Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fun holiday activities

What do most people do during the holidays?

We played many games, put puzzles together, ate too much wonderful food, read new books, caught up on every one's lives.

And learned to shoot a gun!!

Jeff and Norm took me to the shooting range. It was very overwhelming at first. It is much louder than I thought it would be. I jumped every time someone shot something. Since we were at a shooting range that was about every two seconds. I looked like a Mexican jumping bean. I was also surprised by the raining brass. Somehow I guess I thought that the empty shells just collected neatly into a pile somewhere. They don't. They fly everywhere. It's very disconcerting to have pieces of metal flying everywhere.

My men were patient with me. They let me stand there and watch for quite awhile, adjusting to the sights and sounds. Eventually I learned how to load my pistol, aim it, and fire it. I was pretty good, although the target was very close as you can see in the picture.

Serious stuff, though. I have a healthy respect for guns.

Monday, December 7, 2009


I worked all weekend on family Christmas presents and here is one of the results: a scrumptious brownie-like cookie sandwiched together with peppermint frosting. Yum!! The recipe was from Sunset Magazine.

I also made gingerbread cookies, shortbread present cookies, and a wonderful homely looking Scandinavian cookie that was probably my favorite. It was unassuming in appearance, but packed full of the wonderful flavor of hazelnuts, cinnamon, and maple syrup.

Norm and I shopped at Michaels for the perfect packaging, worked all afternoon Sunday preparing them, and we will ship them off today. I hope they make it without too much crumbling.

I'm hoping people won't be too disappointed with these simple gifts for Christmas this year. A lot of love went into them and they ARE quite tasty.

On a different note, I'm being honored at next Monday night's school board meeting because of the National Boards!!! Oh my goodness. Wish you all could be there with me, especially those of you who endured my hand-wringing throughout the process and those others of you who kindly understood why I had to work on my portfolio through Christmas last year. Thank you all for your support!!

Have a blessed Monday!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Isn't this Christmas cactus beautiful? I'd forgotten how lovely these plants can be. My thoughtful mother-in-law sent me one as a congratulatory gift for becoming a National Board Certified Teacher. It was so sweet of her, but I'm amazed at how much joy this plant is giving to me.

I also received an unusually beautiful poinsettia from one of my students. I love looking at it in my kitchen window. It's incredible.

These simple plants have really touched my heart. Speaking of which, yesterday was December 1st. My incredible husband set up my Christmas table, and when I woke up, it had the first gift of December upon it. I'm so blessed, aren't I?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Waiting is the HARDEST part!!!!

Scores for the National Board Teaching Certificate can be posted at any time and I'm feeling the pressure. This waiting is much harder than actually doing the darn thing.
I've resorted to reading online teacher posts from fellow candidates. In the vacuum of real information, rumors are constantly flying about when the scores will be posted. At least I'm not doing what one candidate is: playing two games of spider solitaire, checking to see if the scores have been posted, playing two games of solitaire, checking to see if the scores have been posted..........arghhhhhhhh!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things

Sometimes you just have to go back to what makes you happy.

Last week I did a watercolor painting project with my students. I had done this project many years ago when I was teaching art for fun at Chester when Jeff was in sixth grade. The project came to my mind when I was thinking that I really needed to do something fun with my students.

Autumn and watercolor painting used to be two of my favorite things. BT. Before teaching.

This year I've tried to recapture my enjoyment of autumn. I decorated this year. I've also tried to squeeze in some time for watercolors. By the time I come home from work, I'm just wiped out. I thought about this project and decided to try it with my students. They did a fabulous job...much better than the sixth graders did many years ago. I realized that it was a direct reflection of my teaching. I now know how to chunk the instructions into small, doable pieces. After over a year of being in my classroom, these students also know how to listen for the most part, and follow directions. It was so fun to paint with them.

I was very pleased with the results and so were they. I can't wait to mount them with a sensory poem piece and get them on the wall just in time for conferences.

While in my art room, looking at these beautiful masterpieces all laid out on the bed, I had a nice conversation with my dear, long-suffering friend, Judi.
Lying on the windowsill, chatting with her, my two furry companions on the floor right by me, guarding me from who knows what, and my wonderful husband puttering around improving our home, I thought about how blessed I am.

I hope you are enjoying some of your favorite things this autumn.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

You don't want me on your side!

Maybe I should stop watching sports. Every team I root for loses lately!!! Maybe I should take my terrible power and root for the Yankees!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Apple Day Revisited

I ran across these photos that Norm took a few weeks ago. We had a lovely time of today mixing with yesterday when Kate and Jeff both came home for a visit. While we missed Cy, who couldn't make it because of academic commitments, it was sweet to slip back into a treasured memory when we four made the trek to Green Bluff to pick apples just like we did so many times as the children were growing up.
The tradition started in California when I was pregnant with Kate. Norm's mom, Jo took me to Watsonville to visit apple orchards. We ate mile-high apple pie, picked apples, looked at antiques. It was wonderful. As the children grew, they came along. A few years later, the annual Watsonville expedition , now called "Apple Day", had grown to include aunts, uncles, cousins, fathers, and even Granddad.

The tradition continued when we moved to Spokane. Spokane, being in Washington, did apple day even better than California. Relatives from Santa Clara, and Hollywood even made the trip to Spokane several times to experience the new apple experience.

Well, the "kids" have changed, haven't they?

Two of our "Apple Day" adventurers are no longer with us and we miss them dearly.

On the other hand, we've added a new member of the apple brigade, who fits in as though he were always a part (even though he was not on this particular trip).

Seize the apply day!!!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

O Happy Day!

Who cares if the scale doesn't move as quickly as I would like!!!!!

I'm back in my favorite Ann Taylor wool pants.


Saturday, September 19, 2009


I'm struggling with many things right now and one of them is this blog.

Blogs are interesting. If they're not tied to a business, the writer walks a fine line with a blog. A business blog has a specific purpose. A personal blog is not so clearcut. It's not wise to treat it like a diary. Much too personal and possibly a burden to those reading it. On the other hand, I've never been good at the superficial facade that society practices. Probably why I don't have a lot of friends...just a handful of cherished relationships. I'm pretty transparent, sometimes painfully so. When I'm struggling it's hard for me to pretend otherwise. Life's been a struggle the last few weeks so I'm sorry I haven't posted.

What am I struggling with?

My job. It is difficult to put so much into something and see so little positive come out of it. What has happened to a society where you have to fight parents about not allowing 10 year olds to wear make up, high heels, and long dangling earrings to school? Where expecting 5th graders to actually do the assigned work makes you a "too-strict" unreasonable teacher?

My faith. God and I are not speaking at the moment. My pastor would probably tell me that this is a sign that I'm not really a believer. I think he's wrong. All relationships go through times where feelings are strained, why not the most important relationship of all? I'm a finite creature trying to understand the infinite and it's not easy. The shallow mantras offered by fellow people of faith in the throes of adversity don't cut it with me, so it's back to just me and God slogging through the mire I sometimes feel myself to be in.

The unfairness of weight loss. Ha! Had to throw in one humorous bit lest you read my blog and wallow in despair as a result. Norm and I have done a FANTASTIC job of continuing our great eating and our exercise program. Norm looks wonderful. He has lost over 20 pounds!!! More importantly, he feels great. I feel great too and have lost about 12 pounds. (See? Life is NOT fair!)
Through all my struggles, I am so thankful that I am loved. Really loved. I pray that as you go through your struggles you know that you also are loved.
P.S. I promised my feline follower that I would include items of interest for her in my posts. Animal note: yesterday a mama moose and her two babies were breakfasting in our back yard. Makes it exciting when I go up the driveway in the dark of early morning to get the paper.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Where The Boys Are

I love my boys.

They bonded over wood for a few days.
Jeff is making a gorgeous oak and black walnut end table.
Norm has been doing unique things with wood and knots - putting them together to make beautiful serving trays.

They both love working with wood. It's fun to watch them. I am constantly amazed by my family's range of creativity and enthusiasm for creating things.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Oh The Joy!

The upstairs is finished!

This was before
Here is after

And here's the art room:

Every time I go upstairs I'm happy.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

An Ode To Discipline

Blah! The word sounds so negative and confining
Yet as we end our third week of our exercise/eating plan,
I find myself in much more positive state of mind
I had lost control of another area of my life
It took a great deal of discipline to wrest the sovereignty back
Somehow I expected that with that success,
the rest of my life would flow smoothly again
Alas, life is not so easy
I didn't realize that with the loss of control in the one area,
came the loss of control in other areas
exercise, eating, chores
All these areas of my life had fallen into a state of lack of discipline
Yet after just three weeks of self imposed discipline,
it's wondrous how much easier the course becomes to navigate
At first it's so difficult
You have to summon the will constantly to fight the urge to slip back into lethargy,
old ways of no control
With each success, it becomes easier
You feel stronger
I am amazed that I ever got so far off course!
Aah, but I am wary of the call of chaos
its tendrils are always trying to wrap themselves around me,
pull me down into the despair
of no discipline
It is a lie that it is confining
it is liberating.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A bevy of birthdays

August is here and with it the birthdays of three of my favorite people:

Mom: August 3

Judi: August 4

Kate: August 16

Happy, happy birthday! I am so thankful for all three of you and I can't imagine my life without you!!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ordering chaos

I have a low tolerance for chaos. Over time I have come to realize that I react to situations because of this truth about myself. Through my studies of how the brain learns, I know that the brain is constantly trying to make sense of the world, to detect patterns. When the brain receives new information, it needs to have some place to put it.

Just like pain receptors, maybe people have more or less visual/auditory stimulus receptors. Perhaps people with a lot of stimulus receptors get overwhelmed with visual and auditory input. I've decided that this is why I have such a problem with situations where there is no discernable pattern, especially visually.

At the moment we're living in chaos. As we finish painting one room, we move things into it from another room and proceed to tear the new room apart. At this point, the entire upstairs is torn apart. I have to take deep breaths and tell myself that this is GOOD!!! When it is complete, I will LOVE IT!!!

My blog is a friend of diversity!
I am excited that I have a new follower to my blog...and she is a different species. Hopefully this trend will continue. Perhaps an aquatic species will follow? In the spirit of this inclusiveness, I will try to include information that is interesting to all.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Falling Stars

We had to take the stars down.

Stars used to decorate the ceiling of our exercise room, which used to be Kate's bedroom. Repainting the ceiling necessitated this action but it left me feeling a little melancholy. Kate put them up in her room years ago so she could look at stars before she fell asleep. It seems like such a short time ago. Now she's married and gone, having taken her treasured possessions long ago. But this last demolition seemed a little heartbreaking.

I guess that's how it goes. You spend hours, days, years - at the time it seems that the time will go forever - raising two human beings. They become a part of you - joined seamlessly to your heart and soul. A part of you. How ironic that if you've done it well, they somehow separate and leave.

I decide that a little melancholy is ok - as long as I don't stay there too long. After a little while I pull my thoughts to the positives of the new reality: two warm, intelligent, funny adult children who are living full lives that fortunately still include us in a new capacity. That seam? Maybe there's a little scar, but it's ok. I'm blessed as a result of it.

Nose Update:

Saw the doctor today. She reassured me that all was well, commenting that after all, I had several broken bones in my head that will hurt more and take longer to heal than a bone that can be splinted or casted. As contrary as it sounds, this pronouncement made me feel better.

Here's to discovering new stars.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Heavy Lifting

Yesterday was my first lower body workout with my new weights. I discovered that my quadricep muscles are WEAK!!!! What a wimp I had to be. I had to change my plan and dramatically lower the weights. Maybe this explains why my hamstrings are sore a lot. I thought THEY were weak. Turns out that they are pretty strong, probably due to running, but the quads are incredibly weak.

By the time I was done, my legs felt like jello.
We're making progress on our projects. The art room has been repainted. Today we work on the exercise room. When that's done, it will be time for the big project upstairs: our bedroom.
Wasn't it amazing to watch men walk on the moon again? Watched some great programming yesterday to make the anniversary of our first trip to the moon.
Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weighty Matters

Well, I've begun a new fitness program that centers around...weight training!

Yes!!! The cardio queen has traded her running shoes for dumbells. I'm even going to take a "before" picture in my two piece suit that I only wore during my slimmest days.

Don't worry. That picture will not be shown here, or anywhere else on God's planet. I would not want to be reponsible for burning your eyeballs out of their sockets.

Here's a substitute:

I've given this a lot of thought. I must find a fitness routine that I can sustain throughout the year, not just in the summer. While running is fun for me, it takes a huge chunck of time and requires (at least for me), nice weather.

That lets out three fourths of the year (mostly because of school, not weather).

After doing some research, I found a program that I and Norm are committed to where you weight train for three days, and do 20 minutes of aerobics for three days, with one day off.

Wow, 20 minutes of aerobics instead of an hour? HA!!!!!

Believe it or not, the way we're going it on this program, it kicks butt (and I've got a lot to kick as seen in the picture above). During the 20 minutes you vary intense levels with less intense levels of effort (pretty much interval training). Tough stuff but strangely satisfying.

Of course, we're also following a healthier eating program too. This is such a great time of year to do that with all the gorgeous fresh produce! (For those of us who live on the west coast, that is. "Go west, young man" should say "Come west, dear sister!!!". I'll share some of my more successful recipes. Here's one that I made up:

White Bean, Clams, and Spinach Saute

Take 1/2 of an onion (give or take), and 1 tablespoon of minced garlic (give or take) . Saute in a pan with 1 tsp. of olive oil (give or take) for about a minute or so. Add 1 can of drained white beans and 1 can of drained clams (save the juice).

Saute for about 2 minutes or so. Add several handfuls of baby spinach (I add as much as will fit in my 12" saute pan because I love spinach). If you need to, add some of the clam juice to keep things going). Saute until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper and serve. (Serves 2)

Fast, easy, and yummy.

Speaking of yummy, Kashi has come out with a Heart to Heart whole grain cracker that is fabulous. I love the roasted garlic version.

Bruising is a little better, but still waking up with what I think are nose related headaches EVERY STINKING MORNING!!!! I think I'm a little congested and the sinus pressure hurts my nose which then radiates throughout my face.
Oh well. After taking a lot of Advil which doesn't help, I've decided to ignore it.

Good to be home, but miss you all!!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Nosing Around

Well, I decided that I would not get the surgery.

After all, how bad can my unswollen nose possibly look?

OK, maybe bad.

Maybe my new nose will have character:

This guy didn't do so bad with his nose.

Well, if worse comes to worse, I can just decorate my new nose.
Today is my unofficial Nose Appreciation Day in honor of Karl Malden's passing and my broken nose. Take time to notice and appreciate the variety of noses in the world around you...including your own!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

From Out of Left Field

Well, actually the ball that hit me was a foul ball from behind the plate.

But I feel like I've been sucker-punched. I was feeling better: starting my fitness routine, working on the house, resting and relaxing and then.......wham!!!

Now I'm in a Vicodin induced haze. Apparently I can't run for at least four weeks or until I can run without jarring discomfort.

What a pain in the nose.

Here is the evil ball.

We went to our first post accident game last night. I was very nervous whenever a ball remotely came our way. Norm was my protector, throwing himself in front of me whenever needed. Sometimes even when not needed, he he. I wouldn't let him go to the bathroom. The Indians' staff were so kind. They gave me an Indians shirt, $10 in Indians Bucks, and a red K card (I didn't like the new green ones).

Today I visited the ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor) and he told me I should get surgery....tomorrow! What about my vacation? Do I let everyone down just so my nose can be straight?

Well, what's the verdict? Does it look that crooked?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I miss oak trees but I LOVE my kitchen!

No pictures for this post. Too much work and I'm too tired.
I can't tell you how happy I am to be home. Not a fun trip to California, although it made me remember how much I love oak trees.
I don't really love much else about California though (other than the loved ones who live there, of course).
I sure don't miss the traffic.
I don't miss the wall-to-wall manmade structures.
I do miss oak trees though.
The trip also made me realize how much I love my house, the view from the deck, frog song at night, and my KITCHEN!!!!

Space, the most important frontier. These are the praises of a well planned kitchen, which boldly allows me to cook in a way I never have before. Cook well and prosper.
Speaking of which, has anyone seen the new Star Trek? I'm planning to use a wonderful birthday gift AMC card, take my love and go to the movies. Haven't done that in a long time.

Only five more full weeks of school.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Isn't it interesting how important context is?

When I was going up in California, I loved to go for walks. One of the things I liked to do was pick wildflowers. Of course, this was before the "Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints" age. One of the most elusive and prized flowers was a shooting star. Every once in a while if you walked far enough, into the right habitat of cool shade, you would see one. That was a magic moment. You never took a sighting for granted because you never knew when you might see one again. It was also the one flower that I did not pick. It just didn't seem right to rip such a rare, treasured prize from the earth only to watch it quickly die. I would savor the moment, and then leave it where it was growing.

In Spokane, shooting stars are like buttercups were in Auburn. They are commonplace, taken for granted. But not by me. Even though I see them often here, they have retained their special place in my heart because of our history together. People native to this area don't even notice them let alone appreciate their beauty.

I wonder how many things I don't notice enough to appreciate?

On another note, during our Easter church get-together, I was greeted by an old friend and I got to make a new one.
Goldie, Ginger's sister was happy to see me, but wanted to know where Ginger was.
Bailey, a black lab, is the Taylor's new puppy. She loved the easter egg hunt and my leather gloves!

I hope you had a wonderful Easter. He is risen!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Rays of Light

Sometimes it feels that you're in a pit of darkness and you just can't get out.
Well meaning people offer encouragement:
"Be positive"
"Think of all you have to be thankful for"
"You have so many positive things happening"

As if you would choose to remain in the pit.
Just think your way out!
think! think! think!

But even in the pit there are rays of light
Norm, Kate & Cy, Jeff
Silly black and white dogs
faithful brown ones,
lifelong dear friends
singing frogs at night

an unexpected letter

I hope rays of light shine on you today.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Nursing a doggone headache

I decided that I would be honest with my blog, and not just post when things are good. The last two days have been an ordeal. I've had a killer headache. Nothing is working and I'm good for nothing.

So much for the exercise routine.

Fortunately I have good care. Of course Norm is wonderful: he's been warming up rice bags and generally waiting on me.

But who can beat this kind of nursing?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Unsinkable Wumpus

I'm so glad that we got a chance to visit Kate and Cy in Pocatello. The visit was very relaxing. I was recovering from my cold for most of the visit, but we had a great time visiting and just enjoying the time together.

One outing we did take was to the museum to visit a Titanic exhibit. (An exhibit about the ship NOT a gargantuan run of the mill museum exhibit.) Kate, Norm and I (Cy had to work), were each given actual identities of passengers aboard that doomed ship. We toured the exhibit and in the end, we read the list of passengers to determine whether or not we survived. I am happy and sad to report that while Kate and I survived, alas Norm did not. He took it well.

We woke up this lovely April spring morning to about three more inches of snow. I wanted to break the snow record this year but this is quite enough. I am so ready for summer. Let's just skip spring and head directly to 70 degree plus weather.

Jeff house and dog sat for us while we were in Pocatello. What a blessing he was!! He fixed my heater core in my car, took some stuff that's been sitting around for far too long to the dump, and bathed the dogs. He even got their nails clipped.

I decided while I was returning to Spokane that I would try to take better care of myself. I will keep you posted about my progress. Lately I have not been doing a very good job: too focused on work, no exercise, and poor food choices. This little trip made me really appreciate how wonderful I have it: fantastic husband, an amazing daughter and son-in-law, and a wonderful son. I really enjoy them all but I haven't been treating myself very well, so I haven't been feeling great. I'm worth feeling great for my own sake and for the sake of those I love. I cleaned the house today and made good food choices.

I've planned a week of healthy eating and I will get back on that exercise routine!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My first posting

Well, here I am sick in Pocatello, Idaho. I almost didn't come, due to my sickness of course. I have a cold which was worsened by having to speak constantly because of teaching and 7 conferences a day for three days in a row. But I decided to come because this was a planned visit with my daughter and son-in-law during my spring break. Even sick it is so good to see them! Sometimes you don't realize how much you miss someone and that their absence is impacting your life in a profound way.

That's when I thought of how appreciative I am of my daughter's blog. Even though we're living far apart, I can check in on her via her blog and get a window into her world. It occured to me that I would love to have that with a few other people in my life: my son, my sister, and my childhood friend, Judi. Maybe they would like that too! So...here's my blog. Hopefully I will be faithful about posting messages in a timely way so that they can still be a part of my life too!
The exciting news is that I have mailed my National Board Teaching Certificate box in!! Here is the picture of the infamous box. It is now out of my hands...literally. Now I study for the next two months for the assessment. Then I wait, and wait, and wait. I honestly don't know how well I've done on it and what my chances are of passing. I'm hoping for the best, but I won't know until December.

Well, back to sipping tea and being a couch potato in Pocatello, ID.