Saturday, January 31, 2009

Busy birthday.

I began my 41st birthday with a yearbook work session. WOO-HOO! Just the way you want to spend your birthday: at work on a Saturday. It's yearbook season, and with our final deadline fast approaching, we really needed to spend some time in the lab today.

Leave it to my students to sweeten my day with cupcakes! "The orange is for UT, and the blue is just blue," my student told me. When I suggested maybe the blue could be FOR OUR SCHOOL, she quickly agreed. Too funny—and too sweet of her to bring the treats!

After the work session ended around 1:15, it was off to our city's rec center for a basketball triple-header:

Katie's team won one and lost one. With her two games complete, she was ready to conduct a little business. Last summer, inspired by Brett's fanzines, Katie created her own magazine. Today was its long-awaited release, and she sold three copies!

Her Retro Magazine was a hit! It includes several of her own articles and games/activities plus a couple of features submitted by her dad and Nana. Copies are only $1 if you'd like your own!

After that brief literary intermission, we were back to more basketball.

Ryan's team won their game by a lot to a little.

With yearbook and basketball out of the way, it was time to get down to birthday business! For the second year in a row, we headed to Razzoo's for some spicy Cajun cookin'.

Originally Brett and I had planned to go out for a date, but because the rest of the day had been pretty crazy, we instead opted for a family outing.

After dinner we went back home for cake.

My sweet kids, husband and mom all had special treats for me.

Does Brett know me or what?

And this? This cake made me laugh out loud! As a lifelong Cowboys fan, I never thought I'd see a Steelers cake in my house! (It's true, though; I'm rooting for the Steelers in the Super Bowl but only because of that team's three former Longhorns!)

Tonight, after our band had played a Guitar Hero gig, Katie asked me what the best part of the day had been. I honestly couldn't answer. It was a full day with students and family and basketball and dinner and cake, set to the soundtrack of my phone's rhythmic DING each time a Facebook friend sent me a birthday greeting.

The best part? I loved it all.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Now that's cold.

Since we were iced out of school on Wednesday, we took the time to play our first real family game of Scrabble.
It was a great learning experience. The kids learned the rules of the game, and Brett and I learned how much our kids' vocabularies have grown!

When the game was over, Brett had won by a mile, with Ryan in second, me third and Katie one point behind me. When Katie complained that she had come in last, I told her she shouldn't be upset because she was VERY close to beating a college-educated 40-year-old. But she said, "Exactly. Your brain is old!"


Facebook frenzy.

I've lost count of how many of my Facebook friends have posted their "25 Random Things." I gave in and used our "ice day" as an excuse to add my own list. Here it is in its Facebook form. I'm including the instructions since I reference them in #1.

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

1. The parentheses within parentheses in those instructions really bug me.

2. I'm one of those grammar freaks who will notice errors like that, but I'm not going to call you out if you make that kind of error because we all make mistakes. And sometimes I like to break rules. Like putting periods at the ends of my blog post titles. And intentional fragments. So there.

3. However, I reserve the right to cringe if you misuse to/too or your/you're.

4. Outside of my classroom, I hate to correct people, even if they're mispronouncing my name.

5. My kids have easy names because I wanted to spare them the hassle of hearing their names mispronounced their whole lives.

6. My name is the Greek word for grace, and my dad picked it out after attending a sermon seminar about grace.

7. I miss Daddy.

8. We named Ryan after Ryan White, the kid with hemophilia who tried to enlighten people about AIDS.

9. We named Katie Katie just because we liked the name. (It also didn’t come with any negative connotations. You’d be amazed how many names were off the table because of former students who misbehaved!)

10. My mom is my hero.

11. I’ve been lucky enough to marry the man of my dreams twice. (Yes, both times I married the same man!)

12. Brett is an extraordinary husband and father who never fails to support me and the kids in our many endeavors. He saves my life every single day. And he cooks!

13. He also indulges my football addiction (or would that be enables?). In 23 years of buying season tickets for UT football, I’ve missed only four Longhorn games in Austin and one Texas-OU game. (I missed that game only because Katie was born five days prior.)

14. I still get goosebumps when everyone in the stands sings “The Eyes of Texas.”

15. I’ll never forget playing in the Erwin Center as a member of the Longhorn Basketball Band. I’ll never forget playing “Stars and Stripes Forever” for Parisians who remembered that tune from when allied forces liberated their city. And I’ll never forget playing “Mele Kalikimaka” with my high school band in the Aloha Bowl in Honolulu.

16. I was valedictorian of my high school class of 545, and I mention it here because being able to SAY I was valedictorian is about the only benefit that has come from that honor. (Well, there was that tuition-free year at UT.)

17. In 1986 I was the state newswriting champion. I won first place in the UIL 5A newswriting contest and “Tops in Texas.” I also placed fourth in the state feature writing contest. Because of that, I won a $4,000 college scholarship. Pretty cool.

18. I love planning trips almost as much as I enjoy taking them.

19. The Brady Bunch is my all-time favorite TV show. Seeing the Studio City home that was used for the show’s exteriors was one of the highlights of our California trip.

20. Lyle Lovett. LOVE him.

21. It freaks me out a little to see friends from all my "worlds" listed together on Facebook.

22. I love blogging. Since I spend a good chunk of each day reading others’ writing, it’s nice to get to express my own thoughts. And it’s so therapeutic! My scrapbooks may be woefully behind the times, but at least some of the thousands of photos we take have a home on the blog. While I keep the blog for my family’s sake, it still tickles me when someone mentions something they read on See-Dub.

23. I’m rooting for the Steelers in the Super Bowl because that team has three Texas Exes (Casey Hampton, Limas Sweed and Tony Hills) and the Cardinals only have one (Lyle Sendlein).

24. I’m a Christian and a Democrat, and I resent it when people assume you can’t be both.

25. I thank God for my church family, and I pray that someday we’ll find ways to employ everyone’s spiritual gifts to work together for God’s glory.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cozy evening.

Before the ice storm hit with all its fury, we met for dinner at Nana and Papa's house.

We feasted on taco soup and an amazing cake in recognition of my upcoming birthday.

Of course, everything was delicious! Kelly and Mike were even able to come over, so it was great to catch up with them.

Seriously tasty cake and ice cream! Thanks, Nana!

After dinner the temperature was continuing to drop and the freezing rain was picking up, so we got ourselves home. Brett started building a fire, but it wasn't until AFTER he'd toted all the logs in that we remembered that our fire tools are all in storage. D'OH! Fortunately, he found an old garden flagpole that made a decent poker.

Voila! A nice, warm fire to round out a cozy evening!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sleeping on it.

Now on the cusp of middle school, Katie had a big decision to make: band or choir? She LOVES to sing, and she has really enjoyed performing with her elementary school choir. But band offers the chance to play an instrument, something she's always wanted to do.

A week or so ago, Katie attended the middle school choir's ice cream social and was all excited about signing up for choir. Then came Saturday's instrument fair, and the idea of playing saxophone or flute got her leaning toward band. What to do, what to do...

When I got home from the scrapbooking retreat Sunday, we continued her deliberations. She was really conflicted, and since it was getting late, I suggested we pray and sleep on it.

That's why, when it was time to tuck her in, I found THIS on her pillow:
What a funny girl!

By Monday morning she was still uncertain, but her classroom teacher had her chat with the school's music teacher for guidance. That conversation helped Katie realize that she'll have other opportunities to sing, but band will let her try instrumental music. So band it is! She'll find out sometime this spring if she can play sax, and if not, she'll play flute. Woo-hoo!

P.S. - ChaCha was in a quandary to see this little chair reappear in Katie's room. (It had been in storage for a few months.) Apparently she also chose to sleep on it!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My good fortune.

I laughed out loud when I got this fortune while dining with Brett Wednesday afternoon:

For once, the fortune cookie was right! I did enjoy my weekend, and it was very different!

My scrapbooking friends were kind enough to let me, a pseudo-scrapper, join them on a scrapbooking retreat in East Texas.

I had been to this particular B&B a year and a half ago, so I knew I was in for a treat. The hot tub, massage, excellent food, endless chick flicks and great company made for a much-needed get-away. It was the best medicine for my work-related ailments.

I also finished my California albums (yes, the ones from our 2006 trip!) and got off to a good start on my digital Christmas book.

The best part, though, was the chance to just hang out with some amazing women and laugh, laugh, laugh. How's that for good fortune?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where were you?

I was in my classroom, and because second period is my conference time, I was all alone. But thanks to TV and all the Facebook status updates, I felt very much connected to my fellow Americans when President Barack Obama raised his right hand.

Later, when my intro journalism students arrived, we explored sundry media websites, comparing coverage. It's always interesting to surf on a big news day, and it's flat-out fun when it's for a happy event and not a natural disaster or other tragedy. Here are some of the nifty pages we found:

The writing teacher in me loved this tribute to the transforming power of words. My students found some other features interesting, like this one from about Obama and basketball. (Loved the headline: "The Audacity of Hoops.")

This regular feature of the Newseum's site gives students their own window to the world. They were able to see front pages from tons of papers in the United States and abroad. Fun stuff—and Wednesday's front pages should be even more interesting.

We especially enjoyed the Survival Guide with its Google Earth rendering of the Mall, Capitol, parade route and White House. It provided some geographic context, especially for those who have never been to D.C.

NY Times: Inaugural Words
This gimmick was a favorite! You can click on the presidents' pictures across the top to see word clouds for each president's inaugural address. Also included are links to the NYT archives and the full text of each speech.

I know I'll always remember this historic day; I'm hoping my students will, too!

You oughta be on posters.

By now I guess everyone's seen Shepard Fairey's Obama "Hope" poster. Thanks to a magazine's website, now everyone can put themselves in those now iconic red, white and blue tones.

Too much fun!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy birthday, Papa!

We took advantage of our MLK Day holiday to spend time with Papa on his 77th birthday! We took a birthday cake to him and then spent some time chatting and playing cornhole.

The football cake

Katie's card
(She had asked him to circle his Super Bowl pick. He chose the Steelers.)

Ryan's card
(It included a song sung to the tune of one of Papa's original compositions.)

The candles

The cornhole

The Katie


More cornhole

The pals