Friday, November 6, 2015

First Quarter down: Of cinnamons and apple bits.

K made it through her first grading period.  She has always, always been on super honor roll, honor roll or merit roll.  Merit roll was just a 2 time thing.  This quarter, she earned none of that.  It kind of made her heart sink.  For the first time since they were available, she feels like she missed out.  I reminded her of these things:

1.  You moved from a failing school district to an excellent rated school district.
2.  She basically had absolutely NO 5th grade last year what with all of the standardized testing, two of the three 5th grade teachers retiring and, well, her teacher just not teaching or giving a hoot. Not at all consistent.  Not at all collecting papers when due, but then trying to collect them two - three weeks later.  Mis-grading, mis-logging of grades and generally being the class clown.  Oh, and not teaching. Let us not forget that part.
3.  The curriculum is so much harder.
4.  All of your grades (she has 2- A's, 2- B's and 2- C's and those are high C's) are GREAT grades!
5.  She had no late work.  Well, it wasn't late on her part.  She turned in the one "late" paper, her teacher had her write her answers in complete sentences, the bell rang, she turned it in right after the bell stopped and it was considered late.

Because of a time management issue for a series of mornings culminating into one big morning, she does have one unexcused tardy.  She was late by 2 minutes.  On a standard morning, we would have still been able to rock a 20 minute drive easily in the 30-35 minute time frame.  Unfortunately, she chipped away at part of our safety net, there was a big ole spot of traffic, a rear end collision and a flipped vehicle.  All the forces were working against us that day.  She learned and has been very good about getting out the door since then.

What are things that we have learned to improve upon for this next quarter?

1.  We still need to double check homework.  We always do, but can't do that if K doesn't pony up the work.  She knows late homework isn't okay.  She knows guessing isn't okay.  There are occasions that we find lil errors on papers that add up to big things.  We go over homework with her, help to reinforce the lesson and it is a good thing.
2.  Everything will be answered in complete sentences.
3.  We have experienced some of the return of test taking anxiety.  Her social studies started out with two very bad grades.  It was as if all wheels fell off her bus.  She was completely deflated.  She was able to pull her grade up substantially, but not without getting so stressed that she tossed grades out the door in EVERY subject that week.  We all learned that bad grades will happen and that this school is good about giving enough homework, projects . . . to help offset a bad day.  (Or eek!  A bad week!)
4.  Cinnamons and apple bits are also known as synonyms and antonyms.  Vocabulary at her previous school was just a spelling test.  They were fairly easy words and no definitions or any digging into the words themselves was done.  It is here.  Last night I decided to have K write all of her words, synonyms and antonyms on pieces of paper.  She was then set to task to match them all up.  We did it over and over and hopefully, that will help her to retain that information.  Spelling is copying words daily and spelling tests beginning Tuesday of test week.  We seem to have licked that one.  Definitions for other subjects are on index cards and quizzed.  We're working out the study pieces.  If we can keep the test anxiety down, her focus on her paper (hello ADD child of mine though not diagnosed) and encouraging her to continue to keep organized, those pieces will fall all into place and grades will continue to rise.

We are so very proud of K.  This was a HUGE jump, an ENORMOUS change and a difficult challenge for her.  We're still tweaking and figuring it out.  She's working on getting a grade certificate next time.  Until then, we work, we tweak and we study.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The open enrollment report

It may not be a good choice for all people, but it is working for K.  Considering that she essentially skipped 5th grade (except for maybe what would qualify as one grading period worth of some teaching) she is holding her own and doing well.  Her grades are what they usually are-- a combo of A's and B's and we are definitely not complaining.

The curriculum is more intuitive with math.  It is more difficult in other subjects.  She has gotten past that wonky period of "take a few tests to see how this study pattern goes . . . "  She has brought her vocabu-lit grade up from an initial 70% to a 100% this week.  My baby has got a groove with that.  The math went from a 70% to a 96%.

Can we sit for a moment and celebrate 70% as a first test score as a MONUMENTAL MOMENT?  Last year, her math scores began at 33%.

She has started violin maybe 3 1/2 weeks ago.  At 2 weeks, she was busting out Ode to Joy in the living room because, well, "Mom, I learned it last year in recorder and just knew it."  So she learned something on a non-string instrument, but took a year of harp, and translated it to an instrument that she had been playing for only 2 weeks.  Someone got her musical skillz and she certainly didn't get them from me.

My good friend, Heather, is a professional musician.  She plays, you have it right, violin.  She knows that K is technically a year behind on orchestra violin at this school, so she insisted that I bring her for a bit of an encouragement round up to get her rolling in the right direction.  She told me yesterday, "The music that they gave her for the program is second year music.  She is doing great with it.  Most kids wouldn't.  Don't worry.  She's doing well!"  So, she has second year music at 3 1/2 weeks.  :thumbs up:  My kid is musical and is holding her own.  Orchestra is two times a week and she needs to be there between 7:15-7:25 AM, ready to begin at 7:30 AM.  That leaves us leaving before 7 AM.

The spelling words are difficult, but she is consistently studying them.  We found out this last week that she has 5 bonus words per test.  Bonus to us means EXTRA points.  No, no.  They are NOT extra points.  They are from previous spelling lists and are expected to be known.  That's a great thing, but I probably would have used a term other than "bonus."

The gym teacher is more like a drill sergeant.  My heavens.  That man means business.  It's not a bad thing.  K has gotten used to boot camp for gym and not play time.

She just did a class project with a boy she was assigned to work with.  It seemed to be a good match of energy and she really enjoyed working with him.  It's a good thing.

She's making friends.  They seem to have accepted her as one of their own.

It's not something that would always work for everyone, but we have a one.  Open enrollment is working for us.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

So far, so good.

Our morning commute presently starts at 7:30 AM.  My dear, sweet cousin Janeen commutes further than I do and she is in the MIDDLE of the snow belt.  We'll be entering the secondary snow belt in the winter and with that and orchestra on Fridays, our leave time will be shifted.

Heavens!  There is a HUGE difference between a poorly performing district and one that is excellent rated.  Here are some surprises:

1.  They practice vocab-lit.  Their vocabulary, which is also their spelling words, comes from literature that they will be reading chunks of.

2.  The spelling list is from the vocal-lit.  This round includes prodigious, supercilious and chivalrous.

3.  To our absolute excitement, there is NO Envision Math!  That stuff is evil.  The math seems more commonsense (for now) and K and M seem pleased.

4.  Respect and rules are strongly enforced.  They are reasonable, but without flexibility on enforcement.  That is good.

5.  D.A.R.E. is a once a week program that is already built into the curriculum.

6.  They were asked to run for 12 minutes in gym class.  K didn't quite make it, but she's working on it.

7.  The 6th grade as a whole are learning to play guitar as a part of their curriculum.

8.  Dress code is pretty relaxed.  She finally started wearing shorts this week.  The building has no air conditioning and it is getting rather warm in there.

9.  Her art teacher is one of my good customers.   They did contour drawing on day one.

10.  K has her first e-mail address.  School issues an e-mail address to every student.  They use the computers in the library and media center.

11.  All of their forms and such for the entire district are online.  They don't even print report cards!

Thus far, we are pleased with moving K onward.  It might be a little bit of a drive, but we're hoping to give her the best that we can.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Enrolled.

I had my open enrollment appointment this morning before work.  I had to drop K off at my mom's house then haul on up to the school board building.

I left a half hour and got there in 15 minutes.  That's good to know travel-wise for school here in a few weeks.  It is a few exits ahead on the expressway.  15 minutes early is good.  It shows them that we take this seriously.

I get to the building, get buzzed in and see someone at the window.  I stand there for a few minutes and finally figure that perhaps I should take a seat.  I hear a lot of, "Well, did you do the online enrollment?"  "Well, I did it on my tablet."  "Do you have this, do you have that?"  It seemed as though this visitor was a bit unprepared.

She steps away and the woman next to me looked to see if they needed her next.  (She was there before me.)  "No, I need Amy now."  I'm up.  :deep breath:  We went over the paperwork.  All the online enrollment was successfully completed.  All of the paperwork they needed for enrollment was sent in back in February.  They just needed to verify all of it.

-- The official birth certificate that we purchased from the county for the bargain price of $22 and had the official embossment on it wasn't good enough.  They needed the original in order to verify it.  Since the original birth certificate took 11 1/2 months to arrive, it is dated almost 2 years after K's birth date.  I figured that they would question it.  I was armed with the actual adoption decree, but it turns out that they didn't need it.

-- Immunization records needed updated.  (There was one shot in April that wasn't on the copy they had.)

-- Residency needed verified.  I had a copy of the house deed, the city utility bill and the electric bill.  Since I sent the city utility bill in February, they just verified that.

Since I was responsible and followed all instructions, I was back out of there in probably a lil over 5 minutes.  The lady thanked me profusely for having my papers in order and having everything handled.  (Adopt a county kid and you become proficient at inches of paperwork very quickly.)

Then she said something that will stay with me forever.  With a smile on her face, "Welcome to S-."

:hand on my heart:

Hoping that this venture in schooling is a wondrously positive change for K.  I pray good things for her.  I pray that she gets past her nervousness about being the "new kid."  I pray that her teachers teach.  I pray that she learns.  I pray that it is a positive atmosphere, as last year definitely was not.

I just want good things for her.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Handing off those school uniforms.

I got a call on Monday that will most certainly change my child's life in some big capacity.  She was accepted for open enrollment to the school system in the city where my in-law's live.

This open enrollment opportunity dates back to the packets of information that I sent out on February 1.  I sent open enrollment packets out to three schools.  By the end of June, we received a denial from our first choice school.  They didn't have the room for K and I knew that.  It didn't hurt to try.  A few weeks ago, we got a denial from our 3rd choice school.  We weren't real jazzed about that school for a few different reasons.  They seemed a lil snarky about open enrollment and frankly, it is an area much, much further over our financial level and basically K would end up being the poor kid.  Since it was already August, I figured by this point that school #2 was toast because we hadn't heard anything and -- IT'S AUGUST!

So the call comes through.  I try to track K down.  Now, I can most normally catch that child at some point, but my MIL and K went swimming.  I tried K's cell.  No luck.  I tried MIL's cell.  No luck.  I tried my FIL's cell.  No luck.  I tried the house phone.  Finally, my FIL answered, but said that they were out swimming.

UGH!

K asked for a family meeting.  We needed to hash out some details about the transfer that would make her feel good.  We assured her that the same drop off/pick up schedule would still apply as before.  I would be able to take part in SOME PTA activities at this school, so she'd still see me around.  We also said that if she/we chose to make this switch-- this is it.  This will be her forever school and we will not transfer her out to another one.  After all of these things, she decided that she did want to go there.

A perk but not a deciding factor?  No uniforms!

We released her to make the information public.  She told some friends from elementary school.  She would have been moving on to the big, scary middle school with them.  We did discuss that though she is moving and it is joyous and there were many, many concerns we had about the middle school, these friends are still attending there and we want to be a lil low level so not to dog on their school.  She handled it well.

We mamas were talking last night and it hit me that the one could probably use the pants I had purchased for K.  I bought them secondhand, so there was no way I could return them and K assured me that there would be no way she would wear them.  (Can't blame her.)  I was running through the house last night at 10 PM gathering uniform pieces to give off.  M asked, "What are you doing?"  "GIVING UNIFORMS AWAY!"  I warned her that almost all was hanging on the basement lines and have a basement smell, but all are clean.  She can use them this year or next, but we were able to pass polos, pants, sweaters and shorts on to someone who could use them.

I don't believe K will ever wear khaki pants or polo shirts again.  Well, not unless a job requires them.

So that leads me to today's adventures.  I will, for the first time, be able to take my daughter school clothes shopping.  We're kind of excited.  We have a few stores to hit to return new shirts we bought and while we're there, we can look at fun clothes!

Aside from the clothes thing and that not being a factor into changing schools, we're taking K from a school system that is suffering into an excellent rated school system.  There are so many opportunities that will be made available to her.  She's going to try to get involved with orchestra and she's looking forward to getting details about swim team.  Academically they are so much stronger and we had major safety concerns about K at the other school.

We prayed.  We prayed that God would do his will.  We told K that this is how God answered our prayer.  I told her that we still need to pray.  She's concerned about being the new kid.  I told her I get it, but we'll get through it.

Changes.  My baby is growing up.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I swear that we still exist!

It's been a few months.  I promise we're still upright and all that.

We were all busy at the end of school just wrapping things up.  K moved on up to :sigh: going to middle school soon.  She ended 5th grade with perfect attendance for the year, honor roll and a President's Education Award.  We're busy adjusting to what middle school is going to mean and the changes that come with that.

My girlie in middle school.  Let's just sit on that for a second.  Every parent sits and says, "Just yesterday . . . "

I had the church rummage sale that ate most of June.

K has been volunteering at the local library twice a week and she's gone a few weeks with M to work to help him as a program volunteer.

My sister got married.  Wishing the union goes better than the felony charges that the two decided to rack up given their penchant for pot.

M and I have gone to a few more concerts.  You see, people usually go out to eat.  Since M can't eat a lot of what is out and about, we have just gone back to going to some occasional concerts.  We went to J Roddy Walston and the Business at Musica.  Oh, it was so good!  M got me a spot in the center front of the stage.  (Short girls up front!)





We stood in this line at Mayhem Fest for M to meet . . . 

 . . . The band members of Hellyeah.  

He's always wanted to meet Vinnie Paul and this opportunity made his day.

We've been a little bit of everywhere, and everywhere has been busy.  We still have one more month to chip away before the rigors of school kick back in.  

No school uniforms. 

Flip-flops.

Lightning bug and butterfly catching.

Mosquito bite itching.

Candy tossers in a parade. 

Birthday parties.  

Family walks at night.

Talks by the campfire.

Cool nights.

Hot days.

Swimming.

Goodies from the garden.

Time together.

:sigh:  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May . . . it be a month of concerts.

It's a month of concerts.  It was that way on purpose and by happy luck.  


We'll start with Hellyeah.  Yes, I went to a band called Hellyeah.  Hubs won tickets from the local music shop he goes to.  He got 4 tickets, so we took my brother Dumpy and my friend Toni.  

This photo from Hellyeah's Facebook page. 
The concert was at the House of Blues in Cleveland.  Such a wonderful venue!  Hubs went to a different concert there in January.  He went to that one on his own.  He has another at the end of the month to go to on his own.  Sometimes I decline going not because I'm a poop about Hubs' music, but because he gets so concerned about me that he doesn't get to see the concert.  I'm pretty short, he knows I can't see.  He watches the crowd to make sure that I'm safe.  (I always am, by the way.  I stand directly in front of him.  He can easily see over my head.)  

Rob Prior was an artist painting while the band did their gig.  The gig was being taped by Yahoo, so we went upstairs to the balcony to watch.  M wasn't really thrilled about being in a pit of people being taped.  (I don't see that it is up yet.)  He also swore that I'd be squashed like a bug.  

The concert was great.  Truly.  While it isn't music that I'd be apt to plunk into my CD player in the car, the sound was great and the guys were really into it.  All of us had a wonderful time!


On Sunday night, I went to see the Pixies with my friends, Toni and Dave.  (Toni is becoming a regular ticket buddy since she went to Hellyeah, too!)  Hubs isn't so much a Pixies fan, so he had me attend this one with friends. 


Worth every cent.  My gosh.  They truly had a fantastic performance.  30 songs.  2 hours.  No gaps.  No talking.  

This one had the most unusual audience I've ever encountered.  Almost everyone sat there.  Almost everyone looked as if they were watching a movie.  In fact, when the concert started, Dave and I stood up.  (That's what you typically do at a rock concert.  You stand, show your support for the band, dance, sway and enjoy yourself.)  We were asked to sit down.  :(  We did and that was fine.  We did stand for the encore.  Even Toni stood with us.  The encore was 2 songs long.  More people were standing there.  But still.  Even the pit was just standing there.  I was stunned at the lethargy the audience displayed.  

So, Hubs has a concert coming up next week.  He'll see Sepultura.  We'll be seeing J Roddy Walston and the Business in June.  (It's a concert that I chose and it is at a small venue.)  

It's a time for concerts.  Not one we planned.  We haven't attended concerts for a long time, but we were busy being all parental.  Now that K is older, we can now go have some fun together or with friends.  That's not a bad thing at all.  

Friday, May 15, 2015

Wrapping up the loose ends of being an elementary PTA board member mama.



I have been on the PTA board for 5 of 6 years of my child's elementary school years.  I have been:

Corresponding secretary my first year.
3rd Vice President (fundraising) my second year.
President my third and fourth years.
2nd Vice President (school newsletter) my third, fourth and fifth years.

I have handed over the following chair positions:

Book Fair
100 Book Challenge
Garden Fair
Birthday Book Club
Membership

I have trained.  I have written manuals.  I have sent documents via e-mail.

I have shared passwords to accounts.

The last two days were the final BOGO Scholastic Book Fair of K's elementary school career, with her being employed as the "babysitter" of the youngers coming up in her shadow.  She has been raised as a PTA kid.

She has seen me in the halls on a weekly basis.

She is not too shy or too embarrassed to stop and always give me a surprise hug from the back or a quick peck to the cheek.

I think she might actually look forward to my being there.

The staff all knows me.

I leave the school knowing that I've left the PTA in a better condition than it was when I received it.  We were a broken mess that was in the midst of trying to be fixed.

I got our new building to be built bigger than the school district was intending to build it.  They were going to built it for 60 less students than the enrollment at the time because of "2016 projections."  Well, 2016 projections were off because our enrollment remains the same as it has always been-- between 510 - 530 kids.

All those kids?  They basically know me, too.  I praise them over good work.  I tell them how cute their shoes are, how I like their hair doodles, how great they are working together, how nice their smile is and so forth.

I also peek around the corner and bust them for playing in the sinks.  I make them walk when they run down the hall.  I've escorted them back to class after the book fair if they are prone to "wandering."  If they have been unkind to me, I will tell them that they have been unkind.

I and my child have been blessed to have an experience that has been so largely positive in elementary school.  A few years were rough, but the other years were golden enough to knock down the rough spots of the few years of bad.

Soon it will be middle school.  Soon that will be 6th grade.  I'm sure we'll make it, but it makes me sad that this chapter closes.

Gotta let her grow up, though.  I can tell you one thing though, I will never be another PTA board mama.  Oh, I will help.  I have no problem with that.  I would just like to live an existence of being thankful for the wonderful things going on in the school and not have parents continually complain to me about things that they think that the kids should have or do, but about how no one actually wants to help execute their ideas.  This isn't fair or that isn't fair.  I leave a very active and very giving PTA. I'm curious to see how PTAs and parental involvement will continue as K grows older.

Until then, I still have Garden Fair Planting day, cotton candy, baseball game for 5th grade, end of the year picnic, movie day, dance (a very informal one during the school day), 5th Grade Recognition breakfast . . . My duties aren't done yet.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dear Clothing Industry,

I have an 11 year old daughter whom I love more than anything.

She's tall for her age.  She's over 5' 1", which I might add is taller than me.

She is long waisted and the bulk of her weight lands squarely on her torso.  This is not a build that you consider when making clothes. Not everyone is built like a ballerina.

My baby is, well, starting to be a young lady.

When looking for garments for her the other day, I've found that she can wear some in the children's section, but mostly pants.  Shirts are too short.  They give her the Dora the Explorer (first generation) kind of look.  More disturbing though is . . .

. . . why are all of the bras made in junior sizes PADDED?

My baby doesn't need to enhance anything she has.  She needs to be a responsible young lady and to wear proper undergarments, but at 11, she does not need padding, nor does she need wires.  It took me so long to find proper items that I needed for her.

Pajama shopping was a hoot, too.  Children's pajamas are way too short.  Adult pajamas are basically, well, too adult.  I did track some down at Kohl's, but it wasn't without great pains to do so.

It would be great if we had a clothing industry that catered to helping our children to remain CHILDREN and not to enhance what little bits that they have.  I don't believe in having my child dress as an adult.  It would be wonderful if we had an industry who was willing to allow our children to remain kids.  Let kids be kids and not mini adults.  Allow them to dress respectfully, age appropriately and not suggestively.

Just some feedback from a frustrated mama.

Thank you for your consideration,

Amy

Monday, May 4, 2015

Letter Carrier Food Drive- Saturday, May 9, 2015

Don't forget to leave a bag of non-perishable food items for the Letter Carrier Food Drive this Saturday!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Walking side-by-side in marriage.

I had a customer in yesterday who really got under my skin.  He came in, I happily told him to let us know if he needs help with anything.  Truly.  That's what we're there for and we are happy to help.

He comes to me.  He starts talking.  It's a bit incoherent.

He speaks of a girl who asked him to marry her.  Of course he had to say yes.

He's married.

He's not married.

How could he marry?

He talks on about artists and art.  I engage in the conversation.  He talks about my boss.  I discuss certain aspects of the work.

He speaks of attending college.  I say something in regard to that and he tells me that he's illiterate.

:tip of the head with the attending college comment:

He continues to talk.  And talk.  And talk.  I can't fully understand him, but I give a bit of a grunt and nod from time to time.  (I can understand the idea he speaks of, but not details.)

Toni comes up.  She had been setting a jewelry case in the back.  He turns.  I kick her in the shin so she knows not to leave.  (I apologized later in case I bruised her.)  He rambles some more, then goes to look around next door.  Later, she told me that she had been keeping an eye on the situation and came to be with me on purpose.

I called next door just to have him followed a bit.  I didn't think he would steal anything, but I had no idea what he would do or what customer or coworker he would corner.  Matt was sent to hang with him.  He later told me, "I didn't know what you had against 'Duck Dynasty' until he opened his mouth.  Then I knew."

About 10 minutes later, the guy comes back through.  He talks of marriage.  He talks of marriage "Being a man and a woman, whites with whites, blacks with blacks and Muslims with Muslims."  :chewing on the inside of my cheek:

"Well, I think it's most important that people marry whoever makes them happy."

His response?  "I think that obedience is most important.  Obedience is more important that happiness, don't you think?"

I may have closed my eyes.

I may have taken a deep breath.

I picked up the phone and called a male coworker over.  He was over faster than I ever thought he could move.

He left almost immediately after Dan arrived.

Here's the thing, I don't pull that trigger all that often.  I'm not the girl to always have a man come to our rescue.  He seemed a little unhinged and I just didn't know which way things would go with him.

What do I think of obedience?  Well, it's great when you are a kid or an animal.  My thoughts and how we are structured in our marriage is that we're equal in this marriage.  My friend will say that she and her husband walk side-by-side.  She said that she doesn't walk behind, but doesn't walk in front, either.  M and I are that way.  There are times one takes the lead a bit more than the other, but we both take care of each other.

Happiness IS most important to both of us.

M's specification before marriage is that we had to enjoy our jobs.  If we didn't enjoy them, we had to move on.  Neither one of us have changed jobs that often in our 18+ years of marriage.  M moved from one permanent park position to another because of continual displeasure with his job.  I moved from the wedding boutique partially out of complete unhappiness and partly because I was trying to find a job art related.

We have a small house that we can manage because that brings happiness to us.  We love our neighborhood.  We love our little plot of earth.

We have basic vehicles that we take care of and own until they die because that brings happiness to us.  Shopping for cars stresses us out.

Neither one of us makes demands of the other.  Instead, we work together-- as a team.  There is no submissive wife.  (He knew that long before marriage.)  There is no submissive husband.  (I wouldn't want that.)  We are helpful mates to each other and I would want nothing more.
 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Finicky World of Vinyl

We didn't want to pull that trigger.  We tried not to.  We knew that 1.  It was an expensive hobby.  and 2.  We didn't have a turntable.

Bring Christmas and my husband gifts me a turntable.  Turns out that I had put some vinyl on my list, but with the intention of collection only.  He thinks that it is insane to just own vinyl and knows that I'm not a collector.  I'm a user of things.  I hate having a ton of stuff just sitting around and, well, doing nothing.

Fast forward to now.  This was our first official Record Store Day where we owned a turntable that we could use to spin some delightful wax.  RSD was Saturday and though both of us knew about it, M worked and we were helping him with his Earth Day Fishing Derby.

I got a bit of an itch that night though.

"You know, I didn't realize that Slayer put out a 7"."

"I knew."

"Do you want us to see if we can find it?  I have one I'm looking for and we can stop tomorrow before soccer."

A little arm twisting :sarcasm: and we landed at our record store the next day.  Of course, they had what I was looking for plus a 2011 RSD PJ release.  No Slayer for M.  Bummer.

I went home and did, despite other people's choosing, spun my Citizen Dick (one side, of course) and The Frogs version of Rearviewmirror.

M did find his Slayer 45.  He texted me.  It was "cracking and popping" on the one side all over the place.  I did listen to it later.  It has some pretty intense surface noise, but it kind of is what it is.  The pull was limited to 5000 copies worldwide and though contacting the distributor/manufacturer, it seems as if there isn't a really great resolution.  He's received vinyl from this particular outfit before.  It had chunks out of the edges and a big scratch across "his favorite song."

He bought me the Jeff Ament vinyl and it's warped.  The needle rides along like it is on a roller coaster track.  It plays fine.

Surprisingly, my friend purchased a limited edition release that he waited months for.  It arrived and it had two huge skid marks.  They didn't play on his turntable.  They were replaced and since he had the extra, he asked if I would like them.  I said sure and you know what?  They play just fine without skips on my turntable.

We don't just drop the vinyl from the package and onto the turntable.  Nosiree!  There is cleaning to be done.  Then you have to flip the adjustments to make sure that you're running for a 45 and not a 33.

Now, M wants a needle cleaner.

We bought a record cleaner.  Works like a charm.

Here's the thing.  Neither one of us remember doing any of this stuff when we were kids.  We just slapped the filthy vinyl on the turntable, dropped the needle and listened to it.  There could be hunks of peanut butter stuck to it.  It could be skipping all over the place.  We also reached down WITH OUR HANDS and removed the fuzz from the needle.  You mustn't do that now.  YOU'LL RUIN THE NEEDLE!

Has vinyl equipment gotten more finicky over the years, or have we?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Pharmaceutical coupons.

I've hit a desperate state.  I sat with my doctor this morning, told him that once again, Nasonex and Allegra could only do so much.

"So, you want an allergy shot, huh?"  :insert smirk:

"Yes, please."

I explained that I've been blowing (literally) through boxes of Kleenex and frankly, I hadn't been sleeping other than the night previous, but that was the first in about 6 nights.

I've woken to my husband very quietly tip-toeing out of the bedroom with pillow in hand.  I'm such a sinus wreck that it's sending my husband to seek sleep elsewhere.  I should add that he needs complete silence when sleeping (or loud music) and I've not been completely silent nor have I been melodically snoring death metal to him.  Poor guy.

So I got the wondrous shot.  I swear that between the shot and a little shot of rain, I'm starting to feel like a new woman.  I'm excited to sleep AGAIN tonight and to be able to get rid of crusty red nose.  A few nights ago, I woke up with baby bubble booger nose.  That was gross.

So knowing I was going to Dr. W, I had to get my Epi Pen refilled (the other was outdated) and to get a new prescription of Nasonex, which surprisingly ran out just this morning.  I knew that I had a Nasonex coupon from online, but thought I'd give Epi Pen a try.

I found one.  $0 copay!  Hooray!

I went to the pharmacy with coupons in hand.  The pharmacy tech never gets mad about the coupons even though she has to back the script back out of the system and refill it and rebill it.  She came to me and said, "You know, I'm going home to find that Epi Pen coupon.  I have to pay $80 for mine and I've got an old one because I just can't afford it right now."

So sad!

I told her that she was probably glad to see me!  I told her that I've now learned that any brand name prescription I have, I will look to see if there is a savings card or coupon online.  I also have the Lipitor card.  I'm able to get brand name Lipitor for $4, when if I would get generic, it would cost me $25.

So go forth!  See if you qualify!  Look for coupons, people!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Renewed appreciation.

My husband and I have been married for 18 years.  We've hung out for 21.  We been through ups and downs, but nothing that has had us ever consider parting ways.

Ever.

We're lucky that way and I know it.

Recently, stories keep tumbling in my door about family members and friends in dire straights with marriage.  There has been infidelity, verbal abuse, growing apart and cases of mutual disrespect.

M and I were having a heart-to-heart last night.  I was regaling him with stories that were told to me of loves lost, hearts broken and those just trying to scrape it together to make it work.

"Makes you appreciate me a little more, doesn't it?" my man said to me with a grin.

I truly have been fortunate.  Tacky to say, but a lot of men would have left me after being told that I couldn't have children or risk a 90% chance at death.

M would tell you that he has been fortunate because a lot of women would have left him for his undiagnosed digestive ills that he's been battling for 12 1/2 years.

Never once have either one of us considered it.

M and I have always had a mutual respect for each other.  A coworker was talking a few weeks ago and I mentioned something.  She told me that the relationship that M and I have together isn't that typical and that we really were made for each other.

I know it.  So does he.

How fortunate I am.  How fortunate we both are.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Please don't copy art and don't come into the gallery and tell me about it.

I had a customer come in with her friend.  We have a lot of different people come in, but you could really tell that these two ladies were not folks to generally frequent a gallery.

"My friend wants you to tell her who did a painting that she has."

"Well, that's not really our thing.  We're a fine craft gallery and a fine art gallery would be more the place to look for that."

She pulled out her phone.  She showed me a cock-eyed photo of a painting.  It wasn't close up.  It wasn't detailed.  I could see what it was but she wanted to tell me the artist because . . .

Wait for it . . .

She took a photo of the painting, then sent it off to [a big box corporation] and had a canvas made of it.

:tips of the head:

She wanted me to tell her the name of the artist of the painting that she has.

1.  It is not a painting that you have.  You have a printed canvas.
2.  You have a forged printed canvas of a work that you took a photo of.
3.  The artist would now be [big box corporation] because you STOLE SOMEONE'S WORK!

She was stunned that we didn't know, even though they admitted at this point that the piece was from an original that the one woman's brother had and it was from Washington state.

:tips of the head:

We're in Ohio.

I tried to explain that copying an artist's work is kind of rough for the artist . . . I trailed off because the ladies turned and talked to another coworker and listened to not a word I was saying.  A customer was at the counter.  She witnessed the whole thing.  She was appalled and was shaking her head in agreement with me.

Don't knock off artist's work.  It isn't nice.  If you do, don't come to a gallery expecting us to tell you all about the art that you just forged.  That is not cool at all.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

My daughter's first trip to the circus.

A couple of weeks ago, K called to tell me that she was given an envelope at school because she was one of the top 5 readers in her class.  In the envelope was a ticket to the Tadmor Shrine Circus.  She was so excited.  The location where it was set was smaller, so I knew that though she tends to get overwhelmed in crowds, she should be able to rock this one out to actually be able to enjoy it.  (She gets that crowd phobia from me.)

Y'all, my girl LOVED it.  Now, this was not a circus rich in animals.  There were some lions and elephants.  Oh, there was a little dog.  There were ponies for a pony ride thing during intermission.  It was just a nice, small circus.

She kept telling me how glad she was that she won the ticket and about how she was having such a good time.  It truly made my heart happy.  We've been trying to pull as much good from this 5th grade year as possible.

No lie, today was a busy beginning of the day.  She was set to acolyte.  We were having a 100th celebration of our church and we were having a dinner afterwards.  Guess who was signed up to be greeters and totally forgot?  :hand held high:  Oops!  The one lady who was sitting behind us in church said, "Hey!  You guys were the greeters for today."  :insert shocked face:  "Crap!  I forgot about that!"  I stuck out my hand to shake hers, "Welcome to - - - United Methodist Church!  We're so glad to have you with us today!"  I apologized to the secretary and I asked her to e-mail me a reminder next time.  She laughed.  My in-law's came to join us.  They wanted to see K acolyte and frankly, they were good with Palm Sunday service.  (My MIL was thrilled to get green palms!)  We had a combined service that she truly enjoyed.  They had new members presented to the church.

This is where I feel bad.

My MIL leaned over and said, "Did you do that?"  "Yes.  We didn't invite anyone.  We had no idea what to expect.  We just did it on our own."  We didn't.  We transferred our membership from our old church.  We went to about 6 weeks of classes.  We attended regularly and were involved in a Sunday School class, so what they wanted us to do we were already doing it.  Frankly, when we transferred our membership the last time, it wasn't a big deal.  We signed a paper.  They sent a letter to our previous church.  With the Methodist Church, you have a bit more of a ceremony.  Oops.

I mentioned that after church we had a potluck.  I invited my in-law's to stay on.  My MIL insisted on bringing something, but I told her that she didn't need to worry that there would definitely be plenty.  Oh, there was plenty.  We had to pull the "we have tickets to the circus in an hour" card to get through the line sooner.  People understood.

So, back to the circus.

Presenting the flag at the start of the circus.  
The lions.


What's a circus without a ring master? 

I can't even do one hula hoop let alone an entire slinky worth!

It was a fairly small venue, so every seat was a good seat! 

I'm not this talented . . .

. . . at all.  

The elephants.  PETA was outside of the venue and made sure to give K a coloring book on her way in.  Actually, it is a well done coloring book.  Props to them for handling my circus guilt in a coloring book so well.  

Taking a seat. 

My girl loving the light-up glow stick she bought.  Bless her soul.  She wanted a light-up stick more than she could see straight.  I did promise her that she could buy something from one of the vendors walking around.  Turns out that she bought the "clearance" light stick.  (She's my girl.) It was only $5.  :)

And don't forget to purchase your balloon on the way out, folks!  We skipped those doors.  

It is a fundraiser for the Shriner's and they do wonderful things for kids.  It was a fun day and not an overwhelming time.  We left there happy and not feeling like a wet rag.  That says a lot for two ladies in the house who get crowd anxiety in a horrible way.  

Thank you, Shriner's.  My daughter loved the time she had at your circus and was delighted that she got a free ticket!  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Western Reserve District 5 District Science Day at the University of Akron

Last Saturday, K participated the next round of the Science Fair AKA Western Reserve District 5 District Science Day.  Of course, this was the ONLY weekend that I'm out of town as a buyer for work.  Hubs handled this one.  He was able to take off work.  I felt guilty.  K told me not to.  After the day was over, M said that he was glad that I didn't do the haul back and forth from Columbus like I had originally considered.  

K had to be at the university at 7:45 AM with her project set up and ready.  She was to stand with her project until the judges released her.  

The child was with her project until 12:30 PM.  

M wasn't allowed to leave the two floors of the student union, and we were quite fine with that.  

K said that if she needed a drink or to use the loo, one of the kids beside her had to cover her.  If they walked away and the judges appeared and they weren't there, they were disqualified.  

K said that the judges came and asked her a lot of questions.  She talked with them for about 10 minutes.  I'm sure that after standing there for over 4 hours, she was nervous and there were some questions she said that she didn't understand.  She called me in tears.  She felt defeated.  

They went to the awards ceremony which M billed as "extremely tangential and long winded."  She found out that she hadn't moved on and while that was fine with all of us, by the time she hit 5 PM of the same ole thing, girlfriend had hit a wall.  That was when the tear filled call came.  It had been a LONG day and I wasn't there.  She missed me and that didn't help.

We also found out that she was the ONLY 5th grader there.  The next oldest kid was in 8th grade. 

A few days later at school, her certificate and score sheet showed up.  I thought that it was wonderful that they sent a personalized certificate and that the score sheet came along.  To have K score an Excellent made her very happy.  She didn't know what she scored on Saturday and she felt like she did a horrible job.  Turns out, baby girl did a great job and earned the equivalent of probably a B+.  Her teacher made a big deal out of it and frankly, that was kind of nice.  

She learned a lot with this experience.  It was a nice boost for her to have done well and though the journey with the green beans has ended here, there are many more scientific journeys to come.  

She opted to change the ribbon of her medal out to a U of A lanyard.  It's a nice touch.  :)

Who knew that she needed to do measurements in metric?  I laugh because it took me 2 days to figure out that the measurement that they were talking about was temperature and that she didn't list it as Celsius.  

I thought it was a nice touch that they had the back engraved with the occasion and date. 

An experience for all.  Hopefully, an experience to have again.  

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A lazy teacher and an overachieving child.

"Mom, can we go to the LRC?"

I got this text from my child yesterday.

"We can't go.  They close early tonight.  We can go tomorrow after school."

"I can't," she's texting on my MILs phone, "I have a rough draft due tomorrow."

"When was this assigned?"

"Right before the bell rang."

So I gave up and called her.  Seems as though they were discussing projects.  My heavens, I'm stunned since they've done NONE all year.  They chose people to research and then right as they were getting ready to walk out, her teacher announces that a rough draft is due the very next day.  Now, my child is a preparer.  She likes to READ the book.  Over the years, we've taught her to take her time, go back through, make notes and such things.  We've encouraged her to pick "chewy" subjects-- something that she'll learn from.  Don't take the easy way out.  This is an opportunity.

My child could choose herself, her parents or someone famous.  She chose Nikola Tesla, because doesn't every girl choose Nikola Tesla?  I mean, she could choose members of bands or singers, artists, parents, herself-- anyone.  Tesla it is.

In all honesty, I'm not surprised in the slightest.  K has had a bit of a fascination with him this year and I even purchased her a Nikola Tesla book for her for her birthday.  (It's a comic book, but nonetheless . . . )

We made a plan.  I had her put me on speaker and I asked my MIL to take her to the library.  They were driving past, so she did.  They found a few books.  My MIL also looked some things up on the computer and had K watch something and printed something things out for her.

K had health homework and math homework.  M helped with math and we hit the ground running on the Tesla report.  She was juggling 3 books and telling me what she wanted to say.  We handled as we did the science fair project-- she talked and I typed it out for her.

"It has to be handwritten, Mom."  Of course it does!  :S

Finally at 9:30 PM, I gave up.  I told her that she had what she had.  We were able to take him to the beginnings of the Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing Company.  I told her that as a rough draft, he couldn't expect more.  I mean, the kid got home after 6 from my in-laws and we just can't work incredible miracles.

She started handwriting it.  She wrote until 10:15 (past her bedtime) and I finally told her that we'd get her up early to handle the rest of it.  The kid set her alarm for 5 AM.  I told her that was too early and told her to sleep until 6 AM, though I was awake at that point.  She wrote from 6 - 7:30 AM.  She took her time and wrote neatly.  I felt bad for her.  But, she did what was asked of her.  She complained thought.  "Mom, last year Mrs. S gave us time."  I know.  Believe me, I know.  So, what did she write?
When Nikola Tesla was born, it was a stormy night.  He was born at midnight on July 10, 1856 in Smiljan, a small town in Croatia.  As soon as he was born, his mother said to him, "Welcome home, my Nikola."   He was the fourth child in his family.  His mom's name was Djourka Tesla and his father was Milutin Tesla.  Nikola's father was a minister and his mother supervised servants, ran the farm, sewed the family's clothes, raised her children and she was a famous needlepoint designer in the region.  She also loved inventing things!  She made looms, butter churns and kitchen tools, including the mechanical eggbeater!  
When Nikola's brother, Dane, was 12, he was thrown off of the family's horse and he died a few days later from all of his injuries.  Then, when Nikola starting accomplishing stuff, it caused his family to grieve because they remembered his brother's talents and Dane's great things that he might have been able to do.  Nikola started to feel like his parents were rejecting him, especially his mother.  He grew up with very little self-confidence.  I understand how he felt.  
Nikola started doing experiments when he was little.  They didn't always go so well.  Once, he jumped off the roof of the barn.  He thought he would glide, but it failed and he had to stay in bed for 6 weeks.  When he was 5, he made a wooden wheel that spun because the water was moving the wheel.  He noticed invisible energy!  When he was 9, he built a propeller spun by flying June bugs.  The propeller whirled for hours!   
Nikola went to the village school.  He loved reading so much.  His father wouldn't let him read the books in their house.  His parents wouldn't let him read after dark because they thought it would ruin his eyesight.  Nikola stole candles, his father found out and hid the candles.  He made his own candles instead.  He would then read until the crack of dawn.   Nikola was interested in electricity from the beginning of his education.  He went to a pretty new junior high school that had a really great physics department.  The water wheel he made when he was little made him think of using Niagara Falls for power with a waterwheel underneath the falls.   
In 1882, Nikola Tesla discovered rotating magnetic field.
In 1884, he moved to America to meet Thomas Edison.  He worked for Thomas Edison.  Nikola fixed the dynamos on the ship, which weren’t working that well.  Nikola said I’ll redo your shop.  Thomas Edison said that if he redid the shop, he would pay him $50,000.  It took Nikola a year to finish it and then he went to Thomas Edison.  He asked Thomas Edison for the $50,000 and Thomas Edison said that he was sorry that it was just sarcasm.  He told Nikola that he didn’t understand American humor, but offered to pay Nikola an extra $10 per week raise.  Nikola refused it and QUIT!  He went on to his own company, The Tesla Electric Light and Manufacturing Company where they would use alternating current electricity. 
At least she chose a very interesting man.  I'm kind of excited to learn more about him.  I just wished that she had more time than, "It'll be due sometime next week."  Really?

ETA:  He didn't even bother to look at them today.  Almost all of the kids had what he asked for and he said that he didn't want to look at them because he wanted to be able to read them.  Um, really?  Throw them a bone and look at them, please!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

No soliciting means no soliciting.

I came into the kitchen to do some dishes and I saw a flock of people canvasing the neighborhood.

Can I tell you how much I hate that?  I hate it so much that I put a sign on my front door that says, "No solicitors, please."  Because the Jehovah's Witnesses didn't think that the front door sign applied to them, they decided then to start going to the side door.  I wanted to make certain that it was clear that they were included in the "No solicitors, please," that I posted one to the side door.

They are very unsuccessfully canvasing the area and I saw the one saw me in my kitchen window.  She made a beeline up the driveway.  I thought that certainly she saw both signs.  She did.  She saw the front door sign and went to the side door.

Knock-knock-knock.

Really?

She caught me in a bit of a mood.  I opened the door a few inches and said, "No solicitors," and proceeded to close the door.  I did see the look on her face.  She was in shock.  Well, I could see her face just on the other side of the No Solicitors, please sign.

She made her way down the driveway.  I'm thinking that she may not stop again.

The drop offs come through our neighborhood on a quarterly basis.  This past spring/summer, I was outside and again, there was a man knocking on doors.  He saw me, made a beeline down my driveway and I said nothing.  I walked to the backyard.  I closed the gate and latched it.  He picked up on the hint.

I was out gardening and on the phone.  Again, I had another woman not care to uphold my wishes.  She interrupted the phone conversation because she wanted to convert me to her religion.  I kept the person on the phone, spoke with her a moment and said I wasn't interested.  She was strong in trying to give a defense for her religion.  I'm not telling her what way to believe.  I wasn't attacking.  I just didn't want her on my property.  She finally left.

So for those who are solicitors coming to my door:

1.  Jesus is our man.  We have religion covered.
2.  We have the cookies.  We don't need more.  If we do, we have a dealer.
3.  We like our phone service.
4.  We don't need your cable.
5.  We don't want your chemicals on our yard, even if you insist that we're "the only ones in the neighborhood without" because, well, that's a flat lie. Organic is the new green, after all.
6.  Our child may not come to your house for Backyard Bible Club.  We don't know you.
7.  We have a child in school and have fundraisers.  I'm not being cheap, but understand that we have to buy from her first even if you don't agree.  (I had a child argue with me.)

Stop coming to my door.  If I know you, come on in.  If I don't, please stay on the sidewalk.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Tara and the amazing Deva Cut.

I have curly hair.  I have thick hair, meaning lots of it, but it is kind of on the fine end of actual individual hair thickness.

I had an appointment to see the Amazing Tara for a cut.  It is at this point that I admit that it's been probably 2 years.  I get into mama mode and frankly, I put my kid first.  Time or sometimes financial thoughts keep me away.

Back to the Deva Cut.  It's best explained here.

Deva cuts are for anyone with curly hair.  If you have curly hair, then you know that just because people know how to cut hair doesn't mean that everyone can cut curly hair.

Believe me, I've had my fair share of bad cuts.  Just yesterday, I was talking with my mom about Tara and her mad skills with some scissors.  "Well, Andrea could cut your hair!  She can do a great job because she does have curly hair."

"Mom, Andrea sucked."

"What do you mean?"

"I had to fire Andrea.  I gave her a good 4 tries.  Every time she cut my hair, she did a worse job.  Her hair is far curlier than mine, but the final straw was when she really didn't listen to me at all, decided to do what she wanted and gave me a lesbian haircut."  (No offense to my lesbian friends out there.)

"Oh."

"She was supposed to give me long bangs in the front and a wedge kind of thing up the back that would be funky and that I could spike up.  She got the back right, but the front was so short that M's hair was longer than mine and I couldn't even keep a bobby pin in it, because it was so short."

"Oh.  I understand."

So back to the Deva cut.  Y'all, I went in looking like the Lion King after a big fight in the most horrendous humidity known to man.  The hairs were all out.  They were all long.  They were-- unruly.  Oh, I apologized.  I said that I knew that I was coming to her and that I would just let her wrangle my hair into shape.  I had been losing bobbie pins in my hair, making my thin haired friend extremely jealous.  It was taking a few days to find them all.  My hair was getting sucked out of the car window.  My hair was catching on door handles getting into the house.  I was losing my iPod ear buds in there!

I sat in the chair, gave Tara an idea of what I was looking for.  Really, I wanted to keep my hair long, but I left it to her discretion on how much needed to come off.  She showed me, I told her to have at it and she did.  She cut it dry.  She washed it, she then went back in and trimmed up a little more.  She had a diffuser that looked like a bunch of green bananas in the shape of a hand.

I want one.

You can get to the roots, but not get to the hair a ton to make it all frizz out.

There is uber great shampoo and after much consideration, I decided that if M can buy Muscle Milk to work out, I should be able to buy some shampoo that isn't going to make me look like I haven't washed my hair in a month of Sundays.  Thanks to the wonders of Amazon Prime, it was $10 less for the combo pack I purchased and all hail the 2 day ship.  The shampoo will be here tomorrow.  I don't have to wash my hair every day and I don't.  It's still nice to have the proper stuff on hand to do it with.

So hooray!  When I leave my hair down, it doesn't look like it was cut that much.  When I pull it up in a pony tail, you can tell that she thinned the heck out of it.

Curly hair.  Someone who can cut it.  Tara walks on water.

Of course I don't have photos.  That would have taken forethought and obviously, all of the excessive hair got in the way.  Trust me.  It's all good.  :)