Tuesday, November 17, 2009

To Do: Revisited

Back in January, I posted my To Do list in lieu of a resolution. In February, I managed to post an update. I haven't revisited it since. Yesterday, I found myself making a new To Do list and realized, I ought to check the old one to see how I've done.

  • Refinance house/take out HELOC
  • Steam clean carpets- This an always ongoing project (with 3 kids and a dog)
  • Organize closets
  • Re-do Closet (buy system from container store in Feb on sale)
  • Find time to work out I did great this summer, but need to step up on this ASAP
  • Paint Family room/kitchen/dining room
  • Burn home movies on to DVD's still haven't done
  • buy curtains for Dining room can't decide on what I want
  • Go through girls clothes and pack/give away On-going
  • Book Sarah's bday party
  • Storm door Haven't done, but REALLY need to.
  • Landscape side of garage we decided to wait until next spring
  • bulletin board for kitchen
  • screens repaired can't figure out how to remove the screens for repair without damaging them. AARRGGHH
  • thank you notes written
  • figure out camp schedule
  • buy and install new baby gates
  • buy new car seat

We did buy new carpeting for the family room and new light fixtures for the Kitchen. The carpet was not on the original list because I hadn't yet gotten so disgusted by it yet! (On a side note--I ABSOLUTELY LOVE MY NEW CARPET and wished I had done it sooner! )The builder's Berber carpet in the family room was so gross, it stunk and was no longer able to be steam cleaned any more. There are other parts of the house that need new carpet too, but I can wait a few years on that. We got new light fixtures when we painted. We figured it would look SO much better if we replaced the hideously out dated fixtures at the same time we painted the ceiling- we were right. We've only hung the one over the table so far. We tried to do the island light, but need an electrician for that one (the wires were not centered properly from the old fluorescent light).

Here is my new To-Do list. Don't worry, I'll have a new-er one on New Year's Day-as always!

  • Hang Kitchen light fixture
  • paint ceiling area around old light fixture
  • Pick artwork for family room & hang (can't afford to get real art work, so I'm going to frame some of the kids stuff)
  • clean and organize computer desk area
  • organize craft cabinet and create a "Family Center" (like the one seen here)
  • find end/sofa tables for family room
  • get brackets for wooden blind valances
  • dining room curtains
  • steam clean upstairs/living room curtains
  • write Christmas letter
  • paint or find replacement powder room cabinet

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Is there a problem?

Last week we had our Parent Teacher Conferences for both of the girls.  I wasn't too worried going into them, but when I got an email from Sarah's teacher indicating that she wanted Sarah there and that "We all need to talk", I got a bit nervous.

Megan's conference was first.  Sarah had the same teacher three years ago, so I knew what to expect.  The county has changed the curriculum somewhat since then, with regards to math. They are presenting the first grade curriculum and if the kids don't get it, they work backwards.  So, Megan is doing WAY more math than Sarah did at the same age.  And you know what?  She gets it.  They are doing tally marks and graphing and she totally gets it!  She recognizes all her letters, lower and uppercase.  She can do almost all the sounds that correspond with the appropriate letter and is plugging right along. Socially, she is doing ok.  Her teacher wants her to be able to stand up for herself.  My Megan?  Evidently she looks up to another girl in the class who is older and more advanced.  Megan kind of lets her tell her what to do and she seems to be content with it.  It hasn't been a real problem, but Mrs. F wants her to be more confident in the class and be able to tell her friend "No".  I was totally flummoxed hearing all of this.  Megan has absolutely NO problem standing up for herself at home.  We almost have to step in and prevent her from standing up too much and bullying her older sister!

Sarah's conference did not go as well.  She is a helper and is rushing through her own work in order to help others in the class.  She has been given more Red Apples (Rewards for good character) than any other 3rd grader.  However, the teacher has concerns about her reading comprehension and math fact retention.  I have had my own concerns as well, but was secretly hoping it was just due to high expectations.  I was wrong.  We are going to try and get Sarah to calm down and focus and take her time to do her work correctly.  I am going to work with her on reading comprehension at home.  We will both monitor the situation and take a look at things in a few weeks.

Toward the end of our meeting, Sarah's teacher sent her off so we could talk alone.  Mrs. T was concerned that she had scared me, by the look on my face.  As an educator, I was fully aware of the implications of what she was telling me.  But clearly there was a look of shock on my face.  I was upset, only because I know that IF there are problems, that would make things much more difficult for Sarah.

I debriefed with Pat later in the night and began to think that maybe I was overreacting.  Maybe things aren't as I fear.  My girlfriend at work, who used to be an Elementary School teacher gave me some tips and pointers on how to work with Sarah and her reading. We will just plug away and keep reading and reminding Sarah to put effort and time into her work.  I am hoping that when we review the situation in December or January that things will have improved.

Monday, November 9, 2009

DC Sniper

If you lived in the Washington DC region during the fall of 2002, then I know you remember the horrible when John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were terrorizing then entire area.
On October 2, 2002, James Martin was shot to death in the parking lot of a Shopper's Food Warehouse in Wheaton, MD. On October 3, six more people were killed in a matter of hours, setting off a frenzied man-hunt for a serial killer. There was a lot of speculation as to the type of person may be committing the crimes. It was thought that the individual may be driving a white box-type truck.

The entire area was paralyzed with fear. A few of the random killings took place at gas stations and almost all happened in broad daylight. People were afraid to go to the gas station, or even leave there homes. Police were stopping every white-box truck they could find.

On October 7, 2002, the unthinkable happened. A student was shot as he was dropped off at his middle school. His Aunt quickly pulled him back into the car and drove directly to an urgent care facility, saving his life. Authorities linked his shooting with the others and a tarot card was found at the scene saying, "I am God".

If the hysteria wasn't bad before, it certainly was afterwards. My school (which was in the same system as the boy's) had a number of portable classrooms out back. For a time, students were walked out to the classrooms. After the student was shot, classes were moved inside. There was a level of fear that was just unspoken.

The terror continued with another killing on October 9th and another shooting that wounded the victim on October 19th. On October 22, the final victim, Conrad Johnson, a bus driver, was shot and killed while standing on the steps of his bus.

John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were arrested in nearby Frederick, MD on October 24th. They did not have a White box truck, but instead had a Chevy Caprice that had been modified so that a person could lay down in the back seat and shoot out of a hole the trunk.

It was a terrifying time that no one in the area will soon forget. The killings were so random, that everyone felt like a target. Personally, I remember fearing the worst that October 3rd morning. It was a Thursday and my father volunteers at a library near the shooting in Kensington. He often got gas at the Shell station because it usually was the cheapest around. Little details were immediately released, but when the news came out that a person was killed pumping gas at the Shell, I got worried. My father had no cell phone at the time and I could not get a hold of him. I found out later in the day that particular victim was a woman.

Everyone has a similar story from that three week period in October. Every day I drive through the area where the majority of these shootings took place and have shopped in some of the shopping centers where he committed these heinous crimes. Tonight at 9pm, John Allen Mohammad is scheduled to be executed in Virginia as punishment for his crimes. Whether or not you believe in the death penalty, whether or not you feel as though his lawyers didn't do their job (he defended himself with some legal assistance), whether or not you feel he is mentally ill, Muhammad turned a young man (Malvo) into a monster, killed 10 and wounded 3 others and terrorized the entire Metro DC region. It is hard to think that life in prison would be enough to make up for all he has done.


Evidently, October didn't exist.

Obviously, that is not exactly correct. It did exist, and was jam-packed with a million things to do. But, I really have no idea where the time went, but here we are almost a third of the way through November already-how the hell did that happen?!

I read a few blogs and thoroughly enjoy being able to keep up with the lives of others or read about controversial topics, but I seemed to have been barely able to do that in the past month or so. I started this blog as a way to chronicle my life and memories, not really caring how many people read it, or even if anyone reads it. I am sure that memorable things have happened in the past few weeks, but I just couldn't find the energy to write about it. So if there is anyone out there reading this, I am sorry that I have not updated since September!

In case you were interested, Megan recovered from her UTI-only after needing to go back for a second prescription of hard-core antibiotics (don't get me started on how inept the CVS by my house is). Sarah's soccer season just finished (they tied for 3rd place) and Winter Swimming started 2 weeks ago. Sarah also took classes to be able to receive her first communion and was thrilled to finally be able to partake last Sunday. Emma is now 18 months old and we still can only understand about 30% of what she is saying. The commitment to being on the Elementary School PTA has not been as bad as I thought it would, but it does often conflict with Sarah's choir practice. Pat tells me that I have Sarah in too many activities. I just want her to be able to enjoy her time with her friends. I haven't forced her to do any of these things. As soon as things begin to be a chore for her, we will revisit the situation. I just want her to be able to build a good friend base and keep active. I can't do the "after school play-date" that so many work/stay at home moms in our neighborhood do, so I have to keep her in activities where she sees her friends this way.

In conversation with an upset and stressed out student this afternoon, it became clear that she wasn't spending enough time on herself. She was internalizing her parents marital issues, her mom's battles with her younger sister, and her brother's early education (she was taking it upon herself to teach him his letters and to convince her sister to apply to the middle school magnet program). She has taken on fixing everyone's problems without caring for herself. She is now distracted, grades are suffering and she is crying a lot. Among other things we talked about, I suggested that she find time for herself, she needs to realize that she cannot solve some of the issues in the lives of those around her and focus on what she can do. She needs to find time to recharge her batteries, so to speak, and de-stress and she may find that things get easier.

Obviously, this is good advice for everyone, but definitely for me. It is near impossible to get "me time", but I need to find it. Also, I really enjoyed writing about our experiences as a family here on the blog, and I think I need to begin to do that more often. I won't promise daily, but I am definitely going to make more of an effort.