5/30/2014

Hit Me With Your Best Shot!


Bacardi Mama has started a new weekly photo challenge.  In her words:  The premise is easy.  All you have to do is show us your favorite picture you took over the past week.  It doesn't matter what it is.  If it is your favorite, that's what you post.
Since we were camping last weekend, I have a feeling most of you (if you've read my blog this week!) are going to know where my favorite picture of the week was taken:
This was our Saturday evening view from our campsite at Mile High Campground.
What was your favorite picture of the week?  I hope Bacardi Mama decides to throw in a linky at the end of her posts; y'all know how I love linkies!  

Friday Fragments

Half-Past Kissin' Time

~  I had good intentions of cleaning our bedroom yesterday, but I found other things to do.  Then it started raining, so it seemed like a good time to sit down, read a bit, and take a bit of a nap.  That's what summer break is for, right?

~  After about a year of talking about it, CH & I started a camping blog together.  It's just getting off the ground, so we'll see how it goes.
Flyin' the Coop

~  I finally got my winter clothes put up and my summer clothes out.  I really hope some of this weight comes off quickly; there were quite a few items that were just a tad too tight.

~  This commercial just warms my heart, especially the last little girl at around 18 seconds:

~  Remember to check out other frags at Mrs. 4444's!

5/29/2014

Summer Bucket List

I saw this on another blog, and thought it was a pretty good idea.  If it's out there, I'll be held to it, right?
(In no particular order)
~  Clean the house.  By that, I mean really clean the house.
~  Clean out closets.  There are a couple of closets that have been neglected; I need to pay attention to them and get them reorganized.
~  Look through the totes in the basement and purge them.  We've been in the house for almost 10 years; it's time to seriously get in there and get rid of some stuff.
~  Eat right.  I'm a stress eater, and this past school year was very stressful, which resulted in quite a bit of weight gain.
~  Exercise more.  (See the previous explanation)
~  Read.  I have about a gazillion books on my Kindle app that need to be read.
~  Keep the tv off during the day.
~  Limit my time on the computer during the day.
~  Do a better job at blogging.

We'll see how I do!

5/28/2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge


1. What news story are you following right now?
I'm trying not to follow anything.  It's summer, and I've got relaxing on my brain!

2. What's the last thing you wanted but didn't get?
I can't think of anything right now.  There's not a lot that I want.

3. May 28th is National Hamburger Day...when did you last have a hamburger? Other than your own kitchen or BBQ grill, where is your favorite place to go for a hamburger? And for all you non-meat eaters out there...when you're invited to a cookout what is the one side dish you hope is on the menu?
We had hamburgers Friday night after we set up our campsite.  Five Guys has a good burger; Smoky Mountain Brewery does, too.  We don't go out for burgers very often.

4. How have your priorities changed over time?
As the boys have gotten older, my priorities have shifted from their needs to my needs.  After all of those years of not having any time to myself and making sure the boys had what they needed, I'm finding that there's time for me to be myself and spend time looking after me.

5. What's a favorite memory with your grandparents?
Unfortunately, I don't remember my grandparents.  By the time I came along, only my maternal g'mother was living, and we only saw her every other year.  

6. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being fantastic!), how good are you at multitasking? Share an example.
I'd give myself a 7.  

7. How would you summarize your highs and lows for the month of May?
Highs:  getting in a weekend of camping; getting the word that I get to move back to the school where I was before I went to my "new" school. 
Low:  Leaving some of my kids at my "new" school.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
I just saw a commercial for a "no-touch" flush toilet.  Interesting.  Is it really necessary?  Honestly?  You wash your hands anyway, so what difference does it make if you touch the toilet handle in your own house?  Plus, I think that one of the reasons there are so many kids with so many allergies is that we sanitize so many things now, they haven't built up an immunity.  And now I'll get off my soapbox (so to speak!)!

5/27/2014

Memorial Weekend Wrap-up

What a beautiful weekend!  Did anybody see the meteor shower Friday night?  We tried to think of a place to watch it where it would be dark enough to get a good viewing, but I was very pessimistic about finding a camping spot on Memorial Day Weekend.  CH came through, and hooked us a spot at "Mile High Campground" close to Cherokee, NC.  The drive was just a little over 2 hours through the mountains, and the views were unbelievable! This is the view from our campsite:
Not too shabby, huh?  It was pretty amazing to sit in our chairs overlooking these mountains, and thinking about all of the early settlers who had such a rough life.  I also thought about the Cherokee Indians who were driven from those mountains.  
The campground is "primitive", meaning there's no electricity or water at the sites.  There are some flushable toilets, and there's even warm showers at the main bathhouse.  The water pressure wasn't great, but there was plenty of water to wash my hair.
Friday night, as soon as it got dark, we were able to see some meteors.  There were a couple that just seemed to go on forever.  We missed the height of the shower since we conked out around 9:30-10:00.  They were calling it a "storm" instead of a shower, but, unless it really got going around 1:30, it didn't live up to the hype.
Saturday morning, the family next to us in the group campground came over to let us know they had some visitors:
The elk are just beautiful, and much bigger than I expected.  I saw 5; CH said there were actually 7.  Later, while I was reading, a little chipmunk jumped onto a nearby log.  That was the first time I had seen a chipmunk in the wild.
I had to keep moving my chair to get in the sun since it was almost cold in the shade.  Not the brightest thing for me to do:  I ended up with a very sunburned face and upper legs.  I pulled a major no-no:  I didn't put on sunscreen.
There was a couple that had restored a 1973 AirStream.  Oh my, that thing was beautiful!  They said they live in it full time, and they take it to vintage camper shows.  It took them 3 months to get it livable, and 6 months to complete it.  I didn't take any pictures of the inside, but believe me when I say it's as nice as a really nice apartment!

We did a lot of walking (Laika was with us), a lot of just sitting and being still, and I managed to finish the last half of "The Book Thief" (Markus Zusak).  Saturday evening, CH asked why we were leaving on Sunday; then I reminded him that he was the one to make the reservation.
Our campsite on Saturday evening:
 And on Sunday morning:

On the way home, we went into a couple of campgrounds in the National Park (Mile High is on the Cherokee Reservation) to check them out.  We have camped in Cades Cove but not the other 2, and, after looking through them and marking some sites that we really liked, decided the other 2 are much nicer.  The sites are bigger than Cades Cove, so it doesn't feel like you're right on top of your neighbor.
We went by some of the places that I mentioned on my A-Z Challenge, like Oconaluftee Visitor's Center, Mingus Mill, Elkmont, Clingmans Dome, Newfound Gap, Metcalf Bottoms, Juney Whank Falls, and the Indian Head.  There were quite a few people parked along the road at the Alum Cave Trailhead.  Yesterday was definitely just about the perfect day to take a hike, and there were an awful lot of people taking advantage of the Park.
Monday, we washed the camper.  It was pretty nasty with all of the pollen that had settled on it.  She looks almost like new now.
I was also able to catch up with "House of Cards" (Netflix).  It's a really good series, but I don't understand why it's necessary to show such graphic sex scenes.  They really weren't necessary, and didn't add to the story at all.  The bad thing is that now I have to wait until January (I think) for Season 3.
Hope your weekend was just as wonderful, and that you were able to get out and enjoy some sunshine!  
Photo by insta_america

5/21/2014

School's Out Hodgepodge


1. Under what circumstances do you do your best thinking?
When there's no pressure, and it's quiet.  I love this time of year, when it's cool in the evenings & I can sit out on the porch by myself and just think.

2. Are you a risk taker? What's one big risk you've taken?
Definitely not.  Big risk?  Marrying CH!  (ha, ha!)

3. Some of the most common phobias according to the National Institute for Mental Health are-fear of spiders (arachnaphobia), snakes (ophidiophobia), heights (acrophobia), fear of spaces from which escape is difficult (agoraphobia), fear of thunder and lightening (astrophobia), fear of dogs (cynophobia), injections (trypanophobia), social situations, flying (pteromerhanophobia) and fear of germs and dirt (mysophobia). True phobias affect only about 10% of adults, but of those listed which would you rate as your greatest fear?
Heights, although I'm not fond of snakes, either.  I haven't been put in a position to say spaces, but I would imagine that would be quite unsettling!

4. Are you settled or do you feel the need to move somewhere new?
Definitely settled.  In August, we'll have been in our house for 10 years, which is the longest we've ever lived in one house.

5. What is something you find annoying when dining in a restaurant?
Let's see:  people talking on their cell phones, kids acting up without the adults paying attention, not having my glass filled.

6. Daffodil yellow, sunset orange, spring green, or sky blue...your favorite color this time of year?
Daffodil yellow.

7. If you were going to take a holiday all by yourself, where would you go?
I have no idea.  I would love to be like Diane Lane in "Under the  Tuscan Sun" and go on a trip alone, but I think part of the fun of traveling is sharing it with someone.  

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
The school year is OVER!  I packed up my room at my "New School" on Monday; I have to go back tomorrow to get a couple of boxes I couldn't get in my car, then take all of my stuff from that school to my new-old school.  I get to go back to the school where I was before I went to the "New" school!  I'm super excited to work with those teachers again, but the principal is retiring, so that will be a change.  I just hope the new principal doesn't try to change the atmosphere; that's what made it so special.  I'm looking forward to settling into a summer routine. I'm going to allow myself to do some school stuff only once/week...I definitely need a break away from it!

5/14/2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge


1. It's still May, right? When were you last in the middle of something that might be described as mayhem?
Mayhem is not allowed in my life. Especially now that the rowdy boys are out of the house!

2. When did you last feel dismayed?
A couple of weeks ago, as I was thinking about my speech blog.  It's pretty disheartening when no one comments on a post.  I know some people are reading, but they aren't following or commenting.  It's a whole different blogging community out there, for sure.

3. What's a food combination you like, but other people may find strange?
Pancakes & peanut butter.  I had never eaten peanut butter on my pancakes until I met CH.  Throw some mashed bananas on there, and it's unbelievable!

4. "It is never too late to be what you might have been." Do you think that's true? Why or why not?
Absolutely.  I think  as we get older and our roles change, we have the chance to realize our dreams...if we didn't do it when we were younger!
 
5. US News and World Report listed the best historic destinations in the US as follows-Washington D.C, Philadelphia PA, Williamsburg VA, Charleston SC, Boston MA, Richmnd VA, Savannah, GA, Santa Fe NM, Yellowstone, San Antonio TX, San Francisco CA, New Orleans LA, and Charlottesville VA.

Of those listed how many have you seen in person? Which two sites on the list would you most like to see in person?
I've been to 5.  I'd love to go to Boston (in the fall), and Yellowstone.

6. May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. If you had to participate in a single fitness activity for the next half hour, which activity would you choose?
Tennis.  My knees wouldn't agree, though.
 
7. What did you like best about the city, town, or neighborhood where you grew up?
Wow.  I like the diversity, the history, the small town feel.  In fact, my theme for last year's A-Z Blog Challenge was on the Small Town.  Interested?  Click on the tab just under my blog title and see what tickles your fancy.
 
8.  Insert your own random thought here.
I'm finishing this up at school, and the principal mentioned on announcements that it was our last "Pride Day", and our last "Hump Day"  (and yes, he tried to sound like the camel!).  Such happy words!  I find out tomorrow which of my 2 schools I get to keep for next year, and which one I'll have to give up.  I let my preference known (loud & clear), although if I don't get my preference, it will be okay.  Both schools are very good, and the staffs at both are wonderful to work with.  Until I hear it from my supervisor's mouth, I won't be 100% sure where I'll be.

5/12/2014

Weekend Wrap-Up

Thursday night was our last flute choir concert of the season.  The venue had weird acoustics:  we could hear ourselves loud & clear, which made it a little difficult to hear everybody else.  And, it was so hot in the room!  
Friday night was one of my school's Spring Festival.  I was a little concerned that we wouldn't have a good turn out since it was raining, but everything (except the dunk tank) was moved into the gym.  We had a really good turn out, and at 7:30 it was like everybody decided to leave. One of the Kindergarten teachers was in the dunk tank, and the SRO said he figured out how to change the tension of the target, so he really loosened (or tightened) it up so that just a little bit of a breeze would make it go off.  He said she got dunked about 15 times in a row before asking if everybody else got dunked that much!  There was a "pie in the face" station, and one of the 1st grade teachers got a pie in her face...by her 4th grade daughter.  I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to put a pie in her face...except her kids!  :)
The 2nd Grade had the nail polishing station:

Saturday was the usual laundry and cleaning day.  CH & I watched a couple of movies at the end of the day, which was a great way to end the day.  
I had a phone call from a co-worker who said that her parents were renewing their vows on Sunday in a park.  She said that her husband mentioned that it would be neat if they had a musician "just happen to stroll by" at the end.  She asked if I would be willing to do that, and I asked her what she wanted me to play. After she said that it didn't matter, I asked her if they had "a song"; their song.  I ended up playing 'Moon River".  I think they were really surprised!
I got to talk to OS for about an hour Sunday morning.  He sounded very happy, and told me all about what he's been doing.  He assured me that he's being smart when he hikes/rock climbs/snowboards, and always goes out with a team.  Right after I talked to him, he posted this picture on Instagram:
After my stroll the park, I stopped by and spent a few minutes with my mom.  Their rhododendron is blooming beautifully:
One of my sisters was just about to leave when I got there.  I snapped a picture of her as she was leaving:
Some of the badges on her jacket say it all:

We had a nice dinner with MS (& GF) & YS at our usual Mexican Restaurant.  It was a nice, restful day!  Hope your day was just as nice!


5/07/2014

The Mother of All Hodgepodges


1. Share something you appreciate (or something you appreciated as you were growing up) about your mother.
I appreciate the fact that she was a stay-at-home mom for 10 kids without going insane!  She would get up every morning & pack our school lunches and fix my dad's breakfast.  

2.  A quote most commonly ascribed to Plato reads "Necessity is the mother of invention." When did this last play out in your own experience?
I've got nothing for this one.

3. Share one of the earliest memories you have from childhood.
I was talking to someone the other day, and my "batman slippers" were brought up.  When we had green beans, I would wear them to the table and put them in my slippers so I wouldn't have to eat them. 

4. When did you last 'hit the mother lode'? What was it?
A while back, I got online and got a boat-load of Bath & Body Works lotions for under $50.  My favorite (which is now discontinued) was $2/bottle, AND I had a code for buy 2, get one free.  I ended up with 6 of them!

5. What is/was your favorite dish mom made? Do you make that dish for your family/friends now that you're all grown up?
This isn't my favorite, but every Friday we would have Tuna Casserole (a.k.a. "Catholic Casserole") or fish sticks with mac & cheese and peas.  I made the casserole once, and CH could barely stand it!  We have fish sticks every now & then, but not a favorite!

6. Mother May I? was at one time a popular children's game. It required no equipment or parts to play. What was your favorite childhood game where you could just turn up and play-no gear needed?
In the summers, neighborhood kids would come to our house for Kick the Can or Hide & Seek.  Good times!

7. Which TV mom (past or present) is your favorite, and why?
Claire Huxtable.  She had a career, kept up with the kids, and kept (or tried to keep!) Cliff in line.  All while looking beautiful and joking about it.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
Who is taking advantage of the Billy Joel station on Sirius?  He is just amazingly talented.  I'm loving hearing the backstories on his songs, and where he got the inspiration for them.  The only time I'm tempted to turn the station is when they play a cover.  Honestly, nobody, and I mean nobody should be singing his songs except for him.  Not Barbra Streisand, not Englebert Humperdinck. I just cringe when those come on!
(After I put that in, I saw a video of his daughter singing "Just the Way you Are", and it was pretty good.  So maybe, just maybe, she would be the only person who could cover one of his songs!)
 This has got to be one of my favorite Billy Joel songs:
Did you know this was written after his daughter was born, and that it's about his daughter...not a woman?

5/05/2014

I'm a Survivor!


YAY!!!  I did it!!!  I have to admit, my theme for the challenge was a last minute decision.  I was going to go completely random this year, but at the last minute decided on The Great Smoky Mountains National Park  (and a few surrounding areas!).  I really enjoyed it, and appreciate the positive feedback I received.  It helped me rediscover "my" mountains, and find a couple of places that I need to visit.  The Park Service can thank me by giving me a free "pass for life"!  (Just kidding...the park is free anyway!)
My only regret is that this challenge comes at the end of the school year, when things are really crazy and everybody is tired.  I didn't have a chance to visit other bloggers, unless they visited me and left a comment.  I made sure I returned the gesture.  Hopefully in the next couple of weeks (after school is done for the year), I can go through and read some posts.
I started following a couple of new blogs:  Lexa Cain describes herself as "A Horror and Dark Fantasy Writer"; she lived in Egypt for 20 years.  Her theme was hauntings, and there were quite a few that brought chill bumps.  Very interesting!
Another blogger I started following is Battered Hope. I was drawn to her blog because she is a HUGE dog person.  I hope to delve more into her blog once school is out and I have some time.
If you were part of the challenge, how did you do?  How did you decide what theme to use?

5/02/2014

Friday Fragments

You're Invited!
On top of hosting the "Friday Frags", Mrs. 4444 is hosting a huge giveaway!  Just click on the button to see what all she has in store, and to enter.

~Another week down...another week closer to summer break!  This has been such a rough year, y'all.  I'm ready for it to be over so I can get some rest and forget about my job for a while.

~Tuesday is Election Day around here.  We have a big referendum on the ballot that will allow the County Schools (where I work) to get their share of the sales tax that both of the city schools are getting.  Unfortunately, there are some people who don't understand that the city schools are getting their share...and our share.  I've heard stories of people saying they're going to vote against it because they don't want their taxes to increase, then walk into stores/restaurants in the cities limits, not realizing that they're already paying it...and contributing to the city schools.

~  Election Day also means a day off!  

~  No camping this weekend.  I have a flute choir concert Saturday afternoon.  We have another concert next Thursday, too.  The one Sat. is a "private" concert, but the one next week is open to everybody.  As much as I love it, it'll be nice to not have anywhere to go on Thursday evenings.

~  I had a 2 hour dinner with my "special ed ladies".  We used to meet once/month for dinner, but things have been so crazy with all of us this year, we've only managed to meet a couple of times.  I ran into a friend from grade/middle/high school, and a coworker, AND a friend.  I never run into people I know when I'm at a restaurant, so the ladies I was with last night thought I was really popular!

~ A friend posted a picture of this little sweetie on Facebook the other day:

Photo: New girl at Maryville City Shelter, TN! She is medium size, found today, so may be someone's missing baby! Sweet as can be! She will be on hold until Tuesday, May 6th for reclaiming! No one claims her, she will be available for adoption through May 20th! In the meantime, you can always meet and put your name on her to be yours! The shelter is located at 426 Home Avenue, they are open from 1-6pm weekdays, Saturday 10-1pm. Her adoption fee will be $55 includes spay and rabies vaccination. For any more questions or information give us a call Diane 865 748-3015 or Afton 865 660-7582.
Isn't she just the cutest?  Look at those sweet eyes.  We need another dog like we need a hole in the head, but something about her is tugging at my heartstrings.  It may be that she's almost the exact opposite of Laika (she's white where Laika is black), but I may have to take a trip to the shelter to see if anyone's claimed her.  If not, I just may have to throw my hat in the ring for her.

~  No "Picture of the Week" from OS this week...guess he was busy.  

Have a fantastic, restful weekend!
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