Saturday, April 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Cole!

That's actually a card Connor got this year from Donna & Jim. He likes it really well, and I thought it would be fun to have him share it with Cole. I don't think he understood me saying 'sing' and heard 'said' or something like that instead...

Happy Birthday Cole!!

Test Driving fundraiser

While we were in Glide, their High School was doing a fundraiser. The Ford Motor Company does a deal for certain schools where they allow people to test drive their cars, fill out a survey, and then the school gets $20 for each household that participates. They can get up to $6,000 depending on how many folks come out to test drive.
We tested the Edge first. Nice car :) It's a very spacious SUV with all the bells & whistles.

Then we tried the Escape. This is a compact SUV, and reminded me of our Ranger. The seats fold way down so the whole bed is flat if you need it that way. This would be a great Dad-Mom-Connor camping car :) This one had a sun roof, which was nifty :)

Finally, we tried the new Focus. This is the only one we'd ever consider trying to get. This was a stick shift. The A/C worked great, and it had lots of neat stuff tucked in & around it for comfort. There was all kinds of room in the back. It wouldn't work work our family all together, but as a commuting/get around town/something for the kids to use car - it's great! Nice MPG too - 35 to 40 :)
That was fun :)

Wildflowers & Running

These are the lilacs one of my students gave me yesterday. They are out on the front porch because the scent is REALLY strong! It was a little overpowering in the classroom :)

This was the check in for registration for the 10K run, 5K walk/run & 1 mile walk.

We had breakfast while waiting for Lee to run past. :)

This is the guy who won - far & away the fastest. The 2nd place guy took another 10 minutes to show up. This guy has won the Portland Marathon, and the locals say he runs everywhere he goes. Later on, he ran past with a double jogging stroller with 2 kids.

In the community center, there was this great display of the local flora :)

I thought these were pretty cool.

Trevor surprised me a bit - he recognized all the stuff that grows in our backyard. Maybe he should consider botany?

Friday, April 23, 2010

48 & Feeling Great!

Well, great enough. I am making an appointment to see an acupuncturist for my shoulder...

But other than that - yeah!
Anyway, with a birthday in the Spring & having really nice weather, last weekend after all that yardwork, I had a couple of things I wanted to do in the yard. One was to take out the dead plum tree (after two years, it's not coming back) and replace it with a little pine tree that has been pining away in a planter (ha!). I also wanted to plant either a hydrangea or a rhododendron - both grow really well in our climate. I wasn't sure which one.

After church on Sunday, Lee & I went to Lowe's and found the rhodies & hydrangeas right next to each other. Turns out I could get both plants for about $20, so that's what we did. We put the rhody in to grow & hide the concrete walkway, and the hydrangea should grow to offer some privacy in the backyard. That's the plan, anyway.

My actual birthday fell on a Thursday. I got a call from my mom first thing in the morning to wish me a Happy Birthday. Right after I hung up, the phone rang again & someone & their kids were singing Happy Birthday to me! After they were done, the woman says, "Do you know who this is?" I said, "No - you guys sounded great, and my family always puts a cha-cha-cha in between verses!" It was AnnaMarie Vandewalle with McKenna, Lauren & Patrick :D That was just really sweet :) Then I got on my computer, and I had about SEVENTY birthday wishes from different friends & family! WoW!!!

Thursday is also a weigh-in day, and I tend to be super-strict with my food, especially since I'd been inching up on the scale lately. The teacher I'm working with gets this, and so she brought me a big bouquet of daisies, instead of taking me out after work, which would have been her plan :) So I stayed 'safe' calorie-wise all day :)

After work, Connor had his Special Olympics track practice. I baked my carrot cake & set it out to cool. Then I picked up Lee & we headed to the college track. Trevor met us there. He had a mug for me that says "I'm on my way to a MEETING to discuss what we MET about at our last MEETING." Apparently, I go to a lot of meetings (between Girl Scouts, TOPS, Bible Study and work - I guess I do!).

Right after the practice, Lee & I went to TOPS. I won the pledge contest (chances were good - besides me, there was only Lee & one other person who made their pledges!). Then I was on for the educational program as well. I talked about "Diet Traps." I guess most of the members in the group thought they fell into most of the traps - oops!

After that, Lee & I went to Red Robin for a nice dinner. I had a good salmon burger :)

When we got home, I made my cream cheese frosting for my cake. I didn't eat any because I was still full from dinner - I started my day with it today though :P I put in pineapple, extra carrots & coconut - YUMMY!!!

Connie called me in the evening & we had a nice chat. I'm really looking forward to getting up to Canada in June! Yay!!

At school today, I brought cake to share too. We did a little field trip with a picnic & some geocaching. At the second cache there's a feed store & they had little bunnies, so we had to hold those too. And I got myself a birthday present with a nice gardening hat :)

Tomorrow we'll go to the Wildflower Show in Glide. Lee wants to run in the 10K, and they are doing a fundraiser for the high school there where you drive new Ford vehicles & then fill out a survey - it's free for us to drive :) Sunday we'll go to Eugene & visit with Diana.

So... I guess we'll see what this year brings!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Out in the yard

Yesterday was the first nice day we've had that was warm enough to work in the yard. Trevor did a great job on the mowing (we're on 1/3 acre, and it's hilly - not the best to mow!). Lee spent a good couple of hours cutting back the overgrown blackberry vines. I worked in the little bits of the yard I've actually tried to tame - my rose bush planter, clearing around the lilac bush & also some gladiolas. You need decent gloves for gardening around here - the blackberries hid in the weeds & you can grab a hunk of crabgrass & have thorns go right through the glove - ouch!

I had also asked Trevor to mow the grass really short in a trail for Connor. Now that he has his bike, he likes to try to ride around the backyard. As he likes to do the same path over & over, he'll create a nice little trail for himself pretty soon.

Connor kept himself busy digging "the cave." I'm not sure why he wants a cave, but he's using a pickaxe, a big shovel and a camp shovel to do it. He's got the wheelbarrow that he's filling as he goes, and it seems the cave is currently being dug straight down in a slope, so it's really more of a hole. That's fine. I can see where he is & what he's doing, vs. digging in the poison oak in the wilder back part of the yard :)

We'll see what he does today with it...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring pics

I got some bulbs through Breck's a long time ago. The tulips that were just single blooms are now 5-6 blooms to a bunch :) The wood hyacinth are nice, big bunches now too.

Some of these have bent over from heavy rains, but they are still okay. There's a purple iris about to bloom in back, and you can just see the little round purple ball of a peony bud just above the yellow tulip on the right.

This is my front door planter & I love the strawberry & creme tulips in there :)

This was just one bulb when I planted it...

Our mutant grass. It should be dry enough to mow next weekend!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Trevor Trials & Tribulations

First off, I have to thank Diana, because she's proving its not all me. *sigh*

Trevor has had a tough time with college. After not being very successful at Oregon Institute of Technology (although he absolutely LOVED being there), he came home and started attending our local community college. He has to take the bus, because he isn't driving (with no job, there's no car). He hasn't been as successful here at home as I'd hoped either, even with Lee & I "encouraging" him frequently.

In order to help him try for higher grades, he's been taking the minimum units needed to be full time (vs. Diana, who crams as many classes as she can in, so that she's already considered a Junior in her Sophomore year). This means, however, that if he fails any classes, he no longer has enough grade units to qualify as full-time. In addition, he has to have x-amount of successful units each term to qualify for Free financial aid.

So this last term, he let things slide more than he thought. He kind of lied by omission when we'd ask him if he'd turned in all his homework (this works in his head, somehow). He turned in his assignments incomplete. Or missed the date due, so was docked points, or didn't realize a question on the syllabus was part of the assignment. Stuff like that. Due to this, he got a D in Chem, and a D in CAD. This was his second time taking the Chem class. *sigh*

I really, really don't understand how his brain works.

He gets up in the morning, has to walk through all kinds of weather (in the dark for most of this term), has to sit next to strange people on the bus (who can't drive for whatever reason), and attends all his classes. He had no absences. I think that's the only reason he didn't get F's in those classes.

Somehow, his brain is not getting that the most important thing is to get the work done & in to the instructor on time.

The first Monday of this term, Lee went with Trevor to the college to figure out if anything could be salvaged. I thought it was over, and I just wanted them to figure out what he'd have to do this term to be able to qualify for financial aid next term. Trevor has some money in his bank account (thanks Omi) so he's able to buy books and pay for a couple of classes. We signed him up for an online Sociology class, because I can tutor him through that here at home (so far, he's turned in everything on time for full credit & got 85% on his first quiz).

The first thing Lee discovered is the Special Ed counselor, whom Trevor had tried to visit at her office numerous times at the end of last term, has been out for THREE WEEKS due to her husband dying of cancer. No one had contacted Trevor to help him through the final weeks of last term, or finals or anything. The same sign saying "Be back at 2:30" had been on her door all that time. Again, with Trevor's disability, it never occurred to him to ask anyone else where his counselor was. He'd see the sign, and turn around & leave.

Lee asked someone in the office where the counselor was, and got the story about the dying husband. Then Lee asked who was taking over for the counselor, and was told he'd have to talk to an administrator. Trevor immediately got discouraged because now you're supposed to fill out papers, make an appointment, etc (following the rules), while Lee just went up to the door of the administrator, who looked up and asked, "Can I help you?" (Go Lee!).

Lee let her know about Trevor's situation, and she saw the need for expediency. She let them know who to see next, and what might be done to help Trevor. And small town-wise, this lady is Connor's Sunday School teacher (although they didn't recognize each other at first).

Lee & Trevor next went to see the CAD instructor, and then the Chemistry teacher. The CAD guy said, "Sorry - there's nothing I can do at this point" (which was what I expected). The prayers come through at this next point - for some reason (thank you, Lord), the Chemistry instructor was willing to hand back Trevor's incomplete assignments & labs and give him a couple of weeks to FIX THEM! She said that she had thought Trevor didn't "get" how some of the assignments were set out - so she was okay with him giving them another try.

So - we left him enrolled in the four classes for Spring Term, and he basically worked non-stop on those plus his old Chemistry for a week and a half. Last Wednesday, he met with the Chemistry teacher again. She accepted his old assignments, graded them, and raised his grade to a "C." She then accompanied him to the financial aid office, and helped him file the paperwork necessary to qualify for financial aid again. He should get his disbursement check this week. Thank you Chem teacher!

To insure this scenario doesn't happen again, I am going to be having Trevor review everything with me after his classes every week. I will tutor him with the Sociology, and we'll track everything that gets graded from all his classes, so he knows where he stands on everything.

I feel like we're back in Jr. High. I don't know when the counselor will be back, or if someone has been hired to take over her cases or what. That's the next step. In any case, I'm going to just have to be a lot more involved with Trevor, and hopefully teach him through this where the priorities are in college. I'm not very happy with the college dropping the ball like this on a Special Needs student, and we might have to take this further somehow with them. I'll talk to the administrator after Sunday School (I'm her assistant in the class, after all!!).

He just needs to get the AA and find a job that lets him work in his little cubicle!! He can go back to OIT when he's older and has matured past an immature 16-year-old mentality. It's so weird how he can be so academically bright, and be missing such key common sense parts! Grrrr.

Welcome to Asperger's Syndrome!!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Kinda Sorta Pretzels

I like watching Food Network's "Good Eats" with Alton Brown. He had an episode where he made pretzels, only instead of dipping them in lye, like my dad did, he made a boiling water & baking soda wash (a little safer).

I thought I'd give it a try. The dough did just what it was supposed to do, and using the egg yolk wash made the pretzels brown up very nicely, however...

They were soft. Like, all over. They were more like those mall pretzels, or maybe the kind you get at a ball park. I made rolls as well as standard pretzels, because I like using them like a sandwich - these will mash :(

The German pretzels my dad made were crunchy on the smaller bits & the crust was very crunchy. Only the middle was soft on my dad's pretzels.

So... while these tasted okay, I kind of like the crusty hard kind better.

These were also very moist inside. I'm used to a drier, chewier texture, instead of something more like a fresh potato roll.

Still, the baking soda wash worked pretty well. I wonder if I use my dad's actual recipe and try the soda wash, and then bake at the lower temp for a longer time if they would be more like the pretzels I'm used to having... Guess I'll have to experiment a little more.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter 2010!

Here's Trevor hard at work on his chemistry assignments. He took a break for Mass & the egg hunt, and then back to work!

My little Easter decorations :)
This is an antique now - almost 48 years old. It's from when I was born, which was an Easter Sunday :)

Landscape bricks make good hiding spots :)

The druid emerges and collects the Spring Bounty - Eggs out of a tree..

There were 60 eggs to find. Trevor & Connor both got the same amount :)

29 Eggs!

I can eat the Peep!
Happy Easter!