Friday, April 30, 2010

120 / 365: 'Tis the season....

...test season!

MGR came home really upset today. Four of his students failed the SOL reading test. His class average was way below his expectations. He was angry, disappointed, discouraged and questioning himself as a teacher.

It was a simulation! The real test doesn't happen for another two weeks!!

Like any good teacher, he is straining his brain, trying to come up with strategies to get his students to perform better.

I finally had to give him a time out. He went out to play poker. I hope this house can remain intact during SOL test season. If not, I'll need a time jail!

Until next time....strain away!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

119 / 365: Payday Haiku

Tomorrow's payday.
Everyone gets our money.
Everyone but us!

Until next away!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

118 / 365: Middle School Madness

Emotionally Disabled Middle Schoolers on the eve of a full moon.......

Now that I have the hairs on the back of your neck standing at attention, I have to say that the ones I witnessed today were not that bad. In fact, they were pretty good.

The integrators were charged with shadowing a colleague. I had the extreme honor of following RD, a superb LA middle school integrator. She did lessons with the above mentioned children and did a wonderful job. The kids were right up there with her. She had them engaged while doing a lesson on test taking skills. She used response clickers to keep them on task and they had a great time with it.

After a day of observing three classes of these wonderful young people, I followed RD to a different middle school to assist in training middle school teachers on some new Web 2.0 tools.

THAT session caused the hairs on the back of my neck to stand at attention!

Until next time....shadow away!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

117 / 365: Loser Tuesday....

We like Tuesdays at the Ranch. I found two TV shows that are uplifting for the body, mind and soul.

I started watching "The Biggest Loser". What an inspiration! Tonight's "Losers" traveled to Texas, where 5 of the top 10 cities for obesity are located. These people inspired others to take part in a 5K. One lady, needing a motorized cart to get through Wal-Mart, finished. Last, but she finished. She has now been motivated to continue walking and try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I was in tears as I did the Wii Fit Free Run. It was an uplifting program.

Keeping with the "Loser" theme, we watched "Glee!". A beautiful program with many positive messages.

After the nails were hammered into the CCPS coffin tonight, I needed some "Loser" therapy.

Until next away!

Monday, April 26, 2010

116 / 365: Temptation

He did this to get me excited. Sadly, he's worth more alive than dead.

All kidding aside, that smile still makes me swoon!

Until next time....smirk away!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

115 / 365: Feel good, feed good.

The highlights of my day centered around food. I know you're thinking, "Oh Shock!", but there's more to today than my usual gorging.

This afternoon, I attended the county school's Arts and Sciences Festival. It is a weekend event showcasing our students' talents in the fine arts and sciences. Two highlights of the weekend are the performances of the Elementary Honor Choirs. Since we have 38 elementary schools, we have to have 2 groups. These fantastic fifth graders learn their music, with the help of their amazing music teachers, then rehearse a mere two hours a few days before showtime. I've been doing this for 13 years now (once as a conductor), and it still astounds me how much these kids can do in two hours, and how beautifully they pull it together for the concerts.

Back to the food. Part of the singers' assignment is to bring one canned good to the big rehearsal. It helps the children understand that they are part of a bigger community, one in which they need to contribute. The food covered both ends of the stage, reminding everyone that if each person gives a little, lots can be accomplished.

After the performance, I helped colleagues bag up the food. We had to make two trips with a cafeteria trash can to put it all in my van. I drove the food over to Chester Baptist Church, headquarters for CCHASM (Chesterfield-Colonial Heights Alliance for Social Ministry). The youth group there was kind enough to come out and help me unload the many bags of food. The food pantry will have lots of food for the morning.

When I got home, hubby was warming up leftover baked ziti. I had made it yesterday, and it was quite tasty. As I was stuffing my face, a wave of gratitude came over me. While we don't have much, we do have a roof over our head and food to eat. This is more than some people. I am extrememly grateful for what I have, and need to remind myself that it could be worse....

Until next time....thank away!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

114 / 365: Longevity....

I experienced two things that made me think about living longer.

Last night, I watched "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution". Neat, but scary. Jamie's mission was to travel to Huntington, W.Va, recently named the unhealthiest city in America, and spread the good news of healthy eating to its residents.

There was one message he kept reiterating: If we don't change the way our kids eat, they may not outlive us. That scares me. No one ever wants to bury their children, but to know that it could have been prevented, or even worse, that you caused it is just sickening. I want my babies to live long enough to change my diapers!

I thought of this as I watched a couple renew their wedding vows this morning. They were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Their children and grandchildren were the bridal party, and all walked in and out to traditional wedding marches (that I had the honor of playing). I dreamt of the day this will happen in my family. MGR and I renew our vows in front of our grown up sons and their families.

It brings me back to the first part of this post. If we can do our best to keep healthy: body, mind and soul, perhaps we can live long enough to celebrate such milestones with generations we don't even know yet. And maybe those young whippersnappers can change Grandma's diapers.

Until next away!

Friday, April 23, 2010

113 / 365: Sucked in....

Maybe, just maybe....

I just started a new book, "Velva Jean Learns to Drive", the story of a young girl growing up in Appalachia. So far, a very heartwarming story filled with ups and downs, laughs and tears.

It is my hope to learn more about Velva Jean this weekend. The schedule is light, the hubby and kids are out and the weather will prevent me from doing yardwork. Keep your fingers crossed that Velva Jean and I become better acquainted.

Until next away!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

112 / 365: The Thinker....A Haiku

My son the thinker
Old man soul in a young shell
He's so much like me!

Until next time...think away!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

111 / 365: 'Nuf said.....

Until next time....'night!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

110 / 365: Perks...

There are great days at work and today was one of them.

I assisted a colleague with a grade level integration. The fifth grade at one school had an Earth Day celebration at a local park. Each of the six classes rotated to different stations centered around nature or conservation. Our station gave the kids an opportunity to use handheld GPS to locate "caches" that held puzzles that, when solved, gave them messages about conservation.

The kids has a great time melding technology with the great outdoors. They worked together to set the GPS, find the caches and solve the puzzles.

However, I think I had a better time! I got to enjoy a beautiful day outdoors, help children use technology while being active, and the icing on the cake, took advantage of the park and took a "walking lunch" before going on to the next building. I had lots of energy the rest of the day!

The pictures accompanying this post were taken from the park's loop trail. You can see why I loved the outdoor classroom today.

Until next time....walk away!

Monday, April 19, 2010

109 / 365: Funday

The boys were loopy tonight. They were tired and very silly. We finally were able to get them in bed. Then, I had a brainstorm! If you can't beat them, join them.

This is how we tucked them in. Sweet dreams? Maybe!

Until next time... goof away!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

108 / 365: Carpe dummy.

The best laid plans of mice and men.....foiled again!

I had the best of intentions to be productive today: play at church, go shopping, do the lawn. Well, one out of three is....lucky?

I played at church this morning. Very nice service. The pastor talked about being fishermen. Had I known how the rest of the day would go, I would have offered to take the hook!

After the service, the fam drove up to Trader Joe's. Fun store, reasonable prices, healthy food. Well, MGR has this habit of putting on his cruise control and not stopping it until we're about 2 inches away from the car ahead of us. It was a rather scary endeavor, complete with loud, dicey dialogue (yes, with the boys in the back....not good!). That put me in sulk mode for the rest of the afternoon.

When we got home, my allergies kicked up, so I took a nap to decompress and decongest. After doing the preliminary edging and trimming, I find that my lawn mower is not functioning. That's a crisis I'll deal with tomorrow.

Fortunately, MGR cooked a lovely lamb dinner and we kissed and made up at the dinner table (in front of the boys...yeah!). Maybe he's not such a "King Ding Dong" (as his shirt implies) after all.

Until next time....carpe away!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

107 / 365: Surprise Saturday....

Today was a week or two in the making....

I held "Surprise Saturday" over the boys' heads all week. If they stayed on green (the color for good behavior) in school and they were good at home, Mommy was going to take them out for a day of fun. By golly, it worked. They were great all week, and now they were getting their surprise. At first the weather was rainy, but the sun came out and all was lovely today!

Unfortunately, they had to start the day sitting through my Weight Watchers meeting, where they've become unofficial mascots of the Saturday morning groups. However, after running a few errands, our first surprise was the YMCA Healthy Kids Day. They got to play on the inflatables, try archery (I think JOR is a natural.), play with Ronald McDonald (I know, "Healthy" Kids Day?), sit in a fire truck, get their faces painted, learned how to brush their teeth correctly, putt a golf ball, and they each got tattoos, a goody bag and a t-shirt. The fun was just beginning.

Lunch was a cookout with our friendmily. The A-C group came over for some burgers, kielbasa and a quinoa salad. Yum!! Onto the next leg of the journey.

We got to go house shopping. AAC and CC are looking at houses in a very nice neighborhood, so the boys and I, along with LA and TC, got to walk through two of the models. Both beautiful, but in different ways. If only they can meld the two designs together. Sigh...if only MGR and I could win the lottery..... I'd love to be neighbors!

Crossing Woolridge Road, we took the boys to the "Fools for Art" celebration at John Tyler Community College. It was a wonderful community event highlighting the arts, education and nature. The boys participated in their very first drum circle, decorated journals and bookmarks to take home, designed a bag for their "Boppie", had some food, learned about recycling, and looked at bugs and bacteria under a microscope.

After learning about being healthy, then enjoying an afternoon of art, it was time for some soul work. We attended Mass at St. Mary's, JCS's parish. The priest did a beautiful job with the homily and the liturgy was lovely. However, the biggest kudos go to JOR and SRR for being extremely well-behaved at Mass. JOR was an active participant and SRR, even while getting tired and hungry, hung in there and played quietly during the entire Mass. The picture above shows them after Mass, a little tired, but still good.

We crossed back over the river for a yummy dinner at Champs. The boys, given carte blanche to eat what they wanted, made decent choices for dinner. Mommy didn't. At least another 4 hours on the elliptical this week!

When we got home, my stinkers took their medicine and went straight to bed. They were exhausted!! A twelve hour day was enough for them! And me!!

I must take this opportunity to brag, while I can. The boys were amazing today. They did a lot and asked for little. They moved a lot and whined a little. I was amazed at their behavior today. They were troopers and angels! (Maybe I need to plan a Surprise Saturday more often!) And I know I now have this blog post to refer to when they act like stinkers again!

Until next time...surprise away!

Friday, April 16, 2010

106 / 365: Toxic people....

Why must some people be so toxic? I'm talking the people who spread poison for no other reason than to spread...poison. When people get this way, I really want to ask them:
-Is what your doing going to resolve anything?
-Do you have nothing better to do?
-Does it make you feel better to bring down someone else?

Until next time....detox away!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

105 / 365: A patient and his role models

My little JOR is a little down physically, but his spirits are up....thanks to his doctor's office.

JOR hasn't been sleeping well and last night starting complaining of a sore throat. Since he's been on the "shtuffy" side, we thought allergy / sinus drainage was causing it. Then came the headache. Then the fever. Sinus infection? Nope. Strep.

We took a little ride to the pediatrician this morning. Mind you, there are many doctors' offices that are closer, but we chose one that is a good 25 minutes away. Add the routine trip to the pharmacy on the other side of town and the whole excursion can take up an entire morning or afternoon. Today's trip, three hours total, affirmed the reason we go the extra miles....

After a little bit of a wait, the nurse took us back. I complimented her on her beautifully cornrowed hair. She said she was thinking about cutting it off before going back to Haiti. I sheepishly asked her if she had gone there for vacation or for missionary work. She told me the lead doctor in the practice, one of the nurse practitioners and some of the nurses did two week long stints there already. They donated supplies and their time and went over to do relief work and help mend the injured children. The nurse smiled from ear to ear and a bright twinkle caught in her eye as she talked about the experience. She loved every child she treated, and while it was scary sometimes (including some tremors while on a rooftop), she said they would all go back in a heartbeat!

My son stood there mesmerized. He saw the news reports, he knows how bad it is in Haiti and what those poor people are going through. JOR now looks at his nurse, his NP (who happened to treat him today) and that whole doctor's office as a group of superheroes. And why not? They did something many didn't do: took it in their own hands to make a difference. They used their God-given gifts of knowledge and healing to help a nation in crisis. This affirmed the love and caring we sensed when we picked this practice 4 years ago.

I think this has sparked something in the little guy. Maybe when he grows up, he'll make a difference too!

Until next time....make a difference!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

104 / 365: Mystery Science Theater 3000

I forgot how much I enjoyed this show.....

"Mystery Science Theater 3000" was a TV show that ran from 1988-1999. This wonderful program was about a human and two robots stuck watching very bad movies.....VERY bad movies. While being tortured, they strike back with commentary....VERY FUNNY commentary. Many pee in your pants moments!

My question to you: What VERY bad movies out the past few years, would you recommend for a contemporary MST3K? Sadly, there won't be any (the creators are on a live tour called "Cinematic Titantic"), but I'm curious to hear what others think are LOUSY movies.

Until next away!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

103 / 365: Dashboard Discoveries

I did lots of driving today. I discovered a few things on the journey(s):
-Carole King is great to belt with on the highway.
-Kenny Loggins' "House at Pooh Corner" still makes me sob profusely!
-MSNBC is now on XM Radio. Yeah!
-My steering column and dashboard are absolutely filthy!
-The boys are growing up way too fast.
-My dupa hurts from sitting so long.
-The 80's channel makes me think of my leg warmers....ugh.
-My older brother is dissing me.
-I hope the boys' waiver forms go through.
-Driving makes me sleepy.
-There are very few people I don't like.
-Pretty day today.
-I think I'd like to see "Shrek the Musical".
-News reporters interrupt way too much.

Until next away!

Monday, April 12, 2010

102 / 365: Fried!

My brain hurts! Lots of troubleshooting in three schools. I'm doing my best to stop the drool oozing out of the side of my mouth.

Being a glutton for punishment, I played a game on the Wii Fit Plus that has you "bumping" numbers that add up to 10. I felt like I was bumping numbers in a calculus problem. My mind just shut down.

After my Wii time, I decided to have some shut down time. Peppermint tea out on the deck. Ahhh, I'm feeling better now.

Let's see, that's 8 + 5 - 3 = uh....uh....uh

Until next time....fry away!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

101 / 365: A little serenity...

It's not much, but it's mine.

I finally got to clean off my little piece of serenity: my deck. I power washed the pollen off and bleached the table and chairs. Now I can go out there when I want to (and when I need to) to get a little peace and quiet.

I know that Spring Break is over, but my feeling is that anytime I'm on that deck, I can have a little break. Whether it's coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon or cocktail at night, I know that I have a mini-retreat from the trials and tribulations of the world. That is, until the family finds me.

Until next time....hide away!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

100 / 365: Aunt K.....

The picture says it all, but I'm going to elaborate anyway.

KSBJ has been my "Southern Sister" since I moved down here 13 years ago. We clicked and became a well-oiled machine at our elementary school: she the Physical Education teacher and me the Music teacher. The kids always looked forward to February, when she and I would combine forces and teach a dance unit. They didn't know what hit them!

As the years progressed, our friendship strengthened. We went through a lot at school and in our personal lives: marriages (she was my wedding coordinator), babies, parents' deaths, surgeries, spouses, etc. I can't thank her enough for her strength as I was falling apart.

My boys worship the ground KSBJ walks on. "Aunt K" is a guiding force in their lives. JOR attended her "Shoe Tying Boot Camp", and after a few hours, was successful in this task. SRR knows her wrath if she is informed of any questionable behavior.

Today, she went with us on a "Field Trip" to Point of Rocks Park. The boys had a great time, but I think she had a better time! She went on the slides, swings and pushed the boys til they belly laughed. A great time was had by all!

After MGR picked the boys us, we went on for some "estrogen therapy": pedicures and lunch. We laughed so hard, we cried! I had issues with my message chair ala Lucy Ricardo, getting the sensation that my chair would propel me into the ceiling. Lunch was our tradional fare: Pietro's steak special w/ fries. Damn the points, full fat ahead!

After our fun afternoon together, I realized how much I needed this "girls' day out". We laughed, talked, laughed some more, discussed, and laughed. I am honored to have KSBJ in my life. Somehow I know that the students she has taught for the past 33 years feel the same way.

Until next away!

Friday, April 9, 2010

099 / 365: Tidbit the obituary in the making.

I was going to blog about the cat next week in honor of her birthday, but I truthfully don't think she's going to make it.

After a rough ending to our Bass Pro Shops excursion, we had a nice visit from the B family. DB is our HVAC guy and came over to install a new thermostat. His mom, EB and his three lovely girls visited as well. We were all having fun until SHE came in.

A little background about Madam Tidbit: a few years ago, JOR found her (and her family) under our deck. He didn't tell us about his discovery, but asked suspicious questions: "What do cats drink?", "Can cats live outside for long periods of time?", etc. One morning, MGR heard meowing in the utility room. Lo and behold, the runt of the litter escaped from the family and tried to make herself a part of our family. And she succeeded. Due to the boys' allergies, she is only allowed in the laundry room, but she occasionally makes a game of escaping into the house.

She has been a fun, silly part of our crew. Until today.

Back to today's events: While DB was walking in and out working on the thermostat, Tidbit came in. She played her usual game: ran upstairs and hunkered down under our bed (go figure). I did what I usually do: shut the boys' doors and left ours open so that she could come back down when she was ready.

While visiting with the B family downstairs, I heard a long, drawn out noise than a crash. MGR went upstairs to check it out. I was called to the crime scene immediately. Apparently, Madam got her legs caught in the cables leading to the TV FIOS box. She pulled the excess cable out from the closet, then the box fell to the floor. I found the box and it was wet. I couldn't figure it out until my nose kicked in. Yep, in her fear, she peed all over the box and the carpet.

Following the cable under the bed, I tried to untie her specialness from the cords. She was not happy and expressed it by scratching me. I tried to keep her calm and pulled her out from under the bed. She let me detangle her (fur was covering the cables) then booked it back under the bed, where she stayed for another thirty minutes. Finally, I coerced her out and carried her down the stairs and out the door, dreaming of her on a bed of white rice, next to a fortune cookie.

The carpet has been cleaned, the FIOS box cleaned and functioning, the floor vacuumed, and Madam Tidbit's life has been spared....for now.

Until next time...breathe away!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

098 / 365: Chef du Jour....

OK, I'm not Rachel Ray, but I did alright tonight!

I made two new dishes for the friendmily: Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs and Couscous with Spinach and Mushrooms. I don't like to brag, but they were GOOD!! Even better, they were EASY!!

With pay cuts looming, eating in is going to be the rule rather than the exception. Good thing I'm building up a repertoire of easy, quick, no-fail, yet healthy dishes for the family. If any of you in bloggerland has a recipe that meets the above criteria, please share. I need all the help I can get. Unless it's Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs and Couscous with Spinach and Mushrooms. I think I have that down....

Until next time....cook away!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

097 / 365: Confession....

Disclaimer: This is NOT my closet.

However, my linen closet is almost like this. I threatened to clean it out today until.....VACATION STRUCK!!!

It was the perform storm (or I should say the perfect snore): MGR took the boys, a playmate, JSR and his son to the movies. This gave me three hours to get lots done. And I did. I got lots of SLEEP!! After I did a load of wash, I felt my bed calling to me, loud and clear. I answered the call and two hours later the closet was still a mess and the bedroom still needed to be cleaned.

Guess what? Those messes will still be there tomorrow. Maybe I'll get to them, maybe I won't. We'll see. I love vacation.

Until next time....slack away!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

096 / 365: Fit man

The man fought all his enemies (asthma, allergies and exhaustion) to run a couple miles with his wife. Way cool, as we don't do that often. It was nice having a sweat buddy next to me on the treadmills.

After our little run, we brought the kiddos to the pool. MGR earned some downtime: Woody Woodpecker videos on his iPod touch. Classic cartoon. Classic guy!

Until next away!

Monday, April 5, 2010

095 / 365: Stormy....

I didn't see this coming.

After a morning of yard work and an afternoon of resting, I treated myself to a haircut. When I pulled in, I noticed some raindrops then the eerie sky. I didn't even know there was a chance of showers. Strange for me, a weather junkie.

Before I knew it, thunder, lighting and torrential rains arrived. The green pollen dust was washed off my van. I was hoping that these rains would arrive to wash my patio furniture, but alas, the homestead was dry as a desert.

The lazy side of me is hoping for lots of rain here tonight. This would permit me to pass doing yard work tomorrow morning. I could work in the house, not as strenuous and I can spend time with the boys (who are prohibited from going out in the yard during high pollen times). Or I could boycott work all together and just read my book. I love having to make such useless decisions on spring break!

Until next time...storm away! :-)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

094 / 365: Ahhhh......

Enjoyable evening with the A usual!

Relaxation came in the form of mojitos. Fabulous concoction! I laughed, and more importantly, I relaxed! I SO needed that!

Until next time...mojito away!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

093 / 365: Cleansing....

Phase 1 is done! Dusting and vacuuming complete. Two out of the three bathrooms done. And Hubby helped! Life is good!

I'm hoping this spring break will allow me to work on both the inside and outside of the house....and me!

Like the house, my inside needs a good cleaning: of negative thoughts, bad food, doubts and fears, anger and envy. Then I'll worry about the outside.

This Easter season, I hope to stay focused on this "spring cleaning". Lent was a challenge, but the power and hope of this season may guide me to cleanse myself of the nastiness I so despise. Any suggestions are welcome!

Until next time...cleanse away!

Friday, April 2, 2010

092 / 365: Book paradise

Spring Break has begun and I'm going to take a nose dive....into books!

I've got trashy fiction, geeky computer books, home repair books, gardening and landscaping books, magazines galore. Does anyone have any other good recommendations?

I hope one week off will be enough!

Until next away!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

091 / 365: Tick...tock...

It's not coming soon enough!

One more day of school / work. Can't wait for Spring Break!

Sadly, we're not going anywhere (anticipating dastardly pay cuts). Happily, it will be a time to rest, rejuvenate, reconnect, reunite, read, redecorate, repair, repeat.....

Bring it on....and fast!

Until next time...tick away!