Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Every blog on the face of the earth must be using that title today...."Happy New Year". Not terribly original of me but I want to wish all my friends around the World a Happy New Year now, as I will probably be long asleep by Midnight. I'm not a late night type of person so New Years' Eve is not my favorite holiday. It also involves excessive drinking and more then excessive stupidity on the part of many party goers, which makes it even less popular with me. Coming from a background in sport and home life of self-discipline and rule-following I find that "party 'til you drop" attitude totally against my grain.

Finished up the last of my private lessons at the gym today with the added bonus of spending the time with my friend Melissa. She is a wonderful coach who married another wonderful coach about 18 months ago. In September they left our gym to coach near his home in San Jose, California and I miss her terribly. She is the essence of a true friend....patient, kind, generous and willing to listen to my bizarre and often boring gymnastics stories. Melissa and Jeff are back to California in a few days after an all-too-short visit here. I know how these visits can be as my own family is 600 miles away in New Jersey and I only see them once or twice a year. There is that sense of freedom that I can live my own life with my husband and pursue the "career" of a gymnastics coach........a profession my parents consider more of a "nice little hobby" then a real job. Then there is the profound sadness of missing my parents as they grow older and not seeing the day-to-day life in my childhood home that was my entire world for my first 23 years. Part of the unique bond I feel with Melissa comes from this shared experience. She started out as my student over 6 years ago and this has developed into a special, lasting friendship of two adults.

One more week of my little holiday from the gym. Now is the time that I just stand still in the middle of the living room and savor these nice moments at home without the stresses of the crowded, noisy gym. Private lessons are so different from the stress-filled preparations for competitions. There is an added bonus tonight because snow is predicted! This always puts me in a good mood, even though that holiday glow is fading. Nothing puts me in a better mood then being cut off from the rush and rudeness of the outside world. Now if this could only happen on a Tuesday or Thursday in the middle of January then the joy would be multiplied ten times over! The Homeschool and toddler gymnastics classes would be canceled. These are my least favorite to teach. Theses classes supplement my paycheck so I must put up with them, even though these are the ones that do in my bad back every time.
Hmm, let's find a nice photo to share tonight...........
An oldie but a goodie. Me and my mom from last Christmas. Also, a cat you haven't seen yet, Elliot. He's about 9 years old and has a lame front leg. He hops around pretty well and keeps up with all the usual required cat skills.....jumping on the kitchen counter, jumping on the bed, jumping on the patio furniture, jumping on to the window ledge........
Good night and Happy New Year my friends!!!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

.......and now for something completely different

I've been finishing off a project in cross-stitch, finally. I also spent all day yesterday back at the gym. So now it's time for something completely different. A bit about another hobby, fashion dolls. I was always into Barbies as a little girl and I loved making clothes for them. It seemed like all the off-the-rack stuff my friends had looked exactly the same. My cousin Barbara and I had the best looking Barbies on the block, because we made all their clothes ourselves. In the past few years the doll industry has come out with these amazing "fashion dolls". They are sort of a glorified Barbie. They are 15.5 or 16 inches tall, depending on the brand and are rather expensive. Most retails for over $60, but I have been able to get a few off of eBay for under $30 simply because I by the "au natural" without their expensive designer clothes. Then I browse the latest fashion magazines and make them knock-offs of the newest trends. I think this satisfies my burning desire to be thin and fashionable, none of which is going to occur for me in real life any time in the near future. Here are a few photos of some of my creations. These are modelled by the Tonner brand "Tyler" doll (the blond) and the Madame Alexander brand "Alex". Any other doll fans out there?

It seems the weather is about to change on us here in southwestern Ohio. No white Christmas; infact it was rather mild at 45F. It's already down to 30 tonight and it is not supposed to get out of the 20s all day tomorrow. Luckily I have another week off from the gym and can cuddle at home with the pets. The newest cat, Coal is loving every minute of being an indoor pet. He is the youngest we have now, about 2 years old. He has only been coming inside since September, but he has been hanging around since August 2006. We would catch the occasional glimpse of him in the flower bed or under the bushes on the side of the house. I could even coax him out with some food, but only around July 2007 did he come close enough for me to pet him. I am sure it is the same cat from last Summer because when he opens his eyes he has this strange cross-eyed look for just a moment. He also has a large oblong head, not narrow and sleek like all our other cats. Now he has a huge oblong body to go along with his big head. I am sure he has doubled in size since I have gotten him "fixed" and he stays inside most of the time. Here he is enjoying the sofa today. Of all the cats he gets along best with Alix, which is a total surprise. Alix is a people cat who prefers the one-pet household. When we stayed at my mom and dads from April '98-April'99 she loved being the only pet. Now she tolerates the other animals to a certain point and I was sure should would not accept a new "friend" in her old age. Coal runs right up to her in his huge, bumbling way ( he is not terribly graceful for a cat) but Alix stands her ground and will not give up her food dish to him. Poor Sammy surrenders right away, rather then be knocked over to have his food stolen. So when it is "feeding time at the zoo", as Joe calls it, Coal must wait outside on the porch until the older cats finish eating. He is also put out late at night because his lack of grace and tact make him a very bad bed partner. He stomps around and does that punching thing cats do regardless of blanket coverage or body part that my come under his claws. He has gotten a bit better and stays napping on the spare bed downstairs until about 3am. Then the stomping begins and he is sent out to his little bed on the porch. He latest trick is to jump up on the one-storey roof of our kitchen that backs up to the two storey section of our house. Our bedroom window looks out over the kitchen area roof and this is the perfect launching point for Coal to heave himself at our bedroom window in a attempt to get inside. Last night I wished I had the digital camera next to the bed because there was this amazing silhouette of Coal hi-lighted against the Christmas lights outside hanging from the screen of our bedroom window, begging to be let inside. He usually sleeps soundly outside, but wakes up precisely at 6am when he hears our alarm clock go off. Of course the alarm is not set on Sunday so he needed to remind us to get up and let him in.

I am actually not dreading so much going into the gym tomorrow for 5 hours to do private lessons. It gives me a little extra cash without the "backseat coaching" of my boss. It also gives me a chance to work with girls I have coached in the past who have moved up to higher competitive levels. Then I can be creative. I was surprised yesterday about how much I had missed the gym in these 2 1/2 weeks. There it was all clean and silent; a way I don't usually see it. I could walk to the Balance Beams and just stand there, and for the briefest moment relive my own days as a gymnast. I always loved Beam the best. It is still where I am the best coach, the most creative and at ease. It is a feeling that is hard to explain. Excitement, fear, stress..........but at the same time a sense of security and confidence. Something I can't get from any other aspect of my life. I find the more I complain about my job the more I long to be in there making the girls better, making myself better. Oh, I'm such a geek!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Attention Wal-Mart Shoppers

In my rounds of chatting, e-mails, letters and various posts at Cyberstitchers we have discussed the downward spiral of the craft and needlework supplies at Wal-Mart stores as they "upgrade" to Super Wal-Marts. In the past they have been my source as inexpensive, last-minute needs in floss and the ocassional piece of fabric or trim. There is one trim in particular that I have used numerous times because it coordinates so well with Prairie Schooler Christmas designs. So "Attention Wal-Mart Shoppers" out there in cyberland. If you see any of this trim I will gladly pay you for any amount you can get for me. Of course I will pay shipping costs also. It is about 1/4" thick, not the really huge home decorating trim, and is simialr to the DMC colors Ecru, 3053 muted green, and 3777 dark brick red. If anyone finds any of this please let me know. Just thought I would throw that out there and see if I can ever find more of this. By some odd fluke I actually got ahold of some "rare" brown corduroy with pink polkdots that I have been searching for forever. It was on eBay of all places. I paid a bit more then I would have a JoAnn Fabrics, but I had searched all of their local shops within a 50 mile radius of my house and also their website with no luck. The fabric gods are smiling upon me, so maybe the cording trim gods will smile upon me too!
If you noticed, I managed to put a few little links in here. I wonder if they really work?

Quick update/edit. No, the link thing will not work for me yet, so I changed them back.

Princess of the Day

Wow, I was stunned to come here and find so many nice comments. So many familiar names and then some nice new friends too. Thank you everyone for validating my existence. I feel like "The Princess of the Day". All this attention. This is so unlike my off-line personality where I hide out in my little gymnastics world with all it's familiarity, shunning the spot-light as much as possible. Gymnastics has been my refuge since childhood from my blinding shyness of the "real world". I suppose this whole Internet thing suits me then. I've always loved to write and find it a much more interesting and expressive version of myself. Talking face to face has never been a strong point with me unless it has something to do with instructions on how to perform a back handspring on the Balance Beam! My hands(piano, stitching, writing) have always been my emotional outlet as opposed to my mouth......that is strictly for chocolate intake at this point. So if you find this blog filled with odd gymnastiky expressions and photos of tumbling and flipping people you have never seen before, please forgive. For those stitchy friends you will be pleased with the other photos. And "Cat People" you will be overjoyed at the number of cat pictures that will appear here. Every time a roll of film comes back from the developer I can hear my husband reviewing the packet saying....."cat, cat, cat, oh one of the yard, cat, cat, one of some piece of fabric, cat, cat........"
Today is "A.D.D. Recovery" day. I am now nearly two weeks into my three week break from the gym and the huge pile of completed projects has yet to materialize. I thought I would just be cranking out this stuff day after day and be well ahead for next year or a least have a jump on some birthday gifts. But NOTHING, not one single completed item. I have spent most of my time taking out ancient UFOs, doing a few stitches, setting them aside, browsing through stacks and stacks of old charts and magazines, then putting them aside, compiling recipes for New Years' Eve, plotting out some new doll clothes, making a list of how I am going to spend my fabric store gift cards. No completed projects though. Just a huge mess of papers, charts, magazines and lists, all sorts of lists. A trait I inherited from my paternal grandfather, a prolific list-writer. My grandmother wasn't too bad at this either, but she was more of what I would call a Labeler. Everything had some yellowing, drying piece of masking tape on it that explained exactly what was in every box, bottle, bag and bin she owned.
To you experienced bloggers out do I post a link to some interesting website or some friends' blog and use, for example, the words "Barbara's Blog" and have it come up underlined with the link to her blog? All I seem to get when I hit the link icon is the ability to put up those nasty http://www.thingies/ that look rather rude and impersonal. Any technical help on this would be greatly appreciated.
I could sit here for hours, which is very counter-productive to my "new" diet and exercise plan. I say new (I can hear Kim laughing now!) because I go around and around with this every couple of months. Working in such a body-conscious sport makes me brutally aware of my tremendous shortcomings in the area of physical beauty. I have given up totally in the hair and fashion departments and so I will work on the old and flabby body for a while. I apologize if that image has made any of you a bit ill, but that is a simple fact. I love to cook and unfortunately I love to eat even more! Off to a meeting with the exercise ball..............there will be no photos of this!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Twice In One Day

So what are the rules of this thing? Can you post more then once a day or I am really showing just what an amatuer I am!?

Got my first "Comment" which put me into a frenzy. Someone is actually reading this! Thanks Nicole. I will try to add a few more Christmas photos. Rather dull...mostly of the cats since I have not yet trained them to photograph us.

Here's Alix the oldest. She is nearly 16 and the main reason we stayed home this Christmas. I knew she couldn't make the long trip to my mom and dad's in New Jersey and I certainly didn't want to leave her in the questionable care of neighbors.

As this photo loads I am already cursing my painfully slow dial-up connection. I might hold off on posting any more photos tonight because I will fall asleep long before they all download.

We had a wonderful Christmas dinner at Joe's boss Jim's house. Prime Rib, stuffed potatoes, asparagus, etc. and tons of cakes. Sandy, Jim's wife is really into primative style decorating and she had a 14 foot tall Christmas tree covered in primative style ornaments. I photographed them so I can try to make them myself. Kind of sneaky, but I can't bear to spend money on something I can do on my own. Here are a few.................
Maybe I should actually get off this computer and work on some crafts. It never too soon for next Christmas.

Oh no, I can't believe I am really doing this!

It's all your fault Annemarie. You finally talked me into this. Or maybe it's just the need to keep my pudgie little fingers out of all the Christmas leftovers. Anyway, here it goes. Who knows if this will actually show up anywhere in cyber-space as I don't have a cellphone, an I-Pod, a Garman, a PDA: I can barely use this computer and I still can't figure out how to program my DVD player. I am all about gymnastics ( I'm a coach), cats (there are 5 here so far) and needlework. So you'll see a lot of photos ( if I ever figure out how to post them) on those topics, along with some cooking stuff, some family stuff and general ranting and raving. If you were wondering, the name of my blog comes from the wonderful book on historic samplers of the same name............and because all the cute cat names were already taken. Welcome!