Friday, January 6, 2017

MOVIE Group!!!

Several of us have been talking about starting a Movie Group (think along the same lines as a Book Club). I LOVE the idea and am jumping right on it. We will be going with my favorite movie this month and it will be at my house, but all the rest of the months will be chosen in a random selection (slips pulled out of a hat- type solution). I hope you can all join us! It's going to be so much fun and you don't have to prepare (such as read the book) ahead of time. Just show up, and enjoy!

Because this site is public, I am blacking out my address, but email me if you need it. : )

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Announcements...

No, I'm not pregnant!


Tonight is going to be a wonderful opportunity to gather the family together and come join in a Christmas Sing-along. Anyone in the Prosper/Celina area or even those nearby are invited to join tonight from 7pm to 8pm at the LDS chapel at 970 Coit Rd in Prosper.

On Christmas Eve, there is going to be concert at 1pm feature the principle violinist from the Orchestra on Temple Square and myself. It is going to be a truly wonderful presentation. This is also in the LDS chapel at 970 Coit Rd in Prosper.

Both events are sure to bring smiles and fill you with Christmas cheer. Don't miss either one!!!

So Much Time Has Passed...

I haven't blog ANYTHING in soooooo long! Too much has happened over these years but I'll give just a few highlights (and lowlights). Let's call it a Top Ten List...

1. The picture to the right of the three kiddos is a far distant memory! Colbey turns 21 in January and is still working at Sprouts. Landon is looking forward to 15 in April and loved every minute of football this year. He has some serious talent. Ryleigh just turned 11 and is finishing her last year in elementary school. She is looking forward to middle school in the fall when she can spend time each day doing her real passion, art. (Colbey was about Ryleigh's age when that picture was taken. Time FLIES!)

2. I graduated college from BYUI and am considering (maybe, possibly) looking into a Master's program. I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up....

3. After working in the schools for the last nearly 8 years, it turns out I love teaching in the middle school the best. (I used to think they were the absolute worst grades to teach!) I feel blessed to have taught middle school choir and although I'm not teaching this year and am loving being a stay at home mom for the first time in forever, I do miss the up's and even the down's that come with teaching. I definitely don't miss the crazy amount of time it takes up or the stress of concerts/productions.

4. In April, Scott was laid off work, not because they wanted to, but because of something Obama put into law about contractors not being allowed to work for more than three years. Scott's three-year time limit was up and the company was forced to comply with the law. Less than three days later, the company called begging Scott to come back and they literally created a position for him that is permanent instead of contract. This was wonderful because now we have health insurance again.

5. Also in April, mom was diagnosed with cancer. She assured us that it was not a big deal and we didn't need to worry. We spent most of July with her in D.C. She was being taken care of at Johns Hopkins in Bethesda, Maryland and we felt blessed that she was receiving the very best care available in the country.

6. Not even two weeks after Scott was made an employee of Verizon, we were given a two-day notice that he would be moving to Manhattan to cross picket lines and do work he was never trained to do in the field climbing poles and working with the elements for an indefinite amount of time. Scott's a genius but the atmosphere and the age of the existing wires in Manhattan was hazardous. Although the picketers from the Union were legally not supposed to touch or harm Scott, they were angry and got more physical than they should have. We felt so grateful when he returned home safe two days before school was over. We found out he was coming home that day. (A lot of notice for each direction!)

7. Colbey's newest apartment is in Prosper which is nice having him so much closer. Not that we see him much more than before, but knowing he is close (literally just down the road from our house, less than three miles away) gives me some comfort in case he needs us.

8. Mom's battle with cancer ended in September. Five months of extraordinary pain finally came to an end on the 20th. I was by her side for the final six days and holding her hand as she left this mortal sphere. Although I still find myself in tears at odd moments, and generally trying not to think about it or the fact that she was so young, I am grateful that she is out of that pain. All of us kids had two days together around her bedside where we were able to cry, talk, sing, laugh, play games, eat and comfort each other. Although she was not conscious during those days, we feel sure that she could hear us and it would have brought her great comfort knowing our bond to each other was so strong.

9. Our house has become very quiet and peaceful. We are down to just the four of us and the two cats. I am not constantly trying to beat a deadline for my schooling (I can say right now that taking 5 online classes at a time is pure insanity and don't do it!!!) nor am I frantically trying to keep the house running and a school choir program functioning. Let's be honest here, the house running hasn't really been happening for the last three years. With the extra people and animals on top of everything else, the house has been in a constant state of frenzy for three years and only once did any Christmas decorations go up during that time. (My poor kids!!!) But now, I have chosen to slow life down and pair back. Our home has a greater sense of peace with much less clutter. Christmas has finally bloomed in the house. It is the first year that I've realized we don't have little ones anymore and all of the decorations in the house are grown-up and subdued. Apparently, Ryleigh prefers a more mature look and rolled her eyes at the one cutsie Santa I hung up. This is probably his last year.

10. This last one is really more selfish than the rest... In the last three year, (three really hard years on me) I have been told by at least half a dozen people not connected to each other or bound to me in any significant way, that I look like I am between 26 and early 30's in age. Of course, I tell them that they are my absolute favorite people on the earth because they are so willing to lie to make me feel good. : ) Losing 15-18 years off of my age makes waking up with aches and pains, or looking at something and knowing that I am physically not capable of doing it anymore, easier not to get depressed by. So I'll take the younger looking age even if I know it's just a facade. : ) Perhaps it's because I STILL don't know what I want to be when I grow up.... my body is waiting for my mind to mature.

Monday, March 9, 2015

College Science

I've created this chart to use in one of my presentations. I needed a web address to include in my image citation reference page and decided to place it here - thus creating a web address. Viola!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

One Of Those Mornings

I woke up this morning and could hear the pitter patter of raindrops gently grazing the bedroom window. I was up before anyone else, including the sun. I quietly went into the bathroom to soak in the silence of a warm bath before the day started.

Scott got up before I was done and by the time I was lounging on the bed again, I had a spectacular view of the changing sky. My window glowed with a deep cerulean. As amazing as the color, it was the glow that was captivating. It changed from the deep blue to a light blue and then finally to a whited-out blue of an overcast sky. Changing the colors of the grass and brick wall to seem unreal in depth and clarity. All the while glowing through my 24 panes.

Warm, comforting smells came from the kitchen. Scott made sausage and cheesy eggs for breakfast then wrapped it up in a warm tortilla topped with salsa. It was a breakfast that brought memories of home and comfort and peace in the tangy, soothing bites. A breakfast that wasn't asked for or wheedled but done in independent love for the family.

Voices were muted and sweet conversation could be heard from each of my four beloved throughout the house. All were in communion together in jokes and business. There was no rush and each helped out. Periodically I would ask a question of the kids about school preparation, and all would answer it had been taken care of.

As I lay there, unable to help while I continue to let my foot heal, I wrapped myself up in the blanket tight and whispered to myself, "Remember this."

Remember the sweetness of each little drop of this morning memory. Remember and look at it again and again. Remember that for one brief moment, the world was turned away and we resided in a blissful unit, filled with warm love and humor.

Remember that as beautiful as the glow from my window and all the otherworldly looking colors it provided, it paled in comparison to the magnificence of our family.

This has been one of those mornings. A morning that feels like God is wrapping you up in His arms and cradling you in peace and security. Giving you respite from the world and strength to go on.

It has been a blissful morning.

Monday, April 1, 2013

What a Way to Start April!

Have you ever recognized that little mishaps occur at the most inopportune moments? It seems like whenever a hiccup takes place, you have neither the time nor place for coping with them. This was my thinking on Saturday. That's when it dawned on me, it would only be a mishap, or hiccup or whatever you tend to call it, if it wasn't convenient and brought about much additional stress, hardship and worry.

So let me tell you about the most current one.

Saturday afternoon, Scott and I were unloading the car of groceries. I was heading back toward the trunk when there was a loud POP followed by immense pain as I fell to the ground. There was also a not-so-lovely scream that turns out came from my own lovely mouth. As I hit the pavement, I bellowed (Yes, it's true. I bellowed, not whimpered or simpered or politely called. It was a full fledge manly bellow that erupted from this dainty, feminine person. I give you permission to chuckle at this point.) for Scott. Of course, Scott must have put in his selective hear-aid that day because it was Landon that came running and not Scott.

At this point, I'm still on the ground moaning in pain with plenty of near-curse words going through my head that not a single neighborly soul has rushed to see if I am going to survive. I grunt to Landon to get Dad out there quick and he scurries away. I have yet to look at the damage. I know that if it's as bad as it feels, I may not be able to remain conscious if I see the bone sticking out of my leg or my foot awkwardly twisted in the opposite direction it should be pointed in.

Scott comes right out and asks in his manly fashion, "Are you ok?"

Now, let me preface this by explaining for a moment. If you or I, as women (If you are reading this and are not a woman, it's because you are member of my family, your wife is making you read this, or you are a stalker. The first two categories - I give you my sincerest apologies for the generalization. If you are of the third category - VAMOOS!) saw a grown, appearing to be in her right mind, woman on the ground, my first question wouldn't be if you were ok. It's plenty obvious that if you haven't been able to get yourself up in multiple people visits (Scott's being the second) then you are definitely NOT ok!

So in a very lady-like shriek, I said, "NO!"

Now normally, in this particular marriage, I am the over-reacter and Scott is the calm, rational one, when it comes to things like this. But as I looked at his face, my heart fell. I quickly averted my eyes and, believe it or not, meekly asked if he could see the bone sticking out.

He said no but that he needed to help me get up so we could go to the hospital. His answer both assured me that I wasn't going to bleed to death because the bone had severed an artery as it punctured my dermis, but at the same time, freaked me out because he immediately wanted to go to the hospital. Do you know how expensive hospital visits are?!?!? We had to go in January for just 2 hours and they never could figure out the problem and those two hours cost us over $9,000.00. That's right, you did not read that wrong! And there was no major surgery or anything to cost us that much. It was some pee tests, a couple tubes of blood, some Ibuprofen, and a donut ring scan - that all came back with a big question mark. And now he wants to do it all over again!

So I allow him to help me into a sitting position. I see for myself that all body parts are where they should be and like the mature person I am, grabbed my shoes that had come off and threw them at the car - because I'm sure the car had some element of responsibility in all of this! OK, so maybe it's more likely the shoes were more culpable than the car, but the shoes are cute and they got just as much beating as the car when I threw them.

Now here is where it gets pathetic.

I'm not exactly 19 anymore and weighing 120 lbs. Scott is more than willing to carry me into the house, (I've been able to make him see reason about waiting until Monday to see a doctor when the bill will be more manageable) but I need him in one piece. I quiet possibly would break my eternal sweetheart should he attempt to carry me. Also, I'm afraid of falling backwards. So I begin to hop toward the house.

I know you are all thinking, "Well, that's appropriate as the next day is Easter." But believe me when I say, I am no bunny rabbit bringing beautiful eggs and goodies to children just at this particular moment. The only thing I might be bringing is horrified looks and fear from anyone close enough to hear the grunts and see the sweat.

Honestly, those near-curse words are still running rampant through my head but I was in no mood to tame them. Frankly, I was impressed with myself for keeping them inside my head. So the journey to my bed is long and tortuous, with multiple stops - to start breathing again.

It's once I'm on the bed that I realize how inopportune a time it was for this to happen. I HAVE to go to church the next morning. I'm playing for multiple things - the organ for our organist who just had a baby, and two special musical numbers. I need to help with bunny duty - that's code for doing it all alone. And don't forget the all important Easter Dinner! So we begin to brainstorm on who we know that might have a set of crutches - the answer to all our problems. RIGHT!

So I make the call and secure the use of my life-line.

Scott takes over bunny duty - a first in our marriage as far as I can remember. And he takes better care of me than I thought possible.

The next morning, the kids have a wonderful hunt (Colbey dozed on the couch during the fabulous Safari. Even the eggs with money in them could not entice him this year.) and we all prepared to go to church.

I'm pretty excited to have the crutches and be mobile again - for the first 3 minutes. Then I realize, crutches SUCK (Sorry for the near-curse word, I couldn't keep it in.) when you HAVE to use them, whereas, they are great fun when you are just playing. At this moment, I am nursing not only a seriously painful foot, but shoulder muscles that may never have been used before and interior muscles from the inside of my biceps to near mid belly that are screaming.

I managed through church but got home exhausted! Scott took care of dinner - minus the funeral potatoes that I hopped and took care of (I love them, but Scott could care less about them so they were about to fall off of the menu.). Scott makes a fabulous ham!! I've known this for a while. He has always been better at meat than me. And we ate family-style in the family room. Now, mom, don't have a heart-attack that I've broken the family tradition of bringing out the crystal and china and having a palace type experience. It's just that I was having issues getting into anyplace easily and it won't ever happen again! I PROMISE!

So the evening passes with me in my recliner and everyone else coming and going. This is not a typical Easter! I actually slept in the recliner. For two big reasons and one misunderstanding.

Wouldn't you know it, in the midst of all this, our A/C goes out. It won't work. We can't figure it out and will have to call in the professionals eventually when we can't handle the heat anymore. Lucky for us, the temperature is supposed to drop this week. So the windows were open and the ceiling fans on full blast and the family room was actually more comfortable temperature wise than the bedroom. Also, it was safer for my foot not to be in the same bed as someone else. (What?!?!? That's right folks, we don't have the Desi and Lucy set up of two beds in our room. GASP! It's a shocker - I know. And now my mom knows, how humiliating!) And the misunderstanding was a condition of Scott seeing me hopping around (to get to the bathroom) and said, "Why are you here (in the bedroom)? The fans are in the other room." kind of snippy-like. I thought he was mad at me for him having to pick up so many extra duties this weekend and didn't want me in the bedroom. He was actually concerned that I was hopping around and just sleepy and didn't realizing what tone he was using. That's right, we are GREAT communicators! : )

So this morning, I call the doctor’s office at exactly 8am. I know they have special slots they leave open for emergency, must-be-seen-today visits, but I wanted to be first in line. Turns out, I'm put on hold for 15 minutes and then the girls (who I find out later has had several complaints about her and is only 18) tells me that my Doctor doesn't have any openings until next week.

Just as sweetly as you would expect from me, I tell her next week is not an option. I can't walk, I have to crawl to get to the bathroom, and I can't work. I need to have my foot x-rayed TODAY! You can tell by my words just how sweet I was. And so I wait.

About 15 minutes later, a different gal calls and schedules me for 11:20.

Bless Scott, he takes off work and drives me to the Doctor's appointment and then to the x-ray facility. He does ask me as we are going home if I think I could drive with my foot and I tell him I would just use my left foot. Apparently, I didn't infuse much confidence with my answer and he tells me, "It's probably safer for him to do the driving for now." (Honestly, I could drive with my left foot. As a senior in high-school, I broke the same foot and mom wouldn't let me drive until I could play the piano and use the sustain pedal with my left foot. Well, I proved at church that I can still sustain pedal just as well with my left foot as with my right.)

It turns out, it's not broken. But they also don't have instant foot replacement options and I'm just going to have to wait it out for the next couple of weeks for it to heal. I'm not sure I've ever been able to rest anything and keep off anything for a couple of weeks!

There is a Vegi-Tale song that goes: "I Love My Lips"

My song today is: "I Love My Feet, And I Didn't Realize How Much Until I Couldn't Use Them"

PS - For any of you noticing the date of this post - It. Has. All. Been. True. Not a single joke in this. I guess it's my April Fool’s joke on myself. SIGH...

PPS - THANK YOU LLOYDS for the crutches!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

God's Grace

There is a pit that is deeper and darker than one single person can ever imagine. It is more intense and consuming than the worst pit you've ever endured. More destroying than the deepest depression and hardest health trial. This pit is so deep and dark because it belongs to someone else that you love intensely and you can't help them personally. It's the pit of ineffectual despair.

I've lived through many of my own pits throughout my life. I completely understand the varying shades of darkness with depression and health. I've been there, I've asked for relief through the going home to God when there. So I know the truth of this other more horrendous pit. The pit where instead of asking for relief through leaving, you beg for more time and more help and promise a willingness to do anything for it.

After years of crying myself to sleep at night because my child was in this pit - this hell - and knowing that he didn't even recognize the hell it was yet, we have just crested the top. And I sit here weeping because I didn't know if there would ever be an end to the climb. I certainly didn't expect the Lord to bless us so quickly.

I look back and know that to some people, four years seems like a long time and my thanking the Lord for the quickness is ridiculous. But when you've spent years believing that the trial will never end for him in this life, four years is miraculous! And I just can't stop weeping for joy.

Landon's gone through a lot in his short life! His birth was traumatic. We were lucky to have a doctor available to catch the problem immediately and save him from death at birth. Not two years later, he nearly lost his arms in a horrific burn accident. A miracle to this day for the doctors and nursers that attended him over all those months. And then after his first and second years at kindergarten, when he could not read a single word, he was diagnosed as dyslexic. He wasn't just your "run-of-the-mill dyslexic" either, but one of the worst cases those that worked with him had ever seen.

But God stepped in and blessed us in ways that didn't become apparent until now.

We moved into a "little" home in 2004. It was the "good-enough-for-now-to-be-replaced-with-something-more-appropriate-later house". It is small, in far rural country and to be honest, with primitive facilities. There are only one set of schools for the whole town and it's a good-ol-boy town to boot. But I KNEW we were supposed to live here. The Lord spoke to my heart immediately when I walked into the house and said that this was the place. And over the years, we've talked about moving to someplace larger with our expanding and maturing family, but it has never felt right.

Today, I know why we were brought here. This home is situated in a place where the school district was bad enough that I home schooled after several years of trying to work with them. It was because of homeschooling and my girlfriend, a teacher I had met several years earlier around the corner, in the same neighborhood, that I asked for some help with Landon's reading program. It turns out she's a Bi-Lingual Dyslexia Therapist, which I didn't know at the time, and was the one to diagnose Landon as dyslexic.  Then she worked with him for a year and a half and we would spend about 3 hours a day at home working on what she had done in her two lessons a week that we felt we could try school again.

In the meantime, Colbey had reach high school age and wanting him to have a high school experience, we were able to get him into the next town overs school the year before they closed all out-of-district-student-tranfers. Because Colbey squeaked in that final year, the other two were grandfathered in the following year we enrolled them. This is a school district that is the closest thing to a private school you'll find in all of Texas, perhaps even more, in a public arena. This is an amazing school district and we are VERY blessed to be in it!

This school district has a dyslexia specialist on every single campus and we've been blessed to work with an extremely special one for the last year and a half.

So this boy, who I have cried myself to sleep more times than I can count because he had NO FUTURE without the ability to read, whose personal pit of hell has been gaping and looming and torturing me for the last four years had been slowly being given the tools to make that ladder to climb out. Tools that seemed insignificant and singularly unrelated to each other. But this morning, as I checked my emails on a rare day that I'm not working, I received an email that has sent me to my knees in thanksgiving and tears of joy.

This is the email:

I just had to tell you how AMAZING your child is! I’ll be sending you home the full results of his testing from the last book, but just had to let you know that he read the passage better than ANY student I have ever had! He only made four mistakes out of 250 words! -Just incredible! I am so proud of him and all the reading he does outside of school! Thanks so much for all your support!
Shelly J
Shelly Spears, LDT, CALT
Dyslexia Therapist
Rucker Elementary, Prosper ISD
God's grace has been shining down on us for all these many years, even before I knew we would need it. And in the grand scheme of things, my prayers have been answered so quickly. I know that you reading this will probably never be able to understand how significant this is and how miraculous that in just 4 years my child went from having no possible way to have a future or ever supporting a family of his own, to surmounting this trial and doing it with humor and tenacity and amazing ability. It gives me greater insight into the knowledge that the Lord's time and plan is far superior to anything I may come up with! It shows me how much He loves us to start us on the path to overcoming before the need to ever arose!
I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father and for His angels that minister to us here on the earth. I am grateful for faithful children willing to follow the promptings of the Spirit that lead them to the places where they will be needed - to be those angels. I pray that I may someday show my appreciation to all those, specifically Robin and Shelly, by being an answering angel to someone else in need.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What do you mean, Ireland?

So my sister had a two week vacation scheduled for the middle of May into June and she didn't want to spend it alone. We've travelled together several times and it was natural for her to call me and say, "Hey, lets do something together!" (OK, so she said it to just about anyone that would listen to her.)

We had grandiose plans about Italy and Mediterranean Cruises, but as the excitement settled into reality, it became plain that money was going to be an issue. At least for me.

At the same time, she was making future plans which were leading her toward Tennessee. So with much regret but some serious relief on my part, we decided to rent a cabin in the north-west corner of Georgia for two weeks. It would give me time to recuperate from the kids and be close enough for some serious sightseeing in GA, NC and SC and her checking out Tennessee before committing to it.

About a month before we were to leave, Shaundra called me up and said, "Look what I found! We are going to Ireland!"

Indeed, she had found an independent tour (the absolute best way to go) to Ireland for about the same price for her and only $200 more for me. The cabin was cancelled and I nervously made plans to leave the country.

Flights to NYC being as they are, instead of being gone the 2 weeks that Shaundra had off, I got to spend nearly 3 weeks, which meant that once we got back into the states after Ireland, we would also get to spend a couple of days in Washington DC and several days in NYC and upstate NY. (More about this in a later blog.)

So to keep this post manageable, I won't go into detail about Ireland itself, (I would probably have to devote an entire web-site for that) but I'll give you the 3 "Must-Sees" on my personal list should I ever go back. Don't get me wrong, if you are interested, I could spend hours and days boring you to tears with stories and pictures. Between us, Shaundra took a respectable 600+ pictures, and a millennia of video, and I took 1200+ pictures and contributed to the video.

That being said, skip the east coast of Ireland. I know that Dublin is on the east side, and if you are truly needing a Dublin experience, you can literally walk the entire city in a day. Granted a very tiring day, but it is situated to be a walking city. It's beautiful in a metropolitan way. The pedestrian streets are fun, the cathedrals (of which we were able to go to an exclusive concert in St. Patricks Cathedral that only happens once a year) are old and gorgeous but the highlight are the parks and people!

You can also skip Northern Ireland. Yes, the Giant's Causeway and Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge are there but the walks are long and strenuous, and the view is even better in a postcard. We loved the experience, but the need to go back is pretty slim.

Now, the west coast of Ireland is "da bomb"!!! All three of my "Must-Sees" are on the west coast. So to my list:

#1 - Stay in Westport (the cutest little tourist town) for a couple of days. You'll want to spend a day just touring the city and Westport House, which has it's own little theme park (pirate theme I believe). The entire next day, plan on spending it travelling to, touring around and returning from Kylemore Abbey. Not only is the Abbey amazing, but the traveling to and from it nearly as enjoyable!!!

"This is a deeply atmospheric place on the side of a wooded hill overlooking Kylemore Lake. The main building is a crenellated 19th century house, and a splendid example of neo-Gothic architecture. In 1920, its owner donated it to the Benedictine nuns. The sisters run a convent boarding school here, (although this past year was it's last) but have opened the grounds and part of the house to the public. The highlight is the recently restored Gothic chapel,
considered a miniature cathedral, and there's a Victorian walled garden. The complex includes a restaurant, which serves produce grown on the nuns' farm; a shop with a working pottery studio; and a visitor center. The abbey is most atmospheric when the bells are rung for midday office or for vespers at 6pm."

So above is the tour guide description, but it falls seriously short! Pay the money and do everything here!!! If you are a student, bring your id because you get discounts with it. I would love to spend a month just wandering around this peaceful bit of heaven! GLORIOUS!!!
Seriously, don't miss anything! Take the guided tour of the garden, (holy cow, it's awesome) and the tour of the main building. And certainly don't miss the walk to the Cathedral and the Mausoleum!!! You. Won't. Be. Disappointed!!!

#2 - If you have money to burn and want an experience of a lifetime, next stay at the amazing Ashford Castle. (If money is a little more precious to you, stop by as you leave Westport and plan on spending many, many hours exploring!) Those of you on the inside of the "In" crowd will be saying to yourself at this moment, "Say, I've heard of that place before!" And you would be right!!! Pierce Brosnan was married in Ashford Castle in 2001 and Ronald Reagan stayed there in 1984. It's part of the lifestyles of the Rich and Famous! (Insert British accent here.)

"Now, this is a castle. Complete with turrets, towers, drawbridge, and battlements, Ashford is a fairy-tale hotel. The structure dates to the 13th century, when it was built for the De Burgo (Burke) family. Later it became a country residence of the Guinness clan. A hotel since 1939, it has been enlarged and updated over the years. The renovated Victorian castle rents some of the finest rooms in all of Ireland. Reflected in the glassy waters of Lough Corrib, the castle sits regally amid vast forested, flowering grounds. The fairy tale continues inside with antiques, medieval armor, carved oak paneling, and museum-quality paintings."

(Unfortunately, I don't have any really good pictures of the front of the Castle so you'll have to settle for the back view. Most of this part of the trip was documented via video.) The above is again the tour guide description. What it fails to mention are the phenomenal grounds! The manicured grounds, the swan filled lough, the hidden jewels of stone architecture, and the hidden gardens. They are extensive and amazing and ... holy cow ... there just aren't words to capture it's beauty!!! The collective number of pictures we took (and believe me, there are plenty) are not enough to capture it! Being there only once is not enough to capture it! I've got to get back there!!!! : )

As you pry yourself away from the Castle, stop for a quick look at Cong Abbey, literally on the way out (the back way, that is). The monks set up a fishing pole with a bell attached to it in the little hut over the river so they wouldn't need to sit around waiting for the fish, but could come running once they heard the bell ring.

#3 - You know what, you need to go back to #1 and #2. I don't think you appreciated them to their fullest extent. Don't worry, I'll wait until you get back before I go on.

I'm serious ... go back and re-read. You're missing it!

Good grief ... you are stubborn!


#3 - On your way to Killarney, you may want to stop for the Cliffs of Moher, but like the Giant's Causeway, a postcard is just as good. The Burren is barren and not worth stopping for unless you like getting down on your knees to look at tiny flowers that aren't that pretty anyway. The bog's, however, are worth a pull-over-on-the-side-of-the-road stop for 10 minutes. The best part of the bogs is walking out on them a ways with another person. Have one person stand about 10 to 15 feet away from the other and then take turns jumping. Yes, I said jumping. The vibration of each jump can be felt by the other person through the ground. It was enough for the video camera we brought to automatically turn off because it thought it had been dropped. : ) They use the bogs as a source of peat (or fuel) which smells DIVINE!

The Rick Steves tour guide says to skip the Killarney Coast Drive for the more beautiful and less appreciated Dingle Loop Drive. He's WRONG! We got lost on the Dingle Loop and even the GPS unit had no maps to help us out. However, the Killarney Coast is worth the drive! But this is just leading to my #3.

Killarney National Park with Muckross House, Garden and Abbey is my third "Must-See". The Abbey is a medium walk from the House but we spent several very happy hours exploring and walking up and down exposed staircases, through giant sized fireplaces, among mossy graves and generally soaking up the tranquil and otherworldly atmosphere.

The House and Garden are worth the price for the tour!!! My favorite story from the tour was about one of the previous owners who lived until she was 142. The reason she died was because she was quite fond of the gentlemen and had climbed a tree to spy on one and then fell out to her death. Can you imagine!!! And it's true!

The group we were in for the tour of the house was fun. There were three people there that we had seen on our flight into Dublin and we sort of teamed up. The wine cellar, which they just kind of say, "If you'd like to take a moment to peak in, you can, but it's just a wine cellar." would put all of your Year-Supply dreams to shame! It must have been as big as my Master Bedroom! The whole place was fabulous.

And with that word (fabulous), my wholly inadequate brain is out of adjectives and so I will end. You have my top 3 stops in Ireland. One of these days I will set up some sort of slide show/site for Ireland pictures and I'll let you know where and when. Until that time, enjoy the few I did post.
You really ought to go yourself!!!! : )

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

High School or Homeschool?

I know, I know. It's been since April 1st that I've blogged last. And so much has gone on!!!

First, let's start with school. Because Celina is such a bad district, Colbey was given the choice of continuing his education at home or seeing if we could get him into the next town overs High School. (Can you believe he's in High School already?!?!?!) Colbey decided he would rather go to Prosper High School.

So at the beginning of May, I called the Prosper District to see what I needed to do to not only transfer from another district, but enter as a homeschooler. The gal that I spoke with (I gave her a nick name later that I think you'll enjoy) made it sound like it was going to be nearly impossible and that I would need to escalate my request up to the Superintendent of Prosper. I left a message but didn't hear back before I left the country.

Once I got back in mid June, I again picked up where I had left off. That's not quite true. Instead of dealing with people over the phone, I figured I would get a better response/help in person so I went down to the High School. The gal there, Mrs. Tate, was a dream! She made it sound like all would be well and of course there would be no problem because they had students come in from homeschooling all the time. All I needed to do was get District approval for the transfer and then it was a first-come-first-serve at registration day on July 20th.

Simple, huh? I thought so. In fact, I went straight from the High School to the district office and was directed to ... let's just call her Mrs. Grumpy-Pants. She informed me that because Colbey had been homeschooled, he would need to be tested to make sure he was going into the right grade. However, the person in charge of the testing was on vacation and wouldn't return until the district let out for two weeks due to the 4th of July.

I'm thinking, "OK, we still have a week and a half to get the testing done and then go before the district meeting to get approval before we need to be first in line to register." She said to be looking for a phone call the week of July 12th.

Monday, July 12th came and went. Tuesday slithered past and on Wednesday, after the two younger kiddos and I were leaving VBS, I drove straight to the district offices again. Mrs. Grumpy-Pants was again my source of information but you could tell she was not happy to be. Immediately, she started madly dialing someone,... anyone ... to take me off her hands. (I was being nice the whole time, I promise!!!) Then an angel came to my rescue! Mrs. Sent-From-Heaven came and spoke with me and Mrs. Grumpy-Pants. Mrs. Grumpy-Pants said that Colbey would need to be tested because he was homeschooled and that I didn't have any of his previous transcripts which of course they couldn't request because then they would HAVE to accept him into the district but without them they couldn't even attempt to accept hem. A vicious circle!!! At that moment, I looked at Mrs. Sent-From-Heaven and asked if I could request a copy of his transcripts myself to help the process along. She smiled and said that would be very helpful. So I did just that. I immediately went to the Celina Middle School, where last Colbey attended, and got a copy which I then took straight back to the Prosper Administration building. I left them in an envelope underneath Mrs. Sent-From-Heaven's office, knowing I would be lovingly taken care of.

The rest of that week went on without a call and by Friday, I was frantic! The Board of Educators only met on Monday's which meant that Colbey needed to be tested before the meeting in three days to be approved so that we could be first in line July 20th. So I headed, once again, to the District Building. When I got there, around 12:30, no one was there except two tech people. They let me in and I explained my situation and asked what I should do. As we were talking, another man walked in and paused to listen. They told me the only thing they could recommend was for me to call Monday morning, as soon as they opened, to talk with someone.

They weren't sure what time the meeting was, but maybe he could be tested in the morning and the meeting wouldn't be until the afternoon or evening. So I ask for the phone number, which brought blank expressions from the two tech people.
It's then that the man listening to us spoke up. He gave me the phone number and then asked what it was exactly that I was hoping to do. I explain once more and he asked, "But isn't (he used her real name but I can't remember it) Mrs. Grumpy-Pants here?" The techs said her car wasn't in the parking lot and they didn't think anyone was there except them. He told me to hold on a moment while he checked.

I could tell she was there by the murmured conversation I couldn't quite hear. I don't know who he was or what he said, but Mrs. Grumpy-Pants came walking down the hallway just moments later and handed me some paper work and said that Colbey had been approved.

We didn't have to do any testing, nor wait for the district to approve us. I began to cry and thanked her and told her that this meant so much to us.

Can you tell how stressed I had gotten? So starting at the beginning of May, it took until July 16th to be approved for Colbey to go to Prosper High School.

We were indeed the first in line at the High School the next Tuesday to register (we took camp chairs and sat at the door starting at 5:30am). At 8am, he officially became a Prosper Eagle.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hair Horror

So this began a week and a half ago. I had decided to change my hair color to closer to the original color. I just HATE dealing with the roots being so much lighter than the color I've been using for so long! So I went to the store and bought a color very close to the color that Colbey and Ryleigh have thinking this is probably close to my color now.

Now, I have a girlfriend who is a hair genius and of course I consulted her before I began. Thankfully, she let me know that I couldn't go from such a dark color to a medium color straight away. And also, because there was so much red in my hair, I would need to choose an "ash" color to compensate so the red wouldn't turn orange.

If only that were the worst that could have happened.

So I started with Chocolate Carmel hair a week and a half ago. I used a light ash brown to tone down the red. I knew it was probably not a smart idea to color again right away so I waited until we came home from our vacation.

Sunday, I woke up earlier than normal and realized I had 3 hours before I needed to leave for church and as I was looking at my hair in the mirror, I decided that it was just plain too dark to ever get to the color I wanted without having to lighten it first, so without speaking to anyone who would know better, I dug through my bathroom closet and found a box of highlights and went to work "lightening" my hair.

As I was waiting for the time to finish before I could rinse out my hair, Scott woke up and asked me if it wouldn't have been better to wait until after church to do this. I just laughed and said, "It's just hair. How much could go wrong?"

Let me tell you how much could go wrong! I rinsed out my hair and sure enough I had lightened it. I went from a VERY dark brown, to glowing yellow. NOT blonde, but GLOWING YELLOW.

Holy cow!!!! What do I do. I can't miss church because the choir is singing, and I'm playing for both special musical numbers and the organ for Sacrament Meeting.

So I do the only thing possible, I grabbed a hat from a costume I had used for a murder mystery night several years ago when I played a flapper. The black velvet hat came down securely over my entire head and covered the glowing part of my hair which left only the darker hair further down from my scalp showing.

I got lots of compliments on my hat, which I do love, and no one seemed to think anything was too out of the ordinary which is strange because I've NEVER worn a hat to church before. In fact, I can only recall a handful of times when I've worn a hat AT ALL!

So I lived with the glow for three days which I felt was enough time before I could color my hair again. (Shaundra, I'm sure I did this solely for your benefit!) So yesterday, I colored my hair AGAIN with a blonde ash color. It toned down the glow and instead of being a yellow, I was definitely a blonde now.

Why couldn't I be happy with it then?!?!?!? Why am I sooooo impatient?!?!?!??

This whole process was taking too long and I had at least two more steps to get to the color I really wanted and so instead of waiting another three days to color my hair again, I recolored my hair this morning to try and reduce the red again.

I've done stupid things in the past with my hair such as ... burning off the entire front of my hair using someone elses curling iron in Peru without a voltage adjuster, burning clumps of hair with a bad perm, etc. But NOTHING compares to this horror!!! I should have waited!

When you do something this bad, the only reaction that comes is a strange mixture of hysterical laughter and massive weeping AT THE SAME TIME!

My hair has been tortured more than it can handle and has given up. It's falling out in handfuls and I'm not sure how much will remain. I'm going (temporarily, I hope) bald. There's not much left on my head, and my head is not a beautiful round head you see on the movie stars that play bald women. It's got lumps and dips and strangely shaped patches of hair that haven't fallen out yet, not to mention the red irritated marks from over processing.
So this will be the ONLY picture I will post and will be wearing my hat ALOT until my hair grows in again.

On the sunny side, it will come in my natural color and I will NEVER color my hair again!!!

PS - Please don't call to comfort me, April Fools! All of the above story was true until the last coloring today. I know better and am waiting another week to do the next coloring. :)