Wednesday, December 27, 2006

pictures

See some pictures from our Christmas adventures at Yahoo. Click on the link to the right of the page titled "Pictures of Our Adventures."

Russian government strikes again

Received a letter from Frank Adoption Center in the mail upon our return from holiday travels:

"Roman's post placement report will be due in our office by March 18, 2007. Due to a November 2006 change in the Russian Ministry of Education's post-placement requirements, we have been alerted that post-placement report visits should not occur more than one month prior to your child's adoption anniversary date. Your documented date of adoption is March 25, 2004. Therefore, we are asking that your social worker not conduct her home visit prior to February 25, 2007......
Please remember that your post-placement report needs to be apostilled in your state... and must be accompanied by at least six different photographs of your child. Please choose your photographs carefully, as they will be viewed by the officials in your child's region. Do not submit photographs of your children taking a bath or in their bathing suits."

Oh, golly. Last year, Russia called FAC because they decided our post-placement report needed to be due before its actual due date (thank goodness I had been walking out the door to get it apostilled when they called!). So this year, it's a 2-1/2 week window to have the visit, get the report done, get it to Lansing to be apostilled, and sent to FAC in time. It's our last report, too. Doug shook his head, but I just reassured him - Russia says jump, and we ask how high! A small price to pay for our angel, who is currently napping in his room after a hard morning of playing with all his new toys.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Welcome home... heh, heh.

The smell of poop and garbage in the air. The house at 48 degrees. Sorting laundry to find your cream-colored sweater stained by your new red shirt. Watering the plant to have the water overrun and spill on the hardwood floor. Welcome home, Van Eeuwen family... welcome home.

Well, it's not that bad. An hour later and the poop was cleaned up (thanks, kitties... we'll be calling the vet tomorrow). The furnace was reset, the sweater was Oxi-Cleaned, and the water sopped up. The boy is in bed, and Doug and I are going to unpack & shuffle everything around tomorrow. We had a good holiday, Roman received a lot of great gifts, and we made it home safe. I have until Jan. 8th off, which is great. Looking forward to organizing pictures, other files on the computer, scanning some stuff in, and just relaxing.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Open House that never was

We busted our "bootums" all weekend. All evening Friday, 4-5 hours on Saturday, all Saturday evening, and 5 hours on Sunday... cleaning, painting, packing, painting, grouting. We headed out to Toys R Us on Sunday around 12:30, and Doug thought to swing back by the house to make sure the "guest realtor" showed up. 10 after 1pm, and no one was there. We called our own realtor, who tried to contact the guest realtor - couldn't get ahold of him! So strangely, the agent had volunteered to show our house, then couldn't be gotten ahold of.

Our agent said he'd check to see if it was advertised anywhere and if it was, he'd head right over (he was watching his kids while his wife worked). When we returned around 5pm, it didn't look like anyone had been there. So...

....the silver lining is, of course, that practically everything in the house has been done. Nothing else to pack. Nothing else to fix. A couple things to paint, but no big deal. So now, we need PEOPLE.

Roman, on the other hand, is getting ready for Christmas. I don't think he has a clue of what's in store - he doesn't really remember from last year. We wrapped most of our gifts last night. Today Roman said something sweet while watching Winnie the Pooh - "Hey Daddy, wouldn't it be neat if we lived in a treehouse?" He said it so wondering, so full of imagination. Sweet, sweet little boy.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Surprise! Open House!

Our realtor called Doug today and announced that he had found someone to staff an Open House for us this Sunday, 1-4pm. "Holy crap!" I said, a few times, when Doug told me. There was so much we were going to do over Xmas break, that is being done today and tomorrow.

So... after Roman went to bed tonight (second night in a row of being the sweetest boy ever), I grabbed the paint and touched up the kitchen and spots in the living and hallway where Doug had plugged up holes. Also took down the stereo in the dining room. Doug stripped and re-caulked the tub tonight, so no baths or showers tomorrow!

Luckily, Roman can go play at church from noon-4pm tomorrow, so we'll have time to do other things. Still lots of touch-up painting in the basement, at least 2 trips to the storage unit, and more fun in the bathroom.

In other news, I am progressing through whatever illness has hit me this week. Losing my voice, which was fun at school today. We found a small flashlight and checked Roman's throat out - it was really red and very swollen. But when we ask him, he says his throat doesn't hurt. When Doug put him to bed tonight, he asked in a different way - "Roman, does the back of your mouth hurt?" "Oh, yes" came the reply. "Is that why you've had trouble falling asleep?" "Yes, Daddy." Oh man, we feel bad. So just as usual, Roman is sick right at the same time I am... can't tell me that boy doesn't have allergies.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"You'll shoot your eye out!"

The great movie "A Christmas Story" is taking place in our home this season. Roman is a true boy, getting very fascinated with guns. He makes up guns - popcorn guns, bow and arrow guns (I think a crossbow, although how he knows what that is I'm not sure). His friend Jake at preschool informed me that Santa doesn't make guns, which I was relieved to hear. I told Roman this, and his reply was, "but my Santa does."

Yesterday we were shopping at Meijer and went down the toy weapon aisle (not deliberately). Roman's eyes latched onto one particular package and he grew very excited. "I want THAT for my birthday!" was the cry. Behold! A toy M-16 rifle, nicknamed "The Peacemaker." When you pull the trigger, it shakes and makes great popping sounds. But not so great for a 3-year-old. I just said "We'll put it on the list" and rolled along. I suggested to Doug that just like the commercials, one day we're going to have an 18-year-old Roman sit us down and explain to us why he wants to join the Army.

Santa came to preschool today and we were asked if there was anything we wanted Santa to mention. I wrote, "tell Roman that Santa doesn't make guns." Sure enough, Roman reported this afternoon that that's what Santa told him. But everything Roman has asked Santa for (he's seen him twice now), is nothing that anyone has bought him. I even tried to have Santa suggest Thomas trains, and Roman asked for battery-operated ones (I don't want to get into buying those kind myself, although gifts are fine). So now the dilemma - do we not get him anything he's asked for, and hope that he doesn't notice? Or do we risk the "Oh... but I wanted...(fill in the blank)" and not show appreciation for what he does get?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The break-up

While it is easy for Doug to let go, I cannot. I was falling in love with that house. I felt we had a future together. It was available and ready to start a relationship - it stood there with open rooms, waiting for memories to be made together. It had moved beyond its past affair with color and was ready to start anew... maybe with taupe? It practically asked for me to come into its life, improve its bathrooms, swap its electric stove for gas, and put a gas log in its fireplace. But it was not meant to be.

That house wanted a commitment. It wanted us immediately; in fact, was moving way too fast. December 31, it said. You have to be living with me, or else. We tried to reason with it. We tried to explain that we had to let our current house down gently... we couldn't just toss it into the marketplace, settle for less than its value. Our current house deserves more from us. And we couldn't play the field, start a relationship with a new house before breaking up with our current house. Our financial morals just wouldn't allow us.

So that's where it ended. There was no compromise to be reached. It did try to bargain with us - let's sit down, let's try to work out some mortgage payments - but in the end, the house told us it would take no contingencies. Against its policy. We felt bad, but we had to part with it. We're hoping we can remain friends... in fact, we'd like to rekindle a relationship with it someday - hopefully sooner. But I guess it will take time, and hope that no one else makes a move on that house.

They say that there are other houses in Plymouth, that we'll find a better one someday. It's hard to imagine, when you feel like the perfect one got away.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sharing the season

We think Roman must have been sick for the past couple weeks, because he's been in a great mood the last three days... which makes us realize just how grumpy he was. Our sweet child is back. Some whining, of course, no napping at preschool - but is playing well and is much more patient. Maybe a "switch" turned on, who knows.

As Christmas is just 20 days away, it's been great having Roman understand and enjoy the holiday. He "gets" Santa, but also gets that we're celebrating Jesus' birthday. He's in love with Frosty and Rudolph, as any good three-year-old should be. But most of all, he knows that no Christmas tree is complete without a train going around the base. And ours, according to Roman, is a Golden Train. If you can believe it, I bought it when I worked at K-B Toys back in the good ol' days (1993, I believe). Good employee discount. It's been out some years, packed away some years, but we knew that Roman would love it. Not only does he love it, he will play with it by himself for whole chunks of time - the other day, practically 20 minutes on his own! He likes that it is big and he can put his hands on the back and push. The train hasn't spent much time on the actual tracks, though. Currently it's in its "shed" which is under the footstool in the basement.

I also had a warm fuzzy feeling in the car the other day when I introduced one of Roger Whitaker's Christmas CDs to Roman. When I was growing up, we always listened to this particular album (and by that, I do mean album - the LP, on the record player) along with Pavarotti (Ave Maria, how beautiful) while decorating the tree. So for Roman to enjoy the songs, especially "Darcey the Dragon," is just so much fun for me too. It's times like that when I finally "get" the importance of family traditions.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Stop, hold everything: some clarification needed.

At best, we've been given lukewarm support for our seemingly out-of-the-blue bid on a house. So I thought it best, to reassure those who now think we're certifiable, to express what's been discussed in our household for not only the past few weeks, but in some instances, four years - and some since before we got married.

Why we want to move to Plymouth:
1. We can’t take Roman to the nearby park because of the druggies who get into fights in the parking lot and swear a lot.
2. Neighbors who tear up the street and take the corners fast that I fear for Roman crossing the street when he’s older.
3. The neighborhood we are in is clearly beginning to turn over; we have little in common with the newcomers from Redford, Detroit, etc.
4. To participate in a neighborhood-like activity I drive 25 minutes to Plymouth (band concerts, Santa, school events, eating ice cream on a park bench). These activities are what I grew up doing in a small town, and I want that small town experience for Roman.
5. Because Doug’s job is here (and more variety of future jobs will be here) and I also love my job at my school, not to mention our fabulous church, staying in this area of Michigan has begun to appeal to me. And we have agreed that if living in the Kalamazoo area, my first choice, is off the radar, then living in a “small town feel” area is what I want for my family.
6. I am connected to the Plymouth school community and want Roman to participate in it, especially since I already know the “ins and outs” of how the system works and who to contact with problems.
7. We want a neighborhood with kids in it; there are few children Roman’s age in our neighborhood.
8. If we stayed in this house when Roman began kindergarten, with me working in Plymouth, we would have to either switch him to a daycare which would bus him to school, or we would have to pay for before-and-after school care at the school. Not to mention whether he should do full or part-day kindergarten. None of these choices thrills me: switch him to a third “daycare” in 4 years, so I could drop him off at daycare and he could be bussed to school and bussed back to daycare, when I could pick him up? In the neighborhood we’re looking at, Roman could continue to attend his current preschool if he had to be bussed to kindergarten; or, I would only have a 5 minute commute to work if I was able to take him to school.

Why we want a bigger house:
1. Top amongst all the reasons: storage. We are tired of paying for a storage unit that is rapidly filling up with Roman’s baby things which we are not yet ready to sell or give away; that money could go to better use toward the mortgage on a larger house.
2. As we want a second child in the future, we do not feel our current house has the space to include our entire family. We understand that people all over do it – but we can afford more space with little impact on our budget.
3. The configuration of our current home does not allow for Roman to play outside without me being with him; thinking of the future, we would prefer a house with a backyard that can be seen from a kitchen/living area.
4. It would have a garage.

As for the housing and financial “climate”:
1. We are well aware that December-February is the worst time to sell a house. We did not initially plan to sell our house at this time; however, the price and situation of the house we bid on, we feel, is too fortunate to pass up.
2. We are also well aware, as others may not be, that in SE Michigan the houses that are not selling are the larger family homes priced approximately $200,000 and up. The smaller starter homes in “ring” cities such as Livonia have seen an increase to approximately 112 days on the market. There has been a stagnation in selling price of houses similar to ours; but it has not decreased. I work with a fellow who sold his starter home in Plymouth in 6 weeks, and closed 3 weeks ago.
3. We have discussed with our realtor his “tricks” for getting houses to move and feel confident that we will have traffic.
4. We understand that the company which holds the house we’re bidding on is anxious to get rid of it by Dec. 31. This “puts the ball in our court,” and gives us leverage for the next “counter counter” which we will be submitting Monday morning. (see the end of this post)
5. We have discussed the possible situation of two mortgages and know what we’re comfortable with and can afford, and the length of time we could afford it. We would never use a bridge loan.
6. We have researched how much it will cost us to move and have the money available.
7. We would not have qualified for this new mortgage, nor would our lender approve us for handling both mortgages temporarily if we didn’t have adequate personal finances. We planned in advance (for once) for this very scenario – being able to finance a house or a second child.


That all being expressed, and taking into consideration advice given by family, friends, and our realtor, we are going to attempt to negotiate for this house further. We will accept the company's counter-offer, including closing by Dec. 31, but add on that they pay for 6 months of our new mortgage payments (since they're not giving us time to sell our home first). That will still leave room for the company to counter with something I'm pretty sure we'd still be comfortable with. We talked about possible negotiations offered by the company... But we'll see. Boyd comes tonight at 6pm to do paperwork for getting our house on the market, and we'll also draw up the counter-offer.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Operation: Laverne & Shirley

AKA: “Make all our dreams come true…” If you are a short-story kind of person, here it is: we put an offer on a house in Plymouth today and are awaiting the results. If you’d like to know the background, read on.

Doug and I have been restless for some time. At turns irritated with each other, at turns irritated with Roman, at other turns irritated with the house, the neighborhood, local construction, or the way people drive around here. But, always the underlying feeling that something wasn’t “right.” I was more verbal, of course – I’m just not content. Our pastor preached on the 10th commandment, Do Not Covet, and I got the message… but still.

So when I went on my scrapbooking retreat a few weeks ago, I had time in the car (6 hours round trip!) to reflect. When I got home Sunday night, we settled in for The Talk. What came out of it is what I like to call Operation: Laverne and Shirley. We have made short (6-8 months) and mid (2-3 years) term goals, and acknowledged long (5+ years) term goals that will make both Doug and I feel content with our family life. We both have acquiesced to sacrifices we must make, financial and geographical, to attain these goals. I could go on, paragraph after paragraph, but I won’t. Essential to the family happiness, however, is a roomier house and a second child from Russia.

Funny enough, while infinitely more expensive, a roomier house is easier to obtain than a child from Russia - so that’s where we decided to start. We settled on Plymouth for a variety of reasons as well, and actually well-thought-out reasons. Doug and I just don’t mess around – once something is verbalized, we do tend to move on it (see: engagement, first house, camper, cars). In typical “let’s just look at what our money gets us” fashion, we found a house to bid on within two weeks. We’ve “cased” a couple different neighborhoods and this house is a DEAL.

The details: colonial, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, attached 2 car garage, basement partially finished (it does have old paneling, berber carpet, and an old drop ceiling in half of it). Built in 1972 and many parts look it (basement, master bathroom). Living & family room on 1st floor, kitchen opens to family room. Two doorwalls to backyard (dining and family room). Larger lot, deck and patio in backyard, in neighborhood with evidence of many children (sandboxes, swing sets, Cozy Coupes to be seen just from the driveway). Two miles from my work, equally distant compared to current drive for Doug’s work.

The people who previously owned it bought it 2 years ago and then were transferred this past August; the company bought out their mortgage and is selling it. So that’s why we’ll be waiting awhile (we figure) & are expecting a counter-offer; we’re dealing with accountants & their bosses, not another couple. There have been no other offers on it and the price has been dropped once already.

So fingers crossed…. and of course our own house isn’t on the market yet. That would be planning ahead, something Doug and I don’t do very well. And if this one doesn’t work out, I do have 4 other houses earmarked to take a look at, but after imagining ourselves in a colonial it will be hard to go smaller. And meanwhile, Roman is begging for the Christmas decorations to be put up but I don’t want to decorate too much if I have to get the house “prepped” to sell in the next couple weeks. So the tree and an advent calendar will go up for now...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Without a little boy around...

Oh, the things you can do. For example: Sleep in until 9:30am. Eat a leisurely breakfast while reading the paper. Go to the bathroom as long as you want. Take a shower... or not. Go to Home Depot and wander around, even though you're there to pick up a handful of moving boxes. Eat a hot dog for lunch at Home Depot - just because. Hold numerous conversations without interruption.

In the afternoon, it just gets better. If you're me, you can "declutter" the house. Clean out the hutch... its drawers & cabinets... four shelves in the living room... the burgundy room... and a couple shelves in the kitchen. Oh, and did I mention three whole closets?! Pack some items away to see if you'll miss them. Move some items so they're not in the way anymore. Rearrange your child's bedroom (because he never lets me when he's here). And move 6 boxes of "stuff," plus a small chair & a large wastebasket, to the door to be taken to the storage unit tomorrow. Oh, and go through all your child's books and donate to the Vets, who are scheduled to come on Tuesday morning to gather the rest of the "stuff."

If you're Doug, you'll do the following: consider raking leaves, then realize you've already been to Home Depot and didn't get yard waste bags because you thought you had some. So the only other thing to do on a long afternoon is to finally finish putting the paneling up in the basement. You box in the corner by the washer... put up part of the stairway pieces... and cut the last of the stairway pieces. Also, put the half-wall "cap" on your wife's side of the desk area. Decide to quit when it's too dark in the basement to cut the power and finish the stairway piece.

Of course, we miss the boy. But it sure feels good to have all this organization done!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Thanksgiving Story, by Roman

There were Pilgrims. They were on a boat called the Mayflower. I made a Mayflower at school, can we play with it in the water?
The Pilgrims landed at downtown Plymouth Rock. The Indians grew corn. The Pilgrims had a big feast with turkeys. The Indians ate with them. That is why we have a big family dinner.
I am going to have pizza for Thanksgiving, not turkey. It would be pretend turkey.

A blessed day off

Today is considered "comp time" for the 6-1/2 hours of conferences teachers held, so I get the day off. A good thing, too, because my throat is really sore. Can't decide if it's drainage, or dry weather, or something else. I just got off antibiotics less than a week ago, so this should be fun. I am trying "Airborne" which everyone at work swears by. Take it when you begin to have symptoms and it's either going to prevent your illness from getting worse, or cut your sick time in half. We'll see how it goes.

Another blessing about having today off is that I can do shopping. I have a list of 5 places to go today to shop for Christmas - mainly Roman, but a couple other people can be "knocked off" the list too. I do enjoy shopping, and it's pretty exciting to have the money to do it. School district paid early this week!

Roman is at preschool today. He is on, what we call in our middle school, a "504 plan." This is typically a behavior intervention plan to get a kid back on the right track. Yes, our Roman. Adorable, kind, and funny Roman has become a hellion. Yesterday, by far his worst day yet, he (I quote from the report) "couldn't keep his hands off his friends" "would not follow directions from his teachers" and best of all, the verbal report I got saying that during quiet time, he refused to stay on his cot and at one point, pulled chairs off the table and flipped them over. YES! I know, it's funny to picture, but it's my kid!

His teacher apparently feels very badly about this, and Doug and I are encouraging her to buckle down. Send him to "the office," separate him from the room, either is fine. She apparently wants to use that as a last resort, but meanwhile Roman's becoming a jerk. Perhaps a few days off will help. As for the 504 plan, kids earn stickers on their chart by doing well each day; at the end of a week or so, they can pick a treasure from the box if they filled their chart. I don't think Roman has earned a sticker yet. So now he's on a "5 stickers a day" program, where he can earn a sticker for different portions of the morning. If he fills his 5 portions with stickers for 2 days, he can pick a treasure. He earned 3 stickers on Monday, and only 2 yesterday. Yes, it's that bad.

Not sure what to do from this side of things, except encourage them to crack down on him since nothing has worked yet. Hope he has a good day today!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

More Romanisms; I step WAY out of my comfort zone

Driving in the car:
Roman, what are you thinking about?
"Going to the Island of Sodor. We will take a Thomas plane there."
Honey, I don't know how to get to the Island of Sodor.
"I know how to get to the Island of Sodor. (long pause) It's past Disney World... over the market... and then you're there!"

"Thanksgiving is when the Indians stole corn."
Stole? Do you mean the Indians grow corn?
"Umm... yeah. And the Pilgrims had a big dinner and ate with the Indians. That's why we have a family dinner."

Roman is just so smart - and so funny! He's got an incredible play imagination now. Tonight we played "Red Bell" (where we traded the roles of Roman, Miss Marcie, and Mama), and we also played "take a bath" where Roman gave me a bath. Of course when it came to the real bath, Roman cried the whole time. I think just because he's exhausted.

Speaking of exhausted... Scooter Club at church has been suspended until further notice. Our church is having a hard time recruiting young families, although I know that's the problem all over. My city itself is having a hard time attracting families with young children - the empty nesters just don't want to leave! There were only 3 kids in the age group of 3-5 coming to Scooter; one dropped out, and the other keeps coming up with excuses (vacation, conferences, sick...). So Wendy and I decided to suspend until the spring, and maybe we'll have a little more interest.

Within the same conversation, however, I filled a vacancy, becoming the sixth member of the Board of Christian Education. Yup, you read that right. Parents and in-laws, are you grinning with glee? Who'd've thunk that it would be Amy that volunteers to join - above all things - a church group?! Good gracious. Well, that tells you the extent of my growing attachment to our church. I thought to myself a few weeks ago, when it was mentioned that nominations were up for boards, that the Board of Ed. would probably be the one group I'd be willing to join. Doug went to the annual meeting last Sunday while I was scrapping and jokingly told me that there was one seat left on the Board. And I thought... well... maybe my prior thought wasn't put in my head for nothing. My "term" doesn't start until January but I think it's a 2-year term. Hmm.

So there's interesting information to chew on. And I'm not having anxiety about my decision, so that's a good thing too.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Many phrases of Roman

One day's documentation:
"That's not fair!"
"I am not your friend anymore."
"Tomorrow, I will stick my tongue out at you."
"Na-na-na-boo-boo!"
"You cannot do anything with me. Only Mama."
"Mama, you have to go to your room."
"Pleeeeeeaase???"
"You have made bad choices."
"Daddy, you're not cool." To which Daddy replied, "I know Roman, that's been the story of my life." I couldn't stop laughing!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"Thomas the Tank Engine" nirvana

On our way to school every morning, there is a lawnmower repair shop that has a big sign stating "Thomas 20% off." I've often been curious about his selection - honestly, what kind of train selection could a lawnmower repair shop have? - but I've never stopped in. Until today.

Roman saw that grinning, cheery Thomas face on a window sign and began pleading to stop there this morning. I decided to go in on our way home. As we approached the door of the one-room shop I could see the telltale blue box that shouted "Thomas!" As Roman and I crossed the threshold we entered it... Thomas Nirvana.

This man, this lawnmower repair guy, has the largest selection of Thomas items I have ever seen. More than Toys R Us! He had every engine I could think of, including cars & coaches. He has "destinations" I've never seen in stores - Down by the Docks, the Chocolate Factory, even the Ice Cream Factory! The hospital! The fire station! The new Timber Yard! He had every bridge! Every tunnel & mountain combination! Even the new Rheneas and the Roller Coaster set! WOW!

And his sign didn't lie. Everything 20% off. Everyday. He even had a train table set up that Roman could play with. Turns out, the man also sells Lionel trains and has gotten into the Thomas business for the last 4 years or so. I told him he definitely had my business for Christmas. We stayed about a half hour, half-gaping, half-playing. When we prepared to leave and I thanked the man for his conversation and information, the surprises continued. He gave Roman a little lunch sack. Inside was a Thomas "Yearbook" (magazine that has all available Thomas merchandise), a picture of a train to color, a cardboard Thomas engineer's hat, a Thomas wooden train whistle, 2 suckers, and 2 Tootsie Rolls. What a guy! If he hadn't already had my business, he sealed it with that gesture.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween! (as told by Roman)

I wore my costume all day at preschool. I was the only one to wear it, even though the sign said we all could. Mama said that's because the other parents wouldn't let their kids wear their costumes, and that made me feel better about being the only one.
We ate dinner around 5:30. I kept asking if it was time to go trick-or-treating but Mama said the big hand had to be on the 6. I watched and watched the clock but it didn't seem to move! I asked Mama and Daddy a couple times if it was broken, because the clock just never moved.
Finally Daddy said I could go put my new snow boots on - tonight they were my pretend pirate boots! Mama got her pirate costume on and Daddy stayed at home to hand out candy. I went to lots & LOTS of houses and kept getting candy until it was all full up! My bag was very heavy. We trick-or-treated for about 45 minutes, then came back to help Daddy pass out candy. That was as much fun as getting candy! I got to see all the people coming to our house. I even saw R2D2! Daddy said it was from Star Wars and I think maybe I want to see that movie now.
Daddy took pictures before we left. I am very tired because I did not take a nap today and I surprised Mama and Daddy by crawling into their bed last night when they were sleeping. They didn't even know I was in their bed until I called out in my sleep around 1:30am! I woke them up at 2:30 and at 4am too. So I guess we're all pretty tired.
Look how cute I was in my pirate costume! Next year, I am not going to be a pirate. I will be something else.



Monday, October 30, 2006

Sleeping with Dora

Since Saturday, Roman can now get the full experience of sleeping in his Dora sheets. Behold: the big, BIG boy bed!


He has been very cozy in his new bed and all his sheets fit, too. We do have a frame with head & footboards but thought if he falls, better fall from this height first.

In true Roman fashion, he changed his mind about his Halloween costume today. He has been okay with being a pirate Captain Feathersword for months. But at preschool today a firefighter came to talk with the kids, and now Roman wants to be a fireman. I told him all the costumes everywhere were sold out and he just had to be a pirate one more year. He's sad about it, but has agreed. The good news is he gets to wear his costume to school tomorrow for their morning party.

Roman also did not want to carve pumpkins tonight. Well, he wanted to carve them - he just wanted nothing to do with cleaning it out. So I suggested that we draw on our pumpkins instead and make faces on them. He thought that was a great idea - "they can be silly or scary!" But he settled on a cat face when he saw that's what I was drawing. And here's a shot of the artist hard at work, and then a blurry one of him posing with his creation.



Thursday, October 26, 2006

Almost Halloween...

Settling back into normal, whatever normal is. Decided to skip Scooter Club yesterday as Roman has just been exhausted from playing with my parents, and playing with his friend Max, and playing at Red Bell… playing is a full time job, you know!

Speaking of my parents, they came for the weekend and were a Godsend. They babysat Roman, did the grocery shopping, planned the meals, helped with laundry, and general small maintenance around the house. We’re practically caught up now!

My grad class is almost finished – just one paper left to write. I gathered all the info I needed today, school improvement plan, demographics, MEAP subscores, etc. Blech. Checked the university’s registration to doublecheck if the class was available for next semester that I need – and it turns out it is! So I’m signed up for “Curriculum Leadership” on Thursday nights from 7-10pm. The last class is on or near my birthday. I only conflict with swimming on 2 nights in March – I thought that was pretty good.

Posted all my pictures from the DC trip. I was struggling with Yahoo! Photos, but they fixed whatever I was struggling with so uploading was much faster. So go here if you want to see all the fun that was had.

Tomorrow night is one of my favorite nights of the school year - the Halloween dance! No costumes allowed at school, but they are allowed at the dance. The creativity of some of the kids is great. We teachers also have heard that Paige T. is having a party at her house, we are debating crashing it to give them a hard time. It's parent-supervised so no big deal, but we think it would be funny. I'm going as a pirate this year, of course. Got my black pants & shirt, my velvety tunic, black belt and hat, knee-high black boots, and even a parrot for my shoulder.

When I lived in K-zoo with Sheryl in the duplex, our next-door neighbor said about Halloween that it's the night when people dress up as who they want to be. Now that I've settled on my 3-costume rotation, I have to agree. A pirate, Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter, and a Native American - I just wonder if I had to choose, which one I'd be for real?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

We the People


Trip to DC was fantastic. I find that I dislike flying more and more. I can't tell if it's motion sickness rearing up, or the simple paranoia of my plane crashing (which I'm sure it will on takeoff), but I truly have begun to dread getting on a plane. Perhaps the 4 flights to Russia and back have something to do with it?

Instead of posting a summary of the trip, I will post just a few pictures. (note: I tried to attach 4 - only 2 will actually show up). I also will admit when I cried - at the Sept. 11 memorial within the Pentagon, and at the Vietnam Memorial. The Pentagon itself was very, very interesting. The memorial was well done, and it was on the floor/side that the plane crashed into. I mean, I was standing on ground that the plane slammed into. I held it together until I saw the flag that draped the coffin with the remains of all 184 people that died at the Pentagon that day. One coffin. 184 people. Me, crying.

But I was also moved by the little things I saw on the trip - a father and young teen son in deep conversation about history at the FDR Memorial. A World War II vet speaking of his experiences to 3 twenty-something college students at the WWII Memorial, and the students staring in awe and listening intently. The mom at the Archives staring at a document and saying to her kids, "Can you believe it? The Declaration of Independence! Can you believe it?!" That is why I like history so much. When people get it. When history is people, and real things, and other people care.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Winding up before letting loose

It's been a busy, hectic last few weeks. Again, we've planned it that way, what with a football game last weekend at WMU and all kinds of stuff in between. I'm flying out on Thursday night to go to Washington, D.C. for the weekend. That means everything has to be done on Wednesday, which is hard for me to fathom. I have a paper due in my grad class next Thursday, so I've written the rough draft and put 4 "references to the literature" in it, as requested. I leave straight for the airport after conferences, which isn't fun either. But, I have a good roommate and fresh batteries for the camera, so it should be good. Oh yeah, and prepping the sub plans.

Doug is going to have fun this weekend too, actually. He and Paul are going to a U-M game, which Doug hasn't attended since we got the boy 2 years ago. My parents are coming over to babysit Roman, and then staying a couple extra days to save us from drowning in house chores. Namely, my Dad has a new power washer and wants to play with it on our little deck. And if it's power-washed, we might as well go ahead and stain & seal it. And while Dad's here, if he wouldn't mind...
and my Mom loves going to Trader Joe's and IKEA, and is a great entertainer of Roman. So it will be a good visit.

We put Halloween decorations up in the house yesterday evening. Roman was concerned about there being "weird things" in the box, but was overall pleased with my stash. His favorite is a grinning cardboard skeleton with jointed legs and arms which he can position in all sorts of funny poses. He is thrilled he's going to be a pirate - and Mama is too! He keeps asking if it's "trick or treat time" yet.

Roman is doing better with accidents at Red Bell. Doug and I decided to switch tactics and act like the accidents were no big thing and reassured him he could have them. That has totally changed the mindset on this little boy of ours, and he's gone 2 days without an accident. We were starting to have multiple accidents a day last week. See, it's all about control with that one.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

a weekend of celebrating

We made one of our infamous rounds of the west side cities this weekend. Saturday we visited Plainwell, where my nephew Eli celebrated his 2nd birthday. Homemade pizza, chocolate cake, and mint-chocolate-chip ice cream made for the perfect party. Roman loved playing with Iris' & Eli's toys, and picked tomatoes and a strawberry from Aunt Bonnie's garden.

After that party, we journeyed to Grand Rapids where we spent the night at Paul & Nicole's. This morning we celebrated their son Perrin's baptism at church, and then a cookout of their family & friends afterward. Roman enjoyed that party too, because there were older kids who played with him - and Legos that Paul allowed Roman to take apart. We were honored to be asked previously to be Perrin's godparents. We didn't have to do anything for the actual baptism - just take lots of pictures - but we take the implied responsibility pretty seriously. Perrin did what he was supposed to do - smile during church.

Roman was a little put out that he didn't get any presents this weekend. We did, however, update two of our old VHS movies from the mid-1990s (antiquated, I know!) to DVDs. "Cinderella" and "Mary Poppins" have now entered the 21st century at our house. Roman loves the song "Chim Chim Cheree" and is desperately trying to learn all the words. His favorite scene, however, is Bert dancing with the penguins. He laughs out loud every time.

He impressed the woman who was running the 2s and 3s nursery at church this morning. Apparently they learned the Abraham & Sarah story; we had just talked about it on Wednesday at Scooter Club. The woman told me that Roman was terrific - he participated, he knew all the answers, and he was friendly to the other kids. Her last comment was, "your church is really lucky to have a little boy like him!" Oh man, I just glowed. We really do have a fantastic little boy.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Romanisms

The comments, Qs, and As of a 3-and-a-quarter year old.

At "Scooter Club" tonight, when talking about caring:
Q: "How does your mama show you she loves you?"
A: "She plays trains for one (hold up finger) minute."

Q: "How does your daddy show you he loves you?"
A: "He plays trains for TWO (hold up fingers) minutes."
(teacher whispers an aside to me - "I know how it is. I play Star Wars.")

While reading a book last night:
Q: "Mama, did I come from your tummy, like Baby Perrin?"
A: "No, honey. There is a special lady in Russia and you were in her tummy, and when she went to the hospital and you were born, they called me and Daddy to tell us to come get you."
Q: "What was her name?"
A: I tell him.
Comment: "Oh, I see." and a long pause as he takes it in. Then:
Q: "Did you and Daddy swim at the hotel in Russia?"
(I try hard not to laugh.)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I need a Kit-Kat bar.

There's little energy when I say... "give me a break, give me a break, break me off a piece of that..." You know what I'm saying. I'm not at "stop the world, I want to get off" mode yet - but close.

I had forgotten how busy a graduate class can make a person be. The last time I took one was 3 years ago, the semester before we got Roman. Now I have spent the last two evenings writing a "brief" paper (only 3-4 pages) which is 20% of my grade, not having received a rubric until last week. And another paper due in two weeks, with a presentation based on that paper. And then another paper (final) due two weeks after that.

Throw in a 3-year-old, a husband, visiting family members and friends, and oh yeah - work - I'm getting a little overwhelmed. Newspaper? Haven't read one in two weeks. TV? I watch 3 hours a WEEK (but that's another complaint for another day). Papers to correct? I have about 90 in my bookbag that won't get touched tonight. House clean? Pshaw. Right. I'm thinking of naming the spiders and keeping them as pets. I would cry or laugh, or even both - but it would take too much energy.

I can't complain too much, however. Part of the reason I'm so overwhelmed is because of the fun I've been planning on the weekends. We camped this past weekend and went to the Renaissance Festival in Holly. It was a gorgeous day, and we had a great time. Roman was fascinated and thrilled with all the costumed people, and even helped pick out the rest of my pirate outfit (50% off sale at Sofi's!).

Today we had a postponed playdate at Maxwell's house. We got there around 4pm, had great fun outdoors, played trains, had a pizza dinner, and left around 6:00pm. Much longer than we thought, but the boys played so very, very well together. Roman fell apart when it was time to go, he wanted to keep playing with Max and his trains. Max very sweetly allowed Roman to borrow Spencer the Train ("fastest engine in the world!"), with the understanding that Max could borrow Jack & Alfie (part of "The Pack") when he visits us next.

Tomorrow is another busy night. Pioneer Club starts at church, and we're going to see if Roman can handle it. Wendy (the teacher) believes he can, as we do - it just depends on how many kids in his age group show up. I will be attending Club with the boy, as Daddy is going to be attending the Open House at Roman's school at the same time. He will be making a craft for Roman - now that, I wish I could see.

By the way, have you watched "Heroes"? Monday nights on NBC, 9pm? People who are finally able to "evolve" by using more of their brains. Teleportation, reading thoughts, physically unbreakable, etc. It's hella cool. Last night's episode kind of freaked me out (lady committing multiple murders but not remembering them - split personality? Two bodies?) but the ending was AWESOME. The Japanese teleporter guy had transported himself a month ahead and saw the future. And let me tell you, it was C-R-A-Z-Y.

Lastly, I have found that when a person is the busiest, that's when crazy thoughts start popping into the head. Such as... maybe we should buy a different house. And let's do some research on adoption again...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

God is testing us. Darn it.

Thursday evening we were met with what we knew was coming, but still dreaded it anyway... the flipping of construction on Seven Mile, meaning the road will be torn up on our side. It's a good 4-foot steep ramp we have to make it up to go from the newly paved road onto the old paved road (they've dropped the height considerably). Our own street is blocked off, so we have to navigate through the neighborhood - not bad, but when everyone else is funneled into 2 streets it gets hectic. Anyhoo... it's the last of the inconvenience.

Roman is becoming more and more like his Mama every day. His temper... he sealed it for me this evening when he threw an absolute temper tantrum when we ended his bath early (even though he knew why - he dumped a cupful of water onto the floor). He was thrashing around, screaming, kicking, just carrying on. I dumped him in his room to let him calm down. After it got quiet, I opened the door - and he was in a fantastic mood, putting his pirate eyepatch on and going through his toybox. I was so angry at first, but then.... wait. I was exactly the same way. I had (and still do!) such a short temper that I would carry on the same way Roman did - slam doors, kick, scream... and then I was fine. Once I got all that anger out, I was done. Issue over, no big thing, let's move on! I could never figure out why my parents continued to be so angry.

So this is the test God has given me. I have "the curse" - I have a child JUST LIKE ME. Luckily, I am still quite in touch with my anger of the younger years, so hopefully I can translate to Doug how to best handle Roman. Thankfully he doesn't have these tantrums very often - maybe even a couple times a week is all - but it's all about control. Oh, man, are we in for a ride.

Roman also loves to repeat everything. He picked up one thing we had hoped to never teach him - he heard it from a Thomas video, of all things. And that is "stupid." One of the engines says "stupid bird" as it passes by. And Roman has said it about a billion times today. He finally got a time out for it after we told him to stop 999,999,999 times. I suppose we should be a little more forceful in our discipline.

Roman also was flossed for the first time today. We only got in between about 6 teeth, they're so close together. But we tried, and we'll try again tomorrow. He also was babysat by Miss Katie this afternoon while we went to listen to a pitch for a "resort campground" near Howell. If we didn't camp anywhere else ever it would be nice. But we have 3-4 places we are starting to put into rotation (Family Camp, Frankenmuth, Holly for the Ren Fest, and probably Sleeper for the Cheeseburger in Caseville Festival) and just can't see putting a membership into use. It really was a neat place, though, and only 45 minutes away. That'd be nice.

Anyway... a second child would be nice, too, while we're spending money. And a garage, and....

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

An old acquaintance, a new friend?

Roman has known Maxwell from his previous daycare; Max has just turned three. Max loves trains too, and we have run into him and his Mom at Barnes & Noble a few times (both there to play with the train table!). We saw them again last Wednesday and Max's mom asked why we weren't at daycare anymore, and we talked... she apparently is having the same reservations we did about the bigger room. We finally exchanged numbers and we talked tonight. We have a play & pizza date Tuesday from 5-6:30. I'm probably as excited as Roman will be.

Dara is the mom's name... she's working part time as a teacher (little ones, that's all I know - maybe preschool?) and really likes time to herself too. In fact, the reason we met is because she was taking Max to daycare 1-1/2 days a week even when she wasn't working, just so she'd have "downtime." Now that's a woman after my own heart!
We even have the same bedtimes for the boys, which we laughed because everyone else thinks it's so early (start the routine at 7:30!). Her hubby is in Germany for 3 months (sounds like he's toward the middle of his overseas adventure for work) so she's really trying to keep busy. It will be fun to chat and see how the boys play together.

Singin' the blues

"All sunshine and roses... no rain came my way..."

Well, that's Larry Cucumber's version of the blues. Me, it's more like - "all sniffy and achey... no Puffs coming my way..."

Been down and out for 3 days now. Been getting to bed by 8:30 the last two nights, asleep by 9:15. Heading that way again in a few minutes. Hoping to return to my regularly scheduled life tomorrow. Roman has been suffering the same thing, just a day or so "ahead" in symptoms. He appears to have energy, just stuffiness now. One can only hope.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Special Days

Today is Constitution Day. Or was, since I'm writing this at 7:50pm. In 1787 our Constitution was approved; flexible, yet strict; changeable, but unchanging in its goal to be the light for the great experiment of democracy.

Tomorrow is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. No more explanation needed.

Roman was able to recognize his own illness today. He asked me in the car if I was "kind of tired." I said I was, and he agreed - "yeah, I'm kind of tired too." Then later, as we watched a video, both lying on the couch, he kept wanting me to put pressure on his temples. I asked him how he felt, and he said "Good." I asked again, "you feel good?" And his reply was, "Actually, I don't." Poor guy. He is in bed (note the time above) with nary a complaint. I'm going in just a few minutes. Both of us are suffering the "postnasal drip" from allergies/weather changes.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Vomit

Roman threw up for the first time today. He had gone out with me for "juice" at the Box Bar with some coworkers, and we shared fries with "the silly guy" (Mr. Wooster) and a couple onion rings from Ms. J. 1-1/2 hours later we were trying to get him to taste the Cowboy Stew for dinner (he was chowing on the chips) and he kept refusing. Finally, he said okay and took a bite. Now, Roman is classic for faking a gag reflex to try to demonstrate how much he hates our dinnertime food. This time, it got out of control... and he gagged so much he actually did throw up, right at the table. Poor thing, it scared him so much! Down his shirt, in his lap, on the floor, on his hand...

Daddy wiped his face and then I carried him to the bathtub, where I helped him out of his clothes, we rinsed off, and we changed into our dinosaur loungewear (jammies, but don't tell him that at 6:30 at night!). He's good now, we rested and had some water & crackers before bed. But it turns out vomit doesn't bother me nearly as much as I thought it would.

Monday, September 11, 2006

It doesn't let up.

A double meaning, today's title. Or applies to two different things. First and most obvious, is the sadness over today's date. Mitch Albom had a great article in Sunday's paper about this impending 5th anniversary, "Remembering the Day before the Day." And last night on CBS was Jules and Gedeon Naudet's accidental documentary on 9/11, with extra interviews with firefighter survivors at the end. I like it a lot - it's my second time watching. Had my good cry for the month, although I'm sure there's more in store tonight. It is not hard for me to remember the thoughts and emotions of that day - probably because I was alone without Doug at the time, as he was driving home from Tennessee that day. I came home from school (after a couple drinks at the Box with coworkers) and sat in front of the tv all afternoon, evening, and night - Doug didn't come home until 11:30pm or so. I remember every large moment that day, almost hour-by-hour. And I especially grieve for the wives and kids who lost their husbands.

But onward. The busy-ness doesn't let up around here either. Second week of school, things are pretty much under control paperwork wise, but time is being eaten up. I have a student teacher, plus parent night is Wednesday night, plus Roman's swim practice starts this week, and my second week of grad class. All of these are going fine - Joe is eager to learn and do, we're skipping swim practice Wedn. because of parent night, I am no longer nervous about parent nights (well... not so much, anyway), and the demands of grad class are not as much as in the past. Of course, I have to miss 2 days because of conferences/DC.

Through all this, Doug is the most wonderful man. He intervenes with laundry and finishes it or folds it; he cooks dinner if I ask (or seem overwhelmed, as today); he does the grocery shopping; he mows the lawn; he puts Roman to bed... all so I can get my work done and then have an hour or two of time with him. In return, I'm simply doing more work at school so I CAN spend an hour or two with Doug rather than work until bedtime.

My kids this year appear great. They don't want to think too hard, but I can get them to do that. They are well-behaved, follow directions as long as I'm precise, and quiet down immediately when I ask. Without me even training them! Now, the work of getting their brains to go where I want them to...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I'm going to Washington, D.C.!

I'm pretty excited about this. Long story short, through the Teaching American History Grant, about 18 of us are going to DC for a weekend in October. Got my airline tickets yesterday evening! The Grant is covering airline and hotel. We are responsible for everything else, which basically only means food as most monuments/places are free. And try to resist buying all kinds of cool souvenirs, history dork that I am.

The mornings will be an organized tour of someplace, the afternoons & evenings we have to ourselves. Four teachers are going from my school so we're all flying together - we actually have conferences the night we fly out! Leaving Thursday night the 19th, returning Sunday morning the 22nd. Saturday morning's tour is being specially arranged - an inside tour of the Pentagon! October can't come soon enough, I'm so darn thrilled! I haven't been to DC since my freshman year Government trip.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

first day of school, as told loosely by Roman

*The following is what Roman reported to us after his first day, scattered among playing trains and dinner.

I got up so early this morning! We left our house and I rode with Daddy, and Mama led the way to Red Bell. I was kind of nervous walking in the place so I held both Daddy's and Mama's hands. We went to the Yellow Room but there was no one there! I did see a bunny rabbit in a cage, though! Mama remembered that everybody meets in the Green Room before 8am so Daddy held my hand as we walked upstairs. There were kids and teachers everywhere! Even Mama was shy about where to go and who to talk to.

I met my teacher, Miss Marie. She took my bag of naptime stuff and told us to play. I was a little overwhelmed and wanted Daddy to stay with me. The big boys in the corner were so loud! I did agree to look for some toys, and Mama and Daddy left. (I hear that Mama got teary when she left!)

I went to the Yellow Room with my class. There are lots of kids but I don't know any names. I don't have a friend yet but I did play with some kids on the playground. I got to go in the Bear Treehouse! Not on the pirate ship, though. I went down the slide this many times! (holding 4 fingers) I had ravioli, and bread with peanut butter, and green beans for lunch! And milk. And they have a Thomas book!

Mama picked me up right after naptime, but she said I'll usually have snack too before she picks me up starting tomorrow. I was very tired and slept all the way to the end of naptime. I had a note to take home to Daddy, a calendar describing each day's "theme," but we couldn't find my jacket! I have a cubby but I don't know where my jacket is now.

Mama asked if I wanted to go back to Red Bell and I said, "not really." But Mama said I could either go to Miss Connie's again or back to Red Bell, and I said I wanted to go to Red Bell. By dinnertime, Red Bell was the favorite part of my day! And also the Lego train.

By the way, Mama hurt herself this morning with her Coke. She dropped it on her big toe, right foot. She has a big bruise on her toenail and she's pretty sure it fractured since she said it's like the last time she broke her toe when she was younger. I bumped into it when we were playing swordfight and Mama said it hurt all over again. But she forgave herself for hurting herself, 'cuz I asked her to.

Monday, September 04, 2006

our child is brilliant.

Because Roman has been on the computer at his previous daycare, he kept asking to get on ours and "help" us on the Internet. So we went out to Costco last week and bought a 4-pack of computer games for ages 3-5 ($16.95!). Only one of them is a little above his age - surprisingly, the Pooh & Tigger one. His favorite so far is the "Reader Rabbit" where you have to play different "carnival" games to restore the carnival that used to be in the town. He plays Body Builders and Hide & Seek (like a "Where's Waldo" thing). On his Arthur one, though, he has really impressed us. He is so awesome at finding the right size shapes to fit into a "shadow" on the wall. Like they'll have a triangle as part of a truck, and give you two blocks of differing size, color, or angle. Roman is probably 95% accurate at choosing the right ones. The most frustrating is that he doesn't have the patience to listen to directions - he just wants to click all over the screen. But I tell you, for a 3-year-old he has darn impressed us.

Our family had a great day at the zoo today. Weather was perfect, behavior was close to perfect, and as always we saw animals and situations that always amaze. A zebra eating out of a zookeeper's hand. Walking through the new kangaroo exhibit - THROUGH the exhibit, as people are allowed in their enclosure now. A baby snow monkey, and a wolverine who practically posed for me on a rock. We ate a picnic lunch by the fountain and had Dippin' Dots as a treat before we left. And we can't forget the train ride!

Tomorrow is Roman's first day at "school" as he likes to call it. We got a postcard in the mail middle of last week welcoming him to the Yellow Room, and asking him to bring a family picture for his first day. I think I'm as nervous as he is. It's enough to take MY first day of school off my mind! I'm treating myself to a do-it-yourself foot bath / pedicure (all except the color - all my bottles of polish are old and icky), and watching "Antiques Roadshow" on PBS.

PS: Sad news on Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. Doug and I are pretty shocked about it; we used to spend our early married years curled on the couch, watching his show. He has a wife and 2 young kids. So very, very sad.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

family movie night

We actually got Roman to take a nap this afternoon - he was THAT tired. Stinker has to be woken up during the week, but comes bouncing into our room at 6:35am this morning ready to have breakfast. I don't think so! Because he napped until 4pm (yup - from 2:30!) we realized he would stay up later. This called for a Family Movie Night! Seeing as Roman was not so impressed with "Pooh's Heffalump Movie" from NetFlix, we sent it back and relied on an already-owned movie. So popcorn popped and jammies on, we all curled up for a showing of "Cinderella." Neither Roman nor Doug had seen it before. I don't remember it being so s..l..o..w... but always good in the end. It ended around 8:30pm and Roman was in a daze. It might have been a popcorn-induced coma, because he ate almost an entire bag.

The rest of our plans for the weekend are simply relax... relax... do a little something... and relax. Church tomorrow for the first time since end of July. We have dinner plans with Mrs. K and Jack, whom we have not gotten together with since February. I decided to try again as Jack is closer to 3 now and maybe a little better behaved. Monday we're going to the zoo with a picnic, we think. And relax...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

messy school, tired boy

Roman has had to be woken up 3 out of 4 mornings this week to get rolling. We have to leave the house around 7:10 for me to make it to school by 7:40ish, which is the latest I would want to arrive once school starts. This is not going to be a pleasant year. I volunteered to be "on hand" for students who can have access to our building tomorrow for 2 hours, so at least Roman can sleep in a little. He was Sybil again tonight, sweet and cheery and then wham! spittin' nails at us. He threw a cat toy at me, scratched his daddy, kicked and fought. All this because it was bedtime.

School is a mess. We were rehabbed this year as part of a bond issue passed a couple years ago. Brand new floors in all classrooms, fresh coats of paint on every wall (glorious white!), and new lighting. Air conditioning, too, and new windows. It's so bright and airy, and cool (within our 4-degree window of 68-72 degrees). On the other hand... we were told they wouldn't be truly done until February. There is dust and debris ALL OVER the school, and the construction crew has turned D-hallway into their personal tool and box storage. I'm not quite sure how it's going to be all cleaned up, but as our principal said, "there are seats for the students and there is knowledge in your heads." So school will happen, no matter how torn up we are.

Monday, August 28, 2006

It's the most wonderful time... of the year!

Day One of meetings. I giggle every time I remember that commercial for office supplies from some store, with the parents doing a coordinated happy dance-with-shopping-carts number to the song "Most Wonderful Time of the Year." Kids, of course, were dragging their heels after them. I feel that way about school supplies. Both Doug and I could spend hours in an office supply store just wandering the aisles and collecting stuff for our desks. It's wonderful.

Today was back to school day for me, heralded by 6 hours of meetings. Followed by tomorrow's 6 hours of meetings. Our district is trying to get collaborative, and the buzz-letters are PLCs - professional learning communities. Or in other words, as Doug says, "starting to do what the business world has been doing for years now." The problem is, we're still talking. They aren't giving us time to DO what we need to do. We don't need 2 days of meetings about this, when we've heard it all last year. Let us start "unpacking our standards" as we discussed today and actually DO collaborative work.

The problem I have with PLCs is the same one I have with NCLB - that's "No Child Left Behind" for non-educators. Side note - I feel like I'm in the Army now with all these acronyms. My other favorite is the "glicks", or GLCEs - Grade Level Content Expectations. Anyway... the problem is, basically, it is expected that 100% of children will meet or excel standards 100% of the time. And that can never happen. Tell me, what other profession anywhere in the world is expected to have 100% approval/accuracy/job performance 100% of the time? It simply can't be done. Not to say we (teachers) shouldn't strive for excellence and constant improvement... but come on. It is totally ridiculous.

Even better, with PLCs, the responsibility for student achievement is entirely in the hands of the teacher. In the perfect "achievement pyramid" there is no step for "do the #*$! work in the first place." It is all teacher-directed, teacher-motivated, teacher-led support and interventions. Where is personal responsibility? On the one hand students are asked to be "explorers" and be totally active learners; teachers are expected to be "facilitators" rather than the traditional lecture-input-output. That's what I do, and it's good. On the other hand, when it comes to failing students, it's up to the teachers to intervene and save them. Bah, humbug.

In last interesting news, Detroit teachers voted almost unanimously to strike starting today. I feel I need to explain their concerns because the news is doing a horrible job of reporting what the demands are. Detroit teachers would like copy machines that work most of the time, the computers that are in their classrooms to be plugged in and operational, among other things. Regarding their pay, yes they are asking for a 5% raise every year for the next three years; but what the news fails to mention is that the union accepted a pay freeze 4 years ago, and now they are being asked to take a pay CUT. So I do support the Detroit teachers. Not to say I support a strike - technically it is illegal, and the union can be fined up to $5,000 a day - but I think the DPS teachers have put up with enough.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Growing up, moving on

Roman is very proud of the fact that he's potty trained. He informed his Daddy of this tonight, while pointing to himself. Of course, we did have a half-accident; he "leaked" a little bit before running to us to say he had to go. He also did #2 on his own tonight with no help.

We gave official notice to daycare this afternoon that Roman would be withdrawn. We talked to the director, who was very supportive. She actually admitted her own son went to the preschool we're transferring to! She said we'd be very pleased with it. Daddy and I want to do something nice for Miss Katie (we gave Miss Elaine a gift when we transitioned out of the Toddler room). I asked Roman what he thought she'd like. "A new necklace," he said, "... or a new train." How sweet and thoughtful. He says it like this - "neck-a-liss." I asked if he'd like to make one for her, like our cousin Sadie made a bracelet for him once. "Oh, yes... but I don't know how," said our very smart boy. So we agreed to go find some beads and string on Saturday morning.

Another example of our moving onward and upward - we got a call from Wendy at our church. She is an illustration of why we like our church so much... if only we went more often! Very friendly, open, and welcoming. Anyway, Wendy is now in charge of staffing the nursery and also "recruiting" kids for Sunday school and what is called Pioneer Club on Wednesday nights. We agreed to 3 Sundays in the nursery (April, June, & August). She then informed us that Roman is old enough to start Sunday school this coming year. We didn't realize they started that early, but she said they are in groups with 4-year-olds to do the rotations and they have a "shepherd" who stays with the group all year so there is consistency among the rotation. We definitely think Roman is ready and comfortable with this idea, so we're going to try it out. This also means going to church mostly every week (and shifting weekend visits to family to Friday-Saturday instead of Saturday-Sunday!). We have been wanting to get more involved and meet the parents of the other kids we pass in the nursery (every six weeks or so, at our current rate of attendance).

Lots of events telling us that Roman is growing older, and growing better. He's practically trained, he's excited about going to a new preschool, and he's old enough to finally join Sunday school. And, he's got a new train bought with some of his money (Diesel-10) and a gift of the REAL Buzz Lightyear (big plastic version) from his Grandpa & Baba today. So life is very, very good.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Controlling bodily functions

It can be done! And Roman has proved it! We have gone all day, six days in a ROW, with only one accident - and that was during quiet time when he was told he couldn't get up. Oops. :) On Thursday afternoon, after Roman had 2 accidents at daycare, Daddy told Roman very frankly, "no more accidents. They are not allowed." Friday afternoon Roman and I happened to go to the new daycare, which we're now calling preschool, to pay the fee. The director spoke a lot to Roman about how he has to be in underwear and no accidents, etc. I think these two things combined put a fire under him. Consider the wonderful evidence:
1. Roman stayed dry the entire 2-1/2 hour trip to my parents', including informing us that he wanted to "stop at a gas station so I can use the potty."
2. Roman stayed dry the entire day Saturday at the youth fair, even when sidetracked by animals, rides, and his cousins Iris & Eli.
3. Roman rode a train home from my parents' and stayed dry the entire trip.
4. Roman informed us when he had to poop. Hooray!
5. Roman has a tell-tale "jiggle & shake" when he has to go to the bathroom, "ants in the pants" if you will. He rarely argues when we tell him we have to go, and often admits it when you ask.
6. Every once in awhile, usually at naptime and bedtime, Roman will voluntary say he has to go potty.
7. Roman went poop in a public restroom today.

There is still some issue with him not telling us until the last minute when he has to go potty, and I'm concerned that he will get so wrapped up with things at preschool that he will continue to have accidents. But he also heard the director and I discuss what would happen if he continued to have accidents once he attended there (he'd be asked to leave) so maybe something sunk in. We're just pretty darn happy we're discussing his bodily functions so much again! And the best news - only 6 more days at daycare. He starts preschool on Sept. 5!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Unit created, but this teacher is tired.

Worn out. It's been a dramatic week work-wise, not even counting the 5-day inter-disciplinary unit myself and five others have thrown together in 6 hours - plus some typing time at home. On top of all the brain-busting (The New Deal: Relief, Recovery, Rhetoric, or Revolution? Discuss.) and networking, our principal jumped into the action by rearranging mine and a few other coworker's schedules for the school year. A lot. Not only my subjects, but hours have been shifted - most unhappily. And we have officially lost my mentee, who has been displaced to an elementary school. The drama in detail:

Tuesday night was a board meeting, where final "counts" were taken of each school and the board decides if a school can hire any last-minute people. This is all done on per-hour basis, stupidly. West was given 0.4 FTE, or translated into 2 classes. We needed 1.0 to keep my mentee. So he's gone. Now my principal had to decide - add classes to part-timers, or hire someone to teach 2 hours a day? We're not sure what the final decision is, but all we know is on Wednesday, the schedules started changing.

I went from three 8th grade classes to one 7th and two 8th (of course - I packed all my 7th grade stuff up and put it in storage). My coworker, who had 1 Econ elective and 4 7th grades, now has 3 preps - worst yet, SHE got my 8th grade and a NEW elective.

I also went from teaching 3rd-5th hour to gaining a Homeroom, teaching 1st hour, 3rd, and 4th. So my day of starting at 10:15 now starts at 8am, and ends at 1:00 instead of 2:00. Which is inconvenient for reasons I won't go into here.

I think what I'm most irritated about is losing one of my 8th grade. I was really looking forward to teaching all one subject and it NOT being 7th grade, which I've taught for 4.5 years now. And why my coworker, who has never taught 8th grade EVER, now has it as one of three preps is beyond me. Ah well.... perhaps this shall pass? The fat lady hasn't truly sung yet, and rumor abounds that kids are still registering at West...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Go Broncos... fire that prez!

My alma mater has fired the president of the university, 8 months after extending her contract. I don't know what could have changed in 8 months when the official position is "enrollment has declined 15% in the three years of her tenure." They offered quite a nice little package to get her out but she refused, so they fired her. Apparently she's thinking about fighting the "wrongful" termination.

I guess the only bright spot is that my beloved President, Diether Haenicke, has been named interim. Diether was prez when I attended and what I remember about him is what I think universities lack these days - I saw him walking on campus, he held open office hours a few times a month where kids could walk in and talk about anything that was on their mind, and I guess mainly that people KNEW him. Who he was, about his family, his love of Western. A good choice for the trustees to make.

My thought about why enrollment is declining at WMU? The only news I receive is about new graduate research facilities, science facilities, engineering facilities, more buildings, buildings, buildings and research, research, research. I don't see where Western is honoring their core - the teaching profession - nor any of the "liberal arts" majors. I also wonder about fees, the requirement of a laptop of all incoming freshmen, and that sort of thing. And the declining income of people in Michigan in general. Ah well, perhaps Diether can rescue things.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Democracy as experiment

Today's day of the History Grant was, as usual, mind-melting. Headache began about 1:30 and I had to take 3 Advil to get it under control. My brain has been laying wasted all summer, and what a jerk back to reality today was! Today's deep thoughts:

Democracy, being an experiment, needs to be constantly tested. The Founding Fathers, knowing their history, knew that a republic will eventually decay; see Rome, et.al. Time is the enemy of a democracy.

The way to analyze a democracy - whether it is "good" or "bad" - is to study what kind of culture it produces. What does it do for an individual person? Does it develop or prevent the full potential of a person?

Finally, some discussion on character (under the auspices of Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter"). In today's society, one professor argued, we are more interested in personality than character; that is, we build ourselves from the outside in, instead of the inside out. To fight the decay of a democracy we must continue to have character and historical consciousness; understanding the character of our ancestors, how our country navigated through "tests" previously, and how we should continue to strive to build character. Another professor argued that we are, as a society, on the cusp of a great decay - the obsession with glam and glitter and the personality of vapid celebrities is rapidly overtaking a concern for character.

Interesting things to think about. We then talked about how history is approached in different ways, depending on the age and the surrounding politics and social issues of the time, and how to navigate prior social research keeping those biases in mind. Specifically, the study of art and literature - what did a particular piece mean to people when it was created, and what does it mean to us now?

In small-group news, we decided on an essential question: "What events in the American Revolution tested loyalty?" and worked out the guiding questions which I won't go into here. We also started mapping out the concepts we want kids to get out of the book My Brother Sam Is Dead. After we figure out the rest of the mini-unit and how many days we want it to take, we're going to tackle coming up with a DBQ (document-based question) to replace the final assessment of the unit, and throw that together. Making kids learn how to think, that's our goal!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Poll time!

I like doing these. Thought it was interesting - and not at all surprising.

Your Political Profile:
Overall: 60% Conservative, 40% Liberal
Social Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Ethics: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Cheeseburger in Paradise? / Serious brain work ahead

We have returned from two whirlwind weekends of camping. Last weekend we were at Yogi Bear's house in Frankenmuth with Grandma and Papa Van Eeuwen. We visited "the Christmas Store" (Bronner's) and the Cheese Haus downtown, played around the campsite, and went swimming a lot. Doug and I played a lot of Hand & Foot cards and are determined to practice at home to get better (and for me to learn how to add up the points!).

This weekend we camped for the first time with our friends Mark & Jen and their 3 kids aged 3, 5, and almost-9. Roman hit it off best with the 5-year-old. We were at Sleeper State Park in Caseville, Michigan - in "the thumb." We had a great time... went to the beach, rode bikes, Roman got great at pedaling his Tigger bike. But the thing that took us by surprise was The Celebration. More specifically, the Cheeseburger in Caseville festival. It "celebrates the lifestyle and music made popular by Jimmy Buffett" according to their website. It was one of the funniest, happiest festivals I'd ever been to. What a great sense of humor. Even people at the campground were into it, some sites even having tiki bars and 10-foot light-up palm trees next to their campers. We all decided we have to stay longer next year.

Here's the serious brain work part. Tomorrow I start the third and last installment of the Teaching American History Grant in my district. This year's theme is "Whose America? The Struggle for Dignity and Identity in America." Focusing our units on the antebellum period and 1930s, but our studying for the week is on: Colonial period (women); antebellum period (slaves); 1930s (farmers); and 1950s/1960s (women). I realize there are lots of other groups that could and should be included in the "search for identity" but the above was selected by people more intelligent than myself.

I'm looking forward to it as always. Our end products in the past were a type of discussion (Socratic) and last year we did a museum display. This year we're tackling literature and how to incorporate it into Social Studies - or coordinate with the Language Arts department. To that end, we're designing units or mini-units to use in SS but involves one or more books (could be picture book, young or teen reader). My group has selected the Revolutionary War and the book "My Brother Sam is Dead" as our starting point; we will use this week to find other book(s) to coordinate with that in SS. More on that later, as the week progresses and Doug is bored with hearing about it.

I've done a bit of reading already - we've read Scarlet Letter, Narrative of a Fugitive Slave, The Harvest Gypsies, and watched Grapes of Wrath. I still have to catch up on chapter reading and packet reading - I've relaxed a bit on that this year!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Confession time.

We are gearing up for Roman's return to full-time daycare. Most people don't understand why we take Roman to daycare during the summer, surprised that I wouldn't want to spend all day every day with him. To be honest, it's boring! Do other women find playing trains for 2 hours a day exciting? My mind melts after about 10 minutes, especially because Roman doesn't really want me to play with him... he wants me to do the voices for a few minutes, move a train around, and then just sit and be next to him. Or he tells me exactly how I should play. But woe to the person who decides to multitask while Roman does something, be it reading, coloring, Playdoh, trains, even a video. He pesters and whines, sometimes gets physical (launching himself onto your lap, or playing doggy). And when I am "game" for playing with him, he changes his mind every 5 to 10 minutes, never satisfied. It is annoying.

I have noticed that at this age, it would be good to have a sibling in the house for Roman to pester, be it older or younger. We rather regret that we can't afford to adopt another child right now; it would be good for Roman to not be the universe in our household. That's partly why I want him to go to daycare in the summer - he needs to be around other kids, continue to learn how to be a friend, and do the kinds of activities that I wouldn't think of. He comes home singing songs and having done projects that would never occur to me to introduce. "Little Bunny FooFoo" being the most recent song. Roman especially loves bopping the little field mice on the head.

Anyway, on the subject of adoption, it is irritating to me that people are now telling us that "you need two in the house!" or flat out saying, "now he's at a good age to plan another one." Sure, if it wasn't for the
_ _,000 dollars it would take! Especially because money aside, now does feel like the right time that we would start paperwork again, for an arrival in another year or so. But age is up in the air to us, as well as, how do I put it, minor medical problems. There are a couple kids that we became aware of as we went through Roman's adoption that our hearts bleed for, that we both admitted the other day we still think about. But for that, I'd want to quit work and that can't happen anytime soon. Plus, we wouldn't want to start an adoption in one area of the state and have to finish it in another. Ah well, adoption is like tattoos. Once you get one, you immediately start thinking about the next one. :)

In exciting news on the Roman front, the boy put his head under water today for the first time! Last swim practice, and he had been working up to putting his ears and nose under water. Today he pushed himself to just over his eyes, and thought it was so wonderful he began to dunk himself over and over while holding onto the wall. Luckily I had a camera handy and took lots of pictures!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Mod Podge decoupage

The scrapbooking world is slowly leaking onto "things" with the help of decoupage. A couple years ago at the scrap convention I attended, there was a store from Plainwell selling wood block "puzzle" kind of things that they decoupaged pretty papers & photos onto. Since then, I've seen more and more scrapbooking on everyday items - coasters, storage boxes, photo albums, all kinds of things which people want to personalize.

Well, I finally did it. I picked up a couple cheap plastic binders that I'll need for the American History Grant & grad school, and thought I'd prettify the one for the grant. I had some Mod Podge, which works as both glue and sealer, grabbed some old 4th-of-July style paper that I hadn't used in a scrapbook lately, and had some fun. It turned out nice for a first project. A couple bubbles I should have smoothed out but not noticeable. Our house better watch out - I've got a ton of scrapbook paper and an almost-full bottle of Mod Podge, and I'm ready to use them!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

new scrap pages

Just wanted to post the link if you care to see the scrapbook pages I've done this summer. Three of them are 2-page spreads so I put them next to each other, so you can get an idea. Plus, you can get a glimpse of the infamous Miss Katie!

I'm a professional. Officially!

I completed requirements for my professional teaching certificate about a year ago, but why get it early when my provisional didn't expire until June? And so, upon completion of "18 semester hours in a planned course of study after the issuance of the Provisional certificate, completion of Michigan's reading requirement (6 semester hours of teaching reading for elementary teachers or 3 semester hours for secondary teachers) and 3 years of successful teaching experience" (according to the State of Michigan's website), oh, and a $125 processing fee, I received my professional education certificate in the mail yesterday. I am qualified to teach History and Social Science in grades 7-12. (Social Science includes specialized classes in Economics, Geography, Civics, & Psychology).

It's really just a paperwork thing, but it did make me pretty happy to accomplish it. I am "Highly Qualified" in Michigan as well, having taken both certification tests when I graduated college. Of course, I believe the state will constantly change what "Highly Qualified" is and means, as No Child Left Behind continues to become a bigger boondoggle. Now, according to the State of MI, I only have to acquire "completion of 6 semester hours at any four-year or community college listed in the Directory of Michigan Institutions of Higher Education, or 18 State Board Continuing Education Units (SB-CEUs) or a combination of the two (3 SB-CEUs are equivalent to 1 semester hour of credit)." I must do this within 5 years, and every 5 years, for the rest of my teaching life... or until the state changes things.

So, lastly, this also means I can earn those credits by returning to graduate school this fall, which I quit when we came home with Roman so Doug could finish. I have 4 or 5 classes to go, and probably at least 1 makeup class (for going over the 7 years granted for completion). But, at least, I'm officially a "professional" teacher.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Jamie Lee Curtis in our house

For the first time since his arrival, Roman chose to read the book "Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born." It was written by JL Curtis about her experience adopting a daughter. I have read the book myself a few times but never out loud, to Roman. I explained to him what it was about, and as we read I compared the story to our own journey to adopt Roman. He asked all kinds of questions, also for the first time. "What's a baby home?" "Was I a baby or a little boy?"

At one point he pointed to a picture of the exhausted parents on the first night of having a baby and asked, "are those my parents?" I explained that we did not have any pictures of his Russian parents but told him a little about each one. Between tears, of course. Tears of happiness because he's ours, regret that we can't connect him to his homeland very well, melancholy because I can't fill in all the holes for him yet and make him understand. Not sure I want to fill in all the holes of his story for him. I explained, also for the first time, that both he and I grew in another woman's special baby place (how we finally had to call it, as Roman did not like the idea of babies in tummies) and then came to live with our family. I explained that is called adoption.

Way too much information for him, but it's a start. We definitely have to keep the conversation going now - with our friends Nicole & Paul having a baby, Roman definitely has become more "knowledgeable" about where babies come from, and just starting to figure out that his story is much more complicated.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

An adoption at church

There is a couple at church, Kelly and Frank, who attended the same "new member potluck class" that we did, and subsequently joined the church the same time we did. They have an, oh, maybe 6-year-old girl. Soon after Christmas Kelly approached us to announce that she and Frank had decided to adopt from Guatemala and they knew we'd be especially pleased for them. We kept up-to-date with them, and Kelly told me two weeks ago that they were fifth on the list for a girl, and they hoped to get a referral at the end of August or start of September.

Today in church Frank got up to make the wonderful announcement - while they had been fifth on the list, a woman in Guat. approached their adoption agency and wanted to choose a family for her newborn daughter. She reviewed the first four families available, but picked Frank and Kelly when she read their information. They will be traveling next week to meet their new daughter, and hope to have her home by the end of the year. The congregation began to applaud, of course, but I burst out crying tears of happiness! I guess because all the "waiting feelings" and "referral feelings" flooded over me and I was so happy for them. Thoughts of Roman, who was referred to us 3 weeks before we were told to expect a referral. I am so excited for Frank & Kelly, and so thankful for Roman all over again.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Camping good.

Family camp was successful again this year; most notable was the arrival of my brother and niece, who we hoped would show but didn't really believe would. We arrived right before lunch on Friday and settled in. Roman immediately got to playing with Megan (6 years) and Justin (hmm.. 9, I think). Gradually people continued to arrive throughout dinnertime. Roman did not want to sleep Friday night and eventually, with much high-pitched yelping to get attention, fell asleep on my dad's lap in front of the fire around 10:15pm. Not to be outdone, my niece had a nightmare around 1am and woke a good portion of us with her screaming and sobs.

Saturday was spent at the beach. Family VE and S headed down around 10am. Roman refused to go in the lake, and preferred to play with his big plastic train, bucket, and shovel along the water's edge. Niece, brother, and husband dove right in! All the kids received kites to fly at the beach and Doug enjoyed doing that. The afternoon brought some quiet time, some play at the park time, and learning to pedal the tricycle time - which Roman did learn to do.

We came home Sunday relaxed, which was nice. More camping coming soon. I am irritated with online photo displays; it is taking a LOT of time to upload pictures of camping. Perhaps my picture quality is too high. I will post the following so you can have a taste of our fun.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"Why I Don't Eat Chicken," by Roman

When Mama picked me up from daycare today, she asked what I ate for lunch. I told her, "applesauce... and beans." She asked if that was it. I explained to her that there was chicken on my plate but I did not eat it. She asked why I didn't eat chicken. I told her the following:

"Real chickens are from farms. They are for looking and petting... looking and petting only. Real chickens have... um... uh... mama chickens and baby chickens, on the farm. That's why, you can't eat real chickens. They are on farms."

traffic & orange barrels

Among the many things that frustrate me, recently traffic and construction is at the top of my list. It's not the amount of traffic in Metro Detroit that bothers me, although sometimes that gets bad. It's the speed limits. For some reason, generally Detroiters drive 5-7 miles SLOWER than the speed limit. For those of us who go the speed limit (or 4 miles above it, as I do) this is beyond frustrating. The main roads around my home are 45 mph. Consistently, since spring, I have noticed I do no faster than 40; usually closer to 38. And today I noticed that the higher the limit is, the slower people drive. I was on a road whose limit was 50; cars were doing - no joke - 35 mph. 35!

This is, partly, due to traffic lights - my next complaint. Why do people slow down for green lights? You slow down for yellow lights, you maintain your speed for green lights. Wasn't this taught in driver's training? Gads, there's nothing more irritating then clicking along at my 38 mph to then have to slow down... usually ending up stopping... at a light. My favorite traffic light placement? At the crossroads of Merriman Road with a church parking lot and a one-way street. Because there's so much traffic from a parking lot, apparently. And this light is working all the time (not just Sundays, as you would think).

Summer means construction in Michigan and usually it doesn't bother me either. But I cannot go anywhere without being slowed down, stopped, diverted, or shifted. And when it's late afternoon - forget it. It will take twice the amount of time to get anywhere. Example #1: Driving home from Mr. Nelson's. Here's my thought process at 4:50pm in the car - if I take Territorial, which has no construction, I'll end up downtown Plymouth. No good at this time of day. If I take Beck across M-14, I'll be stopped because of road work on the bridge. If I take M-14, it's down to one lane. I could go to Ann Arbor Road, but that takes me about 3 miles out of my way. I decided to go across the bridge on Beck.
Then another dilemma. If I take 6 Mile across, I'll be slowed due to heavy traffic and lights. If I take 7 Mile across, I am slowed by a jog in the road plus construction (again, one lane only). I ended up taking 7 Mile, and got home in double the time it usually takes me. I have to do these types of calculations every time I go out now. Oh yes, it will be nice when it is done - but just one summer, I'd like to travel somewhere where I didn't face orange barrels.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

update on life, the boy

We've been busy doing nothing, which is the way I like my summers. Traipsing here and there... art fair in my hometown for a weekend, local pools, and getting ready for camping. Trying to find lots of air conditioning this week! What's been going on... Roman finished his swim class on Monday - Daddy even got to go to watch. Roman was in a strange mood, and didn't really want to cooperate with class. He told me later that he didn't want to do practice by himself anymore, but he'd gladly do it again with Mama in the water. So I did sign him up for the next round of classes. On this last class, I began to chat with a woman who had a little boy about Roman's age. Turns out their son is just 2 weeks younger than Roman. And - of all things - the woman is originally from Russia! We both marveled at that connection, when she told me she'd been in country for 12 years and I explained that Roman was from Russia. We did exchange phone numbers but I think we're both in the next round of swim classes. Funny coincidences.

In case we haven't told you in person, we've dumped our cable and just have "basic." That's channels 2-23, with a couple in the 70s thrown in. That's a lot of PBS we're watching. On Monday nights they have a cool show called "How Art Changed the World." Next week is about how death has influenced world culture. We've also been watching Treasure Hunters on NBC. It's fun, mindless entertainment.

We also have signed up for Netflix. We started on the one-video-at-a-time plan, but quickly changed that to two at a time. First movie was something for Roman, the "Muppet Movie." But we'll have a "Roman queue" and a "Mama & Daddy" queue. Since we don't have cable, we've found we're willing to watch videos more. We sure do miss Discovery Channel, HGTV, TLC, and History Channel though. Wouldn't it make sense for cable companies to do a flat fee to choose channels you want? It seems with today's technology it could be done.

Roman was having a hard time going to daycare since he moved up to the next room. He's not telling people when he has to go to the bathroom and refuses to go #2. It's crying and gnashing of teeth every time. He's just not ready, which is frustrating. He was clinging and not dropping off well, so we've stepped up how often he goes. He's still only going part-time but now 3 days a week, keeping Mondays and Fridays open for fun.

I've also been seeking out coworkers who have pools. Have an open invitation from Mr. Nelson, whom we've visited once yesterday and will go again tomorrow. Also from Lisa, who we will be visiting this afternoon. It's in the 90s to 100s here, not bad but I handle it a whole lot better from a pool! The first of 3 (possibly 4) camping weekends is approaching fast, have to start organizing for that. This time on Lake Michigan with my extended family - as always, should be fun.