Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkins & Swimming?

Who knew a Tuesday swim lesson could be so much fun? We have a new coach for swimming this year. Most swim nights are routine.

  • They get their suits on.
  • They eat dinner.
  • We load up.
  • They swim.
  • They shower.
  • They cry as I brush their hair... etc....
Tonight was different. Tonight Coach Susie brought pumpkins to the pool. The big kids were first. They threw their pumpkins in the pool and had to race with their pumpkins down and back. The little fishies were sooooooo excited to watch the big kids swim with their pumpkins.

Next the little fishies got to get back into the pool with their pumpkins. Squeals of delight echoed when they realized the pumpkins would float. They would have stayed in the pool all night but the time ran out.

Coach Susie then passed out glow sticks and Halloween necklaces.

Coach Susie rocked swimming tonight!!! And thanks to Liz for taking a picture for me!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

One Liner Wednesday

This nest made from tarp was found when a friend was cutting down a locust tree in Hermiston. (Wordless Wednesday just doesn't work for me.)

They're back...

My thieves are back.

No not the ones that stole our stuff from our garage and barn. No I'm talking about the Squirrels. They are now leaving the birds alone. They don't need to steal bird seed when they have delightful little pumpkins to snack on. The little pests leave quite a mess. I'm not loving the squirrels right now.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Last weekend was a bit tough on me. It was the weekend I had to deliver Jake, my dog, to his new foster home.

I grew up on a farm with lots of animals. The cows were our bread and butter. With the exception of a few bummers that we bottle fed, they never achieved pet status. One calf that we bottle fed eventually ended up on our table. My sister, brother and I weren't happy about it, but I'm pretty sure we only really complained if we weren't very hungry that night, or if mom was serving something we hated, like stuffed bell peppers.

Cats were infrequent 'guests' at the Chapman Ranch. I don't think dad thought much of cats. They could serve a purpose if they were good mousers but they weren't ever going to be allowed inside and not one dime would EVER be spent on a cat in the way of a vet bill. I learned early that barn cats have a way of slipping quietly away. At the time I am sure I imagined the great adventures they were off on, when in reality, they were only one step up from the bottom of the food chain. Coyotes, owls and fast cars were probably the cause of most disappearances. For that reason, even though I have had a handful of cats in my life, even indoor cats, they haven't really counted for much. After all, they are just cats.

Dogs were a different story. I can't not remember a time in my life when we didn't have two or three dogs. Dogs were not allowed into the house either, however, dogs were definitely a more important species to my dad. Though infrequent, there were occasional vet bills incurred for the dogs. My favorite dogs growing up were Hilde our German Shepherd and Hippie the English Sheep Dog my Grandpa got from the pound. Dad's dog of choice was usually a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd.

Once we moved to our new house with acreage I decided I had lived long enough without a dog. It was time to add a four legged friend to our household. I began looking on-line at rescue shelters. We took a few trips to the Walla Walla and Hermiston animal shelter, looking for dogs. I figured that rescuing a dog would keep a dog from being put down, and it would be a good way to avoid typical puppy problems. I did not pick out the first dog I saw in the kennels. I think it was the 2nd or 3rd time we had looked at dogs...and I didn't even take Jake home the first time I saw him...but I knew I wanted to.

I came home and called Athena. "What do you think about a Weimaraner?" I wanted to know. Athena grew up with dogs too and spent time in college working in a vet clinic. I needed her input before I did anything crazy. I also did searches on-line about the breed. It seems silly to me now, because I had already made up my mind. Jake was going to be my dog.

We brought him home three days later.

Our honeymoon period lasted quite awhile. Jake had kennel cough pretty bad, and was very skinny. We fixed him up in no time. Jake was crate trained and never had accidents in the house. Jake only ate one sandal, one time. Jake loved to go for walks. Jake loved to chase a tennis ball. Jake got along with other dogs (except for one-one time). Jake was good and he was clearly mine.

Summer came and so did vacation time. Athena volunteered to keep an eye on Jake while we traveled to Montana. The day we arrived home...the honeymoon was over. Jake had missed us. He missed us so much in fact, to let us know he promptly brought us Cougar, our pet cat, dead in his mouth. I remember pulling into the driveway and seeing Cougar on the front porch. I actually thought to myself, 'You're not going to want to hang out there very long. Jake is going to be wound up about us being home.' Little did I realize what was about to happen.

The girls were pretty sad, and so was I, but remember...I had been conditioned...Cougar was, after all, just a cat. He was a cat that had snuck pretty near to 'pet' status in my book. Cougar was going to be missed. We reprimanded Jake. But as with any good parent, I forgave him quickly and found all sorts of excuses to justify his terrible choice.

Then 4H season rolled around. Not only was the honeymoon over...but D-I-V-O-R-C-E was looming on the horizon. When Jake and Minnie (the lambs) moved to the pen next to Jake, he wasn't impressed. He would bark at them through the fence...and nibble (ok, bite off) the tips of their ears if he had the chance. This wasn't looking so good.

One day when Taryn and I returned from a field day with the lambs, Jake got out of the house while we were unloading the sheep. He took off like a shot...straight towards Taryn and Max. Taryn screamed, dropped the halter and the race was on. Marc caught them pretty quickly, and drug Jake off to his crate. I took charge of catching Max. Thankfully we hadn't sheared Max yet so Jake didn't do any damage to him. Not for lack of trying, but he couldn't bite through all the wool on his next to get to his throat. Tragedy, avoided. Well, with the sheep anyway.

I realized then, that Jake wasn't going to live happily-ever-after with us. It broke my heart, but I contacted the Oregon Weimaraner Rescue organization, and asked for them to list him for adoption off their site.

Months came and went with no interest in Jake. Two more cat were caught...there was only one fatality. Then came the bunny incident. The one where Jake leaves the yard to try and find the wild bunnies in the bushes across the street. Yeah, then when he finally gives up and decides to head home he runs smack into the tire of a passing pick up - on a Sunday afternoon. And, being that he tore his face up terribly, but has NO LIFE THREATENING injuries, I agree to pay a $600 vet bill for the gravel to be removed from his chin and 30+ stitches to be sewn shut rather than the $50 bill for euthanasia. UGH. Only to be followed with the previously posted SKUNK run-in.

Yes, it was time to say farewell to my dog Jake. He was a good dog - if you didn't mind dead cats - sheep with no ears - very large vet bills - and skunk scented everything - yep he was about perfect. I really will miss him. I hope his next family is able to keep him forever, scratch his belly and throw lots of tennis balls.

I have said that I would NEVER own a 'drop-kick' dog. You know the type...any dog that weighs less than 30 pounds. One that curls up on your lap. One that you can pick up and carry if you need to. One that doesn't scare anyone. Yeah, one of those dogs. Never say never...I haven't decided on a breed yet...but I'm pretty sure that is the type of puppy we will get this spring. Wish us luck.

In the meantime I'd like to introduce you to our newest family members:

Mickey Mouser

Minnie Mouser

I kinda like them. I hope they stick around awhile.

Runners to your mark

Get Set...Go! Taryn ran her last cross country race for the season. Sunridge Middle School allows any interested fifth graders to join their team. Taryn was given the opportunity to not only practice, but to compete with the SMS team this year.

During the first week of practice the weather was very warm. On a number of days I would arrive to pick her up from practice and I would see her strolling back to the school, arriving at the tail end of their practice. The funny thing though, was that I never saw her running. I would honk and encourage her to kick it into gear. She suggested if I thought I could do better, that she'd love to see it. (She had me there, so I didn't push too hard.)

When her first meet of the season came around, she was bit by the competition bug. Her coach challenged her to run an entire race and as an incentive she could have homemade ice cream. (Made by mom, how convenient for the coach.) She ran the entire way, I made the ice cream, and she never walked any part of her workouts or races from that point on.

At her last meet of the season she ran a personal best. There was a down side to that race - bugs. Tiny, nasty, little blue bugs. They were everywhere. The runners kept on going, right through them. They are dedicated. I couldn't wait to get home. I ended up with lots of little dead bugs all over my white shirt. I couldn't just let them be. I tried to brush them off. It didn't work. Did I mention the bugs were nasty.

Reagan Rules...

Reagan lives in Reagan World. It is a very happy place, because you see, she is the Princess of Reagan World. In Reagan World, you live by Reagan Rules. If you don't like the rules of Reagan World, you are free to leave at anytime. Reagan is happy to have guests visit her in her land. She loves to play and have fun, as long as you are abiding by the laws of the land. You may or may not know the rules of Reagan Land. If you break a rule, you will be quickly forgiven. If Reagan breaks one of her rules, she does what every royal ruler does...she changes the rule.

Reagan's World is like a bubble that follows her where ever she is. Even in first grade art class.
It was a lesson in lines. Students were directed to draw specific lines. How big, what color, and where they were drawn were up to the student. At the end of the lesson, students were given the opportunity to add any details they wish. Here is a sampling of the art.
Student A:
Student B:

Student C:

Student R:

Reagan Rules.
If I had a manual life wouldn't be nearly as interesting.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I wish I had a mind that never forgot things like jokes or silly songs, or heck, even my own name on some days. Unfortunately, I know there are many-many funnies that have been lost forever.

I am adding a new label to my blog - LOL - so I can start documenting some funny things that I know I will forget otherwise.

As I was typing this very post Athena called and said, 'Nice Comment' on Lindsay's blog. You wrote, "I tickled me." OBVIOUSLY, it was SUPPOSED to read IT TICKLED ME. Oops. I was meaning to write funny things about OTHER people in this post, but it made Athena giggle and I thought I'd better address the typo before people started asking questions....oh well. LOL!

Funny #1: Grace told me this morning that her teacher was not going to be at school today. "I'm going to have a substitute. You know, the one that passed away."

I was confused. I asked if Mrs. Fry had to go to a funeral for someone that passed away...thinking that Grace was confused. Nope.

"No mom, our substitute is the one that passed away. You know, the one that worked there last year, she passed away, SHE is our substitute."

The light bulb went on. "Mrs. Storey?"


"Grace honey, Mrs. Storey RETIRED, she didn't pass away."

"Oh, yeah."

I told Mrs. Storey today that she looked pretty good for someone who passed away last year. :-)

Funny #2: This is an old funny story, but I'm sure someday it will fade from my memory too...so I'm writing it down.

It was my first year teaching. I had 18 second graders. We did a lot of carpet time. My mom had bought me a rocking chair for my class room as a graduation present. I would love sitting and reading to the kids because two or three little girls loved to touch my nylons. They would sit by my feet and just pet my feet and legs. I would start drooling and want to take a nap, but I would resist. It was in that very rocking chair that I told my class that I had some exciting news to share. I let them play 20 questions to guess what I might be sharing with them. No one came close so I announced that I was pregnant and would be having a baby at the end of the school year. (One day before the last day of school to be precise.) Some girls giggled. Some immediately wanted to tell me stories about someone they knew who was pregnant or who had babies that they knew. One little red headed girl sat quietly at my feet with her hand in the air. When I called on her, she said, "It's too bad you are pregnant, you were always so cute before." :-) That story may be a keeper, as it has been 8 years and I haven't forgotten her or her sympathetic look of concern yet.

More LOL's to come.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I know that I have not been very visible in the blog world lately. I have all the usual excuses, a new school year, kids activities, laundry, meetings, etc. I am here tonight to tell you about my most recent excuse. It is how I am obsessed this week.

When I grow up I want to be one of those 'freaks' who has a spot for everything. "Everything has a place, everything in it's place." I want color coordinated containers in my closet. I want my towels folded, just so. I want dust to be a thing of the past. I want a PDA to sync with my laptop. I want my Christmas card list to update itself from my address book. I want - I want - I want.

What I KNOW about me is that I probably won't ever get to the level of 'freak' that I desire. Every now and then I will hit a stroke of good luck and I will pull off something that tickles me pink. It may be as simple as getting everyone to their appointed places on time. Other days it may be teaching an entire day without needing to run to the copy machine for something I've forgotten. Some days if I fold the laundry that has been in the dryer for 3 days it is sheer bliss.

Yesterday I was out of the door by 7 am, headed to get routine blood work to check my thyroid levels. (They were fine.) Then I headed to school. I walked out of school after a meeting at 4:20 pm. I drove through Starbucks on my way to the ESD for a 3 hour technology training. By 7:30 pm you might think that I would run out the door without a second look and collapse into bed to watch some worthless show on TV. But no...

You see...at the Tech meeting I was introduced to my newest favorite tech tool. Forgive me for being slow if you already know of the goodness of iGoogle and Google Calendar. Joe & Stacy & Ronda & Athena helped me get started on a family calendar. When the class ended, I couldn't wait to get home to set up more calendars. I ended up with SEVEN calendars on my Google Calendar. I can see Anne work, Soko Family, Marc, Taryn, Grace, Reagan or Birthday alone, or I can layer the calendars so I can actually count how many places I am supposed to be at one time. I LOVE IT!!!! I am now obsessed with adding activities to my calendar and seeing all the pretty colors pop up. If the monthly view gets too overwhelming I can switch to a week view or a day view.

So friends, please forgive me for the next few weeks. I am realizing part of a dream here. I have a color coordinated calendar for my family. Everyone has a place. Everyone is in their place. I feel like I am in control of the chaos (don't kid yourself...I know I'm not) but I do feel more at peace with this tool in my life.

I will be back...with pictures...and stories...and real life stuff...but for now...I'm hanging with Google!