Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A nice little visit

Earlier today, I stopped by the paint store to look for color chips to decide what to do to perk up my classroom (it's in good condition, but dingy and depressing).

While I was there, I ran into my cousin's new hubby and he made a point of telling me how much that their daughters LOVED the afghans that I made them for Christmas. That made me feel so very good.

So, that's the final happy memory of 2008--the success of my crafty gifts.

Happy Birthday Bev!

I'd bet you'd never expect to have your birthday greeting for the world to see!
Love ya girl~!

P.S. You're officially older than me again!

Say Goodbye to 2008

Wow! 2008 is nearly over and since the last week or so has gone by in such a blur, I am amazed at how quickly the last few weeks have gone by.

It's been a year of changes for us. New school building. Dislocated knees. More Asthma issues. Lots of fun and laughter, too. A good year over all, but really difficult in these last few weeks.

As we say goodbye to 2008, I hope that everyone who reads this is surrounded by God's blessings as we progress into 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Orthopedist Appointment

Well, other than it taking an hour and a half of waiting with an impatient and anxious Aspie child, the Orthopedist visit was a success! The doctor said that it was healing nicely and took DS12 off of the walker and is allowing him to walk un-aided as long as he is wearing his leg brace.

He is pleased and so am I! We were having a terrible time keeping the brace in the proper position and the nurse told us that we can put it on under his clothing (instead of on top like the ER nurse said we had to do). She said that it should slip around a whole lot less, so I am happy about that.

In three weeks, we go back to the doctor to see what the next step will be...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Back to the doctor today

Well, I went back to the doctor's office today because my cough had come back and I was feeling worse and worse. Turns out, I have bacterial bronchitis and it has come back on me after the first antibiotic wasn't strong enough.

I have a new, higher powered antibiotic now and some cough medicine that should, officially, knock me on my butt.

On the bright side, my friend's mother had surgery this morning for colon cancer and she came through with flying colors! We are delighted about that. God is so good.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

More Hand Warmers...


Love these things! It's so wonderful to make a smaller item that can be finished without pouring weeks of my life into it. This one is a burnished orange with pale blue and fuschia. All yarn is from the Vanna White yarn (bought on sale, of course) by Lion Brand.

Some Christmas Photos

The grandparents had a good time with the kiddos.
My boys!
DS12 had a rough time getting around.

What can I say? Despite all of the problems and challenges of the past few days, we had a lovely family Christmas celebration. Perhaps it was the simplicity that helped us to make it more meaningful.

One last gift...

Since I am spending my days watching over my poor son who is hobbled, I was playing a bit with yarn. On another blog that I contribute to from time to time, the no end in sight ripple along, there was a really cute pair of hand and wrist warmers made with a simple ripple pattern.

The ripple is placed such that it perfectly fits the palm of the hand, rising where the palm rises, and falling off toward the thumb and pinky. After making so many blankets this year, I thought it might be fun to do something small and easy to finish. So, I pulled out some odd lots of yarn and started work.

The results? A striped pair for my mother who has arthritis in her hands. I have ulterior motives as I adore the embroidered pillow cases she gave me for Christmas (that I begged her to make for me for two years) and I want her to be able to work comfortably as long as possible. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take a picture of those. When I get one, I will post it.

When I made them, hubby decided that they would be lovely to have while birdwatching to keep his hands warm while leaving fingers free to work the ever-present binoculars. So, I pulled out (and detangled--ugh) a partial skein of old camouflage yarn (less manly than my pretty stripes) and the results were these:

Saturday, December 27, 2008

How long does it take to cook a Christmas turkey?

Well, at our house, it can take all dang day! This is especially true when hubby (who is an excellent cook) decides to smoke his brined turkey on the grill. This set-up has worked really well for us in the past, but apparently, right after he gets it all running well and returns inside, runs out of gas.

At least he caught it in time to throw it in the oven. Our Christmas lunch was running late, but it was delicious when we finally did get to eat it.

Life is nothing if not an adventure around here! Lesson learned: Keep a spare canister of LP gas on hand, even if buying one is initially kind of pricey.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas humor

After a long evening at the ER, we went home and slept in, etc. and began the task of teaching DS12 how to function with only one usable leg. No easy task for an Aspie, I can assure you. He lacks the instinctual understanding of how to compensate for an injury, etc. He must learn everything by rote. Plus, once he knows it by rote, that's it. You can't change the rules. If he ever injures the other leg, he will have to start over from square one. The only good thing is that he will remember that it is do-able and it may help him to have a more positive outlook as we figure things out.

But, I digress. It is the day of Christmas Eve and I get a call from the carpet installer, telling me that he is INSIDE the house and fixing the carpet. I didn't drop off a key with the shop, so this was a little bizarre. Apparently, he entered by using a credit card on the back lock. He did later tell me that we had a really good deadbolt on the front. Now, doesn't that make you feel all warm and squishy about life?

So, I ask my Dad to come and sit with the injured child while I run over to pay this guy. I get there and pull up in the driveway behind an old van with a bumper sticker that said, "Horn Broke; Watch for Finger." Somehow, it fit the entire situation. I needed the chuckle that it evoked. Thought I would share some of the workings of my twisted life.

An Updated Christmas

Now, apparently, we have picked up a bug from somewhere and we are all feverish, achy, headachy, congested, and tight in the chest. Loads of fun!

After all of the festivities, I think I will go crash in bed for awhile. I would wonder if we picked up the bug in the hospital ER, but even DS10 has it and he went to see a friend instead of going with us to deal with the trauma. So, who knows where it came from.

But, it has been stressful with the holidays and the injury, so maybe it just is the result of trying to do too much. Time to slow down, perhaps?

Maybe I should amend my Christmas wishes to include a time of sanity and peace for all families!

Merry Christmas (will wonders never cease)

The last couple of days around here have been a crazy whirlwind!

On the evening of the 23rd, DS12 dislocated his knee, which is terribly painful. We spent a few hours in the emergency room with him. It's not easy to move a 206 lb, 5'7" 12 year old who doesn't want to be moved. Whew!

Plus, in true aspie fashion, my little darling is screaming bloody murder, threatening those of us who are trying to help, etc.

So, for Christmas Eve, my guy is forced to lay with a brace that holds his knee immobile. He isn't coordinated enough to use crutches and he can barely use a walker. He has sat and cried and cried. It's been really tough.

But, for the most part, they are happy campers this morning and playing together. The new gifts are a welcome respite from the boredom that ensued yesterday.

Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A blessing

I went today to arrange for the carpet to be replaced in the bedroom of the rental house. It was an expense that we really didn't need, but felt like it had to be done since the prior renters cut a large hole out of the carpet, right in the traffic pattern.

As it turned out, the carpet guy is going to pull out the carpet in the closet and patch the hole. We'll put a new remnant into the closet. It's going to cost just a small amount of what we thought we'd have to pay and that is a big blessing!

We're grateful to get the house rented to such a nice lady, but we also don't have much money to put into getting it ready right now.

The final gift!

Well, here it is, the final gift! The colors don't show up really well, but the blocks are turquoise blue and soft medium brown. The borders are dark, chocolate brown. It measures out at 36 inches by 56 inches. Now, all of the girls in the family will get their own afghan.

It was truly a labor of love, but a labor nonetheless.

Progress on the rental house

Hubby took DS10 to change the locks on the rental house yesterday before he took him Christmas shopping. So, that much is done. I have to go to see about having the carpeting replaced in the bedroom before our renter moves in. Then, it's all over but the installation.

Keeping on...

Well, we have cleaned, steam cleaned, scrubbed, and dusted and slowly the school is starting to look like a happy place. My classroom is almost set, we have only a few things to take care of before it will be ship shape. I will go by and do some measuring today and then we'll go back after Christmas to finish up.

A professional painter will start on the hallways today. That will freshen things up quite a bit.

On the home front, I am nearly finished with the last afghan, I will complete the single crochet edging around the edge to give it some firmness to the shape later this evening. Then I can deliver those gifts.

The worst of the stuff that is left is that I really, truly need to scrub this house out again. It has suffered while I have been cleaning at school. Plus, when I get home, I am exhausted and sore, so all I really do is go straight to bed. But, the worst of it is over, so hopefully, I can make some progress on the home front before I go back!

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be here, so, unless I trade off Christmas Eve to my mom and dad, I will be a very tired puppy come Friday morning!

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's moving time!

School is out for Christmas break and we are using the time to get moved into our new school building. It's been hard work! We've cleaned and cleaned and cleaned (did I mention that the building needed lots of cleaning?). But, it is beginning to look loads better. I just wish that the building didn't smell so musty and damp.

Hubby brought home some cleaners from work that if misted finely enough, can get into the carpets and kill mold, mildew, etc. and other sources of stink. We sprayed the fool out of classrooms, hallways, etc. tonight. It is hard to tell how much of an effect it has because my clothing smelled so much like "the funk" as we have taken to calling it, that I couldn't smell anything else. But, it takes time to let the cleaner do its work and kill the germs, so maybe we will be able to tell a difference by tomorrow.

I hope so.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The kitty saga continues...

Delilah, the mini kitty, is still utterly delighted with the Christmas tree that we put up just for her. She enjoys batting the ornaments off the tree and carrying them around in her mouth to deposit in various places around the house.

Ah, the joy of Christmas, the chasing the cat to retrieve the ornaments and the special thrill of redecorating the bottom half of the tree on a daily basis. Gotta love that!

Rental House

This morning, we showed our rental house and, Praise God, it finally is rented. We didn't get as much for it as we usually do, but our expenses are covered and that is a blessing indeed! Our new renter is a really sweet lady with three kids that will be moving in January 1st!

We do have a bit of work that we will have to do before she moves in like change out the lock sets, etc, but nothing too horrible.

It's a load off of my mind to know that this is an expense that won't follow us into the new year.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Spirit of Giving

Each week, our school has chapel. It's a time to try and impress upon the students the need to praise and worship God. It's a good thing and it has had a positive impact on many of our students.

We have a parent volunteer (he is also a part-time pastor) who comes in and organizes and holds our chapel services for us. His name is Bubba and he does an awesome job and is very accessible to our kids. He starts each service off with a silly game to get folks revved up and then he relates the game to something that he wants the kids to think about. Then we have music, a speaker, etc.

Last week, he challenged our students to bring sock hats, gloves, and scarves for local people who have fallen on hard times and are forced to live in our area homeless shelter. I reminded students all week long (as I am sure that other teachers did). Today was the day we found out if the kids cared to participate. I brought in a bag from our family with gift bags, several hats and gloves. Apparently, many of the students were touched to participate and we had around 150 items donated. Since some kids forgot their items, we are continuing the drive until next Thursday, the last day before the break.

I am so glad that the kids are getting into the spirit of giving. It's the real meaning of Christmas. Plus, it's even better that they are doing something selfless. They won't see the faces of the people who receive these gifts (except for a couple of kids that will help to deliver them) and they won't get any undue attention for doing it. It's not for show. These kids are learning what real giving is all about. I'm proud that I work somewhere where we can teach these kids not just to help others, but to emulate Christ while they are doing it.

Frugal Shoe Repair

Yep. Apparently, we have lost our minds at our house! This picture probably proves it. In my opinion, this is the best of our frugality lately.

DS12 scuffs his feet when he walks (part of the Aspie gait--drives hubby nuts, but that's another story) and he managed to wear out his shoes so that the heel rubber is loose and flaps and flops around. These are cheap-o shoes ($6) that we bought for him to go on a field trip where he would be mucking around in a swampy area. We had no idea that he would like these shoes and insist that they be made wearable again. The up side to that is that his really nice black tennies are staying really good looking for church, etc.

So, hubby breaks out the ever-present Shoe Goo and proceeds to apply it to the affected areas to repair the shoes. But, the heel rounds up a bit and we can't find a way to secure the rubber in place while the Goo dries. Finally, hubby sits the shoes on pieces of tin foil (so Goo won't get on floor) and places a stool leg in each shoe to hold the shoes in place, but the rubber sole at the heel wasn't really secure. So, hubby takes my dust pan, turns it over and wedges the toes of the shoes up on it, effectively rocking the shoes back on their heels, thus holding the rubber sole in place. It was frugal genius!

Attack of the mini kitty!

Many, many moons ago, hubby and I learned that cats love, love, love to climb in real Christmas trees. We ended up having to tie ours to the wall to keep the cat from knocking it over. That was the year we added tinkling bells to our tree to warn us what she was up to. So, we switched to an artificial tree that we will use until it absolutely falls apart. Our cats have never climbed the artificial trees.
Well, they didn't until now... Delilah, the micro-kitty, (full grown, but tiny) has decided that this cheap-o artificial tree just absolutely needs a feline ornament! During our tree set up, we had to repeatedly pull her out of the tree so we could decorate it.

Oh well, I guess it just isn't Christmas without a kitty vaulting into the tree!

Countdown to Christmas

Seems like Christmas is coming up quickly this year. I have completed most of the crafty type items that I was making for gifts this year, so that is at least done. I am really excited about the afghans that I made for my nieces. I hope that they really like them.This one is for my 11 year old neice. She is very into the brown and blues color scheme.

This one is for my 7 year old niece. She is a girly-girl and ALL about the bling! Notice the fun fur mixed into it.

The last thing I have left is to make up and can some cranberry-pear conserve to add to gift baskets if I can squeeze it in. Love that stuff and it is absolutely gorgeous shiny red in color. Perfect for Christmas.

My cousin got married recently and has a new step-daughter, a really nice and sweet kid. I am trying to see if I can work up something fairly quickly for her, so all of the girls will get an afghan. I just wish I had known sooner to start work on it! Maybe I can come up with something nice. I am making large granny squares with unconventional color arrangements, hoping to come up with something modern and cool. I don't know her favorite colors yet, so I am hoping to get lucky!

Our decorating has been incredibly modest this year. We put up our little tree and the boys were really into helping with it this year. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed it more this year for some reason.Took the kids for their annual physical last Friday. Other than DS12 had to get 3 shots and had a hard time swallowing that, all was well and both boys are healthy. DS10 has asthma under control for now and took his one shot well (he was likely grateful to not have to get 3!). DS12 is now 5 feet 7 inches tall! Yikes! He's my big ol' boy. The pediatrician laughs that he was never actually on the typical growth chart, his growth curve hovering consistently way above the norm. DS10 is the opposite. 25th percentile for height, 10th percentile for weight. That never changes with him! It's funny sometimes how the kids can be so different, yet alike in so many ways. It's a hoot!

All packed up and no place to go...yet!

Well, I find myself all packed and chomping at the bit to see my new classroom. I can't wait to put my own personal stamp on it and do all of the fun teacher-y stuff that comes with a new setup. I have been assured that the classrooms are significantly larger than what we have now, so that's a blessing!

I am worse than a kid waiting for Christmas--I just can't wait to move!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Packing Begins...

New beginnings always generate such excitement and our school's move to new digs is no different. We are all buzzing with energy and excitement to see inside our new building and get our room assignments.

Today, most of us teachers began the task of packing up our rooms in earnest. Of course, we are not taking anything that we will truly need before the break, but the vast majority of things that we use can be packed away for transport to their new homes.

I was amazed how quickly I am getting my room packed up with all of this excitement and energy. It's such a great vibe around the hallways. So, in very little time, I was able to get my room half way packed and still teach my classes. But, boy howdy, did my shoulders and arms ache when I stopped! Those boxes of textbooks are HEAVY! I didn't have to move them very far at all, but I did take them a few feet away in order to stack them neatly.

With any luck at all, I will finish up the packing tomorrow and then the bigger boys can carry the boxes down to storage until they are trucked over to the new building.

The hard part will be waiting through the final days before we can leave!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Another week down...

And two more to go until Christmas break from school. We are getting a nice, long break this year and I have every intention of enjoying it!

It appears that we may be changing locations at our school over the break and the long break will be lovely in that we can do the hard work and still have family time. Family time is actually one of the reasons that this job works so well for us. I can work when my family is occupied with school and/or work and I am available to spend time with them when they are available also. Plus, Fridays are a great day to catch up so that the weekend runs smoother.

So, we are looking forward to the holidays and sitting of an evening, looking at our lovely Charlie Brown Christmas tree. It's definitely not anything that would grace the cover of a magazine, but it's filled with precious memories and homemade ornaments from the kiddos and it makes me feel all warm inside.

We've pared down our decorating so that it isn't cumbersome this year. No huge outdoor light scenes, etc. It was easy to put together and won't be a mess to pack back up. We're sticking to the essentials this year and so far, we've been the happier for it.

I have always been drawn to the idea of living more simply, but I have a way of over-thinking things and making them more complicated! But, this year, it seems like right in the middle of the Christmas season, I have accidentally wandered into a nice, simple solution. I like the way it feels. Now, the question is, can I bring this calmness into other areas of my life?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Shopping

After being talked into going to Tanger Mall (an outdoor strip mall type place, not a real, indoors mall) in the freezing cold at midnight on Thanksgiving Day with a bum foot and a bad cough, I have actually completed the vast majority of my shopping. I didn't know how it would go, but I had a really good time and enjoyed the company of a friend and my brother.

Granted, like everyone else, we are having to cut back this year (even though our typical holidays look scaled back from what I see around me) so I was looking for a few really good sales to help provide the filler items for my boys.

Most of the stores were running wonderful sales, 50% off, and the like. I did pick up some nice clothes with "labels" that weren't any more expensive (maybe a little less so) than if I had picked them up on sale at Wally World, so that was good. I even came in under my budgeted amount, although I was picky in order to achieve that.

I had already shopped for many of our items back in October when our local "Sock Shoppe," which is a Griffin, GA icon, had a warehouse sale. I got really good quality pot holders, dish towels, etc. to put in food baskets for most of my family gifts. I'll fill in around with pear preserves and pear butter that I made with free pears earlier this year. I also have cranberries and more pears put aside for a lovely cranberry relish that always gets raves.

I will likely give a jar of preserves to my kids' teachers also.

For our parents, I got a great deal on a gown for my mom (and hubby's aunt) and fleece lounge pants that feel heavenly for both fathers. With so many of us cutting the heat back, they should feel really cozy.

Hubby finally told me what he would like, a cd collection of bird songs that he can download into an mp3 player for when he is out birdwatching. So, that will be easy enough.

Now, there is a book I would like to get my Dad and some slippers for my Mom, but that is it for the adults.

I only have to find something for each of the boys that says, "Wow!" I also need a good gift for my brother (20 and in college).

All in all, a frugal season for us. I feel accomplished and we're incurring no debt whatsoever. I'm feeling "merrier" already!

Bronchitis, PANDAS, and Neuromas, Oh My!

Who said that only good things come in threes? Certainly not anyone in our family. Since Thanksgiving Day, I have been diagnosed with bronchitis and a bacterial infection in addition to the neuroma crap that is a day to day aggravation.

DS12 has a flare up of PANDAS (strep antibodies attacking part of his brain) and is major, hyper-emotional right now. We're waiting for the doctor to call in heavy duty antibiotics to help lower his antibody levels. So, we're lots of fun lately.

Actually, the doctor gave me a different decongestant/cough medicine that is working really well. The only real problem is that it absolutely knocks me on my backside. I could sit around all day with crossed eyes, giggling at any and everything. Unfortunately, although my students would truly enjoy it, such behavior is frowned upon by high school teachers. Go figure.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Send this eCard !
Thought this little cutie pie kind of wrapped up my sentiments for everyone this year. Open it up and enjoy.

And have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Foot woes

After being on my feet on Saturday, I spent Sunday and Monday cleaning fiendishly (muhahaha) around my own abode, which sorely needed the attention. I haven't been able to do very much at all since I developed my Morton's neuroma.

So, I have cleaned, scrubbed, cleaned, polished, cleaned, did I say cleaned?

Plus, my friend Karen is coming by on Tuesday to visit while on her way to Orlando to see family for Thanksgiving and I don't want her and her beautiful daughters to see my house the way it really is most days :-)

But, being on my feet has been difficult. I am up in the wee hours because my foot hurt so badly that I had to resort to taking a Vicodin to get the pain to let up (this was left over from when I broke my foot this last time). That helped quite a bit, but makes my stomach burn so that I can't lay down and sleep. Ugh.

Looks like I am eventually surgery bound. I just have to wait and see what will happen with the possibility of a school move. If we move over Christmas, surgery might not be a good idea then. We'll just have to see.

Youth for Truth...

Okay, it has honestly taken me a while to recover from the Youth Night Rally. Whew!

We met at 8:30 am to clean the gym which smelled, honestly, like a mixture of dirty rear ends mixed with old sweat socks. When I left at 1 pm for lunch and a break for my foot, it smelled pretty darn good.

Hubby got all of the rust out the toilets. I thought grown women would cry over that one as many have tried.... They just don't have access to the heavy duty industrial cleaners that hubby has. He also brought fragrance to spray around the gym which helped a great deal.

We returned at 4 pm and set up our t-shirt booth. We had a good crowd and everyone was in a great mood, ready to praise and worship! The music was absolutely delightful and energetic and Shep's preaching, as always, was Godly and wonderful. The best part was the positive response at the end of the evening.

We left exhausted and edified. I wish we had sold more t-shirts, but I think that a few more will sell when we return to school, plus we may list them on ebay. I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Feast Day

Well, tomorrow is the final day for our classes prior to Thanksgiving break. The elementary classes are all planning pageants, plays, awards, and feasting. It's a fun, party day for them and because the focus is on the harvest and Thanksgiving, it's a learning time, too, with lots of American history and agricultural focus.

We are taking the 9th graders (who often get left out of other outings) to lunch to celebrate the holiday. They will enjoy it and it is a nice change of pace for us teachers who never leave for lunch.

So, the food is being prepared, Daddy and Grandparents are coming to participate, the pilgrim costume and essay is complete for DS10 and DS12 is ready to eat!

Life is good...

Another craft project

This is, admittedly, a lousy picture of one of my craft projects that I did with my kids. I used a frame from Dollar Tree (where everything is $1). It was a shadow box with a metal charm in the center. I pulled that stuff out (and saved the charm for future projects) and re-used the frame. It is about 6 inches square and a nice, satin black finish.

Inside I put a piece of scrapbook paper in soft blue with a nice pattern. In the center, I affixed (with foam tape) a sand dollar that we found (already dead) during our vacation last summer. We bleached and strengthened the sand dollar ourselves.

The boys gave this to our Headmaster, who has her office decorated in a beach theme. She loved it and it probably cost me, all total, less than $1.50. That's pretty cool in my book.

We made 4 more and they are hanging in the boy's bathroom as a grouping, 2 on either side of each window. The background of these are a green color.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A few fiber crafts...

I recently found the cord that allows me to download photos to the computer, so I thought I would catch everyone up on some crochet projects that I have been working on.This is my first attempt at a round ripple afghan. I made it for a co-worker's first baby, a little girl. It is baby pink in the middle with a round of multicolor baby print, and edged in white. I was able to make this one completely with left over yarns from other projects.

It seems like we have had loads of babies lately! Over the last 6 months or so, I have made blankets for 2 baby boys and 2 baby girls. The fifth one went to a friend to give to a friend of hers who didn't know the gender of the baby. It's almost more fun to pray over the quilt and give it away, not knowing what baby is cuddled in it! This pattern is called "Bubbles" and it was a freebie from the internet. It doesn't take a whole lot of yarn and since you hold two yarns together it works up really fast! Plus, you can mix up different yarns to get different looks. I especially like a solid (like white) with a baby print. It looks almost sparkly that way.
This is for the first child (due in February) of our school secretary, who is a wonderful lady. It is linen white, espresso brown, turquoise, and spring green to match their nursery. It's a very sophisticated color scheme. Of course, with two boys, I am starved to work with pink, but I think this turned out nicely. I got the yarn when Michael's was having a 50% off sale on yarn. Plus, I wanted soft, but didn't go for the most expensive stuff.

This is my kitty getting ready to nap in front of the bright, technicolored giant granny blanket that I made for my niece Gracie. She will receive it on Christmas Eve. All the yarn for this one was from Dollar Tree--great deal for fancy yarn.
This is the ripple afghan that I have started for my eldest niece, Janice. It is her favorite colors, turquoise, medium brown, and a dark coffee brown. It's turning out nicely, but it needs to keep on growing!!! This is probably the last thing I will try to get finished by Christmas and any other projects will be gravy. I did purchase yarn for this, but it is the new Eco-Soft by Caron. It's very soft, works up like a dream, is inexpensive at my local Wally World, and recycles soft drink bottles--now how cool is that?
So much yarn (seriously, crammed all over my house), so many patterns, so much inspiration, and so little time. Sigh.
But, stash yarn isn't cutting out of my budget right now! Can you say "frugal?"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's official!!!

My kiddos rock! I am so proud of my kids--they both placed in our school science fair. They worked hard on their projects (and did them themselves) and gave a great presentation.

This is DS10 with his project. Note the critter keepers in front with our toad test subjects. He hypothesized that toad respiration would change with the temperature in the water that they were in at the time. He was right!

This is DS12 with his project. He hypothesized that since he knew the components of a battery, that he could substitute a lemon for the acid paste and the battery would still work. He did it all himself and gave the presentation. Remember, this is my aspie and this was WAY harder for him than for the other kids his age. He placed, get this, 2nd place in the entire 7th grade, not just among the special ed students!!! I am one very proud mama! He has come such a long way!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Science Fair and other methods of parental torture...

Well, it's here. Middle School Science Fair.

How can something so innocuous be disastrous in its very existence? The display boards, the markers, the lost, crumpled, and mangled charts and notes--the bloomin' TOADS in my house for goodness sake. Ugh!

All entries are due in by Wednesday. Fruit batteries and toad respiration projects, anyone?

I will post pics when I can (lost the cord to my camera--oops).

Helping with school projects is a true test of parental love and devotion.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Local School Board

The private school that I work for is looking for a new location. We are cramped in a too small facility and are paying high rent. There is an abandoned school building that we may be able to lease for less money than we are currently paying. Plus, we'll have more room. No more kids in trailers. No more having to schedule 5 or more lunches because we can't squeeze any more kids in the lunchroom at one time. A library with room for books appropriate for middle and high school. We have a library, but it is so small that it houses encyclopedias and elementary school books.

Sadly, we have loads of great books for middle and high school, but no where to house them except at our headmaster's home. It's a shame.

The local school board is going on a retreat this upcoming week and will vote on November 11th. I hope and pray that we can do this. I have already sent my letter to the board asking them to consider this. The school has sent out a letter asking for support from our parents who live in Spalding County.

If you live in Spalding County, Georgia, please contact your school board representative and encourage them to vote FOR Faith Christian Academy to lease the building on Flynt Street. Let me know if you need the contact information. Also, even if you don't live in the area, please pray for us. Thanks

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Presidential Reflections

Okay, I tend not to blog heavily about political issues. Honestly, I assumed when I put the word "Christian" in my heading that people would have a general idea how I feel about many issues, including some very controversial ones like abortion. My parents are adoptive parents (they adopted my brother) and I am an adoptive parent as well. I truly believe that all children can have loving homes if given an opportunity and not killed. I vote my beliefs and my beliefs are in line with holy scripture. Period. God expects no less from his followers.

I pray for our nation's leaders and over our nation's elections. I pray for God's protection for our country and it's brave men and women serving in the Armed Services. I realize that God hears the prayers of the righteous, but does not always answer us in the ways we would choose, often for our own good.

Tonight, watching the election results was like staring at a train wreck. I didn't like what I saw, but I couldn't pull myself away. For me, it's not a racial thing; my family is very multi-racial in composition and I love it that way. But, I have to remember that sometimes God's will reflects larger issues, like calling a nation to repentance.

Tonight, we have entered a historic era with a historic President-elect who is racially different from all previous Presidents before him. I will pray for him as I have prayed for all the others.

Sometimes, we don't get what we ask for, but we get what we deserve.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Okay, this entry is a day late, but yesterday, my parents celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary. They went out to dinner after church to celebrate.

Mom says she is getting Dad a "hard pillow" and some socks. I guess there is no pretense after 45 years :-) When I asked her if she was going to do something major since it was 45 years, after all and she laughed and said, "why?"

Gotta love those practical parents!

Sick kid

DS12 succumbed to the stress of the field trip (and falling face first into really cold ocean water) and has a massive cold. I kept him home today to force him into resting and irrigating his nose several times to try and force out the worst of it. I am not willing to sit back and passively watch him set up a sinus infection and go through months of trying to clear it up again. And, don't even mention surgery! Ugh!

So, we had a very low key day today with kiddo mad at me most of the time for making him rest and drink cinnamon tea (like that is really torture!) and irrigate his nose. Nice to know that I am creating the memories that will put him into a lifetime of therapy (if you believe him).

It's amazing how far he has come in so many ways, but the autism really shows it's face when he is sick. There is no filter when he is feeling unwell.

We'll see what tomorrow will bring.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

They're home!

As much as I enjoyed a little adult time, I am so glad that my family made it home safely on Friday. They were strung out, overwhelmed, a little sleep deprived, and talking ten miles per minute. In other words, the trip was "way cool, Mom."

I have laughed at DS10s rendition of the "fish song." He made a video of it with Grandpa John, so maybe I can post it sometime. Too cute

Dorsal, pectoral, pelvic, caudal--pelvic caudal
(imagine skinny kid wiggling his fanny frantically at this point).

Saturday, we took more photos for seniors at our school. So far, they are all coming out wonderfully. Next week we are scheduled for the end of them--including personality shots of a goth kid in a graveyard, but, hey--it's his personality!

Today, hubby took engagement pics of a gorgeous couple who are so happy.

Sigh. Life is good.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A quiet house...

On Wednesday morning, my lovely boys and brave hubby left on a 2 night, 3 day field trip to explore marsh ecology on Tybee Island near Savannah, Georgia. They were so excited in the days leading up to the trip that they were really getting hard to deal with!

But, while I am so very glad that they are having a wonderful time and learning bunches, I have really enjoyed having 2 evenings to chill in a quiet house after work.

Don't get me wrong, I adore my family and I wouldn't want them to be gone for very long, but being propped up on the couch with a chick flick (that I might not watch if the kids were home) and my crocheting has felt really relaxing. I have the blanket for the baby shower this weekend about half way completed.

The only downside is that since I am driving hubby's truck while he is gone, I am having to use the clutch with my sore foot. It's really rough in the morning when it is so cold. By the time I get home, my foot is achy. But, it's more of an excuse to stay in my home where I am happy.

Tomorrow evening, my family comes home and I will have a little Halloween bash waiting for them with some pizza and candy. Life is good.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Das Boot!

Day one without wearing the boot (it stayed in the car, just in case). I survived and my foot really wasn't much more sore than it would have been just from wearing the boot. For now, stairs really are the enemy and I am being very wary of them.

I am wearing toe separators for a little while of an evening so that it will encourage the bones in my foot to be less cramped together. That is at least a contributing factor to my Morton's neuroma.

Anyway, all in all, I call it a success. I laughed with my classes that it's amazing the difference a single letter can make: SHOES sounds so much better than shoe! To me, at least :-)

In other news, finished my first crocheted pair of socks. Working on a last minute baby gift for a girl in this amazing glut of little boy gifts. Got my kids new eyeglasses (much needed).

Taking senior pics has been fun so far. We'll do more location shoots this upcoming weekend.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Orthopedic shoes and crocheted socks

Why are most orthopedic shoes so stinkin' ugly???

I don't mean the entry level ones with a little extra depth and a low-ish heel. I mean the serious, extra wide, double depth, super supportive ones that those of us wear who have serious feet issues. Geesh! I never really liked the look of Birkenstocks (rather wear flip flops--another no no) but it appears that my options are limited to Birky look alikes and lace up, clunky, major motion control sneakers. Yay.

Yes, it looks like I will be wearing tennies with my lovely dressy ensembles! Or, loud, tacky socks with my clogs and Birky wanna be's.

Yes. Long skirts and tacky socks are the future in store for me.

I started crocheting a pair of socks for me. They are bubble gum pink with neon green and purple bits. I think that these colors will make me smile--even in ugly shoes...

It's a start.

Cortisone--OH MY!

Well, went back to the orthopedist to check on the bum foot. Turns out that he agrees that it is a Morton's neuroma and nothing is broken. Unfortunately, he said that the neuroma is on the large side and is less likely to respond to non-invasive methods because of the size.

So, I got to receive a lovely cortisone shot through the top of my foot! AAAAAAGH! That sucker HURT. In fact, that was hours ago and it still is tender. But, I do hope it works, otherwise, I am definitely surgery bound.

The only good news is that the cortisone shot is only good for one round and then if it doesn't completely resolve the issue, you have surgery. At least, I'll never have to get the cortisone shot again!!!

The doctor then sent me back to the special shoe and orthotic store in Decatur (50 miles away from the doctor who is already 25-30 miles from my home) to replace orthotics and make sure that my shoe situation is still appropriate (some were, some weren't). By the way, the place is McMahon Shoes and they have phenomenal service! I highly, HIGHLY recommend them, but they are quite a haul away from here.

I did hate that I lost an entire day at school, but at least I got everything done in one day (including my fasting blood work for my regular doc).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

In Memory of Shane Hackbart

Today, we had the unfortunate task to attend the funeral of a 14 year old child that I have known at our school for the last 2 years or so. Even though he had moved to the local high school this year, the loss has affected our staff and students profoundly.

The service was a fitting tribute for a quirky kid with a bigger than life smile and the best curly ringlets that you have ever seen! The chapel was packed to capacity (with enough huddled outside to fill it again at least twice). Clearly, this child had touched so many people of varying races and ages! There were loads of kids his age, yet also those far younger and older (including college students who returned home for the service). Add in loads of adults and let the cute stories and amusing anecdotes fly. Clearly, this child was dearly loved by more people than even his closest family suspected.

Hubby remembers being the designated male chaperone (an occupational hazard when married to a staff teacher and father to a middle school son) on a middle school field trip 2 years ago to the Burton 4-H Center on Tybee Island, GA. Shane and two other boys stayed up late teaching him to play 4 square. He remembers Shane laughing and trying to trip up his game. He says it's going to hurt to go back there again this year (in 2 weeks) and see that 4 square court.

As for me, I remember Shane playing soccer on the school team with DS12. Shane was an especially able athlete, but always kind to the autistic kid who struggled with every aspect of the game. DS12 was proud to call Shane his friend. I was proud too.

Mostly, I will remember Shane who never just walked down the halls of the school, his curls bobbing along with the ever-present bounce in his step. When he would see me (or anyone), he would grin from ear to ear and say, "hey!" He always looked me in the eye, even when I had to correct him on rare occasion.

We will miss him.

As for me

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Denis Leary

Well, about the time it appears that folks are able to go about their business with their collective heads extracted from their own buttocks, someone comes along and proves that it just isn't possible. Case in point, Denis Leary.

Mr. Leary apparently felt the need to write a book in which he lambasts the rising incidence of autism to cold and inattentive parents. Ironically, it may be justified in one sense that the parents created the autism, but only in the respect that they allowed sperm and egg to combine, effectively creating the child that would eventually be affected.

Of course we live in a world which doesn't want to deal with autism and the related spectrum disorders. It's messy and inconvenient to have to try and solve a complex puzzle, certainly one that is proving to be much more difficult to get a handle on than cancer or AIDS. So, it's easier not to try and understand, because then we don't have to collectively have to care or to seek treatments, cures, solutions.

The government (through the NIH and CDC) has the unmitigated gall to claim that giving doses of ethyl mercury, of all things,to infants through immunizations is an okay thing to do. Anyone with a science background knows that ethyl mercury is an insidious poison and that infants are among the weakest in our population. It is certainly reasonable to assume that some babies might not be able to process this poison (even in minute amounts) of of their systems through normal pathways, because the pathways may simply be underdeveloped at the time. But, we live in an unbelievably litigious society and avoiding lawsuits is the goal.

I personally, don't care who is to blame. I am not looking for a scapegoat or a lawsuit. But, the raw information could be very valuable in helping to determine treatment options for individual children. I don't believe that autism is a one size fits all condition and that treatment options will need to be as varied as the children who are affected. God forbid that directing research into new, promising areas would ever be considered goal-worthy.

Yet, Mr. Leary calls the parents of autistic children, "lazy" among other things. Well, at least I am not so lazy that I can't think for myself. As a matter of fact, Mr. Leary might learn a thing or two if he were to try it sometime.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Congratulations!

I meant to write this yesterday, but...

The State of Georgia announced today that one of my talented and lovely 11th grade students has won 2nd place overall in her grade level in a fire safety essay contest that is held every year!

I am so proud of Juliana!!!
P.S. Juliana's mom just had a lovely baby boy, John Henry, on October 5th. This family has loads to celebrate this month and I am just thrilled for them.

Urgent Prayers Needed!

Please pray for a 10 year old boy, named CJ (I don't ever put kid's last names online). He is my DS10's best friend and the son of a colleague at school. He has had a tough time medically throughout his life. He is deaf and has a cochlear implant.

He has been hospitalized several times. Now, he has a heart condition (I forget the name of it, but it is 3 hyphenated names) where his heart doesn't want to beat properly due to extra tissue or nodules in a valve (at least that's what I understand of it). He has had a 5.5 hour heart surgery to correct this issue about 2 weeks ago. He was doing really fantastic and felt great (it was done like a catheterization, not where they have to cut open the chest). But, last night, the symptoms came back with a vengeance. They consulted their specialists and the Children's Hospital and it was determined that in a situation where 95 out of 100 kids have a favorable outcome, poor CJ was in those final 5 percent.

Now, he is looking at having the surgery performed again. Maybe it will work this time. Maybe it won't. But, this is terribly hard on the family, to say the least. CJ is wearing a full time heart monitor and having to take oodles of medicines to control his symptoms and he is now not supposed to run and play hard. Talk about hard on a 1o year old who loves to go-cart, play tag, and jump in the creek!

We love this kid and we ask that anyone who reads this take a moment and pray for this wonderful child and his family. Thank you so very much!

Possibly a Morton's Neuroma

Went to see the orthopedist yesterday (Dr.Bush in McDonough--very good and thorough) and he was able to ascertain that my foot is not broken (hurrah!), but that I have some problem with the nerves between some metatarsals, largely between #3 and #4 and between #4 and #5. So, I will go back to seeing my regular foot and ankle orthopedist (Dr. Stewart, again, a fabulous doctor in the same group) next week and he will determine the severity, prognosis, and a treatment plan. So, I will know something more in about a week.

Right now, the orthopedic boot is helping a lot as is just plain staying off of it and taking aleve. So, we'll just have to wait and see.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pears, pears, and more pears!

We went over to pick pears at my parent's house today. Hubby got out the ladder and the boys took turns climbing up to see if they could get the very biggest pears. Truth be told, we could have used a taller ladder, as many pears are still looming overhead, despite their most valiant efforts. Of course, I avoided ladder usage, prefering to limp on solid ground, steadying ladders, pointing out pears that were trying to avoid detection, and holding old grocery sacks and filling them up with the pears being lowered to me.

But, the boys laughed and carried on. It was good for them, too. DS10 loved it so much that he pulled out his pocket knife and tried to peel a pear to eat. With a little help from Mom (who has peeled a thing or two in her day) he dug into a nice, juicy one, just a few seconds off of the tree.

My parents are thrilled that the pears aren't going to waste. Granny brags that they are "organic" pears. But we laugh about that, because it really means that we're really all too lazy to do much of anything to the trees to help them out, organic or otherwise!

Looking at the trees, it became obvious that they do need some judicious pruning and a little compost for fertilizer wouldn't hurt whether we bought a couple of bags for each tree, or brought from home (but we don't have a huge production from our little pile, so we may not have enough, but we could mix some of our rabbit poop in with bought compost.

Then, we still are organic, but maybe helping the trees to stay a little healthier. I think it might be worth it.

We got 4 bags stuffed full of fresh, firm pears. This evening, we peeled, cored, and chopped 4 cups to be divided into 2 bags and frozen with a little lemon juice. We'll use this for 2 batches of my favorite Cranberry-Pear Conserve (or reasonably facsimilie thereof as I can't find the real recipe and will be winging it). I may eventually put up a bit more for some, but that was all we were up to tonight.

Then we prepared and processed 9 half pint jelly jars and 9 quarter pint jelly jars of pear jam. I must admit that I am really partial to the fruit butters with their rich cinnamon and cloves flavors, but the jellies and jams are so lovely, clear, and sparkly in their jars. They are gorgeous when they are sitting on a shelf. Ahhh.

As much as my foot is throbbing and this horrid boot is rubbing quite a bit into my calf, I must admit that there is nothing quite as enjoyable as seeing a physical result to the day's productivity. I can look at my work and see the results of my labors. It feels pretty darn good.

What goes, clomp, step, clomp step?

Me in this stinkin' orthopedic boot!!! Ugh!

I had forgotten in the last year just how much fun wearing this little gem could be. I have to walk like some hulking football player to keep the top of it from wearing away at the calf of my other leg. Which means that I have given up my ever so lovely fat girl waddle for this contraption!!!

Pear Butter

Amid all of the turmoil of the last week, I have managed to put up about 9.5 half pints of pear butter. Yum! There are more pears available at my parent's house, but I need to see if I need more jars, etc. I will likely run into the hardware store and price some, but there may be a few still at my parent's house.

Before kids, I used to can loads of stuff to give away at Christmas, etc. Loved it. Some of this lovely stuff may be destined for gift giving. It's lovely, dark, and rich. Mmmm. Maybe I can get some apples and do some apple butter. What a cute duo in a basket!

The worst part of the process is that I realized that my Ball Blue Book (with all of my tried and true canning recipes in it--even my handwritten ones) must have been misplaced when we moved. I am still trying to track down one recipe in particular: Cranberry-Pear Conserve.

If I find it, or can recreate it, I will share it here (mostly so I can find it again). But it really is the best stuff. If I can get my camera to work, I will post some pics of my lovely jars of sugary goodness!

Friday, October 10, 2008

What a week!

Well, this week is almost over and I must say that today put the icing on the cake!

I am now back in my orthopedic boot because I have probably broken my left foot (again). I went to the doctor and got my referral to the orthopedist for Tuesday. I will have to take off work early, but....

At least my foot doesn't hurt as badly as it did before I put the boot on. So, now we wait and see.
Can't wait.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Will wonders never cease...

Well, for the first time this week, I have both good and bad news to report, instead of only bad news.

First, two wonderful friends called to wish me a happy birthday and offer support. It meant the world to me. Thanks Bev and Misty! Bev even reads my blog--now that is love!

Then Misty brought her daughter over to play for awhile. That provided much needed (and appreciated) impetus to shake me out of the funk that I have been in and I began to declutter. It has made a huge difference in my mental state to just feel a little bit in control of my environment. All in all, a much better day for me.

Hubby was finally able to track down our renter while she was packing up and get the missing rent money. We may never be able to prove what happened to the items in the outbuilding, but at least we got something out of it. We're just going to bring everything else out that we need to so that it can't happen again. I will go in tomorrow and see if we need to clean it, etc. before we begin showing it.

On a good note, I spoke with a potential renter who sounds anxious to see the house. Hope it works out for all parties involved.

Unfortunately, hubby locked his keys in his truck in Newnan, an hour drive away. Well, an hour drive when the monsoon hasn't just hit. At home, we had a consistent, heavy drizzle all day, which we desperately needed. On the road and in Newnan, it was a driving, hard rain which was nearly mpossible to drive in. It took 90+ minutes one way to get there and just as long to get back home. But, we're safe and I actually had a truck key that I could take to him.

Even though money is really tight right now, hubby and the boys took me to my favorite Mexican restaurant for a lovely meal. Then, they came home and made me a cake. Such wonderful fellas! I love them so much.

I was so down about everything lately and just expected another bland, dull day. I laid in bed and prayed and prayed last night. Prayers must certainly be answered, because I had a good day. Not a perfect day or a day without any challenges and frustrations, but a day that felt like I could handle it. Who could ask for more?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Is it Christian to bear racial hatred?

No. It is not. There is nothing in the Bible (old or new testaments) that condone such behavior. As a matter of fact, one of the tribes the Jews were allowed to mix and marry with, is a native Ethiopian tribe.

But, it is especially evil and repugnant when it happens at a sporting event at a so called Christian school. I have hesitated to write about this, because it is an issue which strikes very closely to home for me. Dear hubby is bi-racial, hispanic and caucasian. My brother is bi-racial African-American and caucasian. I have watched both be treated with disdain in the deep South. I have heard otherwise well meaning people spout hatred in Jesus' name due to them. And, I can honestly say that I have not, nor will I silently watch that type of behavior.

Christ was color blind, but bigotry is alive and well in the deep South and it flows in all directions. Whites have no monopoly on hatred, nor does any other group. I refuse to see only bigotry that flows in one direction while ignoring it in others. It is all wrong.

Our school had an away football game last weekend at a "Christian" school in Winder (Barrow County), Georgia. Our school and our team are racially mixed and work together as a team.

Now, I will openly admit that I didn't attend this game (and I am grateful that God spared my children being exposed to that situation). However, my parents attended this game (my father works for our school as the computer guru and webmaster, he has no children or grandchildren that participate in our sporting programs in any way) because my father has gotten to know the kids and wants to show his support. This was a long drive, and with gas prices being sky high, was a big show of support! I trust my parents when they report to me what they personally experienced. I also trust what I have learned through the husband of our Athletic Director and from our own Headmaster (who I have worked with and for during the last 5 years).

These are just a very few of the "Christian" things that I am aware of that happened during that game.

1. Parents from the opposing school yelling "nigger" from the stands. Also, the variation of "get the nigger."
2. Parents telling their children not to play with or play near the children who came from our school (including a 2 year old sibling of a player on the team) because we're "nigger-lovers."
3. Referring to said 2 year old child as a "nigger" in front of both him, a white playmate of his, and our Headmaster.
4. Repeatedly grabbing face masks of players on our team and trying to sling them around by the neck (a dangerous and illegal move) while the referees couldn't see it (even when shown by video tape.
5. Singling out kids to gang up on during the game and when they get tacked, keep hitting him, saying "I guess you got what you deserved, nigger!" This, incidentally was caught on video tape.

If this is what constitutes Christian behavior, is it any wonder at all that so many of our youth are opting out? This behavior is apalling at a public school event, but even more repugnant at a school where, by virtue of their religous leanings, are doing all of these things in Jesus' holy name.

Our Headmaster sat and cried from the damage that she saw in the eyes of these players and the other kids who are their friends and would defend them no matter what. When our coach tried to hurry kids to the bus so that violence wouldn't erupt, some of our parents were indignant that we didn't shake the other team's hands--ostensibly because it wasn't Christian behavior. HELLO! The kids safety should be first and foremost. Secondly, the ceremony of shaking hands is a way of saying, "good game, thanks for playing fair with us" which simply did not occur. If I had a kid on that field, I would forbid them from giving the impression that what that other team did was on a standing with fair play and Christ-like behavior.

It breaks my heart to think that if this game had happened last year, that my brother would have been on the cheerleading squad (I guess he'd be a "faggot" too) because he is just not built to play football. If my kids had heard epithets and insults hurled at him, it would have hurt them so deeply. I am grateful that it didn't work out that way.

It's not about keeping up appearances, people. It's about the heart. It's about respect for a Savior who is not a respecter of persons. It's about standing up for what is right. It's about not going along with the crowd.

I guess that's hard to do when folks can't seem to figure out right from wrong. Just a hint: check your Bible. The answers are there is anyone would bother to read it.

One Step Forward...

Ever have one of those days when everything seems to go wrong?

Boy howdy! Did I ever have one of those days.

Since tomorrow is our renter's last day, I made arrangements to meet her this evening to pick up the final (pro-rated) rent payment. Guess who didn't show. Guess who also didn't call. Guess who didn't return hubby's message that we went to meet her and she wasn't there.

It would be different if we didn't need the money to make our monthly obligations. Heck, if we didn't need the money, we could let the church find some needy family and just let them live in it until they get back on their feet. But, no. Apparently, it's okay to lie about whether you will pay and ask for a pro-rated amount when you really owe for the whole month per the lease. It's okay to impact my grocery money for the month, just to avoid inconvenience.

Maybe I would feel differently if we hadn't worked with this renter when she changed jobs and let her make arrangements to catch up so that she wouldn't have to move. Maybe if she hadn't led us to believe that she'd like to purchase the house one day. Maybe if she didn't ask us to renew the lease with new papers that reflected her recent divorce, so that her ex couldn't enter the property. Those things did lead me to believe that she was in it for the long term or at least would show the same respect for us.

Speaking of respectful behavior. I didn't go into the house, but walked around the exterior. The front storm door was off of the hinges, without glass, and the frame propped in the back yard. When it was originally broken by the tenant, we were called and informed that they would replace it at their own expense. The lock off of our outbuilding had been cut and removed and everything gutted out of it, including some metal bed frames and tools, etc. I guess they sold it for scrap metal. I can't wait to see inside, because I wonder if she isn't already moved out and didn't tell us for fear of what we would say.

But, we know which apartment complex called for the reference. We may have to contact them to get an address to direct the appropriate charges to. I know I am angry, but it feels right now like another case of, "no good deed goes unpunished."

So, I came home to watch the Presidential debates and knit awhile to de-stress from today. Well, right when I have gotten my continental knit stitch down and been planning some more Christmas gifts, the cord on my interchangeable knitting needle broke and the whole thing unraveled. I can send it back for replacement under the guarantee, but it is just demoralizing to know that everything I have tried to accomplish today has come apart, literally.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Rental house

Well, just about the time I think we have a good, solid, reliable renter in the house for any length of time, it inevitably happens. They leave with little or no notice and want the deposit back with no questions asked.

Here we go again. We wouldn't have known that this renter was leaving, except that the new landlord called for a reference. So we have less than a week's notice to go in, clean and inspect and try to rent it out quickly in a crappy economy. Oh joy! The best part is that this renter was getting a divorce and wanted a new lease written with just her name and not her ex's name. We hadn't connected with her to get it signed, and now we know why making that connection wasn't a priority.

We never wanted rental property, but we just can't sell this little house. It's adorable, in a quiet location, well built and on an acre of property (with fenced in back yard). It's just so very small and a little off of the beaten path. Everyone wants to live "in town" apparently. I never wanted to, but...

Well, happy birthday to me (in 2 days). I guess I will be cleaning out the rental.

Windfall pears

The pear trees at my parent's home are heavy laden with good, firm pears. I had the boys pick some for me and I will pick more for a colleague at work who understands the frugal thrill of receiving a gift of fresh pears. My mom has decided that she and dad are not "pear people." Well, shoot, I am a pear person and a free food person to boot! Hehehe!

I have misplaced my recipe for cranberry-pear conserve. It is exceptionally good and I would like to make some this year. I will definitely make pear jam and some pear butter with cinnamon and cloves. Yum! If I have the time, I could get some apples and process some lovely apple-pear pie filling for various treats through the winter. Hmmm.

In past years, I used to can lots of goodies and give them away at Christmastime as gifts. I would take cute little baskets and fill them full, sometimes adding hubby's stollen or some homemade candies. They made nice gifts. But, alas, I am not exchanging with many people this year and my Dad is diabetic and I am seriously overweight, so I don't need too much of this kind of stuff hanging around. But, they might make lovely teacher gifts.

I am open to suggestions for pear recipes. I need to recover from this cold and get the kitchen clean so I can get to canning!

Talk about nerve!

Warning: rant coming on! I won't be holding back....

Okay, for those of you who read this that are not of the faint of heart, here is exactly what I think about Christianity (or what passes for it) today.

There are a few things that drive me insane around "christian" folk. Probably the one that bothers me the worst is immodesty. I don't mean that everyone should run around in ankle length skirts in only somber colors, wear a burka, or anything like that, but for goodness sake, do I really need to see you chubby tummy, your butt crack or your boobs???? I think not. And these are the "christian kids" from the good "christian families." I usually find that the parental units of these kids tend to take one of two paths: 1. I had no idea that my kid wore clothes like that (of course the kid can't drive and doesn't have a job--who paid for those clothes? Who purchased them? Who launders them?) or 2. I think it looks fine and my little prince or princess looks cute. Why shouldn't he or she look cute? It's everyone else that is immodest! This roughly translates as: make everyone else cover up so that my child stands out and gets ALL of the attention.

Of course both groups cry loads of tears and are heartbroken when their kids behave in a matter consistent with the look of their clothing instead of with the lessons they learned through home, church, etc.

A case in point is cheerleading uniforms. Some parents make sure that the coverage is ample and appropriate within the needs for movement that the girl has. Others just go for the skimpiest, shortest, tightest thing possible. Our squad has lengths from crotch to just below mid thigh. You can look at the kids and know a lot about the parents who approved of the length. Now, I am not prudish, by any means, but I don't need to see bloomers when the girl is standing still. Even worse, we have been asked by other Christian schools to not bring our cheerleaders back to other functions unless they wore pants under their uniforms.

I try really hard not to be judgemental, but I see it all the time in the community, in church, and at school. I know how hard it is to try and direct a child to adhere to a reasonable (actually pretty lax) dress code only to have the parents take offense that pants have to be pulled up or belly can't be shown. It's even worse when cleavage is shown. It doesn't happen often (and I don't think that it ever happens deliberately) among the adults I know, but when exactly did women begin to believe that their breasts can be even a little bit exposed and that nobody would notice? Teachers lean over desks and help kids, good grief, check your necklines! Or their buttocks? It's embarrasing when you can run into an adult at a grocery store and see two half moons of the person's butt hanging out as they walk away. It's worse when your kids know them and comment after they leave about what they saw (is that why they are called booty shorts, Mom?). Geesh! It's a hard call to discuss modesty without making it appear that you are attacking the fashion victim.

The sad thing is that I know some otherwise beautiful, Godly, women who just don't seem to realize that their clothing send another message. The men aren't much better, but, as a married woman, I don't socialize with very many men, just a few friends of the family. So, I don't have a lot to base an opinion on the character of the "man on the street." I guess you'll have to ask the men you know about that one.

And let's talk about modesty in relation to behavior. Now, I understand at a sporting event, being concerned about a bad call or a good play and expressing approval or disapproval. But, what about the parent who is constantly screaming (not cussing, but very, very derogatory) at the high school kids (his kid included) at a Christian sporting event? I know from experience that it is annoying and embarrasing for the people around this person (just from listening to the comments that I hear around me) and creates a lot of pity toward the kids that are victims of this constant tyrade. Does it help the kids to want to do better? Does it edify or uplift them in any way? No, it doesn't. It demoralizes them and makes them not want to play.

I sat at a volleyball match once where this parent screamed constantly, "you are losing the game for yourselves girls" while the team captain kept telling them, "it's okay, just do your best." I was outraged! A child had to try and calm them while and adult ripped them apart. I wanted so badly to scream, "if you make them cry, then we'll lose for sure!" I didn't yell it, but I sure wanted to. We make a point of praying before and after games and playing fair and playing clean and "playing in Jesus' name." But, when we lose, it's often due to the devil on the sidelines who hides behind cruel words. Yes, we play teams that are just better than we are on that day, but the constant heckling and picking apart of our players doesn't help or inspire them to do better.

But beyond the usual sporting event bad behavior, what do we teach the kids about talking to each other in brash, bold ways? Do we encourage a meek and quiet spirit? No, we encourage kids to "get attention" and "go out and get what they want." Excuse me? What they "want" or what their bodies and hormones prompt them to want will only lead to heartache.

The adults of my generation have messed up so many things for themselves, but they don't counsel their children to avoid their bad behavior--only to do it better so that they don't get the consequences. The devil doesn't work like that and we all ought to know better.

Here's a sad commentary. Each year, new students coming up into high school will ask personal questions of their teachers. Every year someone asks me if I am married. I always tell them that I have been happily married for 21 years (okay, it's 21 this year, I tell them the appropriate time for when they ask) and they invariably ask, "to the same guy?" I always laugh and tell them yes, and that it can be done if you are willing to work really hard at it. Several of our teachers are in the same situation and we chuckle over it, but it is sad.

And then there are the bizarre events we encounter when we go on away games to other Christian schools. I'll write more on that later. That one has me so very angry that I am going to take a break and pray before I dare to broach that subject!

It's Fall Break

After 9 weeks of studying (for the kids) and grading mounds of papers (for me), we have been granted a wonderful fall break for a week. It's lovely and I am going to enjoy every second of it!

We did a lovely outdoor photo shoot for the senior photos for one of my favorite students. We did the shoot at Sprewell Bluff State Park by a lovely river with a rocky shore. Hubby got loads of beautiful natural shots both in the woods and by (and in) the water. Lovely.

However, after walking all over the rocks and sandy areas, my left foot (the one that I have broken twice) is really hurting. Plus, I am battling the beginnings of a cold and am tired and achy and sniffle-y. So, I am taking it easy for the most part today. I have only to run the dishwasher and keep hanging clothes on the line to dry. Anything to save a $ on the power bills these days. Of course, the clothes smell absolutely lovely and they are less wrinkly as I learn better ways to hang things so that I minimize the mess that I make of things. I really don't like to iron, so I am trying to keep from having to!

It's still a little hit or miss to find gasoline around here, much less at a decent price. The pumps are still running very slowly. Hurricane season has really kicked us here, even though we are a good 4 hours from the shore!

My mom and dad are planning to leave on Wednesday morning (my birthday) and go to Orlando to see the baby brother. I think he is pleased that they are coming. If it weren't for the fact that we are really feeling the effects of the economic slowdown lately, I would love to pack up and go, too. But, alas.... At least I know that we will see him at Thanksgiving whether we go down or he comes up. I will just have to wait until then. I do miss the dufus, though :-)

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Best Laid Plans...

Well, after DS12 and I couldn't sleep well last night and woke up headachey, I decided that we would just stay home since I had the day off. I went into the school really early and picked up everything that I would need to do my grading at home, so I won't fall behind.

When the kids woke up I explained that we were staying home to spend the day together.
I can't say that they were thrilled (we spend lots of time together anyway), but they did seem pleased.

I must say that I am thrilled that God provided this blessing to fall when we really needed a day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My baby is growing up!

Last Thursday, on the 18th, my eldest was born--12 years ago! It is so hard to believe that this kid has been in our lives for so long. Of course, he loves to be told the story of his birth and adoption. I get really sentimental about it, also. Seems like just yesterday on one hand and so long ago on the other.

Even with the autism, the learning disability, the meltdowns, and the doctor's visits and therapies, I wouldn't have it any other way. I just don't know how to not love the kid. I can't even imagine life without him and I don't want to.

I guess it's a mom thing.

A Wild Weekend

Lots around here keeps us adults jumping through hoops just to keep up. That never fails and we have learned to count on it. Like a field trip coming up for our two boys at, gulp, $150 each. Not to mention that we don't let the kids go off on trips like this without one of us, so add another person, please. Fortunately, our school reimburses us some money for driving other kids to the trip, so that will help. But, we're saving up to send the payment on October 2nd, the very last day that we can send it. Sigh.

Yesterday, we received a note from the local water authority that the meter reader had noticed a possible leak on our side of the meter. So, hubby got to checking and sure enough, the entire connector on our side of the meter had blown apart and we were seriously leaking water. Since this is out our long driveway and by the road, it's unlikely we would have noticed it very quickly at all without being tipped off. As it is, we don't know how long it may have been leaking, so I'm sweating our next water bill.

Hubby has spent a fair chunk of the last two days digging up the line and getting it fixed. I am so grateful that God has sent me such a capable fella, because I certainly couldn't have fixed that myself. I am not sure how much time I would have wasted trying to figure out where to start! But, we have water now and it was gleeful to flush toilets and fill the washing machine again. The boys went to Granny and Grandpa's house to take baths last night, so that wasn't a problem.

On Thursday night, our school played our first football game (this is our first year having a team) against the school that our Headmaster used to work at. The outcome of this game meant a great deal to her as she considers some of the attitudes and beliefs of the head of the other school to be immoral. Happily, we won, and as a reward, the 8th-12th grades have tomorrow off of school (along with their teachers, yay!). Of course, I will still have to take my kids to school, but then I will leave and go grocery shopping. I will go in later in the day to catch up on mountains of grading and paperwork, but still, I will have a nice, quiet day and that is a very good thing.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Whew!

Well, it is all over! DS1o made it through surgery just fine. Once he got home, though, he started really whining and milking it--so much so that hubby made me stay in the other room because DS10's condition got much, much worse every time he laid eyes on me. He was reasonably calm and collected when he was only with hubby and brother!

He is a cutie, even when he is piling it on really thick!!!

But, I am supremely grateful and I do appreciate so much the prayers that were offered for him.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Surgery tomorrow

Tomorrow morning, DS10, my baby, is having surgery to remove a birthmark on his head. It is a sebaceous neva. This type is pre-cancerous, but gives rise to squamous cells later in life. This skin cancer can spread to the nearest organs--in my son's case, the brain. So, off it comes!!!

Actually, the timing has been dictated by my kid being suddenly self-conscious about it. We have been trying all summer to have this removed. We started with his dermatologist and even got so far as to get everything scheduled, only to find that the doctor decided to refer us to a plastic surgeon instead. Then we had to wait for the remainder of the summer to get a consultation appt. Fortunately for us, this doctor rearranged his schedule to get this done before we go back to school.
But, we are cutting it close. The surgery is tomorrow (Monday) and I report for pre-planning on Tuesday morning. But, kiddo still has a week out of school to rest up.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I have to say it...

Michael Savage is a pig. I know that the nature of radio talk shows is to create controversy. Controversy gets people talking. Controversy gets ratings.

But, attack my kid and you are TOAST! If you want to attack me, FINE.

My kid has done nothing to him. Mr. Savage (appropriate name) says that families want this diagnosis in order to get funding. WHAT FUNDING??? Apparently, I am missing out on a major financial angle for my family. We have done without many things in order to pay for therapies and medical care related to autism that is not even covered by insurance. We have paid thousands of dollars out of pocket to receive even basic help for our Aspie. There is nothing easy or glamorous about this diagnosis. I have spent hours worrying about his future and what it will be like.

I would have never asked for this, but I will never turn my son away. How dare Mr. Savage attack the weakest among our population. My son is disciplined (and yes, I spank when needed). I am one of the strictest parents I know.

Yes, he has the right to say anything he wants to. His speech is protected by our Constitution. However, I have the right to respond. My speech is also protected and I will shout from the rooftops about how wrong he is! There are consequences to our speech, even if it is protected. Let's see if Mr. Savage has the, ahem, cahoneys to handle that!

Today, Mr. Savage expressed that his one comment should not cause folks to want to see him fired. Why not? He attacked the weakest among our population, without cause and without even the slightest idea of what he was talking about. Why should I support that?

I don't.

Good news

My baby brother who moved to Orlando, Florida to attend school has gotten a job!!! Hallelujah!
It's taken him a little over a week, but he has gotten one of the highest paying jobs that his school's placement office sends people for. What a relief.

Not to mention that he will be happier when he is busier and not just sitting around. I am so proud of him.

Bad News

Okay, I have been out of touch lately. It's because it sucks to be me right now. Someone has stolen my debit card number and has been using it with abandon. I have called them and insisted that they take the charges off of my account as they were not authorized. Then, I called the bank and found out that I have to wait 10 days to see if they take the charges off on their own. That's what I love, the ol' "let's let the crooks have the benefit of the doubt plan" that the bank has. Ugh.

So, our bank account is wiped out. I have blown 2, yes 2 tires on my car. It sucks to be me today.

That's what I have been dealing with lately and I have been seriously depressed. But, I have been doing the weight loss blog still and doing well with that.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

It's been a gorgeous day in Georgia, clear most of the day with one brief mid-day shower. There was a storm South of us during the fireworks tonight, but it didn't affect us.

It was cool and breezy and comfortable for the show (as opposed to the sticky, hot, buggy weather we have endured in previous years). It's always fun to listen to people's reactions (especially the kids) to the fireworks as the display progresses. I love the oooh's and aaah's and laughter. It's fun.

My parents and brother came over for a wonderful dinner (thanks to hubby's grill prowess) and then we met up for fireworks. It's one of the last times for the entire family to get together for awhile since my brother is moving to Orlando to go to school. It's tough on my parents, even though they have already gone through the empty nest thing when I moved out years ago. I think they worry more about him. I never moved so far away. I got married and stayed much closer.

So, in some respects, he is approaching his Independence Day as well. I know that he will do well and that it will be a larger adjustment for him than he realizes. It's grow up time.

And speaking of Independence Day, thank God we live in a free country where we can live and worship as we see fit.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lifestyle changes

I am working really hard lately to make some serious changes to my lifestyle before school starts back in a few short weeks. Summer has been great and it has been flying by, but I don't want to lose this chance to live more healthfully.

Today begins my 3rd week back on Sparkpeople.com, eating well, drinking water, and exercising. It's not easy for a big girl like me, but I don't want to remain a big girl any longer than I have to!

The best part is that with prices rising on everything from gasoline to milk, that this program on Sparkpeople.com is absolutely free. You don't have to eat certain prescribed lists of foods, you can make your own choices from what you have on hand or what you catch on sale or in season. It certainly works well for me. I appreciate the support also.

On a lighter note, I took the boys to see the movie WALL E today and it was really cute, a love story. We all enjoyed it. Of course it was a matinee and we smuggled in our own cheap treats.

Friday, June 20, 2008

21 years and counting...

I forgot to mention that during our whirlwind vacation, hubby and I celebrated 21 years of wedded bliss. My friend and her hubby watched all of the kids (poor folks) and we went out to dinner and a movie. It was heavenly.

Of course I get a kick out of students who ask me how long I have been married and then ask me if it was all to the same person. It is!

I'm Back!

It's been a whirlwind few weeks.

We went on vacation to Jekyll Island, Georgia, one of my favorite places! We meet my best friend and her family and as she puts it, "for a week, it's all about the kids!" And is it ever. We were so tired when we were leaving that we could hardly walk. Too much fun!

We played on the beach; we waded in the ocean; we colored our flashlights red with Sharpies; we walked late at night and searched for sea turtles; we walked earlier in the day just to walk on the beach; we looked for birds; we looked for reptiles; we looked for mammals; we found them all! We went to the water park; we went shopping; we drove through the historic district to ogle the beautiful mansions; the guys fished; we ate fresh, local, wild-caught, Georgia SHRIMP by the guilt-free pound-full; we collected sea shells; we dug up live whelks, etc. and observed them and threw them back; we laughed and talked and told stories; we played frisbee; we watched movies. It was a BLAST! Most of all, we talked about all of the other things that we wanted to do but didn't have time for (mini golf, the playground, St. Simon's Island, the lighthouse, Christ Church, the Wesley cross; Fort Frederica and so much more).

Anyway, we are home and recovering!

By the way, I am back on SparkPeople.com, the best frugal dieting idea ever! I will blog about my weight loss and health journeys there. You can check it out at www.sparkpeople.com/hatchettjob

Friday, May 30, 2008

Gas prices...

Yikes!

I had to pay $4 a gallon for gas today. I am usually pretty good about buying gas at one of 3 places nearby that tend to have better than average prices. Today, though, better than average for mid-grade gasoline was just over $4 a gallon! That really, really hurt.

My car is a 1996 Maxima that has been a workhorse for us. But, to keep from knocking, it really needs premium, but survives reasonably well on mid-grade. It seems like yesterday that everyone was freaking out when gas was fast approaching $2 a gallon. Boy, howdy!

I am working hard to minimize any trips, combine errands, etc. to save gas. We're backing out of DS11s therapy group for the summer to keep from driving over 1 hour each way. We're working on some therapy and play group time closer to home to save on driving.

My car gets around 30 mpg, so I am doing fairly well in that respect, but gas prices certainly hurt, especially in the summer when I'm not teaching. Add in bored and fussy kids and I will be working overtime to keep them occupied and happy close to home this summer.

Another frugal gift success!

At our recent graduation, two of our very talented young ladies sang a beautiful rendition of Stephen Curtis Chapman's song, "Fingerprints of God." They did such a lovely job and I am so impressed with them. They are both rising sophomores. It took a lot of nerve to get up and sing in front of a full auditorium of people and I wanted to do a little something to let them know how much their involvement added to our celebration.

So, I began looking around the internet for an idea. I came across some cute ideas: little paper bag scrapbooks, altered items, etc. I loved the idea for the little books, but even though I am married to the official school photographer, I have lots of pictures of one of the girls, but not many of the other, so I couldn't really figure out a way to make it equally special for the girls. However, I never shelve a good idea and may make an album for my friend, Karen. We see her once a year and take loads of pictures of each other's kids. Maybe an album of her kids as a keepsake. Hmmm. I need to raid hubby's computer to check for pics.

I settled on making an altered CD cover and turning it into a permanent, decorative greeting card. I wanted the front to be pretty enough to display and the words to be inside as a reminder to them of how wonderful they are.

I created it on my computer, so I didn't have to purchase stickers, paper, doo-dads, etc. I used a free paper that I downloaded some time ago. It is a nice pink paper with a larger, fuschia daisy with a yellow center. Since the file was for 12 x 12 inch paper, I centered the flower on the smaller document and was thrilled to find that it filled the space completely and ran off of the edges. It made for a beautiful decorative cover (and appropriately girly). For the 3 additional pages (inside cover, inside back cover, and back cover), I lowered the opacity to around 57% which makes the picture look like it is covered with vellum and made to look pale and soft. On top of that, I added words in a calligraphy font in a nice, warm brown.

The left side when it is open says, "In appreciation. __________&__________ performance of "Fingerprints of God" by Stephen Curtis Chapman at FCA Graduation. May 22, 2008. I deleted the names on purpose, I didn't ask the girls to fill in the blank!

The right side says, "God put a song in your heart and you were a blessing to me." Underneath is Psalm 9:2 written out.

The back cover is plain except for two lines at the bottom: "Crafted with love for _________."
My name is underneath.

Still having camera issues (likely user error, but....). I will post photos when I get a chance.

I am tickled with these. They look so cool, but were really so very simple and inexpensive.
I think I will make more when I need to give a gift card. It will look so much more substantial and cool.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

End of the Year Teacher Gifts

This year has been wild and crazy for us. Most years, I take a little bit of time to come up with an inexpensive gift for my kiddo's teachers. This year, I was so caught up in the details of life, that I didn't get around to doing anything.

I couldn't leave it at that. My kids have had wonderful experiences this school year and their teachers have been voted teacher of the year for the elementary and middle grades, respectively. They have really been a blessing in our lives and I am proud to call them colleagues.

Yet, I needed to do something significant and nice, without being pricey (or require too much running around in the car). So, this is what I came up with....

A student (who I adore) has asked me to help her to make a scrapbook of her family to give to her step-mom as a gift. It's a beautiful expression of love and we have had such fun looking at pictures and papers. We've laughed a lot and enjoyed each other's company. Of course, I seldom get to do crafty things with girls, so I have really eaten up this activity.

Anyway, my student inspired me and I picked up some chipboard cut outs of flowers, glitter glue, and notecards. I used brightly colored scrapbook paper that I had left over from another project and some scrapbook adhesive. I layered the chipboard flowers, glued them together, had hubby drill through the centers to put decorative brads through them.

I layered the ingredients and voila (!) one of a kind cards. Each one will read, "Thanks so much for helping my child to blossom this year." Then, I will add a personal comment. I am excited that they turned out so well, and look so substantial and decorative.

I will post pics when my camera is recharged. All in all, I had fun and created 6 gifts for less than $1 apiece. Of course, I will have to pay postage, but it still will cost less than I have spent in the past. The best part, I think, is that it is a personal gift. They are not all alike. It took time and creativity, and very little money. It's so much nicer than the typical impersonal, everyone bring $5 for the generic end of the year gift.