Monday, December 29, 2008

I am a bad bad bad bad girl

I've missed so many days of blogging. Most of those days I've opened the box...then closed it again. Open. Close. Open. Close. You get the idea. I have nothing to say. Nothing interesting is happening, except that we had a lot of freaking snow and I about went crazy from being trapped in the house (thanks Dad for driving me around!) and then it warmed up and started raining and the snow disappeared within 48 hours.

But today, I do have something exciting - my Grandma is here visiting!! (and yes, I do know that the word "grandma" should not be capitalized in that case but I don't care) She was supposed to be here yesterday, but Northwest cancelled her plane due to "aircraft maintenance." Really I think my Indiana family wasn't ready to give her up ;-) Just kidding guys!

So she made it here, safe and sound, albeit a day late. We spent the afternoon eating hot dogs for lunch, chatting in the kitchen, and snoozing on the couch in front of the tv. She met our dog, who immediately took a liking to her since she'll sit and pet him for a while, and got the tour of our new house. It's so wonderful to have her here; Ricky and I haven't seen her in over a year. We have no big plans for the week, just hanging out, visiting and in general enjoying each other's company.

Anyway, I'm off to bed now. Grandma gets up E-A-R-L-Y and we all know how much of a morning person I am. I need to get some sleep so I can at least get up in time to feed Grandma lunch! :-P (Just kidding Mom, the alarm is set for 7)

PS - Happy Birthday Lindsey!!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Day-After-Christmas!

The past two days have been crazy-busy. Here's the update:

Wednesday daytime: Make cookies, clean house. Take cookies around to neighbors and wish them Merry Christmas.

Wednesday evening: Dinner at the in-laws. The first time the whole family has been together in a while. We ate and watched the boys open their presents. Uncle Joe had to get all of the toys out of the packaging - poor guy! Then we played 31, which I won, so I split my winnings between the two boys. $2.50 is a lot of money for a baby!

Thursday morning: Got up and went to Mom and Dad's for breakfast. Ricky insisted on taking the car, against my better judgement, and got it stuck in the slush about 100 yards (if that) from our house. Oops. We parked the car on the side of the road and took the truck instead. Opened packages with Mom and Dad, then ate breakfast, called the Grandma's, and hung out. I won $2 on my scratch it ticket, woohoo!

Thursday afternoon/evening: Went to Ricky's aunt's house with the rest of the extended family. Mostly hung out with Ricky's cousin and his wife, to whom we're very close but who moved to Medford. We used to hang out with them all the time but now that their 5 hours away we only see them a couple of times a year. Played 31 again and my mother in law won.

All in all it was a fantastic holiday, with lots of wonderful time spent with family. Now we're getting ready for Grandma to come visit for a week on Sunday!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Random Christmas Thoughts

  • Getting married in December is not smart. We have no less than 6 "First Christmas" ornaments. I bet people who get married in July don't get Christmas ornaments instead of the towels they registered for.
  • On the other hand, all of our First Christmas ornaments are different, and I really like them all, so that's a bonus!
  • I really like my new neighborhood. I went delivering Christmas goodies today and was invited in, offered cookies and homebaked bread, and got to know the people who live around me better. It was really nice.
  • New glasses for Laura! Ok, it's not really Christmas related, but I'm excited. Maybe it's more Christmassy since the new ones are RED?! Will post pics when I get the new glasses - it will be a couple of weeks.
  • Wrapping presents kinda seems like making my bed. I spend all that time wrapping them, and in just a few minutes everyone's going to tear the paper off anyway. What a waste of time and effort!
  • I need a tree skirt.
  • On the one hand, I'd like to make the skirt of my wedding dress into a tree skirt. On the other hand, it seems too fancy for our whimsical/silly tree. On the third hand...she had a wart! (TM Linda)
  • Maybe this means we should have two trees. A fancy tree and a fun tree. Hmmm.
  • The Christmas tree has really made our living room feel homey. I think the problem is part of our living room is empty so it just feels like a big cavernous space. I need to find something to go in that corner when the tree is gone to keep that cozy feeling.
  • Or I could just leave the tree up year round!

Ok, time for me to get ready for the big Christmas Eve celebration. I can't wait for Jeremy and Joseph to open their gifts...because I can't wait to play with them, too!

I'm blogging because I'm not sleeping

And I'm not sleeping because...well, sometimes I just do that.

Every now and again, usually once every couple of months, I have a night where I just can't sleep at all. I mean, AT ALL. I lie in bed doing everything I know to go to sleep but it just doesn't work. So that night I end up staying up all night. I'm not trying to, I just do. Those are usually fairly productive nights - I clean, work on craft projects, do laundry, organize closets. Ricky, my wonderful husband, is completely oblivious to it all and is generally shocked to find me up when he gets up for work. How he sleeps through me tossing and turning for hours, then getting up to cook, run the vacuum, load the dishwasher, clean the bathroom and other middle of the night tomfoolery I will never know. Actually, I do know - his mom used to do the same thing!

Anyway, it's 5:30 and I've baked a batch of cookies, got the holiday Dollar Tree plates washed and ready to pack with goodies, finalized the change of address card I'm going to slip in our Christmas-turned-Holiday cards, made new address labels, and made cards to give to our neighbors along with their goodies plates, and loaded the dishwasher. I've also done a load of laundry and am about to fold a load, start another load, and begin to pick up/organize our office. Then I'll unload the dishwasher...and let's hope I can keep all this going until 10:45 when it's time to leave for my eye doctor appointment!

Christmas cheer!

Yes, I really am blogging at 2 am because I finally found my Christmas spirit. Nothing like waiting until Dec 23 to find it, but find it I have.

Today was somewhat miserable, to be honest. I finally got out of the house to do my Christmas shopping (thanks Mom and Dad!). That wasn't the miserable part. The miserable part was that the mall was crowded, the parking lot was a disaster, and the mall was so. blooming. hot. I don't know how you people in cold weather climates do it. I had my wool coat and boots on over a sweater and jeans with a scarf, hat and gloves so I could stay warm outside. Once inside I had to take off the scarf, hat, gloves and coat, and I was still roasting. Blah.

But the good news is that I got my shopping done and came home all excited about Christmas. Yay Christmas! Ricky and I spent the evening decorating and wrapping. I decorated while Ricky wrapped - well, while Ricky attempted to wrap using the kraft that I use for homemade wrapping paper, then got mad at it, threw it on the floor and resorted to gift bags and tissue paper.

I cleaned the living room and have a batch of cookies in the oven. As soon as I clean up the kitchen I'm off to bed. I can't wait to spread the Christmas cheer to friends, family and neighbors tomorrow!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Apple pie

I don't like pie, but I like pie filling.

Today is so boring at home. We've gotten loads more snow - it comes up to the dog's chest in the backyard, maybe higher now because we've gotten more since the last time he went outside. It is so deep that he refuses to go off the deck. Which means he also refuses to "go" off the deck. Good thing we were planning on getting rid of the deck.

Anyway, with the weather like this, I don't really want to leave the house. Not that I could, since Ricky has the truck at work and the car is pretty much buried in the driveway. But being stuck at home sucks. I've been doing a rotation of cleaning, reading and watching tv. And with that comes eating. Unfortunately, I'm getting bored with the food we have...until I remembered that we have apple pie filling from my canning adventures with Catherine this fall.

Yum, that's some good stuff. Hit the spot, just what I needed. Hot, sweet, spicy, fruity. It was a great snack, and now it's got me thinking. I could make some chocolate pie filling. I could make pie dough cookies. I could make...well, all kinds of things. Of course, I only have a cup of butter, so I'll have to prioritize. What sounds good? What sounds good...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cabin Fever

First of all, could someone please tell me when I moved to the midwest? This is getting ridiculous! I don't mind snow...for a day. But we're onto a week now of snow and ice and I'm tired of it. There's a reason we haven't left the pacific northwest, and it's not because we love the rain.

Anyway, Oregonians don't do snow well. We get so little of it that every time we have a "snowstorm" (and I hesitate to use that term knowing that my midwest family would laugh in the face of this little blizzard we're having) people freak out. No one goes anywhere, they load up on bottled water and canned goods at the store, people drive on perfectly dry pavement with chains. It's awful.

Apparently, though, there is one group of people who do worse in the snow than we do - southerners. The husband half of our friends at Simple Metamorphosis is a southern boy through and through and hadn't left the house all week due to the conditions of the roads. Having been locked in the house the past week was getting to him, so they called and we made plans to go out with them last night. We were fortunate that the snow had mostly melted and all we were left with was a wet road. We had dinner at Monteaux's Public House and then went bowling. A good time was had by all, and we got home before the latest installation of white stuff hit.

It is once again snowing...or it might be raining ice, I'm not sure. It hasn't quit all day and I don't like it. I hope it will go away soon and we can return to our previously scheduled program of gray skies and rain. Never thought you'd hear me say that, did ya?!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Drugs and free shipping

Good news!

I got my medicine. Wahoo! Hopefully by tomorrow the eye will be feeling much better.

More good news: Dec 18 is Free Shipping Day. As of yesterday over 200 merchants are participating. If you order online they will ship to you for free and guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve. I think I know how I'll be Christmas shopping!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I'm irritated.

First, I had to go to school today. My street was still frozen. It was fine, I got to work and back just fine, but still. Every other freaking district was closed. AND we had a two hour late start, so my classes were a whopping 26 minutes long. AND they closed school for tomorrow, which was our last day before break, so we had school for one partial day this week and I won't see the kids again until January 5th.

But on top of all that, and the thing that is really irritating me, is that my eye is broken out. I have herpes on my right eyelid. I've had it forever, and I've learned to manage it. I can tell when it's breaking out before any blisters are even visible, I know what triggers it and how to prevent the breakouts. In fact, I hadn't had a breakout in about 3 years.

My doctors have always allowed me to call in and tell them I need my prescription, so they call it in for me and I get started on treatment. This has been going on for 20 years, I know what it is by now and I know the symptoms. So when I woke up this morning with that familiar old itchy ache, I knew what was happening and called the doctor.

We played phone tag all day and finally I learned my doctor wasn't in but they were talking to the doctors covering for her. Then they called back and wanted to know my symptoms. THEN they called back and wanted to know if I could make it to the office in the next 15 minutes. When I told them I couldn't guarantee it, what with rush hour beginning and the icy roads, they told me if I couldn't get there in 15 minutes then they couldn't see me today and I'd have to come in Wed morning.

"But I have to work," I said. Too bad, was the response. We'll call in a prescription for you, but only if you'll come in tomorrow morning. Fantastic. So I made an 8 am appointment and then called Ricky to have him stop by the pharmacy on the way home.

They never called the stupid drugs in. So now, here I sit in pain, unable to even get started on treatment because they didn't do what they said they'd do. We even checked multiple other pharmacies in case there was a mix up. You know, in case me telling them 3 times specifically which pharmacy to call, address and all, wasn't clear.

I see the covering doctor in the morning and I see my regular doctor on Friday. You can bet they won't be too happy to see me. I am itchy, uncomfortable, red, swollen, weepy and cranky. In the span of 14 hours I have gone from 0 blisters to 3. I can only imagine how bad it's going to be by the time I see a doctor tomorrow morning.

The only good thing is that our district has already cancelled school for tomorrow so I don't have to go in. I'd hate to try to teach with the discomfort and disfigurement afforded by herpes.

PS - my apologies to those who've already heard me rant about this multiple times. I'm getting crankier by the hour.

Monday, December 15, 2008

And we're back in the game!

*bonus points if you know what movie featuring a certain recently deceased actor my title is from.

So, it snowed. And it snowed. And then it iced. And then it warmed all the way up to 31 degrees today. Yeehaw. So it was cold all forking day.

And then...and then...AND THEN! We lost power around 6 this evening.

So now it's cold, and we have no power, which also meant no heat, no hot water, no appliances, no tv, no computer. Nada. PGE said they were working on the problem but had no idea of when we'd be back in business.

Since we were cold and bored, we headed to the in laws' house just a couple minutes away. We stole their tv in order to watch Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother. Don't worry, they didn't mind, they weren't even home. About 9 we came home. Still no power. A call to PGE informed us that they were working on it but did not know the cause of the problem and had no estimate of when power would be restored. Awesome

I set about packing a bag to head to Mom and Dad's for the evening. Hey, it was 46 degrees in the house and I have to work in the morning! Ricky decided he was going to tough it out. As I was getting ready to walk out the door...the lights *really* went out. You see, up to that point we'd been in a "brown out," meaning we had just enough power to get about 35% out of our overhead lights. All of a sudden, lights out completely. Ricky said, "that must mean they know the problem and they're fixing it." Sure enough, a call to PGE confirmed we'd have power again in 15 minutes.

So here we are, back in the game with power. What a day!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I screwed up. I decided to do NaBloPoMo for the first time in a month when I knew I'd be out of town for a couple of days. I don't know what I was thinking! Oh well.

Ricky and I returned from our anniversary adventure today. We spent the weekend in a bed and breakfast in Seaside, OR. We had a wonderful time and the staff at The Gilbert Inn were incredible. Jeannie, the owner, was so welcoming and hospitable and Kathy, the "Jill of all trades" cook/houskeeper was delightful as well. The food was delicious, the room comfy-cozy and the amenities were icing on the cake - snacks every afternoon, chocolates on our pillows and a 32" flat screen tv with cable!!

It was a wet weekend, but we enjoyed holing up in our room, gazing out at the ocean raging across the street. We even made a trip to the outlet mall and walked the boardwalk a couple of times. After all that rain, it snowed! What a sight, snow on the beach. Yes, on the sand itself. It was beautiful, peaceful, and calm...until we realized we'd be heading home in it, and it hadn't stopped yet.

Travelling home was a little precarious, with it snowing to beat the band in some places and the pass thick with ice. Four wheel drive and some careful and slow driving saw us through it, though, and we made it to our next anniversary destination, Oswego Hills Winery. I received a gift certificate to be used there in a Secret Santa exchange, so Ricky and I took it and stopped for a tasting on our way home. We had a wonderful time and came home with a bottle of Merlot to be enjoyed on Dec 14, 2009.

After finishing at the winery, we headed home to pick up the pup from my parents' house. Dad and Jacko-pea were on their own this weekend as Mom had flown to Indy for the funeral of my beloved Aunt Snooks. Dad and pup had a good weekend, with Dad working on Jacko's manners and engaging him in his first ever snowball fight.

We're home now. The ground is covered in snow and we've been enjoying hot beverages all evening. Tomorrow is a snow day, so I'll enjoy sitting around the house watching trashy tv while Ricky is at work. I may even make a trek to Safeway (it's less than half a mile to walk) to pick up a few things. My new rainboots will be just the thing for a walk in the snow!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

We're not cool anymore

Or rather, our favorite pub isn't cool anymore.

Wednesday nights at the pub used to be when the Bridgetown Morris Men came to the pub. We loved going on Wednesdays to listen and sing (especially The Old Dun Cow - we love to yell "Macintyre!"). So last night we went, all excited about getting to see the guys and sing along...and they weren't there. Wednesday nights are now trivia nights. While it was fun, it just wasn't the same. On the upside, it did give me a great idea of what to do with the kids on our last day before Winter Break - you know, the day when they are all bouncing off the walls because it's our last day.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I heart shoes

I've always had a hard time buying clothes. I have broad shoulders - so much so that when I was born Dad was sure I was going to be a linebacker...until he realized I was missing the boy parts! Add an athletic frame to that and you have a recipe for disaster for clothes buying. Nothing ever fit quite right, even when I was young and thin(ner) and in good shape. Over the years I've learned what brands, cuts, fabrics and shapes work best for me, but I still can have a difficult time finding clothes that fit right.

Perhaps that's why I turned to shoes. I love shoes. Never once have I been too fat for a pair of shoes. Never once have they pulled in the wrong way or gaped in the chest. Shoes are forgiving, not to mention cute. Ricky doesn't understand my need for shoes. He's a manly man, he has 3 whole pairs of shoes. He hates that I love shoes because he doesn't understand the need for multiple pair. I can't explain it to him. It's a sickness, an addiction. Perhaps it should be added to the DSM*.

My love of shoes explains why I went out looking for a cute pair of brown shoes and came home with not one but two boxes. When I was putting outfits together this weekend I realized that my brown shoes were completely falling apart and not fit to be worn anymore. That's a problem, since I have about 4 pair of brown slacks, calling for brown shoes. So I headed out to Famous Footwear to look for a pair of functional, yet cute, brown shoes that wouldn't break the budget. To my delight (and Ricky's dismay) they had several options, and a BOGO sale to boot! I came home with yet another pair of plaid shoes (that makes 3) and a cute pair of T-strap camel and chocolate wedges.

The addition of these two new pairs to my shoe family brings me to a total of 20. I have every color imaginable (with the exception of yellow, I'm still looking for a good yellow pair) in varying heel heights and dressiness. I have sandals, wedges, tennis shoes, rainboots (yes, I got a pair!) and crocs. What can I say, I just love shoes!

*Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Illness, published by the APA. The Bible of pyschology and psychiatry.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Today I have nothing exciting to say

Really. I got nothin'. I'm actually really boring. And bored. So instead of doing a regular post, I'm going to do a meme about names:

1. ROCK STAR NAME (first pet, current car): Samu Tacoma
2. GANGSTA NAME (fave ice cream flavor, favorite type of shoe): Chocolate peanut butter Croc
3. NATIVE AMERICAN NAME (favorite color, favorite animal): Purple Dog
4. SUPERHERO NAME (2nd favorite color, favorite drink): Yellow Coffee
5. NASCAR NAME (the first names of your grandfathers): Wilbur Robert or Robert Wilbur, in which case I'd probably be Billy Bob, which seems appropriate for Nascar
6. STRIPPER NAME (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy): Vanilla Nerds
7. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME (your fifth grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter): Sorensen Stockholm
8. SPY NAME (your favorite season/holiday, flower): Summer Daisy
9. CARTOON NAME (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now): Strawberry Tshirt
10. HIPPIE NAME (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree): Coffee Willow

Monday, December 8, 2008

A show worth watching

In this era of reality trash tv, I have found a reality show worth watching. And it's on Fox, of all channels!

Secret Millionaire takes multi millionaires out of their homes and puts them into a situation where they live in poverty for a week. They have none of their normal posessions, just some regular, ordinary clothes and a week of welfare wages - in the case of the first episode, $150. Then they are sent to live in poverty, befriending the people they meet and getting to know them, with the end goal of giving away at least $100,000 of their own money to the people they deem worthy. The show both breaks your heart and warms it. It really is worth watching.

Thanks, Self!

I got a ton done around the house yesterday and I'm feeling pretty good about it. I cleaned our bedroom, something we'd been needing to do but hadn't gotten around to. Not only did I pick up, but I also really cleaned it - got the dust mop and vacuum out and went to town. I cannot believe the amount of dog hair our pup sheds. It's amazing. I swept up so much hair again yesterday from all over the house, you'd have thought we have more than just the one.

In addition to making the bedroom all sparkly clean, I washed, folded/hung, and put away about 75 billion loads of laundry. Ok, so more like 5, but still, it was a lot. I am now sporting a very full closet and still have about 3 loads to do!

So thanks, Self, for getting off your lazy butt and cleaning the house. It feels good!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Today I am thankful for friends

Last night I had the joy of hanging out with my friend and college roommate, Amy.

Amy and I have been friends for about 10 years now. Wow, it's hard to believe it's been that long! We were roommates the first time our sophomore year of college, and again our senior year. We have lots of great memories together, held places of honor in each other's weddings, and went down the same career path. We don't see each other all that often anymore, as she and her husband live across town and we're all crazy busy, but we do make time every couple of months to hang out and catch up.

I hadn't been to their house, or "the project" as it's lovingly known, in quite a while so I hadn't seen many of the changes. Last night I made the trek to their neck of the woods to see all the updates and catch up with Ames. We had dinner at McMenamin's Cornelius Pass Roadhouse, someplace I'd been past many times but had never stopped to eat. And we caught up on life, love, and the joys of being a middle school teacher.

It's always fun to catch up with friends, especially those with whom one has such a long and rich history. Thanks, Ame, for the fun evening. I had a blast.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It's the thought that counts

Poor Ricky. Not only does he have to deal with my whining about how I don't feel good, but then when he tries to make me feel better it backfires.

Thursday night I mentioned that chocolate chip cookies sounded really good, but we didn't have any chocolate chips and neither of us felt like going to the store to get some. So Friday when I came home from work, he told me he had a surprise for me in the oven. Chocolate chip cookies!! What a great husband.

Unfortunately, they were hard as a rock. It took me a good 15 minutes to eat one, it was that hard. It tasted good, and it wasn't burned, just hard. He left them in the oven after turning it off and I think the hot air sucked all the moisture out of them. I felt bad for him; here he'd tried so hard to do something for me, knowing I've been exhausted all week, and then the cookies were rock hard.

I did eat them for breakfast this morning, however. Dunked in a glass of milk for a while helped the chewability a great deal. Thank you, Ricky, for making me cookies to cheer me up!

Tired of being sick and tired

I am tired all. the. time. It sucks. I am sick of it. I also don't feel good probably 25-30% of the time. End of the week is always worse than the beginning, but even Mondays suck. I go to bed at 11 and get up 8. I leave for work at 9, arrive at 9:30, and leave by 3:30...and when I get home I fall asleep on the couch. I live for the weekends, when I can get up late (yeah, I know, I don't get up all that early during the week) and take naps in the middle of the day. The weekends are also the only time I tend to get any housework done because I'm so exhausted by the end of my work day. Imagine what I'd be like if I worked full time!

Don't worry, I've already got a Dr appt scheduled for the 19th, and yes Mom, I have an order at the lab to get my blood drawn on the 12th. Hopefully my thyroid is just out of wack (what else is new?) because I feel crappy.

And now, at 2:18, I think I'll take a nap because my eyes hurt and I can barely keep them open. I've only been up for 6 hours, but hey...that's a long time for me!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Camping out

I love to camp. Ricky and I don't do it nearly often enough. I love all of it - cooking over a fire, making smores, the campfire smell that gets in your clothes, sleeping in the cold air, bundling into the sleeping bag. Love it.

Well, I've discovered something almost as wonderful as camping. Last night we turned the heat in the house way down and made a fire in the fireplace. The fireplace is just strong enough to keep us warm in the living room - as long as we wear a sweatshirt and have a blanket close by. This is something we'd like to fix at some point, maybe getting an insert so we can better heat with wood.

Anyway, the crackle of the fire and it's warmth was fantastic, but the best part was when I went to bed. I'd been sitting in front of the fire for a while so my sweatshirt had a faint campfire smell. It was cold in the house, so I bundled under the comforter, and it was wonderful. The cold and the smoky smell made me so comfortable, I was asleep within minutes and stayed asleep until about 7 - the first time I haven't woken up in the middle of the night in ages.

Today, I am thankful it is Friday, and I am thankful for a wonderful Thursday evening and a fantastic night's sleep.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


That's how I feel today - blah. It's been one of those weeks. Not a terrible week, but nothing great either. We started a new trimester at school, which means for the first week I teach expectations, procedures, etc. 8 times over the course of two days. It sucks. The worst part is this is only the 2nd of 3 trimesters - I have to teach all this stuff 8 more times before the year is over!

Then today on my way to work I realized I had a large-ish hole in the thigh of my pants. Awesome. Of course, I was in a position where there was not time to turn around and go back home to change, no time to stop at the store before class, and I had nothing with me to make even temporary repairs. So I spent the day hoping and praying that the hole wouldn't get any larger (it didn't) and that my students would be kept blissfully unaware (they were).

The theme of December is thanks, but I'm not feeling very thankful. I have a headache, I'm tired, and it's only 7:45 in the evening. All I want is a hot cup of tea, a fire, my blanket, and either a book or a movie. Instead I am getting ready to load the dishwasher and go for a bike ride with my dog. Blah. No thanks from me today.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

An Ode to Sandy

Sandy, my ray of sunshine
Sandy, I want to make you mine.
Sandy, I love thee well.
Sandy, come sit for a spell.

Sandy, can I keep you here?
Sandy, you help make things clear.
Sandy, you do too much.
Sandy, you truly are my crutch.

Just a very silly way of saying THANK YOU to my favorite custodian, Sandy, who goes above and beyond the call of duty when cleaning the theatre. She has been known, on multiple occasions, to not only vacuum and sweep, but to straighten the things in my office, clear of my couch, and clean my desk. Sandy, you are my knight-ess in shining armor!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

On Reading

The first word I read was "pork," or so the story goes. I don't actually remember it, to be honest. Apparently, we were at a Chinese restaurant (Lani Louie's, how I miss thee!) and I was looking at the menu and then burst out with "Mommy, that says pork!" and by golly, it sure did!

I've always been a reader. We have pictures of me sitting at my little play desk "reading" before I could actually read. Mom and Dad used to read to me all the time - lots of things, but I especially remember The Little Engine that Could, The Pokey Little Puppy, and The Night Before Christmas. Hey, it was a way cool pop up book, of course I loved it!

As I got older, I began to read to myself. I was reading before I started school, which meant I "got to" leave my classroom to go to the next grade up for reading and spelling. I loved reading anything and everything - Amelia Bedelia, Mrs Piggle Wiggle, and later, The Baby-Sitter's Club, Sweet Valley Twins, and Judy Blume, not to mention cereal boxes, the TV Guide, and anything else that crossed my path. I would read pretty much anything and everything.

We still read as a family, though. I distinctly remember reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe around the dinner table. We'd pass the book around after we finished dinner, each taking a turn, reading a chapter a night. To this day, those are some of my favorite books. I reread them about once a year.

In the late elementary/early teen years, I would ride my bike to the library in the summer and check out 10-15 books weekly. I flew through books, rarely stopping to do anything else. I would read while I walked to the bus stop, read in the car, read before bed. I read between classes, between softball games, before practice. I loved to read.

I've been thinking a lot about this lately. The reading scores at my school are not good. Most of our kids are not passing their state reading tests. Many of them don't like to read, because they struggle with it, and most of them did not have the joy of parents who read to them or with them when they were developing readers. While I think I'm a natural reader, I was lucky to have parents who fostered that love in me, who showed me that it was a good thing to do with my time. I'm sure there were times growing up when they wished I didn't love it quite as much as I did, but I know their encouragement of my reading is what helped me be the student I was.

Reading is so incredibly important. It opens doors in people's lives. It allows us to learn about other places and times, to discover new ideas, to escape into someone else's world. I cannot imagine living life without the joy of reading. And so today, I thank all the people who take the time to read with children. People like my parents, who read with me when I was little. People like the teachers I work with, who make time for reading in their class periods, to help teach our students just how important it is. People like my mom, who volunteer for the SMART program, helping kids who struggle with reading.

With that, I'm off to read another chapter in my latest book.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Today I thank the Brits

As I was driving to work today, I began to think about what my first NaBloPoMo blog would be about. The theme is thanks, and while I don't have to stick to the theme, I thought it would be a good challenge for me to try.

And as I was driving, I was also enjoying a delicious egg nog latte, and I thought, "Boy, I really love egg nog! I wish I could thank the person who invented it!"

Well, apparently it's one of those things that's been around for so long that we don't really know who invented it. However, from the research I've done, it appears to have originated in England, so today I am thanking the Brits for inventing egg nog.

I've loved egg nog for as long as I can remember. We go through tons of it every holiday season, about a gallon a week, as Ricky and I both enjoy the tasty winter beverage. What's funny is that when I was growing up I had no idea egg nog was an alcoholic drink! My grandmother always mixed it with 7 up, or else we drank it straight. No one in my family is a big drinker, and of course as a child your world view is shaped by the people you spend the most time with. I think I was in college before I realized most of the world drinks egg nog with some form of spirit - sherry or Madeira in England, rum in the US.

Ricky made it for me once with rum in it. Even now, as an of age adult, I still prefer it straight. Or heated with coffee. Mmmm, egg nog!

Sunday, November 30, 2008


National Blog Posting Month is a challenge. I am going to attempt to post every day through the month of December. We'll see how it goes! Depending on how it works out, I may continue with the challenge into other months.

The theme for December is "Thanks." I don't know if I will follow the theme or not, but I may do it now and again. So, expect daily posts for me through December!

What a fantastic holiday!

This was one of the best Thanksgivings Ricky and I have had in quite a while. Of course, it helped that he didn't have to work late - he was off at 2:30, yippee!!

On Thursday I putzed around the house, finishing up the things I was taking to our Thanksgiving celebrations, packing our bag to head out of town, getting the truck ready, etc. Then I headed out to Ricky's aunt and uncle's house for our first Thanksgiving. I got there just after Ricky, and we hung out with his family, enjoying their company and the good food. It was a small celebration this year, as a significant portion of his family was celebrating with the in laws rather than with us, but it was nice to catch up with those who were able to make it.

Around 4:30, we said our good byes and headed out. Next stop: Bend, Oregon! Since Ricky had Friday and Saturday off, we decided to head over the mountain to the cabin, where we'd have a belated Thanksgiving meal with Mom and Dad. We pulled into the cabin driveway about 8 and were greeted by warmth, a fire, and hot chocolate - yum! After relaxing for a few minutes and unloading the truck, we took the dog for a very chilly walk. Because the cabin is carpeted, the only way Jacko could be inside was if he was kenneled, so we wanted to be sure he got plenty of exercise.

Friday was a wonderful day of relaxation. Ricky and Dad finished off the burn pile, Ricky took pup for a run, Mom and I worked on the Thanksgiving dinner and took pup for a walk, and Ricky, Dad and I went to visit a family friend that I hadn't seen in years for a while. It was a very nice, relaxing day that ended with a wonderful Thanksgiving meal and several hands of pinochle.

Saturday we had a lazy breakfast of pancakes and eggs, then packed up the truck and cleaned the cabin. We headed out around 11, making a pit stop on the north side of Bend to visit a dog park. What a cool place!! 3 acres of fenced dog park, with hiking trails, all kinds of trees and rocks, and a nice open area for playing in the middle. Jacko had a ball, and when he was sufficiently worn out we packed him up and headed home.

Once home, we unloaded the truck then headed for Mom and Dad's (didn't we just see them?!) to watch the Civil War. For those not in the know, the Civil War is the annual rivalry football game between the Oregon State Beavers and the University of Oregon Ducks. The game is always big, but this year it was huge as a win for the Beavs would mean a trip to the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately for them, they weren't able to do it and the Ducks crushed them by scoring more than 60 points. It was nice to just hang out, watch some football, and of course - eat leftovers!!

I hope everyone had as wonderful of a holiday as we did.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gobble Gobble!

That's turkey talk for "Happy Thanksgiving!" Or maybe it means "Please don't eat turkey!" - I'm not really sure! In any event, it's Thanksgiving eve and I'm taking a break from the preparations to count the ways in which I'm thankful.

I'm thankful for my husband. He listens to me, cares for me, is willing to make changes to make me happier.

I'm thankful for my puppy. As big of a pain as he can be, he is the best hugger/kisser/cuddler a mama could ask for. He is also a very nice, warm, natural heater.

I'm thankful for my job. Moreso this year than last, since this year it was touch and go for a while and I know my time with my students may be limited due to budget concerns.

I'm thankful for my home. We have a great new house that is perfect for us. Not everyone is so lucky.

I'm thankful for our renters. As strange as that may sound, they've made our first venture into landlordship very easy. I appreciate them paying their rent on time and letting us know of any problems.

I'm thankful for our families. We have two sets of parents close by who love us and are willing to help out when we need it, we have grandparents who love us and enjoy hearing about our lives. It's nice to know we're loved and thought of.

Our plans this year are different than in the past. We're spending Thursday afternoon with Ricky's family and then heading out to Bend to join Mom and Dad for a belated Thanksgiving dinner on Friday. We're both grateful to be able to get out of town for a little R&R for the weekend. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with those you love, as well.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The reason I love teaching middle school... that we always have great stories to share!

We had a dance after school today, and since I was hanging around anyway to go see the fall musical at the high school (more on that later), I figured I might as well chaperone.

First of all, I'd forgotten what middle school dances were like. The kids paid $2 to get in, and then they stood around - either against the wall in a line, or in a circle in the middle of the gym - and talked to their friends. Everytime a song started that they liked, they would all scream and start jumping up and down, then dance for about 30 seconds. After that, they were back to their standing-around-chatting-with-friends postures. Another teacher and I figured we probably could have just played the first 30 seconds or so of each song and they'd have been happy!

But the best part of the whole dance was the following conversation I had with a student I'd never met before:

Student: Can you do me a favor?
Me: Possibly. What is it?
Student: See that girl over there? [indicating the bleachers]
Me: There are lots of girls over there...which one?
Student: The one in the black, sitting in the corner.
Me: Yeah....
Student: Will you go ask her to dance with me?

At this point I'm trying hard not to fall on the ground laughing. I look at this poor child and say

Me: Wait - you want to ask her to dance, so you're sending a teacher to ask for you?!
Student: [as if this is the most ordinary request in the world] Yeah.

I ended up talking with the girl for a few minutes. She didn't want to dance with the poor kid, but ended up agreeing to talk to him. When I looked back later, I saw that he was sitting next to her but neither one was talking. Ah, young love! I had forgotten how awkward middle school romances could be.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ten Random Facts

I'm attempting to make a concerted effort to blog more. Unfortunately, I'm a rather boring individual and don't have anything groovy about which to blog. So here are ten random facts about me.

1 - I would rather be cold than hot
2 - I am not scared of spiders (but my husband is!)
3 - I absolutely live in my crocs. It's kind of embarassing, actually.
4 - I take 300 mcg of synthetic thyroid everyday. When I first filled the prescription, the pharmacist stared at me then said, "this is the highest dosage I've ever seen prescribed to someone"
5 - I've never had a cast (for a broken bone)
6 - I love mashed potatoes but I don't like them with gravy
7 - I cannot draw to save my life
8 - Even though I am a total drama queen, I have social anxiety. I hate hate hate being in large groups of people and going to new places/being with new people. I like to be in control.
9 - I love Ling Ling brand potstickers
10 - I am nearly 28 years old and have been married for almost 6 years. I still sleep with my baby blanket. Sorry, Mom!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Stolen from Airikuh

1. What time did you get up this morning? Noon (blush)
2. Diamonds or pearls? diamonds
3. What was the last film that you saw at the cinema? Wall-E
4. What is your favorite TV show? Uhhhh...yeah. I got nothin'. There's really nothing that I just can't miss these days.
5. What do you usually have for breakfast? Breakfast sandwich or oatmeal, coffee
6. What is your middle name? Rae
7. What food do you dislike? Beef
8. What is your favorite CD at the moment? High Kings
9. What kind of car do you drive? Toyota Tacoma
10. Favorite sandwich? grilled cheese or tuna fish with SWEET relish
11. What characteristic do you despise in others? wow, that's a difficult question. I don't know.
12. Favorite item of clothing? Anything new!
13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Australia to see Kristy, Italy (Tuscany), or someplace warm with a very blue ocean
14. Where would you retire to? Italy
15. What was your most recent memorable birthday? Uh huh. Apparently my birthdays aren't very memorable. One birthday Ricky took me to see The Good Shepherd and I couldn't follow it and I walked out feeling really stupid. Another birthday he took me to see Ratatouille, which I loved. We go to movies for birthdays a lot. A couple years ago I got my softball quilt, that was a pretty good birthday!
16. Favorite sport to watch? Softball
17. Furthest place you are sending this? If Kris reads it, Australia, if Maggie reads it, India
18. Person you expect to send it back first? Hmmm, not sure if anyone will repost it.
19. When is your birthday? Jan 4
20. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Total night owl. The only way I like mornings is if I'm still up when they roll around.
21. What is your shoe size? 9 womens
22. Pets? Jacko aka Jackopea, Boo, Boober, Pup, Pupper, Pooperbutt, Goober, Gooberpea, really is amazing he knows his name at all
23. Any new exciting news you’d like to share with us? Let's week is the end of the trimester AND the Twilight movie comes out. What a great week!
24. What did you want to be when you were little? A professional softball player
25. How old are you today? 27 going on 28
26. What is your favorite flower? Gerber daisy
27. What is a day on your calendar that you are looking forward to? Christmas!!
28. What are you listening to right now? The news
29. What was the last thing you ate? Spaghetti squash (aka Squish!)
30. Do you wish on stars? not anymore
31. How is your weather right now? Cold but clear
32. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Ricky-roo
33. Favorite soft drink? Diet Pepsi if I'm being good, chocolate coke if I'm being bad
34. Last place you ate out? Pix Patisserie for dessert. If you want to know about a meal, either Shari's or the pub. And Sellwood Public House for drinks.
35. Hair color? natural color? Dark brown. Currently? Shades of blond, brown, and purple
36. What was your favorite game as a child? Board game? hmmm...Clue or Go to the Head of the Class. With Grandpa, Battleship. Athletic game, softball.
37. Favorite season? Late spring/early summer and late summer/eary fall
38. Hugs or kisses? Both!
39. Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate please!
40. Coffee or tea? Depends on my mood, and the day
41. Do you want friends to email you back? Of course!
42. When was the last time you cried? Sept or Oct, about the whole job thing
43. What is under your bed? Stuff I hide from the dog
44. What did you do last night? Went out with Ricky
45. What are you afraid of? not having enough money
46. Salty or sweet? Sweet most of the time
47. How many keys on your key ring? a ton - car key, truck key, house key, rental house key, parents' house key,several that I'm not sure what they go to...!
48. How many years at your current job? this is my second
49. Favorite day of the week? Friday and Saturday
50. How many towns have you lived in? two - Milwaukie and Newberg
51. Do you make friends easily?not really
52. How many people will you send this to?However many read the blog
53. How many will respond? I hate these questions
54. Do you like finding out all this stuff about your friends? yes!
55 . What is the last book you read? The Twilight Series - I finished Breaking Dawn last week.

Meal Plan, 11/16-22

Sunday - Cast Party. It's a potluck, we're taking the tri-color pasta with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes that we love so much.

Monday - Chili and cornbread

Tuesday - Shrimp in punjab spinach simmer sauce with saffron rice and naan

Wednesday - Meatloaf and mashed potatoes

Thursday - Turkey roast with carrots, potatoes and mushrooms

Friday - Lasagna

Saturday - Moroccan crockpot chicken

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why weren't we cool when we were younger?

That is the question I asked Ricky tonight as we sat in Pix Patisserie SE and ate dessert in the very cool, super funky little bakery while Weezer played in the background.

Let me back up. Remember that Ricky and I started dating at 19. Our first date was in April 2000, when we were both freshmen in college. We were young, and poor, and - let's be honest - stupid. An exciting night out was going to Shari's, woohoo! Of course, as Ricky pointed out, the only place open after 9 in Newberg was Shari's, so we really didn't have many options.

Since then we've grown and changed and our priorities have changed as well. Now we're very interested in supporting local businesses, especially those that practice sustainability (aka are environmentally friendly). We go to cool places like Oak Bottom Public House and sing with the drunk faux Irishmen. We see bands no one has ever heard of in bars that you couldn't find on a map. We stay in funky hotels. We ride our bikes to the grocery store and use reuseable bags.

I remember when we were engaged and a lot of people looked at us like we were crazy. We were only 21 (heck, I wasn't even quite there yet!) when we got engaged, 22 when we got married (again, I didn't quite make it to 22; I was 21 and 49 weeks). So many people said, "but you'll be changing and growing. You won't be the same person you are now 10 years from now."

To those people I say, "you were right." I'm not the same person now that I was then. Neither is Ricky. And you know what? I'm glad. While not all the changes have been for the better, and while we've certainly gone through difficult times, we've managed to grow together, change together, so that each of our priorities - while different than they used to be - are still the same as the other's.

So tonight, as we sat in that very cool little bakery eating very yummy desserts in a very funky atmosphere, I wished, just for one minute, that we'd been this cool when we were younger. And then I realized - we've grown, we've changed, and it's the journey to this time that has made us this cool. Without the past 9 years, I don't know that either of us would be exactly where we are today. So we were young and dumb and totally uncool, but that's ok. We've made up for it in recent years, and hopefully will continue to over the next few decades.

9 Days: Confirmed

It has been confirmed - nine days will be cut from our school calendar. We don't know which nine days yet, but we will lose 9 days from December through June and will lose one day's worth of pay for the next 9 pay periods.

In February they will reevaluate to see if we have enough money to add days back to the schedule.

The rumor mill is still going strong - latest rumor is we'll be cutting 50-60 teachers from the district for next school year. I think I better update my resume.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rain Boots or a canoe?

I'm pretty sure Noah's Ark might be my best option, to be honest. The rain! Oh my word, the rain that has been coming down. I know it rains every fall/winter/spring, but this seems worse than usual. Or maybe we're just out of practice.

At any rate, it is raining like crazy and our street and the parking lot at work are flooding. Apparently the drains can't keep up with the demands of Mother Nature. So I've decided that, as a canoe isn't all that practical, I really need to invest in rainboots. I found the following at Target, but I can't decide which pair to get. Anyone want to vote?

(also available in black and white argyle)

Rumor has it...

...That our school board cut the 9 days necessary from our schedule to make ends meet tonight. That means that, if all was calculated accurately, it should preserve jobs. We all are hopeful that this truly is the last step in the cutting process that has had everyone in our district on edge. It certainly doesn't take away the fear of next year, but at least this way everyone would have time to find new jobs.

This is not confirmed, but it's what's passing through the grapevine.

Monday, November 10, 2008

...Inspired by Candace...

I am... alive

I think...often. Usually late at night.

I phone number

I win the lottery

I wish...I knew the future

I had...a cool car

I hate...empty moments

I fear...dying

I feel...bored

I hear...the furnace kicking in


I crave...home

I search...for my car keys every morning

I wonder...why I can't be organized in all facets of my life

I regret...regretting

I family. All of them, even the crazy ones.

I care...about my students


I am not...spatially aware, at all

I believe...there is good in all people

I chocolate every day (and I do!)

I the rain, on the stage, to make people laugh

I the top of my lungs

I harness the memories and the feelings

I win...and when I don't, I'm a sore loser

I lose...and I pout

I play...softball

I never...say die (Goonies, anyone?)

I can usually be found...procrastinating

I need...more coffee

I am happy life

Meal Plan

Sun - Ricky's belated birthday dinner at Mom and Dad's
Mon - Pizza
Tues - Double stuffed chicken with spaghetti squash supreme
Wed - Chili
Thurs - Tuna Casserole
Fri - Breakfast
Sat - ?? I haven't figured that one out yet, maybe Mexican of some sort

We were supposed to have dinner at Rick and Cheryl's on Monday evening with the rest of the family (Janelle, Joe, LJ, Tawnya, Jeremy) but Janelle and Joe both are working late so we've had to postpone. We're hoping to do it sometime this week, as we need to draw names for Christmas, so maybe I won't have to come up with something for Saturday!

Monday, November 3, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I'm as bad as the retail stores, I think. I could gladly go from Halloween - which was total bummer this year since costumes were banned at our school - straight to Christmas. Do not pass go, do not have a turkey, forget Thanksgiving all together. Apparently the stores feel the same, as the aisles are filled with Christmas candy and decor. And I happily wandered through them today, imagining how we would decorate the front of our house.

My readiness for Christmas may be heightened this year due to a few things. For one, the weather is very wintery. Well, Oregon wintery. It's dark and gray and rainy. And I mean RAINY. We're getting our first hard and long rainfall of the year and that always makes me ready for Christmas.

Secondly, we have room for Christmas this year!! In the past we've had to move furniture to cram a tree into the living room, and then it's crowded and squishy. Not this year! We have ample room for a tree in the new house and even tossed around the idea of having two trees - one in the kitchen and one in the living room. I think we'll probably stick to one, but knowing that we have options is amazing. We also, for the first time, have a fireplace on which to hang our stockings. Now if only I could figure out how to hang them, as we don't have a mantle.

And, of course, our anniversary is right before Christmas. This year we're headed to Seaside to stay at a bed and breakfast for two nights on our anniversary weekend. I am so ready for an out of town vacation - I can't wait!

So bring on the Christmas music, the Santa Clauses, the evergreens. And, whatever you do, "Please Christmas don't be late!!!"

Misleading info

Apparently the information we got on The Watch List (see previous post) was not entirely accurate - at least, I didn't interpret it correctly. In fact, we have NOT been named persistently violent. This is, in reality, only our first year on The Watch List. We must make the list for 4 consecutive years before being named Persistently Violent. So, if the trend continues - and of course, we're taking steps to be sure we're off the list next year - we could be persistently violent in 2012.

It is frustrating though that letters went home to our parents stating that our school has been labeled as persistently violent. It's just not true. It is also frustrating that we're in a catch-22 - if we know about the weapons but ignore them, there are no referrals written, and therefore we don't end up on the list. If we know about them and take steps to be sure it doesn't happen again, thereby making our school safer, we end up on the list and labeled dangerous when, in fact, we are less dangerous than before the referrals were written. It is also frustrating that this has happened because many of our kids live in dangerous areas. They bring the weapons to school because they feel they need them for self defense in their neighborhoods and at the bus stops. Sad, but true.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Violence? What violence?! OR, As if my school needed more bad press

My school - not my district, but my school, was recently placed on "The Watch List" for being a school with "persistent violence." My understanding is that we've achieved this level of infamy due to 9 expulsions for weapons posession last year, which was part of a 3 year trend.

Now, I have experienced many emotions tied to my job. Joy, exhaustion, silliness (is that an emotion?) anger, skepticism, irritation, sublimity, and frustration are all in my emotional repertoire. But never, ever have I felt fear at work.

My school is not an unsafe place to be. My students, while not always the best behaved, are kind people. I enjoy them immensely. They make mistakes, they do stupid things. They come from places that require them to constantly be on their guard. They sometimes forget to switch from street rules, the rules they use to survive in the real world, to school rules. For my kids, school rules are completely different from home life rules. But they try, they really do.

We are one of 11 schools in the state to have earned this label. I wonder how hard it will be to undo the damage of being labeled a violent school.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A very repetitive meal plan

It's tech week for the show, which opens on Friday. Tech week, also known as hell week, means very very late nights. Thus, our meal plan looks like this:

Mon - DIY
Tues - DIY
Wed - Happy Birthday Ricky! DIY
Thurs - DIY
Friday - DIY
Sat - DIY

Creative, no?!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Farming inspiration

I know I've mentioned before that friends of ours have a "mini-farm" or "farmette." We enjoy going there to see all the goings on - goats and chickens and apples, oh my! - and I enjoyed a day of making and canning applesauce, apple butter, and apple pie filling at their home...which has allowed us to enjoy the fruits of that labor. Yum!

That coupled with something an older gentleman once said to me at Al's Garden Center - "Everything you grow should have a purpose. I don't grow anything I can't eat!" - has led Ricky and me to begin thinking about our new backyard and what we should do with it.

There isn't a lot growing in our yard at the moment, and it's kind of liberating and scary all at the same time to know that we can do whatever we want come spring. We're finding that we'd really like to be able to grow our own fruits and vegetables, to have those things available to can and keep for the winter months, so we're seriously considering taking steps to turn our backyard into a semi-urban garden and orchard.

Currently we are investigating dwarf fruit trees. These are trees that bear the same fruit as larger orchard trees, but the trees themselves are much smaller and bear less fruit. After seeing the number of apples a regular apple tree can produce, I think it's definitely a good idea to look toward the dwarf options! We'd definitely do an apple tree, and perhaps a pear tree as well, as that is one of Ricky's favorite fruits. And yes, we do know that fruit trees are messy, but that's ok! Besides, Jacko thinks dropped fruit are balls, and the entertainment value of watching him play with the dropped fruit is worth the mess all by itself!

We're also gearing up to build boxes for square foot gardening next spring. We'd like to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables this way, including tomatoes, potatoes, beans, lettuce and strawberries. We've also talked about investing in some grape vines. Our friends have concord grapes on their property and Oh. My. Word. Those grapes are incredible, like a burst of grape juice in your mouth with each bite! I cannot even begin to describe how wonderful and juicy those grapes are.

We're finding that homegrown tastes so much better than the store bought options, and there is certainly some pride in being able to use produce from one's own garden in the kitchen. We'd never make it as country folk, we like the city far too much for that, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy some of the benefits of country living while staying in our quiet suburban neighborhood.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Will you join me in voting no?

If you are not local to Oregon, you may want to skip this blog. It's the political rantings of a teacher about two Oregon ballot measures that make no sense.

I've had the opportunity to speak at length with people who are much smarter and have much more experience than I about Measures 58 and 60, and since this is my blog and I can say whatever I want here, I'm going to use this space to try to convince you to see things my way.

Measure 58 has to do with the length of time students can be in ESL classrooms. The way I understand it, students entering the American public school system for the first time (meaning they've immigrated to us from another country, most likely) will receive limited ESL help. Those who enter for the first time between Kindergarten and 4th grade will receive 1 year of ESL. Those entering between 5th and 8th will receive 1.5 years. Those entering during high school will receive 2 years of ESL.

The way the bill is written makes it sound as if all ESL students are receiving unlimited ESL instruction being delivered in their native language. Obviously I can't speak to all schools and all classrooms, but I can tell you that's not the way it is in my school. Sheltered ESL/ELD/ELL means the kids are being taught English for beginners. Basically, the stuff you and I learned as toddlers and early elementary school kids. They are just beginning to know the language and at this point are having a difficult time even with survival language skills. But they are being taught in English, because their classrooms are a mix of cultures and first languages. How in the world do you expect a teacher to deliver instruction in everyone's native tongue when the classroom is made up of Spanish, Purepecha, Russian, and Ukrainian native speakers? While some instruction in some ESL classes may be delivered in the student's native tongue, it is far from all instruction in all classrooms state wide.

If this measure passes, we will be forced to phase kids out of their ESL classes in 1.5 years at the middle school level. I'm not sure what language level that translates to, but I can tell you that in 4 years of German I managed to make it to a first grade reading level. There is no way a kid at a first grade reading level is going to survive in a mainstreamed 8th grade classroom. This is setting them up for failure, 100%.

Yes, students need to learn the language. Yes, they need to be phased out of the program. But it needs to be done when the student has learned enough to be successful in the "real world," as opposed to on a timeline that suits politicians and people who don't have the everyday experience of teaching students who simply don't speak English. I have two kids like this. I don't think I could handle an entire case load of students who have been mainstreamed because the law says it's time.

Measure 60 is all about merit pay. Now, before we get into it, let me say this - I agree with merit pay for teachers. I think we should be paid based on our ability and achievements, just like people in the corporate world. I agree that teachers who are ineffective should be the first to be cut, rather than cutting on seniority.

HOWEVER, Measure 60 gives us no definition of how teachers' performance will be evaluated. This will be left up to politicians to decide. Experience says my pay and job security will then be tied to standardized test scores. But wait! How will that work for me? I'm an electives teacher, there is no standardized test for my subject. Does this mean that we'll now have to create one?

And let's just pretend for a minute that I teach a "real" class, like Language Arts. Am I to be punished because 40% of my students don't speak the language well enough to pass the test, and in fact have lived in the country less than 5 years? Should I be punished because my students didn't score above the cut score, even if they did make a 17% gain in their scores over last year? Is it really fair to expect a child who comes to me at a 3rd grade reading level to make that jump from 3rd to 8th grade in one academic year?

If measures 58 and 60 pass, it will make it harder for schools in poor and culturally diverse areas to find teachers, because our pay will likely be based on our students' performance on standardized tests - and those students will not be getting the services they so desperately need to be able to one day pass the tests. As I tell my students every day, I can present them the information they need to know and I can create new, fun and exciting ways of getting that information from my head to theirs, but I cannot force them to learn it. I also cannot force them to learn at a faster speed than they are capable. Please, vote no on 58 and 60.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Meal Planning? What's that?!

With my busy schedule and stressful life, I haven't been great about keeping up on my meal planning lately. Actually, I do great with meal planning, but I'm doing horribly at making the meals.

This week, I gave up. So far I've eaten out; Sunday I ate at The Bomber with some of the cast and Monday I grabbed a sandwich on the way to rehearsal. Ricky ate most of a lasagna I made and froze a couple weeks ago. Last week, I didn't keep up well at all. Of all the meals I planned (and shopped for!) I made exactly 1 - the chili.

So, here's this week's meal plan. You'll likely see a lot of repeats, since I have the ingredients sitting around the house from last week.

Sun - DIY
Mon - DIY
Tues - Angel Hair Shrimp Bake
Wed - Breakfast
Thurs - Hamburger Helper
Fri - Cheeseburger salad
Sat - ??
Tues -

Saturday, October 18, 2008

An apple a day...

Things in our household have been very, very stressed of late. Ricky is worried about the economy and money, especially with the constant fear of me losing my job hanging over our heads. As is his way, instead of talking it out he holds it all in and begins to withdraw. I have a hard time understanding this, as those who know me well (and even some who don't!) know that I am the queen of emoting and sharing what's going on in my head. To have him withdraw makes me immediately think that I did something, and then I begin to try to figure out what's wrong and I end up smothering him when he'd really just rather be alone. It's quite a viscious circle, and you'd think after nearly 6 years of marriage and close to 9 (Nine!) years together I'd have started to figure it out, but nope.

So he's been stressed, but not talking, which has caused some tension in our house (don't worry, it's been talked out, the air is cleared, things are fine). Add to that the job issues (although the latest rumor is it will be March before we see more cuts so I'm starting to relax a little) and the fact that my grandma had a stroke (she's recovering rapidly and is now in the hospital rehabbing), and I'm just slightly on edge. If it gives you any idea of how awful things have been, the most stress free part of my life has been the show I'm working on - and we open in two weeks!

Today was just what the doctor ordered, though. We met up with friends to go to the apple and pear tasting at Portland Nursery. This is the 21st anniversary of the event but the first time we've ever gone. Our friends have a "farmette" (also affectionately referred to as "the mini farm") with several apple trees of unknown variety, so we had fun tasting the 60+ apple and pear offerings at the nursery, deciding which ones we liked and trying to figure out which ones tasted like the apples growing on their property. I think we may have identified a couple of them, too!

After hanging out there, tasting and walking around looking at the plants, we decided to head to The Lucky Lab for some refreshment. We got the chance to sit and chat with our friends, which is always nice, and unwind a bit. It was quite the relaxing day, filled with sunshine and friendship, and was definitely a much needed respite in the sea of stress we've been calling life these past few weeks.

Tomorrow it's "back to the grind" with all day rehearsal. This week will be hectic, with work and rehearsal. Hard to believe we open in less than two weeks!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Meal Plan, 10/12-18

Sun - Probably fast food on the way home from Corvallis
Mon - Chili
Tues - Hamburger Helper
Wed - Angel hair shrimp bake
Thurs - Cheeseburger salad
Fri - Brats and Sauerkraut (holdover from last week)
Sat - ...? I got nothin'

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Job updates: The good, the bad...I don't think there's any ugly!

Let's start with the bad, shall we?

It was discovered, and revealed to the district as a whole on Wednesday, that we are 3-4 million dollars short of being able to simply pay our bills this year. Meaning, if cuts aren't made soon, we won't even be able to make it through the year. Awesome.

Originally the intent was to cut around 5 million this year to be put in the bank. Our district has no savings, so if a roof needs to be replaced, too bad. School floods? Oh well! You need text books? Not in the budget. Now, it appears, that many things were not in the budget, including coaches stipends and extra duty pay, among others.

Thursday we got word that 23 teacher contracts had been rejected. Every teacher's contract gets voted on by the board, and these 23 hadn't yet been voted on as they'd been hired just before school started. The board voted to keep these people in position until Dec 31, at which time their contracts would run out. We've heard that their contracts may be extended, but I don't see it as a likely event. We've also heard that our union is going to try to fight to keep these jobs in place; sadly, I fear that in order to keep these 23 we'll have to sacrifice a different 23. In the end, the result will be the same - at least 23 teachers will be lost, and we're all very sure there is more to come.

Needless to say, things in our district, and in our house somewhat, are tense. Everyone just wants to know what's going to happen next and for how much longer we have jobs.

The best part of all this? The man who was in charge, the man who allowed this all to happen (and, in my mind, though it can't necessarily be proven, caused it) got a $200k severance package.

Onto the good...

We had our first softball games today. Things went really, really well! I'm very pleased with where we are as a team, and where the pitching staff is right now. We're in a very good starting place and I know that with all the work they're doing, we'll continue to see improvements and will hopefully be the team to beat in the spring. I know that's an odd thing to want, but I think this team needs it. They need their fire fueled. We've been the underdogs long enough, it's time to come out and strut our stuff.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Meal Plan, 10/5-11

Sunday - DIY. I have rehearsal until 7
Monday - Meatloaf (we didn't end up having it last week. Oops)
Tuesday - Hamburger helper (exciting, I know)
Wednesday - Brats and Sauerkraut - our very own Oktoberfest!
Thursday - Spaghetti
Friday - Chicken barley soup perhaps...still thinking on that one
Saturday - DIY, I think. I have a double header

Heads are a-rollin'

I'm not going to get too detailed, because I don't want to get the facts wrong and I can't find any articles to back me up, but we were told in a meeting the other day that two people in our district office were promoted and given raises "illegally." Basically, there are protocols for promoting someone and giving raises, and those protocols weren't observed in the case of these two individuals. My understanding is that they have been restored to their previous positions (demoted, essentially) and are to repay their raises. Hoo-boy, I'd hate to be them about now.

For fun, let's recap:
  1. Superintendent is brought under investigation
  2. 2 days before teachers report to work, board calls emergency meeting to accept the resignation of said superintendent
  3. It becomes clear that we have major debt and things need to change
  4. Paper rationing is imposed
  5. We cut a few classified positions (custodian, noon aides) and do not fill others left vacant by those changing buildings
  6. We realize teachers are very likely to lose their jobs
  7. Head of HR is investigated for benefits fraud for failing to remove his now ex-wife from his benefits package when they divorced 5 years ago. Writes a personal check for the $33k the district paid out for ex-wife's medical care over the past 5 years
  8. Head of HR then "retires," saying he's doing it to hopefully spare someone else's job. Rumor in the district is he was told to retire
  9. New superintendent is appointed. He begins investigating
  10. Two district office personnel are "demoted" and ordered to pay back their raises

It's been an interesting school year - and it's only October!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Meal plan, 9/28-10/4

Sunday - Pizza from Little Caesar's at rehearsal
Monday - Tortilla soup and salad
Tuesday - Tuna Casserole and green beans
Wednesday - French toast and turkey sausage
Thursday - Meatloaf and mashed potatoes
Friday - Focaccia sandwich and applesauce
Saturday - ?? I have a game, so I'm not sure yet what we'll have

I was planning on having hamburgers and tomato gravy this week, but I think I'll push it out a week.

Update on job happenings

So, I finally found my contract (it was still packed, oops!) and I spoke with my principal and vice-principal about the job situation.

Basically, at this point they have no idea how much FTE (full time employment) they have to cut. How much they have to cut with then determine who gets cut and by how much. If they only have to cut 1 or 2 FTE, they might be able to cut .2 FTE from a few people. If they have to cut 5 FTE things are going to be bad in our building.

There are four likely scenarios, with scenario 1 being the most unlikely:
1) I keep my job, unchanged
2) I get cut to half time
3) I get cut completely, but due to having seniority, am moved to another position and a less senior teacher loses his/her job
4) I lose my job completely

Obviously we aren't hoping for 4. And really, 3 isn't all that great either. I mean, sure, I'd still have my job, but I'd have to a) oust someone else and b) walk into a new school, new classroom, new kids and new subject area and pick up where someone else left off.

According to my contract, the board has to give 30 days notice to those who are being laid off. I'm going to check with my union rep to be sure I'm reading that right, that it's 30 days to the specific people being laid off, and not 30 days notice that there will be lay offs. If that's the case, and since they've said they won't be making cuts until mid October, I should have my job until at least mid November, which certainly helps.

Things in the district are not good at all. As we were talking, my principal said to me, "I feel you, I know where you're coming from. I'm not even sure if I'm going to have a job when it's all said and done."

In other news, it's supposed to be 92 tomorrow. The end of September and it's 92?!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Please Pray

As some of you may have heard, either from me or the news, my district is in pretty bad shape financially. Things started coming out at the end of last school year, and it wasn't until August that the district knew just how bad things were. Our superintendent has since resigned, and we've begun to see cuts and rations within the district to save on money.

All along they've said we won't know anymore until after our first payday, when they have a chance to evaluate exactly where we're at with payroll. Well, tomorrow is payday. It is the first time in my life I've ever dreaded payday. Obviously I want my check, but it means that now the district will begin voting on where to make cuts.

They've said that they will try to make teacher cuts a last resort. They've already cut our custodial staff, and have begun to ration our copy paper. There is talk that our custodial staff may be cut back to 4 days a week, 32 hours, to save money. And then, of course, we all know that teachers could be cut.

Traditionally, cuts begin with the teachers with the smallest class sizes. That means that, should it come to teachers being cut, I am likely toward the top of that list as I know my class sizes are small. It could mean a reduction in my job, from .83 to .5 or something. Or it could mean a loss in job all together.

At any rate, we won't know anything until mid October at the earliest. I'm trying hard not to worry about it. There isn't much I can do to change what's going to happen, and financially we'll be fine since I can go back to subbing. We were smart enough when we moved to not get in over our heads, at least. I just hate the uncertainty of it all. If you would, please pray.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Just call me Kramer

One of the best features of this house is that it came with a hot tub. Forget the fact that my allergies are 10 times better due to the electrostatic filter and lack of carpeting. Forget that we have a larger garage, extra bathroom, extra bedroom, and have doubled the size of our living room and kitchen. You can even forget the fireplace! The hot tub is where it's at.

Yesterday Ricky turned the hot tub on after work and we got in later that night. Ahhh! While it wasn't hot enough for me, it was nice and warm and it was wonderful to sit outside in the cool night air with warm water being jetted around my aching bones.

I'm pretty sure it's addicting. After a long day (I left the house at 7 am and pulled back into the driveway at 9:30 pm), the first thing I said to Ricky was, "want to get in the hot tub with me?" Tonight was even better - the water was hotter, I was more tired, and it was even more relaxing than last night.

I have a pretty good feeling where you'll be able to find me most evenings after a hard day's work!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Meal plan, 9/21-27

Sun - blackberry pancakes, made with the blackberries from a friend's yard
Mon - Cheeseburger pie
Tues - Pizza soup
Wed - Hamburger helper
Thurs - Lasagna
Fri - Burgers
Sat - Enchiladas (giving me time to find a decent recipe...or for mine to show up)

This week I'm making double of several things - the pizza soup, lasagna and enchiladas will be made in double portions and I'll freeze one for later use. The burgers are some patties I made a while back and will be pulling out of the freezer for this week. I also have frozen browned ground turkey for use in the cheeseburger pie, hamburger helper and lasagna. I love being able to make things ahead of time and freeze them. It saves me so much time!

Losing Recipes

I have the hardest time keeping my recipes where I can find them. Maybe it's because I have two different "personal" cookbooks going - you know, the cookbooks that come empty and you fill them up with your own recipes (or, in my case, the recipes I steal from mom and the grandmas). I have one that Mom made me where the recipes are all in plastic sleeves and I never lose those. I also have a recipe card box, and I lose those recipe cards so fast. I need to put them on the computer and print them off so I can have them in my book.

Anyway, a while ago I posted that I lost my meatloaf recipe. Yesterday, while looking for my berry cobbler recipe I found the meatloaf recipe. Today, while looking for my chicken enchilada recipe, I found the berry cobbler recipe card. I suppose that means tomorrow I'll be looking for something and find the chicken enchilada recipe!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Weight Loss and Clothes Wearing

Well, I'm finally doing it. I am back on the wagon and losing weight. It feels good, and it's easy - I just work out with my players!

This year Carrie and I are blessed to have two additonal coaches. With four of us, each "specialty" area gets its own coach - I'm with the pitchers, Kimmy tends to the catchers, Carrie takes the infield and Allan tackles the outfield. Having so many coaches on staff, and having pitchers that don't hit, has made it possible for me to take the pitchers for about 90 minutes each practice to do some endurance training/conditioning and pitching, as well as work on specific pitcher issues, like how to cover the plate in the event of a passed ball and which base to backup when.

Each day we spend about 30 minutes doing cardio and abs or some sort of core strengthening. We vary it - we run, play soccer, do yoga and pilates, jumprope, all kinds of fun things to keep it from getting stale. I work out with the girls, and am working toward being able to run an 8 minute mile by Jan 1, as I am requiring them to do.

Losing weight and feeling good has made it a lot easier to start dressing cute again (I'm pretty sure that's a major grammatical error, but I don't care). If I can find the time to photograph my cute feeling self, I will start posting on the fashion blog again. I've been getting lots of compliments at work, and that's really nice and helps drive my desire to be put together on a daily basis.

Speaking of which, I better figure out what in the world I'm wearing tomorrow and hit the hay! It's been a long day and I need my beauty rest.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Meal Plan, 9/14-20

Since I'm back to work, and have a crazy schedule* for the next 6 weeks, I'm back to posting my meal plans on the blog. This week we're "pantry cooking," meaning we're cooking with as much stuff out of the pantry and freezer as possible. My grocery list this week consists of sour cream, tortilla chips, tortillas and milk.

Sunday: Taco Stuff
Monday: Spaghetti
Tuesday: Marinated chicken and pasta salad
Wednesday: Hamburger Helper and acorn squash
Thursday: Tortilla soup
Friday: Chicken, biscuits and gravy (we'll be eating around 6, Dad)
Saturday: Coconut shrimp

*My crazy schedule - while I don't have to be to work until 10 most days, I have softball practice directly after school and rehearsal for A Murder is Announced directly after practice. I will be leaving the house with both a sack lunch and sack dinner most days, so most of our meals need to be highly portable. This week I have rehearsal Mon, Tues and Thurs from 6:30-9. Good thing I get to go into work late!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Crisis averted!

A week or so ago I woke up around 5:45 am in a panic, as I do every morning, sure that I was late for school. When I realized that I really didn't have to be up for a couple more hours, my attention turned to the sound of rain outside, which caused a groan from me as I still needed to replace my windshield wipers. I thought, well crap, there's one more thing I have to do before I leave this morning. Then I rolled over and headed back to dreamland.

When I did get up, about 7:30, the first thing I noticed is that the sun was shining, the birds were chirping...and it was raining. At least, I could hear the rain. I went to the kitchen to look out the sliding glass door to see what in the world was going on, and as I headed for the kitchen the sound of the rain got louder. Being that it was 7:30 in the morning and I hadn't yet had a cup of coffee, my first thought was, "oh no, it's raining in the kitchen!"

Of course, it wasn't really raining in the kitchen. Instead, a part of our fridge quit working and the water was streaming out of the water dispenser as if an invisible glass were being held under it.

We got the water mopped up and shut off, and then Ricky set about the business of trying to figure out how to fix it while I set about worrying how in the world we were going to buy a new fridge on such short notice. We'd planned to buy a new fridge eventually, but I wasn't ready to shell out the $1200 for the appliances we saw at Home Depot!

Well, today Ricky got the fridge fixed. The part has been replaced, the water turned back on, and we do not have a lake in our kitchen. The funny part about the whole thing is that we never use the indoor water dispenser. We both think the water tastes funny. We do, however, have an unnatural love for our icemaker. I'm very glad we won't have to do without.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The verdict is in

The story on my prongs - it's just me. I am apparently a total klutz and don't know it. I had another reputable jeweler check out my ring, and she said the workmanship and materials are both good. She did mention that I could probably have the head set lower so it wasn't as easy to bash and catch on things, and we may look into that. But otherwise, it's just me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Back on the wagon

It's amazing. With this new schedule, I have so much more energy. I feel like a completely different person. Although, if we're being honest, I'm not sure if it's the schedule or the new dosage or medication, or both. No matter, I have more energy and patience, and that's a good thing!

I'm getting into a new routine, and I like that. I'm a bit of a creature of habit, so routine is good for me. Being awake enough in the morning and evening to get through my routine is also good! I've gotten to where I'm picking out clothes, pre-tracking the next day's meals, and packing my lunch and snacks the night before. In the morning I'm able to get up (it seems my body wants me to get up around 7:30, since that's when I naturally wake every morning) have breakfast, and get ready at my leisure, double checking my lunch and snacks and being sure I've got everything packed up. Beginning tomorrow, I'm also going to get some working out done in the morning. I don't think I'm quite organized or motivated enough to go to the gym before work, but I do have a workout DVD that I can do in the living room.

Additionally, I'm looking into classes our gym offers, as well as classes offered by Providence. There's a yoga class at the hospital near our house that I'm thinking of trying. It doesn't start until November, so I've got some time to decide.

All that to say, I'm back on the wagon as far as living a healthy lifestyle goes. I feel less stressed and better than ever. I'm eating healthy, getting some exercise in, and in general I think I'm just more pleasant to be around. I haven't felt this good in a long time.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The smell of a campfire

Why is it that campfire smell lingers on a person for days? We had the annual softball camping trip this weekend (Friday night-Saturday afternoon) and even after two showers, I still smell of campfire!

Not that I'm complaining, I like the smell, it is just so strange to me.

A sad prong song

I am notoriously hard on jewelry. I don't know why, but rings and I just don't seem to get along. I managed to crack the back of my birthstone ring twice in high school, and broke a couple of prongs on it as well.

When we got engaged, I made sure to get a super thick ring. I knew that I would crack the back of it if it was thin, so we got the thickest ring we could find. My super thick platinum engagement ring is flanked by two very thick gold wedding bands. I figured, no problem, all this thickness means it won't get broken!


While I haven't broken the shank (hallelujah), I have managed to break prongs. Multiple prongs. More than anyone else I know.

All was well, for a while. I wore my ring everyday, even slept in it, taking it off only for softball practice and games. It was fine. Then, I started coaching, and I began to have problems. I wasn't taking my ring of for practice or games anymore, because, well, I wasn't the one playing. I began to break prongs. First, the jeweler replaced the head of my ring with the biggest, thickest prongs they had. I managed to break those, too. Then they switched the gold prongs for platinum. You guessed it - those have broken, too.

It got to the point that Ricky forbid me from wearing my ring anymore. That was probably ok, since we also found that I'm allergic to it about the same time. I get a wonderful scaly rash under my ring. Recently, though, I tried wearing it again. I've been wearing it regularly for a few weeks now and, what do you know, I broke another prong.

When Ricky forbid me from wearing my ring, I began asking for a new one. Something with no prongs, like a bezel set or tension set ring, or even a pave setting. Then we learned about "blood diamonds" and decided we didn't want to invest in another diamond ring. I decided I wanted a blue topaz, the birthstone of December, our anniversary month. We didn't do it, though, because it seemed silly and frivolous to invest in a new wedding ring for me when mine is perfectly good, beautiful, and something I love.

But now, if I add up all the money we've spent fixing prongs on my ring, we could have very easily purchased one of these rings that I love
All this to say that I once again managed to break a prong. The price to fix it has gone up since the last time, and I won't have it back until Tuesday. Looks like it may be time for us to seriously consider something new. It seems silly to keep paying $30-45 each time I break a prong when, if I wear my ring regularly, I average at least one a year, usually more.

Oh, and the jeweler's advice? "Quit wearing it." Uh, ok. Maybe I should also be seeing a second opinion on that one!

My latest favorite picture

Jacko-pea at the beach

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Waking up before the alarm

We all know the feeling - you wake, for whatever reason, peer bleary eyed and the clock...and groan. You've woken up before the alarm, with not enough time to really go back to sleep. For me, that usually means 30 or so minutes. Just enough time for me to drift back to dreamland and then



This morning was different, though. With my new part time salary comes the only good thing about being part time - a part time schedule. I've always said that my dream job would not start until 10. Well, my wish has been granted. I do not have to be to work until 10 am, and I work until 3:30 each day. In the words of a friend's daughter, Halle-freakin'-lujah!

I set the alarm for 8 am. Around 5:45 I woke up in a panic, sure I'd overslept. I've always had to be at work between 7 and 7:30, no matter which district I was in, so being able to sleep until 8 felt sinful. After peering bleary-eyed at the clock, and convincing myself that yes, I really could sleep until 8, I managed to go back to sleep Until 7:30.

But for what is probably the first time in my life, I wasn't angry that I woke up 30 minutes before the alarm. It felt blissful to know that I could lie in bed for a few more minutes, snuggled up to Ricky. Or I could get up and putz around the house for a while, have breakfast, and get ready for work at my leisure. For the first time in a long time I wasn't rushing around the house, throwing on the first clothes I saw and skipping a shower because I woke up too late. I even left the house early, had time to stop at Safeway to pick up a Lean Cuisine for lunch, and got to work early!

I think I'm really going to like this new schedule!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Birthday to you...

Just a quick note to say "Happy birthday, Dad!!"

Friday, August 29, 2008

Dear Sen. Obama,

[please note - this post is in no way a representation of for whom I will vote. I still haven't decided; how could I, since the republican ticket wasn't established until today?! It is merely my expression of frustration over what I see as inaccurate statistics]

Dear Senator Obama,

You seem like a nice man. I like to listen to you talk. You are very charismatic and a wonderful orator. You seem genuinely interested in what happens to the people of America. I do have one concern though. I wonder how you really think you'll be providing a tax cut for 95% of people.

It's not that I don't think it's possible. It's that your plan doesn't make it possible. According to what I've read, you've proposed to give a $500/worker or $1000/family credit to those who earn less than $150k and who don't itemize. At the same time, you say you're providing a tax cut to 95% of the people of America.

You're wrong. According to that statistic, no more than 5% of the American people could make less than $150k and itemize. I highly doubt that, with our 5 figure combined income and itemized taxes, we are accompanied by only %5 of our fellow Americans.

Not to mention, you repeatedly say you're giving a tax break to those who make less than $150k, with no mention of the qualifier. In a recent interview you told Bill Hemmers, ""...I’ve structured a change in the tax code where if you are making $150,000 a year or less, you’re getting a tax cut, 95 percent of the American families will get a tax cut" and "...and you will get tax cuts and more money in your pocket if you make less $150,000"

But, Senator, that's just not true! According to your plan, I will not see a tax cut because I have the gall to itemize. And I would be willing to bet that at least 25% of the American people make less than $150,000 and itemize. So 95% of the people will not see a tax cut, now, will they?

Please don't misrepresent your plan. Please use accurate statistics. I would love a tax cut, but if it's not going to happen, that's fine. Just don't get my hopes up by saying one thing when you mean something else.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A picture's worth a thousand words...

She Sells Sea Shells by the Sea Shore

Yesterday was a long, eventful, entertaining, and tiring day. And I mean all of that in a very, very good way.

First, Ricky and I headed out to Seaside, Oregon with the pup. Knowing that I'd be returning to work on Monday, we decided to make the most of the couple of days we've got left, so we packed up a cooler, the kite and the dog and "eased on down the road" (what show is that from? Anyone?).

Once at Seaside, the three of us went on down to the beach for lunch. Unfortunately, pup was a little sick, and while he was being good he just wasn't having a lot of fun. We let him play on the beach for a while (he loves to dig in the sand) and then we took him back to the truck to kennel him up. We're thinking he was dehydrated, because he went through an entire 32oz bottle of water in about an hour!

While Jacko was resting, Ricky and I relaxed on the beach...and got some sunburn to show for it. Oops. But it was enjoyable, and we had a nice time sitting on the beach, watching the ocean, and talking.

On the way home we called friends who live somewhat on the way home from the beach and decided to hang out with them for the evening. We were anxious to see their "mini-farm," with the two goats, 12 chickens and multiple foods growing in the yard. We had a chance to meet Sassy, the milk goat, and Buddy, the fiber goat (who is a teeny tiny little baby and oh-so-cute!). Jacko had a chance to meet Maggie and Charlie, our friends' dogs. They all seemed to get along ok so I think next time we might try a real play date, letting J off his leash to run around the yard with the other two.

By the time we got done visiting, it was about 10 oclock and Ricky and I were zonked. Of course, we made one wrong turn on the way home (luckily we realized it very quickly) and then Ricky decided to take the scenic route down Farmington Rd, through Beaverton and Multnomah Village, down to Macadam, over the Sellwood Bridge and through Sellwood to get home. It probably added another 20-30 minutes to our trip, but we finally got home around 11:30 and headed to bed.

All in all, a fantastic day, and a great way to end our summer!