Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Feel Old

While it did turn out to be a great day (see previous post), I feel old. There is an area of low pressure sitting over South Florida that has me hurting. My carpal tunnel is acting up and my knees are reminding me that I did have surgery only 11 months ago. Bring on the wrist splints and the ice packs.

I hate to think about what I'll be like in another thirty years or so...

It's Going to be a GREAT Day

The weather is gross and rainy. My darling Rafa decided to protest the new kitty litter we started using. (I will spare you the details. Just note that this is how I started my day!) My house is a mess. I have loads of school work to do.

But is is going to be a great day.

It is 7:23AM and I am not rushing into the car trying to get to work on time. I am not dumping my husband out at the intersection hoping the lights do not change while he is in the middle of the street.

I am at home. Blogging. In my PJs.

I'll drop the Irishman into work at 9:00 and then head into school wearing whatever I want and not having to talk to anyone else. It is amazing how I do not mind going to work when I do not have to! (We are off today because of Rosh Hashanah. For those of us who are not Jewish it is just a random Tuesday off!) I am meeting Dawn for a belated "birthday lunch."

It is going to be a good day!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Keeping an Eye on Us

I went to bed last night at 6:30 with an icepack on my head. Seriously. I woke up for about half an hour when the Irishman served dinner (yep - he is that good) and then at about 9:00 when I gave up and went up to the bedroom. I had a migraine and was out of it. Morgan tried to convince me I said strange things in my sleep, but I slept too soundly for that.

The day before I started to lose my voice. No other symptoms. No screaming or yelling at children. (I know you were thinking it!) Just randomly sounded a bit scratchy. We stopped at Target on the way home for Airborne and Zicam. I know it is probably in my head, but I swear it makes a difference. I went to bed early and I woke up in the morning fine. My head hurt (see above) but my throat was back to normal.

Thinking about it, I needed the sleep. The Holy Spirit was looking out for me. The Irishman and I are volunteering at a retreat at Church this weekend for our Confirmation class from last year. We are happy to volunteer, but we usually spend our Saturdays recovering from the week so extra sleep the last couple of nights will be useful!

I was teasing Morgan this morning. The Holy Spirit may be keeping an eye on me, but it is Morgan who the priests remember.

Morgan and I met with Monsignor several times before our wedding. He always referred to us as "Team!" In the three years since then, we frequently see him outside the church before or after Mass. It is always the same. I walk by and he shakes my hand like everyone else. Then he shakes hands with the Irishman and he looks back at me and says, "TEAM!" It is quite funny. He often throws his hands up in the air as he says it. Even my grandmother has noticed.

Last Sunday was Catechist Sunday at the 12:15 Mass. We sat in the reserved section of the church. A couple of times during Mass, I could have sworn that the Irish priest was looking at us. We were sitting behind a nun and the director of religious education though, so I decided I was being silly. After Mass we walked past the Irish priest. It looked almost as if he was waiting for us. Again, I told myself I was being silly. Always trust your instincts.

"So do you know the score of the game?"

The All-Ireland Football Championship was Sunday just before Mass. Morgan had been on the phone with his family as the game ended right before we walked into the church. He was able to give a report. We laughed all the way to the car.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fall Into Reading 2008

I have recently started using Google Reader to keep up with all my bogs. Although the solution to keeping up with the blogs I read has led me to even more blogs. The ever smart Google Reader led me to Callapidder Days this week. I happened upon the Fall Into Reading 2008 challenge and have decided to give it a try.

We don't really have "fall" here in Florida, so I'll have to pretend! Thanks to my new friends at Paperback Swap and the public library I have a rather large pile of books to read.

Here is my list:
Organic Housekeeping: In Which the Non-Toxic Avenger Shows You How to Improve Your Health and That of Your Family, While You Save Time, Money, and, Perhaps, Your Sanity
by Ellen Sandbeck

Compost: The Gardener's Essential Compost and Recycling Bible
by Kenneth Thompson

Easy Green Living: The Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly
Choices for You and Your Home
by Renee Loux

Into the Wild
by Jon Krakauer

Tuesdays with Morrie
by Mitch Albom

Seven Up (Stephanie Plum, No. 7)
by Janet Evanovich

The Pact: A Love Story
by Jodi Picoult

A Life with Karol: My Forty-Year Friendship with the Man Who Became Pope
by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz

Life's a Beach
by Claire Cook

Catechism of the Catholic Church
by U.S. Catholic Church
It is subject to change, but I am going to make an effort! We'll see how it goes! Happy reading!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Momma!

Today is my mom's birthday. I think the best gift she got was her power back! After a couple of hours with electricity last Sunday, her house went dark again until yesterday. This time she saw the crews out fixing it so let's hope this is for good!

I've mailed her gifts, but they did not get there in time. I'm disappointed, but it is what it is! Here is the slide show I made for her last year. Mom got two tattoos for her big 5-0 and wanted me to get a tattoo with her. This was my reply:

She enjoyed our tattoos - even if they did wash off...

Today the boys sent her birthday greetings. It is pretty sad when the cats are more punctual than their owner. I think it is funny that it is actually my mom's handwriting. They'd climbed in the box that previously contained my birthday present!

First sweet ol' Moses...

and then with Rafa in the way.

Happy Birthday Momma from ALL of us!

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Weekend At Last!

It has been a LONG week. I am ready for a weekend. A nice lazy weekend. Morgan and I were hoping to not leave the house today, but the cats are out of food and I fear Rafa may start eating our toes if the food bowl gets empty!

I have to pick up my compost bin from Ace Hardware. I've been doing some research so that I will do it right. I am a little scared of a compost disaster. I am really looking forward to shredding and composting junk mail. Morgan killed the shredder a few months back so we have a rather large basket full of papers that need to be destroyed.

Speaking of compost, I am most disappointed that I did not get more comments from my worm post. Really...I know you read this. People reference things they've read on my blog. I have the little map that shows the dots. Leave me a note. Please?

And I will leave you with an updated worm picture. We have fed them a slightly rotten cucumber, apples, spinach, egg shells, and other snack "left overs." The cucumber is now nothing but skin. When I fed them after school on Friday they were digging into the apple.

You can see my yellow gloved fingers pulling back the top cover to expose their little red bodies eating away. My friend Lyndsay stopped by my classroom Friday and admitted that there really is no smell from the Can-O-Worms. Pretty impressive considering I have 4 lbs of worms and 2 pounds of food waste buried in there!

On that note, I need to go pull Morgan away from the TV so we can get some dinner. The Ryder Cup is on and it isn't look so good for the Europeans. I have been giving him a hard time about their outfits. His friends from across the pond are wearing bright turquoise shirts and white pants. They are so bad they distract you from the "oh so exciting" game of golf. Maybe it's just me...

Twenty-Nine the First Time

When I was a kid my dad always told us he was "29 and holding until the day I turned 18." Well, I guess that means I am now 29 for the first time!

I had a fantastic birthday! It started Sunday with dinner at my grandparent's house. I got to share the party with my Uncle Lee. I got homemade gifts from my grandparents this year and I love them! Grandpa Boo made me a Square Foot Garden box. Now I just have to fill the box and start gardening! Grandma Betty made me a quilted cell phone holder (that is just perfect) and her special triangle bag. It all makes me smile!

Morgan got me the Brighton watch I'd wanted. I was most impressed that he (a)picked out the correct watch and (b)had to actually drive to the mall to get it. I've mentioned Morgan's driving before - I think this may be the first gift I've gotten that was not ordered online!

On the way to school I stopped at our usual light and Morgan hopped out of the car. He shut the door he wished me a happy birthday and told me to check my purse. By this point the light has turned green and I am trying to drive, check my purse, and make sure Morgan got across the street without getting hit. I found a James Avery box in my purse with the ring I've had my eye on for the last couple of years. This meant I was driving down the road trying to take off my claddagh ring, put on my new ring, call Morgan to say thank you, and get to work close to on time. What a treat!

I got to school to find all sorts of goodies. My class was in such great spirits. (And well behaved!) My room mom sent in a dozen roses and a cupcake cake with a frog on it. She sent in a '?' candle, but all my kids know my age. The '?' just confused them!

I am very big on not opening my presents until my birthday. Mom sent my present with Jason when he came to visit in March. I knew what it was, but I did not open it until my birthday. (Mom and Morgan couldn't believe I waited!) I am looking forward to playing with the Cricut this weekend!

I finished my birthday with dinner at Sue's house. Our friend Laura and I have the same birthday, so Sue holds a party for us each year. We hadn't seen them in a while so it was great to catch up!

I still have two more treats to come. My dad has ordered a compost bin for me that should arrive soon. I went to the library for books on how to get started! Now I will have worms in my classroom and the compost bin at home. Morgan is also bugging me to pick a place for my birthday dinner out.

I have to say, I feel spoiled after a birthday like this!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

New Update on Mom

I will confess that I got up at 5am and watched the news coverage online from all three major Houston stations. I may also have also been switching between the national networks. Don't judge me - it is my mom we are talking about. The damage to the Clear Lake Hilton is impressive - it seems crazy that we were just there a few weeks ago.

I have not had any direct contact with my mom, but I have learned enough to say with confidence that she is okay.

Exhibit #1: I decided to send Jason a text instead of Mom because he has access to a generator at the fire station and I think he also has a car charger. Our text message conversation looked something like this:
Me: So?
Jason: I am working my "butt"(word replaced to keep blog PG) off. Lots of damage.
Me: Any word on mom?
(30 minute pause. Not good for my nerves!)
Jason: She is fine. Lost the fence on the neighbors side

Exhibit #2: Julie called me in a panic this morning to see if I'd heard anything. While I was on the phone with her she got a text message from Mom. It read,
"Ome sife of fence down. Loads of btancrs."
I used my teacher decoding skills to guess that the last word was branches.

Exhibit #3: Conversations with Uncle Ken reveal that Mom sent him a text message at 3:17am saying that she was going to move to Maine. They exchanged a few other messages. The last one was something about how she'd lost electricity and would not be nearly as hot if all those animals didn't insist on sleeping on her.

Exhibit #4: Julie said she talked to mom. Julie was on her way to work, so all I got was a text that said, "she just called a few minutes ago." However given Julie's previous frantic desire for more information, I can trust the calm response is a good sign.

So thank you for the prayers. I know the lack of power and such is going to be hard, but at least they are okay! Now let's hope Mr. Fireman stays safe as he works his "butt" off!

** New update: I was in Whole Foods after Mass Sunday and got a text from Mom that says," I've got the power!" I cannot get through on the phone, but I am going to guess that means they have power back, which would be MOST impressive!

** I just spoke with Mom and she is thrilled to have power again! She said they were VERY lucky. She drove into the office this afternoon. There is SO much damage around, even in the neighborhood. I guess God was looking out for her!


It all started with the Gorgeously Green book by Sofie Uliano. I picked up the book at Costco. Then I saw Sofie's appearance on Oprah. Including the worm incident.

I've made lots of changes to become more green. We have changed the products we buy. We bring our own bags to the store each week. We use reusable sandwich mats and plastic bag alternatives. My clothes are drying out on the clothesline on the patio as I type this.

One of the things I wanted to try was composting. I have been trying to decide how to do it. After much research and debate, I decided to try vermicomposting in my classroom. As a district teacher of the year winner, the school was given $200 and I was given the job of deciding how to spend it. After talking with my third grade team, I decided to purchase the Teacher Special #2 from Happy D Ranch for a grade level composting project. We thought we would try out one bin and then if it went well we would look to add one for each of the three classrooms.

At about the same time we ordered the first bin, I got information about a grant program from the local chamber of commerce. I wrote a proposal called, "Going Green in the Third Grade Garden" asking for $842 to buy two more worm bins and enough Square Foot Garden boxes for each student to have one square foot to call their own. I spent one of the first days of summer vacation writing the grant and found out last week that they decided to give us the money.

Our first worm bin came a couple of weeks ago. I set up the Can-O-Worms in my classroom. I have a fear of baking worms so they will live inside. It is hot in Florida! (My mom was shocked when I told her about this. As we were on the phone she was googling the whole thing and I heard her read out, "The only smell should be a slight rain forest aroma.")

A little over a week after the Can-O-Worms arrived a battered box arrived at the mail room. When the mail room worker went to re-tape the box, she discovered a worm or two or three that had escaped. She screamed. I am sure they are not very happy with me!

We gathered all the kids during the last 10 minutes of school to watch me add the worms to their new home in the Can-O-Worms. The looks on their faces ranged from excitement to curiosity to disgust. I was terrified that the worms would not be alive moving much after getting lost in the mail. It became very clear, very quickly that my fears were for nothing.

Yes, I did have to touch the worms. I had more than one student offer to do that part for me. I assured them I could handle it!

The worms took SO long to get there that the company sent me another 2 pounds of worms. They arrived on Friday. The office manager came to see me because the box was smashed. Badly. Luckily my worms were resilient.

It also meant that I got to add an additional 2 pounds of worms to our Can-O-Worms. It is what everyone wants to do on a Friday afternoon after a full day of teaching.

So there you have it! I am reading two books on vermicomposting. We fed them the dead celery from my fridge on Friday. Eventually we are going to use organic waste from snacks and classroom scrap paper to feed our worms. Then down the line we will use the worm "poop" in our garden.

I've gotten a great response from just about everyone. Although I think my mom is glad that I discovered worms after I moved out of her house!

Friday, September 12, 2008


Yesterday afternoon I called my mom. Morgan and I are usually news junkies, but I hadn't been paying much attention the last couple of days. I was scanning Weather Underground from time to time, but that was about it. My mom was complaining about how the post office was closed and she had 8 Paperback Swap books to mail. As I said, "Really?" She said, "Well we are under a mandatory evacuation, but not until noon and it was only 10am."

Wow. Teach me not to watch the news. My mom was still at work when this conversation happened. My brother was boarding up the house. Sort of. He decided not to bother with the front windows. He figures the storm is coming from the other way. I called to educate him on hurricanes. He told me his help had left and it was drizzling so it would have to do.

He did say that I can tell him, "I told you so" after it was over. I hope I don't have to , but I think I might. Jason is going to the fire station so Mom will be alone in the half boarded house with her three dogs, five cats, and four guest cats from the animal shelter.

Mom and Jason got stuck overnight on the side of the road trying to flee from Hurricane Rita. It was bad. Mom said then that she would never again leave for a storm. She meant it.

I've talked to her several times. At this point it is what it is. She has a radio but no batteries. I bought her a plug in phone after Rita. She has food and water. Like I do before a storm she has been baking and doing laundry.

She is in Friendswood. It is in the mandatory evacuation zone. I know this warning is about Galveston, but this:

“coastal residents refusing to evacuate face imminent and certain death.”

is not making me feel very good. In fact I feel a migraine coming on. They are not on the coast, but still. And they keep repeating that phrase on the news. Over. And over.

I guess the estimated 125,000 houses that they think will be destroyed are out of 1.5 million buildings in the area. That's a lot of houses. Houses that I have driven past. It is strange to look at the coverage because it is all in places I've been. It is horrible no matter where it hits, but it is so much harder to watch it hit people and places you know. (I think I might actually be calmer when the storm hits here!) I just read that MSNBC has a correspondent at the hotel in Clear Lake where our class reunion was held a couple of weeks ago. We ate at the Kemah Boardwalk on our way to the airport. The usual weather forecasters are in spots around town that I know so well.

But, I know that there is nothing I can do but say my prayers. My phone has been ringing all afternoon. Everyone has been calling to make sure my mom evacuated. (Except that she didn't.)

I've put on my most comfortable pajama pants. (The ones the hosts of "What Not to Wear" would destroy on sight) The Irishman is making me chicken Parmesan. I am going to crash on the couch and watch Ike rip into my hometown...

Lots of prayers!

P.S. Worm update this weekend - I promise! = )

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


More information to follow!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Happiest Place on Earth

We reached a milestone this year. My car is now older than the third grade students I teach. And we are a one-car couple. I literally drop Morgan off in the middle of the road on my way to work in the morning. He hops out at the light and walks another block to the office and I turn left to drive on to work. I could drive him in all the way, but he would rather sleep in an extra couple of minutes. I think we almost caused an accident a couple of Halloweens ago when Chewbacca hopped out of my car and continued walking into the office.

As a result of our milestone, I initially agreed to a weekend trip to Orlando only if we rented a car. (So as not to put any unnecessary strain on our precious Ford) In typical form, the guys did not look up the information about the car until the last minute and Morgan and I arrived at the rental company as they locked the doors. Right in our faces. Fun.

As a result I drove the two Irishmen to Orlando in our '99 Ford. Thankfully the car cooperated! We left rather late on Saturday night but had two MP3 players to entertain us. I was impressed with Robert's choice of music and embarrassed by my husbands ability to push the wrong button in the middle of a good song.

We also got to trust our "Instincts." Using the e-mail confirmation from the hotel, I was able to click one button to get GPS directions there. I was impressed. We are out of ink in the printer, so that was my best option! It served us well!

Now, while the Space Center is not my thing, I do love a trip to Disney. We ended up buying Park Hopper tickets. It was Robert's first trip to Disney World, so we decided to do the "Best of" tour. (He'd been to Euro Disney and Disneyland.) It was a busy day, but we had a GREAT time!

EPCOT: We decided to start here. First up was Mission: Space. Morgan and I first went on this ride before it had officially opened. I'd been on it since and thought they'd toned it down. You will notice in the pictures the Before and After shots. Notice the lack of color in Morgan's face AFTER the ride. And the souvenir barf bag he took with him "just in case."

We toured the countries and had lunch at my favorite little French Restaurant. We went there with the girls for my mom's birthday and it was just as good this time! Yum! We also went on Soarin'. Very cool!

MGM: We wanted to do the new Toy Story ride but the crowd was too much. We went to the Muppets Show (Morgan LOVES the Muppets!) and took our pictures with Mickey Mouse. Gotta love it!

Magic Kingdom: No trip to Disney is complete without a visit to the Magic Kingdom. We got there after dark but had time to do a number of rides: Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear, Thunder Mountain. The Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor was also worthwhile. Morgan decided to pass on my FAVORITE ride, so Robert went on the Teacups with me. I do like those teacups!

We didn't get back to the hotel until about 1:30am. It was a long day, but how can you not enjoy a trip to the happiest place on Earth?

I'd Rather a Trip to the Dentist

Here is the first of two posts about last weekend. This is actually part two, but I want to end on a positive note so it has to come first.

I despise, passionately hate, dislike, tolerate the Kennedy Space Center. I cannot tell you what it is about it that I have such a problem with. To be fair, I feel the same about the Johnson Space Center. Morgan begs to go each time we go to Houston. I have gotten out of it each time. Space is not my thing. I like the movie Apollo 13. That is about it.

A little over a year a go my father-in-law decided he wanted us to take a trip up to the space center. I tried everything to get out of it. It didn't work. We went. I tolerated it.

Robert wanted to go to the Space Center last weekend. Morgan and I had been so busy with work that I felt bad that we hadn't spent much time with him. I somehow agreed to spend my Labor Day at KSC.

We almost got killed on the way there. All joking aside, an SUV two cars in front of us swerved and then flipped multiple times right in front of us. We pulled over to the side of the road right next to the debris from the first time it flipped. I think all three of us stopped breathing. The lady driving the SUV miraculously walked away. There were already a few other cars that had stopped and people out on their cell phones so we drove on. I did really start to doubt WHY we were making the drive at this point!

We got to KSC at about 1pm. It costs $40 for each adult. That is a lot of money for looking at old rockets. I am not seeing the draw. We did the bus tour. The elevator was broken at the observation tower, so I let the guys go without me. At the Apollo/Saturn V Center handed Morgan the camera and I went off to wander around on my own. I looked over and saw Morgan lying on the ground. He was trying to get a picture of Robert with the rocket behind him. It was a good shot, but seriously!

We decided to skip the International Space Station portion of the bus tour due to time. We went on the new Shuttle Launch Experience ride. Morgan was a little weary after his Mission: Space experience the day before (that will be in the next post) but it was a pretty neat ride. After that we walked through the rocket garden. I guilted the guys into posing at each of the cheesy rocket seats. I think it was the "I almost go killed coming here for you today" that did it.

The highlight of the day was a stop at Cracker Barrel on the way back home. I think that says it all.

Happy Birthday Sis!

Happy Birthday Julie!
I hope that you have a fantastic day!

Catching up

I am a bit behind on blogging. I have two posts in mind from last weekend's trips. I want to update you on my latest adventure with worms. I have to wish Julie a happy birthday. I want to say congratulations to Shannon who had her baby girl yesterday. Then there is the square foot garden my grandfather just delivered as an early birthday present. I guess my point is, More posts to come!

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Guest Post

I woke up a little early this morning to see Rafa standing on the keyboard. I guess he had something to say...

Good morning,

These humans have been so busy I thought I would take the chance to update you on what they have been up to. From a feline point of view I will point out that the number of humans and cats is finally back to even. Moses and I have been out numbered for almost 7 weeks now. I know the humans like having the extra person around, but Mo and I are happy to have the guest room back.

We have been showing our appreciation though. I nearly tripped Mom as she walked in the house last night after Open House. I was just so happy to see her!

Mom has a lot of pictures from last weekend. It was the second weekend in a row that they abandoned the two of us. Not cool. At least they'd taken the extra human with them. And Aunt Lyndsay came by. She's not too bad. I have no doubt
that Mom with be back on this thing tomorrow to update you herself.

The news is on and the humans are talking about some guy named Ike coming to see us. They do not seems like like the idea of him coming...at all. They seem a lot more worried about him coming than they were that girl Hanna!

I'd better go. Mom needs to use the computer for school stuff. She went to bed early with a migraine last night and woke up early this morning to catch up.