Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chicken pictures as promised....


As promised, here are a couple of pictures of our chickens.  I thought I had more, but these are the best ones.  I tried to attach a video, but haven't figured that out yet.


This handsome looking fellow is Rudy, our rooster.  Perhaps it will change, but he's a gentle guy, even letting me pet him.  I so enjoy hearing him "cock-a-doodle-do" in the mornings and occasionally throughout the day when he feels the mood.  I was worried about our neighbors, but they listen out for him.  That's comforting.





These are a few of our hens.  The lighter ones are Buff Orpingtons while the rest are Rhode Island Reds.  I love to hear how they coo when they're calm.


Busy, busy, bee....sort of.

Sorry for not posting in quite some time, life has been busy, and I've become much more of Facebook fanatic than I had planned.  My bad.  Other than my addition to social networking, and the farming games that I just can't seem to leave alone, we've added to our family.  Chickens!  We started with 7 chickens and a rooster that our friends gave us, and eventually added 10 more.  Many of them are layers, so we've been collecting eggs gallor!  After having "ridding" of 3 and losing one to old age, we're now down to 13 chickens.  Our egg sizes have ranged from super jumbo (that poor chicken, she's the one who died) to slightly larger than my thumb.  My biggest fears are the neighborhood skunk that seems to be roaming around lately, and the weasels and raccoons that frequent our place.  We're hopping Bandit, our Husky, who is perched near the chicken/rabbit house, will keep those varmints at bay.

We've collected a variety of eggs, from 5 or 6 one day to at many as 14!  I can assure you, seeing how I was the one who cleaned the 3 chickens we killed, that those 3 were layers.  It was so facinating to see the undeveloped eggs in different stages in the chickens.  Gross, I know, sorry.  My friend, who taught me how to clean chickens, found two completely formed eggs that the chickens didn't get a chance to lay yet that day.  The shells were hard and everything!  Really cool! The downside to cleaning chickens, however, is the smell.  I'm fine until I start taking out the innards to separate the heart, gizzard, and liver for those who wanted to eat it.  One of my friends from work suggested putting Vicks under my nose to "replace" the stink of the chickens once I get to the innards.  Perhaps next time I'll give it a try.  I'll try to post pictures soon, and if I can figure it out, I've got a couple of videos too that I can add.  Until next time...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

New Blog

Hey everyone!  Just a little note to let everybody know that I've begun a new blog called "Reflections in Middle School".  I've decided to start it because it's a great idea for me as an educator to reflect on my teaching, what works and what doesn't.  However, that's not the only reason. I've read some of those books written by teachers who share their experiences in the classroom and have always wondered if I could do that.  Well, I've decided to do that in my new blog and hopefully expand on it if and when the time comes.  I invite everyone to check it out and hope you enjoy!

Hunter in Distress

I may or may not have mentioned in the past that we not only have 3 dogs, or 2 horses, but we also have 2 rabbits. They are of a mix dwarf variety, very cute and cuddly. We had gotten the rabbits the same time we got the goats. Here's the back story. Flash back to 2 years ago....

Hubby and I bought a weekly guide book that has a collection of items for sale or for trade listed, and one of the listings was for rabbits. We decided one day to surprise the boys with rabbits, and brought them to the farm that was selling them. Kenny didn't take long and chose his right away naming it Fluffy. I know, not very original. Kerry, on the other hand, decided that he wanted something a little more exotic, having fallen in love with a couple of young goats. So, after careful deliberation, Hubby and I decided to let Kenny have his rabbit and Kerry could have his goat. The problem was that we couldn't take just one goat, we had to take two because they get lonely. We put the goats in the cage we had in the back of the truck and Kenny held on to the box with his rabbit in it and headed home.

On the way home, Kerry was telling us the names he wanted to call the goats. The girl he decided would be named Kate, which I wasn't surprised about, and the boy Horny. I know! Hubby and I looked at each other and I asked him if he had other possible names for the boy goat. Without a blink of an eye he decided Cutie was an option. Having avoided a struggle with having Kerry accepting a different name for the boy goat, we quickly agreed that Cutie was a great choice. Whew!!!

Kate


Cutie

We arrive home and put the Kate and Cutie in their new home that we prepared for them, and Fluffy in the rabbit hutch we had found for free on the side of the road. Kerry kept wanting to get close to the goats, but they were too skiddish for us, so they kept running away from him. Eventually, Kerry grew tired and frustrated by this and didn't like the goats as much as he had before. Kenny, on the other hand, was holding and cuddling with Fluffy. Kerry decided that he didn't want the goats anymore, but Hubby and I couldn't see not keeping them now, because we had gotten attached to them. So, the next day, we trekked back to the farm we had gone to before and picked up a rabbit for Kerry too.

Kerry's rabbit on the right is named Oreo
and Kenney's on the left, Fluffy.

Now we had a male and female rabbit and a male and female goat. Babies were bound to soon follow.

Back to the present...

Just before lunch today, the family and I went to town to visit family and stopped at a salvage store to browse around in. Hubby and the boys found two tiny harnesses for the rabbits. When we got home, they put the harnesses on and tied the leashes and brought the rabbits outside for a walk in the back yard. Needless to say, Hunter, who has free range of our property and who loves to hunt, went wild. They tied him up, but the energy coming from his excitement was just too much for him to bear, and I didn't want the rabbits to be traumatized by him either. I brought Hunter into the house where he begged me to let him back out.

Poor Hunter.

I seriously think he was trying to speak to me, asking to be let out. I haven't seen him this excited since I brought Shelby home or when she was in heat.



Look at that tongue hanging out! Please???


Hunter continued to pace back and forth, from the bedroom where I was folding clothing to the kitchen door hoping to be let out. Finally, about a half hour later, the boys put the rabbits back in their cages and Hunter was freed from the intrapment of the house.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mood Swings

I can't believe how my day started. I woke up this morning and for no specific reason I can pinpoint, I was in a foul mood. I told the boys that I wasn't mad that them, but I couldn't help but feel bad later on in the day for my rotten mood. Nothing made me happy and nothing seemed to go right. Perhaps I'm just stressing because of the week we've had, sports every night and the new school year, or just the bills, bill, bills, but everything seemed to piss me off!

I brought the boys to their mom's before I headed to school, and when I got there she said how I looked spiffy. My legs were still raw from the hay bales the night before and couldn't consider wearing anything other than a light dress. That's the only reason why I looked "spiffy", but her compliment only brought a smile to my face and I told her how I had been in such a rotten mood. Later this evening at Kenny's soccer game, I told her that my day and mood turned around after her compliment this morning. She just cracked her sly smile and said, "I just have that affect on people." She's so funny.

Then, I got home and what did I find in the mail? Four bars of goat's milk soap. I was excited when I saw the box. It nearly felt like Christmas or my birthday. ;o) I could smell the scents through the box and couldn't wait to open it up and check out the bars. Now the dilemma. Which bar of soap should I try first? Until next time....

Razors and little needles!!!

In my last post I talked about the hay that Hubby and his buddies decided to do on their own and the wonderful, wet experience we went through to put the tarp back on the mountain of hay. Yesterday, Hubby was actually home early enough for supper, which hasn't happened for nearly 2 weeks now. Being home for the first time in a long time, he decides he has work he'd like to do, one thing being removing the hay from the trailer that it's been sitting on and piling it on pallets and covering it again. Never mind the mountain of laundry that was waiting for me to do, I had to go help move the hay.

I finish cleaning up the supper dishes (still love my dishwasher) and went to change into grubby clothes. However, no one (Hubby) thought to suggest that I wear something other than shorts. It didn't take me long to discover my mistake. It took us an hour and a half to move nearly 300 square bales of hay then cover it back. By the time I got home, my forearms and legs were raw as if I'd been carrying bales of needles or razorblades instead.






This is a picture of one of my forearms this morning. This is just a small snapshot of what my legs look like. Sorry, I'm not including a picture here. As someone commented on my last post about learning a lesson with the experience, I certainly did in this one. Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hay, hay, hay...

Hubby and a few friends decided to get together to harvest hay for themselves rather than buying hay from other farmers at a much higher price. They pooled their money together, Hubby bought a square baler and one friend bought a round baler. They got a rake (or already had one...not sure), and another implement that they need after they cut the hay and before they rake it. They ordered the tarps to cover the hay and the rope to tie the bundles and rolls. It took some doing and organization, but they got everything they needed and the plans were made. One problem, though...they needed to work around all of the rain we got this summer.

Finally this past week, the weather took a turn for the better and they could cut the hay, let it dry, then do something else to it (can't remember what it's called), then rake it and bale it. The down side was that Hubby couldn't help like he wanted to because of work. He had been working long hours, late into the evening, and there was no way he could be there. But the great friends that he has, they baled the square bales and loaded a trailer with about 250 to 300 square bales, then they covered the entire pile with the ginormous tarp that he had.

All was well, then sometime during this Sunday evening and yesterday morning, the tarp flew off and all of the hay was exposed to the little rain showers we got. When I found out about it, I couldn't do anything about for a couple of hours, at least not by myself. That pile was huge! When the tarp was covering it, the pile looked like Suffalupagus (I think that's how it's spelled) on Sesame Street. You know, Big Bird's friend from the 70's who looked like a brown, woolly elephant. Anyhow, by the time Hubby could get to the field were the hay was piled, it had started to rain. Not a light rain, noooo, it had to be large, heavy drops accompanied by some thunder and lightening. But, there were were, Hubby and I trying to get the tarp back over the hay and tie it down in the downpour. We managed to get it all covered, but not before the rain got to it. Now Hubby is worried that the hay that was exposed to the rain will mold and won't be good for our horses. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

After all of that activity, I was soaked. Litterly. My shorts and tanktop were sticking to my body, which is not a flattering sight; trust me. My hair was dripping and had lost any style that it previously held, and my sneakers and socks were so soaked that they squeeked and squished when I walked. The only bright side to the whole thing was that it had been hot and humid for a few days, and the rain was so refreshing that I really didn't mind being as soaked as I was.

Now, I sit here in a dry change of clothes while Hubby is hanging out with our friends discussing the hay and the rain. I can hear the rain through the open windows continue to fall, although now, it's more gentle rather than the huge drops that dived-bombed upon us throughout the entire ordeal. This wasn't excitement that I wanted to have tonight. Hopefully, tomorrow will be less exciting.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ahhh....imagine!

Today I had a rare moment; I was completely alone! Hubby had already left around 5 a.m. to go to work. The boys are at their mom's for the weekend and come home at noon Sunday. So I had the entire house to myself; just me, the dogs, and bunnies.

Today marks the one of the last two days left of my summer vacation, so I took advantage of being alone. I had 2 close calls with being alone this summer, but Hubby came home early and I didn't quite get the R&R that I longed for. So today I relished the thought of not being a referee, and doing what I wanted to do without considering who'll have to do it with me or who will be left behind.

So, this morning I decided to clean the house, windows, floors, etc. to get it over with. I then laid out in the sun for about an hour while reading a book, then baked a fresh raspberry pie and made some shepherd's pie to freeze for a quick meal later this week. After having sweat through all of that, I then enjoyed a nice, cool shower. The weather finally changed this week and we've finally had temperatures in the 80's. It's been close to 90's yesterday and today, and trust me, I'm not used to this heat. So, as much as I'm enjoying the idea of finally getting a summer and having beautiful, bright sunny days, I'm trying to cope with the heat and humidity.

I wanted to go for a walk today, but with this heat, I decided to wait until later when it cooled down, otherwise, I'd been looking at another cool shower. Although the temperature dropped to the low 70's by the time I went for my walk, the humidity was still there and I couldn't help but make it a shorter walk than usual.

Tomorrow will be my last day of vacation. I'll have until noon to lounge around and do the quiet things I enjoy doing. Then the boys will be home and I won't have the house to myself. As much as I enjoyed the idea of solitude, and enjoyed today, I'm looking forward to having the boys home tomorrow.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The early bird....

Yesterday morning we had a little excitement. We have a small shed that's attached to our garage where our bunnies, or should I say the boy's bunnies, live. It's not completely closed in at the top, which left room for a bird to make a nest. It's been there for several years now and there's always a robin each year with usually a couple of babies. It's always so cute to see them.

Occasionally, a baby bird will decide to fly out of the nest, but usually into the shed rather than in the other direction, which would take it outside. The boys went to take care of their rabbits yesterday morning and found a baby bird sitting on the window sill. Not wanting it to stay stranded, Kenny decided to try to capture it and bring it out of the shed. He wasn't as successful as he had planned, and it kept getting away from him. When the boys told me about it, I went out to give them a hand.


At one time, during my former life, I had 4 parakeets, 6 cockatiels, 2 lorikeets, and a cherry-head conure, so I knew how to catch a bird without fear of being pecked and without hurting the bird. Kenny, on the other hand, was a little fearful of hurting the baby robin, so it kept getting away from him.

Poor little thing. I caught it and held it to my chest while the boys went to get the ladder in the garage. They set it up and I climbed to the top to put him back in the nest. Of course, things don't always go as planned and he took off again into the shed. The mother and it's sibling were in the nest and flew out right above my head and toward the nearby chokecherrie bushes. Great! Now I had to go get the bird again, but the nest didn't seem like the best option now that his mom and his brother were out. The second baby landed in the grass, not far from Bandit (our huskey), who began licking his chops. I grabbed that one up and placed it on a branch of the same bush that the mom was on. Then I went to get the first baby in the shed, again. All this time, Mom's scolding me and the feathers on her head were so fluffed up, that she looked like she had spiked hair.


Finally, I got the first baby and placed him/her on the same branch as the second one and we left them alone and brought Hunter with us. I could still hear the mom scolding at whomever while we were back in the house. Hunter kept pestering to go out, so I tied him, poor guy...



Eventually, Mom and babies left the bush and headed elsewhere, but when we untied Hunter later on, he must have found him (hence his name...), because I could hear her still scolding away.

Monday, August 10, 2009


It being within a week of our first days of the new school year, I find myself questioning my devotion to the teaching profession. I guess all teachers go through this at different stages of their careers, during the highs and the lows, and the in-betweens. But, I became concerned about my lack of enthusiasm for the new school year, when in the past I was counting down the days.

At the end of the last school year, we left with the knowledge that there was a possibility that jobs could get cut, and that I could be on that list. I've struggled mentally, emotionally, and in my faith to deal with that possibility. Twice, our budget didn't pass in the town referendum, which now leaves us hanging. To top it all off, our superintendent, who we hired with a 5 year contract, has left for another job closer to home. This time, a permanent super didn't leave because of town politics, but because of personal reasons. But now, at the beginning of a new school year, we have no budget and no super.

Last week, I began going back to school to prepare my room, but found that I was struggling to get on track. Why? In the past, I was there, fully aware of what I wanted to accomplish each time I went. I didn't feel motivated at all. I basically had to make myself go at some point. This worried me a lot.

Why was I lacking my enthusiasm? Could it have been because we didn't have much of a summer with all of the rain? Did I not enjoy the kids anymore? Did some of the negative experiences from the year before ruin my enjoyment of teaching? Why was I struggling like this? It finally made sense to me this week.

I had to go to town before going to school to pick up some last minute school supplies at the store. I ran into a couple of my former students and one who I'll be teaching this year, and I felt that wave and twinge of excitement that I usually get when I see the school supplies come on sale each fall. That feeling of excitement mixed with butterflies that makes me catch my breath and want to skip over to the notebooks and pens to buy some, whether I need a new one or not. It's comparable to the feeling a child gets on Christmas morning, or Easter when they look for the hidden eggs, or their birthday knowing their party will be that night. The child in me comes out a bit and I get that excited feeling that this year will be better; I'll reach all of the kids and accomplish everything I had hoped for.

Once I stopped at the main office at school, the cloud of the school and town politics loomed above. I could feel it when I walked in and that's when it occurred to me; it's not the kids or my job as a teacher that's making it hard for me to be motivated for the new year, it's the politics. I love my students, even the tough ones, and I enjoy seeing them during the summer and breaks. On the first days of school I get a rush of excitement that I'll see my students again, and dread the loss of the 8th graders on the last days of school.

Please don't get me wrong. As an educator, I understand that it's important to be involved and know what's going on around you, in your local communities and your world. However, I also know my limitations and what my stressors are. Politics, to me, is a negative thing, with all of the backstabbing, lying and cheating going on, and it's exhausting. I can't seem to wrap my head around a lot of the jargon and policies that are attached to politics. Politics for me is something that creates more stress than anything else that's tied to the teaching profession. Hearing the rumors and listening to everyone's fears as they talk in a hush in the teacher's room and halls, although I have to admit I had let myself get caught up in it last spring, just makes things worse and becomes too much of a distraction.

Although I agree that it's important to get involved, it's equally important to separate the politics from the classroom. The kids feel it and I want them to have a positive experience rather than a stressful one. School doesn't need to be stressful, for either the students or the teachers, at least not in the sense of politics getting in the way.

So...I've decided to put on my blinders as of now, walk into my classroom when next Wednesday comes, and focus on the kids and how much I enjoy teaching them. There's a time and place for everything, but the classroom is not the place for this kind of politics.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I never thought...

When I was a kid, I would get excited about getting things, like new clothes, toys, shoes, jewelry, and so on. Sometimes whatever I got didn't have to fall into any of these categories. I just liked getting stuff. Who doesn't, right? I still get excited about getting things as an adult. However, the things I get now that give me that thrill are nothing like what I ever got as a kid.

I'll never forget during the first few years of my first marriage. My ex and I had gotten his uncle's washer and dryer, which still worked great, but was quite old. About 3 or 4 years later, the washing machine died and we couldn't afford to get a new one for several weeks. I had to trudge to the laundry mat with my many loads in tow to do the laundry. Had there been a decent laundry mat where all of the washers and dryers worked it would have been fine, but in our small little town, there was only one (at the time) with probably half of the machines not working properly. If I was lucky, I had the whole place to myself and I was able to wash all my laundry at the same time, but that didn't always happened. Being able to do all the laundry in such a short time was the only thing I liked about it. I hated the dirty feel of the place, and the one I was at didn't have many light bulbs that were working properly, so the lighting was too dim to see the stains I missed. Needless to say, I pushed my ex to get a new washer quickly.

The day arrived when my new washing machine came home. It was the cheapest one available, minus all of the bells and whistles. Keep in mind that this was in the early 90's, so the bells and whistles were nothing compared to what they have now. It was just the thought of not having to lug all the laundry to the laundry mat, sit for a couple of hours while the loads all washed and dried, then fold the clothes I didn't want to get wrinkled on the grimy counters, and then lug everything back home. I was so excited! I realized a little while later, after the excitement wore off and reality set back in, that I still had to do the laundry. I reflected on how excited I had gotten over my new washer and couldn't believe that I was excited over a household appliance! Had I finally reached adulthood (I was about 21-22 at the time), that I would be so excited about a washing machine? It's not like it was a new car or anything.

I managed to experience that same excitement these past few weeks. Before Hubby and I got together, I had a dishwasher. Although I couldn't imagine life without it, I had truly lost my appreciation for it. Then I moved in with Hubby and had to wash the dishes by hand. There were days when I was gone from home for most of the day, yet the dishes still piled up. Life can get so busy, yet the dishes don't stop coming. During the summer, I would resort to paper plates and plastic disposable cups. However, wanting to be more environmentally friendly, I cringed at the thought of doing that again this summer. Not only that, it also gets expensive, and with Hubby doing his internship before his last semester of college, I wasn't willing to spend our money on that.

For seven years I washed the dishes by hand. I'd occasionally had help when there weren't other things that needed to get done, or homework to be worked on. Hubby pitches in once in a while too, as well as the boys, but it doesn't always work out. One day, Hubby asked me what I wanted. For all the time we were together, he'd get things like a motorcycle, tractors, and more recently, horses, but I'd never ask for anything. So I thought about it for a while. Some time later, when he asked me again I was ready. I wanted a dishwasher.

Now, my family always had one and can't see them willingly living without one. My in-laws did have one at one time, but they were never really impressed with them, so they have since continued washing their dishes by hand. So, mind you, convincing Hubby to get one took some effort and sympathy. Eventually he came around. Two weeks ago I got my dishwasher. Granted, it doesn't have all of the bells and whistles that many dishwashers have out there. But I'm a simple girl and felt that I was fully capable of putting the dishes back in the cupboard myself.

Since then, Hubby and the boys all equally enjoy the dishwasher as I do. They put their dishes in the dishwasher themselves! What's even better is when we're in a rush, or have managed to go through the day without creating more dishes than a few bowls, cups, and plates, it's nice to have a place to put the dishes until they can be washed. Before, my counter would become cluttered and I would hate it when people would drop by and I didn't get a chance to do the dishes. I'll now have more time to do other things, such as laundry, sweeping the floor, and once school starts back, my nightly planning and/or correcting, and get to bed at a decent hour. I guess the kid in me will never leave when it comes to getting stuff, no matter whether it's clothing or a new household appliance.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Waiting to see...

In my last post, I talked about how we had someone coming to look at our house. He came with his parents in tow checking everything out. Things seem to have gone well. Out of the 5 houses he looked at yesterday, he seemed to like ours along with one other. So...needless to say, we're hopeful. In the meantime, Hubby is still considering our options, and I'm being more receptive to the discussion as well.

In the meantime, life goes on and I've got just over a week left of vacation. I went to my classroom today (This is a picture of the middle school portion of our school. Mine's on the the bottom floor starting from the 3rd window from the left and includes 7 windows.) and didn't spend as long as I had originally wanted to, but I got some things accomplished just the same. When I came home, I continued working and got more rubrics and projects worked out. They're the same as I had the kids use last year, but I revamped things a bit. While it was still fresh in my mind, I made some changes that I felt were necessary, and now I'm making them so I can print them out tomorrow and make enough copies for the year.

I find it's hard to be motivated when it makes twice that our school budget doesn't pass the referendum vote. Our local mill is struggling right now having filed Chapter 15 Bankruptcy (like Chapter 13, but international), so everyone's panicking and worried that the mill won't be able to cover the share of taxes it did in the past. I can't say I'm not worried about the mill either, but does this mean that I will have to purchase my own supplies at some point? Being the only one bringing in income right now, spending money on supplies for school is not an option.

So, today was a mixed bag. We got some good news about the house situation, and I struggled with the situation at school. I'm heading back to school tomorrow, and having had accomplished what I did today, I'm sure I'll feel better about things tomorrow. Only time will tell how things will pan out. Until next time...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Counting My Chickens...

It makes over a year since Hubby and I put our home for sale. As mentioned in the earlier post, we got our hands on vinyl siding and now our unfinished garage is coming along. Most of it is done, but we need to pick up some of a different color to put in the top part of each side to match the color scheme of the house. Nevertheless, the garage looks a lot better!

Late yesterday afternoon, we got a call from our real estate agent. Someone wants to look at our house this afternoon right after supper. Before, I would go into hyper-mode and attack the house from top to bottom, stressing over the fact that strangers will be coming into my home and it will need to sell itself. I don't know if it's because I've been home all summer and have been able to keep up with the house, but there's not much to do. That's a relief. I will pass the lawn mower today, but there's not much else to do.

Last night, Hubby had trouble getting to sleep. He kept considering our various options if our house sells. There were several lots we looked at, but they're either in another town where the boys would have to go to another school, or the lot doesn't have a home on it and we'd need to buy one. I understand what he's trying to do, have a plan so we'll know what we're doing and where we're going. My problem was that I can't get my head around it. Not knowing if our house will sell this time makes it hard for me to begin planning. I can't help but fear that we'll just be let down again.

This is where my faith comes into the picture. I'm leaving it up to Him, in his hands, as to whether we sell the house or not, and what happens after that. I understand where Hubby is coming from, because it is nerve wracking when you consider that we don't know where we want to move to, but it's hard to plan when your home doesn't sell and the place you wanted does. Patience.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A New Old Garage

Six years ago, Hubby decided to tear down the old garage that he had and build a new one. The old one was in dire need of being torn down and replaced. Looking at it, one would be surprised that it was still standing. Within a months, we had a nice 3-bay garage; two doors in the front and one in the back for the tractor, four-wheeler, or snowmobile to head toward the trail behind our house. It was given a nice wrap of moisture paper, three bay doors and there it sat, waiting to be finished for 6 years.

Why didn't we put siding on it for all that time? Good question. I guess after a while we just got used to it and didn't think twice about it. But at the beginning, we couldn't decide what kind of siding we wanted to put. Did we want vinyl, cement board, shingle siding, or what? Were we planning on doing the siding on the house now or could we wait? So we decided at one point to just wait until we decided to change the siding on the house. Then life happened and money became short and putting siding on the garage became less and less of a priority. Then the day came that we decided to put our house for sale; that's when the unfinished garage became an issue.

We weren't dumb. We understood that the garage was probably preventing us from selling the house for the price we wanted, but at this point, covering the garage with any kind of siding was not going to happen any time soon. Especially when only one of us was working while the other one was back in school after having been laid off. We resigned to the fact that we weren't going to cover the garage with siding and we probably won't sell the house because of it.

Last week it happened! We were driving down the main road heading to get some ice cream when we came upon a garage sale. We love summer because of garage sales and we never hesitate to stop. Anyhow, we drove up and got out to take a look. There it was. Enough siding to cover our garage, and it was a pretty close match to the color of our house. Guess how much. No really, take a guess. Let's just say that Hubby and I had priced vinyl siding at a local major hardware chain store of about $800, and that was a rough guesstimate, too. We probably didn't consider all the doodads that needed to be included either. Have you ventured a guess yet? The man was selling never-been-used vinyl, including j-channels (whatever they are) and corners for $150! You can imagine that we jumped at the chance. This Saturday and Sunday Hubby, along with his dad, worked to put up the vinyl. What a difference it makes! We still need to pick up a different color to put on the ends to match our house, but it's amazing the difference!

What's the moral to the story? No. It's not to avoid procrastinating or that one needs to plan better before starting a project, although those would be great morals to take from this blog. Rather, that things all fall into place accordingly. Perhaps our house won't sell because of the siding, or perhaps it will, but someone else has a plan for us and if we're willing to do the work, He's willing to give us a helping hand.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Memory Walk


I seemed to have developed a passion for something other than work and my family. I have become passionate about two causes; cancer and Alzheimer's. Both have affected my family and friends. For those who are not aware, this past May, my grandmother passed away after having had Alzheimer's for several years. Two days before Memere's passing, my cousin passed away from her third bout with cancer. This is why I'm getting involved with these two causes. I've already done the Relay for Life Cancer Walk, mentioned on my post back in May, now I'm focusing on the Memory Walk for Alzheimer's.

On Saturday, October 3, 2009, I will be taking part in a Memory Walk to raise money for Alzheimer's research. For those not aware, Alzheimer's can be hereditary. I may not have the best memory out there, but the memories I do have I don't want to lose. Watching my grandmother eventually forget her husband of 60 years, her children, and grandchildren was heartbreaking. To see a once vibrant woman full of wonder and creativity become a shell of herself is extremely difficult. I don't want my mother, my sister, myself, or anyone else to ever have to go through that.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Reflections

I was raised a Catholic, but have always felt that He doesn't care what faith I am as long as I have faith in Him. I've always had a hard time giving up something so personal as my faith in God into the hands of man. Especially when I've learned how much man has had an influence in the development and creation of my religious faith, and the corruption that many faiths, including my own, have affected our world throughout our ancient and recent history.

I grew up attending church on a weekly basis, and during Lent, a daily basis. I continued that ritual throughout most of my twenties, too. I've prayed for things to happen, however, the big things that I've prayed for never happened, but yet, the big and little things that I haven't prayed for, but left up to Him did. I know that sometimes He says yes, or no, or not right now, but I end up obsessing over it only to end up making myself sick and sometimes left disappointed.

Last spring, Hubby and I decided to put our home for sale. Just so you know how it's going, it's still for sale. Last summer, I prayed religiously (no pun intended) to St. Joseph, patron saint of money matters, among other issues, and to St. Theresa Martin, my patron saint. One Sunday we went to church and saw several vases of roses near the alter. For those who may not know, if prayers to St. Theresa Martin get answered, the one praying will either see roses, smell roses, or receive roses. So, when I saw all of those roses, I was so excited that I almost fell off the kneeler. I couldn't control my excitement. Days went by, weeks, and now months, and nothing but disappointment and a for sale sign still on my lawn.

When I learned on Wednesday that the community that I work in, in their infinite wisdom and panic over our paper mill filing bankruptcy, voted not to approve our budget, I was depressed. I moped around the house all morning and forced myself to take a shower and head out with the kids for a ride.

What have eventually learned in all of this reflection? No, not that he doesn't listen, but to have faith and patience, and to leave it up to Him instead. He knows what's best for me. Sometimes in life I need to make the decisions, but there are times that it's best to let Him guide me. I've had a philosophy since my divorce that everything happens for a reason and I've had experiences that have proven this to me. The life I've led yesterday helps to create not only my future tomorrow, but the person I am today. The choices I make today don't just impact me, but those I run into every day. I have to remember this. So, now when I pray to Him, I tell him I'm leaving it in His hands and that I have faith that He will take care of me. It's a huge test of my faith to do that, but what was said of that mustard seed?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Addiction

Often times Hubby and I scold the boys for playing their games so much. I could never understand how they can be so engrossed in something that I have such little patience for. I've played video games before, in fact, I've saved the princess on Mario Bros. a few times back in the day. But after a while, other video games became annoying and I lost patience quickly and eventually lost interest.

In an earlier posting I mentioned how I started a FaceBook account, which is part of the reason I've slacked on my blog. Sorry folks. Some of my friends got me into a farming game. At first I resisted, but then curiosity got the best of me and I just had to check it out. I was sent trees, flowers, and animals as gifts, and I wanted to see what the whole game was about. Little by little I learned how it worked. I harvest crops for other "farmers" to gain coins in order to plow my fields and plant my crops. Then I can hire others to harvest my crops when they are ready and gain coins that way too. I was really getting into this.

As our school year was coming to an end, I was beginning to feel a bit let down. I was saying goodbye to a group of kids that I've known since they've been in the 3rd grade, now moving up to the 9th. Not only that, but my district was stressing over the idea that our school budget had to be cut drastically. The economical situation going on right now with our local paper mill filing bankruptcy has really caused anxiety in the community, too. The threat of layoffs are looming heavily overhead. Heading towards my last days of school, I began spending more time on the game. I had a goal to gain enough coins to purchase a house, then every time I reached a certain level, I was able to purchase different animals, or trees, or seeds, or flowers. I eventually purchased a barn, which jumped me immediately to yet another level. Friends were commenting on how quickly I've moved up having started the game way after them. I felt I was successful, accomplishing the goals I set for myself and continuously moving ahead. It was quite the feeling; so unlike my real life.

This past week, Hubby and I sent the boys to bed. He and I were both playing the game (I got him hooked too) and we were both trying to gain as many coins as we could to accomplish whatever goal we had for that night. I finished harvesting for someone else's crops and went to say goodnight. Hubby was not finished yet, so he took a little longer. One, two, three minutes go by and doesn't Kerry call Hubby to go tuck him in. Hubby told him he'd be right there. One, two, three more minutes pass and Kerry said, "Dad. You guys are getting as bad as me and Kenny on those games." We had no choice but to laugh and agree with him. We hadn't realized just how much we were getting into it. It took an 8-year-old to remind us of our growing addiction to this farming game.

I've since wondered about why I got to this point with the game. Why was I so addicted to it? All it is, is growing crops, gaining coins, buying more seeds to grow more crops, occasionally purchasing more land and making it look nice. But what was the appeal for me? Then it hit me. This past Wednesday, I learned that the school budget didn't pass and that I may not have a job in the fall, and I continously hung out on "the farm", harvesting and planting and buying more stuff. Everything else around me got neglected, but I was beginning to feel that successful, satisfying feeling again. That's when I realized that I was attracted to this game because it filled the void that my life had at the time; success and satisfaction. I began imagining the guys on "Big Bang Theory" constantly involved in their role-playing and video games. TV makes fun of these scenarios, but we can all easily fall into these traps. That's how people get into other means of filling the void, giving them this successful and satisfying feeling that they crave. We're all guilty of it in some form or another. Some ways are harmless, but time-wasters, while others are dangerous and illegal. I'm just glad I chose the time-waster.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Sock Tossed Back into the Hamper

As you have probably noticed, the last entry isn't my usual. Rather it's a creative writing prompt that I typed up some time ago. I can remember what I must have been thinking, because I relived a fight with my ex from several years ago while reading it. The only thing is that it didn't end as wonderfully as the story implies. Analyze it any way you want, but I like to think that I just like happy endings.

This next entry is another creative writing prompt that I've started some time ago and was able to generate ideas from when I looked at it earlier this evening. I hope you like it. I'll be doing more in the future.

The Sock Tossed Back into the Hamper

Wha…what? What’s happening? Silence. Aw man! Why am I back in here again? I already went through this! I don’t get why am I in here again? I thought for sure I was just in the laundry basket, fresh from the dryer smelling spring fresh again. Wait a minute. I’m still warm! Geez! Maybe I can wiggle over to the side to see what’s going on. Umph! Umph! Umph! Nothing but wall. Augh! This is just not my day.

I don’t understand what happened. Let me think back here for a minute. Hmm. I was here earlier today. I was put in here last night after being in those work boots all day. Whew! It was such a relief to be freed from that foot when the time came. I didn’t smell too good either. Ewe! Neither did my partner. We both got to hang out for a while, chit chatting until we were picked up this morning. I remember having an awesome hot bubble bath and hanging out with the other socks and underwear. The little woman’s ankle crew sock was flirting with me again. I think she likes me. Hmmm. Ahem. Yes. Well, back to what’s happening here.

Our soaking lasted for a while, and then the scrubbing began. I’m sure I’ve got bruises where I never had bruises before. Ouch! Then the dryer. I wish I could just lay out in the sun, like my cousin a few streets down, just flapping in the breeze. But noooo, I have to tumble in the hot dryer getting dumped on top of and buried alive by the rest of the undergarments. It’s not as exciting as you might think. Believe me. The best part of the whole dryer thing, though, is when the lady forgets us down here. It doesn’t happen every time, but it’s nice once in a while. After all of the soaking, swashing of the water, the scrubbing, and the tumbling, it’s nice and relaxing to just lay low for a while and get to know the newcomers, if there are any, or catch up on some old friends and what kind of adventures they’ve had. It’s really quite refreshing.

The last thing I remember from my weekly ritual, after the dryer of course, was lying back in the basket wondering who my new partner would be. The guy I had last time was pretty easy to deal with, but the one before that was a real snob and major perfectionist. I couldn’t stand the guy. I was never straight enough for him, and I swear, the foot was doing on purpose too. It seemed like no matter how hard I tried to stay in line, the heal kept twisting and the toes kept bunching up. It was quite a chore trying to be perfect. Sniff.

I was just laying there waiting in the basket, chit chatting with whomever ended up nearby while we waited to be matched with another sock. I couldn’t help but daydream during this pairing-up time. I was imagining getting matched up with the cute girl from two weeks ago. I really felt we hit it off, yet she never called me like she said she would. Eventually, time moved on and no other sock like me was left. I was alone in the basket with a woman’s ankle sock and a boy’s tube sock. No man’s tube sock was left for me to pair up with, at least not in the basket.

I could see the guy from the other week sitting on the edge of the table. He didn’t look too good, for I could see a hole in his toe. Poor sucker. So much for being perfect. I wouldn’t want to be in his place right now. His only options are in the ragbag, which I heard is pure torture, or the trash, which is worse. I actually felt bad about how I had said about him expecting such perfection from me. However, I never found out what happened to him, because I ended up here, back in the hamper along with the woman’s ankle sock and boy’s tube sock. Perhaps next week I’ll get to be paired up. Until then…

Friday, May 29, 2009

Love Story


They had nothing to say to each other. Everything had already been said. She got up from the chair and walked out of the room. He sat there with his head in his hands trying to figure out what had just happened. How had they gotten to this point? Why had he said what he said and how long had she been feeling that way? Were things really that bad?

She was shaking as she walked out of the room. She didn’t look back, couldn’t look back. Doing so would be a sign of weakness, remorse, and regret. She couldn’t let him think that she was sorry for any of what she had said. She wasn’t. She had meant every word. Enough was enough and now there was no turning back.

He got up from the sofa and walked towards the window with his hands in his pockets and looked out into the street. The street lamps were on now. It had grown dark since it all began. How could the world go on when his was apparently coming to an abrupt halt? The lovebirds in the cage continued to chirp softly to each other and the cat was still curled on the chair in the corner napping soundlessly. Did they understand what was happening?

She walked into the kitchen and poured herself a drink. She sat on the barstool and looked at the uneaten supper on the stove. It’s been sitting there too long, for hours. She’d have to throw it out now. She turned to look out the kitchen window and saw a light go out at one of her neighbors. Could they hear them? Did they have any idea of what had been going on? What was their next step now?

He continued staring out the window and watched as the neighbor’s cat walked across the street. Probably looking for a mouse. He turned away from the window and walked across the room to look at the photos on the shelves. He picked up the one of them at the beach two years ago. Things were so different then. He eyes began to well up. How could things have changed so?
She finished her drink and placed the glass on the counter. Running her hand through her long hair, she gave a long sigh, got up and walked toward the hall. She passed by the living room where he was standing and saw him looking at the photo. She stopped and watched. He didn’t even notice. She continued to watch as he put the photo back on the shelf, his hand slightly shaking and wiped his eyes. Watching him made her heart well up and she gasped.

He heard a noise behind him and quickly turned around. She was standing there watching him. How long had she been there? He stood there frozen then felt compelled to go towards her. She made a move to walk away, but stopped. He walked towards her. Instead of taking off, she began to move towards him too. They met in the middle of the room, near the sofa and chair where it all took place, near the sleeping cat in the corner chair, near the softly chirping lovebirds and held each other.
“I’m sorry.”

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cancer Walk


Good afternoon folks.

I'm not usually one who likes to solicit things, however this one is very important to me. I'm doing a Relay for Life walk for the American Cancer Society. Our walk is on June 5, beginning in the evening and runs throughout the night into early Saturday morning. I'm doing this because cancer touches everyone, whether it's a family member or a friend.

If you'd like to learn more about the Relay for life, you can click on my link below to find out how you can donate to this important cause. You can even purchase a Luminaria for just $10 to light our path that night in honor of someone who is a survivor, or in memory of someone who fought bravely and lost their battle. Every little bit is appreciated.

http://main.acsevents.org/site/TRC/RelayForLife/RFLFY09NE?pg=abook&fr_id=16429

I thank everyone for taking time to read this message and consider it. Please don't hesitate to share this message with friends and family.

Also, I apologize for not staying current on my blog entries. Now that the nice weather is here, outside activities keep me out rather than in.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Forgotten Tooth

Remember when we were children and we'd loose our baby teeth? We'd put it in a tissue or something that would keep our precious tooth safe so the Tooth Fairy could come retrieve it and hopefully leave some money behind. I used to get anywhere from a quarter to $1.00, but never more than $1.00. How much did you use to get for your baby teeth? When Kenny was younger and began loosing his teeth, he got $5.00!! I couldn't believe it.

Yesterday, Kenny and Keri were rough housing, like we always tell them not to, and lo and behold, Kenny helped Keri loose yet another tooth. This is the third tooth in a row that comes out with Kenny's help. Granted, it was loose for quite a while and did need to come out. Well, Keri and I did the usual thing, we wrapped the tooth in a tissue and placed it under the pillow for the tooth fairy. By the time the boys went to bed, I was too exhausted to stay up until he was asleep, so I left a note for the Tooth Fairy (Hubby of course) to take care of it in the morning. Now, the problem that has arisen from all of this is not that Keri didn't get his money, but that the Tooth Fairy left the tooth behind!

Well, this morning, once the boys and I were all up and Hubby was off to work, Keri announces that the Tooth Fairy came and left him $5.00 and left the tooth behind. Keri plans on reusing his tooth tonight in hopes of getting more money. We'll have to handle this one right or Keri will loose his belief in the Tooth Fairy. We actually still have him believing in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause, and the Easter Bunny. Kenny, who just turned 12 and who occasionally questions the validity of these wondrous folks, can still be swayed by the possibility that they still do exist. I'll leave this for another posting.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Techno Geek


I love being known by our tech department in my district as someone who loves new techno gadgets! I occasionally get offered to try new programs or products throughout the year. In fact, just a little while ago, I was handed, while walking in the hallway, the tiniest little notebook that I have ever seen to try out. It's so small that it could fit in my purse! Granted, I have a pretty good size purse, but it's slightly larger than a book, but smaller than your standard-sized, loose-leaf notebook. It's amazing and so adorable!! I didn't hesitate to begin trying it out.

I'm amazed at how our technology has changed in the past 25 years! Back when I was in middle school, I remember my science teacher having a Tandy computer where programs were on cassettes that you would have to put in a player (or reader) in order to use it. They were the simpliest of games too. All Basic programing. When I was in high school, I remember taking a class on Basic. We made our own little programs and it was pretty cool, at least for the time. The only other computers that I remember us having in school were two Apple computers set up in the library with a barrier around the perimeter so people who weren't using it wouldn't crowd around, and one in the typing lab (yes, with real electric typewriters) with Microsoft Word on it. Back then, our computers were basically wordprocessors, not the advanced multimedia systems we have today. Twenty years ago, it was rare for a family to have one, now it's rare for a family to have only one.


When I started working at my old job as a legal secretary, they had one computer; a Leading Edge computer that only did word processing. I'll never forget when we finally were set up with real computers, I didn't know what to do with it. I had to take a class to learn how to use Windows and how to do the simplest duties, such as cut and paste. Now, there's little that I can't do, when I get a chance to sit down and work on a program or gadget. I guess I'm just a small example of our society. Not only has our technology evolved, but we have as well. We have adapted to our sorroundings well and learned the skills necessary to be successful. If becoming computer literate is a necessary skill, then we learn it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Student Reflections on Writing


I'm so pleased with the responses I received from my students! Like I explained in my last blog, I'm having my kiddos write short stories, but I'm allowing them to choose stories they've already started or begin new ones. I've also asked them to talk about their experiences. As a teacher I want the feedback, and as a student, I know it's important to reflect on what I'm doing. I've learned so much from my kids on their thought processes and what they're struggling with. What I think is positive about them doing this reflective activity is that they are given the opportunity to analyze their own writing and their peers get the opportunity to read what everyone else goes through. I've noticed my students reading the comments and have been hearing lots of "I didn't know that" and "I'm the same way".

Part of the activity was for them to discuss the writing process (brainstorming, drafting, peer conferencing, revision, editing, & publishing), what they liked or disliked about it. I was not surprised to learn that most of my students dislike peer conferencing. Considering that they've been practicing this skill since the first grade, I was mistakenly assuming that they had this skill down pact. However, some of their feedback tends to consist of "nothing's wrong", "everything's good", "nothing needs to be added or changed". These responses are not constructive at all! With less than a month left of school, I'll definately be focusing on helping them enhance this skill.

Not only has this reflection activity given my kids an opportunity to reflect on how they work, but it gives me a chance to reflect on my teaching, what I need to focus on, and where the weaknesses are. I guess this is where the "life-long-learner" part of being a teacher comes in. We're not just taking additional classes and workshops to update our skills and techniques, but we're constantly learning when it comes to our students as well.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Looking for Inspiration

Not only am I working to inspire myself to write, but I’m also trying to encourage my students as well. I've been having them work on short stories and have given them the choice to choose from pieces they've already started or to start something new. I provide them time in class to do this, which allows them the opportunity to peer conference with each other and teacher conference, too. What I also find is important is to create opportunities for them to reflect on their process as a writer, whether or not writing is something they enjoy.

I’ve recently provided them with a blog, in which I have asked two specific questions to help them reflect on their writing. The first was to ask them to explain their experiences while working on their short stories, then for them to talk about the pros and cons that they have regarding the writing process. What interested me most was that, although there are some students who struggle with story ideas, there was an overwhelming amount of students who found it easy to come up with a story. It didn’t matter whether they were writing fiction or nonfiction; the results were basically the same. What they liked least, which I expected, was the editing portion of the writing process. There were several who enjoyed the peer conferences, but I’m sure it was because they received positive and constructive feedback from their peers. There is one student who simply feels that his peers are unable to provide feedback that he can use, but I expected this from him, mainly because he’s announced it freely to me before several times in class.

This student, who so dislikes peer conferences, is the one who feels that no one in class can write better than he can. Perhaps he’s right. The fact that I’m trying to get him to understand is that even the best writers out there need some kind of feedback from their peers. It’s what a writer does with it that determines the kind of writer he or she is. Unfortunately, this young one can’t seem to see farther than his own words and completely shuts everyone out. I’m hoping that the little time I have left with him, he can understand that it’s okay to get feedback from others, and perhaps try some of the suggestions they may give. Not only that, but allowing his peers to constructively criticize his work, helps them to strengthen their skills as critiques as well; a symbiotic relationship, so to speak.

While reflecting on his concern of his peers not providing him with constructive criticism, I’ve come to realize what changes I need to make at the start of next year. Although these students have been taught how to do peer conferences since the first grade, many need the refresher course on how to do it effectively. How to provide feedback that peers can actually consider using is vital. Without proper structure, students will become frustrated and the writing process becomes a negative tool rather than a useable one. It’s obvious that this activity of students reflecting on their process of writing has become as useful for me as it has for them. I guess that's what being a teacher is all about. I'm continuously learning and evolving myself while I'm helping my students do the same.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

This week...

This week has been a short one at school. Monday, however, was aside from the usual. We had a memorial service for my grandmother. Because of our climate we had to put our loved ones in storage until the ground is soft enough to dig so we can bury them. My cousin Tonya (who passed away two days before my grandmother), her dad and her husband and nephew came up along with my aunt from Alaska. I took the day off because I wanted to spend time with them knowing that now that my grandparents are both passed, that I probably wouldn't see them again, at least not for a long time. I can't say I blame them. It's difficult and expensive to make such long trips. My cousin's husband and nephew drove 11 hours just for a 15 minute memorial service, then headed back. We have our own lives and our time is valuable. I know for me, I haven't been past Portland, Maine for over 20 years, when my ex and I drove to Connecticut to visit family on our honeymoon. In fact, the only times that I've been down to the southern part of Maine are for workshops and on my honeymoon with my husband to Bar Harbor, and that's it. I guess you could say my world consists of the Saint John Valley, and I love it! I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. The city life isn't for me.

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's Over!!!

Well, tonight my middle school students did their play. It was our only showing, which was probably for the best. The kids did a great job, in spite of the sound issues, some forgotten lines, and a few tears. They took it seriously and wanted so much to do well. In spite of the fact that there were some wrinkles, I'm so proud of them! I just wish that I could see them tomorrow. I won't be seeing them until Tuesday.

Our sound issues, we were suppose to have a couple of doorbell sounds and a gunshot sound. Well, for some reason, the sound system didn't play it over the speakers, although it worked perfectly this morning. So, here's my "Belinda" standing in the wings on the opposite side of the stage and trying to tell us to do her cue, and I'm trying to tell her that it's not working. One girl behind me yells, "ding dong!" and out comes Belinda in all her wonderful, glorious attitude. For a girl who was about to "freak out", as she so eloquently put it, she did a fantastic job. She remembered her lines and even helped others remember theirs, too. Anyhow, when it was time for the other sound effects, my kids were wonderful and jumped right in and made sure there were some. Got to love them!

All week I've been saying to my colleagues how there are 7 1/2 weeks left (yes there are for us), and now that I've had this opportunity to get close to these kids, I'm not so excited about it. I had a couple of eighth graders ask if I could let them still be in our middle school drama next year. I'm going to miss those kids. I'll still have this year's 6th and 7th graders next year, and a new crew coming in, but these 8th graders are special in their own way. When I first started teaching, they were in the 3rd grade and I would go in their classes to help Limited English Proficiency students. When they were in the 5th grade, I was going in their classes to work with a couple of students for English as a Second Language (ESL). Now, they've been in my class for almost the past 2 years for language arts and I've seen many of them grow and mature. Of course there are a few who need to mature further, but there are some gems in there just the same.

I guess my role as a teacher is very much the same as a parent. Our roles are to prepare them to eventually leave us. Something to think about.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sorry

Hey folks,

I've been negligent in my duties as a blogger. Sorry about not posting in a while, but life has been so busy! I haven't even touched base on Face Book in a while. I'm an adviser for the drama program in our middle school, and we have a performance at the end of the week. It's been quite a hectic week, and it's only Tuesday! We've been rehearsing on Saturdays all month, and have included last night and tonight. This means that I come home from school, do supper, throw in some laundry, and head back to school for 5:30ish until 8ish (I have about a 12-15 minute drive one way). We have one more rehearsal left, then our performance. I've never been an adviser for drama before, and man have I learned a lot this year! I'm hoping the kids do well during their performance. I'm actually loosing sleep over it!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Change in Weather

I have done more today alone that I have all week during my vacation. Now when I say done more, I mean outside, walking, and enjoying the sunshine. This week has been more rainy than sunny, and today we actually have hit the 60's! That's a difference of almost 30 degrees in one week! Tomorrow we're suppose to hit the 70's and I'm loving it!

I took Shelby and Hunter for a walk the other day, when it wasn't raining, and she was so cute and Hunter behaved so well. She loved the idea of having Hunter with her. She kept jumping around him putting her front paws on his back and hopping along side him. Normally, Hunter will pull me like there's no tomorrow. He's used to having his freedom, but when we go for walks, he's on a leash. However, this time, he behaved and didn't pull. It was as if he understood that he was her role model and needed to show her how to walk properly. It's amazing what animals understand that can't be verbalized.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Dog Who Cried Human

Once upon a time there was this little dog named Shelby. She wanted so much to prove her worth to her family by alerting them to all things concerned. She would bark to let them know that Hunter had roamed out of her reach or off the property. Whenever a bird, chipmunk, or even the human next door would appear in her sight, she would alert her family so they could do something about it. Sometimes they would, like call Hunter back, but other times they wouldn't for some reason or another she could never understand.

One day, Shelby was feeling a little too excited and for some reason felt that she need to test her family's reaction time, so she waited until her mom went down in the basement to do laundry.

"Growl! Bark! Bark! Bark!" exclaimed Shelby. Up the stairs her mom would run to see what was wrong.

"There's nothing out there, Shelby." Her mom said and went back down the stairs.

A few minutes would pass, "Growl! Bark! Bark! Bark! Growl!" exclaimed Shelby again. Back up the stairs ran her mom. Again there was nothing and back down the stairs she would go.

Shelby looked out the living room window again and saw the farmer across the road walking to his barn and began to alert her family. "Growl! Bark! Bark! Bark! Growl! Bark! Bark! Bark!" Nothing. Mom didn't come up the stairs. She decided to try again. "Growl! Bark! Bark! Bark! Growl!" Still no reaction. She began to get frantic. The farmer was moving across the street and her mom wasn't even coming to check it out. What could she do? Shelby was frantic. Finally, her mom came back up the stairs, but didn't come to check why Shelby was barking. Shelby looked back out the window. The farmer was gone!

Shelby learned a valuable lesson that morning. If you want to be believed you can't cry human if there's no human, because when there is one, no one will believe you.

True Story!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Something New...

I've always been interested in using computers, but have never been comfortable with blogging and networking sites like Facebook and Myspace. Well, one of my friends from work invited me to join Facebook, so I did. By the time the night was done I had found most of my classmates and my husband and I were sitting side by side searching for people we haven't seen in years. It was kind of fun. I've added some family members and friends from school as well as from work. Some who have moved away and lost track with and others who are still around, but lost track of too. Life gets so busy sometimes.

I've experienced something since I've been on Facebook. When I was in school, there was only a small group of my classmates that I hung out with, but never mingled with the rest. So, imagine my surprise when suddenly these classmates who I never hung out with, or ever socialized with, ever, started asking me to add them to my group of friends. It felt weird. As I'm considering each of them, I'm wondering why I'm doing it. Do I expect to develop a friendship that I never got back in school? Am I expecting to finally fit in to the social group that I was never a part of? There are some who I would consider acquaintances back then, but never close friends. Those people were easy to decide. But those who had snubbed me, I seriously considered my decision. But, I confirmed them anyhow and added them to my list. Perhaps friendships will blossom or they'll fizzle. Whatever comes out of it is okay with me.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Just Sharing...

My colleague sent this link to us www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/happinessproject/. It's called, "How to Be Happier: 10 Tips for Being a More Lighthearted Parent". I took a few minutes to read it when I got the email and thought, you know what, I need to slow down and take some of these things into consideration. Sometimes I find myself grumpy all the time, or if I'm not grumpy, getting there quickly. That's not the person I want to be. Later I'll read it more closely and try to consider how I could apply some of this in class with my students as well. With us in the last quarter, the students are getting spring fever and the last place they are mentally is in the classroom. To be honest, some of us teachers are feeling the same way too. Well, just some food for thought.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

When Did I get Here?

Did you ever stop at some point and ask yourself, "When did I get here?" The first time I experienced this was in the early 90's when my washing machine broke down and I had to use the laundry mat. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with using a laundry mat, in fact, it's quicker if you consider that you can do several loads at the same time, that is if it's not too busy. It's the inconvenience of not having it in your home that gets to me. Anyhow, here I am in my early twenties and excited about a household appliance, when not too long before I was excited about more personal, superficial items such as, clothing, jewelry, shoes, etc. I actually commented about how I couldn't believe that I was so excited about getting a washing machine. Go figure.

Slowly we get older, our expectations for happiness changes, and our priorities shift and what used to bring us happiness pales in comparison to what accomplishes that goal now. Taking care of ourselves changes too. Before I was just concerned about eating my three square meals, and snacks of course, but eventually I became more aware of what I was eating and how much I was moving around. Body consciousness came later for me. I only became concerned about my weight when I began gaining it. But we also have other issues to be concerned about, internal plumbing and such, if you know what I mean. At some point, what I ate became more of a concern for me the older I got.

Now today in class, my students were pulling out their snacks for our break time, and I pulled out what appeared to be a toaster pastry. It had chocolate frosting and chocolate cream inside, and boy did that grab their attention. They wanted to trade with me, but I kept turning them down. What they didn't know was that it was one of those fiber pastries. I'm trying to eat healthier snacks, so I choose something that will benefit me later on while I'm satisfying my chocolate fix now (ahem!). While talking with a colleague later on about it, we both began to laugh. That's when it occurred to me, "When did I get here?" I know I'm in my last months of my 30's, but when did I become my mother? (sorry mom)

Oh Wonderful!!

It was 5:00 this morning when I stepped outside to call Hunter, when a strange sound echoed through the dawn. Looking towards the bare aspen and birch trees, I stopped and listened quietly. Even Shelby stopped and seemed to listen. Echoing through the still dark sky of morning were the song birds. I couldn't even begin to name them all, although I know that there were robins in the group. The sound was beautiful! Just a diverse collection of music calling through the air, each song different, yet all harmonious together. It was such a pleasure to hear. It was a great way to begin my day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Sun!!!

We've had the sun for two days now and it's awesome!! We've had temperatures in the high 40's (yes, this is a good thing) and it's so motivating.

Yesterday, Hubby and I went out and purchased our seeds to start our garden plants. We bought those little greenhouses with the peat moss packets that swell when you add water, and started our seeds. We took the leaf out of our kitchen table and put a small table near the windows where they'll get the most sunlight. We planted both Roma and beefsteak tomatoes, Honeydew melon and pumpkins, and green and rainbow colored peppers, too. Ever since I learned last fall that I can freeze tomatoes, I've been so excited for this summer's harvest. I had found out after we had lost many of our tomatoes that I just had to wash the tomatoes and freeze them as is. I so enjoyed making soups with the fresh-frozen tomatoes I froze in the fall. They were so yummy! I also love chopping and slicing peppers and freezing them just like that so I can throw in sauces, chili, and on pizza. The only thing I don't know what do to do with is cucumbers. We're not big pickle eaters, so we just have to eat the cucumbers when we have them and share with our family and friends. Unless anyone has any ideas. (hint. hint.)

We're in zone 3, so we can't plant anything until June after the last frost. Last year Hubby and I invested in a greenhouse and we loved it! Our tomatoes and cucumbers grew like crazy! Our regular garden, however, didn't do so well. Our green beans were meager, our carrots were too snug in the dirt that I had to use a pitchfork to pry them out, and our corn didn't do well at all. The goats we had at the time enjoyed eating the tender stalks and they made great decorations. I also love fresh spinach, but last summer it didn't grow at all. In all fairness, though, many people in our area claimed to have meager harvests from their gardens too. Hopefully, things will go better this summer.

Hubby and I have this dream to be as self-sufficient as we possibly can. I feel so much satisfaction having a full freezer of veggies from our garden, fruit that I've picked, and meat that we've hunted. It certainly made things easier having all of that already available rather than having to go to the store and buy our supper, if you know what I mean. With the economy the way that it is, we have to do what we can to take care of ourselves as much as possible.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Costa Rica


A colleague of mine is going on a special trip from this coming Saturday until May 2nd. She's a biology, human anatomy, and chemistry teacher at my school, and she's been given an opportunity to visit Costa Rica as part of the 2009 Toyota International Teacher Program. She's so excited and we are for her, too. Wither her permission, here's the link to her blog if you're interested in learning more about the program and what she's going through. Good luck, Gisele!! We'll be keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Stuffed Piggy

I really hate to say this, but I feel just like a stuffed piggy. Seriously!! I've eaten two ham dinners, desserts, and have munched plenty in between. Normally, Easter is the end of Lent, which is suppose to be a period of giving something up, like sweets. However, I can't help but feel that tomorrow should be the beginning of a diet for me. I have probably eaten enough calories and fat to last me 3 days. No kidding!! I'm thinking salad for lunch the whole week.

Hubby and I went to eat lunch with my parents at a restaurant. The special consisted of ham, carrots and turnip mix, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, and for dessert, I had raisin pie, heated with whipped topping. mmmmm......good stuff. Then, for supper, Hubby and the boys and I went to his parents' to join the rest of the gang for supper. There we had ham with pineapples and cherries, a special carrot dish, mashed potatoes, potato salad, pickled beets, corn, green beans, cucumbers, and I'm sure there was something else I didn't take (no room in the plate) and then for dessert, my sister-in-law made cheesecake with two homemade toppings of strawberries and blueberries, and a peanutbutter cup dessert with icecream. I, of course, had to taste both. Talk about delicious!! Now I'm stuffed.

After our meal, my mother-in-law had the kids find the hidden eggs all over the house. We had fun giving the kids hints. She usually scolds us when we do that, but it's all in fun. The kids love it too. Then we give them their baskets of candy and goodies. Slowly these traditions will fade away as they get older. Before we know it, the kids will be in high school and won't be so interested in these rituals. That's if we can get them to leave their girlfriends or boyfriends behind and go with us.

So, how was everyone else's Easter, if you celebrate it? I know that not everyone recognizes and/or celebrates Easter, but for those who do, what do you usually eat? Who usually makes the meal? What kind of traditions do you usually have? It's always fun to learn what others do. Sometimes we can consider adding new traditions to our old ones.

Hope everyone had a happy and safe Easter!

What Writers Do?

I'm on my quest on how to best start writing. As mentioned in my profile, I teach language arts, so I teach my students the writing process, which consists of brainstorming, drafting, conferencing, revising, editing, and publishing. What I want to know is, is this what writers do when they are working on their pieces? Do authors actually sit down and brainstorm their ideas? Do they form webs or outlines to organize their ideas? I'm assuming that they follow the rest of the process, but it's the brainstorming that I'm curious about. Any ideas out there?


In an earlier post, I expressed frustration on how difficult it is to just sit and write. I do keep in my purse a small notebook with a pen that I intend on writing notes on, but I don't always take it out. In fact, I often forget it's there. I tend to come up with ideas when I'm in the car. However, it doesn't seem to matter if I'm driving or not, I can't write then because I get carsick easily if I try. So, I tend to forget what I want to jot down. I'll have to come up with other ways on how to keep track of my ideas. Any suggestions?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Writing is hard!

Writing is hard. I spend the day, periodically of course, thinking about what I could write about, I then sit with my laptop open before me pondering what I could write about again, yet I can’t seem to come up with anything that excites me. When I do get ideas, I’m usually in a situation that I can’t jot it down or begin writing, then when the moment arrives that I can write down a few lines to remind me for later, or when I sit before my laptop to write, my mind goes blank. Is it because my goal is larger than I’m ready for? Are my expectations too high? I can’t seem to figure out what it is that’s holding me back, but still I’m sitting here in the wee hours of the morning venting about it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

GPS With Attitude

Late Monday afternoon I was on my way back home from Portland. Now, I know how to get back home, but just out of curiosity, I set up the GPS my father-in-law lent me just to see which routes it would suggest. I had already planned to take the exit in Houlton because I'm more familiar with the road and it's less rural than Route 11, which is a truck route that travels through small towns, is very scenic, with lots and lots of woods. There's also more cell phone service throughout most of the route to Houlton, so I felt more comfortable taking that route alone, at night, with a car that has over 100,000 miles on it.

Well, when Tam Tam (as I'll call the GPS) suggested the first route, I passed right by it. Perhaps it was my imagination, but I could have sworn there was a tone when she said, "recalculating". Several miles down the road, Tam Tam suggested a second route. There seemed to be some excitement in her voice when it seemed like I was taking it, at least according to her map, but I also passed that one by. Then I heard that tone again when she said, "recalculating"; I know I did.

Eventually, the time came when Tam Tam made yet another suggestion for a route, and I again chose not to take it. This time I could swear that I heard attitude. Definitly a tone there. I just laughed and kept on going as Tam Tam continued to recalculate.

Finally, I arrived at my Houlton exit. Tam Tam decided to take one more try and suggest this route. I took it. I swear that I heard her say, "Finally!" under her breath as I took the exit and continued on the ramp. No kidding.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Relaxing Trip

Well, I'm sitting in a motel room six hours away from home, yet still in the state of Maine. To give you an idea how far north I live, I travel along the Northern Maine and Southern Canadian border every morning to get to work, and of course, back home. During the driest times of the summer, or when the ice on the river is solid enough, you could walk across to Canada. I wouldn't try it, though, that would be considered an illegal entry and you'd get in lots of trouble. Anyhow, in spite of the fact that I live in a beautiful area, we are far from the beaten path, so-to-speak, than if we lived along the I-95.

To get to Portland, which is where I am right now, I have to travel two hours, or 1-1/2 depending which route I take, to get to the Maine portion of the I-95. I then have to drive over 1-1/2 hours to get to Bangor, and another couple of hours to get to Portland. However, considering how long my drive was today, I had a relaxing and enjoyable trip. I left home around 7:30 this morning, which is late by my standards, and arrived in Bangor in time to have lunch with my sister. After an hour there, I headed on down to South Portland, and with the help of my father-in-law's GPS, found my motel the first time around. This is unlike the last time I came to the same motel when I ended up a few miles down the road from where I should have been, on a side road headed to God-knows-where. Only when I stopped and asked a safe-looking man in a parking lot of some industrial area where my motel was, did I eventually end up at the right place.

Anyhow, I found my motel before 3:30 PM and even had time for an hour nap. I've always enjoyed the pleasure of sitting alone in a restaurant reading, and I got to do that today. It was relaxing and exciting at the same time. I don't know how to explain it, but it was freeing being someone no one knows, in a city I've only been in perhaps 3 times before, and eating alone in a restaurant reading by myself, alone. It had a mysterious and romantic feel to it. Kind of like being a lone traveler in a foreign country.

I began reading Dewey by Vickie Myron and am already half way done the book. I love being able to just sit in a comfortable chair (a recliner at that!) and read. I can't remember the last time I stayed in a motel alone and just read. I brought nail polish and all my other nail equipment to give myself a pedicure and manicure, but have decided not to bother. I haven't turned the TV on since I've come back from supper. The only other time I turned it on was when I took a nap. Shopping doesn't even interest me (Perhaps I'm sick!). Instead, I've sat in my pj's, grabbed a soda, turned on the lamp, and read, and read, and read. Of course, now I'm not. I'm taking a little break and writing this post instead. I guess I'm trying to capture the moment of this peace.

Considering yesterday's posting about my now passed-on dog, Sandy, and having watched the movie, Marley & Me, this book is only setting me up for an emotional ending. I just know it. One of my students read the book for a book project for my class, and she loved it. She also, accidentally, told me the ending, too. I won't do that to you. All I'll say is it's a page-turner and heartwarming.

As enjoyable as today was, tomorrow may be different. My reason for this trip is a workshop, which I'm looking forward to. However, the 6-hour long ride home, almost non-stop, will be not as relaxing. My workshop ends around 3 PM, which means that, with minimal stops, I should be getting home around 9 tomorrow night, then getting ready for school on Tuesday. I'm exhausting myself already!