Friday, August 29, 2008

Turning on a Dime

I've been riding one of life's little roller coasters the past couple of weeks! Funny how life can turn on a dime.

I received a call from a friend / ex-coworker who got a job teaching at a local private school. She said she heard from her boss that the lower school technology teacher had unexpectedly passed away, and her boss wanted to know if she knew anyone from her old school who could fill the job? So she thought of me. One of the many hats I wore in my last position was technology teacher for lower school. My friend said that if I was interested in the position, I should call up her boss right away! I had to stop and think for a moment. I was working full time when Daniel was diagnosed with T1 & celiac, and went to part time so I could manage it all. However, more than a year has gone by and we're into that "new kind of normal," where we're managing the diabetes and know what to do for celiac. And chronic diseases are expensive. As are gluten free foods. Plus, Daniel will be driving soon, so my car insurance is going to skyrocket. I called the head of lower school and left a message about my friend's referral.

A day later I received a phone call from the lower school head, who invited me in for an interview the next day. I interviewed, and saw that it was a lovely school. The staff is friendly and supportive, the school is well funded, and the campus is lovely. So I showed my interest, and the next day was offered the job. Yes, my head was spinning. I went to my tutoring job that evening and did something I've never done before: quit with no notice. I just couldn't give them any more time.

By this point the other teachers were already well into their pre-start-of-school meetings. I've been working madly the last few days to catch up and make sure I'm ready to take on Kindergarten through grade 4 and teach them computers! One major blessing: the lady who passed away had planned to be out for the first 5 weeks of school, so she had written out detailed lesson plans. Thank you, Mrs. G., wherever you are. You are amazing.

I have a mentor helping me along who is willing to come in and co-teach a few classes to make sure everything is going well. I have a stack of paperwork to complete this weekend, and have to brush up my skills on some kids' software packages. But it's going to be fun. I can't wait.

I already met a few students today during orientation, and received smiles and hugs, so I felt very welcome.

It's been a while since I've been in a classroom, so wish me luck! Now I'm going to play around on KidPix for a while...

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I took this picture for my flickr page. It goes with a paragraph from a Washington Post health section article about gum disease and its relationship to other diseases, such as diabetes.

But the picture represents a lot of other things, too. It's the last week of summer, AGH! Daniel has a cold and his blood sugars have been wickedly high. AGH! School is about to start, which is a YAY, but is also an AGH because of all the meetings, conferences, homework, issues, etc. etc. Job interviews. AGH! Children's Hospital has not faxed the medical orders over to Daniel's school even though I sent the request over weeks ago. AGH! Talking to insurance companies about diabetes: triple AGH!!!

Enough with scream therapy. I'm going to go breathe for a while.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Yard Sale

Why? Why go through the torture? I was up at 6 a.m. posting signs around the neighborhood. At about 6:30 when I was on my next-to-last sign, a deer, who was out for her morning decorative plant binge, trotted over and stopped a few feet away from me. She cocked her head to one side, as if to say, "What are you doing, you crazy human?" Ugh. Time for coffee.

Drove to the grocery store and bought powdered lemonade crap so the kids could have a lemonade stand. Hauled everything out onto the driveway by 7:30. Sat outside for 5 hours. Told Dominic to "Back away from the box of hot wheels, you know, the ones you told me I could SELL? Back away from the stuffed animals. Yes you can pay your sister for a lemonade. No, you can't have three of them. Go get water. Stop bothering the customers. No hard selling." Repeated those sentences, not in the same order, about 50 or 60 times.

I made 50 bucks, or, as my husband said, about a gas tank full. Hauled the unsold stuff back to the shed. Will call Value Village to pick up the rest.

Do you do yard sales? Are you shattered afterwards? It doesn't help that the air above my driveway boils with the heat shimmering off the blacktop.

One good thing, however. All the Barney videos are now out of my house. No more purple dinosaur!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Prelude to a Pump

Wednesday we went to a pump information class at Children's Hospital. There were only a couple of us there, so we were able to ask lots of detailed questions, which was very helpful. It seems like the pump will make life more "normal" on some levels, and a little more complicated on other levels. But it looks like the way to go.

I don't know if any of you ever watched the Pee Wee Herman show years ago. Sometimes the doorbell would ring and Pee Wee would open the door to see a man with an extremely large head, who would start talking about some limited time offer, and Pee Wee would run away, shouting, "SALESMAN! SALESMAN!"

That's almost what it was like when the time came for the sales guys to enter the room. Okay, not quite. However, even though I believe the salespeople were warned not to do a hard sell, the sales patter flowed quickly. It was difficult, at the end of the evening, too keep it all straight in my head. Which infusion set goes with what pump? What features does the Cozmo have? The Minimed? Luckily, I didn't run screaming like Pee Wee.

We walked away with a sample Omnipod. Daniel likes the thought of the Omnipod because there's no tubing. I liked the Minimed because of the CGMS (continuous glucose monitoring system), but I also have to check with our insurance company to see if they would cover the sensors for that. I know there's a major fight going on to push for universal coverage of sensors. Time for us to get political.

In the meantime, our pump nurse had Daniel try out an infusion set. It took a minute for him to get the nerve up to press the button to set it. When he gives himself his shots, he gently feels around with the tip of the needle to find the "right" place, and that's not an option with a spring-loaded needle. But he was surprised that he hardly felt anything, and that the cannula that remains under his skin is quite comfortable. He's supposed to wear the infusion set for 3 days. After that, he's going to try the sample Omnipod on his arm.

It's all very bionic-mannish right now; however, I know we'll get used to it just as we've gotten used to shots & blood sugar tests. One more new and exciting kind of normal for us.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Threes and Ones

People say that bad things happen in threes. I don't know why we don't expect the same of good things, why they are considered singular events. When something wonderful happens we give a "Whoo hoo!" and move on, while we seem to wait for a series of three bad things before taking a deep breath and declaring, "Phew! That's over!"

This past week we experienced the 3 vs. 1 phenomenon.

Bad event one of three: Tuesday Nora went down the street to play with her friends. She parked her scooter up against the friend's house at the top of the driveway. An hour later I stopped by & shared a cup of tea with the mom. An hour after that we had to go home for dinner. We walked out the door. Nora's scooter was gone. Stolen.

Wednesday we drove to the Chesapeake Bay. We took this excursion last year on a lark with friends to enjoy a day in the sun and (mild) surf only to be delighted to find that the beach was littered with shark teeth. A swimming expedition turned into an all out shark-tooth hunting spree, and the kids came home with more than 50 shark teeth. They were tiny, but teeth, nonetheless. So we went to another beach this time, closer to Calvert Cliffs (but with only a 1/2 mile hike to the beach instead of a 2 mile hike) to check out the shark tooth situation there.

Now we have to backtrack a few months. One day Nora and I had to go to the Guitar Center to have her guitar fixed, and the guy who did the work sat in the back office surrounded by guitars... and shark teeth. Big ones. And a map of the Chesapeake Bay. So we got to talking about the teeth, what kinds they were, where he found them, etc. He told us of a few places to go hunting, but that most of them were only accessible by boat (and in one case it would be better to know the park ranger at a particular property). He had a few mighty big teeth on display; it was awesome. So Nora and I were determined to go back and find a big 'un. I told her the story of when I was in junior high school and went on a field trip to Calvert Cliffs, and part of the time we searched for teeth. I found none, but a lady who was just there on her own found one that was 4 inches long.

Back to last week. We searched around Flag Ponds park and found nothing but a lovely beach, lots of fish, lots of jelly fish, and many, many dead crabs. Dominic wanted to take a bucket of crab body parts home and had to be convinced that was not an option. So we hiked the 1/2 mile back to the parking lot, had our picnic lunch (we were going to have it on the beach but there were too many biting flies) and headed back to Breezy Point Beach, where we had so much fun last year.

Good event #1. Daniel started finding little shark teeth right off the bat. He totally has an eye for them. He was combing the shore. Dominic decided to give up tooth hunting and swim in the netted-in, jelly fish free swimming area. It was all only about 3-4 feet deep, and he was having a ball. Nora went into the edge of the surf to hunt. I came over and sat down next to her, stuck both hands into the sand just below the water's edge, and pulled up a big shark tooth. "WHOO HOO!" As I walked down the beach to show Daniel, many people stopped to check out the tooth, so I experienced a heady five minutes of beach fame.

In the end we got out of there with a number of small teeth (less than last year... it's better to search after a stormy day when stuff on the ocean floor gets tossed around) and the one biggie. Nora was determined to find one at least as big as mine, but I told her that finding a large tooth is a rare occurrence, and were couldn't stay to hunt for a few more hours, we had to get home! (rush hour approached. showers were necessary.)

Bad event #2 of 3. Traffic was moving at full speed on the highway going home, but it was starting to fill up as we neared rush hour. I was in the third lane from the right when I saw the rock in the road. Big rock. About the size of a cauliflower. I swerved to avoid it but couldn't swerve too far because there were cars on either side of me. It missed the front tire but hit the rear with a loud bang, followed by a hiss and that horrible rumble you get when you're driving on a flat. I steered over to the side of the highway where the shoulder was wide enough, but not too wide. I pulled over as far as I could so that I could still change the tire safely, but was unhappy that we were still so close to the traffic.

I have changed many tires in my life, but never before on our minivan. I got out the booklet, figured it out, and told Dominic that he was not allowed to leave the car under any circumstances (he was playing his Nintendo, I don't even know that he noticed we stopped). Daniel and Nora helped by holding on to the wheel lock bolt, holding the spare ready, etc. Of course they were fascinated by the procedure. Also, Daniel will get his license within the year, so it is important that he knows how to change a tire, just in case!

Many cars & trucks beeped at us, but none stopped. A few minutes into this I realized the reason we were getting beeped at... I was wearing my bathing suit with a t-shirt over it. No pants. And while that's fine for the beach, I'm sure it made an interesting view for passing vehicles. Nora wears a rash guard shirt with a bikini bottom. Same thing. We were the pants-less family. Well, except for Daniel. Luckily, he was wearing his pants.

Oh, and a Prince George's county police car drove right by us. Thanks.

As Daniel helped me lift the damaged tire into the back of the van, I noticed that not only was the tire shredded, the rim was damaged. Ouch! The kids got back in the car, I got the bracket that held the spare back into its proper place and replaced the tools in their little cubby. Then I drove away. About a mile down the road, I realized that I had left the wheel lock on the tire when I tightened the lug nut. Yes, it was gone.

So... next day it was off to the insurance estimator & car repair place. Got a rental for the day because I had to get to work. The car would be ready Friday.

Friday I dropped Daniel off at work, then went downtown with Dominic & Nora to pick up her painting from the National Press Club (see my July 31 posting). Hand lunch with my mom & dad there, then headed back to drop off the rental car & get mine back.

Bad event #3 of 3. First of all that )#(%*)($% rock cost me more than $500. Those rims are expensive! We got our stuff out of the rental car (Dominic was carrying his Nintendo, Nora had a book, I had the painting). The kids got a couple of treats from the candy vending machine and then we piled into our minivan. We headed to the grocery store to get milk & eggs & a couple other things. Dominic went to the bathroom to wash his sticky hands. We went home. Dominic got out of the car and said, "Where's my DS case?" Even though he had been playing it in the car, he had no idea where he had it last. Went back to the van. Searched. Called the car place & the grocery store. Drove back to the car place and the grocery store. Nora remembered him having it at the grocery store (I didn't). He may have put it down when he went to wash his hands. In any case, it's gone. The DS and a number of games in the case.

Daniel had registered all our Nintendo equipment on the Nintendo site (and all the games) a number of months ago, so that the id number on the DS is tied to our name. But I'm sure whoever is using or selling the DS now doesn't care about that. I've checked eBay and Craig's List, but haven't seen it for sale. But if I do...

So there. Three bad things and one good one. Today starts a new week. Let's see what happens.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


I get my laptop back tomorrow. Matt says I should have ditched it and gotten a newer model. But honestly, there are just too many bills to pay right now. I got a new hard drive, and I feel like I'm recycling. Yay!

We were out late last night at the ESPN Zone in DC, having a total blast. They were great about Daniel's celiac, too, I have to say. It was at a private event, so we didn't have to wait for food or games and the kids had a blast. I forgot my camera, but got a couple of pictures from my cell phone. I'll post those later.

Today we were all a bit tired. Snappish. Daniel and I got into a little tiff over summer reading assignments and other such nonsense. Then later we all went out to local Lake Needwood, rented a couple of boats, and went paddling around through the gorgeous afternoon. At one point Daniel and I were by ourselves in the paddleboat, and he apologized for being snappish.

The sun sparkled off the lake. The paddleboat squeaked, sounding like a rusty bird, as we slowly clunked and pedaled across the water. It was a moment to be supremely thankful: for the day, the lack of humidity, for the shared moments with my family, the bittersweet ache in my heart as I watch Daniel turn from a child to a thoughtful young man. I'm sure there will be moments like this with my other children as well, when they reach this turning time in their lives, when they become unrecognizable. And suddenly, as familiar as ever. I want to hold these moments forever, so filled with sharp wonder, with breathtaking, painful joy.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Being Brainless Just Runs in the Family

Last weekend was my mom's 75th birthday. We had a family celebration with my parents, my brother, & his family. We had a great time, and surprised mom with a gi-normous new microwave. Her old one is... let's see... about 20 years old? So this one ought to heat that tea water pretty darn quick! Anyway, I baked a couple of chickens to feed everyone, my brother brought side dishes, and we had pound cake topped with peach compote for dessert. Yum! As I was cleaning up I thought I'd be frugal and smart and boil down the chicken bones into a nice stock. Sometimes I have trouble finding the gluten-free chicken stock, and I use a lot of it when I cook.

Later in the afternoon I took Nora to see Mamma Mia. Great mommy-daughter movie, and I'm so easily amused that it didn't matter that Pierce Brosnan wasn't the best choice for a singing leading man (although he's fine to look at) and Meryl Streep was over the top trying too hard, and somewhat campy. But it is a campy show. And my God, you could just turn the sound off and watch the scenery. I want to go there, where the movie was filmed (the Greek islands of Corfu, Skiathos and Skopelos). Spend the rest of my life looking at that view, eating feta cheese and kalamata olives.

Then came a crazy three days of training for my new job, getting children to camp, arranging for rides for kids for the times I couldn't drive because of training. Nora's art show, Daniel's sleepover, and Dominic's camp requirements slurped up the last bit of mental energy I had after the rest had been used in training. (Side note: While I was in Ellicott City, MD, training, I had lunch at a lovely little restaurant called Nora's Cafe. They were so sweet to give me a gift certificate for my daughter when I told them I had a Nora, too! We'll be on our way to enjoy the gelato there next week.) The busy time concluded with Wednesday night's much needed yoga class.

Thursday morning, finally refreshed, I surveyed the mess that was my kitchen. Emptied the dishwasher. Stowed silverware and other utensils. Wiped down the stovetop (something no one else in my house has figured out how to do, grrrrr). Wondered why the large stock pot was sitting out on the stovetop. OH MY GOD. The chicken stock.

I can't believe I'm writing about this! I had left the stock to cool before pouring it off into freezer containers. It was cool alright. Nice and cool as it went down into the garbage disposal. So I guess I can't complain about Daniel forgetting his lantus, because he comes by his memory lapses honestly. Perhaps I should pick up some ginkgo biloba when I'm out today. I'd better write that down...