Saturday, August 30, 2008

Webmedx Sign-On Bonus

Let me know if you want to apply so I can refer you.

Lustro-Ware ad from 1953

More kitchen dismantling. Some I'm not going to keep. This isn't worth selling, but I thought I'd scan it for posterity.

Friday, August 29, 2008

An Ambulance Call Barry Will Hate Having Missed

A few minutes after 8:00 this morning, the pager went off. A couple had pulled into the driveway of the Mauss family, about 3 miles north of New Albin, and had hollered for help. The woman was in labor! Barry had already gone to work by that time. That's one call I bet just about any EMT would love to go on. Happy news for once.

I heard the siren immediately as our responders took off. They called for dispatch from Tri-State Ambulance as they did so. That's SOP when it's something they probably cannot handle on their own: They dispatch Tri-State, which rolls out of La Crosse, grab the patient in our ambulance and start north up the river road, and meet up with Tri-State wherever they can and swap. It works pretty well, getting the patient to more skilled providers faster.

Finished by Friday: Grocery Bag, Barn Quilt Block

Sometimes when there about 3,000 things I ought to be doing, what I need to do is make something. Or finish something. Something that makes me feel creative and accomplished. That's what happened this week. One morning when there were boxes and pieces of the kitchen all over the place (I'm supposed to be dismantling my kitchen for the remodel), two separate giant piles of clean but unfolded laundry to be folded, dirty floors AND lots of transcription work available that would have earned me the money to help pay for all this, I just hit the wall. I took 30 minutes, that's all, and made this grocery bag:
The pattern is a free download from Spool Sewing. It uses a half yard of two fabrics, one for the outside, one for the lining. I used a piece of upholstery fabric that came in my Burlington laundry hamper that I bought at the Syttende Mai sales in the spring. It was a smallish piece that I didn't know what else to do with, and this was perfect. I lined it with white muslin. It's a nice, sturdy bag, holds a couple of gallons of milk easily, and doubles as a purse before you get groceries. I would like to make several of these and slowly reduce our consumption of plastic trash bags (though I still need some - I use them for cleaning out the litter box).

And then --

-- our barn block. Barry put it up for me over the weekend, then I touched up the paint and painted the screws.

No comments whatsoever from the town, except for Kathleen who of course loved it.

In reading more about the Iowa Barn Quilt Project, I find that the quilt block is only a minor part of it. The point is to learn about the historic barns and preserve their history. So here is the history of our historic (?) garage: It was added to the property in about 1931. (I'll check the date for sure when I get our abstract back from the bank.) It originally had half for the vehicle, half for the stable. :o) It's built with a double hipped roof which is great for resisting the wind. It once had a woodstove in it, and it has survived at least one fire. Last summer Barry reroofed and resided it, using concrete siding, and we have replaced the original garage doors, one a couple of years ago, the other last winter. Barry also added a storage loft with a ladder for stashing lumber, animal cages, storm windows/screens, and projects that people have started and really will finish someday.

Some Finished by Friday reports I've spotted in the wild:

Molly's hexagon quilt
Stitchin By the Lake has been very busy
Unofficial FbF from the Shallow Sister

What did you do with your Economic Stimulus check?

Being as we are a married couple with 3 kids, we got $2100.

Original plan:
  • Half into savings
  • Half for our vacation
What actually happened:
  • 1/3 to fix our American-made car
  • 1/3 to fix our American-made children's American-made teeth
  • 1/3 for our vacation
So nothing to savings, but I'm glad we had the cash when those other interesting expenses came along.

I bumped into a New Albinite at the orthodontist's office a month or so ago. She was just getting her son started on orthodontia. Thanks to the stimulus check, she was able to pay for it all up front and save some finance charges.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stupid Criminal Story

From the Rochester, Minnesota, Post-Bulletin.

Please note that
a) the victims were from Iowa and
b) the stupid perp is from Illinois.

Know what we call people from Illinois around here? It's not very nice.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hops Harvest

These are the wild American hops that grow against our garage wall. They make a beautiful viny decoration for the garage, but they do also actually blossom sometimes. Last year we got almost no hops at all. This year I thought they were not yielding at all again but then I realized the blooms were all hidden against the back part of the plants. Still not a ton, but I did pick a gallon freezer bag full of them in pretty short order.

These are aromatic hops, not bittering hops. Barry has used them in beer brewing, though he has preferred to buy hops that are commercially grown and are more predictable in flavor and aroma; however, with the hops harvests so poor in the Northwest for a couple of years now, hops are hard to find, and expensive when you do locate some, so this year he may be using his own homegrown hops more than he might usually do.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Trouble with Tile

First of all, when you say, "I want a porcelain tile countertop," people immediately say, "No you don't. You only THINK you want it. You don't want to clean the grout." But I do. I really do.

Okay, the trouble is, I am having a hard time finding red tile! Not chili pepper colored. Not burnt red. RED. Like a fire engine. Like a cherry. Like an apple. Red.

We found plain 4-inch red squares at Home Depot, so that is a good thing, but what I want is red trim tiles. Like the bullnose pieces and the end pieces, or maybe some inset pieces. The picture to the left, or maybe this picture, is sort of what I have in mind, though square tiles rather than hex on the work surfaces. Although hex would be okay, too, now that I think about it. And red and white, of course.

Can anyone point me toward what I'm looking for? DALTile's website is enormous and while I think I looked at all the possibilities there, I may have missed something.

By the way, the heating system is all in except for the welldiggers who are busy with more lucrative projects at the moment.

Accordion Players are So Hot!!

That's Bear McCreary over there, from his blog where he announced that the Eureka, Season 2, soundtrack album is out. We are just starting to work our way through Season 2, so not all the clips sounded familiar, but now I can't wait to see Fargo dressed like Zorro. :o)

Monday, August 25, 2008

My sister is coming! My sister is coming!

ShallowSister and her son, my nephew the Amazing Master N, is on her way north tomorrow to visit with our parents in the Twin Cities. Over the weekend, they are all going to drive down here to New Albin for a day and stay overnight. I can hardly wait!

She just got through a giant remodeling project at her house and has barely recovered, so I'm a teensy bit worried that she will hate it here with everything torn up the way it is, but I'm glad she's game to come anyway.

Giving God the glory for a miracle last week

Master K is out for the cross country team this fall. It's a small team; I believe there are only 5 or 6 boys from the high school participating. They run after school every day, around 5 miles or sometimes more.

Last week one afternoon, it was warm and sunny out, not hot enough for the coach to call off the daily run, but warm. They run down the middle of the road, so K had the sun beating down from overhead, and heat bouncing off the black pavement from below. He was getting dehydrated and feeling bad. The runners had spread out to run at their own pace, and nobody was near him, nor was anyone behind him near enough to see him.

He began to feel faint. He told me later that black stuff was closing in on his field of vision from all around. He knew he was in trouble. He prayed that God would get him some water and some shade. (He didn't stop running or get off the road, which I don't understand.) His field of vision contracted smaller and smaller as he grew closer to losing consciousness.

Then the next thing he remembers is waking up again - not in the middle of the road, not in a hospital bed or an ambulance or in Heaven, but well off the road, beneath the shade of a tree, lying in some grass. As he started to sit up, the coach pulled up in his car and stopped it on the road just by K - but he didn't seem to notice him at all until K tried to stand up. Coach looked surprised, hopped out of the car and told him, "K! No walking. Keep running." Then he handed him a bottle of water, jumped back in his car and took off. K doesn't know why he stopped at that particular place on the road in the first place.

I'm so thankful that things were not much, much different. Moms imagine in Technicolor, and I had the whole vision of him blacking out, crashing down to hit his head on the pavement, skull fracture, blood everywhere, cars running him over, the works.

I'm also glad that the way K started out this story was, "Mom, God was really taking care of me today." He knows how it happened.

Short-Term Energy Outlook

Residential heating oil prices during the upcoming heating season (October though March) are projected to average $4.34 per gallon compared with $3.31 during the last heating season, an increase of about 31 percent. Residential natural gas prices over the same period are projected to average $15.58 per Mcf compared with $12.72 per Mcf, during the last heating season, an increase of about 22 percent.
Source: Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Linoleum Carpet Finds a New Home

It wasn't easy, but I sold the linoleum carpet that has covered our bedroom floor since 1947.

It's going to be installed in a museum, the Carlisle House in Carlisle, Iowa! The vintage isn't exactly right, but they did find some similar lino in the house before the restoration began, so they think it will work in an office on the second floor, once a bedroom.

While I'm sad to see it leave, I'm so happy with where it is headed.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Barry Stahl for President!

Courtesy my sister-in-law VJR.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Another random pretty.

Barry's Finished by Friday

This one is Barry's! He asked me to post a Friday Finish on his behalf. We had to buy a new water heater rather abruptly, because the old one wouldn't be good to tie into the geothermal circuit. We had it delivered Tuesday and Barry installed it that night. All by himself! It works and everything!

And now here are a couple of photos from the installation project:

The lovely empty space where the old furnace once stood.

That's Aaron, working on cutting the floor.

Iowa Barn Quilt Projects: Link Roundup

Barn Quilts of Grundy County
Barn Quilts of Washington County
Barn Quilts of Sac County
Barn Quilts of Greene County
Barn Quilts of Howard County
Barn Quilts of Humboldt County

After finding all those links, I found this one, which has them all and more: The Iowa State University Extension page. Oh well.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jackhammers in my Basement

It's been a whirlwind around here. I kept meaning to blog our major news but couldn't find the time to do it right, and so I didn't start.

The news is, as soon as we got home from our vacation, we refinanced our mortgage, taking out enough to pay off a couple of credit cards, replace our heating system and redo our kitchen! It's very exciting. I'm actually more excited about the heating system than the kitchen at the moment, maybe because it's more concrete, a less-drawn-out process, and once we approved the bid, no more decision-making was required on our parts.

We are putting in a geothermal system. It's very cool. It's a heat pump, and the heat source is the earth. We will have four 150-foot wells dug between the side of the house and the ponds, and water will circulate in a loop down the wells and up again to the heat exchanger in our basement, which will then heat (or cool) the air in our ductwork. The really neat thing is that it works both ways. In cold weather, we pull heat from the earth to heat our home. In hot weather, we put it back into the earth again. We have been living with window air conditioners since moving into this house; now we'll have central air!

We are hoping it's as earth friendly as we have been told it will be. The water usage is nil once the system is charged; it's a closed loop system, so it just circulates, like in a radiator system. A superdeheater pulls waste heat off the system and preheats the water going into our water heater for house hot water, saving energy there. There is an electric backup for when it gets too cold for the heat pump (and that will happen; it gets below 20 below zero F. frequently in our winters). The pumps and fans are all electric. The way we're looking at this is, while we will still need quite a bit of electricity just to keep everything (water and air) moving, we will not be burning oil or propane on site, and the electric company uses whatever it can to produce power, which in future will hopefully get cleaner; it won't require us to retrofit to meet new technology needs, as the power company will have that responsibility.

We ran through a 300-gallon tank of heating oil every 3-4 weeks during the worst of last winter. Heating oil and gasoline are running at roughly the same per-gallon cost, so our total fuel oil bill for the season was about $3000. We were buying from Sires Oil Company here in New Albin, and Joel Sires was having a tough time getting hold of #1 heating oil (which is kerosene) at any price. Joel was actually carrying a lot of the town's fuel bills through the winter, to the point where he had to borrow money to buy the fuel, when he could find it, that is. It was so stressful that he sold his company this spring rather than face another winter like that. Very scary. So I'm not sure how long it will take before the savings on fuel will pay for this new system. Quite awhile, to be sure, but if fuel stays as expensive as it is now, not as long as one might think; plus we believe that as alternate energy source awareness grows, this system will add value to our house.

We're going with a ClimateMaster geothermal system, by the way.

Our contractor is Matt Troendle of Tri-State Heating and Air in Lansing. We kept stringing him along on this project for a couple of years now, and when we finally called and told him we were really, truly ready to do it, he would have been quite justified in stringing us along for awhile in return, but he got us right on the schedule, and this week, all week, he and his assistant Aaron Mitchell have been working hard on tearing out the old oil furnace, putting in the new one, making some new cold-air returns so that the upstairs also gets cooled in summertime, plumbing into our hot water heater, and plumbing across the basement floor to the back yard where the wells will be. The well digger is supposed to come out sometime this weekend to plan out the digging and then hopefully actually dig the wells soon thereafter.

The jackhammers I mentioned above are being used to dig out trenches in the concrete basement floor for the plumbing lines to the wells. They get very cold in the wintertime, and they sweat in the summertime, so you really can't have them exposed to the house air, so the floor is the place for them. Plus, by the time they leave the house, they need to be way underground so they don't freeze when we need them the most. So there's a lot of dust, a lot of chunks of broken-up concrete, and a scared dog and two scared cats in the house. But the guys are being as neat as is humanly possible. They're both very respectful of old houses. I know it's much easier to do new construction than to retrofit, and I'm just glad they were willing to take on the job.

Okay! So that's the first half of the project. The second is the kitchen. We need to wait on Frog and Wonder of New Albin Construction to come to a gap in their schedule, because they will be doing the demolition work, insulating and drywalling, and putting in the new subfloors. Personally I'm thrilled that both projects aren't going on simultaneously. It's longer this way, of course, but much less disruptive. When Kitchen Time starts, we'll move the essentials out to the back porch. My gas stove is pretty self contained; all it will need is a 5-gallon propane bottle, and it will be good to go. We'll put the fridge in the dining room, probably. It'll be like camping.

Guess what colors the new kitchen will be? If you didn't guess red and white, you don't read this blog very often. :o) What I'm going for is pretending that this is the first major remodel in this house's history since it was built in 1913, that I'm now in the 1940s and I want a new kitchen. (Except with a dishwasher. And a stainless steel fridge. And lots of electrical outlets. And insulation. And double-paned windows.) So it will be white, with Jadeite green wall paint and red accents wherever I can stick them.

John Pitts will be making the cabinetry from local hardwoods. He makes everything out of hardwood no matter how you want it finished. I want my cabinets painted a warm white, which seems positively sinful considering they are going to be maple! But he doesn't cut corners. The plans he drew are beautiful. I've seen his work and he is a master.

I want a ceramic tile countertop; not only is tile a low cost alternative, I happen to adore it. I want white tile with red bullnose trim all around. And don't tell me I don't want to scrub the grout. Scrubbing grout is just one of those things that you have to do sometimes. It's not my favorite job, but well-sealed tile grout doesn't get real bad, and bleach works wonders on it anyway.

The ceiling is going to be beaded board painted red, unless I can find somebody who is pulling down a tin shed anytime between now and then; I'd love to have a tin ceiling, but only if it looks used/recycled, I don't want a new-looking tin ceiling. (I'm weird that way.) We'll be able to use the butcher-block I bought at a grocery store auction years ago; it will be on work tables to either side of the stove. John Pitts designs every kitchen individually, and when he saw mine, he said I needed lots of open shelves to show off my stuff, and I knew then he was the guy for us!

I picked out lighting at Rejuvenation. Haven't ordered it yet. We're thinking of two schoolhouse lights (left) in the middle of the room and two of the smaller pendants (right) over the sink.

For the floor, we're going to buy hardwood from Konkel Hardwoods here in New Albin (Barry wants hickory planks). No way could we afford this if we didn't have our very own local mill practically next door! I'm concerned about ruining the floor while getting everything else in. It kind of has to go in pretty early in the game, and then what do we do? Leave it unfinished, covered with paper? Or plastic? (Slippery.) Plastic, then paper?

It's interesting doing my transcription work with all this going on. It's impossible when there is too much noise. So I end up working evenings, when I'd rather be sleeping or helping Barry with all the things he has to do after work every day to keep things rolling on the projects.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What's for Supper: Homemade Pizza

Supper tonight will be a pizza of sweet peppers and sweet onions, thinly sliced fresh tomatoes, herbs, and cheeses, on a crust made with lots of black pepper. My favorite crust recipe comes from Evelyne Slomon's The Pizza Book, based on her Black Pepper-Lard Dough, only I don't cook with lard, so I use olive oil instead. It's delicious and easy, and kneading dough is good therapy.

Here is the recipe as I make it:

1 c. warm tap water
1 package active dry yeast
3 to 3-1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon (or more) coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 c. olive oil

1. Pour the water into a medium sized mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Stir it till it dissolves.
2. Add 1 cup of the flour, the salt, pepper and olive oil, and mix thoroughly. Add a second cup of flour and mix again.
3. Turn the dough out onto your bread board on top of another cup of flour and knead it till it's smooth and elastic. Use the extra half cup of flour if you need it.
4. Put the ball of dough back in the bowl, cover it with a cloth, and set it on the back porch table to rise. Kick the cats off the porch so they don't "help."

Yield: One 14-inch (or so) pizza crust. Double it to make pizza for the family.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Random Pretties

First, this lovely anniversary card which we received yesterday from my brother and sister-in-law. Sister-in-law has been card crafting for years now, and each card she makes is a work of art. I love them.

And second, this beautiful little feather from a guinea hen which I picked up at the Houston County Fair this morning.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Finished by Friday: Block #2 of Judy's Star BOM [UPDATED]

Here is Block #2 of Judy Laquidara's Block of the Month quilt project. I redid it. I must be crazy, it's 12:37 a.m. and I'm up redoing a quilt block. Anyway, as wonky as it is, this is still better than my first attempt.

Third time's the charm. I redid it AGAIN. This time I'm happier with it.

Yet another reason why New Albin is the best... nay, the ONLY town for me.

As most of you know, I completely lose my mind when I see something red and white. I must have it. I most possess it. It must become MINE. The family is well acquainted with this phenomenon and steers me carefully away from red or red and white things.

New Albin's team colors are red and white.

It's just meant to be that I should have come to live in New Albin!

This is on eBay right now. It's a Boy Scouts community patch for New Albin in, of course, red and white. It's so great! I am going to watch it but my fellow New Albin eBayers have already staked a claim, so I will probably not even bid, but ain't it cute?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wasting Time on Google's Behalf

Oh man, I just found a fun toy! Google Image Labeler. The Google team found a way to make labeling images fun. You are teamed up with another player at random, and then they show you a bunch of Google Images for the next 2 minutes and you both label them as fast as you can. You get points for every time you and your partner come up with the same label for an image.

Go ahead and try. When you have an hour or so to spare, that is.

Great tutorial on making braided rugs

I found this tutorial recently and highly recommend it. Her pictures are great for demonstrating her instructions.

The author is a florist by trade, but has her hand in many crafts, including some absolutely breathtaking crochet. She is one of those people I would like to follow around for a few days. :o)

New Glasses! And they were cheap!

You may have noticed something new in the First Day of School pictures below: Lil Miss A now has glasses! We were alerted on a school screening in the spring that she needed them. We figured it was inevitable, as she comes from very near-sighted stock.

I decided to try something new this time: I have been following Glassy Eyes for some time now and have wanted to try getting glasses by mail order. So we did it with Lil Miss A's glasses.

We got the eye exam, had our prescription written out for us, then went to the optometrist that is connected with our eye doctor and had her try on frames. She found a pair that she liked. I had brought a pad of paper and a pen along, and what I did was draw around the frames on the paper, then copy down all the writing on the inside of the ear piece. The frames she liked were $115 at the optometrist (plus lenses, of course).

Then I went to $39 Glasses and looked through the children's frames until I found a pair that seemed to be shaped the same as those she liked. I printed out the sample page that they offer and held it up to my tracing - and it was as close to exact as you can get without being the exact same pair of frames. The numbers that I had written down matched up, too, though I don't know what they all mean.

$39 Glasses was running a special at the time, $10 off any pair of glasses, so all told, with those frames, lightweight lenses in her prescription, and postage, the bill actually came to less than $39. And they are very nice glasses! We are so pleased. The whole process was pretty quick. I ordered right before we left on vacation and the glasses were in our vacation mail when we got home. The prescription seems good, she is so excited to be able to see distant details again, and she looks cute as well. I will do this again!

A big shout of thanks to Ira of GlassyEyes.

Finally: Vacation Pictures

I did a terrible job on vacation photos this year. I forgot there even was such a thing as a camera until it was time to photograph that quilt. Then on the last evening at our cabin I suddenly whipped out the camera and tried to take photos of our cabin after it was really too dark to do it. So these are pretty bad.

We were staying at McIntosh Solitude Cabin on the south shore of Lake Huron, a few miles east of Cheboygan, Michigan. The word "cabin" is a misnomer; this is a full fledged house, with 4 bedrooms, two bathrooms and tons of space for two families to stretch out. We met Wayne and Roseann Stahl there (Wayne is one of Barry's two brothers). It was roughly halfway between our homes, though I think they had a little more of a drive than we did, getting around Lake Erie. Their little one, Sweet Baby E, kept us all hopping for the week. She is a very precocious 3-1/2-year-old bundle of energy and pizzazz.

Anyway, back to the cabin: It's on a piece of private shoreline and is built high up on the bluff overlooking the lake. Wayne thought it was only about 50 feet higher than the shoreline but I think it was quite a bit more. I counted the steps from the house to the shoreline and it is 115, plus then there's a path that goes down further. So we got our exercise going down to the beach. The water is crystal clear and not nearly so cold as Lake Superior's, so the kids spent quite a bit of time being wet. The cabin had several canoes available for guests, and everybody went out in a canoe at some point or another.

We didn't eat out much. Roseann and I figured out dinner menus ahead of time and took turns cooking. She is a wonderful cook. It was great fun cooking for each other rather than spending money at a restaurant! We ate most of our dinners outdoors on the lower deck, because it was the only table big enough to comfortably seat all 8 of us, and it was so relaxing. There was a very nice gas grill, so we grilled a lot; Roseann made wonderful homemade pizzas a couple of times. We all ate way, way too much.

We did a couple of outings (Mackinac Island one day, the Cheboygan County Fair another), but mostly we just hung around the place. We were really unplugged there, as our cell phones wouldn't work, the house phone would not make long distance calls, and there was no Internet. Of course it drove everybody crazy for the first couple of days, but by the end of the week, we were all used to it and enjoying the peace (except for Miss B, who never appreciated it much).

Here are some underexposed photos of the house/cabin.

Yes, that is a stuffed bear on the wall there. This cabin was a taxidermist's dream. I am not a taxidermist, so I didn't appreciate that part of it much.

Photographed from the sleeping loft where Wayne and Roseann slept.

Even the bathrooms were pine!

There was a telescope for viewing passing freighters, and lots of pretty double-hung windows.

This was the view from the upper deck, looking down over the lake.

And that is the upper deck, where we all did a lot of hanging out, and I did my morning prayers.

A blurry photo of the steps to the loft.

Not a good picture but I had to include it because of those two little blurs there dashing through the room - that's Lil Miss A and her cousin Sweet Baby E, playing some wild game. Hilarious!

That's Barry, Wayne, Ro and Miss B. They were looking at the photos Barry has on his Mac.

The cabin from the front yard. Love that porch.

Mark and Kathleen's House: Before and After

I don't even remember when Mark and Kathleen Hidingout started their remodel project. I think it was last fall but I'm not positive. It might have been longer than that. Anyway, I took this photo just before the work began:

And here is the house now. How adorable is that?

And did you know that they make vinyl siding in colors as interesting as that New England-y blue? I didn't. I read up on it a bit and learned that it used to be they couldn't make deep pigments for vinyl that would hold up to the elements, but now they are doing better with it. The siding Mark and Kathleen chose looks like old boards that have been painted a few times, when you look at it close up.

They added on to the back of the house, redid the crumbling front porch, and remodeled the kitchen. It's a lovely family home now. It wasn't bad before, but I really like what they did. Again it was the marvelous Frog and Wonder who did most of the work. When they do a remodel, they don't just do what you ask, they make great suggestions to make it better. The cabinet work was done by John Pitts. I have mentioned him on this blog before. He's Allamakee County's secret weapon, and no, you can't have him.

First Day of School 2008-2009

Miss B is entering her senior year of high school, Lil Miss A is a third grader, and Master K is in the 9th grade. For the first time in several years I do not have a child in each of the 3 schools in the district.

The elder two were both tense this morning, keyed up about how the year would start off. The little one was keyed up too, but for the opposite reason: She couldn't wait to go to school! I almost had to tie her down to keep her from leaving the house before 8:10, the absolute earliest I would let her leave. We rode our bikes to school together and she zoomed into the building and bounced off the walls a few times on her way to her classroom. School is so great. :o) I'm not one of those moms who can't wait for her kids to go back to school in the fall. I admit enjoying the quiet house, but it's really TOO quiet. I miss the kids! Yet Lil Miss A's enthusiasm is infectious, and I found myself with a giant grin on my face, watching her bouncing into her classroom, anxious to learn.

Her teacher this year was Master K's teacher in 3rd grade (I think it was 3rd) as well, so we know her pretty well, plus she is the daughter-in-law of our kitty-corner neighbors, so she feels like family for that reason. That's life in a small town!