we desperately wanted. What was up with that???

Again, Ted didn't feel the need to talk about the losses, but I did. It was so hard. My good friend Shannon still knew nothing about our issues, so I couldn't talk to her about what was going on. Besides, every few months, someone she knew was getting pregnant and I was the one that she felt she could talk to about her feelings. On the outside she was very happy for these women, but on the inside she was crushed that it wasn't her. I understood more than she ever knew, but wanted her to be able to feel as though she hadn't been abandoned by me. So I said nothing.

We purposely did not try to conceive throughout the summer. Not only were we trying to let my body heal, but my emotions needed to heal too. It was a rough time.

Something else happened to add insult to injury. Somewhere in the rural part of our county a farmer on a tractor discovered a garbage bag tossed into a corn field. When he opened the bag, he found a dead infant, wrapped in a blanket. After an investigation, it was determined that a teenage girl had kept her pregnancy a secret and after giving birth, disposed of the body in this black garbage bag. Other details are a little sketchy in my mind, as this happened back in the mid 1980s, BUT I was so upset.

The investigation revealed who the girl was, who gave birth to the child, and determined that the baby boy had been born alive. HOW COULD SHE HAVE THROWN AWAY HER CHILD????

I was sad for the baby that never got to grow up and become a child.

I was mad at the teenage girl for having made a STUPID decision.

If only she had spoken to an adult she trusted. The baby could have been put up for adoption and grown up in a home with parents who loved him.

This just wasn't fair. Here she was, having a baby she didn't want, and here we were, wanting a baby, but not able to have one.


We got through the summer and once September rolled around, we were ready to begin this journey again.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Prize

This is the centerpiece I won at yesterday's opening breakfast/meeting. Can you tell I'm still excited about it? Hahaha! I love all the different kinds of flowers in the mug.

(When I saw the round, glass thing on the left in this shot, I thought it looked like an ashtray, BUT IT'S NOT! It's actually a coaster. I almost always have a bottle of water there, but had just finished it before I took this picture. The picture of Joe and Alex is at least 5 years old, but it's the most recent professional photo I have of them together! So until there's a new one, that's the one I'll keep out on my desk!)

I share a room with another reading intervention teacher and I took a couple of pictures after we got all of our stuff out and organized today. Our principal arranged our schedules so that for the first 45 minutes of the day, we are EACH going to have seven children at the same time in this room (for a grand total of 14!) and we are both going to be teaching the same identical thing! We both have a round table and the room is divided by three bookshelves that are a little over 3 feet high.

Can we say distracting??

And we have to fit all seven kids and the teacher around this round table. How in the world are they going to be able to have space to put their books up there? What about room when they are writing?? My complaint has already been lodged with the "powers that be" but so far the only suggestion has been to put in another round table. That way it will almost look like an "8" and there won't be any extra space on each side of the room at all. I mentioned getting a rectangular table, but I asked for a guarantee that I will get the round table back when we need it. What I really want is a kidney table or a trapezoid table, but there aren't any extra ones around the district.

(Yes, we have a flag in our room, but I also have this little one. You can see my watch on my desk. I always take it off when I get to work, for some reason. My pink cell phone is next to my watch. I keep it in an old credit card holder so it won't get all scratched up. Our building wide theme is "Oceans", so that's why the fish border is around the bulletin board. We use this bulletin board for US, not the kids. This is where we put a big calendar, special events papers, duty schedule, etc. That's why it's empty right now.)

Tonight was Open House. Three out of the five school board members showed up at not only our school, but all seven schools in the district, along with the superintendent. These particular people always make it a point to show up at everything and those of us who work there really appreciate that.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I never win ANYTHING.

I quit playing the lottery, both the instant tickets and the lotto, because I never win anything.

I buy tickets for all kinds of raffles, yet I've never won a thing.

Heck, even when I would play games with the kids at school once in a great while, I never win.

I feel like Charlie Brown sometimes. Heck, there could be a drawing for 99 prizes and only 100 entries...without a doubt, I'd be the only one to not win.

HOWEVER, today that all changed!

At our opening day meeting, the entire district met at our high school. We have a gorgeous high school that's only about 8 years old and there's plenty of parking (a bonus in and of itself!). For the past few years, someone has contacted a few local restaurants and asked them to donate $25 gift certificates for a raffle. We also have eight large tables in the auditeria and they each have a centerpiece for the opening meeting.

As we walk in to the auditeria, we're given a ticket. The superintendent's secretary makes sure that everyone gets a ticket. At the end of the meeting, tickets are drawn for the restaurant gift certificates and the centerpieces.

And my luck has now forever changed.


It's a mug with a school district emblem on it, and it has floral sponge (or whatever it's called) with live flowers. It's just the right size for my desk, which is where it is sitting right now.

When the superintendent called out my number, I just yelled "YES!" and put my arms in the air. Some people don't think it's a big deal to win a centerpiece, but I sure do! I was one of the last ones out of the auditeria (a few of us had a short meeting after the "big" meeting), and there was a centerpiece still sitting there. No one had claimed it. That made me win something and then don't take it?? How rude and disrespectful is that?

Anyway, I'm a life long loser NO MORE!!


Saturday, August 16, 2008

It's That Time Again

A friend of mine has started a blog. I'd include the link, but I didn't ask her for permission, and I don't like to do those things without getting the author's approval. Anyway, she's also a teacher and had a wonderful comment about the school year starting.

It's like she was writing it just for me to read.

I've been complaining a little (yes, me) about having to start school so early. We start on Monday, but kids don't come until Thursday. It seems as though the summer has flown by and I haven't yet completed everything on my list. Besides, the weather has been a little cool for the last week or so and next week (naturally) it's supposed to warm up again. And where will I be??? IN SCHOOL

Kelli said that she's excited about starting a new school year. Then she mentioned that it's always a new beginning. The kids (and teachers) have new crayons, new markers, new folders, new this, new that....she's right. It IS a new beginning.

As much as I complain about things at the very beginning of the year, I'm always glad to start the year off. The worst part is getting up early and getting out of the house on time. I tend to struggle with that for the first few weeks.

I really do love what I do, but like so many people, need a kick in the behind to get started. Kelli gave me that. Sensing her excitement, I felt more motivated than I have in quite a while.

One year, a very long time ago, Ted had gotten up early on a Sunday morning. The next day was our first day of school. He came back upstairs and saw that I was sort of awake and said, "Just stay in bed. You don't need to get up for anything. Just sleep in, know." Bless his heart. He really did understand.

Of course this is the same man who would make a ton of noise when he got up and knew that we had a snow day. "What are you going to DO all day???" I would simply reply...."nothing, absolutely nothing." He eventually quit asking, hahaha.

The plan is to be more organized this year (quit laughing). I'll have all my clothes for the week ready to go by Sunday evening, and lined up in my closet in the proper order of the days I will be wearing them. (I told you to stop laughing at me.) I'll also make up a weekly dinner menu on the weekend, so that I know what I will be fixing for dinner and can make sure that I have everything I need (If you're not going to quit laughing, then just stop reading.) I'm even thinking about making a master list of major chores that need to be done around here, and assigning them a day, so that it's not overwhelming on the weekends. Or I could hire a cleaning lady. (That's enough. No more.)

But (and this is a secret) I really am starting to get a wee little bit excited about Monday morning, thanks to Kelli.

Pictures and Vegetables

Yesterday morning I went to the photography studio where Alex had his senior portraits taken, and placed the order. Although I had mentioned to Ted and other family members that I was sure it would be over $1000, I was hoping deep inside that I was wrong...WAY wrong.

I wasn't, sigh.

The total bill would have been less than $1000 if the pictures weren't so darn good. We had the same problem with Joey's pictures, except his total was a little over $800, but that was four years ago, and with inflation, it's probably close to the same.

That's okay though...we have two sons, and we really don't mind spending money on them for things like this because they appreciate it, and they are both really good kids who haven't given us any trouble.

The photographer stopped in while the lady and I were working on the order. I was glad, because I wanted to tell him personally how happy we were with the proofs. He seemed genuinely appreciative to hear that.

After leaving the studio I headed to my folks' house to get some things out of their garden. They always have a nice garden, and there's nothing like a fresh, homegrown tomato, mmmmmmm. They gave me a several regular tomatoes and a bunch of grape tomatoes, along with a cucumber, a green pepper, and some hot peppers. I mentioned to them that they did a great job staking up their tomatoes. A few of the plants are taller than the actual stakes! The only part of the plants touching the ground are the actual stems. There's room to walk in between the plants without squashing tomatoes. They grow cucumbers at either end of the plot, and one end seems to be producing more and larger cucumbers than the other. I prefer the smaller ones. I just think they taste a little better, but some of theirs are really HUGE. Cucumbers tend to hide too. You check them out and see blossoms and the vines, and the next day, there are suddenly 10 of them. It's like, "where did you come from?" I love how the leaves on cucumber plants feel...soft, with a wee little bit of texture.

After I put my vegetables in the car, we went back inside and talked for a while. Without getting into too much detail, part of our conversation centered around a particular person. My father has a very strong personality. He's had to with his career in law enforcement. He's got a real tough exterior, but just a few of us chosen ones have seen a glimpse of his softer side. He doesn't put up with B.S. either. He.just.does.not.period.

So in this conversation in regards to someone, he happened to ask me how I could even have this person come to our home and be civil to them. I said that in my heart, I knew I was doing the right thing. This person is rather immature and doesn't always treat people nicely. I said that when I die, I will know that I always welcomed them and treated them as they should be treated. He commented again that he didn't know how I could do that, especially given the things that this person has said about me and treated me on occasion.

I mentioned that I was raised properly, and that's why I do it. I glanced over at my mom, and she had a knowing, understanding look on her face, and looked at my dad. I said that they both raised me the right way. For a brief moment, he didn't know what to say, which for anyone who knows my dad, realizes that that in itself is a shock, because Dad always has a comment ready!

I've always thought that men think differently than women, and this was just another example of why I think that way.

It just never occurred to him that THEY are the reason that I've turned out the way I am. They get all the credit for the formative years, and once I was able to make decisions for myself, all those decisions were/are based on my background. I like to think that I'm a good person, who does things for all the right reasons. I've learned right from wrong, and choose to go down the right path. And that's all based on how I was raised.

So, thank you Mom and Dad.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Alex's Senior Pictures

We were really pleased with these!

He wanted some shots with his guitars, so we took five guitars and an AC/DC poster with us. Although they're all good, there are only a couple from this page that I was extremely thrilled with.

On this second page, I really like the first one. It just screams "poster" to me, so we might get it made into a poster for the guitar room in the basement. I have to find out the cost first...but when you're spending close to a thousand dollars on senior pictures, what difference does it make? It's only money. (Completely said with tongue in cheek.)

He looks so grown up in some of first I could hardly believe it was our little boy!

I really liked the ones with him sitting against the tree. We have a big outside one of Joey, matted and framed, on our mantle, and we'll probably get one of these to match it.

The photographer said that very few of his senior portraits clients bring a suit, but I insisted on it. To me, that's a classic portrait. The photographer said that most high school guys don't have a suit, and that's probably true. Both Joey and Alex got a suit a couple of years ago when our niece got married. Fortunately, Alex's still fit. A classic black suit never goes out of style, so hopefully he's pretty close to being done growing and it will fit for years to come. The photographer suggested the look in the first two shots on this page. I like the second one a LOT. It looks like he'd been playing in a club all night, and just about everyone's gone, and the employees are cleaning up, but he's so into the music that he just can't put the guitar down. A couple of these pictures look like the typical realtor pose though, and I just can't get into those.
We're going to have a hard time narrowing down our choices...there are so many great ones to pick from!

(There's another new post right below this one.)

I'm Making a Statement

Yesterday was far from fun, sitting through a training session that those of us who were there already know, was a waste of time.

The consultant was fair to mediocre. She led us through a few lessons with the intervention program, but couldn't answer a lot of the questions because they pertained to our building in particular. The curriculum director stopped by and tried to answer some of the questions, but he's not in our building on a day-to-day basis, so he doesn't have a clue. However, he said he would discuss our concerns with our principal. In hindsight it would have been best if our principal had been at the training session, but she wasn't. If some changes are not made in the building schedule, this new reading intervention program has a slim-to-none chance of succeeding. (And I do NOT want to hear about how our special ed teachers are doing just fine with it! NO INSULT TO ANY SPECIAL ED TEACHERS OUT THERE! It's just how things come out of certain people's mouths.)

The consultant who did the training wanted to spend time showing us a powerpoint presentation on part of the company's program that we will NOT be using. And that will benefit us how?? I sort of spoke up and said that since we would not be using that part, we would get nothing out of the powerpoint. I don't think she was very happy with me, but she chose not to show it.

After lunch she took us through a few more lessons, then wanted to go over their brand spanking new products that could go along with what our district already purchased. Someone asked if we had what she was about to show us, and in a rather exasperated voice, said that it was brand new and no, we did not have it yet, but could purchase it. Okay, and given that almost every single school district in the state of Ohio is in a dire financial situation, just where would the money come from to purchase this brand new software, etc? She wasn't able to answer that, so again I spoke up and said that since we did not make the purchasing decisions and have been told repeatedly that there is NO money, why should we spend valuable time going over it? And again, she seemed rather exasperated and said that she guessed she didn't have to show it to us. Then she said that she was done and asked if we had questions.

Okay, then I sort of felt a little bad that I had kind of eliminated part of her plans for the day and said something to the effect of us needing to actually use the program for a few weeks, then we would know the questions we'd have. (at lunch a group of us discussed just this, among other things) I said that it would be best if we could meet with her again after we'd implemented the program because we would know a little more about what we were doing. She pretty much had no comment about that, so I guess I'm off her Christmas card list. She let us out a little early then.

I'm just a little frustrated about some things as far as starting up this school year goes, starting with how EARLY it's beginning. Many of us are tired of being expected to do more and more and more with less time, fewer materials, and less cooperation from some staff members. I realize I'm being a little vague, but there are a couple of people I work with that occasionally visit this site and I don't want to be pointing fingers and assigning blame. But for the record, those visitors here are not the ones I'm referring to.

So anyway, I'm making a statement. I refuse to go to school any earlier than I am required to. When we ended the school year, I went through a lot of stuff and threw a bunch of junk out. All I really need to worry about is getting the top of my desk in order, along with the countertop by my round table (and do NOT even let me get started on my round table...that I wish would magically turn into a kidney shaped table).

There's a bulletin board to put up, but I have the idea floating around in my head, and I know it won't be too difficult to do.

This year I plan on keeping track of how much extra time I spend at school. Last year I cut way back on it, and plan to continue that trend this year. What doesn't get done, doesn't get done. I'm only one woman and I wasn't in line when they gave out the passes for the clones. I plan on leaving the building at the teacher dismissal time at least three days a week.

I'm good at what I do. I have the data to back that statement up. I get kids excited about reading. I help kids hone their skills not only in reading, but with test taking skills (ah yes, the's all about the tests). I have kids coming up to me, asking me why they can't be in my reading groups and they really really want to be. Not only do I make education fun and exciting, but I make it functional.

But what really irritates me is that no one seems to be interested in the facts and data unless it says what administration wants it to say.


So I'm making my statement. I plan on enjoying the last few days of summer break. I only have two commitments left. Tomorrow I have an appointment with my oncologist, and Friday I have an appointment to order Alex's senior pictures. I'll have to share the proofs with all of you soon...we were really pleased with them!

And that's it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Parenthood, Part Six

Although I was still coming to terms with the miscarriage, I was cautiously optimistic with this second pregnancy. We were getting more and more excited as each day went by.

"If only I can get to that magic 12 week mark, we'll be set!" I kept thinking to myself. Once we got to 9 weeks, it was as though we had the goal in sight.

One Friday evening that spring, we went to a local golf course with another couple. No, we don't golf. (Anyone who knows me personally can attest to the fact that golfing would be the LAST thing I would be able to do!)

Dan worked with Ted, and also played guitar. He's a fantastic guitar player and has played with several local bands over the years. On this particular evening, his band was going to be playing at the clubhouse of the golf course and we went along to keep his wife company and to hear the band play.

It was a nice, cool, spring evening and we were having a great time. Of course no one else knew that I was pregnant, so the only baby talk was in reference to Dan and Chris' little boy. He was adorable. He sat on his mom's lap, watching his dad play.

At one point a little girl got up and went to the middle of the floor and began dancing. She must have been 2 years old. She was darling! I kept staring at her, thinking that if our baby was a girl, this is what she might look like in a few years. She had baby blue eyes that sparkled, and a great big smile. She had thick brown hair with bangs, that was absolutely perfect. She was a little chunky and could somehow feel the beat of the music. She was dancing in perfect rhythm to the songs. She was dressed in jeans and a short sleeve pink shirt.

I kept staring at her, thinking about how easily this little girl could be ours....we both have blue eyes, we both have brown hair, we both have fairly nice smiles, and we both are *ahem* a little (okay, maybe a LOT) on the chunky side. We both understand music and can certainly keep a beat.

This is what our little girl will look like when she's two years old!

I just couldn't take my eyes off of her. Her dad was in the clubhouse, but her mother was watching her closely and smiling the entire time we were there.

After we got home that night, I just couldn't get that little girl out of my mind. That's when I more or less figured out that I was carrying a girl. Okay, I know you really can't tell, but I just had this STRONG feeling.

I told Ted about all of this, and he agreed with me. (He's such an easy going guy!) We were both starting to feel really good about this baby.

We still kept the positive thoughts a few days later, when the spotting began. I called the doctor's office and he wanted to see me. He examined me and thought that things looked okay. He said that he was confident that the spotting had stopped and to call him if things changed.

I was scheduled to sub the next couple of days, and that was probably a good thing. It kept my mind occupied. However, the spotting started again and was pretty heavy within two days. My doctor scheduled an ultrasound for me, at a nearby x-ray lab. I got up really early one morning and began drinking and drinking and DRINKING. Back then I didn't drink very much water, so I was drinking Hawaiian Punch, of all things. My appointment was first thing, so I had to be there by 8:00. By this point, the heavy spotting was more like full force gushing and I knew in my heart that it was all over.

I had the ultrasound and my doctor's office called the next morning to tell me that there was nothing there. Nothing. At. All.

We were no longer expecting a baby by Christmas.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Morning Practice

This morning my radio came on at 6:45. The clock radios in the bedroom are purposely set 10 minutes fast because....well, just because.

When my radio came on, Ted was in the bathroom. He obviously heard it, because he said, "What's that all about?"

I said, in my brightest morning voice, "I'm practicing waking up early this week."

He laughed at me.

My plan was to start at 6:45 today and gradually back it up to 5:30, rather than just start cold turkey. YIKES!

I actually have a training session to attend tomorrow. I need to be there at 8:00 and it lasts until 3:00. (Can you imagine? All freaking day long. And naturally, the weather is going to be gorgeous tomorrow. Whatever.)

Ted hasn't been feeling very well this weekend, and if he's getting bronchitis like he had last February (for the ENTIRE month, I might add) it needs to be nipped in the bud. I told him that he needed to make an appointment with the doctor today.

He came home about half an hour ago to clean up and change clothes before going to the doctor and he found me *ahem* asleep on the couch in the den. I asked him what time it was. He told me. Then I told him I'd been asleep for about an hour.

"This getting up early thing just isn't going to work out for me."

"I'll call Beth (my principal) and tell her you won't be coming in this year."

Smart a**.

It's a good thing he left for his appointment then, or I would have had to hit him with a pillow...nah, I was all comfy, and really didn't want to give up the pillow my head was resting on.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Nerve

I'm going off on a tangent without even thinking about it. I usually think a little about what I'm going to write about before I put my fingers on the keyboard, but this time??? I'M NOT!

After checking our email and seeing a message from Time Warner Cable about going paperless, I just flipped my lid.

Am I the only person out there who thinks these companies have NERVE asking us to go green and therefore paperless?? How many bills do you receive in the mail with all kinds of other CRAP in them?

If I happened to purchase something at Kohls, or Elder Beerman, or Penneys, or I've used my Visa card and get a bill in the mail, it's NEVER just the bill itself. OH NO...they also include advertisements for something. Even the utility companies are doing it. Some of them add so much JUNK to their bill that I'm surprised that they don't have to include additional postage!

And now they have the guts to suggest to us that we go paperless??


When all my bills begin coming in an envelope with nothing but the bill and a return envelope inside, then we can talk. Until then...forget it!

Friday, August 8, 2008

A School Dream...ALREADY!

It really wasn't a bad dream, but it was still a dream about school. I think it was triggered by talking to a teacher I share a room with. We've talked several times in the last few days, as the "drama" has already begun, sigh. We go back on Monday, August 18, but some teachers have been working in their rooms already.

So I was dreaming that I had to go to our central office and look up information in a filing cabinet in our superintendent's office. I was not happy because we did not have to be there yet, but for some reason I had to go do this.

This is where I should add that in the past I've always gone in about 3-4 times a week for the few weeks before school actually starts that we are permitted in the building. Yes, even though the custodians are there all summer long, teachers are not permitted to come in until about 2-3 weeks before school begins. I've actually enjoyed going in's given me time to get organized.

Okay, so in this dream, I was NOT happy about being there and I had a 7 month old son. No one was available to watch him for me, so I had to bring him with me. Keep in mind, our sons are 17 and 21, so it's been a L O N G time since I've had a little boy around (except for our great nephew!).

I had my son in one of those baby carriers that strap onto your chest, and he was soooooooo good! He was happy, giggling, and smiling the entire time I was there. Everyone was fussing over him, telling me how good he was, how cute he was, etc. I was just thrilled that he was being good so I could get my work done.

As I was looking through the filing cabinet with one hand, I had my other hand on the baby, and was lightly rubbing his tummy. That's when I woke up.

And there was Pepina, lying on my chest, asleep, with a grin on her face, as I was petting her.

She will occasionally get up on my chest when I'm sitting or lying down. She just likes to lie on me for some reason, so apparently she had decided that she wanted to be on me at some point during the night. She used to do this all the time when she was younger, but hasn't done it much lately.

I wonder if this means I'll be able to take her to school with me this year? Hahaha!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Personal Note to "Old Friend" Commenter

Thank you so much for commenting here...I really appreciate it!

The first time you commented, I had about 10 different people running through my mind as to who you could be. I asked Ted if he had any thoughts. You know him..."I don't know." Each time you commented, I narrowed down the list. Just a few days ago I mentioned it again to Ted. When I told him that it was either "Person A" or "Person B" he again said, "I don't know." (He's such a big help when it comes to things like this.)

Of course YOU know that I can't just let things go, hahaha. Of course my investigative side jumped into this way back when, after your first comment. I have statistical information about readers who view my blog and that was a HUGE help, even though where someone connects to the internet through, is not always where they live.

Anyway, I do appreciate your comments and I hope you keep them up!

P.S. You're right about the Browns...they may turn out okay this year. The boys (Joe, Alex, and Ted) wanted me to get them tickets for a game, but we have to be selective about which game because of when it's played. They don't want to go up for a Monday night or Sunday night game because of work/school the next day. Ted doesn't want to go up for a 4:15 game on a Sunday because he hates driving in unfamiliar areas after dark (who doesn't?), so that leaves the four Sunday 1:00 games. Three of those games are Nov. 23 or later, and you know how cold it can be in a Cleveland Stadium at that time of the's hit or miss. It could be a balmy 2 degrees above zero OR it could be 68! They don't really want to take a chance. So that just leaves an early November game...and it's against the Baltimore Ravens. Do we really want to get into the whole Ravens thing??? I don't think so. And the NFL can change the start time of any game, making a 1:00 game into a 4:15 game, and that wouldn't work out. Anyway, it's doubtful that they'll be going this year. They have ONE game on the NFL Network this season, so that's the only one we probably won't be able to see. We really don't want to switch from cable to least not yet. If half of the games were on the NFL network and half of the OSU games were only shown on the Big Ten Channel, then we'd probably switch, but until then we're sticking with cable.

Thanks again for commenting, and give that spouse of yours a big hug from us!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Oddest Thing

I saw the oddest thing this morning. Since I've committed to this "hair" thing, I realize that I have to be consistent about having it trimmed and colored. This morning I had an appointment to have that done in the next town over. Our towns are so close that the only way you know you've left one and have entered the other is by seeing the sign. I swear there's a Burger King that's half in our town and half in the next town.

Because we live at the far end of our town and I was going to the middle of the next town, it was easier for me to use the interstate. I was in the right hand lane (which for those of you who know me in real life is a shock, I realize!) and a car was quickly approaching on my left, getting ready to pass me.

I glanced over and then did a double take. The driver was on the RIGHT side! The dashboard and steering wheel were on the right side, so I know it wasn't someone just being goofy. There was only one person in the car too. He had his window down, so I could see right in.

After he passed me, I really looked at the car. It was a Honda, but looked like an older model. Then I began to wonder...did this guy come from one of those countries where the steering wheel is on the right and he's re-located with his car here? Or was this a project that he decided to undertake?

How must take a lot of getting used to, having to figure out how to pull into parking places, how to parallel park, stuff like that. How on earth do you manage going through a drive-thru??

Anyway, I just thought it was pretty odd to see that.

Favre Fiasco

I'm the first to admit that I don't know all the ins and outs of the Brett Favre situation, but what I DO know doesn't put him on my "A" list, that's for sure.

To the best of my knowledge....
  • Brett Favre tearfully retired from professional football after many years with the Green Bay Packers.

  • The Packers announce that Aaron Rodgers would be their starting quarterback.

  • Several months go by.

  • Brett Favre has changed his mind and now wants to come back to the Packers.

Well. I used to like Brett Favre, but now I think he has a serious lack of judgment. Just because the great and almighty BF wants to come back, the Packers are suddenly to accept him with open arms???


What about Aaron Rodgers, who has been groomed to be the next starting QB? What is he supposed to do? He was assured the starting job, but now that's all up in the air because BF changed his mind???

Personal note to Brett Favre: just passing along a piece of advice I first received as a made your bed, now lie in it!

You retired. That's it. Second guessing your decision? Grow up and keep it to yourself.

Are you creating havoc, just because you can??? How rude. I bet you weren't raised to be rude, were you? How you act and treat others is a direct reflection on your parents. I know that your dad passed away a few years ago. What do you think he's saying about your changing your mind?

Man up and stick with your decision.

If you'd have been patient and had not rushed into the decision like you apparently did, you wouldn't have created this fiasco.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Pyromaniac?

Last night we went out for dinner with AP and UT and Uncle Mac. Joey went with us. Alex would have gone, but he was working. Joey usually stays home, but decided to come along. That was nice.

After dinner we sat around the table talking since the restaurant wasn't very busy by that time. Even though we're all family and talk often, we still find things to talk about. Figure that one out. Peg (Ted's sister) and Mac (her husband, our brother in law) will be moving next door to us once their house is finished in early spring. And then all three of our families will be together. Maybe we'll be able to pretend it's the olden days and when a 5 day blizzard hits we can all huddle together in one house to stay warm. Even if the power goes out, we have a gas fireplace and Ted has assured me many times that we will be able to keep warm in the living room if need be. We could sit and play games by candlelight.

Anyway, back to summer here. After dinner, we told them that we were going to have a fire on our back patio and that they were welcome to come over.

We have a small fire pit set. It has four nice, big, comfy chairs and a table with a square copper bowl in the center. We don't have fires nearly as often as I would like, but at least we get a little use out of it.

We got home. Alex got home from work. Ted gathered up the kindling and a few small logs. Joey put in some wadded up newspaper and then lit a match.

It takes a little bit of playing with to get it going right and that's what I enjoy doing. I usually save a rather sturdy stick from the kindling and use that as my poker throughout the night. The responsibility of keeping the fire going rests squarely on my shoulders...and I love it.

(Hmmm...are we seeing a recurring theme here? the gas fireplace inside, playing games by candlelight, and a firepit in the back....interesting)

The flames can be mesmerizing at times. They look so stoic as they curl up around the logs. Sometimes they come up from both sides and just barely kiss each other on top of the wood. Then there's the occasional crackle and a piece of ash wafts's enough to fall in love with the fire. Not to mention the slightest hint of smoke in the air and the aroma that accompanies it.

Taking the "poker" and moving the logs and kindling around can be quite a daunting task, you know. I have to make sure that the logs and embers actually STAY in the pit, or at least ON the table. I also want the wood at the bottom to get enough air to continue to burn. Then there's the spacing issue. I prefer that the wood not all be together side by side, but spaced out and angled if possible.

You see, I take my position as Chief Pyromaniac very seriously.

Don't ask me any questions though. I don't know anything about wood. I don't know what kind burns best or fastest. I don't know how long it has to sit out to become seasoned. I don't know which will crackle the most or the least.

BUT...I do know that I love how a fire looks.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Not Always High Maintenance

Sometimes my wonderful husband refers to me as "high maintenance" and while I occasionally agree, there is definitely one area where I am NOT.

However, that is beginning to change, ever so slightly now.

A month ago I visited my hairdresser for my annual appointment (okay, so that's a real hint that I don't spend a lot of time on my hair) and told her that we were going to do something a little different. I usually go with a basic haircut (just leave it long enough so I can put it in a ponytail) and a perm.

Well this year, I stepped out of my comfort zone a little. I told Tia that I didn't want a perm. WOW, talk about a bold step! Then I told her that I was afraid that my every-few-months Clairol rinse was no longer taking care of the gray around my temples. I was wondering if it was time for me to graduate to the permanent hair color.

** Ted had been suggesting this for a while and told me that it would probably make me look younger, and since I'm still in denial on the last birthday, that might be a good thing.

Tia told me that if I did that, I would be making a commitment to visit a salon every 6 weeks or so. I realized that. And since during the summer I have very few things on the calendar, it sounded like a good idea. HOWEVER, my hair grows sort of fast, and it's only been 4 1/2 weeks and my roots have been showing for about a week. I have an appointment next week. Tia also cut my hair with some layers so if I spend about 5 minutes with it in the morning, it doesn't look too bad.

What a change for a woman who LIVED in a ponytail!

Okay, let's step into the powder room and open the middle drawer on the left side.


Lots of make-up.

Lots of old make-up.

Old to the point that a few of the foam brushes in the eye shadow disintegrate when they meet air.

Before I had children and we bought a house, I would visit the Merle Norman Studio (about 40 minutes away) a couple of times a year and get all kinds of new things. Those things are still in the drawer. To get an idea how old this stuff is, we bought our first house in 1983. That makes a lot of this make-up at least 25 years old.

Now before you go "EWWWWW" let me say that once in a while over the years I would purchase new mascara, or an occasional eye shadow and I even got foundation. Once.

The time has now come for me to DUMP all this make-up and get new stuff. I don't have the time or desire to go to the Merle Norman Studio and spend 2 hours getting dolled up along with a sales pitch.

So what do I do?

I really think that I would like to wear some make-up again. (That "getting older" thing is rearing its ugly face again.) However I have no idea what to get, nor how to apply it properly. It's one thing to read about it all online, but I need real people tips.

What color eye shadow? The days of bright blue (to match my eyes) are probably long gone. So what color DO I use? What about mascara? Do I stick with the black to supposedly make my lashes look longer and thicker? How about foundation? This is an area where I really suffer. I would like my skin to look smooth and be close to one color, not the fifty blotches that it normally is. Then there's blush...I had no idea there were so many different shades of blush! Do I really need eye liner? I'm not coordinated to get that on so that it looks okay.

What about eyebrow pencil? Is that really necessary? And then, there's lip color! Do the cosmetic companies really think that we need 875 choices when it comes to coloring our lips??

Once I get all that straightened around, how do I make sure that the make-up will stay looking half-way decent all day while I'm working. Heck, I barely have time to go to the bathroom, let alone reapply any make-up!

This might just not be worth all the stress...but I'd like to at least consider it.

Any tips out there?

Friday, August 1, 2008


I don't know what's up with me lately, but it seems like I spend more time crying than anything else. I've heard that having too much anesthetic can make you do that (and there's a good chance that that's happened over the past few years), but this has been a sudden outburst of flowing tears over anything and everything.

Last week, I was very upset about Randy Pausch dying, and spent much of Friday and Saturday in tears over that. Sunday was a lousy day for me, just on the general principles of a household of three males and one female. (Lesson learned: expect NOTHING no matter what, then anything will be a thrill.) Monday I was all worked up because I began to think about Oliver and wondered if we have inhibited his life by making him an indoor cat. What are we trying to do to him by taking him out of his natural environment and keeping him in the house?? And then Tuesday night, I watched Primetime Live on ABC, an episode devoted to Randy Pausch, and sat there sobbing through the last 15 minutes.

Now, of course, I'm quickly approaching the end of summer vacation, and I just can't believe that I didn't get everything done this summer that I planned to get done. I have about two weeks left to do tons of stuff, and it just isn't going to happen. So now I'm dealing with these feelings of inadequacy, and that again brings on the tears.

I'm not even going to mention "the age" I hit last week. That would probably be worth half a box of tissues all by itself.

I know, I know...time to put on my big girl panties and deal with it, right?