Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Special E-Mail

This is an e-mail I received early today from B2. She is writing about Christmas. Our nickname for her is "Boo." How sweet is this? I'll remind her of it when she is 16 and really mad at me for something! Ha ha!

I think the word beat is supposed to be best, camer is supposed to be camera, and by means bye.

hi mom

i love you soooooooooo much you are the beat mom ever i love my camer i love all my stuff

love boo

PS write back i love you soooooo much by

Monday, December 29, 2008

Great Weekend

We had a very nice, relaxing weekend.

We left Saturday morning around 10:30, dropped the dog off at the vet's office, where they also board, and headed north to Peoria, IL. Bruce used to take a boy's weekend trip there just about every winter, so he knows his way around the town pretty well. On the way, we contacted my cousin, who we made plans with to go to dinner that night. Once we got into town, we checked in at our hotel (Sleep Inn, which was actually very nice, except their internet wasn't working) and then headed to my cousin's house for a short visit. We all then ate dinner at Alexander's Steakhouse, which is one of Bruce's favorite places in Peoria. The steak was awesome and catching up with Dan and Mary Ann even better.

Then Bruce drove himself to the Civic Center, where the Peoria Rivermen play hockey. He dropped himself off and the girls and I headed to Northwoods Mall. We really only went to 3 stores there, but we were there for about 1.5 hours. First, we went to Build-A-Bear workshop, where B2 used a Christmas gift card and some Christmas cash and built herself a dog. It is a husky and she chose to name her "Winter." Whoever came up with the Build-A-Bear idea must be a rich person these days! After that, we headed to Aeropostale, B1's new favorite store. She too had a gift card and cash to use from Christmas. They had a lot of things on sale and she got some good buys. Last stop was JC Penney's, where we needed to return a few things and get B2 a couple pairs of jeans. Then we headed back downtown to pick up Bruce. He and I took turns going to the Par-A-Dice casino for an hour each (while I was there, he and the girls returned something to Wal-Mart and shopped there a little; while he was there, the girls and I went to Culver's for some dessert!). I won $5.40 and he lost $8.00 so all in all, that isn't too bad!

Yesterday, we slept until about 9:30am and then went to get a little breakfast in the hotel lobby. The girls wanted to swim, so I swam with them for awhile and then Bruce did while I got cleaned up. Once we were all ready to go, we headed out to do some shopping. We went to an area with some shops different than what is in the mall. We also ate a mid-afternoon meal at Red Lobster, for which we had gift cards to cover the entire cost. We headed to the Civic Center for another hockey game, this time for all 4 of us. We left with about 3 minutes to go in the game. The Rivermen were winning 3-0. As it turned out, they LOST the game in overtime, 4-3. Yeah, apparantly, the opposing team scored 3 goals in the final 3 minutes (one with .2 seconds remaining) and then won in a shoot out. Wow, did we miss some stuff!

Anyway, today we again slept until about 9:30am (the beds at the hotel were great!), got up, got ready, and headed to one of Dan and Mary Ann's favorite breakfast spots. When we arrived there, we were greeted by Dan, which we were not expecting! We had a great breakfast before getting on the road and heading home.

It was a very nice weekend. It is nice to just get away from home once in awhile. It seems like when I am here, I am always looking around for something that "I should be doing" but when I am away, that is not an option. Last night, for example, I laid in bed and read a book about Disney World that I had purchased yesterday afternoon. It was awesome! I also love staying in a hotel because I love when all 4 of us are sleeping in the same room.

Friday, December 26, 2008

I Did It!

Last year, I posted about the possibility of preparing the dressing (stuffing) for our Christmas dinner. With everything that happened last year with my mom, we didn't end up having Christmas dinner and therefore, I didn't make any dressing. Well, this year my mom made Christmas dinner! And I made the dressing. And it turned out pretty darn good! I was happy with the outcome. My grandmother's husband (who is very critical of his food) complimented me on it, so I knew I had done well! Yay!Not that anyone really cares or wants the recipe (I read both my grandmother's recipe and my great aunt's recipe, which are similar, and combined the two together for MY recipe), but I am going to post it here, mostly for my own record. This way, I know I have it written down somewhere and next year if I am asked to prepare it again, I will be able to recall what I did.
1 regular size loaf of bread, laid out about a week in advance to dry
1 stick butter
1 lb. pork sausage
giblets from the turkey (already cooked liver, gizzard, heart, and meat from neck bone)
1 large can pet milk (only used about 3/4 of this)
2 eggs
2 medium onions
2 apples
3 small potatoes
6 full stalks celery
1 can beef broth
salt and pepper to taste
Brown pork sausage in about 1/3 of the stick of butter. Chop (I used my Pampered Chef chopper for all the necessary chopping) giblets and neck meat and add to pork sausage once it is browned. Chop onions, apples, potatoes, and celery and add to pan. Do not drain any of the grease/liquid from the pan. Salt and pepper the mixture and allow it to simmer on low for about 15 minutes.
Wet the dried bread with warm water. Squeeze out excess water and put bread in a large baking pan. Mix eggs with 3/4 of the pet milk and pour this mixture over the bread. Also, melt the remaining part of the stick of butter and pour it over the bread. Salt and pepper this and then stir to combine. Once the meat/veggie mixture has simmered, add this to the bread mixture. Mix everything together well. I then transferred it to a bit smaller baking pan to bake.
Bake at 325-350 for 1-2 hours depending on your liking. Stir about every 15-20 minutes while baking and if necessary (to keep from drying out), add a little beef broth each time you stir.

On another note, I posted a different recipe today over at St. Louis Recipe Swap.

We went to the movies tonight after Christmas at my parents' house and saw "Marley and Me." I haven't cried like that in awhile. That's all I'll say. B1 was crying too, and I don't think I've ever seen her cry in a movie. I do like this new tradition though. Once again, it was amazing how many people were in the theater!

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's the Most Wonderful (Busiest) Time of the Year

Sometimes people laugh at me because I like to do my Christmas shopping early. Usually, I am basically done with it come December 1. I do this because, like everyone else, our December is usually pretty crazy. And more so this year because B1 is not only playing in one, but two basketball leagues AND B2 is playing this year for the first time as well. I was reminded this week about how nice is it that the shopping and most of the other stuff is complete. Friday night, Triad played Highland in boys basketball. Triad won, which as I have mentioned in past posts, is always great when we are playing our arch-rivals. Before the game, the four of us and my brother went to dinner at Diamond Mineral Springs. They have a seafood buffet on Friday nights which includes crab legs (yummy!). After dinner, we quickly went to the square and while Bruce waited in line, the girls and I walked around and took some pictures. They then went in to visit Santa. This is where the first 5 pictures were taken.
Saturday, B2 had a basketball game at 11:00am in Marine and B1 had one at 5:00 in Highland. We ran a few errands in between. After the 5:00 game, several families went out for pizza. Both of our girls had a friend spend the night that night as well.
Sunday morning, we got up and got ready for church. It was the day of the Christmas program and B1 was a narrator while B2 was one of the Wisemen. This is where the last 5 pictures were taken. After church, B2 had a game at noon and B1 had games at 1:00 and 2:00. Thankfully they were all at the same place! As soon as the games were over, we ran the girls to Bruce's mom's and then headed to St. Louis because we had Blues hockey tickets. We had Blues tickets last year at this same time and all I really remember about it was walking around there in sort of a funk because my mom had been diagnosed 2 days prior. After the game (which started at 5:00pm), Bruce and I went to Lumiere Place. Once we finally left there, we still had to go grocery shopping! We left Schnucks in Collinsville at like 12:30am! We didn't go to bed until like 2:00am! It was a fun, packed day! Today, Bruce and the girls had a Daddy/Daughter shopping day. They went to St. Louis Mills while I stayed home and played Santa with the wrapping paper! I also got a bit of a head start on a couple food items I am going to need over the next few days. Tonight was a Girls Night Out for me as I went to Neruda in Edwardsville with Katie, Patti, Heather, and Ronda. It was a good meal and I've been wanting to try this restaurant for a while now. We try to do a GNO every 2-3 months.
Tomorrow, we might take the girls to Dave & Buster's (finally) for their first quarter report card rewards. Hopefully, B1 won't read this because they don't know about it yet!! :-)
On Christmas Eve, Bruce's side of the family comes to our house. They usually arrive shortly after we get home from church, about 5:15. We eat dinner which is a casual affair and eventually open gifts. We always have "A Christmas Story" on the TV too!
Christmas Day consists of us getting up and exchanging family and Santa gifts. Then we head to Bruce's HUGE family dinner (his dad had 14 siblings) for a noontime meal. I try not to eat too much because I want to still be hungry for the meal at my parents' house, which this year I'm told is going to be around 4pm. Last year, because my mom was too sick to host family on Christmas Day, our family of 4 went to a movie that evening. I tell you was very crowded! We were so surprised. We saw "Enchanted" last year. We think we may keep this tradition and go to another movie this year, after we leave my parents' house (it will probably have to be a late movie, but that's OK because we don't have to get up early the following morning). The movie "Marley and Me" comes out on Christmas Day and since we love dogs, we think that may be the one of choice.
Of all the days we celebrate Christmas, I think Dec. 26 is my favorite of all! That is the day we go back to my parents' house and exchange gifts with them and my brother. My mom makes like 4 different appetizers, I bring a few, and we snack all day! It's great!
This year, I think we are going to go away somewhere on the weekend after Christmas. We will probably stay somewhere on the 27th and 28th. It won't be anywhere real far or too exciting, but just a couple days to get away will be nice. Then on New Year's Eve, we have made a tradition of going bowling with other families. We go to Camelot Bowl in Collinsville and we rent 2 lanes from 7pm until 12:30am. It's always a fun time and again, there is a lot of food!

I hope all of your holiday celebrations and traditions are memorable this year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gingerbread House 2008

Somewhere along the line, it has become a tradition for B1, B2, and me to decorate a gingerbread house for the holidays. We had a snow day on Monday this week, so that was the perfect time!

This picture was actually taken when we were almost through. B2 is working on an M&M "path" outside the front door of the house. We decided that next year, we might try to use Pez candy for the path, since it looks a lot like little bricks!

Here is B1 concentrating and applying the icing to the front of the house. I think she found out that it is harder to squeeze that icing out than it looks!

Teamwork.....we added a gingerbread tree this year as well. I actually think I like the way the tree turned out more so than the house!

The finished product. I like the way we chose to do the roof this year. The green gummy candies are supposed to be bushes and in front, B2 made a "melted snowman." Of course, B1 thinks that was a stupid idea but I think it's kinda cute!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

12th Birthday Party

We celebrated B1's 12th birthday last night with a swimming party at the Korte Recreation Center in Highland. I think a good time was had by all. She invited eleven girls and B2 invited one. Bruce and I LOVED this party! In the past, she has always wanted to have sleepover parties. We have always taken the girls (usually 5-7 of them) out for pizza and bowling and then back to our house for cake, ice cream, presents, and.......wildness! Then the next morning, we have to deal with breakfast and who is being picked up at what time, etc. etc. This party had none of that! We didn't have to clean up, we didn't have to deal with any drama (there were plenty of things to do.....if someone got angry at someone else, they could just move on to the next form of recreation!), and we got a good night's sleep! YAY!!

Here is B2 (on the left), our new neighbor and our old neighbor.

Here is B1 (on the left) with 3 of her friends. The mini indoor waterpark is a big hit.

I brought a big crock pot of mac 'n cheese as well as a few big bags of chips. We were provided hot dogs, popcorn, and soda. We had access to the big party room for 1.5 hours (after the girls swam for 2.5 hours)

Her cake was really pretty. I ordered extra flowers and Wal-Mart (Katie's FAVORITE store) did a great job with it. This was not included in the price.

You always gotta have one of these pics, don't you?

The whole group of them! Fun picture! I'll pay $108 for a party like this anytime!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

About My Hubby!

Ok, I copied this Husband Meme from Kim's blog. I don't think she'll mind!

About Bruce:

1. He's sitting in front of the tv, what is on the screen? Baseball, football, hockey, wrestling, CSI Miami, or George Lopez

2. You're out to eat what kind of dressing does he get on his salad? Ha ha, that's funny! Bruce and salad? NOT.

3. What's one food he doesn't like? anything green

4. You go out to the bar, what does he order? Diet Coke

5. Where did he go to high school? Triad High School (the best school in the land)

6. What size shoe does he wear? 10-1/2

7. If he was to collect anything, what would it be? Sports memorabilia and ball cards

8. What is his favorite type of sandwich? Arby's Arby-Q or McDonald's McRib

9. What would he eat every day if he could? Turkey

10. What is his favorite cereal? I can honestly say I don't know if I've ever seen him eat a bowl of cereal!

11. What would he never wear? A robe

12. What is his favorite sports team? St. Louis Blues or St. Louis Cardinals

13. Who did he vote for? McCain I think

14. Who is his best friend? Patrick, Mike, Dan, and Ryan

15. What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn't do? Get crabby and take stuff out on him that isn't his fault

16. How many states has he lived in? One - IL

17. What is his heritage? German maybe?

18. You bake him a cake for his birthday; what kind of cake? Chocolate with chocolate icing (lots of it!)

19. Did he play sports in high school? Football for a year or two and maybe baseball for a year or two also? I should know this but I don't.

20. What could he spend hours doing? Watching Dierks Bentley in concert

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

He Makes Our State Look Good (?)

Our illustrious Illinois governor was arrested today on charges that he was basically trying to auction off president-elect Obama's seat in the Senate. How stupid can you be? This takes me back to a prior post, where I also voiced my opinion of "J-Rod." Here is what I wrote back then:

J Rod.....our governor. He governs from his home in Chicago. When we were at the state fair this past summer, we wandered into the Republican tent and in there was an empty doll house that said "Governor's Mansion" on the front of it. Also on the front was a sign that read "Vacancy." I thought it was hilarious! I took a picture with my cell phone but it's not clear enough to put on the blog. Yes, he governs from Chicago. Wouldn't you think he might want to live and work in Springfield, the STATE CAPITOL? I don't claim to know much at all about politics, but through the years that he has been governor of our state, I do know of some education-related issues on which I disagree completely with his point of view.

I hope he is forced out of office.....and soon!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What Is It? It's A Major Award!

Yep, sure is! This is a blow-up Christmas decoration in our front yard. I LOVE IT! It's a replica of the leg lamp from "A Christmas Story" favorite Christmas movie. I bought this last year on e-bay and proudly displayed it in our yard then. This year I put it closer to the road. Bruce tends to think it might look like something other than a leg lamp. I think you have to see it in person to decide what you think it looks like! The plastic around the outside helps to hold it up and is what causes Bruce to think it looks "inappropriate." But I really don't care.....I LOVE IT!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Not the Greatest Week

Yes, it wasn't the greatest week of my life, but it wasn't the worst either, by far. Here is a recap:

Last weekend, probably Friday, I began noticing that something weird was going on with my face, particularly around my eyes. I asked Bruce and my mother about it but neither seemed to think things looked much different than usual. But I knew something wasn't right. By Sunday night, something was definitely wrong and I began to think about what the heck I had done differently in the past few days. I came to the conclusion that it must be the new tube of mascara that I started on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. My eyes were itchy, a bit swollen, and red like I had been crying or someone punched me. The wrinkles under them were very defined and I looked like crap. The whites of my eyes were fine, but the skin around them looked terrible.
I went to school on Monday with make-up caked around my eyes and wearing my contacts. I thought I looked OK and would get by with it with minimal attention. I did not wear mascara and planned to lay off of mascara until this situation cleared up. I also planned to throw away the new tube of mascara and go back to the old brand (I don't always buy the same brand of mascara). Well, by the end of 2nd hour, I could tell that my students were looking at me in a strange way. I finally said " my eyes look weird?" and almost unanimously, they said "YES!" Alrighty then! So I got out my mirror and checked it out and yes, it seemed to be getting worse. So I decided that maybe a call to the doctor might be in order. I got an appointment for 1:30 that afternoon, which means I only had to leave school about 1/2 way through my 6th hour class (and due to my 7th hour prep, I didn't miss much time with the kids). I ended up with a diagnosis of "contact dermatitis." They gave me a shot of steroids, steroid pills, 2.5% hydrocortisone cream, and was told to also buy Claratin for the antihistamine. Wow. But finally, yesterday and today, things were starting to look better. I have not worn mascara since last weekend and don't plan to do so until maybe Sunday. Today was the first day since Monday that I wore my contacts. My glasses at least hid some of the redness for the past 3 days! It was the tube of mascara shown above that did this to me. I know lots of people use this one but I guess it just doesn't agree with me! I should have taken a picture of my lovely eyes to show you, but darn, I didn't!

Then, Tuesday night around 9:45, our carbon monoxide detector went off. You see, I had moved it from its usual spot (where it has been plugged in (in the hallway) for 14 years) to another outlet so that I could plug in a Christmas decoration. The new outlet location butts up against the outside of our house where a gas lantern burns in the yard. About 3.5 hours after moving the detector there, it went off. Bruce unplugged it, plugged it back in, and about 10 minutes later it went off again. Great. We thought maybe it just didn't like its new location and being that close to a gas lantern, so we moved it back to the hallway. Well, about 15 minutes later, it goes off there. Wonderful. Now it is past 10pm and of course, both girls are asleep. So Bruce began making phone calls and we decided to go spend the night at my parents' house. Bruce ended up talking to my dad, my brother, my brother-in-law, 2 friends of the family, Ameren, the county sheriff's dept., and FINALLY the local fire chief agreed to come over to our house (at about 11pm) and bring a newer, more updated detector. It does pay to live in a small town sometimes. Scott, I know you read this, so THANK YOU!
Bruce had planned to just stay home, wait the suggested 30 minutes, and if it didn't go off, stay at our house. The girls and I and Shinza had already gone over to my parents' house. I called him and told him that I just wanted him too to come over there to sleep because I didn't want to take any chances. So he agreed. We slept in my parents' bed, the girls each slept in a twin bed in their two extra rooms, my mom slept on the couch, and my dad slept in a chair! Yeah, we invade their house and they give up their beds for us! I tried to reason with my dad about this and his response was something like "your mom slept on that couch for 9 months while she was sick; she sleeps fine there! And I sleep fine in the chair!" was too late at night to try to argue with him. It also pays to live near your folks!
Bruce went to Wal-Mart and got 2 new detectors the next day. He decided that maybe we ought to have one in the basement as well as upstairs. One of the new ones is shown above.
The week did get somewhat better after that, although I had to stay home with a sick B1 yesterday. She had some sort of stomach thing going on which was really only pain and nothing else. Last night about 12:00, I was wondering if she had given it to me but by this morning, I felt better. I had to go to school today after a sub ran my class yesterday. That is not so bad when you plan for a sub. But when you have to stay home unexpecedly, it can suck. Luckily, it looked like I had a decent sub as things were left in order on my desk, etc. The kids didn't complain about her either, which always helps. Today could have been a terrible day at school but it was actually fine!
I am tired though. I need a good night's sleep in my own bed, with no middle-of-the-night interruptions. I am hoping to get that tonight. But first, we get to go to B2's first ever basketball game, which begins in a little over an hour! YAY! :-)
(Hope this makes your day, Dan C.!)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Here Comes December

Alright, my Christmas shopping is almost done. I finally feel like being in the Christmas spirit.

I was having some trouble feeling overwhelmed with everything. Why is this? I don't know. It's not even December yet! I know that I am not any busier than the next person but for whatever reason, I let everything I must do just take over my thoughts. I was in no hurry to get our lights up outside this year. Typically, I would be out there by mid-November putting them up if it was a nice day. Not this year. I decided that they would get put up when they got put up and if that meant it didn't happen until mid-December, then so be it. But yesterday was beautiful outside. Bruce went out there and put the icicle lights up on the guttering. Then he drug all the other yard stuff out and put it on the driveway. He asked me if I was coming outside because it was such a beautiful weather day and I couldn't very well say no. I was finishing up the tree and the remainder of the inside decorations. They were almost done though and I really had no excuse to not go outside except for pure lack of motivation. So I went out and started. B2 helped (B1 wasn't home at the time) and Bruce helped a little before deciding to go walking. But anyway, I am now so glad it is done. And it looks nice. We have basically the same stuff as we did last year with one new addition. I will show that to you in another post.

As far as Christmas shopping goes, I have 2 items to pick up that are being completed, 1 item I am waiting for in the US mail, and 5 items that I have ordered from a friend who sells a particular brand which need to still come in. Otherwise, the shopping is done. I am just waiting now.

Next up: completing the Christmas cards. They are all stuffed into the addressed envelopes but still need stamps, return address labels, stickers on the back, and to be sealed. I also need to get the small tree in the basement put up and I have to put strands of lights around the kitchen windows on the inside of the house. Then I need to begin wrapping the gifts.

This year (as opposed to last), my school semester does not end in December. I therefore do not have to worry about preparing a final exam and figuring grades before Christmas. That helps A LOT with the December busy-factor. All I have to really do as far as school is concerned is keep plugging away with regular homework, activities, quizzes, and tests. But no exam until January really helps.

I think that this year, since I seem to be a little ahead of schedule, I may actually be able to enjoy the month of December without being too rushed. B1's birthday is December 17 so that is always something else we need to celebrate. I do look forward to my party at church on Tuesday night too. And I think that next Friday, I am going to plan a girls' movie night with B1 and B2 to watch the newer version of "Miracle on 34th Street." We will all sleep in the living room together and have popcorn (well, B1 won't because of her braces), etc. It will be fun!

I posted a recipe today on St. Louis Recipe Swap. Go check it out! I think that last time I posted one was back in September.

Happy December everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

(Almost) Thursday 13

In honor of Thanksgiving, we all know that we are thankful for the obvious things in our, friends, jobs, etc. But I am going to list some random things that I am also thankful for.

Here goes. I am thankful for.....

1. Walt Disney of my favorite places (so far) on this earth.

2. Gas prices having gone down.

3. My mom's health holding its own these past 9 months.

4. The friendship that my daughters seem to have forged. Yeah, they still have a love/hate relationship, but here lately, I've seen a little more of the love side of it.

5. Our dog. I just love her, even though she sheds like CRAZY.

6. Our warm bed on cold nights. I just love being warm under the covers while the air in the room is crisp and cool.

7. Whoever thought to invent scrapbooking as it is today!

8. The fact that I seriously cannot remember the last time I was bored. I think this means that I have a lot of activity in my life and people who need me.

9. Our small house. I'm not real fond of cleaning this one. I can't imagine one bigger! Yuck.

10. My friendship with Bruce. Yes, we are "husband and wife," but we are also best friends, and that is a gift in itself.

11. New recipes I have tried over the past year. I have found some good ones either online or from other people who have given them to me.

12. Cookie dough. It is seriously one of my favorite sweet treats!

13. The 40.5 years of life I have lived so far. I am hoping that God rewards me with at least 40 more!


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Remembering Jessica and Kelli

My family and I attended the candelight vigil tonight given in honor of Jessica and Kelli Uhl. It was a very nice ceremony. Their mom Kim spoke to the crowd as did their father. Then a few other people said some nice words about the girls and the healing process. The main thing I heard from everyone was simply "thank you so much for coming." They seemed to be so very grateful to everyone for coming out on a cold night to support them. It was nice to finally meet Kim in person as I have been reading her blog now for awhile. She is a very pretty lady and I am amazed at how strong she seems to be.

Pink candles were handed out to everyone in attendance and pictures of the girls were displayed. I took a magnet and a bracelet in remembrance of the girls I never knew. I also saw Maddy, the youngest daughter/sister. She is a cutie! Ironically, as the ceremony was coming to an end, a police siren sounded nearby. Kim spoke to the siren saying something like " need to be quiet now!" It was cute. I hope God continues to look over this family and help them along. They seem to be a strong group who love and care for each other.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'm Gonna Wash That Gray Right Outta My Hair!

I colored my hair today for the first time in my life. Yep, I did it. I was nervous that the color would look totally different than my natural color, but it doesn't! Thank goodness! I actually have an appointment to have my hair colored this Friday. see, the gray was basically killing me. I looked in the mirror and all I could see all the way down my part was shiny gray hair! AUGH! And the crown of my head in the back was getting to be pretty "salt & pepperish" too. NO! So after speaking to a friend who colors her hair regularly, she encouraged me to get a bottle of color at Wal-Mart. Like she said, it's much cheaper than going to the salon. So I did. I tried to pick a color I thought matched my own. There are still a few grays that I can see but seriously, it looks soooo much better than it did this morning!

I got out some Christmas decorations this morning and started setting them around the house. I think I am getting old because I dread this task more and more every year. I actually have too many Christmas decorations. I do LOVE Christmas. And after we got married (actually probably a year or two before that as well), I went shopping the day after Christmas and just basically bought up all the decorations that I could find for like 50-75% off. So I had a lot of just "stuff." Stuff that now, I don't really like anymore. Heck, I probably didn't even like it that much then but I needed decorations. So here I am now with all of that stuff and things I have accumulated during the last 15 years. As I went through the boxes this time, I took a lot of things and put them on top of our ping pong table. Here soon, that area of our basement is going to become e-bay central! I plan to try to sell a bunch of stuff on e-bay. The trouble is that I probably ought to do it before Christmas. It would probably sell more before Christmas than after. But we all know how busy the month of December can be and getting that accomplished might be too much to ask. We'll just have to see. I do feel better about the things I chose to keep though. They are actually cute things (in my opinion) and look nice. It's not just stuff taking up space. I have less quantity now but I feel I have more quality. I put a tiny (like 1 foot tall) Christmas tree in our bedroom this year. It is sitting on top of the dresser. It is going to be our night light from now until the end of the year! Yay! We still have to put up the big tree, which will be a job for me and the girls on Wednesday. That's sort of become our put up the tree the day before Thanksgiving.

We tried to go to the Olive Garden tonight for dinner. We got there about 5:15 and the wait was 50-55 minutes. And it's not like this is a new restaurant or anything. It is always so crazy there! But we have a nice gift card and I am just simply in the mood for their food. We may try again tomorrow night or tomorrow afternoon. We ended up eating Chinese tonight, which was good, but not the pasta I had in mind!

Monday, November 17, 2008

I Don't Get It

How do your kids get to school? Seriously, do they ride a bus, walk, do you take them? How?

I teach at our local high school and I am completely amazed at how many of our students are dropped off every day by their parents. You know how many times I was dropped off by a parent when I was in high school? None. You know how many times I wanted to be dropped off by my parents when I was in high school? None.

Now, don't get me wrong.....I honestly think that kids today have more open relationships with their parents than my generation did with ours. Kids today are not nearly as "embarassed" to be seen with their parents as some of my classmates were (I was not one of these!). I know that I talk to my children about more things than I ever did with my mom at the same age.

But some mornings, there is traffic congestion in the circle drive of my (high) school! What the heck? And today I happened to be in the office during the last period of the day. I glanced out the window to the front of the school and there were cars lined up around the circle drive and extending down the parking lot! Cars of parents to pick up their kids! OMG.....seriously, it reminded me of what I see on the few occasions each year when I go to the elementary school to pick up B2. And it's not like our high school is in the middle of town or something. We are about 1-2 miles right outside of town, on a main highway. There are busses that run to every part of the areas where our students live. BUSSES!

I realize that today's kid thinks that riding the bus to school is really lame. And as a parent, many of us probably don't want our kid riding to school with another kid. The bus would be a safer option. So I'm guessing that when kids don't want to ride the bus, then their parents cave and agree to drive them to school. I pass someone every day on my way to school who has just dropped off her middle school aged child and her high school aged child at 2 different schools. And this person must drive the 10 miles round-trip in order to do so. Why? There is a perfectly good mode of transportation available to them right outside their door! Gas prices have recently gone down, but during the first couple months of school, when everyone was complaining about the cost of gas, this person was still driving her kids to school! When will they grow up? Yeah, maybe the bus comes by rather early in the morning and the kids would have to spend more time on it than they would like. So what? Suck it up! Not everything in life is to your liking! The sooner people (kids) get used to this, the better off they are going to be! Deal with it. Now mind you, I too drop B1 off at her school. I justify this, however, with the fact that I drive right past her school on my way to school. If I didn't, she too would be on the big yellow limo every day! Even if I was driving in that general area, but not right past her school, she would be on the limo. She rides the limo home from school every day and it works just fine for her.

My school recently implemented a program called Edline. This is where parents can go online and check their child's grade every week. Parents can also go to the Edline calendar and view upcoming assignments, quizzes, tests, etc. So now, high school aged kids aren't even going to need to be held accountable for their own assignments......because Mommy and Daddy will be able to go online and "fix" it if they forget to write down an assignment. When in the world are these kids going to have to take some responsibility for themselves? Seriously. It makes me sick.

When I was a student in elementary, junior high, and high school, we took care of our own homework. Yeah, Mom and Dad may have checked it on occasion or gone over our spelling words with us or even helped us study for a test by quizzing us, but never once did I have to have my parent sign my agenda book showing that they were aware of what homework was to be completed at night. WE WERE REPONSIBLE FOR OURSELVES!!! Augh. Kids these days not only have the agenda books (which must be signed each night by a parent when you are in elementary school) but also the online way to check about assignments. I realize that all this technology is considered to be progress, but seriously, I think it's just making our kids more lazy, more dependent upon us, and more immature. Gees.

Do I check B1's grades online? Yep. Why do I do it? Because I am forced to get on the Edline program to update the calendar for my own classes (the ones that I teach). While I am there, it's two clicks of the button away to check her grades. Let me tell you though, if her grade ever falls below a certain number in any class, I better know about it from her before I ever see it on the computer! She knows this and follows it.

One more thing.....while recently talking with a friend, she mentioned someone else who had been complaining that her now high-school aged son spends at least $4 every day on his lunch at the high school. You know what? If that's a problem for you, then don't let him spend that much! I teach at that school and I know that a good, healthy, filling lunch (yes, even for a high school boy) can cost only $2.25 per day. Tell your kid no! Let him spend more on lunch maybe a couple days a week and the other days, make his lunch or only give him $2.25. Who is the parent?

Am I old school or just a ranting witch? I just don't get people sometimes.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

He's Done it AGAIN!!

Last night, my favorite country performer won his 4th (in 5 nominations) CMA Entertainer of the Year Award. I know the streak will end one of these times, but for now, my heart skips a beat when his name is announced. Congratulations Kenny. You certainly keep this fan entertained year after year!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Weekend Results

Like I said in a previous post, I spent most of last weekend scrapbooking. It was awesome! My friend Michelle and I even stayed overnight in a hotel (even though we were only about 20 or so miles from home) so we could minimize any time that would have had to be spent driving back and forth! There were several people there who did the same thing. It was great being in a community of people who "get" that it is fun to stay up for something like 18 hour straight and doing nothing but scrapboking (and taking little breaks to potty and eat!)!

Remember, you can click on any of the images for a larger view. I realize these pictures aren't the greatest!
I managed to finish our 2007 vacation. Above are 2 pages of a water park at Cedar Point called Soak City.
Here are 2 more pages of that water park.
The 2 pages above and the 2 pages below are of pictures that were taken in Cooperstown, NY.
The Anchor Bar is a restaurant in Buffalo, NY, where buffalo chicken wings originated. The other page here is of pictures that were taken at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, ON.
There are several pages of Niagara Falls pictures!
We rode the Maid of the Mist, did Journey Behind the Falls, saw the IMAX movie about the Niagara daredevils (people who tried to go over the falls in barrels, etc.), and drove down the Niagara River to the area where there is a large gondola that goes across the river.
My parents also treated us one day to lunch up in the Skylon Tower overlooking the falls. It was beautiful from up there and probably the best view of any that we had.

We went to a baseball game in Toronto, where B1 and B2 got to meet 2 of the characters from "High School Musical 2." They were signing autographs outside the game that day.
I love these 2 pages! On the left side are tiny little cut-out footprints next to each of the states that B1 and B2 have visited. B1 has been to 2 more states (Kansas and Colorado) than B2.
And the last 2 pages I did were from the last day of the trip. We went to a baseball game in Detroit.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Halloween Pictures

Here is B1 beginning the pumpking carving process on 10/30
And B2 with the finished products. The one on the left is supposed to be a candy corn, although it looks like a Christmas tree. The next one is a "generic" pumpkin. You gotta have one of those every year! The ones on the right side are Mickey and Minnie Mouse. If you look closely, Minnie has a little bow. They turned out pretty cute.
B1 (who didn't dress up for the first time ever this year - she instead handed out candy at my parents' house because they get a lot of trick-or-treaters), B2 (dressed as Hannah Montana), and a friends' son.
And finally our dog Shinza dressed as a hot dog. She actually did pretty well with the whole outfit. The "ketchup" was loosely attached and by the end of the night it had fallen off. I think she got more compliments than anyone else in our group that night. Two people even took pictures of her!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Election Day!

I plan to post pictures of our Halloween soon. I just haven't gotten around to downloading them yet.

Hope you all voted today. No matter the outcome, I know our country is in need of some new leadership. Let's hope the new leader can steer us into the right direction.

Our soccer team lost today in the super-sectional game. Had they won, they would have gone to state this weekend. But this is the farthest any boys' soccer team from our school has ever gone, so they have to be proud of themselves. We had 4 busses of fans (students) go to the game. I know the big thing for them was that they got to miss their 6th and 7th hour classes today, but no was nice to have so many kids cheering on our boys. They were all very well-behaved too, which was nice.

The good thing about us losing is that now, this weekend, I am free to go to a 3-day scrapbook crop! I don't think I will go on Friday night but I am thinking about going all day on Saturday, stay at the hotel Saturday night, and then stay for most of the day on Sunday. I hope to finally get last year's vacation done and hopefully start on this year's too. We will see.

Our new quarter at school starts tomorrow. The first quarter finally ended today. We started really late this year. I am seriously hoping for no snow days. Even without the snow days, MY last day of school would be June 4. WITH snow days, it would be June 11. I guess that's really not too bad. Those calls at 4:30 or 5:00am are kinda nice though......especially when it's a really cold day and the bed feels sooooo good! ha ha ha!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


I was all pumped today to write a post about my Triad Knights beating Highland in 3 consecutive post-season sports this weekend. We started out strong, beating them handily in 2 volleyball games on Thursday night. Then last night (Friday) in soccer, we managed to shut them down 1-0. This ended the post-seasons for both of those Highland teams. Next up: football. We played Highland this afternoon on our field at 3:00. I went to school early so to go up to my classroom and make a sign on posterboard. It was a sweet sign too. It looked something like this: at the top, it said "Bulldog Checklist." Then under that were 3 boxes on the left side and the first 2 of them were checked. The first 2 lines said "End Volleyball Season to TRIAD" and "End Soccer Season to TRIAD." The third line said "End Football Season to TRIAD." I didn't have that box checked though because we hadn't beaten them yet. But I took my marker with me to the game. The Triad people who saw the sign while I proudly displayed it in the stands before the game thought it was pretty neat.

Problem is.....we lost today. It was a well played game by both teams, but they were simply better than us today. We were winning first 7-0, then 7-6, then 14-6, then 14-12. Then they scored again and made a 2-point conversion so they went ahead 20-14. We managed to score and went ahead 21-20 with 4 minutes left. That was enough time for them though and they scored again with only 16.5 seconds left on the clock. This wasn't enough time for us to come back and the final score was 26-21. I would have posted a picture of my sign that I was so proud of, but I ended up putting it quietly into a trash can as I left the game. I had also planned to display it in my classroom, had we won the game. Oh well. Bummer.

The worst part of a day like this is watching the seniors on the field after the game. The whole team went out like they always do and for the last time this year, yelled their "We Love Football" chant in the middle of the field. Then everyone slowly headed towards the locker rooms, but the seniors and a few of the juniors took their sweet time leaving that field. It's nostalgic for me to watch them. I know how much their hearts are into that game and how much it must hurt to know that their days of high school "Friday Night Lights" are over. I hate watching the seniors play their last game in ANY sport. It's just so bittersweet.

Our soccer team is going to the super-sectional game on Tuesday in Jacksonville. Triad boys' soccer has never been this far in the post-season before. I get to help chaperone a fan bus and we are leaving school right after 5th hour. The game (for whatever weird reason) is at 3:00pm. I am excited about it!

Great season, football Knights. And thank you for the memories........

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Love Our Bed!

Get your minds out of the gutter people, that's not what I was talking about.....

Seriously though, I love sleeping in our bed! When we got married, we used the bedroom set that was mine at my parents' house. They bought it for me during my senior year of high school and when we got married 7 years later, it was in good condition, so it became ours. It was a double bed. We slept fine in that bed. We watched TV from that bed, read in that bed, talked, laughed, and conceived 2 children there. Everything was hunky-dory.

Then last summer, we opted to do some remodeling in our home, including updating our bedroom. We chose a new bedroom set which included a queen bed. I really wanted a bed that had a head and foot board, but after measuring everything, we knew that it wouldn't work in our small bedroom. We would have had about 1 foot of pathway to walk through between the foot of the bed and the dresser. I saw many bruised knees had we purchased the bed with the footboard. So instead, we opted for a wrought iron head piece and no foot piece. We were told that the measurements of a queen compared to a double were about 6-8 more inches in length and in width. I really didn't think this sounded like much and assumed that the space for sleeping would be about the same.

Anyway, we also picked out a mattress (I have no idea the brand name) with a pillow top. Yes, it's soft on top, but very firm underneath. I also chose to order some sheets from JCPenney that are something like 300 count. These are the closest I will probably ever come to having satin sheets. They are so soft! We also ordered a new comforter set from JCPenney. I looked through the catalog and picked out something like 8 different ones I liked. Then Bruce went through and narrowed that down to 3 and I chose the final one. It's a mixture of earth tones and I (much to Bruce's chagrin when he has to make the bed!) also picked out several decorative pillows. The comforter and pillows too are so soft!

So when you put the whole combination together of the awesome pillow top mattress, the almost-satin sheets, and the softness of the comforter, it can hardly be matched. But.....the best part is that the extra little space we have when we lay down is definitely noticeable! I seriously didn't think it would be, but it so is! If you know us, you know we aren't the smallest people you'll ever meet and now, I feel like I actually have my own side of the bed and that I can even stretch out! Sleeping this past year and 3 months has been awesome! I love staying in our bed on the weekends when I don't have to get up. I just love laying there and I love when the girls or the dog comes in and joins me/us!

Now,what exactly were you thinking when you read this title? Ha ha ha ha!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Our Little Teacher?

Yesterday was a half day for the girls at school because us teachers had a school improvement day. B2's teacher decided that it would be a good day for dress-up. B2 said that at first it was going to be an "anything" day, meaning you could dress in PJ's, crazy hair, or anything you wanted. Then I guess the teacher decided that might be too crazy, so she decided on career day. B2 chose to dress as a teacher (imagine that!). This dress is in their "dress-up" clothes bin and B1 wore it once on the same kind of day at school. We bought these glasses specifically for B1 when she needed them then. They have the lenses taken out. I made an ID for her with one of her wallet-size picture from this year. I wrote her name with '08-'09 on it and we pinned it to her dress. We didn't have enough time this morning to find her a lanyard and some old keys so I just gave her my school keys for the day and stressed how important it was that she NOT LOSE them! She looked so cute!
I'm not sure if B2 really wants to be a teacher when she grows up or not. I think she thinks she wants to be a teacher simply because both of her parents are and her sister wants to be one. I think B1 will be a great teacher. She is awesome with little kids and loves to play mommy (still) to her dolls. B2.....I think she would be great in a career with animals. She just LOVES them! Not bugs though!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


OK.....I am curious. Who is out there reading my blog? I've seen other bloggers who write these types of de-lurking posts. It's basically to find out who is reading this particular entry. So.....if you are reading this right now, you are REQUIRED to leave a comment. And I know some of you out there (Scott P., Gina C., Patty W., etc) who read my blog but have never commented. Time for that to stop! It's very easy, just click on comments at the bottom of this post, if your computer asks you if you want to display the nonsecure items, click yes. Then type your comment in the box and down at the bottom (assuming you don't have a google user name/password), click the anonymous circle. If you are using anonymous then also please sign your name in the comment box so I know who the comment came from. It's very easy.

Who are you rooting for in the World Series? Or don't you really care? We are rooting for the Rays because Bruce's best friend (he is one of mine as well) lives near Tampa and is a Rays fan. Plus, I like to see a newer team win. I bet the networks are ticked that they didn't get a Boston/LA World Series. Ha ha! Too bad!

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Not much has been going on with us this week.

* We had turkey breast, mashed potatoes & gravy, peas, and rolls for dinner tonight. It was very tasty!

*B1 begins her basketball season this weekend. They began practicing 2 weeks ago in the new SJES gym. Bruce says they could practice every day this week and he still doesn't think they would be ready. We'll see.....

* The girls were off school two days last week. Monday was Columbus Day so we were all off. Friday was the Madison County Teacher's Institute. It was awful. It was too crowded and you couldn't walk in the halls. The first speaker I had to go listen to was awful, and the exhibits were geared only towards elementary teachers. Why do they always forget about us high school people?

* Our best running back, JJ, got hurt in Friday's game. We won anyway, 41-18. He has an upper ankle sprain. I communicated with him late Friday night and again on Saturday morning via text message and he said he is going to sit out this week and let it rest. This week's game is nonconference. Hopefully he will be ready for the first playoff game the following week.

* We began buying a few Christmas gifts on Saturday. I can't say what we specifically bought because sometimes B1 reads my blog. I do feel a little bit better about what we are going to get this year though. I am one of those people who doesn't really mind spending the money to get the stuff, it's just knowing what to get that stresses me out.

* We ate dinner Saturday night at Sam's Pizza in Highland. Yumm-O! Then we managed to spend $275 at Wal-Mart on nothing much. The ecomony sucks.

That's all for now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Brace Face

B1 got braces today. Here is a picture of her last night, just after her shower and just before she ate some popcorn for the last time in a long while! And here is a picture of her tonight. She claims she isn't really in much pain right now. Only one tooth was a bit sore. She went to basketball practice tonight too. baby in braces! Wasn't she just born a year or so ago?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Look At My New Toy!

A while back, I noticed that some of my Kenny Chesney songs on our shared ipod were gone. I asked Bruce about this since he is the one who takes care of the technology in our household and he wasn't sure why the songs would have disappeared. His only explanation was that maybe he had downloaded too much other stuff and that it had "bumped" some older stuff off. Who knows. Well, then I kinda forgot about it. Then a couple of weeks ago, I asked him if we could download some of the podcasts from Be Our Guest Podcast that I like to listen to onto our ipod. That way when (if) I walk, maybe I could listen to the shows during that time. He said that we could try to do that. Then again, I kinda forgot about it.
Thursday night, he came and sat next to me on the couch while I was grading papers. He told me that he had a "gift" for me in his pocket. I thought "yeah, whatever!" but I played along. Well, in his pocket was this brand new ipod, just for me! was loaded with all 59 (at the time) podcasts I had requested plus over 60 Kenny Chesney songs! I was very surprised and very happy! I will put some other stuff on there as well because as much as I do love Kenny, I would get tired of listening to just him.

I had the ipod in my purse the following day at school and chose to use the stopwatch option on it while we played a game in geomery class. One of my students said "that's a sweet color, Mrs. Frank!" I agree. I also think I have a sweet husband!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Have You Seen These?

I received an e-mail today from Dan D. that was too good not to share on my blog! There were a few more pics in the e-mail, but these are my favorites.
I love the broom!
And yes, this one is great too. I remember this year when Bruce and I went to our first Cards/Cubs game and we saw Fukudome's name on the scoreboard for the first time. We kind of looked at each other and said "what the......?" What the he!! kind of name is that? This picture is classic.

Not to keep dwelling on the Chicago stuff, but the comments made on my last post brought some more thoughts to mind:

J Rod.....our governor. He governs from his home in Chicago. When we were at the state fair this past summer, we wandered into the Republican tent and in there was an empty doll house that said "Governor's Mansion" on the front of it. Also on the front was a sign that read "Vacancy." I thought it was hilarious! I took a picture with my cell phone but it's not clear enough to put on the blog. Yes, he governs from Chicago. Wouldn't you think he might want to live and work in Springfield, the STATE CAPITOL? I don't claim to know much at all about politics, but through the years that he has been governor of our state, I do know of some education-related issues on which I disagree completely with his point of view.

When I became a teacher and began watching high school sports at the state level, I noticed that if a game was televised (usually football or basketball), the announcers always referred to the playing field (which was usually either Peoria or Champaign) as being in "downstate" Illinois. Huh? What the hell is "downstate"? Back then, in basketball in particular, the system was set up so that 8 teams would make it to the state competition. About 4 of them were from the Chicago area (and I understand that, based on population), 2 or 3 teams were from central or northern Illinois, and AT LEAST 1 (maybe 2) team was from southern Illinois. This team had to travel NORTH to get to the state competition. So why was it always referred to on TV by the announcers as "downstate"? I always hated that. Seriously, if you were to draw a horizontal line across the middle of Illinois, Peoria is definitely NORTH of that line and Champaign is close to the middle. So how can you say these cities are downstate??? For whatever reason, I think it sounds degrading to us southern Illinois folks. Maybe I'm crazy, but it's as if everything "important" happens "upstate" (in Chicago) and the rest of us should just follow their lead. Wrong.

And also.....I think maybe I have posted about this in the past.....I hate when you are traveling and begin talking to someone from another state and when you tell them you are from Illinois, they somehow automatically assume you are from somewhere near Chicago! That is an insult to me, honestly. Like I've said before, I really like visiting Chicago, but I would never want to be associated with living there. Uggg. This year and last year, when we were on vacation, when this conversation would start with a stranger, I began answering that question with "Illinois but nowhere near Chicago."