Friday, December 25, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

So close to Christmas

I had to do some last-minute shopping today (including shopping for my guy, which involved going to multiple stores, e-mailing him photos--thank you, iPhone--of the items under consideration, and talking on the cell to narrow down the choices) and it wore me out. Nothing bad happened. I got an awesome parking space. Everyone was very kind. The lines weren't long. But, for whatever reason, I was spent. Dead-tired. Blehhhh.

I still have to go out and do all the food shopping but I came home to take a break. And, while taking this break, I found myself thinking about all the blessings at this time of year.

Here are just a few:

  • A cancer-free mom
  • Watching Christmas movies (Home Alone, Elf, etc)

  • Finding the perfect gift for that special person

  • Two weeks off from work

  • Sweaters and coats (fall and winter clothes are my favorites)

  • Frosting a gingerbread house (well, mostly watching Jon frost it)

  • Cuddling up on the couch under a cozy blanket

  • Enjoying the Christmas decorations

  • Giving: a parking space, a secret Santa treat, $20 to the older gentleman at the gas station who had left his wallet at home (been there, done that, and had to chase down my mommy in the grocery store parking lot to bum cash off her to pay for my groceries)

  • Looking forward to the delights of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

  • Knowing, really knowing, that over two centuries ago, a baby was born in a stable, a baby who was God incarnate, come to offer salvation to all who would receive it.

So much to be thankful for. Pretty silly to let a little shopping wear me out. So I'm off again. And hoping to add "Finding the green tortillas" to the list of blessings. Because, really, what's a Christmas fiesta without green tortillas for the tacos?

And, no, not a single person in my family has a drop of Mexican or Hispanic blood in them. But, yes, it's our Christmas fiesta tradition, complete with fried ice cream and a pinata!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas cards

For the first time in years, I will be sending out Christmas cards before Christmas! That's right, before Christmas! As in, not after Christmas!

Historically, I send out Christmas cards between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. The reason for this is simple. I work in the public schools. We get two weeks off for Christmas break. I am usually in a mad rush throughout the month of December and I always tell myself that the Christmas cards can wait until I am on break. Then, once I am on break, I realize that I have to buy presents, make presents, wrap presents, bake, clean the house, visit friends and family, etc. So the Christmas cards get pushed back until after Christmas.

When the Christmas cards finally leave my house, they have become Christmas/New Year/thank-you cards. The message usually says something like,"Hope you had a very merry Christmas and wishing you a blessed New Year. Thank you so much for the (insert name of gift)." Honestly, I kind of think this system is genius. One card for three purposes. Not bad.

But this year I designed and am sending out a digital card. The cards are on the table, the box of envelopes (sized to hold a 4x6 photo--who knew this was not a standard envelope size?) is beside them, and I've even purchased festive Christmas stamps.

Now I just need to start addressing the envelopes....

Monday, November 23, 2009

In All Things

Jon and I were at church on Sunday and the message, oddly enough, was on thankfulness. It was a great message, challenging and affirming. Straight from the Bible (with a little gratuitous narrative stuck into the account of the healing of the ten lepers--I personally believe the Bible can stand on its own without elaboration but, hey, that's just me) with a good balance of teaching, exhortation, and application. I've been going to church since birth, I'm a preacher's kid who married a preacher's kid, and I've got a Christian university education with a minor in Bible so I feel that I'm at least somewhat qualified to judge a sermon on an objective basis. And this was a good one.

At the very end of the message, Pastor Don threw out a challenge. He suggested that we all write down ten things that we are thankful for, including one thing that is rough or difficult in our lives. So far, so good. I can handle that. Then came the kicker. He wants us to complete this exercise every day from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas Day. EVERY DAY! Ten things! Including one per day that is rough or difficult and not transparently something for which one would give thanks! That's, like, three hundred things! Thirty of which are supposed to be toughies! Sheesh!

Well, we're gonna try. Jon and I talked about it and we're a little wimpy because we've decided to come up with our daily ten things together. We figure, two minds are better than one, right?

Honestly, I have no idea if we'll get through this. But we're gonna give it a try.

First Thessalonians 5: 18 says, "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." The circumstances themselves aren't necessarily His will. I'm no Calvinist and I believe that many of the things that happen in this life just happen. Not because they were meant to happen or predestined to happen but because life is life. Stuff just happens. But it is His will that I find a way to give thanks in any situation in which I find myself. These are the toughies. And I'm gonna have to come up with one a day from Thanksgiving Day until Christmas Day. Jon and me, giving thanks in all things. Not just the easy ones.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kid Art

One of my pet peeves is the way children's artwork is depicted on tv. I've seen many a movie or tv program that shows a six year-old at a table (in the kitchen, at school, in the police station, etc), hunched over a piece of paper, carefully drawing a picture. That part is fine. Most six year-olds love to draw and take the whole process very seriously. It's the finished product that gets me. The pictures attributed to six year-olds in movies or on tv are nothing like the art a six year-old actually produces. Seriously, kids just don't draw like that!

Now, me? I work with six year-olds. I know how they draw and what their pictures look like. And I don't see any problem in validating six year-olds and their art by, oh, I don't know, actually letting a six year-old draw the pictures for the movie or tv show!

Here's a sample of actual six year-old artwork. It was drawn by one of my students and she took the whole process very seriously. We had read the book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff, and now the kids were drawing pictures of their favorite part of the book. (This is speech therapy--we do more talking and drawing than writing.) This little munchkin kept referring back to the book and adding details here and there. The finished product is classic six year-old art. Including the hand-blocked title. (I hate it when kids do that; it takes forever and is a complete time-waster. But she really wanted to do it and I caved.)

See? How great is that? There's the mouse; he's wearing his overalls just like he does in the book. The boy is sitting on the rock with his book and cookie bag beside him and he's handing a cookie to the mouse. You can see the house indicated by an elaborate front door. The whole thing just makes me feel happy! Yep, this is six year-old art. This is the real deal. Not like that faux six year-old art that keeps popping up in movies or on tv.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

I sat at the breakfast table last Sunday morning, quietly weeping as I read a newspaper article called "Bringing Michael Home." The article told of the return of Army Spc. Michael Dahl Jr's body to his hometown, after Spc. Dahl had been killed in Afghanistan. It was a sad but beautiful story. The honor given to this soldier at his passing and the support given to his family was just as it should be for those who die in the service of our country.

But I think too easily we forget that most who serve our country at home and abroad do not die in that service. Instead, they ride in a dusty armored vehicle, scanning the horizon for trouble. They work on base, quietly doing small tasks to forward the mission of the armed forces. They come home on leave, with stories to tell or not tell. They linger in VA hospitals, the young and injured beside the old and infirm.

Yes, we should give special honor to the beloved dead who died while serving. But this is not Memorial Day. This is Veteran's Day, a day to also give special honor to those who live while serving. And my small contribution to this day was to teach some of my students what it means to be a veteran.

One of the biggest regrets of Jon's life was that his eyesight wasn't good enough for him to try to become a Navy pilot. He gave serious consideration to working toward becoming a RIO and took the test for Officer Candidate School, and did very well. But, in the end, he decided to stick with education. He's never lost his love of planes, however, and our nephew Luke seems to share his fascination. I love the photo of the two of them sitting on a bench, Luke eating a snack and Jon demonstrating the job of a ball turret gunner.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cool, Old Parents

I am home from work. Again. Recovering from minor surgery. Sheesh, I'm only 37 but this has not been my year for good health. I've got an appointment later this month with a nurse practitioner, who is part owner of a women's medical practice in Palm Springs, to discuss conception options. I hate that I have this appointment. I hate that I have to discuss conception options with anyone but, well, Jon. I'm afraid that, even if I get pregnant and we have a baby, we're going to be these sad, old, decrepit parents. Too tired to be fun.

But then I was checking out Tara Whitney's blog. If I ever get pregnant, I am going to fork over the bucks and get a photo session with her. And Jon is going to have to suck it up and do it with me! Anyway, I was reading Tara's blog and I came across the photos of this incredibly happy family and then I noticed that the dad has grey hair. Grey hair! And their youngest kid is still pretty young! And they don't look sad or decrepit at all. They look cool.

So, thanks Cirjak parents. I'm not saying that you look old, or anything, but there is that grey hair. The important thing, however, is that you look cool. And vibrant. And full of joy and happiness with those three kids.

Maybe someday Jon and I will be the cool, old parents. Yeah, I think we could work with that!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Competitive, much?

A couple of weeks ago I had the flu. It absolutely flattened me. I ran a fever for five days, which is very unlike me. And, what with this flu season being what it is and my working in the public schools, I wasn't allowed back at work until 24 hours after I stopped running a fever. So, I was out from work, Monday through Friday. Crazy.

I am not the only one who lives in this house. There is a dog, a big ol' chocolate lab who can't catch the flu from me, and a husband; a frenzied, harried, second-year grad student who is anticipating graduation in June but has to jump through the hurdles of a research project, comps, classes, and clinics before he dons cap and gown and walks up to the dean to receive his M.S. A husband who also works part-time. As everyone knows, part-time usually turns into full-time work for part-time pay. We were praying that the flu would skip Jon but, no. And, being Jon, he had to do it one better than me. He is running a higher fever. He started his flu while we were on vacation in Vegas. And, stinker, he's been going to work. At a school. With a fever! Where are the flu police when I need them? He should be in bed, drinking lots of fluids and resting, but is he? Noooooooooo! I lobbied for his taking time off. I pleaded, I cajoled, I scolded. And then I gave up. He's accruing clinic hours at work and he swears he can't give up those hours. I get it, I really do. I went through the exact same program and I know that clinic hours are like gold and not to be taken lightly. But, seriously?

That's my husband: tough guy. Can't just stay at home in bed like his lazy, flu-ridden wife did. Nope, he's got to soldier on and head out to work/clinic/classes. Competitive, much?
Here's my guy in happier, flu-less days. Trying out his stethoscope before a clinical rotation at St. Bernardine's and studying on the back porch.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Crazy People

We had just finished up a Student Study Team meeting with a parent. (An SST is a meeting with the parent of an at-risk kid to develop strategies, interventions, and supports to help the kiddo succeed before we proceed to drastic measures like testing for special ed placement.) It was a good meeting and the kid is making good progress and everyone was pleased. As the parent was packing up her things and getting ready to head out, she said, "Well, I'm off to work with crazy people!"

And I replied, without thinking, "Me, too!"

Possibly not the best reply to the parent, when her son is one of the "crazy people" I would be working with today. In my defense, it was still pretty early in the morning. And I don't drink coffee. But after a brainless comment like that, maybe I should start.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fall Decorating

I'm not much of a decorator. Basically, my decorating philosophy is encapsulated into the following: "If you've got a lot of books in the room, then it's decorated." Not that I want to be the kind of person who pulls out 200 different Santas right after she washes up the Thanksgiving dishes. I think that's overkill.

Luckily, Jon is willing to paint. So some of the rooms in our house are painted and I love them. The rest of the walls are white and I'm ok with that, too. The books are tastefully arranged in an enormous bookshelf unit that Jon built. Well, some of the books are tastefully arranged in an enormous bookshelf unit that Jon built. The rest are tastefully arranged throughout the rest of the house in bookshelves, nightstands, the linen closet, and random stacks.

I like to think the net effect is one of coziness. Probably because I find the presence of a whole bunch of books indescribably soothing.

But yesterday, the last day of my stay-at-home-with-the-flu days, I actually did a little bit of decorating.

Angela Harris makes the most gorgeous trim tags. The are simply lovely and she has a bunch of different designs and color combos and I adore them. So I ordered two sets and when they arrived I just looked at them for a bit and sighed because they were so sweet and then I put them away because I realized that I had ordered these two sets just because I loved them, not because they went with the colors in my house! Bummer.

Yesterday, I gritted my teeth, pulled my tags out of their bags, and disassembled two of them. Honestly, it was hard. I gathered a bunch of supplies (ribbons, feathers, twigs, charms, etc) that went with the colors in my house and also made me think of Fall.

From my assemblage of stuff and Angela's base tags (how does she achieve that deep color?), I put together my own trim tags. They are nothing like Angela's; I just don't have her eye. But I really like them. And when I put one tag in each shadowbox and added a couple of leaves, I took a step back and said to myself, "There, I've decorated."

Friday, October 16, 2009


Yesterday, the doorbell rang and there was a beautiful priority mail box on the doorstep and it was my free Scarlet Lime kit in all its turquoise and orange and brown glory! And that, yes, was a run-on sentence.

Back to my kit. It all started when I got the Scarlet Lime newsletter and saw that Erin Clarkson was going to be the guest designer for October. Erin Clarkson! I have loved her scrapbooking for years. Literally, years. She has designed for Scrapbooks Etc and Making Memories publications and it's always good. Very colorful but still very clean designs. Great photos. And she's the mother of one of the cutest little girls on the planet; it can only elevate your pages when the photos are of one of the cutest little girls on the planet.

All of which makes me sound a bit like a "Swimfan." It's only going to get worse when I say that, years ago, I sent her a card, telling her how much I loved her work (see, even more "Swimfan") and she sent me back the sweetest card, thanking me for my card. I've still got that card up in my scraproom. We started a bit of a correspondence through e-mail and she told me about a book she was working on for Scrapbooks Etc and invited me to submit a project for it. Ummmmm, ok!

So I did. I dragged Jon to Best Buy (yeah, sure, like any man has to be dragged to Best Buy) and we bought a scanner. I created some projects, scanned them, sent them in, and Erin picked the one she liked best. And it was published! In a book! If you pick up a copy of Scrapbooks Etc Photography and turn to page 137, you can see the very first project I ever had published.

Since that time, I've had other projects published in various magazines and idea books. Not a ton, but enough to keep me submitting. It's so much fun to see your work in a magazine. And it's also fun to get a check for doing something that you already love.

Who here doesn't see the connection to my free Scarlet Lime kit? Just wait, it's coming.

Erin and I lost touch a while back but I still leaf through my latest issue of Scrapbooks Etc looking for all her pages and smile when I see them because they are still the best. And when I saw that she would be guest designing for Scarlet Lime, I went straight over to the SL website to check out her projects. And came to discover that Erin has a blog! I clicked straight over to Erin's blog and read the whole thing (luckily, she hasn't been blogging long so I wasn't too far behind). And, since she was guest designing for SL, she was offering one of the October kits as a giveaway for leaving a comment on her blog! Not that I needed an incentive to comment. So I commented and the Random Number Generator picked my comment number as the winner of the giveaway!

See? It's all coming together now, right? The kit arrived yesterday, which is the fastest turn-around time ever. I only got my contact info to Erin over the weekend and she got it to SL and the kit was in my hands by Thursday? That is customer service, people. The kit itself is, well, dreamy. Arguably one of my favorite color combos, ever. And all the little details (the buttons, those trims!) and the patterned papers and the fact that they don't include cardstock (every scrapper has more cardstock than s/he could use in a lifetime); it's all so very good! If you like what you see, I think they have a few more left. Go pick one up; I highly recommend it. As for me, the first order of business is to sit down and create two thank-you cards. One for the awesome people at Scarlet Lime! And the other for Erin. So glad I found her blog.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Summer in Fall

I am still home with the flu!!! What is this?!? Let me tell you, I am so over being sick. And the cough? Now I sound a lot like a seal.

It's been chilly the past few days, which is perfect for people with the flu. I mean, I'm already feverish, right? So a chill in the air helps tone me down a bit. (Not that Jon's 600mg ibuprofens weren't doing it, too, but a natural cool is even nicer.)

But today I woke up to weather in the 80's. Ummmmm, no thank you. I don't want to feel warm when I'm already feeling warm. Besides, it's October! I don't want to be sporting shorts and t-shirts (ha! like I'm sporting anything besides pajamas with this stupid flu) in October. I want to be pulling out my sweaters and anything corduroy and, dare I say, tights! That's right; I'm ready for tights!

Well, ok. If it's going to feel like summer around here then I am going to engage in a Summer 2009 retrospective.

First up, our trip to San Diego in June:

Oh, wait, that's not our trip to San Diego in June. That's our trip to San Diego in April. Oh, well. I have the flu; I can make a mistake or two, right? And I'm new to blogging. I seriously can't figure out how to delete this page and put up the right one. Not that it matters. Because, is that kid cute, or what? That's my nephew, Luke. He's holding tight to Shamu. And her baby (What, you didn't know that Shamu was a girl? And a mom?), Bamboo. That's right, Bamboo. Luke's choice. The two guys in the background of the photo are Kurt, Luke's dad (my brother-in-law) on the left, and Jon.

Well, all that posting the wrong page and trying to figure out how to delete it to put up the right page and then giving up was exhausting. Usually I have more stamina but, what with this stupid flu, now I am so tired that I have to go lie down. And probably cough some more.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Urrgh. I have the flu. This is so wrong. But ... I actually went to the doctor early. And I'm taking my antibiotics faithfully. And I'm hoping to be over this soon. You should hear me cough; I sound like some strange animal at the zoo.

The silver lining to the flu is that I get to stay home from work! Not that yesterday was much fun. All I really did was writhe around and moan and ache all over. But today the writhing, moaning, and aching are greatly reduced; all I'm really dealing with at the moment is the cough! And, in computer-land, nobody cares if you cough. At work, people care. People care a lot. People do not want to be around a cough like mine. It seems like step one toward H1N1, which I do not have. Jon had a couple of patients with H1N1 during his summer clinic so he's keeping tabs on me to make sure that I really, truly do not have H1N1. He read in the paper that the average age of patients with H1N1 is 38 and I said, "Ha, see? I could not possibly have H1N1. I am not 38. I am 37!" You can see why he'd be concerned.

This is my stay-home-from-work buddy. Actually, he's my any-time-Jon's-not-around buddy. Because Beasley's heart belongs to Jon. But when Jon's not at home, then he's totally devoted to the person who's next up on his list. And that would be me!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Day One

I can't believe I'm starting a blog. Why me? Why today? I guess I'm writing this blog because my memory has never been the best. I find that I can't remember the details of the funny stories, the happy moments, and all the little things, the snippets, if you will, that make up this life of mine. This is my one life and I don't want to forget any of it! So, it looks like I'm starting a blog.