Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Little Game

I was randomly hitting the "next blog" button when I came across this fun little game today.  It's a three day weekend... I have plenty of time to waste, right?  I don't need to go to school or clean my kitchen... I have all the time in the world for that!  ;)  Here are the rules of the game:  You look at the label and think of your answer.  Then, you put that answer into Google Image Search.  You choose your favorite image from only the first page of results.

my age

a place I'd like to travel to

two of my favorite places

my favorite object

my favorite food
I took liberties and did not limit it to just one  ;)

my favorite animal

my favorite color, especially when teamed with pink

the town where I was born

the town where I live... happens to be the same town!

a past pet

a past love

my best friend's nickname

my first name
Oh, what did I do before my name was plastered on packages of incontinence products all throughout the world?!?!?!  blerg.

my middle name

my last name
Seeing Nelson Mandela restores a fraction of my dignity from the first name photo.

my first job
Again, I took liberties... I put my first two, and I just now remembered that I babysat before both of these.  Oh well.

my bad habit
I could have taken liberties here too, but frankly, I was scared what would come up if I searched "emotional eating."  ;)

both my grandmothers' first names
I have no idea what this first thing has to do with Christena, but trust me, this was the best thing on the page.  The female bodybuilder will haunt my dreams tonight.

my wanna-be college degree

what I'm doing right now
This picture says it all.  Well, I guess the words help, but the picture basically says it all.

If you're bored enough to want to try this too, leave a comment.  I'd love to see what yours looks like.  Looks like I've wasted my Sunday.  I'll actually have to labor on Labor Day.  That's OK.  Today was worth it.  

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hawkeyes Win!

The first Hawkeye football game of the season was today.  Heather and I left Fairfield around 6:00 a.m., and we headed for Iowa City.  We met up with the Mornin' Crew, and we had a super time!  We took the shuttle over to the stadium around 10:00 a.m., and everything was really buzzing with excitement.  I have to go through the south gates of the stadium, so I can touch Nile Kinnick's helmet before I go in, just like the team does.  

We made it in plenty of time for the National Anthem (the sound of music... inside joke), and we were off.  What a day.  Not a cloud in the sky.  And, we came away with a W.  The Hawks won 46-3!  Maine wasn't much of a challenge, so it's hard to tell what the Hawks will really be able to do this year, but it was such a fun day.  Every spring, I think to myself, "Is this money really worth it?  Do I really want to do this another year?"  And every fall, when I walk into that stadium for the first time, I know I'd regret not renewing my season tickets.  There is just nothing like the atmosphere in Kinnick.  I can't wait to go back next Saturday!  Go Hawks!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Election Musings

John McCain isn't making it any easier on me with his V.P. choice. I'm very intrigued by Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska. I'm going to have to get the scoop from my Alaska cousins. I know that she's been very aggressive in pursuing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. That's really all I've seen in my quickest search on the internet. Hm. The idea of a woman on the ticket is very enticing, however. Some of you have heard this story, but 8th grade was the peak of my Feminist stage (I have many Feminist traits now, but the term kind of turns me off... I would have tattooed it on my forehead in 8th grade, though). The topic for speech competition that year was "Symbols of Freedom." My class was filled with speeches on the American Flag, the Statue of Liberty, the bald eagle... you get the picture. My speech was on Geraldine Ferraro. I still remember the opening lines (yes, I admit again... I'm a nerd)...

"'America is the land where dreams can come true for all of us.' This definitely proves true for the woman who said it. She has, throughout her life, made all her dreams come true."

What can I say? She made a huge impression on me. It would be pretty amazing to have another woman make that impression on thousands of young women in our country today. As I write this, I realize that I was supporting Hillary Clinton more than I thought. Bill Richardson was my first choice... he's who I caucused for... but there is such a part of me that wants a woman to reach the top. I really loved HRC's speech this week at the convention. Obama was inspiring too. I just haven't decided anything yet. I thought John McCain's ad last night was all class.  I see glimmers in him of what I saw four years ago when he spoke at the Republican National Convention. I wonder if I'll feel the same way this year. I think their convention will do a lot to help me decide.

I've been having great discussions today with my GOAL kids about the election. It's so interesting. Many of them are just regurgitating their parents' thoughts. That's how things start. But, some are really starting to form opinions of their own. Honestly, I just want them to be involved and to care about what's happening in their country. I have no patience for apathy. Or maybe, I just have no patience. That's probably it too. ;)

Have a nice long weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Farewell, For Better For Worse

I read the saddest news online today.  My very favorite comic, For Better, For Worse, is ending this Sunday.  I started loving this comic when my grandma got a For Better, For Worse book.  My brother Matt and I would read that thing over and over.  We loved the line "Lawrence, Pawrence" (don't ask me why... it just cracked us up).  We just loved reading that book.  After that, I started reading the comic in the newspaper.  Mom always got the Des Moines Register in the mornings, and at the breakfast table, I'd catch up on the latest with Elly, John, Michael, and Elizabeth (and later, April).  When I moved to Fairfield, at first I lived on the other side of my grandma's duplex.  I'd go over and see her every day, even if it was just long enough to say hi and read the paper.  We'd always talk about For Better, For Worse.  When Grandma went to assisted living, I still went out almost every day.  I wouldn't stay long.  We'd chat or even just watch TV together, but I always read her paper, and we'd always talk about For Better, For Worse.  In this last couple of years, as my own love life was in the crapper, I rooted for Anthony and Elizabeth.  I KNEW they were supposed to end up together.  Well, this month, they got married, and all was right with the world.  I lived vicariously through them.  I felt like I'd grown up with Elizabeth.  She even became a teacher.  Elly was like my mom, perfectly imperfect (or imperfectly perfect... either fits), and as her dad grew older, it mirrored what I was going through with my grandma.  It's stupid, but I kind of feel like I'm losing friends.  The comic is going to continue.  The cartoonist is taking the series back to the beginning with "newruns," as she is calling them.  I'm glad it will be around, but I'll miss the family I'd come to love.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

This One's For Claire

I know.  I just can't leave well enough alone, but...  my cousin Claire is dreading the upcoming school year with the fire of a thousand suns.  I know when you're practically 13 and a Junior Ranch Chick, school is the last place you want to be, but... this kid is a writer and she doesn't even know it!  Here's how she described the Ranch to me last spring.  


Can't you just picture that?  

Hang in there, Claire.  The year will go by faster than you think.  And in the meantime, enjoy every last second of your summer!!!  :)

It's My Lucky Day!!

So, tonight after playing tennis, I got on to Facebook, and my cousin Kim from Australia had asked me to be her friend.  Then, when I'm checking my e-mail, I had a note from her saying that she's with my McLeod cousins at the Ranch, and she had a message from Claire for me. THEN, I look on my blog, and I have a comment from my Uncle Ben!  I'm getting all kinds of Sutherlin love on the internet tonight!!!!  Yea!

So, here's a message to all of you Sutherlin/McLeod/Watts family...  You are getting the biggest ball of love imaginable, hurtling toward you from Fairfield, Iowa.  I wish I was there at the Ranch to hug you all in person!!!  And Claire, I'll especially think of you tomorrow when I'm collecting my 8th graders' spelling homework.  I know how much you're dying for some homework about now!  ;) Why don't you take the ATV out tomorrow and think of me while I'm in SCHOOL!!!!! :(

I'm definitely going to bed with smiles and a warm heart tonight.  I love you all so much!

An Old Friend

I just needed a visit from an old friend today.  Maybe you do too.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I Survived the First Monday

This year, when the going gets tough, I'll just have a Serenity Now moment and whisk myself back to Martha's Vineyard.  This picture calms me practically instantly.  

I had a good Monday.  This was my first time back with my homeroom since the first day of school.  We had a little battle of wills, but they're just seeing how far they can go before things get ugly.  Not far.  Serenity Now.

I'm happy to report that my internet is back up and running, Thank God!  I have really become dependent on it.  The repairman was seriously here a total of 10 minutes.  So, that's a big relief.  I was out of school by 4:10 this afternoon.  Now, that NEVER happens.  I wanted to be home in case they needed to get in the house to deal with the fiber optics, which they did.  I brought some things home to work on (yes, I have homework already), but I have to admit, I like being home at that time.  I could wind down a little.  I had some supper, and when I quit here, I'm taking Avery to Jefferson County Park for a walk.  Then I'll get busy.  I don't think I should even be up late.

I can't believe this gorgeous weather.  It got down in the 50's last night... in August... in Iowa!!! What is up with that?  I'm sitting in my office right now, and the best breeze is blowing in.  It's going to spoil me.  It makes me ache for fall.  I know this weekend won't help that either, with the first Iowa game.  I hope this weather holds out for Saturday.  Can't wait to see the Mornin' Crew again!  Here's our official website.  Go Hawks!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Thoughts on Joe Biden

Last summer, my friend Heather and I sat on the bench of a picnic table at Chautauqua Park's #2 Shelter, a place I'd been a million times for everything from my 2nd grade end-of-the-year picnic to my dad's 52nd surprise birthday party. We were there to hear Joe Biden. We're lucky in Iowa because we get to meet so many Presidential candidates first hand. That summer, everyone but Hillary had been in town, and Heather and I went to hear as many as we could. There weren't a lot who showed up to hear Biden... definitely not the carnival atmosphere of when we heard Obama earlier in the summer... but it was intimate. Joe Biden walked up and down that aisle between the 2 lines of picnic tables, and he really talked to us. He even commented on Heather's million watt smile (guess this is one time when a Crest Strip addiction gets you places... ha). He found out we were teachers, and when he had a comment about education, he spoke directly to us. But, the moment that stands out the most for me was when he spoke about Iraq. His own son will be going to Iraq later this year, and at that time, they'd just found out that it would be happening. Senator Biden got completely choked up when he spoke about our soldiers in Iraq. For those of you who don't know, Senator Biden heads up the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And he knows his stuff. If anything, I was left that day hoping that he wouldn't get the nomination, because we need him too badly on that committee. I still feel that way to some extent, but I think he will balance the ticket really well. Here are the thoughts I have after meeting him in Fairfield last summer:

* Joe Biden has been in Washington long enough to understand how to play the game when he has to, but he's ballsy enough to take the game and shove it most of the time.

* Joe Biden says what he thinks. I'm pretty sure it gets him in trouble sometimes, but it's refreshing.

* Joe Biden needs a new haircut. But, I guess that makes it obvious that he's not spending $300 on one.

* Joe Biden understands and respects the enormity of the job.

* Joe Biden cares about people.

* Joe Biden likes people with white, white teeth. Damn. Gotta buy some of those White Strips.

* Joe Biden is really good at his job. He has the Foreign Relations experience that the Democratic ticket needs. I think his "old school" demeanor is a great balance to the vibe Barack Obama gives off. I think it's a great match.

4 years ago, Olivia Pearl Simpson was a baby on my lap as we bounced on the exercise ball in her room and watched the Republican National Convention. I'm a Democrat, but I have always believed that I can't run my mouth unless I try to walk in the shoes of the other guys too. Olivia and I watched John McCain speak. I remember thinking that if that man were ever to run for President, I would consider voting Republican. Now since then, he's become Pro-Life, and I have issues with that in itself and the fact that he could just switch his position out of nowhere, but I have to be honest when I say I haven't made my mind up yet. I never vote strictly by party lines... I vote by issues. It just happens that 95%of the time, that's Democrat. I have a lot of research to do before November before I decide who will get my vote.

Weekly Update

I'm getting ready to head into Week 2 of the 2008-2009 school year. Week 1 went well, and if it's any indication, I'm going to have a great year. My biggest class is my 8th grade language arts class. It has 21 kids. To give you some idea, my homeroom has 16, and then my next biggest class is only 9, so anyway, the 21 is a jolt in the middle of the day. Plus, I've been a little nervous because I've never taught it before. However, my nerves were eased on Friday though when we had a power outage. Unforeseen obstacles like this can really show the true colors of a class. This group was great though. We had a couple of laughs, and then I figured out something we could do in the dark, and they actually did it. They seem like a great group of kids. And luckily, the power only stayed off 10 minutes or so. Whew!

On a sad note, my FREAKING INTERNET IS DOWN AT HOME!!!!!!! Now that I have it, I can't live without it! I haven't been on Facebook since Thursday. I haven't been able to do anything at home but play Mah-Jongg. Ugh. My phone is also down, so it has to be something with my fiber optics line. And, of course, this little problem could not manage to happen in the weeks that I'm home doing nothing all day. I'm going to try to find a time I can let the guys into my house, or I'll have to beg my dad or stepmom to meet them... blah blah blah. It's just frustrating... that it won't work, and that I'm so totally addicted that I feel like all is not right with the world unless I can get on the internet at any hour of the day or night. Sad. Plain sad.

This morning I skipped church, and Avery and I went to Jefferson County Park for a walk. It was beautiful and cool with a nice breeze. Really, it was church. I guess I have a lot of my Grandpa Sutherlin in me... outside alone in nature sometimes feels closer to God than anywhere else ever could.

The extra sleep will be nice, but I'm going to miss the Olympics. I guess having them every four years makes us appreciate them a little more. Yesterday I watched rhythmic gymnastics. Now, that's a sport we don't hear much about. Honestly, I can take or leave the clubs, ropes, and hoops, but the ribbon.... the ribbon is AWESOME! Sometimes, I would forget entirely about the gymnast and just be watching the patterns that ribbon would make to the music. It is a really beautiful thing. It hardly seemed real... more like animation or something. Gorgeous.

I'm at school now, working on my skeletal plans for the year. My GOAL classes have so many big projects that I really need a basic plan for the year just so I fit everything in. We're on regular schedule this week with full-length classes (40 minutes). It's time to get serious, and that's a good thing. I'm ready to dig in.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

1 Down, 179 to Go

It was a great first day back to school. I have super kids... I can tell already. I can also tell already that my orneriest group is my last group of the day, so I guess that's a good thing. Once I make it through them, I'll be done for the day, except for homeroom, which is no biggie. I have four groups of eighth graders this year, which has never happened before. It's just the way the numbers worked out this year. I love my schedule because I still have first period planning, I have my sixth graders 2nd period, I have my 7th graders 3rd and 4th periods, and then the rest of the day I have 8th graders, with a break 7th period for team meetings with the 8th grade team.

It was a little warm today, but every time I get hot, I just remember to be thankful that my room isn't upstairs anymore. It's always at least 10 degrees hotter up there. Everything went well with the two new principals today. Of course, there were things that no one thought of telling them, but this year is going to be full of those.

I loved watching Shawn Johnson get her gold medal last night. I got teary, even though I knew what was going to happen. PMS? Maybe, but I like to think that I just really have the Olympic spirit. ;)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

She Did It!!!!!!

She was patient, gracious, determined, supportive, persistent... and it all came through for her today. Shawn Johnson did Iowa and all of the U.S. proud. I can't wait to watch her beam routine tonight! I always enjoy watching gymnastics, and I am always happy when the U.S. does well. I was thrilled for Nastia Liukin when she won the All-Around. I also just love watching great routines, regardless of the nationality. But... it's just not every day an Olympic champion comes from Iowa. She's our golden girl. Heck, this year there was even a Butter Shawn Johnson standing right next to the Butter Cow at the Iowa State Fair. I'm so proud of her. GREAT JOB, SHAWN!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008


Today I'm grateful for...

*the Olympic spirit

*the summer intern program at the Sondheim Center... it was a great first summer with you all... I'm sad to see it end


*internet at home... especially Facebook... I thought it was just for the young 'uns, but I was wrong... I've reconnected with so many people

*my dog Avery, who loves me in spite of the fact that I forgot to buy dog food before the vet clinic closed yesterday so I fed him a bowl of "treats" for his meal... maybe I'm not ready to be a mom... then again, it's not like Hy-Vee would ever close on Saturday at noon and not open up again until Monday morning... hmmm...

*my dear friends... you keep me sane and out of the loony bin when the loneliness starts to block out the sun

It's important for me to be grateful today, of all days.  13 years ago today (or 13 seconds... it feels the same), I lost my mom.  August 18 sucks.  But, I know I can find blessings if I set my mind to it.  I do feel that I'm lucky to have lived 23 years with a mom as special as mine.  Many people do not even get to have that.  Not long ago (as part of the de-cluttering frenzy, part 1), I found a letter that my friend Ricco wrote me after Mom died.  It was a beautiful tribute, full of memories.   One of my favorite parts said, "Most of all, I think I remember your doors never locked and your house always open to us.  Suzie was the best and I think you realize how much of a surrogate mother and friend she was to all of us."  She would have loved that.  I guess that's the biggest blessing of all today.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Time for Timer

OK... this could be addictive.  Like I need another thing like THAT in my life.  I've just found a bunch of old Public Service Announcements that used to be on Saturday mornings when I was little.  You know, when cartoons were actually GOOD???

I think this is the first time I'd ever heard the word "pomegranate."

So weird, but I loved these.  They were right up there with Schoolhouse Rock.  

I Learned Something New

Yea!  Thanks to my friend, Frank, I finally know how to get the actual movie from YouTube into my blog entry.  To celebrate, enjoy a little Charlie.  

Friday, August 15, 2008

All is well.

Today was my first official day back to school.  We had meetings in the morning, and then we could work in our classrooms in the afternoon.  Something bizarre and cool happened at lunch.  Remember my "packrat freakout" blog from August 8?  Well... I went to lunch with some colleagues, and as we piled in our school nurse's car, she said to me, "Oh, Tena.  I have your book."  She pulls out my copy of The Time Traveler's Wife.  I had lent it to her daughter Emily when we did Godspell together in the spring.  Rosemary (our nurse) said that Emily had passed it on to her when she'd finished, and they hoped that was OK.  So weird, eh?  I just had to let it go and make peace with the situation, and then everything fell into its proper place.  I ended up feeling blessed that the book found its way back to me, but I also felt blessed that someone else was able to enjoy it.  The situation honestly freaked me out a little, but in a good way.  All is well.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

End of Freedom & Other Random Thoughts

Yes, it's that time of year.  The fun and games are coming to a close.  My meetings started today.  I have another meeting all day tomorrow, and then my first official day back is Friday.  I love the beginning of the school year, but it's always a little sad to see the summer go.  

I'm totally enjoying the Olympics.  Can you say MICHAEL PHELPS???  The guy is an animal.  So fun to watch!  Also, is it just me, or does anyone else really just want Bela Karolyi to shut his trap?  I admire his passion, but enough is enough already.  We know you think the Chinese team is all underage.  We get it.  Move on!  Frankly, it was a little embarrassing.  

The weather here has been gorgeous this week.  I have hardly had the air-conditioning on at all.  Me?  Without air-conditioning in August?  Unheard of.

I fixed my toilet this week.  I am a plumbing goddess.  The rubber flappy thing (technical term) inside was cracked so the chain couldn't get it when it flushed.  I went to Menard's to take care of it myself.  Unfortunately, who knew that there are approximately THIRTY different kinds of rubber flappy things?  How is this possible?  They all do the same exact thing!  Well, I guessed, and luckily, I guessed correctly.  I fixed it, and it works!  Now, if I could only do that for the garbage disposal.  Ugh.  I guess I need my pervy plumber for something. 

Monday, August 11, 2008

George Furth, 12/14/32-8/11/08

Here is George backstage at the Company revival (he wrote the book and lyrics, and Stephen Sondheim wrote the music) with Kristin Huffman, who came to Fairfield in December, 2008, to be part of the Sondheim Center's Opening Gala.  She was so great!  George wore this same jacket to one of our Happy Hour performances.  :)

George Furth and Stephen Sondheim

This is a great picture of George.

Randy e-mailed today and delivered the sad news about George Furth's death.  George Furth was a Tony Award winner, known for his acting (I best know him as Woodcock in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid... but he did TONS of other roles) and writing, who along with Doug Katsaros, wrote the musical Happy Hour which we workshopped at the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts in November, 2007.  George had a long and amazing career in television, film, and on stage.  George and Doug came to Fairfield and worked the show with us.  We performed two weekends, and there were changes and rewrites after every rehearsal and performance.  We put the show together in 2 1/2 weeks, and I'd never done a show so quickly.  It was the most intense theatre experience of my life, and I've never been so scared on an opening night.  Below is a pic of all of us... George is peeking up in the back behind the bar.

My part was originally written for an African American woman, and when George saw me for the first time, he said, "You're not Black!"  It was a great opportunity because, through me, George was able to work the part to make it suit an actor of any race.  I really had to go to a different place for this show, and I grew so much.  One of my songs called "Dumped" is basically a gospel-style song that curses all the way through.  I sang "F**K YOU" on a high C at the end. It was a trip, that's for sure.  I really had to just give myself over to the performance and the part and not think about my boss or school board members or parents of my students in the audience (the hazards of community theatre).  I'm proud to say I really grew, and I kicked that part's butt.  ;)  

For an opening night gift, George gave us each a piece of Sondheim Center stationery with a black plastic comb taped to it.  He wrote, "So you'll always have a good part.  Break a leg."  And he signed his name.  I'll treasure that.

After the show ended (a couple of weeks, I think?), Randy called me and told me I had some changes in my script that George hadn't written down.  He wanted them, so Randy told me to call George at home and gave me his number.  I was freaking out... calling George Furth at home?  Just calling him up in Palm Springs or Beverly Hills or wherever, California, out of the blue?  Eek!  Many of you know that calling people up to ask for stuff is one of my LEAST favorite things on the planet.  So, I call George.  He answers, and I say, "Hello, George?  This is Tena Nelson calling."  Silence.  "From Fairfield?"  Silence.  I'm thinking that the humiliation of him not remembering me might be more than I could bear.  Then he says, "Do you know..." Silence.  Oh God.  Oh God.  Oh Crap. "How GOOD you are?"  BREATHE, Tena.  It was my turn for silence.  "Uh...   ...  ...   no?"  I'll never forget that conversation.  He told me that I should just start learning Hello Dolly now because that part was absolutely made for me.  He said he told Randy that he just had to do Hello Dolly because I would be such a great Dolly.  Wow.  What a compliment.  What an experience.  I'll never forget it as long as I live.  

I was so sad to hear George died today.  He was such a champion for the Sondheim Center's cause of becoming a musical theatre powerhouse in the Midwest.  It was a complete honor working with this man who was a great actor and a genius with lyrics and dialogue.  Rest in peace, George.  You will be sorely missed.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Our State Fair is a Great State Fair

Tracy and I had a perfect weekend at the Iowa State Fair.  We got there Friday evening, and stayed late so we could see the fireworks.  We slept in on Saturday, and then spent most of the day at the Fair, leaving in the evening so we could relax and take a dip in the pool and the (unfortunately disgusting) hot tub.  We got up this morning pretty early, and stayed at the Fair until after noon.  All in all, it was a great amount of time.  It wasn't like the old days when Dad would take his camper, and I'd be there for pretty much 11 days straight, but it definitely gave me my fix.  We weren't rushed, and we saw pretty much everything we wanted to see.  And, our hotel had a free shuttle right to the State Capitol parking lot where there was another shuttle that went right to the Fair.  We never had to worry about parking.  The weather was great... not too hot.  And, it's always the best people-watching of the year.  We were talking about people-watching with one of our shuttle drivers, Jake, and he said the best thing about that.  He said, "Yeah, you can't leave the Fair without feeling a little better about yourself."  You really do see all kinds there.  

Here are some highlights...

Here is my first lemonade of the 2008 Fair.  It's a cherry lemonade that you can only get down by the horse barn.  It's super delicious, and for some unknown reason, it's 50 cents cheaper than any other lemonade at the Fair.  I had several more lemonades, but you just can't beat the first one.

Tracy and I just saw the Butter Cow, and now we're pretending to be FFA kids.  Some kind of FFA queen took our picture. 

The new treat this year at the Fair was "pineapple on a stick."  Of course, it was deep fried, and it was covered with a kind of glaze.  It was really good.  It tasted like pineapple upside-down cake.  Tracy was right, though, when she said the "stick" part is really just a gesture.  My flapping batter was not captured in a photograph due to excessive laughter.

Tracy and I love the skylift.  We rode it twice.  It's really the only ride we love... we'll never forget the double ferris wheel debacle... but I did manage to get her on Ye Old Mill this year.  It's lame, but it's a tradition!

Here's a nice view of the Fair from the skylift.

When you're at the Fair, you HAVE to have a corndog!  Suzanne is convinced that the footlong corndogs are the best.  I have always strongly disagreed, but since I had never really had one myself, I succumbed to the pressure.  I claim to be a Fair expert, so I better know what I'm talking about, right?  Tracy and I each had one before we left the Fair today.  I am happy to announce, that I AM RIGHT!  The footlong corndog is really hard to eat because there is so much stick.  Plus, by the time you get down to the last bite, it's fairly cold.  And, it's really a lot of grease to put down your gullet at one time.  In my opinion, a corndog should be like an appetizer... a few bites of joy.  It should not be the main event.  My stomach kind of hurt after that.  Then again, 3 days at the Fair probably wasn't the best remedy for my ulcer.  Oops.  In conclusion, when referring to the world of corndogs, size really does matter.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Packrat Freakout

So I was just updating my iRead booklist on my Facebook page, and I was adding one of my all-time favorite books, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (you HAVE to read this book).  I was trying to think specifically where my copy was.  I have loaned it out to several different people, and I practically started having palpitations over my book being missing!  It has all my marks and underlinings in it... where is it... oh my god... my book, My Book, MY BOOK... I need it back!!!!  pant, pant, pant  

See?  This is why this de-cluttering thing is such a job for me.  I get attached to STUFF.  It's perfectly OK that my book is out there, somewhere in the universe.  Maybe someone is enjoying it even more than I did.  I can always buy another copy someday if I want.  I do long to see my own scribbles in a book... it's a sickness, I know... but the world will not stop spinning on its axis if that book does not find its way home to me.  Breathe.  All is well.

I am seriously disturbed.  

Oh well, nothing a corndog and some lemonade won't fix, about 6-7 hours from now.  ;)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Falling Apart

I wondered why I really wasn't feeling up to par.  For the last week, I've been pretty lethargic, and I've had some stomach pain.  I started to get worried about the stomach stuff on Tuesday when it was traveling up and felt more like chest pain.  I was afraid I was having a heart attack or something!  I broke down and went to the doctor yesterday.  Well, it turns out I have a bladder infection and a probable ulcer!  Ugh!  This getting old crap is for the birds.  Evidently, I just don't handle stress like I used to.  I'm on an antibiotic for the bladder infection (is this too much information for the blog???), and I'm on 2 different stomach pills.  The doctor feels pretty confident that it's an ulcer from location of my pain.  But, if I'm not feeling better in 2-3 days, I'm supposed to schedule an MRI to make sure things are OK with my gall bladder.  I'm going to stick with the ulcer, I think.  Gall bladder surgery is definitely not on my schedule for this time of year... or any time of year, for that matter.  I'm going to rest today so I'm ready to go to the fair tomorrow.  I'm just glad I went to the doctor.  I have a tendency to ignore these kinds of things.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Weekly Update

I guess I can go back to calling it a "weekly" update, now that I'm back to blogging on a semi-regular basis.

Yesterday I went with Suzanne and the kids to Des Moines.  Emma is going to stay with her cousin a couple of nights, and their grandpa is taking them to Adventureland today.  So, I went along to keep Suzanne company.  She bribed me with talk of a trip to The Learning Post, which is a great teacher store.  I live for that crap, and it's the time of year to really start thinking about it all.  We met Jason for lunch (he's at a conference for the next two days in Des Moines and will be bringing Emma back home on Thursday) at The Cheesecake Factory.  It was so freaking good.  We stopped at the mall, and Emma got some new tennis shoes for school.  I needed my yearly spiral planner from Barnes and Noble.  I got it, but... why do people have to mess with a good thing?  They changed the inside of the planner, so it has about 1/2 the lined writing space that it used to have.  Ugh.  They made it all cutesy.  I don't need cutesy... I just want my same old planner!  Why, I ask... why???  We dropped the kids off at their cousin's house, and then we went to the teacher store.  I got a couple of books with mind bender/critical thinking activities, 3 new laminated posters for my classroom, and the game Set, which I've wanted at school forever.  We picked Jack back up, and we went home.  It was a long but fun and productive day.

Today I need to continue the saga of de-cluttering, if I can tear myself away from the computer long enough, that is.  I also have a doctor's appointment today at 3... I've been having some weird stomach stuff going on, and I thought I should get it checked out before heading to the Fair.  Is that too much information for the blog?  ;)  Tonight I'm going over to watch a movie with Suzanne since Jason is still out of town.

Friday, I'll drop the dog off at the vet, and then I'll head to the State Fair in the afternoon.  I can't wait to see Trace!  I'll come back home on Sunday.  

Next week is all about getting ready for school.  I think Suzanne and I are going to try and squeeze in a pedicure on Wednesday, and I have my yearly exam (I'll spare you the details) at a new doctor in Iowa City on Tuesday.  I say yearly very loosely because ever since our female P.A. left the clinic over two years ago, I haven't been too excited about going.  I'm finally getting things in gear.  

I have to officially be back at school next Friday, but I have a long meeting on Thursday... I think it goes from 9-1 or something like that.  It's with the Fairfield's Future Committee, which I'll be on this year.  

I can't believe the summer is practically over!  Boo hoo!  Luckily, I do love the beginning of the school year.  I always have.  I know, I'm a nerd. 

Monday, August 4, 2008

Africa Hot

Today it's AFRICA HOT. Plain and simple. Whenever I think of the phrase "Africa hot," it makes me think of Ricco. I have no idea how we started saying it or where it came from, but today it definitely applies. The heat index here is 112 degrees. That's right, I said 112. Last night I played tennis with Jason, and even though we only played about 30 minutes, it seriously took me a couple of hours to recover. Ugh. It's absolutely oppressive. Things are supposed to cool down before Tracy and I head to the State Fair this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed. I just do not tolerate the heat.

I'm sitting here at the high school cafeteria, helping with registration. What a crazy day. I'm working from 1-7. Right now, I'm sitting at the Parent Portal station, where parents can sign up to get access to their students' schedules and grades via the internet. It's a pretty cool setup. Well, at least the parents think so. The kids aren't so fond of it, of course. Unfortunately for today, it's not a hopping station. I'm kind of bored, hence the random blogging.

One of my former students was just talking to me and asking me what my favorite Force move was. I didn't know there were really Force "moves," but I told him mine would be where I could reach out and have my light saber fly into my hand. He called that Force Attract, and he said there is also Force Repel, which could come in handy too. He said his favorite move was Force Lightening, or else the Jedi Mind Trick. Hmmm... the topics of conversation with teenagers never cease to amaze me. Then again, it's kind of like talking to my brother... no offense, Matt. ;)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

State Fair Countdown

Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh... in just a few short days I'm going to be at the Iowa State Fair... one of my favorite places on EARTH!  Tracy and I are headed out Friday afternoon, and we don't have to leave until Sunday.  We're staying at the Hotel Fort Des Moines, and we're going to have a super amazing time.

Things I'm looking forward to:

*pork chop on a stick
*baby piglets
*all the crap you can get at the Varied Industries Building (eek... what about my de-cluttering?)
*ugly cakes
*butter cow
*corn dog
*tie dye at 'Nita's in the Cultural Building
*Vocal Trash
*seeing the double ferris wheel and reminiscing w/ Tracy about when we were stupid enough to go on that rickety bucket of bolts... seeing it again makes me laugh every time
*the Iowa Tourism building
*checking out the cheesy stuff for sale under the Grandstand
*the fireworks
*the bee hives
*riding the sky lift
*the draft horses
*people watching
*cherry lemonade
*all the photographs in the Cultural Building
*the dollhouses
*the biggest bull & the biggest pig
*the hope that the chainsaw carver will once again be Brian Ruth, the hottest chainsaw carver that ever lived
*a big cinnamon roll
*did I mention lemonade?

Last year, Tracy was very pregnant with Elora, and the year before that, we only got to go for one lousy little day.  This visit is practically going to feel like the old days, when Dad would have the camper there for the entire fair.  I can't wait for this weekend!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today would have been my mom's 58th birthday.  I can't believe she has been gone almost 13 years.  I wouldn't say it's any easier... I still miss her more than ever... but I guess the hurt is different.  It started as gut punch, something that would hit me unexpectedly and really knock the wind out of me.  Now, it's more like an empty ache, and I guess I can predict it a little better.  I hate it, and I'd give anything to have her back, even just for an hour, but I do the best I can.

For her birthday, I found a little video clip from Murphy Brown.  We both loved this show, and we never missed it.  Even after I'd gone to college, we'd call and talk about it (plus China Beach and Thirtysomething... those were our shows).  When this episode aired, we freaked out, because we both loved Barry Manilow (she and I saw him in concert twice).  We fell in love with this song.  When Mom married Mike Hugunin on May 27, 1995, I surprised her and sang it to her at the reception.  When she died less than three months later on August 18, I spoke the words as a poem during her funeral.  Here is "I am Your Child."  Forward to the song if you're not a Murphy fan.

Happy birthday, Mom.  I miss you, and I love you.
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