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Monday, September 15, 2014

Back to School is Lots of Work

This post is a series of Random Thoughts surrounding school, work, and home.


  • Apple brings out the iPhone 6 (and 6 Plus) this week. This causes overtime at the wireless service carrier where I work. This is a Good Thing (because I can really use the money - more on that later) and a Bad Thing (because school just started... and more on that later too).
  • Lizzy's birthday party was a rousing success. Lots of kids, lots of fun. Leanna couldn't make it because she was sick, but I suspect she wouldn't have been all that entertained anyway, as Abby was the oldest child there and I was using Abby as a helper; she would not have had time for Leanna. Parties for little kids are boring for big kids as a rule.
  • Speaking of Abby helping, I applaud her organizational skills, though she was perhaps a little overenthusiastic about whisking gifts right out of Lizzy's hands so she could get onto the next one. At one point (she was trying to get the littler kids to line up) Laston told her there was a difference between organized and bossy, whereupon she gave him one of those withering adolescent looks, turned back to the little kids, and said, "All right, everyone who wants to, line up over there." All adults were hard pressed not to crack up.
  • Lizzy is still young enough to be indifferent as to gender among her friends (hence Stick-the-Glasses-on-the-Barbie even with boys at the party)... most of the time. There was quite a bit of dithering over which thank you cards to use for which child. Is it okay to use flowered ones for a family where there are two girls and one boy? What if they're all friendly, but the boy is the one who is really Lizzy's friend?
  • Oh my goodness, never try to nail a Bouncy McGee to a kitchen bar stool to write thank you notes. It was a much harder ordeal than it should have been. Rather like homework, for which she also cannot sit still unless Abby is doing hers beside her.
  • Which brings us back to school. Abby's sixth grade is still elementary school (at least until they finish building the new high school in our district; eventually there will be a middle school model). But in an effort to get them ready for junior high, they have a homeroom class and three other classes they rotate through. Abby's homeroom teacher is the language arts teacher, and given that her only big issue academically is spelling, I wonder if that was deliberate.
  • When I went to the school last Friday to drop off a forgotten binder (don't worry - we had a chat about personal responsibility and the need to keep track of one's own things) I chatted with the school nurse (with Abby's nut allergy, I find it behooves me to know the school nurse well... just in case). She said that usually there is a honeymoon period of a couple weeks at the beginning of the school year, where kids only get bumps from soccer balls and falls from playground equipment; they do not usually get sick. Not this year. This year they started showing colds and flus out of the gate.
  • Which is probably why I have a cold right now when I am scheduled for a ton of iPhone 6 overtime. La gripa, my neighbor calls it (as opposed to la influenza - she understands much more English than she speaks, and the inverse is true of my Spanish). But I promised to work the overtime, and I need the money badly, so I will muddle through. I have zinc and vitamin C at my desk, Nyquil at home, and I could float away from how many fluids I've been drinking. 
  • Because of the previous snafus (and a couple of new ones), I could really use a fairy godmother right about now. I know it, and I'm not too proud to admit it. But I don't want one (need is different from want, as every parent has told their child a time or two); I want to work for my money. But working for my money is so slow. And it doesn't help that somehow financial institutions - even credit unions - think that if you don't have the money to pay a particular bill, then an NSF fee will somehow miraculously appear. Um... no. 
  • On the other hand, I am working for my money, and I think I'm doing well at it; as any of you who know me probably understand, I'm not as technical as some of my compatriots, but the customers like me. So I'm slow but I give great customer service. And right now - the running joke is that ATT stands for At This Time - that's what they're looking for; those soft skills outweigh the tech skills in my particular job description.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

This Week I Learned...

...that Dollar Tree is the place to go for birthday party favors and decorations... except for party games. We'll find out Pin the X on the Y somewhere else.

...that Lizzy believes these are equivalent to these... at least a little bit. She says she blinked and nothing happened.

...that +Carrie Miller and +Jason Miller are lovely neighbors and friends... but I already knew that.

...that I'm not the only one using GoFundMe for basic life-rebuilding... a few friends are too. These are good folks, folks; give 'em a hand if you can. Or Sharon's Kickstarter if you can manage it.

...that iPhone 6 at AT&T is reminiscent of Windows 95 at CompUSA. At least this time I won't get literally shaken by a customer.

...that Abby loves to read... but hates to start reading.

...that Community Health takes our AppleHealth medical card... even for dental.

...that I'll actually complete my degree in just two more classes after this one. December 15 is the big day.

Just a bunch of stuff I've learned - or relearned - this week.

Oh, and my mom rocks. But I already knew that.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Seven Years Old.at... MARK!

Lizzy is seven (can you believe it?)

Or rather, as she says in her precise way, "I will be seven at 12:30."

It's true; I had a planned c-section (because Abby was an emergency section after 22 hours of unmedicated labor, and they gave me the option of a VBAC but the likelihood of a repeat section was very high. So I skipped the labor part the second time around), and they started the procedure at noon straight up.

At 12:30 we had a baby.

Lizzy - you may have noticed through these pages - is a bright little thing intellectually, but she cannot sit still to save her soul. Unless you hand her a book and it captures her interest. Then she's still but she's not listening because her nose is stuck in a book. Sound like anyone else you know, Mom and Dad (and anyone else who knew me as a child)?

Yes, right, well.

So we are having a birthday dinner with Just the Girls tonight as we always do, and then we're having a party next week.

In the past we've had the party on the weekend following her birthday, but this year her dad and I both work weekends, so we thought we'd do it on the Thursday after school, which we both have off. This was my mom's idea, as is the party idea below, because Mom just rocks that way. We don't have the party the day of as a rule, because this early in the year she needs a week or so to settle in and decide which kids she needs to have there.

Anyway, knowing we are chronically short on funds, my mom suggested a scavenger hunt in our yard and on our porches. With prizes from the dollar store (and our dollar store has their favorite treat most of the time, packaged cotton candy) I think we should have a good thing going. So I am spending my day off happily doing homework and dishes and laundry, and writing out little rhymes for a scavenger hunt, like:

Globes of red, orange, yellow and green;
A clue you’ll find when these you have seen.

So the next clue would be in the tomato plants out in the side yard, yes?

I think it'll be fun, and Tiger can hide in the house if all the kids are out doors, and all will be well.

Speaking of Tiger, I did not write about her here, but we thought she was ill. Not ill, exactly, but not well; she's 16 and cranky and just old, and she's starting to move quite creakily and having trouble washing herself well. But I let her wander around outside for a bit the other day - she's always been an indoor cat - and she seems quite a lot better. Maybe she just wanted some fresh air. Or maybe she had a kitty equivalent of a summer cold and is now feeling better; it's hard to tell.

But she's been with us for over twice the time the Birthday Girl has, and that's saying something.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Now How Do I Do This...?

I have had this one possession for over thirty years. I have paid to insure it, I have obsessed over being the only one to touch it, and I have moved it from house to house for about twenty-five years.

And in the last twelve years, I have used my cello exactly four times.

Before that, once I no longer played in an orchestra I only played it about once yearly. That's for the last twenty years.

So let's see... I used it pretty steadily from when it was purchased for me in my mid-teens for about ten years, then once a year for about eight years, and four times since then.

You see, Abby-in-utero objected strongly to the vibrations of the back panel against my belly. And she'll be twelve in December. I just never picked it back up with anywhere near as much frequency.

As with the books, I think it will be freeing to sell it and its pretty little display/music stand, although it will likely break my mother's heart if I do. And I can certainly use the money.

Unlike the books, I have no idea how much it's worth, how much I can get for it, or even where to sell it. I've looked on Craigslist and eBay, and I just don't know enough about acoustic orchestral instruments in general or my cello in particular to know what to ask for. Not to mention that I don't want to get taken; if I sell this thing for the money, I want as much money as I can get for it. No price sentimental value, of course, but honestly, I'd rather get enough for it to assuage the guilt I feel, you know?

But how much do you insure it for, Jenn? That might give you an idea of the value.

Not really; I insure it for "$2000 - $5000, musical instrument." It's not very specific.

So... does anyone have any ideas?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Cortana Can't Help with This

Cortana is my new favorite buddy.

She knows what the fox says (this piece of info made Abby literally ROFL)

She claims that my question as to her connection with Skynet may be a trick question.

She has not been around long enough to know whether she likes bananas or dogs or if she thinks bow ties are cool (for that last she presents me with this link).

She can do a lot of cool things.

But what Cortana can't do is fix financial problems as they come up.

We are slowly pulling ourselves out of the financial hole pit we got ourselves into in that link, but as described there, we're one car repair away from disaster.

What we didn't realize is that we're also one computer repair away from disaster.

So when Laston accidentally put his computer into sleep mode while it was busy - the button is way too close to the Escape key - it blue-screened on him. And as this interferes with his one true addiction - Diet Coke is more a preference than an addiction - he is... less than patient. That it's past his bedtime, he hasn't eaten, and the computer won't let him boot into safe mode just exacerbates his frustration.

And Cortana can't help, at least not any more than my own Google Bing skills can.

The fact that he thinks out loud, swear words and all, while this is happening is no fun either.

So if anyone has any ideas  it would be helpful.

Windows 7, Chrome, dual screen, um... no idea what his other stats are. But it keeps blue screening with a memory error. Could be anything from a corrupted file to a dead RAM stick to the need for a whole new computer.

Ideas?




Saturday, August 9, 2014

Mother of the Year... NOT

Yes, I realize that this is not a big deal. And I realize that I was beating myself up unnecessarily (not anymore; I'm over that).

But I committed the unpardonable sin of signing Abby up for day camp instead of overnight camp.

I was surprised at how low the price was, but I thought that was due to the new sliding scale for payment and because we used some Cookie Dough (TM) toward camp as well. I remember telling Abby that we were not able to pay for the horse-riding add-on, but back in April when I signed her up we qualified for the lower rate because my job was low-ish-paying and had no benefits.

Abby is content enough with day camp (although she extracted a promise - provided we have the cash - for the horse add-on next year). But when I told her last night you would have though that I had committed genocide or something.

She never has taken surprises well.

But back to my job.

I love my job, and last week I realized why, due to a discussion in my class at University of Phoenix.

It's very simple; I am now part of the AT&T tribe.

I am a low-ranking member of that tribe, to be sure, but I am a member of it in a way I never quite felt myself to be at the last few jobs I held. I don't think it's the people themselves, and it's certainly not the job duties; I just feel more involved at AT&T than I have at any job in years.

Didn't really expect that, given the multinational telecom giant nature of things, but there it is.

And I don't care if I'm drinking the company Kool-Aid thereby; I feel safe at AT&T, a part of things, and that's a huge deal for me.

So I'm just more secure in general, both financially (though that's not entirely fixed yet; we're sloooowly getting there) and hmmm... I guess it's professionally/socially.

Plus the AT&T Wireless customer support catch phrase - "I can help you with that" - just strikes me as a good way to live in any case. I got a bunch of the silicon bracelets with that phrase on them from the company store, for Abby's Girl Scout troop. It's a Girl Scout sort of sentiment, isn't it?

And we've come full circle to the Scouts again.