Monday, February 28, 2011

In Which the Teachers School the Young Pups

February 28, 2011

Last night was the annual staff vs. students basketball game--the ultimate battle for athletic supremacy. As is often the case, age and wisdom beat out youth and enthusiasm, as the staff pulled out a victory in sudden-death double overtime. A very exciting game, which I'm sure could have gone the other way had our staff team not had a fabulous band of cheerleaders cheering them on to the win.

Tina, Marci, Kristin, me, Jenn, Nancy, Ed, Lynn, and Gabrielle
Marcos Martinez, aka "Latino Heat"

Steve Kidd
Marci, Ed, and Lynn.

The young pups, consoling themselves after their loss.

Oscar Party, Take 6

February 28, 2011

And the winner is...all of us! Sunday night we hosted our sixth annual Oscar party, complete with a contest for the most correct Oscar picks and an appetizer contest. Perrenial front-runner David won the Oscar pool by proxy--he's a Bay Area guy and has never yet been able to make it to the party, though his ballot is painstakingly researched and always lands somewhere in the top three. Next year, though, he assures us he'll put in a real appearance, even if it means he'll have to take Monday off in order to do it. Last year's winner, Victor, came in a close second. I'm sure he was hoping he wasn't going to have to relinquish his Oscar statuette, but I suppose he'll have to come back next year to try to reclaim it.

Our appetizer contest makes for a yummy accompaniment to the festivities. We had pulled-pork sandwiches, meatballs, chili, cheese puffs, fried rice, cheese and corn dip, cookies, and cake all entered in the contest. Yes, we take the term 'appetizer' a little loosely, but it all just means we get lots of tasty food. This year's winner was D'Leo, with the pulled-pork sandwiches nobody could get enough of. I know some people who are already plotting what they can make next year to take the top spot in the competition, which is only good news for those of us who reap the benefits of all that fabulous planning and cooking.

Michele, Kelly, Rosa, and Me
Oscar--heading back to David's house for the next year.
Victor and Michelle
Doug and me
Courtney and Justin
Kelly and Rosa
Jim, looking like Secret Service
Jimmy and Doug
Christy and D'Leo
Movie fans, seat-fillers, paparazzi, and the like

Same Place, Same Time, New Additions to the Group

February 28, 2011

The karaoke party just keeps getting bigger and better each week at Thai Fusion. Who'd have thought that would be how we'd end up spending most of our Saturday nights? And yet, every time we go, it's such a great time we can't wait to go back. Even better, we keep adding to the group, so it's always new and different, even though it's the same. Last week, our good friend Brady was in town, and he invited his friend Danette to join us. Danette and I went to high school together, but she and my sister knew each other far better than I did. As usual, we had a fantastic time. This past weekend, she came back and brought her husband and a whole host of their friends, and we all ended up singing and dancing the night away like we were old friends, too. (Some of us, actually, are old friends. Danette's husband Brent was one of the first people I ever met when I moved here to Clovis in the 4th grade. He was in my class, and he was super-sweet even then. I had a pretty serious 4th grade girly crush on him at the time.)

The original gang--Me, Doug, Jim
Brent and Me

The Clovis High Gang--Jim, Rosa, Doug, Danette, and MeDanette and Me

Little Man Nathan

February 28, 2011

My sister-in-law Julie came to visit last weekend from Washington, so I finally got to meet my newest nephew, Nathan. They came to visit Julie's mom and grandmother for some birthday celebrations on their side of the family (including Julie's), so while she was in town we decided a pizza night was in order. What a sweet baby boy he is! He was happy as a clam, even though he was a tired little guy, and was quite content to let us all pass him around while he got to know a few of us from his daddy's side of the family.

Nathan with Grandma

Nicholas bonding with his newest boy cousin
Julie and me
Nathan was absolutely fascinated by Uncle Doug's beard!
Bree hanging out with Nathan
My sweet baby Nathan giving Auntie Donna some love
Mama and Nathan
Being social can be quite exhausting; after fighting it off valiantly for quite awhile, Nathan finally gave in to sleep.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Meet The Newest Member of the Alta Sierra Track Team

February, 24, 2011

Today was Nicholas' first track meet ever. I think we were all a little bit like fish out of water out at the track, not really knowing the whole process. Neither Doug nor I had ever been in track in school, and Nicholas wasn't completely clear where he was supposed to be. There are a lot of events going on simultaneously, and lots of movement and activity happening all at once. If you don't know what you're looking for, there's a real sense of visual overload going on.

Nicholas had opted out of throwing the shot put in this first meet, since he didn't feel he had enough practice in. Unfortunately, that meant he wasn't hanging out with most of the 'throwers' while they were competing the shot put event. That meant he didn't really realize that when they were done, the whole group of them had moved to the other side of the field for the discus event. Eventually, I told Nicholas he needed to find his coach and figure out how close we were to his event. By the time he found his coach, he was sent to make a bee-line for the opposite side of the field, because his event was already in progress. We saw where he was heading, and walked ourselves to the other side of the field to watch him. Normally, I guess they get three throws, and the farthest one is counted. Since Nicholas got to event check-in a little late, he was skipped for his first round throw. He got there just in time to toss in the second round. It was a bit shaky. While he was waiting for the other contestants to go through their second and third rounds, he warmed up some, and his second and final throw was pretty impressive. Out of ten or eleven contestants from Alta Sierra and Clark, Nicholas' final throw landed him in fourth place over all. Not bad at all for his first time out of the gate! (On a side note, we've decided not to let him opt out of shot put for future meets. If he stays with the other 'throwers' perhaps he won't miss his first throw when his event is called!)

Happy Birthday, Steve!

February24, 2011

More birthdays, more pizza. We got to celebrate my brother-in-law Steve's birthday this week with a gathering at our favorite local Me n' Ed's. Happy birthday, Steve!

No Paparazzi, Please

February 24, 2011

Gotta love those teenagers. When they're little, the let you take a picture anytime. Now, sometimes the diva comes out, and I'm outta luck.

Danielle's "I Am" Poem

February 24, 2011

My “I Am” Poem
By Danielle Lutjens

I am athletic and artistic.
I wonder if I’m going to make odyssey soccer.
I hear birds chirping.
I see myself as an actress one day.
I want to win my indoor soccer tournaments.
I am athletic and artistic.

I pretend to be a famous actress.
I feel scared about when the world will end.
I touch the soccer ball when I save goals.
I worry about when my parents will die.
I cry when I lose someone dear to me.
I am athletic and artistic.

I understand Jesus died to save us.
I say don’t judge a book by its cover.
I dream about getting Principal’s Medallion again.
I try to be good at acting.
I hope to be good at all sports.
I am athletic and artistic.

Monday, February 21, 2011

We're Putting on a lot of Mileage This Week

February 21, 2011

This is going to be quite a busy week, but in a really good sort of way. That being said, this is something like what my driving map will look like:Brianna's got auditions for "Hairspray," on Wednesday, possibly with callbacks on Friday. Nicholas has track practice every day after school, plus his first track meet on Thursday. Danielle has softball practice every day after school except for Wednesday. She'll find out this week whether she'll be on A, B, or C team, so it's a big week for her. She also has an indoor soccer game on Friday evening and on Saturday afternoon.

This week is also my brother-in-law's birthday, so there's a pizza party gathering tomorrow night in his honor. My sister-in-law Julie is making a trip out from Washington with her new baby Nathan this week, so on Friday night we are having a reunion pizza party for all family and friends to gather together to visit with her. (And I finally get to meet my new nephew!)

In addition, this week we've got to work on Danielle's biography project and Nicholas' History Day project, both of which still need a lot of revision and supervision. Bree also has an orthodontist appointment, at which time hopefully they'll give us a definitive answer on when she will finally get those things off--we've got senior pictures to schedule. Finally, we've got to figure out how to find the time to make the house clean and sparkly before our annual Red Carpet Oscar Party this coming Sunday.

Busy, busy, busy, but I'm totally looking forward to the week!

Can I Play, Too?

February 21, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, Cheryl and Morgan came to see Danielle play in her indoor soccer game. Morgan just loved cheering for Miss Danielle, and got excited about playing herself. Since then, Miss Morgan has been all about soccer--now she's all outfitted with her own soccer shoes and soccer ball, 'just like Danielle.' I think it's adorable how Morgan loves her Miss Danielle--and I love that they live so close to us now so our kids can spend lots of time together!

February 21, 2011

Road Trip

February 21, 2011

Since Point Loma is one of the colleges Brianna is considering, I took her this past Thursday/Friday to an overnight visitation at the campus. She did a similar overnight visitation at Fresno Pacific and just loved it. The two day campus experience consists of a campus tour, meeting with current students, panels with current professors, sitting in on a couple of classes, and even spending the night with a bunk mate in one of the dorms. When she went to Fresno Pacific's overnighter, she went with a good friend, but for this one, she was going it alone. Honestly, I'm really impressed; when I was her age, I was so shy and timid that even if my mom had offered to let me go to one of these college overnighters, I would have declined because I would have been too intimidated. (I've since learned to adapt and can now handle new and unfamiliar situations on my own, but at 17? No way.) Bree, however, has the confidence and sense of adventure to be able to see the fun and opportunities in new experiences--and whether she is alone or with a big group of friends, she jumps in with both feet. I love that about her.

Anyway, I had really been looking forward to the trip. How many more times would I have an opportunity to take a one-on-one trip with Bree before she packed up and moved away from home for good? We got up bright and early so that we could be out the door by six. (We didn't quite make it by six, but close enough.) After stopping by McDonald's for breakfast and Starbucks for caffeine, we hit the road. Most of the trip down--all six hours--was spent seriously rocking out to music. My job was to drive, her job was to man the iPod. Since she's my daughter and I raised her right, a good deal of the playlist was comprised of 80s songs. You simply cannot go wrong with a road trip to the soundtrack of the 80s, right?

We made excellent time and the weather was beautiful. As a matter of fact, we got there with some time to spare before check in. As it turned out, there were a few thrift shops just up the street from the college, so we spent a little time in those shops and found some great deals. Bree and I just love thrift store shopping together, so this seemed a perfect way to kill some time. Afterward we headed up the hill to get her checked into the college. We were greeted by a super friendly college student who ushered her in and got her settled in to the registration process. Within minutes, my job was done and she was the independent college student for a couple of days.

Jumping back into the van, I headed back up the freeway to my sister's house, which was a little over an hour away. I got to spend some time with my nieces and check out their new apartment (they had just moved the week before, and the girls were excited to get to show me the new place). Once we got the girls settled into bed, Lisa and I stayed up chatting until three in the morning. Unfortunately, we had to get up a little after six to get the girls dressed and ready for school, so there was not nearly enough sleep that night. It's a hazard whenever Lisa and I get together, but well worth it.

The next morning, after breakfast with Lisa, I headed back down to Point Loma to pick up Brianna. The visitation ended just after lunch, so when I picked her up, we just sat in the car for about an hour and she told me all about her visit. She loved the offerings and the professors, but the lack of cell phone reception nearly everywhere on the campus was a bit alarming to her. She met some really nice kids and generally had a good time. We had thought about hitting a beach before heading back home, but the weather had turned a bit windy and rainy-not so much beach weather--so we opted instead for some window-shopping at Fashion Valley Mall. We didn't have much money on the trip, so we knew we couldn't do a lot of actual shopping, but we did decided it would be fun the go into some of the boutique shops and try on high fashion, upscale, fancy dresses. We spent about three hours roaming around the outdoor mall, dodging the downpour that had suddenly kicked up, dashing into high-end shops, trying on dresses and shoes, and chatting and laughing. By the time dinner rolled around, we were both ready to sit down, relax, dry off, and dig into our PF Chang's.

Finally, it was time to hit the highway and head home. The rain was getting even more insistent, but luckily there wasn't a lot of traffic. More music and loud, boisterous singing from us both got us home and kept me from falling asleep on the road. We finally pulled into the driveway, and all I wanted to do was walk straight into the house and fall right into bed. I'm sure I was out almost as soon as my head hit the pillow, but I do remember thinking what a wonderful day it had been, spending all that time with my first-born, my baby getting ready to embark on a new adventure in a world all her own. It had really been a great couple of days.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

February 20, 2011

Brianna has applied to four different colleges, and has been accepted at all of them. So now's the hard part--making the final decision. She likes all of the campuses, and has even done overnight college visitations at two of them. They all have programs she's interested in (Communications/Public Relations). Ultimately, I think it's going to come down to finances in these tough economic times, so once we see where we are scholarship-wise, we'll make the final decision. Such an exciting time, knocking on new doors to new worlds of opportunities! Hard to believe she's already at this threshold...

San Diego State University

Point Loma Nazarene
Fresno Pacific University
Fresno State University

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

February 16, 2011

My good friend Rosa celebrated her 44th birthday with a gathering of friends at our favorite local karaoke place, Thai Fusion. What I love about this group is we are almost all former high school classmates who have found our way back to each other in recent years. There's just nothing like the friendship of a group of people who have all known each other for 25 plus years.

Drinks, friends, and lots of singing the night away? Sounds like a great way to spend a birthday. We might have to make it a birthday tradition for all of us!

The birthday girl
Bill and Nancy, our fantastic Thai Fusion waitress, belting it out
My hubby and me
Renee and Bill

Rick wowing the crowd
Doug and Mercedes singing Doug's favorite duet, "Paradise By the Dashboard Light"