Thursday, February 26, 2009

Research and Diorama project....and Math

So, after all the fighting my son did with me over the diorama research, he did write it out in his own words...and he got a 100 on the project.

He argues with me about math too. Today he tried again. I asked him who has been right and who has been wrong every time he tries to contest a math problem...he said "You've been right and I've been wrong". So he sat and listened to what I had to say.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How to be a Geek Goddess....

I found this site today on Slashdot.


The site looks like it has a lot of great ideas for using technology to save money. Who can't use that?

I recommend you take a look!

The site is authored by Christina Tynan-Wood who also Authored the book: How to Be a Geek Goddess: Practical Advice for Using Computers with Smarts and Style
ISBN-13: 978-1593271879

Amazon had this to say about it:
Product Description

When it comes to technology (or anything, really), men and women rarely think alike. Men are obsessed with acronyms and the size of their hard drives. Women just want to get things done. And if they can get it done while shopping for a cute pair of shoes, even better.

How to Be a Geek Goddess shows you how to sort out technology decisions (and find those cute shoes online) without ever having to ask a man. Whether you're buying a computer, shopping for a cell phone, trapped in the electronics aisle, or simply lost on the Internet, author Christina Tynan-Wood explains it all with wit, intelligence, and a minimum of geeky acronyms.

You'll learn how to:

  • Buy the right computer for your needs, your decor, and your budget
  • Surf the Web with confidence, organize your life, and manage your finances
  • Master your email inbox, cell phone, and instant messaging
  • Keep yourself and your kids safe from spyware, viruses, and online scam artists
  • Reconnect with friends, grow your professional network, or find that special someone online

How to Be a Geek Goddess will show you how to join the Web conversation, start your own blog, and maybe even teach your friends a thing or two. Think of it as the tech-savvy girlfriend you wish you had on speed dial.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Research?? Who needs to do research?

My son has diorama due today. He worked on it last week. He is depicting the signing of the Declaration of legos.

His research consisted of printing out the wikipedia entry on the event.

He wanted to post that on his project. I told him that research means looking up the information and then writing about what you want to say in your own words. Printing out the article and stapling it to your project is taking credit for another person's work. I told him he cannot plagiarize. He was quite mad for a while, but when faced with the prospect of a indefinite restriction he relented and wrote his own version. :-)

It makes me feel like a drug pusher in a way. I give him some freedom. He takes it, does lots of things with his friends, he wants more, gets hooked...and then when he is out of line I take it away. He gets mad, goes into withdrawal, gets desperate, then does anything to get it back....

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

....and the 80's

just a bit of nothingness really. For some reason I've been on an 80's kick the last few days. It started with really wanting to hear the Talking Heads, especially Pscho Killer. My iPod has an 80's auto-populated playlist. In the car I just hit that and hit random on the radio. It's been fun. I quiz my son, "Who's this?" "Who's that?". He can pick out Rush, The Cure, and the Talking Heads just about every time now. :-) poor kid.

Was watching the news this morning...

While I was running at the gym. I was listening to Paramore, but reading the subtitles for the news. On one screen they were talking about Bristol Palin. I got to thinking about how people lived in the past and how they live today. There really isn't too much new under the sun, and human societies cope with life in a huge variety of ways.

There are so many definitions of success, hapiness, and love. You have to find the one that is right for you. There are also many different paths to get there, and no tried and true guaranteed formula for attaining what you want. Most of us have to face failure and difficult times. I have learned that once you go through some things then you can pretty much weather anything.

So what do you do when things don't go as planned? What do you do when the unexpected comes up? You make the best of what you have. Luck favors the prepared so you take your lessons as they come and try to be ready for the next thing. Bristol and her parents may not have planned this, but it happened and you do what you can from there. All is certainly not lost, not by a long shot. The economy isn't what we had hoped for at this point, but it certainly isn't the end of the world, and there is opportunity if you have the vision for it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Life, the Universe, and Everything...

or The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

I was going to write this Saturday. I was home sick (feels like Bronchitis). I was sitting on my couch with tea and a monster container of the most delicious chicken noodle soup I have ever had. I had just taken a smidgen of nyquil. My girlfriend had just picked up my son to take him skating for the afternoon and she was the one that brought me the nyquil, the soup, and a few other cold remedies (Thank you Chris!!).

I could either write some things in my blog that I had been wanting to write for a while, or I could watch "A Threevening with Kevin Smith". I chose the latter. I was saving Zack and Miri for Chris and I to watch together. Needless to say, Kevin Smith doesn't have any material that is really appropriate for children.

Brandon's school year got off to a very rough start. He wasn't on any medication and he didn't want to be. Middle school is a huge change. 30+ kids in each class, changing classes and teachers every hour. I expected big problems and I wasn't disappointed there. Mostly there was just a lot of inappropriate behavior and he wasn't turning in work. I had several meetings with the teachers from September through October. By the end of October he was failing two classes and doing just marginally better in the others. The teachers were frustrated and I was angry. They wanted to take him out of the AVID program and they said he would have to go back to leave the out of district school he was in.

We were working with the counselor every week. He was doing homework, but not really his classwork. He couldn't go on field trips unless I was there. They couldn't get the class part worked out, and because each teacher only had him for an hour they didn't know what to do.

I started him back on Vyvanse at the beginning of November. It is an ADHD medication. What Brandon says is "Dad, when I'm not taking Vyvanse it is like I can't tune anything out. I can't ignore anything. When I am, I can ignore the sounds and other things going on in the class." The teachers have been frankly amazed at the difference. The last report card just a few weeks ago he had all B's and one C. I'm pretty sure he'll have an A in his Advanced English by the end of the year, and probably an A in Advanced Math. His teachers have said the kids aren't shunning him anymore and he is making some real friends. I have been trying to get him out during the afternoons and the weekends to get into some sunshine, etc. We've been doing a lot of geocaches lately, exploring some cool trails, and talking about doing some camping in the spring. We have also been bringing some of the neighbors out on our adventures.

Brandon expressed an interest in going to a dance last week at school. He said he wanted to ask a girl to go. Hmmmm. It is the first time he has said anything about having an interest in a girl. So we talked about it. I gave him what very little advice I have about talking to girls and going to dances. I told him most people are nervous about asking someone out, and usually the person being asked can be just as nervous about answering. I said it gets easier the more you do it, so never miss an opportunity to do so. I told him that girls like it when you show an interest in them and when you are talking them you should ask them questions about their likes, dislikes, things they do, etc. When you are at a dance, girls like to dance and you should ALWAYS dance with them, whether you know how or not. It is all about having fun.

So what else has been going on? I've been dating some and now one person exclusively. Mostly I was trying to get out and meet people. You could call it "Coffee Encounters of the Third Kind". It really wasn't bad, I met some great people, and so far it has a really happy ending. On December 7th, I wrote this in my blog. Four hours later that woman wrote to me on Match. I didn't know it at the time though. We met a Panera Bread one afternoon just to talk. She said she wasn't really looking for a relationship, just looking to be friends and get out to do things like hiking, biking, etc. She didn't really want to do coffee or dinner, but suggested maybe do a hike or bike or something. There was a trail that was new to me that I wanted to bike on so I suggested maybe we do that sometime and we set that up. That story is here. Still just going out to do things as FRIENDS. She said she wanted to take things SLOW. Because of issues with Brandon, and work (more on work in a bit) I'm totally fine with that. However, things did progress a bit more rapidly than we expected or wanted. Friends quickly changed into exclusively dating, etc.

So for Valentine's Day, I am sick. The restaurant I wanted go to for dinner, my favorite in the area, is closed due to economic conditions. GRRRR. Others are booked, etc, but I found one that I really like and is accommodating. We were planning on sharing a babysitter as she has two children one and two years younger than Brandon. However, I am sick. She came and picked up Brandon to take him skating with a few other kids. They had a great time. I slept and laughed and took cold remedies. Dinner was fantastic. Afterward we just went to back to my empty house and watched Zack and Miri make a Porno, by Kevin Smith. Which is actually quite a fantastic Valentine's Day movie. You'll have to trust me and see it. It is very funny, crass as Kevin Smith normally is, and very well done.

So what has been keeping me from writing? Work. I'm not going to say too much about it, but it has been excruciatingly and increasingly difficult. I find myself having to work more and more from home in the evenings. I am very much aware that they would rather see me in the building until 7pm or later at night. I am not at all happy working for a group that brags about how much overtime they put in during the year. 400+ hours. I cannot do that with my son. It also cuts into the little time I have to myself.

So, the pendulum ever swings, and of the four main areas of my life, two seem to be doing well and one seems to be doing poorly, and one seems about neutral. It is the closest thing to balance I ever get, and I would rather have it this way than the alternatives. Brandon is doing so well right now.

Back to lighter and more fun things....
I got mentioned at Single Mommyhood for Valentine's Day. I want to return that sentiment. I also want to thank both Rachel and Dr. Leah for always being so open and inviting in all of their discussions. It is pretty fantastic to have a forum where topics can be discussed openly, honestly, and truthfully without fear of reprisal and where people seem to be rather open minded. I really enjoy the blogs of everyone on my blog roll and I have several I need to add. I'll get to it very soon.

I hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day and hope you are able to enjoy the weekend!

Monday, February 02, 2009


Kind of like new years resolutions, but not....

  • Learn a little about backpacking and Virginia Trails and get out to do some hikes and camping with my son this spring. What I mean by learn a little is learn what the hell I am doing. I learned from Yosemite and other various adventures with my brother that just winging it can be deadly. I would like to make it a little less stressful and a lot more fun.

  • Find some nice calm kayak/canoe trails and do some of those. Do some dolphin watching from the kayak/canoe like I was able to get out and do once last summer.

  • Eat better. Hmmmm. I keep forgetting I don't mean better chocolate, ice cream, or pizza.

  • Find good fiber sources like FiberOne bars that don't make me so gastro-musical.

  • Exercise a little more consistently. I would like to not wake up on Monday morning feeling like road kill. Weekends like this past one are SO much fun, but I need day to recuperate.

  • At work my current motto is: "Lets work on solutions that are not new ways to be incompetent." We are making progress a little at a time.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Caching, Slashing, and Dashing....

Saturday Brandon and I went on some cool geocaches. What was different was that we had to follow some trails that are not marked nor documented. :-) I don't think Brandon understood until we got out there.

We didn't get very far before we discovered something really super cool. Virginia Beach has hills.

Except for a few other spots I would have said no way. But there they were. Hidden amongst the seldom traveled forest of the park we were in. It seems as though the trail back there is really only known to a few. To me, that is really exciting as the park we were in is full of people ALL the time.

We did two caches Saturday and started a third, but we didn't realize it was a multi-cache and so missed the fact that it could be a micro-cache to begin with.

It was 38 degrees outside and Brandon insisted on wearing shorts. This time I just let him.

Today we went back to explore that new to us trail late in the afternoon. At first I wanted to find the micro first stage of the multicache. When I walked up to the tree I thought it would be in a man walked up and started talking to me. We talked for a little while about the weather today (60+ degrees at that point). He mentioned Geocaching for my son and I. I told him we do and that we had just done a couple yesterday. He asked which ones and we told him. Turns out he is the one that hid them! He is also a volunteer in the park which may explain how he knows about the other undocumented trails.

Brandon found a nice walking stick for me...and he already had one that he found yesterday. We were off into the forest at a bit of a run. I saw and ran over to a downed tree that made a bit of a ramp as it was stuck between two other trees. Thus began the slashing and dashing. With our sticks we battled it out on the log. Leaping over branches, striking, trying to get the other to fall. Brandon stepped on a side branch for leverage and went crashing into the under brush when it snapped under his weight. :-) I fell after him laughing.

We continued running through the trail jumping, slashing, and sliding. We found that running down the hills and stopping suddenly on the pine straw lets you slide quite nicely! We found a spot where there were a ton of pine cones. We tossed them in the air and hit them with our sticks like a primitive form of baseball. Some just exploded. The trees caught the rest. We raced up the hills and back down again. It was awesome.

If you are grouchy and you know it crack a smile....

My son got ready for school one day this week and he showed up in the kitchen with shorts on. I could see it in his eyes that he was ready for battle. He really wanted to wear the shorts. It was 35 degrees outside.

I told him he could not wear the shorts because it was 35 degrees outside. He insisted. I told him that I was going to win and that if he persisted then he would lose a lot of privileges and STILL have to wear the pants. He brooded about then changed.

In the past this would have elicited an all out nuclear tantrum from him, but he is certainly getting more mature and able to think through these situations better.

When he returned to the kitchen he was very very grouchy. Sort of throwing his little body around, making quick abbreviated movements and being not so gentle with everything he touched.

When he started the toaster, he just stood at the counter and looked down with a deep scowl on his face. I'm at the table, chipper, with my bowl of Organic Oats and Honey cereal and lowfat Almond Milk. Usually when he is like this I sing a little silly song. Manly right?

So, sung to the tune of "If you're happy and you know it"

"If you're grouchy and you know it crack a smile,
If you're grouchy and you know it crack a smile,
If you're grouchy and you know it and you really want to show it,
If you're grouchy and you know it crack a smile"

I had only made it through the first line when he immediately turned his head away in an obvious involuntary broad smile, struggling to contain it. It quickly turned from a smile to all out laughter. He came over, gave me a hug, and all was right as rain again.

Last Sunday was an overall pretty good day here. Soccer, girlfriend (well she has some questions about my blog today so we'll see), brother stopped in, and overall not stressful. Some very big storms were brewing at work and that was always in the background of my mind. Towards the end of the night, around 10pm, stress from work was really kicking in. I was trying to straighten the house and I was doing the dishes. I reached for the spray nozzle to wash a few things off. While pulling it out and towards me, my finger slipped and mashed the button. It sprayed me in the face, and half the kitchen. At that moment I just chose to laugh.

Laughter can be the best medicine at times.