Wednesday, December 31, 2014

12 in 2014

My friend Christine (more about her later) participates in an annual blog hop hosted by Dwija from House Unseen which invites bloggers to post their 12 favorite photos from the year. I don't take GOOD pictures, but I take a lot of them. Here are the 12 I chose:

It was Silly Sock or Slipper Day in my Pre-K class at preschool. I don't even want to tell you how long it took to position 16 pairs of four and five year old legs like this, but they thought it was silly fun and mostly held still long enough for me to get the picture.

In March, my daughter's travel volleyball team played in a tournament in an itty bitty town southeast of Kansas City. I found out my mother's family had a history in that town (that involved Jesse James, no less), and I wrote about it here. But the other fascinating thing about Holden, Missouri, was its itty bitty St. Patrick's Day parade that was held a block away from the volleyball venue, and I caught a picture of these festive parade-goers before the ten entries in the parade went by.

My son caught our kitten Ruby apparently going through my daughter's dresser drawers in the night. Truly a cat burglar.

1. This picture creeps out my friend Christine.
2. If you look carefully in the background,
you can see one of the other cats lurking there.

My primary class went on a safari on the last day of school, complete with binoculars. I think they found an alligator....

My daughter's image was included in this mural on the side of a building on Main Street that was unveiled in May. She used to dance (and you can read about that here). Although it is not an exact depiction, she is the one seated on the bench.  

Is there anything much cooler than meeting a blog friend in real life? I got to do this when the above-mentioned Christine, hater of cat burglar photos, had to travel to Kansas City when her daughter's soccer team made regional play-offs. I drove up there to spend the day with her, and we had a fabulous time! Christine has always said we were the same person, and we proved it by wearing the very same shirts. 

We participated in a video chat with some of our other
blog buddies but only had one pair of earbuds.
Same shirt, same earbuds, same person.

I plan all the family vacations, and I like to throw in some interesting stops along the way. This year, we traveled to Galveston, and along the way, we stopped to see the World's Largest Peanut and visited the Texas State Prison Museum. 

Doing my best Orange Is The New Black impression.

Silly, silly me thought it would be FUN to foster puppies for the Joplin Humane Society. I've never owned a dog in my life and knew nothing about house training them or that they don't instinctively know how to walk on a leash or that they chew EVERYTHING. Of course, we fell in love with them, but while they WERE fun, they were a LOT of work. Even though we (meaning my daughter and I) cried buckets when we had to take them back to go to a rescue group that was going to see to their adoptions, we were also kind of glad to see them go. (And yes, we'll probably do it again.)

Audrey and Olivia, our little sweeties.

I moved our son back to college in August for his sophomore year. It went much better than moving him there as a freshman! That was one tough day. And it wasn't that I was foster-puppy-glad to see him go, but he was ready and we were ready, and while that means he's growing up and away from us, it's being done in little steps.

When I was getting my preschool room ready for school to start, I had a wee little accident with one of the crappy plastic-legged chairs that refused to scoot on the carpet with me on it. Hello, Goldilocks!

After the May 22, 2011, EF-5 tornado destroyed the old high school (along with over one-third of the town), the new, state-of-the-art high school was finally opened in time for school to start, with a ribbon cutting ceremony in October, with special guest Vice President Joe Biden in attendance and delivering a speech. I joked that I was going to get my picture taken with him, and by golly, I really did it

We have watched the Mizzou volleyball team play every year at Thanksgiving for the past few years. My daughter has especially enjoyed getting to meet Mizzou's libero, Sarah Meister. We got one last picture of them together at Sarah's last career game with Mizzou.

Goodbye, 2014! You've been pretty nice, all in all. Hello, 2015! Be kind with me!

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Last Ten Things of Thankful List For 2014

Ruby is on my bed, playing with what appears to be a twig, about four inches long. She is tossing it up in the air and pouncing on it when it lands. I'm curious as to where she found this stick, and I suspect it was once part of some Christmas decoration that was within her reach, but as long as it isn't a snake, I'm good with it. Now for this week's Ten Things of Thankful:

1. I rescued a dog this week, and this time, I didn't kidnap the neighbor's dog by mistake - this one was really lost!

2. I finally got past Level 460 in Candy Crush.

3. We decided to go to the 10:30 p.m. handbell choir concert at our church on Christmas Eve, followed by the 11:00 p.m. service. It seemed like a good idea earlier in the day, but I was so tired by the time 10:30 rolled around, I could barely keep my eyes open. (By the way, handbells have a very soothing sound and a sleepy person cannot be expected to sit through a thirty minute concert AND an hour long church service without the expectation that she might fall asleep.) About halfway through the service, when I thought I was either going to have to go out into the library area and take a nap on the couch or go to my preschool classroom and lie down on the rug in the home living center, I got my second wind and made it through the service. (I can neither admit nor deny that I may have taken a little, tiny cat nap during a prayer that served to rejuvenate me.)

4. Santa was good to everyone this year, and only one gift needs to be returned.

5. Benefit POREfessional balm. Hides pores and feels luscious as it goes on. Expensive, but worth it.

6. Chips and salsa.

7. Some of you will find the following incomprehensible, but I have already taken down all my Christmas decorations and PUT THEM IN THE ATTIC. Once the gifts are opened, I'm kind of over it all anyway, and since I'm going out of town for a few days, I didn't want to come home after the first of the year to a house still decorated for Christmas. It feels good to have the house back to normal.

8. One more batch of caramel popcorn, and I am done, done, DONE for the season! I wish I had kept track of how many pounds of popcorn I have made since Thanksgiving.

9. We made it through the entire holiday season without Ruby climbing the Christmas tree.

10. I videoed my kids trying to figure out a pictogram riddle telling them what one of their Christmas presents was. Watch the following video and see for yourself how much trouble a couple of gifted geniuses had with it, bearing in mind this had been going on for several minutes when I decided it was worth recording.  You can visibly see my son figure it out; my daughter takes a little longer....

Ruby has taken her prize stick in her mouth like a dog with a bone and trotted down the hallway with it. I have no idea where she's going to take it, but I can be assured I will find it with my bare feet at some point this weekend. Until that happens, I will be waiting anxiously for you to post YOUR Ten Things of Thankful list (the LAST ONE for 2014).

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

(Not Very) Wordless Wednesday 12.24.14

After a marathon day of shopping, wrapping and cooking, I went to bed last night knowing I needed one more gift and a smattering of items from the grocery store. On Christmas Eve, a day when NO ONE in their right mind wants to be anywhere near a mall or a grocery store, I was going to need to hit the mall and a grocery store.

Believing the early bird gets the worm (or avoids the crowds), I left the house at 7:30 and headed across town to the mall. The road I took is one of my most used routes. It runs behind my house, beyond the woods behind us, over a low water bridge, and then cuts diagonally across town. I use it to go to the mall, Target, Aldi, well, pretty much any major retail establishment in town, as they mostly line one street. 

As I was taking the road through a large park about a half mile from my house, I saw a big dog slowly trotting down the pavement in front of me. No people around. The dog was walking in my lane, heading the same direction as I was (perhaps HE had an errand at the mall, too?), and didn't move out of my way as I came up behind him.

I stopped the car.

The dog (did I say he was big? Make that huge.) turned and looked rather hopefully at me through my windshield. He wasn't wearing a collar. About a gallon of drool was hanging from his lower jaw.

"No, no, no, no, no," I said to myself. "I don't have tiiiiime for this!"

And I pulled over into the grass, opened my car door, and stepped out onto the pavement.

The dog promptly jumped into my front seat, went through to the back, and sat down.


Now I've got an 85 pound dog drooling in the backseat whose head was bigger than mine, and I had no choice but to drive him to the Humane Society and hope they were open.

They weren't.

And it was snowing. And cold.

I went ahead and pulled around to the back of the building, where they take animal drop-offs, and as luck would have it, a worker pulled into the parking lot at the same time He told me he would go in and tell someone we were there.  In the meantime, Big Bubba came up to sit by me in the front seat, and we had a nice (but wet) conversation. 

He's a big ol' sweetie.

The man came back with a leash, and the three of us went inside. 

A woman came in the room ("Oh, he's a BIG pit mix!") and got my information about where I found him. They checked him for a microchip (he didn't have one - community service announcement: GET YOUR PETS CHIPPED!).

And I left him with those kind people at the Joplin Humane Society, where they work Christmas Eve and every other holiday to take care of lost and unwanted animals.

I posted a picture of him on my Facebook page, went on to run my errands, returned home to strip myself of drool-covered jeans and coat (I am truly not exaggerating), and found out an hour or so later that a friend knew someone whose dog had jumped the fence and disappeared, AND IT WAS HIM! 

It was a Christmas Miracle that I think both Santa Claus and Baby Jesus would approve of.

Totally un-lost ginormous pitbull mix related, please take a moment and listen to the following recording. It's so full of sweetness, you won't need another Christmas cookie or piece of candy for a week.

Note: this is just a picture, taken from the balcony of the sanctuary, with all the primary and pre-k kids watching the toddler class perform their Christmas program. I had to have a picture in order to upload the song to YouTube. 

This recording was done in my classroom when my pre-k kids were practicing for their Christmas program. They started and ended all on their own, because I didn't want MY voice on the recording. Precious, precious voices.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful, Short and Sweet Version

Sunday evening already, and not a single thankful have I written. In my defense, I've been a wee little bit busy. For real. Want proof? Saturday, I made a coconut cream pie and a French silk pie, made three freezer meals (creamy penne with Italian sausage, chicken and black bean enchilada casserole and sloppy joes), spent the evening helping take pictures at an event (my side gig), did a little Christmas shopping after that, came home and made an apple pie, and got a ham ready and into the oven and set the stove timer to start cooking it around 3 a.m., so it would be done in the morning. Sunday, I started my day at 6 a.m. when I got the ham out of the oven, made a batch of caramel popcorn, made fudge, mixed together a double portion of cheesy potatoes to be baked later, made a double batch of rolls (except for the baking), made fudge, baked a banana bread, wrapped presents (all this before 10 a.m.), packed the ham, pies, rolls and gifts (including the freezer meals), helped load the car, then drove to my parents' home an hour away and finished preparing dinner there, then enjoyed Christmas festivities with my parents and my brother and sister-in-law and niece. When we got home this evening, I had to finish cleaning up the kitchen. 

Now do you understand this short and sweet version of Ten Things of Thankful? I knew you would. Here it is:

1. My parents. I'm a lucky girl to have them.
2. Pie.
3. Edible gifts.
4. Gifts in general.
5. Husbands who help clean the kitchen without even being asked.
6. My trusty and faithful candy thermometer, without which I couldn't make caramel popcorn and fudge and toffee and any number of other things.
7. Pandora Traditional Christmas station. Love me some Andy Williams, Perry Como, Johnny Mathis and the like.
8. Adam Levine.
9. Roundabouts. Just kidding. They suck.
10. Email conversations with faraway friends. Extra bonus if you are raising a chicken that is named for me.

And a big thankful for having a brother and sister in law who are very good at choosing gifts. Ruby, Pete and Fletcher are thrilled with their Christmas gift from their "cousin" Cookie.

Ruby likes the present. 

Ruby walks away, and Fletcher gets a chance
to explore it, finding it to his satisfaction.

Pete lurks and watches the other two.

Ruby's back and won't share.
Fletcher is pissed.

Ruby leaves again, and curiosity finally
overcomes Pete.

Yeah, Pete likes it.

And it tastes good, too.

It's a busy time of year. Take time to remember YOUR thankfuls, big and small.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

CATastrophes And Cereal Killers

I had a few minutes Friday afternoon to sit with my feet up before going to my side gig, helping with a photography business, and thought I'd make some notes for this weekend's Ten Things of Thankful post. I fixed myself a bowl of cereal and sat down in my chair-and-a-half (a/k/a my office). I held the bowl up under my chin as I took each bite, so I didn't drip any milk on my never-been-worn-before black and cream infinity scarf. Fletcher (the family Eeyore) jumped onto the arm of my chair (he is a great lover of cereal AND cereal milk). I ignored him and his sorrowful eyes, lifting the bowl to my chin for another bite, when out of NOWHERE, Fletcher head butted my bowl, sending milk and cereal all over my me, from my chin down. Milk was dripping from my face, running off my scarf and puddling onto the chair. I ran to the bathroom, pieces of cereal falling off of me as I went. My scarf had pieces of cereal in all the folds, some of which transferred to my hair when I lifted the scarf over my head. There was not only cereal down the front of my fleece jacket, but also inside it, and my shirt was wet, too.  All of this led to me calling him Asshole all weekend, and it also led to me not getting my post written until now. The little asshole is on my lap now, his butt on the mousepad, his front half pinning down my left arm, my right arm bent around his back end in order to reach the keyboard. Bear with me. Here's the list:

1. My College Boy is home for a whole month! 

2. I finally got the Christmas tree decorated. The lighted tree had been up, but undecorated, for over a week, as (a) I hadn't had a block of time large enough to use for decorating the tree without cutting severely into my beauty rest; (b) the Little Red Hen couldn't get anyone else in the house interested in helping, anyway; and (c) it was a test to see if Ruby would try to climb the tree this year, given last year's fiasco. Since the tree was still standing, I took the window of opportunity I had and got the ornaments on.

3. The College Boy helped me with some of the decorating, making sure to hang any ornaments made by, or given to, his sister on the back of the tree. (She could have done likewise to him, rather than lying on the couch two feet away from us, watching Grey's Anatomy on Netflix.)

4. Ruby did, indeed, try to climb the tree, making ingress from the windowsill rather than climbing up the trunk (center pole, really, given that it's an artificial tree). My son reached inside and pulled her back out the way she went in, and thus far, it's the only time she's tried it THAT WE KNOW ABOUT.

This year, tunneling in through the side of the tree.

Last year.

5. The preschool Christmas program was this week. The kids did a beautiful job, plus no one peed, pooped, cried or threw up on stage.

6. Pinterest win! We made Christmas trees out of fingerprints and they turned out really cute. We will laminate them and make them our placemats for our Christmas party next week.

7. Pinterest win #2! Instead of making a pan of cinnamon rolls, I used a pie pan and made one giant cinnamon roll that loosely filled the pan. After it had risen and been baked (and frosted), I had a most delicious cinnamon roll cake. I wish I had taken a picture of it, because it was GORGEOUS. You can see my inspiration for this here, at Sally's Baking Addiction.

8. Okay, so I was carrying a gallon sized ziploc bag of beads (each one the size of a small pea) down the hall from my primary classroom to my pre-k classroom, along with an armload of books and papers. I was about six feet from the (closed) door when the bag of beads slithered over my arm and all the beads spilled out. On the tile floor. Did I mention it was a gallon sized bag? And did you know that beads bounce? Imagine hundreds of beads, each of them ping, ping, pinging across the floor. It was enough to cause our music teacher to come up the stairs and the church secretary to come out of her office to see what kind of holy hell on earth was occurring. I just stood there and laughed, because what else are you going to do? I'm very grateful Miss Ruth and Miss Vanesssa came to my rescue, because between the three of us, we got most of them picked up. I suspect we will be finding beads for years, as they went under every door within about a six foot radius, including a furnace closet, two bathrooms, and two classrooms. The only reason they didn't rain down the stairs was the fact that there was a rug at the top of the stairs that caught a few hundred beads before they had a chance to make a break for it. 

9. I saw a car with antlers and a Rudolph nose this morning, and as stupid as it is, it still made me laugh.

10. My dad's 80th birthday was yesterday. Happy birthday, Daddy!

Ready or not, the holidays are upon us. You a Not? Or a Ready? Be thankful, either way, and link up your list below.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas Exploded

Has this week flown by for everyone else, or just me? There's something about being exceedingly busy that makes the days go by in a flash, and next thing I know, it's Sunday night and I haven't written a word for my Ten Things of Thankful post. But not this week! I'm not waiting until the last minute! I really hate having done so the last two weekends, because I can never get caught up at that point. BUT I'M ON IT THIS WEEK, THOUGH, BABY! 

1. I got all my Christmas stuff out of the attic (correction: my son and husband got the stuff out of the attic while I supervised), unpacked everything but the ornaments, and had my son return the empty containers to the attic before he went back to school. This by no means implies that I finished decorating the house, because I didn't and I haven't, but at least it's all out (and by "out" I mean all over the downstairs in much disarray).

2. I took my son back to college on Sunday afternoon and did a little shopping while I was in town. Ever been to a Garden Ridge store? They are AWESOME, and there is now one in the town where my son goes to school (the name of the store has changed to At Home, and boy, was I!). I found a couple of Christmas gifts, plus just some other things that I was sure I needed, including a new drying rack for the laundry room, as the old, wooden one I have had for over 20 years broke and was held together with popsicle sticks and duct tape (no lie).

3. Dinner and one-on-one time with the college boy. Can't get enough of that!

4. Oncology appointment this week. They now ask if you have traveled to Africa within the past 21 days, been in contact with anyone who has Ebola or if you have any symptoms of the disease yourself, to which, thankfully, I could answer "no." However, I DID point out that the medical personnel in the doctor's office were MUCH more likely to come in contact with someone who had been exposed to Ebola than I was and that perhaps I should be the one asking the questions. And, thankfully, they were able to answer all the questions "no" as well.

Don't you love the care they took to have this printed?
My MOTHER could do a better job making a photocopy
than whoever did this (no offense, Mom).
5.That last one counts as two.

6. And everything was fine at my appointment, the best part being when I visited with a couple in the infusion center. The woman was receiving a double treatment of chemo that day and had been there since 8:30 that morning (it was 3:00 when we were chatting). She told me she was going to be 75 this month, and she just looked marvelous and I told her so. She was so positive about her treatments and was just delightful (her husband was scheming to steal the bag of caramel popcorn I brought to the nurses and I WISHED I had another one with me to give him, he was so darling!). Remember, people, a happy heart is good medicine!

7. Pandora Traditional Christmas station.

8. After much blood, sweat and tears (literally!), I FINALLY got the lighted greenery and ribbon hung up around my front door. This was something I saw on Pinterest last year and replicated (Pinterest WIN) and thought I could just take down carefully, intact, put away, and put back up this year, but I was kind of wrong. After taking the whole thing apart, I got it reassembled and hung and it makes me happy to look at it.

9. I won a ham at a volunteer appreciation Christmas dinner. When I texted my son with the good news (ham is one of his favorite things), he asked me if I got an entire ham. No, son, just a slice....

10. I had wasabi edamame, a double dip of peppermint ice cream in a waffle cone, and a diet coke for lunch today and lived to tell about it (so far).

How was YOUR week? Did you eat anything that should have killed you? Get the house decorated for Christmas? Link up below and spill it.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wordless Wednesday 12.2.14

Emma with her role model, the libero for the Mizzou volleyball team, in 2012 and in 2014. Both wear #4 on their jerseys (happy coincidence).