Monday, May 31, 2010

Photo #151: Brothers

My entry today may seem a bit morbid, but since this blog is as much a journal as it is a collection of photos, I decided to include our trip to the Altoona Cemetery. Like so many others, my sister and I went out to the cemetery today to decorate graves. We have way too many family members out there these days. I guess that's just a product of getting older. I can handle the loss of my dad and grandparents. You expect to experience those kind of losses in your lifetime, but the loss of both of my younger brothers is still hard to take. It has been just three years since we lost them both within five months of each other.

I am glad that they were buried in this country cemetery. People decorate graves with flowers, lanterns, flags, and wind chimes, things that would not be allowed in a city cemetery. It was really beautiful out there today. We miss you. Dad, Dan, and Steve!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Photo #150: Happy Birthday, Lisa!

Today is my baby girl's birthday. This picture of her in her little white dress and moccasins was taken when she was only a few weeks old. She was probably about 7 months old when she was sitting on my lap in the second photo. She is wearing my brother, Dan's navy cap.

Lisa is not a baby anymore, she is a beautiful woman, and she is 37 years old. I don't know how that is possible, because I feel like that should be my age. Time really flies. Have a wonderful birthday, Lisa!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Photo #149: Daisies

It is so nice to have a three day weekend! I worked this morning at Huntington, and then I met Jacci for coffee at my favorite Caribou Coffee. It is a gorgeous weekend! I took a few pictures today, but I wasn't happy with any of them. I've been noticing this lone clump of daisies right outside the office at school. I took this photo on Friday. I love daisies! To quote the movie, You've Got Mail, "Daisies are such a cheerful flower."

Friday, May 28, 2010

Photo #148: Music On the Plaza

After a very busy week, it was wonderful to finally get to Friday. I got my hair cut after work, and then went to the Jimmy John's in Altoona for my usual Friday night dinner out. When I drove up, I noticed something was going on across the street to the west of Hy-Vee. There were venders, balloons, beer, and lots and lots of people. Turns out they are having "Music On the Plaza" every Friday evening this summer. They actually just built this plaza last year, so I decided to go check it out. There is a large fountain at the front of the plaza, but I really like this water play area. Water would shoot out of various pipes squirting anyone within range, including me. It was a warm day, and the kids were having a great time.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Photo #147: Field Day

Today was field day! We had gorgeous weather, the kids had a ball, and I managed to survive it all. This was my twentieth field day at Phillips, and it has changed a lot over the years. During the first years it was more of a competitive track and field event. While we still have the fifty yard dash, the long jump and relays, many of the events will never be found at a track meet. We have the Water Balloon Toss, the Bat Spin Relay, and the Marble Grab. For the Marble Grab they try to pick up marbles using their toes, out of a wading pool filled with water. I always like the Buddy Walkers, because it's not just about athletic ability. It requires problem solving, cooperation and communication.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Photo #146: An Overabundance or Bunnies

Our neighborhood is overrun with rabbits this year. They are everywhere! I took this photo through my living room window. (I'm not really sure why he looks purple.) There were actually 3 bunnies in the yard at the time, munching grass. As you can see, the grass is very long, so I was hoping they would do a better job of trimming the grass. What you can't see is my neighbor's dog across the street, who was perched on the curb watching these bunnies. He wanted so badly to chase them, but he is a very well trained dog, and he never leaves his yard.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Photo #145: Blue Irises

The end of the school year is always stressful, but this year it feels really overwhelming. I am a person who really likes to come home from work around 5 or 5:30 and then stay put. I like to head up to bed around 9:00. Ah yes,I like to lead a wild and crazy life. In the last few weeks, I have had some nights, including tonight, that I'm not even getting home until almost nine. There are only eleven more days of school, so everything will get easier after that.

I am still enjoying all the beautiful flowers that are blooming, including these gorgeous blue irises by my sister's pool.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Photo #144: Evie and Beguira

Jacci just got up to get a cup of tea, and the cats took over her chair and the table. This is Evie in the chair, and Beguira on the table. They love sitting with us when we have a campfire.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Photo #143: Hot Tub Heaven

I changed the water in my hot tub this weekend. I always forget how long it takes. It's easy to drain it, but then you have to climb in and scrub it down. Winter was very hard on it this year. The cover was filthy and required lots of scrubbing. After that it was time to refill it. Sometimes it can be tricky to get the ph balanced. I usually drain it one day, and clean it out and refill it the next. I worked on it this morning with the hopes of getting it warm enough to climb into tonight.

Usually I use my hot tub throughout the winter as long as the temperature is above 20 degrees, but this was such a hard winter with heavy snows and ice, that I couldn't even get to it for much of the winter.

I would have taken a picture of me relaxing in the hot tub, but I didn't want to risk getting my camera wet, and I'm not showing anyone a picture of me in my swimsuit. I will tell you that when I got into it tonight, it felt wonderful! This might be the only thing that gets me through these last 12 days of school.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Photo #142: Poppies

When I see poppies I always think of the Wizard of Oz, and the problems Dorothy and the others had in the field of poppies. These poppies are not in Oz and they didn't make me sleepy. They are in Jacci and Donner's garden. My brother-in-law puts lots of work into weeding and planting, and after such a wet winter that is really paying off. The flowers are beautiful, the foliage is thick and lush. I love the beautiful orange color of these flowers. We were getting ready to build a fire in the fire pit. It was a really great evening enjoying the company, the fire, and the beauty around us.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Photo #141: Peonies

Once again I'm hanging over the back fence and taking pictures of my neighbor's flowers, but to tell you the truth, her yard looks a lot better than mine. I still have twelve more days of school, and until school is out, I don't have much time to work in the yard. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Photo #140: Claxon's

Jacci, Mom, and I are starting a new tradition of having dinner together each Thursday. This was Thursday #2. This time we went to Claxon's Smokehouse and Grill in Altoona. Lots of barbeque and down home cooking. I asked the waitress if I could photograph her back. Claxon's has signs and billboards with the line, "Tastes so good, it makes your tongue slap your brains out." I'm not exactly sure what they means.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Photo #139: Purple Iris

These beautiful purple irises caught my eye when I was driving to work this evening. The blooms are huge, and I love the delicately ruffled petals. I stopped to photograph them on the way back home. So far I have only one little lone iris in my own yard. I have not worked on that flower bed yet this spring, and my iris plants are being choked out by weeds. That will be just one of the many items on my "to do" list for this weekend.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Photo #138: Are They Birds or Pigs?

After visiting my sister and enjoying the birds around her home, I decided to place a bird feeder right in front of my living room window, with the hope of capturing some great bird photos. I have learned that there are loads of birds at the feeder if I don't have my camera out. I've also observed that birds are very busy, flitting here and there, and you have to be fast if you're going to get a picture. Furthermore, these birds are pigs! I come home to an empty bird feeder every day. Hopefully I will develop more patience, and get some great shots as we move into summer.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Photo #137: Enduring Beauty

Today was such a Monday. It really wasn't a bad day. We got a lot done, reviewing for our end of year math test, publishing our Castle fairy tales, learning about the weather. It was going along just fine, and then all of sudden, like so many other days, it went spinning out of control. I hate it when that happens!

This is one of the best flowers in my garden. A man in Dubuque, Iowa makes these steel flowers, and I buy one each year at the Iowa Artists Show, which is held in late June at the fairgrounds. I have a rose, an iris, and this Lilly, along with some smaller butterflies. Rain or shine, heat or cold, these flowers endure. That's me too. No matter what life throws my way, I'm gonna keep on blooming.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Photo #136: Self Portrait

Daily Shoot Sunday Challenge: Make a self-portrait, with or without the camera in the frame.

I hope none of my neighbors were watching as I sat on my deck taking about 40 pictures of myself, trying to find something I could live with. So here is a picture of me, frame and all.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Photo #135: Chive

Today's challenge: "Make a photo that you think would work well as computer wallpaper, and try it out for a week!"

My chive plant has beautiful blooms this year. I see baked potatoes and sour cream in my future. Yum!

I worked this morning at Huntington. I've been working there about a month, and I really like it. It's going to be a great summer job. At this time of year, however, with all the stresses surrounding the end of the school year, things are a bit overwelming.

This afternoon Jacci and I met for coffee and then I went out to Costco. I hadn't been there for a while, and I always love shopping there, until I get to the check out that is. You can get in serious trouble in that store if you're not careful.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Photo #134: The Church of the Land

We had our annual field trip to Living History Farms today. We had beautiful weather, which was lucky since it rained just about every day this week. I really hate field trips, because for the teacher, field trips are lots of liability. Sometimes kids do things away from school that they would never dream of doing on campus, and often it's the child that you would least suspect. Such was the case today, but everyone came back in one piece, and we did have a great time.

The Church of the Land is located at the end of the main street in the 1875 town of Walnut Hill. My church used to have services there once a year, in combination with another church, until our congregations became too large to fit in the sanctuary.

Every year I worry whether I'm in good enough shape to do all the walking required for this field trip. There is a lot of hiking and hill climbing between the 1700 Ioway Farm, 1850 Pioneer Farm and 1900 Farm. But once again, I have survived it, and nobody had to push me uphill. My feet hurt though.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Photo #133: Purple Clematis

This photo does not do the Clematis justice. The blooms are huge and the purple was so vivid and beautiful. This clematis is growing in my aunt and uncle's back yard, along the side of the tool shed.

This has been such a crazy week after our weekend trip. Monday night I was exhausted after traveling on the weekend. Now that I am working a second job, I have nights that I don't get home and settled until 8:30. Since I like to head up to bed around 9, that is late for me. Tonight Jacci, Mom and I went out to dinner, and that made for a really nice evening.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Photo #132: A Dedicated Mom

My aunt and uncle's yard is very bird friendly. Right away, I noticed a nest with baby birds in it on the downspout. It wasn't until I was sitting on the patio that I noticed this robin in her nest. Even with all the people in the yard, she didn't budge.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Photo 131: Baskets for Sale

It's almost ten o'clock, and I just got home, so I'm going to post these photos that I took when we were on our way to Kansas last Saturday. This is an Amish family selling baskets in Bethany, Missouri, where we stopped for gas. The horse and wagon parked in a parking lot frequented by cars is an interesting contrast.

I have had to limit myself on these baskets, because I have several from various Amish families. I like the fact that they sign and date them. I especially like the small ones that I have that were made by children.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Photo #130: My Mom

What with a weekend trip to Lenexa, Kansas, and celebrating my aunt's graduation, Mother's Day kind of got lost in the shuffle. Though we spent the entire weekend together, we didn't do the normal Mother's Day brunch or the other things people often do to recognize their moms. We did however, have a wonderful time, thanks to Jacci and her RV. It was fun to ride along, just the three of us. We also had a great time seeing the rest of the family in Kansas. We enjoyed lots of talk, lots of laughter.

I am so glad to have Mom back home. Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Photo #129: Celebrating Graduation

My mother and my aunt are both incredibly inspirational women. They grew up during the depression with little in the way of material things, but they were raised with a very strong work ethic. They did their best to instill us with those same values. Neither had the advantage of going to college right after high school, but by the time all the younger generation were enrolled in school, Mom and Aunt Barbara began their college educations. They juggled jobs, family, and night classes, and both eventually earned their Bachelor of Arts degrees.

You would have thought that would be enough, but after retiring a few years ago, my Aunt Barbara enrolled first, in law school and then, in a masters program in psychology. She is the epitome of the life long learner. On Saturday, she graduated from the University of St. Mary with a Masters in Psychology.

Mom, Jacci, and I drove to Lenexa to join in the celebration. We had a wonderful time, and we are so proud of her. The photos are of my Aunt Barbara and Uncle Mark, right after she presented him with a Certificate of Appreciation for supporting her throughout this venture.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Photo #128: A Motte and Bailey Castle

I'm heading out of town today, with my mom and Jacci, to celebrate my Aunt Barbara's graduation. She is graduating with her Masters in Psychology. I'm sure I will be taking lots of pictures while I'm there. Since I will probably not have internet access later today, I'm posting these pictures I took on Thursday of one of my student's castles. This is Bryony's Motte and Bailey Castle. This is the first time anyone has made a Motte and Bailey Castle for our castle project, and it is fantastic!

Motte and Bailey castles were the earliest castles made, and they look a lot like our early American forts. The drawback was that because they were made of wood, the enemy could set fire to them, which is why they began building castles out of stone. Fantastic job, Bryony!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Photo #127: Teacher Appreciation Week

This has been Teacher Appreciation Week. Phillips has a great PTA, so teachers have received lots of goodies this week. On Monday, members of the PTA brought a coffee cart with homemade cinnamon rolls to teachers in their rooms. On Tuesday, our principal and office manager provided lunch for the entire staff. PTA provided us with a sub sandwich lunch on Thursday. All week long, my kids have been bringing flowers to me, which we kept adding to a vase. By Friday I had to get out a second vase. Aren't the flowers beautiful? I am very lucky to work where I do.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Photo #126: Core Knowledge Night

Tonight was Core Knowledge Night, our big school celebration of all the things we've been learning. For my class, we had our castles on display. We created Giant Medieval Paper Dolls in order to learn about the people of the middle ages. Everyone in the class also created their own Coat of Arms. We had a lot of fun, but the teacher is exhausted.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Photo #125: Castles Galore

This is the way my classroom looked today. It was a wild and crazy day. Our castle project was due today, and as always the kids and their families just knock my socks off with their creativity. Every year that we do this, the kids come up with something I have never seen before.

We devoted our entire day to talking about our castles. We interview each member of the class about their project. We also invite kids from other classes to come in to see them. Tomorrow night is Core Knowledge Night, and the castles and our other projects will be on display for everyone to see.

If you're interested in learning more about our castle project, you can read more about it on my professional blog, Prospecting For Treasure.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Photo #124: White Flowers and a Turtle

I actually took this picture and posted it before I saw the Daily Shoot for today. The Daily Shoot is: Find a statue, sculpture, or fountain and make a photograph of it today. Consider the time of day and light.

I'm not sure what these little white flowers are, but they come up every year. Other than the lilacs, they are among the first flowers that bloom in my yard each year. The turtle is one of the turtles from my garden turtle collection, and it is the very first one I acquired. The collection grows every year.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Photo #123: Now That's Ugly!

The Daily Shoot for Today: Make a composition of a wall and what is against it: art, shelves, etc. Consider the rule of thirds and watch your light.

My composition is just the wall. This is the wall in my upstairs hall. I have lived in this house about 9 years, and it has a few oddities. The people who owned it before covered the walls with contact paper, anyway I don't think Rubbermaid makes wallpaper. It might have been an easy fix, but contact paper does not stand up over time, and after a while it just starts letting go. That has been true of the blue striped paper in the hall. There was this loose place where the paper was sticking out at the top of the stairs. I've had this impulse to just grab hold and rip. I was able to control the urge until a couple weeks ago. The one good thing about contact paper used as wallpaper is that it's easy to remove. Underneath the blue stripe is this even more hideous paper. I always wonder how that ugly paper could have looked good to someone, or does the affect of the paper covering it, somehow make it even uglier. This lovely stuff is real wallpaper, and it's going to take some work to get it off there. But now I am committed. Removing the paper and painting the hall will be one of my many summer projects.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Photo #122: Spring Has Sprung

I'm feeling good about the yard work I got done this weekend. Three-fourths of the lawn is mowed and the front flower bed is cleaned out. I set up a bird feeder in front of my big bow window, with the hopes I'll be able to snap some good bird photos, once the word is out that there is food available. I'm always thrilled when I see the day Lillies and Hostas growing, and this time of year their foliage is lush and full. The bugs haven't had a chance to begin dining on them yet.

Jacci and I headed over to Mom's this afternoon, with the intent of working on her lawn. Jacci mowed the back yesterday. Unfortunately, before we could get there, we had a thunderstorm, so everything is soaked. We still went over and hung out with Mom for awhile, but we'll have to tackle the lawn tomorrow. It also means I can't finish the last of my own mowing until everything has a chance to dry out.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Photo #121: The Turtles Are Out!

It was a really beautiful day. After I got off work, I spent time working in the yard. I finally got around to cleaning out the front flower bed. I always struggle with this in the spring, particularly when we have rainy weekends. I end up so tired during the week, that it's very diffiult to consider mowing and gardening after a long day at school. Once I got the flower bed cleared out, it was time to take my turtle collection out of the garage. Every year I like to add a turtle or two to my garden collection. Sadly, there are some years that the turtles never make it out of the garaage all summer, depending on my interest or lack there of in gardening that year. When they are in the yard, they just make me smile.