Monday, September 23, 2013

Opinions

I have a few opinions. I keep most of them to myself for I think good reasons. One of the reasons being is my opinion likely wont change anyone else's mind, so I am not willing to get in a back and forth on something where opinions are unlikely to change. I do occasionally change my opinion. I dont think opinions are facts so I am willing to consider additional facts; also I do not assume I have all the relevant information so changing my opinion on a subject is reasonable when new information is considered.

Since we are all innundated with information constantly, I filter out a lot of crap. I am amazed how hardened people's positions are on things when not all information has been considered. I also see a lot of information that is misleading, inaccurate, and/or designed to confuse issues/people. Information is being used against us no matter which side of an issue we are on.

I have been elected to have an opinion on certain issues. I am grateful to have such a position. I take my position seriously (as all of us do on the school board). Frequently, the Board is asked to vote on a staff recommendation on a subject matter. We typically receive the agenda a week in advance and background materials around three days before a meeting. I was reminded last time I asked for more time with the agenda/background material that the school system is complying with the law. I understand, but I find it difficult to truly examine the issue fully when given so little time to review it.

I may be the only one who needs all of this time. I think I may need more time to review because I trust so little information presented to me, and not because the information is untrustworthy, necessarily, but I am a trust, but verify, kind of person. Unfortunately, people providing the information can be offended by my "verification" which I can understand, but I do feel it is a critical aspect of my job. Also, I hope my questioning and review of information makes for better policy overall.






Monday, September 16, 2013

student loans

Soon after I graduated law school a friend asked me to talk to her sister. My friend and I both graduated from our respective graduate programs with more than $150,000 in student loan debt (not credit card debt). We both were paying the least amount possible (hers were income based, mine were based on a 20 year repayment). We continue to pay approximately the amount of a mortgage towards student loan debt. Coming out of undergraduate, both of us had loans. Since I had spent my first two years at PVCC and I worked all through college, I had less than $30,000 in debt from undergraduate loans.

My friend's sister had applied to grad school in social work and was enamored with NYU's social work program. This program at the time was wildly expensive, no doubt even more so today, and at the time the two year program was competitive with what my three year law school program cost. My friend had tried to talk to her sister about student loans and the burden the loans would be for decades to come, but like most a. young people and b. people super excited about his/her future, she didnt want to listen to her sister.

I sat with her one evening at a restaurant in a mall in northern Virginia. I told her the burden of student loans. She really didnt want to hear it from me either. Her perspective may have been it is easy for me to say. I had the job I wanted after law school (working for legal services) and had just gotten married. She certainly could look at me and say I had everything I wanted, so it was easy for me to look back with some regret on the student loan aspect of my experience. I may have made the same choice to pursue law if I had been fully aware of the burdens of student loans, but I may have made other decisions with respect to working during school or part time graduate school. I hope to encourage our young people to be fully aware of the costs over the long term of student loans so that students and their families can make the best possible decision.

My friend's sister ultimately did not go to a social work program or to NYC. She choose a modest graduate program in a field that was in demand and went to a state school. She is doing well.

Monday, September 09, 2013

September

So...how is it that the calendar fills up so quickly? I ran into some folks the other night and I told them that DnA were both playing baseball (on two different teams) and D was playing soccer as well. Friend 1 asked sincerely, "how are you doing that?" I honestly didnt have an answer except we are clearly crazy people.

Then we had our first weekend of baseball (soccer practice has begun, but the games dont start til this weekend) only. Um, I do not recommend this schedule. It definitely takes both Chris and I to be able to pull this off AND Ryan's schedule gets all screwed up AND so far I have not prepared enough food to ward off the hunger. Hunger is very important to ward off. I assume I will get better at all of this juggling. I cant imagine how we will do this when Ryan has things we have to attend, and oh we have another baby to bring with us to these events.

The swim meets with just me and D seem like a distant memory at this point, I hope I appreciated them enough.

On a positive note there is now football. I do love watching football, especially on Sunday nights.

September, as a School Board member, brings about many, many things to attend. I want to attend everything. I love a PTO meeting. I appreciate touring schools with principals. Everytime I attend a meeting, talk to a parent or meet with a principal, I learn something new that truly informs my decision-making. Most schools have Tuesday evening PTO meetings. Few schools have Monday or Wednesday meetings, I am grateful for those that do though.

September marks the beginning of the fall Bible study at my church. I am really excited. Oh, it's on Tuesday. Also D has soccer practice on Tuesday. So, I wont make it to too many things on Tuesday, since there is no way to be able to do it all. I would definitely wait until Wednesday to reach me if it is not an emergency.

I am trying to get away from the cult of busy-ness. The summer was relaxing and mellow. I want to keep my stress levels low and be intentional about what we are doing as a family. I see this may be a challenge. I like a challenge.

Have a great Tuesday!

Such matters

Funny thing about being pregnant for the fourth time, one likely does not want to gain much weight. I have a doctor who is notorious for his 20-25 pound suggested weight gain. After having two babies thirteen months apart nine years ago, gaining weight is not something I am interested in.

A few weeks ago I went in for the five month check up (or is it 4- I really dont know anymore- it was week 21). It was Monday, I have gained about 6 pounds during the pregnancy thus far. I am relatively pleased with this number and not at all concerned.

So a few Wednesdays ago we have an ultrasound- the five month one (I think). The baby is a girl. Wow- I didnt know my body could produce girls, so we are excited (as we would have been if we had found out it was a boy). Later the big man, Dr. T, as most of the ladies in town know him, tells me that the umbilical cord has two blood vessels in it whereas a normal umbilical cord usually has three. Of course I immediately google these things since the big man was absolutely unconcerned with the lack of a third vessel.  Turns out one of the potential issues with a lack of a third vessel is IUGR (interuterine growth restriction) (see I am an expert now) (just kidding). IUGR is characterized by the failure of the baby to grow in utero (see it's rocket science how these things are named).

The doctor is unconcerned- he looked closely at all of the areas that may be affected by this lack of a vessel (including the kidney and heart) and all were growing well, and the baby weighed what she should weigh (if they can tell such things) at 15ounces. About 1% of pregnancies have this issue and 80% of the pregnancies have no complications as a result (see the internets are good for something).

Since that appointment the baby feels like she has doubled in size- the next appointment will not be a one or two pound weight gain, I suspect. I was told last night that the baby seems to be growing in the past week or so (I feel it too).  So while I am not interested in gaining weight for the sake of it, I am delighted to have physical evidence that the baby seems to be growing normally.

Friday, September 06, 2013

The park is in sad shape

We spend many days here. Obviously this is a gorgeous day and the park looks beautiful

 Ryan loves the park no matter the condition


The mulch is gone under all of the swings (including baby swings).


Monday, July 22, 2013

the rundown

One minute to write; I am not sure that devoting such a little bit of time to writing will help me become a better writer. What is going on?
1. Tour de France- I seriously enjoyed this year's Tour. I have been watching the Tour since 2001. Chris taught me the fun things about it (green, polka dot and white jersey competitions as well as the strategy that is behind some of the tactics used by teams). I love July. I cant wait until next year's Tour route is announced (usually in October). It was announced that 2014 will start in Yorkshire. I am super excited about the talented American cyclists in the Tour. Andrew Talansky finished 10th overall and 2nd in the white jersey competition; TeeJay Van Garderan(?) had a hard Tour (especially considering last year he came in first in the white jersey competition), but he put in some excellent rides and made me proud. I hope Ted King gets on a Tour team next year. I was so sad for him when he crashed on the first day of his first Tour. The first week is brutal and the Tour is unfair, so much drama and excitement.

2. Fairy Stone State Park. I do recommend Virginia state parks for a vacation destination. We had a nice week with the boys' cousins in Fairy Stone. Fairy Stone is close to Martinsville. We enjoyed a trip to see the Martinsville Mustangs, a Coastal Plains League baseball team, play ball on BB&T $1 night. I do love baseball. Although the Mustangs did not do well, I did enjoy watching the game on a gorgeous summer night. Fairy Stone has a great beach and amazing programming for kids and adults alike (I truly appreciate the Rangers in our state parks).

3. Pop up campers. In the past we have rented a cabin in state parks. This year, with the in laws coming, we opted to rent a cabin and a site at the campground. Our friend lent us his pop up camper so we "camped" in the pop up camper. The camper was capable of water (we didnt hook it up), had no restroom, no real fridge, no real light, no AC but it slept the five of us comfortably. I did bring four fans with us, which we needed rarely. At night the temperature cooled down sufficiently in the woods that the fans left us cold. The bed was comfortable (I shared with Ryan). It was nice to have the cabin close by to store our food and have showers. I was delighted to return home early so that I could attend a school board meeting, I dont think it was the camper as much as being the woods for too long. I felt the need for home, shower, laundry etc.

4. I came home on Thursday for the meeting and the rest of my family came home on Saturday. So what did I do with all of my free time? I thought I would go to a movie and get a pedicure or shop. BUT NO, I went to the library, checked out three books and read them. I also watched Thursday's stage of Alpe d'Huez (where TeeJay had a great ride until the final 3k). I ate out practically every meal (mostly by going to the store and buying ready to eat stuff like the spring rolls at Fresh Market) and I watched stupid streaming movies on Netflix. I hibernated during the time the boys were gone and it was delightful.

My time is up, perhaps I will have more to say soon....thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Phew

Ryan is ready for baseball practice. Seriously, the hat, the glove, the batting glove, he is ready. He is quite good at hitting and catching for a two year old. Having had two other two year olds back in the day, I feel like I am in a position to judge. He is "ready to go". The tantrum that will ensue as a result of his inability to go to practice will be similar to the other tantrums he has thrown lately.  The after nap/evening two year Ryan is challenging right now. We have moved to my mother's house while we sell the house, so no doubt he is discombobulated.

Also, a couple of weeks ago, Chris went to Banner Elk, North Carolina for several days to ride his bicycle with some friends. He had a great time. We had a very nice time as well since didnt do any real work on the house while he was gone. When he came back we had a fabulous family weekend as a result of my cousin getting married. It was incredibly relaxing and soul nourishing. We quickly followed up that relaxation with a crazy four days of cleaning, moving and transitioning out of the house we have lived in for eight years. And now it is the last week of baseball and school, so things are not too settled.

Someone asked me what is on my plate now. I really thought after we moved that things would settle down. But that is not the case. School Board is kicking up with some policy discussions in the next two weeks, David's TENTH birthday, family visiting, reunions, bike rides, swim team and SUMMER. Dear me, I will continue to only sporadically blog because of the inability to spend more than ten minutes in  front of the computer.  If I start to blog more, perhaps it will because I am feeling more settled. So wait for it...

Monday, May 13, 2013

only one thing going on...

But it is a big one. Chris and I are buying my mother's house. To do such a thing we have to sell our current house. My mother does not live far, she lives in the City, in a slightly larger house with a more finished basement.

We have made nice improvements to the house we live in since we moved in. The back living room used to be panel walls with a weird, drafty sliding glass door. Chris took out the paneling and put up drywall and replaced the door with windows. He also added windows looking into the back yard, this helps a lot when watching the kids and/or yelling at them through those windows. He also replaced the water pipes. He has learned a lot and leaned on his friends a lot for knowledge and tools.

But getting the house ready to sell has challenged him at every turn. First, he replaced the bathroom floor which is slightly more complicated because one wants to make sure the fixtures are replaced perfectly to avoid leaks (plumber friends help).

He built a wall where a makeshift wall had been between the second bathroom and pantry were. Then he ripped up the sidewalk because some of the panels had been damaged by the snow of 2009. He replaced the entire sidewalk (with the help of our local cement vendor and a very good friend). It looks great.

He fixed a light that had not worked in years, he put up the gutters (dont ask), he replaced carpet with a hard floor in a well-travelled transition area.

He somehow got our kids to help him move all of our yard debris from 8 years of living here into a trailer and transported it away from our house. Finally, he has moved much of our stuff out of the house to my mother's basement. He has been superman. He still has to replace the kitchen floor and some stuff I cant remember.

ME? Oh, I have been continuing to make meals (unless I pick up dinner), watching the children, packing and trying to convince Chris to hire people to do the work he is doing (without much success). We have hired people to replace the roof (he would still be working on it if we had not hired someone) and to help with landscaping/clean up.

My mother had been well into the process of getting her house ready for sale with the help of a realtor. Since the realtor was not needed to complete the sale, we agreed to have her realtor sell our house. He is coming this week to inspect Chris' work and see if our house is ready for sale. We have lots to do before he comes, but we are a lot further along than the first time he came to visit.

Our house is a great house, in a wonderful neighborhood, we love it here.  We love the way the boys walk by themselves to their friends house right up the road. We love that when we go for a walk, we run into someone we know. We had no plans of leaving ever, but since we now have three children who continue to inexplicably grow, the idea of a bigger house is appealing, and since my mom was ready to sell hers, well it just seemed like a great deal.

My mom has lived in her house for 16 years. We had our rehearsal dinner party at her house, we have had countless holidays and meals at her house, my children have been at her house many days a week since they were born.  I studied for the bar exam when I couldnt stand the mess at Chris and his roommate's apartment anymore before we were married (since I passed it seems relevant). Now Chris and I will make more memories at the house, as our own home. How cool is that?