Monday, August 27, 2007

An inauspicious beginning

Sabrina wakes me up at about 3am to go out. For the visual, she wacks me on the head with her paw. It is a fairly surefire way to make sure I get up. Hard to ignore a dog doing that.

Get up, sigh. 6:50 I get a call from the Lifetouch photography guy. (Background, Friday afternoon I call him because everything was supposed to be set up on the yearbook ID computer to make ID's for students that didn't get them made before school started. That was not done. He tells me that he had to leave early, but he would send me the templates, and if I had a problem to call. "Ok" I said in a calm voice, " but please know if it doesn't work Monday morning I will go postal."

My guess is he took me to heart, a good thing, but failed to let me know the change of plans, a bad thing. 6:50 Lifetouch guy. "Are you at school yet?" "nooooooo" "OK, well, I'm here whenever you get here to make sure your computer is up and working properly." Grrrr. So I haul to school. (No breakfast grrr)

I get to school, he does his thing on the computer. While he is doing that, I'm trying to get a video I downloaded off the internet to work. Does great on the computer at my desk, needs to download an update to Quicktime to work on the projection system. Of course. So I have to call the computer tech guys to work on that since I need it first period. Why did I think using technology of the first day of school was a good idea??? What was I thinking??

Long about 7:30 the students start rolling in. Not my students, the students that need their IDs made so that they can get their schedules (that I am also in charge of as it turns out). I have 20-30 kids getting pictures taken etc. In the meantime, my first period English students show up. So, I finally clear out the room (they haven't gotten their IDs I've just written names down and passed out schedules) a little after 8:10 (when first period starts).

Roll through first, a parade of people visit my room. Seriously. During the year, it is as if no one knows where my room is, not today. Lisa comes by (she knows where it is, but she has first period off and she doesn't know what to do with herself). Susan Rhoads, the librarian, comes by, just wants to see how Pam is doing and if she will be subbing this year. Hey Pam, look for a shout out from Susan some time this week. At the rate I'm going, I'll be calling in sick too . . . soon. Mr Cates, the principal, comes by. Total weirds me out. He's awesome and I'm thrilled he came by, but he doesn't usually unless I'm in trouble.

Second period goes fine, third goes fine. I'm off fourth and fifth, but again, parade of people is now mostly students needing IDs, couple of parents about ads, little this, little that. But I'm starting to not feel so hot. I have a headache (take the only migraine pill I have), drink some water . . . Mom, is already shaking her head, she knows what's coming.

I start sixth period vertical, but I start fading fast. I'm talking slowly, get an icepack out of the freezer (yes, I have an icepack ready for just this type of thing.) by the end of the period I'm on the couch. Seventh starts - lights out, don't even try to get up or open eyes. Talk to them for a minute or two, but basicially sixth and seventh my editors run the class, go through stuff that I talked about 2nd and 3rd and cover for me.

Another side note, I started the day with my hair in a cute ponytail, make-up looking fabulous, cute skirt, top, heels. By seventh, shoes are off, hair is down (and not looking great I might add, there was a reason I choose a ponytail for the first day), icepack has messed the make-up up. I am not a pretty sight.

Mr. Williams, asst principal, comes by to check on me. About 5 minutes later, hurling in the trashcan outside of the room. Very professionally.

I call Susan, principal's asst, to radio assts.
"Hi Susan, I've started the year with a bang."
"Could you call the janitors to come empty the trashcan outside my room."
"Oh, no you didn't"

(Again, how sad that all I had to say was empty the trash and we've been through this enough she knew what had happened.)

I leave school as soon as the bell rings for 8th. As I'm pulling out of the parking garage telling MB, "wow I still don't feel that great, my stomach is still upset" I have to hang up on her so that I can throw the door open and throw up in front of God and everyone TWO MORE TIMES.

Got home, went to bed. I'm awake now, so I guess there is a pretty good chance I will survive both the headache and the humiliation.

Still haven't finished the syllabus for yearbook. That was to be done this afternoon.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

4 days down . . .

Considering how much I dislike inservice week, I thought it would be appropriate to begin with a photo of cat at the vet. I feel the way he looks. Pissed off. Pained to have to suffer through the indignities. Generally unhappy. I've come home each night this week ready to pass out. Please see Sabrina as my visual aid. She is asleep and falling off the sofa. I'm suppposed to meet with scooby tomorrow morning. That makes me want to bat my head into a wall. (Sorry, no visual for that, well, except for Buddy . . . doesn't he look pained to be at the vet? That is how I feel when I have to talk to Scooby.) I won't even say how much I spent at the vet. Holy Cow. I'd like to say that I've done something interesting this week. Not so. The girls have been working really hard on templates. They are being very patient as they try to catch me in between meetings to ok spreads. Still a lot to do and only one day left to do it.

Kristen and I had scheduled a meeting for the Europe trip. Only 2 parents came!! I am sooo bummed. We are going to try to have another meeting and see what happens. My final visual. The close up of Cat .

Monday, August 20, 2007

First Day of School

Always a beating. First we have the cheer parade in the morning when they talk about how great we all are yada yada yada, then they tell us some choked up story about how years later students still remember who we are (as if there isn't enough pressure on us not to mess the kids up any more than their parents have), then they tell us how we are all committed to greatness, we should be committed alright . . .

So I have my new schedule for life which already had some pressure put on it since I left late. I got home walked the dogs and now I have 14 minutes left of dinner time, so I'm eating and writing. Then two hours of working on the book and then an hour of cleaning up, getting ready for tomorrow etc.

Getting yearbook pictures taken starts tomorrow so I have to be at school early to make sure that all goes according to plan, then it is a curriculum day. Blecky! That should suck me dry.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Last Saturday

For the last Saturday of freedom before school starts, I have failed to use it properly. I worked from 8-12:30. I'm impressed that most of the girls did show up and they worked hard. I left early, but they had to leave by 3. The janitors get really cranky if we don't leave in a timely fashion.

I finally used the Spa pass my editors got me at the banquet in the spring. I went to Red Door and got a massage, facial, manicure, pedicure and make-up. Probably could have done without the make-up, but it was all super nice. Diane and I made plans to do something this evening, but she ended up going to dinner with her daughters and doing stuff with them. Oh well, so much for a final hoorah.

I am now committed for the next four months to staying on a schedule and working on the book. I have to be dedicated and focused. No accepting invitations to do stuff. Hard core. If I have friends at the end of the four months, it will be a miracle. But there will be a book at the end of four months, there will be a book.

I walked the dogs as sweat poured off of me. Yikes. Emily is out of town, so I have been grabbing her papers for her. I threw yesterday's in the house after walking the dogs. Looks like I should have walked them farther. As you can see they had some energy left to destroy the paper. How sweet. They aren't always naughty. They play like mad things in the yard. You can see the pool in the top left corner, Sabrina is really too big for the pool. They also get the pool dirty and nasty because they get in and out so much. They fight to see who gets to stay in the pool. Silly doggies. I looked out the kitchen window at one point, and they were actually sitting quietly! I'm not sure if you can see how much bigger Sabrina is than Buddy, but she is about twice his size. I have to be careful coming out of the bedrooms. When they start chasing each other circling the house, they are as likely to knock me down as not. Of course, if Buddy stops suddenly and Sabrina is too close then she skids over him because she is so much taller. If I could catch that on film, I would post it in a heartbeat. And then there are the moments I live for . . . they wear themselves out and sleep! I tried to get video of it because Sabrina makes a lot of noise when she sleeps. Snores, snorts, barks etc., but as soon as I started to try she got quiet. Rats. Time for me to go to bed. I have a schedule to keep!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Notable moments of the week

Tues: I met with the boys. Have I mentioned what a beating they can be? At least I got them to agree to create a ladder. That will help me immensely.

Tues pm: Met with most of the editors. I think they are on board. So we will have one group working from 10-1 and another from 4-7. Sucks for me, but at least they are ready to work.

Wed: up at 5:30 to walk the dogs. Wanted to yak the whole time. Crack of dawn and so hot and humid, it was disgusting!

Wed: Interviewed Angus Wynne. I had down that we were to meet at the Stoneleigh Hotel which it turns out is under renovation. I was quite flummoxed, so I went across the street to the Stoneleigh P which is a restaurant. He shows up about ten minutes later. Turns out that is where we were supposed to meet, but he had it down as four and I had it as three. I can't believe that it actually worked out! He was really nice and I enjoyed getting to talk with him.

Thurs: Up at 5:30, but back to bed for an hour. I'm not fond of 5:30. I finally started cleaning out my office at school. Yikes what a mess.

Fri: Tried for the 3rd and final time to be up at 5:30. There is no getting around it. 5:30 is the crack of dawn, and I don't want to be up that early. Went back to sleep until 6:30. A much more dignified and respectable hour. I can do 6:30.

I had lunch with Pam! She is really skinny but doing soooooo much better. Her doctor told her last Friday that not only had the tumors shrunk. . . they were gone!! Holy Cow. She is still doing chemo just to be sure, but how cool is that?! She too has read Eat, Pray, Love. Such a great book. When I get it back from MB, I will pass it along to whomever wants it next . . . speak up if you want it next.

It is 8:07 and both puppies are laying at my feet. My eyes are burning, and I'm ready for bed. (It's all those attempts at being up at 5:30 that have messed me up.) I had planned to mow in the morning, but it has been raining all evening, so I'm not sure that is going to work out for me. Rats. I have to be at school by 10, maybe I'll do a little house cleaning or I could be really edgy and work on the book!!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Getting back in the Swing of things

Yesterday I got up bright and early and went to the 7:30 service. Then I walked Sabrina, mowed the lawn and worked on The Book.

Met Kimberly and then Laura and Buddy came over.

That is an exciting Sunday.

I tried to get up bright and early this morning, but I was having difficulties. I did drag my butt out of bed and eventually managed to walk the dogs. They did great except for one small incident when Sabrina was so excited about visiting Hank, and Buddy was excited because Sabrina was excited. They pulled so hard I fell down and went boom. Small gash in the knee. I wasn't going to include a visual aid, but it looks so disgusting I had to. ewwww yucky.

After that I headed over to Childress Fabrics to take the material I'm using to have Grandmama's sofa reupholstered. I was able to go back and see the repair job on the back leg. It is amazing. You can't tell that the leg had been broken at all.

At any rate, they said it would take about four weeks to get it all fixed up. It is going require extensive repairs, so I'm not surprised. Another fun note is that the guy at the fabric store said that this type of sofa is a Duncan Phyfe. (They are named after the guy that originally made them and quite valuable these days!) Not that I would sell it, but still nice to know. I found an old picture that has the sofa in the corner.

I also went up to school to start working on getting all of my kids in the right periods. That is always a pain. I did find out that I have English I 1st period and yearbook 2, 3, 6 and 7.

Now I am back home getting organized for tomorrow. School may not officially start until next Monday, but if the number of emails I'm dealing with regarding school are anything to go by, I'm already behind!!

Sabrina has a Buddy

Well, much to Mom and Dad's horror I got Sabrina a little buddy, and his name is Buddy. Isn't that an adorable face? He is about 1/2 the size of Sabrina. He has the webbed toes of a lab, but I have no idea of what else is in him. He is about 10 months old, so he is basically the same age as Sabrina (she is 9 months). Sabrina and I met him about two weeks ago when he was at an adoption fair in front of a shop on Henderson Ave. I got him through Paws in the City. They are serious about their process. Yesterday, Kimberly came and did a "Home visit". Checked the place out, asked a bunch of questions. Then I had to go to the Pet Store with her as she discussed food and what makes a good food vs a bad food and what toys were good vs bad etc . I was exhausted at the end of it. Can you imagine if people had to go through this before they were allowed to have children??
After all of that Laura, the girl that had fostered Buddy, came over with Buddy. In the photo below she is trying to keep them calm for a minute so that we could get a photo. I even got video! They played so much last night (even after I had turned the lights out and told them goodnight!) that I finally had to put Buddy in the utility room. He only cried for a couple of minutes . Today I left them both outside in the morning since only Sabrina has a doggy door opener. I ordered a second, so hopefully it will come in some time this week. This afternoon I am working, and happy, happy, joy, joy they are both sleeping. Mostly.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The worse things get, the funnier the blog

I'm contemplating this comment as I prepare to write about today. Our last day on the family vaca. Where shall I begin . . .

We have been talking off and on all week about going horseback riding. Katherine, Cassie and Lydia had all said that they wanted to go. We called yesterday a couple of times but were never able to reach anyone. Some of the group (most of the adults) were going to go to some cheesy museum and shop in the cherokee indian shop. Some of the group (most of the kids, Dad and David) were going tubing on the river. (By river, I really mean something that once was river like but is now mostly rock with a thin layer of water.)

This morning Katherine managed to get someone, found out that we could have a 12:00pm appt for a 2 hour horse ride and hung up. We'd had such a hard time reaching them in the first place that it hardly seemed worth it to call back and confirm that 1. since they are under sixteen does it have to be their parents to sign permission for them to ride? 2. confirm the location 3. find out if there is anything specific that we needed to wear etc. 4. confirm that they take credit cards. (Do you already have a sense that there are several ways for this to go wrong?)

So, we head out. We get there (so we think) but don't see a sign or anything like that. We call. Luckily we get through. The guy tells us that we are at his house. (expletives deleted) He tells us that it is about 20 minutes away, and we'll probably be late and most likely only be able to ride for an hour.

So, we go back out onto 19 then back to 74 past the hwy that leads to the lodge another 1/2 mile. We pass it. Turn around go back. Turn in to an area when we see a sign about horseback riding, but are there a lot of signs that clearly direct us back through the woods to the place where the actual stable is? Hell no. So we putz around a little more, ask a guy for directions and finally get there. We are only 10 minutes late. On the up side the guy is impressed with our time. Does he take credit cards? No. However, he is very nice and says after we ride I can go back up to the main lobby of the resort (they use that term loosely) and pay there and bring him the receipt back.

Within five minutes of being on the horse I think to myself that a 2 hour horse ride is about 1 1/2 hrs too long. sigh. Katherine and Lydia had never ridden before so I think that they really enjoyed the ride. Cassy and I had ridden enough that we were a wee bit bored, but it was a lovely ride. I was on Pearl. A lovely horse with no interest in trotting. So, every once in a while the guide would pick up the pace. All the horses would pick it up except Pearl who obviously felt it was a waste of her effort if it was anything less than a gallop.

Our two hours ended and then we headed out to meet up with the group that went tubing down the river. We stop, rent our tubes ($3.00 pop, total power buy) toss them on top of the car (it is impressive, we saw one car go down the road with 6 tubes on top. I have no idea of why they don't fall off) and we head down the road.

We arrive at the park and see David by the car, so we pull up beside him. Dad is sitting in the front seat of the mini-van, and he does not look well. He looked 10 years older. I don't know what happened, the river was really low, so if you weigh more than 120lbs, half your time is spent trying to dislodge the tube from the rocks. So, Dad spent quite a bit of time dislodging his tube, when he got off the river, he immediately got sick.

The girls had gone to change clothes, so I left their tubes with David, grabbed mine, tossed it back on the car and got Dad. I dropped by tube back where we got it and took Dad home.

By the time I got back to the river, (almost an hour later, these places are not close) David and the kids had gone back up the river to tube down. So, I hung out there for a while, before I saw David returning to the car because he had a business call he had to take. So I headed up to check on the kids. I had a suit, but it was in the bag that had been with the girls, I could have grabbed it, but I figured it would take too long.

It's about a mile from the car to the place where they put the tubes in the water. I saw them in the water about half way down and walked then rest of the way, and then walked with them back up. Then walked with them down. Then walked with them up. Then walked with them down. David meets up with us at this point and we all trek to the top for a final run. I walk down. We get the tubes and start walking to the cars when I realize. . . I DON'T HAVE THE CAR KEYS. I'm sure you hear the panic in my voice.

David "What's wrong?"
David "What's wrong?"
Me "The car keys"
David "What about them"
Me "I don't have them"
David "To the car"
Me "Yup, to the car"
David "Do you need to go back to the top and look for them?"
Me "I don't think so"
David"Why not?"
Me "Because I don't think they are there" "Oh crap, I better go up"

So I head back up searching, searching, searching. No keys. I get about half way back down when my phone lets me know that I have a couple of messages. I check them. One is from the travel agent I use for all of my school stuff (I don't even think they made this reservation) they let me know that they gave Hertz my cell phone number. The second call is from Hertz giving me Joe's number who has my keys. (I hear singing in the background, hallelujah chorus I believe) I call Joe. But Joe does not have my keys. Joe's wife has my keys. She set off up the path quite some time ago. She's in pink and very short. He also tells me that the keys were found by someone who hung them in a tree. Someone else saw that and thought that was a poor idea (No kidding especially since my eyes had been glued to the ground, it never occurred to me to look up for them.). They took the keys and headed to the parking lot. In the parking lot they met up with Joe and his wife who were parked by my car and had a cell phone. So, Joe called etc.

Cassy and Katherine met up with me on the path. I knew that if I didn't get some water I was going to pass out and/or start barfing. So I head to David's car on the way to my car (apparently he moved his car after his phone call to be closer to the river.) Katherine and Cassy say that they are going to keeping heading to my car, I say that I'll meet them there. I grab a water. David is surrounded by 42 tubes. Ok, not that many, but a lot. I get Lydia who is ready to put shorts on and screech at her that she can do that later. We grab her tube and the 2 tubes of Katherine and Cassy and head towards my car.

Had a camera been on my face at this point, I would be getting a million hits a minute on YouTube. I arrive at the parking lot with Lydia and come to a dead halt.

Lydia "What"
Me "The cars gone"
Lydia "Are you sure?"
Me "Yes"
Lydia "Is that it?"
Me "Holy Crap no, the car is gone."

Lydia says this conversation took all of 30 seconds. I think it lasted a hell of a lot longer than that before we look up at the road to see Katherine and Cassie in the car driving towards David's car. (Expletives) "Stop the freaking car" or words to that effect. They are now stopped on a two lane road (without a lot of shoulder). I mention to them that I was looking for the car to be where I left it, it was illegal for them to be driving it etc etc. Screeching ensues. Andrew and Travis are in the back. I boot them out and send them walking towards David's car. I screech at the girls to get the tubes on the car and their butts in the car. We head towards the next parking lot so that I can turn around. We pass David. He picks up the boys.

As we are heading back, I see that I have a missed call. I say the number out loud. Katherine says that she thinks it is the cabin. I call it. It is Joe. Sooooooo I say thank you again. As I am thanking him we come around a corner just as a stray dog is coming around the corner from the other direction. I almost wreck the car. Hang up with Joe.

We, thank you, Lord, make it back to the cabin without further incident. I mix a stiff drink, and then we have dinner.

Now, which of you is NOT thinking this is totally typical of how my world works??? I almost had a cornary. A couple of times. Crikey.

At any rate, I knew I had to get this on the blog before I forgot. Too good to not post. Now everyone is playing dictionary. It is a painful game that someone in this family made up. Someone reads a word from the dictionary, everyone then tries to write what they think it means and whoever gets closest wins. Luckily I made another drink, so I think I'm ready to play. shoot me.

I leave for the airport at 7:00am in the morning. More later.

A hint of things to come

I got up bright and early this morning to check my email. The number of school emails has dramatically risen this week. Good news: Scooby Doo is already hard at it. He sent an email last night to the superintendent of schools (why, oh why, doesn't he ask if he should before doing that kind of stupid thing??), the principal, the building supervisor and me. He informed everyone of the "dangerous" situation with electricity in his room that he reported last summer (mind you it is still summer and the building is really old.) I have the feeling that he is going to be hard at work this year doing/saying stupid stuff. sigh.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Tuesdays with Morrie

As a side note, I read this book on the way back from the Biltmore. (Obviously it is a fast read.) It was really good. Made me cry (just a little bit). It’s all about life, death, what is important and that kind of thing. Deep stuff. Mary Beth look out – it is coming your way next.

Family Photo and the Biltmore

We seem to wake up in waves. Fran, Travis and Lydia and I are usually in the first wave (I admit I have wandered between waves.) Then Gabe, Nicole, Grace, Cassy, Mom, Dad, Monica and Andrew in differing order. Then the final appearances of Jim, Giovanna, Keith, David and Katherine. This morning was picture day. That meant that every one got up and arrived in the kitchen in varying states of dress but all had to return after putting on the mandatory white shirt and jeans.

17 people. 2 cameras. We basically have about 3 photos and that’s it. Let’s hope one of them was good.

Then most of us (only Katherine in Keith’s family came) headed to the Biltmore. By the time we got there it was lunch time, so we had lunch had the world’s spiffiest McDonald’s ever. It had a player piano and columns!

The Biltmore is very big with lots of rooms and no a/c. That’s right, no a/c. So, Katherine, Cassy, Travis and I led the pack as we cruised through. We came, we saw, we moved on. David was just a little bit behind us Couldn’t take the pressure of moving as slowly as some of the pack. Fran and Jim broke down about half way through the house and left the slow ones to make their way. That left Monica, Mom and Dad. You know Dad wasn’t the problem. Monica was on the fence if you ask me, but Mom was going to get every last bit of her $30.00’s worth. Apparently if there was anything to read or learn, she was reading and learning. If the answers weren’t in the book we bought, she found a guard and asked. So cute. So glad I was in the first group.

This is probably the first time I’ve even had a few moments of being relatively alone. I was in the first car back with Fran, Jim and Cassy. Solitude didn’t last. Keith’s family arrived from their adventures about 5 minutes ago, and I just heard David gunning it up the driveway. So much for alone time.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Quick update

Good news. Things have improved tremendously. Yesterday was our day of White Water Rafting. ooohhh aaahhhh. The morning was fairly mundane with people reading the paper, working on computers and some of the kids watching Pride and Prejudice.

The river rafting was tons of fun. We were in 3 rafts. We had guides in two of the rafts, but poor Jim had to be the guide for the 3rd one. (It had three 13 year olds, Cassie (17) and I.) It was the ADD raft. Jim would hollar out paddle. Then within about 3 strokes we were all looking around aimlessly with Jim yelling "paddle, I didn't say stop". Almost immediately our boat got turned around. We hit a big ole rock and Jim bounces off the back . . . holy cow he is hopping up and trying to get out of the way of the raft which is ready to pick up speed now that it bounced almost 200lbs out, my mouth is hanging open and his paddle is floating down the river.

He grabs hold of the back and is trying to get in when I FINALLY remember they gave us instruction before we began that in such an instance someone INSIDE the raft should help the person outside of the raft by pulling on either side of the top of the life vest which I did began doing immediately. I hauled him in and handed him my paddle post haste. He was ok, and we got help from others getting the paddle and one of his shoes which had floated off and away.

The rest of the float down was not so exciting (thank heavens) and everyone in the other boats managed to stay on. We were all keeping our eyes on Mom and Dad, but they did great. Although word on the street is that they had trouble remembering which side of the raft they were on. When instructions were hollared on 3 strokes on the left . . . they were slow on the pick up and required some reminders that they were on the left.

After that, the adults all went to dinner. We celebrated Mom and Dad's 50th anniversary AND Fran and Jim's 22nd anniversary (since it was actually on Tuesday). The service was awful, but the food was delicious.

We returned to the cabin and the kids had set up a cake that Monica had ordered and picked up and decorated the table. It was really cute. I was ready to fall into my cake at that point, so I quickly ate and then headed to bed.

Today we took our little caravan of vehicles and drove to some water falls, took a walk up to the waterfalls and then walked back to the cars for a picnic lunch. We were a motley crew and quite a few of us required multiple breaks.

After we ate we took a drive through the Smoky Mountains. We got out at the top of some mountain or another and walked to the very top. I have got to get in better shape. That is all I have to say. No, really I have a couple of other things to say. Keith is leading the way on today's adventures, and I feel better knowing I was not the only family member that was quite done with walking, walking uphill and nature in general by the end of the day. Specifically, I like nature. It's great. Pretty blah, blah blah, but enough is enough already.

We got back and had dinner (soooo good). Jim made London Broil. Mind you, dinner wasn't until about 8pm because we were out in nature for about 8 hours. We keep eating so late. I'm going to be lucky to not have any gnaw marks on my arms by the time I get home.

Tomorrow we are supposed to go to the Biltmore. Keith is going to be taking any people not burned out on nature for another walk through woods or some such while the rest of us going see how the rich and famous have lived. Feel free to guess which group I'll be with.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The final arrivals

Last night was not what I would call a good night's sleep. I don't know what my problem was. 1. I couldn't go to sleep. 2. I kept imagining I was hearing noises (I swear at one point I heard a car engine, so I thought my rental car was being stolen, then I heard a door upstairs, so I feared a burglar was breaking in and stealing stuff.) I heard noises all night. When I wasn't hearing noises I 3. had to go the bathroom once an hour. I finally gave up the battle a little after 6:30. I was awake long before everyone else. Maybe with the arrival of Fran I'll have company when I'm awake at the crack of dawn.

This morning Katherine, Andrew, Lydia, Gabriel, Cassy, Travis and I went swimming in the lake. We even swam across and back. I made everyone stay together so that if a boat came speeding by we would at least be a group of bobbing heads in the water. Good defensive swimming, don't you think?

While we were in the water, Monica, David, Nicole and Grace (Keith and Giovanna’s youngest) went to the Fontana Dam.

When we were done swimming, we came back up to the house, cleaned up and then the rest of us headed to the dam. Now, in the words of Keith the dam was “very close” turns out that he wasn’t perfectly clear on where the dam was because it was really quite far off. The Fontana Dam is one of the ones built by the TVA between 1942 and 1945. It is the tallest dam in the Eastern United States.

On the way back, at the urging of Cassy and Katherine who were in my car (with Dad too), we lept ahead of the pack. David is a very conscientious driver which loosely translates as slower than snot. We had to stop for gas, but managed to get back on the road and arrive at the house as David was just driving up.

We were back and started lunch (late lunch about 2pm) when Fran and Jim arrived. Hooray! What a happy cheerful pixie face! And it was great to see Fran too. Ha ha.

Fran, Jim, Katherine and I went to Cherokee because Katherine had forgotten her swimming shoes and Fran hadn't brought a suit. Luckily, I knew just where to go.

Fran brought two of her laptops and one of them has wifi, so we are able to access the internet anywhere that there is cell phone access. Oh happy, happy, joy, joy

Keith has started working on dinner ( steak kabobs), sadly he just told Monica that dinner won't be ready until 7:30!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm gonna die!!!!!!!!!!

My face is a little pink from our water adventure, and tomorrow we go river rafting. Can't wait to see how that goes.

The gathering continues to grow

Unfortunately, Cassie and I got back to the house at 6:15, so we were late for dinner. Tension continues to reign. I have no idea of why or how to make it stop.

Keith, Giovanna and their 5 children: Katherine, Andrew, Lydia, Gabriel and Grace arrived shortly after 8pm. We had saved dinner for them, so they sat down to eat and M, D, Cassy, Travis and I sat down to watch. It was a bit like animals in the zoo but they were able to eat their food even with all of us watching!

After dinner, Mom sat with the kids for a while, so I got a photo. She was in her happy place. Monica is in a better mood now that Keith and Giovanna are here. Now that I think about it, David seems to be in a better mood too. I’m going to try not to think too extensively about this.

I am praying when Fran and Jim arrive it gets better, but Fran called a little while ago to let us know she had arrived at Monica’s (they will come up here tomorrow). Monica hopped up to get the phone and headed straight outside to talk, so we know that means she was venting to Fran which is great, maybe it will help. I can only hope so.

If the noise level is any indication, the kids are having a great time. I’m not sure of what they are doing on the third floor, but they are noisy!!

I forgot to add the picture of the goat. While Cassy and I were in search of a swimsuit, we cruised by this house with a goat hanging out in the front. I’m pretty sure the goat was the family pet. I still don't have the pic available. I'll get it at some pt.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The beginning of the End

Please allow me to describe the scene. David, Monica’s husband, isn’t talkative to begin with but our crowd generally causes him to stop talking completely. He’s a man who likes his world ordered and a particular way (Did I had he is an only child, of an only child, with only one child). Dad has just been home 3 days before catching a plane to Atlanta. Please keep in mind Dad is a homebody and he’d already been traveling for 2 weeks with Mom in Alaska. As far as I’m concerned, we’re operating on borrowed time. I, of course, enter the scene like a beaten dog, every once in a while I’m foolish enough to stick my head up and speak, but I’m usually beaten into submission fairly quickly.)

There are only 8 of us here at this point, but we went through a loaf of bread before Monica, David and Nicole got back from church. So, when they got back there wasn’t enough bread for 3 sandwiches. Uh oh.

While they had gone to church, Mom, Dad, Cassie, Travis and I went on an expedition tour. We drove and drove and the road got narrower and narrower. We stopped when we reached a tree across the road that was too heavy to move. We saw a man walking down the road from the other direction. Turns out it was his driveway. Oops. There was absolutely no indication that the road was private at that point, actually the tree fell right before his driveway. He said that most of the land belonged to the forest service. Only about 45 acres was private and that was land that had been owned for a very long time So, we turned around and went back. It’s almost noon at this point and Dad declares himself hungry. You know what that means. It was time to eat and eat immediately. We didn’t know how long Monica et al would be at church 1-2 hours depending. (Hey, it’s the country, there is no telling how long the service might last.) So, we got back and immediately ate. Then we started another grocery list of what we needed to get.

Monica called on their way back from church much put out. She said we were supposed to have chicken for lunch not sandwiches. When I mentioned the lack of bread and cheese, I think she was still thinking about the meal mix-up. So, when they got home and she saw there wasn’t enough bread for three sandwiches, things went from bad to worse.

The air was tense after their return, so you’ve never seen 5 people move so fast to go to the grocery store. We got a ton of stuff at the grocery store. By the end of our little trip, Dad started getting cranky. I mean craaannnnkkkyyy. We returned to . . . the silent treatment. Monica looks innocent and says she is not giving us the silent treatment, but I’m telling you I know the silent treatment when I’m getting it.

So, M, D, Cassie, Travis and I took the little path down to the lake. Please translate this as very narrow, very, very steep path to the rocky steep shoal by the water. Mom, Dad and I were panting and took a little while to catch our breath while Cassie and Travis were skipping rocks. They are quite proficient at it too. On the plus side, the water looks like it is great swimming water. (I couldn’t find any of my swimming suits, so if I can find a Target or something I’ll try to go buy one.)

Now, we sit. Monica, Travis and Nicole are playing cards, David is watching a baseball game, M and D are reading the newspaper, and I’m typing madly. I hate the thought that by the time I get internet I might forget some of the precious moments that will need to my complete alcoholic haze. So, I’m going to keep track until I can finally upload.

I have my certains about being able to find any internet. The closest starbucks is 50 miles away.

Cassy and I went in search of a swimming suit since I couldn't find any of mine. We started out going to Knoxville, but then I decide that was too freaking far away. So GPS said Pidgeon Forge was closer, but we totally were backtracking. Then we saw a sign that said Cherekee. It spoke to us, and there we were. Now have a swimsuit, it ain't pretty but it covers the naughty bits. Sadly, the fat still pokes through. Then we walked down the street a wee bit. Then we headed home with the laptop in Cassy's lap. Lo and behold, the Teddy Bear Motel has unprotected internet. They probably have a lot of unprotected something else too, but I'm trying not to think about it. Hooray! I found internet. Let's hope I can find this place again!!

Ta ta for now

The trip to Bryson City

I am off to Bryson City, NC. Where is Bryson City you ask? You will have to Google it because I’m not exactly sure myself.

Roseanne picked me up at 10am. She was running her long run (16 miles) which was supposed to be done by about 9am, but it was hot, muggy and slow goings, so she finished right before picking me up. On the plus side, I was congested, so I had to take her word for it that she smelled. I sat beside a very large girl leaving Dallas after her first MaryKay Summer Meeting, and she was quite excited about it all. I think she wanted to talk, but I quickly gave the international signal for don’t talk to me by picking up my book and putting on my headphones. Across the aisle was a young girl, maybe 13-15. I thought of Dad. She talked the ENTIRE trip. Total stream of consciousness a constant barrage of sound. She made my ears hurt. In front of me holding a baby was the poor woman this girl clapped her eyes on as entertainment for the trip. All I can say is better her than me.

Changed planes in Cincinnati, I was going to grab a bite, and sit in the little cafĂ©. Thank heavens I didn’t because it turns out that I had to go wait for a bus to take me to the next terminal (that took forever to show up) and then the terminal was very, very long. Yikes. I would have never made it.

For the final flight, I sat beside a guy flying from California, where he was stationed in the marine corp. He said he was going home for 2 weeks, then to Iraq for 7months, then college. He was nice and interesting, so we talked most of the way. The best part was when he began to describe his hurt ankles, trick shoulder, etc. All of his injuries added up to make him feel really old. I believe his words were, “I feel like I’m 30.” Ouch. The blade sinks in.

I arrived in Asheville a few minutes after 6pm. I’d been calling Hertz since Wednesday begging for GPS in the car. Luckily, they had one car that had it. Yippee. Headed towards Whistle stop Lodge middle of nowhere North Carolina and arrived by about 8pm.

Monica and David drove up yesterday with Nicole, Mom, Dad, Cassy and Travis. (They came up to Dallas early to go with Mom and Dad since Fran and Jim couldn’t come until Monday)

Mom started getting antsy at about 7:30, so she called about every ten minutes after that. Good thing I planned ahead and put the ear bud in. I was fairly certain I’d be talking to her.

The house is 3 floors and has a bathroom on each floor. All wood floors and walls. Huge kitchen/dining room table. Very nice.

To those of you who mocked my preparedness of bringing 3 bottles of vodka, I say to you, I am in the middle of nowhere. I haven’t seen a liquor store, and I know for a fact I’ll be hitting the liquor soon.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Not feeling Diva Like

Turns out I wasn't taking any of the girls home. Score 2 more points for communication among the Highlander staff.

I left baggage claim, hit the parking lot, realized I had no clue of where my car was, turned around, went back inside and got a ticket agent to tell me what gate the flight on Sunday took off from.

Back to the parking lot and found the car. I stopped at the pharmacy on the way home and got more antibiotic.

I'm now trying to get all of my laundry done. auuggghhhh

Oh and my email program isn't working. grrrrr.

Going Home

Almost done. Got up this morning and just came down to the hotel lobby rather than wake the girls. I don't want to talk to them enough to be willing to wake them. My throat is killing me. I've called the pharmacy to try to get them to reorder the antibiotic that the Dr. prescribed two weeks ago. Hopefully I can pick that up on my way home from the airport.

The boys sent me an email earlier this week that I responded to today. I've had to craft the response, if you will. They are choosing the wrong week to get on my nerves.

At any rate, we should be at the airport at about noon, on the plane by 2:30, in Dallas by 7:30, stand around and wait for the luggage for a little while, drop two of the girls off (third one her parents are getting her) and get my prescription, I should be home by about 9:30 or so. Then I can do laundry.

Good times. Good times.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

6 days with children is 3 days too long

10 ways I know this to be true in no particular order.

1. One of the girls shuffles her feet everywhere she goes. It is making me insane. I want to find it cute, but it's not. I'm thinking of taking a club to the back of her knees. At least she would stop shuffling.

2. One out of every three thoughts they have involve my loss of IQ points for having heard the comment. Seriously they do not think (i.e. one of the girls has a huge problem with the spread, corrupt or something. She tells me that she isn’t going to mess with it anymore just wait till she gets home. Hmmm, I ask her very patiently, “Do you think you have a better chance of solving the problem when you get back to Dallas and I’m not there, or now while I am here?”) Oh grasshopper, you not so smart are you? I can't afford to lose this many IQ points at one hit.

3. My favorite comment was that one of the girls got ADD from driving her car. I'm sorry what? Do you see what I mean about the IQ points. . .

4. It is Shark week on the discovery channel. Still with all the knowledge I have gained about sharks in the last couple of days, I would rather swim with sharks than deal with the yearbook anymore.

5. There is crap everywhere in the hotel room. I want to set fire to it all.

6. Every time we go anywhere they are approximately 5 paces behind me. The amount increases as the distance we walk increases. I have never seen people NOT geriatrics walk so slowly. Tried to find this cute or charming. No just really, really annoying.

7. One of the girls text msgs people all of the time. She walks EVEN SLOWER when texting.

8. I got stopped by a policeman for making a left turn from a lane that was supposed to go straight. I turned right in front of him. I deserved a ticket. He didn't give me one because he is very nice and his brother-in-law recently moved to Forney. I shouldn't push my luck by driving any more in this town. I should leave RIGHT NOW!

9. We've just added 4 pages to the opening of the book. That means that all of our page numbers are wrong. Does that sound stressful? It is. Please refer back to 4.

10. When I look at their cute little faces I want to squish them like bugs. Breath. Breath. Breath. Beeeeeee caaaalllllmmmm. Beeeeeeee caaaalllllmmmm.

Day 5 San Diego

On the whole things have been going well, but every once in a while there are still signs of trouble on the horizon. We have created three templates; the main template, the senior portrait section template, the underclassmen portrait section template. One of the girls realized yesterday that the underclassmen template isn’t right. It was missing the job number info, the school name and the grid. That means that every time that spread design was opened, it was wrong. Did she say anything to anyone? Nope. It wasn’t until today when one of the other girls said something to me that I knew there was a problem. Team spirit seems to be missing: the idea that we need to make sure things are right for everyone.

Mark met us at the hotel and worked for a little bit on our spreads trying to figure out our "style". He is amazing.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Sabrina isn't always barking. Seeeeee she is sleeping. Bottom pic is of Kitty (on the left), Heather (in the middle) and Kendall (right). Three of the hardest working editors you ever did see.