Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fort Mountain Ranch Update

Hello again from the ranch. I'm still having the time of my life with my cousins. A lucky development happened two days ago, and my cousin TJ and his son Noah drove up for a few days. So, they've joined in the merriment!

Monday's highlight was shooting. It was so fun!!! We started with the 22, and then we went to pistols... first the 22, then the 38. We fired at paper targets and several little metal spinner targets that reminded me a little of an amusement park shooting gallery. They were my favorite. Then we tried skeet shooting with the shotgun. I really stunk at that. I didn't hit a single one, but boy, was it fun. It makes me want to talk my dad into getting a clay pigeon thrower for out on the farm. To end the session, I got to shoot the 45 semi-automatic pistol. That was by far my favorite. I was spinning that target like crazy! I'm definitely not a hunter myself, but I could get into target shooting. Kelly's husband Steve is very into safety, so I felt totally sure of myself and confident about how to use the guns safely. That helped a lot. Steve is a great teacher. Kelly's friends Ted & Brad were especially hysterical to have with us. Brad had never held a gun before, and now I think he's addicted!

Tuesday we hiked along the irrigation ditch up to "the meadow." It was a beautiful walk with good company. That afternoon, we took the four-wheelers up the mountain again. We got up to the top right as the sun was ready to dip beyond the mountains. The whole mountain view was bathed in golden light. It was breathtaking. With all the fresh air, I slept like a baby again. I don't remember the last time I felt so relaxed.

This morning, Noah fixed us chocolate chip pancakes... mmm! I read for a while, and then Claire, Steve, Noah, TJ, & I went on a short ride up the mountain since TJ & Noah are headed out this afternoon. We watched a guy up on the mountain getting rid of underbrush and small trees with this bulldozer thing with massive jaws. Steve is trying to thin out some of the underbrush and smaller trees up on the mountain to guard against forest fires and encourage the big trees to grow bigger. It was interesting to watch, and that thing is one powerful piece of machinery. We also saw thousands and thousands of hibernating ladybugs which was cool. Now we're catching up on correspondence and waiting for some new friends to arrive for New Year's Eve. That's one of the best parts of the ranch... there are always new, fun, interesting people to meet. My cousins are so generous in sharing Fort Mountain Ranch, and I'm so grateful!

More to come, so stay tuned!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Greetings from Fort Mountain Ranch... Stay Tuned... Pictures to Come

After a shaky start with Christmas night in a hotel room in Des Moines and several delayed flights, I arrived in Sacramento on the night of the 26th. It was all worth it. Steve, Kate, and Claire met me at the airport and we drove back to the ranch. Uncle Ben and Aunt Twila were both still at the ranch, so I got to spend some time with them too. The lodge was all decked out for the holidays, and everything was just as perfect as I'd remembered it from last year. But the very best thing of all has been being with my cousins again. Claire gave me her bed the first night. I was so tired from my trip, so I turned in early.

Yesterday morning, Claire and I trekked out on her pimped up Mule (it even has a flashing light on the top now like an emergency vehicle), and we saw all the new sights. I hadn't met the two new baby horses yet... they were so cute!!! It was cool seeing what all had changed from the last time I was here. The blacksmith shop is coming along, and miles of new fencing has been added. I was happy to see Craig and Julie (the ranch managers) again, and I met some new friends, Randy, Celeste, and Briana, as well. Claire led us on a hike in the afternoon up to the rock slide and a hidden waterfall on the side of the mountain. The dusting of snow glittered on the pine needles, and the tree trunks were covered with soft bright green moss. It was beautiful. The girls and I took the new "Limo" Mule up the mountain to meet Kelly's friends Ted and Brad in the afternoon. They're staying at the guest house, and Randy, Celeste, and Briana are staying at the duplex. Uncle Ben and Aunt Twila had to head home, so after saying goodbye to them, I moved into their suite. We had a great dinner last night, complete with fresh striped bass that Cameron hadcaught that day. Wine, laughter, conversation, hugs... it was the perfect evening. I fell into the big bed of the suite and was practically asleep before I hit the pillow. There's nothing like the fresh mountain air to tucker a person out, in the best way possible.

Today I woke up, showered, and ate a big plate of pancakes that Steve had fixed. Now, we're getting ready to take the 4-wheelers up the mountain for a picnic. We also plan on having some shooting range adventures this afternoon.

It's so good to be here. I'm so blessed to have a family like mine. Thank you, Kelly, Steve, Cameron, Kate, and Claire, for having me here and sharing Fort Mountain Ranch with me. I love you all so much...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Wishes of peace and joy from me to you. I hope your holiday is filled with family and laughter. I hope your New Year is prosperous. Blessings...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Love Actually

Love Actually. I love this movie.  It might honestly be my favorite Christmas movie.  I know it's no Miracle on 34th Street (the Maureen O'Hara version is the only version, in my opinion) or It's a Wonderful Life (the scene where George is a boy and he stops the poisoned prescription from going out is the one I caught on TV tonight before my first church service... messed me up good).  It's not even A Christmas Story (one of the only movies in history my dad actually likes).  But... there are so many good scenes and so many good people.  I love how it's honest.  Some of the stories have happy endings, and some don't, but they're all about love, and they're all set at Christmastime.  Plus, seriously, how can you go wrong with a movie that has Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, AND Colin Firth? I don't think you can! Here are a few of my favorite scenes...

Love is everywhere.  Love actually is all around.  Merry Christmas, everyone.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I'm Mixed

Last night before our final performance, Steve came in and asked me how I was feeling.  "I'm mixed," was how I replied.  That sums it up.  I'm mixed.

* I'm grieving the show being over.

* I'm still on a high from having such a great audience for our last show.

* I'm a little red-wine-headachy.

* I'm emotionally full... the whole thing was such a rewarding, satisfying experience.  

* I'm emotionally tender... the holidays always wear down my callouses and leave me feeling very vulnerable.

* I'm exhausted, both physically and mentally.

* I'm overcome by all I have to accomplish this week.

* I'm excited to leave for California.  I can't wait to see my cousins.  

* I'm dreading the last two crazy days of school.

* I'm looking forward to the talent show Monday.

* I'm thankful for Friday's ice day, but I'm a glutton, and I want more!

* I have a cough, a sore throat, and I feel generally crummy.

* I'm grateful for all the blessings in my life.  As every Christmas card comes in, I'm reminded of the treasures of friendship and family.

* I'm torn between needing a nap  and needing to finish my Christmas cards in the off time today between strike at 1:30 and our cast party tonight at 7.

* I'm procrastinating going out at all because it is FREAKING COLD!  It's never a good thing when the thermometer on your car says -2.  And that's not even counting the wind chill!

* I'm excited to see my brother on Christmas Eve.  It's just not Christmas Eve without him.

See?  I'm mixed.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bracing Ourselves

For the third time in three weeks, we had an early-out.  A massive ice storm is due to hit Iowa this afternoon.  It was supposed to be here by noon, but now they're saying 3:00, and from how the map looks, it could be even later than that.  Who knows how it will end up, but it doesn't look good for having school tomorrow.  It would be nice to have a day off when I have cards to write and presents to wrap, but I'm just worried that we won't have an audience for our last two shows this weekend.  I'm already dreading the show being over.  I just want to end on a really high note.  We'll see.  I won't count my icicles before they hatch.

I had the most amazing Secret Santa at school this week.  We draw names after Thanksgiving, and for a week before Christmas, we give our person little gifts each day, ending with a bigger gift on the last day where we have a party and all is revealed.  It's always fun, but this year, my Secret Santa went above and beyond.  Here's a list of all she did for me... thanks, Sue!!!

Day 1:  Diet Mountain Dew in a Hawkeye coozie (no idea if that's spelled correctly)
Day 2:  2 pairs of Christmas socks
Day 3: pink & green argyle post-it notes
Day 4: a big package of my favorite multi-colored felt tipped pens
Day 5: the Kristin Chenowith Christmas CD

My big gift was 2 more Christmas CD's... Harry Connick, Jr. and Yo-Yo Ma!  Sue went waaaayyy overboard, but every gift was so thoughtful.  She was great.  

Hope you all have some magical Christmas surprises in the next week!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I discovered a great board game this year. It's called Blokus, and it uses Tetris-style pieces of varying colors. Up to four people (or 4 teams) can play at a time. Players start building from their corner, and those pieces can only touch each other by the corners... they cannot share a side. The object is to get all of your pieces on the board while blocking opponents' pieces in the process. It's totally fun. I got Blokus for my classroom this year with my special requisitions money, and my students love it. We put it up on the Elmo projector, so the game board is projected screen-size, and they play against each other in teams.

Recently, when I needed a replacement green piece (unfortunately, they have a lot of pieces, and middle school kids aren't always the most careful about checking the floor and cleaning up carefully), I went to the Blokus website. They have online games for free, and they have several variations of the game too. I'm currently addicted to the 3-D version. If you're looking for a gift for kids or for a family, you can't beat board games, in my opinion, and Blokus is a great one!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Child for Warmth and a Baker for Bread and a Prince for... Whatever...

As I'm getting ready to wrap up my last weekend as Eleanor of Aquitaine, I've been reflecting on some of my favorite roles. Every part is different, and I really do love most of them. Even when I'm thinking that Eleanor is my favorite part in a straight play, I feel a pang of loyalty to Julia Gibbs, my part in Our Town.  They are two very different women.  I guess they bring out two very different parts of me.  When it comes to musicals, it's still hard to beat when I played the Baker's Wife in Into the Woods.  I loved that part so much.  Here is Joanna Gleason as the Baker's Wife.  She won a Tony for this role.  I'm nowhere close to the genius of Joanna Gleason, but I did love playing that part.  Enjoy.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Michael Ball. Sigh.

I have few regrets in life. I don't believe in them. But here is one. In the summer of 1989, when I was in London, I was so obsessed with seeing Phantom of the Opera that I didn't want to give any other show a thought. When I saw the huge marquis for Aspects of Love, I wasn't interested at all. I loved Phantom, but I just had no way of knowing about all that is Michael Ball. About a year later, when I got the soundtrack for Aspects, I fell in love with it (I think I'm one of the 10 people on earth), especially the song "Love Changes Everything." There's just something about the way Michael Ball sings. I normally don't even like a voice that has a huge vibrato, but he sings with such passion. It's like I feel what he's feeling. And on top of all of that, he has killer dimples. I'm obsessed. Why didn't I go see that show????

Here's a clip of him singing one of my favorite Sondheim songs, "Losing My Mind." I sang this song in Celebrate Sondheim! If only I could have sung it like this...

Maybe there's a reason I didn't go see Aspects of Love. Maybe I wouldn't have left London. Maybe he would have seen me in the audience, and it would have been love at first sight. We would have eloped and lived happily ever after. Or, I would have been put in jail for stalking. That's probably more likely.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Night Musings

Audition Time:  Tomorrow and Wednesday after school, I'm having auditions for the middle school production.  Let the craziness begin.

Salt Truck:  The salt truck just whizzed past my house.  We've had about 1/2" of sleet, but with the crews out this early, we probably won't miss any school.  The glutton in me was hoping for a late start.  We're supposed to get nailed with more snow on Tuesday.  We'll see what that does for the school schedule.

Sing-a-Long Sound of Music:  Tuesday afternoon (weather permitting) will be the 4th (I think...) annual Sing-a-Long Sound of Music party for Drama Club.  We watch The Sound of Music, we eat loads of sugar, and we dress in costume... the more creative the better.  Last year, I decorated a pair of sunglasses with some pretty cutouts, and I went as "snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes."  One of my favorite costumes in the past was three girls wiggling under a huge green blanket.  They were "the hills are alive."  Hopefully, the weather will cooperate with us so we won't have to cancel this tradition.

One More Weekend:  I'm trying not to dwell, but I only have two performances left as Eleanor of Aquitaine.  boo hoo

Travel Plans:  My plans were finalized today to visit my California cousins after Christmas.  I can't wait to see them all.  I'm really looking forward to visiting the ranch again and spending time with Kelly, Steve, Cameron, Kate, and Claire.

Well, enough musing for now.  Have a great week, everyone!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thinking of you, Grandma

1 year ago, my grandma passed away.  It was a crazy, icy weekend.  It was also the Gala opening of the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts, and I was performing.  I had spent many nights in the two weeks previous to her death on a spare bed in her room at Parkview Care Center.  We knew it wouldn't be long, and I didn't want her to be alone.  My Uncle Dave came, and he and I switched off, making sure someone was always there.  

I think I had four performances that weekend, and Uncle Dave suggested I sleep in my own bed, which was probably a good idea.  But after the show that night, I went out to see Grandma.  It was late, maybe 11:00 or so.  She'd been in and out for several days, but that night she was awake and clear.  Uncle Dave slept in the chair by her bed, and I leaned down and talked to her.  I held her hand and told her about the show and asked her how she was feeling.  Even then, she was never one to complain.  I didn't stay long because I wanted her to rest, but I leaned down and kissed her forehead and told her I loved her.  She looked me right in the eye and said, "I love you too."  I went home and went to bed.  I got the call a couple hours later that she'd slipped away quietly in her sleep.  It was hard to perform the next day, but I knew she wouldn't have wanted me to miss it.  If I can make it through that, I can make it through anything.  

I miss her a lot today.  We're having a day off school due to icy weather, and if she were still at Sunnybrook, I'd pick up Subway or something for us and surprise her, and we'd watch Wheel of Fortune or a basketball game.  I put up some of her Christmas decorations this year.  I'm glad I have them, but it makes me sad too.  I miss her.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Three Weeks in a Row & The Radio

For anyone who reads my blog who might also be thinking about seeing The Lion in Winter:  We've had a schedule adjustment.  We'll be playing Saturday, 12/6 (8:00), and Sunday, 12/7 (2:00) as scheduled.  Luckily, the theatre became available, and we'll be playing next weekend as well.  There will be shows on Friday, 12/12 (8:00), and Saturday, 12/13 (8:00).  No Sunday matinee that weekend.  If there is enough interest next weekend, there is a possibility of holding over one more weekend, but that will depend on demand.  

Last night, Diana and Therese came to see the show, and I think they really loved it.  Diana was crying when they came backstage, Therese hugged and hugged me.  They've asked me to come on their radio show Tuesday morning to talk about the show, so if you're close enough, tune into 100.1 fm on Tuesday morning!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

More Pics from The Lion in Winter

I pretty much love every show I'm in, but there's something about this one. Maybe it's because I haven't done a straight play in so long. Maybe it's because I've had to work so hard with it. Maybe it's because I really feel like I know Eleanor. I don't know what it is, but this one is really sticking with me. We have a pickup rehearsal tonight, and I can hardly wait to get there. I've been a little lost this week without Eleanor. Weird, huh? Anyway, enjoy some more pics from the show... we definitely have two more weekends, and maybe three. If you're in the Fairfield area, and you feel like spending two hours with one of the most dysfunctional families ever portrayed, drop on in for some fun!

"Henry's bed is Henry's province.  He can people it with sheep for all I care, which, on occasion, he has done."  Poor Alais.

I love this one.  I've just been screaming like a sociopath at Henry, and when he storms out, I say, "Well, what family doesn't have its little ups and downs?"

Eleanor torments Henry... again.

"You're good.  First class, Geoff.  You'd sell John to me, or me to John, or... you can tell me... have you found some way to sell everyone to everybody?"

"I've born six girls, five boys, and thirty-one connubial years of you.  How am I possible?"

"Dear, dear.  Whatever shall we do with Mother?"

The boys... Geoffrey, John, and Richard.

"I know you, Henry.  I know every twist and bend you've got, and I'll be waiting around each corner for you."  

"King Henry had no sons!"

Richard comes for a visit with Mummy Dearest.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I'm as Bad as the Kids! :)

I have to admit, when I heard the weather forecast today, a tiny little voice in my head thought, "Maybe we'll have an early-out." The adult part of my brain quickly shut down that thought. Nah. The forecast is for 2-5 inches of snow, and we'll probably be the 2.

I got to school and pulled up the weather closings page, just in case. I checked it from time to time. Nothing. Oh well.

Then, the magical e-mail came during my 5th hour class. Early dismissal at 1:30!!!! Have there ever been sweeter words to students or teachers than "early dismissal?" The best thing about an early dismissal is that it doesn't have to be made up at the end of the year.

Now, I'm typing this blog, but when my students get back from lunch, I'll be enjoying that last 20 minutes of the school day as much as they are. Last night at the store, I bought the fixin's for my mom's chili. I was just hungry for it. When I got home, though, I was too tired to fix it. But, now everything has changed. I'll go home at 1:30 and first snuggle down for a nap with the dog. Then, I'll get up and fix my mom's chili and be all snowed in while I eat it in front of the Christmas tree. It just doesn't get any better than that. I still haven't decided if I'm going to cancel choir because we sing Sunday, and we really need the rehearsal with Christmas coming up. I guess I can cross that bridge in a couple of hours though. For now I'm just going to do my early-out happy dance, right along with the kids.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Atari 2600

When Matt & I were little, we had a Pong game, but I don't remember being too interested in it. Our real love of video games began with Atari 2600. We got it when we lived in Iowa City, so it had to be somewhere between the summer of 1980 and December of 1982. Here are some of my favorite games.

Circus... it was especially entertaining when the guys would splat on the ground. ;)

Pitfall... I always went to the left instead of the right... I thought it was easier to roll with the barrels than to have to jump them every single time.

Missile Command... The sound got on my nerves, so I'd turn the TV volume way down. I don't think we even had a remote then to "mute." Ah, the old days.

Burger Time... Too bad the sound doesn't play in this clip. I loved the music. Aren't the graphics wretched in this game? Oh well, it was fun! :)

And, of course, Pac-Man. I remember we bought this game at Sycamore Mall. Matt and I were so freaking excited. I think we got it as some kind of reward for something... who knows... we probably didn't beat each other to pulps for five days or something. Matt was a biter, and I was a pincher. It did not make a good combination, but I digress...

Blessings for Today

1. SNOW!!! We have a couple inches on the ground, and it is gorgeous, sticking to all the trees. Now, I know by March, I'll be ready to see it go. But for now, I love, Love, LOVE it!!!

2. I finally chose a show for this year. The FMS show for 2009 will be "100 Years of Broadway." I have wanted to do a revue for awhile now, and I think this is the year. The music looks like it has good potential for making it my own. I hope to have soloists and big group numbers, with some dialogue/narration in between. Now, things will really start to speed up. I'll have auditions week after next, and rehearsals will get rolling after the holiday break.

3. Sleep. Suzanne talked me out of going back to school last night after dinner with the Kurths. I went home, relaxed, and went to bed early (well, early for me). I'll be here at school late tonight doing midterms, but I feel refreshed today. Nice feeling for a Monday after the long break.

4. Show high. I'm still riding the opening weekend high. I can't wait to be Eleanor again this weekend. Hurry up, Friday!!!

5. My safety. I've been thinking so much about the terrorism in India. My heart goes out to all of those people affected. I'm thankful that terrorism hasn't directly impacted my life, and I pray for peace in the world.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Lion in Winter... Opening Weekend

Here are some pictures from The Lion in Winter.  We had a great opening weekend.  I can hardly put into words how much I love playing Eleanor of Aquitaine.  She's all these little snippets of my actual personality and how I wish I could be if I wasn't worried about what anyone thought of me.  I guess that's an advantage to being Queen of England.  More later on the experience, but this gives you a little taste...

Queen Eleanor and her boys.  "What a greedy little trinity you are.  King, king, king.  Two of you must learn to live with disappointment."

Queen Eleanor with her favorite son, Richard.  "War agrees with you.  I keep informed.  I follow all your slaughters at a distance." 

Prince John and Prince Richard.  Daddy's favorite and Mummy's favorite.  Can't you just smell the tension?

King Phillip of France comes to Christmas Court at Chinon.  Big fireworks to come.

Completely psycho picture of Queen Eleanor tormenting King Henry.  "What kind of spindly, rickett-ridden, milky, wizened, dim-eyed, gammy-handed, limpy line of things will you beget?"

King Phillip and Prince Richard.  They're close.  ;)

Queen Eleanor and King Henry tormenting each other, as usual.  "A little peace?  Why so modest?  How about eternal peace?  Now, there's a thought."

Prince Geoffrey, King Phillip, and Prince John.  More plotting.

I can't believe three performances are over.  It's going too fast!!!!  Tracy came over this weekend for opening night, and I was so proud to have her here.  We also had a good time just hanging out, watching the Christmas lighting ceremony on the square, and doing a little shopping.  It was a short visit, but I'm not complaining at all.  I love seeing her whenever I can.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


A few years ago, a thick book appeared in the hands of many of my students. It had a black cover featuring pale white hands holding a scarlet apple. I wasn't interested. It looked like the typical teen angst book to me... not my style. I had no desire whatsoever to read Twilight. It came out right at a time when some more risque books were making waves in young adult fiction, and in my mind, I guess I lumped them all together. The more students recommended it to me, the less I wanted to read it. Then I found out it was about vampires! Definitely not my thing. Other than Harry Potter, I'm not into fantasy books at all, and V.C. Andrews books when I was 14 are about as close as I ever got to the horror genre.

Well, this year I caved. I did it partly because my Delta Kappa Gamma book club decided to read it, but I also was curious to see what all the hype was about. I'm glad I gave in. I was delightfully surprised. It hooked me almost instantly. I almost forgot it was about vampires. I just really got into the story and the characters. I like it when books surprise me, and this one definitely did.

I know people are analyzing the series... it's written by a Mormon author named Stephanie Meyer. I've heard people say the message is abstinence. I've heard people worry that it conveys the message that women should be subservient to men. I've heard of conservative Christian parents not letting their kids read it. I've heard it all. I don't know what the author intended, but personally, I just found it an entertaining read. Despite it being a really thick book, it reads so quickly. It was also surprisingly tame. The writing was so accessible that even just a kiss between Edward and Bella (and that's as far as it ever goes) quickened my pulse a bit. It took me back to being a teenager and those feelings of first love, but it's definitely PG. I expected a vampire romance book to be a lot more graphic. It just wasn't. And as a teacher, I love it when kids get excited about reading. It's hard to pry these books out of the kids' hands.

Now, I'm reading the third book in the series, and like all my students, I can't wait to see the movie. When you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I guess. :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

There is Life Outside Your Apartment

This looked fun... if you want to try, be sure to leave me a comment.  I'd love to see how others turn out, but I'm not going to specifically tag anyone...

1. Put Your iTunes on Shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. You must write down the name of the song no matter how silly it sounds!
4. Put any comments in brackets after the song name.
5. Tag at least 10 friends.
6. Anyone tagged has to do the same, because fun pointlessness spreads like a virus.
(I'm gonna put the artist just so you know I'm not lying)

If someone says, “Is this okay?” You say?
Go Tell It On the Mountain (The Blenders Christmas Collection)

How Would You Describe Yourself?
Don't Come Around Again (Rooney, Calling the World)

What Do You Like in a girl/guy?
Money, Money, Money (Meryl Streep, Mamma Mia)
[I can't believe that came up!!!  (:I)]

What is Your Life's Purpose?
Popular (Kristin Chenowith, Wicked)
[Do I sound completely materialistic in this game, or what???]

What is Your Life Motto?
Friendship (Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway, Sibling Revelry)
[That's better!]

What Do Your Friends Think of You?
Can't Buy Me Love (The Beatles, 1)
[hm... again]

What Do You Think of Your Parents?
Another National Anthem (Marc Kudisch and Mario Cantone, Assassins 2004 Revival Cast)
[not sure what to make of that one]

What Do You Often Find Yourself Thinking About?
Infinite Joy (Liz Callaway, Infinite Joy - The Songs of William Fin...)

What is 2+2?
Blister in the Sun (Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes)
[those days of playing this song for my kindergarteners while they played Musical Bumps are coming back to haunt me]

What Do You Think of Your Best Friend?
The Ladies Who Lunch (Elaine Stritch, My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies)
[another brilliant zinger... I'll drink to that!]

What Do You Think of the Person You Like?
The First Goodbye (Cast, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee)
[that's a little depressing]

What Is Your Life Story?
Don't Fall in Love with a Dreamer (Kim Carnes and Kenny Rogers)
[Whoa.  That's scary.]

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Old Friends, Part II (Amy Ryder, Adam Heller, and Malcolm Gets, Merrily We Roll Along - York Theatre)

What do you think of when you see the person you like?
Silent Night (Boyz II Men, Ultimate Christmas)
[well, I do clam up a bit... ;)]

What will you dance to at your wedding?
Big Man in Town (Cast, Jersey Boys)
[I don't think so.]

What will they play at your funeral?
Sex and the City Movie Theme (Pfeifer Broz Orchestra, Sex and the City Soundtrack)
[that would definitely set a mood...]

What is your hobby/interest?
One Moment in Time (Whitney Houston, The Greatest Hits)
[hm... again]

What is your biggest fear?
The One that You Love (Air Supply, The Definitive Collection)
[there's something to analyze there...]

What is your biggest secret?
Sarah Brown Eyes (Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Ragtime - The Musical)
[Hm.  That sounds mysterious...]

What do you think of your friends?
Yummy (Gwen Stefani, The Sweet Escape)
[they ARE yummy!  ;)]

What will you post this as?
There is Life Outside Your Apartment (Original Broadway Cast, Avenue Q)
[and I did... FUN!]

Blessings for Today

1.  Diet Mountain Dew.  I seriously would not have survived today without it.

2.  The most amazing caramel dip for apples that I've ever eaten in my life.  A fellow teacher brought it for our Wednesday afternoon social today.  SO GOOD!  

Here's the recipe (it's all spread out on a big platter like a layered dip) (Thanks, Angela!):  
Bottom- Mix 1 package-cream cheese, brown sugar (enough to change to a brownish color), and vanilla(1 tsp).
Middle- Spread on Mrs. Richardson's Butterscotch Caramel
Top- Sprinkle on toffee chips
This isn't a recipe that you can mess up. Just mix, spread, sprinkle....and dip!

You will not be sorry if you try this... the toffee chips are like little bursts of wonderful.  And, yes, I'm fully aware that PMS and the upcoming opening of a show might make food just a little more of a priority right now, but I'm not kidding.  This is some GOOD STUFF!!!

3.  My students.  They say things that completely crack me up.  Here are two that happened this week.

Girl:  "I don't have ADHD.  I have ADOS..." 
Me:  "What's that?"
Girl:  "Attention Deficit... Oooooh, Shiny!"

I had just finished talking to some students about staying on task and using their time wisely.  I didn't lose my temper, but I definitely made my point.  Another boy in this class had been listening and said, "You remind me of those waitresses at Applebee's.  They say it with a smile, but you sense tension."

Never a dull moment in middle school.  :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

My friends and I would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, compliments of JibJab.  :)

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Jeff, Duane, President-Elect Barack Obama, and I would like to again wish you a Happy Thanksgiving...

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And, finally, more Thanksgiving wishes from my California cousins and me.  

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I just couldn't help myself.  It was way too much fun!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Random Word Associations

Just a little glimpse into the how things work in my head.  This is not premeditated.  I'm just going for it.

Green apple
A Year Down Yonder
Jefferson County Park
Dr. Larson
Wabash Arts Camp
wood pile
morel mushrooms
Grandpa Sutherlin

Now, the explanation...

I'm  drinking a Green apple Izze soda which is
A pecan is something in tarts 
which reminds me of the book A Year Down Yonder.
I think my friend Diana would be perfect if that book were made into a play.
Diana hosts a radio show with Therese
who works in the nature center
at Jefferson County Park
where I like to take Avery for walks.
Jeff, Duane, Avery, and I walked there when they were here for Mandie's wedding,
and I took a lot of pictures with my camera.
That weekend I got bronchitis
and had to see Dr. Larson
which reminded me of when I threw my back out and he prescribed me Vicodin.
That made seeing Spamalot in Des Moines a whole new adventure.
That was the weekend I left for my second summer at Wabash Arts Camp
in Shenandoah.
The Wabash Trace trail goes through there, but it starts in Council Bluffs,
and Tracy and I 
went on a walk there this summer.
There are horses on the trail, and Tracy is hoping they help her get over her fear.
This reminded me of my pony, Jenny, that I got for my fourth birthday.
But before I had her, I would take a big log from the woodpile
and saddle it up, pretending I was riding.
I always had a huge imagination,
and I would pretend everywhere, even in the car, steering and pushing my "brake
when Dad did.
For my eighth birthday, he got me my own motorcycle.
I have a scar on my knee
from a wipeout during a race with my stepsister Melanie.
I crashed on the gravel road,
and I didn't have a helmet on, which was totally against my dad's rules.
This all made me think of Dad's farm
and playing out in the pasture
and watching my dog Trinket follow my dad out in the field, even when she got old 
and my dad's tears when she died... the first time I saw him ever cry.
I've looked about everywhere on the farm for morel mushrooms,
which always makes me think of my Grandpa Sutherlin... I wish I'd known him.
I'm blessed with a wonderful family.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Hawkeye Mornin' Crew

I'm sitting here supervising Saturday school (which, thankfully, is going great... the 2 kids are working hard and are pleasant and respectful), thinking of my Mornin' Crew tailgating group at their last home game of the year. My show opens in two weeks, and I just really didn't want to miss rehearsal today. Heather's high school football team is playing in the state finals, so she wanted to see them play. We sold our tickets to our principal, who was a Hawkeye player himself in the early nineties. I remember seeing him play during my one year at Iowa. That was also a Rose Bowl year. He's a Fairfield boy, come home to raise his family. And today, he and his son are honorary Mornin' Crew members, Lord help them. ;)

The Mornin' Crew is a perfect example of my crazy, messed-up, wonderful family. I'd say for me, the tailgating group hinges around my stepbrothers, Tim & Travis. They are massive Hawkeye fans, and that's probably one reason why my mom fit in so well with their family! Even though my mom was only married to my stepdad, Mike, for about 2 1/2 months before she died, all the boys (and their wives) have worked hard to make sure Matt and I still feel like part of their family. That means so much to me.

I've had Iowa season football tickets for several years... it must be going on 10 or something like that. When Tim & Travis and their Uncle Dennis (married to Mike's sister, LuAnn) decided to get season tickets, I moved over to sit with them. We usually tailgated together anyway, so now it's even more fun to sit with them during the games.

We've made a ton of great memories over the years tailgating and going to bowl games, but the very best memory I have is the Capital One Bowl in Orlando where the Hawks beat LSU at the very end of the game. "The Catch" happened pretty much right across from us, and I'll never forget it. The whole trip was a blast. We even rang in the New Year at Universal Studios.

In our crew, everyone has nicknames. My Mornin' Crew nickname is Rapper because I can perform the entire "Clap your hands, everybody. Everybody clap your hands..." rap from the end of Revenge of the Nerds. One of my many hidden talents. ;) Other members that I can remember offhand include Tippy, Bluto, Flounder, Scrapper, Hoover, Panther, Miss LuAnn, and Pepper, Clark, & Ellen. Wild bunch.

Well, as I write this, the whole crew is cheering from section 213, and I'm following the score online. Looks like we missed an extra point. Hope that doesn't come back to bite us in the butt. This game and the upcoming Minnesota game will decide which bowl game the Crew will be attending. I probably won't go... nothing will ever match the Capital One bowl in my memory or heart.

For more information on the Hawkeye Mornin' Crew and all they stand for, see our website... I know you all have a burning desire. GO HAWKS!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Blessings for Today

1.  a $50 corduroy jacket that I've been eyeing since summer marked down to $24.99

2.  an afternoon of networking with other talented/gifted teachers, swapping ideas and strategies

3.  looking forward to a night with friends on Friday, taking a 5-year old Tinkerbell addict to see Peter Pan

4.  a great part in a great play to sink my chops into

5.  book club after school tomorrow

6.  a good/silly idea for this year's FMS talent show

7.  only having to be in charge of In School Suspension one period a day, 2 days a week, max

8.  extra money for being in charge of Saturday School this weekend

9.  still being on Cloud 9 from the Hawkeyes kicking some Penn St. butt

10.  the love of friends and family, laughter, music, communication, and 30 Rock

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Love First, Baby

I have not written publicly about Proposition 8.  Maybe out of cowardice, I don't know.  I have many dear, loved and loving family members who read this blog who are so conservative, with views so opposite of mine, that we choose to not discuss issues rather than to raise our blood pressures.  I try only to rile them up when I'm feeling especially passive aggressive.  HA.  But today, two things came across my path, and they couldn't sum up my own personal feelings more perfectly.  

The first is part of a blog that I have on my list on the right hand side of this page by Margaret and Helen.  You can click on it to the right if you feel like reading the whole thing, but this part really spoke to me.  

"If you want to protect Holy Wedlock, by all means padlock the door whenever guys who love Judy Garland come a knocking. But if you want to protect marriage push for a constitutional amendment to ban divorce.

But let’s step away from the church and state argument for a second. I posted yesterday that love is about the heart not the body. Trust me, if it was about the body a lot of us would be in a world of trouble. You can’t legislate love between two consenting adults. You just can’t no matter how hard you try. If you want to save marriage, marry someone you love."

My parents have 5 marriages between them.  Don't get me wrong... I'm very happy to be here writing this, and without their first marriage, I wouldn't be.  But think of how seriously people would take marriage if there were a constitutional amendment to ban divorce.  Hm.

The second thing was brought to my attention on Facebook by my friend (Facebook friend... I only WISH she could be my real life friend!!!), Broadway Diva Donna Lynne Champlin, who came to Fairfield last December for the Opening Gala of the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts.  She had this clip linked to her status, and when I watched it, I knew I had to spread it too.

One of my speeches in The Lion in Winter includes this... "For the love of God, can't we love each other just a little?  That's how peace begins.  We have so much to love each other for.  We have so many possibilities, my children.  We can change the world."

To quote my friend Kris, "Love first."  

And to quote Forest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Blogging World

Sometimes when I'm bored (or procrastinating), I click the "next blog" button at the top of the page.  The blogging world is certainly an interesting one.  I've seen blogs from all countries in all sorts of languages.  

I've noticed that lots of new young families blog, probably to update families and friends across the miles.  They document pregnancies from week to week, share baby pictures, tell funny kid stories, etc.  Many of those new young families post links to other new young families, and I've peeped in on adorable babies, kids on the first day of school, birthday parties, wedding receptions, and family reunions.  Sometimes they get to me a little because I wish I had my own new family to blog about.  When I'm in a pity party mood, I try to steer clear of the "next blog" button unless I'm feeling like a total glutton for punishment.  

I've noticed that many LDS families blog.  I find that interesting.  I've also noticed that many private photography studios have a blog.  I love those... looking in on senior pictures, engagement pictures, baby pictures.  I've come across blogs that I like to check in on from time to time... like this blog by a United Methodist pastor.  I've also come across blogs that are a little scary and that I hope to never find again.  Some blogs totally tick me off... tons of right-wing Conservative Christians have blogs.  I don't know why some suck me in, but they do, and they raise my blood pressure every time.  

Some blogs are forgettable, but some blogs have really affected me.  I'm thinking of one in particular that moved me so much.  Maybe I'll write about it on here someday, but the experience that lead up to me finding that blog was incredibly emotional and fairly upsetting, so it's still too fresh at this point.  But, anyway, I have been surprised to realize that blogging could connect me on such an emotional level to complete strangers.

I've linked my friends' blogs to mine, and people have reconnected with them through me.  I've also connected with blogs through theirs.  I find more friends all the time who blog.  It's kind of amazing.

There are all different styles of blogging.  Mine is honest but not too honest.  In other words, I blog about the day-to-day stuff in my life.  I share joys and concerns... a lot of stuff that I used to journal about.  However, I don't blog about the dark places.  Nobody needs to be reading about that.  ;)  I share personal experiences and things that I find entertaining.  

Blogging is a weird world.  I mean that in a good way, for the most part.  I wonder how many people actually blog.  And I wonder if anyone else peeks in on my blog the way I peek in on others.  There is probably some social experiment there.  I wonder what anthropologists of the future will think of blogging.  Hm.  I think I better go to bed.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

John Williams Tribute

A Facebook friend of mine - Heather - posted this link.  It is so awesome... I had to share.  All you John Williams fans/Star Wars nerds out there, ENJOY!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Cried

I had no idea I'd cry so much tonight.  
I cried when I realized it was possible.  
I cried when the networks projected a winner.  

I cried when John McCain spoke. 
So eloquent.  
So gracious.  
So classy.  
I hurt for him.  
He truly is a hero who has sacrificed more 
than I ever knew I had.

I cried when I saw Barack Obama speak to more than 
a million people.  
I cried because I was happy.  
I cried because I was scared.  
I cried because I was relieved.  

I cried because our country has taken another step.  
A step toward growing up.  
When Geraldine Ferraro said in 1984 that 
"America is the land where dreams can come true for all of us," 
it wasn't really true.  
I cried tonight because now it is, 
or at least we're a lot closer to where that is.  

I cried because the hope is so big 
it feels like it's going to burst through my chest.  
The hope that we can be respected again in the world.  
The hope that we can have peace.  
The hope that we can all just get along and be proud Americans, 
no matter what our beliefs or philosophies.  
The hope that we can have differing opinions 
but still respect each other and work together.  

I cried when Barack Obama talked about his grandmother.  
I miss mine, 
and I know how it feels to have wonderful things happen 
and to wish the people you love the most were 
there by your side.

I cried because I'm proud.  
I'm proud to be an American.
I'm grateful to live in a country where I have the right
to speak
to teach
to debate
to vote
to dream

to hope.

Hope and gratitude.
Important words in my life.
I'm so filled to the brim, they spilled out.

I cried.

What a Way to Start the Day

Could there be any better way to start the day than exercising our right to vote? I waited in line for 25 minutes today before school, and it was worth every second. I love voting. This is the 5th Presidential election I've voted in, and it's exciting to me every single time.
My prayer for today is that the people who are elected, from the President all the way down to our County Supervisors, take their responsibilities seriously, ask for guidance, listen to their constituents, and strive to do what is right.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Blessings for Today

I was just sitting here having a little pity party, so before it sinks any deeper, I'm going to focus on my blessings for today.  Welcome to my cheap therapy.

1.  What a beautiful day.  It was so beautiful, it was almost unreal.  I took Avery out to Jefferson County Park after school and we hiked over to the swinging bridge.  It cracks me up seeing him cross.  He's OK until about halfway across when it really starts bouncing.  Please don't turn me in to the Humane Society, but it's really funny.

2.  Day 1 of ITBS testing is done... only 2 more to go for me this week.  I can only focus on one week at a time when it comes to this, but for this week, I'm almost halfway done.

3.  I'm so excited to vote tomorrow.  I can't help it.  I love voting.  Elections and voting are blessings I try to never take for granted.  We are blessed to live in a country where we have the freedom to elect our leaders.

4.  Last night I got to walk at Chautauqua Park with Suzanne, Jack, & Emma, and then we had pizza for supper.  It was beautiful yesterday too... we have to get out and enjoy these days while they last.

5.  My dad stood up in church yesterday and offered up our Saturday trip to Des Moines and my National Board Certification as a celebration.  That meant a lot to me because it showed me he really does get how important it was to me.

OK.  I feel better.  Complete meltdown averted.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Random Shots from Terrace Hill

The Governor's mansion was a really beautiful place.  Here are some parts that I thought were especially interesting...

The Ceremony at Terrace Hill

Yesterday was the celebration in Des Moines at Terrace Hill, the Iowa Governor's mansion, for the teachers who earned National Board Certification in 2007.  I'd never been to Terrace Hill before, so that was a new experience.  It was beautiful, and Tracy told me that it was designed by the same architect that did the Dodge House in Council Bluffs.  I'd never noticed the similarities until she said that.

We toured the house, and then there was a reception of hors d'oeuvres and beverages.  A representative from the Department of Education spoke, and then we were on our way.  Short and sweet.  I'm glad I went, but I have to be honest though.   I really thought I was going to be meeting the Governor.  Here's what the invitation said:  "Governor Chet Culver & First Lady Mari Culver invite you and three guests to Terrace Hill to celebrate your recent National Board Certification.  We are proud to welcome Iowa's greatest teachers to the Governor's mansion for an afternoon celebration."  Am I just taking that wrong, or does it sound like the Governor and his wife were planning on being there?  I was a little disappointed, but it was still a very nice honor.  The day was beautiful, and we did get to see the Governor's mansion.  Dad and Alice and I went out for a late lunch afterward, and we had a pleasant drive up and back.  Good conversation, lovely fall colors, and quality time spent together.  I was proud to have them with me.

The Nelsons

Dad and I on the front steps of the mansion

The three teachers from Fairfield who earned National Board Certification last year: Diane Goudy, Jennifer Mangler, and me... there are now 563 Nationally Board Certified teachers in the state of Iowa.  36 of us were certified in 2007.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Weekly Update

I'm sitting here at parent/teacher conferences, and I actually have a little break. That's a total miracle. Tuesday I did not move my butt from my chair for 3 1/2 hours. That was a long night. For fall conferences at my school, all the teachers sit at tables in the commons, and parents move from table to table, visiting the teachers they need to see. I had a line waiting in front of my table for the whole night on Tuesday. It's been a steady stream tonight so far, but I've actually had some time to breathe in between conferences, so that's been refreshing.

This week has been completely crazy. Monday was our only normal day... well, as normal as you can get with middle school. It was an especially long day for me because I'd been up very late Sunday night finishing grades. I stayed at school until 1:30 a.m., and I don't mind doing that because it's quiet and I get a lot done, but it makes a very short night's sleep.

Tuesday was an early dismissal due to conferences. After school, I worked like mad getting ready for Wednesday staff development, which I was in charge of, along with my associate principal. I grabbed something to eat and quickly let the dog out before heading back to school for conferences. After conferences, I had rehearsal until 10:45, which would have been enough, right? Well... I had stuff to finish for the morning, so I went back to school after that. Another short night of sleep.

I was at school by 7 a.m. on Wednesday to prep for staff development (on a normal day, I'm not even up by that time), and even though I was tired, it was totally worth it. Kelly, my associate principal, and I had planned different learning stations for our colleagues to learn some new strategies for differentiating instruction for all learners. Our planning really paid off. Everything went so smoothly, and so many people came up to me afterward to say that they really got a lot out of the experience. Wednesday night I had choir, and then rehearsal after that until about 11.

Today, we had another early dismissal because of conferences. And now, here I am. I have rehearsal when I leave here, probably until 10:30 or 11. And then... drum roll please... I GET TO SLEEP LATE TOMORROW!!!! I can't tell you how I'm looking forward to that. Is it bad to look so forward to sleep??? Having Friday off is the best part of conference week.

Tomorrow I'm having a special rehearsal at 1:30, and then I'm meeting up with a friend of mine who is coming into town for the weekend. I hear about what Emily is up to through Facebook and through her mom who is in my Centering Prayer group, but I haven't actually seen her in a few years, so I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday is the big day at the Governor's mansion. Dad and Alice are going with me, and the other two teachers in my district who earned National Board Certification last year will be there with their families too. I don't really know what to expect, but I'm excited.

Choir sings on Sunday, but I don't have to teach Sunday school. That combined with turning the clocks back will hopefully catch me up on all the sleep I missed this week. I'm hoping!

Someone (Tracy maybe?) sent me a pretty funny website this week. If you're a Republican, don't bother, but it's so funny that I wish they'd actually do the same thing for all the candidates. Check it out at I'm actually really looking forward to Election Day. It's that A.P. Government nerd in me. Whenever I vote, I think of Mr. Tobias. His class was a highlight of my junior year. That was the 1988-1989 school year, with the George Bush/Michael Dukakis campaign. Mr. T worked it out for our class to be at the courthouse on Election night. We got to tally and run totals to the newspapers and TV stations. It was a total blast. It also instilled in me a passion for voting and the whole election process. Thanks, Mr. T. I'll be thinking of you on Tuesday.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I am Not a Techie; I am a Diva

I just spent the afternoon painting set for The Lion in Winter. And I will reiterate, I AM NOT A TECHIE; I AM A DIVA. I don't care how it's built, where the lights are hung, who sewed the costume, or who freaking painted the set... I just want to step out in the spotlight, look wonderful, and be adored. Is that too much to ask?

OK. I'm better. It's just that all of that was brewing inside for a few hours, and I had to let it out. I did my share with a smile on my face. None of them needed to know what was going on inside my head.

And pray for me this week, everyone. Parent/teacher conferences. Enough said.

Opie and Richie for Obama

Tracy sent me this ad this week.  I was entertained...

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's Why I Love My Job

My 8th grade GOAL students are just finishing up their unit on the Holocaust. I'd say I was disappointed overall in what they got from the unit. They read several different Holocaust novels in literature circles, we read the play of The Diary of Ann Frank," and we watched a movie with historical footage and survivor accounts. The discussions just didn't get very deep, and they just didn't seem to be moved at all by the stories we studied. I've learned over the years of teaching middle school students to not take this personally. Some adolescents are just more ready than others to think deeply. Plus, you can never really know how much they're internalizing as they sit and shrug their shoulders in class. Today was a perfect example of that.

It was their last day in class to work on their project, basically a reflection of what they've learned during the unit about the characters in their books, how the Holocaust affected the world, and what lessons there are to learn today from studying the Holocaust. The classroom was quiet, and they were working hard because the deadline is looming. One of my students (I tell her she tests me... she's just one of those kids who needs to know why we're doing everything we're doing... it's good for me, but she tests me) raised her hand and quietly said, "I just don't get why there is war." 8 sets of eyes looked in my direction for answers. This led to the most meaningful discussion I've had with them so far this year.

We talked about reasons for war, and as with most good discussions, every question led to 10 more. I played Devil's Advocate, and they debated and discussed and questioned. Oil dependency. Vietnam. Islam. Holocaust survivors. The Crusades. Freedom. I teared up. I'm not kidding. I told them that if they left my class in May thinking about these kinds of questions, not just eating up what other people feed them about important issues, that I will have considered my time with them a success.

These kids are the leaders of tomorrow, and hopefully, they're going to grow up into adults with consciences who think about how their actions affect others and how they can solve the problems we've handed them on a silver platter. We didn't come up with a single answer today. I'm sure they left my room with 100 more questions than when they walked in. But they're thinking, and they're thinking deep. This is why I love my job.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Four Days of Ups and Downs, Part 2

Blogger was being a bit of a pain, and I wasn't feeling up to the battle last night, so I'll finish posting about the weekend now.  Saturday night was the big event, and I was looking forward to wearing 8.91 again (That's another story all of its own, but that's the name of my formal gown).  The online invitation said that formal wear like tuxes and gowns was welcomed and encouraged.  Well, I was overdressed for the rest of the clientele, but I FOLLOW DIRECTIONS, DARNIT!  And, I looked really good, so who cares what everyone else was wearing, right?  Now, I had convinced my friend Tom (my "+ guest" for the evening) to wear his tux.  I could tell he was a little uncomfortable since no one else had the guts to follow the directions, but he and I looked great together, so again... who cares?  Plus, since Jeff was part of the wedding party, he was all spiffed up in his tux, so I just stayed close to him after Tom left (I released him from his duties after dinner and 1 dance... I just did NOT want to sit by myself during the wedding or at dinner).  Here are some pictures of Duane, Jeff, and me before the wedding.
The wedding was in the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts, and it was beautiful.  I'd never seen a wedding on stage before, and it was quite a production, with a whole "set" done in reds and blacks.  The reception was in the convention side of the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center, and it was stunning.  This picture is a little blurry, but you can get the idea.  
There were so many candles!  We had a delicious meal, and then the dancing started under the red lanterns and lights hung from this 11 foot high creation built by the bride's father just for the occasion.  It was a great night.  Jeff sounded awesome with our friend Emily who had flown in from her school in Idaho just for the wedding.  It was a beautiful night.

Before we left, we went on stage and had our pictures taken on the "set."  I'm so glad Jeff and Duane came down.  It was an awesome weekend, and it was even worth being sick for in the end.  I know I should have rested Saturday, but I wouldn't have missed time with Jeff and Duane for anything.
For Jeff's take on the weekend (his is much more detailed, but I don't feel good, people... take what you can get) and for different pictures (including a pretty funny one involving my cleavage), see his snarky librarian blog.
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