Friday, May 23, 2014

I-Couldn't-Stop-At-10-This-Week Things Of Thankful

Last week at this time, I was so tired I wanted to put my feet up and not move for an entire week. That didn't happen. But I do feel more rested after this first week of summer vacation. 

1. The College Boy got his grades already and received all A's. (He dropped Calculus II halfway through the semester, because he was getting a B. Doesn't that sound ridiculous? Because it does, until you find out that he has to maintain a 3.6 GPA to keep his scholarship, and Calculus is a 5 hour class.)

2. Okay, since I bragged on the College Boy, I have to brag on my daughter, too. She has all A's as well. Plus, she's one of only two freshmen in her Biology class and has the highest grade in the class. 

3. I have been doing mountains and mountains of laundry this week, thanks to the return of the College Boy. (New rules to the effect that mom is NOT your personal laundress will be implemented shortly for BOTH kids.)  But his is finally, FINALLY done. Finally.

4. Our house is pretty big, but it is old (like around 90 years old), and doesn't have much storage (my friend Christine will attest to the fact that big, old houses do not have adequate storage). So when my son brought home all the crapola he accrued during his first year of college, there has been nowhere to put it all. It has moved now from the living room floor (because I went all Exorcist head-spinning-around about it) to his room, which he now cannot walk through (and this is different HOW?). I discovered something this week that is going to be a life saver for some of it. Vacuum storage bags. Fill the bag. Zip it closed. Hold the vacuum hose nozzle to the special valve. Suck all the air out of the bag. Store in about 1/10 of the space it would have taken up otherwise. THESE BAGS ARE LIFE CHANGING, I TELL YOU! 

Note: since writing this, I found one of the two bags I sealed yesterday full of air. So I filled it again and immediately heard the hiss of air escaping. Upon examination of the bag, I found a very distinct puncture, probably, but not proven to be, caused by a kitten's hind claw. Leaving them lying on the living room floor was apparently not a good idea. Resourceful person that I am, I sealed the hole with some packing tape, sucked the air out again, and so far, so good.

Another note: my bag did not vacuum seal with the precision of the picture on the box, but the air is squooshed out of it, even though it's lumpy, and I'm happy.

5. Two weeks ago, I said if I got all the scrapbooking paraphernalia put away from the year-long Mother's Day scrapbook project for preschool, I would list it in my TToT, and baby, I DID IT.

6. My husband and I have gone back to the gym after a ridiculously long hiatus. I'm happy to say that I was able to work out on the elliptical machine without having a stroke or falling off.

7. I found Ruby's favorite eggplant toy under the bed when I was cleaning this week. It will disappear again in a few days, but at least she's happily playing with it for the time being.

8. I ate the last of my hidden Easter candy, so it won't be there to tempt me anymore.

9. My son took this really creepy picture of Ruby snooping in a drawer in my daughter's room in the dark. I'm including it because it makes me laugh. And because Christine is completely creeped out by it.

Pete is lurking in the background.

10. My husband sent me this text on Thursday, which was 50 cent corndog day at Sonic. I haven't stopped laughing since I got it.

11. This week marked the third anniversary of the Joplin tornado. You can read a little about it here. Thankful our home was spared, thankful we were able to help others, thankful that the town is rebuilding and looking better and better.

12. Memorial Day weekend starts today. The true meaning of the day is to honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives in defense of our country, especially by decorating graves. It grew to include decorating graves of all loved ones. The significance of the day has been lost in recent years, replaced by the weekend being considered the unofficial beginning of summer. Instead of decorating graves and remembering those who died in service to our country, many Americans will be eating bbq, boating, drinking, and otherwise enjoying a three day weekend. Take a moment, please, to be thankful for our service men and women. We enjoy the perks of this three day weekend gateway to summer thanks to them.

You have to be thankful for SOMETHING or ten. Link your list up, below. Read the others. Write comments. Enjoy the community of TToT with us.

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Never Forget: The Third Anniversary of the Joplin Tornado

Three years ago today, the Joplin tornado tore our town into pieces. In some ways, it seems like yesterday; in others, it was a lifetime ago.

The tornado missed our home, but many of our friends lost theirs. Many lost their businesses. Some lost both. 161 people were killed.

This is not something you forget.

We are reminded the first Monday of every month, when the storm sirens are tested. We are reminded every time severe weather is predicted. We are reminded by all the new homes and apartment buildings that have cropped up in a land with no trees. We are reminded by the occasional twisted sign or boarded up home that still remains. We are reminded when we send our high schoolers to two make-shift buildings for classes. We are reminded every time we venture out into the town, for the landscape is forever changed. 

Following is an excerpt from a post I wrote for the second anniversary of the tornado:

I Live In Tornado Alley
(originally published May 20, 2013) 

When spring finally rolls into our area, so does tornado season. We in Joplin, Missouri, are a little twitchy about this. Where we once were casual about tornado watches, we now cancel activities and glue ourselves to the tv for storm coverage. 

And when the tornado sirens blow, we MOVE. 

I was born and raised in Tornado Alley. Which is a misnomer, because it's no alley. It's more like a vast parking lot, stretching across much of the mid-section of the United States. On the evening of May 20, 1957, an F5 tornado ripped through the Ruskin Heights area, just south of Kansas City, destroying the high school, a junior high, an elementary school, a church, a shopping center, and hundreds of relatively new homes and other businesses. Few of the homes had basements, and there were no storm sirens. 34 people were killed, including two staff members at the high school. 

What was left of Ruskin High School - 5/20/57
My parents bought a home in Ruskin Heights a few years later, after everything had been rebuilt. I grew up attending Ruskin Heights Presbyterian Church, which had been destroyed in the tornado and which served as a temporary morgue in the aftermath of the storm. Warning sirens had been installed after the tornado, and everyone heeded them. Our home didn't have a basement, but our next door neighbors' did, and we headed there any time the sirens blew. We even had a key to their home, in case they weren't there when a storm came through. The schools were rebuilt, but if there were so much as a tornado WATCH, we were sent home from school (something we kids LOVED, as we might get sent home early once or twice a week during the spring).

There were other reminders of the tornado as well, such as the church member who was confined to a wheelchair due to her injuries (and who had had a young daughter pulled from her arms as she ran for shelter at the church that evening). The nail heads that attached the drywall to the studs in our homes were all raised bumps, as the pressure of the tornado had forced them to pop out slightly.  In fact, I was a pretty big kid before I found out that this wasn't "normal" in a home. 

And when the sirens blew that there was a tornado warning (meaning a tornado had been SIGHTED, for those of you who don't live in Tornado Alley), we hustled to a basement. Fast.

So, after many years of moving around the country, my husband and I moved back to Missouri. And the most important criteria I had for finding a house was that it HAD to have a basement. I may have lost my childhood terror of hearing those sirens, but I knew that tornadoes meant BUSINESS, and I had a healthy respect for their power.

Then on the evening of May 22, 2011, while a severe thunderstorm warning had been issued and rain was pelting down, a tornado was spotted on the Kansas/Missouri border just west of Joplin, and the tornado sirens were sounded.

We jumped into action, with the house rule of putting on tennis shoes, grabbing the cell phones, the car keys, and my purse, and heading to our basement.  Our cats followed us down, curious as to why we were rushing around so, and we shut the door and turned on the radio.

Regular programming was interrupted with the weather report. The tornado was moving to the northeast, heading directly toward our part of town. My husband and I exchanged glances and he said, "This is really going to happen." 

My daughter, then 12, sat on the floor next to the furnace (and the litter box), a large Rubbermaid container over her head, crying.

My 15 year old son, who had grabbed a bag of pretzels on his way through the kitchen to the basement, was stuffing pretzels in his mouth, crumbs flying everywhere.

I was madly sweeping up kitty litter, having determined the safest place in the basement was right where the litter box was.

My husband was listening to the progress of the tornado.

The cats were milling about.

The announcer began talking about the tornado being on the ground in an area known as Iron Gates. Then there was talk of the hospital being hit. We were confused. That was NOT the path the tornado was supposed to be taking.  I stopped sweeping and listened. The tornado had changed its path. It was no longer headed towards our neighborhood. Instead, it cut a swath up to a mile wide and over six miles long across the heart of the city. 

The high school was destroyed, as was one of the two hospitals in town, three elementary schools, plus churches and businesses. Nearly 7000 homes were completely destroyed, with hundreds more sustaining damage. 161 people were killed, hundreds injured. While our home was spared, our lives would never be the same. (You can read about a major way I was affected here and here.

Mercy Hospital, completely gutted.

Joplin High School

Beyond the sign was once
the high school, surrounded
by homes and big trees.

The beloved dance studio where
my daughter spent much of her time.

Sad little dancer.

Today is the anniversary of the Ruskin tornado. In two days, it will be the second anniversary of the Joplin tornado. We spent half an hour in our basement this evening when a line of severe thunderstorms brought the imminent threat of a tornado.

Today is the one year anniversary of the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado. Just over three weeks ago, a tornado damaged two towns just to the southwest of Joplin. 

Tornadoes don't mess around.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wordless Wednesday 5.21

Found my checkbook, lying on the kitchen counter, with a very distinctive footprint on it....

A raccoon must have broken into the house, because my little princess Ruby would NEVER--yeah, who am I kidding?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Ten Things Of Thankful: Exhaustipated Version

I wasn't sure it was possible, but I believe I have survived this week. 

That is now Thankful #1 in this week's Ten Things of Thankful.

2. In spite of my post on Monday, I did have a lovely Mother's Day, although I think someone owes me a doughnut without a couple of bites taken out of it, and he knows who he is.

3. My daughter had her last choir concert of the year this week. It was Senior Spotlight night, which means endlessly long to anyone who does NOT have a senior (and I don't). The kids are very talented, though, and I enjoyed listening to them sing. My daughter has said repeatedly that being in show choir has been the best thing about high school so far. I'm grateful she's found a good group of friends through it.

4. My daughter's group sang "Counting Stars" and "Say Something." My daughter had a solo in "Counting Stars." The bad news is the mike didn't work during her solo, and we couldn't hear one word she sang. But she LOOKED like she was nailing it, so I'm going with that. Hopefully, she'll get another chance to sing a solo next year, especially since this one got botched.

I'm sure she sounded as lovely as she looks.

5. The preschool year wound down this week with Last Day of School parties for each class. The Pre-K class had a Round Up theme, where they dressed in western clothes (i.e., cowboy boots and hats and bandannas). We played games and ate pigs in a blanket and drank root beer (cowboy food, you know), then went outside to spit sunflower seeds, which is hilarious fun. I told them I was giving them all the boot and sending them off to kindergarten. They've been a NOISY, SOCIAL class, but they've also been a fun one. I'm very grateful I got to spend the past school year with them.

6. It was "See You Later, Alligator" in Primary this week. We made binoculars out of toilet paper tubes on Tuesday, then used them to go on a "safari" on the last day. My assistant teacher, Miss Janet, came up with the idea. She hid 5 animals around the building, and we walked around, looking through our binoculars, until we found them all. The kids had so much fun that when we returned to the room, they wanted to do it again (we couldn't - out of time). It will be something they will remember for a long time. I'm also lucky enough to have 7 out of the class of 12 enrolled in my Pre-K class for next year, so I get to enjoy them for two years.

Alligator located.

7. Pre-K graduation was Thursday night. As per my personal litmus test (no one cried, no one threw up, no one peed their pants), it was a successful program. One of my little girls was literally sobbing when the program was over; she didn't want to leave Pre-K and go to kindergarten. (I would keep her and never let her go if I could, for she is precious, but she's ready to move on and conquer the world.)

8. Other than hauling home stacks of books and boxes of files, my classrooms (I have two; one is a Pre-K room, one is for Primary) are packed up for summer. My Pre-K assistant teacher, Miss Melissa, did the majority of the work in that room, or I would have still been at it today, which was not possible, because...

9. ... THE COLLEGE BOY IS HOME FOR THE SUMMER! He was done with finals on Wednesday, but, bless his heart, his mama was too busy with the last week of preschool to be able to move him home until today. 

10. Naturally, the College Boy had not packed one single thing when I got there this morning. His other three roommates had already moved out, so everything that was left was either his or trash (or both, in some cases). He was convinced it would all fit in my car (a Toyota Avalon), but he was completely wrong. The good news was my husband was also in town for meetings, so we took a load across town to where he was, loaded it in his vehicle, and then went back to fill my car with the rest of it. He will spend the rest of the summer getting it all sorted out, since you may imagine that someone who had not packed anything yet the day he was to move out would not exactly be a methodical packer.

I am simply exhausted now, after all the excitement of the week. but it's a good kind of exhausted. Mostly. And it means that I have my summer ahead of me and, most importantly, we are all home again, under the same roof, and will hopefully not kill each other before school starts again in August.

Ruby, exhausted after chasing her tail most of the night.
Large, gray lump in background is Fletcher.

Don't be too exhausted to join us in Ten Things of Thankful! Link up, below.

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Life Is A Sitcom, Even On Mother's Day

It seems all the Mother's Day statuses I've read on Facebook or on blogs have all been very Disney-esque. Happy children helping daddy in the kitchen, the bluebirds flying in the window, arranging the pillows for the breakfast in bed that was cheerfully brought upstairs to the waiting mom, the mice and chipmunks carrying the breakfast tray. My experience was a little more reminiscent of The Middle. Or Married...With Children. See what you think:

Around 7 a.m. on Mother's Day, my husband checked to see if I were awake by jiggling the bed (fortunately for him, I was).

"Would you like doughnuts this morning?"


"Because we talked about making you breakfast, but since you don't LIKE breakfast food, doughnuts seemed like a better plan. You like all the chocolate ones, right? And maple and glazed."

We've been married for almost 21 years.

"No, I like the glazed kind that are frosted with chocolate. And I like white cake doughnuts with chocolate frosting. NOT chocolate cake doughnuts with chocolate frosting, though. And chocolate bars. I will EAT maple bars, but I don't love them."

He left for the only doughnut shop in town open on Sundays (which also happens to be our favorite, and really, you shouldn't be so familiar with all the doughnut shops in town to know which is your favorite and when they're open, but we do - don't judge).

When he returned, I heard him puttering around downstairs in the kitchen. He stopped in our daughter's room to tell her to get up and join us, then he arrived in our room with two boxes of doughnuts, plates, napkins, and a cup of tea. He brought the tea over to me first.

"What's in it?"

"What do you MEAN, what's in it?"

"I mean how much sweetener did you put in it?"

"SWEETENER?! You drink your HOT tea sweet, too?"

We've been married for almost 21 years....

"I need four packets of sweetener. IT'S A BIG CUP, ALL RIGHT?"

He called to our daughter to go get them for me.

"By the way, one of the cats left you a present at the foot of the stairs. I hope it's a hairball."

Our daughter called up that she couldn't find the sweetener (which meant she was standing in the middle of the kitchen, not looking).

"It's in the kitchen window," I say to my husband.

"IT'S IN THE KITCHEN WINDOW!" hollers my husband, sitting five feet away from me.

"It's not there!" we hear from downstairs.

"In the kitchen window above the sink. The right one. Next to the tea."


"Got it," we hear, along with the rattle of packages and the squeak of 15 year old feet on the stairs.

"And a spoon," I say to my husband.

"AND A SPOON!" calls my husband.

"Dammit." Sound of retreating footsteps.

In the meantime, my husband is doling out doughnuts to me.

"Now, there's a story about this first one. I didn't have my glasses on, and I wanted to eat one in the car, and I THOUGHT it was a maple bar, but it was your chocolate bar."

And he laid a chocolate bar on the plate in front of me, two very visible bites taken out of it.

"Why are there TWO bites missing?" I asked.

"I wanted to make sure I was wrong."

"You were."  I took a bite. "Tastes like spit."

Ignoring me, he announced proudly, "And I got you some chocolate cake doughnuts with chocolate frosting!"

We've been married for almost 21 years....

"YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW ME, DO YOU?! I told you before you left that I like the plain cake doughnuts with chocolate frosting!"

"I get confused when I go in there! You know how you get in a lighting store? That's me in a doughnut shop. I can't keep track of how many I'm getting and end up with too many, and I can't tell the chocolate from the maple."

In the meantime, my daughter walks in the room with gift bags, four packets of sweetener, and a spoon. My husband turns to her and says, "Doesn't your mom always want chocolate cake doughnuts with chocolate frosting?"

My daughter looks at him and frowns. "She likes PLAIN cake doughnuts with chocolate frosting. And chocolate bars. And chocolate frosted glazed doughnuts."

"SEE? YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW MEEEE!" I turn to my daughter. "He ate part of my chocolate bar in the car."

"You ate her doughnut IN THE CAR? You never let us eat the doughnuts until we get home!"

"Well, they were still warm, and I wanted to try it while it was warm..."

"AHA!" I cried. "The truth comes out. You MEANT to eat it!"


"Open your presents, Mom."

She handed me two handmade cards. On notebook paper. Because they obviously forgot to buy a card. 

The first one:

The second one, front:


Aww, she included her brother....

They got me a set of mixing bowls that I had seen at Macy's and admired. My husband, who never, never, NEVER sets his big toe in the mall if he can help it, walked through the mall with me a few weeks ago, and I can't even remember why (you'd think such a momentous occasion would stick in my mind as to why he was there, but it didn't), and he remembered I pointed the bowls out as we passed them. (But he can't remember what kind of doughnut I like.)

And they gave me a summery tote bag, then exchanged knowing glances with each other.

"What?" I asked.

"Nothing!" they said. Mhm.

Some new Wallflower scents. Nice. One, two, three, four, five....

"Where's the sixth one?" I asked.

"What do you mean?" my husband answered. My daughter said nothing.

"They come six for $24. There are only five here."

I look at my daughter.

"I don't know WHAT you're talking about," she said.

"Look at me when you say that," I tell her.

"You buy too many of them if you know how much they cost and how many you get," my husband said.

And they gave me the perfume I really, really wanted. It smells divine! My daughter and I were in Ulta earlier in the week when I tried some of it on and told her it was what I would like to have for Mother's Day, if anyone wondered. Before she and her dad went shopping yesterday ("We're going out for a little while," my husband said, acting coy, like I didn't know what they were up to.), my daughter asked me for the name of the perfume. I told her to go check the sample that was in the bathroom and to make sure to get my Ulta points for the purchase, so no, it wasn't a surprise, but yes, I was very happy to get it!

How many times do I have to say I love
Philosophy before they pay me to say it?!

My husband took my daughter to babysit, and when he came back upstairs, he said, "I cleaned up the cat barf, just for you. Happy Mother's Day."

"Sooo, what's the story on the tote bag? Because I know there is one. I saw you look at each other."

"No story.... Okay, it came free with the perfume."

"I had a feeling," I said. "I like it, though! It's really pretty!"

"Yeah, SOMEONE wanted to keep it for herself. She was pretty impressed that they gave it away for free, but I told her when they charge a hundred dollars for perfume, they can afford to give away luggage."

"A HUNDRED DOLLARS?! Was it really that much? I'm sorry! I had no idea!"

"Nah," he said. "It wasn't cheap, but it wasn't nearly that much."

And Ruby played with all the tissue paper and other wrappings all morning, until she wore herself out.

The only thing that would have made the day better would have been to have the College Boy home.

And a plain cake doughnut with chocolate frosting.

Friday, May 9, 2014

And In A Flash, It's Time For Ten Things Of Thankful

Some weeks go by agonizingly slowly. Some go by quickly. And some go by in such a blur, you wonder if you're somehow wrong and have the days mixed up. FRIDAY ALREADY?! It should only be Tuesday, but if you say so, then I'm going with it. Here's my Ten Things of Thankful:

1. My daughter's ensemble got a 1 at state music contest last weekend. Their group was made up of six freshman and sophomore girls, and they were one of only two ensembles that got a 1 at state (the other one was a quartet of juniors and seniors). Very proud of those girlies!

The talented ladies with their director.

2. Monday, I found out I was supposed to write a reflection post of my experience with the A to Z Challenge. Whoops! Reflected, wrote, and posted it, THEN found out I had until the end of the week to get it done. That would be the first A to Z post I got in WAYYY before the deadline!

3. My preschoolers have been wound for sound all week, especially Pre-K. The Pre-K class is suffering from senioritis. Only two more class days, and we're through for the year, then they're off to kindergarten in the fall. Lame ducks. But they've been good all year (mostly), so why not just let them socialize? As long as they don't get too out of control, we can just enjoy these last few days together as a class.

4. My primary class is certainly feeling their oats, as well. We did manage to make a really cute craft this week, though. We made a Rainbow Fish by painting our (wait for it) hands. They loved adding the beautiful silver scale to their fish and painting on the seaweed. They're so easily amused!

It's Rainbow Fish!

5. I'm slowly, but surely, getting caught up on A to Z reading. If I haven't gotten to all of yours yet, I WILL! I PROMISE!

6. I wrote a post this week for Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop. It's been MONTHS since I've written a post for that hop, but one of the writing prompts just called out to me, so if you want to read how I was once a killer, you can read "Mousecapades" here.

7. Ruby, my silly, sweet Ruby! Even when she spends the night bounding across the bed like Tigger, finishing up with a good, long round of chasing her tail ON THE BED RIGHT BEHIND ME, AS I AM LYING ON MY SIDE, TRYING TO SLEEP, I still lurrrrrve her so!

Perched in the middle of Ground Zero
for the preschool scrapbook project. If
I get all of it put away this week, it will
make my TToT NEXT week....

8. My daughter and I are helping with the dance recital this weekend for her old studio. So happy that Nicole asked us to help; it's so bittersweet not to be part of the recital this year, for the first time in 9 years, but this gives us a "fix" and allows us to be part of it without being part of it, if you know what I mean.

9. Hidden chocolate.

10. Turkey and bacon sandwiches. Getting ready to go have one now, at a little place over near the venue where the dance recital is being held.

Thankful for turkey and bacon sandwiches? Kittens? What? Write your Ten Things of Thankful and link them up, below. You'll love our TToT community!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


My son is a freshman at the same college I attended. He is a Cell and Molecular Biology major, minoring in Chemistry.  He had over 30 AP and dual credit hours when he started college and got to skip over all kinds of lower level classes, like English Composition and College Algebra. He's taking classes now that make my head spin. He is a genius kid.

I was an Elementary Education major in college, and I'll be the first to tell you, it doesn't get much easier than that, folks. Math for Elementary Teachers. Art for Elementary Teachers. Music for Elementary Teachers (see the trend here?). 

Then there was Biology for Elementary Teachers.

I took the class spring semester of my freshman year. We had a lecture three days a week (and I honestly cannot tell you one single, solitary thing about that), plus a three hour lab one day a week, taught by a graduate student. 

My lab was on Monday afternoons, and it was filled with the super-geeky type of Elementary Education majors, the ones who sit in the front row and try to impress the professor and remind him he forgot to give the homework assignment. I chose a seat in the back of the room, at the end of a lab table, thinking this was going to be one long semester, when a girl came in the door, glanced around the room at all the goody-two-shoes sitting in there, and sat on the stool across from me. Her name was Liz, and we became instant friends.

The class was a complete waste of time. I guess the Biology department didn't think we lowly Elementary Ed majors were worth the cost of dissecting anything (which, honestly, I was okay with), so the graduate assistant just showed us a fetal pig that had been dissected by a "real" class. 

We did do one minor experiment. We had some chemical concoction in a test tube and were instructed to heat it over a Bunson burner. I was holding the test tube in the flame with a pair of tongs as Liz read the directions. She was just getting to the part that said, "Continually move the test tube from side to side and never hold it still while in the flame," when the liquid inside shot up out of the tube. Probably should have read the part about continually moving it sooner.... The only other thing we did that was like a "real" Biology class involved mice. Oh, the mice!

We were given a glass cage with two white mice in it, a boy mouse and a girl mouse, and we were to observe them over the semester. Each set of lab partners was assigned a week of mouse duty (that is, cleaning out the cage, feeding and watering them). Mice being mice, our girl mouse was soon in the family way, and each week, we watched her get bigger and bigger. And soon enough, she had a litter of eight naked babies.

The lab partners who had the luck of drawing birthing week as their week to care for the mouse family made off easy. The babies were too small to move, so no cage cleaning; they only had to make sure they had plenty of food and water and that was that.

The week following that was our week. Liz and I went into the lab to care for our little family, only to find out the baby daddy had eaten one of the babies (MOST of one of the babies, anyway). We removed him and put him in a separate cage. We removed mom and her bundles of joy, each covered with downy white now, their eyes still closed, weighed them (because we were trying to score a few brownie points with the graduate assistant after the whole test tube debacle), cleaned out the cage, filled it with fresh bedding, filled their food dish, and filled their ginormous water bottle. We nestled mama and babies back into the cage and were clipping the water bottle into place when the plug fell out and the water began gushing out of the bottle, filling the glass cage with an inch or so of water. 

Frantically, we started scooping babies out of the water, dropping them into a box. Next, we fished mom out, putting her in the box with her children. With paper towels, we tried to dry them all off, but it was hardly efficient. We emptied the watery cedar chip bedding from their cage, dried it thoroughly, refilled it with fresh litter, gave them new food, refilled the ginormous water bottle, making sure THIS time that the cork was firmly in place, and returned the mouse mama and babies to their cage. Again. And we left.

At our next lab class, the graduate assistant remarked that there was something wrong with our mice; two of the babies had died, and none of them looked particularly right. Their fur was a little scrappy, and it had yellowed a bit. Liz and I looked at each other, saying nothing. In the next week, two more babies died. The remaining babies survived, but not long after they were weaned, the mom went to mousy heaven, too. The babies grew into adult mice (they do that FAST), but they were yellowed, their fur scraggly.

The graduate assistant was befuddled by this.

And Liz and I, feeling like horrible, horrible mouse killers when we were just trying to do the right thing, never let out a squeak about what happened.

This week, after a long sabbatical, I am participating in Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop with the prompt:

"Whose fault was it?"

Monday, May 5, 2014

Reflecting On The A to Z Challenge

And you thought you heard the last of me and the A to Z Challenge.


According to those who read the rules better than I did, I am expected to write a reflections post about my 2014 A to Z experience. I am nothing if not a rule follower, so reflect with me:

A core group of Facebook friends (many from high school) were faithful readers.
Behind the 8 ball. Because I couldn't keep up with the reading and commenting.
Challenging would certainly describe this, but in a good way. Mostly.
Determined that I will catch up on all that reading and commenting.
Exciting when a post fell into place, especially when I didn't know where it was going.
Family did without meals pretty much all month, but at least I had an excuse this time for not feeding them.
Grateful for the chance to stretch myself with my writing. 
Hoping my friends aren't as relieved it's over as I am! 
Investigating and fact finding was enjoyable, not work like it was in school
January. When I'm going to start putting my ducks in a row for next year's Challenge.
Kitten love. Ruby helped me nearly every time I sat down to write.
Lizzi, my dear Lizzi, the encourager, invited me into her A to Z group.
Maybe just a LITTLE planning would have made it easier on my part.
New blogging friends! So happy to have made new friends! 
Old blogging friends! It was nice to have familiar folks in the fray as well.
Positive experience, in spite of it being difficult. Or maybe BECAUSE it was difficult.
Quitting was never an option. Never.
Random. My posts were completely random. So I never got bored.
Success! I posted every single day, cutting it close to midnight a few times, but I made it!
Timing of the Challenge was difficult, since I also had a huge project for preschool to complete during the same time frame.
Unexposed passions came to the surface when I wrote my post about Picher
Volume does not necessarily equal quality, but I feel it did in this case.
Wakefield Doctrine. Clark was a terrific cheerleader, and I appreciated it very much!
Xhausting. Writing every day is harrrrrd!
Yes, I'm participating next year. I think. No, for sure. I'm there.
Zowie! It certainly made April go by swiftly.

Here are some of my favorite posts from the Challenge; if you haven't read any of them, then at least read these:

E is for Easter
I is for Inedible
J is for Jesse James
P is for Picher, Oklahoma
T is for Tiny Dancer
V is for Vignette
Y is for Y, Not I

And a special THANK YOU to Christine from In The Coop for inspiring me to join this year.

Okay, now I'm done talking about the A to Z Challenge. 

Or am I?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful: The Post-A to Z Challenge Edition

It's the weekend and Ten Things of Thankful time. I cannot tell you enough how glad I am that my only real writing obligation right now is this blog hop! Here's my list for the week:

1. The A to Z Challenge is OVER. It has been a lot of fun, but, well, challenging. Enjoyed it. Glad it's done.

2. Something else that's over: the making of the Mother's Day gifts from my preschool students to their moms, which are individual scrapbooks depicting our year in pictures. They take hours and hours and HOURS to create. HOURS. HOURS. But they're done, done, DONE.

3. And something ELSE that's over: the Mother's Day programs. No one cried, no one peed their pants and no one threw up, which, to me, constitutes a program well done. Oh, and they actually sang the songs, even my little Primary kids. Apparently, there was a minor hair-pulling incident on the other side of the stage from where I was sitting during the Primary program, but (criteria #4 of a well done program) no one fell off the risers.

4. Storms last Sunday were followed by a cold front, but spring came back yesterday, and we are enjoying a gorgeous Saturday with the windows open to the sound of birds singing and lawnmowers mowing and kids playing. Beautiful sounds.

I brought the college boy with me
to my appointment. He is pictured
here under a diagram of an anus.
5. I had a six month follow-up appointment with my general surgeon, Dr. Bumberry, this week. He admired my reconstruction (which is marvelous, have I ever mentioned that?) and declared that I didn't have to come back for a whole year.

6. I mentioned to the doctor that I started a blog about my breast cancer experience after I was diagnosed, and he asked me to give him my blog address, saying it would be a good resource for other patients going through the same thing. Sweet! All I've ever wanted was to reach others who could benefit from my experience in some way. (The downside to Dr. Bumberry reading my blog is that he'll find out that I have crushed on his lovely auburn hair since my first appointment with him, and that I call him Dr. Dorian Gray. I'm hoping he is amused and not creeped out.) 

7. I found a dollar in my jacket pocket.

8. I also found my aviator sunglasses in there that I thought I had lost forever and had JUST replaced the day before. So now I have TWO pairs of aviators to lose to wear.

9. Late last summer, my daughter, along with several other dancers from her studio, modeled for a mural depicting the arts in Joplin. The mural has been completed and is now on the side of a downtown building, and it is AWESOME! My daughter is the dancer on the left. The artist altered their images slightly, so they are not exact depictions of the girls. You can look at the pictures I took in the studio during the photo shoot for the mural and see for yourself:

10. Last week's Ten Things of Thankful had me and my family in a basement during a tornado warning, and I thank all of you for your concern when you read that post. Fortunately, no tornadoes touched down where we were, and we were able to make it home safely a few hours later. The towns of Quapaw, Oklahoma, and Baxter Springs, Kansas, were not as lucky, and there is considerable damage there. If you feel so led, please consider making a donation to the American Red Cross by visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS. You can also text the word RECROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Ten Things of Thankful

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