Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Finally, a post!

Okay, my apologies. I know it's rude to go MONTHS without posting. Seems like I have been in a tail-spin since mid-July, but I think things are finally settling down. My spell of unemployment came to an end on August 31st, when I went to work at First Coast News. Been there ever since, and I'm enjoying it. What's First Coast News? It's a "duopoly" of tv stations, here in the Jacksonville area, and I'm the Accounting Manager. Sounds important, doesn't it? Really, I'm just the middle person between the Business Manager and the Accounting Clerk. "Middle management" is what I'm called. Okay, I'll take that.

Oddly the same time I started my job, I also developed an auto-immune disorder. Well, I should qualify that statement. I haven't "officially" been diagnosed, but my doctor is reasonably certain "it" is auto-immune. I started out, actually early this summer, complaining of an itchy nose. The itch progressed across my face, then around my eyes. My mid-September, I was starting to look like a red-eyed raccoon. I went to the doctor in October, and they put me on prednisone along with lots of other meds. Not sure if it was the prednisone, or the usual progression of the disease, but a few weeks into that, it blossomed into a full body rash, and then severe muscle burning, pain and high fevers. Only just a few weeks ago, my doctor and I have together come to the conclusion that I have an auto-immune disease known as dermatomyositis. The bloodwork done in September was showing high sed rate and high levels of CPK, muscle enzymes that are present when muscles are being damaged. My last visit to the doc, I asked him about this auto-immune disease I'd found online, which had a "signature" of a heliotrope rash, which is the red rash around the eyes, as well as the rash across my arms, legs, shoulders, hands and face. I thought when he started to laugh that maybe he was thinking I'm an idiot and should stay off the internet. that wasn't the case. He laughed as he turned my chart around to show me he had written the same diagnosis down already. We were on the same page. He said he'd like to continue with treatment as is currently, and ween me off the steroids to see where this develops from there. His suspicion is that it will flare, and we'll be treating it again with steroids and other meds. By then, the hope is I will have active insurance, since I've been self paying from the beginnning, and then he can run the necessary tests to pinpoint this "stuff".

Total change of subject now... Thanksliving! This week John and I are taking the kids up to southeastern Georgia to Stephen C Foster state park. We made a run up there this past Sunday and felt we really loved the park. There were many deer out and about during the day, so we're sure the nightlife will prove to be interesting. There are signs warning to not feed bears, and pets are not allowed in or around the water, including in the canoes because of the high populations of alligators. Well, Callie's not going to be happy about that, is she? I've planned fried chicken, along with fried turkey wings, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, green beans and corn. Dessert, well.. we're camping, so marshmallows, of course. I've also purchased Jiffy Pop to pop on the camp stove. There's a warning (yes, one I read!) on the packaging to not pop it on a campfire, darnit, but gives directions for a camp stove. The kids will no doubt be fascinated by the whole process of popping this corn.

We haven't been camping since spring break, except for one trip in September, when Judy my mother in law, and I took the kids to Anastasia for the weekend. In good Chappell tradition, it is going to be cold, and possibly rain. I am looking forward to sitting around the camp site without a thought in the world about home or work. I'm looking forward to watching my children enjoy their environment, as they spot deer in the woods. Our visit ths past Sunday, produced a rattle snake crossing the road as well. I'm hoping this was a freakish event, and we will not be seeing another of these creatures!

I'll keep you posted to our progress ...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

John said the TV came on...

Just a quick post today.. but John told me this morning as he was leaving at 5:30 that the tv came on. He said, the tv came on, so I'll move it tonight. Of course at 5:30 this was very confusing and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what I was supposed to do. I sat up in the bed, and said "What? What's wrong with the tv?" He explained again, that the 36 inch water logged tv seemed to come on this morning, after having dried out over night, and that he will put it back on the entertainment center this evening when he gets home. Oh, okay. Now I understand.

It's good news for all of us, but especially Daniel. It would be quite the tale to carry for life, that he fried the living room tv at the young age of four, costing our family many hours of entertainment. Just kidding! I'm relieved, because as we watched the season finale of Deadliest Catch, it was really hard to see the captions on the 19 inch screen from all the way across the living room. When it was over, and I had gained control of the remote, I moved to the larger sofa that is much closer to the television so I could actually see the screen!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Daniel strikes again!

My beautiful 4 year old son, decided this morning while I was still in bed that the television in the living room needed to be cleaned. It had dust on the front of it. So, he went into the bathroom, soaked a wash cloth, then wiped the front of the tv off. It is clean, I'll give him that. But, it was the phrase "Mommy, the tv just turned off by itself" that got me out of bed this morning. Yes, it did turn off by itself, but it had a little help. The water dripping from the front speaker holes was a pretty good clue what the problem was. I've tried several times to turn it back on, but it's just not working at all. I have lots of laundry to do today, and the only way I can fold it is by sitting in front of the television. Otherwise, it's hopelessly boring! Time for "musical tv's". The 19 inch television from our bedroom is now sitting in the hole where the 36 inch tv that no longer works was. The 19 inch television that was sitting on a table in Daniel's room (for movies only, it was not hooked up to cable) is now sitting on the armoir in our bedroom where our television was. The space that was once occupied by a television in Daniel's room is now empty, and shall remain that way indefinitely!

I guess I should add, he's grounded for the day!

John had hopes in the near future of purchasing a flat screen television for the living room, and once I obtain a steady job with income flowing in, we will make that purchase! Until that time, it's not as critical to have a big tv in the living room, as the necessity for my getting my tooth crowned a few weeks back! That was critical, a big television is really a modern convenience that we have convinced ourselves is a necessity! Some may argue that crowning a tooth is a luxury, but to me it is a necessity!

I made the mistake of staying in bed this morning, because I woke up at 2:30 with the sinus headache that I went to bed with getting much worse. By this time, my sinuses were getting stuffed up, and my head and teeth were throbbing! Lots of nasal saline spray, a Zyrtec-D, 3 ibuprofen and a steamy washcloth did the trick finally around 4:30, just in time to hear John's alarm clock go off! Next time, I guess I should just get up!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pranksters.. so true!

I'm diverting you over to Jenny's blog today, because she pretty much says it all! This is the story of the pampas grass bordering Jenny's yard, and our "in between neighbor". I'm so glad she took pictures!


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Taking Jenny's photo challenge...

This is Daniel on our friends' Hughey and Leanne's horse. We went to see the pigs, but as always the kids had to ride the horses.

Here are the rules:
1) Go to your photo files…Select the 6th photo folder
2) Select the 6th photo in that folder
3) Post that photo along with the story behind it.
4) Then challenge 5 blog friends to do the same!

***Anyone up for a challenge***

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Scooby Doo has come to play!

His name isn't really Scooby Doo, his name is Junior. He's a black lab that lives two doors down. Nope, not in Jenny's direction, but Hanna and Daniel's friend Shea's dog. Well, her step-dad's dog. They've gone on vacation and asked us to take care of the big dope. He's every bit as big as Callie, but much more goofy. I equate him to Scooby Doo. I couldn't help but think how lonely he must get down there, by himself all day, so I've started going to get him in the evenings and bringing him down to my house to play with my dogs. They get along well, as long as we don't let him inside. First he's just too crazy to come in my house, and second, Annie gets very aggressive with him in the house. She apparently doesn't like him inside. Callie only expressed her opinion when he jumped up on my arm, when we were outside. She gave him a big bark, which seemed to communicate to him, "Get off my mom!" I never really truly appreciated how well my dogs are trained, until trying to walk a dog as big as Callie that isn't well trained. I do not like a large dog jerking me down the sidewalk. If I had more time, and it wasn't quite so hot, Junior and I would have some one on one time, and I'd educate the big dope on the appropriate way to behave on a leash!

Today, after our usual church outing, John and I and the kids went to our sister church's service in Keystone Heights. Our Pastor and my brother in law Mike are serving there as their Pastor and Staff Minister. They needed someone to look at the lights in their fellowship hall, and somehow John's name came up. Since I played during our church service this morning, and we didn't have time to drop off my viola before going to Keystone, I asked Pastor if he thought they would mind if I also played down there. They were very welcoming to the idea. I'm not sure if the gentleman that John was working with knew his mother from past, or if he's just a friendly guy, but when we walked in, he threw his arms around her and greeted her. "Hey Judy, it's so great to see you!" I thought, okay, he's a Lutheran from the area, she most likely knows him. Then he came in my direction, "Hi, it's so great to have you join us, and play for us!" He also wrapped his arms around me, and gave me a big hug. I introduced myself, since he was so welcoming, and he explained that Pastor had told them I'd intended to play. After the church service, my children were carrying a ziplock bag filled with blueberries. There was an elderly, german lady giving blueberries to everyone. Daniel was soon out on the playground, and was yelling at a little boy on the swingset with him, "Don't eat my blueberries!!!" I explained to him, those were the boy's, ours were with my purse. This boy's grandfather then joined us, and thanked me again for playing, once he and John were done in the fellowship hall discussing what needs to happen with the lights in there. Roger Buz, began telling me how he's been playing violin, and learning to fiddle. It is his lifetime dream to one day be able to repair violins. He then started telling me proudly about his daughter, who "fiddles" and plays in a country band, often touring with none other than Allison Kraus. He told me how his daughter writes all her songs, and his favorite being, "Dancing on Daddy's feet", and a few others, and that she writes the music, and plays the fiddle, and sings the songs. Of course, he then told me to walk with him to his truck, where he pulled out a new copy of her latest cd. She is currently living in Nashville, TN, and hosting a show on RFD TV. We got into conversation about fiddling, and the dances at O'leno, which he was quite familiar with, then he told me about the Fiddlin Association gatherings, and then said, we should get together and fiddle. I explained that I believe fiddling is completely different, but something I'd love to learn to do. To which he suggested, we should set a date, and get together, and the kids could come out to his property and swim in the lake, and we could make a "play date" out of it! I'm looking forward to future visits out to Keystone Heights, and getting to know Roger Buz, and our other Lutheran brothers and sisters not so far away!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Restriction is just that!

My precious, innocent boy is on restriction! He has taken up the bad habit of biting his sister, and the great offense took place again this morning. I think Hanna has cornered him so many times, his only defense is to bite. In any case, it's not acceptable! John told him earlier in the week, the next time he bites, he will spend the rest of the day in his room. Of course, he had to do it early this morning, so it's going to be a LONG day in his room. I was just outside cleaning the pool, and checking it's chemical balance, and Hanna came out to chat with me. During that time, Daniel came out to ask if he could come outside. I replied, "Nope, you're on restriction in your room. Go back to your room." He stood there, and pleaded, "But I don't want to be in my room all day." I explained again, "Daddy said, next time you bite, you spend the whole rest of the day in your room, and that's where you'll be!" It's really not fair, that I had to lay down the law, and John is off visiting with his mother this afternoon, and I have to be the sheriff! Feels like I'm restricted too! No fair!

I'm beginning to think I should just put him in a padded room, or make him wear one of those blow up sumo wrestler costumes. He's still wearing a bandage on his leg from the ice cream dish, but I think that might be about ready to come off this weekend. Yesterday, they were goofing around, and Hanna picked him up and dropped him on his head. When she dropped him, he bit his tongue in two places. The day before, she picked him up, lost her balance, and plowed his head into the only corner on my kitchen cabinets. I told her, the next time you pick up your brother, you're restricted to your room!

Both of them seem to think you can do whatever you want, as long as you plead apologies after the offense. Not so, my children! I hear both of the coming towards me screaming, one in pain, the other, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"

I'm sorry, but you're on restriction! Now go! Oh, it's a long, hot summer...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The big test is over!

I'm happy to say, I took the state's exam yesterday for my insurance license, and passed. So glad that's over with. My personal goal was to receive a score of 85%, and my score was 86.7%. The next step is to view several training modules much like those I used to send to my clients in the broadcast industry, and take quizzes at the end. Oh boy! I just LOVE training modules. Not! I have to go through those, learning all about insurance, then there's an orientation next Friday at the Banker's office at 7:15am. That's a really weird time to set an orientation, but whatever! It will be over by 10:30, so that won't be so bad. The following week, we begin 6 straight days of 10-hour training days. After that, we'll be "field agents", off to survey the needs of the elderly, and offer solutions for life insurance and Medicare supplements, as well as possible solutions to retirement "vehicles", meaning annuities. That's "Plan A".

"Plan B" is still evolving. More on that after "evolution".

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Study, Study, study...

that's what I've been up to, studying! After the first weekend attending the Life, Health and Annuities course, I truly felt like it was hopeless. I finished the course Sunday, and I can say in good conscience, i feel pretty good about it! I took the final exam in the book today for 'practice', and on the Life Insurance portion I got an 88 percent! I think if I hadn't been getting up and down, answering to whining, tattling children I think I could have possibly gotten a 100 percent! Our neighbor child spent the night last night, after spending the afternoon with my kids, and she's been here all day today, up until about 20 minutes ago! They finally left and went to her house! Yay! Back to the studying, I was originally worried about agreeing to possibly testing on Friday of this week for the state license exam, fearing there would be no way I'd be prepared. After spending the last two days attached to the book, I think I'll be properly prepared. In fact, I'm feeling like I don't really want to have to wait beyond Friday, because I don't want to spend yet another weekend glued to this book! Enough already! I get it! Just please don't ask me too much about the dreaded annuity subject! LOL!

Yesterday morning, I made a panicked call to the dentists office, after breaking off the back of one of my upper molars this weekend. They answer their phones at 8:30. I finally got through at 8:45. She said, if you can be here at 9am, we can see you. Umm, you're on Blanding at Kingsley, and I'm in Green Cove... She said, get here between 9 and 9:15 and we'll see you. Okay! I called Jenny and asked her if she'd be home, but she had to go back to her dentist to get her permanent crown on, so not available. As an aside, her crown didn't fit, and she' returning on July 8th, the same day I go back for my permanent crown. I explained no job, no insurance, and they offered a discount plan, which really did save me quite a bit, but oh my, it's still so horribly expensive to get a crown! John and I had a bet that a crown would cost about a thousand dollars, and I said no way! He won the bet! The other option was having it pulled, and John told me go ahead and get the crown. Having it pulled would just mess up my bite, and he didn't want me to have to live with a 'gappy smile", knowing that it would bother me! I was hesitant to return to this dentist office, because the last crown, which was my first experience didn't go so well. I found the entire procedure that time to be miserable, and haven't been happy with it since. This time, was completely opposite! I didn't feel much. This new dentist in the office is young, probably around my age, female, and on the money! I didn't even feel the injection! That's saying something. I finally half way through the procedure was able to relax, and let the muscle spasm settle down in my back! I'll go back in July to get the permanent crown! On the positive side, assuming I pass my state exam, I'll be self-employed, and I can claim 100% of my medical and dental expenses on my taxes. (I also realized I can't refer to it as "tax return" since it's all about paying in taxes when one is self employed!)

After my dentist appointment yesterday, I went to pick the kids up at my mother in law's house. I called her when Jenny wasn't available, and she said she'd meet me at the dentist office. Thank you, Judy! After the kids ate lunch, she made them a banana split, and served them in glass banana shaped dishes. It came about later that these dishes belonged to her father's aunt. Well, my kids being who they are, kept pushing each other, and tipping chairs. I heard a thud and a grunt, and got up to find Daniel on the floor, chair tipped over. It took a second, then I saw the broken glass, and shouted "Don't move!" I managed to pick up the glass and ice cream, and Judy grabbed Daniel. She started cleaning him up, thinking he had chocolate syrup on him, only to find some of it was blood! When the dish shattered, it cut a piece out of the side of his leg. It was one of those nasty cuts, that you question, should we go to the emergency room? The glass took out a piece of the top flesh, and exposed a good piece. It didn't bleed heavily, it just took a while to stop. We knew stitches weren't possible because there was nothing to pull together on the side of his calf. I just kept changing band-aids yesterday, and told them the pool was off limits yesterday, and for a few days, just for good measure. Of course, I didn't think about sidewalk chalk, and I can tell you he's covered in it this afternoon. He's not looking forward to the peroxide treatment again, but we've explained to him, it's a necessary evil!

This evening, I'll study up again on the Health side of insurance, and legal contracts concerning health and life insurance. Such fun! Tomorrow some time, I should find out when I'll be scheduled to take the pending exam!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Starting to feel a little better...

Yesterday I went back for session 2 in the Life, Health and Annuities class. Ugh! Not the most exciting of subjects, that is certain! Sunday's session went over Law and Contracts, the various types of Term Life and wow, the many versions of whole life and universal life, and then went into annuities. I was so lost in annuities. So many people in the class seemed to have lots to say about this subject. I just don't get annuities. But then, I also keep my investments in conservative funds. In fact my last 401K sat in a money market, because no way was I going to gamble with that! It's hard to grasp a concept of something that you just don't "buy into". Didn't really intend the pun there, but it works! I found it hilarious that the Annuities chapter in the book is Chapter 11. The one topic that "scares the old people" according to the instructor resides in Chapter 11. I made a joke about it, but I don't think he got the "oxymoron" reference I made. Chapter 11 bankruptcy versus annuities. Maybe it will always remain my own little joke!

By the end of the day my brain was completely fried, and my morale feeling less than great. In fact, I compared my feelings to being on the "raw edge of the fight or flight mechanism". I was so overwhelmed yesterday by the end of the day I just wanted to throw my hands up in the air and say "I quit!". Sitting on the sofa, John asked if I had a headache. My response was "No, just feeling rather overwhelmed!" I told John today, if I'd ever been exposed to the subject of insurance and annuities before, it wouldn't have felt so hopeless. Instead this is a ton of subject matter in a short period of time, that is completely foreign! Today I spent a lot of time with the book in hand, and reviewed the first few chapters. I also went to the instructor's website and looked at his questions. His website has 800 questions (400 life & annuities, and 400 health questions) that are similar to what is supposed to be on the state's test. It's a good website, and every answer tells you if you answered it wrong, why it is wrong. If you pick the correct answer, it tells in more detail why it's right. The idea is to continue on his website as well as the book until you know with great confidence all questions and the correct answers without hesitation! There's only 150 questions on the state's exams, so you've got a pretty good chance! I did the tests in 4 chapters plus answered some on his website and found out today I know more than I thought I did! This is boosting my confidence and making it easier to approach the subject with more of an open mind, rather than feeling like a kid that's been shut in their room with their school book and forbidden to leave until their homework is done. (It's what I am at the moment, but it doesn't feel quite so hopeless now!) Maybe I should try putting the book under my pillow at night and see how much I can absorb by osmosis. Haha!

This morning, before getting started into the world of insurance, the kids and I rode with our friends Amy, Caroline and AnnaBeth to their church, Hibernia Baptist Church. Caroline invited Hanna to attend the Kindergarten/1st grade VBS this week, and Daniel and I went along to make sure the correct consent forms were signed. The girls saw a few other kids from the neighborhood and their school (including the slow kid, wink wink) and were feeling pretty good about settling in. Amy brought Daniel and I home, and then we loaded up to Wal-Mart to do our grocery shopping I wasn't able to achieve this weekend since I wasn't home. We got the pool vacuumed, filled up a bit, and shocked, ready for the afternoon's entertainment. Hanna was home around 12:30, and after a small PB&J lunch, the kids went out to play in the pool for the afternoon. It made it easy for me to sit out there with my book, and oversee their activities over the edge of my new appendage!

Since John worked overtime this weekend, the yard went unattended, so tomorrow morning before we start anything else, ie STUDYING, Daniel and I will take care of mowing the yard.Lots more studying to do, and hopefully reading the chapters that will be covered next weekend! After the completion of the test next week, I will be instructed when and where to go to take the state's test. It will be sometime between that following Monday and the end of June. (I think that's pretty much that week... )

Saturday, June 13, 2009

School is not for the weary!

Last week I went through a 3 step interview process for a insurance company. It was really a grueling process. So I thought. I've found out since, school is even more grueling! The first interview was an introduction to Bankers Life and Casualty, and the recruiting process they've begun looking for new agents. The first session was called a "career opportunity seminar", and lasted about an hour and a half. At the end of that training session there was a questionnaire, in which the participants answered a few questions about their "needs" in a career, and if they thought joining the Bankers team would fulfill those needs. The questionnaire allowed them to decide if you might meet their needs. I must have, because they called me back for a second interview. The second interview was a 3 hour session in which the Sales Manager for the Jacksonville branch explained the process of being a "career agent" with Bankers and what one could expect if asked to join the team. Once again, if this seemed to meet your needs and you didn't feel the urge to run like the wind, you filled out another questionnaire, and if they liked your answers yet again, they would call you back for an one on one interview. They liked my answers and I went back on Thursday morning for the third and final interview with the Jacksonville branch manager. He's a younger man, I suspect younger than I am, but he definitely knows the business, and what he's looking for in a team to grow his branch into the number one branch in US for Bankers. After a one hour interview with him, Keith extended the offer for me to join the Bankers team in Jacksonville. I didn't need time to consider the offer, since John and I had had an extended "what if" conversation the night before and agreed we'd give this a shot.

After many applications that have gone unanswered, John and I both agreed the job market in the "traditional" sense has dried up somewhat and if I want to try to make a career, it may be time to make a change. Being a career agent for Bankers means selling supplemental insurance for Medicare as well as life insurance, and annuities. Not something I thought I'd ever be doing, that's for certain. However, I have been driven for years with a desire to own my own business. To have ownership in my career, and have something I can truly be proud of. John and I feel this is God's hand putting this into motion, and giving us a chance for a new start. We really have very little to lose at this point, since it's not like I'm leaving an existing job, merely taking a chance for something new!

Part of the conditions for going to work for Bankers is that I have to have my insurance agent's license before I can begin their training in the office in Jacksonville. He offered the class this weekend and next, 4-days for 10 hours each that goes over the state exam in detail. The class is offered online, but Keith, the branch manager prefers a one on one teaching environment. I had to answer fast to take advantage of today's class in order to begin training in July. If not, I would have to take the class and exam in July, and wouldn't be able to begin training with the Jacksonville office staff until August. Today I went to the 10 hour class, session 1. My brain feels like mush and my rear-end is sore from sitting all day long with very little activity. On top of the in depth knowledge I gained today about the lines of insurance as well as the insurance code of ethics I learned the importance of bringing a sweater! It was very chilly in the classroom today! We were able to be casual, so I had on capri pants and sandals. Tomorrow I will take a sweater and wear jeans and a t-shirt in hopes to be warmer. I'll also take a few snacks to eat during the breaks, since it made for a very long day, and lunch just wasn't quite enough!

Of course, the session had lots of warnings about the importance of studying and how some fail to see the importance of learning the book from cover to cover. It isn't uncommon for some to not pass the test the first time. I suspect these people have the belief that if you attend the class and lightly review the book you can pass. The reiteration was strong today to memorize the book! The instructor offers a website for test review and lots of sample questions to help his students familiarize themselves with the ideas of the real test. I'm not looking forward to it, and I've always been lacking in the area of studying and commitment! However, at this point in life, I strongly believe failure is not an option, as it affects not only me but my entire family's future! I have said so many prayers for God's guidance and strength and wisdom to do what I need to make my family proud of me!

School's hard! Sheesh! :)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Schools out!

Yesterday brought the end of the school year, and the end of Hanna's first year in elementary school. Wednesday morning, the kindergarten class had a ceremony where each child crossed over a bridge, and received a mock diploma. I took pictures, but the stage has a black curtain, and the pictures didn't come out well at all. Here she is on her last day of school. I've been trying to post the pictures I took on her first day of school, but what I have found is that I didn't post it on any of my internet posting spots.. and, the "cd" I have of all my backed up photos from my old laptop, is actually a dvd, and this pc only has a cd rom. Bummer! I'll figure out a way to either convert the pc to a cd/dvd-rom OR... convert them to cd's once I have a job with income!

Back to the last day of school. What I found most moving about the day was the departure. As the buses were pulling out, the drivers honked the horns in celebration, the kids were waving at the teachers in the bus loading zone, and the teachers were waving back, and yelling "Have a great summer!" As much as I was proud for Hanna and her friends finishing their kindergarten year, it made me sad that it was over. We saw Ms. Kelly, Hanna called out and waved, and we honked our horn good-bye to her as well! Hanna started to cry in the car, and said she didn't want to go to first grade, she wanted to stay with Ms. Kelly, her teacher this year. This brought tears to my eyes too, as I tried to explain to her that next year, she'll have a first grade teacher that she will like just as much as Ms. Kelly, and will want to stay with her at the end of the year too! I am impressed with what they learned in kindergarten. It wasn't at all what my kindergarten year was like in 1975-76. When I went to kindergarten, we learned the letters, danced with big blow-up characters of each letter, we learned colors, and maybe looked at clocks. We had snack, quiet time, and went home at noon. Kindergarten in 2008-09 was much different. They had to know their numbers and letters going into kindergarten, and write their names. By the end of the year, they were reading books by themselves! Hanna became a member of the "100 club", meaning she could count to 100 all by herself, she had a list of spelling/sight words that she mastered, and even learned about time and addition and subtraction! They stayed in school all day!

Today marks the first day of summer vacation. It's 10:30 and I've already refused multiple requests for popsicles, bubble gum and snacks! They seem to think the goal of staying home is to eat as much as possible. While I have been given a "gift" by staying home with my children this summer, I also think it's going to be a long summer!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Do you know what an antonym is?

Do you? Do you know what an antonym is? this is the question posed to me the other day by my four year old son! "Mommy, do you know what an antonym is?" I looked at Daniel, and asked, "Do you?" His reply, "Hot and cold are antonyms! Up and down! Do you know any antonyms, Mommy?" Wow! Really? A four year old knows this? I was impressed!

This is the same child, that pleaded with great excitement the last few mornings to turn on the "swipeys". The swipeys are the window wipers, and he likes them to go fast! It is very amusing to him to watch the swipeys go back and forth, super fast! This morning, he asked if we could go straight, rather than turning right at 739, so we continued on 218 up to Blanding. He likes to go over the "new bridge", which is where they are lifting the bridge that crosses over Black Creek by one foot! There is currently a metal grate bridge, and Daniel enjoys the noise going over it, and he gets to see all the construction equipment in action! This morning, was especially exciting for him, because we hit lots of big puddles, throwing water from the side of the truck! Yes, just like all the other trucks out here near Middleburg, our truck was just right for puddle stomping!

Last week, I had the great misfortune of losing my job. I've been scrambling to contact job placement agencies, and post my resume out there on Monster.com, and other places. Yesterday, I finally upgraded my home pc's ram, so it actually moves now, rather than sits for what seems like an hour trying to open applications! It seems like a luxurious expense to spend on my pc, in a time when our money must be held very tight, but without the upgrade, surfing the net for open job positions would be near impossible on this old thing! I upgraded from 256MB of ram, to 2 GB of ram, and the difference is incredible! If I'd know the fix would be so easy and inexpensive, I'd have done it over a year ago!

This morning, I've checked in with the two agencies I'm working with, applied to a few things I've found on "Monster", and now as I play the waiting game, I'll attack the laundry monster that seems to have taken over our home!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Obviously, I need to post!

Please forgive me,I'm becoming such a dudd when it comes to blogging these days! Excuse me!

What have I been up to? Well, Friday, I went to have lunch up at the school for the kindergarten's Mother's Day lunch. It was nice, but needed a little more organization. Hanna's teacher asked me on Thursday night what I was bringing, if I was stopping somewhere, would I bring her something. So I stopped at McD's and picked up an additional Happy Meal for Ms.Kelly. When I handed it to her, she smiled and said "Thanks Mom!" Wow, I hadn't realized the age difference between the two of us all year until just that moment! I realized the 11 year spread between our ages was a lot! I smiled and said, "that's okay, I'll be your Mom today!" We sat outside in the grass, and I'll say, it got hot in the sun! "I tell you what!"

Saturday morning, Grandma picked up the kids and took them as had been promised to see their cousin Carter play T-ball, and visit with his sisters, their other cousins, Julia and Morgan. The kids were so happy to see them again! I went on my merry way over to UNF to observe yet another master class. This time, it was given by Augustin Hadelich, a 25 year old genius violinist, born in Italy, and Gold medallist of the 2006 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. His prize, along with the honor of being a gold medallist, is possessing the 1683 ex-Gingold Stradivari violin. Oh my, what a beautiful instrument it was to hear! He didn't play any prepared piece; to see that I would have had to purchase tickets to see him perform in the Master Works concert with the JSO. However, he did play a bit here and there, demonstrating for these kids how he thought certain excerpts could be played. I might also add he hold the coveted Artist diploma from Julliard! I can only imagine the talent that young man possesses!

Sunday, we went to church "as usual" and the choir sang a new song,(new to us) God Give us Christian Homes. Kathy has been chosing a few out of "The Worship Hymnal" from The Living Way Ministries. It was such a touching song, once again I was moved to tears, and had difficulty singing along with it! Kathy and I have been going through this hymnal, trying to find hymns we could play together for pre/post service, and have had a lot of fun playing together going over them! I was very moved when she presented me with my very own copy for Mother's Day, with a special inscription written inside the cover! Thank you so much, Kathy! Your friendship is so very dear to me! After church, the kids wanted to ride with Grandma, so John and I enjoyed a nice quiet ride home. It didn't take long for them to show up, and we had the pool all cleaned up, ready for them to jump in, and the water slide set up for them to enjoy as well! John and Michael grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, while Judy and I floated around in the pool, keeping cool and relaxing. Judy was very impressed with Daniel's swimming this year, and how much he has improved since last summer. Mostly, his attitude towards getting in the water! I filled the dogs' pool up too, and they enjoyed themselves keeping cool as well! My Mother's Day gift came a few days early. I had told John I wanted a violin hanger to hang my viola on the wall, so it can be displayed for all to enjoy, and allow easy access anytime I wanted to play her! So, he asked me a few weeks ago, where he'd find the "gun rack" that I wanted. At first I was puzzled, then once clued in I just chuckled! I told him I really didn't think he'd find it anywhere in town, except maybe the one and only violin shop in town, out on Beach Blvd. A long way for him to go, looking for something he didn't really know what it looked like, only to have them maybe not have it! So, he told me to go ahead and order it, since we both knew there was no way in hell he was going to get on either of MY computers and try to order something online! It came on Thursday, and I asked him to please put it up for me on Friday, which happily did!

It was a very nice day, and I feel very blessed! Good times, loving family, and a happy home!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nothing since Easter, really???

I can't believe I haven't posted anything since the Saturday before Easter! I can't sit here now, and 11:40 at night and type too long, I really do have to get up and work tomorrow!

I have been so busy, it's insane! Work wise, that is! By the end of the day, I'm so tired, I don't do much of anything "after work". I have a pile of Hannah Montana birthday invitations that I have to fill out and get sent out to our intended guests in the next few days, so that everyone can plan accordingly for THE party of the year! Yes, we're planning Hanna's birthday party! May 2nd 2pm, mark your calendars!

This is going to seem an odd post, especially since I've yet to say anything about Easter. I just wanted to take a few minutes and post SOMETHING, so I'm including a picture of my frog. He's not MY frog, really, but I call him that, since he's been in my little pond since sometime in September. I think he showed up around September, maybe earlier. I think I took him away from Jack, the my special "boy". Jack was the yellow lab I had, and sadly had to have him euthanized last October. (Shh, the kids think he went to live with of friend of Hughey's) He kinda did, Hugh took him to his property and buried him next to his pony that he had for since Santa brought him when he was 6 years old. "Black" as he was called, died just about a year or so ago. Hugh is 46 years old.. can you imagine?? Back to "Frog"... Jack came around the side of the house like he always did, one day with a frog hanging out of his mouth by the leg, same ol, same ol, and I took it, and put it in the pond! This frog stuck around, and we saw him often. When it got cold over the winter, I did not clean out the pond, but let it go "yucky" green, so I wouldn't disturb him. I didn't want to dump the pond, and the frog get too cold, and go off somewhere and die! The weekend before Easter, you may recall I did lots of sprucing up in the yard, including cleaning out the pond. John wants me to drop a chlorine tablet into the water to keep it clear, but I'm afraid if I do that, the frog will die for sure! Can't have that! This morning, as I went into Daniel's bedroom to open the blinds, and check on my hummingbird feeder, I peeped out, and saw him! Mr.Frog was sunning himself! Here he is for you to enjoy, hopefully as much as I enjoy him!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What a busy day, yet I had plenty of time to sit and socialize!

Wow! Today was a busy day! The kids and I left the house at 8:20 this morning, and headed to the church, for one last rehearsal with Kathy B. She and I wanted to have one more session together under our belt before playing our "Behold the Lamb" piece for the procession of the Paschal candle tomorrow morning at church. It's such a beautiful piece, I hope I play it justice! It has potential for a few "squawkers" if you know what I mean, but when we've played it well, it is so beautiful! It's one of those intense pieces that makes you want to cry while playing with it, because it is such an emotional piece of music. It's a little sad that the congregation won't know the words to this piece while we're playing it.. "Behold the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world! For sinners crucified, O Holy sacrifice; behold the Lamb of God. Crown Him, Crown Him,Worthy is the Lamb! Praises! Praises! Heavn' and earth resound!" So beautiful, so much so, I know there is no way I would ever be able to sing these words, as I would be all choked up and couldn't hardly speak through the tears! Beautiful!

Kathy and I finished up our practice around 10am, just in time for my kids to join the Little Lambs "play group" of infants through 4 years old. They heard the story of Easter, and enjoyed Easter "grave" cookies and made crosses out of pretzels and peanut butter, then enjoyed time on the playground together. I wasn't going to stick around, but decided in the end to stay and support the group, and allow my children to hear the story of Easter yet one more time! I'm so glad we stayed!

On our way home, we stopped for chinese food, then finished up working in the yard. As I was loading yet more mulch, my neighbor came over with my garden fork and asked if I'd been looking for it yesterday. (I spent most of the day yesterday pulling weeds from the side flower beds and mailbox bed, and putting down mulch.) As a matter of fact, I told him, I'd looked in every corner of my garage and yard and finally gave up, figuring John had put it somewhere. Somewhere indeed! Karl said John let him borrow it last week when he was unloading his new load of mulch! Around 3pm I finished up in the yard, however I still have some mulch in the back of the truck, that I seriously have to do something with in the next day or two. It's just that it was so hot by the time I was done this afternoon, and I was very tired! BooHoo! I came inside and gave Annie a bath, and while doing that, my friend and neighbor Jenny came knocking on the garage door! See, a true friend enters through the garage door, and is always welcome in my home! (To my knowledge, she only chuckles at the mess.) Oddly enough, I thought I had cleaned my house yesterday, until I had my friend inside my house, and suddenly I realized yet again, it was a mess! Sorry Jenny! She said she'd knocked on the front door, but nobody heard, and she knew I'd hear at the garage door! I happened to be right there by the door. She came in, and we chatted while I continued bathing the dog. When I was done, we ended ended up going outside and sitting on the driveway. After a while, her husband Brad came down and joined us, and eventually we put up the dining canopy we use for camping, to keep the sun off of us while we socialized. John came home, and realized there was no way his work truck was going to fit on the driveway with the canopy there, so he put the truck on the side. At some point, between beer refills, soda refills, etc, Jenny brought down a Mike's Lemonade for both of us, and that was about the end of any decision for dinner... so I said, Pizza?? John and I, and the kids, enjoyed "dinner" with Jenny, Brad and Caleb on the driveway, under the canopy, eating delivery pizza, and yet it was the most enjoyable meal one could ask for. Friends and family, enjoying a meal together during this Easter season. The dogs were out on the driveway with us, the kids running around, having a good time, and us enjoying each others' company. Nothing fancy, just good times! The best times! (Jenny, why did neither of us take a picture??)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Back home a day early...

What a long drive it is all the way up to Augusta, Georgia! I have to say, the kids were exceptionally good! I am so thankful for the invention of portable dvd players! We have a dual monitor player for the truck, and it detaches and plugs into a regular power plug as well. I purchased three new dvd's just for this trip, 2 Scooby Doos and the newest Bolt. Those kept the kids pretty well entertained. One of the Scooby Doo movies was a double feature.. Yay! I'm beginning to wonder if other people have found Google directions to be "off" lately as well. It was beginning to be not unusual to hear Daniel as the question.. "Did you miss the turn?" We were within an hour of our destination when our directions were getting sketchy at best. We finally stopped at a truck stop and bought a Georgia map! The most questionable direction was turning onto GA-1 S, when we were in fact going North! The turn was correct, but the direction was not, so we decided we needed a map to confirm which way to go! We were in such "backcountry" we had no idea what was what! John and I both commented, the area was absolutely beautiful in full bloom, and must be equally as beautiful during the fall when the leaves turn color. We weren't in the mountains, but there were actually hills and valleys; not anything like we have here in Florida!

We left home around 11:00am Saturday morning, and arrived at our campsite around 5:30 pm. It took us quite a while to set up camp, and while John and I did that, the kids enjoyed looking at the lake that was right at the bottom of our site. Don't worry, it was a shallow cove, and it didn't appear to have any drop offs. Saturday evening was absolutely beautiful! John and I enjoyed sitting by the fire that night, enjoying the moonlight and the lake. Sunday morning, we awoke with a surprising "HONK". Not a car, but Canadian geese! There were several geese that inhabit this lake, and they come into the coves early in the mornings. I can now testify, nothing breaks through early morning silence like the sounds of half a dozen geese honking like roosters on the lake just outside a pop up. It certainly upset the dogs! The kids sat up with half a fright.. "what was that!?" After that, Hanna enjoyed pointing out the "swans" as she called them everywhere we went, and every time we heard them! Sunday morning we went down to the lake and tried our hand at fishing, but no luck! We found out after and early dinner that evening was the time to catch the fish on this lake. Just ask Daniel, he'll tell you all about it! Hanna on the other hand was very unhappy that she did not catch anything. The dogs enjoyed swimming in the lake, especially Callie. At one point, she was laying down in the water, watching the kids fish. Hmm, could this have anything to do with Hanna's lack of success fishing? Probably, but don't tell her! In the early morning, Hanna and I went and rented a canoe and started paddling across the lake. We had the canoe for 24 hours, so we paddled up to our campsite, and later Daniel decded maybe he wanted to go out in a canoe after all! John and I walked it back Monday morning. (State parks own light aluminum canoes, easily transported over head.)

Sunday evening was every bit as beautiful as the night before. The kids made a new friend after fishing, of course, and he came over and enjoyed roasting marshmallows with us. He was camping with his parents and one of his brothers just across the lake from us. Isaac was the youngest of five children, and was happy to find kids his own age to play with! We were happy to have a playmate for our children to be a neutral party. He was the cutest little kids! Not that it matters, but I think he was adopted. He seemed to be of an Arab descent, and neither of his parents did. I was watching him with my kids, and thinking how incredibly cute he was, when I almost laughed out loud. His appearance very much resembled the face of the "young" Grinch in the non-animated version, but of course he was brown, not green. I certainly do not intend to insult the little guy, I simply noticed how darn cute he was!

Around 2am, Monday morning it started raining, then a little thunder and lightning, and finally around 4am the wind started blowing through. Monday became a very windy day. So windy, in fact, we ended up taking down our dining fly, as the wind pulled up the stakes at one point. During the day Monday, Daniel was complaining of stomach cramps, and was plagued by lower intestinal "bug" symptoms. Being the little guy that he is, he misunderstood a few "signs" of troubles ahead, and we ran out of clean underwear for him! Thankfully, as is almost always the case, there was a Wal-Mart close by, and I was able to buy him a few more pair! We went for a hike, not realizing the severity of Daniel's symptoms, and I was forced to introduce Daniel to the "other side" of a log! He had cramps badly, and stated "I need to go potty!" So, having no other choice, I showed him how he could sit on a log and take care of "nature" as it were! It took him a while to be comfortable with the situation, but finally he managed! He thought it was pretty funny later on. That evening, John and I decided it was too windy to sit outside with a fire, and it was pretty chilly as well. We ended up laying on the bed with the kids and we all watched one of the Scooby Doo movies, and then Bolt. I think the kids enjoyed us laying there with them.

Tuesday morning, after laying in bed all night listening to the wind, Daniel broke the silence with a panicked.. "Mommy, I threw up!" Okay, that will get a mom out of bed pretty quick! Thankfully, since his tummy was a little off the day before, his stomach was empty, except for water. Not much mess to clean up. Plus, he sleeps with a fleece blanket. It was easily rolled up and put into a plastic bag! Daniel's color was very bad, and the weather didn't seem like it was going to improve much. John and I quickly came to the agreement that we didn't want to be couped up with a sick little kid inside the camper all day, only to run the risk of one of us becoming ill as well, and having to drive home the six hours today. We opted to pack up then, and hit the road.

It was very difficult packing around a sick little kid laying on the camper bed. Usually, I send them outside to play, while I pack up inside, and John packs up outside the camper. This time, since it was cold and he was so sick, he laid on the bed watching a movie (yep, Bolt again!) and eventually fell asleep. When I was finally ready to close everything up, I moved him and is sleeping bag and bucket to the truck. To no surprise, as soon as I moved him, he threw up again! During all the packing up, since it was cold, Hanna sat inside the truck listening to my Celtic Woman cd. Eventually, she too fell asleep! One last thing! If you recall, the vet recommended Bonine for Annie, and also prescribed sedatives for the trip! I'm happy to say, the combination worked very well for her, and she slept like baby for the road trip!

Friday, April 3, 2009

So much to do, so little time...

So, for starters, I have to tell you, the Dell man said this model of laptop has a tendency to "fry" the graphics card, aka NVIDIA card, and it was obvious to him that it had definitely gotten overheated. He replaced my motherboard! If he had come at a more opportune time, I might have tried picking his brain about my Dell pc as well, but the house was in pure chaos mode at the time! He replaced it, and it seems to be running smoothly!

Comcast said the issues with the phones were a "bad node" once again in the neighborhood. Apparently several people in this area called and complained, and all said the same complaints and that this had been going on for months. Guess we all got mad at the same time! I think that has been fixed. I didn't use the phone much today, as I was busy trying to get as much done with my client files as I could before turning them over to a trusty co-worker. I do not generally like turning over an import in the middle of the process, since we all work slightly different. I have to trust she will do a good job. She is, afterall, the one person I go to when things to "south" and I need advice on the job!

I have LOTS of packing to do yet! I have my boxes for "dry" good sitting on the dining room table, partially packed. Tomorrow morning, I'll pack up all the food into the coolers and fridge in the camper. Oh yeah, don't forget the worms too! *wink* Have to pack clothes, fishing rods, electric blanket! The weather forecast for Augusta shows temperatures dropping down to 31 degrees Monday and Tuesday mornings, with the high on Tuesday only reaching 55 degrees. Yikes! Electric blanket AND space heater! John asked me last night, why exactly we insisted on the a/c unit on the camper, when in the six months we've had it, we've only used it one time! I'm sure by June and July we'll remember quite vividly why!

I took Annie to the vet yesterday for her boosters (vaccinations) and discussed our success, or not so much, with Bonine, the motion sickness medication. She gave me a prescription for sedatives (for the dog!) to assist with the six hour drive up to Appling, Ga. Oh, shoot! I just realized John and I discussed the possibility of purchasing a sweater for Annie, just in case, the little dog that she is, she doesn't adjust well to the cold temperatures! Maybe I'll go out quick in the morning for that.. if I could even find them this time of year in Florida!

I bought two new Scooby Doo movies and the newest "Bolt" movie for the kids, hoping this will help with our ride tomorrow. I also have bubbles, a paddle game with velcro paddles and a tennis ball, horse shoes, bean bags, and a travel game of Chutes and Ladders. We're also taking fishing rods and kites! Hanna wants to also bring along her bike, and take off the training wheels. John says, "we'll see how well we do with packing!" I guess it's a good thing I agreed to rent canoes, rather than hauling ours along! I could just see John's face if I insisted on taking it! Oooh, not good!

Okay, enough chit chat, I've got stuff to pack! I hope everyone has a great week, and I'll report back on Thursday morning!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Forgive me, I have been struggling with technical issues!

Man! I have had such issues in the last few days! Friday, my computer went down three times during the day. Ran diagnostics on it, AND anti-virus stuff.. nothing came up. It crashed again Saturday, and then four time yesterday. My "IT" guy asked me to contact Dell and let them look at it. The first time I called, I could barely understand the woman. She had me make some changes, and I didn't think it would work, but since I don't have the Dell "que cards" I trusted her judgement. That worked for about an hour! Then, back on the phone to Dell. This time, I spoke to a woman with a beautiful name, "Gemma" in the Phillipines, and she sounded like she actually knew what she was doing! We were on the phone for an hour, and she connected to my computer and tweeked something called "virtual memory". So far, so good!

In the afternoon, I was experiencing my typical phone issues, and was so frustrated, I connected with a Comcast chat person. She was a very nice lady, and eventually reset my modem. I didn't think that would work, but again, I'm not a tech for them.. so I have to trust their judgment. This morning, I could not connect to the internet. I reset my modem, did a hard restart on the modem and router, and rebooted my computer.. and nothing. I was speaking on the phone with a coworker and she informed me again that my phone was cutting in and out! Ugh! So, I called up Comcast, very frustrated and told the lady, either get it fixed or I'm switching carriers! She reset my modem on her end, and that worked with the internet. The phone is still screwy, so they're coming tomorrow afternoon to replace the modem! I seriously hope this works!

So, I'm trying to catch up with things, and multi-task to a level I've never known possible, as I prepare for next week's big trip up to Georgia, and being away from my clients in the middle imports! Pray for me!

Friday, March 27, 2009

A comical day... you either laugh or cry!

This morning, I hurried home to prepare for my 10am meeting with a client. Shortly before my meeting, my aunt called me, responding to a message I sent her last night on Facebook. I said, "Did you call me??" She called me this morning, yes, I called you, but spoke to John. We'll be out this afternoon to look at the old truck. Uhh, what? We? What? John had spoken with Aunt Ginny's husband, Bud while we were camping about wanting to possibly just sell it, and we've been discussing it since then. Bud's brother was looking for a diesel truck, and was interested in seeing ours. The "we" part was to be my Aunt Virginia (aka Aunt Ginny) her husband Bud, his brother (I don't remember his name!) and his wife, Sue (her's was easy to remember!). Okay, so plan on company this afternoon, around 3pm. Okay. Gotta go, meeting at 10am!

I joined my meeting session, saw that my client was connected, so dialed into the conference number. "Hello" I said. Nothing. "Helloooo" I said again.. still, nothing. Hung up, dialed in again... again the message said I was the second caller. "Hellooo, Hellooooo", I said again. I started thinking, either my phone is screwed up again (Comcast, not my actual phone) or there's a problem with their phone line. Hmm. I shared my whiteboard screen, and began writing a note "Either you are not in the conference room, or there is a problem with the phone line. Please dial the number again." About this time, I heard my client pop into the call with laughter, "Suzanne, can you hear me now?" I said, "I hear you, Nancy! How are you?" She laughed, and said she had the phone on mute. A few minutes passed, while we waited for the rest of her staff, and she explained, just as yesterday, they were having issues with the projector that projects the laptop to the "big screen". Their IT guy was off today, and no one could figure it out. They played with it a bit, and I offered my suggestions that should make the projector work with the laptop, according to my limited knowledge of such things. Finally, they said, "we'll move to another room, and call you back!" Okay, we waited for that. Half way through our meeting, once we got started, they said my phone was acting up, and I was cutting in and out. Grr, that Comcast! I'm seriously considering switching my service to At&T. I was dialing into the conference call on my cell phone, and my laptop went to a blue screen of death! Ugh! No, anything but that! Not Now! Not again! No! I powered down my computer, and while it was rebooting, and I was connecting to my call, by the way, my client could hear me on the speaker phone of my office line off and on... Finally, computer came up, but now the cell phone was being pulled from my hands...why? Sheesh! The moose under the desk! Jenny knows exactly what I'm talking about! If she's reading this, she's probably chuckling! Callie, my dear sweet 90 pound moose of a dog, insists on cramming her big ol' self underneath my desk, and this morning, managed to lay down on the cord to my cell phone, which I had to have plugged in to maintain power on a conference call that may extend an hour or more! Computer still rebooting, I'm arguing with the beast under the desk to get out of there, and my clients are bursting with laughter over this entire thing.

All I can say about the whole thing is that I am so glad they found it humorous, as I acknowledge it is bordering on unprofessional! They're sitting in an office environment, and I'm trying to conduct this training session while arguing with a DOG that won't move off of my phone cord! Whatever!

Finally finished up my meeting shortly after 12:30, then IM'd my IT guy, and told him my computer had shut itself off three times today! He had me running several diagnostics on my computer, that took well over an hour, so while my computer did all this, I hurriedly ran the vacuum in the living room, and picked up the mess out there. I didn't want people I'd never met before (remember, Bud's brother and wife) coming to the house and seeing a mess. I walked into the kids' bathroom, which is also the "guest bathroom". A mess! Had to clean that quick too! Came back to the computer.. still running diagnostics. Mark suggested after 2 hours of diagnostics with no problems showing up, that I turn off a system setting to automatically shut down, if the second monitor "wigs out". I'm hoping that is the solution. If not, I'll be chatting it up again with Mark on Monday!

The good news is, Bud's brother liked the truck, and they bought it from us. This is the same truck that has been sitting in the backyard since John tried driving it out to the campground at New Year's and had to return home with it. Oh, I forgot to mention, not only did John not tell me they were coming today, but he didn't check to see if it would start. I checked it around 1:30, it did not. I had to hook the battery up to the charger to make sure it would make an effort to "turn over". Bud used to own a school bus company, and he and his boys ran the shop to maintain the buses, and the boys build and maintain stock cars and race them, so the truck is in good hands! He got a good deal.. a 1991 Dodge 250 Turbo Diesel with only 56000 original miles! I gained a good part of my backyard again!

Daniel is spending the weekend with Grandma, so it will be just us tomorrow with Hanna. John mentioned taking her training wheels off of her bike again, and she's looking forward to that. I'd like to take her to see if we can find some white sandals for Easter, and I absolutely have to stock up on everything on my list for our camping trip to Mistletoe in Georgia next weekend!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Make a Joyful Noise unto the Lord!!!

Oh, I just gotta say it! I went over to Victory (our "sister" church at the beach) and played with the choir. The music director over there asked me MONTHS ago, if I would like to play my viola with them sometime, and I finally committed to doing it. I'm so glad I did! I went over there this evening during their choir practice time, and enjoyed it so much! Rachel and I "sealed the deal" for this coming Sunday probably a month and a half ago! Unfortunately, the Pastor at "our" church changed things around and the choir is going to sing this weekend. I'm sorry I'll miss this, but I did make a commitment to Rachel and Victory! I have been put under scrutiny by some, being told that our church needs the "numbers" by our core members, etc, and it's wrong to go over there. Frankly, I feel that it is serving the Lord in the manner I do best! Playing Music! What beautiful music tonight! Rachel asked me if I could stay for the entire choir practice, so I did. Oh how I enjoy being with them over there! Rachel is such a wonderful musician who knows so much about the Lutheran Church. She should! I believe her father is a pastor, and she went to Lutheran Prep School AND I think Martin Luther College. She has a degree in Parish Music! Wow! I'm just so impressed with her, and I so wish I could play with her all the time. But.. my loyalties lie with my own church, and that's where I must stay... but I can come over an play sometimes, can't I??

They went over the songs they've been working on for the upcoming Lent & Easter holidays, as well as a few others that are good "anytime stand-byes". I sang with Anne, the Pastor's wife, and another lady, Bonnie (my new friend), who are both altos.

There is nothing more edifying for me, than making music unto the Lord! The church's acoustics helps a lot too, and the Baby Grande piano, and the musicians. I got there early and got to watch their hand bell practice. I'm so jealous! I've always wanted to play hand bells! Anyway, my point was, I felt so alive when I left there! The music we played for God was so beautiful, and so moving. I had to laugh; during one of the pieces, Bonnie said she enjoyed it so much, it made her want to stand up and sway! To those that aren't Lutherans you're probably wondering what the big deal is. Why is that funny?? Lutherans are right next to catholics when it comes to rigidity in church. Swaying? Oh my, that would be like clapping or raising your hands in there air! The roof might collapse! Haha! I'm kind of kidding! If you're a WELS, you know what I mean!

I think I'm rambling! It's getting very late, and I still need to go take a shower before I go to bed. I just wanted to say, I had such a great time playing with them this evening, playing music for my Lord and Savior! I'm playing Sunday pre & post service, and during the service on one choir hymn.

Motherhood has it's moments...

My friend Jenny sent this to me in an email, and had me laughing so hard, I was crying. As Kim says, I had tears running down my legs... but almost more than tears! LOL!


Subject: A 3-year-old tells all from his mother's restroom stall.

By Shannon Popkin

My little guy, Cade, is quite a talker. He loves to communicate and does it quite well. He talks to people constantly, whether we are in the library, the grocery store or at a drive-thru window. People often comment on how clearly he speaks for a just-turned-3-year-old. And you never have to ask him to turn up the volume. It's always fully cranked. There have been several embarrassing times that I've wished the meaning of his words would have been masked by a
not-so-audible voice, but never have I wished this more than last week at Costco.

Halfway, through our shopping trip, nature called, so I took Cade with me into the restroom. If you'd been one of the ladies in the restroom that evening, this is what you would have heard coming from the second to the last stall:

''Mommy, are you gonna go potty?

Oh! Why are you putting toiwet paper on the potty, Mommy?

Oh! You gonna sit down on da toiwet paper now?

Mommy, what are you doing?

Mommy, are you gonna go stinkies on the potty?''

At this point I started mentally counting how many women had been in the bathroom when I walked in. Several stalls were full ... 4? 5? Maybe we could wait until they all left before I had to make my debut out of this stall and reveal my identity.

Cade continued: ''Mommy, you ARE going stinkies aren't you?

Oh, dats a good girl, Mommy!

Are you gonna get some candy for going stinkies on the potty?

Let me see doze stinkies, Mommy! Oh ... Mommy!

I'm trying to see In dere.

Oh! I see dem.

Dat is a very good girl, Mommy.
You are gonna get some candy!''

I heard a few faint chuckles coming from the stalls on either side of me.
Where is a screaming new born when you need her? Good grief. This was really getting embarrassing. I was definitely waiting a long time before exiting. Trying to divert him, I said, ''Why don't you look in Mommy's purse and see if you can find some candy. We'll both have some!''

''No, I'm trying to see doze stinkies"

"Oh! Mommy!'' He started to gag at this point.

''Uh - oh, Mommy. I fink I'm gonna frow up.

Mommy, doze stinkies are making me frow up!!

Dat is so gross!!''

As the gags became louder, so did the chuckles outside my stall.. I quickly flushed the toilet in hopes of changing the subject. I began to reason with
myself: OK. There are four other toilets. If I count four flushes, I can be reasonably assured that those who overheard this embarrassing monologue will be long gone.

''Mommy! Would you get off the potty, now? I want you to be done going stinkies! Get up! Get up!''
He grunted as he tried to pull me off Now I could hear full-blown laughter. I bent down to count the feet outside my door.

''Oh, are you wooking under dere, Mommy?
You wooking under da door? What were you wooking at? Mommy?
You wooking at the wady's feet?''

More laughter. I stood inside the locked door and tried to assess the situation.

''Mommy, it's time to wash our hands, now. We have to go out now, Mommy.''

He started pounding on the door. ''Mommy, don't you want to wash your hands? I want to go out!!''

I saw that my wait 'em out' plan was unraveling. I sheepishly opened the door, and found standing outside my stall, twenty to thirty ladies crowded around the stall, all smiling and starting to applaud. My first thought was complete embarrassment, then I thought, where's the fine print on the 'motherhood contract' where I signed away every bit of my dignity and privacy? But as my little boy gave me a big, cheeky grin while he rubbed bubbly soap between his chubby little hands, I thought, I'd sign it all away again, just to be known as Mommy to this little fellow.

(Shannon Popkin is a freelance writer and mother of three She lives with her family in Grand Rapids , Michigan , where she no longer uses public restrooms)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A quick but HUGE thanks to Jenny!

I have to take the time before going to bed, to thank my very dear friend and neighbor Jenny! Thank you, Jenny! Thank you for picking up Hanna for me today, when I spent my afternoon at the ER with Daniel.

She told me a funny story on the way home over the phone. I had called the school before going to pick up Daniel, and this time I spoke to the office assistant, instead of the secretary, and our friend Leanne. I didn't know this girl, Teresa. I knew without a doubt, Leanne would get the message to Hanna, but Teresa? I hope so! Leanne is our friend Hughey's wife. I left message for Hanna's teacher to please let her know Miss Jenny would be taking her home. Jenny pulled up in parent pick up, and called to her son. She motioned to Hanna to get in the car. Hanna stood there, insisting, "I'm not going home with you today." Well, of course this caused a slight alarm with the teacher's overseeing the parent pickup. Should we send her with this lady, or not?? It makes me laugh to think about it as I type it! Jenny explained to the teacher, Hanna's mother called up at the school and left a message that I'd be picking her up. Her brother is in the Emergency Room! Hanna finally got in the car. Jenny asked, "Did you get the message that I'd picking you up?" Hanna said, "Oh yeah, but I forgot!" Hanna!

If only Jenny would actually eat all that chocolate in her pantry, I could show my appreciation to her and buy her some more... apparently a woman can have too much chocolate! Hmm... weird! I think she's also a fan of Mike's Hard Lemonade... right?? I'll make it up to her! I owe her big!

If one's life can be measure in the friends they can count on, I'd say I have a very good life! Ya know, she hardly ever asks favors of me! I have a great friend!

2nd times a charm???

I guess I spoke too soon when I said Daniel's arm was not broken. This morning, I was in the middle of a training session when the preschool called letting me know Daniel had fallen on his arm and seemed to be hurting a lot! I asked if I needed to come immediately, or if they wanted to see if he got better with ice. I explained I was in the middle of a training session, and had about 45 minutes to go, and the director said she'd ice his arm, and I could call back when I was finished. I called at noon, and she told me he did not eat lunch, and he was sitting,reading a book, but rather pale. When he tried to cut out his shamrock he couldn't hold the scissors without crying.

At this point, I figured if it wasn't broken yesterday, it was most likely broken today. I went and picked him up, and took him straight to the ER. Our doctor's office closes from noon to 2pm, and I didn't want to play the same game today that we just played yesterday (an office visit, sent to xrays, then wait for results). If it was in fact broken, then we'd be sent to the ER anyway.

We walked through the "proper" ER, and found the guy at admin, and asked if we could go through Express Care. He said we could so we took the quicker route. Let's face it, ER is for people really sick and hurt.. we wanted the clinic side. It was a good choice. We were in and out in two and a half hours! Not bad! The doctor checked out Daniel's arm, and didn't think it was broken, but said he'd take four xrays just to be sure. He returned after awhile, and said with a surprised look on his face, "He's got a fracture." A nurse put on a fiberglass splint and wrapped it up good, and they gave us instructions until we get into Nemours on Monday for the permanent cast. Apparently it's protocol to wait 4-7 days for swelling to go down before putting on the "real" cast. John gets the privilege of taking him Monday morning to Nemours, since he switched his days off this week from Friday to Monday! Lucky him! I've done my time two days in a row!

We found out this evening the bags the newspapers are delivered in fit nicely over his arm, held in place by a ponytail holder!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The space shuttle was a success!

For those of you that don't live in Florida, here's a shot of the shuttle as it took off last night. Such an awesome view! It wasn't that dark outside, the exposure is just a little off. I don't know if I've ever seen a launch so clearly. You could see the bright fire trail, and then when the rocket boosters separated, you could see both of them clearly, and finally just the shuttle as it continued out into the atmosphere! Awesome! The picture is courtesy of a friend's photo off of Facebook. Thanks Amy!

Yesterday afternoon, late in the day, Daniel was being himself, standing on a chair on the back porch, when he tipped off the edge of the chair. I'm not sure how is arm hit, if he braced himself, or if he hit the chair, or hit the cement floor on the back porch, but he managed to hurt himself pretty good. I immediately grabbed him and was ready to head to the emergency room, but John wanted to look at it, and evaluate it. Being that John has had more broken bones than he can count, I trusted his judgement that it wasn't obviously broken. We iced Daniel's arm, and gave him some Tylenol for the pain. This morning, when he woke up, he complained immediately that his arm hurt, so I knew we had to make an appointment with the doctor. When I asked him where it hurt, he told me.. "Where my Pain is!" Oh, okay, that clears it up, thanks Daniel! The good news, after an office visit and x-rays at the imaging center, no break! So our orders are to ice it a few times a day, and give him Motrin for the pain. (Motrin is a better anti-inflammatory.)

Our newest family addition, Annie is doing well. She's very busy! This morning, while I conducted a live meeting, I looked down under my desk to see pieces of the cord from the back of my PC to the Keyboard. Yes, I said pieces. Puppies are so much fun! When Callie was a puppy she chewed through a mouse cord. Now I have a wireless mouse! This is my personal PC, not my work laptop, so I'm not as worried as I would be if it were my employer's equipment! The PC doesn't seem to be wireless compatible, or I'd get a wireless keyboard/mouse combo. I tried a mouse once before on it, and it didn't work. By the end of my meeting, I had two pairs of shoes and a pair of socks, and lots of other small things on the top of my desk out of harms way! Guess it's time to put stuff away!

We have found Annie to be a quick learner. Her previous owners allowed her and all her pack to sit with them on the furniture. That is not acceptable in our house. She's learned in a day and half, when I say "Annie get down", she gets down! She seems to have grasped the idea of going outside to potty, rather than in the house. Again, previous owners didn't seem to be too bothered with animals using the bathroom in their home. The smell made that quite clear as I stepped in their house. I'm sure we'll have a few accidents here and there, but I'm not too worried about her. She's a quick study! I took her to the vet's this afternoon to get her shots, and checked out. Besides the car-sickness on the way, she did well. The vet warned me, yes, they're quick learners, but they're also a stubborn breed, she said that with a bit of a wicked grin on her face! I'm glad I like our vet!

The newest little Chappell seems to be adapting well. Callie loves running around with her, although being a Jack Russell, she can run circles around Callie! John kicked Callie's soccer ball around for her this evening, and as Callie ran, caught and retrieved, Annie was happy to run with Callie, and run she did! Belle doesn't seem to care much either way, but as the puppy explored our male cat, Mater, Annie sniffed and ran once, went back for a second sniff, and the cat chased her through the yard. She didn't mind, it was a fun chase!

I was wondering this afternoon, if whomever said little girls were quiet, ever had a pack of 6 little girls in their home at once. Hanna's friends came down to the house this afternoon, and the noise was unbelievable. I finally laid down the law that inside voices were to be used, or they were going outside. I also stated that if I saw anymore closed or locked doors, OR had to remind them about the noise leve again, everyone was going home! The played outside for awhile, then the pack moved on to another's home, my children tagging along. I had about 30 minutes of a quiet home before John came home from work.

My friend Tarren jokingly questioned my judgement about adding yet another animal, let alone a puppy! I will say this to all that wonder, a happy home is a noisy home. It is the sound of laughter and imagination of children. I love watching my children with our animals. They love them just as much as I do. I love the belly laugh of Daniel as he sits on the floor with a puppy licking his ears. I love to sit and watch my daughter half asleep on the couch, with the cat laying there beside her, as she strokes the cats tail. (yes, the cats are allowed on the furniture. Like a cat would ever listen to a human!) My life is chaotic, and loud, and very eventful! I wouldn't have it any other way!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What a day!

Today, I started off my day with a two hour drive to Ocala, with friends from church, as well as my mother in law, Judy. We went to a sister church, Abiding Hope, to attend the Lutheran Women's Missionary Society Spring Rally! It was such a nice rally. The guest speaker today was Pastor Zieman, who spoke on our synod's efforts (especially his) in the middle east. Pastor Zieman is our military services rep for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other places. I will write much more about that later! It was a very moving presentation! I also had a great time with the ladies, even if Janet did make fun of the yard in Waldo with the stuff on the fence!

When I returned home I had plans to go see some puppies! I saw them, and came home with one. It was so hard to chose which puppy I wanted to bring home. They had a skinny little girl who was very very active, and they had a short, chunky little girl, who was a little more subdued, and could barely get up on their sofa! That's the dog for me! The "calm" one. I say "calm", because she is a rough coat, Jack Russell. JR's are not calm dogs, and require strict discipline and rules, and lots of exercise! She is so sweet. Hanna wants to call her Annie. The other choices she offered up, were Anna and Barbie. So far, we're sticking with Annie, but John's not thrilled with the name. I'm leaning maybe towards Peanut! Callie is taking well to her, and she is such a little bundle of joy. She will be quite the little camper, no doubt!

Like anything exciting in our lives, it came with a hiccup! My precious new furr baby gets car sick! It didn't take long for her mouth to start watering like crazy in the car. At first, I thought she was just thirsty, because she was panting quite a bit when we left her old house. The owner had the puppies running around like mad, chasing a laser pointer! There's a sight.. three little JR puppies, chasing a red light around on the floor. Half way down Blanding Blvd, she threw up on the seat next to me. Eww! Her first impression to John was not too good! I'm hoping tomorrow makes a better day! I have an crate for her to spend the night next to Callie, and I'm hoping Callie will help calm her throught the night. I'll let you know tomorrow how our night goes!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I just wanna know why??

Why is it, men can be rude and it's acceptable? A man can scratch himself in public, and nobody points, OMG! Did you see what he did? He can adjust himself, he can belch, he can pass gas, it's all no big deal, but let a woman do it, and "Shut Up! She did not!" John was not able to make it to church with the kids and I, since he didn't get home utnil 6:30, so I filled him in on all my happenings when I got home. I was telling him about some funny little happening before or after church.. a small disagreement, that I commented to my friend Kim, Are we going to argue about "this"? She smiled, and nodded. Yup! I was telling John about someone in my day, that has a very strong body odor, and all my efforts to get away from them. He said, "Now see, that's where women got it all wrong! If it were me, I'd say, Buddy you stink!" I guess that's where Daniel gets it from.. his testosterone genes!

Why is it acceptable for men to be this way? Should we maybe take note of how they do these things? Should we be able to say, "honey, you smell bad!"?? I just wanna know why...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

One day, they will be out on display....

One day, I hope to get my office fixed up all nice, just for me. When that day comes, I will then have out on display the violin and mandolin I have that are my great grandmother's. The violin is in an old, stinky wood box, and doesn't sound very nice. Could be that it is so old, and when I received it 25 years ago from my great aunt, the violin was in two pieces. I took it to a lithier (violin maker aka gugenmacher) who put it together for me, but I do believe she did a very poor job. The violin is dated inside 1797. I had one lithier tell me that it is most likely the standard Sears & Roebuck violin that was put out in the early 1900's. Well, I'm inclined personally to believe that it truly was made in 1797, being that my grandfather was born in the early 1900's, it belonged to his mother who was most likely born in the late 1800's.. and I don't know if she received it new or passed down from another family member. I wish I had that information. My Great Aunt Teresa Sumner gave me this violin and the mandolin along with a picture of her in elementary school holding the mandolin with her music class. It was one of those old timey pictures that was brown and there were two pictures side by side that were viewed through a picture viewer. Aunt Teresa was a music teacher, and did all that she could to encourage my musical talent. She often sent me her music programs from her seasonal visits to hear the Chicago Symphony. I enjoyed receiving them, along with her notes.

My friend Kim questioned me in an earlier post, do I have them out on display. No, not at this time. In high school and college, I used to have the mandolin displayed on the wall, held up by fishing line, with a flower arrangement woven into the strings. They make handles to display string instruments, and one day I hope to have a set, to display in my office the violin and the viola that I play. In high school, after I had the violin fixed, I often played it. One day, after I'd been playing severely out of tune, my teacher glared at me, and said.. "you've been playing that violin, haven't you?" One day, I'll have to stand them up side by side, and show the difference. The violin is about 4 inches shorter than the viola, and makes a difference where your fingers hit the strings. It becomes second nature to let your fingers go where they should to play, since a stringed instrument does not have any keys, so going back and forth tends to distort the natural placement.

One day, I will indeed have these two out on display for all the world (that that passes through my home, anyway) to see, and question where they came from!

The ticks seem to be abundant!

It amazes me that the child (Hanna) that can attract a mosquito from miles away, has gone without being affected by the ticks that have plagued the rest of our family from our weekend's adventures. Not sure what it is about her, but she seems to miss the ticks everytime! John took his shower last night, and found he too had been attacked by the little creatures! He had two on his waste, and one that I'm not allowed to mention. Let's just say, as I removed it, I nearly had tears running down my leg! Don't you dare tell him I told! I could have really gotten back at him for pinching me with those tweezers trying to get my tick! Too funny! My Aunt Virginia had just told us a similar story about a boy who needed his father's help removing a tick that had attached itself to his delicate region. It was a good laugh at John's expense. Since we seem to all be literally crawling with ticks, I called the vet's office this morning to see what I could use on the dog to kill any that might be on her, since I'll never find little ticks on a big black dog! They sold me a bottle of Frontline spray.

Last night on Facebook, one of Hanna's friend's mother who is one of my FB friends, wrote on my wall "Caroline said Hanna got bit by an alligator. There must be a good story there." That made me laugh! Hanna's stories really seem to grow. I asked her this morning, "Did you tell Caroline the alligator bit you?" She just grinned, and said, "I did!" I explained that even in good fun, it's a lie, and she shouldn't tell such stories. A few years ago, Hanna had a friend at our church's preschool named Anna. They were such good friends, and were only 3 days apart in age. Anna's mother approached me in the fellowship hall one Sunday and asked me if John was okay. I told her he was perfectly fine, and wondered what sparked the inquiry. Apparently, Anna had come home and at the dinner table told her parents that Hanna's Daddy got his head chopped off! I knew immediately where that came from, and it took me a few minutes to recover from laughter to tell her the story. The previous weekend, we had a snake in the back yard, that the dog had caught and so graciously brought to me and dropped it curled up on my feet. As it unraveled, I yelled for John to come out and get the thing! He came out, chased it down, and chopped the snake's head off with the shovel! I guess the story that Anna conveyed was that John cut his head off... short for... John cut the snakes head off. I thanked my friend Donna for the concern for John's well-being. Which, by the way, anyone that remembers Donna, she is expecting TWINS!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Some things are funny, some things just aren't...

I'll start with the funny! Last night, after putting the kids to bed, I realized I had not checked myself for ticks, as we always perform this routine when we return from camping. We found one on Daniel's leg Saturday night at the campground during his bath. Ask him about it, he'll be sure to tell you all about how Mommy pulled it off of him and squished it, then pushed it down the drain in the shower. I suspected I would find at least one tick on myself, as yesterday morning, I stopped two very large ones on their way up my legs! Eww! They remind me of a spider with revenge in mind! As I undressed for my shower, I found a little one. He'd attached himself to my waste just slightly towards my back, yet still on my side. You know, that spot that's really hard to get at for a moment, let alone an extended period of time. I tried to get him, but soon went into a muscle spasm. Okay, I had to put my pants back on and head out to the living room to ask for assistance from John. I fully realize how badly he needs new glasses at this point! He lost them last year, I believe down an elevator shaft?? Anway, I handed him the tweezers, and he found the tick. "Is this him or you?" he said, as he was pulling at my skin. I said.. "That's me! Grab the tick please!" This continued, I tried to assist, he swatted my hand, and finally I walked away and said "You're useless!" I went to the bathroom with the tweezers in hand and was determined to get that sucker, and finally I did! Squished him, and down the drain he went! Thankfully, he was the only one! I've left John to inspect himself, although I'm wondering if he'll be able to see them if he has any hitch-hikers!

This morning, I realized how very fortunate I am to have the family that I have. I was speaking to a teacher at Daniel's school who was telling me she'd be out this week because she and her husband have to go out of state to pick up his children. He has not seen his children in 10 years because his ex-wife ran off with them. The children have since been put in foster care, and are now looking to be put into a permanent home. I'm not sure exactly how these children have been in foster care off and on, and this is the first the father is finally hearing about his children, but they desperately need him now. This teacher is facing a personal challenge, bringing step children into her home that are aged 12 & 13 years old, and considered "special needs" children. These children do not know their father, and certainly do not know their step mother. She will be bringing these children into her home, to adapt to life with her children. I do not envy this woman's challenges ahead of her, and I pray that God will guide her to do the right thing, and support these children in the best way that she can. I wanted to cry for her, and tell her to be strong, and that God will guide her! I am so thankful for the life that I live! It makes me realize that what I consider to be major obstacles in my life, are not that big in the broad spectrum of life!