Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This Site is FUN Too!

While we're thinking about "morphing" into other personas (see previous entry)...I also enjoyed http://www.simpsonizeme.com/ ...a site that Burger King put up a year or so ago, to correlate with the opening of "The Simpsons Movie"...too bad the movie wasn't as AWESOME as the website!

Here's the version that Duane and I came up with for ourselves...

I just checked the site yesterday, and it's still "up and running"...should you want to Simpsonize yourself!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I Always Wondered!!!!

Granted, my senior pictures were NOT the greatest "photographic representation" of all that is...me. Could have been the hair style...could have been the "pointy" teeth...could have been the Member's Only jacket...okay...in high school I looked EXTREMELY dorky (as the photo below will attest!). I did, however, still look like a teenager.


I've always thought that the senior pictures from my parents' generation, and those that came before, managed to, somehow, already LOOK like adults (as opposed to the generations since the 80's, which still look YOUNG!).

I often wondered if I would look as "mature" as my parents did, were I to be dressed in the same types of clothing, and coiffed as they were back then (perhaps the quality of photography back then contributed something as well?!). SO thanks to my friend Erin, I now have the WEBSITE to find out: http://www.yearbookyourself.com/.

Here are the results (I stopped at 1964, my birth year, because after that, it just got UGLY!!)...






...I now think that PERHAPS I wasn't as dorky in 1983 as I first thought!!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I LIKE This Show!

I just got my Amazon.com order, and can FINALLY watch season two of "The 4400".

Don't know HOW I missed this show...I vaguely remember seeing previews and thinking "that looks interesting", but it was probably around the time that "Invasion" debuted, and I felt that ONE alien show was enough (which was SO the wrong choice, since "Invasion" tanked after one season!).

It might also have been because I was too bogged down with all of the other shows I'm addicted to..."Amazing Race", "Biggest Loser", "Ghost Whisperer", "America's Next Top Model", "Desperate Housewives", "Ugly Betty", and now...after seeing Greg die on "ER", maybe "ER" (although, after watching the season premiere of "Ugly Betty", am thinking I'll have an open SLOT to fill...yergh!).

ANYWAY..."The 4400" is REALLY smart, and intriguing, and I'm REALLY glad that there are FOUR sesons on DVD to watch. I'm HOPING this one didn't end (or NOT end, as it more often goes...!) with the season 4 discs...I guess I'll see when I get there.

If you LIKE the whole "alien abduction" (or NOT "alien abduction"...as the case may be) genre..."The 4400" is pretty cool!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My "Claim" To Fame!

Well it's a FAR cry from the "ink" I used to get when I lived in Fairfield, but, these days, I'll take what I can get!

Here's a link to the article from the "Southwest Review" on the technology levy forum that Kris and I presented at last week: http://www.southwestreviewnews.com/main.asp?SectionID=62&SubSectionID=128&ArticleID=3332.

The "fuzzy stuff" quote was actually mine, but...oh well...!

Hope YOU got some good press sometime in the recent past!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I SO Have to Check This Place Out!!!

I LOVE kitsch! I've been to see the "largest ball of twine" (located, conveniently, right here in Minnesota). I've also been to see the "world's largest large mouth bass" (statue) (also located, conveniently, right here in Minnesota!), and NOW I MUST go BACK to Lindstrom, Minnesota, because they not only have a water tower shaped like a coffee pot,

but they also have a store with a VERY LARGE WIENER on the roof...

...that HAS to count for something, right??!! Duane and I are SO going to have to go back and look around this FUN, FUN, FUN little town!!!

A couple of years ago, Duane showed me around HIS home state of North Dakota...LITTLE did I realize that it contained BOTH a HUGE cow statue (Salem Sue) AND a "ginormous" bison statue (in Jamestown, ND)...a veritable "kitsch bonanza"!!!

If YOU are into "kitsch", you have to read The Great American Road Trip by Eric Peterson...a guide to the "unusual" and "kitschy", broken down by state, for the ENTIRE United States!!! I got it at Barnes & Noble in the "sale book section" (go figure!), and it lists everything from the Paul Bunyan and Babe statues (here in Minnesota) to the Hole in the Rock sandstone gift shop (Moab, Utah) to the giant Superman statue (Metropolis, Illinois) to the American Dime Museum (Baltimore, Maryland). CLASSIC venues, that we should ALL be more conscientious about visiting!!!!

Hope YOU have found a little bit of "kitsch" in YOUR life recently!!!

A Trip To Taylor's Falls!

This afternoon, Duane and I took the Riviera to Taylor's Falls to enjoy a BEAUTIFUL autumn day. We drove down through Stillwater, and then across the river into Wisconsin. We stopped in Osceola to browse an antique store, then headed back into Minnesota to explore Taylor's Falls.

We started out with a stop at the Taylor's Falls Drive-In (which is a MUST if you are in Taylor's Falls). I decided NOT to get my usual corn dog and onion rings, and instead had the BBQ chicken and swiss cheese sandwich with deep fried, breaded green beans...WOW! All I can say is I'M SO ORDERING DEEP FRIED GREEN BEANS, IF THEY ARE ON ANY MENU ANYWHERE...yum! We also had the PHENOMINAL home made root beer (a LARGE, of course!).

After the drive-in, we went to the bluffs, and took the paddle boat ride down the St. Croix. Our boat was the Taylor's Falls Queen (coincidence...I think NOT!). We took the 80 minute tour, instead of the usual 50 minute tour, and it was DELIGHTFUL. The boat goes further down the river, and we got to explore more of the history of the area. The scenery down the St. Croix is just GORGEOUS, and OF COURSE I took about a HUNDRED photos of the ride.

It was a WONDERFUL chance to get out of the cities, and OF COURSE barreling down the interstate in a car with seats the size of a living room SOFA is ALWAYS a good thing!!!

Here are a couple of shots from the day...

The view from the point at which the paddle boat departed.

Me on the Taylor's Falls QUEEN!

Duane on the QUEEN!

The Taylor's Falls PRINCESS (we've never actually been on this boat...after THREE trips down the St. Croix...so beneath our status...!)

The view of "the old man" (Can you see him? Apparently, it's featured in Ripley's Believe It Or Not as the FIRST known natural human landform...or something like that...)

Hope YOU had some "out of town" fun this weekend!

Friday, September 19, 2008

THAT Can't Be Good!!

Sometimes the things that come out of the mouths of our students are funny...sometimes "not so much"...

I had a sweet little kindergarten girl in today for storytime with her class. As they were lined up and heading out of the media center, out of the blue, she said "Mr. Shepherd...my mom has ANOTHER name for you...".

I'm going to ASSUME that it's something like "Mr. Super Fabulous Librarian", or "Mr. Amazing Teacher of the Universe"...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ick! Ack! Yuck!

Okay...I SHOULD have stuck to my "never EVER see a 'Coen brothers' movie" mantra, but Duane wanted to see "Burn After Reading", so I caved, and we went. Ick! Ack! Yuck!

They should have BURNED THE SCRIPT after reading it...

That's all I have to say...except, if you go...do the matinee...it's LESS of a waste of your money than the "full on" evening prices.

Did I say "Ick! Ack! Yuck!" yet??!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Moving On...

All right...I had my chance to vent yesterday, and now "I'm back on track". Our district WILL get it all together, and figure out what we need to do to "make it right" with the powers that be at International Baccalaureate, and we WILL become an authorized school within the next year.

I really DO like IB, and I think it will be a GREAT thing for our district...I'm just NOT good at rejection, and it really felt like that's what this whole thing was. We DO need to work on the "ability grouping" thing, but I'm not sure how that's all going to play out. No Child Left Behind is STUPID, and we're STUCK with it until George W. is FINALLY out of office...maybe the NEXT president will revist this LAME, STUPID program and come up with something that's actually OBTAINABLE...(unless, of course, McCain, by some CRUEL TWIST OF FATE, get elected...then it'll be more of the same...ack! ack! ack!).

Okay...I try not to get POLITICAL, because I just end up getting MAD (aka SNARKY), so will move on to other things...

Today has been a LOVELY, low key day. It's been rainy and dreary, but Duane and I ran some errands, and I harvested some herbs from my deck to make an AWESOME "scone" (which I've been using in my GT Express 101 (yes...I FELL for the informercial) to make hot ham sandwiches.

Here's the recipe, should YOU want to try these AWESOME, TASTY, CHEESY, HERBY wonders:

Cheese & Herb Scones

These scones are more "bun-like" than traditional scones because of the use of bread flour. They keep well for a day or two and can be reheated. Makes 8-10 scones.

½ c. mixed herbs, roughly chopped*
5 oz. cheddar cheese
2 c. bread flour**
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
6 “twists” of the pepper mill

14 oz. buttermilk (can use 1% or 2%, but whole tastes better)

Preheat oven to 450°F. Roughly chop herbs and cheese.

Measure flour, baking soda, salt and pepper, and mix together in a large mixing bowl.

Add herbs and cheese.

Mix well, using a wooden spoon or your hands.

Add buttermilk into the center, pulling from the dry sides into the center, until all is lightly combined into a soft sticky dough (don‘t over mix).

If the dough is really drippy, due to inaccurate measurement, add a bit of flour to make it manageable and spoonable but it should still be wet/sticky.

Line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper or Silpat (otherwise the oozing cheese will make clean up challenging). Drop mixture (it will likely still look like a mess) onto the prepared sheet using a large spoon or scantily filled 1 c. measuring cup.

You'll get about 8 to 10 large scones (you can make small mini scones but they will cook faster and you run the risk that some might not contain cheese or herbs if the scones are very small). The shape is unimportant but the dropped scones should all be about the same size.

Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until the tops are golden and the cheese is oozing out.Cool on rack, and eat warm, if possible.
*I used a garden mix of thyme, tarragon, rosemary, chives, sage, oregano, parsley, and basil...just a bit of each.

** Up to ½ c. of flour can be whole wheat.


- Substitute ½ tsp. bacon salt and ½ tsp. salt for “salt”.
- Substitute ½ tsp. garlic salt and ½ tsp. salt for “salt”.
- Add scant 1/8 tsp. garlic powder.

Friday, September 12, 2008


REALLY crabby and a little discouraged this evening....after NOT hearing from International Baccalaureate for MONTHS (even though they ASSURED us that the "acceptance letter" was in the mail WEEKS ago), one of the district principals called IB North America today, and FINALLY got word that we DID NOT get authorization (they are calling it "yes, but...", but it's still NOT offical authorization).

APPARENTLY, our "ability grouping" is an issue with the "powers that be" (as we knew it would be, when the authorization team came to our school), and APPARENTLY, both elementary schools SHOULDN'T have the same central idea as the guiding question for each of our units (as we found out, when the authorization team came to our school).

So...NEITHER school got authorization because of DISTRICT LEVEL DECISIONS... WE knew there would be problems (and, in fact, BOTH schools got high marks from their authorization teams on a "building level"), but, because the "powers that be" can't seem to see things as we do "in the trenches", we're SCREWED...

So...not an official "no way", but now we have to submit a plan to fix these two issues, then resubmit our application (they've given us until December 2009, but we're going to push it through in the next month or two, so that when "the committee" meets again in FEBRUARY, we can get another "look see", and hope for the best).

At this rate, we MAY find out if all is well by NEXT JUNE...

Having expended SO MUCH ENERGY via the WOW Committee, and various other projects that I took on to make the authorization a reality, I'm VERY discouraged right now...


Thursday, September 11, 2008

A New Toy!

The technology department FINALLY got the computer hooked up to my Smartboard this week, and loaded the software yesterday...SWEET!

My counterpart. at the other elementary school in my district. had an interactive whiteboard for MOST of last year. When I heard that I was getting one, I wasn't TERRIBLY thrilled...it looked like a high priced TOY to me. I went over to her school and watched her do a couple of things, and STILL thought "there are WAY better ways to spend the money that these things cost"!

Okay...I was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. Apparently, how USEFUL they are depends on how skilled you are at utilizing the technology!!! It's a GREAT device for making games more interactive, but it has a TON of practical uses as well. Case in point: I had a group of 4th graders come in today to "play" Atlas MAPGO (a BINGO game I created, using answers to questions I made up from various maps in the atlases in my reference collection).

About 20 minutes before they came, I thought..."there's some sort of 'shade' you can use to cover up the things you don't want students to see...maybe I could figure that out before they get here" (and could, as a result, LOSE the lame overhead projector and piece of paper I'd been using).

The Smartboard program is VERY intuitive, and, within 10 minutes, I had the "shade" feature figured out, and applied to my presentation! The students were "oohing" and "ahhhing" as I slid the "shade" up and down, merely by rubbing my finger along the whiteboard, and, when I picked up the red marker "pen" and used my FINGER to underline the key words in the sentence, they practically JUMPED out of their seats to give it a try (I think I've just created an ENTIRE class of new teachers...I told them they could only use it if they were educators...HA!).

Even COOLER was when they couldn't find Maryland in their atlas...all I had to do was tap the board to get to the internet, search GOOGLE for a map, tap the map, and it appeared on the whiteboard (icing on the cake was picking up the BLUE marker and, again, using my finger, circling the state in question).

I can't WAIT to go back tomorrow to adapt some of my OTHER lessons to this new (and TOTALLY COOL) technology!!!!

Hope YOU found something in your work day that pleasantly surprised you!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Giggle!

Working with elementary school kids can be such a HOOT sometimes!

Today, I gave a "library orientation" session to a 4th grade class. I was quizzing them on the "two W's" of the media center. I asked what they were.

Unfortunately, no one could remember, so I told them that the first one was to "WALK in the library". I had high hopes that saying this would trigger a memory of what the other was.

That hope was QUICKLY dashed when a kid in the back row piped up and shouted "WISTEN?"

My reply: "...only if you're Elmer Fudd!".

Hope YOUR day had a giggle in it!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Jelly Man!

I DO not know why, but EVERY Labor Day for the last nine or ten years (except for last year when all the blossoms got nipped with a late frost and there WAS no fruit in August), I've had a craving to make jelly. The odd thing is that I don't really even EAT jelly, but I just get this URGE to "put something up".

THIS year, I spent MOST of Friday doing just that. I think it started as a "nostalgia" thing...Grandma Reynolds always had JARS and JARS of jelly in her basement at the farmhouse...strawberry and wild plum, mostly, but sometimes raspberry and other fruits from the farm too. So...I started out making jelly to honor her memory...then just decided that I really LIKED "putting up" the stuff.

So...Friday morning, dad, Emilie, Abigail, and I put on a TON of bug spray, donned our long pants and hats, and drove through the countryside near mom and dad's house to pick wild plums. We found an AWESOME bunch of trees near an old cemetary, and didn't even have to go looking for more in other locations. When we'd picked four or five buckets full, we went back to the house, and picked crabapples from the neighbors tree as well.

After taking showers to wash off the bug spray (and any ticks that might have attached themselves to us while we were crawling through the ditch to get the plums), I set to work. It really IS a lot of work to make jelly, but there's something EXTREMELY cool about picking fruit, processing it, and then having jars and jars (okay...actually just jars) of bright pink sweetness the very same day (I know...how LAME, but it really IS therapeutic for me, and the jelly ends up tasting REALLY fresh!).

I spent from noon to about TEN THIRTY that night making batch after batch. First a batch of wild plum, then another batch of wild plum, then a batch of crabapple, then another batch of crabapple...in all FORTY jars of the stuff.

It will probably take me about three years to eat all of this jelly (even after giving away MOST of it), but it's SO GOOD, and really reminds me of my grandmother. Such great memories of that wonderful farm!

I've also canned pickled beans, bread and butter pickles (which ended up being bread and butter MUSH), and a few other assorted vegetables, but jelly is the only one that I've continued doing on a regular basis...what's up with that??!!

Abigail and Emilie getting ready to pick wild plums!

Me in the ditch, picking plums!

"Grandpa" helping Abigail get the plums near the top of the tree!

Wild plums in their natural habitat

Crabapples ready to pick!

Washed, and ready to "juice"

Stir, stir, cook, strain, repeat

Wild plum juice ready for the pectin and sugar

Crabapples ready to "boil down"

"Fruits" of the labor

Anyway...hope YOU had a chance to do something that YOU really enjoy this Labor Day weekend!

Monday, September 1, 2008


No other way to put it...incredibly...profoundly...sad. After THIRTY ONE years, Aunt Doris and Uncle Charles FINALLY sold their lake house on Sun Valley Lake in Southwestern Iowa.

Today, we took our LAST couple of "laps" around the lake that I remember from every Memorial Day weekend...every 4th of July weekend...and every Labor Day weekend since I was 12 years old.

SO many memories came FLOODING back this weekend...my friend Todd (since deceased) and I flopping around in a raft, using CANOE PADDLES to try to get around...Claudette and Chad joining me for a weekend (and having to "endure" me singing the entire score from "Little Shop of Horrors" on the drive from Fairfield...sorry guys!)...COUNTLESS summers where I PRAYED that John Todd WOULDN'T bring a friend, so that we could "hang out" (but he always did...)...swinging Emilie in the hammock when she was only a few months old...chatting with Toshi and using my "gaijingo" (literal translation..."foreigner language"), inserting Japanese words whenever I could remember them...swimming in the cove and trying to avoid the HUGE snapping turtle that lived there...catching ALL the frogs in the cove with only a canoe and a flashlight...staring up at the stars after dark (and before everyone put in those OBNOXIOUS yard lights)...Tena...Amy...Therese...SO many great times. I can't believe I'll never be going back there again!

OF COURSE there were "not so good times" too...the weekends where it RAINED the entire time and we had to play board game after board game after board game...or the weekends that were so hot we couldn't breathe...or the times where the boat wasn't working properly...or the time we were all out fishing on the pontoon boat when Charles got the call that Grandma Reynolds had just died...

Good times or bad...THIS WEEKEND was PERFECT. The weather was AWESOME. I couldn't believe we were in Iowa in August...low humidity...cool temperatures...absolutely AWESOME. We managed to get in LOTS of boat rides, and ate LOTS of the "standards" at the lake...Grandma Reynolds macaroni and cheese, chicken and rice, devilled eggs, cowboy beans, hunks of cheese and black olives...I miss it all already!

This morning, however, was the WORST...as we were heading up to the cars for the last time, I could NOT "pull it together". I was on the deck TRYING to get it under control to say goodbye to Doris and Charles, and just COULDN'T do it. Thank goodness Davey attempted to throw himself off the deck to make me laugh, or I'd probably STILL be sobbing.

Managed to choke out a "thanks" and "see you at Thanksgiving", and then TOTALLY lost it after we got up to the cars. Didn't help that DAD was crying...MOM was crying...ROBIN was crying....and then ABIGAIL burst into tears. Ack!

I TOTALLY understand that they needed to sell it now...Charles is in his 70's, and keeping the place going was getting harder and harder on BOTH of them, but I couldn't help thinking that the lake house was my LAST connection to my past...grandma and grandpa's house is gone, our house in Fairfield is gone, the church I grew up in has been torn down and rebuilt, yadda, yadda, yadda. I also can't help but think that the lake house was the last place that I saw Grandma Reynold's alive (and Grandpa Reynolds, for that matter...!).

Rambling...will stop now, and think of all the GREAT times we had, how MUCH I enjoyed lying in that hammock, how AMAZING those COUNTLESS laps around the lake were (one of my ALL TIME favorite places in the WORLD was on that boat, circling the lake), and how those fireworks EVERY 4th of July weekend seemed WAY brighter and more amazing, as seen from a boat anchored just off the dam at the northeast end of that FABULOUS lake!

Here are a couple of pictures from our final weekend at Sun Valley:

Davey and me on the boat!

Duane and me on the boat!

Robin (after Emile decided it was FUN to go "outside the wake" in the tube!)

Toshi, fishing on the pontoon!

Emilie, Ashley, and Abigail!

Me in my OTHER favorite place at the lake...the hammock!!

Uncle Charles on the boat at sunset

Robin and me in the front of the boat (our favorite spot)

The lake house (as seen from the water)

A final sunset on Sun Valley Lake

Hope YOUR Labor Day weekend was full of "memory making" adventures as well!