Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Booger Stickers"

It's a good thing I work at a school, because I think I'm really just a kid a heart.

For the last couple of years, I've been buying gel stickers for every holiday and season, and putting them on the windows in the office. At first I said it was because I thought the kids would enjoy it, but now I know that I really do it because I enjoy it just as much.

Last week I put up all of the fall/harvest stickers I've collected; my favorite is this owl:
I put him right smack in the middle of the window of the door so that everyone sees him when they pass by. He's surrounded by lots of fall leaves, pumpkins, scare crows, and such, but my owl is still the best of the bunch.

Kids will come into the office just to touch the stickers. Have you ever felt them? They have kind of a soft, sticky consistency ... I call them 'booger stickers' (Hey, what can I say? I work at a middle school!) One of our new students was in the office after school waiting for his mom to finish up with a meeting. He wasn't in trouble - he's a very sweet boy with Asperger's and his mom was in a meeting following up with some things she was concerned about, so he was just hanging out in the office. I watched him walk over and start touching the stickers and pretty soon he said "These feel funny." I said, "I know - aren't they cool?! I call them booger stickers because that's what they feel like - boogers!" He absolutely cracked up and touched more of the stickers, just to make sure they all felt like boogers.

Before long his mom came out of the meeting and, as she was signing out, he was playing with the stickers on the window. She told him not to touch them and I told her that it was okay for him to touch them and that we'd been talking about the stickers. I asked him to tell his mom what we call them; he blushed and giggled and said he didn't remember. I reminded him that we call them booger stickers and he put his head down, and became very shy. His mom let out a good belly laugh and he looked up at her with a huge grin on his face.

I know it sounds like such a simple thing, but it was really cool interaction with a young boy who has a lot to handle on his plate. Sometimes it really is the simple things in life that are the best.

First Day of Fall

Tomorrow we're celebrating a birthday in our office at work. Usually it's just the 10 of us that work in the office that celebrate, but since it's the first day of fall, I thought I'd make a treat for the whole staff.

Pumpkin muffins with a dollop of cream cheese icing. YUM! I found what looked like a great recipe - the only problem was that as it was printed, the recipe only made 12 muffins, so I had to quadruple it! I'm always a bit leery about doing that because sometimes it just doesn't turn out well. Luckily this one did. It made a HUGE amount of batter, but in the end, it made exactly 48 muffins. Perfecto! And did they ever make the house smell good! Warm and spicy ... absolutely delish.

I hope the staff enjoys them.

Happy fall, y'all!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Smithsonian Free Museum Day 2011

Each fall, Smithsonian magazine sponsors a free museum day. We love participating in this event! Over the past several years, it's grown to include a wonderful selection of museums - this year is no exception.

The event will take place this upcoming Saturday, September 24th. Click here to find out all of the information and find a venue near you. Just a head's up: this year you are required to have a ticket. No worries. If you follow the link and read all of the information, it will lead you to a registration page. All you need to do is complete the required information and a ticket good for two people will be sent to your email address.

This year we'll be going to the Grammy Museum. Sounds like fun, right?! Happy Free Museum Day - enjoy!!

L.A. County Fair

Yesterday Kevin and I went to the L.A.County Fair. We haven't been in about 5 years, so we thought it was about time. As luck would have it, just before the fair opened, there was a great Groupon for the fair: two adult tickets and preferred parking for just $25.00. That's a darn good deal! Usually, entry on the weekends is $17.00 per adult, and preferred parking is $15.00, so this was definitely a money saver.

We had a good time: ate some good food; tasted award winning California wines; watched a cooking demonstration (great recipes!); shopped a bit; watched a cool lumberjack show; took some silly photos (see below); and even got to visit with Kevin's brother Brian who was working at the fair for the pool company he represents.

Still, I have to say that I was a bit disappointed. We used to go to the fair almost every year when I was growing up - either as a family, or as a school field trip. One of the landmarks of the fair is a huge clock tower that's easy to spot from wherever you are. Or I should say was. Yesterday morning, I talked to mom before we left and she teasingly said that they would meet us at the clock tower. We were going to have someone take a picture of us at the clock tower, post it, and say to mom and dad 'We waited here for you, but you never showed up!', but we couldn't. We looked all over for the tower thinking we'd just remembered incorrectly about where it had been, but we found out that we could stop looking as they'd removed the tower to make room for more carnival rides. BUMMER

I just don't understand why we are a nation of makeover artists. I understand updating and moving with the times, but there are just somethings that define a place, or time, or event. Can we not learn to leave these things alone? For years they also had a giant slide. I remember that, for the longest time, that slide terrified me; then, when I actually went on it, I had a blast! Well, except for the scratchy burlap patch you had to sit on to slide down. Well guess what? They took that out this year, too. Grrrr.

As I said, we did have a good time, but we were both disappointed by the unnecessary changes. And while we may find ourselves there another time, I really think we're pretty much done with the fair for a while.

On to the silly pictures ... They have these whacky painted wooden cut-outs at various locations. I couldn't resist taking some photos of us with our faces popping out of some of them. After all, aren't count fairs supposed to bring out the silliness in us?
And one seriously gorgeous sunset

Quakin' in our Boots

Having done this last year as well, I think this has become a new First Avenue tradition. Last Sunday night, a bunch of us went to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes game at the Epicenter. We had a blast!

Though we'd already bought the tickets, I was worried that with Kevin's oral surgery, he wouldn't feel up to going to the game - but he insisted that he was okay and wanted to go. Poor guy had a heck of a time eating ... until we bought ice cream - then he was all smiles =) (Side note: You should have seen us trying to explain away Kevin's black eye!)

There were about 30 of us from First Avenue; 10 or 12 staff members and our families. It's always so fun when we get together because we've got a relatively young staff, many of whom have small children. Nearly all FA events are family friendly and most everyone feels free to bring the kids - this event was no exception. And the kids were having a great time, as were the adults!

Here are a few pics of our evening.
The kids had a lot of fun shooting silly string with Tremor, the Quakes mascot
We even saw Tommy Lasorda!
Thanks for organizing this fun event, Catherine. We had a great time. Can't wait 'til next year!


My poor Kevin had a tooth extracted last Friday. Poor guy - he was miserable!

Over the summer we'd both gone in for a simple cleaning. Mine went fine; Kevin's however, was a different story. While cleaning, the hygienist mentioned that she thought one of his teeth felt 'a little weird', so she took an xray. Sure enough, there was a problem. He had something called 'resorption' which had not been there on the previous xray. Resorption rots a tooth from the inside out and affects the bone, so it has to be dealt with fairly quickly. It was recommended that Kevin have an implant done, so this past Friday was the first step in that direction.

The extraction 'should' have been easy ... but it wasn't. Unfortunately, when they took ahold of the tooth to remove it, it was so brittle that it broke off at the gum line. Not good. The end result was that they had to cut into Kevin's gum, lift that section up, insert an instrument and push the root of the tooth out. OUCH! Poor guy. He took it like a trooper, but was absolutely miserable for a couple of days.

Oh, and the black eye left behind, not to mention the swollen face and extremely painful mouth - well let's just say they made for a very unpleasant start of the week =(

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Red sky at night, sailor's delight


I don't know about 'sailor's delight, but it was certainly a delight to us! We don't often have summer showers, but tonight? Oh man! Tonight we had a summer storm that was well worth the wait!

Earlier in the evening, we had some showers. Nothing major - it rained heavily for a few minutes and then stopped, but the sky was filled with clouds. Later, as the sun began to set, the sun and the clouds together made for an absolutely AWESOME sunset!

Still later, Kevin and I were out enjoying dessert in the newly remodeled fern grotto when the lightening began to strike and thunder roiled across the sky. Oh. My. Gosh. It was amazing! There was still a bit of red in the sky and then suddenly, POP! A flash of bright, white lights. Soon afterwards, a mighty roll of thunder across the Heavens. The trees were rustling with a swift breeze and soon, another flash of light - and the thunder to follow. We watched in awe and delight for the next 15 or so minutes until the show was over.
God is great, and we are so blessed.

Last of the Mohicans

Oh my gosh, I'd forgotten how much I love this movie! It's been years since I've seen it and, late this afternoon, I happened to turn the channel just as the movie was starting. Since it's a holiday weekend and we're not in a rush, of course I had to watch it!

I love this movie on so many different levels. The story is captivating: tragic and trumphant all at once. The scenery is truly awesome: lush and green and just so damn beautiful. The music is soulful: rich and understated. And then there's Hawkeye. How could you not swoon for this man? Smart, rugged, skillful, brave and passionate (I will find you!)
Have you seen it? No? Why the heck not?

Family Time

Kevin was out in front this morning trimming some shrubs when I heard him calling my name. Usually that can only mean one thing, so I ran out with camera in hand, and there they were - all out for a Sunday stroll through the neighborhood...

72 bags of gravel (3,600 pounds!!), lots of elbow grease, 6 hours and .... Viola!

The fern grotto got a (long overdue) makeover!

Since we moved in a couple of years ago, we've been thinking about what we should do with the side yard (aka: the fern grotto). It's such a nice area - and huge! Last year I was thinking about a flagstone patio. Until, that is, I talked to my friend Michael about it. He'd just finished putting in a smaller flagstone patio at his house and I was asking him how difficult and how expensive it was. He told me that it really only took him one full weekend ... and $1,500.00!! Whoa Nellie - guess that's out!

This year we were thinking something easier that would still set the area off nicely and make it an inviting, useable space. We came up with gravel. Lots and lots and lots of gravel!

Yesterday morning we began clearing the area of everything that lived there - furniture, garden, crazy cement filled tire (Wuhhh? We have no idea why it's there.), and preparing the area for all of the gravel. Vicky came over with tools and a garden cart that made the job soooo much easier! (Thanks, Vicky, for all of your help! We can't tell you how much we appreciate it!). Kevin chopped down a tree that had been growing as an unplanned volunteer; I pulled weeds and moved some larger rocks; Vicky cleared the area of larger rocks and leaves. Then, it was time to start adding the gravel - one 100 pound load at a time. Load after load after load. Kevin made 4 trips back and forth to Orchard Supply Hardware (known more affectionately as OSH). He was becoming quite the regular. The first load had 16 bags of gravel, then 18, then two more loads with 20 bags each. If you're thinking to yourself 'Boy! That's a lot of gravel!', you would be correct! Each time Kevin dropped off a cart-ful of gravel, Vicky and I would begin spreading it out in all directions until we had the entire area covered. Holy cow - we were all completely exhausted!

It's totally worth it, though!! I love the new look! We still have some work to do. I'd like to put a scalloped brick border around the tree, maybe some potted plants, an outdoor buffet to hold necessities to have drinks and munchies over there and maybe even a hammock! Here are a few before and after pics:
Before ...
During...(it's funny how the gravel changed colors after it dried. It was dark to begin with and then dried a pale gray)
And after...

Isn't it just great! We love it. Now I'm more anxious than ever to get that red brick border in place!