Tuesday, August 31, 2010


So one of the problems with K's school schedule was her math class. A few months ago, they let us know that any 7th grader who wanted to take Algebra (as opposed to pre-algebra) had to take a certain placement test. K took the test, and felt good about how she did. Results never came in the mail, as promised. However, I was able to check her results online, and her score was surprisingly low. I was torn on what to do- push her into Algebra, and risk her falling behind, or let her go into pre-a. Well, the school ended up saying that they would NOT let her do Algebra with that score, and Pre-A it was.

However, there was some drama, and apparently one of the counselors who had been in charge of the whole pretest had quit a few months ago, and taken records with her (Oh, so THAT'S why we never got test scores). Therefore, almost everyone was put in Pre-A. So, they spent the first few days of school doing more tests to determine placement. They also added a 7th grade math for those who found Pre-A too challenging.

Today, during 8th period (study hall), K was called to talk to the counselors. She was informed that she was being moved up to algebra. Ha! I knew she was smart enough for it.

This afternoon, I got a weird automated phone call from the district. They said K's name (pronounced it wrong), and then hung up. I got home and found an email telling me that K missed one or more classes today, and that I had to "clear" the absences within two days. Turns out they changed her schedule last night or this morning, but didn't bother telling her, so she accidentally sluffed two classes because she was following her former schedule.

I'll be calling the school tomorrow, and hopefully, I'll be able to keep the snide remarks in my head.

Oh, and update on the bass: They are having K rent a second bass, and she's sharing it with another student (they have orchestra different class periods), so they're also sharing the cost, and getting a discount since it will stay at school. Cost on the second bass came to $44.50, which is a pretty good deal- cheaper than driving her bass to/from school a couple times a week all year long.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

misc. ramblings

Z had his preschool orientation yesterday. It looks like he'll have the same lineup of teachers that S had last year. I love that preschool, and am excited for him to attend. I also decided to join a neighborhood preschool group. It's only once a week for two hours a day. There's a total of eleven moms participating, but we've divided into two groups. So, Z's group has six kids. I'll only have to teach five times the entire school year. That's sad in a way, because I love kids that age, but quite frankly, the last thing I need is even more stuff to do, so it's for my own good. I think it'll be a good way for him to get to know the kids in the neighborhood.

S had her kindergarten testing on Monday. The teacher who did the testing seemed pretty amused by her, and commented that she was one of the only kids she'd tested who could identify a hexagon. Class lists/times were posted today, and she is in AM Kindergarten! Yay! I noticed that the morning classes have 24/25 kids, and the PM kindergarten classes have 18-19 kids. Just shows how much more popular AM is. She officially starts tomorrow, though we parents are supposed to come along. S is so excited she can hardly see straight. The interesting thing about her class is it's a job share situation. I don't know the nuts and bolts yet (I figure I'll find out tomorrow), but I do know that she has two teachers. Should be different.

A boy who was in first grade with M has started spectrum. His mom has joined with us in a CARPOOL! I don't have to pick up the boys at the spectrum elementary anymore! Yahoo! A seems to be a very nice boy, and he and M have really clicked since being back in the same class. M is really happy to be back in school, and is really liking his teacher this year.

K has taken to junior high like a fish to water. She seems to really enjoy her classes, particularly orchestra and spanish. She still hasn't forgiven me for making her take PE instead of Art, as her coursework requires. She knows at least one or two kids in every class, and it sounds like her former spectrum class is still pretty tight in school. I hope that she does open up her circle of friends and get to know some more kids. We set up another carpool (yippee!!) with some of her former classmates, so I take them TO school twice a week. It's wonderful. I love carpools.

Since I've sat here and fretted about how high my heart rate seems to go when exercising, I finally made an appointment with a cardiologist. He did an echocardiogram last week, I do a stress test tomorrow, and he's having me wear a heart monitor. It's kind of an interesting thing- I have three electrode things hooked to my chest, and they plug into this monitor thing that I can wear around my neck or in my pocket. It transmits data to another monitor, that looks like a cell phone from 15 years ago, except that it has a touch screen. It wirelessly transmits every heartbeat to a company, who then runs reports for my doctor. I'm able to report "incidents" or symptoms. I have to say that I hate wearing this thing. It's such a pain to have all these wires hooked up to me, and I have to wear super baggy shirts to hide it. I get to wear it for two weeks though, so hopefully I adjust soon.

Friday, August 20, 2010

School Frustration

I have been fairly tense and stressed out with the beginning of the school year looming. Because I'm trying to give my kids the best education they can get, my older two do not go to the neighborhood schools. The way it's shaping up now, all four of my kids will be attending four different schools this year.

K is starting 7th grade, and will be going into the IB Middle Years Program, at a school about 5 miles away. I've got a carpool almost fully formed with her, so transportation won't be too big of a deal. They messed up her schedule however, and we have to go meet with the counselor today to fix it. I paid almost $200 in school fees for her, $95 of which is to rent a bass violin. I was under the impression the rented bass would be kept at home, and that the school had a couple of school instruments that would be available for students' use during class. Seems reasonable, no? Apparently, that's not how it works. Unless I want to haul the bass to and from school every day (not feasible with the carpool), I have to rent a SECOND bass to keep at school. I was practically in tears when the orchestra teacher told me that. It seems utterly ridiculous to me to expect that. Her school also will not allow students to use backpacks in school, or let them wear coats.

My second frustration point is with S. I would prefer to send her to the neighborhood school. However, because I'll have four kids at four schools, I can't have her be in afternoon kindergarten because three of the kids would get out within 10 minutes of each other, and be scattered at least 3 miles apart in three different directions. I can handle that with two kids, but not three. The neighborhood school refuses to promise me a spot in morning kindergarten. I did get the impression that if a parent has a valid reason for having a strong preference, they'll most likely get their request. I still worry.

I'm just hoping it all works out. Hopefully by the end of next week, the kinks will be smoothed out and it'll be ok.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I bet that was disappointing!

Today I babysat three of my nieces. They were in the back yard with my kids playing with the chickens. The kids noticed I had quite a few ripe veggies in my garden, and asked if they could pick some. I told them they were welcome to pick whatever was ripe, and bring it in the house for me. They picked a bunch of tomatoes and a couple eggplants.

Z was really, really excited about the eggplant he picked. He asked me to wash it off so he could eat it right away. I explained that it was a vegetable best eaten at dinner after it had been cooked. He said "OK", and set it on the counter.

A couple hours later, I find this:
Apparently, he didn't quite believe me. The chunk of eggplant was on the floor nearby, so it looks like Mother knows best, after all.

I can kind of see his point though- I think the eggplant is a beautiful vegetable, and something that shade of purple really ought to be a sweet tasting fruit. I'll admit that my primary reason for planting eggplant in my garden is that I think it's a really pretty plant with a pretty flower and vegetable. I hadn't actually really eaten much eggplant before I started growing it. Even now, I tend to give away most of the eggplants I harvest.

Monday, August 16, 2010

That feels MUCH better

I've been wanting to cut my hair for a couple months. I've had trouble finding time (see previous blog post about my part time summer job). Plus, the kids and I went to this Harry Potter party a couple weeks ago, and I was going to play Professor Trelawney. I thought it would be cool if my hair was still long, and I curled it up all crazy with hot sticks. I remember hot sticks from high school doing scarily frizzy things with my hair. Even though I ALSO remember my hair never taking a curl, I figured the hot sticks were able to counteract that.

Unfortunately, it turns out my hair was more stubborn than the hot sticks. So, I put off cutting my hair for the party, and then my hair was stick straight within 30 minutes of the party starting. -sigh-

I finally got around to cutting my hair today and it feels soooooo much better.

Almost 14" inches this time, and I'm guessing that Locks of Love will be happy to receive it, unless someone has a better idea of what to do with this hair?

How I spent my summer vacation

This summer, I decided to do something a little different. Real estate has been challenging in these poor economic times. While I have good success with cold calling for business, I really hate it. Referrals have been down, so I just haven't had too much going on. I decided to take on a temporary summer job with the 2010 census.

I was part of the Coverage Followup Operation. Several million households needed a followup phone call. Sometimes it was because they had a large household, and demographics weren't captured for all household members. Sometimes it was because there was a child custody situation. Other times, it was because the data entry process missed or made errors with the information.

I found it hugely ironic that I took this job because I didn't want to make cold calls with real estate. I suddenly found myself cold calling people for 20-25 hours per week. It was a heavily scripted call, and if I didn't read the script verbatim, and was caught not reading it verbatim 3 times, I was fired. Considering they monitored several phone calls a day, odds of getting caught if you weren't doing what you were supposed to was high. I often felt ridiculous asking questions of people that they had just answered, or that the answers were painfully obvious. I asked 91 year old women if they had any newborns or babies. I asked apartments full of 20 year old college men if they had foster children. I asked an 85 year old vet if he'd been gone serving in the military on Apr. 1. I asked a blind, bed ridden woman if she had a vacation home. I asked a man with an obvious man voice/name if he was male or female.

The vast majority of the people I spoke to were, at best, annoyed. There were a few nice people I spoke to, but they were the exception, not the rule. Half the people thought I was incredibly stupid, or just not listening. The other half thought that I thought *THEY* were stupid, or trying to conceal something.

I worked with some really great people, and made some wonderful friends as a result, so I can't say the whole summer was a waste. I can easily say it was the toughest, most hated job I've ever had. And given my varied career experience, that is really saying anything. Sample of nasty, microwaved nachos, anyone?

I made enough money to replace the roof on our house, and buy a back seat with roll cage for our rhino atv. However, if I'd made a few cold calls on my own, without having to use a script, and made one big real estate transaction, I would've made the same money.

The project ended on August 14th. Well, I'm not sure if the census is done with the coverage followup, but my part in it ended on that date. I swear, it's better than I remember the last day of school being! I'm still somewhat giddy with all the freedom that I have before me.

I am hoping I've learned from this experience, and will put forth more effort in prospecting in real estate.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Good luck in bad

I had quite the adventure today, and while the initial incident was bad luck, I truly feel like I was very lucky with how it all worked out.

I had taken the kids to the movies this morning, and let the bigs each invite a friend. We'd dropped M's friend off after the movie, and were headed back to our house.

We passed under a phone line that was being hoisted up for repair. We made a couple jokes about the line being dropped on our car. I heard an odd clanging noise from the front driver's side of the car, and almost immediately after that, my low tire pressure gauge light came on. Uh oh. Within a couple seconds, my front driver's tire was totally flat. (Note to self: stop worrying about inadvertently driving on a flat tire. You WILL know if the tire is flat)

This is where the good luck came in. We were right in front of the Les Schwab Tire Center in Clinton when my tire went flat. I was able to pull in there, and not have to drive on my flat for more than a couple seconds. They were exactly like the commercials. They literally ran to my car, found out what was going on, and were happy to put my spare on for me at no charge. I told them that my husband was in charge or tire purchases for our family, and that he has such specific requirements for tires that I just go along with whatever he wants, so even though the tire was destroyed, I couldn't purchase a tire at that time. But, I was in and out of Les Schwab within about 20 minutes with excellent service. I can't recommend that shop enough.

The second piece of luck was this: directly ahead of us was a Qwest supervisor. He had his driver's rear tire destroyed, and the damage was identical, except that his was on the tread, and mine was on the side wall. He was on the phone with various staff members trying to figure out if Qwest was somehow responsible. The lineman had done a visual search for parts in the road, but hadn't seen anything. It was generally agreed that the damage done to our tires looked like it came from a "j hook" (whatever that is).

I feel so lucky that when this happened, I was close to someplace that could put the spare on for me. I'm perfectly capable of putting on a spare, but it's a HUGE pain. Secondly, I always would've questioned and wondered if it'd been related to Qwest, but would've been really nervous about putting in a claim. Of course, I figure my husband probably would've anyway, but it's really nice to see Qwest being a really great, responsible company, and wanting to make it right without threat or hassle. Well, maybe. We don't have a check in the mail yet or anything, but the supervisor was really great and professional when we spoke to him.

It's a bit sad that we're going to have to go buy FOUR new tires right now though. We'd planned to buy a back seat and roll cage for our side by side, but I guess having matching tires is more important.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Purple Fries

I started harvesting my adirondack blue potatoes today. I think they look more purple than blue.

This potato had a heart in it. Awwwwww!Here's the fries we ate for dinner. In the interest of full disclosure, this was taken while they were still raw. Cooking them tends to leach a bit of the color out.

Monday, August 2, 2010

That was gratifying!

My favorite "go-to" gift to give at weddings is a carbon monoxide detector. I think they can be such a lifesaving thing, and everyone should have one, regardless of whether they rent or own their home. Every winter, there are a couple stories of families who died, or nearly died due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

I've always assumed that it was not a gift that the bride and groom squealed over, but I was ok with that.

A couple weeks ago, we ran into an old friend. We'd given her and her husband a carbon monoxide detector about five years ago. She thanked me for the gift, and told me the following story:

We had just moved into a new apartment a day or so earlier. We were exhausted from the move, and had just collapsed after a long day. We weren't feeling very good- a bit headachy and nauseated, and had chalked it up to the move. Suddenly, we start hearing a beeping alarm. We dug through the boxes until we found our carbon monoxide detector, howling like a banshee (ok, this is my description, not hers). We thought that maybe it needed new batteries, so we replaced them with fresh batteries. The alarm immediately went off again. We tried to call the apartment manager, but nobody answered.

The carbon monoxide instructions said to call the fire department if the alarm went off. We called, feeling a bit foolish to bother them. They acted like it was probably a false alarm, but came right over. They brought their detector with them, and tested the air.

Immediately, they got a very serious look and tone, and told us to get out of the building NOW, and get to fresh air. It turns out that our apartment had deadly levels of carbon monoxide in it. We had to find someplace different to spend the night, but that was the extent of it. The next day, the apartment manager was able to repair our furnace and we were able to live there just fine.

We are so grateful that we had that detector. If it hadn't gone off, we probably would've just gone to sleep in there, and the results probably would've been tragic.

Wow. Best wedding gift ever, isn't it?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

My deal breakers

When you have small children, there are constant playdates and family parties. When you're in a family with 14 grandchildren, odds are very slim that every single person will be healthy at every single get together. There's some things that I will let slide, and some things that I don't want my kids exposed to. Here's my personal trifecta of things I will cancel a get together over:

1- Lice. It's in the number one position for a reason. I am so grossed out by them. I know nearly every child gets them at some point or another in their life, and that lice are attracted to clean hair, so it's not a cleanliness issue. I can't help it. I hate them. I have sat here scratching my head and cringing as I even type this out. When I was 12, one of my BFFs (best friends forever) had a huge slumber party. We had a wonderful time doing each other's hair, makeup, and rolling around on all the bedding that was set up. As it turned out, one of the girls had head lice. Every single one of us (and there was 14 or so girls there) got it, and it turned into a massive epidemic at our elementary school.

2- Pink eye. My kids have brought pink eye home from school with them a couple times, and it's a miserable thing to have. Unfortunately, they've also passed it on to me, and then I don't get to wear contacts til it's cleared up. Given all of my eye issues, it's just something I don't want running through our family.

3- Vomiting. Vomit is smelly, and it's messy. You know what's even worse than vomit? Vomit in the car. Know what's even worse than that? Vomit when the child has had a lot of dairy, and it's had a little time in the stomach.

Today we are supposed to have a big family party with J's side of the family to celebrate K's and a niece's birthdays. Z had a pooping accident this morning, but since he's not quite got the hang of pooping in the potty, we chalked it up to that. We decided to go for a hike this morning, and halfway to the trailhead, Z threw up all over. He had had cereal with lots of milk for breakfast. Yay. We turned around, and J dropped Z and I off at home so that I could clean up the mess and baby him while everyone else worshiped at the Cathedral of the Mountains. I think I am going to cancel the family party tonight. I feel bad because my SIL made a ton of cupcakes. I am going to take a vote, and maybe they'll vote to have it, but keep Z inside watching a kid show. He's got sick eyes and wants to just lay around, so I don't think he'd fight it. Poor kid.