Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It's a blur, a whirl

School - I have somehow managed to maintain an A in Anatomy, but I still have the lab & lecture final to contend with.  The class has been frustrating, because the lecture section is all online - just Power Point slides.  The lab section is on campus.  This is the first semester it's been tried; my professor is a very educated woman but she's a biologist, not an anatomist and that shows sometimes, and we're all kind of guinea pigs.  I have taken to reading the lectures out loud into a voice recorder, which I can then listen to while driving.  It actually helps a lot.  I love the material, I love learning. I wish I could take a year-long anatomy course, or just a semester on musculature.  I'm registered for Microbiology in the spring and will probably take an Intro to PT and Rehab class as well, which I think will require me to enroll in one of the adapted kinesiology classes so I can work as an assistant.  I'm really looking forward to that, but it also means I'm getting perilously close to being a full-time student. 

Kids - P is literally failing at school.  So I have yet again asked the district to do a full assessment.  I have done *everything* that has ever been suggested and we are still at this point.  We have to figure out what the disconnect is between P's high intelligence/comprehension and his inability to complete class/homework.  We recently increased his dosage (it's hilarious to report that he now weighs 72 pounds, the skinny little monkey) and that has made a dramatic difference, but the underlying problem still exists.  I have filled out the assessment packet and will turn it in when the kids get back to school after the holiday.  I'm also going to look into finding a Jr. cross-country program for P to join.  His gross motor skills are

E is E.  Smart, able, lazy as all get-out.  He'll be fine, we just have to keep up the exhausting task of molding him into a less obnoxious/lazy version of himself.  He still mostly refuses to do homework, unless it's something he recognizes he needs to improve at.  And filling out a reading log?  Forget it!  He's obsessed with Pokemon right now and will talk about it ad infinitum if allowed.  I usually start talking about Anatomy in response, which is generally successful in repelling all talk of Megaroth or Leucadio, or whoever the heck his current favorite is.

Band - we're getting really good.  We played a set last night that just blistered.  Cindy says today her hand feels like she got in a slap fight with a plaster bust.  In a rare moment of cosmic convergence, we had a couple there to see us who have an internet radio show and who blog for the Long Beach Independent - and we played a GREAT set for them to see.  They've actually already played us on their show once, and will play us again after Thanksgiving.  I've said all along that my greatest goal was for us to get 1000 likes on Facebook, so I'm trying to stay pretty neutral about it all.  But it's genuinely nice to have people appreciate the work we've put in on this baby.

D is just quietly plugging along.  He's been working long hours, nights and occasional weekends on a pretty big project.  I've been trying to encourage him to come to the gym with me (I'm attacking it with a vengeance; I have two friends gently nagging me to do Tough Mudder with them in the spring), but so far no luck.  He stops riding his bike much in winter and he needs a physical outlet.  I'm looking at buying him some personal or group training as a Christmas present - is that too manipulative?  We're the sort of couple that thinks a new vacuum or a gym membership is an entirely appropriate gift, so I think it's OK.  It shows that I love him and don't want him to get diabetes, right?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


OK, I'm back.  Maybe.  A little bit.

Since the 12 or so of you that ever read this blog are also my besties on The Book of Face, you might recall that I've started school again.  I have re-enrolled at the local community college and am working on transferring to the local University of Cali. 

"What's the long-term goal," some of you have asked.  As of now, the long-term goal is to become a Doctor of Physical Therapy.  The last time I went back, the plan was a nursing program, but after careful consideration and speaking with actual nurses and nursing students, I realized I was not a good fit for that field.  So with the move and my general laziness, I allowed my brief hiatus to turn into almost three years.  Oops.  So next up is choosing a major for my BS (there's no specific Pre-PT major, just definite prerequisite courses) and trying to get in at the UC.  I could also go to Cal State, but that's a longer drive and I'm not comfortable being that far away from the boys, even though D works much closer to home now.  I have my AA, so now it's a matter of figuring out how long it will take me to get the BS. After the BS, I just have to cross my fingers and pray a lot and try to get in at CSULB, the only public university in the area that has a DPT program.  That will be 3 years.

Back to that little aside about D - after six miserable years in the data storage field, he has returned to the printer company he was once so happy with.  Although D will never be the kind of person who ever just comes out and says "I'm really happy," he is so much less miserable than he has been for years.  Add in that he works 2.5 miles down the same road we live on, and EVERYONE is just so much happier now.  D has really thrown himself back into cycling - he rode in a fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association last year and is doing it again this year, plus he recently did a 100 mile ride (a "century" in sporty parlance) from Irvine to San Diego.  It makes him happy, and when D is happy it's much easier for me to be happy. 

P and E have finally started school again - my school started almost a month before theirs, so we had a fun scramble cobbling together child care 2x a week for a while.  P is now in 6th grade (makes me weepy), and E is in 3rd.  P is still in the gifted program, still a smart, smart kid who really struggles with homework, especially writing.  Although he actually scored 82% and 81% in the writing categories on the stupid STAR tests.  As much as I loathe our obsessive testing culture, I will take what comforts I can.  He is still on medication for his ADD, but we only bother with it on school days so he doesn't build up resistance as quickly.

E is still in the Spanish Immersion program and emphatically tells me he does NOT want to go to the gifted program.  In a mild bit of irony, this year he has the same teacher P did for 3rd grade, the teacher who finally recognized P's learning disability for what it was AND recognized his smarts enough to have him tested for gifted services.  She is a brusque, unsentimental woman but she means business when it comes to her students.  I think she'll be very good for E, who needs his teachers to outsmart him. 

Oh yeah, I'm still in the band!  We're doing well, gigging 3x a month, sometimes more, and we might might might be a quartet again.  Remains to be seen.  My favorite descriptor for the messy business of setting a band lineup is that it's like a poly marriage - everybody has to approve, everybody has to get along.  So you group-date potential new spouses, and then when it just isn't working out you have an awkward breakup and try to stay friends.  This has all helped convince me that I don't ever want to be single ever again.  But DA and Cindy have turned into so much more to me than just "co-workers."  They're wonderful friends, too.  It's been a blessing, when so many of my oldest and best friends are scattered to the four winds. 

OK, back to studying the brachial and thoracic muscles.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


I sat down to write a year-end thing, and looking through what I posted for 2011 just depressed me.  I need to vow that 2012 will not be like this.  I have to snap out of this... I don't even know what to call it.  I'm lost.  I have to wake up!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So much to say, and yet I don't say it

1.  Paul.  He was accepted into the full-time gifted program at a different elementary school.  He was also officially diagnosed with ADHD, most likely a result of neurological damage from his premature birth.  Because he wasn't really thriving at the school he attended from K to 3rd (partially the fault of the ADHD, I know), I decided to take the opportunity and switched him.  We also began experimenting on him like a little guinea pig with ADHD medications.  The first one was a failure, with negligible results.  Next up, amphetamines - generic for Adderall.  The difference is astounding.   Homework formerly took all night, with Paul getting up from his desk and wandering away every ten minutes if I wasn't right there to nag him back at it.  Most nights he wouldn't finish.  I reacted very badly on more than one occasion, and it killed any hopes of us ever having any weeknight family activities.  It was awful and crippling.  He's been on the amphetamines for a week now, and homework gets done cheerfully and quickly, he finishes most of his work in class, he finishes tests within the allotted time.  We've gone to the hot tub more than one night.  Next week I might let him start going back to Cub Scouts (we couldn't afford the spare time before).  Tonight he finished his homework and then happily spent hours drawing pictures of Phineas & Ferb characters.  I don't even have words for my joy.  I may cry once I accept that it's all real.  There are side effects, but nothing hideous so far.  The most notable difference is that now he will talk my ear off if I let him.

2.  Eli.  Everything comes easily for him.  I have no doubt he'll be identified as gifted, since I guesstimate his IQ is 130 at a minimum.  He learns fast, draws conclusions based on the evidence he observes and infers, has tons of friends.  Everything that is difficult and hard-fought for Paul is natural and thoughtless for him.  As a result, he is the more neglected of the two.  I am so very, very grateful to have a child who I don't worry about.  Eli is still willful at times, but he is so drastically improved from the wild savage that he was before.  He is already a straight-A student, even correcting mistakes in the homework he is assigned. Paul (and I really do weep for joy about this), instead of being jealous, is as proud as can be of his brother.  Their love for each other, even though they fight like wild dogs at times, gives me hope that I'm not the worst mother ever.  An example of how much E loves P:  Paul hates speaking in front of people, so when we were practicing for the annual children's program at church, Paul was full of anxiety and clung to me, crying that he did not want to perform his part.  Eli came up, asked why Paul was sad, and when I explained it to him said, "Don't worry Paul, I'll say your parts."  I admit, I got weepy. 

There is more, but I'm out of time for the night.  Next time, band news.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cruel, CRUEL! Cruel Summer...

My little sis was naggin' me, and I occasionally listen to her, so here's a summary of summer.

1. Just before school was out, my cousin (once removed) Allyne came from China to hang out with me for a week or so.  We spent some time getting her essential supplies that she can't get in China, but then we tried to do some cultural stuff too.  We drove into LA, saw the Street Art exhibit at MOCA (which was cool, even if the Times Art review was pretty scathing), ate awesome Japanese pastries and stopped in Cerritos for Indian food.  Fun Fact:  Allyne had her senior prom this year (in China), and I went to a prom for grown-ups (here in the USA).  We wore the same dress, completely by accident.

2.  Cub Scout Day Camp.  5 days of wild Cub Scout toomfoolery for Paul.

3.  The Annual Clemens Family Beach Campout.  It's the same every year - seven days at San Clemente State Beach with D's family.   This year I packed my bike, and that was a very nice sanity saver.  I rode all the way down to the end of San Onofre SP & back, but didn't go down Trail 6 to see if there were any nude activists down at the beach. ;)  I also rode the bike route through San C.  There are some lovely charity shops and I always enjoy my treasure hunts through them.

4.  Had a couple of gigs thrown in between other stuff.  Oh, there's band news, but I'll get to that after summer!

5.  Drove to Arizona with the boys.  My China cousins were going to be there, and I hadn't seen them in ages.  The drive out was rotten (took closer to 12 hours than 9!) and then I woke up the next day with a fever while staying at my friend Nicole's house.  Her Russian mother-in-law took care of me (which meant feeding me a great deal of dairy products and hot herbal teas) as I shivered miserably under blankets on the couch.  I went outside in the 100+ degree weather and felt comfortable, that's how feverish I was!  I owe them a really, really nice thank-you gift. I managed to recover enough to drive to my Aunt & Uncle's small ranch in southeast AZ.  We stayed for a few days and the boys had a grand time being spoiled by Uncle Reed, riding horses and eating homemade ice cream and Aunt Karen's beloved tacos.  Dan flew in for the weekend and got to visit with everybody. Then we headed back to the Phoenix area and stayed a night with my Unitarian minister activist friend Carolina and her new husband Jim (who's a peach), and Carolina's adult son John.  Lovely times. 

After Dan flew home I went up to stay with STEPHANIE for a few days.  Steph and I have been friends for a looooong time, she's as loyal as they come and I adore her.  The boys played with her little Annie and we thrift-shopped and made delicious food and were just comfortable.  I had dinner with Cynde, who I hadn't seen for probably fifteen years, and her handsome husband.  Then, the China Contingent came in and I drove back to the ranch with them.  I drove to Fort Thomas to see where my Grandma Mabel lived as a little girl, then to Morenci (which is, I kid you not, a mining company town in the middle of nowhere) to visit my cousin Julie and finally see her daughter.  Then I had an amusing misadventure finding Uncle Reed's family cabin.  All ended well and we had a delightful night reading excerpts from Twilight to each other until we broke down in giggles.  I drove back with Lee, Allyne and Emma in the car with me - Eli was the only male there and I realized how sad I am that I have so few female friends close by.  I have so few opportunities to be girly.

Drove home through Yuma so I could visit my beloved  Unca J & Aunt Joan.  Then, while driving through the Imperial Valley (which is a hot, hot desert), the A/C quit.  I had frozen bottles of water in the cooler and bandannas in the glove box, so we tied wet bandannas around our heads and held frozen bottles to our necks and survived.  I tied mine under my chin and felt like a glamour girl from the 50's.  Except for the sweat.

6.  Had about three days to recover from AZ and get packed for a week-long family backpacking trip.  E stayed at Gramma's, and D, P, and me all hiked the Rae Lakes Loop

We had allotted eight days for it, but P was a complete rockstar and we did it in less than six days.  He wanted to stay at Gramma's house, dangit, and if he had to hike farther every day to achieve that goal, then he would! And he did.  It was great and exhausting and deserves a post of its own.

Then we had about two weeks before school started.  We were mostly very lazy, and it was lovely.

How was your summer?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hoo Boy

The dining room/office is mostly complete.  Not settled into yet, but assembled and installed.  It's not as elegant as I had hoped for, but after getting a quote of over $800 for two cabinets from a local shop, I'm still glad we'ev mostly cheaped out.

I've been culling and culling and will probably cull more.  We got an "inspection report" from the management service here at the park, and I spent hours and hours cleaning up the yard and trying to address the things they were nitpicking with us about.  When they re-inspected, they just left me a xerox of their original report!  I was peeved, and I still am.  

I have removed all the geraniums and privet hedges from the west side of the house.  I decided we couldn't afford the custom metal trellises, so I'm building them out of wood.  I've also removed all the gravel from the northwest corner of our lot and will build a 8'x11'x6" cedar box, fill it with the dirt I'm going to remove from our perimeter, level it and make a flat patio area where we can have chairs & a table. 

I planted flowers along our picket fence - penstemon, sweet peas, hollyhocks, larkspur, zinnia, salvia, coreopsis.  They look very pretty.  I found four large eggplant-purple planters at a a local discount store and I put them along the front porch.  They've been planted with eggplant, peppers, New Zealand spinach, tomatillos and chard.  I tucked flowers in-between and behind them.  The yard itself is just dirt (I'll seed it with Eco Lawn in November), with one raised bed (planted with peppers and some kale that miraculously hasn't gone to seed yet).  I planted tomatoes along the fence and they are coming up beautifully. 

Inside, there is still soooooo very much to be done.  I need to be even more ruthless than before, and I need to stop being so very, very lazy.  Progress is slow, but it's still happening. 

I am struggling with whether or not to send Paul back to school for fourth grade.  The psych evaluation told me what I already pretty much knew - he's classic ADHD and very smart.  She has suggested that we try neurofeedback, which our insurance will miraculously cover.  NFB is unproven, but it is also harmless, and I'm tempted to try it.  Medication is also an option.  I haven't made a choice yet.

I have no worries about Eli.  Kindergarten was great for him and for me.  He's come such a long way and the wild animal that he was is disappearing, replaced by a charming boy who has just the appropriate level of mischief.  Now if I can keep them from each other's throats all summer, we'll have a grand time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Funk

It was not the worst funk I've ever had, but it certainly put the kibosh on my getting much of anything accomplished.  I've been an emotional skeleton crew for the last month or so, and I'm just starting to wake up from it.

Things are going nicely with the band.  We've had two paying gigs so far and eventually I'll break even on my investments.  The pay is miserable but that's not why I'm doing it - it's an outlet and a growth opportunity, plus I genuinely like Dave & Dan and it's fun to hang out with them once a week and play & sing.  We are still searching for a drummer - the first one was a friend of Dave's who felt he wasn't ready to be playing live just yet and had to drive too far anyway, and the second we had for about a month.  He was the best of the drummers who tried out with us, but he gradually started creeping us out and for me the final straw was when he showed up at our Farmer's Market gig with a porn star sticker on his bass drum.  Yuck.  There were little girls sitting right in front of us while we played.  It wasn't an explicit image, but it was objectification and the implications were obvious.  I was mortified.  Luckily the guys also had misgivings about him and ended it. 

We went on the annual Grand Canyon backpacking trip.  Paul was great, a real seasoned pro.  Eli did a great job with the hiking, but not such a great job with the personal cleanliness and bathroom aspects.  He's just not ready for long hiking trips, so we've decided that he won't be going on our week-long trip this summer.

OK, that's all I have in me for now.