Sunday, October 06, 2013

Summer Blackout Recap

We are six weeks into a new school year.  That means we are 1/6 of the way to next summer.  And if most teachers are really honest, THAT is what matters.

I haven't stopped by here in a while.  I thought I had posted a few times over the summer, but I noticed today that my last post was the weekend that school ended in June.  So what did you miss?

An epic trip to Southern and Central California.  We flew into San Diego, by way of San Jose (I fly SWA outta the way sometimes). We lounged in San Clemente for about a week and then went to Sequoia National Park for a few days.  On the way back south we drove along the Pacific Coast Highway.  It was an amazing trip.

This summer I didn't get to ride the new road bike as much as I had hoped.  In the Spring I had to have some skin cancer removed and the doc removed a nice chunk off of one ear.  He repaired it with a skin graft that came off of my chest, right above my clavicle.  The whole thing was much more draining than I had expected and my 6 weeks of recovery really took about twice that long before I felt good again.  At the end of the summer, literally the last day before I had to report back to work in August, I finished my spring/summer goal of pedaling 1000 miles.

The Talker and The Princess are doing great in school this year.  The boy is on campus with me and I see him several times during the day, but we are both lucky that I do not have him in my classes. The Princess is in 4th grade and she seems to have the world by the tail.  I was concerned how she would like school without big brother around, but those worries were for nothing.

The Boss Lady started a new job this school year.  We both still work in the same school district, but she is across town, working in administration at a high school.  It is really the job she was hired to do about three years ago, but the bigwigs had other plans and she worked on a special, super secret, double stupid assignment that she hated for that entire time.  It is great to have her doing the things that she likes and wants to do.

My entire education team fell apart over the summer.  I knew one of the three teachers was leaving, but the other was a complete surprise to me in the early summer.  We also have about 15 assistants that help out in our three classes and only 2 of those staff members returned from last year.  Needless to say, with all new staff, I am a busy little dude this school year.

I am keeping up with one goal for this school year.  I am trying to merge my interests and my obligations.  This school year, even with the craziness of a new staff, I decided that I needed to work fewer hours.  I was routinely working 60 hours a week for a job that pays me for 40, regardless.  This year, to keep myself in check, I decided to bike 1 mile for every hour that I work.  So far I am about 30 miles ahead of my hours.

Hopefully, unlike my blogging that seems to have died a slow, horrible death, I'll be able to keep up with my riding for this entire school year and I'll have ridden almost 3000 miles between March 2013 and June 2014.




Sunday, June 09, 2013

Summa!

Tomorrow morning I need to run out to my school for a an hour or so. I was so ready to be gone last Friday that I didn't hang around to turn in my keys. Tomorrow I'll get that little chore out of the way after I make one last pass through my soon-to-be former classroom. Tradition has held true once again and for the third year in a row I'll be trading spaces. Another new school year, another new classroom. The upside to being so transitory with my teaching spaces, I tend to not collect a bunch of "teacher junk". I stored all of my bulletin board and class supplies in one small locking cabinet. I hauled home one small stacking drawer set because it was cheap, light and I am sure easily pilfered when my campus is used for district wide staff training this summer. This summer The AtHomeFam will be busy as always. The Boss is heading out of the country just to get a little peace and quiet. She will really enjoy some quiet time in Central America after we all travel to California for a week earlier in the summer. I am getting a few things checked off of my bucket list when we hit the west coast. I have always wanted to get to Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks. We will be spending a few days out there this trip. Also, I am planning to rent a road bike for a few days so that I can cruise a few dozen miles along the Pacific coast. The wife and kids will be hitting the beaches and I'll be rolling along the side roads. The Talker is officially a Middle School student now. And most lucky for him, he will be on MY campus next year. I guess it will become OUR campus soon enough. The Princess will be a 4th grader in August. Just thinking about the upcoming year is making me tired. Time for some summa!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

15 days, give or take

Summer is almost here!  All of the teachers are starting to breathe easier.  We are down to about 15 days around here.

The kids?  Yeah, I guess they are happy, too.  Don't really care.

The summer is full of promise and I am hopeful for an epic time this summer.

Trip to California.  Lots of bike time.  Trips to Dallas and Ft. Worth and Matagorda Bay are in the cards.  Bike time IN California.  Wife is headed to South America.  Without a bike, poor kid.  

It should be an awesome season.  Hopefully I'll get some of it documented over here.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Two GOOD LOOKIN' bald guys (Soon)


The Talker and I are getting ready to get our beauty on. In a couple of weeks we will be participating in a St. Baldrick's head shaving event.  St. Baldrick's funds pediatric cancer research.  This is an issue that has become very personal to our family, thanks to an amazing teen neighbor who has battled aggressive tumors this entire school year.

The Talker has already collected more than $500, eclipsing his current $250 goal.  (He originally hoped to raise $100).  I am almost to my goal of $265. Last year I tried to raise $500.  I fell short by $15.  So this year when I planned to raise $250, The Talker reminded me about the shortfall from last Spring.  Thus, my $265 goal.

I was planning to post a link here to our participant fundraising pages but I decided against that since those pages are all listed under our real names.  I know you are flabbergasted to learn that his name isn't ACTUALLY The Talker.  I feel sorta like a fraud... 

If you would like to donate to The Boy, please contact me and I'll direct you to his collection page.  I'll be sure to post some pictures after we get our melons all bald and beautified.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

I don't wanna...

Just haven't wanted to write for a while.  I used to apologize for extended absences.  Nowadays I say "deal with it.  Or don't"  I am just not inclined to worry about it.

A month ago I renewed my love of road biking.  The Boss Lady helped me make the leap and I bought a Specialized road bike (aka a ten speed - though this one technically has 18 gear combinations).  I have had the bike for 3 and a half weeks and have already topped a hundred miles in the saddle.  I still grin like a school boy when the new blue racer and I hit 30 miles per hour on a nice, flat cruise.

The new bike may have been a really well timed purchase, too.  A week after I got the new ride home, the bottom fell out of our household.  And since then it has been nice to have something to keep my mind and body occupied.

Not even a month ago we got some awful news about The Big White Dog.  His chest cavity was full of one giant and fast growing tumor and the cancer was already showing up in his kidneys too.  We knew he was not feeling great, but we were certainly not prepared to hear the worst case scenario was coming true.  Less than a week later our 125 pound, 8 year old puddle of puppy was gone.  After realizing that he was unable to eat or drink, The Boss and I knew that we had to let the vet help Kodak go.

And that sucks.  Again.  And Again.

Long suffering readers may realize that this is indeed the third pet we have lost in less than a year.  Our Spring addition to the family was a 2-3 year old Great Pyrenees girl who had been used up by a lousy backyard breeder.  Something went wrong after her spay surgery and we lost her two weeks later.  The kids were crushed.  The Boss was devastated.  I was wrecked.  It sucked.

A few months ago we had to decide to have our 17 year old kitty cat, P.K., aka Pretty Kitty, put to sleep.  She was ancient and it was no surprise. Still, the kids were crushed.  The Boss Lady was devastated.  I was wrecked.  It sucked. Again.

After losing Kodak, none of us are totally back to ourselves yet.  We have mostly quit crying but it is still horrible to realize that our big ol' albino melon head is not sitting and peeking OVER the fence when we arrive home in the evenings.

The 12 pound puppy we adopted last summer is adjusting well to his role as big dog of the house.  Now I can only hope that the rest of us adjust pretty soon, too.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A follow up to my last post

The wheelchair is funded! One group, that I am not a member of, kicked in half of the money. Two groups of my friends picked up the rest.

My student gets her new wheels in a few weeks.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Another week, another chair

Sometimes I have to work hard to keep up with The Boss Lady. Last week she had us all involved in a wheelchair rehab project.  This week we started the next project.

One of my students needs a new wheelchair. Her family has insurance and they are six months into fighting and working with the company to get this thing paid for. Last month they were told they needed to pay a co-pay of a few hundred dollars. NOW, since the wheelchair was not ordered in the previous calendar year, the family's portion comes up to $1700.

This family is not destitute.  They are going to find a way.  They will save up and shave expenses and the cash will be gathered in a few months.  Maybe a year.  But I decided to speed things along a little if I could.

I am a member of a couple of men's organizations that do charitable work. At a meeting this week I asked about 30 guys to help out simply by reminding them that they would not want their own kids or grand kids to wait six more months, or six more days for needed equipment.

15 minutes later the family was $200 closer to the co-pay.  Several men, like me, usually, mentioned that they had no cash to drop in the hat, but they want to contribute online and another member offered to set up an online giving page once we had the family's permission.

I was honored to give the student's mom the first of our contributions yesterday and the online page is coming up in the next few days.  Next week I'll hit a different group meeting and I bet those guys will try to fill the hat again especially when I tell them that the first group gave so generously this week.  Nothing like a little MORE positive peer pressure to get something good done!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The power of positive peer pressure

When the Holiday season was in high swing, a friend issued a challenge to her friends via facebook post.  Essentially she asked us all to find something you are good at and help someone else by doing that thing.  And then, find someone else that needs help that you can provide.  Repeat as necessary.

Such a simple concept.

The Boss Lady has taken this challenge to heart and she found a project that ended up involving the entire family.

The Boss Lady rounded up a 20+ year old pediatric wheelchair because she knew of a three year old who was needing one.   Once she brought the project home, it turned into a family affair.  The Princess helped disassemble and clean parts.  The Talker helped scrub and clean too.  The Boss provided most of the time and muscle on this project.  I was the wheel man.

After rounding up new tires and cleaning the whole thing up, we had a working wheelchair almost ready to deliver.  Once-upon-a-time the wheels were easily removable so that the wheelchair could fold and slip into the trunk of a small car.  After 20 years of storage the wheels no longer were quick release.

This morning I hauled the little purple rig down to Racecar Man's garage.  After applying heat from a blow torch, penetrating oil, some force, more heat, more oil and a little persuasion from a big ol' hammer, we ended up with axles that are once again easily removable from the wheelchair frame.

While we were making the chair more functional, The Boss Lady was busy sewing up a new seat cushion.  This evening the kids took turns test driving.

Here she is, refurbished and ready to roll.


Wheelchairs are very individualized pieces of equipment.  And the new owner of this ride will soon need one made specifically for her.  That is the next part of The Boss Lady's project.

Insurance companies are often reluctant to pony up the $$$ to buy pediatric wheelchairs.  (The current version of this chair sells for upwards of $2000.)   As you might guess, the paperwork hassles are enormous, especially for parents venturing into the process for the first time.  The Boss Lady is up to the challenge.  She is preparing to take her paperwork skillz out of the office and she is going to help these parents navigate the process so that their daughter can get the equipment she needs.

Getting a new wheelchair approved, fitted, ordered, built and delivered can be a 3-6 month process.  So now, in the meantime, there will be at least one more happy little girl out on a cruise with her family.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

We are running seriously low on pets around here

Maybe the Mayans were partially right.  Seems like there are loads of AtHomeFamily pets that are not making it to 2013.  Early in the Spring we had to have our new dog put-down after she got an infection during her spay surgery.  That super sucked.


A couple of times this year we had to finish off wounded or sick chickens.  Not real fun, but part of the deal with our backyard chicken flock.

Today was a totally different level of yuck though.  P.K., our 16+ year old calico cat went over the Rainbow Bridge this afternoon.  Six months ago it seemed like her time was up.  We made a diet change for her and she perked up and fattened up nicely for a little while.  Last week I noticed she was getting skinny again, but I also saw her jump over our 8 foot tall garden gate so I didn't think much of any of it.  

Yesterday she was really wanting to just sleep in one spot.  This morning she was hardly moving and laying flat out on the kitchen floor when we left for church.  A few hours later we were taking the drive to the vet, knowing that she would not be returning with us.  The Talker is a stoic little dude and he sat in the waiting area after saying his goodbyes at home.  The Princess was torn up and waited with PK until the vet came into the room.  The Boss Lady and I stayed with our first pet until she was gone.  

15 years or more ago, PK got hurt real bad in a fall from our oak tree that towered over a concrete driveway.  Her herniated diaphragm required life saving surgery.  Her broken leg required that she live in a crate under my desk for months.  I hauled her to work daily and would sneak her into the office before my 75 year old boss would get to the office.  He would frequently let us know that he "heard a cat" but PK was so pretty and perfect that none of my co-workers ever ratted me out to The Man.

Our family is really into our pets.  That is probably obvious to everyone.  Still, even though there are 8 more animals sharing our house these days, we will surely never have another Pretty Kitty.

PK, you were a perfect first pet.  We will think about you often and I'll take care of your girls. And us boys, too.




Saturday, November 24, 2012

Don't let me die in a landromat

Or an old Blockbuster's Video store either, for that matter.

This week, while enjoying our week off of school and the start of allergy season, I made several trips around the neighborhood with the family.  The wife's favorite Target store is 3 miles from our house - the fact that they tore down a Home Depot to build this store still has not fully settled with me.  However, land is at a premium along the major roads, so tear-down/rebuilds are now fairly common.

It was on one of our outings to Target that The Boss Lady pointed out a renovation that has recently started a couple of miles from here.  There once were lots of Blockbuster stores.  Then came Redbox and Netflix. After that, the Blockbusters all went away.  Except one.  This poor little store hung in there until last Spring.  Finally the nearby Blockbuster Video store suffered the same fate as the full service gas stations.

The storefront is finally being renovated.  The Boss told me last week that a minor emergency clinic was coming into that space next year.  At first that sounded like a fine idea.  Our closest Hospital ER is not a terrible place to have to go and wait for healthcare, especially considering the other options closer to downtown.  But a private company trying to relieve the wait time for more serious injuries by treating the coughs and flu symptoms sounded OK to me.

Yesterday I drove by and noticed that this place is not billing itself as a 'Quack Shack, a Doc in the Box, a Band Aid Box' or whatever.  They are highlighting their full ER abilities.  MRI machines and all.

I looked over at The Boss Lady and simple said "Don't let me die at the old Blockbuster's, OK?"  Thinking back I probably should have said 'Please".