Be Happy Anyway

Be Happy Anyway
From Brave Girls Club

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Annemarie Unplugged

Dec 24th since I was last online. I'm supposed to be posting my final reflection on discipline, but I don't have a computer. That's so not me. I've adapted. I've been drawing, sketching, designing...things I don't get to do. The big thing I got was a clean house, clean enough for company.
In the big world of cyberspace one can feel insignificant, but Peggy let me feel missed. She actually called looking for me. For that I am thankful. Wishing all of you Happy New Year! I hope to be back soon.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Creative Genius

My daughter continues to amaze me with her creative genius. Behold her latest jewelry creation. There is a lovely pendant to match, but I haven't photographed yet. Isn't her art teacher the best? To think the government keeps cutting back on fine arts budgets.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Last Day Before a Much Needed Break

Today is the last day before Winter Break. My students are surprised that I am making them learn on the day before a vacation, but I want them to realize there is a purpose for being here and we will take advantage of every moment we are given to become better people.

As they are working on their comic strips about a story we read, Gluskabe and the Snowbird, it causes me think about how every culture has stories and reasons for why the world is the way it is. In this particular Gluskabe story, they explain why it only snows a few months a year, why the sun doesn't shine on the entire world at the same time and, funnily, why a skunk is black and white and has a bad smell. There are stories of Anansi the spider which explain many of things like this, too.

None of these stories, however, can explain away why tragedy has to occur in our lives...why a 39 year old man has to bury his 58 year old mother...why a grandson will never get to know his grandmother.

My mother-in-law passed away yesterday. When I received the news, I was saddened, not so much for her loss of life. She made life choices that led to her early grave. I was more grieved by the fact that her life choices have denied my children knowing more about their heritage, where they come from. I am thrown into a quandary as to when it is okay to tell my children the circumstances surrounding their grandmother's death...certainly not at age four, but what about my 12 year old? When is she old enough to know? Little pitchers have big ears. What will she overhear as we travel to Oklahoma? These are the things I will spend my Christmas break worrying about.

Even while celebrating the birth of Christ and the meeting of my brother's SigO for the first time, my days will be overshadowed with sadness for my husband who will still be grieving over the relationship he never had with this woman by genetics we shall call "Mother."

I could write a book about the ways this person has failed my husband and his siblings, but in not wanting to slam the dead (as I am already speaking ill of her,) I will stop here and begin thinking of the packing I will be doing, the hugs from my students I will be receiving, the lights that will twinkle, the Christmas tunes that will fill the air and memory of this wonderful Christmas pageant that my son's school presented yesterday evening solely made up of 4 to 6 year olds.

It was amazing....I just wish I had a video camera.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Angel of Mercy

I was just getting into the Christmas spirit. Tree up. Tree skirt found (thanks Hun.) Gifts purchased (mostly.) Then I had to go to the bane of my existence, Supermegamart. My home town has only two stores that stay open after 7 p.m. One is just a grocery store and the other is my least favorite store in the world. I have managed to stay out of this store for quite some time, but this week I did have to venture there for a gift for my Secret Santa Pal since I procrastinated as I usually do. Mind you, I did try to shop local, but our boutiques have dwindled to one, and there was little that interested me.

I found everything I wanted and was able to buy milk and some materials for a science experiment the kids will be doing this week. However, the usual conundrum astounded me....Why, on payday after work, does a store with 30 check out aisles have only six or seven aisles open?

As I stood there pondering this, standing behind a family who obviously only shops once a month, my energy dwindled. Pretty soon I found myself leaning against an empty checkout booth, I think I may even have fallen asleep. That's when she came. An angel of mercy.

Feeling my cart move, I became aware of a woman trying to get my attention. It was a cashier who decided to open another checkout station. She moved my cart to her lane and had me move to her aisle. She quickly scanned my items and relieved me of my torture in no time.

I didn't catch her name, but she apologized for the wait. I thanked her profusely.

As I was leaving, I felt a little a bad for the man who had already been checking out in my previous line and the woman standing behind him with an equally full cart, but only just a little.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December Daily 16 - Crafty Recycling

Today is the last day of the Secret Santa. I will have to find something else to fill my December Daily posts with.

I filled a basket with my pal's favorite goodies like pretzels and chocolate and then added some spa-like gifts like "scrubby" gloves and socks that had aloe infused in them along with a purpley pink (her favorite colors) candle and last but not least some Mary Kay fun as only I can do.

I decided that the gift needed a little card to go with it, so I took the remains of the card that I used the other day to make mine. I found a clear piece of plastic to make a window. I wanted to fill the window with glitter but couldn't find any. Then I put the last piece of the old card in the window and decorated the rest of the card with markers and colored pencils.

Here's the final product.

Nine more days until Christmas. Twelve more days until I see my brother and meet his girlfriend. Fifteen more days until I start a new writing plan for myself. You will have to wait to hear about that, however.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December Daily 15 - The Personal Touch

I love presents. I love giving them. I love getting them. I have shown you one I received. Today let me show you what I gave.

The first is just the packaging as I don't want the girl getting it to know what Santa brought her. My friend Ivette gave me these plain boxes (meant for stamping or whatever,) so immediately put one to good use. I cut up a greeting card and used it as an embellishment and then began doodling based on images I saw in the card.

My secret pal also benefited today. Here are some little tags I made for her using some index cards and my favorite tool...markers!

Only 10 more days until Christmas and 16 more days of December Daily! I know I can. I know I can.

Monday, December 14, 2009

December Daily 14 - I Love My Secret Santa

I got a nice gift today from my Secret Santa.

If I showed you what it looked like now, you would say, "Tsk, Tsk."

So to my Secret Santa, Thank you whoever you are.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December Daily 13 - Deck the Halls

We finally put up the tree. Gary actually assembled it and left the part of decorating it to me and kids. I thought I would try letting them do it on their own, but couldn't let well enough alone. They were putting things on in the "wrong" order and loading the tree with too many of one type of ornament in one place. Even as a kid, I had a way of putting up the ornaments to ensure that the decorations were evenly spaced with no two colors touching and such.

Gary put up his Christmas village. It is so cute.

So other than the angel which hasn't made it to the top of the tree, we are pretty much done with holiday decorating. We will leave it up until the 6th of January.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

December Daily 12 - More Picniking

There were some interesting poinsettia (red for Christmas and blue for Hanukkah) in the grocery store the other day. They were so sparkly and I wanted to take a photo of them. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera and only had my phone. I went ahead and took a close up of the flowers and sent them to my email. This is what I got.Then I played with Fireworks (like Photoshop) and got this.

Finally I loaded it up to Picnik and got this.

I thought it was fun and decided that even though I didn't take the photo today, I fixed it today so it is my Daily #12.

I hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas/Hanukkah season.

Friday, December 11, 2009

December Daily 11

I am part of a Secret Santa exchange. I got some cool markers from my Secret Santa that I used to make a card to attach to my person's gift. I love markers.

December Daily 10

Dinner at Nanny's

Stormy Skies for Cazjane

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Too Many Cooks Spoil the Egg Drop Soup

This may be true, but today we are not talking about soup. Caitlin had a project to build an device using household materials to cushion her egg as it was dropped from the top of her two-story school. She came up with the idea of using the netting they use to hold fruits and vegetables and suspend it in a milk carton. The idea was that the net bag would catch the egg when it kept falling (due to Newton's law) once the milk carton stopped falling (hit the ground.)

As she was trying to build it, everyone at home kept putting their two cents in. Maybe you need clay to make the carton bottom heavy so it will land bottom side down. Maybe you should put some mattress foam to cushion the egg in case the carton lands on it's side. Maybe.... Maybe everyone should have kept their ideas to themselves because this was the final result.

Thankfully, she is not graded on whether the egg survived the drop. Just on her final observation report.

Reminds me of the platypus which appears to be an animal built by committee.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December Daily 7 & 8

I live in a very strange place as many of you know. I drive through field artillery ranges that have free range cattle roaming through it. There have been more than a few times when I have had to stop to let a cow wander across the road. I was fortunate enough to have my camera and the time to stop to snap a picture.

Today was Caitlin's band concert. Five junior high bands, some better than others, played their way through some traditional and not so traditional Christmas tunes the oddest being what the band director described as a Puerto Rican tune entitled "Winter Fiesta." What would my Puerto Rican counterparts know about winter other than it begins December 21st? When my grandfather came to visit me in Alaska in 1973, he had never seen or felt snow before. I know that the information superhighway has made such knowledge available to anyone with computer access, but really! How could they write a song about a Winter Fiesta?

But I digress, as I am prone to do. The next photo is of the tree that was displayed at the concert right next to Lone Star Flag.

Well, I am one-fourth of the way through December. I have managed to keep up pretty well. Just three more weeks of December Dailies.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December Daily 5 and Its Backstory

On Thanksgiving, James decided he needed a haircut. Unfortunately, all salons and barbers were closed, so he took matters into his own hands.

Because of that, he now looks like this.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Catching Up - December Daily 4

Yes, I already need to catch up. I know I shouldn't be behind at only day 4, but if you know me, that's par for the course.

I decided to try out the "Fireworks" feature on my little Olympus Stylus. It basically is just a long shutter. There were a couple of interesting shots, but this one was my favorite.

It looks like a chicken crossing the road with some little friends in tow.

See you tomorrow. I promise. *wink*

It's Snowing for December Daily 3

We actually have real snow falling from the sky. Granted the snow melts the moment it hits the ground, but it is snow nonetheless. The wonderful thing is to see how the students from Caribbean are enjoying seeing snow for the first time.

It made for a perfect Daily #3.
Oh, to have that much joy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December Daily 2

I never took my Christmas decorations down from last year. I left them up for my husband who was away for half of last year. Now I don't have to decorate for this year. LOL

December Daily 2

So here's December Daily number 2.

Two days down. Twenty-nine more to go.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Daily 1

Yesterday was the first day of December and the first day of December Daily where I get to take a photo a day for one month. Now that's a challenge I think I can keep up with. 30 days is about my limit when I finally say, I have had it, so I am going to complete this one.

I told Rieni that I thought I had already messed up because the day was so miserably cold and rainy that there couldn't possibly be anything to take a picture of, but I was mistaken. Every Tuesday we have dinner at my Aunt Rose's house, and she is very into holidays and decorations. I took a little photo. I call this "It's beginning to look a LITTLE like Christmas."
If you are not too busy Christmas shopping, card writing and the like, join me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thank You Picnik

Well, my friend Karen (Little_M) at has found her new loves and they are and Flickr. I headed over to Picnik with a photo I took at my aunt's house on Thanksgiving Day and got the following.

Before & After

Thank you Picnik. The only thing is sometimes I just keep pushing buttons until I get the desired result. Then I don't remember how I get where I am. It's kind of like when you are at the arcade as a kid playing the pinball machine. You kept pushing levers until you got the ball where you wanted it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

All Creatures Great & Small

It is that time of month again…the time when my friends and I come together virtually for our discussion on the words of the year. This month we are using an animal to describe or word or ourselves.

I choose the ant.

The ant has received a bad rap throughout history as a pest, a nuisance, an annoyance. While in Puerto Rico, I would often be surprised to find ants in my sugar, but no one else would be surprised. In Texas we are known for a more ferocious type, the fire ant - certainly not a little creature to be reckoned with.

While thinking about this critter, I began to realize the one thing no one has ever called an ant is lazy. When you see ants, what are they doing? Moving, carrying, building, preparing for whatever may come. If you destroy their home, the very next day they have set up shop just on the other side of the sidewalk. Which brings me to my story...

In a field one summer's day, Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing gleefully. Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.
Grasshopper tried to dissuade Ant from his work by inviting him along in his day of reverie, but Ant could not be swayed. He was preparing for the long winter. Ant tried to convince Grasshopper of the foolishness of his ways telling him he too should lay up stores.
Grasshopper was not worried about winter as he had plenty of food for now and continued to while away the hours and days leading up to the first snow at which time he found himself dying of hunger. Meanwhile, Ant and his family could be seen surviving from what was stored away during the good weather.

There are times when I would rather play than have the DISCIPLINE to stay at home and clean house or go to the grocery store and shop for the family. Sometimes I give in and later have to pay the consequences. Other times I pull myself together to get done what needs to be.
Over the course of this year, my focus on DISCIPLINE has led me to see the error of many of my ways - most of which I have tried hard to change. Of course being human and having a the luxury of being able to go out if need be, I have not perfected this way of life. It is still something I strive to improve.

One day a long time ago, I was watching a documentary about dolphins and something inside me clicked. I was well into my late 20’s and was watching the television as if I was glued to it. It felt as if I was in a mind-meld with the dolphins and it was too a point that I started to cry because on some spiritual level, I understood what these dolphins were saying. I just knew that the dolphin was my Spiritual Animal Totem, I just knew it!
The beautiful, graceful, sleek dolphin carries many messages for the two legged! A key to understanding because the dolphin meaning is connected with themes of duality. It has to do with the dolphin being both fish and mammal. It is both of the water, and an air breather. Ergo, dolphin symbolism talks to us about "being in two worlds at once." Indeed, the dolphin is a great conveyor of the concept of yin and yang.
It is playful, and is a reminder that time to play is a crucial element in walking in BALANCE. It moves through the water quickly and with great grace, ever moving with the flow. Dolphins tell us to move with the ebb and flow of life, and not to search for brick walls to smash into. To spend our energy fighting the current gets us nowhere. Being constantly at war with others, with our surroundings and with circumstances we cannot change, destroys the spirit, eats away at hope, and consumes the joy of life.
The power of the Dolphin is community in BALANCE.

I have chosen the ELEPHANT as an animal depicting ABUNDANCE. Of course, it does have abundant size but it also lives abundantly. Here is what I found out:
Elephants cry. They express grief at the loss of another elephant. They exhibit behaviors that depict sadness, bowing their heads, lowering their ears, and pausing at the place where another elephant has died.
Elephants play. They express joy at seeing other elephants. They dance around, spin and twirl, and trumpet joyful sounds.
Elephants are helpful. They take care of each other and especially the babies in the group.
Elephants give back. Without intention of doing so, their feet make large depressions in the ground where water can collect and be a provision for other animals.
Elephants are social. They live in large family groups and communicate over long distances with each other.
In my quest for an Abundant life, I think these characteristics are certainly a start. Have empathy for others, find joy in play, care for others, give back to the greater community, and create a positive family environment.

I'm sure my choice of dogs to express the meaning of joy doesn't surprise those who know me. Both Scout and Maggie have a way of warming my soul, making me laugh, and filling me with heartfelt joy.
They are ALWAYS happy to see me. They do the silliest things that make me laugh out loud, yet they are attuned to the personalities and emotions that flavor our home....
Studies have shown that owning a pet can add years to your life. In fact, just petting a dog has been shown to lower blood pressure. And residents of nursing homes have shown a boost in mood and social interaction when a dog has been brought in for a visit.
My two dogs definitely bring joy to my home, to my life, to my family.

The monthly word challenge just keeps getting more unique! My 2009 Word blog buddies and I are continuing our monthly tradition of exploring the word we selected at the beginning of the year that would provide a beacon for our 2009 goals. This month, we are each selecting an animal which embodies an element of our chosen word.

My word for '09 has been excellence and after a bit of zoological searching, I finally settled on the swan as the emblem for my word. Swans typically mate for life and have strong family bonds. The male and female swans nurture and raise their cygnets together, developing their own 'tribe', if you will. The image of a swan has graced many a coat of arms, conjuring connotations of nobility and are seen as symbols of love and fidelity because of their tendency to form life-long bonds. Many fairy tales and myths surround the species, the moral of the tales often being the adherence to beauty and grace, even in the midst of difficulty and ridicule.

Plus, swans are just pretty to look at. They just are.

Which is perhaps not the most excellent reason to choose a swan as my symbol of excellence. But I also got to take a great picture of one down of the lake during the summer.

And that sealed the deal for me...


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Night of Giving & Thanksgiving Wishes

Thanks for all of the kind words to my daughter about her post. And NOW back to my regularly unscheduled post.

Every time I see my daughter dance I am impressed. I think back to her earlier days around age 3 when I put her in a group called Texas Stars. They were a singing/dancing/tumbling group. At that time, we didn't know about her Asperger's. She was just a quiet girl who kept to herself. We used to have to call her by her first and middle name just to get her attention, and we used to have to do it several times. I would take her to class and sit in the lobby that was only divided by a thin curtain. I am sure her teacher was overwhelmed by Caitlin. Every class was filled with repeated calls to "Caitlin Rose, Caitlin Rose." (Be sure to add an annoying lilt to the call.)

Despite the disastrous classes, when the group would attend grand openings and the like, Caitlin would pull out all the stops and shake her sparkly red pompoms, dance to Zippidy Doo Da or sign the lyrics to Proud to Be an American. (Sorry, I didn't have a video camera back then.) It was quite specatcular for a three year old. However, when the Christmas show came around, Caitlin spent the entire show wandering around the back of the stage behind the rest of her group who was dancing in little elf costumes. It was at that point I pulled her from the program. Caitlin didn't see a dance class for three more years.

That is when I enrolled her in ballet, tap and jazz. Fortunately, the walls were much thicker so I didn't have hear the repeated "Caitlin Rose" calls. Her teacher told me that Caitlin was the one she would turn to when she wanted to know where the class left off the week before. At the recital, Caitlin was the one her classmates watched when they forgot what to do next. This strong memory is what got her invited to the competitive group two years later.

These days my concerns are more academic in nature, so it gives me such pleasure when I see her performing at various functions like the Night of Giving that took place last weekend.

My little camera has an okay video function. It's better than nothing.

After the performance there were some other performers, but mom and I decided to get a little peek at the sales they were having at the event. We went to the department store and found this cute coat that Caitlin really wants. Santa may just bring it.
She certainly has come a long way and for that I am thankful.

I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving. All of my English, Dutchie, Norsk and Aussie friends, I wish you the same. We will have some turkey and pumpkin or pecan pie for you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another Hijack

Hi! It's me, Caitlin. I've taken over my mom's blog for a little bit and thought I should show you something. I made this little necklace at my aunt's house yesterday because I was bored. I just grabbed a bead from each color section in a little box of beads. When it was done, it was a little rainbow. While I was wearing it, I realized it goes well with almost anything. If you like it, I'd love to know. Mom said I can take a jewelry class sometime.

This is my first step to becoming a fashion designer. I will make more jewelry, so try and keep up with them.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nothing Complicated & the White Phone to God

As promised, I have devised a plan to help Caitlin remember to do homework that has been assigned and turn in work that she completes (oddly enough, a very hard thing for her to do.)

This binder looks normal enough.

Most kids can put things in it and make it to and from school without much difficulty. Unless the inside of the binder looks like this:
So today, went to the office supply store and looked for something a little more durable. I also pictured in my mind clear pockets with tabs so Caitlin could see that she had papers to take home or to turn in. Imagine my surprise when they had exactly what I wanted.

I was also at Michael's next door a little earlier and found this:
A pad of weekly calendars

I put these things together like this:
The idea is for Caitlin to be able to write the assignments she receives each day on the pad and place any worksheets or works in progress in the clear pockets. Once she completes them, she can place them in the pockets that have been labeled for each subject since most completed doesn't get turned in because she forgets them.

I am hoping this is simple enough a plan for her to use everyday. We shall see.


On another note:

James and I had another stimulating conversation today after I gave him my junk mail.

J: Wow! Look at the prizes. Mom if you call God, he'll bring you prizes in the mail.
(James has figured out the secret to Publisher's Clearing House.)

M: Did you call God?

J: No, I have to be bigger.

M: You can call him now.

J: I will need something to stand on.

M: Why?

J: Is He tall?

M: Yes, God is bigger than everything.

J: Okay, I will dial 119.

Later, after being scolded for breaking into his sister's room he told me he needed to use the White Phone.

I guess it's God's version of the President's Red Phone.
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