Sunday, November 29, 2009

Finally! A buddy for secret, geeky, fun

My hope was waning.... my hope that a child of mine would like to engage in a pretty silly activity that I find cathartic..... that's right.... puzzles.
When I was growing up we would buy a big puzzle to do at the lake house for our visit, or bring one to Grandma Jolly's when visiting for a holiday. .... not that grandma's was boring, far from it. It was a great way for several of us to wander in and wander out of conversation around the card table it was set up on. It was a favorite memory of mine, so of course I trek them out to the lake house whenever we go because there isn't TV, or computers, and in the summer the afternoon storm is a definite given to drive us indoors.
Big Al loses interest fast, so does Blondie.... I had hopes for T-Rex, but she's only good for about an hour...... BEHOLD CHEESIE. Cheesie is in a STEMS magnet (Science Tech, engineering and mathematics) and her teacher always has a 100 piece puzzle going in the classroom (I swear it helps logic and spatial reasoning - really, I'm a math teacher, I promise) So Cheesie asked if we could do a puzzle over Thanksgiving... WHY OF COURSE DARLING CHILD. So I pulled out a 500 piece one that we could do together, and even Brian joined in. So then we needed more puzzles because my others are 1000 pieces and that would be a bit overwhelming for her, so we borrowed from grandma and Aunt Christy. Now, it can't be just any puzzle, it has to have artwork, and a LOT of elements, not just some photo of a mountain range - boring... Cheesie helped me to do 3 puzzles in 3 days.... except now I'm older... and my back hurts from bending over, and my eyes squint a bit.... but I got to indulge my old holiday memory and work a fun puzzle with my youngest.... thank goodness. The conversation was lovely, and she refused to go to bed or leave the table unless everyone else did because she didn't want someone doing it behind her back. She'll also tell you that she did most of it....
Also, yesterday was Big Al's actual birthday, and we wrapped up the endless celebrations with a family dinner, minus T-Rex who thought it would be more fun to see Miley Cyrus with a friend. Family, and Big I (who also helped with the puzzles) came together and Big Al was quite happy. Not the best picture with leftover dishes on the table, but here is a look at the gathering.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful for....

I am very thankful for my family. I am lucky to have a husband who goes on fun mini-adventures with me, actively participates in the lives of our children, pitches in with everything, and works hard to have things go right for all of us.

I am thankful for Big Al. She is hitting the teen years in a very good place. She is responsible, intelligent, adventurous and caring. She enjoys helping others, and has cultivated very good friends. She works hard at school and achieves the goals she has set.

I am thankful for T-Rex. Her varied interests are going to lead her on an adventure through life. She sits back and thinks deeply about things, and then jumps in to try to help. She is using her intelligence to work hard in school, and finds the balance in her life with her reading and her crafts.

I am thankful for Blondie. Each and everyday I am impressed at how she focuses on doing things that may be difficult. She sets an example for others, not just kids with Rasmussen's, but others who notice how she never complains about her path in life. We have every expectation that she will be just as productive a citizen as anyone else. She is kind, strong, smart and has the goofiest sense of humor.

I am thankful for Cheesie. She is my builder, my architect, and still snuggles on our laps. She enjoys hanging out with family, and going on small adventures. She is successful in school, and a fiend for puzzles. She is the rule follower who keeps us all on track.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turning 13

Okay, she actually turns 13 on Saturday, but we had a small friend gathering before everyone left town, and others go to a big concert on Saturday. This weekend Big I will join us for her "family" birthday and we'll finish off the celebration.
Last night she had a few girls from school come over and spend the night. They played guitar hero, ate dinner, and did "girl stuff" for quite awhile. At one point I had visions of her future as they played around with flat irons, and hair in the bathroom. It really reminded me of my high school (and college) days getting ready to go out with friends. They seem to have had a good time hanging out - despite Big Al starting to get conjested.

Listening to a sweet letter from "B".

Opening presents

Although much subdued compared to last year due to budget constraints, Big Al is excited about being allowed to wear some makeup now, and she is having a great year with these friends. I'm very proud of her.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Marry a thief - again

I am a bad, bad mom. I allowed Big Al to go to my brother's CD release party for Marry a Thief..... held in a Tavern. Tavern is the polite name for a bar that gathers a whole bunch of college kids. We listened to Cayla perform one of the opening acts, but I had to take Big Al outside for the second opening band (way to attached to 4-letter words). Marry a Thief came on, and unfortunately because we had left the place for the band before, we didn't have a place up front to listen. So we found steps on the side and Big Al watched the show from there.

Colin was, of course, AWESOME. My mom took these pictures and more (sorry Mom, I totally ripped you off). You can check them out at . You can also check out if you want to hear more of their music. I believe they have posted their new song ONLY on the website.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thinking of Veterans

Major Charles M. Brown
Lt. Col John B. Davis
Donald Brown
Lt. Col Warren Jolly
Lt. Cecil E. Newman
and of course
Petty Officer Brian Dawson

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I love Rudy Mancke

Rudy chasing butterflies

Wednesday night I left the family, and drove to Myrtle Beach with a colleague (and friend). She and I were on our way to the science teacher convention. Sadly, you could really see that budget cuts were taking their toll, as the attendance was MUCH lower than I expected. Happily, I got to meet Rudy Mancke. He is an absolute walking encyclopedia when it comes to natural history in SC. He is currently a USC (the real one, not the one in Southern California) professor, and a former curator at the state history museum.

Now, I have to admit, I vaguely knew who he was (most in SC do), but I wasn't brimming over with excitement UNTIL I heard him speak at the keynote address. WOW. He is amazing. I attended my workshops for the rest of the day, and made a lot of contacts that may pan out for my students, as well as others in my school.
Dr. Michel

The BIG FUN, however, came on Friday when I went on a beach walk with Rudy, and Dr. Jaqueline Michel. She is a geologist who described all of the changes on the coast. It was supposed to be a 2 hour workshop, however, as we walked across the street to walk the block to the ocean, Rudy stopped in the lot that had overgrown..... and then he started showing us EVERYTHING - he knows the name of every shrub, plant, tree, insect, bird, etc. It took us about 45 minutes to walk that one block because he had comments to share about everything we found. When we got to the beach Dr. Michel explained a lot about the erosion of the coast, and the last OBVIOUS beach nourishment project on Myrtle Beach, and why it doesn't have the dunes it should have. When she finished Rudy took us to several places along the beach and explaine every single shell, coral, sponge, etc that we could find. He connected everything back to Dr. Michel's talk about the changes in coast. It was mesmerizing.... I know.... I hear you..... first a math geek, now a science geek. But I was truly inspired. On the way back to the hotel some random person ran up to him, "Are you Rudy from the NatureSCene show." He was of course gracious. Many South Carolinians have grown up watching his show, which he called Show and Tell on TV.

All day, I kept thinking - I shouldn't have blown off all of those biology classes - I mean I REALLY couldn't stand them, but now I'm seeing the value of knowing the difference between a mollusk and an echinoderm. So I'm actually looking into taking classes at the rival to USC, although I'll never buy an orange sweatshirt... and seeing if I could maybe one day grow up to be Rudy Mancke and try to inspire my students with the science they really should have each and every day.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trick-or-Treating in different directions

Apparently last year WAS the last year that all my chicks would trick-or-treat together.

Big Al went to a party with her friends, after we made those costumes yesterday (they wanted to be "skinny m&m's).

T-Rex started with us, but quickly ditched us for her friends, although Cheesie's friends were still with us.
And the little girls were excited that my Uncle, Aunt and Cousin went with us for a bit. I crack up that they all dress up, but they had a great time (The bee keeper, the Queen Bee, and the two little bees). Tiny Miss Busy Pants hung in there for a while, but had to be taken home when she was walking and yawning at the same time. She also thought she was supposed to go inside everyone's house. FUN!