Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My congressman will kick your congressman's ass!

**Let me just start in saying that I am recovering from a really, no, REALLY bad day at school, so if I come off a little snarky or bitchy you will understand. 

I am currently trying to see the good in life's situations (as I always do) and several things make me happy.
1)  I have exactly 17 days of school left before break. ( 2 of which are 1/2 days.)
2)  One of said half days is this Friday! Woot!
3)  The summer home is almost ready for habitation and I can hardly wait.  I can feel the grass between my toes as we speak.
4)  I got an amazing mother's day gift and can't wait to use it.  Guess who's awesome husband got her a day spa package?  This lucky girl!
5)  My dog is cute and a good listener.  I told him all about my day and he smiled at me, sneezed and then said he completely understood.  He's awesome, now if I could just teach him to make cocktails, we'd really be set.
6) That's all I got. ( And that took a lot of effort.)

On the down side some things that are really pissing me off right now. ( Careful, Heather, this list may be longer.)
1) People
2) Ignorant People
3) Ignorant people that reproduce ( ok that was wrong and I take it back. Kinda)
4)  Rude people in public ( I heard a lady say to a waitress tonight, "Hurry up, your tip depends on it"  Really??  Are you that much better than someone? This inferiates me.) 
5) Facebook games.  They get you all hooked and then expect you to buy points to keep playing. Bogus.
6)  Apparently our lovely state of IL is trying to jack with teacher's pensions AGAIN and I could have to pay 28% of my salary to continue my current pension plan.  Sorry, no thanks, I'll just get a job at Taco Bell or something. Especially after the day I had today.

I guess that's it.  Not as bad as I thought it would be.  I guess I covered quite a bit of ground with #1-3 though.  Those pretty much sum it up.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, have you see this!!

Apparently, my friend, ahem, congressman Aaron Schock (R- IL) decided that it would be a good idea to promote men's health by taking his shirt off for a magazine cover.  Hey, no skin of my back, Aaron, I'm not complaining, BUT, is that the best choice for a republican from IL?  My guess is that he is trying to capture the female vote.  Any opinions on this one?

Ok, well, I think that's enough for now.  I have a new magazine to read, er, look at, so, bye!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Crazy Busy

Sorry, it's been a while.  It's been a super busy couple of weeks at school.  We had conferences, St. Patricks Day and syrup Fridays to deal with and quite frankly, I've been tired.
Although, it has been a rather productive couple of weeks.  Just look at all the fun stuff we did in second grade last week!

As a family project, the kids made leprechaun traps at home with their families.  I must admit that they were very creative and I was thoroughly impressed by the effort that put into it!  The kids all got a chance to demonstrate how their trap worked and then I set all the traps out so the kids could walk around and see them up close and  see how they worked.  I have a bunch more cool pictures but they have students in them.  (And they frown upon posting students' pictures these days.)  So here are the traps as a whole.

 There were several of the standard, box-with-a-stick-and-a-string, but some got REALLY creative with it...

And in a moment of pure insanity, on Friday (aka syrup day) I decided that since the kids would be so spun on the sugar highs that we should definitely paint.  Duh? Made sense at the time!  So we made ladybugs out of paper plates that are now suspended from my classroom ceiling. 

I know, right?  Aren't these things adorable!?

So, overall it was a frantic week getting everything ready for conferences but in the end, who doesn't want to wrap up a crazy week with some red paint and googly eyes??

Friday, March 4, 2011

Syrup again!?

Damned if the school cafeteria didn't serve french toast sticks with syrup again today!

Last Friday I noticed how sprung my class was after lunch.  I had children literally bouncing all afternoon.  By the last 30 minutes of the day, I had had enough.  I told everyone to sit on the rug and I told them a story.  Since I love telling stories, with enough details to put an insomniac to sleep, I told them about the time my dog Phoebe, who is pathologically afraid of thunderstorms, bit through the water supply line in the bathroom and flooded the house.  The kids were thoroughly entranced by the story of the this menacing dog and by the end claimed that she must have super powers. 

After school, I must have looked frazzled, I ran into the principal and she asked how my day was.  When I replied, "I don't know what they gave those children for lunch, but they were wild this afternoon."  She laughed and then responded in saying that it was the syrup with the french toast sticks.  She claimed to have seen several drinking it through a straw!  Well that explains a lot!

So now I have a pathological fear of french toast stick days.  And today was one of them.  Again, I picked my kids up from lunch and I had several spinners*.  We made it through most of the afternoon until I couldn't keep a lid on my frustration any longer. 

In the last half hour of the school day I pulled them down to the rug for some more storytelling, since it seemed to work last time.  This time I told the story of Dixie, my other dog, that ran away on Christmas Eve and we didn't find her until Valentine's Day.

I thought a lot about the storytelling sessions and how the kids enjoy them so much.  In an age of technology flashing in our faces constantly, there isn't much time for talking, visiting and exchanging stories. I have found that not only do the kids love this, but they have wonderful stories of their own to share.  I hope that my storytelling sessions can become a catalyst for them to reflect a little deeper on everyday life and think of their story as a writer.  I have been teaching so much about taking a small moment and stretching it into a complete story, that I hope they see the relationship from what we do on syrup days. 

I chuckled a little after telling the 20 minute story of the dog that ran away and returned nearly two months later.  A little boy (who can't sit still to save his life) grimaced his face when I was through and asked me to tell them another story.  It made me feel happy that they enjoyed my stories, even if they are 8 years old.

*A spinner is a child that can not walk in a straight line without spinning, skipping, hopping, jumping or running along the way.  Usually caused by watching too much Spongebob or playing too much XBOX 360.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Heartfelt post ~Part 2

In the moments that would follow, the details get very blurry.  The whole situation is surreal and it still feels like a really horrible nightmare.

I recall Ivan being admitted and Jake coming to my side.  I remember the doctors hovering around Ivan trying to figure out what to do first. 

They conducted loads of tests, x-rays and echo cardiograms.  The day turned into night and I stayed by Ivan's side not knowing when we would get called in to see a doctor.

The doctors and nurses were so wonderful in the midst of it all.  The nurses made sure I ate and kept the room comfortable for us.

The next day, March 2, was a lot of waiting, testing and more waiting.  Ivan grew very frustrated with being in a hospital bed and not being able to eat much.  He was starving and all we could give him was several ounces of formula at a time.  The doctors didn't want to put too much into his stomach since he was bleeding internally.  In fact, at one point he was so mad at the nurse and my mom that he couldn't have more formula that he threw the bottle at them, which is very unlike him.

That afternoon, we finally met the surgeon and team that would be performing the surgery to save Ivan's life.  The doctors explained that the heart valve was deformed and not working at the pace it needed to.  Our family listened attentively and asked questions.  The doctor went on to explain that Ivan would need a mechanical heart valve. 

The heart valve would be large enough to last until he was probably 6 or 7 years old and would need to be replaced as he grew.  In addition, patients with mechanical heart valves have to take blood thinning medicine daily to prevent blood clots that can form on the valve.  This obviously would pose a threat of stroke if a clot formed and broke off the valve. 

Being told that my 8 month old baby would have to have a mechanical heart valve was enough to deal with let alone that he would need to have several more surgeries as he grew.

I felt my heart sink into my chest and I fought back the tears as I held my husband's hand.  We asked all the possible questions that one can think of when being confronted with this type of news. 

Would he live a normal life? 

Would be able to go to school? 

Would he be able to enjoy normal activity? 

And then in the pit of my stomach, I felt a question that I wanted to ask but I was scared to hear the answer.  Finally, as the doctor explained the procedure and asked if we had any final questions, I gathered the nerve to ask.

What are his chances for survival?

No mother ever wants to ask this question and you certainly don't want to hear the answer but I had to.

I think of myself as a very logical person and right now my heart couldn't handle anymore what-if's.  I needed something concrete, something logical and mathematical to tame my fears.

The doctor thought and took a deep breath and answered that the chances were fairly good and he should have about a 95-90% chance of survival.  I let out a blast of air as if I had been holding my breath underwater for two days. 

I felt relief.  I felt peaceful and hopeful.  I put all the trust I could ever have into this doctor's able hands.  The same hands that would save my baby's life.

And so it was, that Ivan was scheduled to have this surgery the next day, March 3, 2005.  That evening the nurses gave Ivan a sedative that would help him relax and sleep.  They urged Jake and I to go home and get some sleep because the next day would be a long one. 

After much deliberation, we relented and kissed Ivan good night and went home.  We drove a silent ride home and very little was spoken.  I think we were both in such shock that, for once, neither one of us had anything to say.

We got home around 10pm and settled into a zombie like routine, just going through the motions.  I was so numb that I don't remember much of what happened until the phone rang.

The nurse on the other end spoke with urgency and concern.

"We have some concerns.  Ivan's blood work came back very abnormal.  The liver function tests showed that something is not right." 

Slowly, my hope and relief started to fade and she went on to tell me that until the blood work could be analyzed, they had to postpone his surgery.  She went on to tell me that they would need to test for meningitis or hepatitis, which could be the reason the liver function was so abnormal.

Meningitis?  Hepatitis? 

How could my baby have meningitis or hepatitis?

Something had to be done!  They couldn't postpone the surgery!  He needed to be fixed right now!

As I cried and sobbed into the phone, I asked the nurse, "So, you're telling me that while we are trying to figure out what is wrong with his liver, we will postponed his heart surgery?  So, what happens if his heart stops working in the mean time?"


She had very little comfort, empathy, or answers to give me.  She said she was sorry and they were doing everything they could to figure this out.  I hung up the phone and lost all the strength, hope, and relief that I had in these last two days of roller coaster emotions.

I fell to the floor in Ivan's nursery and cried from the depths of my soul.  I cried into my hands and thought WHY?!?! 

Why did this have to happen to him? 

Why couldn't he be safe and healthy and home in my arms?

Why can't I help fix this?

My mind raced with thoughts of sorrow and loss.  I started to grieve.  The thought of losing him ripped through me and filled my whole body with pain. 

Just 8 months ago I had given birth to this perfect, beautiful baby and now I may be losing him.  I felt angry. 

I was angry with the general practitioner that told me he was only experiencing the flu and gave me suppositories for his vomiting.

I was angry that I hadn't listened to my gut instinct that something was wrong with my baby. 

I was angry with God for letting this happen.

I sat for a long time in Ivan's nursery looking at his things, smelling his sweet smell and looking at his pictures.  As I sat and looked around his room, I thought of losing him and having to return home to an empty room.  I wept as I thought about what I would do with all his things.

Sadness and sorrow overcame me as my baby lay in a hospital bed dying while the doctors ran tests and tried to help him.  I couldn't get the thoughts of losing him out of my mind and I needed to shake it. 

I went to the camcorder and got out a video I had made just a month earlier and watched it.  It was soothing to see him smiling and laughing.  I felt hopeful that nothing that beautiful could be taken from this Earth so soon.  I felt at peace in knowing that everything would be ok.

That night I don't think I slept and we were back at the hospital by 5am.  When we rounded the corner to Ivan's room, I noticed a flood of doctors, nurses and residents.  When we entered the room I was greeted by the surgeon that we spoke with the day before.  Ivan was sleeping and hooked up to so many wires and drips that I lost count.

The surgeon told me that after more tests, they concluded that the liver function wasn't because of meningitis or hepatitis but that it was a direct cause of the heart malfunction.  With that said, they decided to give him some proteins that would simulate the liver function that he was lacking and they would be able to carry on with the surgery that day. 

I gasped and held my hands on my face and cried a cry of relief.  I felt the hope, trust and belief flooding back in.  The doctors and nurses quickly prepared Ivan for his surgery since it would be a 14-16 hour ordeal.  They would need to get started right away. 

And just like that, they wheeled my baby away.  Hooked up to tubes and monitors, he rolled down the hallway covered in my hopes, faith and trust in those doctors.

It was a long wait and even longer day.  Family and friends came and went and I envied them.  I envied that they would come and drop off food, but go home to the one's they loved and hold them.  I feared that I may never hold, touch, hug or kiss Ivan ever again.  I feared that the last memory he would have of me was him throwing a bottle at me because he couldn't have any more. 

A chaplain from the hospital came frequently and gave us updates on the progress of the surgery.  Every time I saw him my heart sank and I worried that the news wouldn't be good.  But every time he came, he had something good to tell me.

Around 9pm that night, the surgeon gathered our family in the conference room.  With a big ball of nerves we sat down and he told us how it went.  He explained that the surgery went better than they could have ever expected and he would be just fine.  The heart valve that they replaced was badly deformed and was hardly working at all.  The new valve, however, was working wonderful and he now had a strong, healthy heart.

Relief swam through me and I felt, for the first time in a month, that my baby was going to be ok.  He was fixed and would be back to normal very soon.  I knew the road that lay ahead was going to be rocky but the fact was that Ivan was still here and he was going to be fine.

When Jake and I walked into his room several hours later, after the doctor had given us the ok, I was startled at first.  Ivan lay in the bed lifeless and limp.  He was sedated and had about 13 different tubes coming from him.  He had a ventilator, a tube in his nose and several drainage tubes. 

Ivan just 3 days after surgery.
A nurse came in to check on us and asked how we were doing.  I wept as I looked at my boy, lifeless and limp.  She touched my shoulder and asked if I was ok.  I nodded.  She asked if it was upsetting me to see him this way.  I will never in a million years forget what I said to her.

"I'm not crying because he looks so horrible.  I'm crying because he's here."
Ivan playing at home less than two weeks after surgery.

A heartfelt post~ Part 1

It started with the milk jug.  As I reached for the milk yesterday I noticed the date stamped on the side: March 11.  In big, bold, black letters the date slapped me in the face.  It's funny how I can or can't remember some dates and this is one that is forever burnt in my memory.  On March 11, it will be 16 years ago that my dad was killed in a car accident.  I was only 16.  I started thinking about how I have now lived half of my life without him. 

I then started thinking about how March is here and it is notoriously bad for me.  I thought for a while about March being here and how much loss and heartache this time of year brings.   March is also when Ivan had not one but two of his open heart surgeries.  Two years in a row.

I have had a heavy heart since the milk jug incident and I have been debating whether or not to write about it.  It is pretty personal and I don't think that many people know what pain I have experienced in my life.  After much thought and contemplation, I think I should write about it and share my experience.  It is a HUGE part of who I am. 

***I warn you that this post will be mostly sad and very honest. 

If you want to hear of a mother's heartache and a courageous baby's struggle for his life, read on.  If it hits too close to home, you may want to close out now. 

Ivan was the most loved baby from the beginning.  I had thought, planned and waited for so long to have this beautiful, perfect baby and now here he was.  With a seemingly flawless pregnancy I gave birth to this baby that was perfect in every way.  I endured nearly 24 hours of hard labor before having a C section.  Even with the most horrible physical pain I have ever felt, I was in love the minute I heard him cry as he was born.  He was a perfect baby, although he cried alot and had hard times sleeping.  I though it was normal and smiled through dreary eyes and loved every minute of it. 

Months passed by and he grew.  He got bigger, stronger and smarter.  At his four month checkup, for shots, the doctor noticed an irregular heart beat.  Since he was unsure of the cause, he suggested that we take him to a cardiologist.  I had been told that heart murmurs were fairly common and most babies will outgrow them.  I took a very nonchalant approach to the situation and feared nothing really would be wrong.  My assumptions were extremely understated.

A month later, I walked in to a doctor's office alone with Ivan.  I was unprepared for what I was about to find out.  After several tests and echo cardiograms, the doctor so gently told a young mother that her baby had a heart defect.  ASD (Atrial Septum Defect) to be exact, which is hole in the atrium of the heart. 

As tears welled in my eyes, I tried not to cry and be strong for the sweet, smiling face that was staring so innocently at me. 

He seemed so healthy!  How could this happen?  The doctor must have seen me immediate blame myself as he comforted me in saying that this is something that could not be prevented and was a "fluke".  He reassured me that it was not because of anything that Jake or I had done.  He then went on to explain that Ivan's heart condition would be life threatening if not corrected.  This would require surgery.

This moment would later prove to be the catalyst for a series of heartbreaking events.  Ivan had his open heart surgery a month later.  He was six months old.  He was six months old and they had to put him on heart-lung by pass machine to breathe and circulate blood through his tiny body as the doctors so delicately repaired his little heart.  The surgery was roughly 12 hours long and he came through with flying colors.  His hole was fixed and all was well...so we thought.

His hospital stay was merely four days.  Four days!  He was able to come home on Christmas Eve to celebrate his first Christmas.  I couldn't have been happier to bring my boy home after going through that and feeling that it was all behind us.  I would soon find out I was very wrong and my happiness was premature.

In the weeks following his surgery, Ivan became very lethargic and started breathing strange.  He would grunt alot and seemed to hold his breath.  I thought it was strange but wasn't sure what to make of it. 

Within a month, I noticed a orange-yellow color to parts of his face.  In addition, he was having trouble holding food down.  All of these things compiled and I took him to the doctor.  (A general practice doctor that had very little experience with heart patients, as I would find out later.) 

He examined Ivan and said that the vomiting and breathing problem must be a cold/flu bug and it would go away soon.  He claimed the orange-yellow skin tone must be because Ivan loved carrots and sweet potatoes so much.  He prescribed some suppositories for nausea and sent us on our way.

Within days, the vomiting was worse and he wasn't able to eat anything.  At one point, he vomited and aspirated some and began to choke.  He was with my mom at the time and she called 911.  When I got there the EMT's were checking him out.  He was fine but had everyone scared.  The next day I took him for a checkup with the cardiologist.  The date that would be burnt in my mind forever. March 1, 2005.

Again, I took Ivan to the doctor's appointment alone.  (I later realized that never again will I take that child to a doctor by myself!)  After several routine procedures, xrays, blood work and echo cardiogram, we waited to see the cardiologist.  During the echo cardiogram, I remember the technician leaving the room for a moment and the doctor came back with her.  The doctor grabbed the scope and finished the echo on his own.  I thought it was strange that he would be doing it himself but figured he just wanted a really good look.

As we waited for the doctor to return I thought of all the questions I would ask him.  I felt like the general practitioner had ignored or discounted my concerns and there was something very wrong with my baby. 

Why was he throwing up every time he ate? 

Why did he sleep so restlessly and cry so much? 

Why was he so tired and just want to be held all day? 

Why was he orange? 

Why was he only 16 lbs at 8 months old? 

My mind was racing with all the questions and I didn't want to forget anything.  It was a hot office and I started to sweat a little.  I remember holding Ivan as the doctor entered the room.

The next several hours are really a blur.  I remember the doctor coming in and having a concerned look on his face.  He laid Ivan's thick medical  folder down on the examining table and smiled at him as he grabbed his little hand and shook it.  He made some sweet baby talk conversation with Ivan and checked him over as he did it. 

He then  looked at me and told me the results of all the tests.  He explained that they noticed a valve in Ivan's heart was not working properly. The valve was leaking blood into areas of the heart that was it was not supposed to.  The blood was also backing up into his stomach, lungs, and liver.  Ivan was experiencing congestive heart failure.

Those words Congestive Heart Failure pierced through me like a lightening bolt.  I remember grabbing Ivan and squeezing him as tight as I could without hurting him.  I shook and trembled and tears welled up in my eyes.  As much as I tried to contain my sorrow, I couldn't. 

I tried to listen as the doctor told me that Ivan needed to be admitted immediately and they would have to perform surgery right away to save him. 

To save him. 

The severity of the situation hit me and I felt like I would vomit.  I remember trembling, crying and shaking as they asked if I had someone that I could call to be with us.  I composed myself long enough to call Jake and tell him to get to the hospital ASAP.  I'm sure he was equally as terrified as my voice and lack of ability to speak was hindering the information about what was going on. 

As I hung up the phone, I recall a hoard of nurses surrounding me and them taking my hand to lead me back to Ivan.

As I passed another cardiologist in the hallway (we knew all of them by now) he asked if Ivan had been sick.  I thought of all the signs, the symptoms and the lack of listening of the general practitioner. 


Instead I got the strength to nod my head and burst into a sob that would stop until I saw my husband.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Don't you feel special??

Well here I go again fully locked and loaded to blog about something that irritates me to no end. I am a generally positive person, really I am.  I just can't understand people though.  Here it goes:

Jake and I went out for a really lovely dinner last night at a local Italian place.  It is a very small restaurant and when I say small, I mean less than 1,000 sq ft.  Being such a small restaurant makes it much more quaint and intimate, however, it also makes it very cramped, especially on a Friday night. 

We got there around 7pm and it was fairly busy when we entered.  There is literally no waiting area and so when you walk in the door you are in the dining room.  We got a table right away with no problems, thankfully, because it would have been awkward standing in the dining room waiting for a table to clear.  

We were seated, drinks and appetizers ordered when a group of three people sat down next to us. We were in a booth/chair table, which meant that the table next to us was really NEXT to us because the booth was adjoining to our table.  The group next to us consisted of what seemed to be a middle aged dad, wife and college aged daughter. 

Here's were the annoyance starts.  You know those annoying people that think because they have a cell phone that they should use it whenever and whereever and it makes them feel special?  Well, he sat next to us at dinner.  You know, they look at it constantly, checking their facebook or text messages.  They may even check it when they know that nothing has changed since they checked it 2 minutes ago.  But they feel important, special, and different from the crowd because they have a secret conversation going on that no one in the room is part of.  The problem is, and I'm just gonna say it, WE DON'T CARE! 

I don't care that you need to make yourself feel secure in a social environment by using a cell phone as a false sense of social standing.  I don't care that you went to Target today and got a pair of shoes on sale or your kid won his soccer game or that your mom is drinking again.  These are not things that need to be discussed while in the company of strangers in public.  You know this guy right?  He/she talks on the phone through the entire grocery shopping trip, at the library, in the bathroom (!), in line at the DMV, etc.  You get the picture. 

I realize that we live in a technology driven, instant communication age but some things should be considered whilst yapping on the phone.

1)  Consider your audience that is in close proximity.  (I was once in line at Kohl's and heard a guy talking to his friend on the phone.  He described in detail a girl he had been with.  Classless trash.)

2)  Consider if your conversation will bother others. 

3)  If your conversation is of a private and/or embarrassing nature, talk later while you're alone.  I don't want to accidentally overhear that your sister in law got arrested.
4)  Please talk in a volume that is pleasing to others.  Don't be the guy that yells and guffaws into the phone over a quiet dinner. Likewise, steer clear of loud, obnoxious ring tones that might go off at inappropriate times.  If you do choose to have one of those, know when to turn it down at the right moments.

My frustration with "important phone talkers" began when I worked at the flower shop.  These types would come in talking on their cell phone while shopping around the store. I always felt uncomfortable being present while someone was talking on the phone so I would find something else to do while they talked.  It would really irritate me when the second they were off the phone, they would be flustered because I wasn't right there waiting to take their orders.  Excuse me, but I think it's rude to stand and listen (or pretend that you're not) while a customer is on the phone, so don't get pissed if I find something else to do while you polish off the gossip about your best friend's divorce. 

I will be the first person to say that I'm not real 'hip' with cell phones and texting and in fact I really don't like it.  I think it's cool to have a fun ring tone and cute pictures on my phone but as far as cell phone etiquette, I see lots of rude offenders. 

So back to the story.... the guy next to us checked his phone, texted and re-checked all through dinner.  He was also a loud talker and what Jake and I call a 'tool bag'.  He was a know-it-all and very opinionated about everything.  He irritated me so bad that I almost want to text him and tell him to Shut the Hell Up! 

What really brought this whole rant about was that as the restaurant got busier as we sat, the bar slowly filled up with middle aged people with cell phones attached to their hands.  I noticed and pointed out to Jake that the cell phone has become this thing that will fill some kind of void.  It substitutes uncomfortable silence, being alone somewhere and not wanting to being alone, or social interaction all together.  (I just wonder if there have been any social psychology studies done on this topic?) 

As I watched the nameless check, text and re-check their phones as they stood at the bar, I felt sorry for them.  I wondered if they were lonely.  I wondered if they were able to fully appreciate the atmosphere of this adorable Italian restaurant, the hand painted walls, the low lighting, the wine cellar along the wall, the soft music playing.  I wondered these things because as they checked, texted, and rechecked, I was taking in my surroundings.  I felt sorry for them that they were so engrossed in whatever was going on in the their phone that they failed to enjoy what was right in front of them...this great evening with a pulsing atmosphere.  

I have seen this situation before last night.  I see people in movie theaters, doctors offices, bars, college classes, etc.  I just have to wonder what is the big deal with the phone?  You can only recheck the same text that you already looked at so many times before you realize how lame it really is.  Is checking and rechecking worth the sacrifice of face-to-face interaction  with real people?

So after all this being said, you will not believe what Dalai Dad did today!  He went and got new phones for him and I.  


Monday, February 21, 2011

An Oldie...but a goodie

While perusing my old MySpace profile ( yes I still have one and no I don't use it)  I found this uber-funny blog that I posted about 5 years ago.  Although it happened ages ago, it's still as funny today and as it was then.  ENJOY!

Aug 22, 2006

McTharp the Crime fighter

Current mood:ecstatic

Ok so you can call me McGruff the crime fighter. There was some serious Bartontucky drama last night in the hood.

Our story begins with Jake and I standing outside and talking about God knows what, when my eyes focus in on a young white kid walking down the street. But he wasn't just walking, he was scoping the hood; definitely a shady character. So I watched him, as I stood in the dark shadows of the night, as any good super hero would. He walked towards my neighbors car and just as he was going to try opening the passenger side door, a car drove by and scared him. He went up into the yard as if to go into the Colona Mansion. As the car went by, he proceeded back to the cars. He tried opening the passenger side doors to two trucks and then the car that was unlocked he opened and the dome light came on. I saw him lean inside and start sifting through the contents. At that point, I sprung into pro-active mode. This is BULLSHIT!!! Some little punk is not about to steal crap in my neighbors car!

Jake ran in and called the cops. As Jake was inside on the phone, I watched some more, the kid proceeded to the next truck and reached in it sifting through the contents. Then he kinda disappeared for a bit and that when I saw him in MY DRIVEWAY!! HELL NO! Our motion light came on at that point and scared him. He ducked down under the cars, but still didn't realize that he was being watched. At that point all adrenaline  kicked in. I yelled "HEY WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" He looked shocked and surprised and walked toward me and said as he stumbled on his words "UH UH I was looking for a cat" As we walked bewildered across my yard and through the neighbors bushes, I cleverly replied, "Yeah in someones car?" At that exact moment the cops rolled up and caught him.  I sure did think he was gonna take off running but he didn't.

Anyways, the cop interviewed Jake and I and wrote down all of our info. I sat on my front steps the whole time they interrogated the kid. He denied it all the way saying he was looking for a cat. Denying the fact that he was opening cars. We notified the neighbors and no one was missing anything. My one neighbor said though if the kid would have tried the driver side of the truck, he had a MP3 player sitting in the front eat.

I got to hear them read the kid his rights, which is something I have never experienced first hand. I felt like a nark on one hand and a super citizen on the other. The cop thanked me and Jake for calling because this kid had been in trouble before for burglary and this could have been a spree that would have resulted in a huge loss of property. So the cops said "On behalf of me and who ever is working first shift tomorrow, thank you"

Wow, you just never know when I might have to fight the forces of evil again. Look out villains McTharp is on the look out!

Friday, February 11, 2011

This is why...

"It's been a few days since we've spoken and I was starting to miss you, " she said with tears in her eyes.  The wind softly fluttered her hair across her face and I felt the urge to brush it away......

So I have been on an extraordinary journey lately...writer's college (and sappy love stories).  As you may know, I teach second grade. You may ask, why are you taking writing classes, second graders can't write!  Oh contrare, my friends.  Not only can they write (ahem, up to 40 minutes sustained) but they can write well.  As a first year teacher I have accepted this mission and as the journey began I was utterly frustrated and bewildered as to how to teach 7 year olds how to write.

We begin our journey into the abyss in August of this school year.  My incoming second graders had some experience with writer's workshop so they knew what to expect.  My district has adopted the Lucy Calkins Units of Study and the students begin the program in Kindergarten.  That being said, my students were the first group that began in K.  So here we are two years later and fine tuning the art of writing for primary grades. 

When we began, I was sceptical.  I looked at my kids and thought I was being punk'd.  There was no way that by the end of the year these kids could write...sustained...for an hour!  We started out small as I stumbled my way through the books (Units of Study) that are pre-scripted and each lesson spelled out for the teacher.  I soon realized that the language in the book was cheesy and I could just read the lesson ahead of time and wing it.  My students had no discipline as far as talking, staying seated and disrupting others. 

After a month or so of struggling with them, I called in for backup.  Each new teacher in our district is assigned a building mentor.  Their job is to help me with basically anything I need help with.  I felt pretty secure on most aspects of my curriculum...except writing.  In addition, my principal offered that I may join the Teacher's College (through our district for professional development) Writer's Workshop training.  This would require a little extra on my part, but well worth it in the long run.

As my mentor and I planned, practiced, and conferred, we whittled away at the behavior issues that stood between us and a classroom full of engaged 7 year old writers.  Months passed and she showed me how to make the lessons my own.  I took notes and she taught me how to conference with each individual student on a daily basis...get this...while the other children were writing!  My first thought was that the minute I turned my back, someone would get hurt.  But guess what?  No one did and in fact, they continued to write!!

Amazing as it may sound, my kids that couldn't sit still and write their name on their paper just 6 months ago are now 'real' authors!  As we published our most recent pieces today, a student said to me, "Mrs. T. I feel like a real author.  Do you see how I revised this page?  I'm so excited!"  I smiled and walked away silently, because on the inside I was screaming screams of joy!  Crying tears of accomplishment! 

THIS is why I became a teacher!  THIS is why I worked so hard to be where I am today!  THIS is why I will come back tomorrow!

Monday, February 7, 2011

2011: By the Numbers

2011 By the Numbers (so far)

At School/Work:

3- Snow days used
2- Times I have rearranged my classroom
11- The average number of students that show up to school (in my class) on Fridays.
320- Minutes of audio books that I found online. (Thanks for all the help peeps.)

At Home/Personal Life:
3- Books read

1- Books finished from 2010
20- Minutes I cried after reading my first James Patterson book (Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas)
413- Page views to this here blog. (Pretty impressive since I just ramble about nothing!)
1- Summer homes purchased (I keep having to pinch myself, I'm so excited!)
4- Sippy cups found with curdled milk in them after being lost in the toy room/bedrooms.
1- Children I have successfully potty trained (yes, diaper free days are here again!)

40- Pounds of paper that I have recycled. (approx.)
4- Neighbors helped during the snow storm. (technically this is Jake's because he did all the plowing and digging, but I cheered him on!)
6- Boxes of Girl Scout cookies I bought and am so anxiously awaiting ( I did my part...for the children.)

There you have it. My year thus far.  I'm sure there are other more important things that I have done that I failed to mention, but this is what I could think of right now.  What's your year by the numbers been like?

We made it!

So, as it turns out, Snowmaggedon wasn't as terrible as we were led to believe. Although, we didn't have school for three days and there are now large snow mountains in every driveway, parking lot and on street corner. It has been a pretty uneventful weekend around here. I think we used up all are excitement last week during Snowmaggedon. I was,however, able to take a video tour of the Summer Home today. Enjoy!

You will notice that the interior needs some TLC but overall, I am ecstatic about this! Since we all didn't parish in the blizzard, I will be able to enjoy my summer home fully! I was really trying not to get my hopes up in case it caved in from all the snow or something. That would be my luck, you know.

Jake did get a power cord thingy that he fashioned and now the Summer Home has power. Like real power, I forgot to add that in the video that you can really turn on lights and stuff. He also bought a new stereo and speakers for it too. This will be nice when we want to rock out whilst relaxing on the veranda.

CHEERS! To the Summer Home and making it through the Blizzard of 2011!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Sorry, I said I would keep you updated and it's been over six hours since my last post.  I had facebook friends worried. 

This evening has been quite eventful with Thundersnow and lightening.  We were eating the dinner that I created  (with our rations) and all of a sudden a loud crash.  Then shortly after a huge flash of lightening and then another huge crash.  Thundersnow.  Google it, I didn't make that up.

Jake finally returned home in one piece and Ivan and I both don't have school again tomorrow.  The radio (see the survival list here) reports say that basically the snow trucks have given up for today and will attempt more street clearing tomorrow after the snow stops.  As of the last report, we have seen 9 inches so far but judging from the snow drifts in front of my house and garage, I would argue that measurement. 

People are still in an uproar on facebook about the weather and are all "this weather is crazy" and "Thundersnow and lightening!"  I sit back and take it all in and laugh. 

A funny conversation that Jake and I had when we got home.

Me:  People are all going nuts about the grocery stores and stuff.
Jake:  Yeah the Kroger here in town was completely out of eggs, bread and milk.  The only eggs left were a few dozen with a bunch of broken ones.  I saw an old lady taking the good ones out to make a full dozen.  Have people lost their minds?
Me:  Pretty much.

Jake is climbing the walls wanting to go out an plow (play on the four wheeler) the driveway and the neighbors' driveways.  He's sweet like that.  Although, tonight he did mention wearing a sign on his back that said "Plow your driveway $10."  He's sweet but also opportunistic. 

So far the electricity is still on but I will have my flashlight nearby, just in case I want to play flashlight tag later.

Snowmageddon Update

I will be posting throughout the day to keep you updated on the storm. (As I have nothing else to do.)
I have been corresponding all morning with people throughout the Midwest (my friends on facebook) and we have concluded that the new name for this storm is now Snowmageddon, so it will be further referred to. 

I have been taking photos of the impending storm and I will share them with you, but I warn you. They are shocking. 

This was taken at 11:04 CT

This photo was taken at 11:04 CT

This was taken at 12:30CT

This was taken at 12:30CT

This was taken at 1:24CT

This was taken at 1:24CT


This is the camper that I will be hiding out in, dreaming of summer days, if you can't find me come Spring.

You can see that we have a serious problem on our hands.  At approximately 2:20pm I went to the garage (in my pajamas and robe) to fetch some rations (soda) and I found I had to shovel my way out.  Luckily, my smart husband left the shovel next to the front door and the snow hadn't drifted far enough to cover it.  So, I shoveled my way to the garage.  I nearly died from the cold wind blowing across my bare feet (under my slippers).  As I shoveled my way to the garage, two hooligans tried to steal my shovel (my kids asking to come out and play in the snow) and I had to fight my way back to the house.  As I entered the house, people were screaming and running down the street (kids playing down the street in the snow). 

It's getting bad out there, I tell ya.  The children are growing restless and the anticipation of their father's return is killing us.  We have been waiting for days to hear from him (he went to work this morning) and he is not returning our calls.  I am starting to believe that either a) he got lost in a snow drift b) he was attacked by rioters for his truck or c) he is still working.  Whatever the case, we miss him and pray for his safe return.

Some tips that I have thought of, if you happen to be stuck in Snowmageddon 2011:
1.  Leave a shovel near your door, preferably not outside, since the rioting has begun.  You wouldn't want someone to steal it.  This way, if you need to leave the house, you can shovel your way out or use it as a weapon, whatever the case may be.

2.  Wear appropriate clothing.  Shoveling your way to the garage in pajamas, house slippers and rope are NOT appropriate attire.

3.  Keep a fishing pole, hooks, and line close by.  If we need to start hunting and foraging, you will thank me.

4.  Make sure you only bathe when necessary.  Reserve as much water as you can.  You may want to just fill the bathtub now, just in case.

5.  Keep a radio or (better yet) a police scanner going at all times.  This may feed into your paranoia but you will know what is going on at all times.

6.  Gather all the candles, matches and battery powered flashlights in one room.  That way it smells nice and you can play flashlight tag if you get bored.

7.  Don't let any stranger in your home.  This includes neighbors that you once thought were your friends.  In desperate times, you have to think smart.  Anyone outside your immediate family is now an enemy.  Don't let them take advantage of your skilled preparedness.  They should have filled their own bathtub with water.

8.  Have your cell phone fully charged in case the power goes out.  (That way you can still check your facebook.)

9.  Keep tuning in to Dalai Mama for updates.  As long as I can, I will be here, keeping you updated.  So as long as I have power and the rioters don't break down the door!


Blizzard Armageddon 2011

WARNING:  Severely Sarcastic Narrative Ahead

As the end is upon us, I am technically not snowed in yet but the storm is edging its way towards Central IL.  As if I weren't tired of winter enough already, now we have a "blizzard" heading our way and all the chaos and paranoia that surrounds it.

We live in IL and yes, we have snow.  Lots of it.  I can't believe the hype that this snow has brought with it.  In the last two days I have heard/seen the following conversations:

News casters:  As people of Central IL prepare for the blizzard, grocery stores are keeping busy.  People swarming to stock up on milk, water and perishable,s flood local merchants.

A conversation between friends on facebook: 
A local news website has the following updates on the blizzard: 

A photo of my local grocery store meat section:

A sarcastic conversation between my mom and I before she left my house this morning (trying to beat the storm home):

Me:  Are you prepared for the blizzard?
Mom:  Yes, I have groceries, medicine and blankets.
Me:  But are you prepared for the power going out?  What will you do if the power is out?
Mom:  Yes, I have lots of quilts.
Me:  But are you prepared for when the rioting starts and people break down your door for those quilts?
Mom: Ummm, yes.
Me:  Do you have a weapon?
Mom:  I have a baseball bat.

A video clip of my mom leaving my house into the said storm (sorry mom but it was too funny not to post):

I can not believe the way people are acting about this whole thing.  Are we so far out of touch that we have to swarm a grocery store and stock up on water and food for a possible two days of being snowed in?  What makes this so different from my weekends that I don't leave the house?  You would think that the end has come and Armageddon is upon us! 

Are we going to have to defend ourselves against criminals that will want our supplies?  Do I really need 10 gallons of bottled water?  Do I really need two weeks worth of meat and perishables?  Should I load my weapon and set up a command post in my basement?  Because the way that people are talking is like this is the end.

As I sit and look out my window at about an inch of snow in my yard, I wonder, is this it?  Of all the things that I have done in my life, will snow do me in?  I have so many things I wanted to do.  So many places to go and people to see.  So many books to read and ideas to invent.  I will miss my family and friends most of all.  If you are reading this please know that I loved them with all my being. 

Take care dogs, sweet Phoebe and ferocious Winston, for you are on your own now.  Please don't eat me, instead move on in your journey in life.  Take shelter in the woods with the other feral dogs.  Be smart and stay low, scavenge what you can.

As the storm closes in, I take inventory of my supplies.  We have enough milk to last maybe a week.  Enough meat and peanut butter to last twice that.  If we can just make it through these first few days, I think we might make it.  After that, the future is unsure. 

I will never get to enjoy that camper we just bought, but my dreams were enough to last a lifetime.  If you come looking for me, search the camper in the yard, I may be curled up, frozen in the corner, trying to grasp the dreams I had of sunny days at the lake.  With bare feet you will find me, with what remains of a Mr. Heater and propane tanks that are empty.  Don't feel sad for my loss.  Be proud that I weathered the storm and made it two whole days in this Blizzard Armageddon 2011.  CHEERS!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Summer Home

Life just keeps getting better here at Eco-girl!  This weekend was full of wonderful surprises and let me say that I don't have enough photos to be posting this but I was so excited that I haven't had time to take the photos necessary.  I will update this later.

I digress... Friday, late afternoon, I get a text from Jake that read:  We have to talk tonight.  Found a camper in great condition and super cheap.

At first, my thoughts immediately went to the cost involved but my ears perked up just the same.  When I got home to find a very jazzed Jake, he explained the details of the said camper. (He calls it a trailer, but I insist on calling it a camper. I think trailer sounds so white trashy.)  Turns out my step-dad (who also owns about 40 acres that we frequently camp on in the summer and currently have a trashy camper there) stumbled upon a 1997 Jayco "trailer".   The guy was selling it for $4500, which may sound like alot but once you see the pics you will be impressed.  After a long conversation about the financials involved, Jake and I agreed that it would be a wise investment for our family.  We love spending weekends out at the lake in the summer.  And who can blame me with a view like this??

Jake went to see the camper, I mean trailer, Saturday morning and decided it was worth every dime, so he called me with school-boy enthusiasm.  "We're getting it!"  he chimed into the phone.  As my heart and stomach filled with butterflies of thoughts of lazy summer days and my bare feet in the grass, I asked what it was like, as if I were asking about a long lost friend.  He described with every minute detail, as I hung on every word as if he were describing a new born child.  The inside included a set of bunk beds, perfect for the kids, a private bedroom and full closet, for us , a bathroom with a tub,shower, toilet and sink.  Yes, it has a bathroom!!  Finally, after 12 years of using an outhouse in the middle of the night, we now have a real life bathroom!!  It also boasts a full kitchen with three burner stove, oven, microwave and dinette table, which also flips into a bed.  In addition, it has a couch that flips into a bed, tons of storage and pretty etched glass front cupboards.  It also has duct ran heating and cooling, perfect for our crazy IL weather!

I will be the first to say that I appreciated every minute that we had in our little junky camper, which I blogged about here. However, we have been longing for a more appropriately sized and amititied (?) camping option for some time. 

When he brought the new camper home on Saturday, the same day we decided that we had fallen in love, I was ecstatic!  It was kind of like meeting someone new, falling in love and moving in together all in the same day.  It was everything I dreamed of and more.  As I entered the squeaky screen door, I think I heard it say "Welcome home."  Visions of spending weekends and even weeks at the lake this summer flashed through my head.  I saw Luci and Ivan eating breakfast at the kitchen table while the dogs lay on the floor.  I envisioned cooking dinner for my family while the kids catch lightening bugs outside.  I saw me not having to grab a flashlight and head for the outhouse at 10pm.  What possibilities this camper holds for our family.  It will be the place where our memories are made and I can't wait for Spring now, more than ever.  I have already claimed it as my summer home and big plans are in the works for long term habitation there I tell you!  CHEERS!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tattle Box

I have felt very accomplished in the last week.  I feel like I have done loads of things that have been sitting on a TO-DO list far too long.  I was able to finally reorganize my classroom library this week.  This involved me and a student going through each basket sorting books by genre and eliminating out of date books.  I also have wanting to get rid of some ancient reading text books that have been collecting dust in my room.  I finally got the go ahead from my principal that I could get rid of them.  So, my students each got two very old reading text books and several out of date picture books.  They were thrilled though!  You would have thought that I gave them cash they way they carried on.  I'm just glad they are finally out of my class and I now have a whole book shelf that is empty. 

Additionally, I have had time to reconfigure my reader's workshop time.  I have come up with some new stations and plan on implementing those next week.  Sorry for all the teacher-speak.  I also created a Tattle Box for my room, which seems to be working just great.  Let me debrief you on this tactic.

For a long time I have noticed that the same students seem to tattle on each other all the time.  They were usually petty things like "He keeps putting his paper on my desk" or "She's humming too much".  I decorated a fancy shoebox that I had to have the last time I was at TJ Maxx, with a label "THE TATTLE BOX".  I explained to the kids that sometimes we aren't telling the teacher about something because someone is hurt or hurting you but just to get someone in trouble.  Sometimes, teachers are busy and can't respond to a humming neighbor right away.  Or sometimes teachers get tired of you being a know it all and trying to get people in trouble.  Well, I didn't really say that last one, but you get the idea. 

The Tattle Box is for the moments when someone really isn't in immediate danger or hurting anyone else...maybe just being annoying.  I cut up pieces of paper and put them next to the Tattle Box.  We talked about sometimes at a business they have a comment box and the Tattle Box is kind of like that.  I explained that the tattler can not use a person's name because we wouldn't want someone to get embarrassed and they didn't need to write their name on the tattle.  This was something that was strictly confidential and I would be the only reading the Tattle. Actually, my words were that if anyone opened the box to read the tattles, they would loose recess for a week.  GASP!! Ok, Mrs. T we won't touch it!

Two days later, I realized that the Tattle Box was overflowing with tattles.  After school it was my mission to read some of them. I thought I could pick a few and we could discuss how we could handle the tattling situation.  (Teachable moments, people.  Teachable moments.)  The following were some of the tattles:

  • Someone keeps bothering me. (Probably 20 of these.)
  • Someone said I don't like their drawing when I really do.
  • Someone keeps humming real loud.
  • Someone sneezed on me.
  • A girl keeps calling me mustard. (This was in the tattle box twice.)
  • My neighbor keeps talking during writing time when I am trying to do my work.
  • At recess someone kicked me.
  • At PE someone through the ball and it hit me in the face.
The last three were great teachable moments.  We talked about how things that happen at recess and PE need to be reported to the proper authorities, especially if someone is hurting you. (Let the PE teacher and recess monitors take care of there own tattling problems, I found the solution to mine.)  We also talked about bothering other people when we're supposed to be working.  We also talked about what is really important to tell someone about.  i.e. Does it really matter that much if your neighbor thinks you don't like their drawing when you really do?

I absolutely love the Tattle Box!  It's my new best friend and I think I might take it out to lunch for accepting so many complaints in so little time. 

I just have to say that I love my job and my students.  Things like the Tattle Box remind me of the innocence of being little, what is important or not and in the grand scheme of things, sometimes if I write it down, I immediately feel better.  Case closed.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Short and Sweet

Just a few things that are on my mind tonight...

1)  I only watch American Idol when they do the auditions because I like the really bad singers that think they are awesome.  I really love Steven Tyler as a judge.  I can always tell if the person is going to Hollywood by the goosebumps I get when they sing.  I admit, I get teary eyed sometimes when a really great performer comes on and nails it.  It helps if they have a great back story of hope, courage and over coming something.  I'm sappy that way.

2)  I am in desperate search of free or cheap downloadable audio books for my class.  I want to set up listening stations with books to go with them.  I have searched the entire Internet and I can't find anything that isn't $7 per download or more.  I can't afford that, so my next alternative is reading and recording the audio books myself...which could get interesting.

3)  Problem child hasn't been to school all week so I've gotten a lot done!  I got all my grading period reading assessments done and had time to put together a book shelf and reorganize my classroom library.

4)  It's pretty bad when 30 degrees feels warm outside...

5) I have been listening to Jeff Buckley a lot lately. A lot.  If you don't know who that is, please Google him ASAP.  Jeff Buckley- Grace is amazing and I must say I have probably listened to it at least 5 million times.  Such a tragedy that he died so young and didn't have the opportunity to share more of his raw talent.

6)  Tomorrow is Friday.  That means three things. 1)It's jeans and sweatshirt day, which rocks!  2)It's my treat day so I bought a bunch of yummy breakfast rolls and danishes.  3)The weekend is upon us!  CHEERS!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Doll House Renovation

Before the Christmas season began, I was brainstorming ideas of what to get the kids.  Ivan is fairly easy because a) he's a boy and b)  he loves anything with guns or video games.  Luci, on the other hand, is a little harder to buy for.  A little girl can only have so many baby dolls and Barbie's.  So, as I was trying to come up with idea and my mom mentioned that she still had my dollhouse in the basement if I wanted it for Luci.  The light bulb went off in my brain and I reeled with ideas.  

The dollhouse was given to me by my Grandpa B. who made it by hand when I was like 5 years old.  The dollhouse was my favorite thing to play with and my mom says I spent hours hosting dinner parties, weddings, and rearranging furniture in this dollhouse.  I remember how much I loved this dollhouse as a little girl and how special it would be if I could pass this down to Luci.  I know my grandparents put alot of time and love into making it, so, I decided this would be a great gift for Luci and crafty project for me!  When my mom brought the dollhouse over and placed it in the garage (my workspace) I came up with a whole designer motif.   
The before picture with the old wallpaper and exterior.

The front that needed some molding reattached.

Close up of the interior

Close up of the 'kitchen'
 I decided that I would re-wallpaper the interior and paint the exterior.  I promptly went to Hobby Lobby (my favorite store as most of you already know) and browsed all the dollhousing options.  I soon realized that dollhousing could easily become very expensive.  I left Hobby Lobby empty handed and a little defeated.  As I became obsessed with the idea of renovating this dollhouse, I searched eBay, dollhouse websites and craft sites for cheaper material options needed for the project.  I found a couple of great websites with DIY hints and cheap substitutions.  I felt more empowered to take on the project with my own creativity.

I went back to Hobby Lobby and scavenged through the 1.5 million choices of scrap booking paper, looking for cute, girly prints that would be small enough for the interior of the house.  I decided on a few funky, retro patterns that were still light and pastel enough but a bit more modern.  I picked out a pink pastel paint for the exterior and a purple for the trim.  I guess I was going for a Painted Lady Victorian look.

I was still in a dilemma about what to do with the roof because there were quite a few water stains and tears in it.  I looked all over for replacement roofing that was similar, but no luck.  I searched some more on the Internet and found another DIY site that showed how to paint it in a way to cover stains.  After another trip to Hobby Lobby I was finally ready to begin.

I started by painting the exterior with the pink and the purple trim. This was a painstaking task because it requires a steady hand.  After several coats of paint, the exterior was almost complete with the exception of a few trim pieces that needed free hand painting done.  (I had a friend in mind for that part!)

The next step was removing all the old wallpaper and trim so I could put on my new funky, fresh patterns.  The trim was so delicate that I used an Exacto knife, as not to break this 30 year old miniature trim.  I spent several evenings in the garage measuring, Exacto cutting and applying the new paper.  I used a crafter's glue the apply the paper and a plastic spatula thingy to smooth out the bubbles.  After roughly 30 hours worth of labor the house was almost done.

There was some exterior trim that needed attached so I got out the crafter's glue and reattached those as well.  A friend of Jake's is an amazing artist so I called him on Dec. 22 to help me finish the last minute details.   He free handed the front door trim and added a painted trellis on the side of the house with purple flowers. 

In the meantime, I was talking to Grandma C and telling her about the project.  She and grandpa were thrilled to hear that 1) the dollhouse was still around and 2) I was fixing it up for Luci.  She also told me about this box full of dollhouse furniture that she acquired.  A week later I received a huge box in the mail with enough furniture to decorate six dollhouses!  I had a blast going through it all and thinking of all the possibilities.  After careful consideration, I decided to put these very delicate pieces away for awhile. 

Afterall, Luci was not quite 3 and I was sure she would have them destroyed in about 2 hours.  So with that said, I needed an idea to furnish the house with non-breakable furniture.  Back to the Internet I went and found a line of inexpensive plastic furniture.  After several trips to several stores during the holiday season, I found  a living room, dining room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen set of furniture.  I also picked up a few more little people for the house. 

On Christmas Eve Jake, my mom and I brought the finished dollhouse into the house and set up all the new furniture.  I stood back, quite proud of myself and smiled.  I thought about how much time, effort and love went into renovating this 30- year old dollhouse.  I thought about how my grandparents must have felt when they did the same for me.  And lastly, I thought about the look on Luci's face when she would get to see it on Christmas morning. 

The finished product.

We carefully placed the dollhouse next to the tree and closed the door to the room where the tree was. (Our house is too small to put a big tree in the living room, so it's in a front entry way.) The next morning, I made the kids wait until I could get the FLIP and camera ready because I wanted to capture the look on her face. As I searched for the camera, Luci pounded and banged on the door, shouting "Let me in! Let me in!"
When I finally opened the door, she immediately ran to the dollhouse and this was the response:
She sees it for the first time and immediately starts playing with it.

Luci examining the contents.
I think she loves it!

Thanks Grandma C and Grandpa B for being so awesome in making the dollhouse to begin with.  I now realize the amount of work and effort it took.  I love every memory of my beloved dollhouse and now Luci can too!!  You rock!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dog Blog

So, as long as I have been blogging, I have rarely mentioned my beloved, four legged friends, Winston and Phoebe.  Winston, my distinguished Yorkshire Terrier would say "How incredibly rude!"  Well, let me introduce you to my two furry friends. 

Here she is playing in the snow recently.
Phoebe is a 12 year old Sheltie mix of some sort.  Phoebe and I have been together longer than Jake and I.  She has been my partner in crime through many ups and downs of life.  Our relationship began when a relationship ended many years ago.  My boyfriend had just dumped me and I felt very....alone, I guess.  So I did what any lonely, sad woman would do.  I went to the pound.  After searching through hundreds of yipping dogs, I saw Phoebe.  She was the most hyper dog in the kennel and the most adorable.  She was only a few months old and a big ball of furry fluff.  She was all white with one blue eye and one brown eye.  She looked like a stuffed animal that ran and played.  We became instant friends and she has remained by my side since.  She has a very distinct personality and comes with many quirks.  She is terrified of thunderstorms and will pee if the pressure drops too quickly.  We call her our little barometer.  Although she is now 12, she is spry for her age.  She enjoys getting in the garbage and guarding the food dish.  She likes to over power Winston and loves to be snuggled and given all of your attention.

Sir Winston Churchill playing in the snow.
Winston is our baby dog who just had a birthday a few months ago.  We got Winston last Christmas and he is my baby.  As I write he is sound asleep on my lap, cuddled up under my blanket.  He is a Yorkie and is proud to prove it.  He desperately wants to be big and wants you to believe that he is tough.  (But he's not.)  He loves to antagonize Phoebe but usually gets his butt kicked.  He loves the kids and loves to play with them. 

But they really love each other.

We call this "Big Dog in a Little Bed"
Phoebe likes to think that she is a small lap dog too.  Lately, she likes sleeping in Winston's bed, even though her pillow is three times bigger.   Winston, though, will not be having it.
Winston reclaims his spot.

"Come on mom!  Clothes for Christmas?!?"

"Ahhh, toys!!  That's better!!"

Winston tells his friends that he hates to wear clothes, but really, he secretly loves it.  Just yesterday he asked me about a new puffy coat for winter.  I told him I would see what I could do, but no promises.  He'll pretend to hate it but frolic joyfully in the snow just the same.