Sunday, May 31, 2009

Not enough hours in the day

I made a list today to keep myself on track, and I have been diligently crossing tasks off right and left, but here it is 10:30 and still undone I have: finishing the last 2 chapters of my current indexing project; cleaning the downstairs bathroom; vacuuming Fred's office and the foyer(which will complete the downstairs vacuuming--yay!); fixing Annabelle's dress; and clearing off the other side of the bed. It's covered with a laundry basket full of clean clothes and a couple of shopping bags full of new clothes plus assorted books and stuff. I'm done for today though--all the rest of the stuff will just have to spill over onto tomorrow's list.

Kitten update! Harvey (maybe???) is doing better but will probably be staying with the wildlife rehabilitator until we get back from Jamaica the middle of the month. He will be on antibiotics until just before we leave, and Monica recommended that we hold off on shots until after he's healthy again. Without shots though, I can't board him at the kennel, so boarding him with Monica seems like the best solution. I'm taking the kids over in the morning to visit him. I'll try to remember my camera so that I can get a better picture.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I never planned this for today

Annabelle and I were on our way to Louisville this morning to finish shopping for our upcoming Jamaican vacation when I saw what appeared to be a kitten by the side of the highway. I turned back and stopped the car and found a little white long-haired fellow crying pitifully. I scooped him up and took him to the wildlife rehabilitator, who fed him and diagnosed him with a nasty upper-respiratory infection. She is caring for him for us until Monday, when he will come home after being fully checked out by the vet.

I certainly never planned on adding to my animal collection today. But how could I say no to this face (the eyes will clear up when the respiratory infection does):

The kids are arguing over names: Sweeney? Or Paul?

Friday, May 29, 2009

End of an era

As of today, both kids are high school students. Annabelle finished middle school and not a moment too soon for her tastes. The school held a really nice awards ceremony this morning to recognize student achievement throughout the year. Here's Annabelle with her swag (medals in all academics plus band with one of 2 trophies for straight As):

We're looking forward to a nice relaxing summer. Annabelle and I are going to get started on it by going for pedicures this afternoon and then baking brownies.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A noodles and ground beef kind of night

I have a very long list of favorite meals from my childhood: stuffed cabbage, breaded pork chops, chicken gumbo, Laredo (mmmm, Laredo--that's basically just chili with cheese, but I badger Mom into making it every time I go home to Florida) . . . . And then I have a very short list of detested childhood meals: tuna-noodle casserole and noodles with ground beef.

The thought of either of those makes me feel a little urpy, so of course I never worked them into my repertoire when I started running my own kitchen. But then several years ago, my mom made noodles and ground beef (recipe: brown some ground beef with onion; boil and drain some noodles; mix together) for the kids, and they acted loved it.

Occasionally now when I'm not especially hungry but the kids are (like tonight), I whip up some noodles and ground beef for them, and they act like it is the Best. Thing. Ever! Hmmm . . . maybe I should try my hand at tuna-noodle casserole? Nah, I wouldn't want to spoil them.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Think pink

Today was the last of the youth orchestra's recruiting concerts for local elementary schools. There is one part in the show where each instrument does a little self-introduction and plays a solo snippet. Annabelle represents the bassoon by playing the theme from "Pink Panther." It's really funny, because that is consistently the piece that just drives the kids wild:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Some music for you

Annabelle's youth orchestra had 2 performances of their recruiting concert today. These are shows that they put on at local elementary schools to drum up interest among younger kids for all things orchestral. I was psyched because I finally got a decent picture of her with the orchestra (bassoon moms hardly ever get good pics, because all we can usually see is the top of the bassoon sticking up out of the crowd like some sort of periscope):

Here is "Under the Sea" from the morning concert:

And the finale from Beethoven's 5th Symphony from this afternoon:

And the theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark, also from this afternoon's performance:

I can't believe that after tomorrow's concert the season will be over. It has been a great musical year!

Monday, May 25, 2009

A riveting story

A few weeks ago, Annabelle bought a pair of really cute denim shorts. The first time she wore them, one of the many rivets fell off. Fortunately she found both pieces, and I put fixing her shorts on my list of Things To Do.

When I finally got serious about it, I stopped in at the fabric store and bought a little $3 gadget that the saleslady assured me would do the trick in pinching the rivet pieces back together. Nope, didn't work.

So then I went on ebay and found a slightly cooler $10 gadget that seemed even better suited for the job. It finally arrived the other day, but it didn't work any better than the first tool.

I'm pleased to report that the shorts are finally fixed now. The magic bullet? Super glue!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A day full of nothing

Oh, today was lovely! The only thing I absolutely HAD to do was make a run to the commissary. Aside from that, I puttered around on the computer and took a late afternoon nap. I also managed to get the kitchen cleaned up, but just because I wanted to and not because I was on some sort of deadline. The kids had a lazy day as well, and we all really appreciated the down time. Now I'm waiting for Annabelle to come upstairs so we can finish watching a TV show we started last night.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Stress, code

Sorry to keep you guys hanging for so long on the dress code issue. The past few days have just been insanely busy. The good kind of busy--hair appointments, musical theater recitals, orchestra concerts, etc.--as opposed to the bad kind of busy--tax audits and doctor appointments, for example--but crazy nonetheless. Annabelle had a show last night in E'town, and then I worked from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Project Graduation. I got up to take Mike to the high school by 7 a.m. to catch a bus to the state track competition, where he took pictures for next year's yearbook. Since then, I've taken Annabelle to E'town for one show, driven up to Louisville to to pick up Mike and to take him to work, and gone back down to E'town to pick up Annabelle. Thank goodness there is only (only! ha!) one more drive to E'town in my day--I leave again in a couple hours to take Annabelle to her last musical theater performance of the year.

So anyway, yeah, the dress code . . . well, the bottom line is that I never expected to get everything I wanted, and in that respect I certainly wasn't disappointed. But let's back up to Tuesday night's public participation meeting before getting into the draft that was presented to the superintendent at Thursday's school board meeting.

I felt a little let down by the attendance at the meeting. Granted, we had less than a week's notice and this is a crazy time of year for most parents, but the superintendent takes the showing as evidence that people really don't mind the current code. I disagree and think that beyond the schedule conflicts, many people here exist in a state of learned helplessness. The Powers That Be WILL wait you out. You WILL move one day. Resistance is futile blah blah blah.

It was no surprise that Option 1 was the clear "winner" in the survey. I could have hugged my friend Theresa when she stood up and pointed out that the strict uniform policy of Option 2 was obviously a "throwaway" designed to make Option 1 look more palatable. (This echoed the sentiment of my friend Tim, who commented on my Facebook page that the survey reminded him of an episode of that famously raunchy cartoon South Park.)

The board member making the presentation said that some surveys were returned with no preference indicated. I stood up and said that I wanted to make sure that everybody understood for at least some of those surveys (mine, for example, and everybody in Annabelle's homeroom class), it would be disingenuous to say that they represented "no preference"--more like a vote against both choices. Furthermore, I pointed out, there would have been more like that except that some of the middle school teachers made their students pick one or the other.

We spent the balance of the meeting going over each item of clothing and making suggestions. On Thursday, the committee presented the superintendent with the following proposed policy, which is basically Option 1 with a couple of adjustments (click to make it bigger):

The new proposed policy adds stripes for shirts (still just polo or collared dress shirts and still tucked in) and does away with the asinine requirement that cargo pockets be sewn shut. The original Option 1 allowed for jeans in colors other than blue, while the proposed policy eliminates jeans of all colors. Much as I would love to see the kids in jeans, I thought it was totally stupid to outlaw blue jeans while allowing other colors, so this change represents an ironic improvement. And of course we still don't have hoodies, and it's still being couched as a safety issue, which makes me want to scream.

Oddly enough though, I can't work up much outrage at this point. Oh, sure, I've had my fantasies about alerting the ACLU to the fact that middle-schoolers were forced to vote for one policy or the other (smells like government-compelled speech to me), but mostly I just feel done. I'm done going to school board meetings--I know that much. I went to every one last year as a member of the board and every one this year as a concerned parent. I think next year I'm going to spend those 2 hours a month taking a nap instead.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Project Graduation

About to volunteer there. So. Tired.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Help me decide?

I am FINALLY getting around to posting the proofs from the photos Fred and I had made at the formal almost 2 weeks ago. Feel free to give an opinion as to which we should order!

Proof 720:

Proof 721:

Proof 722:

Proof 723:

I had planned on sewing a new dress for the dance, but everything I was drawn to was hot pink. I thought, "Heck, I already made a hot pink dress 10 years ago," so I pulled it out of the back of my closet and saved myself some time and money.

I'll post about the dress code updates tomorrow. I'm still noodling it around, trying to figure out exactly how I feel about it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Day is done . . .

. . . and so am I. I thought this would be the day to do the post with pictures I had in mind earlier in the week, but it doesn't look like it's in the cards. Today has been a nice day but exhausting, and all I want to do right now is log off and veg out.

I took Annabelle down to E'town this morning for a youth orchestra performance at a local elementary school. Then we went BACK down to E'town later this afternoon for a musical theater rehearsal. Rehearsal went much later than planned, so we were well past 8:00 getting home. I already had chicken marinating, so I was pretty much committed to cooking tonight, but it was 9:00 before we actually sat down to eat. Now the kitchen is cleaned up, and I'm ready to say my good nights. So good night!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cautiously optimistic

Well, we had the dress code meeting this evening. This was a time for public participation, and it went better than I had expected. I was a little disappointed by the number of parents to show up, but overall it went well. I don't expect the school board will come up with the exact same policy that I would write, but if some of the modifications we discussed make it into the final draft, I'll be content. Now I just have to hope that if I get quoted in the newspaper article ('cause I did speak my mind), I don't look like an idiot. Especially since I was the one who gave the reporter the heads up about the meeting in the first place.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Technical difficulties

Well, poo. I had a post all planned for tonight with pictures, but for some reason Photoshop Elements is not acting right on my laptop. I am feeling much too lazy to go sit at the desktop, so I suppose it will have to wait for tomorrow.

We learned a new move in Pilates today. It's called Airplane, and it looks something like this:

Only see how he lowers his toes very slowly towards the platform? I am at the mercy of gravity and was lucky not to break my other 9 toes. And no WAY can I do it backwards like he demonstrates at the 40-second mark. Still it gives me something to work towards, I suppose.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wool socks in May?

This is just nuts. Our high today was 64 degrees. The warm weather needs to get here soon and STAY, or I am going to lose my mind.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why buy the cow?

Annabelle and I had a lovely day in Louisville today. We went up to catch a friend's violin recital and have lunch afterwards, but first we bagged some amazing bargains at Kohl's and the mall (2 pairs of jeans and a t-shirt for me, a pair of pants and 2 t-shirts for Annabelle, and an amazing necklace that we shall share custody of). After a delicious Mediterranian lunch at The Grape Leaf, we stopped by Whole Foods to pick up something for Mike to eat.

We cruised through the store checking out the various samples, and in the fish department we tried some grilled mahi mahi with Cajun seasoning. I have rarely met a grocery store sample I didn't like, but that fish was like eating a spoonful of fire ants. Our mouths were on fire, and Annabelle and I were in a hurry to finish our shopping and get the H-E-double-hockey-sticks out of there with a nice bottle of water.

When we got to the dairy department, we bumped into a man giving out samples of milk--sweet, creamy milk from happy grass-eating cows in Ohio! Turns out Whole Foods is now carrying milk from Snowville Creamery, and it is yummy. It's pasteurized, but not homogenized, so you have to shake the carton before opening. Annabelle and I wound up bringing home 2 gallons of our new milk.

Friday, May 15, 2009

To whom it may concern . . .

Dear Friends,

We are happy the school board is revamping the FKHS/SMS dress code, and we applaud the work of the dress code committee. As you may know, a survey went out asking teachers, parents, and students to choose between two dress code options and to provide additional opinions on individual clothing items. We are concerned, however, that the survey presents a false choice: Option 2, a strict uniform policy, appears to make Option 1 look more palatable, but Option 1 is, in our opinion, disturbingly similar to the current code.

While it is refreshing to see Capris added for girls and the deletion of some of the color controls, we are disappointed by several of the surviving restrictions in Option 1. First, while "hoodies" denoted gang affiliation when the original code was drafted, this is no longer the case; in fact, it is almost impossible to find a sweater without a hood that doesn't make the wearer look like a senior citizen. Second, polo shirts are not uniformly flattering, and tucking in shirts can serve to highlight weight differences that children may already feel uncomfortable about. Third, most casual shorts have cargo pockets; a child is no more likely to conceal a weapon in a cargo pocket than he or she is to hide it in a notebook, purse, or even a regular pocket. Option 1, while blessedly shorter than the current policy, continues to dictate fashion, robs our young adults of the opportunity to make decisions regarding their personal appearance guided by their parents, and casts our teachers in the unfortunate position of policing whether or not cargo pockets have been sewn shut.

Please take a look at the dress code policy that is in effect at the high school at Kadena AFB (Japan): A simple policy such as this sets reasonable parameters for matters of safety and decency, while allowing students to dress in a way that is comfortable to them and that expresses their individuality. We urge you to consider attending the public meeting at 1800 hours on Tuesday, 19 May, at Scott Middle School prepared to support such a policy (minus the typos) as Option 3.

Feel free to forward this message to other parents. This is our opportunity to influence the operation of our local schools. Hope to see you at the meeting!


Fred and Bonnie Taylor

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Phoning it in

Greetings from E'town! I am here waiting for the youth orchestra rehearsal to finish. This is my third trip down here today, so I am pretty tired. I figured I would put my time here to good use by posting today's update from my phone. This way when I get home, I can get right into my TV shows and then hit the hay.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

i sing of Olaf dressed in plaid*

If I were an oyster and the dress code of the high school and middle school here at Fort Knox were a teensy grain of sand, I would have the mother of all pearls by now. It might seem silly to get all worked up over school clothes, but it comes up repeatedly, each time I attempt to buy something new for one of the kids and hear about how all possibilities violate the 1,300-word current mandate.

What bothers me at least as much as the code is the way parental concerns on the topic have been minimized and brushed aside for the years that we have been here. I have been complaining to principals and to the district superintendent since 2005. When my friends and I get together to compare our experiences, we often wind up bemoaning the code, and I know that few students are fans. Yet to a one, the response from the administration has been tepid. Safety, they tell us. Discipline, they say. At the risk of sounding cynical, I'm convinced that deep inside each is thinking, It really doesn't matter because you'll be gone in a year or two, and I'll still be here.

Maybe that's why I've made the dress code my hill to die on. Next year will be my fourth "final" year here at Knox, and I'm tired of having the problem set aside to be dealt with at some future date. That's certainly what happened last year when I attempted as a member of the board of education to effect change--we were told it would be reviewed the following year. I am convinced, however, that if I had not stood up as a concerned parent at the new board's first meeting in September and made the new board members aware of this promise, they would not have heard about it through other channels.

The current board commissioned a committee of parents, teachers, and students to look at the issue, and today a survey was sent out to parents and students of the middle and high school. We are invited to vote for one of 2 options, which will then be discussed at a public forum next Tuesday night and enacted as policy by the board of education at Thursday's meeting.

Option 1 is a relative of our current policy distilled to some 350 words (click to make it bigger):

This policy fixes some of the problems with the current code, such as the current prohibition against Capri pants for girls (WTF?), but keeps some of the most annoying restrictions, such as the rejection of sweaters and sweatshirts with hoods. Perhaps when the current code was drafted many years ago, "hoodies" were a sure sign of gang activity, but today they're not and it's almost impossible to find non-hooded sweaters. In fact, I would love to see the superintendent take Annabelle shopping for a sweater without a hood. While he's at it, he is welcome to take Mike shopping for pants or shorts that don't have cargo pockets and that any self-respecting teenage boy who doesn't model himself on Alex P. Keaton would be caught dead in. The cargo pocket restriction, however, has survived in this new incarnation. (Cargo pockets aren't allowed because a student could use them to carry a weapon. Never mind that Annabelle carries a bassoon case--that her friends jokingly call "the RPG"--to and from school on a daily basis.)

Option 2 is a uniform, plain and simple:

That certainly would simplify the shopping and make it easier for the teachers to quickly to spot who is out of code, but it would also lead to all-out rebellion from the students. In fact, I can't help but think that it is the dire, worst-case scenario that is offered to make option 1 easier to swallow.

If we lived off post, the kids would go to North Hardin High, where
are the fashion rules (scroll down because their policy doesn't take up the better part of a page). If we lived in Stuttgart, Germany, they would attend a DoD school where this is the standard (again, scroll to get there). I want to know what is so bad about Fort Knox students that their clothing needs to be micro-managed to this extent. I'm tired of seeing my kids forced to dress like dweebs and being told that it's for their own safety.

Frankly, this feels like subjugation to me. What's the first thing we take away from prisoners and and bootcamp trainees? Their clothes. I've had enough of watching my kids treated like inmates.

I sincerely hope that next week marks the positive turning point in this issue. After 4 years of institutional torpidity, you'll have to pardon me if I sound skeptical.

*with apologies to e.e. cummings

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Letting the cat out of the bag

Not much to report on today, so I'm digging back through my files to find stuff I never got around to uploading. I'm afraid I neglected to introduce my parents' new cat Arlo. So here, meet Arlo:

Arlo was named Oreo when he found my parents. The phone number on his ID tag was disconnected though, and when efforts to find his people failed, Mom and Dad dubbed him Arlo and brought him inside.

Arlo is brimming with charm and personality, but so was Ted Bundy. He has trouble getting along with poor Willis, so Mom and Dad are back to spending their days shuffling cats from one location to another. While Arlo doesn't play well with real cats, one of his favorite ways to kick back and relax is by loving on his stuffed kitty:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Blogger's block

Today was just a normal Monday--Pilates and then out to lunch with myself--and I don't have much to say about it. This blog entry is the only thing standing between me and going to bed early tonight though, so I'm just going to click the button to publish now. Maybe I'll feel creative tomorrow!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Home again (again)!

I flew to Carlisle this weekend for the spring formal and had a delightful time. I would post pictures, but when I took my camera out to take a picture of Three-Mile Island this afternoon, I left it in Fred's car. So any photos will have to wait a few days until Fred mails it to me. I arrived home this evening to a clean house, which was a wonderful conclusion to Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

They once were lost but now are found

Hooray, the lucky socks have been found! Now that IS lucky! (I think Annabelle should post a picture of them.)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Oh, dear!

Annabelle's lucky socks are missing, and I was the last person who had them! She took them to the concert last night in her bassoon case, but she had to leave the case in the bandroom. I offered to put the socks in my purse so they would be nearby in the gym during the concert. I clearly remember stuffing them in there, and now they are gone.

I've looked everywhere I can think of in the house. I went out to the school to look in the lost and found and to search the gym and bandroom. They're not in the car. Where could they be???

They're not easily replaced. For one thing, they came from Germany, and for another thing, they're lucky (duh). You can't just find that on eBay!

I don't want to be the Mother Who Lost the Lucky Socks. She's worse than the Mother Who Sold the Baseball Card Collection!

Thursday, May 07, 2009


The past few days have been somewhat of a roller-coaster for Annabelle and her bassoon solo for tonight's concert. The ups have been really high and the downs have been lower than a bassoon's low B-flat. I was really worried yesterday that she would either play it and be disappointed in her performance or not play it at all. "Sorcerer's Apprentice" is, after all, the piece that made her want to play bassoon in the first place way back in fifth grade. She persevered though and played the song, and it was magnificent! See for yourself (and then go over to Annabelle's blog to learn how purple socks contributed to her success):

Here she is after the concert, chewing on a reed and showing off the trophy for Outstanding Musician:

And with her wonderful band director, who has always gone above and beyond to support Annabelle in all her musical pursuits:

Well done, Annabelle!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Rain, rain, go away

At least it's fairly warm, but the never-ending rain is really starting to get to me. I went to a change of command today and was all excited about wearing a summery dress and sandals. Instead I wound up in a turtleneck and black dress pants and my waterproof Canadian boots. I love those boots, but every time I have worn them in the past 4 weeks, I have found myself thinking, "This is the last time for this year!" But then it never is.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Christmas in May

Fred just sent me this photo, which was taken by one of his friends at the Christmas formal:

Aren't we cute?!

Monday, May 04, 2009

When will I learn?

I have friends who own cameras that are mas macho, and while I feel a twinge of jealousy each time I see their fantastic pictures, I also know myself well enough to know that I need a small camera that I can easily shove in my purse or pocket. I worry that if I had a big camera, I would be too lazy to carry it around. So then why, why, WHY do I so often find myself wishing for my camera?!

Remember a week or so ago when I found those baby birds in the light pole in E'town? Well, this evening I parked by the same light pole and was delighted to see little adolescent birdies sitting in the opening to the pole. I, unfortunately, had left my camera home in my kitchen, so I snapped this pic with my cell phone:

It's OK, but I can't figure out if it's possible to zoom at all using my phone. Plus with my shaky hands, it's hard to get a crisp picture without some sort of image stabilization feature. I was really kicking myself when the mother bird swooped in and hovered in front of their clamoring mouths while she fed them. No way am I steady enough to get a shot like that on my phone!

Sunday, May 03, 2009


We made it home tonight after 10 total hours of driving and a supper break at the Olive Garden in Louisville. Mike and I just got done watching last week's episodes of The Office and 30 Rock, and I'm about to catch up on Grey's Anatomy. Just wanted to check in and report that we had a fantastic weekend and it was worth every minute and every mile!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Carlisle report

The party last night was a fantastic success. Fred knew that there was going to be a party, but he thought it was a regular seminar party--he had no clue that it was going to be his birthday party or that we were going to be there. I'm so grateful to everybody in the seminar who worked so hard to make it a special night. I'm hoping somebody else took a better picture of us, but until I find one, here we are at the party:

This afternoon we hung out with my friends Ivy and Deana while Annabelle and her friend Julianna visited for the first time in 2 years. Julianna went to Faerie Fest yesterday and shared her new accessories with Annabelle for a photo op:

When the coffee shop we were in closed (at 3 o'clock!), we headed over to the ice cream shop Massey's, which my friend Kim recommended. I got a scoop of peach ice cream, which was delicious but not as photo worthy as Fred's softserve. So I borrowed his cone and posed for a picture:

Tonight we're going to a friend's house for dinner and getting packed up. Tomorrow it's a 10-hour drive back to reality!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Liar, liar, pants on fire

OK. so we are not really in Alabama. We are actually in Pennsylvania for Fred's birthday. SURPRISE! We are having a great time. I will post party details tomorrow.