Friday, August 29, 2008

School Daze

Fern came home from school on Monday depressed: her schedule was still set for the algebra rotation instead of geometry and she was bored out of her mind.

Tuesday morning I called the school and asked for her guidance counselor. I told her my concern, Fern's schedule had not yet been changed. The counselor didn't know anything about it. I explained about the high score on the HSA standardized algebra test and the principal had granted Fern permission to go on to geometry.

I was genuinely surprised when the counselor told me she would immediately pull Fern out of class and give her a new hand-written schedule. I was also surprised and irritated The counselor didn't know what was going on with the schedule and the algebra class, the principal hadn't communicated that. When Fern got home from school I verified she was switched and happier. She was.

Every day after school the neighborhood kids, Fern's friends, are convening at a neighbor's house and doing homework. And, she's coming home with it done. And now, get this, she's complaining she has so much time available in the evenings because her homework is done. Wow. She might be catching on. I hope it sticks this time. She also seems more compliant around the house. I hope that sticks too.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Weekend Round-Up

I've been trying to write a weekend round-up post for a couple of days now and stuff keeps getting in the way. Like work.

In This Issue:

Mr. Clean

Last Friday was Day 3 after the teeth got pulled. My poor baby. I feel so bad having done this to Kevin without his full comprehension. Because of his autism, it's hard to explain it to him. He's so independent, he pretty much takes care of himself when it comes to napping when he is tired and eating when he's hungry. So He napped a good part of Wednesday and Thursday and ate very little despite the offerings of food. By Thursday night, he felt well enough to take a shower and by Friday morning he showered again and again and had taken three showers in 12 hours. I'm not really sure why.

I finally got him to swish the salt water in his mouth and not drink it. It took a lot of modeling but finally he got it. He even made his own cups of salt water after that.

The doctor said he'd only need ice on his cheeks for the first 12 hours, but Kevin made his own ice packs through Monday. I guess he knew he felt better with them. I wish he could explain it to me.

Child Services

Saturday morning Dan drove down to rendezvous with his sister to collect Fern since she had spent the week there with her cousin, Rose.

While she was gone I went into her room and got her hamper and collected all the clothes that were on the floor. Then I scraped together all the flotsam and jetsam from the periphery of her room into a pile, you know, that stuff she ignores when she thinks her room is clean. It's hard to ignore when it's in a big pile. All she has to do is sit down in one place and sort through the debris and, voila, her room is clean. But as I did I knew she'd be mad at me for doing it.

Laundry Queen

Saturday I added the laundry I got from The Girl's room to the pile in the laundry room. I got through most of it so there wasn't enough of any one type of clothes left to make a full load of anything. Whew. I even did a few loads of sheets and towels.

But on the other side of getting laundry done, is putting it away. Another chore I'm bad at. The pile on my dresser is so high I can barely see the mirror so I started a new pile on the floor next it. I have too many clothes, I know I do, but I'm reluctant about getting rid of stuff. AM helped me last week get rid of a lot of dresses that don't really fit or are hopelessly out of style. I am always grateful for her help, (always, always, always) and we cleared out a lot of rod space in my closet, but I wish she could have stayed for another hour or so. I need to clear out more to make room for the clean clothes I just washed.

My goal is to get the master bedroom in shape. Soon. I got part of the room cleaned up over the weekend, but now the cleaned-up spot needs vacuuming. Somehow our room collects stuff. Kevin likes to play in there. Like the rest of the house. Sheesh.

Back to School

Monday morning, the culmination of a summer vacation, was the first day of school. Both kids were up and ready on time. I opened the garage doors at 7:20 and Kevin went out to wait at 7:25. And waited. And waited.

Fern's bus information had come in the mail a week before school started but we didn't hear anything about Kevin's bus. I had checked the school's web site and found out his bus would pick him up at 7:31. Because he's on a special ed bus, we usually get a call with the information, not just a letter. Finally over the weekend we got a call from his new driver telling us the same time.

His bus never showed, unless it was way early. Which on the first day of school, I highly doubt. By 8:15 there is still no bus so I started calling around. The guy at the bus lot was very nice, even offered to send a bus to pick him up. I declined. He said he'd talk to the driver and find out when she came by my house and call me back.

I took Kevin to school and waited my turn in the busy office to explain my presence. The new CRI teacher herself came up to get him instead of an aide, so I got to meet his new teacher. She seemed nice, but a little frazzled. I didn't hold it against her.

The bus lot guy did call me back (surprise!) and said the driver said she was at our house at 7:35, only a few minutes late. But I know she never stopped by our house, I was there. I'd remember a big yellow bus pass by. Tuesday morning, we were ready and waiting, and the bus went past our house before it stopped. Kevin ran across the lawn to get on. Now you know, if she really was at our house on Monday, she would have known where to stop on Tuesday. Right?

This morning I tried to ask her where she went on Monday and she dodged the question by saying she was sorry she was late. Arrrgggggg.

Friday, August 22, 2008

In Your Face!

Maybe you will remember I posted about Fern and her struggles with Algebra last year. She got D's all year. Just after the fourth quarter started she asked for tutoring, so we invested many dollars in many hours of tutoring. Much of the last quarter was devoted to HSA prep. With the tutoring she managed an 83 on her final, but still a D for the quarter because of missed assignments and, according to her, no grades in the gradebook after they started focusing on the HSA.

The guidance counselor, her algebra teachers, yeah, she had two, but that's another story, and the principal all thought she should repeat algebra, that she couldn't do the work in geometry, didn't understand algebra, yada yada, and since she was only a 7th grader, she had plenty of time to retake it and get the rest of her math in before graduation.

So here we are, on the cusp of a new school year. Fern has been getting ready mentally to be in algebra again, determined to do well. I spoke to the principal about my concerns: Fern absolutely must have a dynamic teacher this year who is going to hold her attention all year so she doesn't get bored, and when she's bored she won't do her work and then receive another low grade. I also tried delicately to imply I didn't trust the teacher, whom she had for most of last year, had graded her fairly, not giving her all possible credit due. How does someone get and 83 and still a D? But, either she ignored my jabs about her employee, or was oblivious to them. (I'd leave a message for the teacher to call me, but instead returning my call, she'd harass Fern in class the next day.)

I was not going to tolerate another year with a teacher like that. So Fern was placed with Mrs Lamb. Fern likes her, she was the teacher who ran the morning HSA prep sessions before school last spring. All will be fine.

(pause for dramatic music)

This week I got a call from her principal: The HSA scores came in and Fern blew it out of the water (my words, not hers). Fern got a very high score, and she is allowed to go on to geometry if she wants to, with the stipulation she will commit to it and work hard. Fern's decision.

The drawback of staying in algebra: boredom, especially in spring quarter when the class is doing HSA prep and she's exempt.

The drawback to going on to geometry: the algebra grade stands. It could, and probably will hold her back from getting into Bowie Summit or Roosevelt (the area's advanced high schools). But the upside is, she can thumb her nose (figuratively, please) at those teachers and counselors who said she couldn't do it.

You go girl! I mean really, go, go do your homework!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The teeth are out and in a jar.

Ice is on the jaw.

The house is too quiet.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'm Back (again!)

I'm sitting here pool-side and my laptop is picking up a wifi connection from somewhere. I brought the laptop and my camera to upload the new pictures I took over the weekend, but since I can connect, I'm blogging too.

Kevin at the pool.

We got back from Chincoteague this afternoon. We left home with two adults, two kids, two bags of golf clubs, two boogie boards, two beach chairs, a beach bag, a cooler and four suitcases packed into the Fit. We came back with one less beach chair, suitcase and child and a lot more room and less whining.

This weekend was Dan's family get-together; nineteen of us invaded Chincoteague, only two of his siblings and families couldn't make it. I love getting together with Dan's family, it's so different from mine: he had seven siblings, I have two, for starters.

Saturday seven of us golfed. I had my good moments but never had two really good shots in a row. I shot a 121. Yes, for 18 holes.

Saturday evening our four went to the island's only theater and saw Mamma Mia. I'd seen it with Kevin already but Dan and Fern hadn't yet. I enjoyed it again and even teared up again during the scene when Donna helps Sophia get ready for the wedding.

Sunday we spent a lot of time at the beach. Kevin, my Mr. sunshine Boy, even got some pink on his back.

Kevin in the surf.

Hamming it up for the camera.

After the beach, I took Kevin and Rose, Kevin and Fern's cousin, to play mini golf. (Fern doesn't do mini golf.) Rose started out with a string a 6's and 7's but I straitened her address out and she did much better, she even got a hole-in-one!

Sunday after dinner Rick, one of Dan's brothers, Fern, Rose, Kevin and I went back to the beach and flew kites. Rick likes stunt kites and I have a parafoil to fly. The girls got the hang of the stunt kite rather quickly so I took a shot at flying it, too. It was harder than I thought it might be, especially since the girls got it going. Rick told me to stand still and keep my movements small, but I felt like I had to keep a strong control of the lines or else it would crash. And it did.

Kevin flys my kite.

Rose after crash-landing a stunt kite.

Sunset over the sound.

This morning Dan distracted Kevin with a trip to the pool while I packed the car. He hates it when we have to leave a hotel and will help us unpack if given the chance. I'd taken everything out of the back of the car to reorganize it all when I thought he wasn't around, and he put it all back in, sand and all when I went into the room go get the next load.

Fern went home with Rose and her family and will stay in Richmond for the rest of the week. My sister-in-law said she would take the girls back-to-school shopping, I just hope Fern behaves better for Jo than she does for me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Catching Up

Sheesh, I haven't posted forever.

Somehow, I don't get to post from home much, just when I'm taking a break at work.

Yesterday I took the day off from work. Kevin had a pre-op appointment in the morning. His wisdom teeth are blocking his 12-year molars from coming in so they have to come out. Because of his autism, the oral surgeon wants to do the work at a surgery center where he'll have a professional nursing staff to monitor Kevin's recovery, instead of in his office where recovery consists of sitting in a chair until you're awake enough to walk out. The surgery is planned for next Wednesday.

After I got Kevin back to his day camp I went home and cleaned the kitchen, complete with a floor mopping. I was waiting to hear from my brother and dad. They were coming out to help with some yard work and I had to give them directions to the rental center. If you read my husband's blog you might remember this post about his tree-trimming project.

We hadn't done anything with the trimmed branches, they were still where they fell. For months Dan and I talked about how to get rid of them. There was a lot of branches from the 20 trees. Too many to drag to the curb on yard-trash days. We considered buying a personal sized chipper but that meant we'd still have a lot of work cutting down the branches so they'd fit. We considered renting a chipper, as well as hiring a tree company.

I ended up renting a industrial sized chipper which took limbs up to 6" in diameter. OK, stop thinking Fargo. My brother came out with his truck with a trailer hitch so we could get the thing home. For two hours Mark and I hauled, dragged and carried branches to the chipper while my Dad fed them in the chute, except when Dad took a break and took pictures of his kids (I'll have to check his blog later to see if he posted them) and Mark and I did the chute feeding.

It was fun watching big branches go in and mulch come out. I wanted to put in something else to watch it shred à la Malcolm in the Middle but since the rental company had my $800 deposit and I wanted it back, I thought better of it.

My new mulch pile is about 3' tall by 3' wide. That ought to cover a couple flower beds when I find the energy to haul it around the yard. Can I use that right away or does it have to age for a while? Anyone know?

Monday I took the day off, too. Dan and I played golf with AM and Mark in another fund-raising tournament. I started off playing OK, but went down-hill mid-way through. I guess I used up too many good shots at the driving range before we played.

Saturday I took AM out to a local executive course to play nine holes. She hadn't golfed since the tournament in May and I thought she'd like the practice. I played very well Saturday. Except for putting, we won't talk about that. At many of the latter holes, while we were waiting for the guy in front of us to finish, we'd hit two balls instead of just one. AM called it "testicle golf."

Friday, August 08, 2008

Is this one better?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Beach Report

We went to Virginia Beach on Saturday and came back Monday and took the new Honda Fit. We loaded it with 4 weekend-size bags, two beach chairs, two boogie boards, beach blanket, towels, and a set of golf clubs. And it all fit below the level of the top of the back seat. It's a roomy little beast.

We took turns with the music selections, everyone got an hour of music of their choice. Fern had just received mix CDs from one of her friends so we got to listen to that; Dan put on his iPod to a pop playlist; and I put on my iPod and started with the "Red" songs and went on from there: "Red Line Train," "Red Rain," "Red, Red Wine," "Redeemed," "Rehab," etc. Kevin opted out of the opportunity to share his music and listened to his iPod with headphones.

The weather was hot on Saturday, cooler on Sunday, both great beach days. The waves seemed relatively calm, not like the knock-down drag-out waves I remembered getting battered by when I was younger.

Sunday afternoon Dan went to play golf and the kids and I hung out. Kevin and I played mini golf while Fern chilled in the room. While we were gone she called me saying she didn't feel well, like she was going to throw up. Well, she did, poor baby, six times, in fact, over the next 12 hours. We had shared a lot of food at meal times and I felt fine so I guessed she picked up a virus.

After checking on her for a while, Kevin and I went back out. We rented a two-person surrey, a leg-powered bike-car. My thighs started screaming about eight minutes in and I thought I'd never make it the whole hour. But they quit complaining and hung in there. After an hour, though, my butt was really sore. I let Kevin sit on the driver's side and steer. In the beginning I had to reach over and correct our course frequently, but by the end he had the hang of it and even turned into the right rental stand without my instruction when we were done.

Fern didn't want me to leave her alone that evening so I got to play mom for a while. I don't get to do that any more, cuddle and coddle, and general snuggling. I miss that.

Both nights we were there they did a fireworks display at 10:00 pm from a boat. Here's one of my better shots:

By Monday The Girl was better and we headed home after breakfast from The Baker's Crust. A definite must when you visit Va Beach. We ate there Sunday morning and Kevin and I went back on Monday and brought back carry-out for Dan and Fern. They make their own fresh mozzarella so I had that with tomatoes for breakfast. Absolutely fabulous. I guess it's about time I start making my own fresh mozzarella again, it is the season after all, with the fresh tomatoes available now.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Working Backwards

Aye Yi Yi.

My triangle quilt was going along just fine, I had three out of four borders on, but then I started encountering problems. I couldn't get a border to fit right, it wasn't square and then I didn't like the width of the inner-most border.

So I took the borders off as one unit of the three strips already sewn together. I was going to trim down the inner-most strip and put them back on, but the center part, with all the triangles, was caddy-wumpus. Sheesh. A lot of the seems were not even or a full quarter-inch wide. I was probably so excited to get it into one piece I didn't notice my mistakes.

So I spent an evening resewing the seems that were not acceptable. There were a lot of them.

Now it's better, lays flatter, no bubbles or puckers.

My sewing machine has a display screen to show the stitch selection, the length and width, as well as other information. In the middle of all this sewing, unsewing, and resewing, the oil symbol starts flashing. Wow, it had been a while since I'd brushed out the lint and oiled it, I'd completely forgotten. The hole in the machine oil bottle is a smidge too big so the oil gushes everywhere. Oh well, none got on the quilt so all is fine. But when the maintenance was done, it sounded a lot better, it almost purrs now.

Sunday I visited Material Girls, a fabric shop in LaPlata, and bought more fabric. In addition to the other things to fix, I've got to decide whether I'll use the new stuff or keep with the choices I'd already made.

Last night I get the border sections back out and start measuring carefully so they are straight and even when I do the trimming. But the first one isn't straight. It is too wide in places and too narrow in others. Sheesh. Another step backward.

Now I've got the stitches unpicked for the three strips in the first section and ironed them out. sheesh. Maybe one day I'll actually make progress again.

In the mean time, the Girl Scout vests are piling up and I probably have 6 or 8 jobs to work on. I probably ought to switch back to that work and give myself a break from the quilt.

And let's not forget laundry. I'm down to the dregs of undies...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Hello? Hello? [tap tap tap] Is this thing on? Is anybody out there?

Please leave a comment when you visit here today, annonymously if you have to.

I guess a lot of folks are on vacation, I'm not getting a lot of visitors here at Anne's House. We ourselves are going to Va. Beach for an extended weekend. We sent Kevin to pack: 3 shirts, 3 pants, 3 pairs of underwear. He came back with an armful of briefs.
How many do you have?

That's my boy.