Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Abby's First Car Ride With Us

If you watched yesterday's video, you saw me trying to get Abby to stay on the floor next to me while I drove. Saturday, Gerard came along too and we all went to the park and had a great time! Abby loved it. I was curious as to if she would stay on the floor between the two front seats if Gerard was in the car too and could be petting her. She follows him everywhere and loves to be pet so I thought maybe she would stay. What do you think? Watch the video to find out:

Abby liked the park very much. She liked walking through the water, met several dogs, loved sniffing along the trail and went after a squirrel! Also, thanks to Abby, I got a new camera because I dropped my while holding her leash when she tried chasing after something unexpectedly. We were taking a water break and I was sitting down on the step of the drinking fountain when all of a sudden, she tried to take off! My digital camera fell and the lens hit the stone.

Off to Radio Shack in the afternoon to get another one. By the way, the protection plan had run out on my other camera but even if it hadn't, it would not have covered because it was dropped. This is the first picture I took with my new digital camera--Spunky hiding from Abby behind the chair. At least she stayed in the room when the dog came in. Manny ran off.My second picture was this one of Gerard giving Abby a big hug!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Our Dog's First Car Ride

I was anxious to see how Abby would do in our car so took her with me to the post office and to the repair shop. It was a bit hard holding my cameras and all along with the dog but I managed. Please excuse the video quality--it was kind of hard being by myself.

My plan was for her to ride between the two separate front seats but she had another idea. After I got back in the car from mailing my letters, I couldn't find my keys! I knew I did NOT drop them in the mailbox. Finally, I got out and there they were laying on the seat.

Next, I went to drop off the van at Parma Tire because my "check engine soon" light went on last night. Abby was such a good girl! She got in without any trouble and then enjoyed the ride! Here is the video:

Check out Abby's blog to see what she thought at Abby--Woof, Woof!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Our Favorite Reads In June

Gerard's best book for June: The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose

An Inside Look At Liberty College (50 stars)

What an awesome book this is! It tells the story of Kevin Roose who spent a year at Liberty University, an Evangelical Christian college. He covers all the bases. There are a lot of funny moments in this book, but what you believe will also be challenged in this book. Kevin says it all out and you may agree or disagree with his opinion. That's what is so good about this book. You will also meet his fellow classmates and learn about their beliefs too.

I really enjoyed this book a lot! No matter your religious belief, I think you will enjoy this book as well and get something out of it!! Super job, Kevin, thanks for sharing your experience.

I read this one too but wasn't as thrilled with it as Gerard. You can read my review of if at Zemek's Updates (What We've Just Read)

Karen's best book for June: The Ultimate Cat Lover by Marty Becker

The Ultimate Cat Lover was a delight to read! It had many short stories that were by different people about their experiences with their cat that were entertaining and amazing. The full-page color pictures of the cats interspersed in small sections throughout the book gives the reader a nice little break between the stories so it doesn't get monotonous and 29 pages are filled with expert advice about all kinds of cat related issues with recommended websites and other resources listed for further information. My favorite story was about the homeless man with his cat. I recommend this book to every cat owner!

Some of the recommended websites are: www.bestfriends.org (pictures of the pet rescue of New Orleans after the hurricane); www.help4pets.com and www.thecenterforlostpets.com (both these have advice on how to prevent loss or find a runaway pet). A foundation that is an identification system for pets in any emergency, such as lost, house fire, car accident, natural disaster, travel emergencies, can be reached at 1-800-HELP-4-PETS.

Now I want to read The Ultimate Dog Lover too!

Comment Showcase--Top Comments of The Week

On Libraries Are So Much More Than Books:

The Bumbles left this great comment:
BRAVO!!! People think of the library only as a place to borrow books. Moms of little ones know that there are tons of free activities to take advantage of but the rest of us are clueless sometimes. Our library is fantastic - they show free movies, have popular authors, teach computer courses, foregin language lessons, resume writing and job search strategies - along with all the traditional book and movie lending.

On Adventures With Our New Dog Abby

Wildcatsthree said:
Abby's story sounds very much like our Rosie's survival and adoption story. She is a very lucky dog, and what a lovely name (our Abby agrees).

I'm glad Spunky and Manny are adjusting to your newcomer. It just goes to show if you give them some time to get used to each other without pushing them together, they'll be fine. I'm so glad you rescued a pup from a shelter and gave her a new chance at happiness. Thank you Karen and Gerard!
Chris, Abby, Rosie, Angel, Gidget and Lola

A first-time visitor to my blog who left a comment that made me feel good on 6 Ways To Cope With Death Of A Pet

Gina DeLorenzi said:
Hi Karen and Gerard, I found your blog through the 31dayBBB forum for Asking Questions, day 16. I wanted to commend you for combing so many of the 31day tasks into one very effective blog post. If you are OK with it, I want to link to your site as part of a future post I am planning with my blog. In addition, I see you have a right sidebar item called Find More Blogs and Promote yours. This is the first time I have seen strategy and it is very effective. I'm going to check that out too.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Things I Learned This Week of Sports Camp-Part 25

I was one who took my vacation to do Sports Camp and be an assistant coach for flag football and I am so glad I did. The day flew by (unlike at work)and I learned a lot about keeping kids involved, encouraging them, teaching them different skills and I even learned what a sweep football play is and how to diagram plays. Some of the most fun was on the sidelines of our game just playing a "mini" game with those waiting to go in working some on skills and getting a better understanding of the game. We had over 600 children involved in our camps this week! Praise the Lord!!

Below is a video of just the flag football area that I worked in.

I got a great tan and enjoyed the picnic and awards celebration for all the campers and their families last night! Our key verse for the week is Philippians 4:13 which says, "I can do all things because Christ strengthens me." For our program we had the Victory Strength Team present amazing feats of strength: Gary "The Rock" Kanaga (The head of our Sports Camp) bench pressed 225 lbs. of 30 reps! Then at the end he broke threw a stack of 7 1" bricks with his bare hand! Greg "Mighty Mouse" Page weighing 160 did 13 squats at 500 lbs.! Gary "The Hulk" Bess did dead weight lifts of 600 lbs. 10 reps! Michale "Popeye" Kling did 10 reps of 135 lb. bar curls! It was remarkable and the kids loved it as the cheered them on.

This was a huge undertaking for our church to do, with planning and preparation going on for a whole year. This was a step of faith on the part of our church as a whole because it is the first time we've done this just using our own congregation. We also didn't know how many would come to football since we just added this sport. Our church family is extremely excited about this outreach ministry into our community and it is so much fun being a part of it.

The staff that worked both the morning and afternoon sessions enjoyed fellowship while eating lunch together that was provided for all of us at the church. It was also encouraging to me to find out that some of the boys I had in my 5th grade Sunday School class two years ago were helping as assistant coaches and even leading some of the devotions in their group.

For complete coverage of Sports Camp, visit the official blog of Parma Heights Baptist Church at http://phbaptist.blogspot.com/.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Libraries Are So Much More Than Books

One of the few places a person can go for free entertainment is a library. Gerard never went to libraries before we were married but I introduced him to the one by our home and then we looked at others in the area as well. Now he goes every week and encourages other people to get a library card too. He used to buy books all the time but now fins them at the library.

With this recession, libraries have seen an increase in the number of patrons. There is so much more to libraries than just books! We have seven in our area that I can think of just off the top of my head, two within walking distance of our house and one within walking distance of my office where I work.

The one nearest to us has CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes and even children’s games that can be borrowed. It has a variety of activities for kids including game days where kids can come and play games together such as Chess, Checkers, Monopoly, etc. Sometimes they’ll even have a Wii set up that people of all ages (even me!) can come and play during family times. This is where I went to try Wii bowling one Saturday morning.

Another nice thing is that they have computers for the public to come in and use for free. If I want to work on my blog or go on pogo, Facebook, Twitter or a discussion forum, I can do it at lunch time at the Main Cleveland Public Library since work doesn’t want us using those sites at work. I do have a cell phone but not the Internet connection on it because I’m cheap. The phone already costs plenty just to use for basic phone calls--$60 a month! I am seriously considering switching to Revel the end of this year since it’s much cheaper because it’s only local which is fine for us. Usually there is a long waiting list but I get about 20 minutes in generally. I also used the computers at the library near our home when my computer was in for repair which was when I first learned how to sign up for them.

Some libraries have authors come and speak about their books or other special classes. The one Main Cleveland Public Library in downtown Cleveland recently had knitting group in the library garden on a Saturday open to anyone. They even taught beginners how to do it for free! You never know what you’ll find at the library. Today there was a little band at the library garden playing music and box lunches were available for $10 each (not in my budget).

Occasionally, after playing tennis behind the library in North Royalton, it's always nice to stop in just to cool off, use the restroom and get a drink on a hot day.

We go to the library practically every week. Did you know you can go on the web site and request books that you’d like to read? If your particular branch doesn’t have it on their shelves, they can order it from another branch for you. We love this service! The library is a real good place to go. When was the last time you visited a library near you?

Ohio has one of the best library systems in the country and now our Governor is planning to cut their state funding by 50%! This is very distressing, especially since our library tax proposals always get passed. Log on to saveohiolibraries.com to stop him. Call the governor of Ohio at 614-466-3555 or 614-644-4357.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Adventures With Our New Dog, Abby

UPDATED 6/24/09: Visit Abby's blog page at Zemeks' Updates: Abby--Woof Woof.
We love having Abby! Yesterday she had fun on her walk chasing a rabbit! It was way too quick for her but she tried. She loves meeting and greeting the other dogs of the neighborhood and she is learning to walk nicely along with us. We are so thrilled to have found such a great dog. She even touched noses with Spunky Doodle.

Last night, she slept in the bedroom with us and Spunky Doodle still came on the bed, not Manny yet though.

On her walk today, she stopped along the way and I looked down and saw she was standing on a bunch of ants. Some were crawling on her foot and started up her leg even! I quickly got her moving along and brushed off all the ants. Sure didn't want those coming into my house.

Here is a short video of her first few days at our home:

Now I'm off to Pet Supplies Plus for Frontline for her. Fortunately, we used it on our cats a day or two before we got her. I assumed she had been treated but the lady that brought her to us said she didn't think she had.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cats Meet The Newest Member Of Our Family: Our Dog!

I am so happy that my cats seem to be coming around to accept Abby as part of our family. There has been NO hissing or growling at all! Today, even Manny came downstairs while the dog was free. We left the dog on the main floor all the while we were at church today and hoped for the best. As it turned out, it seems that my cats are just curious and being a bit cautious. Abby is so good. She doesn't go after them at all. It seems soon Manny and Spunky will reclaim their territory, but our new dog is feeling right at home and stretched out on our living room couch today! This is where Manny likes to lay during the day so I hope it doesn't cause problems.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day Everyone!

In honor of Father's Day this month, I just have to share this short video with you which captures the essence of my book, "My Funny Dad, Harry" and what a father is all about.

It was made by the publisher, Outskirts Press, Inc. and at first I didn't like it because it really doesn't have any of my pictures in it and doesn't really say anything specific about my dad, but when I asked others who read the book what they thought of it, they all liked it and thought it was very good. So, how do you vote? Yay or Nay?

Want to order it? Click here to go right to Amazon.

Be sure to visit "My Funny Dad, Harry" blog today--it's a pretty funny post.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

We Got A Dog! Yippee!!!

Our First Day Together
Today we met a shepherd, Norwegian Elkhound mix dog named Gabby. This is the dog I discovered through Pet Finder and emailed Barb after Gerard said he thought he'd like this one. She is 5 years old. Here is the link where we found her: www.petfinder.com. It turns out Gabby only had that name about a week so we can rename her. We just dropped the "G" and named her Abby.

Abby looks happy to be with Karen
In preparation for Gabby's visit, I moved the cat food up to a table and a desk. Spunky Doodle and Manny aren't thrilled about this, but I noticed food was eaten during the day while we were at work. In the evening when I saw them looking where it used to be, I moved it down for them temporarily. I also applied Frontline to them to protect them from the fleas, ticks and whatever else it protects from that may come in on the dog. Spunky was pretty easy, but Manny took awhile because he kept moving away from me and rolling over on his back. I finally got it applied while he was eating.

Abby feels very comfortable with Gerard.
Gerard was so excited he waited outside for the dog to arrive and almost immediately took it for a walk to the corner and back. We are all smiles as you can see, except for Spunky and Manny. Spunky Doodle was pretty brave and stood her ground when I brought the dog into the dining room on the leash and then went to hide behind the gold chair and later under the bed. Manny; however, didn't waste any time going into hiding but after awhile, both cats came out and acted normal, just not around the dog yet.

The cats discuss the new member a few days later in this video:

Top Comments Of This Week

This one made me laugh:
Heidi has left a new comment on your post "Library Doesn't Have What You Want, Try Paperback Swap:

I love books and so do my kids and I cannot wait to check it out. When I was a kid I made my mom read, Where the Wild Things Are every night practically.

On Pearl, Perfect Dog For Us? I thought this was the most interesting comment:
Mountain Woman said:
Karen, I own 7 dogs, I've trained dogs for years, I've competed in obedience and agility with dogs so I consider myself pretty knowledgeable. I'm not sure you have the best situation for a dog because your cats are so happy and relaxed and you work. If Gerard is home during the day, that would make a difference but dogs require lots of time and any dog you bring in, older, puppy, whatever creates an entirely different set of problems.
I think you are doing a wise thing by waiting.

Friday, June 19, 2009

4 Things I Learned This Week of 2009--Part 24

Kid's Entertainment

Using toilet paper tubes, wax paper, tempera powder paint, plaster of Paris and water, you can make your own sidewalk chalk. Here is the recipe at The Green Cheapskate.

Good Search

Use www.goodsearch.com to do your Internet searching and they will donate money to a charity that you choose. My friend at Kitten Krazy told me about this.

Pet Finder

I discovered www.Petfinder.com this week when we submitted our application to adopt Pearl, a dog we saw at the zoo "Meet Your Best Friend Day." Although Pearl did not work out, I found that you can insert the size, animal, breed you are looking for and your area code on this site and it brings up available animals in your area that meet your search requirements. I found two other possible dogs, the first one we are pursuing is Gabby who we will meet tomorrow. She has a huge smile!

Cat & Dog Tips

At the cat/dog log I found out about a newsletter you can sign up for giving you cat and dog tips every day at www.dogster.com and www.catster.com. I just signed up today!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pearl--The Perfect Dog For Us?

Well, it happened again. When we went to the zoo's "Meet Your Best Friend Day" where many shelters and rescue groups bring their adoptable pets, we found Pearl, a dog we both liked a lot! She was a Beagle/Basset Hound mix that is 10 years old, a calm, friendly, laid back dog. She wasn't at all interested in Leo, (one of our many stuffed animals), cute, loved to be pet, and was a low energy medium-sized dog that would be happy spending time watching TV with Gerard or going for walks.

Sticking with my plan of not making impulse purchases, we did not bring along any money. It's just that as we continued walking around the zoo, I couldn't get her off my mind. We stopped back to see if anyone adopted her before we left and no one had. She seemed like she'd be perfect for us! My only concern was if she would be okay just going out 3 times a day and being left alone for 10 hours while we were at work. We took another picture of her and said a sad good-bye.

I posted about her on Facebook and after three of my friends encouraged me to get her, I suggested to Gerard that I think we should try to adopt her after all. I completed the online application and we waited to hear back. Finally, Tuesday night we got a call from the lady that was most familiar with Pearl. Unfortunately, she has a medical condition of incontinence. Although housebroken, she sometimes just can't control her pee and sometimes wakes up in a little puddle. She gets medication every day but it doesn't completely solve the problem. Being a senior dog, she is well passed the crate stage and wouldn't like being in one all the while we were at work. I reluctantly admitted that she probably wasn't the right dog for us then.

The woman was very nice and thanked me for being realistic because when they do place Pearl in a home, they really want it to work out well for her and it to be her final home. The lady recommended that we check on Pet Finders and also perhaps the Cleveland Sanctuary for Senior Dogs. Although we didn't get Pearl, she opened me to more actively look for a perfect dog for us. Gerard really wants to be a dog owner!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How Fit Are You?

I'm thinking this test isn't real accurate since I can barely do one real push-up, but it made me feel good.

You're Very Fit

Congratulations, you're totally fit and doing everything right. Keep it up.
(I hope to stay active my whole life.)

You have a high fitness level. It's likely that keeping active keeps you healthy and happy.
(Exercising is not only good physically, but also mentally helps improve your mood for hours later.)

You're doing great things for yourself and inspiring others.
(I don't know about this . . . are you inspired?)

Be sure to keep challenging yourself so you don't get in a fitness rut! (This is what I have to do because I get bored.)

Related Post on Losing It--Getting Fit: 2-bikini-ready-exercises-for-busy-moms

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Library Doesn't Have What You Want, Try Paperback Swap

Since we don't like to spend money on books but do like to read, Gerard and I use the library all the time; however, sometimes they don't have a specific book that we want to read. This was the case for Forever My Lady by Jeff Rivera. He promoted his book on My Space in one of the discussion forums and I thought it sounded like one I would like to read. Through Tina at the Creative Nerd, I discovered www.paperbackswap.com which is a website where people can post their books that they are willing to mail to others (not limited to just paperbacks, also have hard covers, DVDs, CDs).

The other one of the first books I received was Where The Wild Things Are which I probably could have gotten from the library, but saw it listed and since I've been wanting to read it, just went ahead and ordered it as sort of a trial run to see how it worked. I saw this book on a lot of Shelfari shelves and the cover caught my attention. It's a children's picture book, but my cats both enjoyed it. See Manny's post about it on his blog at Zemeks' Updates.

All you pay is the postage for mailing a book. Once you post ten books of yours you get 2 credits which can be used to "purchase" two books through the site. After that, every time you mail one of your books, you get another credit that you can use. This is a nice way to share those books that are just sitting around your house collecting dust that you probably won't read again and clear some shelf space for other things.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Comment Showcase

We get pleasure from reading the comments on our blogs and appreciate some of our readers taking extra time to leave them for us. I know I generally don't look at the comments on posts unless I want to make a comment so thought it would be nice to highlight some of the ones we received the last two weeks that we thought were exceptional. Here they are:

Beaded Tail commented on 5 Things I Learned This Week--Part 22

Beaded Tail said: Very clever about the moat around the cat food bowl!

And I finished your book last night and enjoyed it very much! It was everything you said and more! I felt myself going through the emotions that you must have been feeling when dealing with your dad from happiness and laughter to frustration and even sadness. Thank you so much!

On What Graduate Can You Surprise?
I chose the following interesting comments to share here:

Lin said...

My daughter just graduated from 8th grade and my husband's side "does not celebrate" grade school graduations, so the party will be a little sparse. We've received a few cards, but people don't think to send them anymore. I think you are right--it is a nice treat! How kind of you to do that for the kids.

Sandee said...

Only one this year, my granddaughter. She did get a card with money inside and next month on her birthday (18 years old) we are buying her a car.

What a nice thing you are doing though. Good for you.

Have a terrific day. :)

Anonymous said... (I don't get many anonymous comments, wonder who you are?)

The kids love it, they like that they are better at it than Joe and I am they can all play, we mostly play when it is rainy outside so it is a fun thing, they like the bowling and the boxing and all those games it is more geared toward "todays" kids, rather than us that actually went bowling all the time. I like the Wii fit but really do not get to play very much. All in all we do not play the wii nearly as much as I thought we would but it is fun for the kids.

On What Do You Do At Lunch Besides Eat? Mountain Woman said...

I'm retired now but when I was working, I'd head to the gym (which was close by) and swim laps. It always left me refreshed and not quite so hungry and ready to face the hectic afternoon.

The last thing we want to do is hurt someone's feelings doing this. We just thought it may encourage some more to comment and give a little recognition to those who leave comments. We seem to have a nice group of commenters and thought we'd like to try this and see how it goes. Let us know what you think.

Friday, June 12, 2009

7 Things I Learned This Week of 2009--Part 23

Get Your Blog Analyzed

When I checked out the discussion forum on Blogging Tips at Book Blogs I learned about using website.grader.com to analyze my blogs for free. Wow, it is great, quick and easy! It gives you a lot of information and also suggestions on thing to do to improve your blog plus a grade. This blog got an 85, my Zemeks' Updates got a 91 and My Funny Dad, Harry got an 86. It said though that Google thinks that my blogs with the www. and without are two different blogs and so my traffic count is split. Anyone know how I can fix this?

Cat Information

From reading The Ultimate Cat Lover, The Best Experts' Advice for a Happy, Healthy Cat with Stories and Photos of Fabulous Felines by Marty Becker D.V.M, I learned the following:
  • www.bestfriends.org (pictures of the pet rescue of New Orleans after the hurricane);

  • www.help4pets.com and www.thecenterforlostpets.com (both these have advice on how to prevent loss or find a runaway pet).

  • A foundation that is an identification system for pets in any emergency, such as lost, house fire, car accident, natural disaster, travel emergencies, can be reached at 1-800-HELP-4-PETS.

  • It's best to let the cat go or stop petting it before it gets antsy so it will want more.

  • When taking pictures of cats, for best results indoors use a flash and get to their level. Try to have plain background but incorporate windows or plants in the shot to give a feeling of outdoors.
I recommend this book to all cat owners!

Book Blogs

While doing my EC drops last Friday, I came across a badge for Book Blogs and decided to check it out. This is a site for bloggers who read books, review books, promote books and write books so I thought I would join since I read a lot and do book reviews on my blog. See the badge on my left side bar by what we're reading now?

Kevine Laue--What Determination!

At Strong and Fit I learned about Kevine Laue, a one-armed college basketball player! What a great inspirational story.

Time to Weigh-In

When reading Health Nut Wannabee Mom, I learned that the best time to get weighed to get your most accurate reading is before breakfast in the morning while nude. To maintain weight, it's good to weigh in every day. Health Nut Wannabee Mom also said we should eat breakfast every day before 8 a.m. and within 15-30 minutes of waking up. (This is something I don't do--I eat breakfast, but usually get up at 4 a.m. and don't eat until 5:30 a.m.). What about you?

Reducing Stress

At Beyond Horizons I found a great list of things we can do to reduce stress in our lives the Christian way in a two-part post. I think it's worth checking out because I do many of these things and find it works. One thing I would add to the list, however, would be to pet and play with your pets!

Find Your Best Friend--a Pet

Tomorrow at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is "Meet Your Best Friend Day" at the Zoo's ticket plaza. This is a free event from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. with over 100 adoptable dogs and cats from over 20 area shelters and rescue groups with pet care information and giveaways. Gerard and I go every year--it's fantastic! Each year we are tempted to bring home a dog. One of these days, I'm sure it will happen. We're trying to hold out until we retire. If you're in the area, why not go and see what's available. There may be one or two that will catch your eye and steal your heart! Bring cash just in case.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What Celtic Animal Are You?

Since I am a huge animal lover, I just had to take this quiz. In Gary Smalley's personality quiz I am a beaver and Gerard is a Golden Retriver, but this quiz says Gerard and I are ravens based solely on our birth dates.

Your Animal is the Raven

You have an incredible work ethic and are very tenacious. You like to productive.

No matter what you want in life, you're committed to making it happen.

You are infinitely patient. You are philosophical about life and feel that good things will eventually come.

You believe it's important to carve out your own space in the world. You will change your life until you feel comfortable.

Just for fun

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More Money From Blog Net Awards!

I won another $50 CAN from Blog Net Awards just by commenting about other blogs! It's so easy! You could win too. Why not start with voting for my other blog--My Funny Dad, Harry.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What Graduate Can You Surprise?

I remember when I graduated from High School, how happy I was to be out and what an important event it was in my life; however, I was even more thrilled when I graduated from college knowing that now I was really done! Back than graduation parties were not as common as they are today. We just had some relatives over and whatever cards we got in the mail from friends or family. I was very grateful to my Aunt Martha and Dorothy for giving me my first car for graduation, their Rambler back in 1971.

I was also very surprised when I got a card with a check in the mail from someone at church. It was completely unexpected. It came from Norm, the friendliest and biggest man I ever knew even though had no real connection with him other than just greeting each other on Sunday mornings. He talked to everyone from kids up through seniors. He passed away, but I'll never forget him and his heart for youth!

Now, it's my turn to brighten a graduate's day and surprise them with a card and a check they are not expecting. I thought it was such a nice gesture and I enjoy doing it now, although I limit it to graduates that I have taught along the way or have had some kind of connection with such as a fellow puppeteer or VBS worker. Graduation is a milestone in a person's life that is nice to share in the celebration.

Why not get a card and write a check for a graduate you know, or give them a car if you have a spare? I am surprising eight this year, with checks, not cars. How many will you surprise?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sprucing Up The Yard For Spring

Gerard and I always like to get our yard looking nice after the long winter. Although Gerard does most of the yard work, he lets me choose the flowers to plant every year. This year I chose the blue Labella for our flower pots and swan planters.

For our front circles, we got petunias again since I thought they did so well last year. We got red, white and purple ones this year and Gerard planted them all because I still had a cold. Usually I'll at least dig the holes.

In the back we went with some perennials for Dickie Bird's garden. It's called silver mound.

I think and on the other side of our air conditioner, we planted something that is supposed to get some flowers on it during June but I don't remember the name of it. Do you know what these are called?

In the back, I trimmed our neighbor's tree that comes through our side of the fence and we planted coleus again in Moe's garden.

While Gerard planted them, I attacked the weeds that were growing behind our garage and got most of them out.

Gerard had fun trimming our front bush with the long clippers for the first time. Now all we have to do is sit back and watch our flowers grow bigger.

Do you enjoy planting flowers in your yard every spring? What kind do you get?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Having Fun Playing Softball Again--Like Night and Day

We played softball last night against two teams from North Olmsted Friends Church; it was like the difference between night and day. This is the first game we played in our new team shirts so we at least looked like a team. It was a gorgeous day as opposed to our previous game days of being cold and rainy. We got a picture of Gerard and me as well as the team afterward, but I wasn’t looking at the camera! I thought I was. My head is turned in the picture though, don’t know what I was looking at.

We looked liked Charlie Brown's team or the Bad News Bears, (take your pick) the first game of our double-header, losing 20-0! (Something like that.) It was HORRIBLE! Some of our problems were:

  • Had a woman at short who doesn't play short and who couldn't get anything.

  • We kept making outs and when we did get on base, didn't have a third base coach and Ed was thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple.

  • We were throwing to the wrong bases.

  • I played first and got a grounder, thinking our pitcher would come over to cover the bag, but he didn't. By the time I realized it, I couldn't get there fast enough.

  • Some of us got some good hits, but not enough together to score a run.

  • The other team had great hitting--most of them could really give that ball a ride and the few who couldn't were scrappy and fast enough to be able to run out infield hits. Plus, they had black shirts which were intimidating and mean looking.

The three highlights:
  1. We nailed one of the guys at the plate with our woman catcher, Elly! She did great, even when he tried bulldozing her over and should have gotten thrown out of the game according to the umpire who mentioned it to me the second game. This is a "fun" church league--not a competitive, die-hard league, after all, they had 20 runs!

  2. The second highlight for us was when Gerard threw out the runner to me at first on a grounder to him. It made us feel good that we contributed in a positive way since our hitting is so pitiful.

  3. The other team had a little cute dog in the stands near first base that I could see which always made me smile.

The second game we actually won 2-0! We looked like a completely different team, setting the other side down in order several innings. Things I feel made a difference were:
  • We rearranged some positions, bringing in one of our young guys to play short.

  • We clumped all our good hitters at the beginning of the lineup.

  • By this time we had our base coaches figured out too.

  • The team we played the second game wasn't very good either.

I almost got a hit, a blooper up the middle, but no, their girl second basemen ran over quick and made a leaping catch to snag it. She really made a great play on the ball but then doubled off the runner at second too--frustrating for me! Can I get any worse? Yes! I also got called out on strikes on a pitch I thought was low and outside (we only get two strikes in this league to keep it moving). That made me feel really stupid. I'm still looking for my first hit! Cory, the young guy we moved to short, nailed a runner at home where Elly again stood her ground, giving us our first shut out as well as our first win!

We look forward to our next game on June 20 at 3 p.m. against Columbia Road Baptist Church.

Friday, June 5, 2009

5 Things I Learned This Week--Part 22


At More Than Sew So I learned cars are now being made without pedals or steering wheels--the new Benz!

Yahoo Answers

UPDATED 6/12/09: Here's a post I found with more ideas for getting rid of ants in your house without chemicals: Rid Your Home of Ants Without Chemicals at http://blog.wereliving well.com.
I found ants in my cats' food bowl Friday when I got home from work. How do you keep ants out of the cats' food? I looked it up on http://answers.yahoo.com and sure enough, it has been asked before. The best answer by Katslookup--not suspended yet was to spray Home Defense around the OUTSIDE of the house, windows, doors, foundation but also place the bowl inside a larger dish filled with water so there is a moat around the cat's food bowl. Ants can't swim so won't be able to get to it! I tried this and it worked! No ants crawling in the food since, just some around the bowl which I promptly squashed with my fingers. Have you ever used Yahoo Answers find a solution to a problem? You might want to give it a try. (Here is a link to the post I wrote about it: Keeping Ants Away With a Moat and Use For Good China.

Photos to Paintings

At I found out there's a site, called Paint Your Life that takes your photo and makes an oil painting of it! Wouldn't that be a cool gift!!

Entrecard Ad Change-Yay!

Big Change to the Ad Network: Only Entrecard Blogs
Moving forward, we're making a big chance to the Ad Network. From here on out, only Active Entrecard Members can advertise via our ad network. We listened carefully to all your feedback during the trial phases of our ad network, and one thing that kept recurring is that you only wanted bloggers and other Entrecarders advertising on your widget. So, we're going ahead and making that change. From now on, the only advertisers approved into the Entrecard Ad Network will be advertising an Entrecard blog with an Entrecard Widget, just the way you like it!

Someone Read and Liked My Book

Lucky Lady did a nice review of my book on her blog and gave me permission to repost it on my blogs. I was so glad she liked it because she worked so hard to find eight correct answers to the give-a-away contest I ran. For Lucky Lady's reviewclick here

Thursday, June 4, 2009

An Interview With Kathryn Miles, author of "Adventures With Ari"

Kathryn Miles, author of Adventures With Ari graciously answered some questions that Gerard and I had for her after reading her book and we thought we'd share them with our readers. Following are the questions we asked and her answers:

Did you do the research on the different nature things because you were really interested or because you wanted to include it in the book?

Both. I wrote the book because I became so interested in the different aspects of nature that Ari and I investigated. When I set out to start my year-long experiment in canine naturalism, I didn't set a lot of rules for myself, because I wasn't certain what sort of form the project would take. But I did know that I value environmental thought and wanted to know more about the world in which I live. As our progress progressed, I found myself wanting to learn more and more. I'd sit down to research the gestation period of frogs, and end up spending an entire day reading about the secret lives of amphibians. The same was true for any species, really. It's a wild, wonderful world out there. I don't think I knew the half of it until I met Ari.

How is Ari doing now?

Ari is fantastic. She is three years old now, and a lot more grown up than she was in the book. But she still has the same exuberant energy and curiosity that made our time outdoors so pleasurable (and, luckily, she's outgrown some of her more naughty puppy behaviors).

Do you have plans to write another book?

I'm currently at work on a very different sort of project: a narrative about a legendary Irish famine ship called the Jeanie Johnston. It's a different style book--popular history--but it's also very rooted in landscape and place.

Why did you decide to write this book?

The project actually began as more of a personal journal or almanac--a way for me to get in touch with the seasons and the ecology around my house. As I came to realize how much I was learning through Ari, however, I realized that other people might benefit from adopting some version of canine naturalism in their own lives. So the book became a way to chronicle my experience and do some of the foundational work I thought might be helpful for others. I also wanted to pay tribute to Ari--and to relationships in general. At it's heart, I think the book is really a love story: love for place, love for the creatures (2- and 4- footed) in our lives, love for the sense of connection we all seek.

Stop by Kathryn's blog, Out With Ari at .
(Pictures in this post used by permission)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Disappointed in Wii Bowling

I've heard so much about the Wii that I was excited to try it out at our library. They had the Wii bowling set up on a Saturday morning for all ages to play. There were two units set up with about six people on each. I thought it was okay but certainly not great, probably since I didn't do well. Perhaps I would have done better if I had actually taken 5 steps as I do when I actually bowl, but there really wasn't space enough and everyone else was just taking one step forward and letting it go so I did the same. After playing this, I'm glad we didn't get one.

I suppose for someone who is housebound or unable to bowl for real due to a physical problem, it would be fun but for myself, I much prefer doing the real thing. I assume I would feel the same way about the other games as well. I can't imagine tennis being anywhere close to reality based on just the space limitation. I don't know if I'll try it again or not, but probably not. I wasn't much impressed. If I want to play video games, I'll play on pogo.com where I can at least earn tokens to cash in for a chance to win real money and other prizes (I haven't won anything yet though).

What do you think of the Wii? If you bought one, do you still use it 6 months later?