Monthly Archives: September 2009

Woe is work, woe is blogging, woe is me

Hey, thanks for stopping by! Doesn’t my post title sound so welcoming and happy? Makes you want to dig right in and read, huh?

Let’s take it from the top, shall we?

Work. Hey, I’m working, and that’s a good thing. I’ve been with my company for over 13 years and have done lots of different things. I enjoy a livable wage, excellent benefits and an extremely flexible (and mostly autonomous) working environment. Those things are precious to me! So why am I woeing about it? Well, I made the mistake of checking my work email on Saturday. My boss had sent out something to me and a few other people regarding a topic that he hadn’t had a chance to weigh in on the day before. In the email, I felt quite chastised, somewhat unfairly so. He also left a certain decision up to a coworker of mine, one who is nearly 20 years younger than me, and who I helped train when she was hired three years ago. I’m the oldest person on my team – a lot older than some and only a few years older than others, and mostly I’m OK with that. What I’m not OK with is being seen as the weakest member of the team, and that’s how I felt. I’m not ambitious at this point in my career – my out-of-work life takes a lot of my energy and time, and I’m happy to do my work for 40-45 hours a week, but that’s it. I need my non-work time for, non-work! But I feel odd about being surpassed. I like and respect this particular coworker a lot. She’s also young and single with plenty of time and energy to dive into work….sorta where I was at her age. If I still felt as valued as before I might not mind so much. But I don’t feel as valued and I do mind. And I don’t know what to do about it.

Blogging. I still read all your blogs (and more!), but I haven’t been blogging much myself. It’s not that I don’t have things going on that I could write about (whale watching! new dogs! new roof!) but I feel less…….inspired. Facebook has been meeting my need to chronicle and connect with much less actual effort on my part. Let’s be honest – the fun part of blogging is reading comments, and when people don’t comment it’s more like writing a private journal, which doesn’t really need to be done in public. So I’m not sure how much longer I’ll keep this. Or maybe I’ll start a new one. I don’t know yet. How have you all handled lulls in your blogging muscle?

Me. Well, believe it or not,, aside from what I said above, I don’t feel all that woeful! Life is pretty OK right now, and while I’m not happy that fall and winter are here/on their way, things are good. We have some exciting things to look forward to as a family in the next few weeks and months.

How are things with you?

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Human versus Machine

I am not a “shopper”, but I love gadgets.

I’m good with directions, but don’t always plan ahead.

Yesterday I needed to make a trip to the Apple store. The closest Apple store to us is, well, not very close. While we live about equidistant from two big malls, neither has been blessed with the mecca that is the Apple store. (Oh, and now might be a good time to say that my love of gadgets is really testing my self-control as I am lusting for every version of iPod Apple is currently selling – they keep making them better and better!) Phew. Anyway, the closest one is to the east of us, to a part of the state I rarely travel to, and don’t know very well.

So, when it was time to go, I pulled out another gadget in the form of my GPS unit and pulled up the POI (Points of Interest) in the town the mall is in and started on my way.

I faithfully followed Samantha’s directions (that’s the name assigned to the GPS voice). Now, I had an actual appointment at the Apple store. To discuss a problem with my old iPod shuffle. An appointment, meaning they were expecting me at a certain time. Samantha was projecting we’d be there with plenty of time left over, and I was relaxed and enjoying the beautiful day. Krystal was playing at a friend’s and it was just Belle and me. Ah, glorious day!

The “miles to destination” was getting lower and lower and the time was getting close to appointment time. We got stuck behind a few slow lights and our big time cushion started to slip away.

I started getting tense. And I tried to tell myself not to, since, really, who cares? It’s not life or death. It’s an appointment at a store, for crying out loud. Still, my Type A, always follow directions self was getting uptight!

Suddenly Samantha announced “You have reached your destination.” Except……I was still driving down a road and there was no mall, or any other discernible “destination” in sight!

Now, I’m freaking out. I’m po’d that my GPS doesn’t know where the hell a huge mall is, having angst over my appointment which I’m very nearly late for, and still have no idea where this freaking mall is.

Belle was shouting what she thought were helpful suggestions from the back seat, but in my agitated mood they were annoying and not helpful, or cute (sorry, honey!). I did what any reasonable person would do in 1999 – I pulled into a gas station and asked directions.

A few minutes later we pulled in to the mall. It was about 10 minutes past my appointment time, and I had no idea where in the mall the Apple store might be.

But we found it.

And all was well.

When we returned to the car I made sure to let Samantha know that this location is the mall, and I hope, if I ever need to go again, she will remember.

And if Samantha doesn’t remember, at least I should.

The Highs and Lows of Meeting the Teacher and New Math

I look forward to meeting the teacher each year at the Open House. Last night I got to meet Krystal’s 3rd grade teacher.

Now, for most of the past year, Krystal has been saying “I hope I get Mrs. C. for 3rd grade!” I heard it so many times, and I kept telling her that I was sure all the teachers would be great and that she shouldn’t get her hopes up for one particular teacher. Class lists were posted at the school the week we were away on vacation, so the day we came home we didn’t even go home first – we went straight to the school to check whose class she was in.

Of course, she didn’t get Mrs. C. She got Mrs. M. Tears ensued. It was not a great homecoming. (Plus, it was cold and raining! Insult to injury I tell you!)

On the first day of school (last week), Krystal came home saying it was a horrible day because none of her friends were in her class, and oh yeah, her teacher yelled at her. Yelled at her? She says it was for putting a chair up on the desk the wrong way.

Two days later she was forgiving Mrs. M. for the chair incident, chalking it up to stress on the first day of school. By day 5 she was declaring her love for Mrs. M. Phew.

My first impressions: Wow, Krystal’s school grows some tall teachers. Her 2nd grade teacher was quite tall, and so is this one – 5’10” I want to say. I loved her attitude, her apparent sense of humor and her honesty. She described the curriculum and said it is heavily weighted to reading, writing and math (the ole 3 R’s haven’t gone out of style!). She said any social studies or science they do is usually tied into reading and math. She even said, quoting here as best I can – “Our social studies program is a little weak. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say that.” I appreciate hearing that from her – I know she has to follow the guidelines she’s given, but it also gives me the chance to supplement it at home, especially since Krystal is interested in history and current events.

When talking about the math program, she said, “We use Everyday Math (which Krystal has been using since 1st grade) and a lot of parents hate it. The math is totally different from the way we all learned it.” The kids are thick into multiplication this year, which Krystal got a good head start on last year, but 3rd grade is the Year of Multiplication (or so I have deemed it). She said they use the lattice method to teach it. Hanging around the room were various things the kids had done in the first week of school, including a sheet on their expectations, hopes and dreams for the year. Krystal’s said she was excited about learning lattice math. So I asked her about it. Turns out she had no idea what it was, but thought it sounded cool.

So I looked it up. Let me see if I can give you a picture (you’re welcome to read more about it by following the link). Try this problem: 14 x 56.

multiplication48

Oh. My. God. What a mess! I get it…..but I don’t get why you would want to teach a child to use this method. It takes up a lot of scratch paper, way too much pencil lead and is confusing as heck! What’s wrong with the way I learned??

I suppose I’ll have to help Krystal work on her problems this way, but I think I’ll teach her my way too.

Crazy new math.

It’s Label Day

Happy Label Day! Errr, make that Happy Labor Day! Krystal has trouble with her “r” sounds and has been calling it Label Day all weekend -it’s been an interesting lesson in speech!

Let me ask you something – do you know what the origin of Labor Day is? I’ll tell you what I thought. I thought it was a day set aside to honor the American worker. Although even as a child I wondered how the hospital workers, police, fire and convenience store workers celebrated since, let’s face it, someone is always working. Even more so in this day and age when we don’t seem to be able to turn it off. Still, isn’t it nice that there is a holiday set aside to not work?

Is that what you thought too? If so, we’re both wrong!

This article was in the Boston Globe yesterday and it was a revelation to me. In case you don’t want to read the whole thing, I’ll summarize.

When President Grover Cleveland signed the bill establishing a Labor Day holiday in 1884, it was intended not as a day of leisure, but as a day to promote the American work ethic. The day was supposed to be a reminder for us all to renew our commitment to work, the highest calling, and get back to it. It was placed at the end of summer to mark the end of “indolence”.

The article is quite long, and very interesting from a historical standpoint about the evolution of our culture.

I like knowing the history, but this holiday still works out to be a long, work-free weekend for me. Some labels I’m OK with – on this one, feel free to label me a hedonist.

Falling in Love

It’s finally happened.

It took almost a year. We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, more downs than I’d like to admit, and there were times I wanted out. I knew the feeling wasn’t mutual though, and I didn’t like the message that getting out would send to my kids.

The kids and I went away for a week. Maybe we all needed a break. Maybe something changed while we were away. But ever since we came back I knew it was real. I knew I was in love.

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I mean, how could you not love a face like that?

I don’t know what happened or why, but I have suddenly fallen hard for my dog. Since we got her she has mostly meant a lot of work for me, and not very much fun. The puppy behavior, on top of “puppy” behavior in the kids, has been a bit more than I can handle at times. I’ve dreamed of the days before we had a dog, and of the days before that when I had a calm, compliant dog.  Yet she is different since we have returned from vacation. While we were away she stayed with our groomer, at her house with her 3 dogs, and by all accounts had an awesome time. She’s been much more mellow and better behaved. I’ve even (finally!) left her home alone without crating her, and she’s done fine, both house-training and chewing-wise. She’s just more pleasant to be around.

So pleasant, in fact, that I’m hoping to be approved to adopt a second dog.

Yes, officially certifiable, that’s me. If it’s any consolation, there appears to be a lot of competition in the rescue organization I’m trying to adopt through, so our chances, and timeline, are low, and likely long. Which is fine.

Give me enough time, and I might just fall in love.