Sunday, August 23, 2009

Camera outing

I went to the Jewel Box today, which is a great place in Forest Park. I had to play with my camera some more! Enjoy the shots! Water lilies are absolutely spectacular to photograph, it is easy to see how Monet got so inspired.

Here's a hybrid butterfly weed with a bumble bee visiting.
Coreopsis and bee
Seed pod of the butterfly weed that has burst open
Not sure what type of flower this one is
Black eyed Susan
Butterfly bush
More cleome
And my wonderful car waiting for me.

Birthdays Part Two

My birthday present is an incredible telephoto lens for my also incredible digital SLR camera. We both knew that I needed one before we headed to the Galapagos, but I hadn't done any looking or pricing yet. It turns out that the telephoto lenses these days have a lot of new technology which makes them much pricier than I expected. Mark insisted that I needed the newer technology instead of the basic lens, so I am now the very proud owner of a 70-300 mm Image Stabilization lens! We went to the Botanical Gardens on Thursday night to give me a chance to play with it. I was amazed at the quality of photos that happened on my first try with this lens, most of which were taken in poor evening lighting. The image stabilization keeps the images sharp, even if I happen to have slight movement while holding the camera. I can't wait to play more!

Friday was Mark's birthday, and we went to the preseason Rams vs. Falcons game. I have said that I would adopt the St. Louis teams, but I found it very hard to cheer against the Falcons, and impossible to cheer against DJ Shockley, when he was quarterbacking for the Falcons. He's a former Bulldog quarterback, and I was yelling for him every time he was in the game. The Falcons won, and I can't say I was too disappointed! Maybe over time I'll adopt the Rams more fully, but I also think Red and Black are in my blood! Here's a few pictures from the game....I didn't waste too much time with the camera, and left the telephoto lens at home, so there are no closeups.

Birthday dinners were held at Pho Grand (mine), and at Coco Louco (Mark's). Pho Grand is a Vietnamese place that is popular in STL, and our meal was great. Coco Louco was a restaurant that we thought had actually closed, but when we were scouting out places for Mark's birthday (I insisted that we try someplace new), we saw that they had just relocated to the Central West End. It is a Brazilian steakhouse, and the food and service were great! The waitress even gave us dessert on the house before we told her it was Mark's birthday. Definitely a restaurant that will stay on our list.
So far Mark has requested a concrete morel mushroom (or two) for the farm, and I have renewed his membership at the Botanical Gardens. I also have planned a trip to the Craft Alliance for a piece of glass from an artist that he had admired awhile back. I'll let you know how that goes! (He BETTER pick something out!) It's not much, but he is so difficult to buy for!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back to School!

This is once again my home away from home. I decided to move my classroom last spring when one of our teachers retired. The room that she shared was larger, closer to my students' other classes, and actually has a WINDOW with afternoon sun right at my desk. Windows are rare at Sperreng! Now that it is over, I'm very happy I did it, but moving all my stuff while my feet were hurting made me question my decision more than once. I wish I could publish pictures of my students, but would never break that confidentiality. As I've read through IEPs the consistent picture is one of the hard working, try their best, helpful, polite, etc student. It is hard for me to believe, but it might be a very peaceful year for me! I have more girls than ever before, and only one or two emotionally disturbed students, so things will be different this year. So far, they have all been a joy and I'm excited. It continues to be long hours and never ending "to do" lists, but I love my job! I also bravely tackled telling my supervisor about our fall trip to the Galapagos and he handled it rather calmly. I haven't given him exact dates, or exactly how MANY days, but....hopefully I'll still have a job when I return!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


This is the birthday week at our house...mine is the 17th, and Mark's is the 21st. I love my birthday, but the encroachment of school has gotten to be a real hinderance to celebrations. My birthday used to be before school started, then it got into the back to school rush, and now it is in the exhausted phase of the end of preplanning and the beginning of students attending. Yesterday we had a great dinner out at a Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Grand, and came home for an early bedtime. I think I have decided that from now on my birthday will be celebrated in July or September! As a matter of fact, since next year is the big 5-0, we will wait until the house is completed and have a big bash at the farm! Stay tuned for details!

Mark had an easy time determining that my birthday present needed to be the big telephoto lens that I have been craving for my camera, and we will head to the camera store sometime soon to pick one out. He is much more difficult to buy for, I'm still hoping for some divine intervention to tell me what to buy for him. I've got a few more days!

I finally got to meet my students today, which is always a fun day! It appears that I have a great group of hard working kids this year, and I'm very excited. Not a chair thrower in the crowd, so I'm not sure what I'll do for entertainment this year! I have a bigger caseload than ever before, and more girls than ever before, which should be interesting. Most of them appear to be more mildly affected students who want to learn, making my job a lot easier. Just having a second year at the same school makes life much simpler!

Saturday, August 8, 2009


There was this massive oak tree on the farm that had died a few years ago. Cutting it down was pretty intimidating because it was VERY large, and it was in the midst of other really nice trees that Mark didn't want to destroy in the process. He's been figuring out his approach to this tree for most of the summer, and while we were staying down there a few weeks ago, he finally decided he was ready to tackle it. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the tree before he started cutting on it, or the first half of the trunk that he took out, because it was sprinking, and I wasn't going to get my camera out in the rain. But here is a picture of what was left of the tree after the first trunk was cut off.

Mark then used the base of that first trunk as his stepstool to cut down the second half of the tree. The rain had stopped by then, so we went back and got my camera. Here he is cutting down the second half.

Jumping off the base as the trunk started to fall....
And with the final stump left after everything else is safely on the ground.
Here's a small part of the pile of wood that came from this tree. Lots of firewood for the winter!

Sunday, August 2, 2009


A friend of mine posted some incredible pictures of this sunflower field on Facebook. I immediately emailed her to find out where this place was! It happened to be on the way to the farm, so Mark and I drove out there today to see it in person. We estimated it is a field between 50-75 acres covered with sunflowers! It is absolutely gorgeous, and just makes you smile. I walked around for a long time and took pictures. I didn't want to leave! We will have to make this a regular stop on our way to the farm just to fill my eyes again each week until they are harvested.
On the surgery front, my left foot was operated on last Tuesday. Dr. Mackinnon stated that it was worst than the first, she had to do a lot more work on it, and it would probably take longer to heal and cause more pain. all seems very similar to the first one, so I'm not complaining! It is more bruised and yucky looking, but really there has been very little pain. I limped around for two days, but Friday miraculously the limp was gone. I went and spent the afternoon with school friends at a private pool, and got a definite tan line from the bandages. I'm getting around slowly, but pretty well. The only issue I have is standing, which has always been very painful for me. At this point, the right foot is as good as it was before surgery, and things should continue to improve for 4-6 months post op. So....I should be much better when this is all over with! I am anxious to get back to the gym on a very slow basis, and may be able to do that this week.
Back to the sunflowers....

Here's a little wild sunflower that was growing across the street from it gigantic cousins!