Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Good Sandwich Saves The Day And Other Thankfuls

I hate reality tv shows, and wouldn't you know, my husband, ever the keeper of the remote, has fallen asleep in a chair while one of the most ridiculous and contrived reality shows plays too loudly across the room from us. I can't reach the remote, so the sooner I get this week's Ten Things of Thankful list done, the sooner I can get up and slip the remote from his hand. Here goes:

1. I'm still missing my writing mojo, but I was able to make two posts this week, one I started months ago and never quite completed and the other I wrote yesterday after completing a rather messy preschool project.

2. I took a deep breath and signed up for this year's A to Z Challenge. I'm PRETTY sure this goes on the thankful list.... 

3. I found a comforter and pillow shams for my daughter on sale at Sears for $14.97. I would have been even MORE thankful if she had preferred the one that was $6.92, but $14.97 is nothing to sneeze at.

4. Thanks to a teacher in-service day in the public school system on Monday, we had a four day week, although by Friday, it seemed like the longest four day week on record.

5. "Friends" on Netflix.

6. My daughter played in her first volleyball tournament of the club ball season. The day did not go well, as far as volleyball was concerned, but I did have a pretty good sandwich from the snackbar while I was there.

7. After the long, long day of volleyball, we found a Vietnamese restaurant in the town where the tournament was being held. And we had big bowls of pho, something we love but can only get where we live during the annual Marian Days festival in August, when the Ozarks weather is nothing short of delightful for an outdoor festival featuring bowls of boiling hot soup (as in 90+ degrees and high humidity). 

8. While I'm in a thankful-for-food mode, I will add that I am thankful for cereal. As I write this, I am also munching on a bowl of dry Frosted Flakes - GrrrrrrrrrrrrEAT!

9. Earlier this week, the weather forecast for the weekend included a pretty good chance of rain turning to snow. Since we are out of town at a volleyball tournament, this was not a cheery forecast; however, it has since been amended to a chance of rain only. Who wants to drive in that crap, and more importantly, who wants to waste a weekend with snow when it doesn't net you a snow day?!

10. Which leads to my last thankful: spring begins in 48 days!

Did you have a long short week? Or a short long week? Look back and find your thankfuls, then link up below.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Redrum, or A Shining Example Of A Pinterest Project

Christmas was but just a blink ago, we've spent January making snowmen crafts at preschool, and now Valentine's Day is looming before us

Today, I planned to have the kids in my Primary Class make valentine hearts for the bulletin board. And because I don't like run-of-the-mill, cookie cutter-type craft projects (AND because I have an assistant teacher who is willing to give any project a try, at least once), we did a valentine project for the second year in a row (because we still haven't learned our lesson) and made a craft I found on Pinterest.

We made hearts with their footprints.

Read that again. We made hearts with their FOOTPRINTS. By painting their feet red. And sticking them down on paper.

And then washing their feet, sending them home with clean, but stained, toes.

Rumor has it that brushing paint
onto the bottom of a foot TICKLES.

First person who says it looks easy to do this
with three year olds gets to come to
my class next year and prove it.

Warm, soapy water, pink stained toes.
It only LOOKS like we're cleaning up
a crime scene.

Drying the tootsies, then putting the socks
back on (because 3 year olds can take
 them off, but they can't put them back on).

Our finished product.

Our Pinterest inspiration:


One piece of advice: don't attempt this alone, Mrs. Torrance.

This post was an entry for Mama Kat's Writing Workshop with the prompt:

Pinterest inspired! Share a pin you actually tried.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


We don't use a lot of green onions at our house, and whenever I buy them for specific use in a recipe, the ones I don't use lie on their backs in the crisper drawer and slowly liquefy.

My husband stopped at the grocery store a couple of weeks ago and picked up some things he wanted for salads and such. I walked into the kitchen some time later and in the windowsill, next to my basket of meds, was a plastic insulated glass of water with a bouquet of green onions submerged into it, their tops splaying out the top.

"What's the deal with the green onions in the glass of water?" I asked, and he answered excitedly, "I saw it on the internet! It's a way to have green onions all the time! You keep them in water and cut the green part off the top as you need it. Because they still have the roots on them, they'll keep growing new green tops! I HAVE DISCOVERED PERPETUAL GREEN ONIONS!"

And I'll be damned if it isn't working. 

He fusses over them every few days, changing the water. Then he decided they would get more light if he moved them from the window above the kitchen sink to the window above the eating space at the counter.

And that was his big mistake.

Because the other morning, he came downstairs ahead of me, entered the kitchen, and said, "What the hell happened here?"

"Where?" I asked, walking in behind him, where he was staring at the counter below the windowsill. The windowsill that USED to contain a bouquet of green onions in a pink plastic vase and which was now on its side on the counter, water puddled around it and soaking into what I hoped weren't terribly important financial aid papers belonging to the College Boy (and which shouldn't have been lying on the kitchen counter in the first
place). There were little footprints on the counter top.


Convincingly conveying innocence.

"In all fairness," I said to him, "it might not have been Ruby. Fletcher likes to look out that window at night when we aren't there to catch him on the counter, and he likes green plants. He even chews on artificial plants."

My husband tenderly picked up his little green onion garden, gave it fresh water and put it back in the window above the kitchen sink while I cleaned up the water and laid the wet papers out to dry.

His little crop of green onions seems not to have suffered after their ordeal with Ruby (OR FLETCHER - she may be innocent, but I really doubt it). And if all goes well, we shall have green onions into perpetuity.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

We live in a very old house, as in around 90 years old. I don't have a fancy laundry room; I have a basement with a washer and dryer in it.

The dryer vents through a rigid metal vent pipe that comes up from the back of the dryer, then takes a right turn and heads uphill at a slight angle. There is flexible plastic exhaust ducting that attaches to the end of the rigid duct (with duct tape - duh!) and makes a fairly sharp left turn as it joins the opening through the basement window to the outside by our carport (also held in place with duct tape). The rigid vent pipe was in place when we bought the house, and we simply hooked our dryer up to it. The previous owners shored the vent pipe up with a couple of wires attached to the ceiling, because gravity.

Now on occasion, the duct tape holding the flexible duct hose loses its grip, usually always in very hot, humid weather while the dryer is going. And even though the dryer is in the basement, you can tell from our bedroom on the top floor, which is about as far away from the dryer as you can be and still be inside the house, when the duct has pulled loose, because very damp, hot, linty air that smells strongly of clean laundry puffs its way all over the house. Which is precisely what happened this morning other day, when I was on my fourth load of laundry.

The simplest of fixes, it only requires more duct tape, which I got out and laid on top of the washer. The breach in the system was where the flexible duct hose joins the rigid metal duct, but as I was peeling the old tape off the flexible duct hose, I noticed a bit of a build-up of dryer lint at the opening of the rigid duct. No worries, I'd just wipe it out a bit, and here is my first brilliant idea: wrap duct tape around the handle of the broom, sticky side out, and stick it up the pipe and kind of swirling it around as I pulled it back out again (no jokes, please, although they beg to be told right about now). As I pulled the broom out of the pipe, an enormous ball of lint rolled out with it and fell into the utility sink next to the washer with a poof of linty dust. And when I say enormous, I mean as big as a softball, although not as dense (it's LINT). 

(To be noted is that the pipe contained not only lint, but a fine lint dust, about the consistency of flour, that went EVERYWHERE without provocation.)

Whoa! I had no idea that pipe would be that full of lint. Could this lint build-up be a fire danger? I shone a flashlight inside. It was time to be the daughter of a hardware man and get this sucker cleaned out.

The first section of rigid pipe was about three feet long, and I pulled it away from the rest of the pipe, scattering lint dust all over the top of the dryer and myself. I set the pipe down into a small bathroom-sized trashcan, where the whole thing promptly fell over. Twice. More lint dust on the floor. 

Then the lightbulb went off: I have a brush for reaching cobwebs and dusting on a stick the length of a broomstick. Slightly reminiscent of a chimney sweep brush, only with much softer bristles that were about 6 inches across. Slowly, I pushed the broom through the pipe, holding it over the trashcan, when it suddenly burst through the bottom end of the pipe in an explosion of lint dust. It was in my hair, my eyes, my nose, my lungs. It left a fine coating of dust on my skin, on my clothes, and ON THE CLEAN LAUNDRY.

I said a really, really bad word that may or may not kind of rhyme with "duct."

I then swept up the pile of lint dust on the floor, brushed as much off of me as I could, and went for the second section of rigid pipe, which was slightly shorter than the first but just as bent on tipping over the trashcan twice as the longer piece. Carefully, I pushed the broom through, because fool me twice, shame on me, when the broom again burst out the pipe in a magnificent cloud of lint dust.

And I swept that up.

And put the pieces back together.

And duct taped the flexible duct hose onto the rigid hose.

And resumed drying.

And when I told the College Boy about the whole debacle later that day, his response was, "Things Best Done Outside for a thousand, Alex."

That's okay, College Boy. Go ahead and laugh, because I know there is lint dust in what you think is clean underwear.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Week In Which I Survived Several Scary Things

I can't find my blog mojo.

Don't know why, don't know how; it's just missing. I sit down in my comfy chair, laptop open, and nothing. Can't write, can't even seem to read other blogs, feeling like I'm on the outside, looking in at everyone else. I have managed to come up with my Ten Things of Thankful every week, because there's ALWAYS something to be thankful for, but even that has been a struggle. 

I have, however, committed myself to be a part of the 1000 Voices for Compassion, with what now appears to be OVER 1000 bloggers participating who, on February 20, 2015, will speak for compassion through their blog posts. Wish me luck.

Here's the thankful list I've rustled up for this week:

1. I survived Pastries with Pops, a preschool event where dads, grandpas, or other significant males in a preschooler's life come to preschool in the morning and visit the classroom, where we have doughnuts and coffee, milk and juice, and a gift we made for dad. I'm sure I've mentioned before that I do not care for preschool parties. There are too many people in the room, and while I will do anything in front of a preschooler, I feel very awkward and on-display in front of parents. Thankfully, Pastries with Pops is over for another year.

2. I had TWO DAYS of Pastries with Pops. Primary class day and Pre-K class day. Two thankfuls that it's over.

3. The weather hasn't sucked. If I'm not going to get a snow day, the least it could do is be warm, and, while it hasn't been flip flop weather (contrary to what you might see at Walmart), it hasn't been brutally cold, either.

4. Ruby. She loves me so.

5. My friend Lisa from The Meaning of Me has crossed over to the dark side, and I'm so thankful to see her there! I love her to pieces and am glad to get more avenues in which to interact with her.

6. I survived 50's Day in Pre-K. We count each day we attend preshool from the first day of school, and when we reach 50, we have a 1950's-themed party. That day was Friday. I wore a poodle skirt (actually, a Scottie skirt, but it doesn't have the same ring to it) and a pony tail and a scarf around my neck and cat-eye glasses. We play a game in our classroom where we hide 50 numbered Starbursts around the room and the kids have to find them and match them to a number line (we only found 49 of them) and then join the other Pre-K class for dancing, hula hoops, bubble gum bubble blowing, and ice cream sundaes. It is a crazy, hectic morning. There are parents there (see #1, above). Done for another year.

7. The Primary class doesn't celebrate 50 days of preschool. (See #1, above, again.)

8. The college boy came home this weekend to pick up the glasses we ordered for him over Christmas break. I made homemade pizza for supper Friday night (including one with fresh spinach and sauteed mushrooms and another with thinly sliced roma tomatoes and fresh basil for the grown ups in the house), and afterwards, he took his sister to the mall to get some eye liner she needed for show choir competition AND THEY DIDN'T KILL EACH OTHER. In fact, they came in the door laughing. Dare I hope that they are going to keep improving their relationship and quit bickering so much?!

9. I drove to a show choir competition on Saturday (Emma rode the bus) and took a detour through the tiny town (population 400), where my mother grew up, one which holds many happy memories for me. The town has deteriorated into a very crappy place, which is not one of my thankfuls, but it leads to one:

I parked the car half a block (they are very small blocks) from where my great aunts' house once stood and was walking down the (gravel) street towards it to take some pictures when I heard, "WOOFWOOFWOOFWOOF!!!" coming from the crapalicious house to my right. I slowed my step just as a VERY LARGE black dog roared out of his yard (no need for stinkin' leash laws in THIS town) and acted as though he would quite like to eat me up.

I froze and said something along the lines of "shitpissfuckdamnhell" under my breath.

The dog stared at me. Woofed again. Big, scary woof. I snapped a quick picture of him, in case my mauled body was found in a ditch.

I said something stupid, like, "Hi, doggie! Please don't eat me."

He gave me another WOOFWOOFWOOF, but his tail wagged at the same time, as if he WANTED to eat me, but he also wanted to be my friend.

And then I had a brain storm.

I've been driving my dad's Sequoia for a couple of weeks (long, boring story). In a little cubby on the console between the seats, among the other stuff my dad keeps there (flashlight, tire gauge, cough drops, garage door opener, mailbox key, a short piece of pvc pipe) was two dog biscuits. He keeps them there to give to his neighbor's dog (the one he calls his rent-a-dog). So instead of my dad being just a little wacky, I suddenly saw him as nothing short of a GENIUS, because I had something to offer this dog in exchange for my life.

In a ridiculously high, more than slightly terrified voice, I said to him, "Would you like a treat? I have a treat for you!"

He understood THAT, and bounded over to me. For a moment, I thought it was all over, and he thought the treat was ME, but as I walked slowly towards the car, he bounced along next to me, trying to stick his nose in my coat pocket (probably to chew off the hand that I had hidden inside).

"It's in the car! Come on!" I squealed to him, gesturing towards the Sequoia with my other hand, and he trotted ahead of me, stopped at the car door, and waited for me.

When I got to the car, I looked at him and said, "PLEASE don't get in my car. I've already picked up a big dog recently, and I don't need to do it again." I eased open the door, reached inside and picked up the dog biscuit from its place on the top of the console.

"Here you go, buddy!" I said and gingerly held out the dog biscuit, wondering if he would take my arm off when he took it (I could have dropped it down on the road, but that seemed rude). He studied it a moment, then gently took the dog biscuit in his mouth and trotted back down the road and to his yard to enjoy his treat.

I slithered into the driver's seat, shut the door, and was relieved to find that I did not need to change my pants over the whole ordeal.

10. That one is worth 10 things of thankful on its own, but I will still throw in another one, which is that, although Emma's show choir did not place at this competition, they took to heart the critiques from the judges last week and completely revamped the show. They worked long, hard hours and their performance showed it. I was truly surprised they did not place (not a thankful), but you could see how much they improved in a week, and that's something for which to be thankful. I would love to show you a video, but my iphone is on the verge of not being my iphone any longer, as it stopped recording just as their second song began, the screen going black and the whole thing freezing (also not a thankful). 

So, there you go. If you think you can fix my mojo issues, feel free to analyze me and offer your suggestions. And link up YOUR Ten Things of Thankful below.

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Showing Thankfuls

This weekend, our high school show choirs attended their first show choir competition of the year. 

After our high school was destroyed in an EF-5 tornado nearly 4 years ago, the campus was split between two temporary buildings, with the freshmen and sophomores housed at a surplus building (built around 1910) and the juniors and seniors were at an empty box store in the mall. They had to divide up the show choir groups, with one mixed group and one girls group at each school, since they were on different campuses, miles apart.

At audition time last spring, when the highly anticipated and newly rebuilt high school was expected to open for fall, the four choirs were reduced to two. The members looked forward to a summer of camps and practices to get their shows ready for the competition season. Just as summer began, one of the directors unexpectedly left. The mixed group (Sound Dimension) now had no director. After much scrambling and the hiring of a new director, they got to work again, but they lost a lot of time. Songs had to be arranged and learned. Costumes chosen, ordered and fitted. Choreography learned. They were woefully behind on preparation for the upcoming competition season.

When the new high school opened in September (a week behind schedule), the only part of the school that wasn't completed was the Performing Arts wing, and it's not expected to be completed until March or so. Which meant no classroom for the show choirs (or drama or band or orchestra). They started the year in the wrestling room. The. Wrestling. Room. They got evicted from there when wrestling season started, moved to the Technical School and put in one end of an industrial room that abutted what amounts to the engine room of the entire school. Constant noise and humming. 

And no mirrors.

These kids have learned intricate choreography with no mirrors.

Oh, and there was no money in the budget for pretty much anything. So no backdrops to go behind them at performances. Nice costumes, but nothing fancy. No props. 

So yesterday, the two show choir groups went to their first competition. Four and a half hours on a school bus each way. They looked and sounded fantastic, even if you didn't know they didn't have a real classroom, didn't have mirrors, didn't have a budget, didn't get started on most of it until August.

The girls group received 3rd place in their category, which was awesome.

Sound Dimension did not place. Even though they did an excellent job, there were other groups there that, quite frankly, blew everyone else right out of the water. But that's okay. It was the first competition. And those kids have nothing to be ashamed of. My Ten Things of Thankful is about these kids.

1. They are polite. I provided snacks for them this summer when they had a camp to work on songs, and they were appreciative and showed it.

2. They load and unload the bus of costumes and (props and backdrops, if we had them) without (much) complaint.

3. They are good kids. Many of them are student leaders and athletes and honor students. (My daughter happens to be all three.)

4. They (mostly) keep themselves entertained when there is downtime by singing and dancing and not (constantly) with electronics (except for selfies, Vines, Tweets and Snapchats).

5. They help each other with make up and hair, regardless of which group they belong to.

6. They have two fantastic directors who love them like their own children.

7. They are talented.

8. Yes, they were disappointed they didn't place in the competition, but they weren't (real) big whiners about it. 

9. I have a friend group among some of the moms.

Our girls have been in activities together for
years and years. Small town perk! 

10. I get to hear them continue to improve and grow for another four competitions.

It's never too late to be thankful, but it will be too late to join us in the Ten Things of Thankful link up if you don't hurry! Link up, below, before you miss your chance!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

It's Cold Outside - Yay!

I hate cold weather. Hate it. HAAAAAATE it. What's the weather been like this week? Colder than a (you fill in the blank). Wind chills below zero. So cold that it made my eyeballs hurt. Morning bus stop temperatures around 4 degrees F.  It was widely reported on the news that many school districts were canceling classes because of it, big places like Chicago and Minneapolis, for instance. 

We thought FOR SURE school would be canceled here on Thursday. We're not used to sub-freezing temperatures in southwest Missouri. And 58% of the children in our district are on free or reduced-price lunches. Many of these kids are poorly suited for cold weather, lacking warm coats or proper shoes. Without socks. Or gloves. Or hats. Most of them walk (up to two miles) or ride the school bus. Yes, it's a toss up as to whether or not having these kids at a warm school building with a hot breakfast and lunch is better than them staying at a home that may not be adequately heated and perhaps with less than ideal food, but I'm still of the opinion that it's better to keep everyone at home than send them out in such frigid weather.

The superintendent did not agree with my thinking, and we went to school.

I shall now make myself find Ten Things of Thankful that we are experiencing this hideous weather system and forced to go out in it.

1. Layer upon layer of clothing makes EVERYONE look fat.

2. If we had HAD school canceled because of the cold, I would have stayed home and baked all day, and then it wouldn't have been just the layers of clothing that made me look fat.

3. I do love wearing a hat in the winter.

4. Kitties are very snuggly and warm and always willing to cuddle with you.

5. You remember how, in the hot, hot summer, you get in the car after it has set in the sun for hours and the metal part of the seat belt touches your bare leg and nearly gives you third degree burns? Yeah, that hasn't happened this week.

6. I pull out my minkrat coat and wear it everywhere. My mother in law bought a full length, fake fur coat for herself from QVC about twelve years ago. She is, shall I say, short and a little on the wide side, and, although I never actually saw her in the coat, I suspect she resembled Nanook of the North in it. She gave it to me, and while it's big enough around for me and at least one other person, it nearly reaches my ankles and blocks any and all wind. And makes me look like a pimp, especially since I wore it this week with a hat and big sunglasses. I want to wear a sign that says, "It's FAKE!" as it looks and feels pretty realistic, but I just sail into Walmart in it, pretending not to notice the glances and outright stares of other customers.

7. Snowman crafts at preschool are a must when it's cold. We painted the bottoms of our primary kids' feet white, pressed the foot onto a piece of dark blue paper, and turned them into snowmen. 

8. There's no snow or ice falling out of the sky.

9. It's great weather for straightening curly hair. No warmth in the air means no humidity, and THAT means no frizz.

10. Only two months and 11 days until spring officially begins!

Pouty school-shoulda-been-canceled face.

Are you staying warm this week? (And if you live somewhere like Florida and it's "only" 60 degrees or something, please keep your pie hole shut.) Find your thankfuls in this week and link them up, below.

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Hello, 2015! Hello, 10 Things of Thankful!

Happy 2015! So far, so good. I have so many thankfuls this week that it's difficult to narrow it down to ten. I was out of town, there was no bloodshed while I was gone, the house wasn't a complete disaster when I returned, no one starved (contrary to complaints from my daughter that there was "nothing to eat"), and coming home to the Christmas decorations already put away was delightful. Here are some more:

1. My family was gracious enough (meaning they whined, but I did it anyway) to let me go visit my Person* in Nashville this week. She had surgery and wanted me to come be with her afterwards, and since it worked out so well with Christmas vacation, I did.

2. My car needs some serious work (unless you LIKE blue smoke coming out of the exhaust, in which case, would you like to buy a Toyota Avalon?), so my parents let me borrow their Toyota Sequoia. It comes by the name honestly; it is a little like driving a very large tree, but it was fun to drive something different, and it leads me to my next TToT:

3. Sirius XM radio. Out of the 200 or so channels offered, I really only listened to six of them, but I enjoyed the hell out of those six stations!

4. Cruise control.

5. I did not take the wrong turn that leads you past the penitentiary, and I mean RIGHT PAST it. Last time I did that, it was coincidentally the EXACT SAME TIME the tornado sirens were tested, and I thought there had been a jail break. 

6. Four whole days with Terri, my Person, just hanging around and talking. 

7. Terri was feeling perky enough to go out to lunch twice. We went to her son's new restaurant, Party Fowl, and to my favorite place in Nashville, San Antonio Taco Company. Two delicious meals. 

8. I also got to indulge in my favorite ice cream place, Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream (I still believe the logo looks like it says "Penis" rather than "Jeni's", but whatever it is, it certainly is splendid). I had three scoops: goat cheese and red cherry, mid western whiskey and eggnog, and salted caramel. And before you think I'm a pig, know that each scoop is about the size of a ping pong ball.

I ate my itty bitty scoops of ice cream
with an itty bitty tasting spoon.

9. Silliness on New Year's Eve.

10. Best of all, I'm thankful that Ruby didn't get as mad at me as she did last summer when I spent a week away from her. Maybe the presents I brought her helped?

The lump in the bed that Ruby is hugging is ME.
My husband took this after I went to sleep.

I don't make resolutions, but you should make just one, and that's to join us in the Ten Things of Thankful weekly blog hop. Good friends, good times! Link up, below.

* Grey's Anatomy reference. Google it.

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

It's Hard To Play Favorites, But Here's My Top 12

If you're a faithful reader of my blog (all seven of you), then you've already read these posts. If you aren't and you haven't, then please do; they're my top 12 favorites for 2014.

Be All That You Can Be: I went to visit a childhood friend and almost joined the army by mistake.

F is for Far--, Uh, Flatulence: Imagine an organ recital while at a restaurant. 

J is for Jesse James: My mother popped off with this little story about our family tree, leading me to wonder what other gems she might have up her sleeve.

L is for Lost: Just me, my husband, and a dead body.

P is for Picher: The largest Superfund Site in U.S. History is located just miles from where I live. I have been fascinated with the story for years.

T is for Tiny Dancer: A story that makes me cry every time I re-read it about my daughter and dance classes,

Mousecapades: Now that my son is in college and taking classes in the same buildings I once did, I thought it was time to 'fess up on a little incident that happened when I was there.

It Started With A Twist Tie: My kitten, Ruby, finds the strangest things to play with....

The Puppy Tails Trilogy: Part 1, Part 2, and The Final Chapter, plus one final look, Teaching an Old Dog A New Trick: One of the best and worst things I have ever done was agree to foster two puppies for a month. 

Believe It Or Not, My Family Really Is Civilized: Another tale from my family's history, this time about my great aunt and her pet chicken.

Success, In Spite Of Attempts By The Secret Service To Thwart My Efforts: Vice President Joe Biden and I are thisclose, but it wasn't easy getting that way!

Slipping Away: An entry in Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop, this 101 word story tugs at my heart.

Read one. Read them all. Tell me what was YOUR favorite.

This post was an entry for Mama Kat's Writing Workshop with the prompt:

A year in review! Compile a year's worth of 
your best blog posts and pictures.