December 20, 2008

Life since Thanksgiving 2008

I don't quite know how to write it all, so bear with me. Our life has been a shambles since Thanksgiving, though we are of course grateful for what we have.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving, we got a call that Pat was again in the hospital, with a severe headache that was eventually diagnosed as bleeding in her brain. The medical folks never did figure out exactly where the bleeding came from, though they ruled out both aneurysm and stroke...technically, I suppose it is just a brain hemorrhage. ("Just.") The bleeding was, however, massive. Naturally, Matt grabbed a suitcase and left to be near her as she lay in the ICU at St. Vincent's.

It was shortly after that that I realized Dudley had gone to that Great Ball of Yarn in the Sky at exactly the perfect time--a week and a half earlier--because I'm not really sure how I would have managed the whole first-year teaching too much thing, plus sudden single working parenthood, plus being worried about Matt, his mom, and their family, plus trying to explain to the girls both what was happening and why they didn't even get to say goodbye before Daddy left (it was nap time), AND do all the care Dudley needed. Of course, all the while I realized that I had by far the easier job, at least compared to Matt's. (It was also good timing, because it did give at least Laura a touchstone...in that way children have of bringing humorous catharsis to tragedy, when I told her Grandma was so sick she might die, Laura immediately said: "Will she go to the vet?") We were very grateful for the many offers of help that week; special thanks have to go to Kyle for continuing to shepherd the speech team while its two other coaches were incommunicado, and Eric for chipping in to judge at the tournament that next Saturday.

By Wednesday of that week, they had decided that Pat had stabilized enough to move her to a regular room, out of the ICU. She had been unconscious, then in and out of consciousness, in part at least because of the painkillers, but she very gradually improved over the next week. They could tell by now that she had what is called "left side neglect", and while I probably won't explain it correctly, it mostly means that her brain ignores the fact that her left side exists. This is not quite the same as paralysis, but has many of the same effects, plus some really weird ones like not acknowledging what her left eye sees....Dianne reported that she watched Pat eat half a plate of food, and think she was done, until the plate was turned to reveal what had been on the left side of it.

By that, you may deduce that she is doing a little better; the plate of food was in the nursing center she has been moved to. She's able to speak, a bit; not nearly as well as before. The doctors, though, have warned us not to hope for too much.

This really sucks.

The weather has kept us from going up to visit her this week, though we're hoping for a break in time for Christmas. Although in comparison it seems like a small matter, you may be able to imagine how far behind I got while Matt was gone for six school days, and worse, how far behind *he* got in that amount of time (his kids were mighty glad to have him back instead of another substitute). And that is what we have been up to, why there are no Christmas cards, no Christmas letter, definitely no blog posts, and not a heckuva lot of Christmas cheer around here. But we'll see what we can do about that last one in the next few days....

September 23, 2008

Walking Like an Old Guy

Matt dropped the girls off at preschool today, stopped long enough at work to let them know he would be gone, and took himself to the hospital.

He's had some pain in the abdomen--no, not on the appendix side--the last few days, and it suddenly got worse this morning. They ran several tests, including x-rays to check for kidney stones and a CAT scan to check for all sorts of things, and so far their best guess is that it's some kind of infection somewhere in the intestinal tract. More tests are coming, but they let him leave with TWO antibiotics prescriptions to take for now.

He says it only hurts when he's not holding absolutely still.

Meanwhile, so far we're still hosting a tournament this weekend. The school was closed down yesterday morning because of a power outage. So when he got done with the medicos, he went back to work (tho' school was out by then) to start coping with all the registrations to compete that had come in yesterday and today.

Will post more info. as it becomes available...hopefully, it will be nothing too exciting to report.

August 29, 2008

Dear Rachel,

Although lots of people have dropped hints, a few have been bold enough to ask, and at least one has actually nagged, you are the first person, I do believe, to take the time to send me a snail-mail letter urging me to update my blog!

So this one's for you.

It's been an incredibly busy summer, mostly because I've been working. Most weeks, I've gone out to school at least once. On virtually every other day, I used the afternoon to work on sewing some clothes for myself (a job still unfinished...), and also to look through the mountains of curriculum stuff left me by my predecessor. Matt made some good progress on finishing up the house's trim painting job. (The girls now have fond memories of Daddy sitting on the counter with his feet in the kitchen sink, painting the outside trim on the windows above the sink from the inside.) He also built a new picnic table (the old one was disintegrating before our eyes).

We got a new car, a new set of mattresses (way overdue!), and a new computer (with free iPod). I have actually and with no incidents driven the minivan now--it's still a bit scary because it's so huge, but I hope to keep my good record. I have even parked and un-parked without hitting innocent bystanders (or by-cars). I did a little happy dance at school yesterday when I found that the funny adapter thing that came with my computer was, in fact, exactly what I needed to hook it to the projector at school...thus making my wiki very workable (I *could* use the evil PC to project, but this way I don't have to be compatible, or export my own bookmarks. Heaven.) Also, the nice tech people from the District connected my own dear Dobby to the wireless network, which works both in my classroom and in the library--and the projector lives in the library but is also happy to travel. Gotta love flexibility!

I still have a few loose ends to tie up over the weekend, and quite a lot of planning to do. I am starting to feel, however, that I will live to see the end of the year. And downright excited when I start thinking and talking about my wiki and having the kids do some podcasting... the District tech people get these sappy, happy looks on their faces ...amazingly, I am something of a bolt from the blue there, I think.

How are the girls? They are fine. They looooooooove their preschool, though I think they'd rather we could all stay home when they're tired. Laura has completely attached to her main teacher, and is slowly getting to know and like the others. Emily has mostly gotten over her initial fear of the Big Potty they have there, and loves to climb on the play equipment. Both entertain us with the new/old songs they've picked up. For the most part they seem to be well and happy there, and I know *we* have been happy with the quality of care. Our schedule is tough on them; we get up at 5, they get up at 5:30, and if all goes like clockwork we manage to get home by about 4:45. That's a long day for a little one! (On the up side, they fall right asleep at night.)

Matt has one new "prep" class to set up. He is still the co-president of the union. And the NFL District Chair. And the first tournament is coming up at the end of September, as usual. (The first workshop, even earlier than that.)

My garden has gone to seed this year...it had a slow beginning because of weather, a slower still middle because of work, and then--agonizingly--I just realized I didn't have the time to do it all. I'm still hoping to at least tuck it in nicely this fall and try again next year.

I have to have my wisdom teeth out; but I can't just make an appointment. Because I was honest on my little health form for the dentist, I have to have allergy testing to make sure that anything they might use or give me for that surgery, will not cause a repeat of the asthma attacks I had with each girl's arrival (they did give me lidocaine before each c-section. So we'll see....) Since I have to go without some of my favorite (i.e., most helpful) medications to do the allergy testing, not to mention the thrill of oral surgery as a reward...I am not looking forward to it all that much.

We've tried to make the summer full of good memories; we've been to the beach at least four times (five...six? times), once for a two-night stay at a beach house (we really liked the house, though the beds were terrible--even the kid beds! But it did have location, location, location going for it in a big way.) We spent Emily's third birthday at the Aquarium, and our adventure for August was taking Grandma Ma and Grandma Pat and Grandpa Bill with us to play at the beach...except Grandma Ma got really sick and couldn't go (she's better). The beach was so exciting that Bill fell asleep--quite a feat when you're being offered a plastic toy full of sand to pretend it's a plate and eat off of--and yes, we have pictures as proof. The same house we stayed in is already on reserve for a weekend later in the fall; if I don't schedule time away, I know I won't rest enough.

We had a great time at the fair today, looking at lots of live animals and seeing the sights of the midway (not riding anything or even playing; just LOOKING was excitement enough for the girls!) Although she fussed about the noise at the time, Laura's favorite was the roosters, while Emily preferred the bunnies. I liked the cows. Matt was amazed at the pig mama with 11 (count 'em) piglets, who--apparently--spend all their time eating. (Let me just say that that pig must be getting more than her share of oxytocin to tolerate all those customers at once....) Since the girls have not yet made it to a zoo, this was one of those great days.

Before I forget, another pitch for the fair (it wraps up on Monday). They have way cooler facilities than when I was there as a teenager; for instance, we spent some time in the "Toddler Zone", all free with crawling toys and safe mats and drawing equipment *and* a changing table stocked with lots of diapers in a variety of sizes. We also found a booth set up near the Artist's area where kids could sit and paint or color--also free.

So there you go; that ought to catch you up a little. No promises for updates as the school year gets into full swing; I've been spending my spare time snuggling with my babies whenever I can!

Yours very truly,
G.O.

July 11, 2008

Me: Confusing Doctors Since 1971

So the plan was, for me to go in and get allergy shots this summer. I'd start them, see whether they killed me (apparently that can happen, though it's extremely rare), and continue during the school year.

Before mixing up the magic serum with which to inject me, the allergist wanted to do another skin test, just to make sure the primary culprit was actually still dust, and that nothing had been added to the mix. I went in Tuesday, and here's the thing: NOTHING showed up as a positive allergen.

This is bizarre.

A year and a half ago, the dust mite spot was clear and obvious almost from the moment the little needle touched me (the nurse commented on it as she was setting the timer they use to give you enough time to finish reacting). I also had, according to the doc, "minor" reactions to cockroaches and something I now forget. So when I saw the same doc this time, she said she was frankly perplexed. We both agreed that we'd try the test again in a few months (3 to 6) to see what we can see; she said that it does happen, sometimes, that people just don't react at one point and will at another. I said, "Could I be *cured*?" and the reply was that it was, just like everything, possible.

Personally, I have a few theories, but since there's only one in the test group and no controls at all, it's difficult to verify cause and effect. So here they are, in no particular order:

  • Maybe getting really, really, really sick and then taking the Prednisone last winter somehow "reset" my immune system (to be honest, I have felt top-notch the last few weeks.)
  • Maybe more distance from the whole ordeal of child-bearing and breast-feeding has let my body heal itself and replenish some nutrients it needed to not be so tense and sensitive.
  • Maybe eating almost all organic has somehow lessened my reactivity (that's been since February).
  • Maybe the tech who mixed the test-prick potions messed up.
  • Maybe my life goal is actually to show up in as much medical literature as possible before I die (no one had heard of the asthma attacks with C-sections thing, either...)
  • or, Maybe I really am better.

So far, that's all I can think of.

On the up side, I don't have to have shots unless and until I have a positive skin test again. And maybe I'll enjoy our coming beach escape even more than I was expecting, if the furnishings don't make me so sneezy!

Don't Cry for Me, Little Laura

This is what happens when you marry a metrosexual. Who watches show tunes clips on YouTube. With a four-year-old nearby.

I would just like to point out that, apart from asking her if she'd do it for the camera, we did not encourage her in her dramatics. She was, apparently, born a star. (She has been doing this for about a week, at random times and places.)


July 8, 2008

A Lovely Addition to the Household

We've been on a long-planned, long-anticipated (but not long-lasting!) spree. (I use those qualifiers so nobody thinks we've gone completely nutso; we've been fairly cheap for quite a long time, first to prepare financially for house and children, and then to be able to stay in the former with the latter. Now, things are different).

So please know that I mention this not to brag, but because Matt will kill me if I don't at least give it a post: we are the happy owners of a 2008 Toyota Sienna.

It is lovely.

The Way It Shouldn't Be

Let's say, just for fun, that you're looking for a preschool for your children. You pick two to do site visits for; both are nationally accredited. They cost precisely the same amount.

Enter one preschool.

You see the play area; it is not tiny. The guide shows you the basement meeting hall the children play in when it rains. In case you didn't know...it rains here. Often.

You see the pretty classrooms, with the busy children, and ask about the curriculum. They talk about letters and numbers.

You ask, "What do you do with a child who already knows all their letters?"

They are silent. They look at each other. Then they stammer, "Uh...well, we'd work on the letter sounds, and maybe move on to word recognition?"

They assume that I am talking about the four and a half year old. I do not tell them that Laura already is pretty solid on the letter sounds, and that Emily is actually the one I was thinking of when I asked the question.

~~~~~
The scene shifts to a different preschool.

A smaller setting, both in size of classes and of classrooms. It is homey, and not very institutional. (There is a room full of infants, and none of them are fussing, although at least two or three are being simply snuggled by some grandmother-types). They have a sandpit outside in a large fenced play area. When you comment, you are told, "Oh, yes, and we play outside even when it rains. We encourage boots in the winter!"

When you ask how they handle children who are starting to read, they answer with no hesitation that they "just try to take students where they are, and help them move forward academically."

Can you guess which place we (unanimously--all four of us) chose?

As an independent benefit, it's close to work for both of us, so the girls may get to visit speech practice from time to time and catch up on their idols.

The Way It Should Be

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting the retired teacher whom I'll be replacing (who? dammit, I have trouble with those...). He spent about two and a half hours giving me a guided tour of my new classroom, showing me the textbooks for all the subjects I'll be teaching, providing me advice and cautions about various and sundry things and people, and assuring me of two vital things: that he *hoped* I would certainly change the curriculum around to suit my own style, and that he was planning to sub but would not be back for a while, to give the students a chance to transfer their loyalties. (Although I assured him that--especially as a not-new teacher--he was most welcome any time).

Can you imagine the state of the world if every teacher in a new spot had an introduction to their job like that?

In addition, he decided to donate almost two whole four-drawer filing cabinets full of teacher materials (over and above the textbook supplements; these are the kind the individual teacher picks up on their own. I do not plan to sell them, but rather, use them; but if I priced them all out, it's probably in the neighborhood of $2,000 worth of literature. Maybe more.)

As a final gift, when I asked (a bit timorously, I think) about how he organized 8th grade graduation (that task comes with the job), he said: "Call me in April, and I'll walk you through it."

To be sure, I've got challenges ahead. But one guy and couple of hours of his life have suddenly made mine a whole lot easier.

June 11, 2008

Some People Have All the Luck...

...and obviously, I've gotten my fair share. I am employed for the fall; I had an interview yesterday afternoon and was offered the job this morning. It was the job Matt and I had hoped for, since it's in his district; that means it should not be a big hairy deal for me to keep on assistant coaching the (State Champions!) team.

Okay, it's not *all* luck. I'm sure it helps that I have that Continuing License I worked so hard to get (especially now that you can put it off for quite a while, which I did not). And it helps that I grew up in the District, got excellent grades there, did not end up in Juvy, etc. And I have experience teaching. Finally, it has to help that I am happy and proud to know some Pillars of the Community in the small unincorporated hamlet in which I'll be teaching (don't get me wrong; it's a cute hamlet. Crossroads. Wide area in the road. Whatever. ;-) ).

So what's she teaching, you might ask? I'll tell you: everything! First, it's important to point out that not everyone who has ever taught in a high school, likes middle schoolers. I do. And that is fortunate, for I'll be teaching a combined class of 7th and 8th graders all day. It's a "self-contained" class, which in this case means that all the 7th and 8th graders in the school (around 23, at last count)* are in it, and I will be their only teacher--except when I swap with the 5th/6th guy to do science or social studies (we'll figure that out soon). Since I've always disliked having to choose just one thing to focus on, I'm actually really looking forward to that situation.

On the other hand, I'll also be teaching math. (Are those sirens I hear?....) No, really, it will be okay; I won't have to go beyond Algebra I, which is the last math class I did anything remotely resembling A work in. It'll just take me a while to figure out exactly how to teach it, never having done so.

So that's the scoop. Preschool placement will get figured out when Matt gets back from Vegas, and we'll also have some purchasing decisions to make; some of our making-do strategies will become obsolete when there's no one here to be doing the making-do (ing?). While I don't think either of us is planning to engage in obnoxious conspicuous consumption....it will be nice to have two incomes again.

And Tier Two status!


*This is a nice change from 33 per class for English 9, and a total load of around 180. Perhaps nice is not a strong enough word, especially since I am the Worst Teacher in the History of the World at Learning Names.

June 4, 2008

Will Work for ~$300 a Month

It's a long story, but the quick and dirty version is: I need a job this fall. It needs to be a PERS job, which means teaching or government work.

I can explain more when it's not so crazy, but essentially, the reason I need it now is to stay in Tier II of PERS; hence the title. That's how much I stand to lose a month at retirement, in today's dollars, if I fall out of Tier II, which will happen without me getting in around 600 or so hours in a PERS job before the end of the calendar year (a full-time teaching position would fit that bill quite nicely). When I first found out (last week), I was a little horrified--we were always planning on sending me back, and had always wanted one of us home with the girls until they were up to three (which Emily turns this summer), but I'd settled in to the idea of waiting until they were in school. Now, I'm seeing that they'll be fine and would probably actually benefit from a little preschool...Laura's grown out of a lot of her "transition issues", and we'll find her a place she likes. Emily will probably like anywhere with toys.

So, into the fray I go. All job referrals welcome!

June 1, 2008

Another Reason to Get Up in the Morning





The note says "Frosty the Pirate strikes!" (also, "GARRR!"). It is anonymous, but we have some suspects in mind.

April 20, 2008

We Are the Champions

Yesterday, our team won State in the 5A division!

And, not coincidentally, one of our kids was a State Champion (in Impromptu). That alone couldn't make us number one, however; many, many of our speakers went to various finals.

That was plenty for one day's excitement. But, there's more. Matt was elected the Speech Educator of the Year for this coming school year! So, next year at State, he gets to give a speech and accept the honor during a special assembly.

It was a good day.

April 12, 2008

It's a Two-Fer

We qualified another one to Nationals, in Congress. So now Matt gets to take two teenage boys to Vegas.

That doesn't sound quite right....

and yet, it's true!

April 6, 2008

Speech Team at 2008 Districts

We creamed 'em.

The team is sending students to State in every event there is, save C-X (which no one in our District does, so it's not like we lost anything). Many events have more than one qualifier from our team (most events send 2 or 3 students or debate teams). Each school is limited in how many entries it can have at Districts, which means we actually had to exclude some people from even competing there...but most of the students we did send to Districts, are going on to State.

That's a big step on the way to doing well at State (just getting our kids there). We have five practices between now and then, and NFL Congress next weekend, so there's not much time to do much radical change...but most of these kids have been doing well all year, so hopefully nobody needs any radical change. Tune in in two weeks to see how it turned out.

Calling Dr. Laura

A few weeks ago, Laura decided to take her turn caring for a family pet. Here are the pics and some explanation.

[Tami nagging set to: OFF] ;-)

April 4, 2008

Sweet Things

When I was horribly sick in December, and my allergies were going bananas, Laura was very sweet to me.

We have a popcorn-popper toy, and the girls call it their "vacuum"; okay, the movement to get it to go and sing its song does look a lot like what the grownups do when they vacuum. Laura has figured out that Daddy vacuums so that Mama won't get sick, i.e., allergic.

So in December, whenever I said I was sick (even when it was just the cold), she would say, "*I'll* vacuum for you, Mama!" and she did. In fact, she asked me on several different occasions if I was feeling sick, and followed it up with the offer--and the popper...just in case.

~~~~~~~~

In spite of Emily being turbo-charged, she loves to snuggle. The following scene occurs once or twice a week, usually after she's been asleep:

[parent--it happens with both of us--is holding Emily on their shoulder. Emily's head is down.]

P: "Can I set you down, Em?"
E: "No. I not done wuvving you yet."
P: "awwwwwww...okay, I guess I can hold you a bit longer...."

April 3, 2008

I need inspiration...

So I have a few minutes, but for the first time (surely not the last), I find myself...uninspired. So I need to hear from you. I know Tami wants pictures; what does everybody else want to hear about/see/etc.?

Hook up them thar jumper cables and get me going! (you can leave comments, or email me, or whatever...don't do smoke signals, though, it aggravates the asthma).

April 2, 2008

The Apple Has Not Fallen Far...

So, Saturday, two of our co-captains were wonderful and came and babysat for us. Sunday, and Monday, and yesterday, Laura has been saying a particular word (okay, it's the word "no") in a distinct and rather obvious imitation of one of said co-captains. Today, said co-captain finally got to hear her say it, and realized that wow, it *does* sound like her.

I said, smirkily, "Children are wonderful mirrors."

(I said that to the co-captain, mind you).

And Laura said, even more smirkily, "Yes, we ARE!"

Gee. I appear to have given birth to a smartass. Who'd a thunk?

April 1, 2008

ain't got, got, got no time...

but I know Tam's not the only one eager for Ogle news.

So: we had Spring Break.

Before that, we qualified one kid to nationals (in LD Debate; they can only go in one event, now).

Before that, we were having a tournament almost every weekend, and before that, we got to play for a night out, thanks to a generous gift from my aunt and cousin (we went and saw..."The Debaters". Of course!).

Before that, I enjoyed my very-much-a-surprise-gift post-Christmas night out...mostly. I got to see Ellen for several hours, and we enjoyed a leisurely dinner, followed by coloring (we are, after all, party animals!) No children of mine were present at the dinner, and it was oh! so lovely to just talk like, and realize we actually are....grownups. I enjoyed the hot tub. I did not enjoy the dusty bed, though I had just finished my course of steroids and was actually much better. I ended up sleeping on a leather loveseat, some, and decided maybe next year....I'll send the family away instead. :-)

And I plan to start allergy shots, once speech season is done. We'll see if they work for me....

Over Spring Break (what was left after NFL), we did not sit still much. I had to work on our taxes, which are considerably more complicated this year as we both have self-employment income (that's just one of the perks...okay, it's the only perk....wait, it's NOT a perk! of Matt's being the union president; although he has no expenses to put against it, he is considered a sole proprietor in his union hat.)

We also managed to get to the library for a kid's concert--fun! though Laura stood just outside the auditorium to do her dancing--and took the girls out to lunch one day, just for fun (chocolate shakes and balloons get them every time!) Matt did some school work. We took delivery (free) of four filing cabinets and a desk (free.) Those will make my, and possibly Matt's office, very happy at some point.

Saturday we had a lovely afternoon, thanks entirely to two of our co-captains who had given us three free babysitting sessions for Christmas. Taking them at their word, we took all three sessions in one day: we both got lots of work done in the morning, got the girls (ours) down for their naps, then went off to explore the Mission Mill Museum and go out to dinner. As a fabric addict, it was fascinating for me to see how the wool was processed, but the most gripping thing I saw was the mill race; it had never really made sense to me that you could, you know, lose a child in one, because when I think of a mill, I picture a water wheel alongside some placid creek back East. That's not enough to run a woolen mill, so they purposely channel the water into a narrower space to make it stronger and faster--hence, I'm guessing, "race." Anyway, it was amazing to see wimpy little Mill Creek suddenly look like a scary rapids. Good engineering.

Now we're in the breathless race (sorry ;-)) to Districts. We've been having practice three days a week, which is one reason you haven't had reports--getting the girls up in the morning, then down in time (and tired enough) for naps, then up and hustled out the door in time to make practice at 3:15 (or so) is no joke. Doing it two days in a row, as we are now, is even less jokier. And I do still love that whither I goest, goest them, too; it's just time-consuming right now.

Upcoming pictures you are owed (go ahead, nag me. It couldn't hurt...):
  • Laura "doctoring" Dudley the cat while Emily reads him books
  • child faces around our dining room table, from a gathering of the Usual Suspects

Something to Smile About

In today's news, NCLB is being repealed. Much joy. ;-)

February 29, 2008

Echoes

I think about Joe when I shower.

Well, really (Carol, it's okay to stop hyperventilating. And please, put the knife down! Now, back away, nice and slow....) I think about Joe when I get into the shower, then I laugh to myself and move on to other thoughts. It's nobody's fault; I just have a phonographic memory. You see, when Joe was in medical school, he did an internship (or something) south of us; Carol was north of us; and at least once I remember him flying by, stopping in to see us, and at some point in the visit taking a *very* quick shower. So quick that we commented on it when he came back from the bathroom (nosy, that's us!) In those days, Joe was often a little...late, and so he said he had become an expert on the quickest possible effective shower-taking technique. To wit, and I'm roughly quoting here: "You just *don't worry* about how warm the water is. Turn it on, jump in and start washing!" This is what pops into my head every day when I am decidedly NOT not worrying about the water temperature, but instead waiting for it to get warm.

Joe is not alone in my memory banks, not by a long shot. Actually, it's pretty crowded in there.

There's a whole category set aside for speechies, of course, though the one that crops up most often is, "It made a difference to *that* starfish." And I can never think of that speech without thinking of the same author's speech on popcorn; in regard to movie concessions: "Skip the stuff they squish on top; that's an easy way to cut the calories." I also remember that whenever we're at the movies, and we never do (skip it). From the same era, we are (I think I speak for Matt here, too), completely unable to avoid thinking of Eric whenever we think of any kind of pepper, whose speech on them was a staple of our diets for nearly a year. And whenever Emily crawls into a cardboard box to "take a BAFF!", I think back to that wonderful interp piece, "Days of Cardboard Boxes." It's about cardboard boxes. And what children can do with them.

Other speechies connect more to songs than to actual speeches, in part because we traveled so much with a constant soundtrack. I cannot hear "You're Unbelievable" without thinking of Danny; JJ gets "Say Goodbye to Hollywood", and really, all the team members from that era get to share Billy Joel's Greatest Hits volumes I and II. That's what happens when you listen to an album for nine hours with a set of people, give or take; wait three days, and listen to it *again* for nine hours with the same group.

Not all these echoes are happy. For instance, I was raised on musicals and have always loved My Fair Lady. I even got to teach it, reading the play first, of course. And that was nice. Until the day one of my former students--a grad--came back early in the fall to tell me that the one kid who had come into class the school year before *excited* about the musical, because he loved it, too...had just been killed in a car accident. Justin haunts me a little now whenever that music plays. I think of Jim when I pay bills--not just because I do some bookkeeping for Laurie, but because he's the one who first taught me to write when things were paid, how much, and by whom on bills, having done a fair amount of accountancy himself.

Others are just bizarrely mundane--like the Joe/shower thing--but apparently, permanent. I always open my bank statements the minute I get them (if children allow...), while hearing my grandfather's voice in my head. I shared my first checking account with him, and he impressed upon me how important it was to check your statements and balance your checkbook. I cannot even *see* a package of instant mashed potatoes--let alone eat 'em--without thinking of Paul. He either followed the directions so well, or did not follow them with so much elan, that I remember his particular instant mashed 'taters as being sublime. (It could have been an excess of butter. But they were yummy.)

So now I wonder, what strange and interesting echoes do other people hear? Do tell...I've made it lots easier to leave comments; they just take a little longer to show up. :-)

February 28, 2008

Nightgown Pics

As demanded by Tami, here are pics of the Great Gown Adventure.

(The camera is apparently on its last legs, but it suffered a miraculous rebirth just before being looked at by an actual repair-person, so we'll see how many shots we can get out of it before replacement!)

February 23, 2008

Muffins, Interrupted

Obviously, nobody tried to make the muffin recipe I posted back in November. Or if they did, they assumed the failure was their own. They would have been fairly flat muffins, as it appears that I left out some very key ingredients....well, I included not enough of one (baking soda) and entirely skipped the cream of tartar. Since the original recipe (that I tweaked) calls for 4 teaspoons of baking powder, and those missing items are the replacements....well, it's no light matter. And neither would the results be, without 'em!

Here is the corrected version. Humble apologies for the egg on my face (and let us all be thankful that I couldn't find my copy, but knew I had posted it, so printed it out and read it and realized it was wrong....I gotta pay my test-kitchen people more....)

February 18, 2008

What I Do Instead of Blogging...

Today, like everyone else in the PNW, I was seized with a strong urge to be outside (actually, I was outside yesterday, too). So the tomato bed of last summer is finally uprooted, the stringy disgusting tomato vines now chopped up and preparing themselves to finish their carbon cycles; all the leaves that got left on the lawn near, but not in, the garden beds, are IN the garden beds (better late than never...); and I planted a few early flower seeds, as well as peas (hey, it's President's Day. You're *supposed* to plant peas on President's Day. It's, like, a LAW.) and spinach and, being a gambler at heart, lettuce.

This weekend, I finally finished the Little Girl Nightgown Extravaganza of 2007. I had purchased (at a good discount, natch) several different flannel fabrics, intending to spoil my children rotten at Christmas. Laura has long adored the few nightgowns she has, and they're a lot easier for little potty-goers than zip-up footie pajamas; just lift, lower, and ....uh...."go"! I made one for Laura around her birthday, in November, then was busily working on more to get done in time for Christmas. Then I got sick, which killed most of December. But I had them all cut out (the gowns, not the children), so I couldn't put it off until next winter; they might not fit! But now, I'm done: there are two little gowns with kitties on them (one pink, one aqua--those actually made it under the tree, though it was a near thing!); three little solid-color gowns (red and purple for Laura, green for Emily); two white with capital letters all over them; and two white with pastel polka-dots.

I've been getting my sewing room closer to proper for a dust allergy sufferer. More plastic bins, and I'm in the process of washing my whole fabric stash, since a lot of it has been exposed to dust and such at one point or another. I have to do this gradually because, as one of my fellow coaches put it when I was describing what it's like to have little children and a dust issue, "My God, your washing machine must be running All The Time!" (and she was 100% correct; if it's not running, I know I'm getting behinder.) But the sewing room is getting better. There were a few things that I had to actually sew into a different status before they could be safely (i.e., without falling apart or tangling themselves impossibly in the machinery) laundered, and the nightgowns represent almost the end of that category. Finally, I'm approaching sewing nirvana because--don't laugh--Matt gave me an ironing board for Christmas (muttering all the while, but I really wanted it!). So now I have a very efficient set up with sewing machine at twelve o'clock, ironing board at nine o'clock, and serger at three o'clock, with just space for my old office chair to swivel between them. And, of course, tidy little containers for the sewing-room toys and the Little People, whose village has moved up there as well.

We've been trying a whole host of organic foods, but that's the subject for another post. As is the speech team, though I can say that their string of successes continues. And of course, as long as it's legal, I'm playing Scrabulous. I also had lots of catching up to do in general in January (not least of which was getting my strength back; I had a killer!), and am finally starting to feel like I only have "normal" things to do (payroll taxes are behind me at last, at last...now I just have *our* taxes to do, like everyone else :-) ). Well, you know, as normal as we ever get....

January 6, 2008

Hanson Vineyards

Yeah, yeah, I know, you've heard nothing since before Christmas. I am doing okay; much better now, and we have had many excellent adventures.

But for now, I'd like to direct you to Hanson Vineyards. I know from *nothing* about wines (except I like some of them), but I do know the Hansons, and they are given to doing things "right" (among other things, though certainly not limited to, producing Ellen!). So my guess is, they're making some good stuff (there are two bottles of it on our counter at the moment, one of which I don't think *you* can buy yet--at least not online--neener neener neener). Try it for yourself! They're happy to have tours, and you can see all the equipment up close (I know, because we did. Check out the photo section on their site--we saw it all today.)

(Oh, and while they're working on a wider distribution, you can get it from them direct, or at the Glockenspiel Restaurant in Mt. Angel.) Not only are they a local business, and therefore worthy of our support...they are also, truly, some of the finest and nicest people I know.