Sunday, March 27, 2011

Photo of the Day

"Cloud Gate" a.k.a. the Bean, Chicago, IL (Oct 2010)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Quail Family

Earlier this month, Lisa over at Two Bears Farm hosted a bird house and bird feeder giveaway (you can read the blog post here but be forewarned: the giveaway is now over).

Anyway, it made me think about all the roadrunners, quail, and hummingbirds I used to see when I lived in Arizona and New Mexico. I kinda miss seeing my feathered southwestern friends.

And then I remembered that once, I actually got a photo of a quail family in our backyard in New Mexico! So last night, I set off to find the photo, skimming through a bunch of my online photo albums, just to find the picture.

Still not 100% after having strep, I was pooped, finding it hard to concentrate. My eyelids were getting heavier and heavier with each photo I looked at. Needless to say, I went to bed before finding the photo.

This morning, though, I hopped to it, and found the photo right away: 

A quail family on the wall in our backyard in Alamogordo, NM.

They're actually on the wall in our backyard. I happened look out the window at just the right time to see them marching along the wall. By the way, the back side of the wall is closer to the ground than the inside. To give you some perspective, the inside of the wall is just about my height (I'm 5'2"), and the outside of the wall is just about 6-12" (if I remember correctly). So I'm assuming they jumped up there from the back side.

It's not the best photo; they were skittish and the mama started herding the babies away just as I was trying to focus the camera on them.

As you can see by the date stamp, I took the photo on 27 May 07.

Anyway, we used to see a lot of quail, roadrunners, and hummingbirds in and around our backyard. It was fun to bird-watch in the Southwest!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Memory Lane Friday - First Grade

This week's Memory Lane Friday theme is "First Grade."

I don't have a specific memory for something that happened in class when I was in first grade. I do, however, remember an incident that happened when I was visiting my grandparents just after I finished first grade.

I was in El Paso for a week or two visiting my grandparents. My grandmother, Oma, knowing I always enjoyed a good book, took me to the El Paso Public Library (I don't remember which branch) to pick out some books we could read together during my visit. 

I specifically remember picking out a book about dinosaurs, and was amazed by all these prehistoric creatures (like T-Rex, of course, diplodocus, triceratops). I loved this book. I poured over the photos, probably making Oma read it with me a million times.

But then the time came: the books were due back at the library. So Oma and I got in the car and headed back to the library. I was in the back, holding my stack of precious books, not exactly understanding what was going to happen.

When we got to the library, there was an external book return slot. Oma and I went to it, and she asked me to hand her the books and she stuck them in there.

I was surprised and upset. I wanted to keep the dinosaur book; besides, I thought it was mine! I hadn't quite understood that it was the library where we borrowed books, and not a book store, where we bought and kept them.

She promised that the next time I visited her, we'd go back to the library and check out that book again.

I remembered this scene the first time I took Livie to the library and then had to return a book she fell in love with - she acted the same way!

Please come back next week when we have another "No Theme" week.

Memory Lane Friday is hosted weekly by Lisa at her blog called Two Bears Farm and the Three Cubs. Please click on the button below to read Lisa's post, as well as other contributors' posts:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Photo of the Day - 22 Mar 2011

Heart-shaped cactus, Tucson, AZ circa autumn 2000.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Nothin' like a grandma

I woke up yesterday (Sunday) with a horrible sore throat. I thought it was just from the beginning of allergy season.

But the sore throat never went away, even when I used my trusty neti pot (the one that my ENT told me to use regularly). In fact, it got a little worse as the day wore on.

It hurt to drink cold beverages (what used to help my occasional sore throats when I was a kid). Warm beverages didn't help, either. It even hurt to eat yogurt and ice cream!

And then the worst part . . . right before bedtime, I started going through that chills/too hot cycle - the kind you get when you've got a fever. Blech. My temperature was not too concerning, but elevated slightly nevertheless at 100.0F.

However, in the middle of the night, as I tossed and turned, I felt either chilled like I was going to literally freeze into a block of ice, or burn a hole in the sheets. I got up to take my temp, even though I had no energy to do so. It was somewhere around 3:30 AM, and I wanted nothing more than to have my Oma there, taking care of me.

As I went to grab the thermometer, I just really, really missed Oma.

Especially when I found out my temperature was 102.9 F. Blech. No wonder I felt crappy.

When I woke up this morning, my throat still hurt like a you-know-what, and to top it off, I had (and still have) these massively swollen glands in my neck. One of them felt like it was the size of a grape!

All I could think was that I felt so horrible, I wanted Oma right away. That's how sick I felt.

But I had to get Livie to Pre-K and call the doc's office to make an appointment.

So off we went. I wanted to hurry out of Livie's class once I dropped her off, not knowing if I was contagious or not, and not wanting to get near any of the kids.

Then when I got to my car, I called the doc's office. The earliest I could get in would be noon. Ugh. A 3.5 hour wait.

Of course, once I got there, it went rather quickly. And sure enough, I am sick and contagious. I have strep. The doc was amazed at how quickly the swab came back as positive for strep.

He called in an antibiotic for me and told me I can't go to school tomorrow or Wednesday. On the one hand, I was glad to get a couple days of rest. On the other hand, I was really disappointed, because tomorrow, we have a guest speaker in one of my classes - the author of a piece of fiction we've read for class. I was really looking forward to meeting him. Plus, we're supposed to get our midterms back, and I am really curious to see what kind of grade I earned.

So as I drove to the pharmacy, I called my parents' house, where my Oma now lives. As soon as my mom put Oma on the phone and she said "How are you doing?" I began crying. I missed her so much. She immediately asked what was wrong, and I went on and on about how I have strep, I feel awful, and I have to miss school.

Oma told me it's best to stay home and get better, and I don't want to get my friends sick, do I? And she was sure that if I told the professor that the doc said no school til Thursday, he'd understand.

Then she gave me some comforting words that only a grandmother could deliver so expertly.

And when I hung up, still sniffling a little, I actually felt a little better after my Oma's "pep talk." Even if she can't be here to give me warm broth, or Cream of Wheat, something soothing to drink, or some Tylenol, she still has her magic grandmother's touch.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy List for 20 Mar 2011

Okay, I was over at Mamarazzi's Dandelion Wishes blog, and saw that she does a "Happy List" on the weekends; I thought it would be fun to join in.

So here goes:

I'm happy that Livie and I were able to get outside yesterday for some sunshine, fresh air, and exercise in the springlike weather.
We're at the playground across the street from our house.
I'm also happy that we can have use of a playground across the street from our house! It's very convenient. Of course, it's the elementary school's playground, so we can only go on the weekends or after school is over for the day.

Of course, that brings me to my next "happy" - this is the school where Livie will start Kindergarten in the fall. Again, it's right across the street. How convenient will that be?!

I'm also happy that Liv and I were able to get to the art studio yesterday. It's an awesome place, in the back of a local artsy-type store. They have "Open Studio" hours on Saturdays, so anybody can go in and do art projects. It's something like $3/hr, plus the cost of the materials that you used.

And I'm happy that we now have a new printer (it's wireless) and it's now all set up and working. I can even print wirelessly from my laptop from the kitchen - or wherever I am in the house (with the laptop, of course). I can be upstairs on my laptop doing my homework and be able to print something. So if Andrew's on the desktop, I won't have to kick him off to print stuff. Woo hoo!

I'm also happy for spring. While I love autumn and winter, I really appreciate spring, because that means we don't have to bundle up in a million layers . . . especially when I have to bundle myself AND a squirmy 5-year-old. 

Finally, I'm happy to have gotten a good run in on Friday. I've been having issues with plantar fasciitis (PF) - owie! - and something with my knee (it was swollen like a grapefruit). While the PF is still bugging me, it's mild when I stretch and ice properly. And the knee? It seemed to have been back to normal by Friday, so I went running. And it felt good. A runner's high is a great thing - thank you endorphins!!

Please click on the box below to read Mamarazzi's "Happy List" as well as other contributors' lists:


Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Day in the Life of an Artist

Today Liv and I had a great day.

We started the day off sleeping in until 8 AM!! Wow, was that nice!! Then we had some pancakes and milk for breakfast.

We then took advantage of the sunshine and fresh air, spending time outdoors at the playground across the street (it's the elementary school's playground - the same school where Liv's going to start Kindergarten in the fall of 2011).

"Yee haw!!"

She wanted to pose for a photo before running off to play again.

Running is good!
She also spent time riding her scooter - the one her Uncle Joe and Tia Pia had given her for Christmas a couple years ago.



But the highlight of the day? It was being an artist for the afternoon!

There is this great store here in town called "The Dreaming Bear." It's got a ton of artsy stuff, and Livie and I just LOVE going there every so often.

And guess what?! They have an art studio in the back. On Saturdays (and on occasion, other days, like during local schools' spring breaks), they have "open studio" hours. That means that anybody can go in and do art! (Click on this The Dreaming Bear link to read exactly what "open studio" means).

So we got there and Liv was a little nervous because she wasn't exactly sure how to be an artist. I told her that there is no right and wrong - all she has to do is go with what she likes, and use her imagination. And not to forget: the messier the artist, the better the art!!

She had a BLAST! First, she got to choose what piece of art she was going to decorate from their stock. She chose a flower, and then decided to paint it and put some "jewels" on it. But first, I put a "Dreaming Bear" apron on her. Then the very nice artist who was staffing the studio helped her get her paints.

Here she is, very excited and just getting started with painting. Yes, she chose pinks and purples.

She's really concentrating on painting now.

After she finished painting her flower, she had the artist staff member hot-glue the "jewels" onto her flower, with Livie standing there, requesting that certain "jewels" go on very specific spots. I'm afraid she (the artist helping Livie) really hurt herself, though. One of the jewels kinda flipped in her hand, and landed hot-glue side down, right on one of her fingertips. It really burned her. I felt sorry that she hurt herself, but she kinda laughed it off (even though I'm sure it caused a blister).

Anyway, before we headed out to pay for the materials Livie used (as well as the studio time, which was $3/hr), I asked Livie to pose with her artwork.

She was very proud of her flower, and declared, "I'm an artist, now!" I agreed, and promised that we'd come back; I decided I'd probably do some artwork, too!

Once we got home, she chose a spot on her dresser to showcase her flower. Then she told me that she loved being an artist, and when she grows up, she wants to be an artist. She promised she'd make some special artwork for me.

And then she said that while it was hard, it was "so much fun!!"

Friday, March 18, 2011

Liv's St. Patrick's Day Outfit

Okay, I took these photos yesterday because Livie wanted to show off her St. Patrick's Day outfit. It consisted of her blingy shamrock top and some black pants.

As you can see, she likes to pose!

You can clearly see her temporary tattoos in this photo.

Memory Lane Friday - Kindergarten

This week's Memory Lane Friday theme is "Kindergarten."

Now I can't really remember much about Kindergarten, specifically. However, I remember a story my mom told my grandmother (Oma) in a letter about one of my Kindergarten experiences. Oma eventually gave me that letter in a packet of mementos she'd saved (cards I got for my birthday, a lock of hair from my first hair cut, a flower I'd picked for her, etc.).

So here's the thing . . . apparently I was at Kindergarten one day and my mom had come to pick me up. When she came in to get me, I was playing at the play-kitchen. She watched me for a few moments, as I did chef-like things with pots, pans, the water faucet (the pretend one), and such.

At some point, before I realized she was standing there watching me, she saw that in the sink, I had the "class mascot" - the hamster! The real one! I had him in the sink and was "washing" him!!

She saw that I was being gentle with him (as gentle as a 5-year-old can be), and just really affectionate, as though he were my very own pet.

And then, so I could do something else "chef-like," I put the hamster in a pot (I guess so he wouldn't get away?) and set him on the play-kitchen's counter, to do something else at the little kitchen.

At this point, she had stepped in and made her presence known to me. I can't picture her ever touching a hamster (even when she was younger), so I'm assuming she either got the teacher's attention and had her come over to the play-kitchen, or she took the pot and hamster over to the teacher.

I get a kick out of this image, because it IS funny, and also because I can picture Livie doing the same thing.

Please come back next week when the theme is "First Grade."

Memory Lane Friday is hosted by Lisa at Two Bears Farm and the Three Cubs. Please click on the button below to check out her post, as well as posts from other participants:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Guess who wanted to dress up?

This morning when Livie got up, she decided to play dress-up before breakfast.

Here's the result:

She's wearing her "Hello Kitty" pajamas, some dress-up shoes, a fancy headband with pretty flower, pink-and-purple tutu, some fairy wings, and a blingy bracelet. Oh, and I can't forget the pink lipstick!

After eating breakfast dressed up like this, she got to dress up again, changing into her St. Patrick's Day outfit - a green shirt with a shamrock made of bling, and some black pants and her black dress shoes. I didn't get a photo - I know, I know - I should have because it was so cute. Maybe this afternoon when she gets back from Pre-K.

And now I have to hit the books. I must take a break from procrastinating, so I can get a little bit of school work accomplished! 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ahhh, roses . . . the photos of the day

This is one of Livie's birthday roses, Iowa, February 2011.

This is from our back yard in New Mexico, April 2007.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Memory Lane Friday - No Theme Week

Okay, we've got another No Theme week here at Memory Lane Friday! While I always have fun with the other Memory Lane Friday topics that Lisa over at Two Bears Farms suggests, it's fun to occasionally have these No Theme weeks, too.

Anyway, I was all set to write a post yesterday so I could schedule it to post itself this morning. However, I was wiped out after mid-terms (lots of writing). I actually sat down at my computer to whip up a post when I got home from class, but then I got distracted and immediately forgot about the post.

Well, Liv has been asking me about traveling, lately - where we could go, what hotels we'd stay in, what we'd do at a particular location, would we drive or go on a plane - that kind of thing.

She got me thinking about the very first time she traveled - she was just about 4 months old at the time. Andrew was deployed in the Middle East at the time, having left just a week or two before we were to head to our new assignment in New Mexico.

Here I was with a 4-month-old baby, having to move from the Boston area to southern New Mexico! By myself! Thankfully, Andrew's parents had come out to help with the packing and other stuff that needed to be done so the movers could ship our household goods to New Mexico.

And thankfully, my mom had come out to help me travel all that distance with baby Liv.

The day we were to leave, my mom and I had to get up extra early. We had a mid-morning flight out of Boston's Logan airport, so with all the security stuff we had to deal with at the airport, we had to get an early start. We were having "The Airporter" (a commercial "taxi" taking people in the Greater Boston area to/from the airport) come get us - oh, around 6 AM or so.

After each of us showered, dressed, and packed any remaining belongings (like toiletries) into our suitcases, I nursed Livie, got her dressed, and went to check out of billeting (the on-base lodging, like a hotel).

Then the Airporter arrived. I remember this drive to the airport, that rainy, overcast morning. It was gloomy that morning at sunrise, and because of the rainy weather, it was SO dark and gray in the Airporter van. Livie had only been in my little Corolla, so when we zoomed (literally) to the airport, we were getting bounced around in that van. She was in her car seat, buckled into the seat, of course, but she could still feel the bumpiness. She had a super surprised look on her face the whole ride, big round eyes, big round mouth shaped like a perfect circle of surprise. I thought she'd cry, but she just looked around with that surprised face the whole 30-40 minute trip.

Once we got to the airport, all I can say is that I'm so thankful for another set of competent adult hands to help me and Livie get our bags checked, and through security!!

And I'm thankful that my mom bought us day passes to the airline's airport club/lounge so we'd have somewhere quiet to wait for our flight, instead of waiting at a bustling gate. That way, if Livie fell asleep, she could nap in a quieter, less traveled spot. Also, I'd be able to nurse her in private, when necessary. Because of the day pass, we could use the airline's airport lounge at both the Boston and Dallas airports (we were going through Dallas because our final destination was El Paso, TX).

 I can't remember for sure if I took this photo in Boston or Dallas; I think it was Boston, because I don't see the bright pink gate-check ticket on the stroller handle (the baby seat we used on the plane, buckled in tightly with the seat belt). We used the stroller in the airport, but gate-checked it for each flight.
Liv's hanging out in the "Admiral's Lounge."

I was worried that Liv would cry or be fussy during the flight. I had a pacifier in case the flight bothered her ears, but as soon as the engines revved up, she was out, soundly sleeping for take-off. And during the flight, I was able to nurse her (with a special cover-up so no one would see anything), so I'm sure that helped her ears feel better.

She was SO GOOD during the flight, that when we got to Dallas, a lady in front of us, upon standing up and and getting her stuff from the overhead bin, saw us with a baby and exclaimed, "Oh, my goodness! I didn't know there was a baby right behind me! She was so quiet!" I was so relieved, hoping she'd be the same way during our connecting flight.

And she was, thankfully!

Yes, I absolutely had to get a photo of her on her very first airplane ride! Once the seat belt sign had been turned off, and she woke up from her nap, I took her out of the car seat so her grandmother could hold her.

Here we are on Liv's first flight, being held after the captain turned off the seatbelt sign.

She was so good the whole trip. Nevertheless, I was absolutely relieved when we got to the El Paso airport, and headed to my grandparents' house. And they were crazy with love upon meeting their great-grandchild, Livie, for the first time!

Come back next week when the topic is Kindergarten.

Please click on the button below to read this week's other Memory Lane Friday posts:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Just re-posting this

Just thought I'd repost this on the anniversary of my uncle's death: check out "It's Too Soon to *Have* to Write Another One, But Here it Goes." This is for H.A.T.

Originally posted on 15 Mar 2010.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Memory Lane Friday - A Favorite Subject

This week's Memory Lane Friday topic is "A Favorite Subject."

Well, since I'm working toward an M.A. in English, I'm sure you could pretty much guess that one of my favorite subjects in high school and college was . . . well, English!

And your guess would be correct.

But I had a couple other favorites, too.

For example, in high school (Culver Girls Academy), I not only really enjoyed my English classes, I also LOVED my equitation (horsemanship) classes. We always had a blast in class. Sometimes we'd jump. Sometimes we'd play polo.

But sometimes, when the weather was nice, we'd go on trail rides. We'd occasionally go to this riding area called "the hippodrome" with its cross country jumps. I remember a time when we were there (though maybe it was the varsity jumping team), and we played tag, yes, on horseback. It was too much fun.

Other times, we'd ride to this local apple orchard (obviously in the autumn), and we'd pick apples, eating them, and also offering some to our mounts.

And then, once again depending on the weather, we'd occasionally ride down to the local Dairy Queen. Half the class would dismount and go in to get treats for everyone, while the other half would stay outside and hold the horses. The first half would come out with ice cream, and we'd relax and eat our ice cream outside.

I remember a particular trip to DQ once with my class (my junior year, I'm assuming). I was one of the people outside waiting, sitting on my horse (Black Lightning, I think?) and holding my classmate Drew's horse, Top Star, as Drew went in with a few other people to get ice cream for everyone.

After they'd come out and we'd been eating our ice cream for a few minutes, Drew decided he was finished. Now, let me tell you a little about Top Star. Top Star was pretty much all black (or actually very dark brown), and he had a star on the middle of his forehead. Well, Drew had a "brilliant" yet funny idea. As the rest of us were finishing our ice cream, Drew suddenly exclaimed, "Look! It's a unicorn!" We all looked over, only to find that he'd stuck his cone (with a little bit of ice cream still in it) right on the middle of poor Top Star's forehead, right on his star!!

I immediately rolled my eyes, thinking dumb boy, but then burst out laughing. It was kinda funny. Too bad I didn't have my camera, which is surprising, because I almost always had my camera.

Okay, so equitation was a favorite subject. But in college at Lake Forest College, so were foreign languages - Spanish and Portuguese to be specific. Now, since I was majoring in Philosophy and Spanish, I took a lot of Spanish classes, including a "Portuguese for Spanish Speakers" class.

And because of these classes, I was involved with the Circulo Hispano, the Spanish Club, during my undergraduate years.

Now, a fun thing that we got to do on occasion was watch movies in Spanish or Portuguese, such as Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, starring a very young Antonio Banderas, and Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos, with a young Sonia Braga.

And one year (my sophomore or junior year at LFC), we threw this huge bash, called "The International Festival," along with the other foreign language clubs.

This party was going to be huge. My friend "E" and I did a lot of the coordination, such as getting various foods (Italian pastries, like cannoli, from an Italian bakery in Chicago, Greek pastries from this Greek bakery in Chicago's Greek Town, Indian foods, and such), compiling various types of music (salsa, reggae, Greek, merengue, Spanish rock, etc), and reserving the Commons for the evening, and putting up colorful fliers everywhere.

Well, the party was packed, and everyone had a blast! The dance floor was jam-packed, the music keeping everyone on their feet all night.

We talked about "The International Festival" for weeks, it seemed. To this day, my friend "E" and I still reminisce about it on occasion, like if we hear a song from our International Festival compilation.

So while some of these events didn't exactly happen in the classroom, they were still linked to my favorite subjects, and always bring a smile to my face when I think about them.

Please come back next week when we have another "No Theme" week.

Memory Lane Friday is hosted weekly by Two Bears Farm and the Three Cubs. Please click on the button below to read her entry, as well as this week's other Memory Lane Friday entries. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Liv's Birthday, Part II

Okay, Liv had her birthday party this past weekend. Here are some photos.

Liv's ready to get the party started!

Liv always gets fresh flowers on her birthday.

Liv and Abuelita share a moment together.

Nonno snoozes, even though he says he's not asleep.

Liv and Abuelita like to pose together.

Liv, Nonno, and Abuelita take time to pose for a photo.

Liv loves opening her pressies!

Liv even got Oma to laugh for a photo!!

Who's ready for cake? Livie gets Rapunzel on her cake, by the way.

Time to blow out the candles!

Liv even got an oversized bean bag chair for her bedroom!!

The day was lots of fun! We all enjoyed the company, the food (gourmet burgers on the grill, cake, ice cream), and Liv enjoyed the pressies!
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