Friday, August 22, 2008

Summer Goal Number THREE

Since this is my OFFICIAL last "week day" of summer before it all starts again on Monday, I guess I should accomplish ONE more of my goals (by NO MEANS is this ALL of the goals that I wanted to worries...they're now my AUTUMN GOALS!!).

So...goal number THREE (which was OFFICIALLY met this morning) is that I was FINALLY able to shed TEN POUNDS of blubber (and no...I didn't get a REALLY short haircut, or have any limbs amputated...!). Yay me!

What a CHORE! I used to just be able to skip a meal every few days and drop five pounds...easily. Now (after hitting the dreaded 40's, I suppose), it's a CONSTANT battle. If my scale could talk, and had to pick an "average" weight for me, it wouldn't be able to! I've lost (and gained back) about 100 pounds (two or three at a time, in both directions, daily, weekly, back and forth...).

I've decided that I have absolutely NO will power when it comes to food...ESPECIALLY right before bed, so KEEPING IT OFF it going to be a challenge, as is my AUTUMN GOAL of losing another five pounds.

Motivation to FINALLY shed the "ton-age": I had a bunch of photos printed off for mom this week (from family events going clear back to spring), and kept seeing this pasty, blubbery guy in a lot of them. IMAGINE MY HORROR to discover that it WASN'T an albino whale, but..."little" old me!!!

So...with (almost) daily hour-long walks, (almost) daily ab crunches, and a SLIGHT reduction in the amounts and types of food I consumed (and adopting the philosophy that the big meal of the day is lunch, and NOT dinner), I'm continuing to be "less" of a person...and that's a GOOD thing!

Before (June, 2008)

After (August, 2008)

Hope YOUR summer/autumn goals are being met as well! Happy Friday!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I'm not a patient man, as many of you already know. I DO NOT like to have to wait for things, or people, or uploads, and, unfortunately, as a teacher and the partner of someone who DEFINITELY goes by his own clock, I get to wait...a lot.

SO...when it comes to things like uploading photos, which I just ATTEMPTED to do on Target's website, I JUST CAN'T TAKE IT!!! "Dial up" SUCKS. It SUCKS. It SUCKS. It SUCKS!!!!

I'm trying to print pictures for mom, who's been waiting for me to get photos from the last four or five months of family activities (and has a computer that's even SLOWER than mine), so decided that I'd try the Kodak online ordering feature to get some photos printed through Target's photo department.

I found the photos that I wanted (after having to add them to the stupid PHOTO ALBUM one at a time, with NO "shift/select" feature to add them all at once, and, to add insult to injury, if I wanted to see the actual photo, had to go to the "thumbnail" button, and click it for EACH one I added...!!!).

Once I FINALLY got them all into the box, I hit the "upload to album" button, and waited...and waited...and waited (90 minutes, two magazines, a trip to the mailbox, a bathroom stop, and a glass of water), then, in DISGUST, gave up. I logged off, swore a little (okay...a lot), and am now headed to Target to use the digital photo stand in the store.

When I get out of this HIDEOUS debt management program, DSL is SO THE FIRST THING I'M GOING TO BUY!!!!! Just think...YouTube, online digital print ordering, NOT waiting 20 minutes for e-mail with photo attachments to get to my "inbox" will be BLISS.

Sorry for the rant...and I hope YOUR computer endeavors aren't aging YOU exponentially....!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Little Things...

Tonight, after Duane got home from work, we pulled my car into the "parking area" in front of our building, and washed the car together (okay...HE washed, and I WATCHED, but it's simple, "normal" things like that which make the whole "living together" thing so...COOL!).

What to Write...What to Write??!!

Last week I had about FOURTEEN different things that I wanted to blog, but was ALL CONSUMED by Facebook, so didn't write anything. Here we are...a whole week (or so) later, and the "shininess" of Facebook is FINALLY a little less MEZMERIZING. Now that I can get back to my ORIGINAL online obsession...I can't think of a single thing to write...sigh...

I guess I WILL state that this is my LAST Monday of freedom, as school starts again (for teachers, anyway) next Monday. I know...I know...those of you who work "real" jobs, 365 days a year (less whatever you've accrued in vacation time) are TIRED of hearing us non "real job" people whine every August.

I USED to be there...NINE years at a public library, working ALL YEAR LONG (with only TWO WEEKS of vacation) while my "teacher friends" got to PLAY during the summer (my MOST crazy time...with the summer reading program) annoyed me to no end. I would think the same exact thing when August rolled around, but now...I TOTALLY GET IT!!!!

Luckily, my job changed SO drastically last year (and was so AMAZINGLY FABULOUS, compared to what it was), that I'm actually NOT feeling the usual DREAD that I used to. I think it also helps that I JUST finished four weeks of teaching summer school LAST Thursday...which was a GREAT "kick it into gear" experience. Now it won't be NEARLY the shock to the system that it usually is...I hope.

Speaking of summer school, I'm SO teaching it every summer from now on!!!!! It was a HOOT. I was a little hesitant to do it at all, after my AWFUL school year experiences with after school "targeted services", but, not having the mall job this summer (which I TOTALLY do not miss), I needed a little "cash flow" near the end of the summer...when the "payout" in June has dwindled to the "can't even afford to buy gas" range.

Anyhoo...Kelly, one of the 5th grade teachers, and I, along with an educational assistant (Storme) had FIFTY FIVE 4th through 6th graders, Monday through Thursday, from 8:30-11:00, for FOUR weeks, who needed work on math and reading. We decided to team teach them all (we didn't have enough students for a THIRD teacher, if you can believe that!!!) in a sort of "skills rotation".

We started out with a morning circle with ALL of our students, at which time we made announcements, took attendance, played a team building game, and did a book checkout (we also did the Barnes & Noble summer reading program as part of our "curriculum"). After circle, we divided them into grade levels, and rotated them through three "stations".

In one, they did "Get Ahead Math" (a computer math program) in the computer lab. In another (mine), they played "library games" (utilizing dictionaries, encyclopedias, thesaurus, atlases, almanacs, and other reference resources). In the third group, they read for 20 minutes, and then went outside for games and "playground stuff".

During the last five minutes we got back together for a closing circle, and sent them on their merry little ways.

The kids seemed to enjoy the quick pace (each session was only 35 minutes), and "busy-ness" of it all, and we even heard comments like "I didn't want to come to summer school, but this is way better than I thought it was going to be". As a teacher, I'll take that as a compliment!!

We ended up with TWENTY FOUR completing the B&N reading program (read eight books, write the titles on the reading log, as well as your favorite part of the book), and our vice principal drove them to the store in Woodbury, during the last week, to pick out a free book as a prize.

All in was a GREAT way to get those students who needed a little extra push "up to speed" for the start of school in a few weeks. I MUST say, however, that I'm REALLY going to miss being at school by 8:00, and getting home by NOON!!! That's SO not going to happen again for a LONG, LONG time!!!

Hope YOUR week is going well!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A New Drug!

Tena's done it again...FIRST she got into blogging, and I followed her there (and got HOOKED on it!), then she moved to another blog site (this one!) because the other one was rumored to be "going down" soon (which it never did)(and I got HOOKED on it). NOW she's gone and started a Facebook page. OF COURSE I had to follow her there TOO (and I'm HOOKED on it)!

When I first created my page, and started looking around for people, SEVERAL friends warned me that it was addictive, and that I should WATCH OUT. Now I understand WHY!!! It's the first thing I do every morning, the first thing I check when I get home from work, and the last thing I do before going to bed. I'm SURE the "newness" will wear off soon, and I can get back to my "regular" life, but, right now, it's FUN, FUN, FUN!

Plus...I think I've EXHAUSTED my list of "old friends to look for"...SADLY not many people in my "age bracket" have pages on Facebook (should this CONCERN ME??!! Am I TOO OLD to be using this tool "that's popular with high schoolers", as a friend put it, when responding (in shock) to my declaration of "Facebook-ing"??!!)!

I HAVE been able to reconnect with some old friends that I'd lost track of, but HONESTLY, it's like being in high school again (the one I WISH I'd been a part of...not the one where I was bullied and miserable all the time)...WHO has the most friends, WHO'S getting the most notes posted on their "wall", WHO is getting e-mail, who's getting FLAIR...crazy!

So...I need to go now so that I can check my Facebook page to see if I have any more friends. If YOU have a Facebook page, look me up, and LET'S BE TOTALLY!!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

All Moved In!

It's "official"...I unpacked the last box LAST Friday, and have spent the last week "refining" where I put stuff (and STASHING stuff that I couldn't find a place for WHEREVER I could find a spot). I, HONESTLY, would be happy if I NEVER moved again...NINE carloads of CRAP before the move, a U-Haul truck during the move, and THREE loads of kitchen and bathroom stuff (which I couldn't pack because I needed them, or ran out of boxes...!)...TEN boxes of "junk" to Goodwill, a garage FULL of stuff I don't have room to put in the apartment...ACK!

Anyhoo...I'm QUITE happy with how it all turned out. Here are some pictures of the "new digs".

As I look at how it's all turned out, here are my first "impressions":

  • I live across the hall from my "honey"!!!
  • I can see TREES off the deck (instead of the guy at Ballantrae who always seemed to be staring at me).
  • I don't have curtains in the bedroom yet, and, at night, through the window, I can see Venus travel across the sky (depending on how long it takes to get to sleep!).
  • I see deer, rabbits, ducks, and squirrels eating corn that the neighbor puts out behind our townhouses each morning.
  • I have my OWN washer and dryer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Each morning I wake up to squirrels jumping through the oak tree out front (because of that whole "not having curtains" thing...!)
  • I have central air...not a CRAPPY wall unit (which never got the air to the bedroom!).
  • I have my OWN washer and dryer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • I have a bigger bedroom.
  • I have a SINGLE STALL garage with a GARAGE DOOR OPENER!!!
  • Everything in my apartment is currently DUSTED (if you know me AT ALL, you know that I DON'T dust!), and clean (we'll see how long THAT lasts!)!!!

Oh yeah...the pictures...

the living room

the living room...another view

the kitchen

the dining room (and library!)

the bedroom

the bedroom...another view

the deck!

the deck...another view!

I LOVE to have visitors, so plan your trip to "Jeff's B&B"...we can "catch up" over a glass of wine on the deck!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tall Ships in Duluth!

Saturday, Duane and I drove to Duluth to see the "tall ships" in the harbor. It was QUITE a sight...three, old, wooden, fully rigged sailing ships (the Brig Niagara, the Madeleine, and the Pride of Baltimore II), anchored near the Lake Superior aquarium.

We stopped at a few antique stores on the way TO Duluth, and arrived around 1:00 (we also stopped at Tobie's for caramel rolls, which is a MUST if you are heading north of the cities on Interstate 35!).

It was a GORGEOUS day, and the tall ships were there as part of the Duluth Maritime Festival. There were a TON of people (one newspaper reported that it was the MOST people to attend any event in Duluth...EVER!).

We decided NOT to take the tour of the three ships, as the line was about TWENTY BLOCKS LONG!!! Instead, we walked ALONG the row of ships, read the signs about the boats, and then headed across the foot bridge to the canal street area...a GORGEOUS redevelopment of the pier and lighthouse part of the city...trendy boutiques, a TON of hotels, antique stores, restaurants...all KINDS of touristy crap!

We had lunch at Belissio's (see previous entry entitled "Bad Restaurant Karma" for details!), then shopped the pier area for awhile. After looking in a couple of galleries and a couple of antique stores, we headed to the lift bridge (WAY cool) to watch it go up and down as boats came in and out of the harbor. We walked across the bridge, and even walked on the beach a bit before heading back across the bridge to check out the lighthouse. VERY cool area.

After the lighthouse, we went into "downtown Duluth" proper. You can DEFINITELY tell that all of the "hoity toity" businesses have moved to the Canal Street area. Downtown was a little seedy, and kind of scary...a "gentlemen's club", a store that advertised pills that can "clean urine" (??!!), seedy antique stores, litter, and I think I saw a PROSTITUTE (probably not, but she sure needed SOME SORT of "Extreme Makeover" guidance...)!!!!

After our "adventure" downtown, we headed to Leif Erikson park to look at the roses. Leif Erikson park is probably the most BEAUTIFUL place in Duluth. A gazebo (in which an evening wedding was commencing), a footbridge/path to a rocky part of the bay, a "stage" area facing a huge open lawn, with turrets, and a huge stone stage (on which they MUST do Shakespeare in the park during the summer!), huge beds of roses and other summer flowers, and GORGEOUS green lawns.

We spent QUITE awhile at the gardens, then got back in the car and headed back to the cities. Before we left, though, we noticed that ONE of the ships was sailing out into the lake, so we drove back down to the aquarium, parked the car, and ran to the "docking site" for a couple more pictures...the lift bridge was up as FAR as it could go for the ship to sail under it...very cool!

For additional pictures of the ships coming into the harbor, at anchor, etc., go to the following link:

We finally got back to Eagan (after a stop at hardee's for a sourdough bacon cheeseburger...which I had TOTALLY forgotten was AMAZINGLY TASTY!), and I absolutely COLLAPSED into bed from exhaustion. I'm getting old...I SERIOUSLY didn't think I'd make it up the stairs to my new, fabulous, wonderful apartment. I was ABOUT ready to ask Duane to just throw a blanket down the stairs for me to throw over myself! Oy!

Hope YOUR weekend was fun!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bad Restaurant Karma

I must have been a MEAN, MEAN restaurant critic in a past life...because in THIS life, I'm TOTALLY paying for it...

I'm not sure WHAT the deal is, but, if there's a way to SCREW UP my restaurant experience, it WILL happen...whether it's NOT noting on the "check in" sheet that I've CHECKED IN , and having to wait AN HOUR for my "call ahead seating" (thank you VERY MUCH Jensen's Cafe in Burnsville), or my TWO experiences THIS WEEKEND. I JUST don't have very good luck eating out.

Friday, my friend Pat and I went to EDINA ("Every Day I Need Attention"). We left our name at the "check in" station, and, after being told it would be a "five minute wait", proceeded to sit for THIRTY minutes before FINALLY going back and asking how our "wait" was progressing.

The "check in person" looked at the sheet (I had to tell her to go back to the PREVIOUS page), and my name had been crossed off, even though we were STILL WAITING. Either someone TOOK our spot (for which I CURSED them profoundly), or they just crossed our name off in some INSANE moment of CLUELESSNESS...whatever the case WE WERE STILL WAITING AFTER THIRTY MINUTES.

Should have quit while I was BEHIND, but, on SATURDAY, Duane and I went to Duluth to see the "tall sailing ships" (more on that in another blog entry). We went to Belissimo's...a FABULOUS wine bar/Italian restaurant in the "pier" area, that we'd been to before, and the bad karma struck again...

I ordered the gnocci with basil and parmesan...they delivered some GHASTLY shrimp/spaghetti dish (if you know me AT ALL, you know that I DESPISE seafood of any kind...even fish sticks!). I sent it back, and EVENTUALLY got what I ordered. It was FABULOUS, and I, RELUCTANLY, acknowledged this to my waiter. I THOUGHT this was the bad karma for THIS restaurant experience, but, when the bill came, discovered that they'd charged me for the YUCKY shrimp dish, AND the stuff that we'd actually ordered.

Luckily, the waiter was VERY kind in taking it off the bill (it was the MOST expensive item on the bill...natch), and we EVENTUALLY got everything straightened out.

SO...I've decided that, FROM NOW ON, if I go to a restaurant again (for which the probability is VERY high!), SOMEONE ELSE will put in their name, order the food, AND take care of the check. I'll pay them back, but, if I have ANYTHING at all to do with the "process", it WILL get MESSED UP!!!

Hope YOUR restaurant experiences have been WAY better, recently!!!!!