Friday, February 28, 2014

The Usual: Volleyball And Food And Ruby. Always Ruby.

Zowee, this week went by quickly! And it wasn't because it was particularly busy, because it wasn't. Just the usual: work, chauffering my daughter around, finding excuses to avoid cleaning house, continuing to fail at stupid Level 347 of Candy Crush. And now it's the weekend and time to give you my Ten Things of Thankful. I know you've been waiting....

1. My daughter had a volleyball tournament last weekend. The girls didn't place, but they played better than they have so far all club ball season. I'm thankful they are finally using their school ball rotation during club ball and can now work to hone their skills, as was the original plan.

2. I got to add to my photography collection while at the volleyball tournament:

This way all day. Seriously, how do you not feel
it when you're that exposed?

3. Twice:

Keep it covered, lady, keep it covered.

4. I've been having a lot of pain in my hips (side effect of taking Arimidex). I was researching about increasing the amount of Vitamin D I take to see if that would help when I ran across information (from reliable sites) that said to take naproxen (as in Aleve) for pain relief. Well, that's easy enough! I started taking it twice a day and have had noticeable improvement, so, yay!

5. I'm very thankful that I already learned that Aleve can be your friend or be your enemy, depending on how you take it. I now know better than to eat a lot of Hot Tamales and then take a couple of Aleve, washed down with Diet Coke, because that combination will rot your gut in the form of an ulcer, and THAT takes weeks to straighten out, or so I've heard....

6.Silly Socks or Slippers Day at preschool. This picture, no lie, took us ten minutes to pose. With me standing on a chair to get all 16 pairs of feet into the picture. Totally worth it.

7. Modern Family. I don't watch a lot of tv, but I try to catch Modern Family as often as I can. I think I like Cam the best. Yes, definitely Cam.

8. My sweet baby Ruby got her kitty maker removed on Thursday, along with her front claws. And I don't want to hear from you anti-declawers. Pete can catch a fly in his paws and pop it in his mouth without claws. I suspect Ruby will be much the same, with the added bonus that she won't be climbing me like a tree anymore. The vet called a little before noon and said Ruby did great and was already trying to sit up. I can't wait to pick her up tomorrow and look forward to seeing the reaction of the boys (especially Pete, who hates her) at her being infirm.

9. All right, I wrote #8 on Thursday, before I brought Ruby home from the vet. She is in no way infirm. She is very nearly her old self, except a little drowsy still from the anesthesia and the pain meds. She even played a little fetch with me right after we got home. The boys have stayed away from her; Pete is probably hoping her return is just a bad dream and Fletcher has not realized she can no longer inflict the same kind of damage on him as she was able to do two days ago.

Aww, you can see her shaved belly in this picture!

10. I made cupcakes for a friend and her family, and her 16 year old daughter thought they were made by Cupcakes by Liz, which is a HUGE compliment! Thanks, Kara, you made my day!

You have a cupcake compliment kind of moment (or ten) this week? Or maybe more of an I like Modern Family and avoided housework as much as possible kind of week? Either way, link up your Ten Things of Thankful here and join in the best blog hop EVAH.

Ten Things of Thankful

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

You Go Through St. Louie, Joplin, Missouri

When Mother Nature decides not to be the bitch she's been all winter and instead blesses us with a 70 degree day in February, you make the most of it and go on a little road trip.

To get a burger.

On Route 66.

My husband and I headed west out of town, along the 13 miles of Route 66 that goes through Kansas, then into Oklahoma

It wasn't as overcast as it looks; I
took this through the
very dirty car window. 

We ate at Waylan's Ku-Ku Burger in Miami (pronounced My-AM-uhhh, in case you thought otherwise), Oklahoma, the last of a chain of 200 burger joints from the 1960s. Yes, pretty much everything is fried. Yes, it's terrible for you. Yes, it was delicious.

They don't make 'em like this anymore.

My husband's fully loaded double hamburger on
the left. My burger, plain, on the right. Don't judge me.

I really, REALLY wanted to try one of their shakes, but I was too full. Maybe next time....

On our way out of town, we saw this restaurant. Does anyone else see a contradiction of terms here?

Had to stop and get gas before we got out of Miami. Filling up at Phillips 66 on Route 66. Coincidence? I think not.

I'm not going to lie and tell you the road between Miami and Joplin is a beautiful stretch of Route 66. Because it isn't. There are some pretty dumpy little towns along the way. Commerce. Quapaw. Riverton. You also drive along the edge of the worst Superfund site in U.S. history, the Tar Creek Superfund site in Picher, Oklahoma (more on that at a later date). But it's still quaint. and so very American. Like the sign on the door of an antiques store in Baxter Springs, Kansas:

Next door to the antique store was Angels on the Route, a little deli with a sign out front that said "Best Frozen Custard on Route 66." 

Of course, we stopped. You think we wouldn't?

I was so engrossed in my peppermint frozen custard in a waffle cone that I didn't take any pictures. Silly me. The owner was full of information about the area, which prompted our next stop, just a little bit out of town (on the original Route 66 but now bypassed by a newer road, we never would have known about this had she not told us about it).

Spanning a small creek is a bridge, built in 1923, the only remaining James Barney Marsh-designed concrete arch "rainbow" bridge on Route 66. A newer bridge was built to replace it, but if you really, really want to drive over it (I did), you can turn off the main road and drive over it, one way only, and circle back to the highway.

Getting ready to cross the rainbow bridge.

I'm skeered of bridges.

See? Pretty.
Our last stop before home was in Galena, Kansas, to see the truck that inspired the character Tow Mater in the Disney movie "Cars."

The sun was in my eyes. Didn't
know until it was too late that
 I chopped off part of it. Dammit.

Thirty miles or so, each way. Avoided the turnpike to get to Miami. Burgers. Frozen custard. Mater. I'd say we got our kicks.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ninja Fast and Smelling Fine: Ten Things of Thankful

Hello, weekend! I'm so happy to see you, given I haven't worked a five day week since before Christmas, thanks to snow days and snow days and snow days. Snuggle over here next to me and let me tell you my Ten Things of Thankful for this week.

1. Last weekend, my daughter's show choir attended a competition in my parents' home town. My mom and I made a day of it (and I do mean a DAY - 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.), sitting in the auditorium and listening to hours and hours of music. My daughter's group, which consists of 9th and 10th grade boys and girls, got first in their division (never mind that there were only 3 in the division, they blew away the competition) and made finals (which is a BIG DEAL) and got 6th place overall out of something like 37 choirs. 

2. The College Boy was home for the weekend and also had President's Day off. I was the one who took him back to school on Monday afternoon, and my plan was to take him back early in the afternoon, dump him back at his dorm, and then maybe do a little shopping all by myself, taking my time and wandering into whatever stores struck my fancy. My son had different ideas, namely, that he wanted to go back later in the day and then have me take him out to eat before leaving him at his dorm. We compromised by going early in the afternoon, BOTH of us going to the mall (where he SWORE he would let me look at anything I wanted, and he would patiently wait without complaining, which he DID, in a way, but I felt a little like he was breathing down my neck, so we shopped a little for him instead and I put my leisurely shopping on hold for now) and then to Five Guys for an early dinner. I'm thankful for the way it turned out, however, because I hadn't seen much of him all weekend, since his sister and I were at the show choir competition most of the weekend, plus I had to work on President's Day (I KNOW, right?). We had good burgers and good conversation and made good memories.

3. Oncology appointment this week. So far, so good, however, when I got in the car after the appointment, I pulled down the visor and checked my bad self in the mirror before I went on to the next errand and found out I had cheese in my hair, meaning it was there for the entire appointment. In my bangs. Right above my eyes. The eyes that my oncologist looks into with a little light. And then studies closely as he has me do all kinds of follow-my-finger activities. He even has me raise my eyebrows and studies my forehead. Where my bangs are. Where I HAD CHEEEESE IN MY HAAAAAIR. I guess the thankful here is that he didn't embarrass me by telling me I had some kind of crap in my hair (IT WAS CHEEEEESE).

4. I am invoking the TToT Book of Secret Rules and counting #3 as two items.

5. On Wednesday, one of my pre-k girls was in a particularly huggy mood and kept coming up to me for hugs. During one of them, she said, "You smell good!" (That's Amazing Grace by Philosophy, and if anyone else wants me to continue to smell good, feel free to send me any or all of their products.)

Gratuitous picture of sleeping Ruby.

6. The church sanctuary is having a larger platform built at the front of the church, so, since learning doesn't just occur in the classroom, I took my pre-k class for a look-see. We went up to the balcony (sitting on the second row, not the first, because I'm not an idiot) and watched the workers. The kids were watching so quietly that the workers didn't see them for several minutes. This, my noisy class!

7. I got a wonderful giggle out of a couple of my kids while we were up there. The line leader, who was sitting right next to me, was a boy. Next to him was two girls. One of the girls leaned over to me to point out that both she and the girl next to her were wearing cheetah print leggings. I exclaimed over the coincidence of that EVER happening (note: any given day, I probably have at least two girls wearing something with cheetah print on it), then I turned to them and said, "I have cheetah print on my underpants." This caused the boy next to me to laugh so hard that he had to lean over and put his head down on his lap. Good times!

8. Thursday's Primary class was wound up tighter than springs. In spite of that, we managed to make individual pizzas (while wearing chef hats made out of construction and tissue paper) and, yes, once again, paint their feet for a craft project. When it was finally time to dismiss them at noon, I opened the door, looked at the waiting moms, and said, "Good luck today, every one of you. You're going to need it!"

9. The #1 Rule in my classroom ("Do not throw up in Miss Dyanne's classroom!") was very nearly broken today, but my ninja-like reaction time saved the day, and I was able to propel one of my students across the carpeted portion of the room (saying "please don't throw up on the carpet, please don't throw up on the carpet, please don't throw up on the carpet" in my head as we went), onto the tile (small sigh of relief), out the door, down the hall, into the bathroom, and TO THE TOILET before he threw up. Score one for him and one for me. 

10. Another sign that winter truly cannot last forever:

Daffodil shoots

Thus endeth this week's list of Ten Things of Thankful, but there's more where THAT came from. Visit the links below. Add your own. Don't be shy.

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thoughts Of Olympic Proportions

You've got to be one tough girl to play ice hockey.

I, myself, am probably one of the biggest sissies you'll ever meet, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

I regret turning away from the US v. Canada women's hockey game when the score was 2-0 in the 3rd period, because I thought the US had it in the bag. Unfortunately, they didn't. 

Still, the silver medal is nothing to sneeze at.

My husband was referring to Olympic skiier Ted Ligety as Lickety instead of Ligety. I think that's a whole different sport.

Anyone else notice how much the announcers all like to say "Ligety?"

I'm pretty sure Matt Lauer has it baaaad for Lindsey Vonn.

I'm not much of a crier, but I tear up when I hear the National Anthem, whether it be a medal ceremony, a football game, or sign-off time at the television station.

Yes, we still have a television station that signs off with the Star Spangled Banner.

I feel very old and un-hip when I hear snowboarders talk.

If someone say, my age, had a little crush on 19 year old Nick Goepper, the bronze medalist in freestyle skiing, would you think it was sweet or a little creepy? Asking for a friend....

I have only had pink eye once, but I was pretty sure it was going to kill me at the time. Besides having eyes that streamed tears and were, well, pink (hah! RED), they were swollen and painful, and I was achy and feverish. SO LEAVE POOR BOB COSTAS ALONE ALREADY. 

Maybe in another life I was a figure skater.  I know it's in me somewhere....

Friday, February 14, 2014

Roses Are Red, No, Those Are Feet

I admit it. I'm one of the people who think Valentine's Day is one of the dumbest observances ever. If you can't show me you love me the other 364 days of the year, I don't need you on the 365th day. That being said, I will not turn down offerings of candy or other food. Ever, actually, and not just on Valentine's Day.

Moving on to Ten Things of Thankful:

1. We had a COMPLETELY UNEXPECTED snow day on Monday. Snow was in the forecast, but only a smidge of it was really expected. I happened to wake up before my alarm went off and was lying in bed, trying to organize my day in my head (a fruitless exercise, I might add, in spite of my good intentions), when the phone rang. My husband picked it up, held it for a few seconds, then started laughing and said, "Snow Day!" I jumped up and looked out the window, and, sure enough, the street was covered with a couple of inches of snow. I celebrated by doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING PRODUCTIVE.

Picture of Pete with a photo bomb courtesy of Ruby.

2. It was back to school on Tuesday, and I finally got to spend the morning with my Primary class. Both of their class days were canceled last week due to (say it with me) SNOW DAYS, so we hadn't seen each other in twelve whole days. We worked on coloring and cutting, and none of the kids cried, although I, myself, might have come close to it a few times. (Cutting and coloring are NOT innate activities, believe it or not.)

3. My assistant teacher Janet and I were TOTALLY on the ball for making a Valentine craft to go on the bulletin board outside our classroom. We started it the last week in January, and then (you guessed it!) Snow Days happened, and we didn't get to finish them until this week. Miss Janet found the craft on Pinterest, and since we are all about painting hands or feet in this class, we went for it. This project involved painting their feet red and making a heart with their footprints. Cute idea, but the only problem was the washing of their feet looked like we were trying to clean up a crime scene. Not kidding. You can see for yourself:

We had set them aside to dry, then had Snow Days. Cut them into hearts and then had Snow Days. By this time, we didn't have time to do an entire new bulletin board, so we hung them around the existing artwork on the January bulletin board and called it good.

4. Wednesday was our Valentine party in Pre-K. It was a crazy day, since we hadn't been in class on Monday (why? SNOW DAY!). We had valentine boxes, valentines, treats for the party and excited kiddos coming in the door, but we got it all sorted out, boxes set out and valentines delivered and all was good.

5. Not to brag or anything (okay, I'm bragging), but not only did we do a valentine project at the table when they came in, go to chapel, have Circle Time, have the kids deliver their valentines, AND have Center Time, but we also squeezed in an activity we hadn't had time to do when it was "P" week (and we are so mixed up about what week it is after this many snow days that it will be a miracle if any of them know the alphabet when we're done), which was to make pickle prints with purple paint on pink paper. The only bad thing is that I took the pictures on my real camera and not my phone, and I can't post them right now, since the camera is at preschool and I'm not. Smh!

6. Thursday was our Primary Valentine party. We did a little glue work with our glue sticks (again, not innate, and may I take this moment to say that I believe the genius who invented purple glue sticks should be hunted down and killed, or, better yet, forced to spend eternity in a roomful of 3 year olds who don't understand that the purple stuff is GLUE, and not an instrument for coloring). Our party was festive, the kids did an AMAZING job singing their valentine songs, and, BONUS, I received a bag of cinnamon lips from one pretty darn cute 3 year old boy! YUM!

Couldn't wait until I got home to
break into the bag of cinnamon lips.

7. You might possibly recall that I have been on a bread baking tear lately. I have PERFECTED the Italian bread loaf, if I do say so myself. Crispy crust, tender inside, delicate crumb. One of the secrets is using bread flour instead of all-purpose flour, BUT bread flour is more expensive, as in around $3.00 for a five pound bag. I went to Sam's Club this week and found a 25 pound bag of bread flour for only $7.76. HOW COULD I BE EXPECTED TO PASS THAT UP?! My husband's comment when he saw it was, "Holy shit." Gonna be some baking going on in my house, folks!

8. Monday was a Snow Day? Thursday, it was 50 degrees and sunny. I ran errands after school without wearing my coat AND IT WAS DIVINE! 

9. Today at preschool, my Secret Sister gave me a gorgeous chocolate cupcake from Cupcakes by Liz, Everything about Valentine's Day isn't bad....

10. Tomorrow, my daughter has a show choir competition in my parents' home town, so she and I are spending the weekend there, and my mother is going with us to the competition. My daughter loves show choir more than any other activity she has ever done, and I'm thankful she gets this whole day to revel in it.

I may not love Valentine's Day, but I love a good link up! Join me, right here, and I PROMISE you will feel the love not only THIS weekend, but each and every week from the lovely participants of this hop. Try it and see!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wordless Wednesday 2.12.14

Shirley Temple Black
April 23, 1928 - February 10, 2014

My mother's Shirley Temple doll, ca.1937

Monday, February 10, 2014

Be All That You Can Be

Almost exactly this time a year ago, I wrote about meeting my childhood friend Dana (who lives in California) when she was visiting her son and daughter in law and adorably adorable granddaughter in St. Louis. We met in a town between Joplin and St. Louis, and we had the BEST visit. There is nothing, NOTHING, like spending time with a friend who was there for some of your stupider years. Last Thursday, we got to do it again.

It was a little touch and go as to whether or not we would be able to meet this time, as we had, yes, more snow on Tuesday morning. And three more snow days, including Thursday (naturally, after I had already arranged for the day off and scheduled a sub). But the main roads were clear, and I was off and running; that is, until I saw that my gas gauge was on a quarter of a tank.

Now, just a few weeks ago, during one of our many arctic blasts, I knocked the gas cap to the ground and it rolled under the car while I was filling the car with gas, leading me to proclaim that there should be a law that women do not have to pump their own gas, ever. 

And here I was, temperature 9 degrees, wind chill below zero, pavement icy, preparing to fill the damn tank. I pulled the little lever to open the gas tank door, got out of the car, ran my credit card through the card reader, turned to remove the gas cap (reminding myself to be vewy, vewy careful with that wascally gas cap) and...

...the little door to the gas tank was still shut. As in frozen shut. As in I don't have enough gas to go much more than 45 or 50 miles into a 150 drive and I CAN'T GET THE DAMN DOOR TO POP OPEN. 

I didn't want to scratch the paint, so using my keys to chip away the ice was not a viable option. I dug around in the car and found a wooden clothespin (and don't ask me why there was a clothespin in the front seat of the car, because I really have no idea whatsoever) and tried to chip away the ice (which was in the crack between the little door and the car body and nearly impossible to reach), but the clothespin broke after a few stabs. The emery board I found broke before I could worry about its surface scratching the paint. Then, I found a pen. A plain old Bic stick pen, the kind my son favors, with a removable cap. A removable cap with a pointy part for clipping it onto a shirt pocket. Or for painstakingly sawing at the ice around the little door to the gas tank, which is exactly what I used it for. And twenty minutes after arriving at the gas station, I finally got the ice chipped away, the little door opened, the gas cap off and not dropped, and the tank filled.

(In case you were wondering, no one, and I mean NO ONE, offered any help, and you CANNOT TELL ME the guy working inside the convenience store didn't notice my struggle, although, on second thought, he came out to diddle around with a pump near me while I was waiting for the tank to fill, and he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, so maybe I'm wrong about him being aware of anything around him.)

I was finally on my way and, after regaining feeling in my extremities, spent a pleasant two hours toodling down the highway, entertaining myself by singing at the top of my lungs to the radio.  I was counting the miles to St. Robert, the halfway point between Joplin and St. Louis, according to my friend Marshall. Marshall knows this because he is something very important in the Army and has to travel there frequently to go to Fort Leonard Wood, a base located just outside the town (I'll tell you how I know this part in a minute). He also told me there was a Panera Bread "right by the highway" (if you have ESP, because GPS isn't going to help you here).

As I was nearing St. Robert, I got a call from Dana. She had just arrived and couldn't find the Panera ANYWHERE, in spite of using GPS to find it. She was surprised how a town as small as this one could hide a Panera so well, and she was not seeing much in the way of civilization. I said, "Marshall SAID it was close to the highway!" Dana finally had to pee so badly that she decided to stop somewhere and ask for directions. A few minutes later, she called me back, said in spite of her filthy, lying GPS, she was now at Panera, and told me to make sure I turned right when I exited the highway. Roger that.

A minute or two later, I exited at St. Robert and dutifully turned right at the end of the exit ramp. No Panera. I kept driving. No Panera. I kept driving. No civilization. Remembering Dana saying there wasn't much in the way of civilization, I thought I must be on the right track. 

Until I wasn't anymore.

Because ahead of me, with no warning I SWEAR, and with nowhere to turn around, was Fort Leonard Wood. 

I got in line behind the other cars, all waiting to drive through Checkpoint Charlie. All with some sort of credentials and reasons to be there. All wearing nifty Army clothes. I started getting a little panicky. Okay, a LOT panicky. How was I going to explain this? 

I inched forward until I reached the guard, rolled down my window and said, "I don't know what happened. I was just trying to find Panera." The guard (when did the Army start recruiting 15 year old kids, by the way, or am I just getting old?) burst out laughing, showed me where I could cut through some orange cones, turn around, and head back to town, and gave me impeccable directions to Panera. Which, it turned out, WAS sort of right by the highway, but you wouldn't know it if coming from the direction of the highway unless you could swivel your head around like an owl as you drove (or used the powers of ESP, which I do not possess).

(I would have liked to have taken a picture of the entrance to the base and inserted it here, but I got in a little trouble taking pictures on an air force base one time and thought it best to avoid pissing off the army, too.)

Dana was waiting for me inside Panera. We ate lunch and talked and laughed and took stupid pictures of ourselves and talked and laughed some more. The time flew by all too quickly, but with any luck, it won't be another year until we get together again. Because spending time with a good friend is worth nearly losing your toes to the cold.

And getting lost.

And almost joining the army.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Winter? What's To Love?

I loathe, despise and detest winter. In spite of wearing long underwear, layers and layers of clothing, and fuzzy socks AND utilizing a Snuggie (don't judge, a Snuggie is both warm AND practical), I'm still cold. We've had more than our usual amount of snowfall and ice this winter, and don't even bring up the Polar Vortex, which I believe is proof that Santa hates what we've done to the Christmas season and is paying us back in spades. 

And since anyone participating in the Ten Things of Thankful knows it is a cinch to create that TToT list when everything's going your way, I have decided to find ten things about this loathsome season for which I can be thankful.

1. Indoor plumbing. I simply cannot fathom having to go use an outhouse at any time whatsoever in this kind of weather. Can NOT. Cannot. Can't. Even though my old, old house is a drafty one, and the toilet seat can be cold enough to cause an involuntary scream when one's bare behind meets it, it still beats walking down the path to the outdoors privy.

2. Snow days. Snow days are wonderful little gifts from God that are meant to be treasured. There's nothing quite like the anticipation of watching the tv screen to see if your school district is included in the cancellation list crawling across the bottom of the screen. (We have had three this week.)

3. Bulky clothing and heavy coats that hide a lot.

4. No one knows whether or not you have shaved your legs (see #3, above).

5. Hot soup for supper.

6. Heated car seats, or the bun warmers, as we call them. Pure bliss.

7. Car heaters at all. These are something you take for granted until you have a car in which the heater doesn't work. Which we do. (Since my husband says there's no reason to fix it, as spring is coming soon, I refuse to drive that car, because spring may be coming, but it isn't HERE. And that car does NOT have heated seats. It's really just a step up from driving in a covered wagon.)

8. I can buy ice cream at the grocery store, and it doesn't get mushy before I can get it home. (This is especially true if driving the car with no heat.) And yes, we still buy (and eat) ice cream in the winter.

9. It's club volleyball season!

10. Warm kitty bodies.

Forecast for next week: snow and cold. Maybe we'll get another snow day out of it....

What are YOU thankful for? Link your post up right here.

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

(Not Entirely) Wordless Wednesday 2.5.14

When she was born, I didn't know if I were going to live to take care of her, having been diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy shortly after her birth.

As a newborn, I kept her bassinet pulled up next to my side of the bed, sleeping with one hand inside, because, although it was entirely unfounded, I had a fear that something would happen to her while she slept.

And this week, she turned 15.

Happy birthday, beautiful girl.