October 27, 2006

October is the Plumbingest Month

Well, if April is the cruellest month, obviously October ranks up there in terms of expense. We did get the dishwasher fixed--apparently, it was leaking, just like the previous one had been before it was replaced as part of the sale agreement. Anyway, it sounds much more normal now and washes just fine.

And then one morning last week, Matt went to the kitchen and found a pool of water on the counter. The sink faucet was leaking around its gaskets. So now we have a shiny new faucet--the old one had been dying for a long time (though I did not expect its last gasp to be quite so dramatic). As an added bonus, since they were under there anyway, the plumbers replaced the shut-off valves to ones that will actually (wow!) shut off the water. What a concept. Also, they turned them in such a way that we can actually use the sprayer attachment--the old one's hose was so constantly getting caught on one of the valve handles under the sink that we mostly gave up on it (Tug. Tug. Oh, @#% it, I'll just do it some other way.) This one is not only shiny and silvery, but you can actually pull it out to use it.

By the way, I have to say I've been really happy with the plumbers we use: if you're local, the name is "A-1 Plumbing" and they're clean, responsive, reasonably honest, and somewhat spendy, IMHO. The first three qualities totally justify the last, in my mind. I don't mind paying for honesty (if that makes sense--I figure if they tell me when I don't have to fix something, they've earned their fee for when I do). Also, the guy doesn't give me the creeps--important for a mom at home with two little girls.

Cute Kid Quotes

If you're the sort of person who would rather have your favorite breakfast food skewered by a red-hot poker (and thus, ruined) than read about other people's children's cutenesses, just save us all and stop reading now. Those with stronger stomachs should feel free to forge ahead.

"B-I-N-G-O and Nemo was his name-O." (No, she hasn't seen the movie.) Clearly, we have a ways to go on the whole spelling thing.

"This little light of mine, I'm gonna rabbit shine." (I like my bunnies bright and shiny, too.) This one would not be so bizarre except that "Rabbit Shine" becomes the title--tricky when I'm trying to figure out what she's asking for!

"Chicken Little Soup." Comes in the famous red-and-white can. I confess this one has had me smirking to myself in the mornings for a week. There's something about picturing that stupid, obnoxious little bird made into soup that's very, very satisfying. And not just because it tastes good.

[Sitting at dinner.]
Laura: [Apropos of nothing; completely random.] "I love you, Mama."
Me: [melting, of course]: "Why, thank you, sweetheart, I love you too."

An uncomfortable pause ensues. Everyone is just sort of looking at her.

Laura: "And I love you Daddy, I love you Emily, I love you Dudley, I love you Fiona, I love you dolly!"

Whew! That fixed 'em. (of course, the last three weren't there to hear it....)

October 18, 2006

Quotes from the Chaos

"Mornings are good." ~Carol, explaining what options kids give you for a social life.

"I'll take a six, please." ~Laura, "ordering up" some "big girl underwear" (pull-ups). We only have sixes.

"Yah." ~Emily, when asked--after we hear a thud that sounds suspiciously like a small head coming into contact with the wood floor--"Are you o.k.?"

"I'm NOT a stinker-pot-pie. I'm a GOOF!" ~Laura. I'm really not sure how to explain this one.

"Contributing to the deliquency of a fundamentalist" ~What Ty thinks it is when someone gives very religious books to someone who's already a thumper.

"It's for you." ~me to Matt, after listening (some) to another political recording voicemail from a group that would not bother us IF ONLY MATT WOULD REGISTER WITH A POLITICAL PARTY (you can tell I'm tired of the election already; ordinarily, I don't mind being married to an "Independent". While I'm happy that one party wastes their money on him, I wish they wouldn't call so often.)

"Whew. You scared me. I was reaching for the stapler!" ~Matt, to me.

"I'd like some house." ~Laura, explaining what she'd like for dinner. (We got a picture of her chewing on the refrigerator that day.) Talk about your eyes being bigger than your stomach....

October 16, 2006

In Case You Wondered...

It only shows up about three times a year: first in the Spring when the dogwood flowers come; then again a bit later with the leaves, and finally about now in the Fall. But apart from some other reasons, here is why our living room is that particular color:

Pat Is Home

She got to go home Sunday night; I guess the doctors saw what they needed to see. She's supposed to go see her regular doc today to follow up, but it seems she's in good shape.


October 14, 2006

The New "Yahoo Mail"

This is trivial, but I know some of you gear-heads love tech stuff, so here goes. :-)

I have a Yahoo account, which I use for freecycling and any obnoxious-looking website that I think might generate tons of spam (I have to keep at least two of my real email accounts at something below the highest level of spam protection because of who may email me. It's a sad life. ;-) ). One thing I must give them credit for: they do an awesome job of screening out the junk. Knowing that freecycle and gardenshare stuff will get through, I just empty the "suspected spam" folder without even looking at it.

They've got this new version of their mail system that's in beta, and finally the pushy "please try this!" screens convinced me. I lasted a day. I mention this because supposedly it's gotten great press. I can see why; it has many cool bells and whistles and doodads. But its dark secret is that it's colossally s l o w .

Now, I have DSL. I am not accustomed to waiting much for web pages anymore. And while my computer isn't brand spanking new, it's new enough that I do not bash my head against its cute little Apple icon, cursing its processor (as I have been tempted to do when forced to use Matt's...). So experiencing this beta was torture. Loading the intro. page was slow. Loading my mail was slow. Loading the "pane" that lets you view the mail was slow. Getting the darn thing to scroll up and down so I could delete a batch of messages was slowest of all (oh, the irony--I just want to trash these things, and I have to wait. And wait. And wait.) The deleting itself didn't take long, in fairness.

I did give this feedback to Yahoo, so I don't feel too bad trashing the thing here. They've got some work to do. Personally, I don't think any bells or whistles are worth it if I can do everything quicker myself!

No News Which Is Good News

Pat's still chained to her hospital bed tonight. Although things have been going relatively fine, and they were planning--apparently--to release her this morning, that plan was changed. They're now going to keep her for a few more days, keep administering drugs until they get whatever change they're looking for, and then she can go home. I think--this is about third hand, you know--that it was something to do with making sure the wounds from the procedure were healed up okay. That can be tricky with blood thinners in the system!

October 13, 2006

Forever Young

Every year around Memorial Day, a song comes on the radio that always chokes me up a little; it choked me up even more when I was teaching. It's "Forever Young," by Rod Stewart, and of course they played it because graduation was coming. It's basically a benediction song, so it's fits. I'm a sucker for such things (attendees at our wedding may remember me similarly choking up when Father Pat snuck in the traditional Irish blessing during his homily.) It comes to mind today because our community is saying goodbye to one of my babies this week.

They say you never forget your first class as a teacher, and so far that's been true. Derek and I started at the same time--he was in the first crop of freshman I taught, during my first year as a teacher, and therefore was in the first group of seniors I watched graduate that I had known for four years. He was killed by a roadside bomb on Sunday. He was 21.

Of course, the news is full of his family's grief at the moment--his uncle was a colleague of mine, and still works at the high school--and of course they are saying wonderful things about him. What's interesting to me is that all the wonderful things are pretty much true--he was a good guy. I remember him as a questioner; he was unafraid to ask why we were doing things, but always managed to be respectful, and would go ahead and do whatever it was even if he wasn't happy with the answer. He had a good mind--along with all those questions!--and I encouraged him to take Public Speaking, which he did. Apart from that, he was just plain a nice kid. As far as I know, he shared that respectful attitude toward everyone. We could use more of that in the world. In any case, that is what will stick in my mind...even though I knew him when he was older, I remember him as a freshman, squirmy and full of life. I didn't know him when he was a Marine, serving first in Afghanistan and then re-upping to serve in Iraq, but it certainly sounds like him. That's why the words are coming back to me:

Be courageous and be brave
And in my heart
You'll always stay
Forever young

Goodbye, Derek.

Thursday's Pat news

Pat's still in the hospital, but she had the procedure yesterday to hopefully correct the flutter, and it went fine by all accounts.

They have to keep her for at least a few days more, until the blood thinners can build up again in her system. After that, I'm not sure whether she goes home right away or what kind of activity level she can have, but we'll probably find out more this weekend.

We very much appreciate the offers of help, thoughts, and prayers you've sent. It's good to know you're there!

October 11, 2006

A Small Snag

Pat's doing o.k. at the moment. They decided not to do the cauterizing thing yet, because they need to get her regular blood-thinning medication out of her system (she's been on them since the two strokes). Guess it makes sense that you don't want to do anything to somebody that might make them bleed if their blood isn't going to clot! So we're looking at tomorrow afternoon, or later, for that procedure. They may move her back to a regular room (still on monitors, natch) until then.

The technical term for what's troubling her is atrial flutter. We still don't know how long they may want to keep her in the hospital after they actually do the procedure, or what's next if it doesn't "take." (Matt got to talk with the electrophysiologist--cool name, huh?--yesterday, but they did not discuss failure.) Knowing all this, Matt went back to school today. Our poor speechies have already lost one practice this week (and two days of class with Matt), and in a week and a half they have their first big college tournament. In the grand scheme of things, they'll be fine, but it's a tough way to start the year.

October 9, 2006

Pat's Monday Update

Matt spent most of the day at the hospital (he's still there, but I get updates from time to time.) It's good news: she's had no further episodes of her heart stopping, and her pulse is actually normal now. I didn't mention it, but except for the time when her heart was actually out of commission yesterday, she's been alert and in reasonably good spirits pretty much all the time (she's tired, though, so she has taken a fair number of cat naps).

Apparently the heart electrician (I'm sure that's not his title, but it is reasonably descriptive) visited today. The decision was made to not go with a pacemaker yet. They're planning to go in through a vein in her leg, go up to the heart that way, and cauterize some spots in the heart that are "short-circuiting" and causing the arrhythmia. All things going well, this will happen tomorrow afternoon sometime.

Unknown at this point is how long they'll keep her in the hospital, what sort of monitoring they may need to do in the future, and what they'll do next if this doesn't work. I have heard that if the procedure goes o.k., they plan to move her back into a "regular" room and out of the Critical Care Unit. That would be nice.


It never rains, but it pours. This morning I tripped on a toy and mangled my right big toe. I honestly don't know if I broke it or just bruised the heck out of it, but it is turning pretty colors and looking pretty puffy. By comparison, it's not even on the radar, but it's making it more painful to be keeping the home fires burning while we also tend to Pat. On the up side, I've managed to be caught up enough most of the time that our life won't fall completely apart if I keep my foot up a lot for the next few days.

On the other, other hand...our dishwasher is dying. We had a repair guy out to look at it today; it's been making an increasingly loud, scary sounding grinding noise when it runs. When I realized Thursday night that it was impossible to hear anything over the nursery monitor when the thing was washing, I decided we should probably just hand wash things until the repair people could see it (I didn't want to make anything reparable, worse). The parts should be in Wednesday, so that's fine, but I don't really think I'm going to be standing at the sink any time soon. This, too, shall pass! (and, hey, we've got a good supply of paper and plastic ware.)

October 8, 2006

Not a Good Thing

As I've said before (generally in reference to the day of Laura's birth), it is NEVER a good thing to have trained medical personnel running into one's hospital room. That happened to Pat, Matt's mom, today.

She went into the hospital ER last night, compaining of chest pain, pounding heartbeat, and shooting pains down the arm. Ack! They decided to keep her overnight for observation, and to try and figure out if it was a heart attack; they've decided that it wasn't, but that it was arrhythmia: her pulse was waaaaay high. We went to see how she was doing today, and she was feeling much better as long as she held still; when she went to stand at the sink, her pulse shot up to 190. That's no good (normal range is somewhere around 70-100). They sent her right back to bed.

So, the doc (same doc who supervised her open-heart surgery to replace a valve seven years ago) prescribed a drug--I can't remember the name at the moment--to slow down her heartrate and regulate it. We went to get lunch and bring the girls home.

There was a message when we got home from Matt's sister, who went to visit after we did. Apparently, about the time we finished lunch and were packing children into carseats, something slowed Pat's heart down too much: it actually stopped for several seconds (the cardiac guy has said since that he doesn't think the drug in question would have acted that fast, but they wanted to hurry up and get it back out of her all the same). There were some subsequent "pauses", and she's now in the Critical Care Unit so they can keep an eye on her. She does seem to have stabilized, and was sleeping last we heard.

October 7, 2006

Leapers, Plodders, and My Montessori Odyssey

I've been reading again (everybody look out!) Since I've been starting the whole preschool-at-home thing, I wanted to look into the most famous preschools there are, namely, Montessori. I knew nothing about it except that it's supposed to be cool. I know a lot more now, and it *is* cool, but there are some things that really make me cringe.

I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so let's take a look at the baby (undeniably, unqualified good), the soap (some good, some that make me choke), and the bathwater (past its prime, at the least).

The baby: Maria Montessori had the radical good idea that all children, given the right opportunities, are capable of learning. ALL children. What a concept! She first championed the idea of centering learning activities on the children themselves; coming from an era of Dickensian schools (see Hard Times for details), this was both amazing and a saving grace for children everywhere. She also advocated kinesthetic learning, and to the extent that most little kids can't hold still, that is also a plus (more on it below, however, in soap). Those three things can be seen nowadays in almost any preschool worth its salt, "Montessori based" or not. That's a pretty good baby.

The soap: Montessori demanded that "nothing be given to the brain, which was not first given to the hands." This is the rationale behind the famous sandpaper letters: children first trace, feel the letters, before they attempt to create them themselves. As with so many of her ideas, I think this one is great...if only we could eliminate that restrictive qualifier, "nothing." That pretty well sums up all the soap, in fact: there are so many restrictions in terms of how to teach that I find myself irritated everytime I read another book about practice.

Matt and I have come up with our own classification of learning types, which don't necessarily connect to any of the standard personality profilers: there are leapers, and there are plodders (in case you're wondering, we don't really see a link to intelligence there, either; there are smart people of both kinds). Plodders go step-wise through their learning, building on previous knowledge, dutifully doing all their story problems in math, reading everything they're assigned, and know things thoroughly before moving on. Leapers are annoying (I would know! ;-) ) in that they do just that: they leap. Over some of the details, over some of the practice, over some of the useful information, and on to--somehow--intuitively grasping the knowledge, or at least as much as is needed for the moment. I'm a leaper. Matt's a leaper. Laura is a leaper by all indications; it's a little early to tell with Emily. The reason I mention this is that I think the Montessori strictures are very well suited to plodders. Some of them work for leapers, and some of them....don't.

The standard instruction process, from all I've read, for every Montessori lesson goes like this:
1. Direct instruction/demonstration. "Watch me!"
2. Guided practice. "Now you try. I can help."
3. Independent practice. "Go for it, however long you want."
This is great for things like, say, potty training. Definitely a "monkey-see, monkey-do" sort of thing. But there are also an awful lot of things that Laura has already learned through osmosis (and I imagine everyone does--as long as we're alive and awake, we're capable of learning) without any special direct instruction or drawing of attention to things. I can also think of several other kinds of instruction that can be effective. But good little Montessorians stick to the script. And that's just another reason for this to be soap: it doesn't take very much to draw a straight line between this sort of thinking and the horrible drive to "script" more and more of public school learning. It's not that the scripts themselves are evil, it's that they're not flexible (well, and of course, they're sort of insulting to the intelligence of the teachers who have to use them....). Who cares if there was a school shooting yesterday? The script says today we talk about Dickens. Etc. All of this leaves a sort of soapy taste in my mouth.

The bathwater: since Maria Montessori was doing her research and coming up with her theories and practices, there's been almost a century of exploration in neuroscience and learning styles. Nothing I have been reading--even those books published in the last five years or so--takes any of that into account. NOTHING. Since the authors of the books have all--to a person--taken a downright didactic tone (i.e., "You must do this; you must absolutely, positively, NOT do this, or terrible things will be learned that will just have to be corrected later." And we're not just talking about TV here, either.) it just blows my mind that they can ignore Howard Gardner, among others. (He's the guy who started the discussion about multiple intelligences.) Suddenly, the idea that kinesthetic learning is "the" way to go doesn't sound so hot. What if you're dealing with someone who's a strong verbal learner? Sure, you're still going to sing and dance with them, and maybe even give 'em fuzzy letters to fondle, but maybe they might be able to learn one or two things just by hearing about them?

In addition, as a teacher I tend to be a constructivist. Though there are several versions of this philosophy, I think a good shorthand for my position is "audience participation." I'm not much of a "sage-on-the-stage" as a teacher (though obviously I know how to lecture). I like the idea that people tend to internalize and retain more knowledge if they struggle while learning it. (That's probably why I remember "Ute"; I did take a Pacific Northwest History course, but I didn't really imprint with that word until I started doing crosswords: there aren't that many three-letter words beginning with 'u' that answer the clue, "Native American"). So I like to see students wrestle with problems; I like to have students write questions instead of just answering them; I like to make meaning with students, taking into account where they are and helping them get further, instead of just checking off my list of things I'm supposed to teach (even if they already know all the things on the list, and/or aren't ready yet for some of them). All of this has solid research behind it--not proclaiming itself to be the *only* way to fly, but certainly a valid and useful way to teach. What do the Montessorians say? Direct instruction, guided practice, independent practice. I can't help but think that Madame Maria would be rolling in her grave if she realized how much better they could be doing if only they'd loosen up a little and admit that perhaps we know more about learning now than she possible could have back in the early 20th century. Murky bathwater.

So, would I send my kid to a "Montessori-based preschool"? Sure, if I needed to. I don't think they're doing anyone irreparable harm, and there are--as I've noted--many things they do right and well. On the other hand, I sincerely hope that the people who extoll the legacy of Montessori will bend way over and remove the foreign matter from their rear orifices before writing any more books. It stinks!

October 1, 2006

Speech Teams: Novice Tournament 2006

Saturday was, in short, a blast. It was the first tournament of the season, as usual, and we had all the usual fun with new speech kids (not knowing how the process works, getting lost, losing their judges) and new speech judges, since Matt encourages more senior members of teams to come and sit "on the other side of the ballot" so they know what it feels like to give feedback (losing their competitors, getting lost, forgetting to finish filling out their ballots...). That's all par, and part of the learning process the tournament is designed to foster. We also met at least one brand new coach who seems to be a nice guy and pretty gung-ho for the activity--a good combination!

The title of this is Speech TeamS because I realized, in thinking it over last night, that I'm really part of two teams now. One I just joined when I signed my contract--though I've been doing cameo appearances for/with them for quite a while, even when actually employed by another school! They showed some wonderful promise yesterday; the returning kids were well-organized, took care of themselves and the novices well, and even managed a card and a big (involving all the competitors!) round of Happy Birthday for Matt. The novices had quite a good showing, indicating both a fair amount of natural talent and a willingness to work hard at improving, as well as generally good humor. You really can't ask for more than that from a team!

The second team is one that I've never left, though I've been on the bench for a while. That's the group we sort of think of as our second family: the coaches we work with. It felt just plain wonderful to be working with them again, not just as a drop-in who might have to abscond with the children, but as an actual coach who was supposed to be helping run the tournament. Of course, I did take some child breaks here and there--more on that in a sec.--but mostly, I was able to actually function as part of our team again. Here's a vignette that illustrates why we love that team so much: a visitor to the tab room (who knows quite a bit about speech), mentioned to me that he really liked how calmly the day had gone; he said even out in the halls, with the new kids, things seemed just....serene. I smiled and pointed at Jane (who, honestly, does more work than the rest of us--she never stops unless there is NOTHING that could possibly be done at that moment!) He smiled a little bit and told Jane the same thing; she pointed at Matt and said, "He makes it easy for us." The visitor started laughing and said, "You know, I told Mike the same thing, and he pointed at Matt. I told Matt the same thing, and he pointed at you guys. I told Ginger that, and she pointed at you. And now you're pointing back at Matt!" We decided that it must be because, really, we are all a team. Perhaps that's the definition: when there is success [or even failure], it's a group effort. Anyway, it feels good to be playing with them again.

What made this possible were some wonderful returning students who agreed to play with/watch the girls in tab with us. They did a truly awesome job, and the girls were (except for trying to get out of taking much needed naps, in Emily's case) as good as gold. Anyone who can play "Ring Around the Rosy" that many times with a two-year old deserves a medal, no matter how cute the child might be. Also, one of the students (I'm continuing my policy of not identifying minors unless I'm really really really sure it's o.k. with their parents; of secondary concern is safety and liability--important as those are--and of primary concern is the fact that I think all of us should have more control over our own information than we do; far be it from me to add to the endless data stream without permission. I believe in "opt in," not "opt out!" Anyway. They know who they are.) Laura's second words this morning (after, "Mama, where's Daddy?" "Upstairs, making breakfast.") were, "We're going to a speech tournament!" So I think she liked it. (In the interests of science, her third sentence was, "Jonah was hoping for muffins," which hopefully he'll get one of these days. ;-) )

Lastly, my main questions about how this whole job situation would work out have been answered this week. Practice: going to go fine; the girls look forward to the people and the toys and "seeing where Daddy works." Tournaments: working out pretty darn well, too. Whew!

Busy, busy, busy

I know you're out there, checking madly to see if I've written about last weekend (I do love my counter :-) ). So, I'm sorry you haven't had your blog fix from me lately; it's been one of those ironic weeks where there is much to write about, and little time in which to do the writing!

So. Last weekend was a busy one. We had the Borahs over on Friday night (though they brought a yummy dinner!), had fun getting as caught up as all our respective children would let us, and had chocolate for dessert outside in the gloaming dusk. In spite of our radically different political views, we always enjoy talking with them, in part because--good debaters as we all are--we understand the fundamental truth that we can disagree about issues without disagreeing about our basic values (in speechie terms, we share values, just not criteria for achieving them). And when that runs out, we have a lot in common--five little girls, at last count (place your bets now on the gender of the next Borah child, due in November).

Saturday, we had dinner here with the Davisons four. I sated my lasagna craving (generally an annual event, now that I live with the Food Nazi...that particular dish is at least partly famous [infamous?] for requiring Five Pounds of Cheese.), the children all got a good workout, we sang Happy Birthday to Matt, and we again played out in the back yard as night fell. Personally, I cannot think of a better way to close out summer than eating chocolate with good friends in the dusk (twice!). Good times!

Sunday, Pat and Bill arrived to fete Matt some more; we went to Olive Garden and Matt enjoyed the "Never-Ending Pasta Bowl". I mention it not because our restaurant selections are usually good blogging fodder (pardon the pun), but because it's so unfair that they *always* have that special for his birthday. Me, I have shamrocks and corned beef to look forward to. While I like a good corned beef, it's just not the same. Anyway, Pat got to enjoy feeding Emily ice cream, and spoiling Laura rotten with a whole chocolate milkshake. Who am I to deny Grandma such pleasures? (and now I'm clever enough not to give Laura any dairy on days when I know a milkshake might be in the offing...)

Monday the girls slept. A lot. As I've noted before, they just can't take the high life for long without some recuperation time, and after that much weekend, they were sorely in need of some simple R&R. Before sleeping though, there was even more excitement: we started Preschool Monday morning. I would consider it a success, in that Laura asked for more as soon as she woke up. Singing goofy songs, getting books read to them, seeing flannel-board stories (ooh, aah, a new medium for them), even having little puzzles and drawing and...what's not to like? Fortunately, little kids like repetition, since preparing different materials is what takes me the longest; but they're just as happy seeing the same things five days in a row, and then when I do manage to get something else ready, it's a pleasant surprise. Too bad you can't get away with that in high school! ;-)

Tuesday, we were going to go out for our first speech practice. I got my contract all signed (though I still need to finish up all the official employment forms--the contract is what makes me feel alright actually showing up for work) and knew there were students ready to be heard. However, the universe had other plans in mind. I got the girls all ready--having awoken Laura from her nap--strapped them in the car, and went to start it. To quote Robert Frost, the engine rev went, "Little...less...nothing!" Ack. So, I called to cancel practice for poor Matt (who was then working on the tournament we hosted yesterday); he did practice, stopped to buy some jumper cables, then came home, wolfed dinner, jumped the car, and took it to be fixed. Good news: it was just the battery. Slightly better news: the old battery was still under partial warranty, so we got a hefty discount on the new one, which also includes an even longer warranty and supposedly an even longer life; the total actually ended up being less than the last time we got it replaced (someone pat me on the head for being organized enough to have laid my hands on the receipt from four years ago that got us that discount. Thanks. And now, on with the story.) Bad news: we still had to pay for it, and we lost a precious evening in a crazy week. More good news: the car's been fine since.

Wednesday we shook our sillies out at the library as usual.

Thursday, we finally made it out to practice. As trial runs go, it was great. The girls were happy in Matt's room, their keepers were fantastic, and I felt absolutely wonderful to again be coaching real live high school students. I knew I was tired from being a mom and all, but I don't think I realized until now how very drained and down I had become. On the up side, I've been feeling like my real personality has been coming back in these last few weeks (probably a combination of allergy medication and freedom from being a food factory), and this is the final piece of the puzzle to make me feel like "me" again. Woohoo!

Friday was a buzz of activity prepping for the tournament: packing stuff up to take with us for the girls, matching debate on the dining room table, etc. That brings us up to yesterday, which deserves its own post. Stay tuned!