personality


Most of you know when I visit your blog, it is sporadic and I try to catch up what I have missed. This is not because I do not feel like blogging/visiting or because I am goofing off.  It is because I am busy. Granted, much of it is self-imposed busy, but busy I am.

Last week I looked at my life since Thanksgiving, and there have been THREE days since then in which I did not have a specific deadline of something that HAD to be done on a day. Now I do not have a “real job,” so my deadlines are not usually reports or presentations; they can be anything. (For my church treasurer job, I do have reports and presentations due at least monthly, however.) It may be a Friday, and those days always mean a ton of food has to be made because I cook for Friday and Saturday on Fridays.  My point is that the things I have to get done may not seem like deadline material, but for me there is always a reason something has to be done by a specific day.

So I thought I would show you some of what I have been doing for the past three months. (It is MARCH? Christmas is just around the corner!)

It started with Chic’s birthday. Since it was the Christmas season, she requested poinsettia cupcakes for school.

There are 13 children in Chic's classroom, but her teacher refuses to do cupcakes before school is out. (What's wrong with lunch?) This irritates me because when Chic gets cupcakes for a birthday, there is never one for her sister. I made sure every sibling of every classmate had a cupcake, too. (I wanted to leave out the teacher, but I was polite.)

Remember my Elf Escapades? Here are a few things I made for that.

Clockwise from top left: Napkin rings, box to hold napkin rings, "Merry" bag for the 12th night, tree bag. I made all the things shown. I loved it, but it does put a dent into one's time.

Clockwise from top left: 1) Napkin rings. 2) Box for napkin rings. 3) "Merry" gift bag for the last night. 4) Evergreen tree gift bag.

This was the best Elf Victim yet! On the 9th or 10th night, I was met at the door by this.

Sorry for the lousy picture, but I didn't want to get caught! This was the 12th night of Elf Delivery, and the front door and garage door of this house were OPEN! I took Chic with me for the experience, but it didn't help with the stealth. On the door are all the notes I left with gifts (the notes appeared on the 9th night), and there was a gift for me, too. I have never been so wonderfully welcomed!

Next is the Christmas ornaments and boxes. Since 1995 I have made a Christmas ornament yearly. It started as a gift to the infant daughters of very close friends and has grown to a few other girls (some now in high school) like my daughters and niece and some other special friends/family (aunts, etc.).

This year I made 36 "icicles" and boxes to hold them all.

For the staff Christmas party at school, there was an ornament exchange. This is the box I made, and inside was one of my annual ornaments, left over from about 3 years back.

This box was very last-minute, but I just loved how it turned out.

This is the holiday treat we give E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. They are called pizzelles and are Italian, waffle-like cookies made in a special iron.

I can't remember how many of these we made, but I know it was over 1000. I made the first 1/3 of them, then Prince Charming did the rest. (Bless him!)

Don’t forget the school treats. I made about 30 of the ones on the left for Chic’s classmates/friends plus the kids in my class at church. (She painted the sticks.) Chicklet’s class treats were on the right. I only had to make about 10 of those.

This is one of my favorite things–a gift for my nephew. When we visited Missouri in November I learned that he (who is Chic’s age, eight) is really into seeds. I was walking around my yard one day and noticed so many seeds. I started to gather them for him, then I thought I would just make that his Christmas gift. So I made seed packets (with pictures if I had them–stamped or drawn if I did not) for all of them and instructions for growing.

I never realized how many seeds I had in my own yard!

Next is the annual gift. Last year I made “winter” banners as holiday gifts for close friends/family. This year I did “spring.” (Can you guess what it will be next year?) I made 17 of these. Each one takes 2-1/2 – 3 hours. Call me an idiot!

Another rotten picture; I was pressed for time. But the good (?) news is that I have an extra of these. If you would like to be in a drawing for it, e-mail me at louisestamps at aol dot com to let me know. You have until Monday, March 8, to e-mail me.

Let’s move to Valentine’s  Day! (We left shortly after Christmas to drop off Chic in Tennessee. I was home one day before a business trip, then 1-1/2 weeks before visiting Chic. January was a blur.) These are the boxes I assembled for my Valentine’s for all the students in my art classes.

I made up about 55 of these boxes.

These are the cookies that went in the boxes above. VERY. BAD. to have these things in my house! Very bad!

I have no idea how many cookies I made, but it was about 8 or 9 batches. (I did double/triple batches in the mixer so I cannot remember.)

These are boxes I made for special people such as my friend in TN who is taking care of Chic and some special people at church. I made them from flat, chipboard hearts.

I made 8 of these boxes.

Something had to go in these boxes, so I made homemade truffles. It was a first for me. Slightly time-consuming, but really no more so than anything else I do.

The dark ones are Oreo truffles and the light ones are Italian truffles.

As I was making the heart boxes above, I kept thinking of other people for whom I would like to make some. The problem was that I only had chipboard hearts to make eight. But I had regular chipboard, so I die-cut square scallops to make four more boxes.

The left one was for someone VERY into brown, so it does not look much like Valentine's Day.

There were also quite a number of Valentine treats for classmates of which I forgot to take pictures.

The below items are also for special people for Valentine’s Day. They are super fuzzy socks wound to resemble ice cream. I made “cones” for them and packaged them. I also put chocolate oil on them. One recipient still has not opened hers because she thinks it is so cute. I made 18 of the bigger ones for adults and 6 of the smaller ones for children.

Clockwise from top left: 1) All of the socks put into their "cones." 2) The finished packages. 3) Notice the finished packages have "sprinkles on the cones. I made them by punching out holes. 4) This is some of the paper left over after the punching.

Being so industrious means that eventually the holidays will slow down and I can move on to other things. The next two are “name frames” I made for girls I visited a year ago. I took pictures of their rooms and just now got around to making the 8″ x 10″ art for them.

Clearly Kendra's mom is good at decorating!

Kayla is Kendra's older sister who had just redecorated her own room. (The decorating thing must be genetic.)

Just last weekend Chicklet was invited to a birthday party. She could not go because CHIC IS HOME FOR SPRING BREAK THIS WEEK!!!!!!! But I made a container quickly to take on Friday and filled it with craft items. I thought it turned out well.

This is a large canister that used to hold SlimFast. I love the size of these so I collect them to decorate at such times.

This week I am not doing anything of the sort because CHIC IS HOME FOR SPRING BREAK!!!! We have had several other activities already and have more on the agenda.

If you comment, be honest with me. Tell me if you love this or hate it. Tell me if you think I am insane. If you knew me in real life, would all of the above make you love me or love to hate me? (Your answers do not matter that much because I do these things because I love to do them, but I am interested in perceptions. I have all viewpoints in my “real life” acquaintances.)

Next projects? Easter!

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Note: All the pictures in the post go with the second part of the post.

“On the first day of Christmas an Elf gave to me…..

“OK, this technically is not the first day of Christmas, but this Elf has no idea if you are going to be around for 12 days starting on the actual first day of Christmas.

“You have been selected by an Elf for a corny, yet hopefully fun, 12 days of Christmas.  This is not intended to match the song (where am I going to get 12 Lords a’ Leaping?), or even loosely match it.  It will be possibly holiday related stuff based on the whim of this Elf.

“SO…..

“On the first day of Christmas an Elf gave to me……

“One flaming candle (you have to make it flame for obvious reasons).”

The above is the first note in this Elf’s “Twelve Days of Christmas” series. The Elf is beginning her 4th year of this mischief, and she is already having a splendid time.

I know a lot of people do this, but I think more should get into it. Each time I have done it, all but once I have somehow seen a little of how fun it was for the recipients, and I am sure it is WAY more fun for me! I usually pick someone I know only barely know so they would never suspect it is me.

What kinds of things do I use? For me,  usually things useful around the holidays. Tonight will be “Two Packs of Gift Tags.” There will also be “Five Pounds of  Sugar,” “Ten Pounds of Flour” and “Twelve Rolls of Toilet Paper.”  For the boring gifts, I try to add something fun (like for 11 eggs, I fill the empty space with an ornament) or have nice packaging for it that they can re-use. Some of the things are just fun like “Four Christmas Candies” and “Seven Packs of Hot Chocolate.” Some change each year based on things I find that I like. (Christmas Crackers, Place Card Holders, Napkin Rings, etc.)

Although this is a mostly Christian neighborhood, I really do not think non-Christians would be offended by this. Am I wrong? (I do not make this a religious thing by any means anyway.) My other questions to you are: 1) Have you ever done this? 2) If you have, what kinds of things have you done for different days? (Or if you haven’t, what are some things you can think of that would be good ideas for the different days.)

My other Elvish holiday practice just began this year. I have planned to do it for two years prior, but was very sick both years and just did not manage to get it done.

Here is the letter that goes with the basket shown in the pictures in this post:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SPREAD THE CHEER BASKET

Just a little holiday hello to make you smile.

Please spread this to another neighbor very soon. Here’s what you do:

-Take a holiday sticker and stick it to your doorbell. This means you have received the basket and no one else will give it to you again.
-Keep what you want from the basket. Please don’t hesitate to keep all of it if you like the things and can use them!
-Refill the basket with a few holiday items. Make it all new, or put back some things that came in the basket that you can’t use. (I wanted to include something homemade in this, but since you don’t know who gave it to you, I thought you might be uncertain about that. Remember that when passing it on.)
Please don’t forget to put this paper back in the basket so the next person knows what to do!
Please don’t forget to put the stickers back in the basket as well!
-Leave it on a neighbor’s doorstep—preferably at a time when they won’t see you!

If everyone is speedy about this, there can be a LOT of people in this neighborhood that have had the little basket of cheer. Keep it going through Christmas!  (Maybe the last person to get it will start it over for next year!)

If you do not want to/cannot participate, please go ahead and put the sticker on your doorbell so you won’t get it again, and just pass the basket as is to another neighbor.

Have a Happy Holiday Season!

Love,
A Neighbor!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I know this is not unique to this Elf, either. My other questions for this are: 1) Have you done this or received such a thing? 2) What other fun Elvish things do you do for the holidays?

If some of you lived closer, you can bet I would be sneaking to your house right before I go to bed!

Note: I am only telling you this because I blog anonymously and most of you live so far away that you cannot tell on me. For those few of you who know me in real life, I am sure I can trust you to keep my secret.

The photos below have nothing to do with this post. I had no pictures to put with the post, so I just took a series that I was pretty sure would never make it to SkyWatch Friday. This is a sunrise about 3 weeks ago. The pictures were taken within about two minutes and I think include the view from every direction from my house.

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click photo to enlarge

Before I started blogging, I hesitated quite a long time to do it, even though pressured to do it by two of my cousins. The main reason was time. I  knew I did not have time. I still do not, as evidenced by my irregular posting and visiting. But another reason is that I thought it was a bit narcissistic. I thought WHO CARES about the daily happenings of anyone else.  Before I dove in myself, I spent several months reading other blogs. I realized they are not all self-absorbed. (I do not read the ones that I think are.)

However, I have been thinking about my blog lately because one fairly regular reader and commenter once said something like “whatever your blog is about.”  I laughed (I often laugh at his comments; he has a wonderful sense of humor whether or not he means to be humorous.) because it is true.  My blog has no theme. I knew it would not, but it is glaringly apparent when compared to the blogs I visit. Most could be categorized as something. Mine cannot. It is about me. It does not get much more narcissistic than that. And this post will probably be the worst yet. Thank you to all you who come here even though the topics are so varied and there might be three sentences one visit and an epistle the next. And for putting up with me.

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click photo to enlarge

Today I did not really want to say anything about September 11 because so many others have. I also find it irritating how something so tragic that drew a nation together for a few days (or an afternoon?) is now often used in a political sense to tear it apart. (Certainly not everyone, but I have seen plenty of  “Remember 9/11, and be sure you remember why this event makes me right in my political opinions.” I have seen this from opposing viewpoints. Can we just remember a tragedy without being disparaging?) I rarely mention politics in  this space because I hate politics. I hate extremes. I think all sides have extremes. I think the extreme left and the extreme right both want to take away freedom–just in different ways that appeal only to them. (My viewpoints make both sides upset, so if I really got into this, I would likely alienate my entire readership.)  I hate statements that have little other purpose than to be inflammatory. I hate it when people can dish it out but cannot take it.  So I choose to avoid the topic entirely–most of the time. Which is why I was going to avoid any mention of 9/11.  But something compelled me to tell my part of that day’s story. I was pregnant with Chic. I was at work. The tiny television in the Conference Room was on for people to watch the horrific scene over and over. (I am personally not a fan of watching the same tragedy over and over.) Then the Pentagon was hit. Just a couple of weeks before that Prince Charming had been doing an internship at the Pentagon. (Leaving my pregnant self home alone much of the summer.) What was horrible before was real then. But real for me was not, and will never be, what real was for the people who lived and worked  in New York City and Washington, D.C. on that day or who lost someone. They know real. The rest of us just speculate.

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click photo to enlarge

In my car today, on the way to drop off some stamps and to pick up Chic, I suddenly started crying about my mother. There is  nothing special about today in relation to her, but maybe I was thinking about the 9/11 loss. Chicklet was talking to me, and I could not even speak. When I started blogging, I thought I would write a lot about my mother. About her life. About her death. About her 10-year dying process. But I have written very little. Some days I want to just unload it all. But part of me is afraid. The few times I  have discussed her before, the reactions have not been at all what I expected. My reason for wanting to share her story has to do with lessons learned. It is not about me at all. I do not want sympathy or consoling words. I want people to understand what happened and why. I guess I do not know how to say it in a way to make people understand, or else I am not ready. But today, I missed her.

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click photo to enlarge

Last Friday (or Saturday, I don’t remember when it went up) I did a post and said I would see you on Monday. I did not. The day had several totally unexpected things happen (I spent most of the day in front of the computer working on things for Art Class), but ended well (and also unexpectedly) with an afternoon/evening with our “gaming friends” playing Settlers of  Catan–Cities and Knights. (And have been behind blogging since.)

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click photo to enlarge

Now for some more random (and hopefully lighter than the first two sections) things…

1– I  have decided I do not like cooking much right now. Nothing has changed, really, but I get SO. MUCH. ACCOMPLISHED on days I do not cook. I am great at multi-tasking, but I think I hate it. When I cook, I want to focus on cooking. When I cannot focus on it, I think I would rather not do it at all.

2– Our electricity has been flashing lately for every thundercloud that goes over. I realize this is common in some parts of the country (southern Missouri, for example), but it is not common here. And it is starting to get on my nerves because I am at a computer so much of the time.

3– I have two times a day when I can think–really think. Those times are when I exercise and when I cook. (And cooking might involve so many other things that it does not count.) But I am thinking about a post relating to my aerobic activity which is biking (usually to school, but sometimes in the neighborhood). It will mostly be a rant, but I cannot get it out of my head.

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click photo to enlarge

4– My husband is gone. He will be gone most of the weekend at a seminar related to his position at church. I hate it when he is gone. (For many reasons not the least of which he is not here to have water boiling on the stove to add to my bath when it gets cold–because I do not like running water in the tub because the wait for hot water is too long.)

5– Tonight’s bath is scented with Black Amethyst from Bath and Body Works. I was not into that scent much during the heat of summer, but I am liking it a lot again now. (Have I told you how absolutely glorious September is in this part of the country?)

6– My biggest project of the week has been doing my taxes. No, not estimated quarterlies, but the ones that were due on April 15. The last few years we have filed for extensions (even though we always get money back) because I do not have time to do them (and Prince Charming, forgive me, is useless in this area). But they have NEVER been this late. If I were married to Daryl (which I think is impossible because neither of us are lesbians, though neither of us oppose them and their relationships, and who also has a wonderful 9/11 post today), she would have divorced me by now for how long this has taken. Prince Charming is just happy he does not have to bother with financial things.

7– I really, really, REALLY do not like word verification on Blogspot. Really.

8– When I grow up, I want to be her.

2009-08-23_08-07-04

PaperCake
Today is someone’s birthday. Not mine. I never talk about my birthday. But I love to talk about others’ birthdays. And today, Donald Kinney from A Photo A Day (and some other terrific blogs) is 62!
Kitty would make something like this for Don if she could.

Kitty would make something like this for Don if she could.

If you have never been to his place, GO. NOW! He lives near San Francisco and is one of my very favorite photographers. He gets great images from the city, and many more from surrounding areas. My favorites are usually his captures of wildflowers, but he makes art of anything.  Worth the visit. Tell him Happy Birthday, and send him some virtual cookies!

Cookies

For some randomness, I first need to clarify two things from this post. First, Chic is 7. I said she was 8. She will be 8 in a few months. I am not even sure what made me think she was 8 when I was typing, except that all the cousins  “her age” are already 8.

The second thing is that the picture of the bike wreck was a re-enactment without Chicklet in the trailer. I actually had my camera with me when the crash occurred. (I am lucky it did not get banged up.) But when my dramatic, overreacting girl is silent and not moving after a potentially bad accident, a camera is not what I am thinking about. So when I decided to tell the story, I tipped over the trailer after a later bike ride–after Chicklet was out–to get a picture. (She was all too happy to not actually be in it when I did that.)

And thanks for all of your kind wishes. For something so bad, it really was fine.

My last piece of randomness today is about tomatoes. I love home-grown tomatoes, and I grow them every year. My climate is not conducive to this, and the last two years I have not gotten any to speak of until mid-August. This is just wrong, but I continue because I need them, if only for a short while. And by now–only two weeks later, the nights are getting cool enough that they are already slowing production. I barely get enough to use for ourselves, definitely not enough to can, and rarely enough to give away. BUT… I LOVE to give away tomatoes. It makes people happy, and that makes me happy.  So I thought you might like to see this.

TomatoBag

Since I do not have that many to give away, only 4-6 at a time (plus a couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes), I decided to put them in cute bags. I made a bunch of these so when I have tomatoes, they are ready to go. This makes me even happier.

Now about a different me. This was me a while back.

LongHair-March

I have been getting more and more tired of my long hair. I love it when I do something with it, but it takes more and more work to do that. Drying time if I style it is 45 minutes – 1 hour. (If I do not style it? Pretty much all day to dry.)  Needless to say, my schedule does not accommodate this regularly, so usually I just let it go. Some days are better than others, but the low humidity that makes every day a good hair day when I style it makes most days bad hair days when I do not. So for a while I have been thinking about cutting it off. But it was long enough that I wanted to make sure I could donate what was cut, and I was not sure it was QUITE long enough for that, so I was waiting.

But it kept bugging me. I finally decided to do it this fall. I was getting my hair trimmed last week. I would talk to the hair dresser about it and hopefully plan to do the big chop at my next visit.

But I went in for the trim, and my hairdresser, whose hair has been similar to mine since I met her, had CUT HER HAIR! While waiting I squirmed in my chair. I LONGED to have mine cut. But I had made no preparations. It might not be long enough. I did not have ponytail holders. Maybe I should wait and try to do it somewhat publicly to raise awareness and money for the cause?

So I sat in her chair and she said, “The usual trim?” I spilled my story, culminating with HER hair. She said she was SURE mine was long enough to donate. (10 inches for one place, 12 inches for another.) I asked if she had ponytail holders. She’s a hairdresser, of course she did!

So she made two ponytails and braided them. Just to be sure she measured them. TWELVE INCHES! Then she cut them off.

CutHair

This is me now.

ShortHair

I did this 1-1/2 weeks a go. A few people who know me in real life might be surprised to see this. The crazy thing? I hate attention… HATE. IT. I sort of like being noticed, but hate attention. (How whacked is that?) So cutting twelve inches off my hair is a sure way to avoid attention, right? The only thing I really regret is that since this was on a whim, I did not have a chance to take a good picture of my hair from the back. If I started today, it would take about five years to get it back to the length it was. The braids were in the mail to Locks of Love the next morning. It is in my past. I am happy.

When I met Prince Charming, my hair was about the same length as it was before I cut it. We lived a long way from each other and only saw each other about once a month. After a few months I cut it quite similarly to how it is now and did not tell him. It was a test of sorts–to see if he would flip out because so many shallow men demand “their women” have long hair. He passed the test. In fact, he loved it. I obviously did not tell him it was happening this time, either, since I did not know myself. But he loved it again. He’s a keeper.

Rock

This post is in response to a prompt from Kelly at *Weekly Anamnesis.*  I have not done this in a while, but I enjoy writing something that comes to mind from her word prompts. Today I am using this week’s word,  “Savor.”  Anyone is welcome to use her prompts.  Just go there and follow the instructions. I love to see what different people write about the same word prompt.

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One of the things I savor is good chocolate. This is a bit annoying to me because before I was pregnant with Chicklet, chocolate was not really my thing. Most of the time it still is not, but good chocolate candy is something to be savored. (Or inhaled.)

Another thing to savor is a perfect first kiss. It has been a very long time since I had a first kiss, but I believe the memory of a good one will last a lifetime. I have one such memory in my vault, and the memory seems almost like being there again. This is a good thing to savor.

JustWater

But today I will talk about savoring the lake. I am a lake girl. This did not happen to me until I was in college because until then I never spent much time at the lake. But something inside of me always craved water. Although I have lived most of my life in very land-locked locations, the ocean has an unbelievable draw for me. I feel like I own it and it owns me. But the lake is a little different. I spent so little time at lakes as a child because my parents were poor, very poor. As my luck would have it, however, they gradually increased their wealth, then quickly increased it, so by the time I was in high school, they would have been considered rich by many. Let me tell you there is no better time than high school to have “rich” parents. This did not mean they showered me with material things (they did not), but they visited me a lot (I was in a boarding school) and took my friends and I out to eat when they did. Anywhere we wanted to go.

Wakeboard

By college my parents had probably reached the peak of their wealth. (My dad is poor again, by the way. It is the way of owning one’s own business in an uncertain economy in an even more uncertain business market.) By this time their money had little affect on me other than that it helped foot the college bill. And they bought a boat.

The boat meant that we spent many weekends at the lake. It was a pontoon boat. Not glamorous, but in my estimation the perfect thing–floating dock to go park anywhere desired, then play from that. I never learned to water ski, but we did have many things we pulled behind that boat. I remember the first weekend at the lake, after school started, but when I was finished with college. HOW I savored the fact that I was on the water and not in a city six hours away getting an education!

Tube

When I was 30, I found myself single after being married. I lived next door to two very young, very hot police officers who took me under their wing.  That needs to be a post of its own, but they taught me more and gave me more inner strength through that time than anyone else ever could have. One of the things they did was get me back into the habit of going to the lake most weekends. They convinced me to borrow my dad’s pontoon boat and made me learn to drive it, and even it park it by myself in the very. narrow. slip. They had Sea Doos. They did not teach me to ride them, but to rip up the water with them. It was not long before my enthusiasm made my dad decide to purchase two Sea Doos of his own. My family went to the lake every three or four weeks, but I went nearly every weekend. My police officer friends made me pull the trailer with the Sea Doos and learn to efficiently back them into the water. I really hated that part because if I goofed at all, it took extra time, and people might be waiting, but they refused to do it for me.  (If those guys are not fathers already, they will make great ones someday! They remind me a lot of my dad, except they were a few years younger than me.)

Tube2

Until this time in my life, I savored the lake, but I did not realize how much more there was to savor!  The three of us (and sometimes a cousin of mine and girls-of-the-week of theirs) would go to the lake early on  Sunday morning and not come back until dark. We had a specific  cove where we liked to park the pontoon boat, then we spent the day “tearing up the water” and just savoring life on the water. There was specific, savory food for these trips which included Wal Mart chicken (only good when spending a day on the lake, but ambrosia in that circumstance) and my homemade salsa. We played cards, read books, talked, napped, explored the lake and just looked at the beauty around us. Evening would  come. The lake would calm, and we would savor it all the more. Life is good on the lake… more than good. Sometimes we drove the boat/Sea Doos back across the lake in near-darkness and got home way too late, but it was worth every second.

Looking

My life-saving police officer boys moved away, and I lost all contact with them. Prince Charming (on the scene while they still lived near us) and I moved to New Mexico. There are not a lot of lakes here, but on Independence Day weekend, some friends took us to a wonderful lake three hours away. It was a time to be savored. There is just NOTHING like being on the lake.

Chair

SkippingRocks

So last week we were in Salt Lake City. I have been there many times due to my stamping conventions, but I had never seen the lake other than from the air when flying in. We went to Antelope Island in the lake to look around. I was prepared for an ugly, smelly lake. I was so wrong. It was indeed a bit smelly, but mostly just when we were on the causeway to the island. I have smelled worse things to be certain! But it was not ugly.

SaltLake

We hiked on a path that crested in a field of large boulders. (I will do at least one My World post on this.) My girls love to play in/on boulders.  I climbed the biggest one I could find. I did nothing more than savor the experience. The day was mostly cloudy, but warm. There was a breeze that was perfect. It was refreshing and blew the hair off my face, but did not whip it around into my face.  The shadows and the reflections were perfect. The water was an icy blue color. My husband asked if I needed to be in a lake to enjoy it. The answer was “no.” We never even made it to the beach. We sat and played on the boulders for an undetermined amount of time, and savored every second of the view. And now that I have been there? You bet I will go back the next time I am in town to stamp! Until then, I remember the gentle breeze and savor the memory.

SL~Girls

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There are not many types of birds that frequent my back yard on a regular basis.

Mourning Doves

Mourning Doves

What I do get are mourning doves, pigeons (which I have finally given up trying to rid my yard of), hummingbirds, Bullock’s Orioles and House Finches. (This is for the present. The winter mix is a bit different.)

PigeonsThere is also an occasional roadrunner, as well as the occasional hawk which finds the bird feeders a place to find a sure lunch. (The hawk rarely succeeds, but I have seen it score a time or two.)

Roadrunner-I love Roadrunners!

Roadrunner-I love Roadrunners!

By far, the House Finches are the most plentiful birds to frequent our feeders.

Typical of the amount of House Finches swarming around the feeder

Typical of the amount of House Finches swarming around the feeder

Our pets include two cats and a dog. One cat is a bird hunter. I argue with myself over my feeding birds to “lure them in” for my cat to catch. But the fact is that the only ones she catches are House Finches. Why is this? The birds are not very smart. This does not mean that I do not try to deter her, chasing the birds away when I see she is in stalking mode, or trying to save the ones she gets (a couple a week, but the death rate is very low), but sometimes I think they have it coming. (I realize how stupid I am to make such a statement online. If you want to yell at me about animals, go somewhere else. No one loves animals more than I do.)

SirenStalking

This is my bird stalker. A finch is less than two feet from her in front of the green bush.

House Finches eat anything. This includes the hummingbird food and the oriole food. I do not really mind this, but one component of oriole food is grape jelly. Finches to not have the intelligence to eat it delicately, so they get it all over themselves. I have seen them stuck to the feeder (no pictures–when I see this, my first thought is to rescue them), and have seen them bouncing around the yard because grape jelly is all over them.  So I catch them (because they pass out when under stress–also making it easy for the cats to catch them), and give them a bath.

Finch with grape jelly stuck to various parts of its body.

Finch with grape jelly stuck to various parts of its body.

Finch "passed out" so it is no problem for me to catch.

Finch "passed out" so it is no problem for me to catch.

Bathing a finch to get the sticky jelly off of it.

Bathing a finch to get the sticky jelly off of it.

What I have learned in the process of saving all these House Finches this summer is that most of them are babies. Many cannot fly at all. There are no parent birds around. Just babies kicked out to make it on their own in a world of cats and grape jelly. Babies that would not survive if a giant human were not around to rescue them over and over. What are those parent finches thinking???

Then there are the Bullock’s Orioles. Unlike the House Finch youth who appear to get kicked out of the nest before they can even fly, the orioles feed their young when they are fully capable of feeding themselves and fly well. The orioles teach their young where to find food and how to get it.

Male Bullock's Oriole feeding offspring. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Male Bullock's Oriole feeding offspring. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Male Bullock's Oriole feeding two offspring and showing them how to use the oriole feeder.

Male Bullock's Oriole feeding two offspring and showing them how to use the oriole feeder.

Two young Bullock's Orioles at the oriole feeder where they made complete pigs of themselves.

Two young Bullock's Orioles at the oriole feeder where they made complete pigs of themselves.

So what does this have to do with human parenting?

A couple of weeks ago I was in a staff meeting at my daughter’s school.  When I learned they were extending the school day by half-an-hour, I had to speak up.

Let’s just say I have huge issues with homework. I am not opposed to children bringing home the occasional (infrequent) homework because they did not complete their work in school (largely due to misuse of time) or a project, but schools have our kids for 7 or more hours a day. Tell me why they cannot get work finished then? I do not believe in homework just for the sake of it. Last year my daughter had spelling homework. I begged the teacher to give it to the students at the beginning of the day so they could work on it during their down time at school. This never happened. Most kids have time if they use it wisely. So during this discussion I raised my hand and said I would have to strongly object to homework if the school day were half-an-hour longer.  Her teacher’s response was, “You are the only parent who does not want her children to have homework. Most parents beg for more.”

WHAT????

My incredulity was apparent. The replies were that parents do not know what to do with their children at home, so they want them to have more homework.

So it made me think of the birds.  The House Finches seem to be the type of parents as some of the parents of children in my school. They have babies, send them to school and think their job is over. (Without me, at least twenty House Finch babies would be dead this summer.)

Forgive me if I see myself more as a Bullock’s Oriole parent. I have children, I spend time with them, I teach them things like responsibility and how to act (not that they always do it perfectly). I truthfully love summer and vacations because our schedule is more relaxed and we can do more things. This is not to say that I spend every second with my children.  I NEVER play with my kids. I never have. OK, a little at the park (rare) and games and in the  yard. But not once have I sat down and played dolls or Barbie’s with them. (I would probably have to shoot myself from the boredom.) They do those things on their own. They have lots of play time. But our together time is structured. We practice school subjects. We do crafts and art . Science projects. Exercise. Cook. Read. Once in a great while watch movies. My kids do not watch television at all or have any video games. (They do watch a short educational video daily during my shower.)  During the summer about 2-3 hours per day of my time is spent directly with my kids. The rest of the day they know very well how to entertain themselves.  Why? Because I taught them to do that.

This week's art project. These are "hipps" based on a 4000-year-old Egyptian sculpture. (I use books. I do not come up with this stuff on my own!)

This week's art project. These are "hippos" based on a 4000-year-old Egyptian sculpture. (I use books. I do not come up with this stuff on my own!)

This is not me being self-righteous or condemning parents who parent differently than I do. My choice of activities is personal to our family, but children are not just creatures to be ignored in hopes someone else teaches them (or saves them from the cat). Just don’t ask the school to oversee your children (extra homework) during the after-school hours and vacations. I do not want that for my children or my family. We have plenty to do here without busywork from school.

And I realize that working parents have a different kind of time with their children than I do since I am a stay-at-home mom. But all I can say is that if I were working and had just a couple of hours daily with my children, I would not want them to be doing homework during that time.

Note: This is not an attack on anyone. I know most of my readers with school-age children are amazing parents. This is more about me, my opinions and why I have those opinions.

Two days ago it was my “Blogiversary.” There was another post scheduled for that day, and I do not get terribly wrapped up in these things, so I did not say anything. But I want to say something now because I will do a giveaway, and I LOVE to do giveaways!

But first, you must endure some of my chatter mostly about our trip. It will be a hodgepodge as this blog has seemed to be over the past year. (Or you can skip to the giveaway stuff at the end!)

Chic~Turtle

Chic found a turtle just as we were headed to church. Since turtles are not common in our world, I HAD to let her play with it a few minutes. (We were late to church.)

We were almost 2 weeks in Missouri. (It WAS two weeks if we count the travel days.) When I make these trips, the purpose for them is for my business, but that only takes a day. The rest of the time I visit family and friends, shop (I hate shopping and rarely do it here, but there are necessities so I do it in Missouri where I have more time, and the stores I like are closer) and maybe spend a day or two in Branson. (My dad loves to take us to Branson.) But this trip was a little different.

Remember Grandma D and on her birthday she was in the hospital after a botched surgery? Well, that has not gone well. She almost died three separate times since that surgery. (Needless to say, they are not paying any of the medical bills.) I realized right away that it was going to be a burden for us to be there so long, so I decided to do the cooking and some cleaning. Prince Charming scanned some of my recipes, e-mailed them to me and that’s what I did most of the time. I did not cook EVERY day, but quite a bit, and made enough that they should have had plenty for at least a week after we left. We did not go shopping the entire time. That was fine, but there were a few things I needed.

Scissortail Flycatcher on wire--click photo to enlarge

Scissortail Flycatcher on wire--click photo to enlarge

The girls and I drove to Missouri not long after school was out, then Prince Charming flew in after two weeks. He was there one full day, but we had lunch with a former professor of his that day and planted two letterboxes. One is in honor of the Scissortail Flycatcher that we always used to see on a road on which we lived. I took my bike on this trip in hopes for some exercise (moderately successful) and found the bird in two other areas I had never seen before. My camera lens is not made to get good bird shots, but these are not bad. I like the still one, and the other one is a bit blurry, but you can at least see the tail action. It is so interesting to watch them fly.

Scissortail Flycatcher in flight -- click photo to enlarge.

Scissortail Flycatcher in flight -- click photo to enlarge.

It also must be noted that I have wonderful friends in Missouri. During the two weeks I was there, my children were whisked away from me four times (in addition to the two times I needed babysitting), and three of those times included overnight stays. (It gives a parent pause to think about the advantages of moving back to the land of heat and humidity–and no job for my husband!)

My brother and his wife also live there. His wife is who went to Silver Dollar City with us. We could not have survived the day without her! But since my girls are never in Missouri on their birthdays, they decided to have a birthday party for them. The girls were so excited, and it turned out to be a surprise for yours truly as well, since MY birthday is never when we visit! Wasn’t that thoughtful?

BirthdayCake~Candles

During all the cooking I sliced my finger with a very. sharp. vegetable peeler. I am no wimp, but this was a bad cut. WARNING! GORY PHOTO AHEAD. I’LL LEAVE SOME SPACE SO YOU CAN SKIP IT IF YOU WANT. It was about 3/4″ long, 3/16″ wide and 1/8″ deep. It bled like crazy. I finally managed a bandage and antibiotic cream, and the picture is of it after two days of this. There was barely any healing at this point.

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The reason I am even telling you this is because Grandma D had a liquid bandage which I put applied on the 3rd day. I did not take pictures of the healing progression (I really am not a very good blogger, but I will say that I have other things going on all of the time), but in ONE day the cut had reduced in size by more than half. Three days later, it was all but healed. Now I can just barely see where it was, and I do not even think it is going to leave an ugly scar. (Bump. I really don’t care about scars, but I have a bump on a finger from a childhood cut.) This blog is NOT about product endorsements, but if you have never tried this stuff, it is SO worth it! I made Prince Charming buy some. I think it will also be great in our dry, dry winters when our fingers have big, ugly cracks in them. Oh, it hurts like the dickens to put it on if the wound is as bad as mine was, but if you do a little Lamaze breathing, you can survive, and it will be well in no time. (I know this is not a new item, and I had heard of it but never tried it because I had no idea how well it worked.)

LiquidBandage

Time for the giveaway information!

First, I do not like to do this to get more traffic or comments, so you are required to E-MAIL ME if you want to be entered! Just e-mail louisestamps at aol dot com and let me know you want to enter. (Please put “giveaway” in the subject line.)  There will be two winners. Prince Charming will draw names, and the first one has first choice of what s/he wants.  The other person will get what is left. (But I do not make slouchy things, so I think that is OK, and it is free, OK?)

Here is an idea of the prizes:

1) Handmade cards. There will be these four, but I will probably throw in a couple of others for which I did not immediately have samples.

4Cards

2) A Banner. But not this one or one even like it, but you get the idea. I have not made it yet, and I decided to wait because the winner can pick the colors (within reason). It will be a “SUMMER” banner (NOT “MERRY”). It is a home decor item–large enough to fit over a double window or in a hallway. Each pennant is about 6″ wide and 9″ long. (I did not measure, but am doing this from a memory. I am too lazy at the moment to get out something to measure.)

MerryBanner

You have a week, through Wednesday, July 1, to e-mail me. If these things do not interest you, but you think they might interest someone you know, consider entering to give as a gift.

I am also thinking of adding a third prize, but you can tell me if you would be interested. I am not a great photographer. I take some very good pictures, but I do not edit them (other than occasional cropping when I am not too lazy) and I have still not figured out all the manual settings on my camera. I hesitate to do this one because I am so small in a big photography world. But I know a few have really liked some of my pictures. So I could also make a set of cards from my pictures. If you want to enter and that interests you, let me know. It could be a “Louise’s choice” thing, or the winner could choose from pictures I have posted.

OK, I think that’s it for today. But I forgot to tell you THANK YOU for hanging with me for a year. I went back and read a few of my first posts, and many of my readers are the same. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that you come and read the drivel things I write and look at my photos. If it were not for you, I know I would have quit blogging entirely the couple of times I have had to take extended breaks due to my crazy schedule. YOU keep me coming back! Thank you.

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