Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Am AWESOME!!!

Yes I am, and I have proof! See below:
I do believe I'm going to frame this, and refer to it in the future when I'm feeling like a parenting loser. It could even be my new morning mantra: I'm Awesome! I'm Amazing! I'm Impressive! I'm Astounding! I'm Miraculous! I'm Terrific! I'm Sinsational!** Woo-hoo! I can do it!

** Note to self and audience - this misspelling is probably no mere coincidence, don't you think?

Now back to reality. . .





Sunday, January 16, 2011

Upward and Onward

I can't believe winter break is almost over. Somehow, it slipped by me without one single project getting done. I know I stayed busy. I know things got done, it's just that the things that I had put on a very short list of what I wanted to accomplish this break didn't happen. I had, of course, hoped to get some scrapbooking done - and I did, in a manner of speaking. Gracie had asked for, and received, a scrapbook kit for Christmas, and Maggie had earned one through a Girl Scout incentive program, so the three of us sat down and scrapbooked together, which was great - I was just so busy enjoying my girls that my productivity plummeted. I only got a few pages done.

One thing that did happen during the first week of January was our final Upwards practices before our first games. Gracie's squad learned five cheers total before their first game:



And Maggie's team continued to have drills and such:



The big day of the first games arrived. Unfortunately, so did a stomach bug, at 5:00 AM. Gracie was not able to take part in their first official game. She and I stayed at home while Jerry took Maggie up and cheered her on for her first game. Here she's making a basket during pre-game warm-ups:



And here she is in the thick of it!



Gracie had to wait a week for her first game, but that meant she got to learn three more cheers at that week's practice, so they had more variety. Here's a warm-up cheer in the practice room:



And here's her squad in action at the actual game.



So now it's onward to the next semester of school. My classes don't start until Tuesday, and I was looking forward to my last two days of vacation, but one of my professors sent out her syllabus via e-mail yesterday. She let us know that she had opened the online portion of the course already, so we should review the online content and have any questions prepared, as well as the first chapter of the book read, for our first class on Tuesday. I'm thinking, "HELLO! It's still VACATION Here!!!" But I guess it's not. It's time to get back into the school mentality.

So, nose to the grindstone and all that. We'll see if having two classes instead of three leaves me any time for blogging this semester. It promises to be a busy one, with mini society, living history museum, land run reenactment and so forth, not to mention more cheer and basketball. I would say I could hardly wait. . . but I think that if it came down to it, I could. Maybe for just one more week. Please?

No?

Well okay then. Onward -- and Upward! ☺

Friday, January 7, 2011

Looking Back: State Fair

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This is one in a series of posts that will look back at things that happened during the Fall 2010 semester when life got too busy to post.

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We went to the State Fair in September again this year. We had perfect weather, and there were also home games for both OU and OSU that day, so it was not crowded at all. Mary Jo and Jerry came down for the weekend to enjoy the fair and the Disney On Ice show.



Although we've been twice to the fair, we had covered basically the same ground each time we had been there - arts and crafts barns and 4H and food. This year we decided to go down the other main street and see all new things. We found the petting zoo, where we found both common animals and a few new things, as well as camel and pony rides:


We went through the barns, watching a sheep judging competition, and then a little farther down we found the Clydesdale barn - WOW! We saw folks getting ready for their draft horse competitions, with all the elaborate harnesses and tack for pulling carts, and we even got to "pet" one as the owner was putting it away. It wasn't as colorful as this one, but this one stood very still for the photo:


As we walked up and down the streets with the barns, there were all sorts of attractions designed to separate us from our money. Jerry and the girls went through a giant inflatable digestive system. It was billed as "educational" but I'm not exactly sure they learned a lot. They were quite amused to find that as you "exited" the digestive system, it made a farting noise. Classy!

The girls also went down this giant inflatable slide - two slides for three dollars - made jump-n-craze seem like a bargain!


At the end of the street we ended up at the entrance to Agtropolis, which we have seen every year, but the girls were more than happy to see it again. They love getting to see the chicks hatch, and hold them, and Maggie is rabbit crazy at the moment. She keeps begging to get one, but so far we've only committed to a fish. Here's the girls with the Fairgrounds tower in the background - the ariel thing wasn't running that day for some reason.



After that we headed down the other main street, picking out our dinner as we went. I had a lamb gyro, Maggie had pizza, Gracie had a corn dog, and I can't remember what Jerry or his parents had.

At the end of the street with the food was the midway. As we watched this ride go around and around, I questioned the wisdom of eating before attempting the midway, but Jerry was game, and he and the girls managed to retain their dinner despite the dizzying speed of this ride:


After that ride it was time to head to the arena for the Disney on Ice show. This year it was the Celebrations show, and it was pretty good. I especially liked the Fantasia scene with all the brooms, although I'm doubtful that anything will ever beat the dragon from Sleeping Beauty that we saw at our first show several years back.

After that we headed back to the midway to try a "hang glider" ride that we had seen on the way that looked pretty tame. Mimi said she would try it, so we all piled on (except Jerry, who held all our stuff and took the pictures!) It was fun, and one we all agreed we would ride again:





After that it was around ten o'clock, and even though we had a full sheet of ride tickets left, Jerry had to catch a plane to California the next morning, so we headed out. The crowd was starting to get a little rowdy anyway, if you know what I mean, and if you've ever been to the fair at night, I'm sure you do. I gave our leftover tickets to a young couple counting their change in the ticket line, and we bid adieu to the Fair for 2010. I really like the Oklahoma State Fair - plenty to see and do, but not too big. We'll have to go next year and see the Sea Lion show - somehow we missed that this time!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Looking Back: School is in Session

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This is one in a series of posts that will look back at things that happened during the Fall 2010 semester when life got too busy to post.

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Well, we are back in the thick of school. The girls are doing pretty well in all their subjects, with the exception of Gracie and her spelling, which still seem to be at odds with each other. I really don't understand it - she's a great reader, but her spelling is a constant challenge - even the words she sees on a daily basis. Her teacher has reduced the number of words on her list for now, and we are trying new ways of studying. Here's her latest spelling list:


She (or I) write the words - one per square on the sidewalk in front of the house. Then she gets the ball and walks up the sidewalk, one square at a time, spelling the word aloud and bouncing the ball once for each letter.


Next we may try skipping the rope for each letter - we'll just have to find something that works!

In the meantime, Maggie has been very, very busy with school. She has homework every night in fifth grade, but she seems to be doing well in all her subjects. She has also signed up to be on the safety patrol and Chargie's council. Both are exclusive to the fifth grade, and she had to fill out an application to be considered for each position.

Chargie's council is kind of a prelude to student government, and they get to help with the "charge up" pep rally on Tuesdays, participating is skits and such. Here she is with one of our neighbors. She was in a skit about their fundraiser, and he's promoting Thunder night (basketball) for our school.



A few weeks later it was Maggie's turn to be Chargie - the school mascot. She was pretty excited at first, but afterwards she said that the costume was very hot, and she didn't think she would want to do that again. Her turn to be on the council is over at the end of the semester, so she more than likely won't have another turn this year.



The year is zooming by!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Looking Back: Fall Break

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This is one in a series of posts that will look back at things that happened during the Fall 2010 semester when life got too busy to post.

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One of the things that I've really enjoyed about living in Oklahoma is Fall Break. Texas doesn't have one (generally speaking), so when we go down there during our Fall Break there are no crowds at any of the zoos, museums and the such. I was really looking forward to our Fall Break this year, BUT then I found out that OU does not have a Fall Break. Every other college in Oklahoma has a Fall Break, but not OU. Why? Because the day of the Texas / OU game is a official, recognized holiday of The University of Oklahoma. Hmmmm. WHATEVER!!!

Still, at this p0int in the game, I really, Really, REALLY needed a break. If I couldn't take an official break, I at least wanted a change in location. I took the girls and headed down to Texas, to Dad and Terri's house. I had visions of writing research papers on the back porch, reading in quiet solitude while the kids scampered with the 11 newborn goats. It was a nice vision. It was nothing like reality, but it was a nice vision. I did have a wonderful relaxing time, but I did not make much headway on my assignments. Oh well!

No matter how many times we make this trip, every time we stop at the Red River rest stop (Texas side) the girls want to have their picture taken on this Texas statue. It's kind of like a growth chart at this point:


Of course, when we got there, the first thing we had to do was go meet all the new baby goats. Nana has decided that each year all the kids must be named with names that start with the same letter. This year's letter is "D" so we got busy on the names. I got to name two - Daisy and Dollop. (Yes, after the sour cream commercial.)


Looks like we have a bumper crop of monkey this year too!


Here's a totem pole style shot. The wind was really whipping around - this was the best of all the shots I took.


After a while I moseyed around to the front yard. When we drove up the driveway, Little Ann, Jean's beagle, had come running up to greet us. As she brushed by the flowerbed in the center of the circular parking area the foliage literally exploded with butterflies. I'm not sure what those plants were, but the butterflies were feasting on the flowers. I wanted to play around with my new camera and see what I could do with the settings. I managed to get a few nice shots, but I need lots more practice!


Here's another pretty flowerbed.


In general, the girls spent a lot of time out with the baby goats, playing the Wii, and watching "How to Train Your Dragon", which was on a loop and no one ever bothered to turn off. By the time we left, they had the whole script memorized. Their favorite activity, however, was visiting the goats:


This is Mr. Bixley - the reigning Grand Reserve Buck of the field. He was showing off his moves for the ladies - making kissy lips and blowing raspberries. I found him quite humorous.



Here's me - see, I did take a break from the books to visit the goats. Here's me with Daisy:


We had a good fall break - even if it wasn't officially a break for me!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Looking Back: Halloween

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This is one in a series of posts that will look back at things that happened during the Fall 2010 semester when life got too busy to post.

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Just like everything else this semester, Halloween was a 'just-in-time' activity. The day before the girl's storybook parade at school, we were at Hobby Lobby, purchasing things to make Maggie's costume. This year the girls got ahold of a catalog with very beautiful, very expensive costumes in it. They looked at that catalog and picked out what they wanted to be - then they had to find a book that contained their chosen characters. Not too hard this year - Maggie wanted to be a "hippie chick" and Gracie chose to be a pirate.

Gracie is pretty flexible, and since the second-graders had just finished doing a play at school about pirates, I asked one of my friends who had a second-grader if we could borrow her costume. Even though it didn't look like the one in the catalog, we added a foam hat, eye patch, and sword, and Gracie was thrilled.


Maggie's costume was not so simple. She wanted to look exactly like the girl in the catalog - outfit, accessories, everything. By the time we got out of Hobby Lobby, I'm not sure if I wouldn't have been better off just buying the costume! While the girls went to work carving their pumpkins, I got out my glue gun and went to work.

This year the girls did their pumpkins with a little help from Dad, and almost no help from me, as I was busy gluing together the aforementioned costume. They had a blast though, and the jack-o-lanterns looked marvelous! Gracie's favorite part was still getting out the seeds:


Maggie's not as fond of that goopy feeling on her hands - she started to go wash her hands in between scoops, but we made her finish and then wash at the end, or it promised to be a late night indeed.


Once the girls had the pumpkins cleaned out, Daddy stepped in to roast the seeds. He thought about skipping it this year, but the girls wanted to take some seeds to their teachers, so he went ahead and roasted them. The girls ate a few too!


Finally, after a little brainstorming, Maggie's hippie chick was done. We came pretty close to what was in the catalog - sparkly headband, pink peace symbol necklace, tie-dyed outfit - the only thing that wasn't quite right was the long flowing robe with marabou feathers. It was close though!


The girls added their chosen books - "Pirates Past Noon" for Gracie, and "Meet Julie" from the American Girl series for Maggie - and they were ready for the storybook parade the next morning.


And I can retain my membership in the Glue Gun Gals club!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Looking Back: Braces

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This is one in a series of posts that will look back at things that happened during the Fall 2010 semester when life got too busy to post.

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We knew that the day was coming when Maggie would get her braces. She had a baby molar that was fused to her jaw, and it was causing problems. At her last orthodontist evaluation he said it was time for that tooth to come out and to get braces underway.

In October we headed to her regular dentist for what was supposed to be a routine dental extraction. Oddly enough, Jerry was working from home that day. He asked me if I wanted him to go along on this adventure, and I told him that I was okay going by myself, but he should ask Maggie if she wanted him there. She said she did, so he came with us. Good thing he did, too! About 30 minutes after they took her back there the dentist's assistant came out and said that they couldn't get the tooth out! It was just stuck fast to her jaw. We went back to his office, and he explained that he had already taken off pieces of the tooth, so allowing Maggie's novocaine to wear off would be really painful for her. He got on the phone and, Praise the Lord, found an oral surgeon less than a block away that could see her right then! We got in the car and headed over there.

I was really glad Jerry had come with us - he could be there for Maggie, who was a bit teary and scared, while I filled out paperwork for the oral surgeon. He ended up being very kid-friendly and put Maggie at ease. They had a special tool that would loosen the tooth's grip on the jawbone, and they were able to get the tooth out (in two pieces!) without having to put her under. A week of ibuprofen later, she was good as new, and we made our appointment for the braces.

Maggie was all smiles the morning of the appointment, although she was a little nervous. She got a little teary getting into the chair, remembering what had happened at the dentist office a few weeks before. I made a hasty exit to the waiting room so the staff could do their work.


After about half an hour I checked on her, and they said she was doing great, and that I could come in and get some photos if I wanted.


When they finished, I asked Maggie to smile for a photo - here's her first attempt at smiling with braces!


But she quickly got the hang of it! We headed to Denny's for pancakes and scrambled eggs - a nice soft meal for freshly banded teeth! Somehow I think that may become a tradition. . .

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Looking Back: How Santa Got His Job. . .

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This is one in a series of posts that will look back at things that happened during the Fall 2010 semester when life got too busy to post.

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Each grade at the girl's school does a "program" each year. The third grade is always in charge of the Christmas program, so Gracie started practicing her Christmas songs around October. By the time December rolled around, she was ready!


This year's play followed a teacher and her class learning about holiday traditions, including reading through the book, "How Santa Got His Job" by Steven Krensky. Gracie's class participated in the scene where Santa becomes a chef at a diner and starts to get his belly.


Gracie and her classmates were supposed to look like kids dressing up, so we borrowed my sister's high school prom dress for Gracie. With that dress and stage makeup, she sure looked grown up!


Once again, Gracie played handchimes in her program - she's getting to be a pro!


It was a very, very cute show. One of my favorite numbers was this one - Someone's in the Chimney:

video

What stars we have!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Looking Back: Early December

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This is one in a series of posts that will look back at things that happened during the Fall 2010 semester when life got too busy to post.

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Well, December got down to crunch time, school-wise speaking. I started to feel like I was catching up, and then BOOM! I flipped the calendar to December and that feeling was GONE. Still, wife and mommy are the first priority, so I made time for the important stuff. . .

Like decorating gingerbread houses with the third grade! The kids were very serious about this task - some of them arranging candy just so, and some of them using the "throw a handful and see what sticks" method. Some rather creative boys even made palm trees out of ice cream cones and sour apple rings - a tropical Christmas, if you will. Here's Gracie in progress:


Gracie with her finished house:


And Gracie's class proudly showing off their creations:


The night I finished my current issue research report was also the night of our Sunday School Class Christmas party. It was so nice to have that report finished and kick back with friends! I actually remembered to hand off the camera and get a photo of myself with Jerry!


In the middle of all this rush, we decided to take the plunge into organized sports. When we were living in Texas, our church hosted an Upward Sports team, and we decided that would be a good entry point for our girls as well. Maggie decided to try out basketball, and Gracie wanted to do cheerleading. So far they are having a good time at practice. The first games aren't until the second Saturday in January.




Of course, the mad rush up to Christmas wouldn't be complete without trying to get a Christmas Card photo in. Here's the girls, giving me something to focus on:


And here's me trying out my new remote control shutter release - one of the best inventions ever!


And here we all are, right in our places with bright shining faces!


We barely got the cards ordered in time - UPS drove up and literally handed them to me as we packed the van to head to Texas. I grabbed the address labels to print out when we got there, but then ended up addressing them by hand as Jerry drove. Just trying to use my time wisely!