Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Happy Birthday, Mike!

My nephew, Michael, turned 15 this past week. The sticker on the card from his Aunt JoAnne says it all!

I feel yukky... and Macramé!

Seems like lately every little bug that comes my way, I catch it. I should've listened to myself yesterday morning when I got to work and turned around, went back home and went back to bed. Ugh. Rough night. Home today. I have a big deadline at work, a lot of stuff to get done by June 30th... Ugh again. So though the bad news is that I feel like crap, the good news is that I brought all that work home with me last night (thinking I'd get up early, like hours before the crack of dawn, and get some of it done). So I'm home & can probably get more work done on that project than if I were at my desk at work. And, I'm missing an all-afternoon meeting, too. Again, good and bad. Good, coz, heck, anytime you can miss a 4-hour meeting is damn good, and bad, coz it's one of those touchy-feely HR meetings that is mandatory (something about "understanding diversity"). So I will eventually have to attend that meeting. And... I'm back to ugh.

So... remember macramé? I do, and fondly. Yes, loved it in the 70's. So anyway, I usually put Boston fern on 4 nicely placed hooks on our front porch. But this year, I procrastinated, and all the cheap ferns were gone. Since I refuse to pay $25-30 each for ferns I will eventually let die, I bought deep pink wave petunias and red clay pots on a spur-of-the-moment moment at Home Depot the other day. And to hang them, I dug out my old big bale of jute (that jute must be at least 25 years old), and I made macramé hangers for them. Just little simple things, but it fascinated my son. I think I smell some macramé lessons coming up...

I think they turned out A-OK:

And I can't wait for the petunias to GROW, because they look kinda puny right now...

Here are Frankie and N.C. lolling around the tree chair. For some reason, they just love this chair. Kev made it for me about 12 years ago with his chainsaw from a big chunk of oak tree. I love this chair, and I love to see the cats all over it. At Halloween, we stuff an old pair of jeans & a flannel shirt, with old work boots and gloves and set a headless man (with a bloody stump of a neck) on the chair on our porch. Kids love it. The first Halloween we made the headless man, I spilled a perfect circle of red paint on the chair seat, and for some reason that made me so sad... but now, every time I see the drop of "blood" it brings a smile to my face. And since the cats are usually all over the chair, I don't see it often...

Friday, June 24, 2005

It's All in the Uniform

Yesterday at work, walking down the hallway heading outside, I passed by 2 men. At the point the 3 of us were nearly level with each other in this big hallway, the men each uttered a statement, almost simultaneously:

1st Man, wearing Dockers & knit shirt (or something similar, the usual Summer business casual look), talking on his cell phone, "Yeah, ok, I'm on my way."

2nd Man, wearing the dark blue uniform of the company security force, talking into his 2-way radio, "Affirmative, I'm en route now."

Shiftwork Sucks, But...

About a month ago, Kev took a different job in the plant. He's now off that awful, awful 3-2-2 shift. Still on shiftwork, though... I'm not sure what they call it, but I call it 7 & 2 with a twist. Basically he works a week of midnights, a week of days and a week of afternoons, all 8-hour shifts, except 2 weekends on (of 12's) and 2 off. The full shift cycle basically starts with a midnight on a Thursday. Like this:

M = Midnight, 11:30pm - 7:30am
M12 = Midnight-12, 7:30pm - 7:30am
D = Day, 7:30am - 3:30pm
D12 = Day-12, 7:30am - 7:30pm
A = Afternoon, 3:30pm - 11:30pm

Following the afternoon shift, there's a nice break (if he actually gets the days off... for example, he's working a day-12 this Sunday, and it's supposed to be at the start of his long break). Also, since it's a smaller crew in the building he's working in now, whenever someone wants to take vacation time, someone else has to work overtime to cover. But since it is primarily 8-hour shifts, getting stuck over means a 12-hour shift, not a 16-hour shift. On the 3-2-2, he got stuck on so many 16s, & that was really taking a toll on him.

Because of the need to cover shifts, Kev has less flexibility in taking off here and there to see the kids' sporting events. Like this weekend, he's missing the final day of Sam's baseball tournament, which if they win, could be a really great thing to have to miss...

Kev's been bitching about that quite a bit lately. After working on this new job for a few weeks, it has sunk in just how much he could (and will) miss out on... He'll still get to go to a lot, but he will definitely have to miss some things. But what he doesn't realize is how this new shift has already changed him. For the better. Shift work is difficult, ain't no 2 ways about it. It's hard and it sucks. Especially when you're getting closer and closer to age 50. But at least on this schedule, it allows some actual real sleep. Restful sleep. Kev is definitely acting, and looking, more like his old self. He seems younger, his face looks less haggard... my fun-loving, sweetheart of a man is back. The kids notice it, too. Thank God he's back. And, more importantly, Kev says he's feeling better, too; he feels healthy again.

This is so, so, SO much better than the 3-2-2.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Weekend Update

What a great weekend!

Started with a baseball game on Friday evening. Sam made the all-star team (minors, 10-year-olds), and there was a tournament over the weekend. They won Friday night's game and the 2 games they played on Saturday, but lost with a goofy error (and truly a biased ref... it happens) Sunday morning. Still, a great weekend of baseball. Sam pitched, and he did a great job, striking players out, and he played 1st base, and did a great job sliding into home a few times. That's my boy!

Saturday afternoon was my niece's high school graduation open house. It was a super nice party, lots to eat, nice weather (since the rain held off) and lots of family and friends. My sister and brother-in-law's place is just beautiful, and so is their daughter... my lovely niece, Michelle.

Then Father's Day on Sunday... here's Kev with the 2 reasons he loves celebrating Father's Day.

And here's my Daddy enjoying his new, comfy tractor seat.

Sunday afternoon, Joyce & I went over to get going on weeding her garden. It was getting way too weedy -- lots of quack grass... ugh. When we started in on it, I thought there was no way we would ever get it all done. It was a bit intimidating. So much work. But then my Mom and Dad showed up. Whew! Joycie's Gramma, who had already hoed several rows of corn plus a bunch more, went to work and kicked ass with the weeds! Joycie's Grampa helped get the tiller going, cousin Michelle came over and helped pull weeds, Uncle Bob hoed around the fence line, Aunt JoAnne stopped by with implements and helped, too, and Dad came over with our big tiller and was a huge help. It turned into a huge family effort, and it felt great. It was hot and muggy and dusty and dirty, and... it felt great. We have such a great family!
Here's Joycie in her gardener pose.

And here's a view of the beautifully weed-free vegetable garden.

And here's the 2 people who are the reason we have such a great family!

Dad and Mom

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Starting Out Pretty Well...

Today's going to be a good day. I can feel it. For starters, we got up late, but still managed to leave pretty much on time. Got on M-20 and scooted on up to 67 mph (55 mph zone), and a State police car came up behind me, passed me and the driver never even looked my way. Spilled my coffee in the car, and it all went into the cup holder & was a cinch to clean up. And the coffee was cold anyway, so I didn't mind at all. Hit every light green in town. Got a great parking spot at work. Beautiful sunny & cool morning. Ahhhhh........

And the best part is, this Thursday is my Friday coz I'm taking tomorrow on a vacation day!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Hot & Humid Baseball Weather

We spent this past weekend at the ballpark at a tournament. The team Sam's on won 2nd place, which was excellent! The 1st place team is like a class A, and we're more along the class B or C scale, so losing to them wasn't a hardship. By taking 2nd place, we whomped our true opponents, that is, the other 3 teams from nearby (and also rural) schools. The boys on our team played some really great ball, and it was fun to watch. Our boys also have great attitudes; they have a great coach, and he insists on it. At the end of the game that put us in the running for 2nd place, our boys and the coaches stood in that "hands in the center" sports circle and hollered "good game St. Louis!" to the other team while throwing their hands up high. The St. Louis team was also in a circle, and their coach was giving them a pep talk... having lost, they weren't all that fired up. Then they realized what they just saw and what they heard our team holler, and they all waved and hollered back "thanks." Good stuff.

The team we had to beat to take 2nd place wasn't so gracious. It's a school that's well known to take baseball very, very seriously, and the ball players (and the parents) are often a bunch of smartasses. Since they usually win, it's kinda difficult to bring them down the notch or 2 they deserve. So when our boys won that game Sunday morning, it felt real good. In fact, it felt so good that the loss of 16-1, with a mercy in the 4th inning, to the 1st place team wasn't all that important nor was it a downer. We put on a good show and the boys tried their best, but I think that pretty much everyone there knew which team was going to win 1st place. That team is from a large-ish city with a huge population from which to assemble their all-star team. If they didn't kick our butts, it'd be the surprise of the decade. They won every game they played at this weekend's tournament. (Frankly, I was puzzled by their attendance... all the other teams were on the level of ours, i.e., class B or C... so when they swept the tourney, no one was surprised, least of all, themselves. In fact, their confidence was truly remarkable. But then, excess in anything can be a remarkable thing to behold.)

The tournament started Friday evening and went through Sunday early afternoon. It was such a hot and humid weekend! The "RealFeel" temperature was in the high 90's. Ugh!!! Sunday morning at 6:35 am, I stepped out onto our front porch and it was already getting hot outside. Jeez. Sitting in the stands on Saturday, I could feel rivulets of sweat down my front and back. Lots of umbrellas out to try and combat the harsh sun. My daughter and I still got sunburned a little bit, umbrellas, sunscreen and all. It was a sorcher. Didn't seem to bother the boys too much. Oh, to be 10 years old and wearing a baseball uniform on a hot Summer day!

Saturday, June 11, 2005


I love it when my kids get out of bed and come down the stairs all sleepy eyed and slow moving, with a splotch of white, dried drool on one side of their mouth. It's nearly impossible to be more adorable than that.

School's Out for Summer!

I haven't thought about that song in years. Well, at least one anyway. Sam's teacher, a young, beautiful 20-something (and a truly outstanding 4th grade teacher), had a shirt on with that song title on the front. I think the song is probably older than she is!

Through my daughter's elementary school years and now through my son's (having kids 6 years apart allows for this), I have always taken the last day of school off from work and spent it with them. It's really the last half-day, ending at 12:30pm. And I've always tried to plan something special for them, or at the least fun, for the afternoon.

The morning at the school was awesome. Sam's teacher gave out 3 "President's Education Awards Program" certificates, 2 silver to a girl and a boy that had achieved all A's & B's on every marking period throughout the year, and then a gold certificate to the boy that had achieved all A's... my boy! When the teacher started to explain the award, all the kids started hollering Sam's name. It was pretty cool. I was so, so, SO proud. But... on the way to school, Sam had told me that he hoped to get an award for something other than getting good grades, I said for what, and he said, I don't know, for something like helping out or art. So I looked at him when he stood up to get the certificate (totally forgetting to snap a photo), and I was so proud and wishing so hard that he was happy about it. He was, he looked at me and gave me that big smile. He told me later he saw tears in my eyes, and I think that made him feel real good! And then Sam and his teacher had to reenact the giving of the certificate, complete with handshake, so I could take a picture.

The teachers at our elementary school always give certificates on the last day, one to each and every student. They tailor the "award" to each of their students, and I think the kids know this, but can't wait to see what their teacher considers their big achievement or their characteristic worthy of an award. I just love watching the kids get those awards. Sam's teacher did a great job on the awards. She sat up at the front of the class and picked up 1 certificate at a time, and then explained to the class what the award was about and why the person was receiving it. Sam's was a "Certificate of Recognition for Terrific Writing."

During 3rd grade, Sam's teacher began a much stronger focus on writing composition for the kids. They had to write about experiences they had and other nonfiction story assignments, and they wrote fictional stories of specifically assigned genres. Sam loved writing in 3rd grade, and it carried over into 4th grade. Sam's teacher, when she started explain what became Sam's award, explained to the class that this person has improved so much in their writing, and that this person started out writing so well and that now this person was such a great writer, and that she just loved reading his work, and that the myth that this person wrote is, in her opinion, good enough to be published... and more good stuff. I knew as soon as she said the word "myth" that it was Sam's award, & so did his classmates. Sam was very, very happy with that award. It recognized his creative writing skills, and I think getting recognized for something creative in him was extremely important to him, but having it be for creative writing was Big Time for him.

The "myth" she mentioned was an assignment for all the kids -- they learned what a myth was and what all the components of a myth are, and then they had to make up a myth and write the story of it. Sam worked on his myth drafts for weeks, and then he typed up his final draft. Well, I actually helped him with the typing of it... it was about 8 pages long, and that's a lot of one-fingered typing for a 10-year-old boy. His written draft was close to 20 pages. Sam worked very hard on his myth story, even sometimes when he didn't feel like it, but he wanted to do well on it. His teacher's comments on it made his day. A truly excellent way to end his 4th grade year.

When school let out, most of the teachers and staff stand along each edge of the sidewalk and wave tissues and sing, loudly, "nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, good-bye" over and over as the kids walk through. It's tradition at our school, and it makes for a perfect ending of the school year. I love that tradition!

Then I took my new 5th grader and his buddy, Cody, to a local bowling alley (air-conditioned, thank goodness!) where they bowled for an hour, had lunch, then we played a round of putt-putt golf at their in-door course (which is very nice and has an awesome pirate theme, and complete with waterfall and small stream), wrapping up with about an hour in the arcade room. Topped the afternoon off with an ice cream cone, and Sam had a Wonderful Last Day of School. Me, too.

School's out for Joyce, too... but high school is way different... Her half-day consisted of 2 more final exams and then out to lunch with some girlfriends to "unwind" followed by a short shopping trip. That's my girl!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Field Day

"It's hotter than a pig sickle in a pug whillet."
"I don't know, I just made that up. But doesn't that sound dreadfully hot & humid?"
"Works for me."

This morning was our annual elementary school's "Field Day" where the kids all compete in a variety of outside activities. They started with shooting baskets, then throwing a baseball, then 50-yard dash, 100-yard dash and a 4-person relay. They finished with a long jump. All stats kept carefully and ribbons to be awarded tomorrow, on the last day of school. The kids love Field Day, including my 4th Grader.

This morning was absolutely beautiful, which is down right lucky considering we had thunderstorms through the night and more predicted for this afternoon. We caught a real nice window. The hitch (and there's always a hitch) was that it was extremely hot and humid this morning. I could feel myself getting sweaty and sticky just standing still in the semi-shade. Ugh. My son, and a lot of other kids, were red-faced and dripping.

After the field events, we have a mass potluck. The school staff grills about a kazillion hotdogs, and each grade is assigned a type of food item to bring. Fourth grade had desserts, so we bought cookies. After several years of experience in Field Day potlucks, I've learned to take a purchased packaged item. I've also learned to eat only what is obviously a purchased packaged item, and when it's my turn in the food line, I always open a new bag of chips or whatever (whatever isn't yet opened). Too many grubby hands digging into bags of Doritos, etc... I need a fresh bag. Then my husband follows me, and our friends follow him, or vice versa, all of us sharing the info on which bag is "safe" to take from. We always find out what each other has brought, too. Just makes for a more enjoyable lunch.

We bring blankets or lawn chairs and everyone spreads out in the shade. We're fortunate in that our school has a beautiful, huge playground with many mature trees that provide ample shade. It's a lovely setting.

Today, by the time we all sat down to eat lunch, a nice breeze had started up and cooled us all. It was so nice sitting there in the shade with a nice breeze, eating Oreos and talking with our friends. I think that today was the most pleasant Field Day we've ever had.

This morning I was thinking, gleefully, that after this one, I'll have just one more to get through and then won't have to worry about it again. This afternoon I'm thinking, sadly, I have only one more Field Day ever.

New Word for the Week

hec·ti·cism (hek'ti siz-em)
1. a state of hectic activity, rushed occupation
2. frantic shortness of time: My life is currently fraught with hecticism.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Strange Morning Weather

This morning's weather was strange. Woke up to a golden glow but dark skies. On the drive into work this morning, I first headed West to drop my son off at my folks'. The skies were dark and there was a huge, bright rainbow to the North. Bright colors against the dark gray skies. It was awesome. Then heading East into town, the sun was up bright and sunny in the sky, but the view in my rearview mirror was of those ominous, dark skies. And then it started raining. Pouring buckets. I had to have my sunglasses on because of the bright sunshine, but it was raining so hard that I had my wipers on doubletime and still had trouble seeing.

By the time I got into town, the rain had let up. Still bright skies to the East and dark to the West... and in between, about 3 more rainbows. One single and a double.

A weird and beautiful morning.