Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Very Good Year!

Sometimes very few words are needed. A picture can do the job so much more effectively. So rather than wax poetically about the year that was 2011, I will let the images speak for themselves.

2012, You need to know 2011 will be a really tough act to follow.

Come on, blow my mind!
Cheers and Happy New Year Everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Table Trouble

Somehow in 22+ years of marriage Sean and I have managed to avoid ever having to buy a kitchen table. We have always been the lucky recipients of hand me downs and the like from the family. However, after the Chowder Fest at Sarah's house, it became clear to us that our beautiful family heirloom table made by my Grandfather in high school (no, I know how that sounds but this thing is beautiful), belongs with someone who can entertain like she can. It has many, many leaves and stretches out ultimately to seat about 12 people. It has been neglected and unappreciated in our home and quite frankly is just to darn big for Sean and I. Sarah can give that table the life it deserves.

I still claim the sideboard, it is a huge piece and it fits perfectly in our house so it will remain here, but the table we are happily paying it forward, like my parents did for us, to my sister.

The dilemma is what to replace it with. I've rarely thought about kitchen tables so this is new territory for us. I like square ok, I love round and we both like pub height. I'm a shrimp boat with the world's shortest torso, so it's hard to find a table that fits me without feeling like Stretch Armstrong trying get comfortable.

Over the past few days we have probably looked at 100 tables between here and Albany. I've discovered that there is a lot of ugly and boring out there. If I'm going to spend between 500 and $1000 and keep it around for many years to come, I want a table to speak to us. So far we have narrowed it down to a couple that we like, but I don't want a table that I like, I want a table that I love.

Memories are made sitting around a table enjoying each other and good food and drinks. I want something where we want to spend time. So far I'm not finding it.

I'll keep looking but I'm hoping that it shows up sooner rather than later. I'm purging, decluttering and I really want to start the new year with a whole new outlook in the house. It would be great to have the table to match the new attitude.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's a Wonderful Life!

This is the whole gang at Chowder Fest this year. The venue was changed to Sarah's house this year and it was so much fun! As you can see the theme included tacky holiday wear which added a certain flair!

It's no secret that I'm a Christmas junkie. I love everything about this holiday. Chowder fest was just the kick off. We continued the party the next day all day long. Sean and I started out first thing in the morning enjoying our own celebration. We both loved the gifts we received in addition to celebrating some down time with each other. Then we headed over to Sarah's where we watched the kids open and then play with their gifts all afternoon. There is nothing like spending Christmas with kids. Then we had a delicious ham dinner.

Then I had the pleasure of introducing my sister to the movie "It's a Wonderful Life", my personal all time favorite. She loved it too and it was fun to note the similarities to our own lives. I'm sure that is planned in the story, but it was still fun.

Our Christmas extravaganza continued yesterday as we headed over to The Dalles to celebrate with Sean's Dad and Crystal. It was a nice easy drive over and it was great to see them again.

All in all as always, I was reminded of how lucky I am to live so close to all my family. I really do have a Wonderful Life!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chore no More!

This is Sean and I after our now nightly dog walk. I absolutely love taking Rogue out for his jaunt around the neighborhood. He prances like a pony, turbo boost of tail wag for anyone who happens to walk our way. If they have kids, it's all we can do to keep him from taking flight with the full body wags.

There is something magical about this time of year. The cold, clear nights illuminated by the beauty of Christmas lights makes something so mundane as a dog walk, seem like a joy to behold.

Thank you Christmas decorators for making my first walk of Winter so lovely, and thank you Cousin Mad for these fancy Yakfoot hats to keep our noggin's nice and toasty the entire time. We love, love, love them!

Life is Good!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


The Ross' family has located their outfits for Chowda Fest 2011. This year we added a dress code. "Tacky Christmas."

Yesterday while out and about we scoured Goodwill racks, used clothing stores and a vintage rack or two.

While heading out this late proved a bit more challenging than I anticipated, the end result is none the less glorious.

I can hardly wait!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Scavenger Hunt

Today I located the tops of several flat surfaces in my house. I have yet to drag the Christmas boxes out of the attic, nor hang anything but lights on the tree, but none the less I"m one happy camper.

Maybe it will be a minimalist Christmas at the Ross household this year. After all, it seems I'm not going to be hosting much other than a chubby border collie, a giddy like a kid spirit of my own, and a husband who works all week.

Maybe I'll concentrate on projects and a deep clean rather than decorating this year. Oh to smell something other than wet dog and trail shoes when we walk into the house!

All hail to Winter Break!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Caught in a black hole!

I think this may be the slowest moving week in the history of weeks. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that both the children and their teacher have been ready for Winter Break since October.

Dear Santa,

Please bring me the patience to get through the next 16 teaching hours.


Mrs. R'

P.S. If you could bring me a room full of 3rd grade students after break that would be super helpful too, these 1st and 2nd graders have to go!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Stop the Insanity!

I feel the need to offer this public service announcement to the children of today, well and their parents too, listen closely:


Somewhere over the past two decades we changed from a society of winners and losers to a society where everyone is a winner which ultimately leaves us all losers. Not everyone can win. It doesn't work that way and it shouldn't. There is a hierarchy to life and if you work really hard for something you should get something different than the moron next to you who just cruised by.

Today I was fortunate to experience two shining examples of the insanity of our times. The first was when I had the stupid idea to check my work e-mail. It's Saturday, I was certainly asking for it by looking. What did I find? A scathing e-mail about an upset child because he did not receive a lollipop yesterday in Reading group. The letter demanded to know the details of said lollipop and a plan for how I was going to make up for the damage done to this poor child. I composed a lovely letter stating that the lollipop was a reward for 100% on the spelling test. All the children who scored a 100% received one. Since said child missed 6 out of 10 spelling words, he did not fall into the 100% category. I reminded the reader that the list goes home on Monday and we practice in class EVERY day. The children who scored practiced until they knew their words 100% and had earned their reward. I reminded said reader that the child would have another opportunity to study his words next week and try again. I would not be providing a reward for 4 correct words.

Seriously, I should give your child a reward for 40%? Everyone is not a winner, best learn it now.

The second shining example of what society has come to was witnessed tonight when I went and saw the local production of "The Nutcracker". I am a HUGE ballet fan. I was in ballet for 8 years with the local school who put on the production. I loved it, and worked really hard. I was not gifted at it and was never an exceptional ballerina. I did not work hard enough to be one. When I took ballet the original owner was an old man who had been in a professional touring company in Europe. He was the real deal. We had to extend our arms all the way to the tips of our fingers. Bent wrists meant a slap on the hand. His cane he taped to the beat of the piano music would leave a sting on any leg not extended and toe not pointed. Our lines were to extend past the end of our appendages. We knew it, we learned it and we practiced.

I was put into toe shoes at the age of 12 and still have the crooked, mangled toes to show for it. I will never get these wretched toes on my feet into peep toe Mary Janes or vibram 5 fingers. 3 years of toe shoes have taken care of that. Try as I might, dream as I did, I was never selected to TRY OUT for the Nutcracker when the Eugene Ballet came to town doing casting calls for the local show. The Nutcracker was something special.

Now it is 25 years letter. Apparently the Ballet school now subscribes to the "everyone is a winner" theory of ballet. Clearly everyone was in the Nutcracker. What I saw tonight was poor technique on over weight ballerinas. There was no extension and half the girls couldn't maintain their balance in an arabesque. There were only 3 dancers on toe in the whole performance. After a dance across the stage their chests were visibly heaving from exhaustion. It took all my restraint not to stand up and scream "For God's sake girls, point your toes, extend your arms, your shoulder's are not an accessory for your ears, drop them down!"

Apparently I am a ballet snob. I'll admit it and I think it is ok. I came home and danced for Sean. I said to him, this is the ballet school of the 70s and 80s. His comment to me was "you are really good at that." This is 25 years or more after the fact. I then demonstrated what I saw tonight. His response "wow."

I'm not sure when the images of the evening will actually fade of my retina's. Hopefully soon because I want to remember the Nutcracker as beautiful, graceful, and something to be earned, not given.

Maybe next year I'll have to sign up for a ballet class around the time the performance practice starts. It appears they let everyone in and maybe I can get my chance on stage. Clearly I don't have to worry about embarrassing myself.

Am I a harsh bitch? Maybe, but I prefer to see myself as a realist. I don't go crying and throwing a fit every times someone beats me in a 5k or 10k.I don't demand a ribbon when I don't get one. I know that there are others out there better than me. It's life, it's real. We are all unique special snowflakes, but we are not all winners. Deal with it folks and move on!

It's Here!

Decorating day! I've waited exceptionally long for this day this year. Now that my final is over and I have a weekend, it's time to mix up a little Christmas cheer in the house.

Photos to come later on!

Merry Christmas Movie House!

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Thank God it's Over!

What you ask? The worst damn grad class I've even taken. In a little twist of irony I somehow missed my core classes and so I'm forced to take them at the end of my grad program. I'd say that my classes would have been easier had I taken these first, but it's not true. These are the hard ones. They must be used to weed people out of the program. Oh well.

In another demonstration of irony, this class was called Theory of Communication. It was by far the worst class I have ever taken due completely to the complete lack of ability to communicate on the part of my professor. He spent the entire term spewing theory and then telling us how incorrectly we applied them. Not unexpected, it's new and difficult material. Arduous if you will. The problem is, he never gave any examples of proper application. I received feed back after feedback all term long about my weak arguments. No examples of strong arguments mind you.

I've spent the past 6 days writing a 10 page final trying to apply 8 Communication theories to a 60 second PSA on River Safety.

I fear my GPA is completely toast due to this class, but the exhaustion I feel right now is like nothing I've felt in years. At this point I don't even give a shit. I'm just glad it's over.

One class closer to keeping my job. At this rate I'll be finished just about the time I turn in my resignation.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Perfect Day!

The last entry on my 25 thankful days leading up to Thanksgiving, could not have been scripted better.

Today we woke up to the sound of nothing. No rain, no wind and a strange object beaming through the windows. Sun! Perfect weather for the Turkey Trot. We got dressed and headed over to the Aquatic Center, my old stomping grounds from high school. If there was one part of today that wasn't perfect it was the packet pick up line. Not having an early packet pickup option yesterday, all had to wait in one of two lines. Judging by the length of the line many folks decided to run this morning given the beautiful day and the likelihood of consuming far too many calories all day.

Once we got the packets we mingled a bit, it was great to see so many people we knew there. Families, dogs, friends all together to enjoy a beautiful Thanksgiving morning. I kissed Sean and wished him good luck as he jockeyed for the front of the pack. Content in my mid-pack placement, I stayed put. I was chatting with a friend when the race started. I had a number in my head I wanted to beat, but who knows with these things. I took off and blasted the music in my ear. As I rounded the corner into the first street I was so excited to see the sea of families in front and behind me. I fell into a pace that felt right and just enjoyed the day.

I was shocked to see as the miles passed that I continued to stay faster than normal. I checked my watch and I was on target to meet my goal. I kept the motivational pounding of "The Killers", "Ozzy" and anything else speed metal like I could find to keep my feet moving. The route weaved in and out of community neighborhoods and people had come out to cheer us on. It was better motivation than I could imagine. Before I knew it I rounded the corner back into the parking lot where I started. That is where I saw Sean. He had finished already and was joining step with me to run me around the track. I checked my watch again and was still on target to finish within my goal. I gave it all I could. My sister's voice "finish strong" pounding in my head. Sean was talking but I couldn't return the conversation. That has never been a problem for me on a run before, guess I've never worked hard enough before!

I finished the 5k in 29:22. My fastest time ever. I was 4th in my age group and 143 out of 476 people. Sean was 2nd in his age group and 19th over all. I'm married to a rabbit.

My friend Melinda finished the 10k with a PR of 58 minutes too. Rockstar! Sean was nice enough to mark the occasion with a photo!

From there we got a well earned Starbucks latte in my favorite red holiday cup and came home to prepare for our Ross Thanksgiving Extravaganza. However, I pointed out to Sean that since this year it is just the two of us and we did whatever we wanted all day that we were more like Todd and Margo in the all time classic Christmas movie "Christmas Vacation." They are the Yuppie next door neighbors, kid free, always doing their own thing.

I was initially disappointed at the abandonment of my family this year. However, it has turned out to be the BEST Thanksgiving in recent memory. Without the pressure to be somewhere or have things cleaned up and ready here, we have just enjoyed each others company, cooked some amazing food and generally had one hell of a fantastic day. We DVR'd the Macy's parade so we could fast forward the crap we hate. I made a chocolate peanut butter pie from scratch which we will be eating in just a few minutes to compliment our turkey sliders we plan to make. Nothing like second suppers!

A great race, a new P/R, fantastic food and the love of my life by my side all day long. Yes day 25, is THE PERFECT Day. I hope yours was too.

Happy Thanksgiving from Margo and Todd!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Two Thumbs Up

23. A glowing recheck!

The Dr. was thrilled at my little chunky monkey today. I can't believe the improvement in our boy in two short months.

Now, to get him the exercise he is clearly ready for!

Catch Up

21. Salmon

While it isn't actually my favorite fish, it is always delicious, especially when prepared by someone else. What a great meal to have with Mom before she heads off on her Thanksgiving extravaganza.

22. The Short Week

Wednesday is a cut day so we only had work Monday and Tuesday. I am so thankful for that. Seriously, I love days off. I know I shouldn't enjoy them as much as I do, but what can I say. Today will be spent house cleaning and errand running to get ready for a wonderful and quiet Thanksgiving day tomorrow.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Warm, warm and warm!

20. Warm running clothes!

Even with an 11:00am start time to meet my running partner, the thermometer only said 38 degrees this morning. This made me very, very happy to have wonderful cold weather running gear. So today I am thankful for staying warm through 4 miles on a beautiful, cold fall morning!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


19. Dinner with family

Tonight Mom surprised us with a wonderful dinner out at the BBQ joint across the river. Delicious, melt in your mouth brisket, lovely conversation and a genuinely nice time together. Screw the diet today. Sometimes family is more important than vanity.

Cheers Mom! Thanks for a great night!


18. 3 Fools Wine-2009 & 2008 Pinot Noir

There are many reasons why I love this wine. Not only do I know all three fools who crafted it, but it is always delicious. Of course many wines are delicious, so I think the scale tipper (which will probably happen given how much I drank of this last night) is the feeling of happiness I get when I drink a wine that I know was made by three friends who thought it was a good idea to make leap into the wine industry.

Thank you 3 Fools for a delicious Pinot and the perfect ending to a very long week.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More Thanks!

15. Pre-Ordered Books

This was the day that the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid came out. Four of my boys pre-ordered it in our October book order. It was like Christmas when the Scholastic order came in. Bliss!

16. Personal Trainers
I've been making myself go to my new gym. Today I splurged and went to my old gym and worked out with my trainer Olivia. No one can work my body or clear my head like she can.

17. Kid Quotes
Today during a particularly difficult math lesson one of my favorite kiddos says "I wish I had 11 hands, then I could do this stuff." You just can't make this up!

Monday, November 14, 2011


I'm so far behind already. Why did I think this was a good idea?

Here Goes:

11-Vetrans's Day-

I'm thankful for all those who have/are/will serve to keep our Country safe. Whether or not I agree with the each particular war we have been in, I am so thankful for those who are willing to lay down their lives to help protect mine. Thank you!

12: Starbucks Winter Cups
I love those holiday cups. They make me smile and genuinely warm my heart. I get giddy when the come out. It's a cup, I know, I'm just crazy like that.

13: Dog Walks
Not for me, but for him. Today I took Rogue on a dog walk and he literally smiled the whole way. He smiled all night too. Seriously. To get that much joy from just a few blocks.

14: Birthdays!
Sarah's birthday specifically. Today I had the honor of spending my sister's 36th birthday with her. I took a personal day and we went for a run, got a Starbucks (In the winter cup of course), ate some delicious and nasty sushi, shopped and generally had a wonderful day together. It was amazing and I loved every minute of it. I am so blessed and thankful to have her back in my life every single day. I haven't spent a birthday with her in 6 years. What a treat!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A sweet savior

Thankful day #10

Two words. Jolly Ranchers.

These sweet little bribery tools make any lesson go better. Like today when our science lesson reading got very dry and the kids got very uninterested. I said, "if you can't learn the scientific method, how will we possibly be able to accurately do the great Jolly Rancher experiment?"

Hook, line and sinker. Oh children your curious nature makes me so happy.

For the record, Blue Raspberry melts the fastest. 5:36 seconds.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


So I think I'm up to day 8 and 9 now. Oops. I've been putting in long hours trying to get stuff set up to take a day off work next week for some birthday celebrating with my sister.

Yesterday I was thankful for a wonderful running co-worker who was willing to go for a run in the dark/rain while we waited for the Parent Club meeting we had committed to attending. Not only did she run with me, but she bought me a Chai Latte to warm me up after. Nice, very nice!

Today I'm thankful for a science lesson that went well. This new rotation of science kids could eat me alive and then hide the bones when they are done. Thank goodness it went well today so I warded off my inevitable demise one more day.

Small miracle! I'll take it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mom to the Rescue!

Day 7-


Specifically, my Mom. Today she went to the DMV for me when I discovered that I had let my tags expire. Who does that? Oh, yeah, I do. Anyway, I work in a different town than I live and I was not remotely sure how I was going to get to the DMV before they closed today. It was bad enough I had to herd the big ass bald tired truck around to work today. Which mind you was quite attractive in the school parking lot with all Sean's beer stickers on the back window-nothing like driving that to a middle school. Now I'm supposed to speed my way to the DMV on the small amount of remaining rubber left on those wheels?

In swoops Mom who is more than willing to go to the DMV for me when I jokingly ask her if her plans for today included a trip to the DMV.

That's love! Thanks Mom!

On a side note I decided to have the kids write in their journals today a list of things they are thankful for. The top two responses were video games and televisions. Seriously kids? Let's see were those things get you when you need someone to go to the DMV.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Project Thankful Day 6

6. An Extra Hour of Sleep

Granted, Rogue ate it up with his ridiculous amount of barking all night which had me traveling from the couch and back to the bedroom in an attempt to get him to shut the hell up, but none the less I appreciate having an extra hour of weekend to enjoy.

I also got a great Fall evening run in. So nice. I ran with Sarah and it was tough to try and keep a decent pace. She is so much faster than me and I don't like to slow people down. So it was a perfect ending to a nice weekend.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Project Thankful Days 1-5

This is November, the official start to the holiday season. While the stores start putting out holiday decorations before Halloween, I prefer to think that it begins with Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving. I think it may actually secretly be my favorite holiday. The gathering together with family and friends with no expectations of gifts, hidden agendas, etc. It's simply a way to celebrate the act of being thankful. I look forward to it every year! Ironically, the people I love most are celebrating elsewhere this year so I think it is just Sean and I flying solo, but that doesn't make me any less excited!

Greed, expectations and discontent are something that I get frustrated with on a daily basis. I am constantly trying to train my 3rd graders to be thankful, not greedy. I want them to appreciate what they have and to say thank you rather than ask for more. To them it often falls on deaf ears and they respond to me with rolled eyes. I wonder to myself, "what is it with kids today, why can't they appreciate what they have and where they are?"

I think any movement for change begins with a look within. I have been guilty of the desire for more, the lack of appreciation for what I have and always thinking others have it better than I do.

That thinking stops now. It is hard to be a positive role model while wasting so much time engulfed in negativity myself. What better way to kick off the change than with a month long look at my own life and all the blessings I have.

Since I'm already 5 days behind (is procrastination a blessing?) I will give my first 5 in this posting.

1. A chunky border collie.
Given the fact that this guy was on death's door less than two months ago, I'll take him in any shape. However, this pudgy version is the best!

2. Sweaters
My building still has a problem with the heating system and will randomly spew artic air out of the vents. It is difficult to teach from a puffy coat so sweaters are wonderful!

3. Natural Gas Heat
While I'm happy with sweater warmth at work, I'm ecstatic about having my home heated with natural gas. Instant comfort.

4. Fall Runs
On Tues and Thursday this week I got in some spectacular fall runs on a local trail. The trees are still magnificent, the air was brisk but dry and the conversation great. To me, there is no running season like Fall. Natural beauty everywhere.

5. Law and Order Saturdays
I have watched L &O while sipping coffee for months or maybe years at this point as a weekend morning ritual. At this point I've seen most of them, but with my less than stellar memory that doesn't seem to matter. It's the perfect start to my day.

Wow, that wasn't so hard to find things I'm thankful for and those just scratch the surface. This is going to be a great month!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

7 day recap!

This has been a interesting and inspirational week. First, I spent last Sunday watching my nephew and a small group of his team mates compete in the state cross-country championships. They had to run in the super champs division because there were so few of them. That meant the were running with the fastest of the fast in this state. They poured all they had into that race. I was so proud and inspired. One little girl in particular caught my eye. She was alone at the race, her parents had dropped her off. She ran her heart out the entire time. I trucked from view point to view point cheering her along with the rest of my family, all there to support Zach. I wonder why my family did a better job supporting her than her own.

Then we headed over to Voodoo Donuts. This is a Ross/Johnson post race ritual. However, being the Sunday before Halloween, we drove right through a HUGE Zombie march. Sean estimates the total at like 1000 people, er...Zombies. I think it was more like 500. Either way, it was so much fun to drive through several blocks of the undead. What better way than to finish it up with a VooDoo donut.

Finally Halloween arrived on Monday. This was the first time I've gotten to celebrate with the kids. It was fun to go trick or treating with them. I also consumed my own weight in fun size candy bars that night myself. Which brings me to the new competition I'm in with Stafford. 6 weeks to a better body!

Starting a diet the day after Halloween is genius! So far this week I've gone running twice and quit junk food. It's a good start!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Longest Week Ever

This week we had the pleasure of starting Monday and Tuesday with two 12 hour days. Good times, conferences with parents. Always so enlightening those meetings. No need to ask the "why" questions about the kids once you meet the parents!

Now that the week is finally over I think it is time to shake off the stress with a delicious martini and a super hero movie!

Cheers all!

Friday, October 21, 2011

It's the end of the world as we know it

Or at least my frame of reference. Why do the children argue with me, refuse to work and complain about everything? I'm officially old. In my day if the teacher asked, we did. Now I am stuck telling kids I don't argue with them. What happened?

After a particularly bad day, my very good friend and running partner and I decided it must be the demise of the family as we know it. No dads, moms are tired,no one wants to step it up, or something. I'll tell you what, if it doesn't change quick there is going to be one less teacher out there. I'm getting burned out and it's happening fast. I'm not surprised, I've lasted much longer than most these days. Did you know the average teacher quits in the first 5 yeas of their career? It's true. Really, here is what we have to look forward to.

1. A frozen salary with cut days. I haven't had a real raise in 3 years. No, it's not about the money, but this is frustrating.
2. Public outcry for blood. For some reason people hate us. Ouch
3. Kids who no longer think they have to listen or comply
4. High blood pressure and increased cancer rates
5. Kids less and less prepared for your grade each year.
6. Looming Test Scores

Good times. I used to think that I was good at this job. I loved it and thought I made a difference. I'm not feeling that anymore. Truth be told I'm not feeling anything anymore. I don't know what happened to change it all. I want to feel happy again. I want to see that gleam in my student's eyes. I want to see the light bulb go on.

Please someone, bring that back. I want to want to be here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Give me an F


Normally Friday is one of my favorite words anyway. But this week it's a state-wide in-service day for teachers. What that means is that it is a day in which teachers have the opportunity to take workshops all over the state aimed at bettering their craft. My district in their infinite wisdom decided to make it a non-contract day. This means we don't get paid today. Did I mention most of the workshops cost anywhere from $50 to $500 dollars? My thought is that if I'm not getting paid to work, I'm not going to pay someone else to teach me something. Seems like digging a hole.

I've decided to better my craft today by spending the day playing, catching up on my grad school reading and generally having a fantastic time. How will this improved my student's education as originally intended?

Well, I'll be less likely to be a raging bitch come Monday. In fact, I think I"m thinking happier thoughts about the children and my job already!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Carrot Anyone?

This is my friend Laura and I after the Great Pumpkin Run this morning. Not only did I set a PR today and break the 33 minute mark, but I was also told by another runner that she used me as her pacer and wouldn't let me get out of her sight.

I know right? Crazy talk. I'm always the turtle of the group. The fact that I was a rabbit for someone makes my day. Hell it makes my year! Thank you lady, thank you so much!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Soccer Balls and Pumpkins!

This is Madeleine in the thick of the action today. Watching her is always a great start to a Saturday. How do you follow it up you ask?

With a trip to the pumpkin patch. This was my first trip to a real pumpkin patch. It was also my first time in a corn maze and a hay bale maze. Good times! I highly recommend it! Here are just a few of the offerings:

Zach demonstrating the ill advised hay slide in shorts.

Madeleine in the tube!
If you prefer a more family filled event there is always the hayride!

Which I loved because the tractor driver totally reminded me of Dad. A big grin, driving a tractor, telling stories to all.
The tractor dropped us of here:

Beautiful don't you think? Certainly Linus would spend Halloween hanging out here waiting for the Great Pumpkin. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.

Madeleine with the task of finding the perfect pumpkin.
And so we finally wrapped up our perfect day at the pumpkin patch. Four full size pumpkins in tow, to mini's for fun.
Oh and one moral reminder to me.

Of why I will NEVER eat veal.

LSD: Insight or Insanity?

Prior to watching the fantastic 50s film of same name, I might have thought Insight was the correct answer to that question for using LSD. Thank goodness for my new onset of insomnia which provided me with the opportunity to locate the true answer via all night classic movies. I really feel like I dodged a bullet on that one. Why don't we just show these to the kids anymore? Stupid Nancy Regan with her "Just say no." These films are so much more powerful. I've also got Alcohol: Death behind the Wheel in my DVR ready to continue the enlightenment train.

Guess I have to take LSD and Drink and Drive off my to do list for the day though.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Single Again

Sean has left me in charge of the dog and the house for the weekend while he treks off on his version of what I've deemed a midlife crisis. Stupid mistake on his part that is for sure cause who knows what I'll do. I have control of the bank password and all the vehicles. Let's hope for a sunny weekend. I'll be spending most of it hanging with my bff/sister and the munchkins. So far we have a date with a pumpkin patch and later on our favorite martini bar.

I could possibly see some condo shopping in my future too. Hey, I've got the truck, why waste it?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I'm one of only 46 million who can claim the Generation X label. We notoriously turned our back on the establishment and announced that we weren't driven by money. We didn't care about status, we were all about what was real. Maybe that was the problem. The end result is that we are labeled as random, ambiguous, and suffer with contradictory ways. Save the world? Nope, I'm not sure that is in the cards for my generation.

I spent the majority of my twenties job jumping. Granted, I graduated from college during the first collapse of the job market. I think most of us graduated with degrees and ended up pouring coffee at the time. However, at least we had jobs which is better than what is out there right now.

In my 30s I went back to school and got my teaching degree. It has held me for the past 8 years. While I don't see myself in this career for another 20 years, I should be ok for a few more. Every now and again, especially after a particularly challenging day, I want to be done. But most days, I can see myself doing this for a while longer.

Where my Generation X downfall happens is with my fitness. I just can't commit to it. I start something and I stop it. The idea of being accountable to myself is laughable. Apparently I suffer from lower expectations because that is all I can think of that would account for the lack of follow through. My favorite exercise buddy moved away and while we still text our workouts, it doesn't get my ass to the gym on the drive home. My husband has a gym membership too. We've never workout out together. My trainer and I have been hit and miss for months. I'm officially off the wagon these days.

Hand and hand with my lack of commitment to the exercise is my poor body image. I've been unhappy with my weight for about 20 years now. I graduated from high school just over 100 pounds. I got married at about 105. I haven't weighed that for 22 years. I grew up and became a woman and it would be unhealthy for me to be that weight again. Yet, it probably is unhealthy for me to be the weight I currently am. My joints get sore and I'm sure they'd be happier with a little less. A few years ago I joined Weight Watchers and lost 25 pounds. It was great! Since then I've keep it off and lost about 5 more. However, I've been stuck somewhere between 5 and 15 pounds over weight since then. I know what I need to do, I just don't do it.

I was lamenting to my text workout buddy last night that I really need to lose this weight. She texted me the following: "maybe you should go back on WW." Sounds smart right? My response to her was this "well, yes I'd love to go back on WW, but I'd hate to give up control of my binges."

Random, ambiguous & contradictory ways. Guess that sums it up pretty well now doesn't it?

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Yesterday was payday. I haven't received a paycheck in 3 months. This year to save money, the district paid us all our summer checks in one big chunk at the end of June. Now, giving me all my summer pay at once was not a good idea. However, I did a great job budgeting it out until we had our Rogue crisis and then all bets were off. So, the end of my summer was spent pinching pennies.

Fast forward to the committee work I did this summer and a tiny raise (which was then offset by cut days) and I received a nice chunk of real money in the bank yesterday. I've been dreaming about what I'd do once I received that check. I thought of shoes, of new clothes, of food not prepared by Sean or myself.

So what did I do with my new found wealth? I bought a hideous day glow yellow running rain jacket so I can be seen now that it is Oregon fall. Dark, wet and cold, yuck. I got it for a song though, so that is awesome. Yay for the clearance rack! Apparently this is last year's model. This year day glow orange is all the rage. No matter. I'm still just trying to figure out what happened to make this a priority for me. Seriously? Ugly by choice?

I guess keeping the demons at bay through running is trumping any idea I may have had about fashion.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Looking Up

This week I got in three runs. Three runs during the school week. That along would be a good week. Then today the children worked independently. Not for long, but I saw it again. It's there.

The best news of all was when Rogue got his cone of shame off. He is a free to play with sheep and pigs again.

Yep, this was a very good week for the Ross family!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Today I went for a trail run. In the rain. My shoes got wet, my hair got stringy and fell into my eyes. A muddy pawed dog jumped up on my clean capris.

It was perfect.

Welcome Back Fall. Oh how I've missed you.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

36 and counting

I'm awake at 4:30 on a Saturday morning. I've been awake off and on most of the night so at 5:23 I finally gave up and got up. No reason to torture Sean with my issues so I got up. Insomnia is something I've had since childhood and it rears its ugly head often in my life. Usually it is related to something on my mind. I certainly have something on my mind lately, 25 somethings actually. I'm struggling. But that is a topic for another post.

So what does one do before sunrise on a Saturday morning you ask? Did I sieze the day and go for a run? Savor coffee and read a good book? While those are good ideas, I got to thinking about the past week and what really stuck in my mind was the death penalty, which was brought to the forefront via the temporary stay of a Georgia execution mid week. I hadn't heard about an execution in a very long time, and honestly had forgotten that we do them. Wow, that is hard to type. But in fact, we do them here don't we? I live in the US and I vote and I guess that makes me part of the "we". So the whole thing got me to thinking. How often does this even happen anymore?

Turns out it happens a lot. Did you know there is a website dedicated to the death penalty? Actually there are a number of them depending upon which side of the issue you fall on. I learned 36 executions have taken place so far this year. That averages to 4 a month which for some reason is shocking to me. I don't know why, but I just wasn't prepared to see that.

Don't get me wrong. The crimes comitted to receive a death sentence are horrific. I get that and I understand there needs to be consequences for the actions. What is of bigger concern to me is the potential for mistakes. We are human and we make mistakes. I wonder how many people who really didn't do it are in the 36? I'm sure they would all tell you they didn't do it, but how many really didn't? I also know that for those 36 who were executed so far, there were more than that who lost their lives in the crimes comitted in the first place. An eye for an eye right? Turns out crunching the numbers is pretty messy.

More than anything these are sleep deprived mind wanderings of one who is charged with educating the minds of eight year old, while teaching them to get along, to respect each other and to prepare them to live in a civilized society. Maybe I should use some of these statistics in our story problems. Not a topic for children? Damn straight it isn't, but in this day and age is it really a topic for adults?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A funny thing happend on the way to the looney bin

Disregard the previous post. This class is not bound for greatness. The only thing that will go down in the history books for them is they will be known as the class that sent me to the padded room.

I kid you not. I have to talk myself into getting out of bed in the morning. From there, I talk myself into the car, the drive, taking the right exit instead of continue the drive to anywhere up I5 and finally, talk myself back out of the car in the parking lot. I used to love this job, but this group is taking the love right out of it.

Luckily, the insane nature of this year has driven me back into the arms of an old love. Running. I can't imagine not ending my most crazy making days without a run to clear and reframe my head.

Thank goodness. Running may not only save my life, but the lives of my students as well.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Baby Steps

It happens every September. Its one of the things I like about my chosen career. A fresh start. Every year on the first Tuesday after Labor Day I get a new start. Somewhere between 20 and 30 bright eyed 8 year olds show up in my classroom ready for me to expose them to all that is third grade.

Each year is different, but often they are much the same as well. In teaching there are common threads that run through each year regardless of the batch of kids you have. Life experience, birth order, prior knowledge, these are things you can't control. These are the things the kids bring with them. It may not show up early, but it is there.

Sometimes you get a batch like I had last year that sink deep into your heart, and that you don't want to see go. Those kids came in with the right stuff. I could have sat in my chair all year and they still would have been fantastic. I can't take credit for the end result with that group.

Then some times you are lucky enough to get a learning year. I have dubbed this year's theme "the island of misfit toys." I'm supposed to get them to pass the state standards and I can't get them to sit in a chair. This year is going to be a challenge. It's going to take work, it's going to take a boat load of patience. There will be laughs and there will be tears, and I'm pretty sure that will be me.

But this year, this is one that I will own. Every single success will be hard fought and won and I will own them all. They will be well earned. There were fleeting seconds this week where I saw a glimmer of what could be. Not often, and not all at once, but it's down there. Under the blurting and the backwards numbers and the inability to read. It's hidden behind the selfishness that does not allow them to realize others are in the room too. Behind the tattles, just next to the pencil tossing, there is a small glimmer of hope. Of greatness. Of what could be.

It's going to be a long haul, but like any journey it begins with the first step. Baby steps, but first steps none the less.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Snakes and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

This year's 3rd graders are by far the most challenging thing I have ever experienced in my life. First I have 24 kids. Ideal right? Small class size in this day and age! I'm one lucky cowgirl. Guess again. Those 24 are made up of 8 girls and 16 boys. I shit you not. There are few things in life that could prepare one for spending 7 1/2 hours a day with 16 8 year old boys.

Want to know what 8 girls and 16 boys is like?

The closest thing I can think of is herding cats through the monkey cages at the zoo. The only thing missing is the flinging poop.

That could be coming, it's only the second week.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Skinny McSkinnerson

This is him one day after surgery. Isn't he a trooper? Thank goodness because it was touch and go for a while there. The narrowing in his small intestine unfortunately quickly turned to a blockage. Over the span of about four days we went from a conservative, change to wet food and wait and see to an aggressive surgery.

Life is funny because prior to this happening, Sean and I had agreed that there would be no more surgeries for Rogue. That last one took so much out of him and honestly, us too that we wouldn't do it again. Until we got the horrible call, with the worse diagnosis and the requirement to make the unspeakable decision. Yes, in theory "no more surgery" sounded perfectly fine. But in application, we love our boy and couldn't bear to let him go. Not without trying. And so we did.

What followed was 9 days of pure hell. Multiple times a day we received phone calls with updates. Updates telling us that he was still not out of the woods, that he had a fever, that it was too soon to tell.

At home the house was eerily quiet. I cleaned the house from top to bottom. The floors haven't been scrubbed like that in years. You see, Rogue hates all things designed for floor cleaning. And so I sat waiting, in a clean house. Silent except for the sounds of my broken heart.

We finally got the call we had been hoping for! It was time to bring him home again. He isn't out of the woods yet, but we are so happy to have him back and cherish every minute with him.

He is one lucky dog too. His Dad has made arrangements to work from home for the next week or two. I scoot right out after the kiddos to relieve him and voila' it's almost like having stay at home parents!

Welcome home sweet boy. You are one hell of a fighter!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Labor Day Weekend! Wait..what?

Yikes, it's Labor Day Weekend already. How did this happen? Where did summer go to? All these thoughts are running through my head and then the big one hits.

The children are coming. Like the early victims in a horror movie I want to run up the staircase screaming, but Tuesday will only stalk me up the stairs and then, there is no way to survive.

I guess I better carve some time out of my party filled weekend of house cleaning and dog worrying to actually plan what I'm going to do with 26 cute little faces after the morning of unpacking and labeling all of their supplies (really parents, can't you write their frickin name on things?) comes to a close.

My principal made it crystal clear in his "un-welcome" back letter this year that there are to be no wasted minutes in school this year with anything fun. We are all about the instructional minutes available to prepare the students for the end of the year tests. Good times, good times.

Did I mention we had to read the FISH book which is about the Seattle Fish Market where the people choose their attitude and make work fun? Do these two readings seem contradictory to you (the unwelcome letter and the book?) Yeah, me too.

Maybe I'll teach the kids compare and contrast first this year.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Big! Really Big!

Does this look big?

How about now?

Want some perspective?

Yes, it's that big!

Thanks Jedidiah Smith Redwood Park (and Ranger Nate) for one hell of a hike to the Boy Scout Tree. I can't imagine a better end to our first family summer together!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Girl loves Dog.

This is an older picture, but one of my favorites. It's the sparkle in his eyes that gets me every time. When we got Rogue from Border Collie Rescue over 6 years ago, his name was Moses and I was drawn in by his eyes. "He has the eyes of an old soul" his foster mom proclaimed. "He is someone special."

Special is right. This dog is a genetic nightmare. He has been in and out of vet clinics for the majority of his life. I'm pretty sure his bills are responsible for an entire wing of the OSU Vet School. All the while, wagging his tail and freely giving kisses to anyone who was within tongue range. Rogue is the definition of happy feet.

So imagine my horror this summer as we have watched him waste away to nearly nothing. His 40+ pound frame dwindled down to under 30. Rather than bringing joy, petting him now causes me to cringe. I can count every vertebrae in his back, every rib. I avoid taking him outside for his walks for fear I will be turned in for animal abuse. My fears were nearly realized when I took him in for his annual blood work last week. The vet was horrified by his appearance and quickly we dove back into the world of tests, tests and more tests.

Every result opens new questions and more tests. All the while my little boy leashes up and wags his way into the vets. Kisses and wags at the ready.

Today, some answers. Luckily it appears we aren't looking at cancer. Rather, we have a narrowing of his intestines, making it difficult for him to get the nutrients he needs. I was given a whole range of options. I'm starting with the conservative. I have already put him through multiple surgeries, each resulting in horrible circumstances for him, and honestly for us too. I'm not sure what I'll do if this doesn't work. I just can't imagine not having my dog here at my feet, happy to see me every day. For now, I won't think about that. He is my boy and together we are going to take this one day at a time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Heat On!

Wow! No more complaints about the lack of summer we've had in the valley this year. It has hit hot and heavy over the past couple of days here.

Even Rogue doesn't want to do anything.

Of course I should have known it was coming. I'm back to work in two short days!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Vacation State of Mind

It's the end of the fourth quarter of summer vacation. One week is all I have to get about a million things done before returning to my regular work schedule on Monday, August 29th. Yet all I can think of is the fact that this is still vacation time for me. I'm trapped in the painted hills. I begin a project, pull things out of a closet, start the laundry and then the longing begins and I go for a bike ride. Yesterday I scheduled my projects around a mt. bike ride, a wine tasting and yet another ride. This is not good.

It is a very fine line this fun vs. responsibility. On the one hand if I go straight for the project completion and forgo the fun, then I will head back into a very stressful school year feeling resentful. But if I go the other way and have one last week of fun then I re-enter the school year faced with the things that I know will drive me crazy!

But 7 days is such a short time. I actually counted the number of days I had off this summer between full time grad school and work commitments since school has gotten out. 14 days. Not 3 months, not 2 nor even 1 this year. 14 days of summer for Mrs. Ross this year.

Hmm, with that knowledge I think I just talked myself into at least one more day of vacation fun. Besides, this is the weekend. Everyone gets weekends off right?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rocks, Roots, and Cliff Drops..Oh My!

It is no secret that I have been on a Mojo Quest in terms of Mt. Biking for over a year now. I don't know what it is about my personality, but I'm one of those who walks on the safe side of the street. Nerves of steel will NEVER be my nickname. Sure, I'd like to think that somewhere deep inside this 5'4" frame is a crazy dare devil who would surely emerge to reign victorious.

So this past week we loaded up the car with two shiny new bike racks and all the various paraphernalia necessary for a week in Sun Valley. Billed as the Mt. Biking "Nirvana" if you will, I was excited to try out my legs and reclaim some sort of pride on my two wheel steed.

The first clue that this wasn't going to be as easy as I'd hoped came on the first day on our bikes. Sure, I knew that Sun Valley was a base elevation of around 6000 feet, but what the heck. No big deal. However the first ride out of the condo parking lot let me know that this was not the case. No amount of inhaler puffs would make up for the thin air here. As we peddled around town, each increase in gear angered the elephant sitting on my chest. Seriously, I think I was passed by more elderly people on cruisers on this trip than any other. Keeping my pride in check, my resolve was still intact as I planned out a ride I would try the next morning.

The first off road ride was a former gun club, turned into a golf course/mt. bike trail. It meandered up some rolling hills with a lovely single track. While the air was still thinner than I'd like, the course was nearly perfect. There was one point where I came around a corner to see over the edge to the road out of town below me. My strategy was to just look forward, not down. It worked and we finished a great ride.

Still basking in the glory of early success, I agreed to try another more difficult trail. We consulted our recently purchased trail guide book. Ah, yes, here we go.This one was called "Fox Creek." We had initially scoped it out on foot the day before. It went right over the Big Wood River and looked lovely. I should have listened to that little voice in my head when I saw the rating of "moderate". However, the technical rating was just over 1. Well, ok then. I'm not moderate, I'm easy. (well, you know what I mean) but I figured that was just my cop out, chicken self and I decided I'd be fine. Besides, if it doesn't challenge me, how can I ever improve.

Challenge me this trail did. It was way too technically difficult for me and I pretty much was on the verge of tears the entire time. There were roots, loose rock and a single track that climbed at a very steep angle while skirting the edge of a cliff dropping into a river. Now I can handle roots, rocks and single track independently just fine. But the trifecta was enough to nearly send me into the fetal position right in the middle of the trail. Sure there were moments of greatness, followed by sheer panic. Any mojo I found on the previous ride and then some was left in the dirt on this one. After I finish typing out this story, this trail ride shall become the trail ride that is not mentioned. It got ugly, and I'm not talking about the scenery. See, when I get this far out of my comfort zone, I become someone I'm not proud of at all and let's just say someone who by the middle of the ride, Sean was no longer speaking to. Not good when you are 600 miles away from home on a romantic vacation for two. It took several hours, one jack & coke and a martini before we were laughing together again.

The next day I raised the white flag and said "enough." I sent Sean out to ride the gondola not to 7000 feet like our previous ride, but rather all the way to the top of Mt. Baldy at 9000+ feet where he rode all over hell and gone with no bitching, terrified wife anywhere to be found. Instead I stayed in the condo reading a lovely book. It was fantastic!

However, by Friday I was feeling guilty again. After all, this was my opportunity to regain my biking confidence and yet it was now worse than ever. I couldn't let it end like that. So I picked up the much misleading trail guide book and found two that were marked "easy". I convinced Sean that it was worth his time to take this psycho wife of his back out again. Sure enough, there were some less than "easy" climbs and more rocks, roots and cliff edges. But this time there were no tears. There was no terror and dare I say it, there were some smiles.

By the end of the week I had over 30 biking miles under my belt. Most of them were happy. It is my intention to keep it that way. My bike may currently be covered with bugs and dust from the ride home on the top of the car, but it is my solemn intent that she won't be covered again with spider webs from my own garage. No, it took much too long to get this mojo back and I'll be damned if I'm going to let it slip away again. Although, I have a sneaking suspicion that it was here all the time. Just under the surface. Waiting for me to realize like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I had the power the whole time. I just needed to go away for a little while to realize what was right here all the time.