Monday, September 29, 2008

What a Mess

I could sit here and blog about some mundane thing happening in my life: work, home, the cats, etc. but, the more I've been thinking about it, the more I realize I can't.

Our bank got bought out today. Pete and I have been keeping our eyes on Wachovia for quite a few months now. We've got two banks, one for our direct deposits and checking account for day to day living (i.e. bills) and the other (Wachovia) for our savings. It was announced today that Citigroup will be buying out Wachoiva's multi-billion dollar assets and bad debt. Great.  (see: Citigroup buys Wachovia bank assets for $2.2B)

On the heels of finding out about Wachovia, I just learned that the Dow closed the day down almost 800 points because the bailout talks/deal had failed.  I'm absolutely sick.

Needless to say, Pete and I are worried, very worried. We're taking care of our finances in ways that I never dreamt that we would. We're watching every dollar, both in and out. We've put away most of our credit cards and, if we don't have it in the checking account, we're not buying.  We're cutting back on groceries and have gotten ahead on our truck payment by two months. Next month we're squeezing out two mortgage payments. God only knows if we'll need those buffers or not but, it's giving us a smidgen of peace of mind.

Pete and I have been talking at great lengths about the state of the Union. Many people have their fingers in their ears and have their eyes closed. Many people say that the worst can't happen. Many people don't care, don't want to care, or don't have the means or wherewith all to care. But, we do, and we're battening down the hatches. I pray that our little ship is tight, sound, solidly built, and well maintained and can weather this storm of storms. The waves keep crashing.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thinking of Winter

It's that time of year; there's a hint of yellow in the foliage, leaves litter the yard, and the windows have been closed at night. Socks have come out of their summer hibernation and short sleeved shirts have lost their appeal.  Fall has arrived and with it comes our annual foray into the woods for the next 8 to 10 weekends.

This year, we're getting wood for not only our house but some for my brother too. Between us, we'll be cutting and splitting about 10 cords; 6 to 7 cords of wood for our house and about 3 cords for Adam's house.  We always start mid-September as it is a lot of work and takes several weekends of cutting, splitting, loading, and unloading.

This year, I'm ready! Here I am sporting my new steel-toed lady Red Wings. I love these babies!

Pete surveying a large oak that he cut down in May. It's seasoned enough and ready to be cut up. We'll burn it in January.
Our war wagon and wood hauler: A 1972 Dodge Ram in "multi-color". Beat to all hell but works like a champ in these punishing conditions. Pop and Adam fashioned an all-steel bed and removable steel sides. This baby is perfect for the tough terrains and loves to dig into a small tree or two that stands in its way.
Pop using his Bobcat to grab and transport the large tree sections. He puts these directly onto the truck. Pete and Adam will cut them up later after they've been transported to the splitting area that is up closer to the house.
This is something I certainly cannot do!  These babies weigh about 100 pounds each!
This is what my job was yesterday: I had a 17" marker that I used to mark 17 inch sections on each tree limb. I used a hack saw to saw an "X" where each cut with the chainsaw needed to go. Our stove takes 17" logs and each piece needs to be measured carefully.

Done for the day. We've transported the entire oak up to our splitting area. The next weekend that we're out, Pete and Adam will cut these pieces up into individual logs. Pop then will take each log and split it with our hydraulic splitter. While Mom runs the splitter and Pop splits, I'll pack the truck up with wood. Our truck can hold 7/8 of a cord of wood using the sides that Pete and Pop built for it.

Yes, it may seem like a lot of work, and it is but we all enjoy it as we're all outside getting exercise and delight in each other's company. I'm glad that my parents are well enough to be able to do this with us and I am especially thankful for the use of their 55 acres!  So, needless to say, Pete and I savor this time of year!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Crochet Club

I am so excited! Wednesday, October 1st will be our first club meeting.  Yes, that's right, we're starting a Crochet Club at school for all interested 4th graders. The "invitations" went home yesterday. I've already talked to a few of my students from last year and they said that they've signed up. I'm going to be one of the instructors along with two other teachers. We've set our limit to 20 participants as we're going to be teaching them how to crochet and we'll need some small groups for that.

Our club is going to be held every other Wednesday right after school for an hour. We're going to be meeting six times before Christmas vacation and we're hoping that some of the kids will be able to actually be knitting some "elementary" things by then (pardon the pun!).  The 3 of us are also hoping that come the spring, everyone will be good enough to perhaps make a granny square or two so that they all can be sewn together into an afghan. We'd love to be able to raffle something like that off at our whole school Harambe come May (that's our spring concert -- our music teacher is 23 years old and full of energy! Harambe means "come together" in Swahli).

For our first meeting, the three of us decided that we're going to show our students the crochet hooks, have them hold them in a manner that is comfortable for them, and show them all different sorts of yarns. I think too that perhaps we'll sit and do a few basic stitches just so they can see some crocheting in action. The second meeting will be all about them, their hook, and figuring out how to get the yarn to stay on the hook!  :)  

I've also been able to get $100 donated to our club from the PTO. We're going to use that to buy yarn and hooks for those children whose parents aren't able to. I think we're ready to go!  Stay tuned for a post after our first meeting! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On the Edge of School

On my drive home today, after a long and taxing day at work, I pondered what else I could do with my life instead of teach. I get these moments; moments when the profession I have chosen looks less than golden. A profession that I love but doesn't always love me back.

It was on my drive home that I began to think: what can I do with a B.A. in Child Study and an M.A. in Elementary Reading & Language Arts? Gosh, aside from teaching, nothing much really. So, I began to think about writing a book (gasp!) about teaching, our educational system, and/or a day in the life of a teacher. None of these strike me as compelling subjects but, they could be. I am not a writer, nor do I profess to be one. I am, however, a teacher in an educational system that is on the edge. 

Could this ever come to pass? Who knows. Is this a fleeting thought of a tired and stressed mind? Perhaps. Will I think like this tomorrow? Maybe. Next week? Could be. I am toying with this; a seed that may sprout like a weed or like an oak tree or like my tomato plant (going great one second, then, blah, brown limbs). We shall see....

Step one: think, ponder, think
Step two: index cards (learned this one from Anna)
Step three: graphic organizer
Step four: begin writing.....

Any thoughts dear friends?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fall Decorating

Welcome Fall!
I just love the fall months. The weather gets cooler, apples are in season (mmm.... apple crisp!), it's time for my birthday, and there are fairs galore. Another reason I love fall are the colors associated with the season.

This past weekend I decorated my kitchen table with a fall table runner (courtesy of Mom, of course!) and fall themed flower basket.
A Yankee candle votive, lamp shade, and plate in my living room.....
Also in my living room near the front door is our heirloom desk (once belonging to Pete's grandfather) with my little scarecrow and Yankee candle tart holder.
This fall themed pillow matches so nicely!
Mums! Fall decorating would not be complete without one or two of fall's favorite flowers!

Breathing slowly
Dropping leaves
Making its way toward year end.

Quiet breezes,
Falling leaves

Apple pies cooling
And wood burning.

Fall is in the air!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Erika's Baby Blanket

My dear friend Erika (sister to my dearest friend Anna) is having a baby boy (Jackson Luke) at the end of September/beginning of October. I made this stroller blanket for her so that she can wrap up her new son on these chilly fall nights.

Erika's Baby Blanket was crocheted with 5 skeins of Lion Brand Baby Soft yarn. I used one skein of Pastel Blue, one of White, one of Lemon Drop, one of Bluebell, and one of Pistachio.

The hook I used was a "J." The stitch pattern was a double crochet in a wave pattern (6 dc, sk next 2 dc, 6 dc, 3dc in next st, repeat).

Next up on my things to crochet is, of course, to finish the iPhone case, and to start another baby item!  One of my teacher friends is due in December and I am going to make her a hooded blanket out of Lion Brand's Pound of Love (white) and trim in yellow.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Lesson Learned

Here they are, my beloved Tevas.  Anyone that knows me well knows that I live in these babies all summer.
I also have, well, stinky feet. I can't help that they sweat and start to smell. You'd think that the antimicrobial rubber would help too. Umm, no. So, my Tevas always have a "smell." Yeah, I know--it's gross but I can't help it. 

So, the other day I decided to wash them. I added quite a bit of bleach to the water in my washing machine and threw them in. I then added all my whites, added more bleach into the little dispenser, and let the washer work it's magic. Once the machine was done, I threw everything (including my Tevas) into the dryer. Now, I never even thought about it. I wash sneakers and dry them in the dryer. What's the difference?

Well...... the heat from the dryer warped my Tevas. The toe part is now curling upward and the grooves on the foot part are all raised (you can see it in the picture I took of them above). I can't stand it. I thought that perhaps by walking in them it would mat things down a bit but, you guessed it, no such luck. 

Sunday afternoon Pete and I went to two local sporting good stores. One store doesn't carry Tevas anymore but carries another brand (which I tried on and didn't like at all). The other store (a big box sporting goods store which sucks) only had one type of Tevas for women in size 10 only. Great. So, thanks to the Internet, I was able to search for the exact style and color of the Tevas I wanted. (You can check out what I ended up buying by clicking HERE. I ordered the gingham black pair.) 

Lesson learned. And, of course, it was a lesson learned the hard way. Oh well. At least my new Tevas will be fresh and clean!   :)