Thursday, March 31, 2016

Twenty-three Years Ago

Twenty-three years ago I was exhausted and worn out
Twenty-three years ago I had plenty to think about

Twenty-three years ago I first laid eyes on you
Twenty-three years ago I felt unequal to

Twenty-three years ago to now has been a lot of time
Twenty-three year ago to now has been sublime

Twenty-three years ago to now has gone by so very fast
Twenty-three years ago to now producing memories to last

Twenty-three years ago to now and you have become a man
Twenty-three years ago to now and your life is yours to plan

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My Sugar Free Day

I've been trying really hard to go sugar free in my life.  Lately, actually, since Christmas, I've had more days with sugar than without.  Today was the first day in over two weeks I've been sugar free.

There are several reasons I am trying to go sugar free.  First, Mr G is diabetic, and I feel guilty eating sugary things when he cannot.  More often than not, though, we tend to give in together.  Girls Scout Cookies?  Just a few (boxes) won't hurt anything.  Its only one cupcake.  But tea is better when the sweetener is sugar and brewed right in during the brew time.  It's just easier for both of us if we give sugar up together.

Another reason for me to go sugar free is that there is diabetes in my family tree.  My father was diabetic, my grand father was diabetic, a great many of my cousins are diabetic.  I've been lucky so far, but if I continue to operate carte blanche with the sugar, I won't continue to be.

Lastly, diabetes tends to run in my race.  And what a bummer it is to have a disease attached to a while ethnic group!  Native Americans have a higher rate of diabetes than the general population.

Today was an especially hard day for me, too!  There is an uneaten Kit-Kat in the refrigerator at home.  If you listen carefully, you can hear it calling to me as I walk through the kitchen!  It actually belongs to Caleb.  I could eat it and replace it before he comes home from college again, but I have resisted so far today.

Soda is also one of my weaknesses.  I LOVE soda with cherry or grenadine.  I even keep a bottle of cherry flavor in my cabinet for adding that extra bit to my hot chocolate and sodas.  Keeping soda out of the house is not the problem; having soda when out of the house is where I am most likely to stumble (fall, crash-and-burn).  Especially Sonic drinks.  A cherry-vanilla-diet-coke is my preferred poison, so much so that my kids say I'm addicted!

Although staying strong and being sugar free is a struggle for me, the rewards (husband/wife solidarity, continued good health) far outweigh the temporary benefits.  Now, if I could just find some earplugs so I can't hear that Kit -Kat...

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Classic Movie Night

Tonight we are watching a movie together as a family.  Eli decided he wanted to see well-known, older movie he hasn't seen before.  As a film studies/media major in college, he is very interested in movies.  Mr G suggested a comedy, so we scrolled through Netflix and settled on 9 to 5.

What a kooky old film!  It was released in 1980 (Mr G's senior year of high school).  The big glasses, big hair, angular cheek-bones, bright make-up, and shiney lip-gloss help add to the humor for our kiddos, especially when they realize their mom and dad actually used to dress that way!

And the girls in the movie, Dolly Parton and Lilly Tomlin, are two of our favorites.  Dolly is such a gem!  I have always loved to watch her films and see her movies.  I am not a country music fan, but she is one of several I will listen to once in a while.  Her story is one I have found inspiration in on more than one occasion.  Mr G and I have also enjoyed Lilly Tomlin since she was sitting in her big chair on laugh in.

More than how fun the movie is, though, is how much fun it is to watch a a movie all together as a family, and experience I treasure!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Return to Routine

Today was the first day back to school after spring break.

I really thought I was ready for being back in school.  The weekly lessons were posted on the planner board.  The new character word-of-the-week was printed in big, green, block letters at the top of the white board (FAIR) and a matching quote filled the quote box. ( "It's not FAIR to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself"  ~Eleanor Roosevelt )  Morning work and a brand new pencil was waiting for each student at their desks.

What I was not prepared for was how sleepy I would be today.  I had gotten quite used to sleeping until eight or eight-thirty every morning.  Getting up this morning at six was quite a shock to my system that I spent all day adjusting to.

Also, I was not ready for being up on my feet all day.  I was surprised, when I stopped to consider it, how much time I spend doing almost anything other than standing when not at school.  When I am governess of my own time I sit, stand, walk, run, lay, squat, and kneel.  I am rarely static, and especially not static on my feet.

Without a doubt, I am tired after tonight, but I believe I am ready to return to my daily routine.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! We celebrated today with family at our house.  Not a large crowd this year; my brother has a new job.  He's the associate pastor of a church in Sandsprings, Oklahoma.  However, this means that religious holidays are work days for him.  This is the first time in 12 years he and his family have not come to spend Easter with us.

We did have plenty of family on hand, though.  Mr G's mom, my Aunt Betty, me and Mr G, Hannah, her husband Zack and their daughter Norie, Eli and his wife Sarah, Sarah's mom, Sarah's sister, her brother-in-law and their two boys, Zeke and Mikey, and Caleb.

The two oldest of the smallest kiddos, Zeke and Norie, will be three this summer, and Mikey will be two in the fall.  This is such a fun age to have around for family gatherings!  We stuffed and hid around 200 plastic eggs and had lots of fun watching the babies find them

We had quite a fantastic table laid with all kinds of food!  We out everything out buffet-style since there were 15 of us!  It took two serving tables for the food and three tables for the people.  Fortunately, our family room is designed just for such family get-togethers. When we host Mr G's side of the family ther are 30-45 people.

Now everything is washed up and put away, everyone has gone other places, and it is just Mr G and myself here at home tonight.  I can't wait for the next big family day for us on July 4th!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Jefferson's Sons

I've been reading a book over spring break, one I picked out, just for me, just because I want to.  It's a historical fiction built around lives of Sally Hemings and her children.  Sally Hemings was a slave owned by Thomas Jefferson, the rumored father of her children.

The book follows the lives of three boys, Beverly Hemings, Maddy Hemings, and Peter Fossett, another slave boy at Monticello.  Beverly, Sally's oldest son, is 7/8 white, but his mother is a slave, so by law he is a slave.  He is light enough that, at age 21, when Master Jefferson sets him free, he plans to pass into white society.  Maddy, Sally's middle son, is also 7/8 white and a slave, but is not light enough to pass, so must live as a freed black slave when he turns 21.  Peter, another slave of the Jefferson property, has no hope of ever being free.

The book is a well-written, thought-provoking read into contrasts of the lives of three boys from the same place.  The story follows them through their lives from the time Beverly is 7 until the death of Thomas Jefferson 21 years later.

The end of a particularly good story always leaves me feeling just a bit sad, but the end of this book absolutely divestated me.  When I started the story, I did not anticipate the ending.  By the time time I got to the final few chapters I knew what to expect, but kept hoping for a different outcome all the same.

I highly recommend this book, "Jefferson's Sons".  If you've got some spare time, it's well worth the read!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Catch-Up Day

Today was not an exciting day for me.  Today was a cleaning day for me.

Actually, with all the travel I've been doing lately because of spring break, I've been knocked off my cleaning schedule.  I have a very definite cleaning schedule:
     Make-Up Monday - the day you make up for all the cleaning you didn't do on the weekend    because you were traveling (yes, we travel a lot in my family).
     Toilet Tuesday - deep clean the bathrooms.
     Wash Wednesday - extra washing, things like sheets, curtains, and small rugs.
     Dusty Thursday - the day I do all my dusting.
     Floor Friday - run the vacuum and mop the floors.

These special days are, of coarse, in addition to regular, normal, day-to-day cleaning chores like wiping down surfaces, doing dishes, doing laundry, picking up and putting away.

So today I spent most of the day playing catch-up, doing all my chores on one day instead of all spread out like I normally do.  Not much fun, but my house looks better and I just feel better knowing my house is clean.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

TBT - Caleb's Birthday

My youngest son, Caleb, was born 19 years ago today.  He came unexpectedly, about a month and a half early.

Caleb has done a good job catching up.  Now he's in college in Miami, Oklahoma.  Some of his friends took him to lunch today, then they went to the mall. He got a Hawaiin print hat and a pineapple cup to go with his Hawaiin shirt. It's a goofy looking combination, but he's happy.

He came by the house and we had Caleb food for dinner.  Caleb food is Aspie friendly food - easy textures and separated favors.  Not very nutritious, but again, it's his birthday and dinner made him happy.  We had hot dog weenies rolled up in croissants, corn, and cheese balls.  We also made him an ice cream cake made from ice cream sandwiches and Kit-Kats.

After dinner we opened presents, then he had to get back to school.  He has classes tomorrow, and he has a very definite scheduled bedtime.  He submitted to hugs (birthday hugs last twice as long!) then there was some silliness at the door, then he was gone.

I miss him already.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"Meandering Home" - Impressions of My Day

Hotel breakfast: bacon, toast, banana.
Layers, leathers, bandana, boots.
Cloudy-bright and chilly: sunglasses, gloves, jacket.
Check the route map. Check the forecast.
Gas the bike. Last potty call.

Head north on 7, west on 164
Through valleys, gaps, and passes.
Bullfrog Valley, Pettigrew Mountain
Switchbacks, ridge-riding, Booger Holler.
23 north for a little Pig Trail
16 west along White River.
U of A - woooooopig: Sooooo-ie!

Lunch. Study the map, write it down this time.
Highway ride, wind and semis.
Pig Trail again, Withrow Springs State Park.
12 west to War Eagle, both cavern and mill.
Gas at Rogers, head north.

Back in Missouri, helmet stop.
90 west to K.
Twist, turn, no traffic, go fast!
Leg stretch at Pineville, see the thunderhead!
Highway 49, race to get home!
Wind at our back, see the rain in the distance.
Pull in, unload, rain.

Day is done.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Arkansas Senic Byway - HWY 7

This morning Mr G and I got up early, packed a bag, got on the motorcycle, and headed for Arkansas.  The worst part of the ride was at the beginning when we had to go from Webb City to Jane on highway 49.  I do not like sharing the road with semi trailers!

We got off the highway at Jane and headed east on Missouri 9.  Missouri 9 is a fantastic road for motorcycles. There are many curves and hills!  We joined up with Arkansas 62 to cut across the top of Arkansas. We went through Eureka, which was a new experience for us.  Always before we've turned south at Eureka to ride the Pig Trail.  This time, we kept going to Harrison before we turned back south.

It was at Harrison, Arkansas where we started our journey on the Arkansas Senic Byway - Highway 7.  Arkansas has three roads labeled as "Senic Byway", and we'll ride another one tomorrow to get back home.

Today's ride took us through the heart of Arkansas' Boston Mountains.  This particular highway runs along to mountain tops. The view is simply magnificent! At the highest point today we were 1000 feet above the Buffalo River.  There were many places to pull along the side of the road and look out over the mountain range, so of coarse we did!

Most of the places we stopped had plaques or informative signs to read, and I ende up learning quite a bit about Arkansas today.  I also wouldn't be me, though, if I didn't notice some oddities along the way.  Here is a list of some of the things that made me giggle:

     ::: a hot pink limo
     ::: three goats standing on the roof of a house
     ::: a long white 1970s style Cadillac  that Boss Hogg himself was getting out of
     ::: a combination medical clinic/thrift store
     ::: old man on a moped giving us motorcycle high sign
We are now all tucked up tight for the night in Rogersville, Arkansas. A good night's sleep and we'll be ready to go again tomorrow!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Take Me Back to Tulsa

Today, for the first official day of Spring Break, Mr G and I went to Tulsa.  Tulsa is where I was born and raised. I lived in T Town for 18 years, spent 4 months in Stillwater, then ended up here in Missouri.

We took the long way 'round to get to Tulsa.  We started by heading out to Neosho.  We wanted to get in a little target practice, but it seems the public range at Camp Crowder is closed for cleaning on Mondays. Bummer.  Not needing to be in Tulsa until six p.m., we went to Grand Lake and had lunch at Grove. 

We ended up in Tulsa around 3-ish.  We went to a couple of shops looking for specific items, most of which we did not find.  Then we were at a loss as to what we should do. You see, I haven't lived in Tulsa for 30 years! I really don't know what there is to do anymore. I picked up an around Tulsa magazine and was very disappointed to learn we had just missed the 2016 Harmonica Summit, but excited to see Shinedown will be playing the BOK Center later this summer. Maybe we'll make a return trip.

We ended up driving over to the neighborhood where I lived from birth to age three.  I was really surprised I could still find it!  The house was a lot smaller than I remembered it.

We made it to my brother's house and followed Paul and Aaron out to LaFortune Park where Aaron was playing in his first Jr High soccer game of the season.  His team (Edison) is very good and they beat Memorial 6 to 1.  Soccer is not really my thing, but I enjoyed watching my nephew play all the same.

Driving home was a very enjoyable trip for me since it gave me the chance to reconnect with my husband after being apart all weekend.  I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

The Long Drive Home

Sorry, ya'll! I got home last night, wrote my post, closed my laptop and went straight to bed without posting, so I just posted, then decided to come back and add this note. Enjoy!

I judged a full day of gymnastics again today.  Official time was 7 hours, but we had to be at the gym at 7:50am and I left around 6pm.  Sometimes the meet director will make a mistake in planning and we'll get credit for our whole time in gym. Still, 7 hours was plenty long enough time considering I had a long drive ahead to get home.

Before I even got outside of Wichita city limits I could see smoke plumes on the horizon. I actually counted six, and figured I'd cross about thre of them.

The first one I came across was out by the windmill farm.  It turned out to be three separate grass fires, but the smoke from all of them had combined to make one giant plume.  The closer I got, the more brown the air became.  I was a little afraid of having to drive in smoke, especially since the highway I travel I just a two lane with lots of semi trucks. I shouldn't have worried, though. Kansas is flat and windy, and luck for me the wind was blowing all the smoke in the opposite directions!

It a three hour drive home, and I counted 22 grass fires I was close enough to see before I crossed back over in to Missouri.  At least my drive home was interesting today.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

State Meet Musings

I spent a very long, very enjoyable day the the USAG Kansas State Gymnastics meet.  So far I've judged one session of Platinum/Diamond Floor Exercise, two sessions of Gold Uneven Bars, and two sessions of Bronze Balance Beam.  Tomorrow I will judge three sessions of Silver Balance Beam.  All together there are close to 1,000 gymnasts in this meet representing 23 gyms.

I saw some very good gymnastics today and yesterday.  I also, unfortunately, have seen some very ugly gymnastics; the kind of gymnastics that offends my eyeballs to have to watch it.  I have met some fantastic coaches and parent volunteers.

I have seen some quite ridiculous names.  Some of my (not-so)favorites are:

That's enough for me today!

Friday, March 18, 2016

On the Road Again

I left school today and headed straight for Wichita Kansas, where I am judging at the Kansas State Gymnastics Meet this weekend.

Right off the bat, between Pittsburg and Parsons there is road construction.  I sat for 45 minutes as the west-bound lane of traffic waited its turn to travel on the one-lane road.  Grrrr.  I was stuck behind a tour bus and had absolutely no view.

The rest of the trip, thankfully, was event free.  I got bored so I called Eli (he's in Dallas this weekend doing Army things), my brother Paul (nobody home), and my Aunt Betty.  That helped kill another 45 minutes.

Interesting things I noticed on my drive:
     :lots of scorched earth from the wild fires the last couple of weeks.
     :lots of cows (moo).
     :lots of field green with newly-sprouted winter wheat.
     :a windmill farm
     :Fredonia, Kansas has a very weird-looking hill with a flagpole on top of it
     :a sculpture garden with metal buffalos

I made it to Wichita State with 15 mins to spare.  An easy drive to start my Spring Break!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

TBT - 2005

Tonight's Throw-Back Thursday picture is from late September, 2005.  From left to right is Preston, Eli, me, Caleb, and my dad.

Preston (PJ) was a friend of Caleb's from gymnastics.  Caleb and PJ and been in gymnastics class together from the time PJ was 4 and Caleb was 3 until both boys retired from the sport due to injury in high school.  PJ and Caleb were more like brothers, and PJ was another member of our family.  He was around so much that he even called my dad Grandpa!

This particular crew did many things together!  In this instance, we had just finished a weekend at the Tulsa State Fair.  We always got ride passes and spent Friday/Saturday/Sunday at the fair doing all the fun fair things.  Fried foods on a stick, pineapple whip, the hypnotist, Zingo, Phantasmagoria, the Ice Capades, ring toss, free concerts, the butter sculpture, exhibitions, animal showings, the horse races, dancing chickens, carnies, and much, much more!

We went to the fair every year until they pulled down Bells.  We'd pick the kiddos all up from their various schools (WC and Joplin) on Friday and head straight to the fair, where we met my dad.  He'd usually be sitting on a bench inside the gate, eating a corndog.  We'd stay and ride rides until midnight, when they shut down.  Saturday morning meant the Fair Parade, followed by donuts, then off to the fair to spend the whole day, again, not leaving until they shut it all down.  Sunday we'd  stay until around 5-ish, then head head for Long John Silver by my dad's house for dinner before heading home.

You can tell we'd just been to LJS in this picture, we're all in our hats!  We're dropping Dad back home before we head back to Missouri.  This is the same house I lived in from age 3 until I got married in 1987.  My brother, Paul, lives there now.

 PJ is in college at Rolla,

Eli is married, graduated from college, and on his way to Dallas for the Army,

Caleb is in college at NEO,

and Grandpa died in 2007.

I really miss this group.     :::le sigh:::

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

26 Things You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Me

I take my inspiration tonight from another Slicer in our building, Mrs Mitchell.  I really enjoyed getting to know a bit about her in this unique way.  I hope you feel the same!

A:  Asperger's Syndrom is a part of my everyday life
B:  Brothers: I have one I was born with (Paul) and two others (Jared and Johnny) I picked up along       the way
C:  Cherokee Indian
D:  Dory is my favorite Finding Nemo character
E:  Eggs make me sick, like gutter-crawling, camode-hugging sick, but I love them and sometimes           eat them anyway
F:   Fencing - I was on my high school fencing team
G:  Gymnastics judge  for Women's Artistic Gymnastics, both Junior Olympic and XCEL programs
H:  Horses: I know sorta know how to ride, but it's been a long time since I've done it
I:   Imp - one of the more unfortunate nicknames I acquired in high school
J:   Joyful noise - I like to sing.  LOUD.  I'm just not good at it.
K:  Keys - I inherited a large collection of keys that I have no idea what they go to!
L:   Laughing Hour - something I believe everyone should practice - HA!
M:  Married for 29 years this year.  Met my husband 47 years ago this summer.
N:  Nervous - talking in front of a group (assemblies!), going to the dentist, taking tests
O:  Okie at heart
P:   Purple is the color I've chosen for my summer hair this year
Q:  "q" is the nickname I go by most often among my closest friends and family
R:  Running and I have a love/hate relationship
S:  Sun - I'll be out in the sun every day in the summer
T:  Travel - every where,  every chance I get!
U:  Uneven - I can't stand to be uneven, much to my family's amusement
V:  Versatile, a trait required for being a mom
W:  Wiggly - I have a hard time holding still
X:   X-Rays are fascinating at the dentist these days since they show up right away on the computer            monitor
Y:  Youthful - hopefully they will still be saying this about me when I am 90
Z:   Zs - gonna go catch some

Goodnight, ya'll!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tuesday Night is Bowling Night

Well, it's finally happened to me this Slice Season:  I can't think of a thing to write.  I am tired, kaput, tapped out, done.

Not that I didn't have a good day because I did have a good day.  Its Tuesday and that means LIBRARY DAY for my reading class.  I LOVE Library Day because due to time constraints it follows a very strict schedule.

My social studies classes were ok.  We are studying the Vikings, a very fun subset of the Middle Ages.  We just had to spend the day modeling/practicing how written responses should look in social studies classes.  ( Not any different from reading class! )  But at least we got to practice with the Vikings.

After school I made a couple of worksheets: bell work and a fun matching one for Medieval weaponry.  Set up my room ( Tomorrow is  Freedom of Information Day ).  Check to make sure all the chrome books are plugged in so we can take the Star Math Test online.

At home I gathered all the kiddos and we went downtown Joplin tot he Skate Shop.  Caleb wanted a longboard for his birthday.  He had money from Grandma, Aunts/Uncles, and mom & dad burning a hole in his wallet.  He ended up with a VERY nice longboard.  We went there on the recommendation of one of my students. ( good rec, Hope, Thanks! )  We came home and he spent about an hour out boarding the mean streets of Webb City.  Which was good because Captain Aspi had been going on a bit about how Tuesday night is BOWLING NIGHT, and how he just wouldn't FEEL right if he didn't get to go BOWLING because he ALWAYS goes bowling on Tuesdays.

Sarah cooked dinner: Taco Tuesday!  Conversation stopper from Captain Aspi.  Feel free to ask - I'm still incredulous and laughing!

Nothing meaningful, nothing deep, just an ordinary day.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Pi Day with Captain Aspi

I went home early today so I could exercise.  Caleb decided to join me. :) By join me I mean he ran at the same time as I did.  He ran many miles and I ran my normal 2, but we did finish around the same time.  We stretched at the same time.  The Caleb suggested we try out the new toy ( see the March 5th blog post from me for a picture of the new toy ).  I rode it eight tenths of a mile before I called it a day.  I think Caleb could've gone all day!

Our next activity was a haircut.  Haircuts can be a traumatic event for Aspies, so usually I give Caleb his haircut.  He prefers a military cut for summer, and according to Caleb, we are in the throes of an early summer, so we scalped him good!  We did the cut outside on the back porch for the cut and tried to identify the birds we heard.  We were able to pick out cardinals, chickadees, jays, hawks, and crows.  There were a couple of others that we couldn't identify by sound and we never did see them.

We decided to continue our outdoor bonding by grilling dinner out tonight.  Steaks on the grill, cut corn in a large cast iron skillet, mixed veggies in a smaller cast iron skillet ( Caleb can't eat "mixed" anything! ), and steak fries in the grill basket!  YUMMY!  We put the grill on low and slow-cooked our dinner while we sat out and reconnected after too long ( in my opinion ) apart.  We talked about school, both his and mine, identified a barn owl, and refilled our bird feeders.

After dinner Caleb and I kept our connection as he cleared the table and I rinsed the dishes and loaded the dishwasher.  At last, time for pie!  Eli and Sarah had gotten us all a lovely turtle pie, and surprise!  Oatmeal Cream Pies for Caleb! A very lovely end to our day!

Happy Pi Day, everybody!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Spring Break With Adult Children

All my children are home this week.  While I am excited and happy to have my house full, I don't mind admitting I am a little anxious as well.

Eli and Caleb have always had an odd relationship.  Eli is what is classified as "neurotypical" (NT) while Caleb lives life on the Spectrum.  Neurotypicals, even when they interact daily with their ASD family members, sometime find it difficult to understand why they are unable to have a "normal" relationship with said family member.  The situation is no-one's fault, but it can make for some difficult moments.

Now we add in the weirdness of not having seen each other in a couple of months, plus the fact that they are both adults now, and we have the potential for disaster!

One of the hallmarks of Asperger's Syndrome is extreme difficulty with non-verbal communication.  NTs communicate non-verbally so well that it is innate and automatic.  Aspies use intelligence alone and will generally learn to mimic an accomplished NT role model; in our case Caleb mimics Eli. Sometimes an Aspie, without a social guide, will opt out of social situations all together.

Caleb has been home for three days now.  It is interesting watching Eli and Caleb learn to interact with each other as adults.  Sarah has been a very good intermediary between the two of them as they navigate a new relationship as adults and all the NT/Aspie complexities that come with it.

Hopefully, I am being a worrying mommy for nothing!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Spring Break and the Return of Captain Aspi - Day 2

Today was Caleb Day.  Not all day, because he had a mandatory cheer practice for the first part of the day. (And seriously, who has mandatory practices on the first Saturday of spring break after they've already closed down the dorms??? But I digress)

First, we took him to Carthage and got him registered for a gun safety class.  Next, we took him shopping.  Mr G found a winter coat on sale over in Carthage last week, the kind Caleb looked for all fall but couldn't find.  Double bonus: Caleb tried it on and it was exactly what he wanted; no "it doesn't feel right" issues, no pulling at the shoulders, no hitchy-tics at all!  Coat shopping success made me optimistic and we were even able to look for and find a shirt for him!  What a stellar shopping day!

We then decided to get dinner out.  We went to a buffet in order to have more choices that would appeal to all of us.  We all made our selections and sat down to our meal and THAT's when Captain Aspi decided to join us.  Apparently, there were foodstuffs in his rice that weren't rice. (It was fried rice.)  If you've ever eaten a meal with an aspi then you know how much they don't like the mixing of foods, and Caleb is no exception.  We were lucky that the fix this time was simple and we were able to actually finish the meal without ranting or refusals to eat. (like last night when they put cheese on his taco)

We are back home now with Caleb on the couch, laughing like a hyena while watching Big Bang Theory and repeating everything Sheldon says that he happens to like.  It's oddly comforting in its familiarity.  He's been doing well at college this semester and it's very obvious he's growing up, maturing, becoming a man.  I'm not sure I'm ready for the day he no longer needs me.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Spring Break and the Return of Captain Aspi

Caleb came home from college for Spring break today!

He came up to see me at the school fundraiser tonight. :)  

He bought raffle tickets.  He tolerated a hug.  He put a bid on a silent auction item.  He ranted a little about the rain.  He decided it was too loud and went back home.

I can't even begin to tell you how happy it makes me that he is able to recognize for himself when a situation may be a trigger for him and successfully make the decision to remove himself! 

It's been a long time since Caleb was in Middle School himself (he was in Pod 1).  I remember they used to tell me they always knew when Caleb came through the door each morning.   He was LOUD. Actually, he still is.  It's been nice that he has found a niche where his volume is praised.

Even though Caleb is schedule-happy, he is not well-rooted in time.  And let me tell you, that is an odd combination!  Every other Tuesday is bowling night.  Cheer practice is every Monday and Thursday night.  He has a cheer workout tomorrow at 1pm at his college.  He wants to leave Webb City by 10am so he won't be late.  His school is only 45 minutes away, but because this practice is outside of his normal schedule, he feels a need to overcompensate to make sure he doesn't miss this change in his schedule.

He is away from home more than he is home these days, and I think we've gotten used to the quiet.  Its going to be quite the adventure having Captain Aspi home again with us this week!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

TBT - What Spring Used to Mean to Me

So, yeah.  Here's a picture of me in the seventh grade.  Yup.  I was a cheerleader.

I went to Carver Middle School in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Our colors were purple and white and we were the Wildcats.  CMS was a 45 minute bus ride from my house every morning.  Our middle and high school were into sports on a level that rivals Webb City's love of all things athletic.  I'm pretty sure they still are.

Spring time for me back then meant getting ready for cheer try-outs. The week long clinic to get ready.  Muscles not used to being used getting sore from stretching.  Endless stretching, stretching, stretching to get those splits that were a requirement for cheerleaders back then.  And jumps.  Lots and LOTS of jumps.  Learning the pom-pom routine to whatever disco hit was big at the time.  But I loved every bit of it!

Some things I remember about seventh grade cheerleading:

This was back in the day of pleated cheer skirts and large, poofy pom-poms.  I spent HOURS trying to get the perfect Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader hair.  And hated doing it.  I was not a girly-girl.  I was into cheerleading for the athleticism of it.  I liked being the only one on the squad who could tumble.  I liked going to the football and basketball games and getting to be LOUD.  I definitely remember liking the loud part of being a cheerleader!

We will soon be at the time of year when some of our very own sixth grade girls ( and maybe even boys! ) will be working towards seventh grade cheerleader tryouts themselves.   I wish them all the best of luck and hope they enjoy their experiences as much as I did!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Riding the Walmart Cart

I had a different plan for my blog tonight.  My thought were to write about (translation: rant about ) technology.  Instead, I find myself with a new experience to share.

Mr G and I went to Walmart tonight.  Nothing very special, just needed to get sandwich stuff and pick up some other odds and ends.  We were back in the Garden Center, and I, being short ( now be hadn't noticed that about me ), had to get Mr G to get something off the top shelf for me.  Even Mr G is had to stretch to reach what I wanted, so it really was way on up there.

I got my item and turned to head out of the garden center.  I only got a few steps away when something came crashing down on me.  Unfortunately, what came crashing down on me was Mr G!
He hit the floor with a grunt of pain and grabbed his knee.  Very scary!

It seems the mat he was standing on in front of the houseplants was soaked and when he stepped off the mat he slipped.  As he skidded on the concrete, his knee hyper-extended and down he went.

Before it was all over, we had the garden center guy, two managers, and the Webb City Fire Chief all making sure Mr G was up and ok.  After much paperwork, they had Mr G all loaded up on a Walmart cart and we were on our way.

He rode that cart back through the store, through check out, and out to the car.  I drove the cart back in to the store, backed it into it's parking place, and plugged it now. ( not gonna lie, driving the cart was fun! ) So now we're home and Mr G is resting with ice on his knee and his leg elevated.

It's interesting how life never quite turns out the way you planned.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016



We really like pizza at our house. A lot.  Probably too much.  Because of how much we like pizza, we are careful to not overindulge and limit ourselves to having pizza only one time each month.  During the school year, this means having pizza on school pizza fundraiser night.

We each of us order our own.  We all like different pies so its next to impossible to get just one or two pizzas that will appeal to everyone.  The plus side of each of us getting our own is that there are usually leftovers.  I, myself, am a fan of the old college standby of cold pizza for breakfast.

Although I like many flavor combinations, my go-to pizza is a thin crust bacon and onion with bar-b-que sauce.  Sometime, however, I don't even get a pizza.  Dominos has a really yummy boneless wings options that is quite filling.  I like bar-b-que bacon flavor. ( Are you detecting a theme here? )  Once in a while I will even go in for a sandwich.  A favorite for me and Sarah to do is get a sandwich and boneless wings and each of us take half.

And have you had the chocolate lava crunch cake? OH WOW!  Warm chocolate cake with a creamy, hot, chocolate center that absolutely oozes chocolate goodness.  My mouth is already watering in anticipation!

Maybe you can see why we limit ourselves to pizza night once a month.  I wonder what we'll end up with tonight?

Monday, March 7, 2016

Road Trips

Eli just came in from a trip to Dallas and back today.  We are all happy to see him, happy to confirm with our own eyes he has returned to us safe and whole.  His trip today sparked a fun family trip of our own down memory lane of road trips we have taken.

Both of our kids were gifted athletically and were involved in sports that required travel regionally, nationally, and internationally.  We had lots of fun traveling with our kids' sports teams.

We made the trip to Chicago quite often.  Sometimes we'd go right on up to the lake and stay on lakeshore drive, other times we'd head out from the city to Momence, a sleepy farming community outside the city where Eli's Sensei lived.  Sensei Sharkey lived in an old, converted church, complete with steeple, right out in the middle of a cornfield.  Eli was nine the first summer he stayed with Sensei for training.  One night, some of the older boys watched the movie SIGNS.  They said that Eli wouldn't go anywhere without a bottle of water for a solid month!

Then there was the weekend we drove to London, Ontario, Canada.  We packed me, Mr G, Eli, Caleb, Grandma Swaim, and Grandpa Chrismon into a mini van and off we went!  It was a very long 17 hour day, but so worth it!  We saw Eli's tournament and got to explore a new city.  What was horrid was the drive home, but isn't it always, no matter where you are driving home from?

Trips down memory lane, when shared with friends and loved ones alike, are the best trips of all.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Better Late...

Sunday evening at 11:25 p.m. and I am just now getting to today's Slice.  Its been a very busy day, what with catching up on chores like laundry, doing the week's shopping at Sam's and Walmart, and grading-grading-grading.  I love doing projects with my social studies classes, but they take forever to grade!  I always spend too much time enjoying the works of creativity submitted by student to be an efficient evaluator.

Lunch on Sunday afternoon lately is an afternoon getaway for me and Mr G.  With our house full again, it is our time to get away and just spend time together, just the two of us, and reconnect.  Today we reconnected over grilled chicken won-ton tacos at Applebee's.

The most interesting thing I saw today was at Walmart.  We had pulled in after lunch and a trip to Sam's to get the rest of our groceries.  Parked out in front of the store was a giant, rolling peanut!

How much fun would a job like that be?  I always thought it would be fun to drive to wienermobile, too.  I know I always get excited when I see it going down the road!

That was my day.  Kinda boring (except for the unexpected peanutmobile!), but I'm ok with that.  Sometimes, a quiet, boring day is just what is needed.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Quest for Coneys and What I Got Instead

This has been a fantastic day for me!

I already had a trip out of town planned with Mr G, Eli, and Sarah.  Eli had a an appointment with his agent in Tulsa. It was just supposed to be a quick "let's get reacquainted" meeting since he's been out of the business since high school.  When he asked if Mr G and I wanted to tag along we jumped at the chance; going to Tulsa means a trip to Coney Island for coneys!

The opportunity to go and eat a coney was even worth getting up early to an alarm on a what should be a lazy Saturday.  We were out the door and on the road by 9am, right to the agency just a touch early for an 11am meeting.  We dropped Eli off and headed to a nearby speciality sporting goods store to pass the time while he attended his meeting. ( Just fyi, in case you care, not only were photo shoots and go-sees and representations arranged, Eli was hard-sell recruited to teach at the agency's school! ) The store, Tulsa Sun & Ski, specializes in things you need for skiing (both water and snow) and for athletically enjoying the outdoors.  While looking around at all the nifty, over-priced things they offer for sell, I found many items to amuse me!

I tried on many furry ski hats.  I looked at snow boots with linings that could be changed out to match your outfit. I looked at long boards and penny boards.  I looked at fashion wear for cyclists. Then, whoa, what is this interesting contraption?

It's kinda like a combination stair stepper/scooter.  The attached brochure said that its good for working out your legs and glutes.  I immediately jumped on and started riding around the store.  This thing is fun!  So much fun, I bought it and brought it home with me. ( Bonus: it was WAY on sale! )  So if you see me puttering around town on my new toy, don't laugh!

Next, we headed off to our favorite coney shop.  Unfortunately for us, there was a hand-written sign on the door letting everyone know that they would be closed today.  We were so bummed!  We decided to go about our other errands ( Eli needed a special motorcycle riding jacket for military use that he cannot find around here, as well as a couple of pieces of army gear ) and see if any other restaurants caught our fancy.  After a quick stop at a bike shop in the fairgrounds region, we ended up at a place called RIO's.

Back in the day, this location was Casa Bonita.  Eating at Casa Bonita used to be an event, not just a place to go eat.  They had wandering musicians, a waterfall, caves, a puppet show, a costumed monkey named Bananas, and an all-you-can-eat Mexican menu that couldn't be beat.  RIO's was no Casa Bonita in atmosphere, but it turned out the food is pretty good.

We spent the rest of the day running around Tulsa, having lots of fun on this fine, early spring day.   We even stopped by for a visit with my youngest brother, Paul, and his family.  We made our final stop at the Tulsa Hard Rock Hotel where I got two new pins to add to my pin collection.

And, of coarse, we couldn't leave without our goofy, souvenir photo: ( that's me and Eli )

I know this is a bit longer than my normal Slice of Life post, but it was a very full, fun-filled day.  Definitely a day I want to remember for a very long time!

Friday, March 4, 2016

I Love My Job

I love my job!

I had so much fun today with my classes.  My reading class finished up reading a difficult book.  I was so very proud of them as they took the AR test and all did very well.  I like that the book made them think and led to some good conversations as we made our way through the story.

For the past couple of days, we have spent time getting ready to start our unit on the middle ages. Each of my social studies classes today got to talk about the upcoming Middle Ages Project.  Its a time I look forward to each year.  The kiddos get so excited about all the possibilities that are open to them.  I got to bring in some of my own projects as examples to share with them to help illustrate.

Yesterday I wore my middle ages outfit to school and today I brought my Viking shield and marshmallow- shooting crossbow.  It was fun flinging miniature marshmallows at the students who answered questions correctly.  Who know that the opportunity to to catch a mini marshie would be such a motivator!  I was amazed at some of the ideas for projects the kiddos came up with and can't wait to see all of their finished work over a month from now.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

TBT and My Love of Schedules

I once had a friend I had not seen in 25 years ask me before a much-anticipated visit if I was a "wing-it" kind of girl, or was I a person who needed a schedule?  It was not something I had ever really given much thought to before that moment. Without thinking, I indicated that I was good to just "wing it".

Boy, howdy! Did I learn something about myself that day!  And since I actually started paying attention, I've discovered that I really am a schedule person.  Not only am I a schedule person, I am one of those for whom the whole world can be knocked off it's axis if there is an unexpected change to my schedule. How did I not know this?!?

I was so excited to learn something new about myself and I eagerly shared this ground-breaking news-flash with my family.  Mostly, they just laughed and said things like, "well, DUH!", and "How could you NOT know?".  It seems I've been this way my whole life and never even noticed it.  It took an innocent question from an old friend to open my eyes.  Sometimes, knowledge comes at us from unexpected sources, we just have to be open to accept it.

In case you're wondering, my visit with my friend went ok, but would have been much better, for the both of us, I think, if I had known before that I needed a schedule.  It really put me off to not know what was going to happen next.  I was actually a bit anxious and not able to fully enjoy the gift of company I had been waiting for for so long.  Not that the day was bad, but it could have been so much more.

Oh, well.  As it's said, "You live, you learn!"  I AM glad to have learned this about myself and actually credit my friend for being so instrumental in my moment of self-discovery.  And really, isn't that what good friends are supposed to help you do anyway?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Not my Night to Cook!

There are currently four adults living in my house; me, Mr. G, Eli, and Sarah.  Each of us is responsible for providing dinner for the family one night a week. (Since we travel so much, weekends are left unassigned.)

My night to cook is Monday nights.  This week I made breakfast for dinner, one of my favorite things to do.  This time it was biscuits and hamburger gravy, hash brown casserole, and orange rolls. YUMMY! :)

Last night was Sarah's night to cook, but Eli and Sarah were out of town.  They had gone to Springfield to do paperwork getting ready for Sarah's graduation from Missouri State University on May 13th.While this was great for Sarah, it was not so great for Me and Mr G!  Mr G volunteered to get dinner for the two of us, which translated into an excuse for him to run out and get Taco Bell!  Meh, there are worse things in the world than a nacho cheese gordita.

Tonight is Eli's turn to cook.  When I got home from school, he was headed out on a run. OK, fair enough, everyone needs exercise.  After his run, cool down, and stretches, he got involved with Mr G in a project they've been playing with for the last couple of weeks.  Ok, I can grade some mosaics while I wait for them to be done doing man things in the garage.  But at 7:30 pm, I decided it was time for a not-so-gentle reminder that it was his turn to cook.  I went to the door that opens from the family room into the garage and bellowed out, "WHAT"S FOR DINNER?!?  I'M STARVING!!!"

Subtle, huh?

Yeah, he had forgotten it was his night to cook.  Now its 45 minutes later and I'm STILL WAITING ON DINNER.  It looks like he's making chicken quesadillas and mexi-rice.  I really hope it's worth the wait!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Welcome back, old friends, and welcome aboard to new friends!  Time to get started in the 2016 Slice Of Life challenge.  I am told that the second year is more difficult than the first year because you sometimes fell you have already written everything you have to say in the previous year.  Even with this warning ringing fresh in my ears, I am excited to begin!

I remember that this time last year the weather was snowy and I was perpetually cold.  This year, the temperature is mild, yet definitely warm enough for outdoor recess.  Last evening I spent a couple of hours out on the deck with my oldest son, Eli, just enjoying the warmish evening.  We were eating grapes and reading while sharing a blanket on the outdoor love seat.

There is usually quite a dramatic change in the weather from the start to the last of March, so expect to hear a bit from me on how I adjust to those changes.  I have some minor travel planned this month, so you might see a blog post or two about my upcoming adventures. I am also very enamored with my family and we have experienced some major life changes since last year's Slice of Life, so I expect I will be blogging about that as well. 

Can't wait to hear from all of you in the coming month!