Thursday, September 30, 2010

September 2010 Round Up

Click mosaic to biggify. Created using Big Huge Labs Mosaic Maker.

What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
Read The Exile, by Diana Gabaldon, my first graphic novel. It was just okay. I found it difficult to keep the different people straight based on the images. They looked too much alike, to me. Particularly with Diana Gabaldon, where part of the fun of reading her is the rich detail provided in words, it just didn't feel like a Gabaldon when it was missing all of that descriptive language.

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
* TV Time: Fall shows have returned! We're trying out three new shows this year: The Event (not loving it), Law and Order: Los Angeles (love Alfred Molina, first episode was good, will try it for a while), and The Whole Truth (for a decade now, my husband has been saying "they need a lawyer show that shows the prosecution's case, the defense's case, the trial, and the verdict before showing whether or not the defendant did it"; this is that show). And then there are the usual suspects: Dancing With the Stars, Chuck, Rules of Engagement, Castle, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Criminal Minds, CSI, The Mentalist, and CSI:NY.
* New Films: Renaissance (visually intriguing, just okay story), Sunshine Cleaning (not my usual thing, but I like Amy Adams; it was okay), The Absent-Minded Professor (the classic movie, very cute, quite enjoyed it), Planet 51 (very blah; should have been fun(ny) and interesting, but I found it boring), The Wonder of It All (very good documentary on the Apollo missions featuring the astronauts who walked on the moon), M. Butterfly (I love Jeremy Irons and will watch him in nearly anything, though I can't overly recommend this one in particular), All That Jazz (either I am not artistic enough or I lack the illegal drugs required to really "get" this movie)
* Old Favorites: Julie & Julia, The Incredibles, WALL-E, The Fifth Element, Bolt, The Incredibles, Up, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Princess Bride

What special days did I celebrate and how?
We celebrated my father's birthday, with cake even!

What gifts did I give and/or receive?
We surprised my father with his 60th birthday gift (a year early). Also sent photo prints of the Saturday and Sunday family Labor Day visits.

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
Fall allergies are in full swing, but we're managing. Luke had a reaction to a new brand of sunscreen during his first soccer game, but it cleared up with Benadryl. DH broke his right ring finger playing basketball and will be in a splint for at least 2 months, maybe more. Likely no return to basketball before next year. Needless to say, he is *very* unhappy about this. I am trying not to worry about Luke's loose tooth. It's been loose for over a month now, but it still hasn't come out. The adult tooth is already mostly in behind it. If it doesn't come out shortly, I'll have to call the dentist to see what we should do.

What fun things did I do with my friends and/or family?
We visited both DH's family and mine over Labor Day. It was so great to see everyone! Also went to a bead show with my mom.

What new foods, recipes or restaurants did I try this month?
I knew something had avocado in it, I tried it anyway, and I actually liked it! (Didn't love it, but liked it fine.) The Avocado Egg Rolls at The Cheesecake Factory. Hey, it's fried; that can make anything better.

What special or unusual purchases did I make?
Finally got Luke's birthday supplies ordered, and a special surprise for him, but I will reveal it next month when we give it to him.

What were this month's disappointments?
We lost two local restaurants this month. The Loop Pizza Grill closed suddenly and unexpectedly, which was the closest non-fast food restaurant to us that we liked. Then our favorite chinese place changed owners. Prices went up, taste and quality went down. We won't be back, and the other close chinese place is about comparable on taste and quality. Guess we'll have to find a new one, which isn't as easy as it sounds. (I'm a little picky, in case you haven't noticed.)

What were my accomplishments this month?
12. Read 15 books, at least one non-fiction. Added book #7 to the list, which also knocked off 16. Read a graphic novel (counts towards 15). Love those two for one items! I really did intend to read a more traditional manga style graphic novel; I had no idea Diana Gabaldon would be releasing a graphic novel at the time! But hey, it counts.

Also 9. Start applying for a new job. I guess it is technically not a new job, just a new version of my old job, but the intent of putting the item on the list was to find a job where I would no longer be a contractor, and by now being a full time employee, that was taken care of. And I *did* have to apply for the position, so I am counting it as complete.

And, I am officially a soccer mom! Not that I think I'm doing a very good job of it. Adding soccer to the schedule has really thrown me for a loop. By the time I get a satisfactory schedule worked out and we settle into it, soccer will be over until spring!

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?

I'm sensing a theme with this month's weekly photos! LOL

Luke's reading is improving, though it is not yet what I would consider actual reading. But improvement is good enough for now. His first 6 weeks progress report was very good, and his teacher was very complimentary at our first conference. He also started playing soccer, which he really seems to enjoy. It is a good group of kids (and parents), and the coach is great; just the kind of coach Luke needs.

Anything else noteworthy to record?
September 16 marked 100 days until Christmas! I know I'm not ready. Are you?

Monthly Round Up courtesy of Katie the Scrapbook Lady.

Currently feeling: rounded up

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

101 Things Version 2 - One Year Left

My 101 Things in 1001 Days List - Version 2.0, just in case anyone hasn't seen it by now.

Current stats:

Begin Date: January 1, 2009
End Date: September 29, 2011
Time Remaining: approximately 365 Days
Items Completed: 32

Well, I can honestly say I thought I would be much further along on this by now. I was all gung-ho at the half way point and really expected pick up the pace. That was just over 4 months ago, and I feel like we've been out of town the entire time since! Hard to get much done on the list when you're never home. (Of course, I also need to remember that several items are "over time" type things that I am working on.) With Kindergarten now in the mix, things have gotten even more constrained restricted frenzied. Now that the Labor Day holiday is passed, I hope we can set up some kind of routine that might allow me to slot in a few more things over the course of the next year. Cooler weather will also allow us to do some of the outside type things, like the zoo. One year left. Wish me luck!

Currently feeling: watching the days slip by

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Full Time Employee

I've been sitting on this news for a little while, waiting for all the paperwork to go through and for everything to be completely official. I am pleased to announce that, as of the second week of September, I am no longer a contractor. All of us who were contractors in our little group were offered full time positions with our contracting company. We will continue to do the same work, but the way it is billed to the company for whom we are doing the work will be different. This is a good thing, because it means we are no longer subject to the 3 year rule which says that all contractors can only work for 3 years before being required to take a 6 month break. The company for whom we do the work did not want to lose all of their skilled resources after 3 years (which, for me, would have been in November; has it really been 3 years already?!), and most of us could not afford to just sit for 6 months without pay and then come back, so this was the alternative solution.

I now have medical benefits and (most importantly to me) paid vacation. Best of all, my base salary did not change! Often, when moving from contractor to full time employee, your salary will actually drop, since they are compensating you in other ways. Mine stayed the same, they just added benefits on top. In effect, though, I got a raise, because I am no longer taking time off without pay when we go on trips! It is almost too good to be true, and we are trying very hard to be grateful and not cynical. We'll just keep our fingers crossed and hope the other shoe never drops.

Currently feeling: thrilled


Yes, Luke scored his first goal at this past Saturday's soccer game! Technically we don't keep score (yeah, right), but I do know we lost again. Seems like it was 6-4 or something like that. In addition to scoring the goal, my parents were there to see it! I think everyone enjoyed it. Gotta love the big zoom lens on Papa's camera. None of the photos here were cropped!

DH and I had been wondering if we needed to encourage Luke to be a little more aggressive. Neither of us really wants to do that, but we know that the other kids look at it as a "soccer game," whereas Luke just views it as going out there and running around and playing with his friends. I don't want his teammates upset with him, and I do think he is trying, but he lacks any sort of aggression when other kids have the ball. I think he is too afraid of hurting someone, something we have worked hard to instill in him since he is so much bigger than most kids his age. But would it be better for him to be taught to get in there a little more? Decisions, decisions.

At Saturday's game, the opposing team had a kid that was a good inch or more taller than Luke and just generally had a bigger build. He was *very* aggressive, pushing and pulling and talking trash (seriously; PG rated, but still). They're 5 years old!! Who on earth taught him to behave like that?! The particular incident that sticks out in my mind was at the end of a quarter, one of our players had fallen on the ground (not hurt, just tripped up a bit), and this kid walked by, put his hand on our player's head, and shoved it back down. Nice. Ya know, given the choice between ending up with *that* kid or keeping my sweet Luke, I'll take Luke just as he is. We've decided to just let Luke play his way. I assure you that he is having more FUN than any other kid out there, and that's what it's all about.

Currently feeling: go Luke!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Buses, Hand Surgeons, and Conferences (Oh My!)

It surely was Monday this morning, and 6 AM seemed to come earlier *this* Monday morning than usual. Not that 6 AM ever seems late, but with it getting light even later in the mornings, plus the clouds and the rain, it just seemed extraordinarily early today. Luke got up okay, though he didn't eat any of his breakfast. Other than very brief negotiations about which jacket to wear to the bus stop (I insisted on the water resistant one, which turned out to be a very good thing!), the morning went quite smoothly.

Then we spent the next 25 minutes waiting for the school bus that never came. We were out there at the same time as usual, and we usually wait about 5 minutes before the bus shows up, so either it came more than 5 minutes early, or it came after we left (or it didn't come at all). Note to self: get a larger umbrella for waiting at the bus stop!! I was soaked from about the hips down trying to keep Luke covered, and he was still reasonably wet. It was our first time waiting for the bus in the rain, and I figured it wasn't a big deal since we shouldn't be more than a bit damp in less than 5 minutes of waiting. After two torrential downpours, though, we were both quite wet, me more so than Luke.

At 7:10, we headed back home for our first drop off at school. I had no idea what the procedure was for that. The website had a little bit of info, and thanks to listening to other parents talk about dropping kids off in the morning, I had some inkling of what to expect. (Drive up, someone will open the door, child hops out, person closes the door, you drove away.) But still, trying to figure out where to wait and how it works in the rainy dark was not my idea of fun. We did see a school bus sitting with emergency flashers on down one of the neighborhood roads. No idea if that was the elementary school bus or not (could have been the middle school bus). We were already in the car, and I didn't have an umbrella with me, so we just kept going. I figure we'll oversleep one of these days and I'll need to know how to drop him off. May as well learn now! It went really well, all things considered. We live 2.5 miles (4 km) from the school. It took about 10 minutes to get from the house to the school and drop him off. Not bad, given that I had to wait in the carpool line with 20-30 other cars. It took nearly 20 minutes for me to get home! Gotta love rainy Monday Atlanta morning traffic. And I did change out of my wet clothes and into my pajamas when I got home, just because I could. It had been quite the Monday already, and I hadn't even been awake for 2 hours.

Next came DH's doctor's appointment for his hand late Monday morning. I was quite surprised when I looked up the website for the hand specialist he was referred to only to discover the guy is a plastic surgeon. For a hand? Really? Plus, he's a surgeon. My mom (the RN) always says "why are people surprised when they go see a surgeon and he recommends surgery?" I'm not saying they recommend unnecessary surgery, but if that is who you were referred to, then obviously the referring doctor thought you needed surgery, so it shouldn't be a surprise. So we were quite surprised when DH did not come home with a recommendation for surgery. His injury is right on the threshold for what they do surgery for and what they only do therapy for, so he left it up to DH, who most definitely opted for no surgery! (At least not at this time. Will follow up with surgeon to make sure it is healing properly.) He will go to have a custom splint put on it tomorrow at the physical therapy office, then after 8 weeks he'll start physical therapy. He is most unhappy that he will be off the basketball court for nearly 2 months (possibly longer, depending on what the PT says after the splint is off).

After that was Luke's first parent-teacher conference at school. It is standard procedure to have one after the first progress report is sent home. I didn't mention it sooner because I wanted to see what the teacher had to say about his status/progress. Given that the report was for only the first 6 weeks, most of the items were listed as "not assessed," which is reasonable. For everything that was assessed, he scored a "meets expectations," except for one item. "Recognizes all upper and lower case letters." We know he still has trouble with Vs and Ws; we're not worried about that at this point. I am confident he'll get that soon enough. I was much more concerned with her personal evaluation and overall impression of where he is now, how he is progressing, and especially his behavior.

Mrs. B was very complimentary of Luke on all counts. She did mention, as we expected, that he doesn't always seem to be paying attention, but he can usually repeat back anything she was saying. He's just a little distracting to her, but not disruptive to the other children, which was my primary concern. He's been prone to having "not listening" and "not staying on task" marked on his weekly behavior report, but she said that even that is improving. He's good with numbers and spatial orientation (duh! LOL), and he is in the second highest reading group in the class (out of 5 groups). When I said that I had been worried he was a little behind on that, she assured me that he absolutely is not. The only kids ahead of him are the very few who could already read when they got there. He is making great progress on his reading, and he apparently is better about demonstrating it for her more than he demonstrates it for us, which is frustrating (for us) but we'll take it. An excellent meeting, for sure.

I guess Monday was just interested in getting all of the bad stuff out of the way early! Definitely made for a stressful morning, but better to miss the bus, get soaked, and drop Luke off at school, than to have hand surgery required and a poor school progress report.

Currently feeling: a bit damp, but overall pleased

Thursday, September 23, 2010

An ER Epidemic

Is there some sort of vaccine against ER visits? If so, you may want to get one. At minimum, please be extra careful for a few days. Apparently just knowing me this week is enough to send you off to the emergency room; two people I know have had to go in the last 3 days. First was my friend Ginny, for whom we did emergency baby sitting late Tuesday. Her pain is some better but far from gone. She saw a doctor today, so hopefully she will be on the mend soon (thanks for asking, Angela!).

Then, my husband came home early today from playing basketball because he either jammed or broke his right ring finger! It is the same finger he dislocated not long before we got married, so it is hard to tell if the swollen joint is just the leftover bulge from the original injury, or if he seriously injured it again. I tried to get him to go to the ER when he came home, but he brushed me off. I was already late picking Luke up since DH came home just as I was preparing to leave. By the time I got him settled with ice and Advil, picked up Luke, grabbed fast food for dinner, and got home, he was showered and dressed. "I'll eat my dinner, then take myself to the ER." Translation: it's hurting a lot worse than I thought it would after an hour of ice and Advil, so maybe I should have listened to my wife in the first place and gone to the ER when I got home. "Do you think I could go to like a Minute Clinic or something?" Well, they can't do x-rays there, now can they? "I didn't think it would need x-rays." I don't know how else you expect them to tell if it is jammed or broken! So off to the ER he went.

Three hours later (not too bad, actually), and the results are a small fracture and a splint. He's supposed to follow up with a hand specialist tomorrow, if at all possible, not so much regarding the fracture but to make sure he didn't damage or trap any ligaments in the joint. Fun.

Currently feeling: hoping these things don't come in threes

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Midnight Babysitting

No, I'm not joking. My cell phone rang with an unknown number Tuesday night at 10:50 PM. I was finishing up on Facebook and about to go to bed, and I answered expecting to say only "you have the wrong number" and hang up. So imagine my surprise when a male voice said "is this Erin?" Um, yeah, who is this? It was Justin, the husband of my friend Ginny. (We went to GA Ren Fest with them in April.) He had to take her to the emergency room, which of course does not allow children under 18 unless it is the child experiencing the emergency. He was wondering if I could come pick up their 2-year-old son and keep him for the night. Um, sure, okay. We were happy to do it, but there were a few logistics we needed to work out.

Thankfully, Justin had Riley's blanket and a couple of diapers and some wipes. We still have our pack-n-play, which DH was setting up as I left. My biggest concern was the car seat. I have no idea where Luke's old 5-point harness seat is, so I had to ask Justin to get his out of their car and help put it into mine. And can I just say how awesome the LATCH system is! Neither of our 1999 cars had it, so we had to put in Luke's carseats the old fashioned way, with seatbelts and locking clips. Justin had that thing installed in our new 2011 car in literally 30 seconds. By the time we got back to the house, it was well after midnight.

When Justin called this morning, he said that he hoped Riley hadn't given us too much trouble. Well, let's see. We put him in the carseat in my car, waved bye, and he never cried or fussed or anything. He fell asleep in the car on the way to our house. He never woke up when we got him out of the car or when we put him down in the pack-n-play in the guest room. And he was still asleep when Justin called at 6:15 this morning to ask if you could come pick him up (he knew we'd be up by 6 to get Luke ready for school). In fact, Riley didn't wake up at all until Justin woke him up to put him in the car. I'd say that definitely qualifies as "not much trouble"! LOL

Literally, if he had called 10 minutes later, I would not have gotten the message. We don't take our cell phones into the bedroom (don't want to get woken up by late night email notifications). We do keep a home phone in our bedroom, and we do answer it whenever it rings for *just* such emergencies, but Justin only had our old home phone number, which just says disconnected. I'm glad it all worked out, and we were happy to help.

Currently feeling: too much excitement for a Tuesday!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

First Soccer Game!

Luke was up early this morning for his game. As in 5:30! ::yawn:: "Is it time yet?" No, honey, the game isn't until 9. He didn't eat much for breakfast, which is pretty standard. Starting at 8, we got lathered up in sunscreen (probably didn't need it today, but I wanted to set the precedent for our afternoon games later in the season). I forgot to take uniform photos before we left the house, so I had to snap a couple of quick shots at the field. Here is Mr. 23:

They warmed up a little bit, and then it was time.




It's hard to get in there with so may little feet in the way. It was great fun to watch! The other team only had 4 players show, and we had 5, so lots of folks got to pull double duty instead of switching off each quarter as planned.

Again, here is a good shot for scale, just to show how much bigger he really is than most of the other players (on his team or the opposing team).

It is just not in Luke's nature to be aggressive, which is probably a good thing, given his size. On the other hand, B (far right of below photo) is both the smallest member of Luke's team and by far the most aggressive. B is very good! He has clearly played before.

Here is B with the two largest players on the team. The other boy, J, is the one who is 2 months older than Luke and in 1st grade. He has also clearly played organized soccer before.

Ah, a short break at the half.

Luke with B. They have bonded a bit, which is nice, since we have also bonded a bit with B's parents.

Typical Luke! LOL

This is one of the only times Luke actually took control of the ball. Up until this point, he was just happy to be out there running around. Maybe B is rubbing off on him!

Ah, he's finally learned to try and get ahead of the ball to keep the other team from scoring!

All in all, it was a good game. Most of the kids, on both teams, obviously had not played before, but each team also had a kid or two who clearly had played before. One kid on the other team was putting on a dribbling clinic! (Kid in green with the ball in the above photo.) It was really rather amazing. Officially, they don't keep score, and I don't know exactly what the final tally was. Something like 8-6, I believe, with the opposing team having more goals. But everyone seemed to have fun, and Luke is dying to play again! Definitely a great experience for him.

Currently feeling: happy

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First Soccer Practice

The first week of school, we received a flyer about the local soccer rec league and decided to sigh Luke up for his first team sport experience. Tonight was his first practice, and it went very well! We had all of his equipment, including a size 3 ball and shin guards. Quick, what do *you* see when you look at his shin guards?

I see a hockey mask for a duck, and so does DH! When he's wearing them, I don't have that problem, but when they are just sitting on the table, it's all I can see. Anyway, I picked him up from daycare, got him fed, and got him changed. Here he is, ready to go (sans shin guards for the ride in the car). I can't get over how *tall* he looks.

It took us a few minutes to find our coach, but once we did, things got going pretty quickly. We started with four out of six team members, and the coach was very good with all of the kids.

As you can see, he was very excited to actually get the ball into the goal (it only took three attempts, LOL). He actually did a lot better at not kicking the ball all over the place than I expected for his very first time playing. Much more control than I thought he'd have.

The league is co-ed, but Luke's team is all boys for some reason. Even the coach was surprised. There were several other teams practicing, and they all seemed to have at least one girl, usually two. (DH and I suspect that they tried to have two girls to a team when possible.) Doesn't bother me, just an observation.

A fifth teammate showed up 10 minutes or so into practice. The sixth teammate won't be there until next week (he is good friends with the coach's son). Here is a good shot for scale. Luke is second oldest (tall kid on far left is 2 months older). Everyone else has a 2005 birthday (Feb-May). Luke was the only one who ran flat out for the whole hour. He's going to be exhausted tomorrow (for picture day, of course).

All in all, a very good practice. They're all very good and well behaved kids (unlike a few on some of the other teams). I think it is going to be a fun season! Their first game is Saturday. More photos to come!

Currently feeling: ready(?) for our first game!