If We Were Having Coffee…6/24/17

Whew!

If we were having coffee…I would hurry you in and start off by appologizing for my slightly disheveled appearance. At 6:30 this morning we were awaken to beeping cell phones issuing a tornado warning! Not the most relaxing way to start the day. Luckily, though the conditions were favorable, no tornados actually formed. Miss Dee and I sat in the basement family room watching the news untill the warning expired. The D-Man, who is much more of a thrill seeker, watched from the den window. Mr D never even made it out of bed. Pretty sure he could sleep through most anything.

Anyway, at this point in time, hours later, as I fill your cup with some nice strong French roast and offer you a donut, the skies have cleared. Young Mr D has left for work, D-Man has headed back to bed and Miss Dee having just climbed back out of bed herself, is watching YouTube videos. She will be off to work in a few hours herself. I really kind of love this time of year when hubby and I stay home and the kids go off to make a living. Ahhh, good times….

A cloudy view of the Freedom Tower as seen from Hoboken

If we were having coffee…we could catch up with each other’s past few weeks. I don’t know about you but mine have been quite busy! We finished up the school year (hooray) on the 16th, then spent the next day visiting D-man’s step-sister in Hoboken celebrating my father-in-law’s 75th birthday. Torrential downpours made the  drive a bit of a challenge but eventually the family was able to gather for a very nice lunch, wishing him well and fussing over new baby Asher, just two months old.

Beach selfie!

Sunday was a day of rest as well as laundry and packing because on Monday Miss Dee and I headed for the shore.  For the past three summers we have kicked off our break by having a Mother/daughter get-away at the beach. The weather this year was perfect. Sunshine, sand, lounging outdoors by the sea! Totally rejuvenating.  Mr D and his lady friend came to visit one day and we all went out for a lovely seafood dinner.

Full STEAM ahead!

On Thursday we found ourselves back home, unpacking and, again, doing laundry!  Then on Friday, AKA yesterday, I was up early finishing up my STEAM Camp props so that I could deliver them for set up. The airplane board just barely fit in my car but made it to the site unscathed. I spent an hour or so aiding in the set up then rushed off to do the grocery shopping. D-Man and I finished up the day enjoying the perfect weather while watching the team of middle schoolers that Mr D coaches play baseball.

That brings us full circle…back to this morning’s 6:30AM tornado warning…

Like I said….Whew!!!!

So if we were having coffee…I would now lean back and ask “How was your week?” I hope it was fun and eventful, low on stress and high on comfort. The day here is shaping up to be sunny and warm so stay a while. Let’s chat. Oh, and don’t forget to stop by Nerd in the Brain so you can check out the rest of the Weekend Coffee Share!

The 2017 Summer Bucket List

Woo-hoo! It’s that time again….

For the past eleven years I have worked at a job that allows me to have the summers off. This is a treat, of course, but it can also seem daunting to someone like me, who thrives on routine. I found that instead of being productive with my time, I was wandering around half-doing a lot of stuff with no direction or plan. A few years ago, I decided to try a little experiment. I called it my “Summer Bucket List” and you know what? It really worked! I wasn’t able to finish everything on the list but it did keep me motivated and focused and when September rolled around, I was able to see exactly what I did with my time off.

Naturally, I was ready to make another handy dandy bucket list this summer!* Several of the items on my 2017 list are repeats from other summers, either because they were not accomplished that year or, they were so much fun, I wanted to do them again! Anything marked with a (c) is something that makes me a bit nervous or is something I tend to procrastinate about and will therefore be more of a challenge to accomplish. My last day of school is this Friday, June 16th so that means that on June 17th I’ll be off and running! Wish me luck!

BEHOLD THE 2017 SUMMER BUCKET LIST!!

1. Take at least six day trips (parks, beach, etc)
2. Clean out and organize the household file cabinet
3. Repaint the living room walls
4. Travel some where by train
5. Ride a train into the city (c)
6. Create at least six art projects
7. Visit at least 2 museums
8. Take care of some “self maintenance” by catching up on yearly physicals.
9. Clean out and purge all the stuff (junk) stored in the downstairs closet.
10. Go canoeing or kayaking
11. Have at least six lunch dates with friends or family
12. Go zip-lining (c)
13. Walk on the beach
14. Have a picnic somewhere next to the water
15. Have a romantic weekend away with my Hubby
16. Join a book club and attend meetings monthly
17. Maintain my newly planted herb garden and use the herbs often (c)
18. Attend the theater at least three times (films or plays)
19. Try to awaken my inner “chef” by researching and attempting some new recipes. (c)
20. Experience a ride in a hot air balloon (c)
21. Finish organizing and labeling our family tree and photos
22. Visit a local winery and enjoy a wine tasting.
23. Listen to some live music, preferably outdoors
24. Go dancing with my Hubby
25. Catch up on a full season of the “Once Upon a Time” TV show with Miss Dee (we got a little behind!)

*BTW It would be super awesome to have some company on this adventure so feel free to make your own list if you’re so inclined.

We can compare notes and cheer each other on! 😊

If We Were Having Coffee…6/3/17

Good afternoon!

If we were having coffee you would find me perky and pleasant today because, finally, finally, finally we could enjoy our visit out on the porch! The weather here in Jersey, following a rainy morning, is sunny and mild and yesterday, the D-Man liberated all the outdoor furniture from the garage. I was so happy to see my Adirondack chair I would have kissed it, had it not been covered with spider webs! Don’t worry though, everything now is clean and fresh and quite sit-able! So let’s fill up your cup, put our feet up on the porch rail and do some catching up.

For me, the last week or so has mostly been about staying motivated while the school year winds down. Two weeks to go. The students have checked out mentally and the daily routine has been one interruption after another. We’ve had some end of year testing, spring concerts, visiting bands from the high school and mifddle school as well as field trips and picnics. Next week is even busier. At least it will make the days move quickly. The end of the school year can’t come soon enough because we are in the midst of a severe pencil shortage! I swear the kids must be eating them or selling them on the black market because everytime you turn around, the supply cups are empty and no one has any in their desks or back packs. I’m thinking perhaps a black hole of some kind?! Anyway, we need to finish up the year before other items start being sucked in, staplers, notebooks, the laminator! Yikes!

If we were having coffeeI would tell you a bit about one of my favorite students, Willa. She’s a sweet, shy 9 year old with a quirky sense of humor that she shares only with those she feels most comfortable. We’ve been friends since herfirst grade year, so I’m lucky enough to be one of those people. Lately Willa’s thing has been telling riddles. Periodically she appears  in front of me with another. Here are a few “Willa-isms”…

  • A cowboy rode into town on Friday. He stayed in townfor three nights then rode out on Friday. How is that possible?
  • Mr Pink lives in the pink house, Mr Blues lives in the blue house, Mr Green lives in the green house. Who lives in the white house?
  • A rancher has 198 cattle but when he rounds them up he has 200. Why is that?
  • What belongs to you but is used most often by others?

I will put the answers at the bottom so you can ponder a bit…😊

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that today is a busy one in our family.  Mr D was up at 7:00 and off to work (it’s a big time of year in the NJ produce world- fresh strawberries are in!) Then he had a baseball game followed by his girlfriend’s college graduation party this evening. I spent the morning on cleaning, laundry and a little online shopping for STEAM Camp while D-man did some baking and cleared out his old desk so he could organize the new one. Boy that man loves to save stuff!! You wouldn’t believe the flotsam hidden in those desk drawers. It was like a time capsule of his last thirty years!

As for this afternoon, we will be heading over to my father-in-laws in a bit to have a meet and greet with baby Asher who has come down from NYC to visit (he brought his mom and dad with him! 😉) and then,we too, will head over to the graduation party. The only family member with a quiet day so far is Miss Dee. No work for her today so she slept till 11:00 and is now sitting here painting her nails in preparation for the party later. What a life, huh!?

Having said all that, I must get myself moving now. Thanks for stopping by. I hope all is well with you. What have you been up to this week? Please share! Oh, and don’t forget to stop by Nerd in the Brain so you can check out the rest of the Weekend Coffee Share!

{Willa’s answers: His horse was named Friday; the President, of course; It’s a math joke, he “rounds them up to 200” -get it? and; Your name😊}

If We Were Having Coffee….5/20/17

If we were having coffee…I would ask you to come in, sit down, relax, move those empty grocery bags out of you way. I had to run to the supermarket this morning, not my favorite thing on a Saturday but my family was bellyaching about the lack of food around here. Yeash! So demanding!!😊

Anyway, shopping done, bathroom clean, laundry later. Time to chat. What’s up with you? How is the weather in your area?  It’s been mighty hot here. I thought I was melting at school yesterday. Not good for student (or teacher) concentration. The classroom I work in is air conditioned but the halls and the lunchroom are not so all day long it was like… cool-hot-cool-hot! My menopausal system can’t take temperature changes like that!

If we were having coffee… I might tell you that hubby and I are heading out to dinner tonight to celebrate our anniversary (23 years!) and that he also has another stop in mind for us afterward but he won’t tell me what. Hmm?  That man likes his surprises. I will let you know next week, unless, of course, it’s not a “G” rated trip then I will keep it to myself. 😉It’s hard to believe we’ve been married that long but then it’s also hard to remember a time before he was about.  Since we still seem to like each other quite a bit, I guess I’ll keep him around a while longer.

Tomorrow, we will have a BBQ with the kids and hang out around here. This will be our first BBQ of the season so I’m looking forward to it.

Also, tomorrow, my brother-in-law is dropping off  this lovely secretary desk that originally belonged to my husband’s grandmother.

He and his wife are moving to a smaller home in June so this family heirloom is coming to live with us now. I’m very excited to have it.  I think it’s pieces like this with so much sentiment value that help a house feel more like a home. We already have a lovely old hutch in our kitchen that my in-laws bought over 50 years ago when they were first married. It feels important to keep these item in the family and I think my mother-in-law appreciates it too.

Well, it’s time to go do some “stuff!” Hope your weekend is great and thanks for stopping by. Hop on over to visit Emily at Nerd in the Brain too so you can check out the rest of the Weekend Coffee Share.

G.S.S.T.A.- Colonial America

Grade School the Second Time Around– This series of posts begs to answer the question, “Did I actually learn all this stuff when I was in grade school and then just forgot it, or am I learning it all  fresh now, the second time around? ”  

Our final unit in fourth grade social studies is devoted to the American Colonies and the Revolutionary War. Personally, I find this topic fascinating. Too bad most of our students have checked out mentally, already dreaming of summer vacation. It’s a bit hard to absorb anything, especially a lot of American history that way.

I’ve learned a lot, though! Here are some of the more interesting tidbits…

  • Colonial housewives used live chickens as chimney sweeps. Apparently, they dropped the bird down the chimney and as it fell the flapping and flailing of it’s wings would knock the dust and suet off the walls. (guess the Founding Fathers weren’t real big on animal rights.)
  • Young boys and girls would both attend beginning school, called “Dame School” to learn basic letters and facts. After that, however only the boys were permitted to go on to grammar school. The girls returned home to learn “domestic sciences” from their mothers. (apparently, they didn’t care much about women’s rights either…)
  • “Dame School” by Thomas Webster

    In the winter months, student were required to bring their own wood from home to fuel the school house stove. (And my students complain about the weight of their backpacks!)

  • Some Colonial homes had beds that folded up into the wall to allow extra living space during the day, like our more modern Murphy beds.

  • The size of the wig you wore (a very popular accessory for men and women during this time) reflected directly on your wealth. The bigger the wig, the richer the wearer.
  • George Washington (when he wasn’t wearing his wig), was a brunette.
  • Even though, historically, King George usually get the blame as being the “bad guy” during the revolution, he was only 22 years old at the time and was probably leaning heavily on the advice of his Prime Minister George Grenville.

Are you feeling any smarter? Bet I remember more about this chapter in American history than any of our fourth grade students will! Maybe I’ll quiz them in the fall…😊

The Weekly Smile…Sage Advice From A Senior Cat

Live each day like a cat in a sun spot;

Relaxed, content, and totally in the moment.

~Jack

🐱🐱🐱☀️☀️☀️☀️🐈🐈🐈🐈🐱🐱🐱☀️☀️☀️☀️🐈🐈🐈🐈

The Weekly Smile is brought to you by Trent’s World. Stop by and check out the rest of the smiles and maybe leave one of your own.

If We Were Having Coffee…5/6/17

If we were having coffee this morning… I would probably start off with, “Remember me?” It’s been a while since I’ve been inspired to sit and create a post of any kind or visit those of my blog friends. I’ve no excuse. My mind and life were just heading in a different direction for a bit, but now as I sit here lingering over my French Roast, breathing in the cool spring air blowing through the screen door I feel the need for a bit of a chat so….

First, as an update, in my last Coffee Share I was pretty excited that our family was awaiting the arrival of two new baby boys. Both have arrived healthy and strong- Chase, my niece’s son, we were able to meet on Easter (I was quite annoyed that I had to put him down in order to actually serve dinner!), and Asher, my husband’s step-sisters baby, only three weeks old now and who we hope to meet very soon.

If we were having coffee…I would fill your cup, offer a chair and ask, “How ya been?” Stuff has been hopping here in Southern New Jersey. Aside from babies being born, both of my own kids (is it ok to still refer to my college age children as ‘kids?’) have been cramming for finals. Mr D’s text responses have been tense one word answers so I know he is feeling overwhelmed and Miss Dee has spread her laptop and books from one end of the kitchen to the other, taking only short breaks to sleep and eat! Wednesday  is the magic day when they can both breath again. She will head to the movies with friends to celebrate and maybe my son will stop by to visit (although first he will probably spend an evening celebrating at the pub near campus).

The D-man and I, both working for the public school system, have been navigating the PARCC test. For those unfamiliar, this is  the standardized assessment test that  students are required to take, here in NJ and several other states. My personal assessment is that it is a colossal waste of time and a real pain in the A#%, but no one has asked me. 😊

My poor hubby has it much worse than me though because at his school, he is the guy running the test so he has to do all the preparation and pray that the logistic and technology all cooperate. Of course it didn’t. The computers had a major glitch on day one, putting them a day behind to start then the fire alarm was accidentally triggered on day two requiring the whole school to evacuate till the source was discovered, then on the final day all the programs were moving so slow that it took some students 20 minutes just to sign in to the site! He still has make ups next week but he treated himself to a day off on Friday, spending it down the shore with a friend. I think I would have needed more than one day!!

If we were having coffee…I might tell you how excited I am for this summer’s STEAM Camp (science, technology, engineering, art and math). It will be run, again, by my friend Jill who is a fifth grade teacher at the school where I work. She and, another friend, Karen, the third grade teacher, started the camp last summer and it was so successful that we will be doubling it and doing two weeks this time round. The themes are “World Travel” and “Sports Science.” In addition to working at the actual camp, they have commissioned me once again to make the props that enhance each week’s theme. This is the first one done:

The windows are cut out so the children can stand behind and get their photos taken as they enter camp the first day. Next I’m working on a “passport” that will act as their name tag throughout the week. I find it really fun and relaxing to have a creative project to work on during my free time.

Well, if we were having coffee…I would probably notice the time and realize that I need to get myself moving. I bought some herbs and would like to plant them in pots outside today. We also have some bushes in serious need of a trim then the D-man and I have tickets to the Philadelphia Phillies game tonight. Love me some springtime baseball!⚾️

Oh, One more thing…

If we were having coffee… I would remind you to visit Nerd in the Brain so that you can enjoy the rest of the Coffee Share Posts. May the rest of your weekend be super-fantastic! I hope you are able to surround yourself with the people and things you love the most.

If We Were Having Coffee…3/11/17

If we were having coffee…I would (quickly) welcome you in and slam the door right behind you. There is a fridge wind fighting to get in this morning and I am determined to keep him at bay. I feel as if the March Lion is doing battle with the March Lamb. We are expecting a snow storm on Tuesday here in southern New Jersey so I guess the Lion still has control at least till then. Personally, I’m more than ready for Spring!

Nevermind the weather. Come in. Sit down. I have coffee or tea or hot chocolate ready to warm your bones. You might notice that I am using my very cool  Friends “CENTRAL PERK” mug that Miss Dee gave me for my birthday this past December. As you can see, it’s very large so I only use it on the weekends when I have unlimited coffee time. There are lots of other cool mugs for you to choose from; two Marvel Avengers , a Hershey Park (the sweetest place on Earth), another from Disney World, or Miss Dee has a mug from her graduation that says “THE TASSEL WAS WORTH THE HASSEL.” I’m sure she wouldn’t mind sharing. Which ever you chose, I promise to fill it with something strong and hot!

If we were having coffee…I would start off by asking you how you’ve been. It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to join the Coffee Share (in fact, it’s been so long that I didn’t realize that it changed hosts!) so I’m afraid I’m a bit behind. Is everything well in your world? Everyone healthy? Have you seen any good movies or read any good books?

Things around here have been chugging along. Nothing too extraordinary is happening. We are a bit excited because my niece, Anna, and D-Man’s stepsister, Regan, are both about to have babies so of course we are awaiting news on that. This is the second baby for Anna. Anyone who has been following this blog for a while might remember the shower Miss Dee and I threw for her when her first (Squish) was born two years ago. She and her guy will be welcoming another little boy to their family. We can’t wait to meet him.

Hubby’s step sister, Regan, is also having a little boy. This is the first for her and her husband. They live a few hours away, up in Hoboken so we don’t get to see them too often. Miss Dee and I attended her baby shower just last week over at my in-laws house. Personally, I find showers, as a whole, a bit of a snooze to attend and, (speaking as an introvert), terrifying  to be the subject of, but it’s always nice to wish the soon-to-be parents well and see all the cute things they receive. We a gave a gift card and books, of course. I make it my mission to start every child’s library with a few good stories.😊

In other news, Mr D and three of his friends are driving to Florida for their spring break next week. It’s a thirteen hour drive to where they are going in Daytona Beach and as a mom, I’ll admit, I’m a bit freaked out but they are a pretty responsible group of young men and they’ve planned it out well. The other moms and I have put together a “survival kit” containing snacks and sunblock and of course we will be expecting regular texts and calls while they are gone. If I was 21 again, I would see this as a great adventure too so I can’t fault them for wanting to go. Doesn’t mean I won’t worry though.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that my friend Urszula and I went  out last night to see the movie Lion and I must say, if you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend a viewing. It was written by a man named Saroo Brierley and telle his life story. Brierley was born into a loving but poor family in India but was adopted by an Australian couple after he got lost as a child and ended up homeless on the streets of Calcutta. Twenty-five years later, he went back to India to try and find his family. Dev Patel plays the character, Saroo, as an adult and an amazing young man named Sunny plays the child Saroo. It was one of the best films I’ve seen in a while.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that I certainly have enjoyed our drinks and conversation! I would also remind you to visit Nerd in the Brain so that you can enjoy the rest of the Coffee Share Posts. May the rest of your weekend be super-fantastic!  I hope you are able to surround yourself with the people and things you love the most.

The Weekly Smile…Some Creative Fun

This week I had a blast getting creative!

A friend asked if I would make some decorative alphabet letters for her son, who will be turning three next week and loves Disney. She purchased the 9 inch wooden letters that spelled out his name and gave me a list of his seven favorite Disney characters. I knew most of them but, I admit, I had to look up one or two. Hey, my kids are in college! I’ve been out of the Disney loop for a while! 😊

Just for fun, let’s see if you all can guess the character each letter was based on.

[Updated 2/22/17…Each letter is now pictured next to the Disney character who inspired it.]

Jake from "The Neverland Pirates"

Jake from “The Neverland Pirates”

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Mater from “Cars”

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Dory from “Finding Nemo”

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Buzz Lightyear from “Toy Story”

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Sulley from “Monsters Inc.”

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Mickey of course!

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Tigger from “Winnie the Pooh”

And the finished product:

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Ta-da! I found painting the letters to be very relaxing, kind of like coloring. I highly recommend it to anyone who just wants to do something fun and creative.

The Weekly Smile is brought to you by Trent’s World. Stop by and check out the rest of the smiles or, better yet, leave one of your own.😊

If We Were Having Coffee…1/8/17

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If we were having coffee…I would thank you for slogging through the snow in order to come visit me today! I’d usher you in and help you off with your boots and mittens and immediately thrust a mug of something hot into your fridgid paws. You would have noticed already that here in southern New Jersey we have collected three or four inches of snow and that the tempeture outside is hovering around freezing.  Brrrr! Let’s just stay indoors with our coffee (or tea or hot chocolate) and a selection of fresh baked cookies (courtesy of my hubby) and have a nice long chat.

If we were having coffee…I would ask you how your week has been? What is the weather like at your home. I have a retired colleague who is spending this week in Jamacia. She keeps posting photos of her and her husband on the beach or at the beachside bar. Meanwhile I’m looking out my window at squirrels digging through the snow for food! I may have to block her posts till spring. 😊

You would probably guess that I’m not much of a cold weather person. I tend to hibernate, curling up with a book or my iPad and ignoring the outside world (and anything productive I might be doing). Yesterday I did manage to take down all my Christmas decorations. I felt the pressure to get it done while Miss Dee was at work because she doesn’t take the whole “undecorating” thing very well. The idea of Christmas being over tends to make her wimper a bit and immediately go into denial, so my mother-in-law (who is now getting around quite well with her walker and expects the doctor to give her the all clear to move to a cane tomorrow) packed it all up and put it away while she was gone. Everything but the tree. I’m not ready to give that up quite yet. It is still looking pretty and fresh and losing hardly any needles so I’m keeping it till next weekend. Besides, look how pretty it looked next to the backdrop of snow yesterday…

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If we were having coffee…I would tell you that we had a bit of a scare last night. Mr D called to tell us that on his way home, his car had been side swiped by a hit and run driver who had been swerving all over the road! Thank goodness he and his passengers were unhurt and that the car has only minor damage. He was able to pull in to a parking lot and call the police. A witness in a pick up truck was clever enough to follow the other car home and came back while Mr D was talking with the police to tell them right where they could find him. As it turned out, the other driver had been drinking! Could we BE anymore stupid?! “Hey, let’s have a few drinks then go drive on the snow covered roads!!!” That other young man better hope he and I never meet or he is going to get a very large and angry piece of my mind.  It is  certainly unnerving to be reminded how vulnerable our children are when they are out in the world.

If we were having coffee…we would probably notice the sound of the snowblower down the street and realize that other people (including my husband who ducked out a few minutes ago), have gotten on with their Sunday while we’ve been chatting. I suppose I should as well so, although I hate to hurry you out, I must wash the mugs and get myself moving. Thanks so much for coming by if you are still in the mood to chat there are lots of other wonderful folks sharing coffee and conversation. Stop by and visit.

The Weekend Coffee Share is hosted each week by the lovely Diana at Partime Monster.