Thursday, April 30, 2009

Oh, to dream ...

Do you remember your dreams? I do and they're usually pretty vivid. Before Rick found out he had sleep apnea, he never remembered his. He does now, but not nearly as much as I do. Last night was a doozy for me. I took some Tylenol Sinus Nighttime right before bed, so I don't know if that had something to do with it. Also, one of my dreams was related to one of my fears that I listed on Facebook last night, so that's creepy.

The first dream was really strange. I was in a house, or some sort of church, when I started singing or humming some song. For those of you who are familiar with a Christian's belief of the Rapture, that's exactly what happened. I kind of fell over, but instead of falling to the floor, I went vertical and then began floating upward very fast. I knew what was happening. I tried to say, "Yes", but it came out as, "Yee-ahh-ugg" I'm pretty sure I said that aloud too because I woke up just as I said it. Rick didn't say anything to me, but he did roll over, so I must have said something weird.

Soon after I had another dream where Rick & I were in our room. I looked over at the door and a strange man had just walked in. I can still picture his face. Rick got up and the guy pulled out a pocket knife. Some sort of fight broke out, but now I can't remember what happened. I had another weird dream about being in a casino and then in a shower right afterwards. Weird! Last night I listed some fears on Facebook and home invasion was one of them, so maybe that's where this dream came from. A few weeks ago I had a similar dream where I was moaning in my sleep. Rick woke me up and asked what was wrong. I told him someone just walked through the front door. I've never seen Rick get up so fast before. He searched the whole house. I was either still asleep when I said it, or the dream was so real that I believed it when I woke up. That one really freaked us both out.

So, here it is morning -- and even with my 2nd cup of coffee, I feel really exhausted. Between the sinus medicine and all the freaky dreams, I'm kind of out of it. It's not a good day for me to feel this groggy because I have some bank people coming by to do an appraisal on the house today. I need to get stuff picked up so they can take pictures, in addition to school for the day. I guess I better get hopping and get stuff done.

Do weird dreams stay with you all day like they do for me?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


What do you wake up to first thing in the morning? Rick has one of those CD player alarm clocks, so he wakes up to music. Usually it's something bold, like a tune from Star Wars. Right now he has it set to the Red Hot Chili Peppers' song "Snow (Hey Oh)". I'm going to have to have him change it because I absolutely LOVE that song. Every time his alarm goes off, it starts up and then he hits the snooze button -- grrrr! He needs to change it to something I don't want to listen to, like Neil Diamond or one of his 80s songs. Then the snooze button won't bother me. However, I also get awoken to what's in the picture today -- turkeys. We have wild turkeys roaming around all over the place. Right now there's a huge flock working their way up the hill in my backyard. A bunch of them were on the deck, as shown in the picture below. The squirrel was trying to get her breakfast, but it was a little intimidating with 6 humongous turkeys stomping around, and more on the ground below. They pigged out, pooped all over my deck, and are now moving back up the hill. It's kind of funny to think about it. At my house in California, our neighbor had this rooster that used to wake me up everyday. The stupid thing would crow all day and all night. Now I get woken up by crazy wild turkeys.

So, I ask you -- what wakes you up in the morning?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

When it rains, it pours ...

The saying, "When it rains, it pours" generally refers to things going from bad to worse. I suppose with anything, you can flip that around and make it positive. Take my writing, for example. I've been in a real slump. I have had the itch to write, but haven't had the ideas or inspiration. I've been sitting with my laptop, staring at a blank screen, only to end up on Facebook or blogs and never writing a thing.

Two nights ago I was having trouble sleeping. I'd fall asleep and dream about being unable to write, only to wake up frustrated. Then in the middle of the night, an idea hit me. Just out of nowhere -- I had an idea for a new picture book! So, late last night I grabbed a pen and a pad of paper and started putting my ideas down. "This is going to be great," I said. "I don't think there are any books like this!" However, when it rains, it pours ...

As I tried to fall asleep last night with the new idea floating in my head, another story idea popped in. What the heck is that all about? Here I have what I think is this awesome idea, only to be sabotaged by a new one! It's like my brain was on vacation, or worse, just sitting there rotting away. Now all of a sudden it think it's some kind of sports car that can go from zero to sixty in three seconds. But one thing I've learned about myself is that I write in spurts. When an idea finally hits me, I'm usually bombarded with several more. After all, when it rains, it pours ...

Raindrops keep falling on my head -- oh man, I just love the rain!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fur Elise -- 199 Years

April 27, 1810 is the date of Ludwig van Beethoven's Fur Elise composition. I started playing it last night and my boys both shouted out at the same time, "That's from Snoopy!" Sometimes you just have to love cartoons. I probably wouldn't know any classical music if it weren't for Looney Tunes and Bugs Bunny. According to Wikipedia, no one really knows who "Elise" is in Beethoven's work. It's believed to be one of his mistresses, but they're not exactly sure which one. All the same, it's definitely a classic piece and it's amazing to think it's 199 years old today.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Do you like scary movies? I hate scary movies. I think that stems from seeing them at too young of an age. My mom used to take me to see movies that I wasn't old enough to watch. I don't know what she was thinking. I'd never let my kids see some of the movies I saw when I was younger. Below is a list of 10 movies that scared me to death and I will NEVER watch again --
  1. The Exorcist
  2. The Omen
  3. Halloween
  4. Nightmare on Elm Street
  5. Cujo
  6. The Lost Boys
  7. The Shining
  8. Eraserhead
  9. Carrie
  10. Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane

The hamster scene was too much in #10 when I was a little girl. I guess being married to a cop for over 20 years, and before that when Rick worked for an ambulance, I've heard my share of real life horror stories. In addition, I'm such a news junkie, and that's scary enough most days. I don't like extremely violent movies either, especially ones like the old Charles Bronson films where people are being killed left & right and women are being attacked. Those make me sick to my stomach to watch. As for dark or suspenseful movies, these are more my speed --

  1. Nightmare Before Christmas
  2. The Corpse Bride
  3. Dracula with Bela Lugosi
  4. Frankenstein with Boris Karloff
  5. The Burbs
  6. Sweeney Todd
  7. Jurassic Park
  8. Hocus Pocus
  9. Igor
  10. Godzilla (originals)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know -- I'm such a wimp!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

For the birds ...

Yesterday afternoon I sat down in my comfy chair in the living room to goof around on Facebook for awhile. I looked out my window next to me and saw a bald eagle soaring in circles above the trees. I've lived in Montana for 2-1/2 years now and bald eagles are a common sight. However, I still get a thrill whenever I see one. They're beautiful birds. When we'd visit Yellowstone or Grand Teton on vacation, we'd spend hours trying to spot one. Where I live now, they're pretty common to see everyday. Just as I never got tired of seeing the ocean in California, I hope I never tire of seeing wildlife here.

Someone on Facebook asked if I got a picture of the bald eagle yesterday, but it was too high up. I said I'd make up a slideshow of some of my bird photographs and post it on my blog, so that's what I'm doing today. It's not just bald eagles, but other birds I've seen here in Montana as well as other states. Most are unedited and uncropped, so I'm sure I could make them look even better. I hope you enjoy the slideshow!

Friday, April 24, 2009

28 Years!

Today is the 28th anniversary of our very first date. I met Rick in high school in 1981 through a mutual friend. Oddly, I was in my sophomore year when we met and neither of us remember seeing each other the year before. I was supposed to be in tennis class, but instead I was standing by the pool talking to Amy, who was an aide for swimming. Rick was an aide for that period also. As soon as I left, he asked Amy who I was. A day or two later he walked up to me on campus and said, "You wouldn't want to go to the tennis dance with me, would you?" I said yes, and I've been with him since.

The Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament has been going on for 109 years. Each year, thousands of people gather in Ojai, California to watch amateur tennis players compete from all over. If you look at the website under "history" you will see some pretty famous names of people who have played in this tournament, including Billy Jean King, Jimmy Connors, and Tracy Austin. During this 4-day event, there is usually a dance held at the local high school. That's the dance Rick & I went to on April 24, 1981.

It's funny the things you remember. I remember going shopping with my sister to find something to wear to the dance. I couldn't find anything I liked! I ended up buying an animal print top and wore that with some brown corduroy pants I already had. I remember standing by a wall with my arms around Rick and he said he could feel my heart beating. I also remember him fiddling with a small gold heart necklace I had on. He asked me where I got it, and after telling him it was a gift from my mom, he seemed relieved. After the dance, his friend Bruce suggested we go someplace else, but Rick was a gentleman and said no. He took me home and asked me to go see a movie the next night. I said yes. We watched Caveman with Ringo Starr, which was probably one of the stupidest movies we'd ever seen. Rick graduated that same year, which was when this picture was taken right after the ceremony. That fall he went away to Pepperdine University, where he was a pre-med major. Unfortunately, money was a problem and he could only do one year there. We dated for 7 years before we finally got married in 1988. We always knew we'd get married, but we wanted to wait until Rick was settled in a career first. Twenty-eight years and four kids later -- here we are still together, a lot older and hopefully, a little wiser. Like all couples, especially ones who've been together this long, we've had our ups and downs. Mostly those have been ups and there haven't been too many downs. I've been blessed to have someone like Rick in my life.

I love you, Rick -- Happy 28th Date Anniversary!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hasty But Tasty!

Anyone remember the old cartoon The Ant and the Aardvark? It was produced from 1969 to 1971. I would have been 4-6 years old, so I probably watched reruns later when they showed it with the Pink Panther cartoons. Both the ant and the aardvark were voiced by John Byner. He managed to make the aardvark sound like Jackie Mason and the ant sound like Dean Martin. I remember getting up early on Saturday mornings just to watch these old cartoons. Definitely a blast from the past -- at least for me anyway. Did anyone else watch this?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Hairy Decision ...

A friend of mine took this picture of me in 1984. You might even know him -- Rick Scarry, as he's been in hundreds of TV shows and movies. I met Rick when he was working as a disk jockey for a radio station called KMET out of Los Angeles. Rick still works as an actor, but he no longer DJs and doesn't have as much time for photography like he used to. We lost touch over the years, but recently we connected again through Facebook. He's a sweet man. I think he's in Italy at the moment -- the life of an actor -- sigh.

I was 19 when this picture was taken, so it was 24 years ago. Damn, that sounds ancient just writing it out. That's my natural hair color, by the way. A lot of people think I have black hair, but it's actually dark brown. I've been debating going back to my reddish-brown color. So I ask you all, what hair color do you think I should be -- reddish-brown or dark brown?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Got Cashews?

Ahhh sweet, another holiday you can really sink your teeth into -- National Chocolate Covered Cashew Day! That sounds like a good enough reason to celebrate to me. On Friday I got a knock at my door from the UPS man. My friend Gale had sent me some gourmet Vosges Chocolates she got while visiting Las Vegas. This is the same wonderful Gale who sent me the liqueur chocolate covered cherries last Christmas. Included in her package was a box of Bombalinas. These are cashews smothered in dark chocolate with ginger, wasabi and sesame seeds. There were wonderful! I say that past tense because sadly, they didn't last long enough for National Chocolate Covered Cashew Day to come around before I gobbled them up. Thank you so very much, Gale -- you're sweeter than sweet!

If you're like me and have no clue what a cashew looks like growing in the wild, you might be a little surprised by what you see. Cashews grow on evergreen trees that can be 32 feet tall. The trees produce a pear-shaped fruit. The inside is very sweet, juicy and similar to an apple, but the outside is fragile, which makes transporting difficult. The cashew nut grows on the end of this fruit. Cashew trees were native to Brazil, but are now grown in over 30 countries, wherever the climate is warm and humid. One cashew tree produces 200-300 cashews a year. Vietnam, Nigeria, India, and Brazil account for 90% of all cashew exports. Cashews are eaten raw, roasted, salted, or sugared. Since they cost more than other nuts, chocolate covered cashews are generally more expensive and produced by fancier chocolate companies. Below is a picture of the cashew fruit with the nut growing at the bottom. It's definitely not what I expected them to look like.

Happy National Chocolate Covered Cashew Day!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Violet Raines

Have you almost been struck by lightning? Eleven-year-old Violet Raines has, in more ways than one. And when she’s not dodging lightning or outrunning alligators, she’s trying to keep the prissy new girl from stealing her best friends.

I just finished reading Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning by Danette Haworth and I absolutely loved it! I bought this book months ago, after getting to know Danette a little through her blog and a message board. The book is written for kids ages 9-12 years, so I realize I'm not the target audience for it, but I really enjoyed it. The story immediately took me back to my youth -- back to pre-adolescence, not understanding why I felt the way I did, not enjoying new things, and not liking what was changing around me. The characters drew me in instantly. I liked the ones that were likable, I loved the ones that were lovable, and I disliked the ones that were dislikeable. My only disappointment was that last page -- I wanted MORE!

Isn't that how a good book should be?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hanging Out Day!

Today is National Hanging Out Day. No, that's probably not what you think it means. It doesn't mean to hang out and do nothing all day. However, that's probably what I'll end up doing. National Hanging Out Day refers to laundry and energy conservation. Today is a day set aside to encourage people to dry their clothes on a line, rather than a dryer.

One of my earliest memories is sitting in the sun watching my grandma hang her laundry on her clothesline. She placed each item so carefully and with such grace. She used to wear a little apron that held the clothespins in a big pocket. It was fun to watch her smooth each sheet out and hang each towel with perfection. My grandmother had a dryer, but she preferred the clothesline. We had one at our house, but my mom used the dryer more.

I suppose for many people, clotheslines are old-fashioned and a thing of days gone by. I still see them, of course, but we don't have one. There's probably some regulation against them in our home owners agreement anyway. Rick cannot stand sun-dried clothes and would literally flip out if I did that to his clothes. He's one of those people that can't wear anything if it's the slightest bit itchy. Drying his clothes on a line would be like torture. It's a good memory and reminds me of watching my grandma while she hangs her laundry by her sweet smelling rose garden.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

For the record ...

Do you remember record albums? Way before digital music, before MP3 players, even before CDs, cassettes and 8-track tapes, there were records, also called albums or LPs. Like many people did in the early 90s, we got rid of our old records. We sold them at a yard sale for practically nothing. I should have taken them to a record store, but I was too lazy. The only ones I kept was my collection by The Who. I kept all the related ones by Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon too. I couldn't part with my Who collection, so I still have it. I don't even have a record player to, so they just sit here in this box, which is kind of sad.

Today is Record Store Day, which is a day to celebrate independent record stores. When I was younger, my favorite place to go was a record store. We had some pretty good independent ones where I lived. I always went right to The Who section with big hopes of finding something rare that I didn't have. I even remember going down to Los Angeles a few times for record conventions where I'd find bootlegs and imports. This was pre-Internet, mind you, so finding an import was like discovering gold back then. Now days you can find almost anything with the click of a mouse and have it delivered to your door. Back then you had to travel and then dig through boxes and boxes of records. It was a fun way to spend a Saturday. We had lots of records in my house when I was growing up. My mom played Elvis all the time. My sister loved music and was a huge fan of The Beatles. I remember she cut out an advertisement from the LA Times and hung it on the wall of our room. It was an ad for Woodstock. Yeah, the real Woodstock! My brother liked hard rock and he was usually found in the driveway working on the car while listening to Deep Purple. Ironically, the very first record album I bought of my own was The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Volume 1. Yeah, pretty weird if you think about all the other music I grew up listening to. I have absolutely NO idea what made me buy that album because I wasn't a huge fan. It's just odd how I remember it so well.

How about you -- do you remember the first record you bought?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Yard Sale!

Do you like to go to yard sales or garage sales? Nichelle and I used to get up early on Saturday mornings and go to them when we lived in California. We had fun scrounging around other people's junk. We never knew what we'd find. I've gotten a lot of great stuff from yard sales. I mostly like looking for books. Books are expensive, but you can get them really cheap at a yard sale. Often I'd come home with handfuls of books for myself and for the kids. You just can't beat a picture book that costs a quarter, compared to what they cost brand new in the store. We've also gotten some major things at a yard sale, for a fraction of what they'd cost us brand new. One of those was our trampoline. It was a really high quality one, not like the cheap ones they make now. Sadly, we had to leave it behind when we moved. Another was a screen door for our house, which would have cost us $60 or more new from a store. We bought one for $15 at a yard sale that had never been used. I've only been to 2 yard sales since moving to Montana. One was right on our road and we bought the boys an air hockey table for $5. It works great. I also got a porcelain nativity ornament for a whole dime.

A few weeks ago Brenda posted a link on her blog for Being the yard sale nut I am, I bookmarked the link hoping to read it later. I did that last night, and oh my gosh, there is some funny stuff on this site! The page I've linked goes to the "Customers from Hell" page. If you have some time, read through this. Some of these stories are hilarious. Others are downright shocking. I can't believe how bold and rude some people can be. My favorite story was by Selena in Sacramento, where she talks about the man who bounces around estate sales like a crack addict. I've seen people like that. We used to have regular yard sales when we lived in California. We never enjoyed them. Rick would make fun of me because I'd try to label everything and keep things neat. He'd rather just toss it on the ground and hope someone would buy it. We had some pretty nervy customers, but frankly, I can't remember anything super bizarre. Mostly, it was people slamming on their brakes on the street when they saw our sign. Or people who'd wander through our garage, when clearly, everything for sale was on the driveway. We also had people open our gate and wander in our yard, even though we were still setting up and weren't ready to open. I've seen some pretty icky stuff at yard sales too. I remember one place selling urinals, like the kind you'd use in a hospital. Ummm, no thanks. If you like going to yard sales, or plan to have one of your own, this is a great website.

Do you have any wild, weird or bizarre yard sale experiences?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pajama Day!

Today is National Wear Your Pajamas To Work Day! Sounds good to me! Then again, we homeschool and I'm home all day, so it doesn't really matter what I wear. The boys, however, will be thrilled to hear of this holiday. If I let them, they'd wear their jammies all the time. This is Neil in the photograph. I took that in 2006 when we first moved here. He's such a goof. If you click on the link above, you'll find there's an entire website dedicated to wearing your pajamas to work. I even saw a police officer in PJs in one of the pictures.

It's believed that pajamas originated in India in 1880. They were designed for men to sleep in rather than nightshirts. The word pajamas translates into leg garment. They were worn by both sexes and were soon popular throughout Europe. It wasn't until 1920 that they took off in the US.

Pajamas have played a huge role in film and literature. Who can forget Ralphie in his pink bunny jammies in A Christmas Story? Or how Wendy, John, and Michael wore their pajamas during the entire Peter Pan story? One that always makes me laugh is Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation. When Clark gets stuck in the attic, he walks on the ceiling beams. He has PJs on, but if you look closely, he has dark underwear on underneath. There are many children's books about PJs. There are Bananas in Pajamas, the Cat's Pajamas, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas -- the list goes on and on.

My favorite pajamas are an old pair of traditional men's PJs. They're about 5 sizes too big for me, but that's what I love about them. The top is big enough to wear by itself and I'd live in the pants if I could. I am, however, not the type of person who will go out shopping in my pajamas. I see that all the time here and I saw it while I lived in California too. I'm all for being comfortable, but I've never been one to leave the house in jammies.

How about you -- got a favorite pair of pajamas?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Collect Them All!

Have you heard the words "Collect them all!" in a television commercial or seen them on packaging? I'm pretty sure my boys think this is one of the Ten Commandments. If it says "Collect them all!" they think it's required by law. We always joke and call them the Children of Excess. It's not their fault, of course, because we keep buying more to add to their collections.

One thing Nathan and Neil collect are the Star Wars Galactic Heroes. Because they're chubby figurines, the boys call them fat guys. This picture is of their collection. As you can see, they're working hard to "Collect them all!" I have to admit, there are a few GI Joe and Indiana Jones ones here too, so they're not all Star Wars. It's a close-up so you can't see them all, but it's a good example of how big their collection is. Another thing they collect are those stuffed Audubon singing birds. The boys have almost all of those too. It's a conspiracy by the toy companies to take parents for as much money as possible. A good example of that is the Fisher-Price Geo Trax train set. You get the main set and then they come out with 500 little sets to add onto it. I love collecting things, so my kids get that from me. I collect wind chimes, magnets from national parks, Nightmare Before Christmas stuff, etc. When I was a kid, I collected sets of certain toys. I remember there were some really cute Wizard of Oz dolls and I wanted to "Collect them all!" I think there were a total of FIVE in the set. It wasn't anything like what we have today. My biggest worry was being able to eat all the cereal so I could buy another box to get whatever free toy came in the set. "Collect them all!" had a totally different meaning back then. Oh sure, I had a lot of toys and I was just as spoiled as my kids are today. My biggest collection was Barbies, but when it came to other toys, they just didn't make as many back then. When my girls were little, they collected Beanie Babies. That of course, brought out the mini ones from McDonald's and we had to try to "Collect them all!" Nichelle collects model Breyer Horses, but they're so expensive that it's harder to "Collect them all!"

"Collect them all!" -- is there something you had to have the whole set?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Nicole!

Today is Nicole's 18th birthday. It's hard to believe she's gone from this cute little thing, covered in cake and baby drool, to the young woman she is today. That picture was taken on her first birthday, by the way. This year her birthday lands on a busy day for her. She takes a Creative Writing class at a school up in town that meets once a month. Then each Tuesday night she goes to Youth Group at church. Between all that and Rick's last night of his fly fishing class, it's going to be a busy day, so we've decided to have a late celebration for her tonight.

We always called her Angel Baby. Nicole was born when Nichelle was a toddler, so while we were battling things out with Nichelle, Nicole would just go to sleep on her own peacefully. She used to crack us up with her "What if ..." stories that she'd come up with. Nicole loves to write and has been writing stories longer than I have. I wouldn't be surprised if she became a published author someday. She's also an avid reader who loves the classics. Music is another big love for Nicole, by listening to her iPod or playing her guitars. She's also great at poetry and is an amazing artist. She's just packed full of different talents!
Happy Birthday Nicole -- I hope you have a great day!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Twenty Books --

An interesting blog game of tag is going on, such as Bish's Random Thoughts, so I thought I'd do it and pass it onto anyone who would like to play. The idea is, without taking any time to really think about it, is to list 20 books that are important to you. These are books that have stayed with you. Considering this is National Library Week, I thought today would be a good day to do this. Here are 20 books that I can think of that I loved reading as a child, in no particular order --
  1. The Sheep of the Lal Bagh by David Mark
  2. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Braum
  3. Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  4. Ramona Series by Beverly Cleary
  5. Trumpet of the Swan by EB White
  6. Sweet Smell of Christmas by Patricia Scarry
  7. Santa Mouse by Michael Brown
  8. Where The Red Ferns Grows by Wilson Rawls
  9. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  10. Snoopy Comic Book Series by Charles Schultz
  11. Dick and Jane Series by William S. Gray
  12. Are You My Mother? by PD Eastman
  13. Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss
  14. Scrambled Eggs Super by Dr. Seuss
  15. Nancy Drew Series by Carolyn Keene
  16. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
  17. How To Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
  18. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  19. The Cat in the Hat Beginner Dictionary by Dr. Seuss
  20. I Wish I Had Duck Feet by Dr. Seuss

Sometimes I can spend hours online, especially on ebay, looking at vintage old books. There are some chapter books I remember reading in the 1970s, but can't recall the names. One book I remember was about a little girl in a hidden garden, but it wasn't The Secret Garden. A lot of books have stayed with me in some respect, even if it's just a glimmer of a memory.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

I know it's a busy day for most of you, spending time with family and loved ones, but I wanted to wish everyone a blessed Easter Sunday. I wanted to include a video clip of my favorite film, Jesus of Nazareth. However you celebrate today, be it religious or not, I hope the day is filled with happiness and peace. Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

National Sibling Day

Today is National Sibling Day. This is a day to appreciate your brothers and sisters. It was created by Claudia A. Evart after the tragic deaths of her brother and sister. Twenty-two state governors have proclaimed this day, however, it takes an act of Congress to make it a true national holiday. Any day that makes you appreciate someone else is a good day to me.

Do you have any brothers or sisters? I have one of each. My brother is 5 years older than me and my sister is 4 years older. Mike lives in California, close to my mom, and Sharon recently moved to Texas. Sadly, I haven't seen either one in almost 3 years. My children are ages 19, 17, 9, and 7 years. The girls were only 19 months apart, so they grew up very close. The boys are the same way. I got out of the shower yesterday and noticed that both my girls were outside in the yard playing with their little brothers. That was a really sweet thing to see. The picture above is pretty old, taken around 2004, but it's still a favorite of mine. It was back when Neil had really blond hair and Nathan couldn't take a serious picture to save his life. I need to get a recent one of them all together soon, especially before the girls leave home.

Today is also Good Friday, of course, so I hope everyone has a blessed day and can reflect on the meaning on this very special holiday. My all time favorite movie is Jesus of Nazareth, starring Robert Powell. It's a powerful movie and I like to watch it every year around this time. So, whether you celebrate National Sibling Day, Good Friday, or both, I hope you have a wonderful Friday.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Ten Happy Things ...

On some blogs I read, I've seen people post lists of certain things that make them happy. I thought it would be fun to do today. These silly tiger slippers are one of them. Can you believe they are 19 years old? I have pictures of me wearing them when Nichelle was a baby. I don't know why, but they are so comfortable, as goofy as they look. I love wearing them around the house. Here is my list of 10 Things That Make Me Happy, in no particular order --
  1. Hearing my children laughing
  2. Listening to the rain while in bed
  3. The smell of coffee brewing in the morning
  4. Belle sleeping on my lap
  5. My tiger slippers
  6. Picking berries, especially huckleberries
  7. Watching the snow fall
  8. Kayaking to a secluded spot on a lake
  9. Seeing squirrels eat from my feeders
  10. Watching M*A*S*H with Rick

So, how about you -- what 10 things make you happy?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lemonade Stand Award

Hillary on her Goldbutton Studio blog has awarded me the Lemonade Stand Award for great Gratitude and/or Attitude. Cool -- thanks Hilary! To accept the award I must follow these rules --
  1. Post the logo on my blog.
  2. Nominate 10 blogs with great gratitude/attitude.
  3. List and link my nominees.
  4. Alert them of their nomination on their blog.

It's hard to choose only 10 blogs, believe it or not, because I follow so many fun ones. I've learned so much from the blogs I read -- from recycling tips, craft projects, recipes, writing and publishing information, and lots more. The 10 blogs I nominate are as follows --

  1. Nichelle Jones
  2. Angela Cerrito
  3. Captain Hook
  4. Christina Farley
  5. Kelly Polark
  6. Kim Kasch
  7. Nora MacFarlane
  8. Samantha Hastings
  9. Stephanie Ruble
  10. Stephanie Blake

And finally, there was a great holiday yesterday, but I didn't get to mention it. It was No Housework Day! Even though I didn't get to blog about it, I pretty much observed it. I don't think I did anything constructive all day yesterday. Yay me! Today is another story and my dirty bathroom and dusty bedroom await ...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Congrats Nichelle!

This is my nineteen-year-old daughter, Nichelle. She's the oldest of my 4 children. Yesterday she received a phone call from Youth With A Mission and they accepted her application to take part in their missionary training. Taken from their website, "Youth With A Mission is an international movement of Christians from many denominations dedicated to serving Jesus throughout the world. Also known as YWAM (pronounced "WYE-wam"), our calling is to know God and to make Him known. Back when we began in 1960, our main focus was to get youth into short-term mission work and to give them opportunities to reach out in Jesus' name. Today, we still focus on youth, and we also involve people of almost every age (even many people who choose to spend their "retirement" in active service). Our many ministries fit into three main categories: evangelism, training and mercy ministry. We are currently operating in more than 1000 locations in over 149 countries, with a staff of nearly 16,000."

Nichelle will be leaving as early as June. She will spend her first 3 months training in Maui, Hawaii, followed by 3 months of service in southeast Asia. Talk about seeing things she's never seen! Rick and I are really proud of Nichelle for taking a step in this direction. I think it takes a special kind of person to do something like this. I know Nichelle is that type of person and this will be an incredible experience for her. We're so proud of her for following her heart and taking an opportunity to do something she truly believes in. Please keep Nichelle in your thoughts and prayers as she embarks on this adventure. I'm sure she will be talking about YWAM on her blog soon, so feel free to stop by --

I have to be honest -- it's been a cRaZy week here with Nicole taking her ACT test, getting accepted to college, and now Nichelle's acceptance to YWAM. Rick, myself, and the boys are going to miss Nichelle and Nicole while they're gone. It's not going to be the same around here without them. It's definitely one of those bittersweet moments for us as parents.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Your camera as a tool ...

I love taking pictures and I almost always have my camera with me. The camera I use most often is a Canon Power Shot S3 IS, which is a few years old. They have newer models out now, but I don't know if I will go to those or take over Rick's Canon EOS when he upgrades his. I like my camera because it has a really good zoom. It's larger than some of the popular ones out now, but the results are worth the extra size. It's my second Power Shot and I've always been really happy with Canon.

I subscribe to the online photo newsletter by Photojojo and they just came out with a really good article about using your camera as a tool. Click here to see the actual article. It shows how you can use your camera other ways, like taking a picture to remember where you parked your car, using it as a printer to copy a list, remembering details like what ink your printer takes, using it as a mirror to see how you look, etc. It's a fun article and I've used my camera for things like this before. I'll take pictures of things really far away, just to see what they are by zooming in on the image. Or I'll take a picture of a bag of circus peanuts so I can talk about them on my blog. If you were to go through my photo files, you'd see the weirdest images, from the boy's Lego toys to close-ups of my cat's food. I even have pictures of people taking pictures. I take pictures to identify plants and flowers too.

There is one thing I take pictures of that grosses my family out -- SCAT! I have so many photographs of animal poop that I could make a slide show that would literally make you gag. When they show up on my screensaver full-size, it's pretty icky. I'll spare you by not posting any. But if I find something on a trail I'm on, I want to know what kind of animal it was. If I don't have a field guide with me, my camera is the next best thing. Got poop pictures? You bet! I'll take pictures of signs with historical facts, simply because a lot of times we're rushed or the boys want me to look at something else. By taking a picture, I can at least read it later. You never know. Maybe someday I'll have a coffee table book published that's all about bear poop! Anyway, the article about using your camera as a tool is interesting. As they say -- a picture says a thousand words!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Congrats Nicole!

This is my daughter Nicole. She will be 18 on April 14th. Yesterday was a big day for her. She was scheduled to take the ACT test at the local college. She spent all last week studying for the test. She studied, she worried, she studied, she fretted. In addition, she was on "stand-by" for the test, so she wasn't even sure if she would be able to get in. She got to the college early yesterday morning in a bundle of nerves. Fortunately, she got in and was able to take the test. After 3-1/2 hours of testing, she came out feeling pretty good about it. She's a little unsure how well she did with the math, which has always been her weak point, but the rest she felt good about. On her way home, she stopped at the mailbox and received a letter from Pensacola Christian College in Florida that she's applied to. It was an ACCEPTANCE letter! She couldn't be more happy and we couldn't be more proud of her.

Nicole started her education at Monica Ros School in Ojai, California when she was 3 years old. It was a small, private school in the east end of town where I grew up. We loved the school, but the tuition went up every year and soon it was as much as our house payment. We had to look into another option for our girls. Both Rick and I went to public school in Ojai, but we really didn't want to go that route with our girls. At that time our church had just started a school, so we put the girls in there. It wasn't even October yet and we were at our wits end with how it was going. The school was struggling for students and they accepted anyone who applied. Many kids who were trouble makers ended up there. I guess maybe their parents thought a Christian school would straighten them out. Normally, that might be the case, but not with the lack of discipline this school had at the time. My girls didn't fit in -- they were shy, quiet, polite, well-behaved, etc.

In addition, Nicole's first grade teacher wanted to put her into a special reading group because she wasn't at the same reading level as the other kids. This wasn't her fault. It was because her previous school used an unusual phonics program where kids learned how to sound letters out by using little picture symbols. It worked great for Nichelle because she went from kindergarten to 2nd grade there, so she had more time with it. Nicole changed schools right at a crucial time, so switching to a new phonics program was confusing. Her teacher suggested she be put into a special reading group so she could catch up. I said no. I paid for a copy of the book and Nicole and I worked on her reading every night. Within a few weeks, she was reading better than anyone in her class. I don't take credit for that because it belongs all to Nicole. However, it opened my eyes to homeschooling. We stuck that one year out at the church school and then we began homeschooling the next. Nicole was in the 2nd grade and Nichelle was in 4th grade when we started. That was 11 years ago.

It's funny to think her first grade teacher wanted to put her in a special reading group because Nicole is an avid reader now. I can't get her out of the bookstore or library. She can spend hours in those places. She just finished reading Michael Creighton's Jurassic Park. Nicole isn't some teenager who comes home with trashy young adult novels. She comes home with books from authors like Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, Jack London, and other classics. Special reading group -- I don't think so. It's pretty amazing to think back when she was a scared three-year-old going off on her first day of preschool all the way to now being nervous about starting college. It's a surreal feeling for all of us and we're so very proud of Nicole!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dillys of the World Unite!

Today is a good day for me -- it's World Rat Day! Click on the link if you want to learn all about this unofficial holiday that celebrates rats as companion pets. I have to be honest, I've never owned a rat in my life. I've only had hamsters when I was growing up. I was always a little freaked out about rats. Some of my friends have them and tell me they make terrific pets.

A Fancy rat is a domestic brown rat. Domesticated rats are different than wild rats. Fancy rats can differ in color and can be white, multicolored, even blue. Most wild rats are brown, gray, or black. It's believed that Fancy rats are easier to tame than their wild counterparts. They also live longer because they're protected more. Pet rats can live 2-3 years, whereas wild rats live about an average of one year. A Brown rat is a wild rat that's also called a Norway rat. These are the most common and live anywhere humans live. Rats will eat almost anything. Studies have shown that they like scrambled eggs, macaroni & cheese, and cooked corn. Their least favorite foods are raw celery, peaches, and raw beets.

My first picture book, A New Job for Dilly, is about a little rat who loves pickles. Dilly loves sour pickles so much that he sets out to find a job so he no longer has to steal them. His adventure takes him from A through Z until he finds the perfect job that allows him to enjoy his pickles. Dilly is a Brown rat because he lives out on his own in the wild. A New Job for Dilly is the first of a three book series. It's illustrated by Lisa Oakman and published by 4RV Publishing LLC. It will be released at the end of April 2009 and you can pre-order it now. Just click on the little book icon to the right of my blog. Dilly is absolutely thrilled that there's a special holiday just in his honor. How about you -- have you ever had a pet rat?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pony Express Day

Your best friend is on vacation. She's having the time of her life. You read about her adventures on the tiny postcard. The picture is so pretty. You're happy for her, but you're jealous because you wish you were there too.

Your book manuscript is finally finished! It's perfect and it's ready to go. You give it a little hug and then let it slip through your fingers into the slot at the post office. Whooosh -- it's on its way! No looking back now.

Bills, bills, bills -- no one likes them. If they don't get paid, things get shut off or taken away, and that's bad. You carelessly toss them into your mailbox for the mailman to pick up. Out of sight, out of mind.

Your favorite magazine has arrived. You can finally try that new recipe, do fun craft projects with your kids, or read all the latest gossip about your favorite TV stars. You can't wait to sit down and savor every page.

Think about it -- we still rely on the US Postal Service, even in this day of digital technology with computers, email, social networking, blogging, cell phones, and text messaging. Our mailbox might not be as busy as it used to be, but we still rely on it for some things. Today is Pony Express Day. The Pony Express was a fast mail service that ran from St. Joseph, MO to Sacramento, CA. It only lasted a year from 1860 to 1861. There were 190 stations throughout the 2000 mile route. The stations were about 10 miles apart, which was what the horses could travel at a full gallop. The riders changed horses at every station. They carried the mail in a pouch called a mochila and could carry up to 20 pounds of mail and 20 pounds of supplies, such as a water sack, a Bible, a horn to alert the station master, and two weapons. The riders could not weigh more than 125 pounds because of the 40 pounds of supplies they carried. Eventually, they stopped carrying everything but the mail, water and one revolver to cut back on the weight. The riders rode day and night, in winter and summer, and received $25 a week in pay. The very first ride of the Pony Express was 149 years ago today -- April 3, 1860. Because of problems with contracts and the start of the Civil War, the Pony Express was shut down. The Pony Express logo had lived on for years, until 2006 when the USPS trademarked it.

Stuff like this makes me realize how fortunate we are today. Oh sure, I have to drive 2 miles to get to my mailbox from my house. And yeah, sometimes I grumble because I have to roll down the window to get the mail from my car. But to think of what these riders went through to deliver the mail makes me think twice and appreciate what we have. Just a click of a mouse and I can send something across the world. Things certainly have changed. By the way, the horse above is named Rex. He was one of the horses my girls took care of at a ranch when we lived in California. Such a cutie!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April Showers ...

April showers, bring May flowers -- or so the saying goes. As I sit here on my bed, I'm not seeing any April showers just yet. Instead, I'm watching the snow gently fall and a white-tailed deer grazing on the hillside behind my house. It doesn't look much like spring, but I don't mind. Spring and summer will be here soon enough and all this snow only means that we'll be seeing some awesome waterfalls soon. Glacier National Park has amazing waterfalls. At one place there can be as much as 60 feet of snow in the winter. This makes for great waterfalls come spring and summer. But so far, our April showers are snow showers.

As much as I love the snow, I love it when it rains also. Rain was all we got where I lived in Southern California. I loved lying in bed listening to the rain, going shopping when it was raining, or driving around watching the river and creeks rise during big storms. On my iPod I like to make playlists of songs that follow a specific theme. One of those is called RAIN and I have about 45 songs on it that relate to the rain. Some of my favorites include --

  • Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain -- Elvis
  • Early Morning Rain -- Elvis
  • I Can See Clearly Now -- Johnny Nash
  • I Love It When It Rains -- The Wiggles
  • I Wish I Were The Rain -- SHeDAISY
  • It's Raining Men -- The Weather Girls
  • Kentucky Rain -- Elvis
  • Love, Reign O're Me -- The Who
  • Outside The Rain -- Stevie Nicks
  • Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head -- BJ Thomas
  • Rhythm of the Rain -- The Cascades
  • Stormy Weather -- The Spaniels
  • Who'll Stop The Rain -- Creedence Clearwater
  • It Never Rains In Southern CA -- Albert Hammond
  • Rain -- The Cult

These are just a few of the songs on my list, obviously. When I was growing up, I loved the songs Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head and It Never Rains In Southern California. If you think about it, there are a lot of great songs about the rain. This video clip below (also on my playlist) has to be one of the greatest songs ever written about the rain ...

So, how about you -- what's your favorite song about the rain?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Captain Bogg & Salty

I've posted about Captain Bogg & Salty before, so you might remember the name. They've changed their website and you can now hear some of their songs from Empahtical Piratical. Click here to see their CDs and scroll all the way down to the bottom. They let you listen to the ones on the newest CD. Check out Port Side -- very cool song. I also love the Who's At Captain's Table? song. I love kid's music and this album is really cool. I don't know much about them, except that they've been in other bands that played what they call pirate rock music. Most of their music is for kids, though Prelude To Mutany is more for adults. Regardless, it's fun music and I guess I'm just a little obsessed with them right now. Click here to see some videos. They perform mostly in Portland, OR where they're from, so I'm not sure if I'll ever get a chance to take the boys to one of their shows. I would take them in a heartbeat. It's fun music -- for both kids and adults alike.

The boys were sick yesterday, so we got behind with school for the day. I spent most of the day sitting with Nathan on the couch. He was feeling better by evening and wasn't sick to his stomach anymore, so I was thankful for that. Neil just had the sniffles. Now I'm sick. We were supposed to take next week off for Easter vacation, so hopefully we can catch up with our school work before then. My throat is raw and I'm having a hard time breathing, so it's going to be another long day. Staying in bed listening to Captain Bogg & Salty sounds good. Or maybe just a salt gargle. Or maybe some lime. Or maybe some lime and coconut ...