Friday, May 31, 2013

Big Metal Chicken

More like, little resin chicken.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Communication Breakdown

Ed's job is such that he needs to request time off three weeks in advance. The joys of retail, I was the manager making the schedule for many years, and that's what my employers required as well.

So, the first week of May, I called Chef's school to find out when the 8th grade graduation/moving up ceremony would be held. The secretary's response was 'Oh, we don't hold a graduation. We'll have an awards night during the school day." No graduation? Really? I checked the school website several times in the next week and a half and it was still on MARCH. No April, no May-no information at all. I took the information at face value and put it out of my head.

GameTeen's school, my former employer, has always been severely lacking on the communication front. They don't see it that way, but last minute notice is common. When you've got special needs kids, dittos home with the kids isn't the best method. Many times, I'd find out about an event at the last minute because the form didn't come home or came home a day before something important. We're talking info about fundraisers, school photos, field trips, etc.

I only knew there was supposed to be a prom because I had worked there. The only reason I had a date is because I asked the school director last week when the heck it was. Yesterday, I got an email from GameTeen's teacher about some work he needed to complete, and in it, she stated "We're having an awards ceremony Friday, I hope you can make it." Yep, WEDNESDAY afternoon, I get an email about an event that will be happening some time during the day Friday.

Yesterday afternoon, Chef tells me his graduation is tonight. TONIGHT. The graduation I called the school about four weeks ago and was told wasn't happening. Then today, I pick up GameTeen at 5pm and he hands me a paper that announces an award ceremony at 11:00 am tomorrow.

These two schools do NOT get it. Many employers need more than 24 hours notice that you'd like time off to attend your child's event. The more annoying part is that by virtue of knowing the administration and being friends with them on FB, when I kvetched on Facebook, one took it personally and was insisting they sent out info last week.

Which still isn't enough time to change a work schedule, IMO.

Am I out of line to expect more lead time on events such as these?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Teaming Up

My boss has been a classmate in a few classes and TAed a class with me prior to working together.

She was a doctoral student, I was in my M.Ed, so the only overlap we had was the courses in our major. Until I became a doctoral student, too. This semester, we have both classes together and in the fall, we'll have one together. This is a good thing, because we can go to the other for clarification if a class got missed.

Last night, the professor said that the assignment due next week can be done in pairs. Me, I'm used to going it alone and didn't even consider that my boss would want to pair up for the task. It actually is really nice to know we can split the workload this weekend. Which is good, because there's a mountain of reading to do-at least it gives me back two or three hours to do that.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Wonders of Dentistry

I went back to the dentist today to have the impressions taken of my broken tooth.

What I experienced last month was not an aberration. For finding a dental practice in an emergency situation, they are an amazing practice. They remind me of my wonderful dentist's practice in New York. No, Dr. N will not be Steve, but he and his staff are on top of their game.

They remembered my need for pediatric sized equipment and took periodic breaks to prevent my tm joint from freezing up. Dr. N had a deft hand with the novocaine injections, too-I barely felt the upper interior ones that tend to hurt, even with lidocaine prep.

Then, the advances made in the 8 years since I was seeing a dentist regularly (and that was the UMBC dental clinic, not a bastion of cutting edge bells and whistles). Instead of gagging on xray films, I had a device put in my mouth, put into a 'scanners' type booth and they got whole mouth xrays in 10 seconds. That would usually be a gag fest.

Today, while waiting ample time to ensure the novocaine had kicked in (like twice as long as I expected, a solid 20 minutes), I got to enjoy the newest feature of dental care-a massage chair. I think I'll try to get more checkups now! That thing had multiple settings and was just the ticket for shoulders that were tight.

Now, if only there was some device to account for my perpetually clogged sinuses so that I could breathe through my nose while they were working, going to the dentist would be pretty close to awesome.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Vegging

This was a nice, relaxing weekend.

I should have done more schoolwork, but hey, I got a lot of decompression time in, which was sorely needed.

At least the first two assignments were turned in...

Sunday, May 26, 2013

My Assumption Was Correct

I am allergic to Nutrasweet. There was a period of time where I was getting up to six migraines a week and living on toxic doses of Imitrex to combat them. Once, I went to work with a migraine (a normal occurrence back then), but my district manager had not seen me in that state. I was green and looked like death warmed over. She later heard me vomiting in the bathroom and then I was able to cope. Talk about instant 'you are Iron Woman' respect!

Not that much later, Nurse Giggles (my sister) suggested I try cutting out Nutrasweet, as she'd determined it was her migraine trigger. I was a heavy duty diet soda drinker, stopped cold turkey and went from about FIVE migraines a week to maybe 5 or 6 a year. Hmmm. After that, I avoided anything with Aspartame, but the inadvertent consumption would trigger one.

As Splenda became more popular, I made it a point to avoid it, since I wasn't sure exactly whether the process to make artificial sweeteners was what I had an issue with, or just the chemical composition of aspartame. My use was limited to one beverage at a time.

Recently, I switched from drinking more soda than normal to unsweetened tea and water. Yes, again. This time, it is sticking better with me. In my desk at work and at home, I have various Stevia packets, which I usually toss a few in my bag to use as I dine out.

Alas, yesterday, I had none. Ed and I had lunch and a long conversation with friends at Panera. They've got this tasty Acai berry tea, of which I partook of quite a few glasses. I used Splenda. In total, 6 packets in the span of three hours.

Guess who had a migraine?

Nothing else I consumed is a known trigger for me. That was the only modification to my diet yesterday. Sooooo, I guess I need to be more diligent about those stevia packets, because Splenda is doing what I always suspected it might, in large enough quantities.

That said, it took ten years to find this out, so I guess it was good to tread cautiously!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Gelish- Radiance Is My Middle Name and Garden Teal Party

First mani-pedi in 9 years (and only my second pedicure ever). The shades are the same, but one is regular polish

Friday, May 24, 2013

As if I Need to Prove I'm a Grownup

Well, honestly, this is about me AND Ed.

We've been without a washer for a while. The logic board died on our LG and we debated getting that fixed (on an 8 year old washing machine) or just getting a new machine. We waffled, while I schlepped way too much laundry to the laundromat. Ed and Chef did some of it, but the laundromat ended up being my chore more often than not-and I shouldn't be doing it.

So, this week, before making some other large purchases, I visited our favorite salesperson at our favorite big box and bought a washing machine. I didn't bother to consult with Ed, because I was not putting up with the laundromat anymore.

And this afternoon, we geeked out like it was Christmas when the delivery man set it up in our garage. Like little kids getting the thing they'd asked Santa for.

Giddy. Totally slap happy-over a WASHER, people.

If that isn't proof that we're old, I don't know what is.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Foundation

Today, I had my meeting with my now official major professor. I started the program with an unofficial major, but this past semester was the first time I'd worked with her and I liked the way she motivated me, understated but extremely effective.

So we met, to cement my course of study and in her typical way, we talked about my research plans in a way that challenged me to see things with a different lens. At first, she was thinking that maybe I'd want to change the dissertation to match my work experiences. When I explained the why of my intended explorations, she dug into the topic, asking me about my tenure with these kids.

I spent some time telling her about the research studies I keep reviewing, and got me to realize that I need to cast a wider net to get the research support to back up my hypothesis (which she agreed is worthy of a lot of effort). Not only did we discuss the why on a micro level, but we talked about what kind of application of this information could occur if we find significance. She also played devil's advocate, asking me to explain the lack of existing publications.

It was a really good process, one that made me think beyond my own motivations for this. It wasn't until I provided information about the existing research on ASDs, psychological research about the co-morbid diagnoses, and my unscientific observations and interventions in teaching these students that we moved on to the what and how.

In a nutshell, this is exactly why I wanted her to be my mentor through this process. It wasn't enough to tell her why I wanted to do it, I needed to answer questions with appropriate support-much like what I'll experience when I defend my proposal in a few years. I don't need someone to give me a 'that sounds good', I need someone who will shoot holes in what I'm saying, so I learn where my thoughts are weak. Some people walk away from something like that irritated (and I've seen a lot of that from classmates in other programs in our college), but I came out of it energized and excited that she's the right person to guide through this journey.

The original plan was to conduct research using a computer based learning management system, but we got to talking about my work and I pulled out the iPad to show her those chapters I'd finished. My original plan included doing the master curriculum in an iBook for the teachers only, so that they had the lesson plans and supporting content in one place.

After talking about it and doing some more of that give and take, including me sharing an article I was sent last night about a teacher using iPads in a special ed classroom, we decided that creating an iBook for the content makes a lot of sense. I'm familiar with the tools and widgets, it is portable, and it is an adaptive technology that educators are clamoring to use in their classrooms. My annual major professor meeting document was then filled out and signed, with a dissertation topic listed and timeline written out.

Then I quickly coordinated with one of the teachers who will be a subject matter expert for building the content. We discussed which of the four core subjects do most students struggle with and came up with math curriculum. What's nice is one of the other experts that will be helping me is passionate about math education.

It felt like I had staked out what I was going to build before I walked in, but a foundation has been poured and is already setting. Not a bad thing for two hours work!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Getting the Hang of It

So, my predecessor at work started working on a project for one of the professors. Four months to create three chapters of an iBook. The beauty of iBooks is their interactivity-you drop in widgets to embed You Tube videos, power point slide shows, photo galleries, links to web pages that allow the person to stay in the book, unlike a hyperlink, which opens the browser on your iPad instead.

Unfortunately, my predecessor didn't use any of these tools, except for taking pictures that should have become a gallery and made them into something else. When I was given the project, I spent a week between Atomic Learning and Lynda.com, learning the majority of what I would need to know to create the content for the rest of this 24 chapter interactive book.

In that time, I made a 'book' with Lynda.com's tutorial (they provided the elements and walked me through how create content with them), so that I had something tangible to show my boss that we can do with iBooks Author. Her comment was 'I learned more about this application in ten minutes than I did in the whole time your predecessor had that project. My question was what did she use to teach herself how to use it, and the answer was that she kind of muddled along.

My employer provides a bunch of tools to learn, such as the Lynda.com membership. Atomic Learning is something I have by virtue of being a student-it's kind of dry, but effective. If I have a choice, I'm going for Lynda.com. In addition to those tutorials, I did a ton of Google research, finding reviews of the product and learning what doesn't work in the software.

So, I've been playing with it ever since. It took me two weeks to do the first chapter I was given (I have four). It was the smallest of the four-I learned how to use the internal widget creator and a great online one (if you're an iBook Author developer, Bookry is pretty darn awesome for free). I would look at the base information given to me, then go locate content, page by page. I was figuring out how to present the content, you know, actually do some design.

The second chapter, I got smarter. I did the majority of the work sourcing content ahead of time. Only, this was a much bigger chapter. It had less information provided by the coordinator, more 'locate xray of xyz', 'find video of abc'. This was the chapter where I got reaaaaaaally good at sending emails to request permission to use images. This was the chapter where, when I didn't get a response, or worse, got a response that kicked back my request as spam. This was the chapter where I resorted to twitter when I had issues with the above. This is the chapter that had twice as many pages.

It took almost half the time. Ed commented during the last chapter that my design style is starting to emerge. I think that with the second chapter, I got more comfortable with the aesthetic I had in mind and played with layout more, within the personal guidelines I had.

I start the third chapter tomorrow and expect that when we meet with the professor next week, I'll have three chapters complete-when she's only expecting one. What is even better is that I have ideas on how to completely redo the chapters my predecessor did and I might be able to show her a rough plan for those when we meet.

Last time, she had three chapters in four months. Who knows how many of the 24 I can have done by the time September rolls around?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

First Week of the Semester

Means I'm getting people who googled 'Pirate/Disaster Correlation'.

I think I'll always know when USF starts the semester...

Monday, May 20, 2013

What Time is the 3 O'Clock Storm?

It has begun.

Most days, from May until September, you can pretty much set your watch by the afternoon thunderbumper. Today, I got an email from our coordinator to come sign a couple of birthday cards and decided to stretch my legs. My office is in an annex building, and it has no windows, except for next to our entrance.

Whoa, Nellie, the sky was BLACK! It was rather ominous. I opened the door and the wind was whipping around. The thunder and lightning became quite apparent in moments, and when I returned from walking across the (covered) promenade, my hair was quite tousled.

Floridians don't need to look at their watches. Of course, it's 3pm!

As there haven't been too many yet this year, my boss came through and gave the admonition 'save, and save often'. Apparently, that power outage a few weeks ago is a common situation in our annex during the summer. Guess it's a good thing I have tasks I can do without power.

So, if you are visiting the Sunshine state any time soon, know that the rain arrives around 3pm...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Wish I Got a Picture

I had lunch at Panera today.

It is not uncommon to see people there with laptops, doing work, surfing the web, having meetings with others. However, as I was walking out, I spied a HUGE laptop in the little alcove that is formed by the exterior wall and the glass wall from the vestibule. It is a little tucked away corner that generally can't be seen from the rest of the dining room.

It wasn't a huge laptop. It was an iMac, and at that, a 27" iMac-the bigger one! Taking a picture would have been quite obvious, because the only way you see into that alcove is from the vestibule. My 21" iMac is quite bulky and she was about my size. Carrying a 27" from the parking lot inside must have been quite a sight!

I almost want to go back around the same time next Sunday and see if this is her usual routine!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

This Might Be Weird

I'm TAing a class this semester.

In it, one of the students is a former professor of mine. One who I didn't really care for and dropped the course.

Grading the work in the class will not be a problem-many of the assignments are cut and dried-either you did it right, or you didn't. For the subjective items, the professor whose course this is has provided a thorough rubric, so again, either you meet the criteria or you don't.

Still, I know the impression is that I am not capable of doing this kind of work, when the reason I dropped the course was the ever changing instructions and assignments. This professor was unprofessional in other situations we interacted in later, calling me out for dropping in front of others when it would have been bad for the professor if I were to say exactly WHY I dropped. I kept silent.

Sooooo, I wonder how things will play out...

Friday, May 17, 2013

First Date

Ed considers this our first date:

Mind you, I was engaged at the time!

We worked at the same gas station. Shifts generally meant you worked alone, with you relieving the person before you and there being about an hour overlap, and the same again at the end of your shift. This meant there was a lot of alone time, which for us, was filled with studying and listening to the radio between helping customers.

Both of us (and the ex, who worked at another location of the gas station) got really good at winning the various 'be the 100th caller' contests put on by the three rock stations. In my tenure, I won sweat shirts, t shirts, a few albums, a few more CDs, a WNEW 'locker' filled with goodies and lots of concert tickets. As did Ed. And the ex.

One Sunday AM, while listening to Pete Fornatele's Mixed Bag, I won tickets to see Renaissance at Club Bene, a cabaret in New Jersey. As I knew it was one of Ed's favorite acts, I invited him along. Ex and another friend also wanted to go, so the four of us piled in a car and went to see this show, which ultimately was the last concert the original incarnation of the band would perform live.

A month later, Ed was one of WNEW's winners of David Bowie tickets with backstage meet and greet. As the announced opening act was one of my favorites, Squeeze, he immediately invited me to go to this concert with him. That show was sold out, so it was just us-which is why it is our 'first' date.

Meeting Bowie was kind of cool, they had about 50 contest winners in a press room, while the air talent from the big New York stations milled about. Scott Muni came in with his own bottle of Jack Daniels and two packs of Pall Malls (though I think Ed will say they were Lucky Strikes-they were something unfiltered and nasty). While we were in the meet and greet, the opening act of Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam (added to the bill and a head scratcher) played.

We got out of the meet and greet to hear Squeeze play their last song of the set, got into the arena in time to watch them walk off. Oh well!

The notable thing was that I was driving a beat up Malibu with known voltage problems, to the point that I had a volt meter clipped into the dash. The car needed to sit after any drive to restore the alternator to 12 volts. Ed, however, did not listen to me that I needed to sit there for about 3-5 minutes to get the juice up. He insisted we needed to leave NOW. The car was at 7 volts.

We came out of the concert and of course, it was dead. It took forever to get someone from Giants stadium to come give us a jump and of course, that guy was not listening to me that I needed him to give more than enough charge to start it. The car started, but there wasn't enough juice in it to power the lights properly.

Thus began the most harrowing trip out of the stadium, onto the New Jersey Turnpike, over the Goethals and Verrazano, on the Belt and Southern State parkway home. All because Ed didn't want to drive his pristine condition Ford Torino into New Jersey...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

So, You Want to Get Gel Nails?

I talk about my nails a lot here. After 40+ years of crappy nails, the fact that I have nice looking nails with minimal effort on my part makes me happy to share the information and the pictures. Two years ago, I'd read a thread on a message board asking about Shellac, I was curious about the concept of a two week manicure and did some investigation.

Like many of the people who visit my blog, I'm just a consumer-a savvy one. I looked for the good, bad, and ugly about gel nails, because I wanted to get my money's worth. You do, too. My two experiences with acryllic nails left my soft nails weak for months afterwards. I didn't want a repeat. So, today, I share what I know.

Why? Because there is a ton of information about there saying that Gel nails are bad. When done by a TRAINED nail tech, they can be very good for your nail health. Trust me on this one-nearly 45 years of nails that split, peeled and chipped if I looked at them the wrong way and now, they can go without anything on them for over a week without damage.

Consider this a FAQ that was built around what I've heard and the questions others have asked me when complimenting me on the lovely work that Katie does.

Can you do gel nails at home?
You can. Just because you can doesn't necessarily mean that you should, though. Do you change your own oil? Color or cut your own hair? Most of you probably answered those questions with 'no' and that's because you don't know how. The same goes for gel manicure product-it isn't a case of slap a coat of polish on your nail, put it under some lights and it'll be good to go. (Well, it might, but odds are good that it won't.)

A proper gel manicure takes around an hour for a TRAINED nail tech to do. That includes soaking off the old gel, applying a thin base coat, two THIN layers (more if layering) of color, a thin layer of top coat and curing all of those. It includes properly scrubbing the nails and nail beds to remove any oils or acetone residue. Then, a wipe down with alcohol at the end to remove tackiness from the top coat.

Skip any of those steps, cure for the wrong amount of time, or have a heavy hand when applying coats-your nails aren't going to look so hot. I happen to think I'm worth the $30 bucks every two (or three!) weeks to be pampered and get to gab with my nail tech.

You said a trained nail tech? How the heck do I find one?
I went to CND's website and did this:

I entered Lakeland, FL and clicked 'enter'.

Two years ago, it just returned a list of the certified nail techs in your area, now they give you a map. I had my choice of five techs, emailed three because of their hours and locations, then didn't get responses.

Initially, I was turned off by Katie's email address, but when I emailed, she got back to me within a couple of hours. Later, I found that a lot of the day spas in our area tend to hire techs who are allergic to working. Meanwhile, Katie is booked solid every week because she's good and she wants to work!

For OPI, visit their website, then at the far right, select "Where to Find OPI" and enter your zip code to find a salon.


For Gelish, visit Nail Harmony's website and do the same-far right 'Find a Salon':


NOTE: There are other brands out there. I defer to the expert opinion that if Katie doesn't have it, it is not worth buying or having someone put them on my nails. The woman gets herself certified for the products she uses and if she doesn't believe in it, she won't use it. The three listed are the ones she uses and as a result, have been on my nails.

I went to the salon in the mall, they advertised 'gel manicures', but my manicure didn't last any longer. Why?
Why? Simple answer-they weren't using real UV Gel nail polish products. To protect yourself, ask to SEE the bottles. They should be in opaque bottles to protect the product-clear glass/plastic polish bottles means it is not UV product!

If the nail tech won't show you the bottles/hides the bottles they're using on your nails, they're not using UV gel product. This happens more than we realize, and I know I had three encounters with others who complimented my nails and said "I got gel nails,but they didn't look like THAT!" and with each, it was as described above.

Does the manicure really last two weeks?
Your mileage may vary, but yes, these manicures last two and sometimes when I can't see Katie, three weeks. Whenever a manicure gets to about 11 days and starts chipping, it inevitably is the OPI. There is something about it that doesn't agree with my nails. I've had three weeks with no or minimal wear with Shellac and Gelish many times.

That's with a ton of typing daily, cooking, washing dishes, and generally, not babying my nails AT ALL. I don't garden or repair cars, but those are the only two things I can think of that are harsher on the nails and could reduce the length of time they last.

Is there anything special I should do? As with acrylics and silk wraps, the products are mildly drying. Get yourself solar oil and use it a few times a week. Lotion liberally. I love the smell of solar oil, so it gets used fairly regularly.

I got a gel manicure and then I had white spots on my nails? Why?
There are a couple of causes for those spots.

First, your nails are really dry. I mentioned lotion and solar oil. I have only had a couple of white spots in almost two years, and that was because I was too busy and forgot my solar oil routine.

Second, your nail tech may not have been gentle with removing the previous gel manicure. Your nails should soak in the acetone for at least 10 minutes and be GENTLY removed with slight pressure with an orangewood stick. NO metal tools, no Dremels. EVER!

If you need to remove the manicure at home, you need ACETONE to do it. Soak cotton balls, wrap them on the nails and let them sit for at least ten minutes. I read that warming the nails prior to removal helps get the old polish off, but we've never done it on mine. Non-acetone nail polish will do nothing.

How much should I expect to pay?
It depends on where you live and where you get your nails done. Day spas charge a lot more. I get a bargain, honestly. If I divide Katie's rates into two weekly manicures, I should be paying about $10 to $15 more. She gets tipped according to what I think she should be charging. ;)

Can the colors be layered? OPI's cannot, but Shellac and Gelish can. We've come up with some creative stuff because I like variety and Katie likes to play with my nails. I dodged her efforts to give me Easter egg nails, thankfully!

Is it really worth the cost?
That's a question I can't answer for you. For me, though, it is most definitely worth it. I like that I don't have to hide my nails anymore, as well as the conversations that start because someone is curious about my nails. Is there really that much variety in colors? Take a look at the link on the top left. I keep adding colors. The only limits that there really are is that I don't like pink...

I hope that clears up your questions about gel manicures from the average person who has been doing them for a while. I am not paid for any of my posts, I just do them because I like to share what I know. Finally, if you have a question and I didn't answer it, comment and I'll add it to the list.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dreaming of Vacations

As we get closer to summer, the thoughts turn to vacations.

Where I work, I accrue a LOT of vacation. On top of that, my employer closes for the week between Christmas and New Year's, so to say I get a lot of time off is accurate. As a result, we're probably going to take a week somewhere after I finish my summer classes and before the kids return to school in late August.

So, Ed and I kind of planned to discuss this further, but haven't yet. Favorite past destinations came up and my sister and brother in law consulted. Alas, their schedules won't allow for vacationing this summer (waaaaah), but we have tentative plans to coordinate for next year. This leaves us open to the possibilities.

We'll be driving, so Eastern seaboard. It's hurricane season, so if we do a vacation at the shore somewhere, we should have a backup plan.

Two couples got married in Maryland this week, and it'd be nice to see them and other friends. It'd be nice to do two days up there, two on Skyline Drive and two in Raleigh, but who knows? In any event, it'll be fun to plan something.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ummmmm...

There are some oddities to summer courses at my university.

First, not many full time professors stick around for the summer, so classes are frequently taught by adjuncts. Second, the majority of the courses for my college are offered online, because the professors want to enjoy some of their summer. What this means is that typically, students have a course that can be self directed or have minimal class meetings.

In the past four years, I've had on campus classes with adjuncts, but most of my classes have been online with a mix of full time faculty and adjuncts. Until now, if we were expected to have regular online meetings, the course was listed in OASIS as such-and you could plan accordingly. For example, two classes I wanted this fall both were listed as meeting on Tuesday evenings-so I changed one.

Neither of the summer classes had meeting times listed, or even 'TBA', so the assumption was that there would be no class meetings. For me, this was a big relief, as this meant I didn't need to leave work early two days a week, like I did in the spring and will in the fall.

Yeah, not quite.

One class will be meeting online Tuesday AND Thursday at 5:15 all ten weeks of the semester. The other? Not sure yet, but we'll be meeting online regularly, too. Granted, I'm glad we'll be having regular meetings, but I would have been happier if I knew about this ahead of time!

At least when the semester is over, I'll have made some big leaps forward in my dissertation.

Sleep

I got a lot of it today, so there isn't much of the day to talk about. The inside of my eyelids have no holes.

Today begins the summer semester. I TA one class and I'm taking two towards my degree. The class I TA is the same one I took last summer and is really easy. The quantity of work in the two summer classes have me wondering what the heck I'm in for. Then again, the work probably wouldn't be so bad over 15 weeks, but we're doing it in ten-plus, I like to take the tougher courses first.

At the end of July, I can say I have year one of the doctoral program done.

For now, though, I'm up for inspecting the insides of those eyelids to get healthy enough to do all the reading...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Signs...

Cold. Coughing. Choking Cough.

What are these signs, you ask?

That I'm headed towards bronchitis, if I don't get my butt to the doctor ASAP.

Tomorrow morning, guess who I'm calling?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Friday, May 10, 2013

The One Before the Big One

Ed is celebrating the last year of being in his 40s. Well, I don't know if celebrating is the right term for it.

To soften the blow, he now has a bigger iMac than I do. :) I suspect that will go a long way towards him doing more home recording than he has since the kids were born. He started doing some with the iPad, but now, that he can buy software that makes the iPad apps seem trivial, things probably will change on that front!

Now, what the heck do I do to top that for the big 5-0 next year?

P.S. We save all our Apple product boxes and last year, I got the idea to make an Apple 'tree' around the holidays-inspired by some of the book 'trees' pinned on Pinterest. It may just be featured here...

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Getting Used to a New Work Culture

I am a product of my raising. Growing up, my parents went to work with health issues, including my dad coordinating his radiation treatments for cancer on his day off from work each week. So, I saw two people who would work when they were not 100%.

It was probably good preparation for a retail management career. In retail, the show must go one, meaning that even with sick days, you really didn't call out. I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I called out in six years with Disney. (and we got 5 sick days a year).

So, that's the mindset I have. Yeah, I have a cold, but I am able to work. Which means I went to work this morning. And when my cube mate came in, she seemed a little annoyed when I told her I had a cold. I wondered if I was wrong for coming in, because I was definitely being productive.

This cold is the nose as a faucet type-I've coughed maybe 4 times all day. I'm sneezing here and there, but I was keeping to myself. I messaged the boss-'what is the expected procedure, because I feel fine, but I appear to have upset cube mate?' Her response was that we work in a small office, stay home.

Which is such a culture shift for me. I'm capable of doing work, it's just an inconvenience. I came home early, did some more of my research for an hour, then took a nap. The plan is to work from home tomorrow, since I still have the sniffles. Now, that's something I couldn't do before!

The plus side? I don't have to set my alarm for 6am. I can sleep in until 7 to get the kids up...

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Sometimes, It Is Okay NOT to Share

Like colds, for instance. You can keep it to yourself. If it'd been chocolate, I would have been happy to partake.

GameTeen decided I needed a cold of my own. It is wiping him (and me) out. Heck, it's 10:00 and I'm going to bed. I probably would have gone to bed two hours ago.

That's saying something for this midnight is an early bedtime person!

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Technology is Great

My van was going to need gas sometime tomorrow. The daily commute to Tampa has one downside, and that's the more frequent fill ups (which is why Sputnik is on track to be repaired).

On the way home from going out this evening, we noticed one gas station had gas at $3.46 a gallon. The one across the street was $3.40 and we commented that they probably missed the 3:00pm price change. Ed and I met working together at a gas station, so we are aware of the ins and outs.

I didn't stop for gas because typically, once I cross out of our county, gas prices are 5 to 10 cents cheaper. I'll visit a place on the way into work. Ed comments that this morning, while taking GameTeen to school, gas was several cents cheaper than we'd just seen. Oh well, prices are going up.

Then, we get to the intersection where we normally turn right. A new gas station went up at the beginning of the year. Their price is $3.34. I decided to turn around and get their gas, because they definitely missed that 3:00 call to change prices. (Typically, stations change prices before they open, at 3 or at 11pm).

Now, there's a glitch at one of the pumps at this station in that it doesn't take my debit card. I walk inside, clerk sets me to fill up and I have to come back in. So, I fill it up and come in, commenting that they are 11 cents cheaper than the two stations up the road. I said "I guess you guys didn't get a 3pm price change?"

The clerk tells me he needs to get gas at this price, too. He says that the price changer has gone missing, but shows it to me, hidden under the credit card swipe machine at the register. I had to laugh at his ingenuity in ensuring he got the deal.

What I didn't tell him is that that little remote saved him a few bucks on a fill up, but back in our time, we'd be stuck changing the spiral numbers at each of the 12 pumps, climbing the ladder at the street sign to change the numbers and spending 20 minutes at the Tolkheim reprogramming the numbers. Then again, that was back in the era of sub-$1.00 gas prices.

It sure would have been nice to grab a remote and have that part of the job done!

Monday, May 06, 2013

And Now, A Fun Thing For Work


The boss will walk in tomorrow and find these strung across her door!

ETA: The finished product:


I learned something with this project and that is save the pretty paper for larger pieces, and use the firmer cardstock for small things, like letters. Maybe I'll change my mind when I become more familiar with my new Silhouette Cameo, but for now, that's what works better for me.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

School Projects

Hand my child 10 pages of options for his spring project for science and he WILL find the thing that he doesn't have the slightest clue of doing the labor, but can tell you exactly what goes into it.

Which is why this mom, who has a general rule of 'your project, your work' spent about six hours on this:


He knows his rocks and rock types, which does this geology fan mom proud. Next time, he doesn't get to make the Yugioh-type project!

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Twelve Years of Change on the Autism Spectrum.

GameTeen was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome in Kindergarten, back in late 2001/early 2002.

Back then, there wasn't a lot of online information. I researched what I could, found the amazing Barb Kirby's Asperger Syndrome website and became a member of her OASIS forums (Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support), then hosted on Delphi. It was a dark time for us-we didn't know what the future would hold, were worried that he'd never improve, and the unknown was really scary.

There were people on that forum back then that helped me more than they will ever know, just by offering a comforting word or a little bit of encouragement, or a suggestion of where to take GameTeen. See, he was diagnosed by his school psychologist. Dr. T ran the full gamut of tests (most schools won't) at the insistence of a pretty amazing principal, so many of them, that the first doctor he saw was able to review them and jump in on a treatment plan. Dr. C told us most patients come to her with nothing but the parents saying there is something going on here, but we don't know exactly what that is. At least we had a name and a rough idea of what was up with GameTeen.

Back then, I'd spend a lot of time on that OASIS forum, reading almost every time I got online. I bought recommended books, went to recommended websites, armed myself with the information that I never would have had if not for Barb and all those forum members. Many of my employees were teachers who worked with me part time, and from them, I got a lot of insight into the IEP process. Apparently, wanted to go in fully prepared, heck, going to the IEP meeting at all was not as important to other parents with special needs kids.

That blew me away, how could someone not care about their child's educational journey? In time, GameTeen was moved to an amazing school setting that I wish we'd stuck with longer. He left second grade solidly in fourth grade curriculum, in a class of 10 boys, two paras, a teacher, and at the ready were two social workers and two administrators. Little did we know, Florida wasn't going to be as good for a long time. Again, this was almost ten years ago-the resources online weren't the best.

Meanwhile, in the subsequent ten years, I've made a bunch of online friends with kids on the spectrum. Our kids range from an adorable young lady who is non-verbal (though she signs to Dad 'Go Away!' quite vehemently when she doesn't want to go to school, to kids who are minimally disrupted by their AS-but we want the best for our kids. Now, though, all it takes is a note on Facebook tagged to the others and we've got our own mini version of OASIS. As I said to Ed tonight, years ago, I promised myself that whatever I learned, I was going to share it so that another parent didn't walk through the minefield blindfolded.

Now, I will get messages from others "my friend's nephew was just diagnosed, would you talk to his mom?" and I know that my friends get the same. Say what you will about social networking, today, I got to see one of the beautiful things about it: someone wanted help with the IEP process and a bunch of us rallied around with information and support. Back in 2002, if you didn't know about OASIS and had a kid with Asperger Syndrome, you were on your own. Now, you've got a personal support group right there on Facebook.

It makes me happy that we're making progress in diagnosis and treatment for our kids. More importantly, though, is helping the parents, so they don't get burned out. Today, I realized that we've come a long way.

Friday, May 03, 2013

When Musical Tastes Collide

I like New Wave, Ed does not. Ed loves Prog Rock, I like it.

Usually, the two do not have anything to do with each other...except that the two musicians who comprised the Buggles were involved with Yes.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

We Seem to Have it Backwards Here

April showers are supposed to bring May flowers, right?

So, we're two days into May and my drives home have been rather soggy.

Rainy season isn't until June, mother Nature!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Making a Specialty Vegan Style

I've mentioned here that a friend is vegan. The simple reason is that he had some major organ failures, researched some solutions for the problems without going on the transplant lists or getting dialysis and found that eliminating all animal products from his diet *could* do the trick. It did, and he's made a massive turn around in five years.

Still, he likes meat, love cheese-but hates what they do to him. Sometimes he'll sneak a little cheese, but it's after carefully considering what he'd eaten for the past couple of days. For instance, we did a shop at a pizza place and he decided it was worth the risk. Between the two slices, he had about 1.5 ounces of cheese, so I'd say he was being careful.

The lunch time conversation was partly about that measured decision. That day's plans included visiting Whole Foods, a store I wish we had in Lakeland. The objective was to either find prepackaged vegan ricotta or purchase flax seed and/or hard tofu to make ricotta from one of two recipes I found. All three items were purchased, and I found why finding ricotta substitute was so important: more than anything in his pre-vegan life, my friend's absolute favorite food was lasagna.

Finding new ways to cook things is something I'm up for, like reworking a meal to make sure it is kashrut for someone keeping kosher (really easy if you know what isn't kosher or violates the laws of kashrut). The friend's desire to find vegan ricotta went back to when we were casual acquaintances, but it became clear at that lunch this was something I had to make. It was important to me to find a way to make something I've prepared hundreds of times in the past to do it again, but totally different.

The trip was successful in finding Tofutti Vegan Ricotta, a chub of a meatless meat, and I was going to make homemade marinara. The only violation I made to truly vegan is that I used one egg white to bind the 'dairy' type products, but only because I knew those are tolerated by his body.

Knowing the meatless ground meat would not be giving off any fat to cook it, I spread about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan, then seasoned it like I normally do the beef/pork blend for lasagna: a lot of granulated garlic, some fresh, some basil, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper. At first, it had the same consistency of slice and bake cookies, but it crumbled nicely, and had good flavor. The ricotta was miked with a little almond milk, one egg white, salt, pepper, garlic, and basil. With no cheese on top to melt, once I layers everything, it baked for 20 minutes. The whole pan was going to be delivered, save for one portion for me to try. Ed and I actually split it and darn, other than not using an abundance of 'meat' or 'cheese' because of the sizes of the packages, it was nearly identical to the original. Apparently, the recipient felt the same way-he tells me he gained three pounds today eating a few servings.

I think we need to figure out what else to make...