Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dear Parents,

We've had a wonderful first few weeks of school. Your children are enjoying our special math projects (particularly m&m math!), learning about the 7 continents (ask them to sing you the song!) and our reading groups. The enrichment classes are all a big hit, particularly swimming in P.E.

Most of your children are just a delight to have in class! Unfortunately, we have been having problems with one of them. We just can't get Gustav to behave! Therefore, we have unfortunately had to suspend school for a few days to assess how to deal with him. School will be cancelled at least Tuesday and Wednesday this week (and, of course, we were already off on Monday for the holiday) and we'll keep you posted as to whether we will be able to return on Thursday or not. Hopefully by then we will have found a way to handle Gustav. There is a possibility of him being sent to another district. While we pray for their safety (and sanity!) we know that we just cannot continue to deal with him in our school.

Once Gustav has moved on we look forward to picking up where we left off and continuing on with a great school year. Next up, our unit on the arctic!

Please try your best to enjoy these few unexpected days off of school, and we hope to see everyone back in our hallowed halls soon.


Mrs. X and your school staff

This post has been a Monday Mission! This Monday's Mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a post in the form of a letter home from a teacher. If you play along please LEAVE A LINK IN THE COMMENTS (Sorry I didn't get a chance to fix the Mr. Linky problem as I was busy packing all my treasured possessions into the back of my minivan). I MAY be able to get the links into the post, but I am evacuated and staying with family and I can't get the wifi to work and I just don't know how often I'll be able to get in and update participants. so PLEASE, dear readers, check out the comments and read the other posts (as a favor to a displaced blogger who drove for 8 hours yesterday, whose husband has stubbornly stayed behind in the mandatory evacuation zone, and whose child now has a cold) so that we can get Monday Missions off to a good start! Thanks.

(here are some links... check the comments to see if more have been added...)
Sober Briquette
Louise at Potted Frog is a FIRST TIME Monday Mission participant! Go say hi!
I'm being held hostage
Melissa, whose letter regarding Gustav was actually much more clever than mine

The latest news on Gustav is that he is looking to make landfall further west than predictions yesterday, and every inch further west he goes the better things look for us. Right now, The Big Guy is feeling pretty good about our chances of being back in school on Thursday. We'll see. of course, the lovely folks in Texas are surely starting to get nervous now. I hate when good news for us means bad news for other people.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


In a few hours The May Queen and I will be heading to Atlanta to stay with my aunt and uncle while we wait to see what Hurricane Gustav brings to our area. Right now they are forecasting landfall in central LA, putting us on the "bad side" of the storm. If it stays on track the wind damage should be minimal, but our home may very well flood as waters from the gulf get pushed into Lake Pontchartrain and then northward onto land. We are appx. 2 miles north of the lake (in Katrina, water came up 1/2 a mile here, 4 miles about 15 miles east of us).

The Big Guy is staying here, although he may head a bit further north to higher ground as the storm gets closer.

I'll keep you posted. Hopefully all this fuss is for nothing!

Life on the edge

Check the website.

Check the weather channel.

Check the parish website.

Check the state website.

Call friends "in the know" about contraflow.

Wait. Watch. Worry.

Try to think about other things.

Think about what I might pack up to evacuate, but don't actually pack anything.

Except a bag to entertain The May Queen in the car.

Scrapbook all evening with friends!

Come home.

Check the websites. Wonder. Worry. Waffle.

Should I stay or should I go?

Sleep on it.


(oh... and here's your Monday Mission reminder - write a post in the style of a letter home from the teacher!)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Flashback 3 years - Hurricane Katrina

If you weren't a reader of mine last August, may I humbly recommend you read my post from last year's Katrina anniversary. It's a love letter to New Orleans, and one of my favorite posts.
3 years ago I was evacuated, and getting news from my husband, still here in Louisiana, in random bursts of phone connectivity. I began sending out e-mail updates to a few family and friends, and by the time we returned home the list I was sending to was hundreds of people long - including friends of friends who wanted a first hand account. As I look back over these e-mails I remember what it was like: the uncertainty, the hope, the fear, the misinformation, the confusion. The darned car registration I couldn't renew because all the documents were in Louisiana and I was in Indiana. This is all the more haunting as we prepare for possible evacuation this weekend. Anyhow... I offer for you a glimpse of what it was like for us during our evacuation with these snippets of actual e-mail updates (I've edited and tried to shorten them up considerably, but it's still rather long, sorry):

Sun, 28 Aug 2005 4:05pm
As, you are all probably aware, Hurricane Katrina is basically making a beeline for our house. Fortunately, we are not there. The May Queen and I are safe with friends at the Fort Campbell Army Base along the Kentucky/Tennessee border. The Big Guy is still in Louisiana. When we evacuated yesterday he was on his way home from a conference in Mobile Alabama. He is now with some friends at their home north west of our town. They are in a high area that should be well sheltered, and should weather the hurricane well. The woman he is with is part of Red Cross and he is planning to work with Red Cross in relief efforts as needed after the hurricane passes. He has cleared our home of our photos, home videos, etc. (because I did not think to do this!)
I'll let you all know when I hear from him that he's OK after the storm passes, although it very well may be several days as phone lines and cell towers will likely be down.
MQ is doing well, as she doesn't really understand. This is just a fun adventure for her. I'll also let you know where we'll be, as we may not be able to return to our home right away.

Mon, 29 Aug 2005 3:56pm
Hello again. The May Queen and I continue to be safe in Kentucky. I have not heard from The Big Guy, but all lines seem to be down as I can't even get a number down there to ring. I've kept a close watch on where the hurricane was, and he should have been well away from the major force of it, and just fine. The eye made landfall along the Louisiana Mississippi border, probably 20-30 miles from our home. For those of you who don't know, our town is on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, which makes us a prime target for flooding, although the waters from the lake appear to have been blown south into the city rather than north up to us. If you've been watching the weather channel yesterday they were in our town before they moved out due to the danger, and today you've seen live reports from the town just north of us. I saw the damaged movie theatre where we saw a movie Thursday night. I don't know when we'll be allowed back. Our area was under mandatory evacuation, and we aren't allowed back until officials clear it. I read that in NO it may be weeks until power is back in some places. So we'll just wait and see.
Anyhow, just wanted to let you know where we are, to the best of my knowledge. Thank you all for your notes and thoughts and prayers. The hardest thing is not being with The Big Guy, but I trust that he is fine, and I'll hear from him as soon as he has access to a working phone.

Tue, 30 Aug 2005 10:14am
Still no news from The Big Guy. It's looking like it will be a long time before we are allowed to go home, and perhaps even longer before it's a good idea to go home, and stores and services are restored. Therefore, The May Queen and I will likely head up to my parents house in IN tomorrow.

Tue, 30 Aug 2005 7:40pm
Hooray hooray! Good news! I talked with our friend that The Big Guy was staying with since Sunday, and this is what I learned...
THE BIG GUY IS OK. The home he was in had plenty of food and a generator, and had no damage. Today around 5:30 they chainsawed and bulldozed their way out to the main roads. He made it to our house, which has NO DAMAGE. The only thing we lost is the fence, which needed replacing anyways (and now insurance will likely pay for it, hooray!) He is spending the night at our house. We have no electricity, but we do have water (but not for drinking, as it is likely contaminated). MQ and I had planned to head to my parents in Indiana tomorrow, but will wait for more news tomorrow before making a decision. Even with an intact home, it's likely no place to take a nearly three year old.

As you can imagine we are greatly relieved. Your thoughts, kind notes, and prayers have been priceless, thank you. It's hard to know that there are still so many families who either don't know of their families whereabouts, or know bad news. The conditions in New Orleans continue to worsen. There are so many who still need our thoughts and prayers.
I'll let you know where we girls end up and more news as I hear, but... WOO-HOO. We are celebrating here tonight.

Wed, 31 Aug 2005 8:21am
Hello! My present this morning was a message from The Big Guy, with a phone number where I could reach him at someone else's house. Phone coverage is still spotty and off and on, and he's off doing work now. But I called and spoke to him. You can imagine how good it was to hear his voice. He confirmed that our fence was gone, and one screen in our brand new screened in porch... our new shed had come off it's moorings, but was only rocked a little and not thrown about the yard. He bought a generator at Home Depot, which opened this morning at 6am with a crew from Dallas. He said in our neighborhood about one in every 3 houses has a tree through it. He says we are VERY lucky, even in terms of our neighborhood, and he's been in neighborhoods that have it much worse than ours. He's hoping to work with Red Cross, but they haven't been able to organize at all - there's just no way to get around. They are hoping to start organizing this afternoon, so there may be a way to volunteer (the eastern Maypole contingent... I'll let him know of your offers of help). In the meantime he and a crew of others are going out and just helping to clear streets, etc. Yesterday he said it took 7 hours to fight their way through the debris and out to a main road. He says now you just go out and find people working and help them, taking turns with the chainsaws and moving trees, etc. He hasn't seen any of the photos or video footage of the flooding and destruction, but he talks of radio broadcasts where they basically tell people "if you have a boat get in it and come to the airport, or the Superdome, and help rescue people" He said authorities are glad to have people there helping to clear the way - they helped some of the sheriff department get out of their office!
He said it looks like "Armageddon" and to stay away. So MQ and I will be heading up to my parents house later today. Don't know when we'll head back home. We're so grateful to have a home to return to.

Thu, 1 Sep 2005 10:53am
Talked to The Big Guy again this morning. Last night he spoke with the mayor who is saying it will be a month, at minimum, until our power is back. He is also encouraging residents to enroll their students in schools elsewhere, as you probably know N.O. is doing as well.
The Big Guy continues to be well. I imagine he is getting quite a workout with the chainsaw. He spent the night with a neighbor who had a window AC unit and a generator.
The May Queen and I have arrived safely at my parents home in Indiana. Looks like we'll be here a while, and the 5 outfits of shorts and t-shirts I packed for myself is looking pretty insufficient right now. ;) That's the least of our problems, I know. I'm horrified as I see the damage online and on the news. I have friends who have lost everything, although fortunately so far I don't know of any injuries or deaths of people we know.
Some of you have asked about donations and how you can help. The Big Guy said the best thing you can do right now is send cash, and I know Red Cross is a good avenue for that.

Thu, 1 Sep 2005 10:23pm
I talked to The Big Guy again this evening. He spent the day repairing roofs. It rained today - thunder and lightening - which makes working much more difficult. He is working with several people from our congregation who are back in the area as well. They are getting ice, water and MREs (that's "Meals Ready to Eat" if you don't know - I had to ask!) from a FEMA distribution center. He continues to call the situation total chaos. So far homes are not being looted, but he said that trucks drive around after dark with their lights off, listening for generators. When they hear one they hop out, take the generator, and leave. Signs are showing up all over saying "looters will be shot on sight." Neighborhoods are organizing groups to patrol the neighborhood and try to keep them safe. I of course urged him to get out if he thought it was unsafe. He is frustrated with what appears to him to be a poor government response to the needs of the city (not our town, but New Orleans)
There will be no US Postal Service for at least a month. i don't know about fed ex or UPS, but I imagine that is similar.
the N.O. airport is closed until after Christmas. Guess my parents and brother and his family will have to change their vacation plans. They were going to visit us in October.
Entergy, the energy company in N.O. (who also supplies all the energy to our energy company) pulled workers from the city after they were shot at - saying they won't return until order is restored. The Big Guy knows someone who works for Entergy who says that they are considering cutting their losses and abandoning N.O.
I'm trying to readjust my thinking and settle into the idea of being displaced for quite a while. My mother worked fabulously by contacting a local Lutheran church which has agreed to take The May Queen into their preschool on a per week basis. She will start school on Tuesday. It will be good for her to play with other kids and have a bit of a routine here. She is enjoying being here at Oma and Opa's house - playing with Opa's trains, trying out roller skates, reading books. She is doing well. Thankfully she's good at adjusting to new situations. Plus, Oma and Opa have lots of toys. ;)
It's amazing to think that tonight I will sleep in a bed, while tens of thousands of people will sleep in the Superdome, or the Convention Center, or other shelters. It continues to break my heart.

Sat, 3 Sep 2005 4:55pm
The May Queen and I continue to be well in Indiana. She keeps telling me that "Daddy is cleaning up the trees." Several people here, as well as some friends from afar, have helped us by giving or loaning clothes, so we are fine in that regard. Many of you expressed concern about our funds. I just received news that The Big Guy's pay will be wired directly into our bank accounts. We should be fine.
When i spoke to The Big Guy today he said they have checked on 110 homes of members of our congregation, and there is much devastation. The church will hold one service tomorrow morning. When they visit homes to assess them they are leaving notes on doors, giving info on what other church members are up to, etc. There is a drop box at the church for messages, and that is one way they are keeping in touch through all the spotty phone service.
He also said that last night as he and others were keeping watch on our neighborhood, a pick up truck with it's lights off pulled up. When it saw that the road was blocked, and several armed men were guarding it, they put the truck in reverse and left. Hopefully the looting will continue to be thwarted - how horrible that some people take advantage of others in a time of such devastation and despair.

Sun, 4 Sep 2005 7:33pm
Our church held a worship service today with 90 people in attendance. I enjoyed worshipping with my parent's congregation this morning. The pastor (my dad!) spoke to the only thing that can make sense out of all this - Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection. We know that our Lord understands the pain. He did not send this hurricane and it's aftermath to us, but he is with every one of us as we struggle to comprehend it and survive it. God is greater than Hurricane Katrina.

Mon, 5 Sep 2005 3:50pm
I talked to The Big Guy Sunday night, and he was battling a cold. He, and others he has been working with, have decided to take tomorrow (Tuesday) as a sabbath, to rest and take care of themselves and their own homes. He says that people there are really struggling with what he called "the end of life as they know it." For people in our area, many of them have lost their jobs. It means a loss of income, the possibility that they may have to move their families, etc. There's also a lot of uncertainty as to whether a job will be there or not. I think people are tired, sad, and confused. I was, however, heartened by the pictures on the website of their worship yesterday. The community is really pulling together and helping each other out.

Speaking of community, so many of you have asked how you can help. I've pulled together a few resources, and will continue to share others with you as I can. The rescue and repair and restoration process will last many, many months, and as someone said to me, this is not a race, but a marathon. There will be lots of opportunities for you to help in the coming months. I know that we will have lots of personal stories from our friends and church members.

Wed, 7 Sep 2005 9:19pm
The Big Guy says that a couple of neighborhoods near ours have electricity, so it may not be long before ours does as well.
The Big Guy continues to help clear trees and stabilize damaged roofs and homes. He has also located a friend's cousins who live in a nearby town, and is helping with the search for a friend of a friend's mother who is missing after being evacuated from a New Orleans hospital. Otherwise, there is not a whole lot of new information.
The May Queen started preschool here yesterday. She loved it, and is very excited to go back tomorrow. She'll go two days a week. She was scheduled to start school this week at home, so it is good for her to have this as a chance to interact with other kids and have some regularity in her life.

Thu, 8 Sep 2005 8:47pm
The Big Guy is feeling much better after getting antibiotics. Thank you all for your prayers.
He said that in our neighborhood the trash is not getting picked up, and it is getting pretty rank. Hopefully that will be taken care of soon. Other trash services are picking up in other neighborhoods, so there is hope.

The Parish where we live is officially "reopening" tomorrow at 8am. Although according to The Big Guy people have been coming and going all along. I'm sure he is thrilled that today they lifted the ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages. The curfew (9pm-7am) is still in place.( In case you haven't figured it out, a "Parish" in Louisiana is the same as a "County" anywhere else in the US) Power is restored to 36% of the Parish, but as of this afternoon not yet to our home or church. Official word is that they are hoping to open the schools Oct. 3, but The Big Guy heard that it may not be until January, particularly if they wait until they can get the whole parish up and running, as several schools are severely damaged and a high school is being used as a shelter.

Sat, 10 Sep 2005 3:20pm
As of 10:33am on Saturday, Sept 10, WE'VE GOT THE POWER! The Big Guy is thrilled. He has the air conditioning running and has the downstairs of our home in the 70s (down from 95, pant, pant) Also, trash was picked up today, AND mail was delivered! Still no phone service, and no cable or internet. Grocery stores, Walmarts, Kmarts, drugstores, etc are open. Restaurants are starting to open. Other businesses will likely be close behind.
In our Parish, five of 51 schools are too damaged to be use, but school officials said the 2,600 students who attend those schools will be enrolled in the parish’s other schools. Officials said schools will reopen Oct. 3 (MQ's birthday!) Our preschool is hoping to open at the same time.
So, now we're starting to talk about when The May Queen and I head back down. Probably within the next week or two. We'll figure that out.

Mon, 12 Sep 2005 3:57pm
Hello! Tomorrow morning The May Queen and I are heading back to Louisiana, and my mom is going to travel with us. We'll leave after MQ goes to school in the morning, and drive into the evening, hoping to land somewhere south of Nashville. We plan to get home Wed. night.
It will be good for our family to be back together, and to figure out as a team how we move forward from here. I'm sure that much of our lives for quite some time will be helping with restoration in our immediate area and beyond.

Sun, 18 Sep 2005 3:47pm
Hello! The Maypole family is back together in our home. Hooray! I cannot tell you how blessed I feel to still have a home, and that it doesn't have a blue tarp on the roof.
We are back online - sort of. Our cable internet is still out, and will be for the foreseeable future. We hear that the office and all the equipment that gets internet to our area was destroyed, and it may be months. We'll see. In the meantime we are using dial-up. I had forgotten how painfully slow this is. So, please hold off on sending us attachments and forwards until we have a highspeed connection. In the meantime, I'll try to get things done while I wait for a new window to open - like maybe read War and Peace. ;)
My mom graciously made the drive down with The May Queen and I. About 20 miles north of Tuscalusa, Mississippi we began to see the effects of the hurricane - trees snapped in half, signs torn and blown over, piles of debris that had been cleared to the side of the road to make the highway passable. We would see these here and there, and more consistently the further south we got. It's odd to me how a hurricane will take one tree and not the next.
We did a brief tour of the area before sending Mom back on the train on Thursday. Our community is slowing getting back on it's feet. And I say slowly, but things are moving much faster than first predicted. Many businesses are open, but often with shortened hours and services. Cardboard signs are posted out by the road proclaiming "open" for local stores and national chains alike. There seem to be an unusual amount of "now hiring" signs as well. Most neighborhoods, including our own, have piles of chainsawed trees lining the road, waiting to be removed (who does this and when, I don't know). This makes our narrow roads even more narrow, and often you have to take turns driving down the road. Our neighborhood is filled with the sounds of chainsaws, tractors, and cranes. Our neighborhood still has piles of garbage and torn out carpet/drywall, etc. along the road. The only garbage they have collected is what has been in trash cans.
We went down to the area in our town that got flooded - water came up about 1/2 mile from the lakeshore. We stopped at a local social service agency that we usually work through that gives assistance to people in need and runs a thrift store. They had flooded, and had to throw out most of their inventory, and redo their building. They were closed and not taking donations. We visited the home of a member who had flooding on their first floor up to about 3 feet. Fortunately, their first floor is entirely garage and storage. We could see where the water had shattered the glass in sliding glass doors and bent the frame. Everything in the garage had been pushed into a big pile in one corner of the garage by the water. We visited another home where a tree had hit the home, puncturing the roof. There are still downed wires in a lot of places, and it was a bit unnerving to drive over them with my car!
We had a full worship service this morning, and next week will return to three services. Sunday School, Confirmation, etc. will start up in Oct.
Here at our home our phone is now working! We also have cable again, sort of. Some local channels aren't broadcasting (PBS, NBC) and, inexplicably, we get some movie channels and not others. But we now have access to CNN and Nickelodeon, so life is good. ;)
A lot of people in our community are having to work elsewhere, either temporarily or permanently, as their New Orleans offices are destroyed, or at least inaccessable. Our neighbors, who already have 4 kids, have taken in 4 children and 3 adults - all family who have lost their homes on the "South Shore."
We are all humbled by the generosity of our church, friends, and the rest of America as offers of help continue to arrive. We look forward to the arrival tomorrow of my cousin and his father in law - who will be here this week helping clear debris, patch roofs, etc.
When The Big Guy described what it was like during the hurricane, he said it sounded a lot like a tornado, only it lasted 24 hours! He said several hours before the first rains began it was eerily quiet - no birds, etc. He watched trees snap in half, and the upper halves fly 200 yards before spiking into the ground
A guy is here from our insurance - gotta run!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Eye on the Sky

3 years ago this morning I was pulling in our yard toys and trying to buy a generator at Home Depot (they were all out). Our dear friends, the Dragonfly and The Sergeant, had arrived the night before (right around midnight) for a planned weekend with us, and a day trip into the French Quarter, on their last leave before the Sergeant would have to ship out to Iraq.

By noon we were in our cars driving back to their place.

Today we are nervously watching the weather channel and getting used to the name of a new threat: Gustav. We are straddling the line of trying to do the things we have to do in our life: attending Open House at The May Queen's school last night, work for the Big Guy, a teacher luncheon today for the preschool where I work. At the same time we are lining up potential places to stay should we have to evacuate. We are trying to make sure that our papers are in order, and ready to take with us. We are discussing whether we expect wind damage or flooding, and again eyeing the trees around our home and confirming our feeling of relative safety from a large pine tree taking out our home, as they did so many homes in our area three short years ago. Today The Big Guy is down in the city for work, and I told him to look fondly around the place, as it may not ever be the same.

Not that it's the "same" now.

We're nervous here, and rightfully so. If Gustav follows predictions it will be here on Monday as a category 3 hurricane.

So any good thoughts and prayers you can send this way would be appreciated. And maybe every hour on the hour you could look southward and blow. Maybe we can stop him in his tracks? Hey, it's worth a try.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Missions return: can you hear the theme music?

The lovely Chantal at Two Hands Full gave me this fun award:


Saying... "I would like to pass on the Brillante award to: Painted Maypole - I am looking forward to the return of Monday mission"

Which seems like the best possible introduction to my announcement of the return of Monday Missions.

What is a Monday Mission you ask? Well, every Monday I give you a STYLE suggestion for your blog post. If you choose to play along, you write a post in that style, come back here and let me know, and I'll link to all the participants (I suppose now is the time to figure out why Mr. Linky doesn't seem to like my new blog design, and if I can get him to work again. If not, I'll be pasting links in for ya'll). Basically, the style suggestion is a jumping off point, a challenge to get us writing in different ways than our usual posts. It's not a contest and there's no hard and fast rules; people have been known to take their posts in some fun and surprising directions. Sometimes they are just a complete break from the normal blogging topics, often people use them to share current information in a new and fun way. They can be funny or touching or technical. You can play along whenever the mood strikes you, or never at all. No pressure.

I try to announce the upcoming month of missions so your brain can get working, post reminders about the upcoming mission on the end of a Friday or Saturday post, and get mine up late-ish on a Sunday to get the ball rolling.

So... without further ado, I present to you the September Monday Missions (Back to School edition). Your missions, should you choose to accept them, are to write posts in the style of:

9/1 - A letter from the teacher

9/8 - A course description

9/15 - A class syllabus

9/22 - A badly written essay (inspired by Bea's post about the things that drive her nuts about the essays she has to read)

9/29 - Notes taken in class

(a fun side note about the Mission: Impossible theme song. When I was in college and living in the dorm, every night after dinner my friend and I would exchange a look. One of us would then start off "singing" the M:I theme song, and we would go racing through the cafeteria, hiding behind tables and scurrying through doorways, to the ice cream chest. We'd grab an ice cream sandwich and scuttle back to our seats. Mission: Accomplished)

Saturday, August 23, 2008


It's been a while since I've done a meme, but the lovely Angela at Memoirs of a Chaotic Mommy must have known I was about to hit a writers slump, because earlier this week she tagged me for one! Not only that, but it's the meme wherein I am supposed to tell you 6 quirky but not particularly interesting things about myself. (isn't this a bit of what I do on this blog all the time? don't answer that) Which is perfect, as I am both quirky and FULL of boring things. And here we go...

1. I have bamboo shoots in my pantry- While cleaning out my kitchen this week I found (in addition to the 7 year old coupon) a wide arrange of food that has been in there far too long - like the canned beets (a gift. I'm passing on to someone else), the chocolate covered pretzels (eating them... why didn't I eat them before?) and the can of bamboo shoots. Bamboo shoots??? there must have been some recipe planned there, but try as I might I can't recall it. But I put them back in the pantry. Because maybe I can google a recipe with bamboo shoots in it? Any suggestions? (this quirk was originally titled "I have a hard time getting rid of stuff", but really, is that all that quirky? Bamboo shoots, on the other hand....)

2. Despite the fact that at home I have a hard time getting rid of stuff, when I was a secretary I kept a very neat and clean office, and whittled down the years and years of excessive files that had been kept.

3. Whilst whittling said files I took all the old papers home to recycle there, since they didn't recycle at the office. (I have also been known to dig aluminum cans out of the trash at church to take home and recycle. This may come in part from being a kid in Michigan, where any can equaled 10 cents, and I earned lots of money for toys and such that way! More states should have such a good recycling program. But that's another topic....)

4. I leave my cell phone on vibrate pretty much all the time, and then leave it in my purse in another room, which is why it's not really a good way to reach me. (For obvious reasons this drives my husband nuts)

5. I really don't like having people call me on my cell phone. I think the cell phone is for MY convenience, not yours. I rarely give out the number for this very reason. And whatever you do, don't call me on the cell phone to chat. (Don't even get me started on people carrying on personal conversations in public places. Or people who will stop mid conversation with you to answer the cell phone all the time)

6. I have a really hard time sleeping unless I have a blanket or at least a sheet touching my cheek. I think this comes from having slept with a security blanket as a child.

(we now return to our regularly scheduled blog programming, in which I tell you one quirky and not so interesting thing about me at a time, but in a longer format...)

Friday, August 22, 2008


Gwen Stefani and Gavin Ross have named their new baby Zuma Nesta Rock.

Where is Alpha Dogma when you need her?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Our family trip to Acapulco was the first time our family has gathered all together since the February death of my husband's brother. My Father In Law scheduled this trip in the hopes that my BIL might make it.

In 2004 he was there with us, and so on this trip as we stood in the ocean and hid under the pool's waterfall we saw his shadow... the missing person. And although we missed him in our vacation paradise, we know that the paradise he is in now is far better than any palm tree lined resort.


Today The Big Guy and I attended the funeral of a man from our church who died very suddenly and unexpectedly last week from some sort of "cardiac event." The chapel was standing room only, and I imagine that he and I are not the only ones who are hugging a little longer tonight, and kissing our child a bit more tenderly.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I'm on a bit of an organizing kick, and after tackling MQ's closet and bookshelves I have moved into the kitchen and am organizing one of the worst areas of our home: the kitchen desk. Catchall of all clutter, the desktop, four drawers and shelves above it have long been disasters. This evening I was sitting on the kitchen floor emptying the last two drawers. The bottom drawer held mostly recipes I've torn from magazines and downloaded from the internet over the years - some of which I've tried and most of which I haven't. I was going through them, throwing most away but still setting aside a small pile of things I'd like to try (with hopes of doing some of them this very week).

Then I found it.

A clipped coupon that expired in 2001.

Before The May Queen was born.

We have moved TWICE since 2001. How on earth did a clipped coupon get packed and unpacked TWICE?

I think this cleaning out is a wee bit overdue.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Yes, that's a tooth!

She finally did it! It's been loose since before we left on our road trip (July 3rd). Daddy kept offering to pull it out for her, and she would decline. But last night she was wiggling it, and making it and the tooth next to it stick straight out (hysterical, only I couldn't get a good picture of it) and I told her that I bet she could pull it right out, just count "1, 2, 3... pull" and apparently she did, because she said "hey... it came out!" It didn't bleed or hurt at all (it was SO loose!) The one right next to it will surely be out in a few days as well.
We put it in an envelope and I suggested we label it [The May Queen]'s Tooth, which she did, then she wanted to add something so it would read "[The May Queen]'s 1st lost tooth"

Good thing the tooth fairy had some money in her purse. ;) And that her daddy just came back from the dentist with a cute little toothy gift bag to put the money in (along with some glitter, of course, even if she does know that I'm really the tooth fairy)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mexican Drag

finally, the vacation recap. with sequins and feathers!

So, you know, we had a great time with family in Acapulco.
We swam in the pool

We played at the water park at the resort (this is the slide where the May Queen got a huge bump on her head last time we were there, which we caught on video for posterity. Me screaming and everything, setting a fine example of model parenting)

We played on the beach, ate tons of Mexican food (cheese quesadillas for MQ, but only flour tortillas. She would not touch the ones made with corn tortillas that they served everywhere but the resort).

The three of us went snorkeling one day and it was SO cool. We went to this little island, and as we got off the boat we were met by Carlos, and it turns out it was our lucky day. I had planned to go by myself while the big guy played on the beach with the May Queen, but he outfitted her with snorkel and mask, put her in a life jacket, and had her hold onto a tube that one of us then always had a grip on. She could see everything, too! It rocked! Then Carlos, our own private tour guide, would swim down and bring things up for us to see up close, like sea cucumbers and urchins... and he even caught a puffer fish with his bare hands that we all got to hold before we released it. Unfortunately my disposable underwater camera cracked, and I doubt I'll be able to get any photos back because the film got wet. But here we are on the island.

However, I know the thing you're all REALLY wanting to hear about is how we accidentally ended up at a Mexican drag show.
Our cab driver ("I don't meet customers. I MAKE FRIENDS") who took us on our snorkeling adventure recommended several other places to us (that he would be happy to take us to, of course). One was a fancy restaurant, the other was a local restaurant with good, cheap food and authentic entertainment (he mentioned Mariachi), but he warned us it would all be in Spanish. A Mexican Fiesta, as we understood it. We consulted with the rest of the family (remember, we were there with all of The Big Guys' immediate family) and we decided to split into two groups: one to the restaurant, and one to the Fiesta. I sold The May Queen on the Fiesta idea by telling her how, during our last Acapulco trip when she was 16 months old, we took her to a Fiesta and she was entranced by the dancing girls with the big, colorful twirling skirts. She would gleefully clap along and all the people near us watched her instead of the show.
We go, and when we arrive a band is playing (loud!) samba music, and people are dancing. We are seated with a young couple from Oregon, the only other gringos in the place, which is otherwise filled with local families. Kids are running around, dipping in and out of the pool that is off to the side of the covered eating area. We order our food and drinks. I go with the special, as recommended by our driver, and got an AMAZING soup, and some other unknown and not as tasty things.
The show begins innocently enough.

(We were celebrities, sitting right up front, and MQ's blond hair attracts all sorts of attention. This picture is terribly fuzzy though, sorry)
Then out come the dancing girls. But not in big, colorful skirts. Think Las Vegas feathers.
And then...

The first drag queen. I'm sure she was hysterical, not that we understood a word of it. Several little girls came and sat on the floor in front of us to watch, and scampered to catch any feathers that came loose.

Then another drag queen. Then the dancing girls came back one by one, dressed in skimpy outfits and lip syncing to Mexican pop tunes. Although now we're not entirely sure that they are actually GIRLS.

Then a couple comes out. The man, with the DRAWN ON mustache and beard, makes eye contact with me before they begin singing. (I sense that I'm in for treat). They begin lip syncing a song which is clearly the couple fighting about him cheating. Take a wild guess who they indicate as the other woman.

He keeps coming over to me and putting his arm around me, which is fine, and I play along, and get lots of laughs from the crowd. Then they start slapping each other. And pulling each other around by their hair. I whisper in the May Queen's ear that they are just pretending.

Then he proceeds to TAKE OFF HIS BELT. By now the woman is sitting in the chair, and he pretends to HIT HER WITH THE BELT (he is, of course, hitting the chair). I'm am in turns laughing hysterically and whispering messages about acting and make believe in the May Queen's ear, all the while trying to figure out what this is going to cost me in therapy for my child.

I think that was about the time when she asked where the girls in the big colorful skirts were.

Oh honey, Mommy was wrong. It's not that kind of show.

It was hysterical, and educational, and of course interesting to get off the touristy path and see how the locals really live. It was not at all what we expected, but afterwards I insisted that I was glad that I went (because really, it makes a good travel story, no?). However, every one of us that went there got hit with a stomach bug, so now I'm not so sure it was worth it. I mean, I've heard of Montezuma's revenge and everything, but I'm at 5 days here. That's some revenge.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

And she's off to school!

The May Queen was excited to put on her uniform this morning (cute, huh?) and even TIED HER OWN SHOES (I just taught her how to do this yesterday. The fact that she is nearly 6, entering first grade and didn't know how to tie her shoes is clearly all the fault of whoever invented Velcro, and not at all due to any lazy parenting on my part). The bag is the only thing that didn't have to follow strict uniform codes (did you notice that even the SOCKS are monogrammed? sigh) so I decided to spoil her with some of her favorite princesses. She was thrilled.

As I suspected she did just fine once at school, and was even ready to say goodbye to me just inside the front doors. I walked her to her room, but then left pretty quickly. She wasn't particularly talkative about the day (her favorite response to our questions was "I forget"), but what we did hear was good, and another little boy was calling goodbye to her as she got in the car.

We came home and kept up the tradition of the first day of school cake.

(and for those of you wondering about school starting so early - the reason school starts so early here is because they want to be done before Memorial Day. WHY they want to be done before Memorial Day is a complete mystery, but that seems to be how they do it in the south. My husband thinks it's because they like to start in August and pay the highest air conditioning bills possible!)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

To my big first grader,

I have a hard time believing you're in first grade. It seems so much older than kindergarten. Kindergarten still feels young. Just barely out of preschool. The youngest class at elementary school. But FIRST grade? The very name implies that it's just the beginning, the first in a long line of grades. Before we know it you'll be in second grade. We'll blink and you'll be in fifth grade. Ninth grade. Twelfth grade.

Tomorrow you'll head into that first grade classroom, and I know that you'll warm up more when we're not around. You were extra shy and refusing to talk when we met your teacher today. I know that won't last long after I've dropped you off in the morning. It was frustrating, though, to see you that way.

You're an incredibly smart and sweet girl, but you've been giving us a heck of a time lately with the baby talk and the whining and the not doing what we ask you to do. You've been masking rudeness with shyness, and we've had to put our foot down. Maybe you're just nervous about the changes coming with a new school, new teacher and new friends. Maybe this is just a hurdle we have to get over so that you can take that next step into being more grown up. We know you can do it. (We know WE can do it, too, although it's hard to see my baby turning into this lanky GIRL)

Any minute now that first tooth is going to fall out (we can see the new tooth fighting its way in beneath it!) and from behind that big girl gap-toothed grin you'll be begging for play dates and telling me what you did at school today, in first grade.

First grade.

If I keep saying it, maybe I'll believe it.

But you. You will bloom in first grade. I just know it.

Go. Grow.

Much love,


Monday, August 11, 2008

Summer's End

The May Queen heads to school in two days. Tomorrow she'll go in to meet her teacher and see her classroom. She's excited and I am, too (MY vacation begins at 8:05 on Wednesday morning!).

This very last day we have without a school responsibility I had hoped to be a fun filled last hurrah. A trip to the pool or the water spouts. A trip to the library. Crafts at the kitchen table. Time spent together.

Instead, I can't wander too far from the bathroom. I have a massive headache, and am moving slowly. Thankfully, the fever seems to be gone. Maybe we can manage a craft at the kitchen table.

But unfortunately I think this last day of summer will be filled with lots of television.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sick around the Maypole

The May Queen is much better, only today I seem to have come down with some version of the bug (or Montezuma's revenge?). I have a fever, and although I am not throwing up, I am digestive issues.

We also just learned that my SIL (a nurse) has called 911 to take my FIL to the hospital. She thinks he has pneumonia. (and just for kicks and giggles, she has the same thing I have)

Welcome home, huh?

Friday, August 8, 2008

home AGAIN....

Well, we made it back. It was a vacation full of firsts:

First time we saw an iguana swim

First time The May Queen snorkled

First time The May Queen attended a drag show (unexpectedly)

First time The May Queen used the little bags provided on the airplane for something other than making puppets (and oh how we wished we had one earlier in the day when she threw up all over the floor at the restaurant at the resort....)

First time we returned to find our car battery dead in the long term parking garage

Lots of stories, pictures too. Later.