Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Taunting Tree

Let's pour a glass of limeade and catching up on things, shall we? The week past has been crazy. Yes, school ended and I should be on vacation... but I am teaching summer school - which started last Wednesday. So there has been no rest for the weary... and weary I have been. Tummy trouble, little sleep, a million things going on, daughter's birthday, an all-day workshop, setting up my room at a different school (which means dragging all of my manipulatives, games and other things that I'll need for my summer school kiddos - all 52 of them!), worries about a couple of things....The end of school is anything but 'winding down'. Au contraire, mon amiee! You kick into an adrenaline rush two weeks before that last day and you literally ride that rush for two weeks. It affects how you eat, how you think, how you sleep (or rather, don't sleep), whether you take your meds/vitamins, what you drink, how you relax (or don't). Needless to say, the body is beat by the time you lock your door for that last time. Your mind tells you that you made it to the end of school - now go home and rest! But I couldn't. The result was an ornery tummy that ruined most of my week. I was frequently found in bed asleep as early as 5 pm a couple of evenings.

This morning I slept in until 8 am. Making my coffee, I decided that I had earned a low-key day. Yup...this little gal was going to read all day long, save for a load or two of laundry. Nothing major. Just a rest and 'feel better' kind of day. Then it happened. When I was standing at the kitchen sink. I glanced out the window. And there it was! THAT %*&^*&$!@# MULBERRY TREE WAS TAUNTING ME!!

"Hey you - look at me! Look at these new limbs shooting up from where ya whacked me last summer! And just imagine how big and heavy I'll be when they grow up! Yup, lady...I'm your worst backyard nightmare - and I'm just going to have a ball today while you sit on your butt - doing nothing!"

Something inside me got ornery! I think I even actually swore at that tree (shocking, I know - not)! Before you could sing 'Take it Easy' by the Eagles, I was dressed in combat gear (shorts, tank top, bandana and my garden crocs) with my pruning shears in hand. And that's all it took! Naturally, look who shows up to lend a paw.... the Gamby Baby!

Limbs were everywhere! Yes! And more pruning was done to tidy up the mess. Yes!! Before long, I could smell the scent of victory drifting over the light breeze that graced the 98 degrees!

....the wild cat of the Serengeti hides among the camoflauge..watching for his chance to make his move....

such a loyal helper.....

One thing led to another, which eventually led to the chain saw, and another tree that was just begging to be 'attended to', shall we say... and the result was this! Excellent!

*May I just say how much I love my chain saw! Someday I hope Santa will bring me one on a pole... do you KNOW WHAT I COULD DO WITH A CHAINSAW ON A POLE!!????!!!

...but I digress....

And 'digress' I did....right into the garage to add more coolant and windshield wiper fluid to my Tahoe. A quick trip around the block to check all systems and it was back to the backyard.

Sights were then turned to my gardens which were in need of some much-needed tending. Dead spring plants removed, weeds pulled, new beefsteak tomato plants sunk into dirt and cages carefully placed around them, basil with a new home, garden art showered and repositioned, snail vines coaxed along light strands on the wall, sage pruned back as well as the catnip, compost watered and turned, tools washed off, Miracle-Grow sprinkled about, pine needles raked up, an almond tree gets a shower.

<--- these little guys are 'volunteers' straight from my composting bin! They were growing out of the side slat so I planted them and voila'!! Cherry tomatoes happy as clams!
I just can't say 'good-bye' to Autumn if I don't have to! And these two guys say that I don't! So hang with me fellas, as long as you wish!
Before I knew it, five hours had past. A hummer, who had been chatting up a storm all day at me from atop my Jacaranda, scolded me for having not had anything to eat beforehand and for working too long in the hot Arizona sun.
Maybe he's right. Maybe the work is done for today.
... geesh! Everyone has to get in their two-cents worth!

Oh, all right. I'll call it a day. Ohhh..but wait! Just a little bit of orneriness lingers...

ahh...yes! I think I'll have a seat in my new adirondak chair (you realllly must check this spring green plastic one out at Home Depot - 10 bucks!) and sip a spell of limeade...surveying my work and giving gratitude for the taunting tree! I feel great!, where's my book....

Friday, May 23, 2008

School's Out For Summer!

180 days.... have come and have gone...

lessons taught, papers graded, meetings had, calls returned, attendance taken, duties covered, report cards completed, conferences held, tears soothed, laughs giggled, questions answered, stories read, problems pondered, support offered... among other things.

It's time to put this year to bed. Time to clean and stack and store for summer's reign. My kiddos love this their desktops with shaving cream! I crank up the theme of 'Mission: Impossible' and we go to work! They load up bags and backpacks with the rememnants of our year and can hardly wait to become official 'second graders'!

I was surprised yesterday with a gift from my class.

While I was in Atlanta, my beautiful sub (who is also one of my 'mom's') had my kiddos write me letters for a book. Inside, each child wrote me a 'Top Cat' letter...and their kindness and pictures are heart-felt, tender, honest and pure. It's a beautiful book of hearts and spirits - the things that make my job so much of a blessing.

My kiddos and families certainly spoil me!

The last two weeks are always crazy with so much to do, so much to wrap up...both in front and behind the scenes, so to speak. I am totally wiped. I'm getting together with some friends later on, then I am sleeping...for as long as I want to.

Until Tuesday.

Then it's back to school to get ready to teach summer school.

... ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Monday, May 12, 2008

Georgia...on my mind

Well, I've finally readjusted to returning home from my week in Atlanta and let me tell was awesome! I was there for the International Reading Association convention which was held in the facilities that were built for the Olympics! I felt like I should have trained for them...with allllll of the walking we did. But it was good exercise and gave us all the wonderful excuse to eat without guilt - because we worked it all off!!

We arrived on Saturday and since the convention didn't begin until Monday, we just HAD to do something! And boy, did we! We rented a van and drove up the highway to the most amazing outlet mall I've seen! Outlet shops of every kind!! Pottery Barn, Le Creuset, Fossil, Williams-Sonoma, Yankee many clothing shops, shoe shops.... and of course...
SCORE!! COACH! Now, I will admit it.. I'm a purse snob. (hangs head a bit) I almost talked myself into buying a new Coach for the trip...something I haven't done in years, ladies... years! And given my new place in life, hardly something I can afford to do. But... I tried all the other places...Target, Wal-Mart, Kohl's...and you know how a purse has to grab your heart...speak your name... scream at you... "I'M THE ONE!!!" Well, such wonderful encounters happened at this Coach outlet shop. I went twice. I bought thrice. I'm happy to report that I have almost made a complete recovery from the guilt that cloaked me for a while. What little remains fits nicely into my summer Coach purse! The van was loaded... I mean L O A D E D !! To the point that we had to drive across the road to Wal-Mart to purchase more luggage to hold all of our goodies. *Note: the above picture of me is not of my new purse! That's my 'old' Dooney & Burke.... um... told you I was a snob!)

Monday morning found me sitting in the most humongous hall with about 15,000 other educators listening to our keynote speaker, Jamie Lee Curtis! She was beautiful, eloquent, funny and simply charming.

Then it was on to the exhibits, the sessions, authors, free books and goodies and all the other wonders of this huge production. I was overwhelmed! But my buddy, Kelly, steered me straight and took good care of me with the in's and out's and tricks-of-the-trade tips for such an adventure!
We saw and met many wonderful children's authors and even got their autographs. Here's a favorite of my friend - author Carmen Agra Deedy - signing away! I met Jerry Spinelli and had such a wonderful time listening to about 18 different authors and illustrators talk about their profession, how they get their ideas, what motivates them and their lives. It was facinating and I was in awe of all of the talent before me day after day!

Let's talk food, shall we? We were fetted and fed and never were hungry - from a cocktail party at the Omni to a beautiful lunch at the Hilton to a yummy breakfast at the Ritz. But my all-time favorite meal was at Gladys Knight's 'Chicken and Waffles'! Now before you go all scrunching up your noses... trust me... oh honey... trust mama!! This meal was amazing! You have to get there early or you just flat-out don't make it in! So we hustled down at 4:00 pm and indulged in some good old fashioned southern cooking. (um...that's after the 6 of us were seated at the table in the back at the restaraunt by the kitchen!! What you say??? It's true!! )
Behold!!!! The dinner that makes you scream 'MAMA!!!!' Fried chicken breast on top of a malted waffle that melts in your mouth! Slather on the butter and pour on the maple syrup and get ready to ride that midnight train to Georgia!! It was fantastic! Add in some collared greens, sweet potatoes, fried macaroni and cheese, a tall glass of 'Uptown' tea (tea and lemonade) and a caboose of sweet potato cheesecake, and you'll be walking out of that place with the happiest smile on your face!

Of course, we had to take in a bit of the culture while in Atlanta, so we were able to score some great seats at the Braves game against San Diego. They 'tommyhawked' them! My buddy, Kelly, couldn't get over the chant we all yelled to help them win the game!! By the way... if you go to the games there, you really must try the funnel cake from 'Batter Up!' Oh my!

We also toured the studios of CNN. The tour is great and a fun experience! And no...we did not see hottie Anderson Cooper... darn!

We also visited the Coke museum - I had no idea how many things you can make and market with the 'Coke' logo on it... unbelievable!!

After walking for miles and lugging books, bags and brochures....we came home each night to the most fluffliest of comforters and beds in our hotel room. Our room was up on the 32nd floor - and no kidding - when riding the glass elevator up or down, our ears always popped! But we were treated each night to the most beautiful sight out our ceiling to floor windows! We slept with the curtains opened so that we could take it all in the whole time...and it was just beautiful!!

Atlanta was friendly and fun - my kind of town! I learned so much..about a new city, about my profession and even more importantly...about myself! A big 'THANK YOU' to those who made the trip for me possible and to those who took it with me! And to my Kelly Girl - thanks for being such a fantastic, fun roomy! They wanted us to sleep in king beds, but we said 'No, No, No!' : ))

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Beautiful Mother's Day Gift

It's Mother's Day...a day the comes with many mixed emotions for me. I made my way early this morning to 'visit' my mom and grandma at the cemetary. This is always hard, as I miss my mom terribly. Plain and simple. I miss her.
I did a bit of driving around afterwards...trying to let being home in the valley sink into my bones after being gone a week in Atlanta (more on that trip in a later post). I was picking up some goodies at Trader Joe's when my son called to firm up plans for he and my daughter to take me to lunch.
We hopped in the car and immediately, David told me that first, he had a surprise for me. He started driving south east of where we should have been heading, and neither he nor my daughter would say why...only 'It's a'll see!' Before long, my daughter reached around me to cover my eyes so that I wouldn't get a clue. After a little bit, and some fancy driving by my son, we parked. Eyes still covered, he told me that he had bought himself a present, and then my daughter turned my head to the right and uncovered my eyes.
And this is what I saw....
The newly marked lot of a brand new home...
My son has bought his first home!!!
I sat dumbfounded and in tears....
this is such a wonderful, amazing thing and I am thrilled for him to make this step in his life! We quickly got out and he 'showed' me his kitchen, the living room, dining room, garage... AND IT'S GORGEOUS!!
Actually, we went over to the models and I am just in awe of what a beautiful home this is!! It's two-story, with a sit-in master bedroom, tons of storage, a beautiful kitchen!!...everything about it is amazing and wonderful! A home that I would be totally happy in!! I am so happy for amazed and so excited for him! Move-in date will be in October and we are all excited for him. To the point that I took him and my daughter out for lunch - I had to treat my wonderful children and congratulate them for their successes and for making my Mother's Day such a beautiful one.
I hope this day found joy blessing you, as well. Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 02, 2008

As Lenny Kravitz says....

I want to get awayyyy! I want to flllllllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyy awayy.... Yeah, yeah, yeah!!!

Saturday morning at 7:05 am I am rolling down runway 26 left (or right, depending on variables) towards Atlanta, Georgia! Five colleagues and I are attending the International Reading Association's annual conference - which is in Atlanta this year. It has been a grueling week of getting plans, notes (uh, 9 pages for the sub), materials and everything else ready so that I can be gone for the four school days. We also hosted our annual Curriculum Night and I worked the Book Fair for my dear pal, K (who is going with me on this trip and is my room mate! Woohoo!) My mind is pretty much mush at this point...
But do you know what I am so excited about??!!??? Those of you who know me doooooo -
Check out this plane, baby! It's a Boeing 767-300ER and I have never flown on a 'seven-six-seven' before!!
I've been all over the internet checking out the stats for this beauty and I can hardly believe the luck of this being our aircraft for our flight tomorrow!! WWWHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!
Okay...I am punchy tired and need to go upstairs and iron and pack for 6 days of 'so-outside-my-box-I'm-not-even-worried!' fun!
I'll wave 'hi' to you as I fly overhead!! WOOOHOOOO!!!