Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Morning Follow Ups

Boy was it hard to get everyone (myself included) up and going this morning after four days off. We had a calm weekend. Spent most of it finishing up the derby cars for next weekend. The boys had a lot more hands on with the cars this year. I let them watch TV Saturday morning as long as they were sanding at the same time. Saturday and Sunday afternoons were spent painting them off and on all day.

I spent some time researching the nasty mortgage company that we are dealing with Satruday morning. Come to find out, they don't even OWN our loan, they are a collector for Fannie Mae and Fannie Mae actually owns our house. At first I was kind of mad for the deception, then I realized that there might be hope. I am going to contact Fannie Mae directly to see if there is a way that we can get around the blood suckers at LBPS and get a modification anyway. Doesn't there have to be someone somwhere in the world within the company that believes in actually HELPING people?

Conferences last week went really well. Noah still has all A's and I was also able to talk with his teacher a little about the weird things that have been happening in the classroom. It was very enlightening. Aaron's conference went well also. He is at or above grade level in everything and his teacher sees no reason to repeat first grade. The things he has to work on, such as independence and maturity, are not things that a repeated year of first grade would solve, especially since he has no academic issues at all. We talked a little about the possibilities of some of his struggles with the second grade teacher, but that is still seven months away. If he shows nearly the amount of growth in the next six months as he has in the past six months, he will absolutely be ready. It was so nice of his teacher to reassure me that I did the right thing in putting him in her class this year. Both of the boys have wonderful women for teachers this year.

I didn't hear from the Gymboree owner this weekend like I was supposed to. I am trying not to panic. She said, "I want to hire you. I will email or call you Friday or Saturday and get you started next week" which actually means this week. Why do I keep making great impressions and then not hear anything? Am I getting blown off again???

Gotta go get the dog out. She's whining for attention. She might as well get used to it though because she's gonna be a lot more lonely if I ever do start the job.

Have a good day!

Friday, February 25, 2011

I'm Employed...Finallly

I am officially employed. It's not a full time job, a school job, or anything with perks whatsoever. But I will be using my teaching and music skills, parenting experience, and also working flexible yet steady hours that can be altered come summer to fit my schedule. I am cautiously optimistic. This is exactly what we needed. So problem solved...right?

Well, not exactly. It may be a case of too little too late. We are back to being two months behind in mortgage and receiving foreclosure notices again. Now that I'm employed, I can FINALLY make the payments, but we got yet another denial for modification today so I don't know how to make up the difference and convince the LBPS blood suckers to give us a break now that I'm finally employed. It makes me SO mad. After working so hard to find a job and after six months finally getting one, if we STILL lose the house I will be ...sorry for the bad language coming up...PISSED. (Sorry if I offended anyone. I have NEVER said a swear word in my blogs before but this is so raw right now that I couldn't hold back)

So I want to be excited. I really do. But I really don't know if this will save us or not.

I really just don't know...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Noah's Question About Body Science

So I started up my computer planning to write a follow up on conferences today, mainly because I want a record of what happened today.

But instead, a funny story came to my mind from a conversation with my sons today. Note the word "sons".

Please be aware...if you are uncomfortable with discussion of body stuff, please pass this one on by. But, there may be other people out there that will get a giggle from this...

Somehow I started a tradition with Noah that every conference day he gets to pick out a new book. So I took then boys to Barnes and Noble before conferences today. Noah picked out a book that had a "secret decoder" that was all about body functions. The kid loves science and this was right up his alley so I said fine. As we were on the way to school, Noah started reading different facts aloud. It was really quite fascinating. Then he comes to a page about the functions of all of the body's important organs.

He gets to two in particular...
"Mommy, the small intestine makes pee and the large intestine makes poop"
"Thanks for the info, Noah"
"Mommy, Noah said 'poop' "
"Thanks Aaron for the update"
"Mommy" Noah continues, "that means that girls don't need small intestines."
"How do you figure that Noah?
"Because they don't have a penis."

Now it is at this moment that I had a huge decision to make. Do I continue this very scientific discussion because it is fact based or do I stop it so this doesn't turn into a gross discussion among his friends on the playground?

I decided that I had to go at least a little further...

"Noah, just becasue girls don't have a penis, doesn't mean that they don't go pee"
"But how, mom"
"Mommy said pee" (Aaron)
"Noah, you have one place for pee to come out and one place for poop. So do girls."
"HOW MOM?

THAT is where I stopped the conversation.

"That's just the way our bodies are made"

This was then followed by a very clear disclaimer that this conversation will not be repeated in school and that we only talk about our bodies at home and if he has questions, to only come to his parents or other trusted adults.

Gone are the days of simple kid innocence. Inside this silly little anecdote is a bigger thought of how children seek to find out facts. I figured if I cut off his questions now, then he will only seek out other, possibly less appropriate sources for info so I want him to be comfortable to ask me things. At the same time, it will be up to me to decide how much information is too much and how much is just enough. I am so lucky that at eight and a half, he is still talking to me about things for now. I know our moments of open communication are numbered as we barrel our way toward puberty. I'm hoping that the information I gave him doesn't spark curiosity in a bad way.

I guess only time will tell. Maybe, he'll become a brilliant doctor because of the interest that was sparked today and someday he'll cure some terrible disease.

It could happen...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's Conference Time

Yes, here we are, the school year is on the downhill and we have the second round of conferences tomorrow afternoon. I can't believe how quickly his year is going.

Since I am in the school every Tuesday for lunch duty, I have a chance to chat with each of their teachers on a regular basis and also a small chat with Aaron's teacher when I pick him up in the afternoons. So I hope there aren't any huge surprises.

It has been such a great year for both boys. I worried about Noah's class since he had a sub for the entire first part of the year. His "real" teacher came around Thanksgiving and I love her. She is so loving to all of the kids and you can tell that she genuinely likes them. I know that seems like a given but sometimes you wonder... Noah has gotten a couple of B's the last couple of weeks so I am not sure if he still has all A's but he is still doing fine and am so proud of him.

Aaron's conference will be interesting. I put him into first grade thinking he would most likely have two years of first grade. I'll spare you the details but it was just a thought process we went through. As of now, I am baffled. Although he is still younger than the rest of his class, he has progressed so much this year that now I'm not so sure. His teacher is absolutely AWESOME so I completely trust whatever she tells me tomorrow. I am trying to make a list of the things I want to ask since I always seem to forget everything I want to ask the teachers when I walk in the door. The interesting thing here is that up until now, I've usually had an idea of what I want for my boys. This time, I am more interested in the teacher's point of view. She is so smart and loving and always wants the best for all of her students so I am eager to hear her opinions tomorrow.

These kids are getting older.
Time has gone so fast.
I am so proud of them but it is clear...my babies are gone.

Monday, February 21, 2011

No News...yet

Good Morning,
A week ago I was anxiously sitting by this very computer awaiting word from the school district which I interviewed for the previous Friday. They had said they wanted to fill a dozen positions with quick turn around and answers either way by Tuesday (last week).
As the week went on and no email came in, my spirits continued to sink. WAY down. Bad thoughts went through my head about my own self worth and my abilities as not only a teacher, but as a person at all. And to a certain extent, those thoughts are definitely still swimming in my head.
As a result, Hubby and I were irrationally mean to each other all weekend long. Completely uncool. And I indeed questioned my faith. "In all things God works for the good of those who love Him who are called according to His purpose". Romans 8:28 has been a very active verse in my head for fifteen years, ever since I sang an anthem of it in my campus ministry choir. Yet I spent the weekend wondering what the good is when God would let us save our house, only to lose it a few months later because apparently I an unworthy of a simple para pro job. Steve said something jokingly about winning the lottery and I said that I don't want to win the lottery, I want a JOB. I don't want a hand out. I want to PROVIDE. And I want Hubby to not be resentful of me anymore because I am not pulling my share of the weight.
So, as distraught as I am, I broke the rules that were listed on the K12 jobs website and called the human resources office a few minutes ago. They told me that they were having budget problems and were delayed and I should hear by next week. Good news...there's still hope. Bad news...did I kill that hope by nagging? It doesn't really matter now. What's done is done.
Unlike last time, I actually didn't take my panic out on the kids this weekend. We actually had an okay weekend.

Friday night I volunteered Steve and myself to make popcorn and serve pizza for the school movie night. They showed Bedtime Stories.

Saturday I was determined to do SOMETHING with the kids since we spend so many weekends sitting round wishing we could do something. I decided to take the boys roller skating at a rink near their school instead of the one we've gone to several times before. I figured we were more likely for them to see friends from school or scouts if we went to the city where they attended both of those activities. Not only did we SEE people they knew, we ran in to a birthday party from scouts that we had been invited to but completely forgotten about. The parents invited both boys to join the party. Noah also saw a girl from his class last year and they skated a few laps together as well. After much arguing over the derby cars needing to get built, Steve spent time outside with a hand saw cutting out the design for the cars while we were gone.

Steve had to work Sunday morning and we were supposed to meet him at church. Lazy and sullen Mommy didn't get her big booty out of bed in time and we missed the service. About mid afternoon, it started snowing...hard. It was clear that we were looking at another storm and we truly got dumped on, not surprised to wake up this morning to a snow day. Since the boys have conferences Thursday and Friday, it will be a two day week for them. Sunday afternoon I sat down to work on number tables with Aaron and Noah went downstairs to investigate a noise he heard. He found Daddy downstairs with the neighbor's dremmel trying to smooth out some of the edges of their cars and I was really proud of my hubby for handing the dremmel over to Noah to let him work on his car. Noah is more proud of his car this year since he got to have a bigger part in the cutting. Later this afternoon when the roads are a little more clear, we will be heading out to buy sandpaper and I imagine they will be sanding their cars the rest of the afternoon. Then next weekend will be painting time and ready for the derby in two weeks.

So, amid a little despondency on my part, I am managing to keep a good face on for the kids for now. Who knows? Maybe the prayers really WILL be answered next week.

I really feel like it's our turn to have things work out for us. We've put in our time.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentines Day 2011

I had small Valentines bags waiting for the boys when they got up Monday morning. Each bag was filled with a Lil Kinz, small candy, and a lego mini figure.

The boys were pleased with their new "buddies" and Noah was excited to take his to school with him.



















Noah even came up with a creative way to carry his new friend to school while still leaving his hands free for his backpack :)



















As I headed up to school with treats for the boys' parties, I had a strange thought. As I had spent the day waiting (and still am waiting at this moment) for the email that was promised whether I got the job I interviewed for last week or not, I wondered at a funny thought. I was actually hoping that this will be the last class party I will be attending. NOT because I no longer want to be involved in my kids' school activities. Quite the contrary. But if I no longer attend class parties, then the reason would be because I was employed, which is the much desired position for me to be in at the moment. So as I was taking pictures, I was praying and praying and praying some more that these would be the last class parties that I would attend for quite a long time. Pretty strange, huh?

Both parties were the typical Valentines parties., complete with little cards, lots of candy and treats. In December for Aaron's Christmas party, I had brought cut up cheese and crackers rather than sweets and they had been so popular that Mrs. T asked me to bring them again. As I was setting them out, one of the kids called me the "cheese mom". I giggled at that.



















For Noah's party, I helped prepare frosting for their cookies. I had ordered a carnation from the PTO for each of the boys to be delivered during lunch that day. Aaron had already lost his by the time I got there at 2:oo, but Noah was guarding his and was happy to tell me how excited he was when his name go called and he got a flower. His class was happy because their teacher brought in her seven month old son.



















As the parties started winding down, I collected my boys, the two girls I drive home from school, and an additional girl, the one whom Noah has called his "girlfriend" since kindergarten. The car ride was VERY loud, with five sugar hyped kids. Actually, the noise mostly stemmed from the two third grade girls and Aaron. Noah actually asked them to quiet down at one point, which cracked me up.

Aaron was definitely higher than a kite the rest of the afternoon, and I was actually happy to head out the door to teach for the evening, followed by rehearsal, leaving Daddy to put the kid to bed.

No Valentines exchanged between me and my honey. We have never spent money on cards for each other. A quick hug and brief kiss did the trick.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Scout Winterfest 2011

As we were preparing for a day (or at least six hours of it) outside for a scout activity, I was skeptical. How much time would I be spending telling the boys to stop complaining about being wet or cold? But we paid money for it and we do live in Michigan, so we decided to go for it.

We got up Saturday morning and immediately put on our cold weather gear, ready for the elements. Thank goodness we have started a "heat wave" of sorts. The air temp was forecast to reach a whopping 31 degrees rather than the 12 that we'd had all week.

As we got there for registration, I got my first glance at the activity schedule for the day. Huge question marks flew through my brain as I read the list of activities for the day...dog sled team, egg drop, winter rescue, human Foosball, snowball launch, and HUMAN CURLING. Some of them were self explanatory but others sparked major curiosity.

Our first stop for the day was the egg drop. After a trek through the 12 inches of snow to a clearing, the kids found a big tractor and picnic tables full of packing. They were to wrap an egg as tightly as they could and put it in a plastic bag. Then all bags were placed in the trailer and dropped from various heights to see which eggs would survive the highest drop. Aaron and Noah's eggs made through a couple of drops, and then it was just fun to watch the truck go higher and higher.

Next stop...winter rescue. It started with a small educational session about how to handle it if a friend falls through the ice, followed by a "game" of sorts to practice. I was pretty impressed with the creativity here. The kids took turns being the "victim" sitting in a sled while the "rescuer" had to go through all the steps of rescue including reassuring the victim, calling for help, and then tossing a rope or other item to the victim and pulling them to safety. It was during this session that a local television station was filming for the evening news.

One more stop before lunch was the first one that I wondered about...human Foosball. The kids were lined up on big poles and were supposed to move back a forth and kick a soccer ball into goals at either end. The kids enjoyed it but we adults had to laugh because it was clear that not too many of today's kids know much about Foosball because they didn't move sideways back and forth at all. They stayed where they were and kicked the ball if it came to them :) This was also a nice stop because there were some boy scouts manning a camp fire at this station and the kids (and parents) could sit near it and try to thaw out our toes.

Lunch time followed with a nice half hour break to warm up before the afternoon activities.

The first stop after lunch was a visiting dog sled team. Those Siberian huskies were absolutely beautiful and were of course accompanied by many comments from Noah about "that's the kind of dog I wanted". They reminded me of my parent's old wonderful Alaskan that was the first and only dog that I adored until our own little Lilly came along. The driver was very nice and I learned quite a bit about the Iditarod from talking to him.

Next was a given. The kids had been itching to throw snow all day and they finally got their chance in three stations of snowball launches. We adults were cracking up at this one because by the end of this station, the scouts were pretty much all laying around in the snow, worn out from hours and hours of outside activity. It was the first time that there were mass comments from boys of various ages about being ready to go home :)

But little did they know that their favorite activity was yet to come...

HUMAN CURLING.
I spent the whole day wondering what this was going to be about. Cracked me up! The kids were first given a tiny lesson about the sport of curling and then came the fun. The boys were split into two groups and sent down the hill on sleds into four HUGE air filled bags and were supposed to land the bags into a big circle in the snow behind them. It was clear that no one could care less about where the bags went, it was just fun to plow into them!

After this final activity it was back for a quick closing ceremony and the day was done.

We came home thinking the boys were going to be dead to the world. Daddy and Mommy certainly were! But after a movie to relax, Aaron was ball of energy and wanted to go find bags to plow through at a local park. Maybe next weekend:)

It was a very fun day. I was surprised at how well it was organized and how they managed to keep 200+ scouts organized into five different groups and the entire day running like clockwork.

No matter what happens with the boys and scouts in the future, we had a fun day and family time together outside with great memories. Sometimes I think about the reasons that people are down on scouting, usually political or religious. I see all of their points and at times have agreed with them. But for right now, scouting means fun activities for the boys with other kids and family outings in which we would not otherwise be participating. So for now, it's all good.

And we're all looking forward to next year's Winterfest 2012.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Happy Monday

Yup, I'm beginning to think that the Wheelz Home will never be healthy again. Noah got a touch of the stomach bug yesterday afternoon and into the night so I have to once again keep him home today. And of course, he's fine. It is even more frustrating than usual since I got four calls for subbing today and could have started working this morning if he wasn't home. And I really really really need to be working immediately. I have some theories as to why we're having a sicker year than usual, but that's just what they are...theories.

Saturday was a crazy day. We had miscommunication all over the place regarding both the solo and ensemble kids I had to play for as well as the scout program that Noah needed to attend. In the end though it all worked out and everyone got to where they needed to be.

While Noah was inside feeling yucky on Sunday, Aaron and Steve spent quit a bit of time outside playing in the snow before it gets really cold the rest of this week. Steve got an idea, researched it online and went to work in the back yard. More than an hour after Aaron came in to warm up, Steve was still outside building. Here is a picture of his work in progress. He is determined to create a full igloo to play in in the back yard. He's can be such a fun daddy sometimes!

The week ahead could be interesting. I will most likely see my first day in a classroom on Wednesday (I'm the lunch mom at the boys' school on Tuesdays) which is freaking me out but I have to just do it. Other than that, I am awaiting for a prayer to be answered. I have often been told that sometimes God is just waiting for specifics when we pray. I have delivered very specific specifics and really need it to be answered now. So this week I am waiting, hoping, and praying. I am hoping that it will finally be our time.

Have a good week. Congrats to all you Packers fans out there. While I was rooting against your team, it was a good game and the pug dog commercial was my favorite :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Just a Rash?

Remember my post a few days ago about a mom's intuition when her kids are sick? I guess this can kind of be considered a follow up.

What does this cheek look like to you? Just a little rash? That's what most people thought. What you don't see is that there are actually little white pimples within it and a few that spread to his lip and nose. And notice on lone bump on his hand.

This rash is not accompanied by a fever, sore throat, or any kind of discomfort whatsoever.

The only clue is that it came three days after big brother had a confirmed case of strep throat. The exact same amount of time that a slightly different type of rash showed up a month ago the last time Noah had a confirmed case of strep throat. That time doctor called it impetigo and sent us away with antibiotics, mostly because the rest of the family was on meds for various ailments at the time.

Hours of research online results in...nothing

Trip to the doctors office where mom is assured without a doubt that it cannot possibly be related to big brother's strep throat. Doctor runs a culture on the rash itself as well as a throat culture, just to appease the annoying mom who keeps saying that it HAS to be related. Even though ALL medical evidence points to the contrary.

Send the annoying mom away from the office declaring again that it is most definitely NOT related. Can't be strep throat because there's no pain, redness, or swelling...can't be scarlet fever since there's no fever and the rash is ONLY on the face. Go home and put antibiotic ointment on it and then send him back to school.

Snow day Wednesday....call from the doctor. Aaron's strep test came back positive. Calling in a prescription and now he has to stay home from school since he's contagious. Mom's not surprised, but doctor certainly is.

Now, I really can't blame the doctor. He has probably never seen a case of skin strep before, especially when it is accompanied with NO other symptoms whatsoever. As a matter of fact, Aaron has had so many strange medical oddities throughout the years that he is pretty much always a quandary...whether it was a freakishly small head as a young toddler that required many trips to the children's hospital before it was just deemed small, a frenulectomy (that little piece of skin between your tongue and bottom of your mouth that was still connected and had to be lasered apart) at three months old, or staples in the head from running into a wall (not the corner mind you, JUST the wall). He is just funny that way.

But I did make sure that it is documented in his chart now that we've had skin strep twice in two months. And even though I hope we are done with illness in the Wheelz home for this winter season, I can't help but wonder what the rash will look like NEXT time.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Price Gouging Should Be Outlawed

We're all victims of price gouging. And it usually happens when we're the most vulnerable (like right now).

Steve's grocery getter truck has been our saving grace for five years now. It was a generous donation from a family member when we got it and it has saved us so many times through the years that we're amazed. It has been losing it's exhaust system for months and the entire neighborhood has been awakened every morning as he headed out the door for a very long time by it's loud presence. The fun thing was always knowing five minutes before he gets home from work that he was on his way :) Yesterday on his way home from work, it finally gave in and dropped in the middle of the road.

One car survival just doesn't work for us so Steve managed to tie it up with cable zip ties to crawl it down to the Tuffy down the street. We knew about Tuffy's inflated prices but also desperately need the delayed check casing. An hour later, Steve calls me with a $400+ repair cost estimate.

No Way!!!!!!!!!!

So I begged Steve to call someone else, which he did and came back with an estimate for HALF that. But no delayed check cashing. Okay, January mortgage doesn't get paid this week (yes, it's February) but we have to do it, right?

So Steve called Tuffy back and magically they "called their distributor" and got the price dropped by over $100. Imagine that! I still don't want to patronize their business but once again, the desperate get taken advantage of.

Why can't companies just be honest? I don't understand why all business people can't just sell an item for what it's worth, without inflating prices so that the dicker savvy people can get lower prices, but not the normal consumer. Car dealerships, insurance companies, home repair places, appliance sales, gas stations, etc. You name it. I am sick of rich business people taking advantage of hard working but poor people (us) who desperately need breaks but never get them. People who are strong enough to fight for deals get lower prices, but people who just don't have any fight left in them get screwed. It just makes me so mad.

Okay, vent over for now. Enjoy the blizzard everyone. We're praying for a big storm to snow us in, but that the power doesn't go out because this house is cold enough even WITH the heat on.

Happy Snow Day tomorrow!