Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Teen In the House

 This morning at 7:05 I became the parent of a teenager. He informed me last night that he needs to go check out some books on how to be rude...

He doesn't really need to do that. He's got it down pretty well when he wants to, just like any normal kid...

But a lot of times he's pretty sweet, too. Last night he thanked all of us at the table for many things we've done for him, including buying him all his meals, giving birth to him (that only applies to me), helping him with his homework, and being there for him (specifically for his brother).

Don't know how he's growing up so fast.

Seems like just yesterday we started this tradition of taking photos in one of his dad's button-downs, and now he's almost all grown into it. 

Labor Day Weekend Activities.

We went to the Balloon Classic, a tradition in the Springs for almost 40 years. They say this will be the last time the balloons launch here, so we're so glad they lifted off. Two years ago we tried to go, and it was too windy, so the balloons just sat there on the ground. I've really wanted to share this part of my childhood with my own kids, so I was so thankful the weather was calm.

Then on Sunday we drove to Alamosa, stayed in a fun hotel, and went to the Great Sand Dunes Nat'l Park on Monday morning. All in celebration of the oldest's birthday. Yeah, I'm now mom to a teenager. Not sure when that happened (except the obvious answer of 7:05 this morning).

We were up at 6:00, driving to the dunes by 7:00, climbing by 8:00. It started out cool, but soon we were carrying our sweatshirts and sweating.

We took one picture of all our shadows, but we were just standing there. "Pretend to walk!" I said. This was the result.

Josiah loved climbing the highest parts of some dunes. However, he and his brother both stopped short of the highest dune, Star Dune, while Ariel and I trudged on.

Throwing sand is a must.

Atop Star Dune.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Old Age?

On Monday afternoon my left shoulder began hurting slightly. By evening I couldn't move it, and still can't. It's in constant pain, sometimes worse than others. Nighttime is awful. It throbs from my shoulder to my elbow. While there is an extremely tender (painful!) spot on my shoulder, it hurts all the way to my elbow, and occasionally all the way to my hand. What it really feels like is someone unhooked a muscle or tendon or something, twisted it up like a rubber band, and reattached it. It is most comfortable at a 90-degree angle, so that's where it is most of the time, although occasionally I let it hang. But I can't lift it without using my right hand, and if I let it drop too quickly, that also hurts. It's like my arm has suddenly become too heavy for my shoulder to deal with. If I were right-handed, it wouldn't be quite as much of a nuisance, but I'm not.

For four days I was thinking, "Is this what "old age" means? That a body part just decides it's not going to work for you anymore? That the next forty or fifty or sixty years mean nothing, because it's just done?" because I couldn't remember doing anything to cause this pain.

Yesterday came, and went something like this:

2:00am - crying and crying out from the pain. My Amazing Man tries to help, but I'm not comfortable any way I lay. Every way I move brings more stabs of pain. I can get up and go to the bathroom, thankfully, and can screw the cap of the bottle of aleve while holding it in my right.

5:45 am - up for work. My Wonderful Man helps me get pj's off and work clothes on. I can't do that by myself at all. I can bend over the bathtub and get my hair wet, but I can't towel dry it. He helps with that. I have to brush my teeth and put on my make-up with my right hand. NOT easy. I can blow dry my hair, but not use the flat iron for my bangs. He tries to help. It's obvious he's not used to doing that, because I re-took over. I do my best one-handed. I can get my necklace off it's hanger, but can't put it around my neck. I can get my earrings on by pushing my left elbow up with my right hand.

6:30 - we leave for work. My car's in the shop overnight, so MWM drives me. I can drive, right handed, when I have a car.  What I can't do is rest my left hand on his leg while he drives, like I usually do.

7:45 - students arrive. I can write on the board the same way I put on my earrings, but not too high. The students are forced to deal with notes low on the whiteboard.  My TA has to hang things on the wall for me, because I can't reach up to do it.  Fortunately, the morning is filled with tests, so all I have to really do is walk around the room and monitor.

11:45 - I tell my students I have a doctor appointment, and won't be back after lunch. They know what's going on with my arm - obviously. One girl raises her hand and says, "Do you think it's from when you tripped on the stairs on Monday?"

Omg. I DID. And I'd completely forgotten, even by Monday afternoon when the pain started. On my way to my doctor, but now it's a workman's comp issue. I go to my doctor anyway. Call our HR fantastic lady. She gets my claim filed. I head from my doctor's office to the Urgent Care practically across the street. My Fantastic HR Lady calls back. DON'T X-ray. I need to see a workman's comp. doctor first. She emails me a list. I head home.

1:30 (?) - I look at the long list of workman's comp urgent cares I can go to, write down the address of the closest one, and head out. Fifteen minutes later I'm walking up on an office door that says they closed two weeks ago. I head another 15 minutes north, hoping to find another one, because I sort of remember where another one was located. I can't find it. Head home.

3:00 - This time I decide to call places before I head out. One tells me she can't find my school on her list, so I should probably not come. Another is closed. So is another. Another doesn't take walk-ins past 3:00. Another's phone is having technical difficulties, please try later. We (by this it's "we" because my man is home) decide to just go to the urgent care at one of the local hospitals. We get there only to discover that, of course there is an ER there, but the urgent care associated with the hospital is another 20 minutes away.

4:00 - We finally get there and I'm in so much pain I can't sit still. Fortunately, there's no one in the waiting room, so I get seen fairly quickly. They, of course, have to take x-rays. I was in so much pain from twisting my arm and body that I'm bawling, can't walk, am cold, etc.

6:00pm - The good thing is, there are no broken bones, the bad thing is, we have to just guess at the cause of the pain and inability to use my arm. Severe muscle damage maybe? Deep internal bruising? The good thing is, they gave me pain killers and in another 30 minutes or so I'm more comfortable than I've been in four days. The bad thing is all they can do for me after that is refer me to a doctor (who hopefully can then refer me to an orthopedic doctor), and put my arm in a sling. The good thing is, workman's comp will be footing the bill. The bad thing is I won't be climbing or dancing again for a while.

But hey, at least it's not just old age. Unless you count the fact that I didn't even remember I'd fallen just a few hours after it happened. But I'm not going to go there.

Update (Sept 10) - Well, my shoulder was dislocated. Not enough to show up on an x-ray, evidently, but enough to do *all that* to me. It's much better now, and I'm going to PT for some help on making it stronger, because it really doesn't need to do this every five years or so. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


I was called to the principal's office today.

He had finally gone through all the TCAP scores from last spring.

He started out with, "I know you had a pretty rough year last year..."

Uh oh. What's coming?

"But I couldn't wait until Friday to share this with you. All those parents who gave you such a hard time... Here is your vindication."

And he put the printout in front of me.

And although I don't yet have a copy of it, so I can't tell you exactly what the results were, I rocked it. For reading, writing, and math, I only had two or three students not make a year's worth of growth. I had about half make a year, and some make two.

"I knew instinctively that this was going to happen before it did... But I want you to know that there's no way you can chalk this up to 'relationships with kids.' This is instruction. This is good instruction. If everyone did this, our school would be in the top 10 percent. This is phenomenal."


People don't use that word very often.

Lately I've been contemplating my career. I really enjoy what I do. I've always felt that I was good at it.  Two years ago I was working at a school that was on a probationary period due to low test scores. We brought that school up to Performance Level. I left after that year, so I don't know how those students did specifically, but because fifth grade is such a pivotal year for testing, I knew I'd taught those kiddos well.

Today I got my proof.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Yellow Trail (aka Thomas Trail)

There were a lot of great things about the hike we took last week.

Like the water.

And the adorable pooch.

And the attitude reflected in this sign.

And some really weird nature.

But I think the best part was the wild raspberry bushes (thank you, bears!)

We couldn't hold them all! So we ate them.

Haircut and a Shave

He decided he wanted his head shaved.
I cut most of it with scissors, and then Ariel finished it up with the razor.


It was a LOT of hair.

And now everyone likes to rub his head.

But, he says, it's a win-win. They like to feel his short hair, and he gets a head massage.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Before and Afters - Outdoor Spaces

One of the things I really wanted to change about my house when I moved in was the two dirt patches which adorned both sides of the stairs up to the front porch (see the lovely top picture, below). So we headed to Home Depot one day to get some ideas. Ideas only. But as we were walking into HD we passed a pallet of pavers (see the bottom photo, below) that had been used and returned. So they had some glue on them, but they were also only $50. For the entire pallet. We originally passed it up and headed to the garden department. For ideas. Until A said, "You know, if you're thinking about those, we need to go back and get them. Now. Or someone else will." You know the end of the story. What you don't know is that the $50 dollar pallet was over 3,000 lbs. of pavers and, as we later calculated, worth over $500. I have some flowers on order, so I can't fill the beds yet, but look at the improvement!

 The entire porch got an overhaul, and probably cost about as much as those pavers. I painted the loveseat a darker brown and covered those hideous cushions with covers I found at the thrift store. Also from the thrift store are the bamboo vases, the curtain, and the few items you can see on the wall on the right in the top right photo. The hanging planters are from Ikea and the teal table is a recent sale find from World Market.
(I feel like I'm going to cave in on myself, looking at these two pictures (above). I really don't know how they ended up tilted in opposite directions like that, but I'm too lazy to do anything about it).

Finally, a quick shot of what the upper deck looks like as well. Quite different from when I bought the place. Of course, summer and full, green trees help a bit, too.