Friday, September 26, 2014

It's Fall and Other Thankful Stuff

At the risk of sounding whiny, I'm still exhausted this week, and the bone aches, especially in my legs, are keeping me from sleeping well. I can't hide that they hurt when I walk, especially after getting out of the car, and it makes me walk like Chester from Gunsmoke until I loosen up a bit. I HAAAAAAATE feeling like this. 

Whining session over. Time for my Ten Things of Thankful.

1. Today is Thursday. And this week, Thursday is my Friday, because there is no school on Friday. 

2. It's fall! It's fall! It's fall! 


3. We hosted the jv volleyball team for a pasta night this week, and it forced me to do some long-overdue deep cleaning of the house. I scrubbed and dusted and vacuumed, and the end result is a shiny clean house. Now, if it would only stay that way....

4. After I got the house clean, I got out the fall decorations. I like having the house decorated for fall even more than I do for Christmas. Maybe because my house is largely decorated in fall colors? When the house was all clean and decorated, I sat, all alone, in the family room, enjoying the oranges and browns and reds and yellows in the lamplight and froze a picture of it in my mind. Then, knowing the limitations of said mind, I snapped a couple of pictures on my phone to refer to when it's time to decorate again next year.

5. I made some pretty amazing lasagna for pasta night. I only make it once a year, at the most, because lasagna is such a pain in the ass to make, but this recipe from a friend who used to be a caterer is worth it. I doubled the recipe, so we have some for the freezer and some for our tummies.

6. No bats OR lizards in the building this week at preschool. That I know about, anyway.

7. A visit to Fredrickson Farms Pumpkin Patch rendered me three of the most ginormous chrysanthemums I've ever seen in my life. I had to drive with one in the passenger seat and two in the backseat to fit them in the car. AND THEY WERE ONLY $12 EACH!

8. I kind of forgot that they didn't take credit cards at Fredrickson's, and I, of course, didn't have cash with me, and I quit carrying around my checkbooks years ago. I felt like an idiot, but dear, sweet Farmer Tami let me take the mums home, telling me I could take care of it later. HOW MANY BUSINESSES LET YOU DO THAT? It doesn't hurt that I had her daughter in pre-k several years ago, but still. Live near the Joplin area? THEN GO BUY STUFF FROM FREDRICKSON FARMS!

9. It was "C" week in pre-k, and we did several "C"-related activities. Last year, one of the teachers saw on Pinterest that you could put a bar of Ivory soap in the microwave for a few minutes, and it would billow and grow into a big, fluffy soap cloud, and we tried it, and it was cool. We were pressed for time this week to get everything done we wanted to get done during "C" week (no school on Friday, 'member?) and had to squeeze the Ivory soap cloud experiment in near the very end of the day. I showed the unwrapped bar of soap to the class (nothing up my sleeve), after which my assistant teacher put it in the microwave, asking me how long to leave it in there. I had no idea, not able to remember from last year. She said she would set it for five minutes. At one point, she said it was growing, but she couldn't remember how big it would get before it was done. And then, very shortly after this announcement, she let out a yelp, pulled the paper plate with the soap on it out of the microwave, where it had not only gotten puffy and cloud-like, but also had smoke rolling out of it. With a trail of thick, soapy smelling smoke following her, she ran out of the room, down the stairs and out the doors, carrying the soap with her, and threw it in the dumpster. There are probably several thankfuls here, including, but not limited to, thankful that there were no actual flames billowing out, that the dumpster didn't catch on fire, that the smoke didn't set off the smoke alarms, and that we didn't asphyxiate from the smell of burned soap. I told the kids we'd try it again next week. Stay tuned.

What it's kind of supposed to look like.
Imagine this, but with smoke
billowing out of it.

10. I had the hiccups tonight during my daughter's volleyball game. I rarely get them, and when I do, they make me feel stupid. I was sitting at the game with a friend, and she said when you have the hiccups, it means someone is thinking about you, which is a pretty sweet sentiment. They still made me feel stupid, but wondering who might be thinking about me RIGHT THEN kind of took my mind off the hiccups (and the fact that our volleyball team was getting their clocks cleaned).

She played well, even without a win.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Completely Disjointed And Random Thoughts

Disjointed thoughts for your reading pleasure:

I have two solid blue cats with a total weight of over 40 pounds. I have one calico who is mostly white with black and orange spots and who weighs about 8 pounds. 95% of the cat hair on my clothes is white. I am no math whiz, but this doesn't add up.

A recent conversation between my son and daughter about hash browns:
Son: They cook the hashbrowns on a grill.
Daughter (looking puzzled): A grill? How do they do that?
Son: Not the kind with the flames. The Spongebob kind.
Daughter: Ohhhhh.

My daughter's friends are starting to get their driver's licenses, and I'm not sure how I feel about this.

I may overdose on candy pumpkins by Halloween.

A recent conversation between me and my daughter, while the family was riding in the car:
Daughter: If you're going to sell your produce on the side of the road, do you HAVE to make your sign look so bad?
Me: Yes, you have to make it look like Jethro Bodine made it.
Daughter: Who's Jethro Bodine?
Me: Sigh....

I ate an entire pint of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream today, but when my husband asked me what I had eaten today that kept me from being hungry for dinner, I only told him about the peanut butter sandwich I had for lunch.

A pint of ice cream really isn't that much.

I think I look better naked than I do in clothes, but you're just going to have to take my word for it.

I took Fletcher, our 12 year old kitteh, to the vet today. He gets car sick very easily, so it's really a joy to travel with him, whether it be one mile or 100 miles. I decided to put him in Ruby's small, soft-sided carrier, so he (hopefully) wouldn't have room to get sick. Got the carrier from the basement. Set it in a chair and unzipped the opening at the end (think rural mailbox). Rousted the cat from his hiding place in my husband's closet (I never even BREATHED the word "vet," so, obviously, he read it on the calendar), carried him downstairs to stuff him in the carrier before he knew what was happening to him, and found the carrier already occupied by 25 lb. Pete, who refused to budge. Instead, I had to carry him, wrapped in a towel, in my lap to the vet and back. The good news is he didn't get sick, but he sure complained the entire trip.

Pete, foiling Plan A

Mountain Dew Baja Blast tastes like window cleaner.

One of my primary boys needed to use the restroom the other day while we were on the playground, and how I knew this is because he grabbed his bottom and announced, "I have to poop!" The nearest bathroom is a "real" men's room, not like the one we have adjoining our classroom with an itty bitty, child-sized toilet in it. As I hustled him into the bathroom, he paused at the urinal. "Can I poop in there?" he asked. "No, not ever," I answered and sent him into the stall. "Why not?" he asked, and I told him, "It's only for peeing. Ask your dad to show you how."

The previous conversation is vitally important to have with a small boy, because last year, my assistant teacher took a primary boy into that very restroom from the playground and waited politely in the hallway without standing in the doorway (she'll never do THAT again, I can assure you). And THAT little boy managed to hoist himself into the urinal and poop there. I kid you not. (His mother [and my good friend] has been waiting patiently for this story to appear in my blog, so I'm happy I was finally able to work it in.) 

One more preschool story: we had a long conversation in primary class today about the importance of keeping your finger out of your nose. Interesting correlation: the ones who are the most vocal about why you shouldn't put your finger in your nose are usually the ones poking a finger up there.

I lost my school keys today, which is bad (there are three different indoor keys attached to an electronic key card). But while I was looking in my classroom for them, I found a $10 gift card to Sonic that I forgot I had, which is good. And then, at the end of the day, I found my keys in a side pocket of my purse where I keep my sunglasses, which is really, REALLY good, because if I had lost them on the playground the day before, which I had previously thought could have happened, then some homeless person or neighborhood hooligan could have found them, and that would have been very, very bad.

Vice President Biden is coming to Joplin for the official ribbon cutting at the new high school, and I'm pretty darn excited! I wish President Obama could come (he was here a week after the tornado and again at the one year anniversary, at which time he spoke at graduation, and we could not see him either time), but he's a little busy right now with work.

I made clothes for a frog this weekend. Top that.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

My Ho Hum Ten Things of Thankful List

This is such a dull list that I am embarrassed that this is my best effort, but it is what it is, and that would be my Ten Things of Thankful for this week:

1. I'm not quite as exhausted this week as I was last week. I'm very thankful for this, because if I had been, I'm not sure I would have survived. You really should not wake up every morning and wonder how soon you will be able to take a nap.

2. Both of our foster puppies have been adopted! Emma and I have been following Coco's Heart Dog Rescue on Facebook, where the puppers were sent for adoption, and Monday, Audrey was adopted, and Thursday, Olivia was adopted! Their new families look fantastic, Audrey is ENORMOUS, and we couldn't be happier to know that they have finally found their very own homes. 

3. Tuesday evening, the Joplin Lady Eagles Volleyball teams got to play in their VERY OWN GYM for the first time since the tornado destroyed the high school over three years ago. It was such a long wait! The gym is not completely finished, and a group of volleyball parents spent a couple of hours cleaning construction dust from the bleachers before the games started, but WE HAVE A GYM AGAIN!

Practice the night before the first game and
their very first time to use the new gym.

Cleaning women.

4. Not only did we get to play in our new (almost completed) gym, but the Freshmen, JV and Varsity teams all won their games against one of our biggest rivals. 

Nice pass!

5. My daughter and her friend, both on the JV team, sang the National Anthem before the Varsity game began. The last time they sang it (at a "home" game played at one of the middle schools, since there was no "home" yet), the microphone didn't work properly, and it cut out repeatedly while they sang (which they did without missing a note, in spite of the microphone issues). Even with a portable sound system (because the sound system for the new gym has yet to be installed), the girls sounded great Tuesday night, and if you're interested, here's a video made from my iphone (in other words, not that great of one) of them singing. Please remove your hats....

6. Wednesday night, we had nowhere to go. NOWHERE. TO. GO. I went to bed early, something I rarely do. When my bladder woke me up around 1:30 a.m., there were flashes of lightning in the distance. The flashes got brighter as the storms moved closer, and we had rumbles of thunder the rest of the night, which is kind of nice. Well, until about 3:00 a.m. when there was a flash and a tremendous BOOM that came from nearby. It even woke up Sleeping Beauty my husband. Later, we found out lightning had struck a 75 foot tall tree on the campus of Ozark Christian College, which we can see from our house. The tree was estimated to be about 100 years old, and the lightning caused the tree to explode, sending tree shrapnel into nearby cars and also through some windows in the dormitories. Fortunately, no one was injured. Our house is about 1/4 of a mile from the college; I can only imagine how loud it was to those kids in the dorm!

7. In Part 2 of my video series about outside animals that wind up inside the preschool, I recorded myself trying to free a lizard that followed me into the airlock after I went outside to take some trash to the dumpster. This is really the lizard's thankful, but I shall claim it as well, since I was glad my mission was accomplished without me ever having to touch it.

8. The volleyball team traveled to Springfield Thursday night, the same town where my son goes to college. I got to spend a little time with him that afternoon before heading over to watch my daughter play. All three teams won their games - Go, Lady Eagles!

9. My daughter tried to update her phone with the new ios 8 update and something went tragically wrong, causing her to lose everything in her phone. She was the only one up when it happened (midnight-ish Wednesday night, when I had gone to bed early), so she called her brother at college for help. (He told me Thursday when I had dinner with him that he thought someone had died when Emma called him, crying.) They may squabble and fight, but they really do love each other!

10. It's Friday night. The weather is just cool enough to sleep with the windows open. We spent the evening sitting with friends, watching the football team win an exciting game. The weekend holds no real plans, other than working around the house, decorating for fall. I'm the only one awake, except for Ruby, who comes and goes. God is in His Heaven and all's right with the world, at least for right now.

Okay, I didn't publish this Friday night like I meant to do. And I spent all day (and I do mean ALL DAY) Saturday deep cleaning the downstairs of my house. I collapsed in a comfy chair in my (super clean) family room a few minutes ago and got an email alert on my phone. It was from none other than the delightful Lisa at The Meaning of Me, just checking on me. I don't know what little voice told her I needed to hear from her right at that moment, but I'm very thankful she listened to it, because hearing from her was exactly what I needed. Thanks, Lisa! 

A little Pic Monkey fun with my Ruby.

Dull or not, link up your Ten Things of Thankful, below.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Working Up Some Thankfuls

I'm too tiiiiiiiired to write a Ten Things of Thankful list! I don't know what's wrong with me this week, but I am EXHAUSTED to my very core. Last Saturday, we were at a volleyball tournament all day in another town. Tuesday night, volleyball in another town. Thursday night, volleyball in another town THREE HOURS AWAY. This Saturday, volleyball tournament in another town.Why does riding in a car and sitting in bleachers watching volleyball exhaust me so much?

Gratuitous picture of Ruby, because I love her.

This is also one of those weeks where it isn't as easy to find thankfuls as it is in other weeks. And instead of a traditional list, I'm going to use the Sandy Ramsey method and incorporate my thankfuls as they come along in the story of my week. 

Last Saturday, Emma had a volleyball tournament in Springfield, an hour away from home. The girls have certainly played better, but they still got third place and had a fun day. My son also goes to college in Springfield, so I picked him up from his dorm and forced him brought him to watch his sister play a few games, then we went out to eat. My baby boy is really growing up; he bought dinner for the family (he actually has more money than any of us, as he is being paid to go to school and then some).

Monday evening, my daughter was dealt a crushing blow. I picked her up from volleyball practice at 6:00. I could see something was wrong when I saw her face as she approached the car, and the moment she got in, she burst into tears. It seems a girl on the varsity team wasn't playing well, so the coach moved her to junior varsity. That seems fair enough, but in moving her, they gave her Emma's position. Now, if Emma hadn't been playing well, I could understand it, but she has worked hard and played very well; in fact, her stats have been so good, they have been in the local paper after every game. One of the coaches told her it wasn't anything she had done, but somehow, she is the one being punished. She is now sharing a position with another player, which now punishes THAT player as well. It's very difficult to understand, for her and for us. And when my child hurts, I hurt. And she hurts.

Tuesday night, though, while playing her new position, even though she was sad and hurt, she got out there and rocked it, including getting 14 service points in a row. IN A ROW! And her stats made the paper again. But still, she doesn't have her position back and is only playing half the time, through no fault of her own. It's really hard.

One thing positive occurred for her this week in volleyball; she and two other friends on the jv team were asked to play in a varsity tournament on Saturday. Now, the reason extra players were needed was because over half the varsity team was taking the ACT and couldn't be there, but the good news is she was one of three asked to play from her team, so perhaps this whole debacle of losing her position will all turn out okay.

Pancaking to get the ball. Not sure it worked this time.

My dad had surgery in August to remove a (recurring) growth from inside his bladder. What at one time was something that was not terribly concerning took a turn when the doctor told him there were some cancerous cells within the growth. Treatment will be in the form of immunotherapy with a drug containing a live virus related to the germ that causes TB inserted by catheter directly into the bladder, at which time the body's own immune system will attack the cancer cells (I Googled it). The drug is kept in the bladder for two hours, then the plug is pulled, so to speak. For the next 6 hours, anytime he goes pee pee, the toilet has to be cleaned with bleach, due to the live virus. This will be done weekly for six weeks, and my 82 year old mother gets the joy of wielding the bleach bottle. (I recommended he work on his aim, and he said he would be required to take care of business from a sitting position.) Hopefully, he will sail through this, especially since the poor man has been diagnosed with type II diabetes and pancreatitis within the past two and a half years.

Emma was nominated for sophomore homecoming attendant. She was also nominated last year for freshman attendant. It was a wonderful honor to be nominated not once, but twice, especially since there are approximately 300 girls in the class to choose from, but she didn't win. And while she is not devastated, she is a little disappointed, especially given how the rest of her week has gone. 

Holy cow, that's a gloomy week! I sound like such a Sad Sack. Let's see, I went to my monthly oncology appointment this week, and all appears well. I got to don the beautiful paper gown for a breast exam, and who doesn't love doing THAT? (Me, that's who.) 

What could be better than a
 selfie in a paper gown?

I rode to Rolla for volleyball Thursday afternoon with the parents of one of Emma's teammates. We had a great time, stopping at the World's Largest Gift Store (I call bullshit on that one, but we still had fun poking around in there). Their daughter got hit in the eyebrow with another teammate's elbow (total accident) five points into the first game, splitting it open and causing much blood to spill. Luckily, there were two doctors and a nurse practitioner in the audience, and she was butterflied together and seems to be healing nicely. And has a great story to tell. 

I leave you with what was supposed to be a video of a bat flying down the hallway at preschool. I spotted it hanging from the ceiling right outside my primary classroom, which is located right across from the sanctuary. I kept to my usual M.O. of running down the hallway screaming "BAAAAAAAAAT!!!" until Mr. Doug comes to the rescue. But rather than the bat being knocked down with a broom (GENTLY - don't get your animal cruelty panties in a wad) and swept outside, this one decided to fly down the hallway, stopping on the floor outside my pre-k classroom. An unsuccessful attempt by Mr. Doug to sweep Mr. Bat into a bucket caused the bat to take off and fly up and down the hallway while I peeked out my pre-k classroom door, slamming it, screaming, every time the bat flew towards me. I THOUGHT I was videoing Mr. Doug as he swung at it with the bat, unsuccessfully, as the bat mocked him by dodging the broom, but it seems I forgot to push the "on" button. When I thought I turned it OFF, I actually turned it on, recording a video of the floor and lots of audio of me arm chair quarterbacking Mr. Doug's attempts to capture the bat. He was finally successful, and Mr. Bat was released outside (where he probably flew right back up to whatever hole allows them to get inside the attic and then, occasionally, find their way into the building). 

It's not too late to link up YOUR Ten Things of Thankful. Or there's always next week....

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Friday, September 5, 2014

First Days, Birthdays, and a Contest!

Cutting to the chase. This is the Ten Things of Thankful and these are the things I am thankful for this week:

1. Rain, rain, glorious rain! We are so dry here, as is a lot of the country, and we got steady, heavy rain that began in the night Monday night and continued most of the day Tuesday.

2. The first day of preschool. Tuesday was the first day for my primary class, Wednesday was the first day for my pre-k class. Prepare yourself for preschool stories.

Me (to 4 year old who was pulling at her britches): What are you doing? Are you okay?
4 year old: Fixing a wedgie.

3. A quick-thinking assistant teacher. Bat sleeping in the hallway yesterday morning ended up being a bat swooping and flapping up and down the hallway. My assistant teacher Janet shut the door when she heard there was to be a bat removal (said removals usually going fairly smoothly, with the sleepy bat swept out the door with a broom to fly away OUTSIDE). I looked out the little window in our door to see the bat flying up and down the hallway. Had she not shut the door, I would have walked right out of the room and into a flying bat's path.

4. Prizes! I forgot to include this the past two weeks, but I was the WINNER, WINNER, WINNER of a contest sponsored by Beth Teliho to guess what personal disaster might befall her when she went on vacation with her family. I had the winning guess with loss of bladder control. Sorry, Beth, that you peeing yourself turned out to be a thankful for me! I received an envelope in the mail some time thereafter, although NO ONE IN MY FAMILY BOTHERED TO TELL ME IT WAS THERE. And inside I found lip balm and a nifty pair of socks, both of which my daughter stole (which is why we call her the 100 lb. raccoon).

5. Ruby. She has missed me this past month while I had to spend so much time with the pooping, peeing, darling foster puppies, and she is all over me like bark on a tree.

6. Volleyball. Tuesday, all three teams lost their games, but Thursday, the Freshmen and JV teams both won - yay! And Emma made the stats in the sports section of the paper for both games, recording 12 digs for Tuesday's game and 11 digs for Thursday's. 

7. Two birds, one stone. The volleyball tournament will be in the same town where our son goes to college, so we will get to see him. 

8. Mysteries! I came home from preschool today to find a delivery from UPS on my doorstep, and it was for ME! Inside was the biggest bag of candy pumpkins I have ever seen. Did I say big? GINORMOUS. 4.5 pounds of delicious, sugary candy pumpkins. With no note. No return address, except for a partial address in Texas. 


Maybe I should make THIS a contest? Whoever figures out who sent me the candy pumpkins gets a prize from ME! Because I want to eat them, but, well, anthrax.

9. Birthdays. Because today is mine. And I may get older, but no one can make me grow up.

10. New schools. Our high school students have made do with makeshift facilities for three years, since the May 2011 tornado destroyed the high school.  This week, the new school finally opened, one week later than scheduled (seriously, how many multi-million dollar building projects get completed only one week beyond their scheduled completion date?). It is spectacular! The Joplin Eagles are finally in their nest!

Tell me happy birthday, enter my contest*, and then link up your Ten Things of Thankful post with us, below. 

*PLEASE. I really want to eat those candy pumpkins!

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Teaching An Old Dog A New Trick

Last month, on a total whim, my daughter and I decided to foster puppies from the humane society.  My reasoning was this:

1. The crawler on the tv screen during the morning news said the humane society had a great need for fosters for cats and dogs.

2. Our three cats would not tolerate it very well if we brought in foster kittens, besides the fact that the fosters might bring a kitty illness in that ours could catch, even if we kept them in separate parts of the house.

3. It would be really hard to give up kittens that we had fostered, because we are cat people, but puppies? We could give up puppies. They're cute, but we don't want a dog, so we wouldn't have a problem when it was time to return puppies for adoption.

We got our puppies, two of them, shepherd/great pyrenees mixes from a litter of six, on August 2. We named them Audrey and Olivia, because we thought the names they got from the humane society were stupid.

You could have put the sum total of knowledge we had about taking care of a puppy (let alone TWO of them) on the head of a pin and still had room to etch War and Peace on the pinhead.

We tried our best to housebreak them. We gave them a reward every time they pottied outside. They rewarded us by pooping and peeing all over our family room floor.

They got sick. REALLY sick. They both had coccidiosis (a single-cell parasite that attacked their intestinal tract). They both had kennel cough. Olivia was sick enough that I thought she wouldn't make it. Twice.

They chewed any and everything.

They occasionally had accidents in their crate, requiring baths and cleaning of the crate first thing in the morning. In the early days of the coccidiosis, one of them pooped in the crate in the night. Squishy poop. They got it on themselves, of course. Then, taking it to another level, Audrey apparently dipped her tail in it and painted poop all over the inside of the crate. 

And I asked for this.

But after four weeks of puppies, four weeks of alternating between enjoying them and wishing they were GONE, of cleaning up poop and pee off the floor, walking them at all hours, napping with them in our laps, playing with them, cursing them for chewing our flip flops, and worrying about their health, we fell in love.

Then it was time to return them to the humane society for transport to the rescue group that was going to find homes for them. A rescue group 500 miles away, where we would never see them again.

The manager of the humane society told us the name of the group where they were going, as we stood there crying, turning our babies over to them. She told us she cries every time she sends her own fosters off for adoption.

My daughter and I said one last goodbye to the puppies, gave them one last hug and kiss, then walked out the door and stood on the sidewalk in front, hugging each other and sobbing. On the drive home, we talked about how we could never do this again. It was too much mess. Too much heartbreak. Too much everything.

But the next day, I contacted the rescue group and asked if we could be kept informed about how the puppies were doing. I joined their Facebook page. And yesterday, their pictures turned up on the Facebook page, along with those of their siblings.

And now I get it. I get what fostering is all about. 

Look at these six puppies. Four of them stayed in a kennel at the humane society, because there weren't enough foster families to take them in. Ours were loved and nurtured and maybe spoiled a little. Can you tell which were our puppies and which lived at the shelter?

#1 is Audrey, #6 is Olivia. Look how perky they are, how bright their eyes! 

We did a good thing. It wasn't always easy, but we did it. 

Will we foster again? Yes. (Shhhh! Don't tell my husband or the three cats.)

Are we sorry we didn't keep them? Nope. We are not dog people. Not entirely sure we are PUPPY people, but we are foster people.

Are we going to cry again next time? You betcha.

Help an overcrowded shelter in your area and be a foster parent to a dog or cat (or puppy or kitten or two or seven). 

Want to read the rest of our adventures in fostering? Read Puppy Tails, Part 1, Puppy Tails, Part 2, and Puppy Tails, The Final Chapter.

This post is an entry for this week's Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop with the prompt:

Talk about one thing you learned last month.