My journey to shoot for the moon.

Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Ugh! I Must Be Out of Practice


My post is somewhere out there. I think.

I am having difficulties as I try to upload pictures, so hang in there.  I spent several hours working on a post tonight (Going to Kindergarten and Hell) and when it was all finished and I put in the picture, poof!  The entire thing was gone.  It seems that WordPress has changed the way we are supposed to upload pictures and I did it wrong.  I missed that information because I wasn’t posting.  But I think I’ve got it now.  I’ll have to re-write that post.  Hopefully, I’ll manage that over the next couple of days.  Sometimes I think that technology is out to get me – if I had be using paper and a pencil, I wouldn’t have to start over!

Phones and High School

I know that if I were a high school student I would want to be able to use my phone at school.  But as a teacher and a parent (David starts high school in the fall), I know that phones are distracting at school.  I really don’t have a problem with kids using their phones during passing periods and during lunch.  I don’t have a problem with kids listening to music (either on their phone or ipod, etc.) while they are working.  I DO have a problem with kids using their phones when I’m trying to teach.  I don’t know why they think that this is ok. (more…)

More Musings From an Unemployed Teacher Turned Frustrated Housewife

Why do some of the dishes come out of the dishwasher dirtier than they went in?  And why does the repair guy me there is nothing wrong with the dishwasher?

Did you know that you can load the dishwasher (even rinse all the dishes) in less that the time it takes for coffee to brew?

Getting the coffee going in the morning is important to me, I measure a lot of things by the time coffee brews.

Why is it that I have to remind Michael to take his phone with him on a regular basis?  And why is it that the time he remembers on his own, he put it in his swimsuit pocket to go to the pool?

Did you know that phones don’t like pools?

And did you know that the vacuum cleaner is the best way to pull moisture out of a phone?  The next step is to put the phone in rice.  But, seriously, did you know that phones don’t like pools?  And no vacuum or rice can fix that?

Did you know that a phone charger costs $30.00 and you can get a new phone from Verizon (every 2 years) for $40.00 and that includes the charger?

Did you know that a kid with an alarm clock has the option to snooze means that the alarm will be going off every 10 minutes for an hour?

I wonder what causes people to get a second wind.  I wonder if there is a way to tell yourself that you don’t want one and would rather go to sleep.  Do you think that if you could tell yourself that, that you would listen to yourself?

Why is it, when I have things for the boys to do, they are doing the one thing that I don’t want to stop?  Reading!

There are three opened and one unopened bottle of BBQ sauce in my refrigerator.  I wonder why that is and if that is why I kept buying more, so there are 3 more unopened bottles in the pantry?

I I don’t make myself coffee in the morning when I get up and start feeling tired in the afternoon, should I make coffee then?  But I don’t really care for hot coffee (see How I Found Coffee) in the afternoon, so should I make it iced?  Will it keep me up at night?  And how will I know that it is the coffee and not other things, because I don’t sleep on a normal schedule anyway?

Why is it that my boys don’t think I know anything about electronics?  Why is it when I ask a question I get attitude and eye rolling?  Michael says that it is because I ask the stupidest questions.  But is any question stupid?  And if I knew the answer, why would I ask?  Just to annoy them?

I wonder if they realize that, while their dad is an expert and I don’t know as much as he does, I do know much more than the average person.  And why aren’t they duly impressed when I figure things out on my own and don’t have to bother them?

Why doesn’t my own family read my blog?  And why is it that they get angry with me for reading it to them, saying that they want to read it on their own, but then don’t?

Is it possible to “over blog?”  I’ve been playfully accused of “over blogging” by AG and I wonder if it is possible.  And why is it when someone says something like that to me, I have to “over think” it?

Can I limit myself to 1 posting every day, plus a Job Search Update without exploding?  Why is it when the creative juices begin to run, you can no longer keep things contained?

How can I spend the entire day working on my blog and doing not much else?  I wonder why that is ok with me.  It almost seems like a waste of time.  But is it really, if it helps me keep my sanity?

Michael playing indoor soccer.

Did you know that I’m a soccer mom?  Michael plays soccer and I take him to his practices and games.   That makes me a soccer mom.  How come I didn’t know this until the other day, when I’ve been a soccer mom for 4 years?  But what is a Soccer Mom, really?

Am I unemployed if I am home-schooling David?  And chauffeuring both boys?  If I am a chef, personal shopper, housekeeper, dog walker, event planner, schedule coordinator, blogger, part-time nurse, alarm clock, photographer, laundress, investigator, homework monitor, judge and jury, jailer, job applicant, and finder of lost things?  Isn’t it that I am over-worked and under-paid instead?  And how did I have time for all of it when I did work?

Why is it that the first day of school causes parents to forget how to move through the pick-up line?  I waited for almost 30 minutes to get Michael and his friend from school.  I didn’t even make it to the parking lot until 4:15 (school lets out at 4).

Why is it that when I have a TON of things to do, someone doesn’t sleep and so I don’t sleep?

A 5 lb. medicine ball and two boys is not a good combination.  And the boys will seek out the medicine ball no matter where you put it.  Don’t even think about putting it down because one of the boys will have it when you are ready to pick it back up.

A 10-year-old can get a muscle cramp from working his abdominal obliques with a 5 lb. medicine ball.

When there is an error message on the coffee machine, it is not a good thing.  Especially, when the error message means that the coffee machine won’t turn on and it beeps loudly every few minutes to tell you that the non-existent coffee is ready.

The smoke detector going off at 2 am scares the living daylights out of you.  And even if there is nothing wrong, it makes it very difficult to go back to sleep.

If the coffee machine error and the smoke detector going off in the middle of the night happen in a 24 hour period, you know that you are in for a VERY rough day.

Herman and Foreclosure – Part 2

If you’ll remember from Part 1, Herman is the car ghost or just the car that my parents sent me last summer.  The Mercury Villager Minivan had just been delivered to me in Colorado from North Carolina.  I had driven it from where they delivered it (the complex office) around the parking lot to park it in front of my building.

Shortly after that, we all (Chris, David, Michael and I) went out so we could see the new-to-us van.  I thought it might be fun for us to go for a ride.  We all got in and fastened our seat belts.  I put the key in the ignition and turned it.  Nothing.  I tried again.  Still nothing.  Chris had me get out so he could try. It won’t start for him either.  I feel somewhat vindicated although peeved that the car just arrived and it won’t start.

Wonderful.  Just wonderful.  So we jump the van and drive it to the mechanics.  The battery was dead.  Please tell me how the battery died in the couple of hours since I had driven it from the front parking lot to the back.  The battery was fully drained.  How does that happen?  My dad sent us a check and went to the mechanic that had checked the car out before it was sent.  The battery was new and shouldn’t have been drained.

The battery was charged and we took the van back home.  On the way home I noticed that whenever I pressed on the brake, the interior lights came on.  After driving for almost 25 years, I knew that was not normal.  The interior lights would also come on when I made a sharp turn to the right.  And then, the interior lights were on and would not turn off.  Not for anything.  Gee, I wonder what drained the battery?  Could it possibly be that the interior lights came on of their own free will and refused to turn themselves off.  Fabulous!  Just fabulous!  Back to the mechanic.

The mechanic couldn’t find anything wrong with the van.  I called my dad to tell him the latest about the van.  I hadn’t been in possession of it for more than a week and we were at the mechanic twice.

Me:  “So Dad the interior lights in the van came on and wouldn’t turn off.  I took it to the mechanic and they couldn’t find anything wrong with it.”

Dad:  “Oh, it does that sometimes.”

Me:  “Really?”

Dad:  “Yes, the mechanic couldn’t find anything wrong with it.  They figure it is an electrical problem.  Sometimes they turn on when you brake or make a hard right turn.”

Me:  “Really?”

Dad:  “I forgot about that.”

Me:  “So you sent me a car that is possessed?  And you didn’t think that you should tell me this?”

Dad:  “It isn’t a big deal and it doesn’t happen often.”

Me:  “It isn’t a big deal?  You mean that the interior lights staying on and draining the battery isn’t a big deal.  I could get stuck somewhere.”

Dad:  “I’m sorry.”

Now my dad really didn’t mean to send me a car that wasn’t working right.  Remember, he took it to the mechanic before he sent it to me.  He told the mechanic to fix or replace anything and everything that needed to be taken care of or would need to be taken care of in the next several months.

The interior lights would come on several times during a trip to the store which was a three-minute drive.  Or not at all during the 20 minute drive to work.  They would come on only sometimes when I would turn right and sometimes when I would brake.  There was no pattern or predictability to the van’s quirkiness.

One day after the lights were going on and off and on and off, I decided I was going to yell at the van.  I don’t yell often.  Even my boys will tell you that.  But darn it the van was supposed to be making my life easier and I had had it!

When I yell at the boys, I usually call them by their first, middle and last name.  Our first dog, who we called Alex, was called by her full unabbreviated name when she got into trouble:  Alexa James.  Kirby, one of our current dogs, doesn’t have a formal name, but when she would get into trouble (it hasn’t happened in a long time) I would call her Kirby Lou.  Our other dog, Sugar, doesn’t get yelled at – even when she does something wrong.  But that is another story.

I pondered what I could call the van that would make me feel better.  The van was so irritating at times!  Who did it remind me of?  Dad, of course.  Now my dad’s name is Richard and Michael’s middle name is Richard.  So Richard wouldn’t work.  Horowitz, my maiden name, might work.  But what would happen when my parents came out and I needed to yell at the van?  Herman?  It was my father’s despised middle name.  He hated it.  Hated it with a passion.  It irritated him.  And it was absolutely perfect!

Whenever the interior lights come on, I yell at Herman and tell him to turn them off.  I tell Herman I’m not in the mood for his games and he needs to cut it out.  There is a lot of blame to go around and honestly, Herman seems to get more than his fair share.  Sometimes the boys talk to Herman.  Chris does too.

Chris especially likes to talk to Herman when the car alarm goes off after the door has been locked and Chris has to go out to turn it off because I can’t hear it (see previous post – What?  What?!?  WHAT!!??).  Yes, the car alarm goes off if you lock the doors to the van.  But only sometimes, not always.  So we don’t leave anything important in it, ever.  I guess that Herman gets lonely and wants someone to come and check on him.

Sometimes I wish that I had a nice normal van and that Herman was just a bad dream.  I guess that would be boring.  And while I could use some boring in my life, it doesn’t seem if I am going to get it.  Besides, who would I yell at if I didn’t have Herman?

Herman and Foreclosure – Part 1

Herman is my car ghost and/or my car depending on how I’m feeling and how he is behaving.  Herman is a Mercury Villager Minivan that my parents sent me last year.  First, it was my mom’s and then, it was my dad’s and now it is mine.

It isn’t that easy to send someone a car.   It seemed to take forever for the van to get here.  First, my parents had to find a company that would put the van on a trailer and drive it from North Carolina to Colorado.  Then they had to wait for the company to come to pick up the van and were told that it could be any day within a two-week period.  Of course, that is the way things are done in North Carolina.  S l  o    w     l     y.  Then the van had to be driven to me and I had to meet the driver to get the van.

So,why did my parents send me a van?  When we moved to Colorado from Illinois, we left an unsold house behind.  Chris moved to Colorado in July of 2006 and the boys and I came out in June of 2007.  We figured that being a long distance family for a year was long enough.  We continued to pay the mortgage on the house for another year and a half.  And it was on the market.  But no one was looking and the only offer we got was about 50 grand less than the $150,000 we were asking.  We stopped paying the mortgage after the house flooded and we had to pay to have the entire lower level re-finished.  That was $6,000 after the insurance company paid their part.  The mortgage company would not even talk with us about a short-sale or anything else for that matter because we had never missed or been late on a payment.  Then the insurance company dropped us because the house was empty and to cover the empty house would have been more expensive than when we were living there.  It was a mess.

I’m sure at this point you are wondering what this has to do with the van.  I promise, I’ll get there.  Anyway, when Chris took his job at in Colorado in 2006 he needed a place to live.  So he rented an apartment.  That was ok at the time because his pay increased enough to cover the apartment.  But the house didn’t sell and we were paying for both the apartment and the house for 2 1/2 years.  So much for the pay increase.  Also, when I moved from Illinois to Colorado, I took a huge pay cut.  I was working almost twice the hours for less money.  Because of this, we had childcare expenses which we didn’t have in Illinois.  So, when the boys and I moved to Colorado we were actually taking home less.

We were told that a foreclosure usually took about a year in Illinois.  We figured that we would recover our credit and move on.  I’m not really proud of it, but I don’t see that we had any other choices.  When Chris was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in October of 2009 we had not paid the mortgage for 10 months.  Since I worked for the school district and I carried our health insurance, our coverage went from July to June.  We hit the $8,000 out-of-pocket maximum within the first two weeks of October while Chris was in the hospital.  We didn’t have any more medical to pay until everything started over in July 2010.  It took us until December to hit the $8,000 out-of-pocket maximum (Chris was on a clinical trial drug and we didn’t pay for it).

So, last summer my van was not feeling very well.  The air conditioning didn’t work (and it would be $3,000 to fix it) and it was just being difficult overall.  Buying a new car was out of the question, so my parents sent me theirs.  Trying to be helpful.

As I wrote, Herman was first my mom’s.  He didn’t get named until I got him, but he was still my mom’s van first.  She then upgraded to something else and my dad got rid of his old car and took the van.  When this happened, my dad worked from home and my mom worked outside the home (which is why she got the new vehicle).  My dad didn’t drive much.  So, the van sat in their driveway and sometimes at the long-term parking lot at the Raleigh-Durham airport.  My parents both retired and the van continued to sit, not getting much use.  So, I needed a new vehicle and they had two but one wasn’t being used much, so they sent me the van.

Of course, my parents sending me the van would not be a simple matter.  Most things aren’t when they involve my parents, especially my dad (and my brother can confirm this).  My parents had the van checked out by their mechanic before it got on the trailer for its trip West.  Since this is important, I will say it twice, the van was checked out by their mechanic before they sent it to me.

When I finally got the call that the van had arrived, I was so excited.  I met the driver at the front of our complex and signed the papers and got the keys.  I then drove the van from the parking lot where he had parked it around to our building.  And nothing was ever the same.

More to come with Part 2.

Kids, Phones and Texting

I remember about 6-7 years ago sitting at the park with a group of moms.  My friend Emily was there and she got a phone call from one of her boys to come pick them up from wherever they were.  I remember being shocked that her son HAD a phone.  David must have been close to 6 and Michael would have been 2 years younger.  Emily’s son was maybe 13 at the time.  Emily told us (most of the moms there had younger children, 6-7 would have probably been the oldest) that her kid needed a phone so that he could call her to come get him from practice, etc. places where there weren’t phones.  I remember thinking, my boys won’t have phones until they are much older.

Emily is the mom who I always think about when I don’t know what to do with my boys.  Her youngest is about a year and a half older than David.  In all she has 4 boys (23, 20, 17 and 14 – I think although I could be off by a year).  I have told Emily that I believe her to be a role model and I hope that she doesn’t mind me writing about her.  She taught me a lot about parenting and even more about parenting boys.  She is still someone I go to when I am lost parenting my boys and need someone to give me good, solid advice.  And this is something else she was right about:  kids need phones for a lot of reasons.

My boys are now older.  They both have phones.  They got one that they shared, when we moved to Colorado four years ago, because we didn’t have a land line.   David was 8 going on 9 and Michael was 6.  That first phone was David’s responsibility most of the time.  But one day when the boys were at daycare, Michael had the phone.  He had placed it in his lunchbox and then proceeded to throw it in the garbage when he dumped all of the contents of his lunchbox.  We didn’t realize the phone was missing for several days.  We replaced the phone and decided shortly after that the boys both needed phones.  One reason was that they were going in different directions and the other was that they were in different buildings at school and it just didn’t work for them to have to share.

Their first phones were bare-bones basic phones.  They could make and receive calls.  They weren’t allowed to accept any calls that didn’t come up with a name (meaning that they were numbers Chris or I programmed into their phone) and they weren’t allowed to call anyone who wasn’t already programmed into their phone without permission.  People who were programmed into their phone (like their grandparents, Auntie Kathy and a few select friends) they were allowed to call whenever they wanted, within reason.

Around this time, I added texting to my phone.  I didn’t really see how I would use it, but a friend texted all the time and convinced me.  It didn’t take long for me to decide to go to unlimited texting, as it was such a useful tool!  But the boys couldn’t text.  Last summer, we added texting to the boys’ phones.  We all had upgraded – Chris got a new Droid for work, I got his old Droid, David got a new phone and Michael got my old phone (as Michael had lost another phone and we weren’t going to reward him with a new phone until he showed he could be responsible).  Now all the phones had keyboards and Chris and I got internet access, etc. with our phones.

Texting with the boys has been a real treat.  They tell me things that they might not talk to me about, like having a bad day at school.  And they almost always add an I love you to their texts.  They can quickly check in with a text, find me in Super Wal-Mart when we are all heading in different directions, and let me know that they need to be picked up earlier or later than originally thought. They text their friends, rather than call (which is strange to me, but neither boy is much for talking on the phone and it seems to be normal for this generation).  They can text their Grandma Kay (she is the only grandparent who has texting) who lives in Illinois and often travels.  They text an old friend from Illinois who now lives in Arizona and Michael texts his cousin in Michigan.  There is a lot more long distance communication going on than when I was a kid and we timed long distance calls because they were so expensive!

However wonderful and useful texting is, it is the I love you part that always surprises me.  The boys are quickly growing up and don’t necessarily want to hug me in public.  Sometimes they will hold my hand when we are walking (and I always wait for them to take my hand) or give me a kiss on the cheek.  But usually they don’t want to give me a kiss goodbye when I drop them at an activity or at school.  And sometimes they are in such a rush that they forget to say I love you back.  All of this is as it should be.  They are growing up and don’t need me as much as they did.

I am sold on texting and it didn’t take long.  I love being able to be in touch with my boys wherever they are and whatever they are doing AND they aren’t embarrassed about it because everyone is doing it.  They can and do say I love you and their friends are unaware.  Chris was talking last night about needing to upgrade his phone (again) and that we can all upgrade.  That would mean that David would get my old Droid. I’m not really sure what a 13-year-old needs with a data package especially when he won’t be able to use his phone at school.  And what use is a Droid without a data package?  I’m sure that if I asked him, he could give me a hundred reasons why he should have it with the data package, but I think that this is something he will have to wait until he is a bit older for – or the prices go down.  I love you, David, but no for now.

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