snow white Christmas

Sweet Pea's yard

The dog rescue lady brought over the pen today, and she will bring Sweet Pea over tomorrow as soon as she gets done at the vet's. This is just shots and a checkup; she'll go for spaying later (probably quite a bit later, since the vet does this at a discount and is really busy). We also have the doghouse coming tomorrow, and I am sure a whole bunch of blankies and toys will follow quickly. I hope you like it here, Sweet Pea!

Grandma Kate asked how people reacted to my haircut, and everybody really liked it - my most favorite library volunteer (the lady I hope I am like when I am her age) said "It's fun, like you." The funniest reaction was from our assistant director, who, when I was telling the story of how HtB tried to even out my self-haircut, said, "... and then you went to a salon and had them fix it up?" I said, "No! HtB did this!" :D
snow white Christmas

12 Teams, Count 'Em, 12

The Jr. FLL teams started practicing this week, which meant we had twelve robotics teams practicing today. Nine of them were there in the morning, and seven were there in the afternoon (this is because two of the teams, the high-schoolers and one of the FLL teams that is going to competition this coming Saturday, were there all day). And we had three volunteers from the Community Emergency Response Team visiting to hear the kids talk about their projects, so it was all robots, all the time at the community center.

The FLL team that was there all day today has been doing twice-weekly practices since before Christmas and they are also practicing EVERY DAY this week. If the judges don't advance them to the regional championship, they are truly heartless. Especially since their skit has Spock and Scotty in it.

The biggest hit of the Jr. FLL practice was not the LEGOs, but Darby. Most of the kids hadn't seen him since he outgrew his little tank at the main library and came to live at the community center. At the very end of Jr. FLL I came downstairs with the schedule for next week and with Darby riding on my shoulder. The kids yelled "It's Darby! It's Darby!" and all lined up to pet him. He was very patient. He's such a good beardie. :D
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Barley and other not much news

The place that offered and then de-offered HtB the job called back and offered him two different jobs, one a full time night shift and the other a two day a week day shift. He's just about decided to say yes to the two day a week day shift. He'd be working on my days off, but when I actually looked at it, I realized I would see him more that way than if he were working five nights a week. (Because once you get on a reversed schedule, it's not like you can just wake up in the daytime and sleep at night because it's the weekend. He'd be home, but we'd still each be asleep when the other one was awake.)

Besides, he can keep his job with Grumpy Landscape Boss, in case this job disappears too, or in case it turns out they are jerks and he doesn't want to work there.

Of course, for all we know, *this* job could disappear before he gets to start it too. We'll just have to see what happens.

In other news, I was in the pantry and found a box of barley, and we had this conversation:

Me: What can you do with barley?
HtB: It's really good in soup.
*Silence as we both contemplate making soup in 104-degree weather*
HtB: Do you know what barley looks like when it's cooked?
Me: Yeah! Like little butts.
HtB: ... o_O
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Don't have a subject

My head hurts and it's that time of the month, but the Amazing Cutting-Out Machine arrived today and I am here as promised with a brief review. (I'll follow up later once we know more about it!)

We took the machine out of the box (it's small! and light!) and Awesome Coworker installed the software and connected the machine to the computer. Then it was just a matter of opening up the cutting "document," and putting in either words (in any font you have on your computer) or art (we used their available clip art to test it). We tried regular paper and card stock in the cutter. You lay the paper on an adhesive cutting mat, and then after it cuts, you lift up the "outside" part of the paper and the shape you cut out is stuck to the adhesive so you can peel it off carefully. Then it was just a matter of standing around it staring at it while it worked, thinking to ourselves, "Is it possible that this is really happening?"

We did have a moment where one of the blade housings got twisted somehow, and the cutter was turning the mat instead of the blade and stuff wasn't cutting all the way through, but Awesome Coworker fixed that. We cut out two different fonts, one our pirate one for this summer and one for the logo of our puppet theater. We ordered some sticky-backed vinyl sheets to cut the puppet theater title out of (we'll stick it onto white coro-plast board so it will be sturdy). We're a little nervous about how long the blades will last, but so far, this is seriously Miraculous Future World stuff!

In other news, my head hurts and I don't feel so good. I was OK driving home (except for the headache), until I got to the speed-limit sign about six blocks from our house and went from basically OK to "I am going to throw up right now." I managed to get home, *not* throw up, and fall asleep for a couple of hours. Soon I will actually go to bed.

HtB is working part-time for a landscaper near here. The landscaper had been out of work having cancer treatments and the guys who had been working for him before had found other jobs. Now the landscaper wants to go back to work, but only part time, and he needed somebody to help with the heavier stuff. This was great for HtB, because he can work around his schedule at That Coffee Shop. On one hand, HtB is happy to have the job. On the other hand, he is bummed about having to be happy to have a job helping a landscaper. Hopefully something with an actual salary will open up soon.

One of the things that happened yesterday was that a staff person was trying to help a very nice elderly lady with two hearing aids, and she kept saying "What?" He said that he was literally talking so loud that he could hear himself talking in the reverb from her hearing aids, and she couldn't hear him. He said he kept thinking, "Is there a way that hearing aids can be put in pointing the wrong way?" :)
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Randomness!

Yesterday I got home from work completely exhausted, and I couldn't figure out why, until I counted up and realized I had been working for 11 hour straight. OK, that'll do it...

I was working late because I went to give a presentation on LEGO robotics. The city has a program where people can apply to come take classes one evening a week for several weeks on what all the different departments in the city do. They get nice dinners at every class, and t-shirts, and it's a cool way to see what goes on behind the scenes and be better informed as voters or in case they want to run for city council someday. The presentation before mine was kind of long, and I was a bit worried that people would no longer be paying attention, but apparently the OH, HAI I AM HERE WITH A WORKING ROBOT AND AN EXTREMELY ARTICULATE NINE-YEAR-OLD perked them right back up. The kid who came to represent his team was the star of the show, and he deserved to be - he did a great job.

Today I had the day off! Since I work Tuesdays-Saturdays, whenever there is a Monday holiday I'm supposed to take a different day off. This hardly ever actually happens, because I am salaried and I'm supposed to work until the work is done, and since I keep ending up with new and different work, yeah, it is not easy to find time to take a day off. But I didn't have any desk shifts today, so today was my Martin Luther King Day holiday. I slept late and took a nap. Then I got really confused because when I woke up it was dark. (And there was a cat on my head, but that's pretty usual around here.)

Tomorrow we're putting up a display for Children's Illustrated Book Week. We asked all the staff to tell us their favorite picture books so that we can put them on display. I don't know whether this will be a hit with patrons, but it definitely has been for the staff! I'm making a bookmark with all of the titles listed so that when people come in *after* some of the display books have checked out, they can still see the whole list and put them on reserve to check out later. I had to make the bookmark double sided and keep making the font smaller to get all the books on it!

Here's some of the books:
Cookies: Bite-Sized Life Lessons
The Little House
Me... Jane (This was mine - I love it!)
Waiting for Winter
Otters Under Water
Cat's Colors
The Fortune Tellers

They're all GREAT! If you're in the market for picture books, you can't go wrong with these. :)
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More hooray!

So, the mostly-final report on the open house:

- The fire department actually gave out *80* smoke detectors, and they were thrilled.
-The urban forester (yes, we have one) gave out all her info on taking care of the trees in your yard.
- I'm not sure what recycling was giving out, but they gave it all out, and they were happy.
- The evening ESL teacher told her class to make a list of questions for all the city departments and go down to the party and ask them, and she was happy. She said it was the first time she'd ever had a field trip come to her.
- My boss' boss' boss sent me an email today saying that he had heard good things about the open house.
- The radio station interviewed several people; I haven't heard it, but it sounds like it went well.

I am *sore* today from walking around so much, and the dragon boat is taking up an awful lot of room in the closet, but it is so awesome that I have to keep it.

Now I have a party for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the LEGO team scrimmage, and the teen volunteers are making fleece blankets for the Christmas dinner at the community center. But once that's done, it's just Christmas at Hogwarts left for big work stuff in 2011!
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Hooray!

It went so well, y'all! We were hoping for 100 people and there were actually between 200 and 300. The kids had a great time, the community center looked awesome, we did not run out of food too quickly, the mayor seemed happy, lots of people took the tour of our computer classroom and saw everything we can teach up there, some people checked out library books...

I did not sit down for eight hours straight except for one time when I drove from the community center to the library and back. I have over 12,000 steps on my pedometer.

Here's the dragon boat! Big cardboard Viking boat with shields!

And here's our library booth: Big fake dragon and fire!

The "Read" poster is Enrique Iglesias. I brought it over to hang on the wall, but didn't have a frame big enough. The staff decided he was too pretty not to display. :D

THANK YOU for all your good wishes! I'll find out tomorrow how the dignitaries and city staff liked it, but I think they were happy too. And the fire department gave out 65 smoke detectors, so those are some people who will be safe this winter!

Yay!
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Progress!

Christmas cards halfway done.

Two different kinds of cookie dough in freezer. (Neither of them are chocolate chip. HtB has asked me not to make chocolate chip, even the dough, until he loses some more weight, because the temptation would be too great.)

And, since today was a work day for me, and the wonderful HtB helped a LOT:

Posters put up at community center for grand opening. I used every "READ" poster we had at the library and made two different trips to Hobby Lobby for those super-cheap bad plastic frames. I take it back. I used Pat Mora, Tish Hinojosa, Ricky Williams, and Chuck Norris. I didn't use Laura Bush. Then I raided the children's room closet for old summer reading program posters and put them up. I still need, by my estimation, four or five more posters. There are a LOT of blank walls in that place.

ESL posters taken down from community center hallway, where they were stuck directly to the wall with tape. Big new bulletin board put up and decorated. ESL posters put back up on big new bulletin board. It looks much better, but I hope they will think, "Oh look! Someone gave us a bulletin board!" and not "Hey! Someone messed with our stuff!"

It turns out it's also past time for me to change my weight goal on Livestrong.com from "lose a pound a week" to "maintain my current weight." This seems like a crazy amount of food after nearly a year of trying to lose a pound a week. (Needless to say, I didn't always succeed. I have not lost 52 pounds.) Surely I will get used to eating this much again. It's not like I had any trouble with it before. :)
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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you're digesting a fantastic dinner and doing your favorite relaxing activities, whatever those are. I'm very very thankful to have all of you in my life, right there on the other end of the Internet. ♥

The Turkey Trot was great fun. It took place in the little town that awelkin calls "The Texas Hogsmeade," and the 5K basically took us all through the town. The weather was gorgeous. We started off with the apparently traditional singalong of "Sweet Caroline" (I have no idea what this symbolizes, except that if you get a bunch of Texans together eventually you will end up singing along to something even if no one has had anything to drink yet) followed by the singing of the national anthem and HtB saying a prayer which had nothing to do with Neil Diamond.

I was just running along, not trying to blow the doors off anybody, and I thought I was running about 12 minute miles. Lo and behold, I finished in 28:48, which means I was doing 9 minute miles! I declined the post-race sausage tacos and beer, the sausage tacos because I am a vegetarian and the beer because, if I ever were going to drink beer at 9:30 am, it at least would not be Miller Lite.

(The sausage tacos were a sausage with a tortilla wrapped around it. There was a guy who was obviously not from around here, holding his taco, looking at it in an alarmed way, and saying, "I just can't do it.")

Then we did the Kid Print; I was doing the computer that captures the kids' pictures and fingerprints. It was pretty simple but after a while I got a headache from squinting at the screen in the bright sun, trying to see if the fingerprints had come out or not! Fortunately, by that time we were pretty much wrapping up.

We had steak (for HtB) and Gardein Turk'y (for me), mashed potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts with romano cheese, and sourdough bread. The Turk'y was not only yummy but also looked almost exactly like turkey; the only drawback was that you just can't replicate the mouth-feel you get from collagen. Yummy, yummy collagen.

The kittens on our porch brought us a bird for Thanksgiving. They very kindly left it on the sidewalk outside our back door. Hopefully this means they are getting tame enough that we'll be able to get them into a carrier and to the Humane Society soon!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. *hugs*
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The good, the bad, the turk'y

HtB got the Postcard of Disappointment from the job he applied for. We were both really hoping for this one. I know there's a great job out there for him somewhere, but it's not fun to have to wait for it.

We had a really fun astronomy field trip at the library for the fourth-graders at the nearby elementary school. A nature education center brought in an inflatable planetarium! (Picture a big hemispherical tent, only the walls are double-layered and there's a blower blowing air between the two layers. You turn on the blower, and there's a planetarium!) They did the star show, and we did the moon crater activity from our Observe the Moon night, a fun constellation craft (you draw the constellation with white crayon on black paper, and then glue on beads for stars), and we played comet ball outside. (To make a comet ball: stick a tennis ball in the toe of a sock, tie it off with a rubber band, and throw and catch from the sock, not the ball itself.) We had 100 kids come through in two hours. I was beat when we were done.

I can't believe how much there is to do for this ribbon cutting. I'm getting really nervous that I'm going to forget something. I need a calendar that has more than one page per day because my to-do lists are too long for the page.

HtB and I are driving to a town with a Whole Foods on Monday to pick up a Gardein Turk'y. I'll let you know how it is. :)

Hang in there, everyone! *hugs*