Monday, November 10, 2014

Just Go

Sometimes, when people are important, you must go be with them.

It is not the first time I've made that decision, nor will it be the last. Because it is always so worth it. 

Yes, sometimes the cost of an airplane ticket is a factor. Yes, sometimes there are scheduling conflicts. But those are hurdles that can be overcome, because "sometimes" is the key word here.

What can't be overcome is the regret of not going. 

I decided to fly to Texas two weekends ago, to hang out with one of my closest friends. It was a quick, two-day trip, but we hadn't seen each other in a couple years, so it was time.

Unfortunately, we didn't take any pictures together, but that's OK. We have some from last time we were together. 

And yesterday I got home from another whirlwind weekend - this time in Minnesota. My favorite aunt turned 80 on Friday, and while we didn't make it in time to see her that day (our plane got in at 9:00pm that evening), we drove the last two hours on Saturday morning and got to hang out with her and my cousins for 25 hours (minus sleeping time).

We drove up the north shore of Lake Superior for the day, at lunch together, walked around an old lighthouse, talked about how much we all love Minnesota lakes, and had wine in the evening. The next morning we took a very short walk (short, because Minnesota in November is no joke), and had bacon and eggs for breakfast before setting out for the airport again. 

I adore this side of my family.

I AM planning to stay home next weekend... :-)

Sunday, October 19, 2014


So. There's been a bit of a saga going on over here for a number of months now. Some sagas take time, you know? It's not much of a saga in the sense of anything really happening. More of a saga in terms of what could happen.

It probably started over a year ago, when my man started questioning the property line in the back of my house. Having been a first-time-single buyer, I didn't question my realtor, who said the fence in the back was my property line. And I assumed the title company had done their job. Ok, let's be honest. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a title company until this saga started unfolding.

It's not like it hadn't been brought up before, the strangeness of my backyard, that is. A few people said, "Wow, your back yard sure is tiny." Or wondering why there were a few stone steps with a fence right down the middle, so I have half and the neighbors have half. I just shook my head and said, "I don't know why it's that way. It just is." But my man knows a lot about a lot, and he was more adamant with his questioning.

 (Fence right through the steps)

At one point we even approached the neighbor. Not with any questions, but actually to ask if we could buy a portion of their property from them. There is a piece behind my house, on my foundation level, that we were thinking we could use to build an addition. Before the words were even fully out, the neighbor said no, and his wife said, "Then where would my dogs go to the bathroom?" So we just exchanged small talk about the neighborhood for a few more minutes, and he mentioned this addition he'd built a number of years ago.

 (The roof of his addition centimeters from my fence)

Because things like this aren't the biggest priority when there's just a "hmmmm?" in your head, it took us a few months to make the rounds to the Manitou Springs city offices and both the city and regional buildings in Colorado Springs. We didn't even really know what we were looking for at first, but we got copies of paperwork detailing my and the neighbor's lots, and found out that he'd never pulled any permits for either his addition or his garage. Nor, for that matter, the A/C unit he was currently installing.

We looked at my ILC, which is not a formal survey, not admissible in court, and done in 2005. We called the company that had completed it and asked about it. They didn't own the original, so they couldn't give that to us (and the company that does own the original is out of business, so we were out of luck there), but the man we spoke to did send us an electronic copy of ours, with arrows pointing to all of the areas that aren't on the original - they had been drawn onto mine. Then they sent a guy out to look at our property, as we were thinking about getting a survey done. However, this is Manitou (= lots of crazy property issues), and surveys are expensive. Like $3,000 to $5,000 dollars expensive. I dropped that idea pretty quickly.

But we did go to our city planner's office with the ILC. Which, I forgot to mention, actually has my neighbor's house plotted on it, OVER my lot line. Yep, his addition looked like it was not only on my property, but someone had actually drawn it in on my document. The planner called them into his office, but without a proper survey, there really was nothing he could do.

It was some time in here that I saw the neighbor outside, and asked him again about the addition. I didn't say much, but told him I was wondering about the property line in the back. He then denied ever having built the addition.

With nothing else to do now on my own, I filed a claim against my title company (by now it had been explained to me what one was and what their job was - to make sure there were no issues like this prior to purchase). Oh, I also forgot to mention that I'd called the previous owner as well. It took a month for her to call me back, but when we spoke, she told me she didn't know anything about the property lines in the back of the house. See why this was a long, ongoing, something-could-happen-but-isn't-happening saga?

Back to the title company. I sent them pictures of my/the neighbor's property. I told them about his addition. I told them about the ILC. I sent them copies of the one I have, as well as the one that was sent to us with all the arrows on it. And, again after a couple months of silence (for the most part), someone there obviously decided there was enough of a question that a survey needed to be done. A man was out here for a few hours last Thursday completing that.

And while he wouldn't say much once he was done ("I don't want to create bad blood between neighbors"), it was quite clear from his chuckling that my fence is not actually my lot line. All he said was, "Your neighbor is going to have some problems."

So now we know. But at the same time, what do we know? Only definitively that his addition was built on my property. I still don't know:
*What the title company's responsibility is to rectify anything. They didn't do their job, and I, therefore, bought a property with incorrect property lines. Do they pay me something? Do they pay for legal representation? No clue.
* Does my neighbor need to give me property-tax money, since he's using part of my property?
*Will he be able to stay on that land? What kind of rights does he have if he's been on it, undisputed, for X number of years?
*Or will he have to tear his addition down? Or will he have to give me a chunk of his property as an alternative to doing that?
*Will he now have to have that addition (and garage?) inspected and brought up to code because neither were ever permitted in the first place?
*Does he have squatter's rights, and then am I just s.o.l? Would we have to have new property lines drawn up , then?

See? Again, nothing really happening, but sort of happening. And something definitely will. The only thing I'm pretty sure about is that it won't happen quickly.

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.