Friday, January 25, 2013

Lesson 211: Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Happy weekend, Readers!  
Eloise has layered up in full winter gear.  
Winter has hit full force at the Lamp Post this week.  
Read all about the excitement it brought with it.

That's me donning my Dad's 1978 hunting vest.  I wear it when I trek through the woods on my jaunts running and snowshoeing.  I have to walk past my parents' house when I do, and they always make sure I am wearing sufficient flame orange.  They are convinced I will be mistaken for a deer with my hair, and will get shot.  Parental love and guidance extends into my adult life.  

On Tuesday, January 22nd, we had an old fashioned Snow Day.  We were informed early that morning, after a powdery dump from Mother Nature, a main artery of my town was at an impasse.

As a result, the school buses could not get out of the bus garage and the main entrance to the high school was blocked.  School was cancelled for the day!

Ellen was probably the most excited.  Puberty talks were to begin at school that day, and she got one more day to put off the dread.

 Sam was somewhat bummed.  It was his snack day and he didn't get to pass out his treat, but quickly got over it. 

Oh, sweet Natalie!  She's not the most easygoing girl with changes in routine, but she came around to the alteration of plans just fine.  By 9:00 she had repeated the phrase, "No school snowing too cold," at least 700 times.  I resisted the urge to go stuff my head in a snowbank and kept reassuring my daughter that things would be OK.

Knowing that the tractor trailer jam up was only a mile from the Lamp Post, I could not resist the urge to go check it out for myself.  I jumped in the car with my trusty camera and headed off to investigate.  This lovely township supervisor turned me around at the end of my road.  Even when I waved my camera out the window he shook his head no.  Bummer.

You can see from the photo it was snowing pretty heavily and the mercury only had reached 7 degrees.  Because this is an educational blog, let Eloise educate you.  Well, those of you living in warmer climates, at least.

You may have heard of "white out conditions." If you haven't lived in the north in January, this term may be unfamiliar to you.  This photo is actually of a large barn.  In between those trees is 6 Mile Cellars, the winery across the street from my house.  It was snowing so hard, you can't even make out the outline of it.

After being turned away from the accident scene, I experienced white out conditions on my road on the return trip to the Lamp Post.  I live in the country and my road was desolate, so I took the opportunity to take a few photos.
This is what a blizzard looks like over the vineyards.

This is a street shot in front of my friend Holly's house.  She lives three houses down from the Lamp Post.  I could see the white cloud coming, so I waited.........

This is what it looked like through my windshield as the whiteout hit.  You literally cannot see a thing.

The only thing you can do is pull your car to what you believe is the side of the road, wait for the snow to pass, and pray that no one rear ends you.  You should always leave your foot on the brake to allow for your red tail lights to stay on.  Usually you can see the lights from the car in front of you.  To Tracy Southern and Jay, this is a reminder of why you moved.

We had some time for outdoor sledding this week.  God bless neighbor Amy.  Any time she sees my kids on the hill, she suits up and comes out to play with them.  

She let Sam use her snowboard.

He caught on right away.

And got pissed when he wrecked.

 And stomped off saying he quit.  My boy has a temper and doesn't like to fail.

So the girls and I carried on without him and continued to play and have fun. 
He came back eventually.  Sam always does.

When we came inside to warm up, we played a silly game called Headbandz.  

It is a great game if you have kids.  You wear a word on your head and have to ask people yes/no questions which eventually lead you to the answer.  I love guessing games, but I got stumped on "light bulb" and "George Clooney."  We can even adapt the game for Natalie.  We give her clues and she has to do the guessing.  The clue for her word was, "What place in the world do you hate the most?"  She answered Doctor's Office within seconds.  

I vowed to make use of the day and decided to teach myself how to knit.  I know how to crochet some basic stitches.  How hard could it be?

This was my end product after three hours of on line tutorials and youtube videos.  It's supposed to be a scarf.  Eloise will not give up.  I'll post my progress as I come along with this project.  

I wouldn't be wearing that scarf this workout, though!

Team Adrenaline took up Doc Krauza's challenge and met at Iroquois High School football field for a workout.  Yes, the temperature was 7 degrees.  I named the photo The Brave & the Crazy.  I told them all that I was the brave.  I guess that made the rest of the group crazy.

Challenges are good for you, Readers.  They make you stronger.  Whether it is teaching yourself how to knit, or deciding to exercise in 7 degree temperature, challenges are strengthening to your body.  Yes, I felt frustration with trying to follow what seemed to be simple directions and ended up with a ball of yarn in knots.  My body did not want to perform in wind chills that were below zero either.  But I willed myself to do both.

It is amazing what the body will do when you will it to.  The mind is your most powerful asset.  Look what feats these people have done.  Check out this link on youtube.  It will amaze you.

People Are Awesome 2013

Are they brave or are they crazy?  I think there is some of both in all of them.  And in Eloise's book, that makes them quite admirable.

Stay warm this weekend.  Enjoy my snow day photos set to Lady Antebellum's version of Baby It's Cold Outside.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Lesson 210: Did You Ever Notice.....?

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend Readers!
That means a 3 Day weekend for Eloise!

I decided to take advantage of the extra time to catch up on a few overdue items left from the holiday.

My Christmas cards finally went out this morning.  If you recall, in December I decided to dump my grinchy attitude and I sent out a big batch of cards, despite the fact that not everyone reciprocates.  I just forgot one little thing........the stamps!  Just think of how excited you'll be to get a card in the mail from Eloise in January!

I'm also finishing up some holiday Coca Cola.  I'm saving the bottles to make vases. 

I think they will intermix well with these next Christmas for a beautiful mantle display.

I had to switch to the light version for my Friday night wind down after the holiday indulging.  They are only 80 calories!

The wind is howling and it is a cold January night in northwestern Pennsylvania.  I'm still going to lace up my sneakers and meet my team Saturday morning for another challenge.  Last week Doc had us hauling rocks. 

Still curious? 

 Contact me and Eloise will tell you more about this fantastic workout for your mind and body.

Other than my Saturday morning workout, and maybe a couple of dog walks, Eloise is stuck inside most of the weekend with the kids.  What's a mother to do?

Natalie practices her cheers.

Ellen draws and sketches.

and Sam........sigh.......he's a little harder to keep entertained.

This is the end result of leaving him with a roll of Scotch tape for ten minutes.

He even taped one of the books I'm reading shut!

I read a lot in the wintertime.  If you noticed, I wrote ONE of the books I am reading.  I usually have about four going at once.  Yes, I am one of THOSE people.  In my experience, there seems to be two classifications of people who call themselves "Readers."  There are those who start a book and plow through it cover to cover.  Northern and Kenyan didn't do laundry for a week when they got engrossed in the Hunger Games series.  I am one of the "Others."  I have many going at once and I pick up whatever I am in the mood for.  My reading style fits with my scattered brain.  

Here is an overview of what Eloise has stacked on her bedside table:  

This is a challenging read.  It was a gift from my friend Patty and her son Jacob, who is my student.   It is set in England in the 1800's and deals with magicians.  It's different, and I like different.

When I am in the mood for non fiction, I pick make a cup of tea and pick up this book, Three Cups of Tea.  It was a gift from my friend Kori and her daughter Madeline, who is my student.  This story amazes me about what great lengths a person will go to, to try to make the world a better place.

I got forced into reading this one by my friends Northern and Wags.  The movie is coming out soon, and they said I couldn't go with them unless I read the book.  I hate romance novels, but I am not one to miss out on a good time, so I read the damn thing.  I can't stand romances.  I like books where things explode in the first two chapters and I have to figure out who did it.  If there isn't cross hairs on a President, then forget it.  This story did have a few redeeming qualities in the end--a very touching letter that made me cry, and something burned down.

This is a creepy tale from Stephenie Meyer.  My friend Southern guilted me into reading the Twilight series.  I enjoyed the books, but became more fascinated with the author Stephenie Meyer, than I did with the main character Bella Swan.  The Host was Stephenie's first stab at another story after she completed her Twilight series.  I am hellbent on figuring out if her theme of forbidden love will continue on in this book.  It is a slow go because aliens creep me out.  What's creeping me out even more is that the eye on the cover almost resembles the one that Ellen was sketching this week (scroll up).  Got to go check Ellen for an implant chip.  Be right back..................tick tock, tick tock, tick tock...

Whew!  Ellen's good, albeit a bit annoyed. I checked over pretty thoroughly and she's free from any alien tracking devices.

By the way, if anyone wants to get me something for my birthday, you can get me that "clock".  It is really a purse sized mirror from the Sephora Cinderella collection.  I went to get one for myself and they were out of stock.

My student Kate recommended this one today.

This smart fifth grader who knows me well said it is "kind of a romance but it is has more action."  I can tell I am going to like it more than Safe Haven because it has a flame on the cover.  Good girl, Kate.  I have taught you well.

And then there is always this one,

That is War and Peace.  I have renamed it The Eternal Flame.  I've been reading it for fifteen years and I am still stuck on page 51.  I just can't get past Princess Ellen with the moss dress.  There are so many characters, I can't keep them all straight.  I figured if I read a page a day, I could finish by the year 2026.  I'm more into fitness goals right now than reading goals.  Carrying logs and rocks up hills with Doc is more fun than delving into Russian history, so by my bedside War and Peace will still sit.  Probably forever.

This one is always there.  
I've read it a few times and I pick it up whenever I am in need of a good story.

It's a really neat tale that teaches you things indirectly, like the importance of reading biographies.  It is chock full of things I like to quote, like this:

I like the book, because in some ways, I am like Jones, one of the main characters in the story.  He notices things and has a way of putting things into perspective.  I am a noticer, too.

For example, I noticed when you sent me Christmas cards with Lamp Posts on them.

I also noticed that you used a black Labrador retriever for the stamp.

I also noticed some of my students are on to my secret identity.
Teachers are good handwriting analysts.  

Eloise noticed.  Eloise is appreciative of the time you took to think of me.  A tiny bit of effort goes a long way in this world.  Remember that.

The book The Noticer is so good, that it does need a blog post all to itself.  So I did today what I do best---make you curious.  Stimulate thought.  Make you think.  That is what Lessons From the Lamp Post is all about, after all.

I'll give you some time to get the book if you want to read it.  In page length it's a short read of about 150 pages.  It is good for almost everyone--adults, teens, men, women.  Anyone would like it and take with them many of the intended messages from the author Andy Andrews.

Join Eloise's Book Club and pick up a paper copy or download one one your Kindle.  It's fun to read a book and see what someone else thinks about it.  I'll check back with you in about a month to give you my perspective.

To entice you a little further, check out the video about the book I posted below.  It gives a overview of Andy Andrews.  The story is based on his life that was full of personal struggles, leaving him living under a bridge for a time in his life.  Because of the intervention of a curious stranger named Jones, Andy Andrews changed his life.

Andrews was so moved by this person, he wrote a book about him.  The Noticer was rejected 51 times in 3 years.  Still, because of his persistence and positive attitude, The Noticer and a slew of other books by Andy  Andrews were published and made the Best Seller List.

I hope this post today gives you some encouragement to pick up a good book, get outside for a workout, or get some post holiday tasks tackled and out of the way.  No matter what you choose to do this weekend, make it good.

Yours Truly,

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Lesson 209: Stuck in Colder Weather

Happy weekend, Readers!

We got a break in the weather here at The Lamp Post.  I'll tell you about what us northerners do when we get a break from the snow and cold.

It's almost too warm this morning to wear my new hat as I head outside to workout.  No, it's not a pink Elmer Fudd hat.  It's a Stormy Kromer cap and it's awesome.  Here's there little advertising blurb from the company:

The hats are made in Michigan.  The hat factory is attached to the retail store and they offer tours to customers.  Eloise just added the Stormy Kromer Hat Factory in Ironwood, Michigan to The List of Places I Need to Visit.

The weather usually makes the front page news in Erie a few times each season.  

Erie had a nice amount of snow last week,

but the January thaw came this week and it's melting away.

It will be back, without a doubt, Sam.

You'll be able to make another snowman.

I promise.

In honor of the 51 degree temperature I'm about to go out into this morning, I picked myself up a six pack of this last night.

It's no Rolling Rock, but it was good!  The cap is on its way to your collection soon, Mikey.

One of my resolutions this year was to continue my workouts outdoors despite the weather.  This fall I learned all about the benefits of outdoor exercise through the Resolution Program with Dr. Krauza.  It's hard to go back to the treadmill after spending three days a week in all kinds of weather with Doc and Sean.  So that is what we are doing this weekend.  Getting outside a bit and letting our bodies breathe.

Natalie listened.

She loves to be outside.  This is Natalie enjoying the hot tub last week.
She's had that toy boat since she's been a baby.  I can't ever see her giving it up.

These two buffoons I call my dogs will enjoy a break in the weather.

The black lab is Josie, named after Joe Paterno.  The yellow lab is Sadie. She's a stray who has had five different homes in our area before setting up a permanent settlement on the Lamp Post compound.  Grandma and Grandpa next door now hold the vet records, so we can call her "ours."  She's a free spirit of a dog and really belongs to everyone.  Legend has it that Sadie showed up a the home of one of our neighbors several years ago, dirty and looking for a meal.  She was about a year or two old at the time and had a black number 8 spray painted on her side.  That is going to show up in one of my books someday.  It's just too good of a mystery not to wonder about.

Ellen and Sam will help me take them for a run this weekend.

Don't say we don't care about New Jersey here at the Lamp Post.  I bought a t-shirt to help with the rebuilding of its shoreline.  Fix up your boardwalk, New Jersey because I want a second crack at a vacation there.  The last time I visited the state, I was trapped in a large beach crowd with an autistic child, a painfully shy elementary schooler,  a 30 pound 18 month old who refused to walk, and a hubby in a leg cast.  It was far from a relaxing trip.  Since then I've deemed New Jersey the dumbest state in the nation because of the bad vacation and the fact that Snooki lives there.

Beach vacations are a long way off for Eloise though.  Meanwhile I'm going to be stuck colder weather here at the Lamp Post.

Rather than complain about something I can't change like the weather; I'll focus on what I can change-- my thinking.  I will remind myself that I enjoy the change of seasons.  The winter sure does make for some pretty skies.

You can't truly enjoy the warmth of a nice day until you've been through a season's worth of cold ones.

Enjoy some of my winter pictures set to the tune Colder Weather by the Zac Brown Band.  The lesson for today is don't get stuck in colder weather, as my burly favorite Zac sings.  Get unstuck.  The best way to do that is to change your thinking and you and only you have the power to do that.