Thanks for stopping by! We were a family of three, until we added one more (cat, that is), making us a family of four. In 2012, we added four more...one husband, two girls, and a dog. We have a full plate as a party of eight!

Adoption, blended families, pets, school, running...it's all here. Pull up a chair and read a while. After you do, please leave a little comment love! It makes me happy...and y'all know...if Momma is happy, then everyone is happy...at least at our house!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gotta' Make a Change

I did something this morning that I have been avoiding for a while...I stepped on the scale.

Ugh.

It wasn't pretty.

My number one excuse is that I have only been to the Y twice this month.  They are doing some renovations and the "kid fit" room where Gloria likes to go is closed until mid-July.  She can go to "The Zone" but she h-a-t-e-s it in there.  They have some video gaming systems, and she's not interested in those.  Plus, it's mostly older kids in there who ignore her.  Believe me, we've tried.  She enjoys the kid fit area because they have some child-sized fitness machines (her favorite is the treadmill!) as well as other fun fitness activities to do.  She usually ends up jumping rope or playing a game with a few other girls who are there at the same time.  I guess I gave in to the struggle of getting her to The Zone and just didn't go at all.

But that's just an excuse.  

So, I'm making a change.  I'm headed back to the Y, at least three times a week (hopefully more).  I intend to make an appointment with a trainer to set up some kind of new routine.  It will be easy for the next few weeks because Gloria will be gone.  By the time she is back, the renovations at the Y should be about finished and the kid fit room should be open again.  

Other changes:

I'm not buying soda any more.  I only drink one Coke a day, and lots of water.  I've cut out the Cokes before and had pretty good results.  Today was the first day for that, only because I ran out of them over the weekend and didn't buy any more.  Yes, I have the headache from not having my daily dose of caffeine, but that will go away.

I also need to increase the number of fruits and veggies I eat, and cut down on the junk food.  Oh, how I love my junk food!  I prefer to snack throughout the day instead of eating full meals.  And lately, most vegetables just don't appeal to me.  I fix them, put them on our plates for dinner, Gloria gobbles hers up, and I leave mine on my plate.  This is true for lunches too.  I'm really good about packing healthy lunches for Gloria.  My lunch box, on the other hand, is a hodge-podge of what ever I feel like throwing in there!

So, to recap (for myself more than anything else):
  1. Get back to the Y!
  2. Cut out the Cokes.
  3. Decrease the junk food and increase the healthy snacks.
Wish me luck!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bathing Suit Shopping

It really should be so hard!

And I'm not talking about for me--I avoid that if at all possible.  For example, last year's bathing suit is still in good shape, so it is this year's bathing suit.  Thus, I have avoided my own bathing suit shopping this year.

I'm talking about for Gloria!

The styles are just too...grown up, revealing, inappropriate, skimpy, tacky.

She really prefers the two piece "tankini" style.  But it's hard to find something that covers her tummy or isn't cut in a deep "v" in the front.  I just don't think she needs to expose that much skin.  She's eight, for goodness sake!  We found one a few weeks ago that is okay.  Not great, just ok.  I had to tie a knot in the straps to pull it up enough in the front.

We found another one on Saturday that was ok, but I just wan't completely thrilled with it.
So today we ventured to Kohl's.
Where she proceeded to try on many different swim suits.  I lost count after six, I think.

We finally found one we both agreed on.
It's cut straight across the top in the front.
It's long enough to cover her tummy.
The bottom isn't too high cut and it doesn't have words across the back side.
It cost twice what the ones at Target or Wal-Mart cost, even though it was on sale.

But in the name of modesty and age appropriateness, it is hers.
She loves it.
And I'm comfortable with her wearing it.

Hopefully we're done with this chore...
until next summer!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

End of the Year Awards! (Sunday Snapshot)

Gloria is finishing second grade this week.
She also finished her first year of choir school a few weeks ago. 
With those endings, there have been awards presented and received.
This was her first experience with awards, 
and she was pretty darn excited.

First, there was the Choir Awards Night, where she received her level one ribbon (hidden by her certificate in this first picture).

We worked hard for that ribbon, I'll tell you!  There were tears and frustration because it was "hard."  This involved a good bit of beginning music theory and this was really her first experience with that.  To be perfectly honest, I was glad that something was actually more challenging to her because most academic learning has been very easy for Gloria.

Then came the awards from school, where she received a perfect attendance award and an award for participation in spring soccer.  The plaque is one that she can add sports awards to in each successive year.  I love how happy she looks in this picture...I think part of it was giggles at Hannah Cat trying to check out her certificate.



Gloria, I am very proud of you for your hard work this year!  Even when your ribbon class work was difficult for you, you persevered and met success.  Remember how good you felt?  Remember how hard that first soccer game was?  But by the end of the season, you were getting your foot on that ball and moving it down the field.  Remember how excited you were?  Keep that feeling of success with you and continue to persevere.  You can do anything you set your mind to, and I will be right behind you, cheering you on along the way.  I love you!  Love, Momma




Sunday Snapshot

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Screamer Misses His Girl

I've been home for about an hour.  Gloria did not come with me.  She is at her first slumber party ever.  And I think Screamer misses his girl!  He's been wandering around the house meowing, pausing to stare mournfully at the front door.  He keeps jumping up on my lap and meowing in my face before he takes off for some more house wandering.  He won't even eat the food I put in his bowl!  (Mine is not the hand that feeds.  That is Gloria's job.)  Yeah, I'm pretty sure he misses her.

This is only for one night.

What's he going to do when she is off to "Camp Maggie Hada" for three weeks?

One of his favorite places...curled up on Gloria's tummy.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I Cried This Morning

On the way to work.
Driving and teary eyes are not a good combination...
Just in case you didn't know.

I was just a jumbled mess of thoughts this morning, and it all got the best of me.

  • I'm tired.  School will be out in two more weeks, and every teacher I know is just weary.  It's been a tough year.  Not so much the children, just all the "other" stuff.
  • And then I found out last night that our state senate has proposed cutting the salary of all teachers who have both National Board certification AND a Master's degree.  There are 7, 761 teachers in that category.  I am one of those 7,761.  It's not a huge cut, and I'm glad they didn't cut the National Board salary increase all together, but still...The cut is enough to be one fourth of my grocery budget each month.  It's enough to be one fourth of my gas bill each month.  (It seems ironic that I spend about the same amount on food and gas, doesn't it???)  It's one and a half weeks of before school care each month.  It could be a whole lot of things.  And financial stuff stresses me out and makes me cry.
  • Our sweet friends, and Gloria's Godparents, were closing on their house today as they continue their move to another state.  That one is really tearing me up.
  • Ten minutes.  I know, ten minutes doesn't seem worth the energy it takes to cry.  But this one has me in a pickle.  Ten minutes is the difference between the time I can drop Gloria at school and the time I NEED to drop Gloria at school next school year.  Ten minutes is the difference in what time I can get to my school if I drop Gloria at school at the time I can drop her and the actual time I need to be there.  Ten minutes is suddenly complicating things.  And I don't know what to do.
  • Summer is almost here.  Why cry about that?  It's that financial stuff again.  Teachers only get paid ten months.  That makes the summer really tough.  I've saved what I could, but it's not enough.  Anyone want to order some Usborne books?  (yes, another shameless plug...last one, I promise.)  
  • And then I was crying because I was crying on the way to school.  It's an ugly cycle, isn't it.
Tonight I'm going to curl up on my sofa with my cats, and watch a DVD of old "Friends" episodes.  Then I'm going to sleep until the cats or Gloria or both wake me up in the morning.  Hoping for some sunshine and a sunshine-y outlook tomorrow!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Peaceful Evenings

After last week's dramatic melt-downs and temper tantrums, I had to find a way to regain some type of peace around here.  Even though the drama occurred on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, it was Sunday in the car on the way to church before we could talk calmly about consequences.  Until then, all Gloria knew was that there would be consequences.  And that I needed time to think of them.  For her, that's never a good sign.

The problem?
Nothing much phases her.
No TV?
No problem.  She'll read a book.
No DS?
No problem.  She'll read a magazine.
No computer time?
No problem.  She'll read anything she can get her hands on.  Even my Usborne Books catalog, looking for more books that she wants to order.  (Anyone want to order books from Usborne???  Just let me know!  I can set you up!  And yes, that was a shameless plug for my new venture. ;) )

When she was little, I would tell her she was not allowed to read any books as a consequence.
And I'm a teacher, y'all.
That was so wrong.
But it worked so well!
That was the worst consequence in the world...
when she was four.
But now that she has to read for homework...
well I can't really take that away, can I?

So here's what I came up with:

  • No TV, DS, computer time, videos--nothing that involves a screen until after school is out next Friday.  It was more the length of time that "hurt" because that includes a couple of Friday nights, and she likes to watch old "Dick Van Dyke" episodes.
  • She has to earn back the privilege of going to see the Broadway touring production of "Beauty and the Beast" while she is at Camp Maggie-Hada. (Really, that's just my parents, but it's more fun to call it Camp Maggie-Hada since she goes without me for a few weeks.)
  • Since she was acting like a three year old, she has a three year old's bedtime until school is out.  7:00 is bedtime.  No stalling, no questions, no complaining.
  • Any whining, complaining, disagreeableness, or other negativity will cost her anywhere from $1 to $3, depending on the severity.  (She HATES letting go of her money!)
And I'm here to tell you that, wow, it has been so calm and peaceful around here this week.  She's trying so hard to earn back her Broadway show and not lose any money.  Plus she's getting an extra hour and then some of sleep, which is always a good thing.  We've spent time reading together, talking, working on some end-of-year school projects.  It's so nice!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What Was I Thinking?


On the left:  "Rise and Shine"
On the right:  "Practical Plum"

"Practical Plum" is my usual color.
Goes well with just about anything.
Plus, the name suits me...
Nothing much exciting about "practical."

"Rise and Shine" was Gloria's choice last week at Tarjay.
It was only 99 cents.
Let's just say...you get what you pay for.

I allowed "Rise and Shine" to take the place of "Practical Plum" over the weekend.
On my toes.
Wore it to church on Sunday morning,
a party on Sunday afternoon,
and to school on Monday.

It was...

really bad.
Nope.
Worse than really bad.
It was downright horrid.

And I knew it.
I just didn't have the time to fix it!
But after Monday's incident...
I rushed right home to take care of my poor little toes!

Here's Monday's "incident" (remember, I teach 2nd grade.)

As I called table groups to the carpet, two of my boys plopped themselves right at my feet.
Boy One's eyes got really big.
Boy One turned to Boy Two, tapped him on the shoulder and pointed to my toes.
Boy Two's eyes POPPED and his jaw hit the floor.
Boy Two looks at Boy One and both of them are whispering and pointing and giggling.
Until they catch me watching them.
"Is it bad?"  I asked.
Solemn nods from both boys.
"It's not me, is it?" I asked.
Solemn shaking of the heads followed.
Boy One says, "I think your old color was better on you."
Boy Two says, "What were you thinking?"
I promised to change it before school on Tuesday.

Tuesday morning:
Boy One stops me as I walk across the room..."just checking"
and gives an audible sigh of relief.
I was at the door by the time Boy Two arrived.
Boy Two stopped, looked down, and exclaims, "OH, Ms. B!  That is SO MUCH BETTER!  That is definitely you!  That other color was just B-A-D, BAD!"

Monday, May 23, 2011

Proud to Call Them Friends

Gloria began participating in choir school at our church this year.  Although it is directed by our church musicians, it is a community-wide organization with children from all town.  It was a big commitment--for her and for me.  Besides just learning to sing the selections, she had to memorize and recite the words, learn beginning music theory, master basic "Solfege," learn certain things about Anglican worship (this was the super easy part for her since she is IN church EVERY Sunday, but that's another post for another time...) and perform in three concerts.  I had to make sure she was memorizing her words and studying her music theory as well as take her to rehearsal E-V-E-R-Y Monday night throughout the school year.  I'm not sure which of those was the hardest!

When I first began to contemplate the hour and a half of rehearsal every week, along with the extra hour of "ribbon class" before hand every other week, I thought of many things I could do with my time...

  • run errands by myself
  • go to the Y by myself
  • work on my thesis
  • grade papers
  • write lesson plans
  • read
All of these were "alone" things, and I very rarely have alone time.  I'm okay with that, it's the life I chose, but gosh...the thought of alone time every week from September to May?  I was kind of excited!

What I had not planned on was meeting other choir moms.  Yes, I knew I would "meet" them, probably recognize their faces and their children, but that would be it.  I'm not good when it comes to meeting new people and getting to know them.  It's hard for me.  Really.  It makes me cringe and want to run away.  But here I am, nine months later, wondering "What was I thinking?"  Because if I had gone off to run errands or go to the Y, or found a quiet corner somewhere to work or read, I would not have gotten to experience and value the friendship of these lovely ladies.

"The Choir Moms of St. P's"

We have spent so many evenings together.  And there are so many common threads that run throughout our life stories.  We talked, laughed, shared frustrations, and lifted each other up.  We discussed our daughters, our families, our pets, school, theology, you name it.  I still graded or filed papers while they completed a quilt or two (or three??)  for a choir school fund raiser.  So our evenings were not filled with idle chit chat.

I'm so glad, so very thankful, that I did not allow my introverted personality to take control and that I was able to allow myself to be open to the gift of new friendships.  What a special gift it has been.  Ladies, I love y'all!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Memory

It's funny how memories come when you least expect them.

This one came while I was driving from my school to Gloria's school on Friday afternoon.  Just driving and thinking.  And then remembering...

When Gloria was about 3 years old, she had a strand of purple plastic beads.  You know, like Mardi Gras beads.  Don't really know where they came from.  But she had them.  She also loved Dora.  One day, those beads became "Backpack."  She would strap them across her shoulders, like a regular backpack.  And she wore them e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.  Not only that, "Boots" went with her.  E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E.


To the park.
To the grocery store.
To the mall.
To church (and even up to communion)
To day care (but no Backpack there, and Boots was a secret--only I knew he was there.)
You name it, Boots and Backpack were there...


For a very long time.


Look closely...
You see "him?"






One day, Backpack broke.  
I think she had outgrown the length of the beaded necklace.  
And Backpack broke.  
It was a sad day.  
No other purple strand of plastic beads could replace Backpack.  
Believe me, we tried...
Several times.  
Several different strands.  
Nothing would do.

Eventually she moved on to other things.  Instead of imaginary friends, there were imaginary children (all adopted from a tall building in California for some reason) and imaginary students (they're still around).  All part of growing up, I suppose.

I don't know why that memory came at me out of the blue like it did.  Maybe because we've had a rough few days.  They came calling with meltdowns and temper tantrums of epic proportions, arguing over routine stuff that she usually does every day without a second thought.  I can't do anything right.  I can't say anything right.  And if I don't say or do anything...well, that's wrong too.  It's been rough.  She's only eight so what does this mean for the teen-age years?!?  

Makes me miss those days of Backpack and Boots.

Click below to see more Sunday snapshots.  Join the fun!
Sunday Snapshot

My Grocery Deals

I don't usually say anything much about grocery shopping.
I pretty much hate it.
And the way food costs keep going up?!?
I'm not sure how we will eat this summer.
You know...
since teachers don't get paid in the summer.
My budget was based on last summer's prices!
Anyway...

In an effort to keep my grocery prices low, I have pretty much given up shopping at "the Teeter."  The prices there are SO MUCH HIGHER than at, ahem, "Wally World."  Even with their double coupons.  But this week the Teeter resurrected TRIPLE coupons.  Combine that with some store specials, and here's what I managed:

1 box of Uncle Ben's rice:  FREE
1 jar of Peter Pan peanut butter:  $0.50
Silk almond milk:  $0.25
Quaker rice snacks:  $0.36
4 Yoplait yogurts: FREE (the coupon was 40 cents off 6, triple that was $1.20 off, which was the equivalent of 2 yogurts.  And we had two coupons)

Yahoo!

And a few other items I got at much lower than usual prices, that beat W-M or Tarjay with the regular or stacked coupons:

Starbuck's ice cream:  $2.74 (total splurge, but so yummy, and the most expensive item I purchased)
Sargento cheese sticks:  $2.50 (They really are the best, but I refuse to buy them most of the time.  Gloria was so happy.)
Jello pudding:  $1.69 (something else I *rarely* purchase.  Again, Gloria was VERY happy.)
My hairspray: $1.49
Granola thins:  $1.24

Total coupon savings:  $25.45 (plus a little more with my store card)

And as easy as it would have been to go ahead and finish my shopping list there, I resisted and traipsed off to Wally World.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thank You Notes

I was taught that you write personalized thank you notes to people who give you gifts or do nice things for you.  Thank the giver for the specific item, mention how you will use it or why you will enjoy having it, offer a personal comment that is specific to the giver, and thank him/her once again.  And I am trying to teach Gloria the same thing.

But it's really hard when she keeps receiving those fill-in-the-blank thank you notes.

You know, the ones that say

Dear ________,
Thank you for the _________.
Your friend, __________


Or some variation on that general theme.

Those things make me crazy.

I know they are simple.
I know they are quick.

But they don't express anything other than "I'm doing this because I have to."

There's no thought.
No effort.
No personal touch.

Maybe I'm just "old."
I know I'm older than many of the other moms from Gloria's class.

Or maybe I'm just "old fashioned"
Don't like those new-fangled, time saving thank you notes!

We will still write personal notes each time a thank you note is needed.

Dear Reader,
Thank you so much for reading this post.  I really appreciate the time you spend reading my blog.  I love to see my stat counter climb each week!  And comments?  Those are awesome!  I hope you'll come back again soon!
Sincerely,
Momma



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

No "Good Momma" Award for Me!

Yeah, I pretty much earned that award yesterday.
And sealed it today.

Yesterday, Gloria had a field trip.
There were three requirements:

  • All students must wear their school polo shirts and khaki pants.
  • Brown bag, disposable lunch.
  • Bring your own car seat if you still use one.
Not hard, right?
I failed on two out of the three.

School shirt and khaki skort?
Check.

Brown bag lunch?
Nope.  
Packed it right into her regular lunch box.
With the regular freezer ice packs.

Car seat?
Yeah, remembered that when I was half way to school after dropping her off at before school care.
Oops.

And it turns out that she's the only one in her *whole* class who still uses a booster seat.
Hmmm...pity.
"Momma!  When Mrs. T asked who still uses one, I raised my hand.  I was the only one who did.  But I couldn't just tell a story, even though I really wanted to."

OK, maybe I earn a few points back for that?

And they were able to borrow one from someone else who works at her school that has a younger daughter, so all was well.

Then this morning rolls around.

I'll save that for tomorrow.  
Let's just say it surprised her.
She didn't think I'd do it.
But...
I did.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Our Backyard Bandit (Sunday Snapshot)

Usually we have Mr. Cardinal and his friends in our bird feeder.  The cats sit on the window sill and chirp and chatter at them while the Cardinal Clan enjoys feasting on the seed Gloria puts out every day.


Earlier this week, I came downstairs after putting Gloria to bed to find the cats more agitated than usual.  They were pacing the window sill, tails twitching, chirping and carrying on more than usual.  I figured "Jumpy Squirrel" was in the bird feeder.  But it was later than his typical feeding time, so I decided to take a look.  Here's who was out there...


When he noticed me (and my camera), he got down and looked at me as if to say "Hey.  You just interrupted my meal.  I worked hard for this time slot.  Go away."



He has returned several nights this week.  And has earned the name "Bandit."  The cats watch in agitation.  Gloria watches in fascination.  And I just wonder who's next in our backyard buffet!



Sunday Snapshot

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Home Alone

Gloria is off for an overnight field trip tonight.  To say she was excited this morning would be an understatement.  She eagerly told me goodbye this morning when I dropped her at before school care.  She could have at least feigned a little sadness at my departure.  That "I'll see you tomorrow afternoon" was said with a little too much excitement and anticipation.  That smile across her face was just a little bit too big.  At least pretend you're going to miss me, whydon'tcha!

(I think all the second graders at her school have been anticipating this trip since last year when they went to the same place for just a day trip.  Second grade goes for two days and one night.  Third grade gets to go for three days and two nights, lucky dogs!)

After school this afternoon, I was faced with a dilemma...what to do with myself?!?!  No need to rush out to make it to her school in time for dismissal.  No homework to manage.  No one to worry about...well, except for the cats.

I could have gone to the Y.
I could have stayed late and done some school work.
I could have come home and taken a nap.

Yep...coulda' done all those things.

Instead, I took the car in for service.  Fun stuff, right?
Nope.
But much easier without a tag-along.

Contemplated a half-price frap-uh-cheeeee-no for dinner.
Passed that up for a pizza from my favorite pizza place.
Hey, it's got spinach on it.
And I got a salad to go with it.
It's not ALL bad, right?

And now it is so quiet, so peaceful at my house.
No television.
No piano.
No singing.
No stalling for bath and bedtime.
Even the cats are quiet.

Think I'll enjoy it...
for tonight!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

If You Find a Dandelion...(Sunday Snapshot)

You know spring is here and summer will soon follow!



Feel the fuzzy softness on your face.
It's even better if your eyes are closed!




An up-close inspection is of utmost importance.
You must memorize every detail about this very special dandelion.


Sunday Snapshot

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Am I Enough?

Boy, bedtime was tough tonight.

Why is it that the emotions always take over as the sun slips behind the clouds and the day is coming to an end?  When I am so tired that I feel inadequate in helping her deal with the emotions?  When what we both need is a good night's sleep and the clear mind of morning?

The struggle...

"I'm the only one without a dad."

Tomorrow is Derby Day.  The dads are invited to come in and help construct a car and they will enjoy racing their cars.

One of Gloria's classmates graciously offered for G to join her in building cars with her dad, and Gloria was excited about that at the time.  But this just reinforces her feelings of being "different."

So tonight she was sad, wishing for something she doesn't have, and wishing she didn't have to go to school tomorrow.

And that brings out my feelings of inadequacy.
I can't be everything.
I can't do everything.
And I wonder, again for the umpteen millionth time, if it's not fair to her that I am her only parent.
Am I enough?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Reflecting on Current Events

I've been thinking a lot today...70 miles of daily driving, most of them alone, gives me lots of time for that...

I'm not sure I can adequately put this into words.

I was listening to something on television and getting ready for bed when news of bin Laden's death was announced.

Now, I do believe the man was horrible.  Awful.  Evil.
He was responsible for horrific attacks on innocent lives that forever changed the fabric of our nation.

However, he was also a man.
Someone's son.
Someone's brother.
Someone's father.
He was a human being.

And as a Christian, I cannot rejoice in the murder of another human being.  I just can't.

And I was very disturbed by the celebrating in the street, cheering the death of this man.

This does not end it.  While it might signal the end of a chapter, it does not close the book.  This does not make it all better.  We are forever changed by the events of September 11th.  This death does not take that away.  It does not bring back all those whose lives were lost, that day or in the war we have been engaged in ever since.  It just adds one more to the death toll.  My fear is it will fuel more hatred, more contempt, more fear, more fighting, more unrest.

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.  Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.  Darkness cannot drive out darkness:  only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate:  only love can do that."  
--MLK