Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Gifts

What did you get for Christmas? How many times have you heard that? I guess we never stop being kids and being excited about gifts. "Santa" was very good to both M and I this year. We didn't get each other anything extravagant like a car or a fancy trip, but we did get things for each other that we knew the other one needed or would like. My favorite gifts this year are some music CDs that M got for me. I will be doing a music review of those soon. Another favorite gift was seeing my daughter do something creative for Christmas and not just buying something.

For M and B she made plates of sushi for them, but she made the sushi out of marshmallows, fruit roll-ups, and candy. It was a big hit.

The other thing she did was create photos for her father and I that spelled out "MOM" and "DAD." Here are the basic shots:

Now look closer. Min and B made up the letters in the photos:

I don't know why, I just got so tickled by her creativity this year. It meant more to me. Hope you all got something nice for Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


We're having our Christmas with the kids today because Min has to work on Christmas, so we're going to Stevensville for the evening. We'll leave B there with Min to help with the horses so they can go on over to their dad's tomorrow to celebrate with him. M and I will have a quiet Christmas exchanging our own gifts here on Christmas Day. I hope you all have a very wonderful holiday, whichever one you celebrate and I hope you are surrounded by people who love you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What do you believe?

I came across these two videos on CNN. It's not obviously in the spirit of the holidays, but it does have to do with spirit. :-) Do you believe in reincarnation or some sort of life after death? I found the interviews with the doctors in the second video the most interesting.

Here's an article about this boy from 2004.Tribune Story

2009 Courier Article

Here's info on the ship the kid remembered. U.S.S. Natoma Bay

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Everyday Humor

So M made delicious pancakes for breakfast this morning. She made some extra and left them for when B eventually got up. So we're in the midst of cleaning the front entry when B comes up to us. He says, "it really was nice of M to make pancakes for me. They were really good, but I don't think I can eat the last one. I'm getting a weird vibe from it." He'd torn up the last pancake and rearranged it to make it look lethal.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Christmas

Here's something to help you start getting in the Christmas spirit, if you're like me and not there yet. I caught the scene in Elf last week where Zooey Dechannel was singing this song in the shower. She's got such a 1920-30s voice. It's so perfect for this song. So the first YouTube clip is Zooey and Leon Redbone singing.

This is the actual scene from the movie along with other clips from the movie when she sings. Also as a matter of fact, it's really cold outside here right now, I think it's 26 degrees with an 18 degree windchill. Brrrr!!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Circle of Friends Award

Trish from Menopausal Stoners has graced me with the Circle of Friends Award. She's a blogger from NYC. You may find a kindred spirit or at the very least, a rip-roaring read when you visit her blog. She's definitely got a way with words and she's so kind-hearted that she gives people pseudonyms when discussing them on her blog. I knew I'd found a kindred spirit when I read a post about her ex - "Buzz Kill." I laughed so hard because it reminded me of my ex - "the Spin Doctor." So go over and have a look-see. I've been meaning to add her to my sidebar for months and months, so I guess now is the time I finally get around to it.

Now apparently the way this works is that I have to share five things that I like before passing the award on to five folks who fall into that Circle of Friends. I'm purposely going to pick on people who haven't been writing as much as they should, Kathy, turn around and get back here. Don't make me get on the phone! Batter up!

First the blogs: (I'm picking on these bloggers, who I love to read, precisely because they haven't been posting enough, or they now have time to post.)

Larena at Life at 40 Something

Marilyn at Maeves Madness

Kel at Autoschediastic Asseverations

Kathy at Homeschooling Our Tourette's Kid

Naomi at Here in the Hills.
(Naomi gets to take her time as she's been under the weather lately. No excuses for the rest of you! ;-))

Now, for the five things I like.

(1) My partner M. It's an inside joke with us, she'll get it.
(2) Puppies and babies, it's doesn't get any sweeter than that.
(3) Yoga Class. I'm there with Trish on this one. It's done amazing things for my strength, stamina and state of mind. My yoga teacher is moving so I need to find another class here in whoville. :-(
(4) Music and singing like a rock star in my car.
(5) Cleaning my house really early on a bright sunny morning. (Hey, these are things _I_ like. They don't have to make sense to you.)

File this under "Tell me something I didn't know."

Congressmen less ethical than car salesmen

College Degrees, more expensive and worth less

Gate Crashers will plead the 5th

Child Abuse in Schools

I just read an article on the CNN website of a child put in restraints at school who told the teacher, "I can't breathe" and then died minutes later. CNN Story I am just horrified that children are victimized this way in the public school system.

Having had a child who was being abused by a teacher, I fought the school board for nearly a year to get her out of the classroom (officially). I pulled her out immediately and had a friend who was a licensed teacher tutor her during the day.

The school, teacher, principal and school board were in complete denial even though the majority of parents of children in the classroom complained and reported incidents.

When I finally got my child not only out of that classroom but in another school (closer to our home) I actually had the principal of the new school ask me how I managed to win against such odds. He told me the other parents literally sold their homes and moved to another school zone.

I told him I had a bad memory so when the school board called me back at one point, I hit the recorder on my phone to tape any information I might be provided with to file a formal complaint. They ended up connecting me to the President of the School Board who identified himself by name and then proceeded to threaten me (to have my child taken from me) and told me I had no rights.

I kept the tape, played by the rules, filed all the paperwork, went to hearings before board members. When in the end they told me I couldn't move my child because there was no abuse in the classroom (without doing an investigation or interviewing the other parents and children who were eyewitnesses and victims of physical abuse) I told them I would not be putting my child back in school.

They again threatened to have social services take my child because I wouldn't put her in school. It was then that I told them about the tape of the President. They immediately told me, "that's illegal, you can't use that in a court of law." I said, "correct, but I can use it in a court of public opinion and every media outlet in the state will have copies of it by the end of the day if necessary."

I got my child transferred with no further problems. She thrived in her new school and classroom. The Principal of the new school later wrote a letter to the Principal of the former school who was maligning me to others, and told him, "if you have any more trouble-maker parents like her, send them my way. She's doing great work here for my school and students." (I was volunteering in different capacities for the school.)

So I got lucky. Someone made a mistake and I unwittingly got evidence that saved my case. What about all my child's classmates and their families? Why is it so hard to hold people accountable and make them do the right thing?

I feel like society has been reduced to the basest among us. Lying is everyday, laziness and incompetence is the rule, obstructing others from seeking justice is part of people's job descriptions. I'm so tired of corruption at every level and there seems to be no way to combat it. Okay, maybe I'm just tired and cranky, but this is my blog after all, so this is where I get to rant. Funny how I can still be so pissed and indignant and all this happened 16 years ago. Okay, I'm done now.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Breast Cancer Awareness Video

Okay, here's the information behind the breast cancer awareness campaign and how the dance video was planned.

Here's the video in its entirety. After people who were impacted by breast cancer saw the video, they began making their own videos to say "thank you."

From the simple and straight forward, to

to more elaborate and creative. Make sure you get checked regularly for breast cancer if it runs in your family and do self-exams regularly as well.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cookie Exchange

Well we had our cookie exchange today, in addition to rolling out sugar and gingerbread dough and making even more cookies, like 10 dozen for each person wasn't enough. :-)

We had a good size group there, large enough to be fun, without having too many people to crowd the kitchen.

Everyone took turns in each phase of the assembly line so no one missed out on any aspect of the festivities.

As an added bonus, our hostess invited some friends from the Baltimore/D.C. area to join us. They drove 2-3 hours each way! Anyway, one of the ladies worked for the State Department and in particular the "Voice of America" radio program. She brought a tape machine and interviewed all of us about the cookie exchange, why we did it, what we planned to do with the cookies, how did this tie into Christmas, etc. It will air (with translations) in China. I don't know if we can access it on-line. I'll check later.

So as you can imagine, the room smelled fantastic with all the cookies baking in rotation in the oven and the room was cheery with the lively talk and laughter of so many nice and interesting people. What a great gathering.

Here' a shot of someone rolling out Bourbon nut balls.

Here's a shot of one of the many types of cookies people made 10-11 dozen of ahead of time and brought for the exchange. So after our exchange, it was back to work. M and I both have tons of school work to do. I've been trying to slog through 105 very long papers.

It's going so slowly. I just can't think what is interfering with my grading, "can you Mickey?"

Friday, December 4, 2009

Feel Good Friday

Woo-Hoo it's Friday!! Yes, I still have a mountain of papers to grade, but M and I will be baking cookies tonight for a cookie exchange tomorrow. Depending on the weather, we might go to the spy museum in Washington, D.C. with friends on Saturday. Lastly, there's only one week left of classes and another semester will be behind us.

Here's a story I came across this morning. It should help you remember that there are people out there who have it worse than you, and also, your fortunes could turn around overnight. You just never know.
Destitute Brothers forced to live in cave, inherit billions from grandma

Also, I couldn't resist when I saw these jokes on another blog. I know we shouldn't care about celebrities and honestly, I never gave Tiger Woods a second thought, but cheating really riles me, so I guess I got sucked into the drama. Anyway, the jokes made me laugh, enjoy!

Elin Woods is now the leader of the PGA tour after beating Tiger. She said it never would have happened if he hadn't played the wrong hole.

Tiger's new movie is out: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Hydrant.

Apparently the police asked Tiger's wife how many times she hit him. She said "I don't know exactly… but put me down for a 5."

Tiger Woods is so rich that he owns lots of expensive cars. Now he has a hole-in-one.

What's the difference between a car and a golf ball? Tiger can drive a ball 400 yards……..

What were Tiger Woods and his wife doing out at 2:30 in the morning? They went clubbing

Tiger Woods crashed into a fire hydrant and a tree. He couldn’t decide between a wood and an iron.

Phil Mickelson contacted Tiger's wife to pick up some tips on how to beat Tiger!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Truth About What Happened To Tiger Woods

UPDATE: Tiger says in a statement to the Press: "“I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart."

Just before his wife found out about the other woman, Tiger said on the other woman's voice mail: “Hey, it’s, uh, it’s Tiger. I need you to do me a huge favor. Um, can you please, uh, take your name off your phone. My wife went through my phone. And, uh, may be calling you. If you can, please take your name off that and, um, and what do you call it just have it as a number on the voicemail, just have it as your telephone number. That’s it, OK. You gotta do this for me. Huge. Quickly. All right. Bye.”

Sounds to me like Tiger's "regret" comes only after sneaking around, trying to hide it, getting caught by wifey, and then the Press.

My questions: Why can't men keep it zipped and why are women so dumb as to get involved with married men?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you and yours are able to celebrate today with friends, family and a good meal. We have 12 guests coming over today, so with M and I, that will be 14 around the table - a tight squeeze. Everyone is bringing their favorite Thanksgiving dish they remember from when they were younger, so we'll all get to try things that we might not have grown up with, and everyone will be able to have that one special dish that you just have to have to make it feel like Thanksgiving.

I pulled out this picture from our 2007 gathering at Thanksgiving. Back then, we lined up 3 kitchen tables end-to-end to seat everyone. The tables were so narrow, I'm surprised our guests put up with it and kept coming back year after year.

Here's the start of decorating our table for this year. As you might notice, there's a lot more room down the middle of the table so our guests won't be knocking heads. We got this table about a year ago and it extends to seat 10 comfortably, 12 in a pinch, and we're really pushing it putting 14 around it, but it's still better than the tables from 2007.

Also this morning, I did my first 5K in years!! Woo-hoo!! M and I have been jogging on the trails in the park for a few weeks, because I have bum knees and can't jog on pavement. When I saw this 5K advertised and saw that it was going to be on dirt trails through the woods, I just had to try it. So it's wet and chilly, the trails have roots all over them, it's a little slippery and everyone knows it's going to take longer to run it. I haven't run more than 11 minutes at a stretch with M during our park jogs, so I know I'm not going to be able to run the whole thing, so I start at the back with an little old lady, setting an 11-12 minute mile pace, figuring I'll stay with her as long as I can until I have to walk. Well, we made it past the 2 mile mark and after jogging 25 minutes, my legs couldn't take it any longer, so I walked fast for 2 minutes and then jogged the rest of the way to the finish. I cross the finish line and they tell me my time was 32:37. I knew that wasn't right, I should have finished in 40-41 minutes at my pace and with walking 2 minutes. So I remember at one point on the course, where I thought I was supposed to go around a loop again and one of the race officials told me and about 4 other runners, to go right if we'd already done the loop. We were supposed to do the loop twice. So I figure the loop was about a 1/4 mile and I likely would have finished around 40. So, I'm glad I finished, I was in pain and glad of the mistake by the time I got to the finish. So maybe I'll find more of these soft course 5Ks and be able to get back into running. We'll see. At least now I can justify that extra helping of potatoes and gravy. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Music Review - Holly Williams

I first heard of Holly Williams when NPR did an interview with her. I remember thinking at the time that I liked the sound of her voice. The more I listened to samples of her music, the more I liked her lyrics. She strikes a mood in me.

I put her albums on my Christmas wish list. Here's a video interview with her that provides samples of some of her songs. The song of hers that really got my attention was "Three Days in Bed With a Stranger." I'm putting a link to that song at the bottom of this post because YouTube won't let me embed it. Enjoy!

Three Days in Bed with a Stranger

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remember our Veterans Today

I found this video clip of the rock band KISS giving a benefit concert for veterans and active duty soldiers and Gene Simmons surprised me once again. Watch what happens.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Third Man Stories

I was reading the news on the CNN website and I came across this story about "the Third Man." I'd never heard this expression before, so I read more. Apparently some people, when they are in life and death situations, have a voice or presence that comes and helps them save themselves. There's debate over whether it's a survival mechanism in the brain or some sort of divine being. I've never experienced it myself, but I'm wondering, what do you think of this? Have you ever heard of it? CNN Third Man Article

I've heard stories of "people" showing up to help someone and then disappearing once the person was safe, but I'd never heard the term "Third Man."

I was reminded of the song, "Angels Among Us" by Alabama, that relays a story of a lost child being guided home by a stranger who wasn't there. What do you think happens when people say they're experiencing such things?

I will say, much like the Alabama song, I've had people call me out of the blue, just when I needed someone, or a job opens up, money comes in the mail, serendipitous events have occurred for me, just when I needed them to, but no mysterious strangers or voices yet. :-)

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Best costume all night from a Trick or Treater

M who is deathly afraid of spiders, actually put a spider whistle in her mouth. I had to get a picture of it.

Last full day in Europe

Ahh, all good things must come to an end.  Our European vacation is drawing to a close.  We leave Nice this morning to drive back to Barcelo...