Thursday, December 31, 2009

A message for Uncle Fred

Greetings from Alabama! We are here for a couple of days to help Fred's parents celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary and to exchange Christmas gifts among the cousins. Fred sent special presents from Afghanistan for all the cousins:


They have a special message just for him:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Play Misty for me

I've written here before about Journey's End Animal Sanctuary, an animal shelter in DeLand that provides long-term care for all manner of animals who have been let down by their humans. My parents and sister and I chose not to exchange gifts this Christmas and to donate the money instead to Journey's End. Mom and Dad took their donation along with Jenny's the weekend before Christmas, but that's when Annabelle and I were back in Kentucky. Today is our last day in Florida, so we made a quick visit this afternoon to drop off our donation.

We saw only a few of the many animals who live at the shelter, but we got to give out plenty of ear scratches. One cat, Misty, took a particular liking to Mike. Each time he tried to stop petting her, she reached out and grabbed at his hand with her paw. Mom got choked up, and I thought it was because of all the sad stories. She told me though when we got home that it was Misty's sad story in particular and her reaction to Mike that got her: Misty's former owner was a young man who was murdered several years ago. There was nobody to take in Misty or her co-cat Buster, so they went to live at the shelter. Mike took this picture of Misty with his cell phone:



I'm thankful that there are people like Mrs. Thuot out there who do so much for helpless animals!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Room with a view

My dad made this really cool panorama of the living room/kitchen in our Christmas beach house:



I continue to fret over the blog changes. My current project is getting my list of favorite blogs the way I want it on the sidebar. With my old template, I was using Blogrolling.com, and that's what I have up for now. I liked having the little button added to my browser toolbar that would allow me to instantly add a new blog to the list. About a year ago or so though, they started putting an ad banner up across the top of the screen when you click through to a new blog, and that bugs me. I've contemplated using Google Reader to organize my links, but I hate having to copy and paste the link into Reader in order to subscribe. No toolbar button--REALLY, Google? I find that hard to believe.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Housekeeping

I've been tweaking a few things here at the ol' blog. Bear with me while I work out the kinks. I have upgraded my template in order to tidy up my archive links. I've also switched from Haloscan for my comment management to Blogger's system. Haloscan got bought out and was getting ready to start charging for their services. I've got a downloaded file of the old comments and hope the day will come when I can finally get them imported back into the blog.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The day after

We're back in DeLand now, and I can tell we are all having withdrawal from our ocean view.

I am still in the process of getting the holiday cards in the mail--need to take the international ones to the post office. But here is this year's creation:

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

We had a nice Christmas. Linked up with Fred via the webcam so he could watch the kids open their presents:




Grandma and Dave came over this afternoon for a visit. We worked on yesterday's leftovers and our 1500-piece puzzle. Hard to believe our time at the beach house is almost over! We are mostly packed up and need to be out by noon tomorrow. I hope we can get the puzzle finished by then!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve report

I haven't gotten much blogging done this week, so I thought I would take a moment and bring you up to date.

Tuesday

Tuesday was Mike's girlfriend's birthday, so we met up with Abby and her family in St. Augustine for a movie (Blindside--great feel-good movie!) and a delicious supper at The Columbia. After supper, we walked around the historic district and enjoyed the Christmas lights:



Annabelle made a donation to this young street performer:



Wednesday

We thought that yesterday was going to be our warmest day, so even though it was a little bit chilly, we ventured out to the beach for a little treasure hunting (not treasure finding):











We rescued some starfish and a snail:



and found a cute little crab:



My dad took this picture of Annabelle making an unsuccessful run from a freak wave:



Here are a couple of house pics. This is our house viewed from the beach:



And here is the house across the street:



Nice neighborhood, eh?

Thursday

Today was even warmer than yesterday. I took Mike to the (outdoor!) pool at the YMCA in Ormond Beach so he could get in some swim time. On the way home, I pulled off the road to take a couple of interesting holiday photos. Outside a bait shop:



And a very simple Christmas "tree":



Tomorrow we're keeping things relatively low-key, so we had our big Christmas dinner tonight. Dad used his timer to get this picture of family bliss and harmony:



Hee hee, just kidding:



Merry Christmas! I hope Santa is good to you!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Life's a beach

Annabelle and I arrived back in Florida last night and drove up to Flagler Beach to meet Mike, my parents, and Jenny and Jeff. My dad is borrowing a beach house from a friend of his, and let's just say it's not a shack. We spent the evening out shopping for groceries and then came home to wrap presents and drink rum punch. (Jeff mixes a mean rum punch!)

As it was dark when we arrived yesterday, I didn't get my first look at the view until this morning. I stepped out onto the deck a little while ago to snap a couple of pictures. This is MY kind of winter wonderland:





I wish Fred could be here!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The right choice

I'm glad that I brought Annabelle back up to Kentucky for Bruce's funeral today. Probably 25 to 30 kids from the drama group showed up to sing, and they sounded amazing. Not to go all "Little Drummer Boy" here, but I think it had to make an impression on Bruce's family to see how important he was to so many young people. I was touched to see how the kids comforted each other. We parents hung out on the sidelines while they cried together and hugged each other. That was what confirmed it for me that making the trip back up here was the right thing to do: Annabelle needed to be around others who are hurting in the same way she is.

After the service, we had a bite of lunch at home, and then she sat down to watch a movie. At around 4, I left to visit a friend, and she said she was going to take a nap. When I got home at 6, I woke her up so that she would be able to get back to sleep tonight. She was so out of it though that she thought it was 6 o'clock Monday morning. It took a few minutes to convince her that it was still Sunday night. This has been an exhausting few days!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Meet me in St. Louis?

You'll have to hurry though. We'll be here for another hour, and then it's off to Louisville. We are liking the St. Louis airport though--California Pizza Kitchen for lunch, free wi-fi, even a Starbucks:



LOL, we just saw the funniest thing on CNN. Check out Keyboard Cat:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Greetings from Florida!

Well, we made it to DeLand at around 4:30 this afternoon. There was a lot of rain along the way, but we still made pretty decent time. We stopped in Ocala to see a movie with one of Mike's friends. We saw Brothers--intense! Met with Grandma and Dave tonight for supper at Bellini's. I couldn't decide whether to go for the manicotti or the hot roast beef and cheese sandwich, so I ordered both and ate half of each. Yum!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Greetings from Cordele, GA!

Well, we made it over 500 miles today, leaving us just shy of 300 for tomorrow. Now we are all in bed with our laptops, enjoying the free wi-fi. We're hoping to stop in Ocala tomorrow afternoon to catch a movie with one of Mike's friends who recently moved there.

Annabelle and I are going to make a trip back home this weekend. It turns out that Bruce's funeral is on Sunday, and the kids from the theater group have been asked to sing. I can't imagine asking her to miss it, so she and I will fly up on Saturday and back on Monday, and then meet my family at the beach Monday afternoon.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Packing

Ah, the joys of getting ready to get out of town! Annabelle was supposed to have 2 finals tomorrow, but she went ahead and did them today, so now neither kid has to go in at all tomorrow. We will be able to get a head start on our drive to Florida, but only if I finish packing in a timely manner. Everything that is left to do will have to wait until the morning though.

Here's a cool picture of Mike (on the right) and his friend Harrison swimming the 200-yard IM at a swim meet back in November:



It was published in the post newspaper, so I emailed the reporter and asked for a copy for myself.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sad night

I don't feel very chatty this evening. The drama coach for Annabelle's theater group was killed in a car accident today. I feel sad not only for his family but for all the young people in the county who counted him a good friend and mentor.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Happy news

Fred got word today that his assignment to Fort Leavenworth has been approved. That was at the top of our wish list, so while it's not terribly sexy and exciting (like, say, Germany or Hawaii), we are very pleased. We think that this is the right spot for us for the next few years. Nice, stable job for Fred. Good school for Annabelle. Within a time zone or 2 from wherever Mike might wind up in college. And there's a Panera 20 miles away, so I'll be OK, too. :-)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

False advertising?

I usually ignore the ads that Facebook runs down the side of my page, but this one seems to be cropping up more and more often:



Is it just me or would a better caption be "Scholarships for Jesus"?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Swim meet

Man, today was super-long! I wanted to go to the swim meet in Bowling Green but didn't feel like driving (2 hours each way), so I went on the bus with the coaches and swimmers. That was great, but the bus left at 6 a.m., which is way early for me.

I'll try to get some video up tomorrow of the boys' 200 medley relay. They went 1:57.31, for a new school record!

Between the long hours and the extreme cold on the bus and extreme heat in the pool area, I'm zonked. We got home a couple hours ago, and I have just been sitting here playing Bejeweled Blitz. I need to get together the energy to button up the house and brush my teeth so I can go to bed.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Suzie Snowflake

December is just ripping right on by us. Yesterday was the final performance for Annabelle's Christmas show. I managed to get a picture of her in her "Suzie Snowflake" costume:



The kids have 4 days of final exams this next week, and then we are taking off for Florida.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Gone with the wind

Brrr . . . I thought I would blow away today!

I went yarn shopping in Louisville. Just about had a heart attack when I pulled up to my favorite knitting store and it was GONE. Turns out it had just moved a few miles down the road, so all's well that ends well. I ended up with some lovely red yarn for a sweater for moi. I knitted the swatch while Annabelle was in dance class tonight and am eager to get started for real.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Face to face

I think I'm in love. I spent a lot of time this afternoon messing around with Picasa, Google's free--FREE!--photo organizing software, and I am indeed in heaven. The main selling point to me is that Picasa seems to work very well in conjunction with my file management system. Elements, on the other hand, got its digital panties in a twist anytime I moved a file from one folder to another.

Picasa's face detection ability is also amazing. Elements 7 says, "Here's a face. Who is it?" Picasa says, "Here's a face, and I think it might be Annabelle." You click to accept or reject a suggestion, and it just gets smarter and smarter. Here is a screenshot from earlier this afternoon to show you a group of photos that Picasa pulled together as being of Annabelle:



Amazing, no? Long hair, short hair, yarn hair, glasses, no glasses, whatever. It does a remarkably good job of recognizing people.

It's also addictive. I meant to stop an hour ago. I'll never get any Bejeweled Blitz played at this rate.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Goals

I was updating my calendar this afternoon, and I realized that I have just over a month left until my next semester of classes starts up. I have really been looking forward to this break, but I want to make sure that I don't waste it. So I started thinking about what my priorities are for the month:
  • Enjoy Christmas without getting bogged down with the stress. I got a nice start on that tonight when Annabelle and I went to the John Hardin High School chorus's holiday concert. I need to make some more Russian tea and start addressing envelopes for my cards (I love doing my Christmas cards).
  • Work on organizing my photos. I think I have about decided that Picasa is the way to go for photo organization. I have 29,641 image files on my computer, so that is a lot of organizing. I also want to FINALLY organize my home videotapes so I can transfer all that to DVD.
  • Knit more. I am eager to start on a sweater project, but I want to finish up the socks I'm making first. Unfortunately I've been ignoring those socks for the better part of the past year, so I need to just suck it up and get on with it. Then I can treat myself with a trip to the fancy yarn store!
  • Read more. My reading really went into a slump when my eyesight deteriorated on me last spring, and I seem to have fallen out of the habit. When I remember to pick up a book though, I love it, so I need to do more of it.
  • Purge, purge, purge. I took a carload of stuff to Goodwill yesterday, but there's plenty more where that came from. Paring down now will mean a less painful move next summer.
  • Play a MODEST AMOUNT of Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. Seriously, this is what sucks my time. Yeah, it's fun, but it also comes between me and all those other things on my list. I'd love to quit cold turkey, but I'm a realist. Maybe if I could at least stop playing in bed though . . .

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Photo organization

I spent today organizing all my digital pictures from 2009, weeding out the truly bad ones, and changing the file folder names to date plus general description instead of date alone. Then I pulled them all into Photoshop Elements and started tagging them with the Organizer. I feel vaguely dissatisfied. I really prefer the tagging method on Flickr, but when I tag with Flickr, the tags do not attach to the files on my computer, just to the uploaded files. If I use Elements, I can write the tags to the metadata of each file before uploading to Flickr and the tags will transfer as well. 'Tis a pickle.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Sports funny (and a happy, too)

Just had to share this letter that my dad had published the other day in the "Hey, Willie!" sports column in the Daytona paper:
HEY WILLIE!

Contrary to popular belief, Tim Tebow does not walk on water. Playing in The Swamp, though, Timmy does know where the stumps are.

How I wish the 'Noles could have pulled off an upset -- but then, they couldn't even beat USF at home. Oh, well, sooner or later the Gators will lose again, and when they do, you can tell your readers that it was due to a serious outbreak of ARD, better known as "a reptile dysfunction."


MIKEY

HEY MICHAEL!


Somewhere in Birmingham, a headline writer is jotting down that one for Saturday -- you know, just in case.

Like others in my "business," I've resigned myself to hearing the complaints from those who feel we gush a little too much over Timmy (yeah, yeah, it's true: Buy 10 gushes and you're allowed to call him Timmy). But until further notice, I'm reserving the right to consider he might be the genuine article. When you consider he's had roughly 100-150 different teammates during his four seasons at UF, and we've never heard one (not ONE) dissenting comment about him, I'll continue to stand accused.

But then again, there's the following . . .
Click here to read the rest of the column.

Mike was bummed to see the Gators fall victim to "a reptile dysfunction" in this afternoon's game. But he had his own victories to celebrate in today's swim meet, especially his new personal best (and school record) in the 100-yard freestyle, an event he doesn't usually swim--56.99 seconds!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Film festival

Annabelle and I are in the middle of a film fest today. She had a short day at school, so we headed to Louisville to see Precious. It was really powerful but really disturbing, too:



We decided we were still in movie mode when we got home, so we ran to Movie Gallery and rented Adoration. We really enjoyed it . . . until the end. Let's just say that now we feel strangely unfulfilled:



We're going to watch Planes, Trains & Automobiles now to end the night on a high note:



"Those aren't pillows!"

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Beast!

Mike did his PT test for his Air Force ROTC scholarship application today: 41 push-ups and 60 sit-ups (in one minute each) and a 1.5-mile run in 9 minutes, 28 seconds. Not bad!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Look, Ma, no cavities

We had a pleasant afternoon, especially considering how dreary the weather was today. The kids and I all had dental appointments, which went well and quickly. So quickly in fact that we found ourselves with time to kill before Annabelle's musical theatre class. We decided to kill that time at Red Lobster--cold, rainy weather always puts me in the mood for cheesy biscuits! Topping off my nice day, I just got out of my last class for this semester. Considering the number of times I considered dropping over the semester, I'm proud of myself for sticking it out. Four more classes to go, and then I will be a librarian.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Photo op

You may or may not remember that Hillary Clinton was in Kabul a couple weeks ago for the inauguration. She spoke at the embassy and posed for pictures. Here's one with Fred and the other military liaison officers:



He said she was very gracious in her comments.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Goodbye, November

Wow, time flies when you're blogging! It feels like NaBloPoMo just started, and here it is, the end of the month already. I'll be adding this to my sidebar soon:



Speaking of the sidebar, I've got some general housekeeping tasks in mind for the ol' blog, so please pardon our dust and all that. Things might look worse before they look better.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fa la la la la

Here are a couple of items to get you in a holiday mood. First, here's a picture that almost makes me wish I hadn't already ordered our Christmas cards:



And here are a few clips from Annabelle's musical theatre Christmas show:



She and another girl are sharing the role of Suzie Snowflake, washed up holiday star, so I took some video last week at one of the school shows of Annabelle doing the part. That's Annabelle in the white cape.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Home!

We made excellent time driving home today, fueled by a combination of Orbit bubblemint gum and singing along to Les Miz. Eight and a half hours door to door, which included a Starbucks run, a stop for gas (and Cheetos), a potty stop, and supper at The Outback in Bowling Green.

We had a really nice time down in Alabama. Right now I am wishing I had another cup of my mother-in-law's Russian tea. I'm going to get the fixings for it tomorrow. In case you care to join me, here's the recipe one more time:

Russian Tea

Boil 8 cups of water and 2 family-size or 6 regular tea bags for 10 minutes. Boil 5 cups of water, 1 and 1/2 cups sugar, and 20 cloves for 10 minutes. Combine into larger pot and add 12 ounces frozen orange juice, 2 and 1/2 cups pineapple juice, and 4 tablespoons lemon juice. Makes 1 gallon--keeps 6 weeks.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Lazy Friday

Not much to report on today. Just a lot of sitting around, visiting and eating, watching some football, and working (finally!) on my paper. We will be heading home tomorrow to give ourselves a day to readjust after vacation before Monday hits.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Puzzling

Many years ago when we celebrated Thanksgiving or Christmas at Frank and Teresa's house, Teresa brought out a jigsaw puzzle. Over the years, we have enjoyed a variety of puzzles on family holidays. This afternoon Teresa, Annabelle, and I did a 540-piece, 3D puzzle of the globe. In fact, we just placed the final piece a few minutes ago. Very fun!



Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hi from Alabama!

I just remembered that I haven't blogged yet. Hi from Dadeville on my
cell phone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The turkey at Panera . . .

. . . was exceptionally cute today:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Timely

I was really dreading working as a timer at tonight's swim meet. I hate getting soaked and juggling stopwatches, pens, paper, etc., plus it is so totally NOT "the best seat in the house" (see: the part about getting soaked). On top of that, I am nowhere near where I hoped to be with this stupid paper, plus I have to get us ready to go out of town day after tomorrow. But I said I would time, and so I did. It actually turned out to be a nice break. It's so frantically busy that there is no time to really think (like, say, about that stupid paper).

I don't have any stats or video right now. I know Mike came in second in the 100 breaststroke. Annabelle went along to shoot video, but it will probably be the weekend before I get around to fiddling with that.

Another trip to E'town tomorrow. Two, actually. We will go down in the morning for more school performances (for Annabelle) and Panera (for me). Then it's take the dog to the kennel in the afternoon and head back to E'town for Christmas in the park. Oh, yeah, still have to pack. And write this stupid paper.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Checking in

This is going to be a quick post. In fact, I thought about blogging from my cell phone so as to avoid turning the computer on at all and risk getting sucked into killing time on it. Annabelle has school performances in E'town for the next 2 days, which means I have to get up early instead of going back to bed for another hour or so as is my usual habit, so I really need to get to bed at a decent hour tonight.

I'll be working from my Panera office while she is at her shows. I'm hoping to knock my paper out in that time so that I can just relax and enjoy Thanksgiving without stressing over schoolwork.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Busy Saturday

Mike and I had a great time at the basketball game last night. Cleveland wound up winning, but it was neck and neck for most of the game, which kept things interesting. We got home around 1 a.m., and I didn't get to sleep until at least 2.

Mike had to be at the school at 6:30 a.m. to catch the bus for his swim meet. He was gone all day and just got back a little while ago. Sounds like it was a good meet. He qualified for the finals in the freestyle, butterfly, and breaststroke. He and his coach decided to scratch him from the 'fly to save his energy for the other 2 events. He wound up finishing second in the breaststroke and wound up with a personal best in the free.

Annabelle had the dress rehearsal for her Christmas show today. I stayed at the PAC to watch. It's looking really good! Afterward, she and I hit Panera for lunch and then came home to take naps.

I've been getting things done though ever since naptime ended. Laundry, dog-walking, school work . . . the fun never ends!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Oh, I'm going for a ride

Mike and I are going on a bus trip to Indianapolis tonight to watch a basketball game (Pacers vs. Cavaliers). MWR is sponsoring the trip, where $40 gets you transportation and admission to the game. Mike has been dying to see this game for some time now; I'm just excited about going on a road trip where I can sit and knit instead of drive.

Here's a picture Fred posted on his Facebook wall today:



He is showing his Mercer pride!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Internship

Mike is participating in his school's career practicum program this year, which gives seniors a chance to go into the community and gain some real-world work experience. Mike's internship is with the television and video people here on post. He goes there every other day for 2 class periods and helps out on a variety of projects. He is also creating his own video about the high school, which will tell students who are transferring to Knox what they can expect. The following is a little article that was included in a company newsletter (click to make it bigger):

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Funny from Afghanistan

I got a laugh out of this patch that Fred found in Kabul:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

All dressed up with no place to go

Well, I feel strangely unfulfilled. Last week my friend Mandy mentioned on her Facebook status that there is a Tuesday night cardio salsa class at the gym less than a mile down the road from my house. At the time, I thought attending the class sounded like an excellent idea, but as the time drew nearer, I found myself getting cold feet. I always feel like SUCH a misfit at the gym! At any rate, I pushed aside my misgivings, got dressed, tossed a bag of frozen veggie pasta in the microwave for the kids, and headed for the door. Just before I left though, I got a text from Mandy telling me that class was canceled for tonight. Now I can't decide if I'm relieved or bummed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

From our correspondent in Kabul

General (RET) Barry McCaffrey took time to take a photograph and talk to the troops working in the US Embassy, Kabul, during a recent factfinding visit to Afghanistan:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Back in the swim

Well, watching Mike today at his swim meet, you never would have guessed that this time last week he was flat on his back, sick as a dog. It was a great day for the Eagles! Some highlights:
  • The boys' 200-yard medley relay finished third in 2 minutes flat, a new school record. Wish I could have seen it, but they started the meet early, and I was still at lunch.

  • Mike came in fifth in the 50-yard freestyle, with a time of 26.28 seconds:


  • Mike did his 100-yard breaststroke in 1:12.74:



    He was ecstatic to start the season off with a new personal best and didn't realize until he got on the bus and his coach handed him the ribbon that he won the event. Let's take another look at that scoreboard, shall we?



    Sure looks pretty!

  • The boys' 200-yard freestyle relay team came in second with a time of 1:45.17. Mike swims second:


It really amazes me when I think of how I have watched not just Mike grow as a swimmer but the whole group grow as a team. Knox rocks the blocks!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tired

I usually feel like a huge idiot when it comes to car stuff. That's because when it comes to car stuff, I AM a huge idiot! Seriously, a mechanic could probably tell me I need to get work done on the flux capacitor, and I would believe him and pull out the credit card. This is why taking care of the cars is more Fred's thing than my thing.

Last time we bought tires for my van, Fred said, hey, let's buy them at Sears, where they will rotate them for free. Fred knew that the odds of me making the time to get to, say, Firestone--which is a very boring place--for tire maintenance are slim and none, but making a trip to the mall? Whip me, beat me . . . sure, I'm always happy to drop off the van for an oil change and tire rotation while I enjoy breakfast at Panera and then shop my way back to Sears.

So I took the van in for maintenance one day last week, and when I went to pick it up, the sales clerk said, "Just FYI: your tires are down to 3 [something that tires have--maybe it's a measurement? I shall call them thingies for my purposes here] thingies. Once they are down to 2 thingies, we can't do anymore work on them. So here, have an estimate for new tires!" Apparently new tires start out with 10 thingies--who knew? I pointed out I have put only 40,000 miles on my 60,000-miles-guaranteed tires, so it seems odd that my thingies should be so low. She went back out to check with the mechanic and came back with the news that I have 4 thingies, not 3, so never mind.

What do you think? Was she trying to sell me tires I don't really need? And if these tires ARE wearing out prematurely, do they have to explode out from under me in order for Sears to make good on their warranty? I hate car stuff.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I've heard of green tea, but this is ridiculous!

I've been in a tea-drinking mood lately, mostly Lady Grey or ginger-peach decaf. Somehow I broke the whistle on my old kettle, so I needed something new. I thought about getting an electric kettle, which supposedly heats water even faster, but I decided that I didn't want yet another appliance plugged in and sitting on my counter. So I found this tea kettle at TJ Maxx, and I think it's just perfect:



In other news, Annabelle and I have begun the great pre-move purge. Today we went through 2 of the bookcases in the hallway and loaded up 3 boxes of books to take to Goodwill:



I also pulled her old easel/chalkboard up from the basement, and we plan on giving it to the little girls across the street. Too bad losing weight can't always be this easy.

And in still OTHER news, I managed to bite the underside of my tongue this morning while eating toast. It is positively throbbing and makes me feel like I have an earache. No pictures of that though.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

War damn eagle!

Mike got a letter from the admissions department at Auburn today. I assumed it was just the standard "we have received your application" letter so I opened it up, but no, it was a letter congratulating him on being accepted as part of next fall's incoming class. That was fast! So he's 3 for 3 now with 7 (I think) applications still outstanding. How exciting to have options!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gleeful

FSU is not having classes today in observance of Veterans Day, which is fine by me. Instead of doing homework, I spent today organizing computer files and cleaning my room (which tends to get pretty icky, as I direct most of my energies to parts of the house that people besides me actually see) and then went to a Pilates class while Annabelle was in her musical theater class. Then it was pizza for supper and way too much time playing Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. Soon Annabelle will be in here to watch Glee and Modern Family with me. All in all, a delightful day off.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day off tomorrow

The kids are out of school tomorrow for Veteran's Day, and I couldn't be happier about it. It's not like their early morning doings demand anything of me--I generally just lie in bed, dispensing fashion advice and signing permission slips as needed, before rolling over and going back to sleep when they head out the door--but I am just thrilled that we will have a day off smack dab in the middle of the week. In fact, I think having Wednesdays off would be great on a permanent basis, even better than a recurring 3-day weekend. Just that little extra time mid-week to catch your breath!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Acceptance

Stetson called today to tell Mike that he has been accepted. This is a great trend he's got going on! Poor thing needed some good news, as he sounds like Darth Vader when he breathes. He stayed home today, and he won't be going to school tomorrow either. Wednesday is a holiday, so we're hoping he'll be well on the road to recovery by Thursday.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Mellow

This time next week, I'll be pulling my hair out. I have a major paper due in my class right after Thanksgiving, so I'm sure I'll spend the week before Thanksgiving knocking it out. For this week though, I'm in denial and am enjoying the heck out of it. I've been cleaning my room and scanning some old photos and just making order in general. Plus, I had a couple bottles of Gl├╝hwein left over from last Christmas (I know! Leftover wine! How sad is that?), and I am slowly working my way through them.

Mike is indeed sick and will not be going to school tomorrow. Annabelle has been very industrious this weekend, having suffered earlier in the week through another all-nighter and being determined not to find herself in that situation again any time soon. She babysat our neighbor's dog this weekend, and I helped, so she is going to take me out to dinner with her earnings. Life is good (except for poor Mike being sick)!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

First of many?

Mike got his first college acceptance today, from Bellarmine in Louisville. Other schools applied to are: FSU, UF, UCF, Stetson, Rollins, Miami, UVA, and Western KY. I don't expect we'll hear from any of the others for a while, but I know he's happy to start seeing results.

He also appears to be coming down with whatever crud is going around. He was a little iffy this morning but went to a friend's house for the afternoon and came home feeling awful. I think he's going to try to sleep it off as best he can. He doesn't want to miss any time in the water this season if he can help it.

Friday, November 06, 2009

I keep forgetting to mention!

Mr. Stinky's bud shriveled up and fell off last week. There are another couple of what appear to be teensy buds trying to make an appearance. We shall see what happens. I fear that it is just too cold and dark up here right now to get one of these bad boys all the way into full bloom.

Annabelle and I went down to E'town tonight to see a touring company's production of To Kill a Mockingbird. Great show! Annabelle and I both left the theater in the mood to re-read the book.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Not getting evicted

I went to the meeting tonight and got the skinny on what is going on. Bottom line is it'll all work out fine for us; nobody with a deployed soldier will be asked to move before September. By that time, Fred will be home, and we will be long gone from Knox. Others aren't so lucky, and I'm still rather pissed at how the whole thing was handled. Hard to work up a good head of righteous indignation right now though with the news coming out of Fort Hood. I've been watching with relief this evening as friends at Hood come online on Facebook and report in as OK.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Some soup for you

Before I got distracted last night by the threat of impending eviction, I was going to share a delicious recipe. When we go to Orlando, we almost always eat at this one Thai restaurant that has the most delicious Tom Ka Gai (Thai chicken soup). I have been having a wicked craving for it lately, but alas there is no trip to Orlando in my immediate future, so I found this recipe on the web and gave it a try.

Cooking it was kind of an adventure, as I had to go to our local Asian grocery for 3 items I had never cooked with before: kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and galangal, which I have no idea how to pronounce but appears to be some sort of cousin to ginger. Then there were the other, less-exotic exotic ingredients that I am more familiar with, such as fish sauce and coconut milk.

Annabelle gave it a good try but declared it to be not her thing. Mike scarfed down a couple of bowls and seemed to enjoy it. I loved it, and I loved it even more tonight. I think the flavors intensified overnight.

I seem to be in a soupy mood these days. This one is next on my list. I'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Miscellaneous crap

Ginger pooped a dollar bill today. As I scooped it up and tied it inside a poo bag, I wondered to myself what denomination it would have to be to inspire me to try to refresh it enough to make it usable. I decided that as a one-time thing, I wouldn't bother for anything smaller than a fifty. If, however, I could get her to produce twenties on a regular basis, I would get into money laundering . . . literally.

***

One of my friends from down the street posted as his Facebook status tonight that Knox Hills (the company that runs the military housing here at Knox) wants to move him to another house EVEN THOUGH HE WILL BE RETIRING AND LEAVING POST ALTOGETHER IN UNDER A YEAR. I had heard rumors of such nonsense but figured we were safe after our housing manager paid us a visit last week and said nothing of it. Well, when I was reading Andre's report on Facebook, all of a sudden I got a feeling of dread, so I sent Mike downstairs to check for a letter. Sure enough, we've been put on notice.

Bottom line is that they have until September 2010 to finish renovating the houses in the historical district. So if you're in unrenovated housing (like us) and not moving away before June 30 (like us), then they will move you to another house so they can get to work on the renovations. Andre says they've known of this deadline for 4 years, and if that is so, BASTARDS! Also, I don't see anything in this letter guaranteeing housing in the historical district, just that the people who volunteer to be relocated first will get first dibs on what is available. I love my neighborhood and have no desire to leave it prematurely.

Let's look at our timetable. Fred won't get back here until July, and I have no intention of moving Annabelle out of Kentucky until youth theatre is over for the summer, plus I know Mike is going to want to maximize his last summer with his Kentucky friends. Maybe it would be possible to go ahead and ship everything to our next duty station and live in temp quarters through the summer (although that would mean I get the pleasure of yet another packing out without Fred). There is no way in hell I am packing up and unpacking just to do it all over again this summer.

There's going to be a town hall meeting to discuss the matter on Thursday night. You better believe I'll be there. I'm ready to lead the frickin' revolution. What is the saying? "Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part." I feel a call to my congressman coming on.

Monday, November 02, 2009

1,001

Wow, I just realized that yesterday's post was my 1000th on this blog. How cool is that? I might have another miniature Snickers with almonds to celebrate. (EDITED TO ADD: I did in fact celebrate just like that, plus I introduced Annabelle to the wonder that is Snickers with almonds.)

Swim season definitely feels real now. I spent an hour and a half this afternoon handing out equipment. It was fun though--we've got the best kids, and the nicest parents, and the most awesome coach! Tomorrow is a scrimmage meet again Meade County, and Mike can't wait. I'll miss part of it when I take Annabelle to her dance class, but I'm eager to catch however much of it I can after that.

Mike informed me today that one of FKHS's losses of this season was transformed into a victory when the other team had to forfeit for having played an ineligible player. Wow, three wins in one season! It's hard to imagine that there are schools where victory feels normal. Each one here feels like Christmas.

It dawned on me earlier that I haven't updated on my contact lenses lately (and I'm sure you guys have just been dying to know). I am officially a contact wearer now. It's still not 100% perfect. Any time I go into a store of any type, I don't know if it's perfumes or lack of humidity or what, but I swear I can feel them drying to my eyes. I'm using Restasis though, which seems to help a lot with the overall dryness. I continue to be amazed by the crystal clear vision they provide (so much better than glasses!). I still need to learn how to pop them out at the end of the day. This is how you're supposed to do it:



I am still 100% reliant on my little eyeball-sucker tool. In fact, I bought five extra so that I will always have one on hand.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Day 1

I decided to join NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) this November in hopes of inspiring myself to post more often. Here are some random bullet points to start the month off right:
  • I can't stop eating miniature Snickers with almonds. I woke up thinking about them this morning and had one for breakfast.

  • Swim season has started, but it doesn't seem quite real to me. I think that is because Mike is driving himself to and from practice in Fred's car, so it has very little effect on my life (unlike the past 3 years of needing to be home at a certain time to pick up after practice). Right now though my van is fully loaded with warm-up suits, swim parkas, swim bags, and god-only-knows-what-else that I need to distribute at practice tomorrow. So it'll seem more real when I'm in the frenzy of handing out equipment, I'm sure.

  • FKHS won AGAIN Friday night! We haven't won back-to-back games since 2003, so this is huge. I never thought the day would come when I would care one way or the other about football, but man, it's nice to have a little victory going on.

  • We are hoping to move to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, this summer. Also never thought the day would come when I would want to move to Kansas, but it really does look like the best possible move for us at this point. And maybe I'm jinxing things by mentioning it publicly on the blog, but I sat on the news of our move to Germany for 2 solid months last year and look how that turned out.

  • In fact, I think that one thing that has gradually shut me down as a blogger over the past year is feeling intimidated about talking about this or that publicly. If I'm going to keep this up, I need to be a little more honest and open. So the Germany/deployment thing? KILLED me! Annabelle's 2 years in middle school? AWFUL, and yeah, middle school is generally recognized as horrible, but this was really, really bad! And the class I'm taking this semester for my own school? SUCKS! Honestly, if this were my first class in the program instead of my eighth, I would probably drop out entirely, fearing that every class would be somewhat like this nightmare.
So there. That's enough for one day. Stay tuned for another post tomorrow, and maybe this will start feeling normal again.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Another fun Halloween! Annabelle's friend Katie, who moved off-post this summer, came back to trick-or-treat with her, while Mike went around with his buddies.

Annabelle went in a different costume direction for tonight from yesterday's updated Little Red Riding Hood, dressing up as Brandon Lee in the film The Crow:





Mike's costume was inspired by a Saturday Night Live Christmas skit:





If you can't go a little crazy at Halloween, when can you?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween preview

The kids got to wear Halloween costumes to school today. Annabelle went as a 21st-century Little Red Riding Hood:



I didn't get a picture of Mike in his costume, as he had to wait to wait until he got to school to put it on. So you will just have to visualize Mike in normal clothes with several helium balloons tied to his belt loops. Balloon Boy, get it?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Victory banner

I went to pick Annabelle up at school today and was touched to see this banner hanging in the commons area:



Here's to "new Knox!"

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sweet, sweet victory

FKHS football has been having a rough time of it for the past 4 years. In fact, word on the street the other day was that we were just a handful of games away from setting some sort of losing state record. The Eagles turned that around tonight though!

Annabelle and I had stayed home to watch TV, but when Mike texted me to let us know that Knox was winning, we hopped in the car and headed over to the school. It was really incredible to feel the emotion in the stands.

I wish I had thought to grab my camera on my way out the door. "Borrowed" from my friend Corey Mason's Facebook page:



Go, Eagles!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Stinky status report

I am in paper-writing hell (deadline got extended by a week, but I want this out of my life ASAP). I just realized though that I forgot to post the latest picture of Mr. Stinky. I took this 4 days ago:



The blossom is a little bigger today but still shows no sign of opening. I'm glad I didn't miss seeing him in all his stinky glory!