Monday, February 27, 2012

Remember these?


A friend just posted one of those inspirational sayings on Facebook and it was shown using these black labels. For a second, I had a weird flashback. I couldn't even remember what the labels were called, so I looked them up and it was embossing tape. I'm assuming they still make these things, although I know a lot of them are electronic now.

I think I have my green Dymo somewhere in the office. I'll have to get it out and see if I have any tape. A lot of my old photo albums have these labels still stuck to them. It was like a necessary gadget growing up in the 70s. Now, with computers and smart phones, things like this just aren't needed as much. At least not in the home, although I'm sure people still use labeling devices in the workplace. I use mostly Avery labels in my office.

Anyway, it's funny how one little post can bring back a flood of memories!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dilly, is that you?


Nathan read One Hundred Hungry Ants out loud for us today. We've had it for years. I think my girls got it when they were in private school through the Scholastic Book Club. It's always been a fun book to read, especially out loud because of the rhymes and repetitions. We've read it quite a few times, but we all got a good laugh today when we got to the following page ...


Dilly and his ratty relatives sure know a good thing when they see it!

Friday, February 17, 2012

I think I need a nap ... or a Valium.


Gosh, the past three weeks have been crazy. First, I wasn't feeling well, which threw us off school for a couple of days. Then the boys got sick. Then I had a bunch of doctor's appointments, which threw us off even more. Then the boys seemed to have a rebound sickness. It's just been insane. As far as school goes, we are keeping up okay. We're a little behind, but it will all work out in the long run. The boys will finish some of their shorter curriculum books before they finish the others, so we can make up the difference then. All this week we've managed to get the academics done, but have held off on extra stuff like extra reading, crafts, poetry, typing, and stuff like that.

Our cat, Denny gave me a scare yesterday at lunch. He was huddled in the corner and then began meowing at me like he was in pain. After that he got in his litter box a couple of times and just sat. Having worked in a pet clinic before, the first thing that came to mind was that he was blocked. That's common in male cats. CJ was blocked several times also. So, I called the vet and they said the soonest they could get him in was the next morning. I was really surprised by that because a blockage can be life threatening. Because of my past work experience, I saw how he was acting and decided to wait until his appointment. Later on he was running through the house like a goon. He was also eating and drinking. Then when I checked his box this morning, I noticed there was three piddle clumps. We have two cats, and I'm pretty sure Kitty didn't do all three, so I figured Denny was probably okay.

About an hour before his appointment this morning, Rick and I were watching him. He was lying on his back with his feet up in the air, purring like a madman. Rick goes, "Just look at him. He's miserable." Stupid cat! I figured he was okay, but we decided to take him in anyway. He was due for his check-up and shots, so I figured it was best to have him looked at. Rick took him in because I was at the doctor's office. Apparently, when they took Denny's temperature, he got startled and piddled a little on the table. Rick goes, "Well, I guess he's not blocked." Little goober. They got a urine sample and that looked fine, so I guess he was just having a weird moment yesterday. The vet did suggest he lose about a pound because he's up to 17 pounds -- the little porker! The tech loved him and carried him around on her shoulder to show him off to everyone in the office. Denny = Mr. Popular.

As for me, I had my pre-op junk today. I had an exam with my doctor, who suggested we add another procedure onto the one I'm already having done next week. So, maybe this will help take care of the problem even more. Afterwards, I went to the surgery center to check in. My surgery isn't until next Friday, so I thought it was odd they had me check in a week early. And wouldn't you know it, but they said it was too early to draw my blood, so they asked if I could come back sometime next week. GRRR! They're the ones who set up the stupid appointments. Now I have to go back Wednesday for bloodwork. The actual surgery is Friday morning. So anyway, Denny and I are both a little cranky today, having been poked and prodded at too much.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pony Strings is out!


I received copies of my newest picture book, Pony Strings & Critter Things today. They look awesome. Ginger Nielson did a great job keeping them along the same line as the first two books in the series, illustrated by Nikki Boetger. I've been so fortunate to have all of my books done by such great illustrators like Ginger, Nikki, Stephen Macquignon, and Lisa Oakman.

Pony Strings & Critter Things is the third in the Critter Series. The link above takes you to 4RV Publishing, LLC where you can see all three books. The fourth, Rhino Crashes & Critter Classes will be out soon also. These are fun rhyming books that teach animal congregations. The reading level is 4-8 years, but kids of all ages will enjoy them, especially with the fun, colorful illustrations by Ginger and Nikki. Please check them out!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Nathan's Cow


We're studying some of the more modern artists this week and one of them is Salvador Dali. He was a Spanish surrealist painter. He was born in 1904 and died in 1989. Well ... to make a long story longer ... we didn't exactly get to the lesson plan of Dali in our book Discovering Great Artists. The boys have been sick, so we skipped that lesson for the time being. However, I had drawn out a silly sketch on our dry-erase board. Every day I write the date on the board and usually draw some silly picture for whatever we're studying that week. In the Discovering Great Artists book, they had an example of a child's work depicting Dali's work. It was a cow in a hula skirt. The cow's head had been cut from a magazine, and the child had drawn the rest.

I hadn't taken the time to read the assignment to the boys yet, so they had no idea what the project was. Nathan just saw my silly cow. So yesterday afternoon he comes up with a piece of paper and tells me he did his own project for art. He said he didn't know what the assignment was, so he just drew a cow in a hula skirt. It totally made me laugh and I knew I'd have to scan this one. The facial expression is classic. Click on it to see it bigger. The assignment is called Dream Photos, so I imagine will get to it this week. But for now, I'm really enjoying Nathan's hula-skirting cow!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!


If you celebrate this day, I hope you're having a wonderful time. Today is our 24th wedding anniversary. As of right now, we don't have any plans to do anything. As fun as it was getting married on Valentine's Day, it's not the best night to go out. Most restaurants are packed. We usually go out before or after our anniversary, if we go out at all. Next year will be a bigger one, being the 25th, so maybe we can do something special then.

It seems people either love Valentine's Day or they hate it with a burning passion. I've been seeing a lot of anti-Valentine's Day posts on Facebook today. I don't get that, but to each their own, I suppose. I mean, I don't celebrate Kwanzaa, but don't go out of my way to announce it to people. Okay, so I just did now, but that's an exception. I understand that some people are sad or lonely, but why bash it? How hard is it to show a little love to someone, even if they aren't exactly the love of your life? 

I'm not very materialistic. I don't expect flowers, candy, jewelry or anything like that. Rick bought me those boots yesterday, so that was a big treat. Besides my wedding, I have fun memories of Valentine's Day as a kid. I loved bringing in cards for my classmates and having a party at the end of the day. I'm assuming schools still do that, right? I am really bummed that my boys are still so sick, though. They got invited to a Valentine's Day party by one of our homeschool friends. We really wanted to attend, but the boys are just coughing and sniffling too much. I feel really bad they missed it.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Do I have the coolest husband or what?


My boys are still sick, so I spent a lot of time goofing off on Facebook most of the afternoon. Chell, a homeschooling friend of mine posted a picture of some boots she got for her daughter at Payless today. They reminded me of a pair of granny boots I had years ago that I had literally worn to death. So, being silly, I copied her picture and emailed it to Rick sarcastically saying, "If you just happen to be bored and wandering around a Payless today ..."

Well, Rick being the sweetheart he is, walked in the door tonight with a Payless bag and these boots. How sweet is that? He said the sales lady couldn't believe he was buying them for me. She goes, "No men ever come in here!" Then she got mad because this was the last pair and she was hoping to keep them for herself. I'm not sure what I'll wear them with just yet, but maybe I can come up with something.

So, thank you, Rick! And thank you, Chell! I love the boots!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Freaking Scary!


I don't know about you, but this picture totally freaks me out. I mean -- big time. In light of yesterday's blog about staying motivated, I'm hoping this photograph will do that for me. It scares me. I don't want to go back to being that overweight ever again. I was a walking time bomb. My blood pressure was out of control for awhile. At times my systolic and diastolic numbers were both in triple digits. I probably could have had a stroke at any time. And to top it off, I'm sure I was borderline diabetic. Stroke, diabetes, and heart attack all run in my family with my mom. Had I not made any changes, I probably would have self-destructed. BOOM! That would be messy.

So, please bear with my pictures. I'm not posting it so I can see how hideous I look, but to be as a reminder of why I need to stay on top of things and not let myself get back to where I was. Okay, I think I'll go exercise now ...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What's your motivation?


I suppose being chased by a T-Rex would motivate anyone to exercise. It's amazing what fear does to people. Most folks have probably heard the term fight or fight, which was introduced by Walter Bradford Cannon in the 1930s. Wikipedia says, "In the human fight or flight responses in prehistoric times, fight was manifested in aggressive, combative behavior and flight was manifested by fleeing potentially threatening situations, such as being confronted by a predator." Okay, so most people realize we didn't exactly live with Tyrannosauruses chasing us, but the principle is the same.

Fear is an incredible motivation factor. For some, surviving a heart attack can bring about the desire to change one's lifestyle. For others, it might be the loss of a loved one. Think about it. If you have children, imagine what their lives would be if you were suddenly taken away. Chances are that's not a pleasant thought. However, for many of us, it has crossed our minds.

It was on Rick's mind this past week. I had a mammogram last Thursday and the very next day they called back saying they wanted to look at something closer. I wasn't scheduled to go back until the following Tuesday, which meant I had five entire days to wait ... and worry. It's incredible how the human mind works and all the crazy thoughts that pop into it. I was worried, on and off, but Rick was a wreck. I could totally sense it in him. Rick and I have been together almost 31 years. We know each other better than we know ourselves. What would he do without me? I usually just make some sarcastic comment about him dancing around the house for a month.

The thought of having cancer freaked me out, but mostly I was mad. I've spent the last year losing weight not just to be thin, but to get healthy and get my blood pressure back within normal range. After losing 68 pounds, I was finally in a normal BMI range and off HBP meds. It was hard work. It took motivation. So, when the cancer threat popped in my mind, it was hard not to be angry. But why? I really don't know. That's the weird part. Anyone can get cancer. Anyone can die of a heart attack. Anyone can get hit by a car. Life is unpredictable. We have no way of knowing what our fate is. So, it's really hard not to get that "why worry about anything" attitude.

So, why do we worry? Is it the fight or flight thing? What motivates us? I'm reminded of City Slickers where Curly tells Mitch the secret to life is "one thing", but he has to find it himself. It's different for everyone. You know what's silly? When I started thinking about having cancer, I actually thought, "Why worry about what I eat? Who cares how much I weigh? Why bother exercising everyday?" It was almost comical. I don't know. I don't really have a point to this blog post. I just keep thinking back to that silly quote that says, "Keep on keeping on." I suppose we all have our own reasons to stay motivated -- even when we don't know what they are.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Happy Birthday, Neil!


It's so hard to believe my youngest is a ten-year-old today. Where the heck did the time go? It's like I blink these days and I can lose a whole decade. Regardless, Neil will be happy when he wakes up soon. He's been looking forward to his birthday since ... well, I guess since the day after Christmas, pretty much. When you're ten, birthdays and holidays are your life.

Both boys have been sick with a flu all this week, so it's been a little crazy here. Nathan's has gone right to his tummy, but Neil has mostly just had the sore throat, aches, and fever. My birthday was Wednesday, but everyone was pretty sick so we didn't do much for it.

Yesterday Neil came upstairs looking all sad and depressed holding a Birthday Express magazine. When I asked what was wrong, he sighed and said sadly, "I don't really see anything in here I like for my birthday." Goofball! I reassured him I'd already bought his party favors and that it was something he was going to like. It's Angry Birds, but shhhhh! Don't tell him because I don't want to know until he comes up for his party tonight.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

More treasures ...


Well, they may not be treasures to you, but I think they're kind of cool. I stopped at the Salvation Army on my way home from my appointment at the imaging center today. Yeah, I know -- again. That seems to be my favorite place these days. I found a cool blue top, a Pirates shirt with Jack Sparrow, a bathing suit I might never wear, and a Wiggles video, and a purse.

If you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen my post about giving up a bunch of our old Wiggles VHS tapes a few years back. I figured I had them all on DVD, so I decided to get rid of some of the VHS ones. Little did I know at the time, they had remade some of the songs, so I had gotten rid of a lot of the older, original ones that we loved so much. I was sick over it for years. Anyway, last Thursday I was there and found some of the old VHS tapes, so I got those. Chances are they could very well be my own tapes that I donated. Since I went back today, I wanted to get this one too.

And if you're on my Facebook page, you've probably hear the story about my infamous orange cargo pants I bought the other day. Yeah, they're orange pants! Not exactly what anyone would expect me to buy, more or less wear, but they called to me. I bought them for $2 the other day and I totally love them. Well, as you can see in this picture, I found a purse to match. So now I'm a total nerd -- from head to toe. I just need an orange hat now!

The big news of my day is that my second mammogram turned out good and they don't think there is anything to worry about. I had a mammogram last Thursday. Friday they called and said they wanted to look at something a little closer. I had no idea what that meant, and I was just sick over it all weekend. Then yesterday when they called to remind me of the appointment, I asked about it and the lady on the phone gave me the impression that it was blurry and they just needed it retaken. So, I relaxed a little. Imagine my surprise when I walked in and the tech goes, "You understand why we called you back, right?" I looked over at the computer screen and saw the image with what clearly appeared to be white spots. Ugh!

So anyway, they redid the one side and took closer pictures. The radiologist read them right away and within minutes came in to talk to me. She said it appears to be calcifications and that it's very common. They do, however, want to recheck in six months just to make sure they aren't forming into anything serious. So, I get to deal with it all again this summer, rather than a year. But anyway, that's the good news. Now I just need to get through my other surgery on the 24th of this month. Hopefully, whatever they remove from that will be cancer-free as well. Sheesh -- it's hard getting older.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pony Strings & Critter Things


Pony Strings & Critter Things is now available for pre-order through 4RV Publishing, LLC. This is the third book in the Critter Series. We've had a change in illustrators with this one. Ginger Nielson has done an excellent job, just like Nikki Boetger did with the first two books. I hear Ginger is also working on the fourth book already, which is called Rhino Crashes & Critter Classes. I hope to have more information on that one soon, as well as being able to share a cover with you. In the meantime, here's the book trailer ...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I'm a sucker ...


I'm a sucker for cheap artwork, that is. I carried this picture around while I wandered through the Salvation Army today. After about an hour, I finally came to the conclusion that I simply couldn't live without it. So, I splurged a whole $1.50 and bought the crazy thing. At first glance, I thought they were all chipmunks, but now I realize it's a squirrel and two chipmunks. At least that's what it looks like to me. What do you think?

I found a few other treasures -- other goodies I couldn't live without. I got four tee shirts, including one with Mickey Mouses surrounding the globe. I figured I could wear that to Disney World. I also found some Little Golden Books, along with another book from The Indian in the Cupboard series. I lucked out and found two GI Joes for the boys, so they were happy.

I couldn't believe I wandered around in the thrift store for over two hours today. That was kind of weird. I guess I needed to get out and do that though. I'm a little stressed out right now. My surgery is coming up on the 24th of this month. Then this last Thursday I had a mammogram. I got a call on Friday saying I needed to come back so they could "look at something more closely", so that's got me a bit stressed. I go back in on Tuesday.

I know it doesn't do any good to worry, but I don't know what else to do. So instead, I wandered around the Salvation Army for two hours buying silly things like cheap pictures of cute forest animals.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Wish and A Prayer


I've been meaning to blog about this book for the longest time. It's been sitting on my nightstand for months and is a favorite of my boys. A Wish and A Prayer is written by Beth Bence Reinke and illustrated by Ginger Nielson. You might recognize Ginger's name from a few of my books, A New Friend for Dilly and Pony Strings & Critter Things. A Wish and A Prayer came out in 2010 and was published by 4RV Publishing, LLC.

One day a young boy named Jason was playing pirates with his parakeet, Sonny. An ambulance passes by with its sirens blaring, causing the bird to get scared and dart out the window. Jason and his mother look all over for Sonny, but have no luck. With suggestions by his friends, Jason begins wishing for Sonny's return. He wishes every day at 11:11. He wishes as he tosses pennies into a fountain. He wishes on the stars at night. He even makes his own wish as his friend Scott blows out his birthday candles. Sonny still hasn't returned. With the help of his mother, Jason learns the difference between wishing on objects and praying to God.

This is a fabulous book to show children the difference between wishing and praying. It also shows the power of prayer itself. Ginger's illustrations bring the story to life with colorful characters and beautifully elaborate details on each page -- from the cracks in the sidewalk to the penguins on Jason's pajamas. This is a wonderful book that children of all ages will enjoy.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fun Stuff


This picture is a fun application Walt Disney World has on Facebook. At least that's where I found it, but they might have it on their website also. You can design your family members, either in regular clothes or Disney character costumes. Of course, Neil and I both had to have cameras. Rick and Nathan seemed best off with ice cream bars. My ILs used to live in Hawaii, so the shirts and flowers suited them well. Pretty cute stuff.

We've ended up taking this entire week off from school. I was sick on Monday and Tuesday. Then yesterday I had a doctor's appointment, so that messed the week up even more. At that appointment, they scheduled me for another one today, so today is shot also. The boys and I decided just to take our Spring Break now and we'll work through the one I had scheduled off. That will work. Who knows -- we might be able to catch up by working a little longer each day next week. I'll have to see how things pan out.

I'm going to have a minor surgery coming up, but I don't have a date yet. It's the same thing I had done back in 2010. It's an outpatient thing, so it shouldn't be any big deal. It's just a girlie issue that I've had. If I get the condition a third time, there's a chance I might have a hysterectomy. With a trip to WDW in May, I didn't want to get that now and still be in the recovery process. That would be no fun, especially because I really want to try the Summit Plummet this time! Click "video" on that link to see what it is, if you don't know. I chickened out last year -- ha -- but not this time!