I have a bunch of random pictures that I'd like to share. I think they're mostly from Christmas morning and the following days when we went to Ohio. I never take as many pictures as I hope to take. (New Year's resolution, maybe?) Anyway, here are a few pictures that I did take...
Caleb is a silly little guy, always making faces for the camera. He's my brother's youngest son, and he turned 4 on Dec 10. This is a shirt that my buddy in Fredonia gave me to give to him.
This cup was sitting on the ground in this parking spot. Somehow Chris managed to park the truck over the top of it. He also backed out of the parking spot and left the cup standing again. Now that's talent ;)
It's been a while since we drove down to Florence, so I almost forgot about this water tower. I have a thing for photographing things like street signs and billboards...I think this counts as a sign, right? Entering Cincinnati from the south. What a gorgeous view of the city! We had been down to Florence to buy some wheels for the Jetta. (After last week's horrible weather, we decided that although we don't really want to buy snow tires, we're going to have to.) So we met up with this guy and got the rims (which are steel--ick--but I can handle ugly rims for a few months if it means a safer car), then we went to the mall before we drove back into the city. Chris wanted to take me to a restaurant he had been to when he was in downtown Cincy for his conference this past May. After a delicious meal at Rock Bottom Brewery, we walked through Fountain Square (seen below) on the way back to our car. Before you view the picture, I have to tell you a story. We were almost at the parking lot where we left our car, and a guy stopped us and told us a whole long story about how he's not homeless and not a beggar, but he was at the Bengals game with his friends and they got into a fight and left him downtown, and he needed $14 to take a cab to the University of Cincinnati. Part of me felt really bad for the guy, and part of me was wondering why the heck he would go to a football game and not have some cash or an ATM card or a cell phone. Now we joke about knowing that it (supposedly) costs $14 to get to University of Cincinnati from Fountain Square.
Xander's first time staying at a Sheraton. He started to bark in the middle of the night (although he didn't go into full-on howling mode) because he heard some people in the hallway, but otherwise, he was very well-behaved. And of course, he slept with us. He was pretty confused about what he saw out the window of our hotel. We were on the 11th floor. On the way home, we stopped to get gas and we were going to switch drivers, so we both got out. (Normally one of us sits in the car with Xander because he goes a little crazy when one of us isn't close by.) Since we didn't let him out of the car like we had at previous stops, he decided to climb up to the front seat and sit down. I slid into the driver's seat and took this picture: Then when Chris got into the passenger seat, we thought Xander would hop back into the back seat, but nope...he decided that he wanted to help me drive. (Just so you know, we were NOT moving when this picture was taken. We got him situated in the back seat first, then we drove off.)
One of the great things about being in the Cincinnati area is the shopping. There are so many malls and stores in the immediate area that it's easy to hit lots of them in a single day. I try very hard not to shop much because I don't really need anything, but every once in a while I get the urge to do some bargain hunting, and this is a good place to scratch that itch. So far I haven't bought any clothes or anything like that, but we did enjoy a shopping trip at Ikea! Chris' mom and dad gave us a gift card so we could buy some shelves that we want so we can continue to decorate our home. We blew through the entire gift card and found even more stuff that we like. We bought a couple gifts and our Christmas cards for next year, but we also bought more things for the house...frames, curtains, etc... FUN!
Now we're getting ready to drive down to Florence, KY to pick up some wheels for the Jetta (so we can get snow tires). Later Chris' mom and dad are having some friends over for dinner, then they're going to watch "the fight." I have no idea what "the fight" is, but I'm sure I'm not going to be interested in it, so hopefully we'll get to find something else to do. It would be great if we could go to a sports bar and watch the hockey game there, but I guess they'll probably be watching this fight, too, so we'll be listening to it on our computer at the hotel.
Chris and I began our Christmas journey at around 10:30 on Christmas Eve. We left Dunkirk and drove to Cuba where Mom and I wrapped a few gifts and ran a couple errands. Tim (my brother) picked up his kids and we played for a while before going to Grandma's house. As you can see from this picture, they spent some time loving on Xander, which he ate right up!
My brother made strombolis for dinner, and this is a rare photo of all three boys sitting down.
After we ate dinner, we made homemade ice cream with our human powered ice cream makers, then we opened presents from Grandma and my cousin Mark. (Mark gave us Sabres tickets--woo hoo!)
Now the boys are in bed waiting for Santa, and we're getting ready to put out presents. Tim and Chris just went for a ride up the hill on the four wheelers. Since I have this sweet new computer, I hope to add frequent updates to my blog throughout our holiday :)
The last few days have been a little on the weird side. Friday I was surprised with a snow day and got some stuff done around the house, then Chris came home early from work and we enjoyed the evening together. Saturday we ran a couple errands in the morning and met some friends for dinner that evening. Sunday was the usual, but the weather was horrible so we stayed in all day. I'm not kidding...we didn't go anywhere. Today, surprised with another snow day.
Now, I'm not complaining about these days off. They were sooooo nice! I don't want to call this a "problem," so I guess I should say that the irony of the situation is that these are days that we'd want to be at work. Now, on Friday I'm thankful to have had a snow day for one simple reason...I did NOT want to deal with my colleague. We had an argument on Thursday and that was still eating me. (It's still eating me a little, and I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to deal with that tomorrow, but at least the wound isn't quite as fresh as it was on Friday.)
I was talking to my friend Kathi about how it's nice to have these days off so we have time to do stuff, but it's hard to be out of the routine of things, and it's also difficult to run errands with the roads in such bad shape. I made my lasagna today...something that I would have had to sramble to get done this evening if I hadn't had today off. So that was good! I also got a little more packing done, and as soon as I'm done here, I'm going to go up and finish.
Because of these snow days, though, plans are up in the air for a couple of things. First, we have the luncheon tomorrow...or do we? The above mentioned lasagna is for the luncheon we have every year, but this year one of the secretaries suggested that we just get pizza and wings. Now, I love pizza very much, but one of the things I love about the luncheon is the variety of home cooked food. If we end up doing pizza and wings, then I'll have the lasagna to eat at home, so either way, I can't really complain.
The other issue is the annual Christmas breakfast. Every year on the last day of school before break, a bunch of teachers get together and cook a big breakfast in the cafeteria, and we all eat together, and we talk, and have a gift exchange, and sing carols. It's a pretty neat thing, although I've never been there for the entire party. A party at 6:30 means that I have to leave home before 6, which means I have to get up earlier than I care to think about! But the problem now is that I'm not sure if that's going on, either. I'm sure it is, but I haven't paid for my breakfast or anything.
Oh well, hopefully tomorrow will be filled with cheer and I'll get everything I need to get done finished before it's time to leave on Wednesday morning.
On Friday the weather was expected to be really bad, so I found out at about 6:30 (when I was all ready for work) that we didn't have school. Thank goodness for my friends who called to tell me...otherwise I would have driven all that way only to find out that we didn't have school. Chris drove to work, but they closed Canisius early and sent everyone home before noon, which made me happy! All weekend the weather was horrible--we had a lot of snow, but the worst part about it was the wind. This morning we were still dealing with lots of wind and snow...and a very full driveway. We received a phone call before 5:30 that the Thruway was closed, which kind of prevents Chris from going to work, then we found out that Canisius was closed anyway, so that was good news for him. I still didn't see that my school had closed, and I figured there was NO WAY our school would be closed AGAIN, but, alas, Mary called me at about 6:30 to say that we were closed again. I've spent the day catching up on chores and getting ready for the festivities at work tomorrow and in the upcoming days.
A while back I discovered Freecycle, a web site/e-mail system that allows people to post ads for things they need and things they want to get rid of. Everything people put up and ask for is free--no money is exchanged for any of the items. Pretty cool, I think, especially because it keeps things out of landfills!
One time a lady posted an ad offering up some kids' shoes, and they fit my youngest nephew Caleb, so I told her I would take them. Since then, she's given me many more items, including the adorable coat, which Caleb is wearing in the picture below. I told her that he'd probably like the buckles because they're like the buckles on his life jacket. I took this picture and sent it to her with a note of thanks for her kindness.
I just got this cute little computer, and I'm trying to figure out how to manage my photos. Chris has used Picasa for a while, so he encouraged me to try it out. I learned that it is tied in with Google, which means that it's tied in with Blogger, and therefore, it may be easier to upload pictures to my blog. We'll see. This could be fun :)
There's no particular reason why I haven't updated my blog...I've just been neglectful, I guess. And I was without a computer for a couple days...that would prevent me from blogging, too. I'm not bringing my work computer home anymore. I loved that computer (It's a MacBook Pro), so I carried it home and used it as my personal computer as well. We have a state auditor at our school who is going through EVERYTHING, and he assessed the laptops at school. Pretty much all of us use that computers for personal stuff--web surfing, pictures, music, video games (one of the people I work with let her kids play games on her work computer). So anyway, even if that stuff was done at home, they say that the computers are paid for with taxpayer money, and they don't want us using them for personal use, sooooooo, Chris bought me an Acer Aspire One computer. It's super cute and really tiny...will be perfect for my Body Shop business, e-mail, and web surfing. It's no MacBook Pro, but for the price, I can't complain. This computer does what it needs to do, and it's PINK!
A lot of great stuff has happened over the last couple weeks, but the thing that's on my mind right now is the terrible day I had at work yesterday. I was already frustrated in the morning when I went to work because of Xander. He got out of his crate on Tuesday and, through a series of stupid things that I overlooked that day, (all Xander-related), I ended up missing the Christmas party that night (another story for another time). On Wednesday he tipped over his water bowl, which he does every day anyway, but when I let him out of his crate that day, he bolted for the water bowl and drank for about 2 minutes straight before even going outside to pee. At that point, I felt like I had been torturing the poor creature because, first of all, he cries and barks when I put him in his cage, and secondly, because he was obviously parched if he drank that much, and being that thirsty is just terrible. So yesterday I left Xander out of his crate. I couldn't stand the thought of locking him in there again, but I was worried about what he was going to do to the house.
And now for the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. On Wednesday afternoon, my colleague got on my case for "not telling her" that some guests would be speaking in a teacher's class. First of all, this was a very minor thing, as guest speakers are in our school, and especially that class, all of the time, and secondly, I did tell her about it, and resent the original e-mail to prove it. Then on Thursday morning, she came in and said "Where are those financial aid packets you were looking at?" and I said, "I put them in Judy's mailbox." She said "I ASKED you to give them back to me when you were done." I responded by telling her that she wasn't even at school when I was done looking at them...she had already gone home. About 30 seconds later, she came in saying, "You REALLY need to tell me when you're going into the classrooms to talk about the VoTech field trip, because that affects my students, too." Yes, she's right...this issue does affect her students, but it wasn't like I sent her students away so I could just tell my students what was up! No, I told ALL of the students, mine and hers, the SAME THING! So if she has a question on something, all she needs to do is ASK, she doesn't need to SCOLD.
That final time that she cam in to talk to me, she asked me why I was being so snippy with her, and reminded me that I have to tell her things like that. But here's the other issue--half the time I don't have a freakin' clue what's going on with her! Last year she went to a leadership conference and didn't tell me until after she had returned...I only knew she was going because someone else told me. And the ironic thing is that I was already running a leadership group...don't you think I should have been included in that conference? That's a common occurrence with her. She's also gone into classrooms numerous times without telling me, and I never scolded her for not telling me! I thanked her and got on with my day! Must be she doesn't have enough to do, because she's getting very nitpicky.
I'm going to post one more thing in a separate blog because it's way off topic from what I talked about here, but while talking to my friend on the phone today, I realized something else that probably has to do with why I was so weepy yesterday.
For Christmas my first year at Maple Grove, we (me, the other counselor-Lisa, and our secretary-Beth) exchanged gifts, but after that, we decided that instead of giving each other gifts, we'd make a donation to a charity. We gave to St. Susan's Soup Kitchen a couple times, donated money for Christmas boxes that were given to children in need, and other local charities.
This year, Lisa showed us a web site called www.heifer.org. The purpose of the organization is to "buy" animals for needy people around the world. For example, you can buy bees that are given to people who will raise them for their honey and wax. You can buy ducks, chicks, rabbits, pigs, etc... I really appreciate the concept, however, I'm not comfortable with the idea of giving animals as gifts, and then having those animals slaughtered. Kind of goes against my beliefs.
I can't remember if the last time I wrote complaining about my dog was the first or second time he got out, but as of today, he has gotten out FOUR times! Today is the first day back to work after Thanksgiving, and when I put Xander in his crate, I used two carabiners to secure it closed. Imagine my surprise when I got home and heard him in the kitchen again. He had gotten into another waste basket and spread garbage all over. (At times like this I'm so happy I compost all of our food waste...at least I didn't have food messes to clean up!) We're going to have to find another way to lock his cage up tight, because I can't deal with him destroying the house (and who knows what else) while we're at work all day. I thought having pets was supposed to help reduce your blood pressure....
I'm generally a very happy person with a deep appreciation for my life and everyone/everything that touches it. (I say 'generally' because even I have my moments...). I'm so in love with my husband of six years, and we enjoy everything from quiet evenings at home to biking to exploring Europe together. I'm a big tree hugger and I often find myself thinking of ways to reuse things instead of throwing them away. That makes me a bit of a pack rat, but I'm trying to get better about letting things go. I decided to start this blog because I often find myself pondering the weirdest topics, and I love to write, so I thought this would be a fun stream-of-consciousness exercise. I'm very opinionated on some topics and very passive on others. And sometimes my opinion changes based on my mood. In my journey through life, some of my beliefs have changed, mostly based on personal experience and/or deep reflection. I've had this blog set up for a while, and I've had other blogs before this, but I've only recently started really writing what I think, and I've learned a great deal about myself because of my (sometimes very blunt) honesty. Thanks for reading!