Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Flaming balls of fire

These pictures make my stomach go ooooog. The Bob discovered that one of our surge protectors suffered a great deal of trauma during our power surge fiasco of a few weeks ago, and here is the evidence. Even as I type this, I can smell the melted plastic smell from the thing sitting in my dining room. And we didn't even notice the scorch marks on the baseboard heater until tonight. We are really really really really really lucky our house didn't burn to the ground.

To off set that oogy boogy feeling, I submit two pictures of Cooper from the last few months that just got out of my camera. He spent most of the summer obsessed with the black eyed susans out in the front of our house, and demanded one every time we entered or left the house. And he really likes pasta, can you tell?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Violas, ghosts and pools oh my

Well, the viola is gone. For anyone who reads this blog regularly, you know I was debating what to do with the viola I played for 9 years and then didn't play for 26 years. As it turns out a neighbor of ours is on the board of the local philharmonic orchestra, and by local I mean Waltham's orchestra, not the Boston Symphony. I think it is bizarre that Waltham has an orchestra, but there you are. I asked her if she knew of a way I could find a home for the viola, and she put my info out on her listserv, and through that a man who is the music coordinator for the Concord school system contacted me to see if I would be willing to donate it. Their system is low on quality stringed instruments. I was and am willing to donate it, and tonight he picked it up. It needs to be played, and now someone will get the chance to use it. Excellent.

Oz, of the blog Knocked Up over at babble.com asked me if we are still having ghost issues in the house, and did we have the house cleansed. Nothing odd has happened recently, but I did, based on a suggestion by a friend who is into feng shui, hang a crystal at the end of my stairs because our stairs end directly facing the front door, and from a feng shui perspective, that is BAAAAAAD. Your money and good luck flow right out of the house. A crystal or mirror at the end of the stairs is supposed to reflect the money and good luck back into the house. I have not had any sort of cleansing done yet. I did suggest to my brother he should come out. That is a big expensive trip though, so it probably won't happen soon. I might have to find someone else to come take a peek under the hood so to speak.

And tomorrow we close the pool for the season. Sigh. I haven't swum since Labor Day, as it has been FRIGID, but it is always sad to close it up again. The leaves are falling into it, all scarlet and yellow, floating on the water. Now the dogs will have more yard space, because they will walk on the pool cover. Cooper will probably think he can walk on it, so that will be a challenge.

And finally, this morning as I was getting ready to leave after dropping Cooper off at day care, I turned around to find my child in a firefighter hat, which is not that unusual, and a pair of red Bob the Builder safety glasses. That part cracked me up. He won't wear sun glasses, but safety glasses, yes indeed. He was running around hammering everything that didn't move, glasses and hat and all. I begged one of the teachers to make sure a picture was taken. So if I get one, you will benefit for sure because it was HYSTERICAL.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Challenge of Leadership

First of all I would like to say how happy I am that my not so secret passions of Dancing With the Stars and the Amazing Race are back on TV. It also makes me happy that the Amazing Race has producers named things like Hayma Screech and Bertram Van Munster. Seriously.

I spent half a day on Friday and all day on Saturday attending a strategic planning meeting for the college at which I work. We have a relatively new president, and a year ago we went through this same exercise, bringing together the key management level people and key faculty members of the college to plan the direction the college will go in the next 5 years. Last year was the first time the college really did something like this, involving all the constituencies and at first I thought it would never work. Too many cooks in the kitchen so to speak. But amazingly it did work. We were able to identify key agenda items that the college needed to address in the short term as well as long term, and come up with a mission statement as well as a positioning statement.

This year was pretty much the same deal. We reviewed what we had settled on last year, where we stood in terms of completing the short term goals, the longer term goals, the strengths and weaknesses we had identified of the college and then began working on where to go from here. We broke out into small groups four times through out the day and a half exercise to focus on the various tasks. All went pretty well except for two of the break out sessions.

The first bump in the road came when our task was to come up with suggestions for either a community service or social justice issue that the college could embrace and get behind as an entire community. We have several offices on campus which manage a wide variety of community service or social justice related groups and activities. The goal here was not to replace those efforts with a campus wide initiative, but to select one initiative where we as an institution could really make a difference by putting our combined efforts into it. A good idea as far as I could see. Until I got into my break out session and one of the members of my group was the director for spiritual life on campus. She immediately said she was against this exercise. She felt that community service efforts only work if it grows organically from the students up. That you cannot mandate participation and be successful. I suggested that by having administration of the college embrace a particular issue, it sent the message that we as an institution took the issue, whatever issue it was, seriously and wanted to make a difference and that would lead students to buy into it, to embrace it. She disagreed. It has to come from the kids she said. I said okay, lets look at churches, synagogues, temples of any sort. People are drawn to attend a particular one because it stands for something. You already know what a Catholic church stands for when you decide to become a member. You don't think "I will go to this church and I will make it into what I want it to be". The Pope kind of dictates what the church stands for. So after agreeing to at least participate in the exercise, but to state her general displeasure with the whole concept, we went on with the exercise. As it turns out, we decided to do a study to find out what issue has the greatest need that also intersects with our ability to make a difference as an institution.

The other painful session, which happened to be the last one, was focused on the task of taking the 20 or so action items we had identified from last year, pick one to get more specific about in terms of creating specific steps for achieving that goal. Some were HARD. For example, building a new athletic facility. We are a small college and we have built on most of our usable space already. While we need a new one very very badly, finding the space and the funding will be HARD. Anyway, I ended up in a group with the same director of spiritual life, the athletic director, and the dean of students, to name a few. This was the most painful hour I have spent professionally in a long time. The dean of students said NO to everything that would mean more work for her department and kept trying to get us to focus on retention of first year students and advising. The athletic director wanted to do the athletic facility. The spiritual life person wanted to focus on how to get more staffing for her office by hiring work study students and kept finding ways to disagree with anything that made more work for the advising office. No one could agree on ANYTHING.

I am pretty good at distilling a discussion down to the talking points. Every time I managed to get someone to focus and give us some bullet points for our action plan, someone else would immediately change the subject and say they didn't want to talk about that, they wanted to talk about this ENTIRELY DIFFERENT TOPIC. And not in a friendly, cooperative, supportive manner, but in a yelling and pushy kind of way. I really didn't care WHAT initiative we focused on, because we would end up doing them all sometime in the next four years. But in order to get one jump started we needed to pick one and get jiggy with planning. The president was not going to accept that we could not come to consensus and kept yelling at each other.

It was eye opening and frustrating. It was disheartening. I expected a higher level of commitment to serving students from the people who serve as a dean of students or a director of spiritual life. Both were more interested in serving their own interests in terms of not making more work for themselves, or their friends on campus or somehow getting more help for themselves.

The good news was the overall, the efforts of the whole group were worthwhile. We came up with great ideas, bonded with people we didn't know well before, and ate some good food. And a different group focused on plans for a new athletic center, so we may end up with one yet!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Real Ol Blue Eyes

Back when I was much younger, my mother informed me that while many people considered Frank Sinatra to be "Ol Blue Eyes" the man she considered to be the REAL Ol Blue Eyes was Paul Newman. He was one of her favorites. And I have to say that over the years I have appreciated him too. He was an actor of extraordinary talent, a humanitarian, a family man who stayed married to the same woman for half a million years, and was from Ohio, which for anyone who has lived there for any length of time means he was practically family. And oh yeah, not too hard to look at, even as he got older. The guy had it. He was the whole package.

Today we have to say good bye to Mr. Newman. Many people have written much nicer more thoughtful things than I can write. People who actually knew him and worked with him. I will simply say that just coincidentally we happened to watch the movie Cars today, and it was one his last performances, as the voice of Doc Hudson, The Hudson Hornet and it was a great performance. You will be missed Paul Newman. Thanks for everything.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

That's right, I am talking about YOU

"Okay, am I blind or what?" asked The Bob last night. When I inquired as to what he was referring, he said he could not locate the rum. And here is where the primary difference between men and women, besides the biological ones of course, is most obvious. Looking for and finding things. I do not know why, but when men look for something, anything, whether it is the ketchup in the fridge or the remote to the TV, they only look at what is right in front of them. Heaven forfend they MOVE anything to look behind, under or around an object to find the item they seek.

The answer to his question was no, you are not blind, just male. The rum was hidden very ingeniously behind the vodka on the liquor shelf. That's right, behind the CLEAR liquid in a CLEAR bottle that you could see the rum through, if one wasn't blinded by the very existence of the vodka bottle to begin with.

My father and brother were just like this growing up. I could never figure out if it simply did not occur to them to move things to look for something else, or if it was just too frustrating to continue to look for something that was not immediately visible. Or is it laziness? The Bob is not a lazy man. He is one of the most helpful and involved dads and husbands I know. I listen to many other women complain about how absent and unhelpful their husbands are, and am supremely grateful for The Bob. But that doesn't mean I won't take this opportunity to question, and yes, mock.

Don't think I am without flaws, oh dear reader, I am flawed. However, when I am on my never ending quest for my missing keys, I turn over every odd piece of anything - book, sweatshirt etc. I can, and look in every pocket or purse to find them. I do not stand in the middle of a room and say I can't see them. Now, if I was really smart, I would always put the keys in the same place when I get home, so that I would always know where to find them. And in a world where I am not wrangling a 22 month old and fending off dogs as I get in the door, that might be possible. As it is I am lucky my keys even get taken out of the lock on the door before I close it again. Which sometimes they are not. I am helpful like that, though. I don't want the burglars to have to break and enter, just enter.

So anyway, to The Bob, yup, I am talking about you in the blog. But see how I said nice things too?

Monday, September 22, 2008

A comment on comments

Huh. I like reading Heather Armstrong's blog, Dooce.com. I don't ever think about commenting on her blog, even if I have thoughts on her postings and here is why - Friday's post on her blog has received, so far, 3148 comments. 3148. When I first read it, by the time I got around to reading it, there were already 300 or so. Then I checked again this morning, and it was up to 3009. In a few hours there were 140 more comments. All about what to name a dog.

I don't want that many people reading this blog. The responsibility seems enormous, and I work full time and have a child. I don't have time for reading 3148, wait, in two minutes it became 3152, comments. Seriously, in the time it took me to write those sentences, more people commented on what to name this dog she got a friend of hers to adopt from the Humane Society. More people than work at and attend this college combined commented on her blog. I am sure more than that READ her blog. Like me. I read it, I just don't comment. Do you think Heather is reading all of the comments? And what about her email? She must get thousands of emails a day. It is wigging me out being on Facebook. Someone I haven't thought about in 22 years friended me. And then I looked at who his friends are, and found someone I would rather not find again. Or more accurately, don't want to be found by. It isn't a stalker kind of thing. It was more of case of eliminating needy people from my life and not wanting them back in. I guess if that guy tries to friend me I can just not friend him back but that seems so high school and BAH this is why I wasn't going to do the Facebook thing.

And now it is 3167 comments. That is too many people with too much to say about what to name a dog. One they don't even know!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Musings on yard sales and Face Book

I have a love/hate relationship with the Yard Sale. I love getting rid of stuff and possibly making some cash in the process, I HATE haggling over a vase I have a 25 cent price on with someone who seems determined on getting it for a dime. For no good reason except to get it for less than it is priced.

I live in a neighborhood that runs a BIG yard sale once a year. In fact there is a neighborhood association, a newsletter and even a scholarship fund. They are organized. I would say "we" except I am not involved, yet, in the association. Anyway, we decided to participate in the yard sale this year, which was today. Two of my friends decided to join me, which actually worked out well. I think if you have more stuff out, more people stop by. Anyway, I managed to make about $120 selling the high chair, pack and play, baby car seat and two bases for the car seat, a working printer/scanner/copier we didn't need, an antique high chair that I have carted around for far too long and now do not need in my life, two windows from an old farm house that again, I have carted around for way too long and will never put to use, and a few other odds and ends. It was a gorgeous day, which helps, and it was a worthwhile effort. I didn't even have to haggle with people too much. Things were priced to sell!

The other good news is Cooper is too young to know I sold stuff that was his, and now my dining room has more, well, ROOM.

The other thing I did this weekend is get on Face Book. This was something I just didn't see fitting into my life. But I decided to see what it was all about. I just created a very basic profile, and a day later BAM I get this email that someone I went to college with wanted to be friends. Of course I said yes and thus began the trip down the rabbit hole, right into 1986. That would be the year I graduated from Geneva College. But finding Eric meant finding all of these other people and pictures of Geneva and one major flashback after another.

What I have also discovered is that if you don't think about someone or something for, oh 22 years, you forget things. Like names, faces, names, places, names. I need to find my year books to figure out who some of these people were then, so I can acquaint myself with who they are now.

I am also becoming aware of how much I have changed in the 22 years since I have been at Geneva and I am not talking about the number I see when I step on the scale. I am not as conservative or religious as I was at that time in my life. I don't think about these things much, until I am confronted with those memories, that institution that still stands for those sensibilities. My life has taken many turns I never would have imagined when I was sitting around my dorm room or talking with friends in the dining hall. I have very few regrets, if any. But it is an interesting exercise in introspection.

A person could spend a LOT of time blogging and face booking. I don't have that much to spare, what with the whole being a mom and working and launching my new singing career (HA), so I probably won't use either outlet to its fullest potential, but I will enjoy my trips to Wonderland when I go!

Friday, September 19, 2008

My heart melteth

With two words, my child made me melt. I gave him a kiss this morning and he said, completely of his own volition "Aboo mommy". Which is his way of saying I love you. That was the first time he has said it spontaneously. Pass the towel and mop me off the floor. It was like that French movie, Emelie, where she collapses in a heap of water when the guy she has a crush on even looks her way. Sploosh.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

To Party or Not to Party, that is the question

I am not talking about the election. I am not even going to go there in this forum. More than enough people have more than enough to say on that count, and frankly, whoever reads this blog doesn't really care about my political leanings one way or the other.

I will say that it is not unusual to pay $350 for a pair of glasses though. Everyone is making a big deal about Palin's glasses being "so expensive". Maybe in Alaska that is expensive, but not in Boston. You can get those at Lens Crafters for heaven's sake. But don't mistake my comments for support for her political positions. I am not talking about that. I am not going to talk about how the economy is in the crapper, the environment is taking hit after hit and filling the oil tank for my house makes me cry. Or about the fact that I have no confidence that our political system will solve any of these problems regardless of who gets into office because of special interests and personal agendas getting in the way of what is good for the people. NOT talking about it.

Anyway, the question of the day is whether we should plan a party for Cooper's 2nd birthday. We did not do anything big for his first. His grandparents were all in town and we had cupcakes and presents. That is it. He didn't know what was going on, although he loves a good baloon, so the big bunch we bought did make him happy.

He won't understand the concept of "birthday" this time either, but he would enjoy a gathering of toddlers and cake. Who doesn't? Love cake that is. Since his birthday is in November, an outdoor gathering is probably a no go, although I think the local ogranic farm, Drumlin Farm, where we go to see animals does birthday parties all year round. That might be fun. Who to invite would be the next concern. I am aware that there have been several birthday celebrations in the last year for our 3 year old friends that Cooper was not invited to. Despite the fact that other kids in his age range were, he wasn't. I am not sure if it is because they thought he was too young to be invited, or because he and the birthday child aren't close friends. I don't think I should decide who to invite or not invite based on whether we have been invited to their parties. Admittedly it was weird not to be invited to a sprinkler party for our twin neighbors' birthday last month, since we were right there, in our back yard when the other people began arriving and I realized hey they are having a party. And hey, Coop wasn't invited.

This whole line of thought brings me smack up against one of the things I hate about being human. That awful feeling you get when you realize that you have been left out. Whether purposely or as an oversight, you didn't get invited to _____. With people you would normally hang out with. I am 44 years old and still manage to feel crappy when this happens. I am generally a pretty self contained, self confident person who doesn't look too often outside of myself for ego strokes. I have friends, and I think on the whole I am likeable even if at times I should use that filter in my brain a bit more. Who isn't guilty of that. But when I realize that something has gone down and I wasn't included, I stop and wonder why. And feel momentarily at least, crappy. And now I get to worry about it for Cooper.

So my thought is I am going to invite everyone. No one gets left out. If they can't come, or choose not to, fine. But they get invited. When Cooper is old enough to make these choices himself, then we can talk about who he wants to include and why. We might have to still invite someone he wouldn't normally think to invite, because there will be that kid that gets left out and shouldn't, and I want my kid to be kind to those kids. Did you follow that?

I guess we will have a party! We might end up with 20 kids or 2, who knows. If anyone reading this has any suggestions about where one can host a party for toddlers, in November, please leave a comment!

Monday, September 15, 2008

I might need to lay down and take a nap

Stress does that to me. My brother and I joke that we have a genetic disorder, stress induced napping. SIN. Anyway, today was not fun for a variety of reasons, only two of which I can share. One, the dude I offered the position in my office to declined to come to work for me, mostly because of the money. Sigh. And then the Bob informed me that when he picked up Cooper from day care he got the "Cooper was having hard time with his listening today" speech. I have also gotten this speech, from the same teacher. She is new, so I am still feeling out how she interprets not quite 2 year old behavior. Tell me, how are you doing with those listening skills with the other 15 to 20 month olds in the class? As my neighbor said, that is like saying "he colors outside the lines". Whatever.

I realize that neither of those are earth shattering, even in combination they are pretty lame, but they were delivered on top of a whopper of a bad day in other respects, none of which I can actually talk about so I won't, but it was NOT FUN.

However, I did do something at the end of the day that was FUN. And scary. And creative. And scary. I joined the jazz ensemble at our college. I have not sung in a public forum in 4,256 years. I have missed it. One of my coworkers is in the ensemble, and in talking to him I discovered they were short on vocalists. Female ones. I figured what else do I do with my Monday evenings. Besides being a mom of course. So I went to rehearsal today. The guy who leads it is a real jazz musician, and by real I mean he performs for money in public and teaches music to other people. He COMPLIMENTED me. He said thank you for joining. He is excited about where we can go with this ensemble with all this talent. He said that. Meaning all of the participants, not just me.

It was a nice ending to a frustrating day. We are singing, so far, Take the A Train, New York State of Mind, Stormy Monday and Fire and Rain. The last one I am on the fence about, but it can sound good. I don't want to be that group of middle aged white people who do cover songs of 70's music. I LOVE jazz standards. But we will have fun and that is what it is all about.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I may need an exorcist...

At least my house might need one. If you have been paying attention, I have had some flooding problems. Well, we also have had some electrical problems. The first time we had work done we had been experiencing weird blinking lights and some weird ghosting on the TV, which is cable AND digital so where would the ghosting come from? We called an electrician and found out that water had been getting into our breaker box, and that needed to be replaced. Once it was replaced all was well again, but we were lucky that it didn't catch fire and burn the house down.

Two nights ago we had no Comcast services at all. No phone, no cable, NO INTERNET. We had to watch a DVD of all things. Or READ. I know. So I called Comcast and they tried pinging the modem and resetting it and blahblahblah 20 minutes later they said this would require a service visit, how is tomorrow. Well I am not living without the INTERNET for another day, so yes, come out tomorrow.

I came home around noon to wait the four hours it would take for them to show up for the "sometime between 12 and 4" appointment. When I walked in there was a funny smell and a funny noise going on in the basement. I turned the light on at the top of the stairs and the lights were going on and off and there was a bangbangbang sound which turned out to be the freezer fritzing out. So I unplugged the freezer and the lights stopped flashing, but there was a buzzing coming from the breaker box. So I opened the breaker box and nothing was smoking or in flames - good sign. I began turning off breakers until I found the one causing the buzzing - lucky Number 13. At that point I noticed that the little breaker box to the left of the big one which runs the pool pump was not on, so I reset that and went to see if the pump was on. It was not. Nothing I did would get the pump on. We just paid for a brand new pump and breakers to be installed in the flood of '08 incident, so I called the same electrician that did that job. They were sending someone right out. In the meantime I called the Bob. He said turn #13 back on. I did. It didn't hum. Can you turn the pump on, he asked. Lo and behold I could. So #13 somehow was tied to the pump.

Fast forward to the electrician having seen all the weird mysterious things I pointed out, beyond me discovering that the microwave and the coffee pot would not turn on even when plugged into an outlet with power and to him discovering why I had no Comcast services - the cable wire on the side of the house had burst into flames and scorched the side of the house. In fact it was still sparking. It had POWER IN IT. Cable lines are not supposed to have power flowing through them. Something cause a major power surge. He then took a look at the wires where they connect to the pole out front. The neutral line had exploded.

Short science lesson: electricity has to complete a circuit. It flows in a circle if you will. It comes into your house on a line, goes through your breaker panel and powers all your stuff, and must leave the house on the neutral line. When the neutral line exploded, our electricity had nowhere to go to complete the circle. So it went for the ground - the grounding system that is. Which sent power into the breaker box and into the grounding system, which the cable line is attached to so if it is hit by lightening, it won't BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN. HA. That caused the cable line to explode. This also meant that all my plumbing was live. As the Bob said, it is a good thing toilets are made out of porcelain. They could have become our home grown electric chairs.

So he turned off all the power, and called the electic company. They came out, and fixed the neutral line, while being very surly and demanding WHY should they tell me when they are done fixing the thing that almost BURNED MY HOUSE DOWN.

After the electric company left, we turned the breakers back on. Almost everything was fine. The pool pump worked, the freezer worked, all the major appliances were fine. However, the coffee pot and microwave are toast. The computer upstairs, fried. At least the power supply is. And that was plugged into a surge protector! We also lost the phones.

The look on the Comcast guys' face when he saw what happened, when he showed up at 3:45 I might add, was according to the Bob, was one of startled amazement.

But the house didn't burn down in our sleep, or while we were at work and the dogs were trapped in the house. So I will pay for a new coffee pot and microwave and we will see if the computer can be fixed. We have laptops. We will find a new phone. At least we are not homeless.

However, I am wondering if something else is at work here. There are times I have been sure there is a presence in this house, and it is not just because my husband has farted like it was his job. That does have a life of its own, but this is different. Between the flooding and the electrical mishaps, I might need to cleanse the house. There was one night when Cooper was still getting up in the middle of the night, but he was standing on his own when we were up around 2am. He stood in the middle of the living room turned away from me, and put his arms up in the air like he wanted someone to pick him up. Who was he looking at? He often spends time in his room chit chatting for awhile, but I assumed he was playing with the 42 animals he goes to bed with.

I wonder what is next, a plague of locusts or frogs? We have been having quite a fruit fly problem...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Celebrate good times, the weight is GONE

Well, 16lbs of it at least. I got on the scale this morning, and taaaa DAAAAA I was 16lbs lighter than when I first started tracking it 6 or so months ago. It is very gratifying. The "new" treadmill is helping in this effort, as are the daily dog walks that we are still getting in while the weather is nice and the light is still, well, light.

In other news I have to replace my associate director in my office because my current dude thinks he would rather work on the lending side of the student loan business. I don't know if he has been reading the papers or not, but that side is in turmoil. At least here he has job security, but it is his call, so bygones. I have been interviewing for his replacement, and we made an offer yesterday. We shall see what the new dude says. I do work at a small private college, so it is not the big pay day that you might find in the non-educational work world.

I have had to hire people probaby a dozen times in the same number of years between this job and my last one. At my last one we had a huge office, and I had to hire 5 assistant directors at one time. That was fun. But here my staff is small, just three of us. I seem to lose a person every two years or so. It FASCINATES me who applies for a financial aid job. I have had someone who drove a cab and thought because she did her own books that she could do financial aid. Or the recent one whose most recent job was a "sex educator and customer service rep" for Good Vibrations, a local "intimate toy" store. While I will acknowledge that that job probably does prepare you for handling confidential and perhaps sensative situations, it doesn't really make one qualified to do THIS job.

I can teach almost anyone to do this job, but it takes a certain personality to really GET it. You have to like working with people, but also be detail oriented and self directed. You have to be able to keep track of what is on your plate for the day or week while being interrupted 15 times a day by the phone or a walk in. You have to be okay with repeating the same thing over and over and over but not get frustrated by it. It may be old hat to us, but it is new to the student and the family. It takes someone who can be creative within boundaries. We work with a lot of rules and regulations and time lines. We are charged with being good stewards of the institutions resources while being advocates for the students. It is a balancing act.

I hope the guy we offered the job to takes it, but we have a back up candidate if he doesn't. In the meantime, I just ate two homemade clog your heart they are so full of butter sticky buns that the director of student accounts made for our goodbye breakfast for my employee. That earns me extra time on the treadmill I think.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What is going on in Texas???

Okay, I admit, I have a bias against Texas to begin with. It all started when my parents would tell me stories about when they lived in Abileen, back when they were first married, prior to my being even a twinkle in my daddy's eye. If I understand correctly, there are spiders the size of your head, crickets or grasshoppers that are 6 inches in length and spit green goo at you if startled, and it is brown. There is a story about a tarantula that my father tried to kill with a broom in the breezeway of their house that exploded into thousands of either tiny other spiders from an egg sack or mites, which tarantulas can carry around on them. In either case, I was having NONE OF THAT when I was little, and I still don't like to be in close quarters with a spider of any size. Then there are the tornadoes. See one of my previous entries about me and weather systems.

So it is not my favorite idea of a place to live. Then I read this article on Babble.com http://www.babble.com/Not-Holding-Back-Why-I-didnt-redshirt-my-kindergarten-age-son/ about red shirting kindergartners and became more convinced than ever that I cannot live there. Ever. With or without a child I couldn't live there.

This concept was not new to me, the idea of red shirting a kid, because a friend of mine is doing this very thing with her son. He turned 5 in August, but she is holding him back for a year because she feels he is socially not ready. And she says it won't hurt when it comes to sports later on.

Hang on. He is 5. How socially evolved do you expect him to be? They live in Ohio, so I don't see them often, but I did see them this summer, and he seems like your average 5 year old. And he is already close to 4 feet tall. He looks like he is 7. If he starts kindergarten in a year, he will be 5 feet tall. He will be buying beer for his friends when he gets to 2nd grade. The part about sports, well what can I say. Sports are not the center of our universe, yet. If Cooper wants to play a sport, I will be a soccer/lacrosse/baseball/football/hockey-only-if-absolutely-necessary mom. Hockey is hard. The equipment is expensive and you have to go to ice rinks. They are cold. Sure, professional rinks are nice, but the ones kids play in are cold.

I am just dumbfounded by the reasoning going on in my friends' head and the other people in that article. Cooper was born in November. I don't know what the rules are in our town, but I am pretty sure that if he is able to go the year he turns 5 we will send him. If he has to wait a year because them's the rules, fine. But I was kind of hoping that we would make decisions about his education based on, oh I don't know, what the EDUCATIONAL benefits would be for Cooper. Not whether or not he would get a sports scholarship because he was 50lbs heavier than the other kids in his class and made a great nose tackle. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

All's well that ends well...

There was no flooding in the basement. The water never even rose to the level that the system got put to the test. Dammit. In a way. I am not really sorry that it wasn't tested, but it would be nice to know.

The pool however is almost overflowing, so we did get at least 3 inches of rain. We took a walk around the neighborhood this morning, and there were only a few fallen branches here and there. Today is bright and sunny. Too bad I have to work. Our returning students move back on campus today, and of course there are about 150 of them that are not cleared for one reason or another, and mostly that is for bills they haven't paid.

Joy joy happy day.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Rain rain go away

We are awaiting the vestiges of Tropical Storm Hannah to arrive here in New England. They say we could get 2 - 6 inches of rain in the next 12 hours with 60 mile an hour winds. This is nothing like what people in the south face during hurricane season, thankfully. We are curious to see if our new and improved sump pump system will be put to the test, and if so, will it meet the challenge. We have had almost no rain for almost two weeks, so the ground isn't saturated right now. We may not see the pit flood at all. The pool is a good 6 inches below the top edge, so unless we get 6+ inches we won't see that overflow.

The thing we are trying to figure out now is a battery back up system. You would think you could buy this at Home Depot, and you can, sort of. But they are like car batteries, they are DC power, and the sump pump is plugged into AC power. So somehow you have to have a means to convert the power. I am learning a lot about this. What everyone wants to sell us is a back up battery with a supplemental sump pump. I have a pump that works, I don't need another one. But I do need a source of power for it if we lose electricity. I almost want to buy a generator. They have these Coleman generators you can use for camping. Of course those have to be run outside, not inside. That is how people die of carbon monoxide poisoning - when they run their generators inside.

Anywho, I need to go pass out now. This weather system is messing with my body. I am a walking barometer and when big weather systems come through I hurt. The one time I was in the vicinity of a tornado I was almost in a coma. This is why I can't live in hurricane and tornado country. All summer long people would find me in a heap somewhere unable to function every time a storm was brewing. Makes getting in the storm cellar difficult. Goodnight.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Milestones and saying thank you

Today our freshmen arrived on campus. We are a small college, so we anticipate having 530 new students or there abouts. 95% of them will live on campus and 90% of them showed up today to check in, move in and begin the next chapter of their lives. It is old hat for me; I have been doing this for almost 20 years. But every year I watch the students and their parents arrive, get in line to check in, drive their cars off to unload at their dorms and wander around campus, taking pictures and launching the students into their new life. The life of a quasi-adult college student.

I say quasi-adult, because we have mostly traditional aged college students. They come to us at around 18 years of age, and straight from high school. Many of them didn't fill out any of the admissions or aid applications themselves, and they certainly aren't paying the bill themselves. But this will be their educational experience, so I hope that they put as much into it as they can. Much of the success you can experience in college is about how much you put into it. Do you go to class, participate in class, in extracurricular activities that don't necessarily involve ping pong balls and quarters, athletics or student government?

I loved my four years in college. I went to a very conservative Christian college, Geneva College, in Beaver Falls PA. At the time it was exactly where I needed to be. I learned so much about myself, my faith, what I did and didn't believe, and laid the groundwork for who I would be later in life. I thank GOD I didn't end up marrying any of the guys I dated at that time, but I am grateful for what I learned while dating them - and mostly that is what I learned about myself, not about men. The stuff that I learned about men that was important to know I learned from the men I dated after college, but that is another story for another time.

But while at college, besides going to class and getting a degree in Psychology, I acted in plays, had a radio show on the college radio station, WGEV, and was a teaching assistant for the humanities department. I built snowmen on the quad and made out with boys in the lounge of my dorm, but never drank while in college. It was a dry campus, since it was a Reformed Presbyterian college. The RPs, they are Calvinists, and they are kind of against the consumption of alcohol. I wasn't an RP, but I was VERY overly conscientious about rules, and LAWS. Underaged drinking was not for me. Breaking school rules, VERY not for me. But I still managed to have a good time and do not regret the time I spent there or the choices I made while there. It is hands down four of the best years of my life. It was the first taste of being an adult, of being in charge of my life, of deciding where and when I would be and do anything. ANYTHING. When I realized that, the freedom and responsibility were very clear all at once. It was MY CHOICE. Everything. And it was all on me. To succeed or fail, it was on me.

I feel my time at Geneva was a success. And I don't know if I ever said it to any of the professors and other individuals who impacted my experience there, but I will say it now - Thank you. Thank you to my suitemate who was going to the auditions for the freshman play who took me along. Thank you to Dr. Badger, who is now deceased, who gave me my first job grading tests for the Chemistry department. Thank you to Jeff Barker, the first director to cast me in a play, who laughed hysterically at my audition and told me I reminded him of my IDOL Carol Burnett. Thank you to Dr. Stuart who I worked for as a TA and who recommended me for Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities.

To all the college students out there who are just embarking on your college life, and the beginning of the rest of your life, make the most of it, and remember to say thank you to everyone who touches that experience. But most of all, say thank you to your parents. Most likely they are helping make this possible, even if it was just by driving you to campus and helping unload your stuff into the small room you will share with at least one other person, who don't even know yet, but may end up being your best friend for the rest of your life. Just say thank you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Add 8 toddlers, 11 parents, one bottle of tequila and gently stir...

At least we had the toddlers out numbered, but there were a lot of kids in my back yard yesterday. And parents. We did an impromptu pool party and despite the temperature in the pool only reaching 72, everyone had a good time. At one point our next door neighbor realized he had locked himself, his wife, and their twin daughters out of the house, but managed to find his way back in through a window, with the help of The Bob and our ladder. To compensate he came back out with a blender full of crushed ice, tequila and margerita mix.

I don't drink tequila. It is a baaaaaad baaaaaad thing if the mamma drinks tequila. I get very very bitchy. Whatever filter I have that keeps me from saying those things that we all think but should stay inside our heads and not even appear in one of those thought bubbles above your head, much less be uttered out loud, well that filter is completely removed by tequila. So for the preservation of my marriage, my friendships and civilization as we know it, I don't do margeritas. But there is always wine, so I wasn't left out.

The kids were all 3 years old or younger, and there was much negotiating about the floaty boat that you can sit in and "drive" around the pool. It has a horn. Of course it was popular. And there was the inflatable dinosaur, that came from the Boston Science Museum and is not actually a pool toy, but if you inflate it to it's maximum, it will stand on the water like a T-Rex Jesus. So that was fun. But the most fun was when I produced the cupcakes.

I don't know at what point in my life I forgot about the joy of the cupcake, but if you watch any little kid with one, you suddenly remember how perfect the cupcake is. It is your own personal little cake that you can mash, lick the icing off of, and generally eat with abandone. And these were just from the grocery store. Not even SPECIAL cupcakes. One note though: when feeding cupcakes to more than two toddlers, it might be safer to just launch them from the deck into the waiting throng below in the backyard, like you were feeding alligators at the zoo. Trying to get a cupcake out of the plastic container that has an individual indentation for each cake, while keeping 40 fingers from mashing the ones that are still in the container is IMPOSSIBLE.

Then The Bob had the genius thought to bring out the ice pops. As if there wasn't enough sugar in the cupcakes already. But they were a HIT.

Fortunately while there were a few cupcake casualties, none ended up in the pool looking like a turd. That might have caused some serious mayhem.

All in all the party was a hit. It only took all summer to pull it off. The pool season is winding down. If we had a heater on the pool we would get another month out of it, but that is 5 months of day care worth of money. So it isn't happening unless I hit the lottery. Oh well.