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2016 Goals

  • write to my grandmother every six weeks or so
  • call my moms every month or so
  • cook/eat better
  • clean out and organize my writng/craft room
  • re-institute the cleaning plan
  • publish six books by September 2017
  • reach 120 to 125 pounds
  • walk the dog three times a week

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Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday Monday


Well, the game Friday night was all right. The football team lost, but it was a high scoring, relatively close game. I suppose it was nice for the other team to win since it was their homecoming. Their band was huge and put us to shame in both size, playing skill, and behavior. Sonshine did not have such a great night and, subsequently, neither did I. He's hanging in there though, but thinking he needs to lower his expectations. We'll see how that plan goes.

But the rest of the weekend went well. Okay, well, I binged on junk and failed to exercise and have been struggling with making good food choices all week. One of those bad choices was chocolate milk and Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies!

However, in the interest of every day being special, I did drink my chocolate milk out of a wine-type glass!



Now, for something a little more interesting and fun--I caught a picture of a lizard with a grub in his mouth! I stepped onto the back porch and caught the little guy scurrying across the grass, then up the side of the stoop. He took a little detour up my leg, then jumped onto the brick of the house.

Here he is with the grub...

You may have to click the image to see the large version.

And last, but not least, one of my squirrel babies tapping into the bird feeder!


How was your weekend??


Friday, September 27, 2013

Ch-ch-changes...


At the risk of violating the TMI rule, I think I've started the big change women go through.

I wouldn't have thought so a week ago, but a couple of things have happened to make me think I've started the journey. I've never been afraid of it or worried about it, frequently saying, "bring on the hot flashes" since I'm always cold.

But Jen, you're only 45. True, but still within the normal range for the onset of--let me just say it--menopause.

Since I started getting periods, I've missed three in my whole life. Knowing how many kids I have, this makes perfect sense. My cycles have also occurred on a standard 28-day rotation. In August, I swear I didn't get one. At least not when I should have. It was late... I didn't think about it until it showed up. But then three weeks later, I get another?? Me thinks there's something rotten in Denmark. (And I can say that cuz I'm Danish, tee hee.)

Then yesterday I almost had a meltdown for no good reason.

There may not be enough evidence for a medical doctor to agree with my diagnosis, but I know me, and all other things being equal, it seems the most likely diagnosis.

Anyway, enough of me and my true confessions.

It's Friday, and you all know what that means--Friday Night Lights!! And we're finally gonna see a marching show tonight. I'm looking forward to it.

Have a great weekend.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wishful Wednesday


Last time I posted a wishful Wednesday, I talked about how I'd love to be able to put up a privacy fence around the rest of my yard.

This time, I'm changing direction, and this wish requires way more money and people way smarter than me to take this dream and make it a reality.

So what is this wish, you ask...

A school!

I'd like it to look something like this, but beggars can't be choosers!!
This is Birmingham Business School, and the image has been placed in the public domain by the copyright owner.


It's no big secret that our educational system has many many issues, and my wish here (if you're gonna dream, you may as well dream BIG, right???) is to create an environment that not only teaches children what they need to know knowledge-wise and then some, but also how society works. I know you're probably wondering what I mean by that and I'll tell you eventually or it may become clear as I ramble.

But let's start with the school...I want it to be birth to twelfth grade. Interesting concept, huh? The reason for that is not because I want to start teaching kids that young but because I want the older kids to have access/exposure to younger children of all ages.

I want no politics. I'm not sure how to pull that off, but this school is about the kids. About how to educate them to the best of our ability. Not about making more money or becoming principle or getting on the school board. I mean those things are not bad in and of themselves, but if that's a teacher or an administrator's primary focus, they're in the wrong place.

The last thing I'm gonna mention as part of my ideal school is I want kids to be tested and then placed in classrooms with like-learning peers and be taught the way they learn best. Sonshine is an auditory learner. If he hears it (a couple of times), he knows it. So lecturers are his ideal teachers. Me--not so much. DD and I like to have instructions and the ability to do the thing.

So what do you think?

I have a lot of other plans and ideas to cover at some point, and I hope you'll share your own.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A rose by any other name...


Here on my blog, I tend to refer to my family members either with nicknames or just by relationship. As you know, according to my short legend to the right, my son is Sonshine and sometimes Marching Band Boy on this blog, but in real life I also call him Sonshine,  Bubba, Baby Boy, ocassionally Brass Head, and of course by his name. Hubby is generally referred to as DH here, but I call him babe or by his name in real life. The girls, too, have pet names, namely baby girl or XXXXX Lady for the oldest and baby girl or XXXXX Love for the youngest. The call me various things too. Mostly Mom, or Momma, sometimes Mama-san, Wife Unit. And every once in a while I still get called Mommy.

My full given name is Jennie Linn, after the Swedish singer. These days, you probably know me just as Jen. DH has a sister named Jenny, so when we got married, obviously having a Jenny and a Jennie was going to be a bit confusing. Mostly DH was already calling me Jen, so switching to it on a permanent/regular basis was not an issue.

Now the whole original idea for today's post came from a conversation I had with Sonshine. I was telling him that I never thought his dad and I would have ever named him what we did.

You see, back in high school, I knew a kid named ... And he had a crush on me, was a grade or two  behind me, and I found him just generally annoying. And you know how once you have a bad experience with a person, you tend to shy away from that name--especially when naming your children (or your book characters). I'm not saying the experience was awful and terrible and bad things happened with that boy, but I never would have thought I'd have named my own child that name.

But seventeen, almost, eighteen years later and, you know, I really couldn't can't imagine my son with any other name, though I suppose I'd probably love him just as much!

Do you have nicknames for the special people in your life or an interesting story about a name?? I'd love to hear it.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Feeling ranty...


First Yahoo, now Google.

A couple of weeks ago, I went into Yahoo to manage messages for one of the groups I'm on. And they'd completely changed it. I couldn't find anything and they took away some features.  It took me too long to figure out how to do what I needed to. You know, can't they roll these things out in increments?? Though, I suppose since I'm not a regular user, it wouldn't matter much...

Then yesterday, I'm on Google...click the mail link and go looking for the drop down menu to choose my secondary email account--the one I use for the proofreading. Oh, but I can't find it. So I have to click my way around My Google (or whatever they're calling it), which is looking suspiciously like Facebook, and find my settings. From there I see the little drop down menu and get into my other account. Ugh, so now FIVE clicks instead of TWO. Sheesh.

What a pain in the patoot.

I'm sorely tempted to change e-mail providers. I really really am.

On the bright side, it's been raining in my neck of the woods, I have new cross stitch projects in the works, *and* it's Friday and tomorrow is writers group day, so I'm gonna hang with my writer peeps.

Have a great weekend!
Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Or not...


I knew I might have spoken too soon. It turns out the counselor's office was closed Monday and Sonshine was unable to get his transfer. He did man up and go talk with his directors and they (of course) tried to convince him to remain in band. As of Monday evening he was still on the fence, but I knew he was wavering.

Last evening after I picked him from practice, he told me he was staying in the band. Some of it was apparently realizing that what some of things the band directors said was true, but I honestly believe mostly it's because he loves being in band that much, that he wasn't really ready and fed up enough to walk away.

One thing the directors did say was that if no one tells them there's a problem, they can't address it. And Sonshine gets like me where it festers and he talks to everyone but the person or people who really need to hear it. So I think I need to step up and go to the band director with my concerns as well.

So the end of an era is not the end at all.



Let's see how it goes. Luckily, though, this week is a bye week and a much-needed break.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The end of an era...


This morning, Sonshine takes a note from me to the counselor's office requesting a transfer out of band. He gave it all summer and three weeks of school and things did not improve. The new band director is in a tough spot. I get that. But as the weeks have passed and things have happened and other things have not happened, and as I've watched him during games, I've become increasingly dissatisfied with the job he's doing. I won't go into detail, because it would take me hours to get it all down on paper and into some semblance of coherence. I'm sad and disappointed on Sonshine's behalf. But part of me is relieved, and it feels a bit freeing to get past all the drama and the angst.

But in other news...

I have a bloom! Remember I replanted my surviving azalea into a pot? Well, yesterday when I was out watering, I noticed a flower. I've still been worried about it because, sometimes, life conspires to keep me from watering it (or I just plain forget) and it still looks a bit worse for wear. But look:



And I noticed a splash, if you will, of dirt along the patio next to the pot. Someone'd been in the pot digging. Saturday afternoon, I saw one of the handful of possible suspects:




I haven't named this fellow--and it is a fellow. Stevie is female, but this guy is definitely male. So maybe Howard. What do you think?


Friday, September 13, 2013

And still more random pictures...

I think we're almost caught up now, so one more day. We'll see what the weekend holds for Monday's post, but for now...

I bought a new camera a few months ago and though I'm no photographer, I've been taking pictures of sunrises, seeing if I can capture some cool shots. I won't bore you with them all here, but I created a photo album on my Shutterfly. If you're so inclined, you can check them out here. Also, feel free to use any of my pictures for any purpose. Credit is nice, but not required. Feel free to share with others as well.

As for the rest of what I'm going to share...

Wednesday, Handsome the tree lizard was featured. I consider him to be sort of granddaddy-ish as he's the biggest one. There are two other smaller ones I've seen around and then a couple of weeks ago, I spotted this little guy! He's maybe two inches in length.


And I have a flag on my house. Finally! After I don't know how many years. I bought the flag two or three years ago. It's been in the hall closet and I finally made Sonshine put the bracket on the house. It was almost too far up. As you can at the top of the picture, the pole is right in line with the gutter. I just bent the bracket forward a wee bit and now the pole has a couple of inches of clearance.


As you know, Sonshine is a senior in high school this year. I did get a grudging picture of him on the first day...


And last but not least, I've been cross stitching again. I started a new project for myself -- a table cloth. Sort of. I have these two boxes of real old fashioned silver. (DH's grandmother's) The boxes were in my closet for years, but when I re-did the closet, I put them on the top bunk of Sonshine's bed. And then when I had him clean his room, I had him move them into my office/craft room. So when I tidied up my room, I decided to use them as a platform for Sonshine's wooden rocking horse. But, of course, they needed to camouflaged as well as protected. So...I dug out some large count blanket type aida cloth. It's probably five or six squares per inch and very loose.


Then I found an outline of a dala horse and created a pattern...



And then I started stitching!




I miscounted up on that fist one, so I'm going to have to pull it. But the second one has turned out perfectly aligned. It'll post pics once it's finished and in place.

Oh--are you asking why dala horses?? Well, my mom is from Denmark and when I visited my grandparents, they started my collection of the Swedish wooden horses. Which are called dala horses. I've expanded my collection over the years from the first two to ten.


(The huge one was a gift.) And I love them and thought why not?? I chose the orange and green because those are the primary colors of my room.

And I close now--it's almost the weekrnd. Do you have big plans??

Of course, I have a football game tonight, but the rest of the weekend will be devoted to cleaning house, me thinks. It's been far too long since I've done major damage!

See you Monday.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Another random picture post...


Monday, I started catching up with my pictures I've been taking to share with you all...and continuing today.

So let's see what else has been sitting and waiting...let's go with random backyard wildlife pictures.

Simon the stray cat has been visiting more often of late. He'll come and sleep in random places. Hoping for a feathery birdy treat I'm sure. But I also put out a bowl of fresh water and (cheapo) dry cat food for who-so-ever will eat.






Now I'm not sure the hierarchy between cats and squirrels -- Stevie, one of our resident squirrels, seems to think Simon is a predator. Personally, I think Simon is more interested in the birds than she is in Stevie. Unless Simon's starving, which she's not, there's no reason to try to catch a creature almost as large as she is. And Stevie could probably hold her own.

Anyway the point of that is that last Friday, I dragged the bins to the back gate. And heard Stevie up in the tree chattering angrily. And then I noticed Simon, who I'd startled, curled up alongside the fence. There's maybe ten feet between the tree and the fence and the branch was about fifteen feet up. It really was quite funny. Until I woke her up, Simon was snoozing away, oblivious to Stevie's angry tirade.




Do you have wildlife in your backyard??


Monday, September 9, 2013

Catching up of a different sort...


No, I still haven't gotten downright sick, though yesterday I woke up with a headache. And then cleaning products hindered my ability to completely get rid of it. So I had to stop cleaning!

I realized as I was downloading pictures from this week's football game is that I've taken all kinds of pictures to share here on the blog, but that I haven't actually done so. So today and maybe Wednesday and maybe even Friday, depending on how many pictures there are, I'm gonna do just that.

So let's get started, shall we...


Three weeks or so ago, we had a storm system move in and it poured down rain. Even at seventeen and a half, Sonshine still likes to play in the rain. Note the level of the water in the gutter--up to Sonshine's ankles. Close to four inches... And though it's harder to tell, the water almost completely covered the street from one side to the other.


One of my azaleas finally bit the big one. So I dug them both up and replanted the surviving one into a large pot and left it on my patio. I think it likes it better--more shade during the course of the day. It's still alive as of this morning, at any rate. :)



And one more random picture...




Handsome, the huge tree lizard, hung out on the patio one day.

So what's going on with you??


Friday, September 6, 2013

It's catching up to me whatever it is...


For weeks, probably months, my body has been fighting off something. I feel it as an irritation in my throat. I continue on, drinking a bit more hot tea to ease the symptoms, and it fades and dissipates. I think, however, my luck has run out. Not only does my throat feel irritated, but there's a tickle deep inside my ears, as well as some sinus pressure.

Must I give in to the sickies or can I overcome once again...?

Time will tell and nature will take its course.

In the meantime, it's the weekend and either way I'll be getting extra rest.

Hope you have a great one.

(Too bad it's not another three day weekend...)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Let's talk about something else--I'm not a broken record!


There are other things in my life. Like TV. I like TV, though I don't have live access to it. You know, I can't just turn on my TV, change some channels and watch any of 100s of random shows. No cable or dish or satellite access. To watch TV, I have to log into Netflix through Xbox Live or over the Internet, watch DVDs, go online and access a TV station's website, or rent or buy via iTunes.

I do all of the above except rent from iTunes. If I'm going to pay money for it, I'm going to keep it.

The new TV season starts this month and I'm looking forward to a handful of shows. Namely:


Glee--this will be a bittersweet season after the death of Cory Montieth who played one of Glee's most beloved characters, Finn Hudson. His off screen girlfriend, Lea Michelle (who plays his on screen girlfriend as well), was given the choice to call a halt to the show or to press on. Last spring, FOX renewed the show for two more seasons. It's going to be a mighty different show without Cory and Finn. I'm both looking forward and dreading to see how they'll handle the loss.

In addition to Glee, I'm looking forward to... (in no particular order)





Anyone watch any of the above shows? What are you most looking forward to this TV season?


Monday, September 2, 2013

Fiday Night Lights a Bust


All that excitement over the first game of the season, all the worry over involvement and it may be a moot point.

The evening started off fine. I got to the band hall in plenty of time and took pictures and just sat and watched. Of course I'm used to the previous band director so many things were different, some a nice change of pace, others just different-not they way we're used to doing things. I heard several kids say they wished ms former band director was still there--even kids who butted heads with her.


I thought the buses were late, but in fact, we made it to Dallas and the host school in plenty of time, despite having difficulty finding the school tucked away as it was in a neighborhood. For the last three years, we've always had two buses for the kids and a truck for the instruments and paraphernalia. We had two buses for the kids, the instruments, and six adults. Can you say crowded? And hot. I got lucky and somehow ended up on the equipment bus with only a half dozen kids, one other parent, and the assistant band director.

Still, though, the evening was going along. Everyone seemed in fairly good spirits.



So we get to the other school, pile off the buses, and head into the stands. One good bit of luck--the school had no visitor stands. For those of you who don't live in Texas or eat, sleep, and breathe football--every, and I do mean every--football field/stadium I have been to is built so that home stands face east and visitor stands face west. That means visitors have the setting sun shining right into their faces for a good hour or two. At the beginning of the school year here in Texas, it's HOT HOT HOT!


We settle in place--with bass drums in front of brass--HUH??--and prepare to play the fight song. Half the kids don't know their music and they're not allowed to bring their binders with sheet music into the stands. Nor have they been given the little mini music things or lyres to attach to their instruments. We're not starting off well at all. Even to my untrained eye.


So we begin the first half of the game...and the kids are not playing much. Percussion is allowed to play a few cadences, but stand songs are few and far between, so the rest of the sections are a bit restless.

And eventually a fight broke out! First real altercation I've seen between band students since Sonshine and I have been in band. I know one of the boys already had something stuck in his craw before the game even started, however, had those children been playing music, the likelihood of that fight breaking out was slim to none. They would have been too busy playing to have any sort of conversation. Both boys were suspended and I heard one was kicked out completely. A shame.

So then it's almost half time and the kids leave the stands to prep for the half time show.... Since show music isn't even ready, not even a single movement, they're going to play a song for the color guard to dance to. Those poor girls, I come to find out, had three days to prepare a routine without a color guard instructor. Not good. I felt really bad for them, bless their hearts. Five returning members with a single year under their belt trying to teach five new girls a routine.

Sonshine's already feeling the disappointment creep up on him. And after the snack break, he spent most of the second half sitting with his fist in his hands. And did the band director or assistant band director notice? No. Because (a) he was hidden behind the bass drums and (b) the band director was busy facing the field and not the band...

Then the lights got turned off with six minutes of game of play left. The game ended up being called. And we packed up our stuff and made the long journey home.

Not an auspicious start to the season.

I told my boy to not think about the band for the weekend. It's a long weekend and to just give it a rest, however, I woke up this morning thinking that he needed to at least let them know how he was feeling and give the band a chance to step up. I don't know if he will or if it will make a difference, but I'd hate for him just quit with attempting to effect the change he's looking for.

I'm feeling sad and disappointed on my boy's behalf right now. I told him I'd go talk to the band or send an e-mail to the band director if he wanted, but he's a big boy and I don't want to embarrass him either, so we'll see how it plays out.

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Jen FitzGerald
Thanks for stopping by one of my little corners of the world wide web. So, a little about me...My husband and I have been married for twenty years and we have three adult children although our youngest is still in high school. We've lived in Texas for fifteen years and for the rest of the story, click here.
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Jen's Glossary of Terms

  • DH = my husband
  • my Brown Eyed Girl = my oldest daughter
  • DD = my Darling Daughter (the younger one)
  • Sonshine or Marching Band Boy = my son
  • NT = the North Texas chapter of RWA
  • RWA = Romance Writers of America