oh goodness

Today I had a "snow" day. Ice day is more like it, but the snow is apparently on the way.

So like many a snow day before I set to work. I hate being too lazy [although I do let myself sleep in]. I made blueberry muffins [with pancake mix! more on this later], and then began grouting our newly laid tile counter top. And grouting and grouting. If you have ever grouted you know this is no fun. And it literally hurts to type because my fingers are raw and dry. But the counters are looking fantastic. Pictures later.

I was nearly finished with one area of tiles, and decided I would finish up, then clean up the mess that had been accumulating in the kitchen since the project began. Last night Brent and his dad put in our new sink. I had been waiting for 2 weeks! to get it because we had to special order it, and I was getting a bit fidgety not having an operating kitchen sink. It looks great and the boys did a fantastic job of putting it in. Fantastic. So today I also enjoyed doing dishes. I enjoyed it. What was the poem above the sink, Schoon girls?

Anyway-- so my day is going swimmingly.

And then I hear water. I thought I had maybe, in my excitement over the new sink, left the faucet running. I peek my head around the corner and see that the faucet is off. I glance at the dishwasher. Possibly while I was grouting I bumped the timer setting and it was now running. Nope. Then I step completely around the corner and see it. Water spewing forth from under the cabinet doors below the sink. Spewing. I run over, shouting I'm sure, fling open the doors and am forcibly sprayed in the face. I see the part that has come loose and try to screw it back. Yeah right! I only get drenched more.

So I'm running around in soggy slippers, crying hysterically at this point. Hysterically. I try to get Brent on the phone but he is on the way home from work with awful service. After two attempts I get through and I'm in hysterics and we can barely communicate but eventually I figure out what he means and I find the water shut off...outside, in my sopping clothes and tshirt. There is more chaos, needless to say, but I get it turned off. Then run back inside and grab towels and whatever I can find and go to work. I try to call mom or dad to get them to bring their shop vac but can't get them. Finally I get Dad. I get out, "There is water everywhere, I don't know what to do...." and my phone dies. Seriously. It dies. I find the charger, plug it in, call him back, and he heads over. Brent comes home and sets to work, then dad shows up, and we get it taken care of.

Drama drama drama. If it isn't one thing....as they say.

Anyway, We made a quick trip to Lowes to get a part, and Brent has us up and running again. However, we are both very nervous that the pipes will just burst at the seams while we are peacefully sleeping! We are holding our breaths [but they shouldn't!]

Goodness and goodnight!


open letter: number 3

Last year I discovered that releasing my frustration via a letter to objects that annoyed me helped a bit. It started with a letter to my student loans, and then, in a moment of hair pulling, occurred again in a letter to the drawer under my oven [which I'm happy to say is MUCH better in our new home].

Here is my letter today.

Dear Laundry,

You stink. And I mean that quite literally at times. I hate everything about you. E.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

When clothes are on my body we have a good relationship. They cover up my thighs, they hide my untanned skin in the winter, they even provide me with a way to express a little style on rare occasion. But the moment I unzip the zipper or unbutton the button and take off said article of clothing, the loathing begins. For in that moment my clothes become laundry.

And Laundry, I must tell you, you have not endeared yourself to me over the years. You take such a long time. I used to try to shove as much of you as possible into the washer, but you found a way to strike back saying, "Ah HA! I want you to take longer and do more loads because I just won't get clean this way!" Bah-humbug.

On a day like today, when I had other chores that needed to be done before leaving for a basketball game, I just wanted to click my fingers and make you disappear. I wanted to just cram you back into the hamper and shut the door, forever severing our relationship. But you had taken things away from me! Precious and necessary things like socks and underwear and cleanliness. So I threw you in piles and you smiled at me, in your whites and colors and darks and linens and...there were SEVEN piles of you! You whispered discouraging falsities in my ear, saying I should have spent time with you last weekend. Well I'm here to tell you-- last weekend I spent time with my nephews and they are FAR cuter than you.

I hate you from the beginning of the separating to the loading of the machine....but I hate you most when you finish tumbling around in your warm little cocoon of a dryer. It is at this point that I wish you would realize I have suffered enough; that you would realize that I just want to be done with every ever-loving last piece of you. But no. You cry "Fold me! Fold me!" as if the torture chamber in my soul has not been prodded and poked enough for the day.

Laundry, oh Laundry, there truly must be a better way? I want to have a good relationship with you, I really do. But you just don't know when to quit, do you? You don't know when to throw in the towel...so you make me throw it in...and then you make me fold it...and then you make me put it away. Don't you see that this is getting a bit ridiculous and out of hand?

People have told me, Laundry, that you are supposed to be something I am thankful for; that I should be thankful to see you piling up as it is to remind me of the blessing I have in being able to clothe my body. Well, you've made your point. I hear ya. I'm blessed. Now would you please just go away?


Someone who can't afford a maid


Our Story: Part IV

Click HERE for the rest of the story [beginning at the bottom]. as


I made sure my Nike's were securely tied, not wanting a trip to mess up the hike on "Trickle Trail." I debated changing my shirt, but didn't want to appear that I cared. I did slap on some more deodorant though, being prone to excessive sweating in tense situations. We met at the trail head. Micah and Brandon seemed to pick up the conversation they had left off early, and I searched for something to say to Brent.

"I think we've met before." I kicked a rock with my foot on the path, still not quite confident to meet his gaze.

'"Maybe." He looked like he meant to say, "No. We haven't. I would have remembered your Afro hair."

I pressed on. "Yeah, at a church lock-in...seventh grade?...I went with my friend Rebecca?"

"Hmm... Maybe."

"I think you played racquetball with your friends most of the night?"

"Oh yeah. That was pretty fun."

"Yep." We continued walking, following the broad path that would take us to the water fall.

"So, Kelsey, do you play basketball? I think I've seen you at games before." Brandon joined the conversation and I was thankful. We continued walking and casually chatting until we reached the "waterfall." It wasn't anything spectacular, but after all I hadn't really hiked for the nature so I wasn't disappointed. We hopped from rock to rock over shallow water for awhile, finally feeling a little more comfortable in each others company.

* * *
The week was a blur of kids, and sweat, and crammed van rides, and skits, and lots of laughter. Our little Trickle Trail group had grown closer as the days swept by. We hiked that trail several times, once Brent even brought his guitar. My toes were fiercely tingling at that point. The hikes became a little more difficult when Brent pulled his hamstring. Some guys had been playing basketball on the concrete slab, and as I watched I began to see how competitive...and talented...Brent was. He ran after a ball down a slight hill and his right leg slid ahead of him and his hamstring popped. Micah was in physical therapy school, and helped him out, but he [very cutely] limped the rest of the week. He didn't let it stop him from our "hikes" on the trail.

Then something happened that would have me asking questions and wondering about intentions for a long time.

I walked into my room after the day's activities and the light was blinking on the base of my room phone. Thinking it was Micah, my sister Kali, or our trip leader, I went to the bathroom and washed my face first, before slowly meandering back to the phone. I plopped on the bed, then kicked off my shoes. Grabbing the phone, I stretched the spiral cord as far as it would go and laid down, cradling the phone with my shoulder.

"Here is Brent I****, with a song he wrote....." I shot up. The phone fell from its resting place and, fumbling, I caught it and put it back up to my ear. Sure enough over the next two minutes I listened to Brent sing and play his guitar. I sat in shock as the dial tone range. I hit the voicemail button again...and again. One of my roommates came in and the phone was still up to my ear. Dumbfounded I just pointed at the receiver and passed it off to her.

She listened, smiled, then hanging up she said, "That was Brent, right? I was just down in Megan's room and he had left the same thing on their phone." Disappointment washed over me.

* * *

I sat down my plate of jiggling pasta salad and squirted some ketchup on my hot dog. Derek, another of the Star boys, sat down next to me. "Did you get the song on your room phone?"

"Yeah." I said between bites nonchalantly. "It was good."

"We called several people's rooms and I would hold the phone up and he would play. Yeah that Brenters can really play! He's all self-taught you know. He didn't want to do it at first but I told him he should. Pretty awesome. He lives just up the street from me and sometimes..." He continued talking and I mentally made a note of the nickname "Brenters." The other guys sat down and soon Micah and a couple of my roommates followed.

About halfway into my hot dog, one of our leaders stood up and said, "While you're eating, I want you to share your testimony with a few people at your table." I volunteered to go first, and then Micah shared, our stories being very similar. I figured every one's would be, and then quiet Brenters opened his mouth to share.

"I was raised in a Christian home, but this wasn't very evident in the way I lived. When I was in Junior High I did a lot of stupid things, but then," he rolled up the right sleeve of his t-shirt, "this happened." He pointed to a massive scar that wrapped all the way around his bicep. The skin in that area was shiny and, I assumed, dead to the touch. "I had just mowed my great aunt's yard and then climbed up a tree to wait for my sister to come get me. When I saw her, I began climbing down and my arm got caught on a broken branch, and I hung there, by my arm, before I lifted my self up and off the jagged branch..."

He continued as I grimaced in shock and my mouth hung open. He told about the ride to the hospital, the blood, and the way the doctor's told him there was a piece still in his arm resting on a major artery. They explained he was very lucky to be alive. "My dad told me, as we were walking out of the hospital, that there was a reason I was alive, and that God had a purpose for my life." It was at that moment that I realized, like many times before, my sister was right-- I had judged these guys, this one in particular, way too soon. However, I had never been happier that she was.

* * *

I put on my favorite pair of jeans and was deciding which shoes to wear. It was one of the last nights of the trip and I had decided to fix my hair for our "fun night." We were going to Dixie Stampede where, I had been told, you got an entire rotisserie chicken and ate with your fingers.

We loaded the vans, now Micah and I road with the Union Star group, as did a few others. Our Trickle Trail group had grown, but the original four called ourselves "The Quad" [another one of Micah's made-up terms). We scooted our bottoms into the vinyl seats that were hot to the touch. The 100 degree July air was getting to all of us and we passed around water bottles. I sat across the aisle from Brent, and on the way to the show he began flaunting on of his skills: he could make a very accurate fart noise with his hands. He had everyone laughing.

This is hopeless, I thought to myself. I even find THIS attractive. I tried to achieve the same noise with my own hands, but Brent noticed I was failing miserably. As a girl I had practiced combing Barbie's hair, but never tried making fart noises with any part of my body. I suddenly wished I had, thinking perchance an ole' hand under-the-armpit fart would impress him in this moment. I was caught up in my thoughts when he reached over and grabbed my right hand. I prayed my palms weren't too sweaty. He cupped his hand just so around mine; I felt the warmth immediately enclose my palm. It was just a second, but I relished in it, not wanting this moment to pass. I had only held hands with one other boy, at a super bowl party in 8th grade. And then my heart had not quickened like it was in this moment.

"PHHHFFFF." The perfect fart noise had been made with his hand and mine. I was thrilled.

We arrived at Dixie Stampede and traipsed into the arena, one big moving mass of army green t-shirts. "The Quad" decided to sit together, and as Brent took his seat beside me I hid my smile behind a huge, greasy slab of chicken meat.


favorite things

If I had to make a list of my favorite things this book would be very, very high:

There are far too many reasons why to take the time to list right now. However, I have spent the past month or two teaching reading and studying this with my sophomores. I had them fill out a little slip for me today, letting me know if they would recommend it for another group of sophomores. All but two of my students said they absolutely would.

Many commented on the timeless themes and lessons in the book, saying that if someone reads it with an "open heart they definitely will learn something." Many talked about how the character of Mrs. Dubose taught the kids a lesson on courage [Atticus says to the kids, "I wanted you to see something about her--I wanted you to see what real courage is... It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do... She died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew."], or how Atticus taught the kids to stand up for what is right, no matter what.

Many mentioned Atticus' advice to "learn a simple trick...you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." Some loved the theme of justice, and fully understood the symbolism in the sin of killing a mockingbird, or they connected to Atticus' closing arguments saying that "all men are created equal in a court of law."

Others liked the simplicity and innocence of Scout realizing that Boo was "real nice", and that "most people are once you get to know them."

A few of my favorite things about the book are these lessons/themes as well, but I also appreciate the beautiful way in which Harper Lee wrote the book. I have never felt like my kids really understood foreshadowing, but I now know that all of my sophomores understand. There is no way to read this book and not get it, because Lee weaves it into the plot so effortlessly.

However, anyone who has read the book or watched the film know what the true beauty in this book is: the characters.
You cannot help but fall in love with Jean Louise "Scout", and Jeremy Atticus "Jem" Finch. Seeing the world of good and evil through their eyes, the reader falls back into his or her own childhood and learns along with them. The tomboy Scout, in her overalls and bare feet, narrates the story and over the course of the two years in which it takes place, grows up and learns, as the book jacket suggests, of the human dignity that unites us all.

But there is also their dad, the lawyer, Atticus Finch. He is "same in his house as he is on the public streets," and in my humble opinion is one of the best literary characters every created. I wish he were real. I wish I could sit and talk with him. Gregory Peck won an academy award for his portrayal of him in the movie, and although he did do a phenomenal job I think it would have been hard for anyone to play that role and NOT win an academy award because Lee did such an unbelievable job of developing his character. One of my favorite moments in the book is when he is leaving the courtroom, and all of the blacks in the balcony stand up and one of them says to Scout, "Miss Jean Louise, stand up; your father is passing." I wish we had more people like Atticus Finch to stand up for these days.

And these are just three of the characters. I didn't even mention Miss Maudie, or the kids plucky sidekick, Charles Baker Harris [Dill], or Dolphus Raymond, or Calpurnia, or Heck Tate...the list goes on and on.

It is truly a work of art. Something that I truly think everyone should read at some point in their life. My students were a bit skeptical when we started the unit, thinking that I was slightly obsessed/crazy, and if I liked it so much that they couldn't possibly enjoy it. But I'm thankful they were wrong. I'm thankful they have got to walk in the shoes of the Finches and learned about the human dignity that unites us all too!

*Harper Lee never wrote another book. If I were her, I don't think I would have either! :)


Part III... finally

Last spring I began writing the story of how Brent and I met etc. I clearly had better intentions then and did not plan on waiting until now to continue. Kali recently started writing their story too, which encouraged me to continue writing.

Clicker here for the first two installments. [Scroll clear to bottom for Part I. ]

And here we go again:

Part III

After adequately making myself comfortable in my new "home," I picked up the phone and dialed Micah's room. I thought it was pretty fantastic that there were telephones in all of our rooms; this provided a connection to one another at all times in a world before cell phones.
"Hey, do you want to walk around the place before our supper meeting at six?" I asked.

Micah quickly said, "Sure-- I just want to brush my teeth quick-- van breath, you know."

"Oh, good idea," I said, cupping my hand over my mouth to test my own breath's potency. "Meet you at the picnic tables in five minutes." I hung up, opted for gum, and then checked the mirror.
Five hours in a van did not look good on me and I started wondering where those Union Star boys might be at this time. I undid my ponytail and hastily put it back up a bit neater, then spritzed on some Hawaiin Ginger before heading out the door.

Micah and I walked around the hotel grounds. I made a note to myself that there was a concrete slab and basketball goals. There were both indoor and outdoor pools, a hiking trail boasting that it ended with the view of a waterfall, and a kitchen/conference room that we realized would be our meeting place for the week. Before we knew it was time for supper and our first meeting on site. We were all wearing blue shirts and it seemed like there were more of us as we said our prayers over the meal.

That first night we sat in the same groups that had formed on the van rides and talked about our anticipation for the next days. We got a final list of our assignments--we would be working at boys and girls' clubs during the day-- and I surprised myself when I felt disappointment creep over me when I saw that the Star group was again isolated, having been placed at the smaller of the two clubs. I didn't want to care.

I stole a glance at their table. They were once again laughing, as they always seemed to be doing, and I looked over as discreetly as I could at Brent-- the boy with the guitar. He was laughing too, but in a quieter manner than the rest. In fact, he seemed to do most things quietly and once I started thinking about it I realized I hadn't heard him say anything much since we left. I was about as extroverted as they came when I was a teenager, and someone like this Brent character just didn't make sense to me. I couldn't figure it out exactly. Normally silence in others frustrated or unnerved me, but for some reason in him it only intrigued me more.

I moved my glance elsewhere, being sure not to get caught looking at his dark hair or his perfect smile. But it was too late; Micah just smiled and slowly shook her head. After the meeting we were mingling around when I noticed Micah making her way towards "their" group. I stood there dumbfounded, watching her start a conversation with the other dark headed boy, Brandon. After a few minutes she casually strolled toward me, grinning.

She waited until we were on our way back to our rooms before she said, "Want to go on that hiking trail later?"

"The one that goes to the waterfall? Sure. I guess I like waterfalls."

"Yeah. I think I'm going to call it 'Trickle Trail.'" She always did this-- "this" being two things: One-giving something a unique, made-up name, and Two- stalling when she knew I wanted her to talk about something else [like what in the world had those cute boys said to her? And what had she said to them?!].

"Trickle Trail? Okay." I looked down at my feet, trying not to give away that I was dying to hear about the conversation and hiding my jealousy at her fortitude to go talk to them.

"Then go put on your tennis shoes." She said as she turned the corner to go to her room. "Oh, and those Brandon and Brent guys are going to meet us there in ten minutes." With that she ducked into her room. I wanted to throw my water bottle at the back of her head, but I also wanted to hug her.

I took a deep breath and exhaled, "Lord, I'm here to do your work. Let me not focus on boys." But the damage, I was afraid, had already been done.


Things I could probably be better about buying more frequently

I am frugal...well, some say "cheap." [Actually some of us ladies in my small group in Louisville were swapping stories of our frugality while our husbands talked in the kitchen drinking nothing but water, obviously. Anyway, we were chatting away and laughing at how ridiculous we are when I shared my lemon story. Apparently this topped them all as they each called their husband into the room and had to let him know that they weren't that bad. Long story short, at our apartment in Louisville I had a garbage disposal. Loved the thing. But as you may very well know garbage disposals often get a horrible stench that is difficult to get rid of, but lemons solve the problem. Pop a couple wedges in there, hit the switch, and in no time it smells citrus-y and wonderful again. So one time when Brent and I went out for supper I ordered, as usual, a glass of water with lemon [you can probably see where this is going]. They put about three wedges in my glass. By the time we were leaving I had drank two glasses of water and had six wedges of lemon. I know lemons only cost about 50 cents, but here was practically a whole lemon in front of me [and already cut!]. I simply got a couple of napkins, wrapped them up, explained the situation to Brent, and plopped them in the disposal when we got home. And that was apparently the story to top all stories. Okay, so I like to pinch a few pennies :)].

This trait of mine has led to some crazy things. You remember the soap story, don't you [also here]? Well I have noticed lately that there are certain things that I try to stretch so I don't have to buy them very often.

One of these things is gum. Simple enough. Cheap enough. But in college the $1-2 per pack seemed pricey just for the luxury of fresh breath! :) So I came up with a solution; I began tearing each piece of gum in half. By my senior year a whole piece of gum just seemed excessive and was difficult to chew. When I did my student teaching even my students knew this and one cut a pack of gum in half for me and gave it to me as a gift! I realize this is a little ridiculous, but it cuts the price in half and prolongs the pack! Brent eventually got so used to me only chewing a half piece that he started to as well [poor guy]. We are a half piece of gum family. I'm sure our kids will inherit this trait.

Another product I have a hard time buying are razor blades. Brent and I both use Venus Embrace razors [I'm sure he is THRILLED that I just divulged that information]. These are very nice razors but the cartridges cost $20 for 6 of them! This just seems ridiculous. So we use them as long as we can possible stand it, until they are practically so dull they just massage our skin but don't cut anything! And then I finally break down and spend the $20. I would say we probably only buy 3 packs a year. Okay...as I type this I'm beginning to realize I may have a problem.

Product number three would have to be lotion. Now, don't get me wrong...I'll buy it if we need it, but I will stretch a bottle or tube of lotion for all it is worth. I will cut the tops off of them, just like my mama taught me, and seal them with a bag until I have scraped every drop out. For real.

Oh and lint rollers. They are a beautiful creation, aren't they? I love when I have this handy invention around. However, when the rolls run out I don't rush to the store to buy more. I think it is because I have found that tape will do the same trick, just not nearly as conveniently. But I always have tape of some sort lying around. And I I put off buying yet another product.

Haircuts! Oh goodness. I probably shouldn't admit that I only get about two haircuts a year...sometimes just one. The last time I got my hair cut was in June. Since my hair is curly, split ends don't really show, and neither do specific lengths of hair. If one layer outgrows another, not even I can tell! And Brent hasn't had a professional hair cut since we've been married. Thank you, $20 hair kit.

And since we're talking about hair I should probably inform you that I haven't bought shampoo or conditioner since 2008! In the fall I purchased 2 new bottles and before the week was over one of my coworkers gave me a 32 oz. bottle of shampoo and conditioner [she had just gotten a perm, so she bought hair care products for curly hair, but then the perm didn't really take]. I used those until we moved at which point I found the bottles I had purchased just before she had given me those. I am almost out of them, but my mom gave me two very large bottles recently of a product she had wanted to try but just didn't like! So although I have bought shampoo for Brent, I have not had to buy any for myself since the Fall of 2008. It really is a miracle. Kind of like the soap.

I could probably continue but I feel the need to shut my mouth. I am probably just going to go squirt a pea sized amount of toothpaste on my toothbrush [who's bristles are long past needing replaced], put on some sweats I've had since high school, and fall into a blissful sleep. Saving money doesn't bother me one bit :)

Guest Blogger: The Croquet Ball, take II

It's only appropriate that I give Dad a chance to tell his side of the story. If you missed Take I click here.

As always, the older sibling gets the last word. [Although I did tell Grandpa he should share his side of the story and he shook his head, and laughing said, "When I heard the noise I thought one of THEM had gone out the window...I knew it was only a matter of time."]

The Croquet Ball-- Take II

I guess I should add my two cents here since the "croquet ball story" is out.

I had no plan, really. Apparently agitation was (Sharon says still is) a genetic trait that I had not fully mastered at the tender age at which the croquet ball was hummed in my direction. My recollection is that by the time I realized that my brother was really mad it was too late-- I was trapped.

I was in the small dormer area where the window and the toy box were located.To get out of this pickle I would have to say I was sorry, or something even worse, and then talk my way past the wild man who was gripping the croquet ball in his hand the way I was sure major league pitchers grip a fastball. Anyway, I decided to bluff. I grabbed the green plastic army helmet. The only plan I had was to duck behind the dresser if bluffing didn't work.

It didn't work. My brother fired the croquet ball.

It sped at me and, if I had not vacated the spot, was headed dead center at me. When the ball hit the window behind me the sound was amazing. It was not the sound of breaking glass. It boomed! The croquet ball was gone. There in the old glass window and the rusty screen on the outside was a perfectly round hole like a canon ball had just gone through it!

As for the jail comment- My brothers and my sister and I had just come through town (Kingston, Pop 312) together in the car, where someone pointed out broken glass in an old store front. Our mother thought for some reason that she should point out to the car full of rock throwing children that "whoever did that should go to jail." So, the "now you did it; now you're going to jail" comment just popped out of my mouth.
All is well that ends well, as they say, and my brother would later put his throwing ability to good use throwing footballs and baseballs with great accuracy. Good thing no one he was pitching against ever made him mad.


Guest Blogger: The Croquet Ball

My dad grew up in a family of six, the oldest of four. His brother, Kirby, was closet to him in age and OH the stories they can tell. Kirby decided to start writing down these stories and I asked him if he would share with me. He sent me one...it is great...and I asked if I could share it with all of you.

This is a great story, and a great example of why I urge my students to write about "every day" type things that happen to them. They need to be remembered. I tell them: "You are important and your stories are important." I'm glad Uncle Kirby took the time to remember and write, and I urge you to do the same....and like I say in class, "even if it feels strange at first..."


The Croquet Ball

My brother and I used to argue a lot when we were young, or I should say my brother would give me a hard time, until I got mad, and then he was happy. Now, whether he did this on purpose or not I do not know. I suppose only he knows for sure, but I strongly suspect he did.

For example, one evening Mom and Dad had some company over so us boys went upstairs to play (or we just wound up there; we were always just winding up someplace). Things were not going well between us, at least I didn't think so. As for my brother, I think he had a plan. I think things were falling into place just the way he figures. Because after a while he had me wound up. I mean, I was mad, and he just kept teasing me. Well, I felt like the time had come for me to teach him a lesson, so I picked up a croquet ball and informed him I was going to throw it at him if he did not cease and desist real quick. Notice that I told him what I was going to do. That was something you always had to do. You always had to tell them what you were going to do before you did it. Like, "If you don't stop I'm going to hit you and it's going to hurt."

My intent here was not to really throw the ball at him but just to get him to stop teasing me. My brother did not see it this way. Remember, he had a plan. He reached into the toy box and pulled out a plastic army helmet, put it on his head, and announced to the world, "Go ahead and throw it!"

Well, I knew that a plastic army helmet was no match for a croquet ball, but he kept it up until I was so mad I launched the ball. I mean, I zinged it at him. It was at this point that his plan came together. See, he knew that the plastic army helmet on his head was no match for the speeding croquet ball that was rapidly approaching, but it was good bait. He knew that if he put the helmet on and taunted me a second time, I was going to throw the ball. He also knew that the window he was standing in front of was no match for the speeding croquet ball. Now the beauty of his plan was its simplicity. There was my brother standing in front of this speeding croquet ball that had been blasted in his direction at something approaching the speed of light. He knew all he had to do was duck. That's all--duck. Just duck and the plan was complete.

So he ducked.

Now this croquet ball was not radar guided or a heat seeking missile so it passed over his head (not by much though, and punched a hole through the window. When I say "punched a hole," that's what I mean. Not only did it go through the glass, it went through the screen too. This glass was old; it looked kind of wavy and had small bubbles in it. When this croquet ball, traveling at supersonic speed struck it, it just made a hole slightly larger than the ball. After passing through the glass, it went through the screen in much the same manner. My brother checked to make sure the window was broken. He looked at the window then at me and said, "Now you did it! Now you are going to jail!" It was at this point I knew I had been had. I knew right away that I had been set up. I could tell he was just waiting for me to throw the ball so he could duck and make the ball go through the window and then I would go to jail. I had fallen into his trap. I just knew any minute the police were going to come and take me to jail!

Dad came to my rescue and convinced me that I was not going to go to jail. While my brother stood around and said, "I don't know what happened, I was just standing there and he started throwing croquet balls at me! It was a good thing I had this helmet or he might have killed me."

The window got fixed without me going to jail, but I did get a good talking to about throwing foreign objects at people, not just my brother, but anybody. I do not know if my brother got into any trouble or not, but I do know that he never told me to throw another croquet ball at him.



Last year I did a year in pictures update sorta thing. I've had the intentions of getting around to doing this again, but then we had snow days and I just couldn't help myself and have been cleaning myself silly. However, today--snow day number 3-- I think just about everything is cleaned in some way or another. I even cleaned my dishwasher and steam cleaned my bathrooms AND cleaned and reorganized my closets. The only thing left on my list is that I really want to organize/update my recipe box. It is a mess.

However, before I really dig in again today, I want to make sure to get this post out there. So here I go..... [some of you don't realize how long these picture posts take, do you?!]

In January we spent New Year's eve with our great friend, Shane and Meagan. For some reason when we are together, we never take pictures though. We knew they would be moving shortly [and little did we know, we would be too], and so hanging out with them became something we put on our weekly agenda. Here is a picture I stole from Meagan's photography blog of them [just for a visual of how awesome they are].I also had a TON of snow days this month, and Brent kept working away at Dick's Sporting Goods.

February rolled around and we did some traveling. We surprised Paige and Torri and showed up to help them/support them with Courtwarming.This is also when we found out Dad won his case, and we threw a little surprise party for him [he was cooking burgers for everyone and STILL didn't realize what was happening :)]
This is also when Brent decided to interview for a job back home.

In March we knew the possibility of leaving Louisville was very real, so we made a couple different trips to visit Kali and Dan and Caroline, and vice versa. And, as many of you know, March means COLLEGE BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP and we thought 2010 for sure meant another championship for our Jayhawks. But if you don't remember, they lost by a point to "some team" from Iowa no one had ever heard of. Disappointing. Luckily Caroline was visiting so we used her to cheer Brent up :)In April we officially knew we would be moving...and things started to get crazy. I spent a lot of time with my coworkers, as we had such a fantastic school year none of us wanted to see it come to an end. Jenn was named Teacher of the Year with only gave us more reasons to celebrate.I also had another fantastic Spring Break, and decided to visit Nashville one last time. Dad was even there visiting and we had a great time.
In May packing became the theme of my life...at homeat school... No fun.I also survived 8th grade graduation/the lastday of school/ saying goodbye to people. Awful.Then I cut my hair...because I'm CRAZY.And then we left Louisville, moved into our new house, and June and July ran together because all I was doing was painting. I've already posted pics of some of the remodels.
And I had two of my favorite friends come to visit me during this stressful time-- both of which were totally okay with the fact that the bathroom door wasn't even hanging up because we were repainting it.

Renae was about 4 months pregnant at the time...but still full of the crazy girl I shared a living space with in college.And Jenny and I had planned a trip to Oceans of Fun in February, and made sure that it happened. This picture was taking after nearly 7 hours at the water park. Fantastic.
We also took a weekend to go visit Beth, Eli, and Henry!
August rolled around and so did school and coaching softball.
In September we got to celebrate Caroline's first birthday at our house.
In October Torri was on the homecoming court.And we finally got to visit Brent's brother Scot and his wife, Rian, who moved to Oklahoma.
In November we celebrated Thanksgiving...and 9 of us on Brent's side of the family got the stomach flu. Awful. And so Brent spent his birthday in the bathroom. Yuck.
In December... well, December just happened and you can read about it here and here and here:)

Whew. That took way too long. Enjoy!


Things Babies Born in 2011 Will Never Know

There was recently an article on Yahoo Finance with the above title. In it Stacy Johnson offers an interesting perspective on things that the kids of this generations may just miss out on. Although there are a few I disagree with, I do think she is on to something...and makes me a little sad. What do you think?
provided by


Huffington Post recently put up a story called You're Out: 20 Things That Became Obsolete This Decade. It's a great retrospective on the technology leaps we've made since the new century began, and it got me thinking about the difference today's technology will make in the lives of tomorrow's kids.

... Do you think kids born in 2011 will recognize any of the following?

Video tape: Starting this year, the news stories we produce here at Money Talks have all been shot, edited, and distributed to TV stations without ever being on any kind of tape. Not only that, the tape-less broadcast camera we use today offers much higher quality than anything that could have been imagined 10 years ago -- and cost less than the lens on the camera we were using previously.

Travel agents: While not dead today, this profession is one of many that's been decimated by the Internet. When it's time for their honeymoon, will those born in 2011 be able to find one?

The separation of work and home: When you're carrying an email-equipped computer in your pocket, it's not just your friends who can find you -- so can your boss. For kids born this year, the wall between office and home will be blurry indeed.

Books, magazines, and newspapers: Like video tape, words written on dead trees are on their way out. Sure, there may be books -- but for those born today, stores that exist solely to sell them will be as numerous as record stores are now.

Movie rental stores: You actually got in your car and drove someplace just to rent a movie?

Watches: Maybe as quaint jewelry, but the correct time is on your smartphone, which is pretty much always in your hand.

Paper maps: At one time these were available free at every gas station. They're practically obsolete today, and the next generation will probably have to visit a museum to find one.

Wired phones: Why would you pay $35 every month to have a phone that plugs into a wall? For those born today, this will be a silly concept.

Long distance: Thanks to the Internet, the days of paying more to talk to somebody in the next city, state, or even country are limited.

Newspaper classifieds: The days are gone when you have to buy a bunch of newsprint just to see what's for sale.

Dial-up Internet: While not everyone is on broadband, it won't be long before dial-up Internet goes the way of the plug-in phone.

Encyclopedias: Imagine a time when you had to buy expensive books that were outdated before the ink was dry. This will be a nonsense term for babies born today.

Forgotten friends: Remember when an old friend would bring up someone you went to high school with, and you'd say, "Oh yeah, I forgot about them!" The next generation will automatically be in touch with everyone they've ever known even slightly via Facebook.

Forgotten anything else: Kids born this year will never know what it was like to stand in a bar and incessantly argue the unknowable. Today the world's collective knowledge is on the computer in your pocket or purse. And since you have it with you at all times, why bother remembering anything?

The evening news: The news is on 24/7. And if you're not home to watch it, that's OK -- it's on the smartphone in your pocket.

CDs: First records, then 8-track, then cassette, then CDs -- replacing your music collection used to be an expensive pastime. Now it's cheap(er) and as close as the nearest Internet connection.

Film cameras: For the purist, perhaps, but for kids born today, the word "film" will mean nothing. In fact, even digital cameras -- both video and still -- are in danger of extinction as our pocket computers take over that function too.

Yellow and White Pages: Why in the world would you need a 10-pound book just to find someone?

Catalogs: There's no need to send me a book in the mail when I can see everything you have for sale anywhere, anytime. If you want to remind me to look at it, send me an email.

Fax machines: Can you say "scan," ".pdf" and "email?"

One picture to a frame: Such a waste of wall/counter/desk space to have a separate frame around each picture. Eight gigabytes of pictures and/or video in a digital frame encompassing every person you've ever met and everything you've ever done -- now, that's efficient. Especially compared to what we used to do: put our friends and relatives together in a room and force them to watch what we called a "slide show" or "home movies."

Wires: Wires connecting phones to walls? Wires connecting computers, TVs, stereos, and other electronics to each other? Wires connecting computers to the Internet? To kids born in 2011, that will make as much sense as an electric car trailing an extension cord.

Hand-written letters: For that matter, hand-written anything. When was the last time you wrote cursive? In fact, do you even know what the word "cursive" means? Kids born in 2011 won't -- but they'll put you to shame on a tiny keyboard.

Talking to one person at a time: Remember when it was rude to be with one person while talking to another on the phone? Kids born today will just assume that you're supposed to use texting to maintain contact with five or six other people while pretending to pay attention to the person you happen to be physically next to.

Retirement plans: Yes, Johnny, there was a time when all you had to do was work at the same place for 20 years and they'd send you a check every month for as long as you lived. In fact, some companies would even pay your medical bills, too!

Mail: What's left when you take the mail you receive today, then subtract the bills you could be paying online, the checks you could be having direct-deposited, and the junk mail you could be receiving as junk email? Answer: A bloated bureaucracy that loses billions of taxpayer dollars annually.

Commercials on TV: They're terrifically expensive, easily avoided with DVRs, and inefficiently target mass audiences. Unless somebody comes up with a way to force you to watch them -- as with video on the Internet -- who's going to pay for them?

Commercial music radio: Smartphones with music-streaming programs like Pandora are a better solution that doesn't include ads screaming between every song.

Hiding: Not long ago, if you didn't answer your home phone, that was that -- nobody knew if you were alive or dead, much less where you might be. Now your phone is not only in your pocket, it can potentially tell everyone -- including advertisers -- exactly where you are.


the dog-that-could-have-been & a few sweet caroline

If you didn't read yesterday's post about our "dog story," then you may want to check that out. In the two and a half days that we had her, we did manage to snap a few pictures. These captured her absolute adorableness :) as I mentioned. However, even while looking at those puppy dog eyes [I think I finally understand that idiom now], we still think we made the right choice...so it most definitely was the right one. But without further adieu....the puppy [she was actually 13 weeks...so not a tiny, rolly-poly thing by any means].

A sight many thought they would never see :) I could pet her when I had gloves on, but sitting on the floor with her still made me slightly nervous.
She really did like this guy. Who doesn't though :)

Oh little dog, don't look at me with those eyes. Trust me, I guarantee whomever ends up with you will love you more than I ever could have. And Brent is enjoying his sleep. And I like that I get to spend time with him again. You would have been in your kennel all day and you would have grown to hate us for it. It was best. Good bye.
And if you thought THAT was cute...get a load of my sweet chunk of greatness--Miss Caroline! Our time together was entirely too short, but unless she lives with me I think that may always be the case. Oh how babies are INFINITELY better than puppies!
Mom got her this stroller for Christmas...for her baby dolls. But she thought it was HILARIOUS to plop in it and be pushed around...she laughed and laughed, understanding that it was so silly that she would be riding in her baby's stroller!

And when it wasn't play time it was time to help Papa. She followed him everywhere. Here she is helping him stoke the fire [don't be nervous folks, all good country girls need to acquire this skill early]

Step one: put logs on the fire and toss in a match [Big C is holding her favorite toy here...the box of matches]
Step two: Stoke the flames by blowing on them. It helps if you wear a pink necklace while doing this.
Step three: Warm your hands by the fire before closing the doors. It also helps if you wear leopard print socks.
Step four: Very carefully shut the door.
Step five: Remind Papa that he needs to close the damper. [She really did point to this before he even reached for it. Smart cookie.]
One of the benefits of visiting Nana and Papa is that you get to sit on the counter and scavenge off of whatever food you may find up there.
I don't know who gets more of a kick out of who?!

And I concur once more: BABIES ARE INFINITELY BETTER THAN PUPPIES :) Maybe I should get me one of those instead!?


still finding time...

My life lately has seemed to be a non-stop coaster of events. I realized yesterday that I hadn't sat on my own couch since Sunday. THREE DAYS! That is simply unacceptable for this lazy girl.


Although I have been snappy at Brent on occasion, have not made as many meals as I normally do, have bags under my eyes, and haven't written on here much, I'm still trying to find time to enjoy "stuff" that is keeping me busy.

For example:
"Stuff" keeping me busy: A new crop of 8th graders in my rotating Lit. Appreciation class.
Enjoyment: They did their first "writers notebook" entry yesterday and I loved hearing and reading what they wrote about. Their stories varied from a boy getting his first Red Ryder BB gun, to a boy reminiscing about building a tree house with his dad and how sad it was to watch the memories he had created there go up in flames last summer when they had to burn it down, to another boy sharing about always racing his brother on bikes and the competitor in him practicing for hours because he wanted to beat him. Even when I think my job is stressful and could drive me to the crazy house, when a student shares his or her writing I remember why I love what I do.

"Stuff" keeping me busy: Basketball.
Enjoyment: The investment I get to make in these girls. Spending so much time with the same group of girls is sometimes irritating, but it is also very rewarding. After I coached the first JV game [and the group of girls knew it was my first time coaching a game by myself] we went back to the locker room after a one point victory. As excited as they were about winning, one of them said immediately, "You did a great job, Coach!" And the rest joined in. I waved them off and told them what a great job THEY had done...but was touched at how thoughtful they were in that moment.

"Stuff" keeping me busy: Lesson plans.
Enjoyment: This is something that will always be a part of my day. I sometimes long to have a job that I just get to show up for. A boss that would put something on my desk and say, "Do this." I would do what he said. In my job, I can't just decide to show up. If I walk into a classroom unprepared it can turn out deadly. I'm not saying there are not brilliant moments of improvisation, but I have to have something prepared every moment. But the enjoyment, what I love, is seeing something I have created, some crazy idea I have about teaching something, come to fruition and work! I enjoy watching my students enjoy their time in my classroom. And although creating a 50 minute lesson sometimes takes hours...it is usually worth it. :)

"Stuff" keeping me busy: The puppy.
Enjoyment: OH WAIT...we don't have a puppy! :) Let me share the story with you [and tell where the enjoyment comes in as well]. As I mentioned in my last post, I told Brent he could pick out a puppy. He was super excited, we looked at a few litters, and bought a pure bred, black and white [reverse brindle], boxer. She was 13 weeks old. Even I, the avid anti-dog person, thought she was ridiculously adorable. Brent brought her home last Friday as planned. He was working so diligently with her. She was afraid to walk through doors and by Sunday was slowly overcoming this because of Brent's patient guidance. She only pooped on the mud room floor twice [and Brent cleaned it up both times]. Brent got up with her in the night and even took her for a jog at 2 in the morning to calm her down and exhaust her back to sleep. And Sunday evening, after many people had met her and agreed with me about her adorable-ness, Brent came to me. He said he had a dream that I had asked him to get rid of her and so he did. We both sat there looking at each other. Eventually...after about a 10 minute discussion...Brent decided that if he was going to exert this much time and energy and discipline towards something he would much rather it be a child. He decided that he like other people's dogs and that would be enough for him. He decided that if I couldn't even pet her without wearing gloves now, that my fears may never me calmed. He decided that if the breeders would take her back, he would gladly hand her back over. I was tired and exhausted and of course started crying, thinking it was my fault and he was giving her up because of me. He assured me it was not. He said we would eventually look back and laugh at the whole thing. He said the only thing holding him back was the embarrassment. But he called the breeder, and 5 minutes later we hopped in the car with Margo [I think that is what we were going to call her. Neither of us felt much attachment to her, and deciding a name was difficult...we thought this may have been a sign too:)], and brought her back. We got home, put the kennel we had just purchased the day before back in its box to take back, and texted a few people and let them know. Not even an hour later we were sitting on the couch laughing about the whole escapade. [Brent even quipped, "I didn't think we'd be laughing about it this soon! This means it was definitely the right decision!"] And you're asking, "Enjoyment? Do tell."

This was the enjoyment for me: My husband is wise beyond his years. He knew that telling people we had given her back may mean they would look at us/him as a "failure." He knew that they may say, "I told you you didn't want a dog! Told you so!" But more than that he knew this wasn't right for us at this time. He knew we had made the wrong choice and instead of saying, "Too late now...oh well!" He fixed it. He didn't care what people would say because he knew it was right. This showed me so much about who he is. And I enjoyed seeing that. I also enjoyed the freedom we felt again after taking her back! We could again leave the house without worrying about anything. Wonderful. [I will post a few pictures though, just so you can see the dog that could have been.]

but wait, there is more
"Stuff" keeping me busy: housework
Enjoyment: Laundry and dishes and cleaning never end. You all know this. But I have learned [most days] to enjoy these small reminders that we have a roof over our head, food to dirty dishes with, and clothes to wear. These reminders that I get to live this wonderful life that I have been given. I also enjoy creating a home with Brent that is inviting and welcoming to others. I love days that I am home and he is at work and I get to clean for hours so that when he comes home it is peaceful for him. I love all of it [but I really don't like dusting... I think this is because Kali said it bothered her allergies so I was always stuck with it :)]

"Stuff" keeping me busy: Holiday get-togethers
Enjoyment: I think this one is probably obvious...but we had a TON of stuff this year and it was so absolutely wonderful to be home and be able to attend anything and everything we wanted to. We got to spend Christmas with both our families, see all our grandparents, AND had time to go to friends' houses. We enjoyed this time so much this year...and enjoyed even more not living out of a suitcase during it all :)

I could keep writing, but I still have "stuff" to attend to. I want to always remember though, no matter how busy or exhausted I feel, to still find time to enjoy what I am doing.