Thursday, September 18, 2014

Oooooo, The Troubles

Eighth grade is not beginning easy for my girl. Today the after school tears involved a grammar assignment, and two friends who just kept talking about how her hair was unruly (and apparently patting her head down) rather than helping her with an assignment she had received late. It was really hard not to laugh while she was relating this.
At school drop-off today, looking cheerful with all thoughts of the grammar crisis firmly behind her, in yesterday. And a hat, to calm those unruly curls :-)

Textbooks. Emma's school doesn't really use them.

Last year (7th grade), Emma did have a sort of Pre-Algebra math text book. It was titled something like "Core Connections", and this is the way it works: the kids get together in groups and teach themselves how to do the math. (Okay, honestly I don't get how that works, but I've not been in the classroom to see it.) Then their homework involves practice problems from the book. However, if you were stuck on a homework problem, because you weren't brave enough to speak up when you didn't understand something the rest of the group appeared to during class, or, say, if your parent was trying to help and wanted to know what the actual learning objective was, there was no section of the book that actually presented you with information on the concept, or showed you how to do the problems. Yes, that's right. NO explanation. Rob and I were both so confused by that book, and the whole process didn't really work for Emma. Lucky for her, Emma's father is a math teacher. 

This year she was presented with a choice. She could use the Core Connections textbook and work with a group as she did last year, or she could get the regular Algebra I textbook and listen to a lecture by her teacher. She chose the second alternative. For the first couple of weeks she seemed honestly amazed that learning math could be so straight-forward. Apparently a grammar textbook is in order as well, and will be purchased as soon as our grammar-teaching friend recommends a good one.

In between academic crises, she is learning to skateboard. This is fun because it involves me getting a latte and reading on the park bench while she works on balance and speed. Seems like a good combination to me.
I texted this photo to her (taken when she was trying on that sweater at the store) to remind her that she's a long-legged beauty who is just temporarily taller than the males of the species.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

It's Cold!

It's cold in this house. I was trying to hold out, but when I saw that temps were supposed to go down into the upper 30s last night, I set the heat to hold at 63. This morning I bumped that to 65. It's only supposed to go up to 59 outside today, so I don't think I'm going to get any help by opening windows. I was really hoping for a couple of weeks where we didn't need either heat or A/C, but this is the midwest, so I should have known better.

We're having a difficult hormone week in this house. Emma had a killer headache yesterday evening. Also, she is tall, taller than anyone in her class, boy or girl. She's been feeling enormous and ugly this past week. Being tall is a wonderful blessing once you move out of school and into real life. But as an adolescent, when it takes boys a couple of extra years to catch up in growth, it can be very difficult for your self-esteem.

Speaking of testosterone, Rob hasn't been sleeping as soundly and today he complained that after putting a fleece on (in anticipation of heading outside) and then doing some last-minute things in the house, he got overheated. This has always happened to me --I get too hot when I'm working, and too cold when I'm sitting. I think that what really happens to men as they age is that they turn into women. Except they don't have to bleed every month. 

I joined the Y, and went swimming last week in the afternoons after teaching. I was literally the only person in the pool last Tuesday. It was fabulous. I'm lucky to be able to go during times when it's not busy. The pool is great too --not too warm, but not too chilly, so you don't feel cold when you first get in, and you don't get too warm after swimming laps. My only (very minor) complaint is that the depth of the shallow end of the lap lanes is only 3'6", and I feel like I'm going to scrape my knees on the bottom :-)

My favorite people, at a restaurant on our way home from Ann Arbor.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

2014 Art Charm Exchange!

I will be participating in the Art Charm Exchange for my third time! Jen Cameron, of Glass Addictions hosts this exchange, but it's much more than just an exchange. It's real purpose is as a fundraiser for a wonderful organization called Beads of Courage

Last year she raised $1500! And I say "she" because while many bead artists create wonderful charms to auction off, she does all the hard work, and does a wonderful job promoting the charm auction. That is how the money is raised.

Jen herself is a lampwork artist, and below is a photo of the glass charms she created for last year's auction.

The reveal and auction will take place November 14th!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Christening and a New Guitar

After our long drive home on Sunday, I checked my Fitbit and found that I'd walked only 396 steps that day! Monday I made an extra effort to move, because I felt like I desperately needed it.

We decided to take my new car on the drive, to show it to my parents and sister. It was great and we averaged 36 miles per gallon. It would have been better if we hadn't had to sit in that traffic south of Chicago on the way out :-)

A long time ago, I thought (out loud on this blog somewhere, but I can't find it) about replacing my Obama election bumper sticker on the old Corolla with something different, but I never did get around to that. This time I decided to keep things relatively simple, and bought another Coexist sticker, and a flaming chalice sticker. (The chalice symbolizes Unitarian Universalism.)  

The car color is "Latte", which seems appropriate for me, and I actually christened it with a latte on the day we drove home, by putting my unfinished latte on the roof while getting in, and forgetting it.

Another reason for taking my car was this handy little built-in nav system.

This digital center console also plays music from your phone via bluetooth :-) It's a fabulous upgrade in technology for me and I'm enjoying it.

We had a nice visit with my parents and siblings. 

My mom --she doesn't really like having her photo taken but I think she looks darn good for 86!
Emma with my brother, with an electric guitar of his that he gave to her during the visit. My brother is 6'4". He makes Emma look short :-)
On Tuesday, when Emma went back to school, I spent the day going to physical therapy and running errands, which included grocery shopping and getting the latte washed off the car. (The college had a "development day" Tuesday, which we decided to skip.)

At the end of the day I found I had walked more than 5000 steps for the first time!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Poor Timing

I am sitting in a hotel room, waiting for Rob to get out of the shower. So of course I figured I'd use my time wisely and update you all on our travels.

Yesterday we drove the 8 hours from home to Ann Arbor, MI. The problem with heading east from northern Illinois is that there isn't any way to avoid Chicago. We always swing south of Chicago, which adds distance but actually subtracts time, and minimizes the number of times you have to hit the brake and accelerator. Driving through Chicago is a constant repetition of 80 mph followed by 15 mph, then 80 again. Your driving foot is in severe pain by the time you get through the city. 

However, choosing to travel on Labor Day weekend is pretty stupid, so the traffic was horrible south of Chicago as well. Mostly crawling or stopping. And cursing at the drivers who zoom by you in the lane that's ending and then force their way back in a hundred cars ahead of you. 

When I made our hotel reservations I was taken aback by how expensive many of the hotels were. I made them late, and thought I'd just waited too long. But this morning when I went down to the lobby to get a coffee, I was met by a sea of obviously insane adults, all wearing dark blue t-shirts with Michigan across them in yellow. Like this:
Not only is today a home game, but it's the home opener. Because we normally travel here in the summer, it never occurred to me that this would be an absolutely horrible weekend to come.

I also found out during the drive yesterday (through FB) that one of my favorite authors was here in Ann Arbor yesterday, for a book launch --Louise Penny, of Inspector Gamache fame :-(  Gone today, of course.

All in all? Very poor timing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Swimming Along

Well, we are down a hamster. This one died quietly in its bed, rather than sneaking out of the cage and dying on the road to adventure. I think this will be the last one --I think we're past the hamster phase. And they were cute, but I can handle the less-mess.

Tomorrow is my one-month follow-up appointment with my surgeon, although because of scheduling issues, it's actually been two months. I am still having pain in my leg, but wouldn't you know that today it felt better? That's how it is with doctors. The day of the appointment it's never as bad, then the day after it'll get worse again. I'm actually looking forward to the x-ray because I'd like to know for certain that this pain is not an actual problem with the implant.

First day of school for Emma was yesterday --yes, I took no photos and I fed her a donut for breakfast. Because I'm a lazy mom in that way. Taking first-day-of-school-photos just isn't in my genes, and I've decided not to force it anymore.  She was anxious about returning to the chaos of all those kids, but I knew that she'd be fine once she was actually there. And she was.

We are having our first school year ever without anyone teaching evening classes. Both parents home, all week nights! It's kind of cool and relaxing, somehow. For many years, Rob chose to teach a couple of evening classes so he could teach the higher-level classes like Calculus. He did this because presumably students taking Calculus are taking it because they need/want it for their academic goals, and you could expect them to be somewhat motivated to learn. Not so lately. The attrition rate in the higher-level classes is now as bad as that in College Algebra --something that has really perplexed us. If you hate math so much, why would you go into a field that required you to use it? But anyway, he gave up teaching those classes and chose all lower-level classes which allowed him to have a days-only schedule.

One nice side benefit to this is that he now picks Emma up from school every day (well, M through Th. Neither of us has to be on campus on Fridays, so we'll probably divvy that day up). I drop her off, and he picks her up. This means my afternoons are a bit more relaxed. One of the things I'm looking into is joining the local Y, so I can swim in the afternoons, after I'm done teaching. It's kind of nice to have that afternoon freedom :-)

So this will be me in the next week or so:

Now doesn't that look peaceful? :-)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

This Is Untitled :-) Because sometimes I just can't.

The tomatoes have come in. All of them at the same time. I may have to freeze some --I can't believe how great these turned out. None of them have ended up being all wonky or having any problems. And the Sun Gold cherry tomatoes are just like eating candy, they're so sweet. (I've tried lots of yellow cherries that say they're like Sun Gold, but none has had this incredibly sweet flavor. This is all because of my mother's Mother's Day gift-certificate to me --White Flower Farm is very expensive, but their plants are consistently good.) So, today for lunch I cut up a tomato, doused it in some basalmic vinegar, and chopped up fresh mozzarella cheese. Yum! Although I should've planted basil and never got around to it.

It's hotter and more humid today than it has been all summer. It's supposed to hit 94 on Friday. Of course! Because the college semester has started, so I have to get all gussied-up and go in and teach. Emma is still off this week, and is in the pool with a friend as I write. And has two other friends coming tomorrow afternoon to swim. But she starts school next week, and the evenings are already significantly shorter, so pool time is rapidly shrinking. So sad.

I have two tiny scabs left on my incision, but my Physical Therapist okayed me for aquatic therapy this Friday. I'm taking that as an okay to swim in our pool this weekend too! So there.

I've made it through the first two days of the semester. Which means I've met each of my on-campus classes once. I tend to take it easy the first day of class --I like to get a feel for the class, just talk to them about what we're going to be doing, rather than jumping right in with a lecture. The MW class is small --just 15 students. They felt a bit awkward. The class today (a TTh class) is full, at 30 students, and had a much better vibe. It might be the time difference. The TTh class is at 10:30 am. Better students tend to sign up for classes sooner, and get the best (morning) time slots. The MW class is at noon, and afternoon classes tend to have a larger percentage of slackers.

I've been playing with a zentangle. It's not finished yet --there is still one petal to go. I'm not thrilled with all the petals, but I really like the more organic patterned ones :-)