Yardwork in a Vase

Yesterday I tackled the front yard.  We have a patch of desert landscaping tucked under two large mesquite trees just to the right of our driveway.  I have not done much in the way of trimming this section since we moved in a year and a half ago.  And it was seriously starting to show.

I hacked away at thorny tentacles taking care not to step backward into the patiently waiting prickly pear cactus.  I wrapped lengths of dead grass around my hand and pulled it up, stuffing it into bags to haul to the alley. 

My arms were itchy and my nose and eyes watery, but when I was finished it looked pretty good.

It was while I was about half way into my yardwork, Carter came out.  He watched for a couple minutes and then asked if he could give my shears a try.  I handed them over with some trepidation but he was careful and calculating with his clipping. 

Seeming to lose interest, he gave the shears back and wandered into the house.  In a minute he was back.

carter:  Momma, where do you keep your vases?

I told him and off he went.

When I came in the house, my yardwork done, I found a lovely centerpiece on our kitchen table. 

Thank you Carter.

Yardwork Centerpiece

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Simple Sunday – Christmas 2016

After a morning of stockings and breakfast, we decided to continue with our relatively new tradition of a Christmas morning desert hike.

Stockings 2016

Santa got lazy and did not wrap the large tub of Legos. Bad Santa!

We packed up the dogs and headed out to the desert.

Christmas Hike Cactus 1

I must have been very good this year because Santa brought me a new iPhone 7.  All my previous phones have been Microsoft or Android, so I was a bit nervous to make the switch but excited as well.  It was fun experimenting with the camera.

Christmas Hike 2016 Cactus 2

Although truth be told, new phone or not, I would have been found taking pictures as we walked.

Christmas Hike 2016 Boys

The weather was cool (for Arizona) and the clouds somewhat gray and menacing but we did not get rained upon.

Our Christmas was one of family, good food, memory making, and gifts (of course if you asked Carter, he would have put gifts at the top of his list).

And one last photo just because I can.

Christmas Hike Fence

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

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Merry Morning Sunrise (Not a Minecraft One)

The coffee pot gurgled; the last few drops of caffeine sunshine drop into the craft. 

This noise holds special meaning to Cody and Carter as it signifies that they may ask to play their beloved Minecraft.  We instilled this morning rule many years ago to stop the persistent asking to watch t.v. or play video games. 

~“One may not ask to use (or use) electronic devices until the coffee is done.”~

Controller in hand, they were on the couch waiting for their Minecraft world to load.  I was feeding the dogs.  As I walked past the window, the orange glow of the sunrise caught my eye and I exclaimed about its beauty.

Cody leapt up off the couch.

cody:  Wait, Carter!  I want to see a real sunrise.  Whoa!  This real life one is much cooler than the Minecraft ones!

Not a Minecraft Sunrise Collage

And then, back he went to disappear into his Minecraft world where days are ten minutes long and you get a lackluster sunrise every morning.

I’m glad Cody thinks that real life sunrises are better than Minecraft ones.

Sky on Fire

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Pumpkin Muffins, Spice, and Everything Nice

Yesterday Carter and I made mini pumpkin muffins.  Cody was going to help us but when I asked him to get the necessary spices, he was so distracted by my unkempt spice basket he spend the entire time organizing the spices instead.

Spice Basket 1

First he took everything out.  Then he started organizing them by the type of container they were in: glass, plastic, large or small.

Spice Basket 2

Somewhere along the way, he changed his mind and organized them alphabetically by spice name and/or company name.  I am not really sure.

Cody with Spice Basket

I am, however sure that my spice basket looks neater than it ever has before.  And it sure made Cody happy to do it.

Meanwhile, Carter set to baking.  He did most of the work while I cleared dirty dishes out of his way and offered tips. 

Carter baking with Haley

Haley was hopeful something tasty would drop to the floor.  She was most disappointed. 

The boys enjoyed the batter while the muffins baked.

The boys with batter

An awful picture, I know, but it cracks me up.  I’m sure the boys, given enough time, will forgive me for posting such things.

I have no photographic evidence of the end result of the baking.  We packaged up the muffins as little gifts for our neighbors – the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves making Christmas feel closer. 

We did manage to keep a few muffins for ourselves as it is important to sample baked goods given as gifts in case something in the process went horribly awry. 

Nothing did, so we kept a few more to sample…

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Kitchen Counter Clutter

When the boys were younger, I used to find all sorts of various creations and random items set up for display at the end of our hallway.  They would spend a lot of time building with their cardboard bricks – stuffed animal zoos, mazes, brick bookshelves, statues, and robots.  It was entertaining and allowed me to write several humorous, or what I thought were humorous, blog posts.

As they have gotten older, the clutter of their play has branched out to the kitchen counter and dining room table.  Here is a picture of the counter from this morning.

Items found on the Kitchen Counter Collage

The plastic vampire teeth tucked behind Husband’s spiced rum cracks me up.

I needed the counter space to make lunch so I asked Carter to clear it off, but first I wanted to take a couple pictures of it.  Carter decided he wanted to be included and so he came up with this mathematical equation based upon the kitchen counter clutter (of which I doubt he considers it such).  Here it is:

Carter Math Equation Collage

Chemistry kit + Holiday nut mix = Happy Boy 

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Hair of the Cat?

Urban Dictionary defines hair of the cat as : drinking non-alcoholic beverages to relieve a hangover, especially when others in the area are engaged in consuming alcohol to feel better.

At our house it happens almost every morning – but not in the Urban Dictionary kind of way.

It happens more in the getting-out-of-the-shower-to-reach-the-towel-only-to-be- greeted-by-a-cat-who-happens-to-enjoy-rubbing-around-your-legs-to-get-herself-wet-and-in-the-process-transfers-her-long-cat-hair-onto-your-wet-legs-leaving-you-with-hairy-cat-hair-legs kind of way.

Chloe, our cat, apparently only does this to me based upon the blank stare I got when complaining to Husband about it.

Once she has transferred enough of her fur onto my wet legs so that I could pass as a satyr (minus the hooves), she then enjoys a brisk towel drying.  This final step in the process ensures my towel will be sufficiently furry enough for the following morning.

I am not sure whether I should feel honored that she has chosen me for this daily routine or more like a well trained monkey.  Either way, I will continue doing it because she is so darn cute.

And I am a sucker.

Chloe on dog bed

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Simple Sunday – Early Pre-Christmas

Friday was the last day of school for two weeks (hooray!!) 

In the classroom, we combined math and art to make these “Merry Math” trees.  As you can see, we have been working on the inverse relationship between multiplication and division. 

Merry Math Trees

Friday night we packed up and headed down to Tucson for an early pre-Christmas.  We stayed at my Mother-in-Law’s house and Husband’s sister and her family came over.

The boys were bored, waiting for their cousins to arrive so we took a walk to the park.  Carter brought his soccer ball and we ended up making a game involving the ball and the slide.  As you can see, the boys really liked it.   

Soccer Slide Collage

This week, I will do some baking, clean the house (a little, no need to get too crazy), and have fun hanging out with the boys.  Husband, who works out of the house and does not get two weeks off, will simply have to put up with our shenanigans.  Poor guy!

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Simple Sunday – Chairs for the Guests (?)

Each year, about a month before Thanksgiving, we host a Practice Thanksgiving.  It is a fully involved Thanksgiving dinner with family, friends, and turkey with all the trimmings.

Practice Thanksgiving 2016 Collage

And why, do you ask, are the plates turned upside down? Look to the middle picture for the answer.

This year our Practice Thanksgiving was on the second weekend of October and due to the nature of the gathering, it required us to bring in extra dinning room chairs from their storage place in the garage.

Long after the last guest drove away and the last plate was washed, dried, and put away – some of the extra chairs remained.  For you see, they had been claimed.

Chairs for the Guests

Who am I to tell the monkey and the cat to get off the chairs?  Well, the monkey, maybe, but the cat – no.  Leia, our sweet black kitty, takes her morning nap on one of the two chairs every day.   And not always on the same chair, so I can not even bring myself to remove just one.

On the upside, at least we are ready in case an unexpected guest or two arrives and would like a place to sit.

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A Long Time Gone

So…

There is something I neglected to write about, something that has significantly affected my life and has been the cause, or partial cause, of my lack of blogging.

It happened back in April.

It was a one line email from Carter’s teacher letting me know that there was a job posting. It was in the same grade I was currently teaching and it was at Carter’s school. Carter’s teacher and I had, previous to this email, discussed my interest in working in the same district as Cody and Carter. But I did not expect her to be on the lookout for posted positions.

I was not planning on this. But there it was, in all it’s one sentence glory. I felt honored that she had thought of me. I met with her later in the day and found out she had emailed me from her phone while she was in a staff meeting and had, herself, just hear about the position.

Very long story short – in two days I revamped my resume, created a school-specific cover letter, informed my boss about my intent (and asked for/received a letter of recommendation), and submitted myself for the position.

Crickets… It seemed like weeks but it was really only a couple days.

And then I received a phone call. It was from a principal, but not the one I was expecting. In my rush and excitement to throw my hat in the ring, I had neglected to consider my audience, not just the school of my focus, but the entire district. I was called in for an interview that afternoon to a school I will describe as one of the most coveted schools in the district. It had a reputation. And I will admit that I was more than a bit intimidated.

Let us fast forward…

I was offered and accepted a third-grade teaching position at this rather well-to-do school. The learning curve for me is great and the expectation are high. Third grade is the grade where students get held back if they are not reading at grade level thanks to Arizona’s Move On When Reading law. (I will refrain from speaking about this law because my mother taught me that if I have nothing nice to say, I should not say anything at all.) There are many big and scary standardized tests.

So…

I am busy learning and reworking this craft of teaching. And that is part of why I have been a long time gone.

There have been a lot of blogworthy events that have come and gone that I will simply let be. But I miss blogging and so I will try to keep it in the forefront of my brain, and allow myself the time to write.

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Simple Sunday – Cookies and Cheese

This weekend Carter wanted to bake cookies with me. He decided on peanut butter with chocolate chips.

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After all the ingredients had been carefully measured and mixed – well, as carefully as an impatient eight-year-old boy can be – Carter picked up an empty 1 teaspoon measuring spoon and blew kisses into it. He tipped the final ingredient into the bowl, gave it one last mix and declared that it was ready. The cookies had been officially made with love.

Cody was not involved in our baking project as he was deeply engrossed in creating an Excel spreadsheet. He is a big fifth grader, and one of his elective classes is computers and technology. They have been working with spreadsheets recently. And so it was that Cody decided to meld his love of gourmet cheeses and spreadsheets. Apparently I agreed to purchase expensive gourmet cheeses, one every couple weeks, for us to sample. Cody will be documenting the date of purchase, cheese type, location of purchase, price, size, and each family members’ opinion of each cheese on a scale of one to ten. I rather love it.

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The first cheese he chose was a Havarti with caraway. We will be tasting it this afternoon with our lunch. And having cookies for dessert.

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