Recently, my brother and I reminisced about Easters from the past. Two stick out in my mind.
The first entertaining memory was the year I turned 7, Easter Sunday was my birthday.
A very exciting thing for a 7 year old because not only do you get to wake up to a giant, glorious basket filled with goodies at the foot of your bed, but IT IS YOUR BIRTHDAY, the most exciting day of the year.... with all the presents and cake and party.
My grandparents were coming over and I got to wear those white sponge rollers in my hair the night before to make my hair curly and beautiful and prettiest princess Easter dress and stiff white bow-tipped shoes. My cousins would be there, and my brother, and we would have a fun egg hunt, galloping around the yard with a pink basket full of treasures, searching through the yellow daffodil patches for bright, shiny eggs that we had colored the night before...(and maybe a few plastic ones from grandma and grandpa filled with candy or even money) YAY! The greatest day ever!
HAH! Greatest rip off ever.
Someone in my family had the brilliant idea that the LITTLE kids (my cousins and brother) should go first to get a head start on the egg hunt.
And, me, being the oldest kid in the group should WAIT in the house for a few minutes while the others had time to look so as not to rush around and get all the good eggs first....
As I was standing in the doorway, waiting impatiently for my turn to be released into the clover-covered yard, trying not to spot all the plain-sighted eggs and be accused of cheating....I see my brother...as if in slow motion...head down the hill...he makes a beeline for the gray, metal water meter in the yard.....
Then, I hear his bratty little voice...."I GOT THE PRIZE EGG" "I GOT IT" "KEE KEE KEE"....that annoying little laugh echoed in my ears as I dashed off to my room and flung myself on my bed.
Nearing tears, I hear my mother and grandmother calling for me to join the hunt. "What is the point now?" "Jeremy already got the prize egg".....Prize egg??? Yeah. the most beautifully wrapped, sugar icing, cake-filled egg that you have ever seen......And it was all for him....There was also a second, smaller ’prize’ egg that was snatched up by my younger cousin before I could even get outside....
RIP OFF Easter birthday....
This whole thing is on video and it is the funniest thing ever to watch now.....
The second funniest Easter memory that I have is from a year or two later.
We went to my grandparents house for easter and my grandma had given everyone a peanut butter filled chocolate egg. It was almost too pretty to eat.
At some point during the day, I realized that my egg was missing....hmmmm....
It had been sitting on the floor beside the couch....As I hunted for my lost egg, I spotted the wrapper....ripped, torn and annihilated with tiny dog teeth marks....
Tippy, a scraggly little mutt who could dance around in a circle if you waved a treat above her head....had apparently smelled the yummy peanut butter and decided to have her own little fantastic Easter feast.
She had eaten half of MY egg.... Another ’prize’ egg runied....the funniest part...Dogs aren’t really supposed to have chocolate and peanut butter....
Tippy had a little hiding of her own to do later when she left the giant egg behind, she hid it right at the bottom of the stairs. When my grandpa came downstairs, he found Tippy’s surprise with his bare feet...he stepped right into the warm pile of dog puke....
It made him SO mad...I don’t know who mas more angry...Tippy, Me or my Grandpa...
August 6th 2009 was full of ups and downs for me.
I spent the morning working at school to prepare for a new school year and then I ran home for a just a minute to drop off my computer so that it wouldn't get hot in the car.
When I got home, I was walking into the house with my hands full of bags, computer, lunch leftovers, and out of the corner of my eye I noticed a huge black ribbon snake stretched out between the bushes looking up at me. (I have a history with big black snakes, I once found one stretched out across the doorway of the bathroom and I almost stepped over it...snakes give me the heebie geebies now.)
Upon seeing the snake with yellow stripes down his back, I immediately went into full freak out 'ohmyghosh there is an unexpected snake in my yard and I am super creeped out and my hands are full and I want to scream, but that is just dumb, but I am still freaking out ohmygosh' mode.
I wasn't sure what to do so I sent a text to my neighbor Kaanan and she sent Maynard over. Maynard walks into the yard talking on his blue tooth headset (on a work call) and he kills the snake with his shovel. It was a little gruesome but I felt like he saved the day, I was sort of a damsel in distress....
After an afternoon meeting, I went out with some friends for dinner. As I was finishing my sushi, I found a long, limp hair slithering across the surface of my plate. I couldn't take another bite.
When I got home from dinner I was about to update my Facebook status to something like: 'Wow, today was full of ups and downs...connecting with old friends, a snake in the yard, hair in my dinner, etc." Just as I was about to hit 'update' I picked up a letter from the Department of Revenue. Hmmm. It was a little odd.
" On September 3rd 2009, your privilege to drive a motor vehicle in Missouri will be suspended for 30 days for an accumulation of traffic convictions. You are to surrender [your Missouri driver license}"
Haha...there must be some mistake. I had had 2 tickets in the last 3 years. One was for speeding in 2006 and the other was for running a red light in Duquesne. I paid them both. No big deal.
I open a second letter:
"We recently notified you that your privilege to operate a motor vehicle will be suspended for 30 days, beginning Sept. 3 2009. After your notice was sent, additional points were assessed on your record. The conviction changed your suspension TO A ONE-YEAR REVOCATION."
Conviction(s) we received and processed:
Careless & Imprudent
No Driver license
Traffic/Turn signal viol
Traffic/Turn Signal Viol
"After you are reinstated you will have to pass the written and road tests for a new license....and you will have to file an SR-22 with your local insurance company to show proof of financial responsibility."
Someone has obviously made some sort of clerical mistake OR someone has stolen my identity.
After reading the first letter, I thought it was sort of funny, wow someone is in serious trouble...the second letter must be a correction letter....But the second letter was worse.
I am a teacher, I can't have my license revoked.
This is madness. I am just a normal girl, minding my own business, la la la, I saw a snake today, and then WHAM!
My 'worst-case survival handbook: identity left" started to kick in. If my records indicate that I don't have a license, I can't even drive to the DMV to get a copy of my driving record...if I get into a wreck or get stopped on the way, I will go straight to jail--do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars.
If someone has stolen my identity and points have been added to my record then this person when to court and plead guilty--pretending to be me.
A million fears started circling in my brain. Do I need to get a lawyer? What do I need to do first? Who would do this? I was awake until after 3:00 a.m. tossing and turning, worrying about how I will prove my innocence, going to court, fighting the state to clear my record.
This morning I made a phone call to some friends I have over at the highway patrol to report my possible identity theft. (Thankfully I used to work there and one of the troopers is now a detective and he happened to be in the room when I called).
When they looked at my driving record only my 2 tickets showed up. I asked if the state of Missouri was 'punking me'???
The revocation wasn't in the computer. They suggested that I go down and talk to someone at D.O.R. So I head to the driver license office.
The woman at the counter told me exactly what they did and she printed a copy of my driving record. She told me to call Jefferson City and find out what was going on with these letters.
The state of Missouri has a very outdated system for storing driving records. The screen is an old black mainframe with green lettering. I asked the woman how these letters were generated....they were obviously from the same matrix, but now this info isn't in the computer? How is that even possible? She didn't know.
I called the D.O.R in Jefferson City. Carolyn answered after the second ring.
ME: "Hi Caroly, wow....I can't believe I got a human so quickly. I just had my driving record printed at the license office in Joplin and it reflects two tickets that I have received in the last 3 years. But I got a letter in the mail from your office stating that I have 7 tickets and my drivers license is being revoked for a year. There must be some sort of mistake."
CAROLYN:"What is your driver license number? And your name?..........Okay, yes, there was a mistake with your records but it was corrected on Wednesday so you can disregard the suspension notification."
ME: "Seriously, Carolyn...I thought my identity had been stolen, I am freaking out, I was going to get a lawyer......wow...um okay....can I get something in writing that says to disregard the first two letters?"
ME" "A letter will be mailed out on Monday."
So....I think killing that snake was a bad omen. Luckily nothing seriously bad happened. It was all a huge misunderstanding.
On the first day of spring break, last Saturday, St. Patrick's day....I was home alone all morning. Jeremy had gone to help a friend lay some tile in his bathroom, so I had the house to myself.
I spent most of the morning relaxing and drinking coffee.
Around noon, I got on the computer, I was trying to back up photos and organize my google drive folders.
Since I have lots of photos and google drive folders, I was sitting at the kitchen table for a very long time.
I sat and sat and sat, hardly making any noise at all.
About that time, a little brown mouse scurried out from under then dishwasher, along the cabinet in front of the sink.
He had no clue that I had seen him, until I turned my head for a better look.
Before I turned my head, I got the impression that the mouse was bee--bopping along.
He thought he had the house to himself, and he was just taking his time, looking around (in my head, I wondered if he was looking for a tiny motorcycle to ride, and wondering if he in fact had a tiny motorcycle that he would've been riding if I hadn't been at home to see him).
The second that I turned my head, the mouse saw the movement and darted back to the shadow of the dishwasher as fast as could be.
He paused there.
Hunched, tiny paws in the air, nose sniffing, beady little eyes on me.
We had a stare down, as I sat frozen, unmoving, daring him to move first.
He was frozen, and I was frozen and we had a staring contest, each of us daring the other one to move first. I don't think he could tell if I was human or if I was just part of the room. I was about 6 feet away, in the dining room and the mouse was in the middle of the kitchen, nearly hidden by the edge of the dishwasher.
At that moment, I wished that I had an invisible third hand to take a photo or a video of the stare-off, but finally, I moved my hand the mouse was gone under the dishwasher.
I hate mice.
The trap is set.
I hate mice.
About a week before the mouse stare down, a friend shared that she had a problem with mice in her new home. She had found mouse droppings in all 9 drawers in her kitchen.
So she took out every utensil and item in every drawer and washed it, and had the exterminator go to her house and spray for vermin.
The very next day, she found mouse droppings in all 9 drawers again.
I told her to burn the house to the ground, just to be sure to get them all.
Yesterday, when I was getting ready for school I noticed a long thin tail protruding from under the dishwasher. The trap had finally caught a mouse. I looked under the edge of the dishwasher and sure enough, a little brown mouse was smashed in the trap. Problem is, I got such a good look at the mouse that I don't think this was it. The other mouse was paunchier and darker brown. We've caught an imposter!
In April 2013, I wanted to do something as a tribute for my mom's birthday. She would've been 51, but she had passed away the fall before and my brother and I were still so sad and missing her. My mom loved butterflies so I decided to order a live caterpillar kit from Insect Lore and release a batch of butterflies into the world in memory of my mom.
If you have never raised caterpillars, I will tell you that they show up in little cups with some food in the bottom. After a couple of weeks, they go into a cocoon. You put all of the cups into a pop up net called a Butterfly Pavilion. When the butterflies are ready to pop out of the cocoon, they start flying around inside the butterfly pavilion. A few of the cocoons never hatched, but out of the 25 in our kit, I think we had about 18 fluttering butterflies to release.
On release day, I invited my brother Jeremy, and my husband, also named Jeremy to open the pavilion and start releasing the butterflies so that I could photograph them. We set them out into the world near our tulips, even though butterflies don't really care much for tulips, it made for pretty pictures. Also, for the record, this is the prettiest batch of tulips we have ever grown....since then, the tulips have never looked quite this good.
The butterfly release ended up being a really funny photo shoot of two Jeremys. Pictures I will treasure forever and my mom would've loved too.
(continued from yesterday)......We were trying to settle down for the night, brainstorming ways we could afford a new door....should we just fix the door we have? Would we ever feel safe again? We have a security system that we pay for every month, it is perfectly adequate to keep us safe if we had been using it properly.
That's when I saw it.
On the bedroom wall, just above Jeremy's bedside table.
A smear of blood.
I don't remember my exact words, but I'll never forget that feeling of fear and paranoia so strong and so overwhelming that my heart was racing.
I nervously giggled that perhaps we should call the police now.
Jeremy confirmed that it was in fact blood and it had never been there before. He checked the wooden jewelry box where he keeps his 'important stuff' and realized that something was missing.
Jeremy was the treasurer for his fantasy football league and had a rolled up wad of cash that would be the 'pot' at the end of the season for whomever won. It was $250 of cold hard loot, now missing. He cursed himself for not putting it in the bank, but thought it would be safest if he 'hid' it at home. At home, we wouldn't accidentally spend it and then be struggling to pay the piper right after Christmas.
We scrambled out of bed and called the police. I did a much more thorough inspection of my underwear drawer, (and jewelry and medications).
A detective came, our house had 2-3 cops looking around, which was creepy at 11:00 p.m. I felt totally invaded by strangers and unsettled.
The detective swabbed the blood, taking a sample in a little vial.
He said most likely the perp was on foot, looking for pills or cash, something he could easily stick in his pocket and be out the door.
The thief hit the jackpot with us, and must've cut his hand or arm when reaching through the back window to open the door.
If the intruder was a felon in the state of Missouri he would have DNA on file, but without a name to cross check the DNA with, it would be like a needle in a haystack.
Also, the detective told us, the crime lab was really backed up....he had rape kits that were 18 months out...so it might be a couple of years before the blood gets processed.
Our hopes were dashed.
This was nothing like CSI on TV.
If someone leaves behind a blood sample, then surely it would easy to catch the guy.
We stayed up so late, our nerves were fried and we were so freaked out!!!
This story happened in 2010. We never recovered the $250 but we did get a phone call from someone in the prosecutor's office about a year later. A man had been picked up with a big jar of change that he had stolen from a house in a neighborhood near ours. It was the same guy who had been in our house. He was a drifter, practically homeless and had several charges of petty breaking and entering on his record. We wanted to press charges, but nothing ever came of it.
We also got a new door and now we never forget to set the alarm on our house. Last year, we put in a keypad on the backdoor, so every time I enter the key code and go in without using my key, I think about that guy, busting in and wandering around. I remembered this story earlier this week when I was sitting at the stop light about a mile from home. I wondered if I had locked the door and set the alarm. I quickly checked the app on my phone, yep, the door was locked, but nope, the alarm wasn't set and I was able to set it with one quick click.
It was a normal October afternoon when I arrived home from school to find that something was amiss.
The pane of glass above the backdoor was shattered and broken glass was all over the floor.
My hair stood on end as I worried if someone was still inside the house.
My second thought was that possibly a baseball had crashed through the window and I would find it rolling around on the hardwood floor, a neighborhood kid missing it in the ally behind our house. But it was a school day, and unlikely that a kid would be playing adjacent to our backdoor as we have a very small backyard, and this backdoor is atop a set of stairs and behind a screen door.
An intruder had definitely broken the glass and was probably still inside, ready to attack.
I called Jeremy, no answer.
Do I call the police? I've never called the police....what exactly could the police do that I could not do myself, they would ask me tons of questions and all I could do is say...what...that a pane of glass is broken?
I opened the door and looked around. Everything seemed normal, but with a little bit of of a creepy feeling as I wondered if I was alone. I hesitated at the back door, listening for sounds of someone moving.
The funny thing about your own house is that you can navigate it at night, in the pitch black without turning on any lights because it is so familiar. Also, we have a 100 year old home with hardwood floors that creak and snap. The sound of walking in any particular room in the house tells you where someone is and which way they are going. I quickly surmised that if someone WAS in the house, I would hear his footfalls and make a quick escape out the back door. (Forgetting that if he were downstairs in the basement, I would not hear him and I could easily trap myself in one of the rooms with no easy way out if he ascended the stairs at just the right time).
I tiptoed into the living room, expecting to see everything ransacked, like people do in the movies. The iPad was sitting on the coffee table. The PS3 game controller and console were in their spots, along with the T.V. I peered into the bedrooms and didn't notice anything out of place.
Why would someone break in and not take a perfectly good iPad? This was 2010, iPads were state of the art and not many people had one.
Had the robber broken in just to smell my underwear?
An icky feeling went through me as I felt completely creeped out looking around for signs that someone had been in the house. Someone had wanted in bad enough to break through a window pane, they looked around and then left, that seemed unlikely.
Now, do I call the police? "Hello, I'd like to report a broken pane of glass, but nothing is missing, have a nice day!" Seemed like a waste of resources.
Finally, Jeremy called me back. He was freaked out. He had been home at lunch until about 1:20, and I had gotten home around 3:40. The intruder was working with such a short window of time that I was very lucky no one was still in the house. Jeremy almost always sets the home security alarm on his keyfob, but for some reason, this one day, he had forgotten to hit the button.
Jeremy came home and helped me assess the damage. We cleaned up the glass and patched the back door with cardboard and duct tape. We went to Lowe's to look at new backdoors. We decided that we didn't want a door with such easy access, even if it was original to the house, we wanted a steel door that would make our house a fortress. Doors were expensive. Jeremy had just started a new job and we didn't have an extra $150 that night so we decided to wait until payday.
We were so unsettled by the idea that a stranger had been prowling around our home while we were gone, that we could not sleep that night. We kept mulling the thought over and over in our head, why would someone want in and then leave without taking anything....
That's when I saw it!!!
(Check back tomorrow, to find out what I saw that changed the entire story!!)
I love coffee. I love the warmth and the richness with a little creamer. I love the way it wakes me up and fills me up so that I can maintain my energy between breakfast and lunch. When traveling, I love to find a nice coffee shop and get something fancy like a latte or a cappuccino. At home, I have a latte maker. I have to buy special espresso roasted coffee beans, ground them myself. The machine froths the milk and mixes everything together. I usually save latte's at home for weekends. Daily, we make a pot of coffee and I take a warm tumbler out the door on my way to work every day. Coffee is a morning drink. I try not to drink it after noon, unless I have to stay up late or I'm driving on a trip.
Tea soothes my soul after a long day. A calorie-free, tummy filling, hydrating, flavorful comfort beverage. Tea is good for my soul and almost as satisfying as coffee. It fills a different void, when I don't need the energy jolt, or extra calories, but I'm tired of just drinking water. I like to make a teapot full of hot tea and drink it out of a a fancy china cup with a saucer. I like to dip a biscotti or hard cookie into the tea to soften it. The crumbs are soggy and and smooshy and tasty. Tea is an evening drink. I like to drink it to relax, and warm up on a cold day.
Yesterday, I talked about relaxing....I still haven't figured out if Nelliepalooza is relaxing for me or a side job.
This weekend is NELLIEPALOOZA!!!
What is Nelliepalooza and who can come?
Nelliepalooza was started in 2010 for Nellie's birthday.
"I wanted to spend a weekend away, crafting with my friends. I rented the campground, we each pitched in on meals." --Nellie
It has now grown to a twice-a-year exclusive retreat. It is open to any crafters or generally artsy people.
Registration is open to anyone aged 18 and above.
At each retreat GUESTS get.......
3 days and 2 nights lodging (Each bedroom in the founders lodge can house up to 4 crafters in bunk bed style rooms. Cabins are also available with bunk beds to house 5-7 people).
Delicious meals served (5 meals, coffee, ice tea or lemonade; Bring your own soft drinks and personal snacks). Typical menu may include:
Now that you know a little about what Nelliepalooza IS, I will let you in a little bit more about what I do.
It is the scrapbookers that keep it alive. I really wanted it to be a retreat for all 'artists' but my artsy friends don't have the extra $91 every 6 months to cart all of their supplies to the country to paint or craft or whatever. But the scrapbookers do. There are big groups of scrapbookers that have been coming since the very beginning. Sometimes I have 50+ people and have to turn ladies away because we just don't have space for them. Other times, we have around 25...I think this weekend we have about 30.
It is my job as the facilitator to collect the money, design a screen print, make the screen, buy the screen printing supplies, buy the insurance for the event, coordinate with the campground director on setting up tables and signing the contract, communicate with the cook about the menu, make nametags, make a seating chart AND figure out what I am going to work on at the retreat. I also have to set the price, make or buy door prizes and I usually try to buy some fresh flowers to spruce the place up.
It really isn't THAT much work behind the scenes, but I do have to navigate which of the ladies are friends/enemies with each other and keep them apart or together which can be tricky with large groups. Also, many of the ladies are named Donna or Kristi or Tammy or Deb. Sometimes it is hard to remember which Donna is friends with which Kristi.
Not sure what I will work on this weekend. I've got a big pile of stuff and a bunch of art supplies ready. I suppose I will work on whatever feels right at the time. I will also stay up too late, each too much sugar and hopefully laugh a lot!
Recently, in my Total and Utter Carnage post, I told you about how I had a few explosions in the kiln and I was devastated by the mess and frustration of losing so much art because I had not waited long enough to let it dry.
This week, I got to open the kiln to a colorful, glassy party of bobbleheads. Opening the kiln on a glaze firing is SO satisfying. As an art teacher, there is nothing as rewarding as seeing a successful project turn out really well for almost every kid. Especially a project that has many hours of behind the scenes work for the teacher.
I decided to unload this class from the kiln and run a shop vac in the bottom to get rid of all of the carnage once and for all. Then, I loaded up as much glazed clay as I could fit in the kiln, and started a new batch firing.
While it fired, I worked at school. Yes, I know it is spring break, but putting in a few hours of time while the building is quiet put me ahead for the next month or so. I took down an art display and replaced it with another one...most likely the last one I will put in that spot this year!
Also, I organized my bookshelf, cabinets and worked in the supply closet. I am hoping to post an 'after' picture sometime next week. I still have a few more things to sort through first. I also graded papers and painted banners for the slice of life party.
I had a very long 'school' to-do list as I waited for that load of clay to fire. Honestly I could spend a whole day more up there working, but I brought a few things home and now I need to relax for the last few days of spring break that we have left.....
I've blogged about my love of movie theater popcorn. I've also written about the fact that I have a very messy closet space, at work and let's be honest I am sloppy in that area at home too.
One thing you might not know about me is that I have a guilty obsession with the Real Housewives. It started with the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I started watching the show a few years ago because I needed a show of my own, that I could watch without my husband. Most of our shows, we watch together.
But sometimes my husband is not home and I need to veg out in front of the t.v.
I love to read (my goal is 45 books this year) but sometimes my eyes and brain hurt and I need to watch some good 'ole trash t.v.
We subscribed to Hulu last summer and I started binging on Real Housewives. I was home alone all day....saving money for vacation, I needed something to 'do.'
I finished all of the Beverly Hills and moved on to the original, the Real Housewives of Orange County. By the end of the summer, I had started on the Real Housewives of New York. I'm still working on the RHONY, watching the season that aired two years ago.
I think I will watch the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Maybe move on to the Real Housewives of the Potomac, New Jersey, and Dallas. Then maybe I will delve into some of the spin offs.
Why do I like them?
I do not know.
I like the fashion.
I like the parties.
I like watching the older seasons, especially the Real Housewives of New York, as they name drop people like Donald Trump...knowing that he is now the President, and back in 2009, they could not have predicted that, but it was part of the storyline.
I don't care if it is lame, it my guilty pleasure and I am happy to indulge, even if my husband makes fun of me.
What is your guilty pleasure?
This is my 'slice of life' blog.
My Art Teacher Blog:
This Little Class of Mine