Coming full circle

Coming full circle, originally uploaded by pachanga.
Compliments of my sister, Michele:

My mother always said there would come a time when I would look back on all the afternoons spent in front of the piano, and thank her. Well mom. Thanks.

Now, if only Erica would pick up her violin again.....


"Formal" Baseball Pictures

Even though the Spring Little League Baseball season is over, I though I would post these "formal" pictures of Brian and George:

The back story - way back in April, Formal Team and Individual pictures were scheduled to be taken on Opening Day. The days leading up to Opening day were wet and rainy, so several games were delayed by a couple of hours. The photographer, however, didn't stick around, so our Team (the Cubs) missed the Official pictures. Our coach set up a Makeup session, only for that session to be rained out as well.

Since I had taken several action shots of the team, I got volunteered for the job. Coach Dan even made sample Baseball trading cards using some of my previous pictures. We could get very nice Trading cards, Magazine covers and Team composites at a fraction of the price.

I had a ton of fun setting up the tripod, getting some props (although the long grass makes it hard to see the ball) and posing the kids - they were great to shoot. And yeah, I used my new 24-70mm f2.8 lens (so I could feel like a pro).


50th Anniversary Celebration

Saturday, the Plant held its 50th Anniversary Celebration. It was the grand finale event following a week of business meetings - Operations and Budget Meetings, Sales and Marketing meetings, with visitors from across the globe.

We gave plant tours every 30 minutes starting at 9am until 3pm. Scott was a tour guide for the morning hours (and we finally get to see him in a Hard Hat!)

But running tours wasn't his biggest challenge - it was the dunk tank! He set the example by being the first manager in the tank.

It didn't take long for him to get wet (especially when one of the engineers slapped the target)

Melanie tried her arm at dunking him - she finally got it done later in the day.

You can see Scott going in the water (see how the seat is vertical):

Erica tried to dunk her Dad, but her aim was a little off....

We brought in several inflatables for the kids (and the adult kids), including this "King of the Hill" climbing wall. Brian climbed the thing twice.

We held Chipping contests, Free throw contests, and the most entertaining contest - the couples golf cart race - two people in the cart - the driver is blindfolded and the passenger gives directions. Our friends, Karen and Dave got a little off course - they were headed for the fence! Scott and I didn't do too well - in addition to almost hitting the fence, we ended up by the Schwanns' ice cream truck instead of the finish line. The key to success in this race - drive the cart slowly (and Scott's strategy was to gun it fast). Needless to say, we didn't win any prizes.

We ended the day by running the Bingo games. Brian helped me out. The event ended around 4pm and we were tired!

Over 400 people attended the day's activities. We all had a great time.


Erica's 11th Birthday!

As if three baseball games and a garage sale in two days wasn't enough, add in Erica's 11th birthday party - a sleepover with 5 of her friends. This party materialized at the last minute - Erica decided the who and when details on Tuesday evening, leaving me the task of inviting her friends (calling and leaving lots of messages on answering machines - amazing that mode of communication does work!). Normally, there would be formal invitations (with an RSVP by date!), balloons, a custom cake, party favors, etc. Well, none of that this time.....I was lucky that the grocery store has pre-made cakes and decorators on hand - we picked out this chocolate cake for the party:

Even details of what we would do during the party were sketchy - I suggested swimming [NO!], and a movie [nothing good is playing], going to the park [it will be TOO Hot and BORING - no LAME {LAME is this summer's catchphrase}]. OK, I thought, we'll just run this thing by the seat of our pants. They can always just "hang out" and generate their own drama.

But Mom comes through in the clutch - I suggest Mini-Golf - and the suggestion is accepted! It was the perfect night for Mini-golf - we were even allowed to keep the 6 girls together. After Mini-golf, we went to a new park in town and the girls ran around until sunset:

Back at our house, settled down to popcorn and a movie - Nancy Drew:Get a Clue. Lights out at 11:30 and hopefully they got enough sleep. All I know is I certainly slept well - I was exhausted!


The Psychology of Garage Sales - Letting Go and Saying Goodbye

aka - "stuff" and the emotional ties to "our Stuff"....

One normally doesn't associate mental stress with garage sales - physical exhaustion, perhaps, yes - getting all of your "stuff" together for sale - hauling out big, heavy tables, setting up makeshift displays - that can be physically demanding.

But the act of putting on a garage sale can be mentally demanding as well - all due to the emotional attachment to our "stuff". Because that "stuff" represents our hopes, dreams and memories. And what was worth a ton of money before is now being sold at a fraction of its original price, to strangers who want to haggle more money out of you......(because to them, it is just stuff - they have no emotional ties to it, they just want a good deal).

During yesterday's garage sale, I had to say goodbye to lots of my "stuff". "Stuff" that held some sort of emotional significance:

  • The kids' first tricycle - this classic Radio Flyer that we purchased as a Christmas gift for Erica when she was 3 years old. She rode it around the house that first winter:

  • The Little People Farm House, complete with Tractor, Farmer and all its animals - two horses, cows, sheep, the pig and rooster. I still remember playing with my Little People Farm as a kid.
  • Erica's onesie with kitty cats all over it - she wore it when she was 2 months old.
  • The beautiful canopy from Pottery Barn that I bought for Erica's bedroom (she only used it for a year and a half).
  • The Scooby Do stuffed animal we purchased during our fun day at Six Flags Amusement park:

But I guess at the end of the day, the stuff is just stuff and keeping it around won't change any of the memories, and it being in storage won't create any new ones. So I made my peace with it and know that my "stuff" will have gone to good use in someone else's possession.

And as a side note, the kids had a good time earning money at their bake sale, which was an extension of the garage sale - put out cookies, brownies and lemonade with some cute kids and see how much money you can bring in:

But you need to make sure the kids running the sale don't eat too much of the product (notice that Henry, all the way on the right is guilty of sneaking some of the goods - he even said to his mom that he was "eating my paycheck!").


Better Late than Never - 12 on June 12th

The pictures were taken on June 12th, I have just been extremely busy with baseball, garage sales and birthday parties! So I say, better late than never.

I saved several peony blooms from the garden - with the torrential rains and winds, many of the blooms drooped to the ground. This was our 2nd (and last) bouquet of the season:

A common morning chore - emptying out the dish washer - and yes, I make sure the bowls are placed into the top rack in this double configuration - and I don't run the thing unless it is chock full of dishes. (which for us is about every 2 days)

I had to make fried rice this morning - for the kids' lunches. They now attend a summer day camp program that doesn't provide any food, which means we have to plan for snacks and lunch every day. [Try asking your kids what they want for lunch everyday and you will find their answers default to "I dunno" (with the slumped shoulder shrug), "Nothing", or "I don't care". But when you suggest something, they say "Ugg - no!"]. The kids love fried rice and I can make a big batch that lasts for two days.

With the hotter weather, I switched to iced coffee / tea for my morning drink. My iced tea selection is Mango Iced Tea - brewed Mango tea with Mango syrup. So yummy!

On the way home from work, I took a picture of a farm that can be seen coming off the highway. I wanted to get a picture of the cornfields, but couldn't find a suitable scene with a convenient place to pull over. With the cool, wet spring only about half the fields have been planted and the many of the fields look terrible.

The latest book craze for Erica and her friends - the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyers. Teenage girl falls in love with a vampire. I read the first book and understand why it is so popular with the middle school audience - love, teen angst, extremely good looking main characters. Coming soon to a movie theatre near you.

We have the requisite picture of Erica with Hannah:

After dinner, we had to drop the Tahoe off at the dealership Service department - its check engine light has been on since mid April.

After dropping off the truck, we went to the Ice Cream shop where I had planned to take pictures of us enjoying the cool confection on this warm evening. But I realized I had left my camera in the Tahoe, now sitting on the car dealer's lot. Great. We enjoyed the ice cream, drove back home, grabbed the spare keys and I drove back out to the dealer and retrieved my camera.

The garage is pretty empty without that SUV:

So it is now almost 8:30, and we start on the next activity - preparing for the Garage Sale. Our subdivision sponsors a garage sale annually - it is this coming Saturday. We always haul our stuff over to our neighbor's place, since they live on the main "strip" and big collection of "stuff" always attracts more customers. I cleaned off my scrapbooking tables and transported two 6 foot long tables to the neighbor's garage and started on gathering our wares to sell.

This year, we involved the kids - Scott told them they would reap the proceeds of any toys they voluntarily donated to the garage sale. This included stuffed animals, affectionately referred to as "plush". We sold on sliding scale - "Small Plush" was priced at $0.10, "Medium Plush" priced at $0.25 and "Large Plush" priced at $0.50. The kids rummaged through their closets, under their beds, gathering "plush" they could part with. (And there were several they didn't want to part with).

We filled up a large cooler with "Medium Plush":

And the wagon full of "Large Plush" (I couldn't believe Brian wanted to part with Big Scooby, but there he is.....)

Finally, Brian received an overdue haircut - and we all took showers and collapsed into bed after a long day.....


Blog Challenge - Top 10 Songs

Last week's Blog Challenge was presented by BasketLady:

If you had to make your ultimate MIX TAPE (er, mix CD) what would be the top 10 songs on it, and why would you choose those songs?
I decided to spin this challenge and look at the Top 10 most played songs on my iPod - I figured that would be quite telling.

Bop to the Top - High School Musical Soundtrack (played 70 times)
See You Again - Miley Cyrus (played 65 times)
Real Gone - Cars Soundtrack - Sheryl Crow (played 65 times)
Year 3000 - Jonas Brothers (played 60 times)
Rock Star - Hannah Montana (played 59 times)
Make Some Noise - Hannah Montana (played 57 times)
Old Blue Jeans - Hannah Montana (played 52 times)
Breaking Free - High School Musical (played 46 times)
6 Minutes - Jonas Brothers (played 42 times)
It's a Beautiful World - Jump 5 (played 42 times)

OK, what does THAT tell you? It tells me Disney has way too much influence on my kids! Maybe I let the kids have control over the iPod too much.... or maybe they just listen to the same songs over and over and over again!

Stripping away the kids' music, here is my top 10:
Leave the Pieces - The Wreckers
I am So Ordinary - Paula Cole, but performed by the Chorallaries of MIT
Love Song - Sara Bareilles
A Sorta Fairytale - Tori Amos, but performed by the Chorallaries of MIT
Everywhere - Michelle Branch
Cigarettes - The Wreckers
Don't Know Why - Norah Jones
Tennessee - The Wreckers
Stolen Car - Beth Orton, but performed by the Chorallaries of MIT
Between the Lines - Sara Bareilles

I guess my list reveals that I like female singers (very true) and I like country (not really true - I only like a smattering of country). I guess my requirement is the song be singable and have good lyrics.


Flower Power and Key Lime Martinis

So I spent some time this evening taking pictures of the flowers in the garden. We have a water garden, and since the temperatures finally peaked into the low 80s, everything seems to have exploded into bloom.
This was also an excuse to try out the new lens.....

Japanese Iris

With the summery evening, we enjoyed a new libation - Key Lime Martinis. We first experienced these lovely drinks last Sunday, during our neighbor's son's HS graduation party. Aside from its refreshing taste, I absolutely love the color of this drink - a beautiful lime green.

The recipe:
2 parts vanilla vodka
2 parts melon liqueur (like Midori, but Scott purchased a knock off brand)
1 part Rose's Sweetened Lime Juice
1 part pineapple juice

Combine in Martini shaker with ice, shake and strain into glasses.

[These drinks fall into the "mixed drinks disguised as Martinis", from my Martini Culture post back in January.]

Ah, summer!



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