Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Froggy's books

I made a comment on Bob's Sustainability blog the other day, which he appreciated. I thought I should give credit where it was due.

Our friend, Joe, has written a couple of books now. They are very helpful and well-written. I just wish I knew what happened to my copy of the first one, since he autographed it for us. We are also in the acknowledgements for that one :)

  • Tibetan Wisdom for Western Life

  • I read the first one, but not the second yet. If you click the links, you can read the nice reviews people have given (including one by Shoo!!).

    The second book is called
    Eastern Wisdom for Western Life.

    Saturday, January 27, 2007

    Kid Parties

    Last weekend, Connor was invited to go to a classmates bowling & pizza birthday party. It was a nice little card with an RSVP and the mom had written the details. The trouble is we only saw the invitation in his backpack on Monday, and the party was already on Saturday. Dang. He likes bowling & pizza.

    This week, there was a little note to Connor from a little girl in his class. She'd folded a piece of paper in half and written an invitation to come to her skating party "this Saturday" from 1:00 to 3:00. There was no RSVP, and no adult influence on the paper at all. I'm not sure whether there really *is* a party, or if it is just wishful thinking on the girl's part.

    In any case, Lee got his skates out from under the house (hopefully there aren't any spider nests in there) and he took Connor to the skating rink with a little Dollar Tree gift for the girl (in case she's actually there). They are still gone at 2:00, so they are at least enjoying skating regardless of a party or not.

    I really should come up with an idea for Connor's birthday. It would be fun to have his classmates come to a party for him... He's starting to get this whole idea of parties & such now.

    Wednesday, January 24, 2007

    The Mighty Keight

    So, last night in game it came to our collective attention that Keight (my character) is the highest level in the group. Now, personally, I think having the healer be better able to heal is a good thing, but Lee mentioned I should probably not have Keight logging out in the Inn, where she'll get double the xp next time she plays again. This way everyone else will be better able to catch up.

    I had leveled her up in order to be able to make the silk packs, because the recipe wasn't available until she hit a certain level. Now I guess I'll just have her do her grey quests and not earn the xp (just the money) for those.

    In truth, I'm exploring the new races more anyway - so it's not like I'm playing Keight when we're not doing our bi-weekly quests with the gang.

    I only log her in to check for mail so she can do her tailoring stuff. Now, however, everything she makes is too high a level for anyone to use, so I don't really need to do that either.

    And completely off this subject, what happened to Joe's Blog? It won't log in for me anymore. :(

    Monday, January 22, 2007

    Liberty, good dog

    A couple of years ago, we adopted a dog from friends of ours who were moving. We had watched her a few times when they were out of town or whatever, and she was a really sweet dog. She likes to smile and show her teeth.

    Her name is Liberty, and she's about 3-4 years old now. She's a mutt from the pound, and looks like she has Australian Shepard and something else - black fur with brown spots over the eyes and some light patches on her chest, under her hind legs & paws. She has a very soft double coat of fur. Her ears are floppy and her tail fans up in a curl. She has a very even temperament, and is mostly quiet and passive. She won't go into the carpet areas of the house, because she knows she's not allowed. She will patrol the kitchen at night, but will leave a plate with food alone (leftovers from a later snack for Connor).

    She loves to run and is good at hopping on her hind legs. She can "shake" and sit well. She doesn't roll over though. Liberty is Diana's escort every day on her paper route. Diana thinks she's a wuss, because she hides her tail between her legs when another dog approaches, but both Lee & I think she'd get over that pretty quickly if she thought Diana was being threatened.

    I had heard before that having a dog can be very benefical to kids with Autism. It's supposed to help them to feel loved, no matter how the world is treating them. Trevor & Connor both get along with Liberty very well (like most people) but the dog is really a girl's dog. Diana & I are definitely her favorites family members. If we're all in the yard, and calling to the dog - she will come to me over everyone else - Diana second. I think it's because I feed her most regularly :)

    Lee is the Alpha Male at our house. Liberty will skulk away from Lee if he's coming her way. She will go out the dog door if it's open, just hearing his footsteps. She cowers a bit before him, even though he's never done anything to her. More likely, before she made it to the pound, she was abused by a man with light-colored hair. We have seen her act the same way toward blonde or red-haired men (not Trevor though - he wasn't old enough yet to be scary to her when she met him). In any case, Lee can never complain that the dog is in his way :)

    Liberty is usually in the backyard all day, and then sleeps in the laundry room at night. She's a good watchdog and will bark to let us know someone is near our house. I like this. I sleep better at night with a dog on patrol. I used to wake up a lot at night and have to investigate odd noises. Now I don't bother, because if it were anything needing investigating, Liberty would bark (and she has). She's smart enough to know when the Sunday paper is delivered at 3:00 am that she doesn't need to worry about that. She'll only woof if the car is different or something. It's very nice.

    I like the dog.

    Wednesday, January 17, 2007

    Just more pix

    My garden snowman.

    Diana with the new & old snow foxes - and Liberty.

    Trevor actually out in the snow!

    Tuesday, January 16, 2007

    More Snow!!

    Okay - so today, after defrosting the car (only 5 minutes) I drive to work at 7:50. I have Connor with me as usual. As we're passing the high school, I have little hail stones or freezing rain hitting my windshield. The short bus comes for Connor and he gets on and they leave.

    Just a little while later, it starts to snow. It's now about 8:30. It starts snowing even more, and by the time we are unloading kids from busses at 8:45, we have a coat of snow over the parking lot. The flakes are pretty big and all the cars are getting covered. And it's cold!

    By 9:30, we are finding out what the school will be doing (as in closing or early release or what) because the snow is not letting up at all. We hear back that school will stay in session, because there's a "warming trend" expected around 10:30. We go online and are looking at I-5 in Portland and it's totally covered in snow. Warming trend - right.
    So 10:30 comes & goes with a LOT more snow. Now the school people are meeting to decide what to do. We are already short any staff that live in higher elevations, or even just 11 miles north of us! Eventually we hear they are going to close the schools. Elementary will let out at 1:30, and High School at 1:00.

    So now we (staff) are thinking - it was pretty obvious to us what was happening. Were they just keeping schools open because after 11:00, we don't have to make up a snow day? All this time we're looking out the window and hearing sirens as accidents happen all around town. People are coming to pick up their kids, telling us about all the spin-outs, and near misses they've seen. I'm thinking - I'm on a HILL.

    So, because I'm not sure the older kids' bus will be in time for them to get home to get Connor off of his bus, I leave work at 1:00 (instead of 2:00). As I'm driving, it's not really that bad on the main road - just really slushy. However, as soon as I'm off that, it's all compact snow and slush and icy bits. My van is doing fine, but people around me are sliding here & there. I opt to go down Douglas from the court house, even tho I have to go over a hill, because I see they've put down gravel in the road. And then I catch up to Trevor & Diana's bus. I turn onto our street and stop to let them in the van. I was actually able to drive up the compact snow on our street pretty well. Lee was already home, which was a surprise. I could have stayed later at work if he could have gotten thru on the phone, but all the lines were busy with kids having to call & have someone be home to pick them up. Plus, Boys & Girls Club was closed, where a lot of them go after school. Lee had been released at Dell just a bit before lunch.

    The top photo is Lee walking Connor up the hill. The bus couldn't make it up to the house to drop him off. I walked with Diana on her paper route, which was fine in hiking boots & wool socks. When we got home, she made another snow fox. The second photo is where she's tackling Trevor's crooked snowman (he made a better one later). The last photo is Liberty giving Diana a kiss. Liberty loves the snow. She has that double coat, and she snuffles around and rolls in it. Kooky dog.

    The "warming trend" showed up while we were out front doing these photos. At 4:00, the sky clouded over and it dropped about 15 degrees again. The whole street is icy now. I'm not driving down that! I'm expecting a delayed start to school tomorrow, at the least!

    Saturday, January 13, 2007

    Fun in the Snow

    Click on the photo to see the actual snow falling!!
    Connor really enjoyed the snow. He has some snow pants he'd gotten handed down, and we'd bought him boots when we went to get our Christmas Tree over Thanksgiving Weekend. He
    ran all over the backyard, all along the trail he's created at the border of the fence, and just sat in snow, watching it fall. This kid really relishes the outdoors. He loves to be totally immersed - it's an all-senses experience. Sights, sounds, taste (he eats a lot of snow), and even the sense of his body getting colder or warmer. He stayed out for an hour or more at a time. He'd only come in when he got too wet and cold. Then we'd dry his gear for the next time out.

    Diana, on the other hand, was happy for the snow day more for her homework. She procrastinated on learning her Anatomy/Physiology terms, and the snow day allowed her extra time to write & re-write all those out until they stuck in her brain. Between her 3 sessions of doing that, she had her paper route, and she built a snow fox (Connor thinks it's a snow cat).

    Trevor is conspicuously absent because he's not really a "snow" person. He spent most of the day next to the gas stove in the living room. In German, we call it "Hocken." Kind of like hovering around something - only even more so.

    Thursday, January 11, 2007

    Snow Day!

    I got a call this morning at 6:20 - No school today!!! I'm glad because we were doing the snow dance all day yesterday :P And my teacher would have been in a bad mood because she REALLY wanted a snow day today!

    In any case, it started coming down last night pretty well, and by 11:00 it was sticking enough for a layer on the ground. This morning everything is nice and white. One of our neighbors tried coming up our hill & got stuck right in front of our house. She just left it and walked up to her place. It's already warmed up enough an hour or so later & she moved her van again.

    Connor is having a blast - he loves eating ice anyway - and snow is just very small ice! We were supposed to go to TOPS tonight, and the Girl Scouts were doing a cookie rally, and I guess we'll just expect to go unless we are called & told things are cancelled.

    I am catching up with laundry, and I should get a decent bike ride in today.

    Lee already has Thursdays off right now, but he might go in, because he could get OT to cover the people that can't come into town at all from where they live. We're in walking distance from his job.

    Fun fun fun!

    Sunday, January 07, 2007

    Yurt Camp - Sunday cleanup & closing

    It is SO much easier to pack & leave from a yurt!

    It's easier to collect gear (maybe because you can stand in the whole building?), you don't have to roll up mats, and the floor is painted pretty solid so it's easy to sweep - and there are no creases to hide dirt! The girls had all their stuff packed, the decorations down & trash thrown out and the whole thing swept up in under an hour. And they ate their bagel breakfast during that time as well. That's pretty good for six teen girls!

    After everyone was packed, we did the closing circle where people can relate experiences and thoughts about the camp, and then we close with "Make New Friends." After that, the yurts were checked, keys were turned in, and we were free to go!

    My girls wanted to go see the lighthouse and go back to downtown Bandon (and I seriously needed COFFEE). Then we sang to the radio at the top of our lungs for the hour & a half it took to get home. Wheeee!

    Yurt Camp - Raccoons!

    LEADERS were feeding these guys marshmallows! (I didn't contribute, just took photos)

    These guys live under the yurts, and you can hear them chittering thru the day. They didn't bother me at all, but some girls & leaders were scared by them. Well, at least you have a buddy to scream with you all the time in Girl Scouts!

    Yurt Camp - Saturday "Campfire"

    Since it was January, we didn't do an actual outdoor campfire as we usually would. We went in the big community yurt and did "lampfire" I guess you could call it. In any case, the theme was "Whose Line is it Anyway" and the girls in charge asked for volunteers for the acts.

    The other leaders & I actually thought they'd be going by yurt, because then ALL the girls would have had a chance to participate. But this was a leadership project for a troop, and that's not how it was done.

    MY girls are just hams, so they were on "stage" most of the show. Renee won the "answer everything with a question" (4 rounds), and Diana and her partner got the biggest laugh for their sketch with the props. The final thing was having Diana & I try to guess who the "celebrities" were who came to our party.

    We discovered that Mary doesn't know how to do Michael Jackson except for moonwalking, and Diana is very good at getting a very small clue (like a cellphone) and figuring out it's supposed to be Paris Hilton. I was totally useless except for guessing one of the celebs was actually one of the other leaders at the camp (how is that famous???). All in all, it was a pretty good laugh - it's always our favorite part of Girl Scout Camping!

    Yurt Camp - Saturday Face Rock

    Face Rock is near Bandon, and after we found our geocaches, we had to stop here for the fun photo ops. I only have the picture of Diana picking the face's nose here, but there were "kissing the face" and "being the face" photos as well. While we were looking at the sea, we saw whales going by, which is always very cool.

    After this we went downtown to taste-test candies in downtown Bandon. We were all sad the cheese factory has closed :(

    And I had to buy a pillow before we got back to camp. Sleeping on my clothes wasn't cutting it for me!

    Yurt Camp - Saturday Geocaching

    So with handy GPS in hand, we drove around Bandon looking for caches. We were actually really hoping to find a little Girl Scout doll. There's a GS World Center in Switzerland, and a troop of girls sent 3 little GS dolls with "travelbugs" attached so they could track them online. They are hoping to meet up with their dolls when they make it to Switzerland themselves. That's pretty cool!

    Even though I'd checked before we left on our trip, the doll was gone - she'd actually been picked up in December, but the folks that took her only just logged that online over the weekend - oh well. We checked where they placed her, and it's not far from Lee's family's area. So... if she's still there next time we go down, we'll see if we can grab her to introduce her to our girl scouts here.

    In any case, it was pretty damp and there were a LOT of salamandars scurrying out of our way as we hunted for the cache. Both of the ones we found were in ammo boxes. We found a different Travel Bug in the second cache, so that's what we took to bring home. It's a Geocoin and Diana's holding it in the bottom picture.

    One of the other scouts from different troop found the first cache, and I found the second one! Whooo Hooo!

    This was way cool & a lot of fun. The other leaders that came along are looking forward to creating a geocaching event probably close to summer.

    Today (Jan 9) I took my own troop to look for caches around town. I wanted to put the geocoin in a new home. We found a microcache which was too small for it, and then the next cache we tried we were not able to find in the dark. Oh well, maybe next time.

    I'm really looking forward to finding more caches with my kids. We'd like to do a couple of travel bugs as well - just to see where they wind up!


    Yurt Camp - Saturday AM

    Our yurt was responsible for breakfast. This camp was being done as a leadership project for a different troop. They had already bought all the food, and everything was more or less there & ready to go. Each yurt of girls was responsible for a meal. Diana helped with making pancakes. Renee & Mary arranged the tables & set the places. After breakfast, the same group also did clean up. The nice thing was, once this was done, they were free for the rest of the weekend with meals!

    After breakfast, we took out the GPS Lee gave me for Christmas to see if we could figure out how to use it. After managing to get enough satellites to do a 3D fix, we were able to figure out how to input our location, and the coordinates for the first cache we were going to try to find.

    On the way, we found a salamandar in the road, so we had to rescue it. It already had a broken tail.

    Diana held the GPS for most of the driving. We got out at the lighthouse & tried walking a bit, but found we were still too far away to walk there. We decided to go back to the yurts because it was almost lunchtime anyway.

    The girls were putting on makeup so they could look "80's" but then we were pulled in to eat before they got to practice their song in rock style. And then we had to wait for lunch, because it wasn't quite ready anyway - best laid plans!

    And Diana didn't get any makeup done on her, just in case you were wondering...

    Yurt Camp - Friday PM

    So here they are - my troop plus the girls from another troop shared this yurt.

    Renee brought along some of our craft stuff, and once everyone knew where they were sleeping, they set about personalizing their spaces with balloons, signs and beaded dangly things. Nothing permanent, of course, and everything was easy enough to clean up (except glitter - glitter is never easy to clean up!).

    We made our GORP again (you can see one bag with my girls) and dinner had been Subway before we arrived at the camp.

    I slept with 5 other ladies in my yurt of Leaders, which was pretty fun. I am usually in a separate tent with my co-leader, but still in the same campsite. So I was actually further away, and couldn't hear as much of what my girls were saying or doing - that can be good and bad...

    But my girls weren't the loudest ones, and they didn't stay up the longest, so we were good!


    Thursday, January 04, 2007

    Vielen Dank Leonie!!

    Leonie sent us a package from Germany - it came yesterday (whoohooo!)

    She sent candy, canned bread, and some books - manga for Diana & a nice book about Luneburg. She also sent along a little bag of salt, since that's what Luneburg was founded on.

    The kids were thrilled, and they've already eaten all the gummi fruit. They are working on the Kinder chocolate, and we opened the Milka Pralines too.

    Lee appreciated the ads in the newspaper that she used to pack up the stuff. The differences in prices are pretty interesting - their chocolate costs a lot less there than it does here, but other things are a lot more expensive, like Nescafe instant coffee.

    And we sent some manga art books to Leonie.

    Thanks again Leo!! :)

    Yay! Stuff from Germany!

    Sorry Keeka, it's all ours! I know Milka is your favorite, but I like it too!

    Lee was excited about Diana's german manga book :P

    Thanks again Leonie!

    Monday, January 01, 2007

    Big Family Christmas

    This year Karrie & Shane hosted the Big Family Christmas get-together for Lee's side of the family.

    Their house is close in age to ours, and they are doing a lot of work on it - and as Lee asked Shane, "Will it ever be done?" To which Shane replied with a big smile, "No!"

    We had soup & salads, and I brought the potato-bean soup my mom makes, although Diana said it tasted different & she likes my mom's better.

    I also brought the remaining stollen I had from the second loaf I'd baked - this one without raisins.

    We do an exchange with the adults, and the kids get gifts from aunts & uncles, grandparents, etc.

    This year I had Kraig, and Lee had Jim. I went shopping and they both got some nice warm fleece lounge/sleep pants. Lee later told me he would have liked a pair of those too. Oh well. They were Joe Boxer, and I figured if I had the wrong size, they could exchange them. Then Lee told me all the K-marts south of us closed. We have the southernmost K-mart in the state.

    I guess they'll have to make a trip up here if they aren't right - sorry!

    In any case, a big highlight for us was watching Connor play with his second cousins. Marla's kids, Rita & James, and Karrie's little guy, Benjamin (who will have a new brother in February!). Connor used their names (C'mon James! Move Benjamin! Push Rita!) and had a lot of fun with the rough & tumble interactions. This is the kind of stuff you get to do with family, when everyone allows for kid behavior, vs. visiting friends where you're worried more about whether or not your kid's behavior will keep them from inviting you over again! Hee.

    Anyway - all good stuff & we had a great time - thanks Karrie & Shane for hosting!

    Girl Scout breakfast

    So, after we went to the movie & all the other day, Amanda showed up after I'd gone to bed.

    Here the girls are having breakfast. Yes, that's a very large (3 gallon) container of ice cream. Cookie Dough, to be specific. They are eating it with belgian waffles, which is better than plain, I suppose (isn't it just like a waffle cone?).

    This was part of their prize from the Talent Show in May (which I am NOT in charge of this year). The other part was a scrapbooking party, which we still haven't done - hopefully I'll get that going soon.

    Still, all four were present, which is more difficult with older girls. They have other things that get in the way of Girl Scouting, like boyfriends, band, sports tournaments, search & rescue, jobs, and of course, school.

    Next up will be Yurt Camping on the coast, and then we get started with cookie sales - which will be the thing I miss the least when these girls graduate out of the program (September 30 of the year they graduate high school, or when they turn 18 - whichever is later).