Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Happy 10th Birthday, Rosie!

If You Were Born Today, November 13:

You are wise beyond your years, your eyes reflect this wisdom. The outward expression of your personality is strong and determined, although this hides a very emotional and sensitive nature. Success may come later in life, simply because in youth, you are inclined to more daydreaming than action. You may come across as sarcastic and even tough, but you are a thoughtful and kind person with a love of knowledge, justice, and truth. You also have a well-developed sense of humor.

This is a strong year for learning and communications. You are able to find new insight into old problems, and your thinking processes during this period are likely to be especially original. You may find more opportunities to attend meetings and other organized group activities, to communicate online, and to take part in activities involving computers, science, or metaphysics. .

Relationships with younger people in your life are rewarding. A subject or even a person can be especially inspiring, prompting you to explore new perspectives.

Dancing, swimming, photography, arts, and entertainment are favored this year. If you are an artist, this could be an especially inspired, imaginative, and productive year. Pay attention to your gut feelings, which will, more often than not, give you valuable information.

(from http://www.cafeastrology.com/birthday/november13_2012.html)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

We're No. #1!! Or #7...

I'll link to DCist.com, since that's where I get my local news: According to an annual report by Allstate Insurance, the District of Columbia has the very worst drivers in the country. Alexandria, VA, where I do a good deal of my driving, is ranked 7th worst. I've been in my share of accidents in the area, probably more than the average person nationwide. I can think of three collisions that I've been in just in the past 5 years. I'll regale you with the hilarity — or pain, depending on your point of view.

Collision #1, Unreported in Alexandria. I was waiting at a red light on a single-lane road with one car in front of me when I noticed that the car behind me, with Pennsylvania plates (Philadelphia has the 6th-worst drivers in the country), had its right-turn signal on and the driver was motioning for me to give him room on the right. I was accomodating, and scooted up as close as I could to the car in front. He still didn't make the turn; the car at the light saw him and tried to scoot up too. It was a long light and right-turn-signal guy was close enough for me to see the circus going on in his car. He was talking on his cell phone while he had a gigantic fold-out highway map across his lap, accordioning into the passenger seat. In the back, there was a large dog, a preschool-aged kid in a carseat, and two more large dogs in the hatchback area.

When the light changed to green, the car in front of me immediately made a left and I continued straight. Then I heard a car on overdrive coming up on my right. I looked to see what it was (because there wasn't any room before I got across the intersection) and it was THAT GUY! Turn-signal guy had crept around my right side into the crosswalk so that he could attempt to turbo past me and cut me off before I cleared the intersection!

I hit him. I didn't have an option. He was cutting me off inches from my vehicle like an a$$hat and there was no room to stop, even at 10 MPH.

We both stopped on the other side of the road to assess the damage. He barrelled out of his car and started screaming at me, what was my problem? etc. and I just let him scream, didn't respond at all. He eventually petered out and told me that he didn't want to make a claim. I was super relieved, because even though he was the one driving like he had a hive of bees in his car, I hit him and probably would have been charged with fault.

Collision #2, Icy Alexandria road. The D.C. metro area has pretty unpredictable weather and typically is caught completely unawares when the temperature drops to freezing. Coming from the Chicago area and never having had a snow-related collision in my 25 years as a driver, I felt superior to all those silly people skidding out on ice and pulling off the road when a dusting of snow came along. Weather babies!

I had just dropped my kids at childcare one January morning and there had been no snow whatsoever on the drive out. As I was leaving the garage, I saw that it had started to flurry, but not a big deal to me, right? I know snow. I came up to a busy intersection, stopped, then turned right onto one of my favorite less-traveled roads to get around the typical congestion. There was a car ahead of me, pausing at a stop sign, but I had plenty of room to brake. I braked. My car kept moving. I pushed the brake to the floor; my car didn't slow. My car was sliding on ice covered with the light snow! I quickly steered my car to the right in an attempt to avoid hitting the car that was pulling away from its stop, but instead managed to completely plow over the stop sign and still hit the other guy's bumper. Sigh.

Collision #3, Rear-ended on 495. I was running an errand that required a short trip on the Beltway. I slowly crawled onto an exit ramp that was crowded with other cars until it was my time to merge onto 495. Whew, I could finally accelerate! But, wait, no. There was another collision right past the ramp with two cars and a policeman in the shoulder. I decelerated a bit to give them some clearance, as it's poor form to cruise full-Beltway-speed past a pedestrian on the highway shoulder, especially a cop.

Unfortunately, the woman driving behind me didn't see the accident because she was too busy looking behind her for a gap in oncoming traffic so she could merge into the lane beyond my car. She slammed into my left bumper at high speed and her car spiraled into the two far lanes on the Beltway. Miraculously for her, the other drivers managed to avoid her car. I was still in the merge lane, now missing my left-turn and -brake lights which had been smashed to oblivion. My car was still driveable, but the entire front end of her car had fallen off. You could still clearly see her Maryland plates (Baltimore has the 2nd-worst drivers).

So now, the poor cop had to deal with two collisions in the same spot. He called for backup.

Monday, August 27, 2012

10 things you might not know about Nylonthread

I thought I'd revisit this old meme just for fun today. I'm planning to get back online to put a new craft I'm making out there and remembered this neglected blog. Here's a little love for tied to my apron strings:

  1. I love the scent of grapefruit.
  2. When I was a junior in college, I lived in Arthur Miller's former house.
  3. I bought deodorant for my daughter for the first time last week (she'll be two-digits old in a couple of months!).
  4. My grade-school best friend was ordered to break our friendship off by her parents because it was (might have been) bringing her grades down.
  5. My pinky toes are very fragile and I've broken both of them several times (one of them might be broken right now; I'm buddy-taping it, which is all that can be done).
  6. I try not to tell good news to more than three people; the fourth telling takes the glow off.
  7. I can play relatively simple tunes on my hands like a flute or "hand flute".
  8. I know way more than the average person about IEDs, unexploded ordinance, and female fertility.
  9. I'm really, really, really bad at sending thank you cards and unfortunately, I'm afraid that I'll be passing this on to my kids.
  10. I love hiking near waterfalls or on paths that make you leap from rock to rock.
I've still got all your blogs on my feed reader, I'm just not commenting on them very much. Facebook has been scratching that itch, to be honest. Anyone still out there?


Thursday, July 05, 2012

Happy 7th Birthday, Dash!

Dash turned 7 over the weekend and we had an awesome summer party to celebrate. 29 of his friends showed up to run this circuit for the four-hour party: moonbounce, wading pool, Dash's room, basement (for Wii), moonbounce. See how they all look kind of tired and sweaty in this pic? This was from about 2.5 hours into the shindig.

Dash has grown about 2 inches this year and has grown out of so many favorite clothes! That fabulous suit he wore on our New Orleans trip a year ago, is still in his closet, but too short to wear now. He started 1st grade in September, with only limited reading skills—his teacher was pretty worried about him—but is now reading a few books before bed every night. We took a few day trips last fall, checking out historic sights like the Antietam battlefield (where Dash got a kick watching Monkeyrotica's ghost app pop up with hundreds of ghosts).

Dash left the karate studio where he was practicing and joined a tae kwon do studio, begged to join (and joined!) chess club at his school, became an expert at Wii LEGO games and fruit ninja, and discovered how fun it can be to trade Pokemon cards with friends. He's becoming very good at quoting obscure movie lines in context, as well. Just last month, we were discussing the theory of reincarnation at the dinner table when Dash shouted out, "Renewal is a LIE!" Which, for those of you who never paid attention to 1970s sci-fi, is a line from "Logan's Run." (From imdb.com, the actual line is "Life clocks are a lie! Carousel is a lie! THERE IS NO RENEWAL!")

Most of all, he has stayed such a snuggly, smiley, loving little boy. He feels deeply for all his intricately named toys and many (also named) inanimate objects, caring about setting bugs free outside, just as always. He comes up with some of the funniest things to say, but needs to work on his jokes—one of his faves is to say, for example, "what is 'shirt'?" when I ask him to put on his shirt. Back when Dash lost another tooth, as I tucked him in and checked on his tooth fairy box, I noticed a dollar bill next to it. I asked Dash, "What's this doing here?" and he said, "It's for the Tooth Fairy. She's given me so much money, she should have some for herself." He is still very transparent and can't manage to lie (well) about anything — I'm grateful for this.

He's an adorable, sweet seven-year-old. While I miss his six-year-old self, I can't wait to watch him and eight and beyond.

Monday, June 18, 2012

First and Last Days of School, 2011-12

On their last day of school this year, I talked Rosie and Dash into wearing the same outfits that they had worn on their first day so I could take this comparison photo. They didn't protest at all, and amazingly, Rosie still fit in all the clothing, including shoes (although, I noticed afterwards that she had worn holes through the soles).

While they are standing in almost the same spot, I didn't get the exact angle from the original shot. I was pretty careful to scale the after-shot to an accurate relative size, basing the measurement on Dash's shirt from collar to shirt-tails.

They *have* grown quite a bit, haven't they? Cheers to my rising Second and Fourth-graders!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Monday, June 04, 2012

Rosie's GS Bridging Ceremony

Rosie and her Girl Scout troop mates all bridged over from Brownies to Juniors today. Congratulations, girls!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Rosie's Design Won the Patch Contest!

Rosie's Girl Scout troop will be going to the annual "Encampment" this weekend and she is very excited about it — she started packing last week. As with many GS events, there's a patch associated with it. We are new to Scouting, but it doesn't seem like they enlist for patch artwork submissions that often. However, we got a contest entry form for this event. When we originally got the flyer via email back in early March, I sort of blew it off, thinking it would be like many other contests that Rosie's entered and nothing would come of it.

Mid-March, I ran into the mom who was collecting the entries; she told me that was worried about the lack of submissions this year and whether they would have a viable option to choose from. When I was home with Rosie next, I talked her into making an entry. The text that needed to be included was daunting for her: all of "Girls Rock!" and "SU 53-3 Encampment 2012" needed to fit on the patch along with the art. If you know how big kids' writing can be, you'll understand why it seemed like it would fill the small space (2.5 in sq.). I helped out, just a bit, by lightly penciling in where I thought the text would fit best. Then Rosie did the rest, in crayon (we have markers, and colored pencils, and many other media, but she insisted).

Rosie's orginal artwork is on the left, and the resulting embroidered patch on the right.

I contacted the GS mom about Rosie's submission, because we had missed the deadline. Did she still need more entries? I got a two-word response: "SEND IT." Rosie originally drew tiny little girl-figures, much too small for the embroidery machine to work with, so the patch artist made them larger. Also, her two girls were originally more diverse, one with brown, curly hair and brown skin and the other with long black hair and pale skin — the final art limited the usable colors (there are 8 in the patch), so no brown (or pink).
This encampment is for all of the scouts in our County, so approximately 200 girls will be wearing Rosie's artwork on the patch they all receive. I think her original and the final patch are both lovely! Rosie will be so excited to have this as a keepsake of the contest that she won and of her time in Girl Scouts.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

I'm not a quitter, really

Hey everyone, I've been away for a while, I know. Partly, I've been consumed with training to become a aerobics instructor (see December's post) and partly because my life has been fairly uneventful. My kids are acting like human beings (rather than the adorable-but-slightly-alien-creatures that infants and toddlers are), doing their homework, after-school activities, chores, etc. So, normal.

Starting in April and up until last week, my daily schedule was:
  • 5:15 a.m.-6 a.m.: Get up and practice aerobics choreography
  • 6-6:30: Get ready for work
  • 6:30-7:30: Get kids up, feed breakfast, pack lunches, head to morning care
  • 7:45-5:15 p.m.: Commuting/work
  • 5:15-6:45: Dinner/homework help/chores
  • 7-8: Mon & Wed aerobics / Tues & Thurs Dash's Tae kwon do
  •  (Weekends:  8-9 a.m. Sat & Sun, Jazzercise)

When I went to aerobics classes throughout April, the instructors would announce each class that I was a trainee and let me come on stage with them, so I was getting a lot of experience co-leading classes all month. However, through March and April, the center owner took me aside to chat a few times to discuss what a commitment that aerobics was, and how flexible my schedule was, and, really, no red flags went up at first.

It wasn't until mid-April that I started to hear rumblings from the two new instructors that were certified in March. The center just added two new classes per week, and the new instructors had assumed that they were going to be assigned to them; however, the classes were assigned to current instructors with more seniority. The new instructors would only be able to substitute for classes that the current instructors gave up to them, or they would need to travel to classes at other centers. Also, one of the instructors (with two classes per week) who said she was moving away decided to stay. On top of all this, the center owner —who had only been teaching personal training classes—started teaching aerobics classes on the main schedule again. I began to feel concerned and squeezed out. Teaching opportunities seemed much scarcer than they had when I signed on.

The math is what helped clinch my decision to put off the certification:
  • When I started, there were 6 instructors and 13 classes, which is a ratio of about >2 classes per instructor. It gets messy when you get down to some instructors have 2 or 3 classes each and others have 1-1/2 (sharing with another teacher), but that's essentially it.
  • What I *thought* was happening was that the one instructor was leaving, two new instructors were coming on and the center was adding two new classes. So 7 instructors, 15 classes, with essentially the same ratio, >2.
  • What actually happened was this: there are now 9 instructors and 15 classes, with a ratio of 1-1/3 classes per instructor. 2 instructors have 3 classes each, leaving 9 classes for 7 instructors. 3 of those 7 instructors have 2 classes each, leaving 3 classes for the remaining 4. Two of those instructors each have a class and share one class, leaving the 2 new instructors with substitution options only.
With those two instructors getting all the substitution jobs, what would I be left with? The hard reality is: a travelling substitute, teaching at other centers, driving through rush-hour traffic at the whim of an injury, sick kid, or vacation, continuing to prepare for classes that might appear at a moment's notice.

I'm not THAT flexible. And there's a new requirement that instructors _must_ teach 4 classes per month.

I was planning to teach or substitute at my center during the week, or teach or travel as a substitute on the weekends. I just learned that the weekend substitution jobs are prime and get snapped up immediately, so it would be very unlikely that I could rely on weekend-only work. And I just can't travel during the week or I'd be having marriage issues. So, I'm putting aerobics instructor training on hold. Maybe in a year or two the teacher-to-class ratio will change? People are always relocating for jobs or love, or Bob-forbid, get injured. I did all the work and I feel great, super-fit. I know I CAN do it, and that counts for me.

For now, I keep taking classes — which I LOVE!!! — and will keep my ears pricked to changes in the schedule.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The dishwasher saga (a hand-washer's life for me)

We knew we needed to replace the dishwasher, but when exactly does buying a new appliance become a *critical* need?

Feb 14: The dishwasher starts making a funny noise. Monkeyrotica and I discuss replacing it, because we'd decided last year that we wouldn't put any more money into repairs. In 2010, we replaced its heating element, and in 2008, it flooded the housetwice.

Feb 18: We shop at Lowe's and kick around a few dishwashers. We agree on a brand and some components that we both like, but decide that we should budget and save up for it first. Instead, we buy a new ceiling fan with overhead light (the bedroom's been mighty dark) and a kid-friendly shower head for the upstairs bath.

Feb 22: Plumber arrives to fix some leaks, install new shower head. He advises that our water pressure is much too high and installs a "pressure decreasing valve."

Feb 23: Dishwasher mysteriously stops cleaning top-rack dishes and the hand-washing starts. Not a big deal yet. I assume it's a water-pressure issue and think about calling the plumber back to increase the pressure, just a bit.

Mar 7: Dash accidentally drops his toothbrush into the upstairs toilet while flushing, completely blocking it. I *actually* call the plumber and schedule him to come back for both tasks, still hoping that increasing the water pressure will fix the dishwasher (I'm going to call it DW from here on out).

Mar 9: Plumber arrives, removes toothbrush and as a courtesy, checks out the DW. Explains that the DW has its own pump that maintains water pressure separate from the house. In his opinion, the pump has ceased to work (he doesn't adjust the household pressure). Our eight-year-old Kenmore DW needs to be replaced.

Later that day, we buy a new DW through Amazon.com marketplace and take advantage of Monkeyrotica's free shipping plan. Perfect. I get a delivery window of March 15-20.

Mar 12: Old DW stops working altogether, top *and* bottom racks now.

Mar 14: I got a message that the new DW was damaged during shipping and that would add a week to the delivery estimate. I phone back to insist that since the damage was their fault, they needed to get the delivery expedited and deliver during the same window. They could not promise, but ship another one out the same day. They didn't have a tracking number yet, but tell me to call back in a couple of days to check the shipping status. I've been handwashing dishes for three weeks now.

Mar 16: I phone the shipper in the morning and give them my order number and some of the backstory, asking for the new tracking number. The guy sputters a bit and tells me there is a note on my order that the second shipment is damaged. He tells me that he will check on my order and call me back. About an hour later, he calls back and confirms that the 2nd new DW is indeed damaged and suggests that I phone the appliance dealer. Fed up with these clowns, I phone customer service and cancel the order, confirming with a nice lady named Christina that they are NOT shipping another DW and I will get my money refunded.

Not willing to wait any longer, I find a different DW dealer online and order a new DW from the new dealer. Later that afternoon, the first dealer's sales guy calls Monkeyrotica's phone number and tries to convince him that there was no DW shipped on  Mar 14 and no 2nd washer was damaged. In fact, the 2nd DW was just leaving their warehouse today. We didn't really want to cancel the order, did we?

GAH!! At least we have enough paper plates and cups to last us a while. We should have our new DW in our home, installed by a professional, in about another week.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The cuteness was distracting last night

I am *so* thankful that Jazzercise allows kids to stay while I'm taking a class, especially my kids: I brought both of them last night. Monkeyrotica was out at a happy hour, so it was up to me to help them with homework, feed them, and entertain them until bedtime. I got it all done before 7 p.m., so off to class we three went, with the admonition that they had to take turns playing games on my iPhone. The rules are when one of them lost their game, they'd have to hand the device over to their sibling.

About a third of the way through class, I caught a glimpse of them both staring into space, with my iPhone drooping in Rosie's hand. I checked in and found out that the phone's battery had powered out. Oh well, kids! You'll have to entertain yourselves.

That's when things started getting silly. Here are some of the scenes I caught whenever I peeked over at them:
  • Dash curled up in a ball, Rosie draped over him
  • Rosie laying on her back, Dash sitting on her belly
  • Both of them playing dead/asleep (impossible at a 50db dance aerobics class)
  • Piling up and sitting on multiple foam exercise mats
  • Setting up foam exercise mats into a two-walled fort
  • Setting up foam exercise mats into a four-walled fort
  • Setting up foam exercise mats into a double-decker, four-walled fort
  • Peering over the edges of their fort and collapsing into giggles if anyone made eye contact
  • Knocking over their fort walls and giggling
  • Shrieking when adults snuck up on their fort to scare them
They were cracking me up! If my iPhone wasn't already dead, I totally would have taken photos. By the end of class, I had so many people come up to me and tell me how adorable my kids were, it was heartwarming. One friend in class told me that she wished she were playing with them in their fort instead of taking class, they looked like they were having such a good time.

A good memory I wish to keep. :-)

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Kids' health, as good as expected

Rosie had her nine-year check-up a few weeks ago (what? didn't she turn 9 in November? and yes, true, I'm just kind of a slacker with making doc appointments. anyway...) and looks great, as usual! Even though friends are always telling us, "She's so tall!" in reality, her height remains in the 58th percentile, her weight also is steady in the 70th percentile. You could probably go back to when she turned three or four and find the same numbers for Rosie. :-)

She should be riding her bike more and swimming more (repetitive motion helps develop stamina), but we'll work harder on that as it gets warmer. I'm planning to put her and Dash in their school's track club when registration opens for spring. Speaking of Dash...

We moved him from karate to a tae kwon do studio that is closer to home and doesn't hold classes in the middle of rush hour, primarily to make things easier for me — I loved that karate dojo. Hilarious, to me anyway, is that even though the TKD blue belt level (he was just promoted to blue from white belts in karate) is _much_ more advanced in TKD, they are letting him keep it. Instant promotion for Dash! He's also sporting a super-short haircut due to a bout of head-lice that threw me for a spinning loop -buzzcut-> shampoo-> bedding strip/laundry-> nit-picking- last Monday morning. Today, he's got a low-grade fever that he's had since Tuesday morning and will probably keep him out of school another day. He's in great spirits, otherwise!

And, per Grandma S's request, there you have a couple cute photos of the kids. Cheers.
Who links to me?

blogger templates | Make Money Online