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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wedding season

It's not much of a season for us. Two wedding so far and one coming up in September. Still, it's been fun. Last night's wedding was particularly fun because the bride was a friend of mine from school and I knew a lot of the guests...fun group of people. The wedding couple was the couple from our recent float trip.

Their outdoor wedding was beautiful...
Wedding party

I love weddings...
100B0530

And it gave Jeff and I an evening to get dressed up and go out sans children. Gotta love that!
Aren't we cute?

Friday, June 27, 2008

My classroom in the summer

Had to run to school yesterday to get some of my teaching materials since I'm going to start tutoring a boy here.  Navigating a school in the summer can be an adventure, and my classroom was no exception yesterday.  All of my furniture and supplies were pushed into one little section of the room so the custodians could get the floors cleaned and buffed on the other side.  Here's the sight that greeted me when I went through the door:<p></p>


 

Classroom in summer



The resource books I needed were on the shelf that's in the far right corner. I had to walk across tables, climb over a file cabinet, and walk along a counter to get to them. I'm glad nobody walked in then! :D Eventually I managed to get (most of) what I needed.



Oh, and the floors? They looked great!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Who knew? Compact Fluorescent Lamps (Lightbulbs)

A lot of retailers are promoting the more expensive, though longer-lasting CFL lightbulbs as an energy saver. Unfortunately, they also contain small amounts of mercury. Because the bulbs break in the trash or landfills, they are releasing mercury. The EPA has been working with retailers to institute a recycling program for the bulbs, but so far the only big retailer to do so is IKEA. (My aunt, who works at Home Depot's corporate office, tells me that Home Depot WILL recycle CFLs, so that's worth checking into).


Using regular lightbulbs also contributes mercury to the environment due to the mercury emitted when coal is burned...so less energy required, less mercury emitted...if you can recycle your bulbs. If you have the time, consider contacting your local waste management/recycling facility as well as the big box stores in your area to determine what laws regulate CFL disposal and to push for a CFL recycling program. My aunt, who works at Home Depot's corporate office, tells me that Home Depot WILL recycle CFLs.

If you're interested in reading more, I've attached some pertinent web links.

Wikipedia article on CFLs

NPR article/feature on Mercury in CFLs

How to handle "dead" CFLs

Monday, June 9, 2008

Float trip!

Jeff and I spent the last weekend on a float trip/camping trip at Huzzah Valley Resort near Steelville, MO. The trip was a joint bachelor/bachelorette party for one of my teacher friends and her fiancee. We were a little worried on Friday afternoon when the torrential rain, thunderstorms, and tornados were popping up all over the St. Louis area and put off leaving for about two hours. Every time storms like this come up, we're reminded once again that our camper is uninsured (and Bonnie can tell you that you never know when a tree limb is going to come through your camper!).



We finally left around 4:30. We still had to drive through some rain and sit through some rush hour traffic past St. Louis, but the major storms were past by then. By the time we checked in at the campground it was around 8...and then our fun really started. We took a wrong turn in the section of the campground we stayed in (guess who was navigating?? oops) and ended up at a dead end of a narrow campground road. Jeff had to back the van and camper up about 150 feet in the dark in an unfamiliar campground on a very narrow road. Luckily (or not) he was assisted by several (very drunk but quite nice) campers who were camping nearby...and probably didn't want their tents run over! Jeff is generally amazing when backing up the camper...he can whip it around like driving a car in forward, but circumstances were against him here. Finally we got backed up enough to turn around and head to the right road, but our trouble wasn't over.



Next, we had to drive up a fairly steep, rocky, very wet hill, and our van got about 2/3 up before giving up. The tires were spinning all over the wet rocks. Once again, Jeff had to back down so that we could turn around and take a (thankfully) flat road to our campsite. Once we met up with our group, the rest of the evening was pretty smooth.



Despite all of the recent bad weather, the weekend was absolutely perfect for camping and floating. Saturday was hot and sunny. The weather was gorgeous. There was a slight breeze blowing, so you never got too hot, but it still felt great to be in the water. The river itself is beautiful. It may have spoiled the Meramec for me. Look how clear the water is...



FH000008



The next morning, a bus picked us up at about 10 a.m. to take us to the put-in spot for the float trip. Like our van, the bus had a rough time on the hills and was picking up NO speed even as we went on the highway. Plus, it smelled terrible and was smoking like crazy. Turns out that the emergency brake was stuck on. Here's what the bus looked like by the time we got to the put-in...


Smoky bus


I wish you could see just how much smoke was coming out when we first pulled up! Be glad you can't smell it, though. :)



We had 17 people in our group in 8 canoes and 1 kayak. I was very proud of Jeff. He's a fantastic paddler. Other people had all kinds of issues....



Capsized!

Sideways across the channel AND falling out!



Not us, though. Jeff did a great job. Here he is with part of our group behind him...


Jeff and the group



He did so well, in fact, that there really wasn't much left for me to do...


Lounge lizard
I mean, I didn't want to get in the way or anything!



All in all, we did great. Our canoe never tipped...though I did. One minute I was getting in one side of the canoe...the next second I was in the water on the other side! I asked Jeff what his favorite part of the weekend was, and he mentioned this incident. Nice, huh? haha



Kate and Jeff


He may be a rat, but he's my rat!



One of the funnier moments of the trip (aside from my falling out of the canoe, apparently) was the theft, hiding, and retrieval of a paddle from one of the canoes in our group.



1.Up he goes2.The man is like a monkey3.Tying the paddle4."I'm gonna kick your..."

...and...5.Oops!  Alcohol + tree climbing=fall

Don't miss the fact that Bob, who retrieved the paddle, ended up falling into the water at the bottom of the tree!



Our float took us about 4 1/2 hours, which was enough for all of us. We all loaded back onto a (different) bus and headed back to the campsite. We spent the evening playing wiffle ball, washers, and hillbilly golf.


Washers
Wiffle ball game



All in all, what a fun weekend. And now, in less than 3 weeks, we get to look forward to the happy couple's wedding! Hopefully we'll be able to get together a family float trip later in the summer. Anyone interested??

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Success!

Ten mile bike ride today, and (for the first time this summer) I did not get myself lost!! Felt really good riding, too.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Summer vacation

Today is my one-week anniversary of the last full day of school. Not that I'm counting or anything. I am SO enjoying being off. Keeping fairly busy, but not too busy. Jacob has to be in day care two days a week to hold his spot (and, after being on the waiting list for 2 years, no way are we losing that spot!!), and I LOVE having some time to myself.

I've used some of that alone time to get some use out of my new bike. More use than I've planned...it seems that I am sadly lacking a sense of direction. Both times I've been out on our wonderful bike trails (we are very lucky to have a good system of bike trails) I've gotten lost. Not the lost that I don't know my way home, but the lost that I can't find where I'm going.

Yesterday was fun...missed a turn onto the section of the bike trail I was looking for (and in my defense, there was nothing to show where the new trail was...it was hidden on the other side of a parking lot, and you had to turn off the main trail to get to the parking lot), rode almost 4 miles out of my way, turned around when I realized I was WAY wrong, and got a flat tire about 1/2 mile from where Jeff and Jacob met me to pick me up.

Between my two "oops" rides, though, I've ended up riding about 34 miles in the two trips. Not bad for someone who rarely rides a bike. A little hard to sit these days, though!

Jacob and I took the bike to the Cyclery after swimming today, and he totally ratted me out to the guys who work there about getting lost. Nothing like a 4 year old to tell all your embarassing moments!

As far as our time together, Jacob and I have managed to have some fun (the older boys are with their dad right now). Monday we ran errands (finally got rid of four gigantic bags of clothes from our yard sale) and spent an hour at the park. Today we went swimming (83 degrees is a lot warmer when you're dry than when you're wet!) and took Berkeley to the vet.

I've managed to get a little done around the house, but there's still a lot to do. Hey, I have all summer, right? Haha. And Berkeley has to be happy because he's getting longer, more frequent walks.

All in all, I am loving my summer break!