Friday, September 27, 2013

Lesson 262: Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day

Recognize him, Readers?

Betcha the teachers do.
You, too, parents.

This is Alexander.  
He is the main character in the story 
Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day 
by Judith Viorst.

It is one of my favorite books for children.
Poor Alexander.
From the time he gets up in the morning, everything goes wrong.

I had a morning like you, Alexander.

And it all began with the stupid scale.

I'm not as scale obsessed as I used to be, but I still hop on it a couple of times a week to keep myself in check.  I awoke one morning this week, rolled over and felt skinny.

Yes, thought Eloise, today will be the day I weigh in, certain that the numbers will well represent the thin person I had become overnight.


I'm glad I took my pink hammer to it because I won't be needing it for awhile after October 1st.  Eloise has signed on the dotted line for another Wellness Challenge offered by Erie Chiropractor Dr Steven Krauza, and partially sponsored by my employers.  The 58 Day Challenge runs from October 1st to the day before Thanksgiving. One of the guidelines to follow is to give up the scale for the entire 58 days!

Participants try to reduce their body fat by foregoing sugar, dairy, and processed foods.  Whole foods, regular exercise, and healthy lifestyle choices are the road to success.  This challenge occurs at  a time of year when unhealthy eating habits begin to creep in.  Who can resist apple pie, wine, Halloween candy, and pumpkin anything?  The person who decreases their body fat by the greatest percentage receives all the money in a pot that participants have paid into.

I wrote paid into, not pissed into, you naysayers!  Bucking up to stay accountable during a tempting time of the year for eating isn't pissing your money away.  It's an investment in you!  The best part about it is that if I don't win, someone I know will, and that is really cool.  Contact me if you are interested in knowing the details.  Monday, September 30th is the last day to sign up.

I said sign up, not sign your life away, you naysayers!  Giving up sugar for 58 days is not the end of the world.  Sheesh!

Alexander had a rough breakfast,

and so did Eloise.

Eloise has but one cup of coffee a day now.
And for your Slovenian followers, ena.

I savor that cup like it's the last liquid I'll ever drink.
All alone.
In the morning.
When no one is up to bug me.
Even the dog.

When Eloise went to make her coffee, her coffee pot was broken.  The water wouldn't perk through.  In the process of my investigation, I slopped water all over the counter and onto my socks.
Eloise.  Hates.  Wet.  Socks.

Apparently I am not the only one.

Then Eloise had an idea!

Wasn't there an old coffee pot taking up space in the basement storage room?  When I went down to investigate I stepped on a tack.  I suppose it wouldn't have hurt so badly, had I had my socks on.  I know how you feel, Alexander.

After 5 minutes of unearthing and 3 sneezing attacks from all the dust, I found my prize.  The old coffee pot!
Too bad I didn't remember to save the filter basket.

Still desperate for my one cup of coffee, I tried to employ some of my father's ingenuity.  I'd use tape to hold the filter in place.  Too bad I didn't inherit my father's ingenuity.  Now sticky coffee grounds were all over the counter and the floor.  Glad I had my wet socks nearby to mop up the mess.

I now was sticky, sneezy, speckled with wet coffee grounds that stick to skin like glue.  I was now in dire need of that cup of coffee, so I hopped in my van and headed to Country Fair at 5:15 am.  In my pajamas. Looking like I had some sort of rare disease.

No biggie. Just run in and out of the store, buck in my hand for a quick cup.  Wouldn't you know the cheerful clerks wanted to strike up conversations with me.  They obviously weren't too put off by my flecked skin, wild hair, and trench breath.   And wouldn't you know I got behind the guy who was buying his GROCERIES at Country Fair.  The man eats a lot of cheese dip.  I felt like tapping him on the shoulder and saying, "Did you ever hear of Challenge Erie......?"

The morning didn't go smoothly.  I stained my shirt I had planned on wearing and had to iron another one to match my pants, which I snagged on a stray tack nail sticking out of the corner molding that I'd been meaning to fix.

Work didn't go much better.  I jammed the copier 3 times in two different schools and got spoken to for using a black marker off of someone's desk without asking permission first.  I feel your pain, Alexander.

When I got home from school Sam informed me that he had to "clip down to blue" for his behavior at school.  First graders need to stay on cheery orange, meaning "Good Day".  Sam moved to the blue "Think About It" section of the Room 1-B Behavior Chart.  I asked Sam what it was that he had to think about.  He paused and said, "Burping really loud in the computer lab isn't a good idea even if you say excuse me."  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

I wrecked dinner, accidentally deleted my favorite show off my DVR, and missed my workout.  Alexander, sometimes life really sucks.


Eloise is stubborn, and she refused to let the entire day become a complete disaster.  Nothing remedies a foul mood quicker than a shot of fresh air and a little movement.  It was a beautiful fall day, so the kids and I went to the park to take Josie for a walk.

Sam found a friend, 

and I got a few minutes alone to take some pictures.

I started to feel brighter and happier.

When I returned home, I checked the mail to find this:

I can't wait to leave this on the desk of my co-worker.

I then entered my house and checked the kids book bags.  
I found Natalie's art work in hers.

These are Natalie's people.   They make me smile.

Natalie has never been able to draw people before.  Drawing faces is often hard for some children with autism.  Mr. Rocky, her art teacher at Seneca High School must have showed her how and it finally caught on.  

You can tell the skill is developmental.  Young children draw heads with legs and arms coming out of them when they are beginning drawers.  Ask Jan and Marcie, my elementary art teacher friends.  Natalie seems to be at this very beginning stage. 

I'm so excited.   It took her 15 years to get this far, but Natalie got there.  She did it all in her own time, which is all we can hope for for anyone, who is trying to acquire any skill.  

What can I do with these, Readers?  I need some ideas.
Screen printed on t-shirts?
Christmas cards?
Note paper?
Message me if you can think of something.
I love the hair!!!

To punctuate my horrible 24 hour period, when I uploaded my picture video for the week to youtube, the song didn't make it through copyright and was muted from the video.  That happens once in awhile.  Eloise isn't mad.  I respect copyright laws and they protect artists.  I'm all for that.  People like Clicky, my photographer friend, Matt Kleck, make their living from their craft.  If I want to use one of Click's Pics, I always ask first.

Now that I have my swanky new phone, I have a camera at the ready more than I already do.  It is important to remember that copyright laws apply to PEOPLE, too.  Ask permission before you photograph or video tape someone.  If you don't know the person well, explain what the photograph or video will be used for.  A person always has a right to refuse to be photographed.  And by all means, if a photo is not flattering, please do not post it on social media.  

The song I intended to use was Keith Urban & Miranda Lambert's When We Were Us.  It is a great new song.  It is about songs and how they remind us of certain people or particular times in our lives.  You can listen to the song here:  Lyric Video from Youtube  Lyric videos are usually allowed to remain on youtube.  I am confident the copyright will be released eventually and I will use it again in the future.

Since I couldn't post a video this week, I'll used this music themed clip instead.  If you recall, my favorite contestant from last year's X-Factor was Jeff Gutt (pronounced Goot).   Early on, I put my money behind this 37 year old single dad as the winner.  One week later he got booted from the show.  I was so annoyed that X-Factor made me fall in love with him, only for him to leave me so suddenly in a week, I wrote X-Factor a letter to voice my complaints.  I also signed an on-line petition to bring him back to the show.

Look at this video to see his redemption.  Even Simon said letting him go last year was a mistake.  I didn't care for this year's audition in the clip below, so here is last year's audition as well.  CLICK HERE FOR HALLELUJAH 2012 Audition (keep reading, more text below the video).

Don't ever give up, Readers.  Never, ever, ever.  If you don't make your goal, readjust your plan and keep trying.  Don't let one bad day defeat you.  Tomorrow is a new day.

Just ask Alexander.  
He's headed to Australia to meet my friend Kristen.

Enjoy your weekend, Readers.
Hugs and High Fives,

Friday, September 20, 2013

Lesson 261: #ajo

Erieites, do you recognize this?

How about you New Yorkers?  Word is spreading.
Floridians, you too?  
The crazy thing about word in 2013 is that it travels fast.
Really fast. 
I bet you've heard of #ajo (hashtag ajo) all the way to Slovenia.
Ste jo placal naprej, Slovencem?

To find out more about this girl, whose life ended too soon,
and the impact she's had on the widespread kindness that has spread as a result,

you must wait until the end of this post.
Eloise always saves the best for last.

Onto other hashtaggable news from the week:

But first, let's clarify what a hashtag is.  
It looks like this:

 It is simply the pound sign used to precede text on Twitter or other social media.
Here is the web definition:

  1. 1.
    (on social media sites such as Twitter) a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic.  It is a form of metadata tag. Short messages on microblogging and social networking services such as Twitter, Tout,, Tumblr, Instagram, 


I snapped this of Kenyan, my speedy fast sister, while on a run with her through the woods.
I was chasing her, making scary zombie noises.

We both love running, but view the activity differently.  Kenyan is competitive with herself, always looking to beat her last time.  Eloise doesn't even own a watch.

Kenyan does some atrocity called Speed Work.
I measure my progess in Sky Work.  Eloise runs with a camera and loves to photograph nature.

Every so often, our running worlds collide, and we have time to run together like we did Wednesday evening.  Big Sis and Little Sis.  I think it's obvious who is the juvenile.

After 5 miles, 22 pictures, and 3 shoe ties, we stopped for some grapes.
Family produce thievery continues.
Thanks for the Concords, Billy!  
They need another few days yet.

Thanks, Bart!  The Niagaras are ready.


I found my cell phone, MIA since July.
The phone was only two weeks old when I lost it. 

Many people told me to pray to saint someone (Eloise is not a Catholic).
I didn't feel right about doing that, so I just kept looking.
A few of my friends said they prayed on my behalf.
2 months later, phone phound!
Tucked away safely in the blingy purse pocket.
The purse with the cross nonetheless!


 These are the folks of my workout group, Team Adrenaline.  
We were supposed to be making a heart formation, but that didn't work out too well visually.

No matter, because these people are ALL HEART.  They don't need to make a shape.
Come join us on Tuesdays and Thursdays and feel the love.
(And maybe a little soreness on Wednesdays and Fridays).


My tribe stormed Happy Valley last weekend.

We went to see the Nittany Lions play Central Florida.

This year's team has heart,

but didn't have quite enough to pull off a win.

But we had fun anyway.  
Plus a big stadium is a B-rated amateur photographer's dream.
Eloise had lots to keep her busy.

I got good seats and had a great vantage point.
We arrived in State College with only two tickets, and had to find three more.
Tickets found with relative ease. 

We had to split up.  It was boys versus girls in Beaver Stadium.

I can see you through my lens!

Look to your right and wave!

Phones and zoom lenses come in handy when families separate.

The girls and I ended up in really good seats.

On the random ticket purchase, we got my favorite numbers!

The band looked great!

So did the cheerleaders.

What was really cool was the student section.
It was a white out game.  All the students are asked to wear white.
This was my shot from across the stadium.

Does your eye see things like Eloise?
Did you notice the hints of color every now and then?
I spotted the orange guy.

His orange appeared to be intentional.

That appears to be an awareness ribbon.

Here is one student who missed the memo.


Even Tender Heart Care Bears cry when we can't capitalize on the opportunity.

No worries Care Bear.  There is lots of sunshine and rainbows in Care-A-Lot.

And Tender Heart.....when you do go to Care-A-Lot, can you send Cheer Bear to this grumpy medic?

He was seated a few rows in front of Eloise, yellow vested and ready to handle any crowd emergency.
Just remember to stand 100 meters back.

Glad he brought a book with him to read DURING A VERY EXCITING GAME!

Eloise had to see what was such a page turner.

Do you recognize the book, Readers?
Neither did my me or my seatmates.  After awhile, those seated around me asked to see what I was taking pictures of.  I proudly showed off my quirky collection.  The lady behind me remarked, "You're fun!"
You don't know the half of it, thought Eloise.

The game proved to be one of the most personally liberating experiences I've had in fifteen years.
Eloise entered the stadium HANDS FREE!

No purse!

Still, I had more things shoved into crevices on my person than anyone else in the stadium.  The lady behind me sneezed and I offered her a Kleenex.  Later she remarked she had a headache.  I offered her some Advil.  
"Wow!  You're fun AND you come prepared!" she remarked.  
You don't know the half of it, thought Eloise.

I did come prepared to share a message, sent out to the whole world from Erie, PA.  I paid it forward for #ajo.  Because this story has soared through social media, you can find more about the life of Alyssa Josephine O'Neill by simply googling her name.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Blogger....all of them have stories about a young girl and a pumpkin spiced latte.  Eloise recommends "liking" the facebook page.   You will find the details of her story there.  

Instead Eloise will show you how she paid it forward.  I couldn't find a Starbucks, but they were selling Pumpkin Spiced Lattes at McDonalds outside of State College last weekend.  

So I bought one for myself, and another which I gave to this family, also headed to the game.  They had not heard the story of Alyssa O'Neill.  Eloise told them her story, and asked if they would continue the chain of kindness in Alyssa's name.  They assured me they would.

People all over are sharing.
Matt Kleck, aka Clicky, my photographer friend shared.

My friend Amy was the recipient at Wegmans.

After a crazy week and some heart wrenching news about a good friend all I wanted was a quick, easy dinner... Wegmans was the answer! While getting our dinners a woman and a little girl came over and offered to pay it forward! She paid for all of our meals! Kindness does win!

Kenyan paid it forward, too.

Went to star bucks for a pumpkin spice latte. I paid it forward as it was for me!#AJO. God bless her family.

And CJ from 10,000 feet!

Some of my students paid it forward.

And more from around the world.

Photo: #AJO Worldwide Alert, another new country on the map! Greece <3

Photo: In honor of your little girl.  Paid it forward to co-workers here on Kadena Air Base, Okinawa Japan.  Born and raised Erie girl...parents still there.  God Bless your family.

Photo: #AJO Worldwide Alert! All the way to us from Bermuda.  Looks like a beautiful view for some AJO'ing

Photo: #AJO Worldwide Alert!  We made it all the way to Mumbai India today.  Thanks to @megtrooper for sharing this.  It's amazing how far kindness and caring can go.  AJO making the WORLD a better place.

To the family of Alyssa Josephine O'Neill, 
the world thanks you for sharing your daughter with us.
We will all be the better for it.

Be a pioneer, Readers, and find a way to pay it forward.  If you can't find a pumpkin spiced latte, find a new way to pass along a random act of kindness to a stranger.  

I chose the song Pioneer by The Band Perry for this week's photos.  It is the title track to their newest album.  It is a beautiful song with lyrics you'll be singing for days.   Click on the video below, or CLICK HERE for a direct link to my youtube account and all of my photo videos.

Share the love,