Vital Statistics

Aches & pains: ankles, back muscles, possible tongue thrush

Current reading: Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalish

Recent listening: Infected Mushroom, Foreigner, Primus, Greg Kihn, Massive Attack, Thievery Corp., Weird Al (new album!), Radiohead, Motown, Portishead, Canned Heat, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Recent viewing: Leverage (season 3 & 4), Frontline, The Planets, Pulp Fiction, Stan Lee’s Superhumans, The Story of the Blues, Super 8

Recent playing: DropZap, Words with Friends, Mondo Solitaire

Recently accomplished: Both children advanced to next grade level, camping/biking in Idaho, acquired fireworks of questionable legality, paid bills, Roundup for weedy areas, weed and feed for lawn, mowing

Imperative To Do: Light fireworks, back to work, clean garage, clean gutters, new shelves for stereo, bark dust, doctor appointments

She scratches a letter into a wall made of stone

The boys have been on Spring Break since the middle of the week before last. Thomas had a tremendous amount of homework for his reading class that he needed to catch up on. Some of that was from the week he missed while out sick but most of it was not. He’s supposed to read for 20 minutes a night and then spend 10 minutes filling out a little form about what he read. He has to do those six times a week and was behind seven weeks for a total of 42 reading logs. Because of that, he was also a bit behind in math and social studies. Thus, Thomas has spent most of his spring break doing homework.

I picked up Halo 2 from for $10 a couple of weeks ago. Since then the boys and I have been enjoying it tremendously. After Graham finished it, he asked me for my Halo 1 disc for Mac which he finished a few days later. Nothing brings a family together quite like killing aliens.

As a reward for finishing all his homework, we took Thomas to Best Buy last night and bought Halo 3 for him. Tonight he’s celebrating with his friends Ziad and Gabe by playing Rock Band and Halo 3 on our Xbox. They are quite raucous but they will hopefully quiet down as the night progresses.

Transoceanic depth in this earth in this cenotaph

It’s been three weeks since Tina’s surgery and she is still recovering. Her mom, Jan, stayed with us for a couple of weeks and was a tremendous help, but we’re on our own again now. We’ve all gotten into a routine since she left, but we’ll be glad when Tina is back to full strength again. She’s frustrated with the speed of her recovery but glad that she already feels better now than she did before the surgery. She’s looking forward to an active spring and summer with our family.

Continue reading “Transoceanic depth in this earth in this cenotaph”

People come from all around to watch the magic boy

This week both of our boys had holiday concerts at school. Graham is playing the cello now in the fourth grade orchestra and Thomas plays the double bass¬†for his middle school chamber orchestra. Graham was very nervous before his concert appearance but I think it was all over so fast that he didn’t have time to think about it too much. The chamber orchestra was great (as always) and Thomas was even featured on a song from Lost called “Mist”. We’re very proud of both our boys and their musical ability. I’m glad for them because I’ve never really had the ability to play music except in the most robotic sense.

Continue reading “People come from all around to watch the magic boy”

Why Do I Let Myself Worry

It’s been a hard week for Thomas and a hard week for Tina and me. On Monday, I received an email from his Advanced Literacy teacher saying that he had fallen behind in his homework again:

Here is what he is missing:
Greek Gods Packet (in folder)
Greek Gods Note sheet (from book)
Nature Myths Note sheet (from book)
Cupid and Psyche Summary
Cupid and Psyche Analysis
Packet #1 East
Packet #2 East
Packet #3 East

To say we were surprised would be a vast understatement. We ask him nearly every day if he has homework and he never gave us the impression that he was behind. This is not the first time this has happened, though, as we have continued to struggle with him to keep up on his homework. This particular class has been the main thorn in his side so I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it was. After we got the email, we informed Thomas that he would not be able to attend a Scouting function this weekend unless he caught up on his homework. He agreed to this and worked out a plan to do enough homework each night so that he would have it all done by Friday morning.
Continue reading “Why Do I Let Myself Worry”

More than a million roses bloom

Thomas’ term came to an end on Friday and he still had unfinished homework. Homework has been an ongoing concern all year and the frustration level for everyone involved is high. We’ve been working on getting him organized and learning to break big projects into smaller chunks, but he still becomes overwhelmed and fails to factor in his busy schedule. He was originally scheduled to join his Boy Scout troop on a campout this weekend but we made him stay home and finish this project that had been due on Friday. He was lucky that his teacher allowed him until Monday morning to finish it before she submitted his final grade. Still, it’s been a struggle all weekend to keep him focused on the task and he’s still working on it even now. A few weeks ago we addressed these issues with him and his teachers during conferences and he said he had a good plan going forward. Since that plan has failed it’s time for our plan. More on this as it develops.

Aside from that, it’s been a very nice weekend here. The sun has been out and we even left our windows open last night. We spent this morning doing some yard work and then we let the kittens out but not for very long. It’s too hard tracking all three at the same time!

Thanks to Kathy Sue, we also have been enjoying a Starz Preview Weekend on DirecTV. My Tivo is overflowing with movies now and I’ve made most of them green (“Keep Until I Delete”) so we’ll need to watch some movies this week. We’ve already watched several including a really scary one with Luke Wilson called Vacancy. Tina kept squeezing my fingers when we were watching it and then claiming that I was squeezing hers!

Wrap me in your cinnamon

Thomas had a cold a few weeks back and we thought that the congestion was affecting his voice. The cold is long gone now and his voice is still deeper than it was before. After hearing a good review of it online, I bought What’s Going On Down There for Thomas. When I handed it to him, he took it wordlessly back to his room and set it on top of My Body, My Self for Boys, a book that Tina bought for him earlier. He has no interest in discussing or reading either right now. He’s had a difficult time adjusting to the rigors of middle school this year, especially the demanding homework obligations. He has a difficult time sitting still long enough to “get into” the work and is easily distracted. Once he gets started, though, he whizzes right through it. He’s also had some problems with organization, often not knowing (or claiming to not know) about assignments. We’re helping him with the latter problem by using some techniques suggested by his teachers and my friend, Amy Sunleaf, who helps kids like him in her profession.

The concentration/distraction problems are something that he has inherited from me, I’m afraid. After watching him go through this, I was reminded of sitting in the Wartburg library years ago trying to “buckle down” and do my Calculus homework. Even now I often find it difficult to read the lengthy technical documentation that is required in my profession. This week I was tasked with reviewing user documentation for our product and had to make a great effort not to get distracted. Once I overcome that hurdle, I can really tear through my current objective, but sometimes it seems nearly impossible. I feel for Thomas in this.

Despite those frustrations, the new job is going very well. I miss certain aspects of working at CPS but I’m trying to figure out how to change my life around to get them back. For example, I miss the hour of reading that I used to have during my commute but I really like my short 20 minute drive to work now. I’ve been thinking about setting aside an hour every night for reading, but the Tivo talks me out of it every night. I also miss riding my bike but I’m going to join a nearby gym so I can start riding again (there is no shower in our office building). Luckily, EFI has a gym reimbursement benefit.

I definitely need to get back on my bike because I’m losing the battle of the bulge again, as you may have already noticed from recent Vital Statistics entries. During 2006 and 2007 I lost over 60 pounds but in the last six months I’ve gained all but 15 back. I continue to learn more about myself during this time and still think I can get where I want to be, but it’s going to take a long time.

Morning activity

Graham couldn’t make it because he’s not feeling well this morning, but Thomas and I started The Unauthorized Biography of Lemony Snicket. I saved my donut (jelly-filled!) for Graham and Thomas contributed part of his giant, chocolate-frosted bear claw for his sick brother. Graham is watching the Pink Panther as I write this. I can hear the distinctive theme wafting into my office. He’s feeling better now so Tina is going to drop him off at school.