Sunday, September 16, 2007

I'm playing with the big girls!

Good Sunday morning everyone! Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!

I mentioned last time that I had just finished up my RAKScraps contribution. What I didn't tell you was that as of this month, my contributions will go to the Add-On portion of the kit that is sold at ScrapDish to help cover the costs of running RAKScraps! Traditionally, the 4 admins (Jeanine, Correen, Rachel, and Robin) have created the Add-On, but due to contractual obligations with some great new opportunities that Jeanine has, she is no longer able to contribute. I am so honored that the admins asked me to help out with this! I'm really happy to be able to support the site and the team of fabulous women who help keep it going. :)

So without further ado, here is this month's Add-On. You can get it here. Also available are the Add-On on CD along with the Mega-Kit itself, just the Mega-Kit on CD, and a really wonderful quickpage album that Robin put together using the Add-On! Also check out this month's newsletter and be watching for the free downloads of the Mega-Kit to start hitting RAKScraps very soon! :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

World's longest post

Wow, over a month. Poor, sad, neglected blog. I've been putting off blogging because I wanted to write about everything that's been going on and post pictures and such, but it just seemed like such a big task, and, of course, the longer I put it off, the bigger it got. :-b I basically have about seven posts in one now. LOL

So anyway, the highlights…

::::::::::::::::::::: Viva Las Vegas ::::::::::::::::::::

My folks came to stay with the kids so that Mark and I could go to Las Vegas Aug. 15-19. He'd gone to a magic convention out there twice before (2001 & 2004), but I've never been there, so this time we decided I'd go out with him for a few days before the convention. We don't really gamble. We played $1 on the slots just to say we did. :-b We mainly wanted to go to shows, mainly magic shows. LOL Mark has friends who got us in to see most of them, so that saved us a bundle, and we got to chat with most of the performers after the shows too. We saw Penn & Teller (awesome), Lance Burton (fabulous), Mac King (hysterical), and Dirk Arthur (a little cheesy, but decent). We also saw Blue Man Group and sat in the second row, center stage (poncho section - I got hit by flying Twinkie schmutz LOL). It was nothing like what I was expecting, but I think it was my favorite thing that we did out there.

Other than the shows, we spent one afternoon visiting some friends of Mark, did a little bit of random sightseeing, a ton of walking up and down the strip in the heat (there was a TON of construction), took naps after being exhausted from walking up and down the strip in the heat, and ate at a lot of buffets. Miraculously, I only gained half a pound. :P It was really nice to get to spend that time together with just the two of us. It was our first ever vacation alone since the kids came along. Hopefully, it won't be another 8 1/2 years before we get to do it again!

We were really bad about taking pictures, but here are a few we did get. We stayed at Harrah's. This fun statue of Buck & Winnie Greenbacks was in the casino there.

The shops in the Venetian were designed like a Disney World version of Venice, complete with singing gondoliers. The inside of New York New York and Paris were done in a similar theme-parkish style. It seemed to be dusk inside all of them even though it was actually mid-day when we were there.

This is New York New York from the outside. (click to see larger)
A few shots of the view from our room. We could see the "volcano" in front of the Mirage "erupt" at night, but it wasn't as impressive without the sound. LOL

The Paris at night. Mark with the Sigfried & Roy statue outside the Mirage.

Mark and I with Lance Burton after the show.

Mark with one of the Blue Man Group members after the show.

So that was our Vegas trip… well, the parts I can tell you about anyway. You know, that whole "what happens in Vegas…" thing. LOL

::::::::::::::::::: Jaws (not the shark) :::::::::::::::::::::

Back to reality… I've been having problems with my jaw off and on for about the last 17 years. It used to be a rare thing, but now it's all the time. I went and saw a TMJ specialist when I got back from Vegas. The upshot is that the disc on the left side of my jaw has moved completely to the side, apparently quite some time ago, but my jaw has adapted to that. The disc on the right side is slipping in and out of place as I move my jaw, and that's what's giving me all the trouble. I've got exercises to strengthen the relevant muscles in my neck and jaw and behavior modification stuff to retrain myself not to open my mouth so wide. (Who knew I had such a big mouth? :P) I went back to get fitted for a mouthpiece to wear at night, which will hold my jaw in position and allow the disc to return to its proper shape. I go pick it up tomorrow. The initial exam was a mere $447. The mouthpiece is a whopping $1900. Little if any of it will be covered by our insurance. Too bad those slots didn't pay out!! :P

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Karate Kid ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Matthew's still going strong with his taekwondo. He was in a tournament up the road at Southfork on the 25th. He competed in a group with 13 other white and orange belts his age. They had to do their form (memorized routine) and do two one-step sparring sequences paired off against a partner (non-contact). He ended up having to do his form twice, since he tied with someone else the first time, and he actually did much better the second time. He'd rushed due to nerves the first time through. We were just hoping he'd have fun and it would be a positive experience for him, but we really had no idea if he'd place. He took second place for the form and first place for the one-steps!!! :D We got video, but for stills I only took my little compact camera and the pics from it are beyond horrid. I've decided it won't be used for any indoor events anymore unless I can figure out better settings to use. Anyway, here's a shot of him with his medals outside as we were leaving.

:::::::::::::::: Back, Back to School Again :::::::::::::::::

Sorry, just channeling a little Grease 2 with that subtitle. ;) The kids started school on the 27th. Matthew's in 3rd grade now, and Kaylee's in kindergarten (full-day). This pic cracks me up. (It wasn't very light out yet, so I had to use flash.)

Here's a bit more cooperative one. (Like Matthew's haircut? It's new, and is the first time he's ever had any real "style".)

I was a little worried since it was Kaylee's first time riding the bus, and I was just hoping she wouldn't get scared and freak out at the last minute. She ran right up with Matthew though, and they hopped right on.

So far things are going fine. Kaylee was a bit oversensitive the first day about some "mean" kids, but since then she's enjoyed it, as has Matthew. We're still struggling with the whole after school routine, trying to juggle homework and karate and all that, but hopefully we'll get into a rhythm soon – probably just in time for Matthew to move up to the next karate class and for us to have to adjust our schedule all over again. LOL

::::::::::::::::::::: Karate Kid Part 2 :::::::::::::::::::::::

Speaking of Matthew moving up, he had his yellow belt testing on the 28th, and I took the good camera along this time. Next time I also need to take the good lens and the good photographer. LOL Here are a few of the ones that turned out (more or less – the action shots are still kinda blurry :-b).

Some of the white and orange belts, watching the yellow belts and anxiously awaiting their turns.

The test.

Anxiously waiting to be called up to get his yellow belt.

Getting his yellow belt. I have no idea what he and his instructor were discussing so seriously.

He did it! :)

His next testing is scheduled for October 23rd, and then he'll move up to the next class and will get to start sparring (wearing lots of pads and a helmet).

:::::::::::::: The Incredible Shrinking Cyclops :::::::::::::::

Last Tuesday morning one of my monitors was dimming and flickering and then finally conked out. After my initial internal swearing, I did some investigation, and determined that it's not the monitor itself, but actually the power pack that died. So if something had to go, I guess that's the best thing, but it's still a pain. It's not something you can buy off the shelf, and the Planar site says they're out of stock until October 5. I've still got the one good monitor, but after 2½ years or so of using dual monitors it's really hard to get used to only one. I feel like I'm trying to work with one eye closed, and I have this weird sensation that I'm sitting in a very small space. I find myself all hunched over, like I'm trying to squeeze my whole physical person into half the space instead of just my virtual space being reduced. I've adjusted somewhat, but it's still just really weird and uncomfortable!

::::::::::::::::::::::: Time Management :::::::::::::::::::::::::

Design-wise, I just finished up my RAKScraps contribution for this month, and am now starting on my ScrapDish group contribution for next month, so I haven't had a chance to start anything new for my shop. Hopefully I'll get to start on that later this week. I thought I'd have all kinds of time once the kids were in school, but right now the days are still flying by faster than I can get a handle on them. I grab breakfast, take a shower (if I didn't get up early enough to do that before bus), do some laundry, do dishes, have lunch, try to catch up on a few emails, skim some blogs and boards, squeeze in some designing, (spend hours composing a ridiculously long blog post), and before I know it, it's time for the kids to get home. There's a lot of other stuff around the house I want to start getting caught up on too, but at this rate, it's not going to happen nearly as fast as I'd hoped.

If you made it through all that you deserve an award of some sort! LOL I'm going to try to do more frequent shorter posts from now on. (Notice I said "try". LOL) Have a great week! :)