Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Stalkers

Ever since the school year began, these cold germs have been stalking me. Twelve days ago they finally took me down.
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These little buggers are the reason I didn't blog about my weight loss last week. On Monday evening I started swallowing sandpaper (at least, that's what it felt like) and the next morning I was 2 lbs. heavier.
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Two pounds of swollen glands, extra mucous, and retained water? Whatever. I was displeased to have aother hurdle placed in my path!
I survived the cold despite the horrible cough that came with it. The chest-burning, rib-splitting, back-aching, eyes-bugging, head-exploding, stomach muscle-bulging, pee-your-pants cough.
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I didn't sleep much for about 10 nights, but last night I finally slept like the proverbial log. I'm still a little raspy, but definitely on the mend.
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The big question is, did my diet survive intact?
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Yes, it did. Mostly. And overall I consider it another challenge met and overcome.
My friends will tell you the quickest way to make me give up on eating right is to be sick for more than a few days. As I get worn down, it's just easier to grab quick, junky food.
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Plus, colds are like the opposite of stomach flu for me: I want to eat constantly. Eating soothes my throat, clears my head, eases the cough, sometimes for up to an hour afterward. It must release massive amounts of endorphins!
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I crave Lay's potato chips like crazy when I have a sore throat. I can eat a family size bag in 2 days all by myself. I nearly went for it 4 days ago, but Wyndie talked me down.
This time I made it through my cold almost unscathed. Not perfectly, but for once I did not give in or give up.
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I'm proud to say I never ate anything with processed sugar in it. My biggest test was when Wyndie sent over these peanut butter-Hershey's Kiss cookies. After a lengthy inner struggle I handed them all to my kids. That was tough because I love those kisses!
I did eat more fruit than usual. During my cold I had 2 oranges and a banana dipped in peanut butter, as well as a bowl of fruit salad Jacob made Thursday night: apples, oranges, bananas, pineapple, and walnuts. Yum!
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Fruit carbs are healthy but tend to stop my weight loss. Mostly I stick to low-carb berries, but I figured I needed the extra vitamin C for now.
Another hurdle to cross was the monthly East Campus pot luck. Nicole and I planned ahead and brought salad with tomato, cucumber, cheese, and shredded beef toppings.
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Good thing! As you can see, there weren't many other low-carb items. I said yes to the spinach-artichoke salad and beef-and-black bean soup, and NO to the brownies, pizza, grapes, ravioli, and Girl Scout cookies.
The lady on the right is my friend Nicole, with the gorgeous silver hair. At left is English teacher Gwen, another of my favorite people.
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Then, after 2 days of AIMS testing (state requirement), administrator Dave brought Mexican food for the proctors. I ate half of a chicken enchilada. Still, I never ate just HALF an enchilada before!
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To sum it up, the past 12 days were a challenge, but I feel good about hanging in there in spite of all. It took 9 days to take those 2 lbs. back off, but they came off.
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Better yet, I've already lost 2 more, for a total loss of 19.7 lbs in 8 weeks. Thank goodness for this blog, which has helped motivate me, and thank goodness for the many friends who encourage me and rejoice with me! The journey continues . . .

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jacob's New Job

Last night I finally got over to the restaurant where Jacob has been working for the past week. Everyone there seems to be pleasant and determined to make the restaurant a success.
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The all-you-can-eat buffet was tempting. The food looked and smelled delicious. It even had some low-carb items. Here is Jacob replenishing the buffet's fresh grapes.
Dylan pleaded to stay and have dinner there. I might have done it if I could afford it. The cost for the buffet last night was $14 per person. Jacob says the buffet varies every night. The cost for a seafood buffet on the weekend was $11.
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Jacob has become their jack-of-all-trades, dabbling in all the tasks. Every night he comes home with a pocket full of tips which are quickly adding up. His favorite part!
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I practically had to force him to take off 2 nights this week. He didn't realize how much work and school were taking out of him. Even a job you love is better with an occasional break!
The first night he was home he went to "rest" on his bed and woke up at 6:30 the next morning!
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This is his 2nd restaurant job. In the summer of 2006 he was a waiter and host at Mama Bear's, in Arizona's oldest log lodge.
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The past 2 summers he worked in the Trading Post at Camp Geronimo. He planned to return this summer; now he's not so sure.
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On another note, the Valentine's Dance pictures came back today. I thought theirs came out well.
The kids made the background themselves. Morp is "Prom" spelled backwards because the girls ask the guys. When I was in high school in California we called it the Sadie Hawkins Dance. I doubt kids today even have a clue who Sadie Hawkins was!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Long Awaited!

I'm excited to announce a new arrival in the family: my niece Genevieve has started a blog!
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Actually, she and Scott got married 4 years ago and are now the parents of 2 cute little girls. I just thought it would be fun to introduce them to you with one of their wedding photos.
Scott has even joined in on the blogging experience! So feel free to look in on this little family at:
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Or you can click on their link with the rest of my blogger buddies in the left column.
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We're still working on recruiting Genevieve's mom, my sister Karla, but she's tenacious! We'll keep at it, though!
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Welcome to our blogger family, Genevieve and Scott!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Surprise Visit

My children got a surprise visit from their dad this weekend. He called early yesterday to announce he was in town and would be over "in a few." Aargh! A little notice, please!
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The kids were ecstatic, of course. They hadn't seen him since August. He actually spent some real time with them, and it makes me happy to see my kids so thrilled.
They went over to swim in the indoor pool at the Hampton Inn, where Mark and Diane were staying. My kids think they're fish and love the water.
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Jacob had a church youth activity all that morning, tubing on the slopes near Sunrise Ski Resort, so he missed out on the swimming.
Last night Mark and Diane came over to visit for a couple of hours. Actually, Mark fell asleep on the couch (that seemed so very familiar!) while Diane and I talked.
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We got to meet Knox, Diane's new service dog-in-training. Diane has a bad back injury and increasingly has trouble getting around.
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Diego and Knox found each other to be quite fascinating!
Jacob was gone all evening, working at his new job, so he missed out on the visiting.
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Then after church today Mark, Sarah, and Dylan took a hike along the Mogollon Rim Trail about half a mile from our house.
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Again, Jacob missed out on the hike because he had to go to work.

Recently a new restaurant called Kelley's opened within walking distance of our house. Jacob happened to go there with a friend last weekend, and by the time he left he'd been offered a job.
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Apparently he's training to work as a chef while also bussing, waiting tables, and washing dishes. I'm not too sure how this will work out, especially since this is a really bad time to start up a small business, but we'll see. For now it's a little extra money to put away for that dream car.
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It's just too bad he had to miss out on the fun.
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After the hike, their dad headed back down the mountain to Mesa. But they made some happy memories.
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It's very beautiful along the Rim, which is the southwest edge of the Colorado Plateau. It's often a sheer drop with striking views.
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Sarah and Dylan took some great shots on today's hike, so I thought I'd share. Sit back and enjoy!


Saturday, February 21, 2009

I'm Ready for My Close-up

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We finally have all of this year's school pictures. Yes, they were all shot in September, but somehow Dylan's packet was misplaced by the photographer. It was December before I realized I'd never received it and January before I contacted the photographer and asked him to locate the photos.
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Dylan finally brought them home this week. Now we'll see how long it takes me to label the pictures and then replace the old ones on the living room wall with these new ones! I can be a little slow sometimes at these tasks...
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So here they are, the 2008-09 school pictures!
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Dylan's picture features kind of a different pose, but he is always photogenic (age 11).
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Jacob, on the other hand, sometimes opts for retakes. This year was no exception. He never shows his teeth in pictures because he dislikes them (he has great teeth, says his mom). I do think he is handsome in this shot (age 17). I told him he looks like a college student!
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It's so odd not to have a picture of Sarah this year, but I guess colleges don't do school pictures!
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We teachers receive a courtesy packet since the school needs our pictures to make photo IDs each year.
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I shrunk this one down so I wouldn't scare anyone too badly. Some years my picture is tolerable, sometimes it makes me want to cry. This one falls somewhere in between. Hey, I can't complain--it was free!
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Now that I'm thinking about it, I guess I'll go pull those old pictures out of their frames and replace them with these. The kids will be so surprised when they get home . . .
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PS Okay, I did it! Here is my proof:
The 8x10s on top are pictures of Sarah, Dylan, and Jacob on their 4th birthdays. The 5x7s below are their current pictures. How can anyone look at their children and not believe that families ARE forever?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chocolate Rush!

The week before Valentines Day was a challenge and I must finally confess to cheating a little! It's so hard to resist those chocolate candies coming at me from every direction!
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Nonetheless, I still made some progress. For one thing, I didn't allow my cheats to convince me give up and believe I'm too weak to be successful. I got right back to eating right, which has never happened before. I tend to have an all-or-nothing personality.
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For another thing, I managed to lose another 2.4 lbs, making it a total of 17.7 lbs. gone in 6 weeks. And I don't want it back!
At Monday's department chair meeting the table was laden with bowls of pretzels and Cheez-its, but the real temptation was bags of peanut M&Ms strewn about. I love M&Ms, but I was able to resist.
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Wednesday night Jacob baked 2 pans of from-scratch brownies. (He took one next-door to say thanks for plowing our driveway.) The heavenly aroma filled the house and made my mouth water, but I stood strong.
On Thursday in the teachers' workroom I found 12 hand-dipped candies (see above photo) in my box. It was left for me by our church Relief Society presidency. My friend Nicole and I were sorely tempted, but she broke out her Atkins peanut butter cups and we managed to resist.
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But then I took the candies home to give my kids. Before I knew it, I'd eaten 3 delicious chocolate-covered cherries myself. Hey, it just seemed rude to give away all 12 candies when someone worked so hard on them!
Last night our home teacher brought us a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies, another of my favorites. I could hardly bear it, so I ate half a cookie before I handed the plate off to my children.
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So yes, I did cheat, but they were "controlled" cheats like I've never managed before. I can honestly say I've never stopped at just half a cookie in my entire life!
As for the chocolate cherries, in the past I would have said, "Okay, I blew it," then gone on to have spaghetti and garlic bread or something equally carb-loaded for dinner, telling myself I'd start again in a week or so.
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So I do consider these to be small victories that I hope will help me do better as I approach my goals.
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Besides, I lasted an entire month before I weakened, and it took a chocolate-centic holiday to make me do it. I think that's not too bad!
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Now I am back on the horse--at least until Easter!

Valentines Dance

The good news is: Jacob's hair is still its natural dark blond color! (Although I'm a bit disappointed his date didn't at least give him a haircut!)
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The bad news is: Only about 30 students came to the dance. (But they had fun!)
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The good news is: The dance ended at 10pm due to low attendance, so I got home an hour earlier than expected!
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This is Jacob and his date Chelsea.
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There was a stake youth Valentines Dance at our church less than half a mile from the school. Since many of our students are LDS, that probably explains a lot about our low numbers.
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Almost everyone who left our dance at 10pm went to the stake dance for the rest of the night, even the kids who aren't LDS.
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Here are some of Jacob's friends: Jacob and Chelsea; Bryce and Monique; and Tony and Jamie.
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Don't ask me--this shot was the girls' idea!
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You would think my son and his friends would be embarrassed to have his mom--a teacher, no less!--hanging around and taking pictures all night, but instead the girls kept hugging me and asking for advice.
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The guys even came to me for instructions on how to slow dance correctly!
I really did keep a low profile for most of the night, though, allowing the kids to do their own thing without interference. I stood against the wall and chatted with the other teachers like a good chaperone should.
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Here's almost half the crowd doing the Funky Monkey, some new-fangled hip-hop line dance thingy.
This is why I teach high school. Teens are always so interesting and entertaining. They put on a show of coolness, but inside they have big hearts and a great desire to be good people.
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One day I will miss these years of high school dances and clubs. Someday I may even miss the intricacies of steering my teenage son through his first dating experiences!
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And so we survived the Valentines Dance. Next stop: Junior/Senior Prom!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Funny Valentines

Happy Valentines Day, my dear friends!
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As a single mom (and likely to stay that way, apparently), I was tempted to adopt a "Bah, humbug!" attitude about Valentines Day.
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I guess the secret romantic deep within me is just too strong.
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Besides, my life is filled with the love of a wonderful family and great friends. How do you ignore that?
So I bought little heart-shaped boxes of chocolates for the great loves of my life, my sweet children.
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Then, of course, I had to buy a box of sugar-free chocolates for myself. You know, just so I wouldn't be tempted to sneak sweets from my sweets!
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Besides, who would bring candy to an old lady like me?
Surprise! My darling Sarah stole away this morning and came home with a dozen red roses and a box of sugar-free candies for me. I was so incredibly touched by her thoughtfulness.
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I hadn't even dropped any hints, so it all came straight from her beautiful heart.
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We immediately put the roses in water, then we broke open the chocolates and shared them.
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Jacob has been gone all day on his own Valentine's Day quest. The SADD Club is in charge of the school's Valentines Dance tonight, a girls-ask-guys affair, so he left at 11am to decorate.
Jacob's friend Chelsea asked him to the dance, so after decorating he and his friend Bryce (they're double-dating) planned to meet up with Chelsea and Bryce's date Monique. Chelsea wanted to do Jacob's hair. I admit it makes me a little nervous.
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I okayed dye (gulp) but no tattoos!
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Here are Jacob and Bryce with the chocolates and roses they got their dates.
Tonight I am chaperoning the Valentines Dance. I will be there armed with my camera and poised to slightly embarrass my son (he's been forewarned).
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Stay tuned for tomorrow's post on the big dance!
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May your every day be filled with love!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Black Range

The temperature was 13 degrees when we left for school this morning. It is now a toasty 42 degrees outside, with a moderate wind that feels like it is blowing straight off the ice. I think I'll write about something nice and warm... like my new range!
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Last fall my ancient oven's door quit opening all the way. The door only opened about a foot, causing risk to life and limb when trying to insert a cake or casserole.
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Luckily I have appliance insurance, a great blessing when you own a 33-year-old home with the original appliances still intact. They sent out a guy and then desperately searched for replacement parts so they wouldn't have to purchase a new range for me, as specified in my contract.
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Am I bad for praying they wouldn't find the part? I confess I've been hoping for several years that my old range would die!
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Happily for me, they don't keep old hinges around for 33 years. I was offered a new range, with an option to upgrade and pay the difference.
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Let's see, the old range was not self-cleaning. It had 3 small burners and only one large burner, a real pain when cooking a meal requiring 2 big pans, like spaghetti. Did I want to upgrade? You betcha!!
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For just $136, I now have a lovely, self-cleaning black range (I heard black is easier to keep clean) with two large burners and a wonderful, smooth ceramic top. After using the stove for 2 weeks now, I can testify it is SO much easier to wash up!
I had to take a picture of the inside before we used it. Self-cleaning or not, you know it'll never look this good again!
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Jacob got to cook on the new stove first. That's him frying eggs for breakfast before school the morning after we installed it.
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This range is taller than the old one, so we need to raise the spatula-holder hanging above it.
I was first to use the oven when I baked these yummy stuffed bell peppers a few days later. Here they are, ready to go in.
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I must say, the range works great. The flat burners heat up fast and cool down fast. The oven interior is huge compared to the old one and heats so evenly. I'm sure it also uses much less energy.
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Thanks so much to Robert, Susan, and Tony Bob for helping us install the new and haul out the old!
For Dylan, of course, the range was pretty unexciting. The box, now, that's something else entirely! The next day it was transformed into a fort, which Dylan generously shared with Diego. In fact, Diego spent part of the night sleeping in it.
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The old range literally fell apart when it was pulled out. One metal side fell off, the top was hanging by the wires, and the bottom bent and broke loose.
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Those of you in my age range may recall those funky colors from the 1970s: avocado, tangerine, harvest gold. Well, I'm thrilled to have one less bit of harvest gold in my kitchen!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sixty Seconds of Snow

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Perhaps you can tell I love snow. Although I played in the snow a few times as a child, I never truly saw falling snow until we moved here to the White Mountains. Ever since then, those fat flakes softly, silently falling have felt like magic to me. I took this video on Sunday morning when the current weather pattern moved into our area. It's been snowing off and on since then, and last night we got about 10 inches more so school was cancelled today.

This is the only snow that Fresno ever received during the 12 years I spent growing up there. It was so exciting to see all that white stuff on the ground early in the morning.
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However, by the time I left for school the snow had stopped, and by the time I returned home that afternoon it had all melted. So much for my big plans for building an igloo after school!

I remember how I fantasized in my 2nd grade class all day about playing in my igloo!

I also recall that LeRoy was thrilled about the snow until he actually stuck his hands in it. He wasn't too jazzed about his wet, freezing hands after that!

This was in February 1962. I was 7 years old and LeRoy was about a month from his 3rd birthday.



This is me this morning heading into the backyard. I'm a lot bigger now and the snow is a lot deeper!



Diego also adores the snow. Here is Sarah kicking up the snow, which he loves to leap up and catch in his mouth. By the time they're done playing, he looks like the Abominable Snowdog!

This is the southwest corner of our backyard. To me it looks so peaceful and inviting under its sparkling white blanket.

Our next-door neighbor just dropped by to plow our driveway, using his ATV equipped with a snow plow shovel. What a nice surprise! We went out to let him know how much his kindness was appreciated!
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On another note, we have 2 new blogs to announce! Dylan has been begging to start a blog for about a month, so we set it up today. His blog, Dylan's Daring Discoveries, can be found at:
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Sarah then followed suit and started her new blog, Sarah's Sweet Surprises, found at:
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Their blogs can also be accessed via the left panel with all my other favorite bloggers' sites. Check them out!