Sunday, October 14, 2018

Those weren't mud-balls...

Life has a nasty, bitchy habit of lobbing mud balls at you to catch while you're juggling. 

We got the offer on the old house.  They contracted the same inspector we did.  He's good, but...damn, he overloads you with literally EVERYTHING that you MIGHT need to fix, with no distinction over whether it needs done now, or can wait--that, he leaves to the home-buyer to decide. 

Which...scared our buyer to the point they withdrew from the contract. 

Yeah, there were some serious fixes, but the report was several tens of pages long and listed everything from overhanging branches that needed trimmed to knob-and-tube wiring that wasn't hooked up to anything and wasn't active (or a danger) to the need for a moisture barrier between the floor and the crawl space, and flooring that needs some work. 

Real info overload for especially a first-time HUD-loan homebuyer.  So, the attempts to sell the house start again. 

The imp's birthday was a week ago yesterday.  I didn't have his spelling list until Sunday night after he'd gone to bed, so we didn't get started on spelling until Monday.  And it was a review list, so he should have done mostly okay.  I mean, writing the lists out twice every day takes for-fucking-ever for the child, but it was working (mostly).  It had taken his tests from D's to A's and B's.  Despite his issues actually getting what he knew in his brain to come out his fingers. 

Last week's test was a C.  Mid-C.  

And this week is a short week.  And a hard list.  I guess I'm going to have to work him harder.  Because being able to communicate in writing (and take notes and be able to READ THEM LATER) is incredibly important.

And this coming week includes post-first-quarter parent/teacher conferences. 

I'd signed both kids up on Tuesday--the pixie at 5:00, and the imp at 5:30.  And then, the imp's teacher sent out a mass email, saying she had to postpone the conferences to Thursday, and Friday (which they have off).  So, one child's conference is at 5:00 on Tuesday, now, and the other one's is at 5:00 on Thursday.  Instead of having both on one night, and no more to worry about. 

I'm also going to have to find another plumber.  Yes, another one.  A year after we'd found a decent, reliable plumber that responded quickly to calls, and didn't overcharge.  Because the guy that owned the company is up on federal charges of making and distributing child porn. 

Thank God his employee was the one we dealt with most often. 

But we need that plumber soon, because we are definitely going to need a new propane line run into the side of our fireplace (instead of the middle of the back) for a new propane insert.  Because winter's well on its way, and a heat pump...is not good for heating in this part of Missouri.  We had giant electric bills last winter, and I do not want those again. 

Yeah, I'm pretty sure those were horse apples life was throwing at me for me to catch and add to my juggling.  And I missed either catching or deflecting. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

I think I'm done (in) for a while.

Last weekend was my imp's 10th birthday.  Saturday.  Ten years ago, he arrived at the world pissed off and screaming--which was a delightful sound, considering he was eight weeks early, and they weren't sure his lungs would be developed enough by that point to scream. 

His feet were literally the length of my thumb: about an inch and a half. 

Thursday evening, he came to me and showed me that his toes had no room in his shoes, so I got him a bigger pair Friday morning when I did groceries.  I wear kids' size 3 in shoes.  He now wears youth size 5. 

From feet the size of my thumb, to feet bigger than mine in ten years. 

So, Saturday morning, we went to his paternal grandparents' house for his birthday dinner (lasagna, Italian bread, spice cake, and ice cream).  And presents from them (an old tackle box spray painted silver that will be perfect for storing Hot Wheels, and a couple of books he already loves). 

And Sunday, we grabbed a rotisserie chicken, roasted potatoes, and a salad from Sam's Club ($16.98 to feed four adults and two kids!), and went up to my mom's after they'd gotten back from church.  The kids each had a chicken leg and my sister made mac'n'cheese.  And another spice cake (with rye flour, which I could eat) and cream cheese frosting.  He ate half the three inch square piece of cake they cut.  I ate my piece, then the other half of his. 

The boy made out like a bandit, where food's concerned. 

I spent yesterday exhausted, and chair-bound.  Didn't get anything done, because my brain wouldn't work any better than my body would (and my body said "newp--you're sitting back down as soon as you've gotten your drink/gone to the bathroom/grabbed a snack-type lunch, because you did too much this past weekend"). 

Felt a little better when I woke up this morning...and then the kids happened. 

I got them chased around through morning routines, and...couldn't find my keys.  They'd gotten put back in the wrong pocket of my purse. 

Found keys.  Got the kids out and into the...no, they refused to get into the car.  "Oh, Mom, it smells awful!"

Got to the car, and found out they weren't exaggerating.  Pixie was gagging, imp had hand over nose and mouth, and both were backing away from the open doors.  Because it smelled like something had died in the car. 

Got the windows down, and got the kids in the car regardless, and got them dropped off at school.  Got home.  Sorted through the detritus in the front floorboard (not much), then the back (about six inches per side). 

There was nothing dead in the car.  There were, however, jackets that they'd played in the rain in, then left wadded down in the floorboards.  They'd soured.  To the point that they smelled like something had died in the car. 

On the plus side, I got the car mostly cleaned out.  However.  I think that may have been my limit of "I can do that chore" for today.  And it finished off a half-full trash bag of kids' graded school worksheets picked up over the last week or so.

Thank goodness taco casserole is easy to throw together.  And that the kids will help with that. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Whew.

We put the old house on the market about...two months ago.  Had some interest, but no serious offers (really, who offers HALF the asking price?). 

Yeah, the house needs some work.  Mostly it's cosmetic, though.  Not structural.  That little house is well-insulated, and stout.  But, keeping in mind that it's an old house, and not particularly pretty, we did price it low for what it is.  And still weren't getting offers.  Not real ones, anyway. 

Until Friday.  Got an offer for about $4500 less than asking.  Met them sort of in the middle in the counter offer. 

This morning, I got a call from the realtor that the buyer had accepted the counter offer.  Closing is the fifteenth of next month. 

This is such a huge load off my mind. 

Yes, we're selling for less than we paid for it, despite having put in a second bathroom, new kitchen cabinets, and a privacy fence around the back yard.  But the reason we'd wanted to move in the first place was because the neighborhood was kinda running down.  People who were...not suited to anything better than a trailer park by their behavior bought the house next door.  In the neighborhood where it is, it's actually lost value over what we paid for it in '06, rather than gaining value like it would have done elsewhere.  We did a lot of work, but it still needs a lot more done, which we neither have the cash nor the inclination to do.*

But.

I will not be paying more than one more water bill.**  I will not be paying for insurance for another year on that house.  I will no longer be paying property taxes.  I will no longer be paying electricity on two houses.  

I'm done worrying about that house.  I'm done paying bills on that house.  And when it closes, we'll be able to do the things for this house that we need to do. 

First and foremost: we definitely need a primary heat system for when it's really cold.  A heat pump does not do the job when it drops below about 40 degrees.  Found that out the hard way last year when the emergency elements yielded us an $800 electric bill.

But that's for later.  Right now, I'm going to relax, edit a friend's work, write on my own stuff, and celebrate. 


*Our home needs work, too.  I'm a lot more inclined to spend the money we can on fixing the issues where we live.  Doing more at the old house wouldn't have netted us much more than we got.

**Our home is on a well.  I don't pay a water bill, here, just a trash bill. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Updates

So, apparently, the tragedy yesterday has a whole lot of fingers to point. 

The little girl in the trailer park on the south side of the road was running late.  The bus had already picked up from that stop (allegedly), but she missed it, and was trying to catch the bus at the turn-around. 

And a big rig, likely doing fifty or better through here, hit her.  It was 6:55 a.m.  The sun was starting to come up, it wasn't dark, and the sun wasn't up far enough to be in the driver's eyes, either.  He said he saw the bus, and thought he hit a mailbox (all of which are set so that he'd have had to go in the ditch), and lied about hitting a deer on the interstate to not get in trouble with his bosses. 

He was arrested more than fifty miles from here, in Strafford, after debris left at the scene was matched to his truck, and evidence on his truck matched back to the little girl.

I don't recall the bus ever stopping in the road out in front of my house.  I don't recall the bus doing pickups from the road in front of the house.  I am not sure if it turns into the trailer park.  But yesterday morning, it was in a driveway across the road from the trailer park, facing the trailer park.  Bus driver claims to have seen the whole thing. 

I'd say the city has a good bit of culpability in this, too, depending on their school bus policy and enforcement of such. Like I said: the speed limit isn't enforced out here, and there's no "school bus stop" sign anywhere.  There's at least that much fault to be assigned to them.  Hell, where that's concerned, maybe the case could be made that the county sheriff and/or highway patrol's partially at fault, since speed limits aren't enforced and it happened just outside city limits.

The little girl's mother...has already been punished.  I'm not going to dogpile on her like some of the locals have.  And they have.  And who knows?  My almost-eight-year-old is damn fast, and is often out the door and most of the way to the car before I can yelp on mornings we're running late. Maybe the parent(s) didn't have a chance to prevent it from happening. 

I will say that this is rage inducing.  I can't imagine why this wasn't avoided, even counting out the lying, careless son of a bitch that murdered a little girl by his negligence.  The city's policies should have prevented it.  The bus driver...unless they were not following policies set in place when they did as they did, I don't see how they have any responsibility for what happened. 

But the city...it wouldn't be the first child their school district has killed through their negligence.

And knowing the way the city council/school board works, this likely won't be the last child killed through their negligence, either.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Damn.

At 7:00 this morning, when kids are out near the ends of their driveways, waiting on the bus, one of the kids near where I live got hit by a semi.

I don't know a whole lot.

I know that there's no curbs.

I know that there's no sidewalks.

I know that there's a 45mph speed limit in front of my house.

I know that there's a whole lot of duplexes and other apartments across the road from me.

I know that a lot of kids live over there.

I know that there's no sign warning drivers of a bus stop.

I know that the big rig driver was eastbound, and likely had the sun in his or her eyes.

I know that the driver didn't stop.

I know that the highway patrol caught the driver.

I don't know if the kid survived.  I don't know if it was a boy or a girl.  I don't know if it was the little boy my kids are fairly well acquainted with--my neighbors' grandson.  I'm waiting for further information.

This day sucks.  

Update: Highway Patrol says that the child was an eight year old girl.  She didn't make it.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Adventures in parenting

Yesterday, I got the kids up at the usual time.  Got everybody hustled around, got sat down and started to work, and got hit with a nasty headache (got one starting now, too, damn it).  Got back up, got something to eat warmed up so that I could take something for said headache, and the phone rang.  It was the kids' school (and about 10:00 a.m.). 

The pixie had been hopping down the stairs on the bleachers in the gym before school, and had fallen.  She'd bumped her head a bit (no signs of concussion--they really need to check their bleachers for damage caused by her hard little head), and hurt her arm.  She tried really hard to power through, but by 10:00 a.m., it was becoming impossible for her to keep trying and writing.  It hurt too much. 

Yes, I went and got her.  She had a nasty, deep bruise starting to form on the outside of her hand, between her pinkie and wrist.  I gave her some Tylenol, and lunch.  And then I watched her for the day.  She did some of her work, but didn't get all of it done because her hand and wrist started hurting worse after the Tylenol started wearing off. 

So I sent her to urgent care with her daddy.  I probably should have taken her earlier, but I really thought the bruise on the hand was the extent of it. 

She's in a brace today.  The doc on call (was an asshole) said that it was likely a sprain, and he didn't see a break in the x-ray, but the radiologist would double check him.  He also upset the pixie and scared her half to death with a long monologue of everything that it could be, complete with complications, and a lack of concern for how a not-quite-eight-year-old girl would be able to mostly understand him, and be upset by his words and attitude. 

She went to bed at her usual time last night, but woke up after about an hour, unable to sleep because the brace was uncomfortable.  She tried for about an hour and a half to go back to sleep without any success, so I gave her some Benedryl, as much for the congestion and sniffles as anything.  But by that time, it was 9:30. 

We were slow getting around today.  And I don't know how her day's going. 

The imp...has been his normal, spazzy self.  And we think he may have a learning disability related to writing.  We already know about the ADHD and the difficulty paying attention to details, but that there was another disability that may be at work was a little bit of a surprise. 

About halfway through last year, his spelling grades tanked.  Seriously tanked.  As in: he was spelling the words correctly to me verbally, but was getting 70% and lower on tests.  Stupid mistakes, leaving out letters as he was writing words, writing too big and illegibly...the teacher adapted his spelling tests, and his grades came up. 

This year, there was no grace period.  No point at which his spelling was doing well.  We've had two tests out of five with decent to good grades--the rest have been like the latter half of last year.  Same problem. 

He may have a writing disability. 

However, that means he just has to work harder to achieve the same results as his classmates.  No, he doesn't want to.  However, I'm no longer giving him a choice.  Last week, he was having trouble spelling two words, one of which was "adjective"--which is understandable, but still.  Verbally, he was on with every other word.  Written, for the test?  He missed spelling something like a third of his list correctly, instead of only the two I was expecting. 

The week before, we'd managed an A. 

The difference was in how he'd studied.  The only difference was in how he'd studied.  He'd gone from writing the entire list two times every day to studying it verbally for ten minutes every day. 

We're going back to what worked. 

Even though it's harder for him.  Writing a list of 20 words twice takes him almost an hour, and there are always at least two errors per list that he has to go back and fix, which is an additional three minutes per error.  He has that hard of a time with it.  (By contrast, his sister takes ten minutes to write out a list of fifteen words twice, with everything coming out correctly.)

I'm also teaching him home-key typing on a netbook purchased just for him and the pixie to learn things like this on.  Because that's one of the suggested work-arounds for the specific learning disability that we suspect. 

He knows the words.  He knows how to spell them, and has an utterly phenomenal memory for these things.  He just can't get every one of the letters properly pushed from brain through fingers onto paper. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Pets...such a joy.

I had a weird cat day with Shadow, yesterday.  Seriously weird cat day. 

It started out at breakfast time. 

I woke the kids and started them on getting dressed, then went into the kitchen to let the dog out and start warming their breakfasts.*  Shadow decided to follow right at my heels, and thumped the dog when she asked why (seriously--dog leans around my legs to just LOOK at the cat, and the cat slapped the dog on the nose).  Then stuck to my heels until I dropped a bacon crumb to get her to get out from behind me so I could step back without fearing stepping on the cat.

After I dropped the kids off at school, I got sat down at my desk, pulled up the current project, and started to get to work.  Shadow got...squirrelly.  She dashed from the laundry room through the kitchen, dining, and family rooms, then around the corner into the library where I was working, past the kids' homework table, up onto the boy's office chair.  Then across the table to where Cricket (the other cat) was sitting in the open shelving between the library and family rooms.  Sleeping.  Peacefully and inoffensively. 

And Shadow...got offended by this for some reason, and bopped her on the head.  Not once, but three times. 

Which, of course, scared the wind out of Cricket (I heard her fart from across the room), and made her fall off the shelf.  I don't think she landed on her feet in the family room, either, judging by the scrabble-thud. 

Then she decided that she wanted a lap.  Like right then. 

Or so I thought. 

I had my ergonomic keyboard in my lap, headphones on, working.  And then suddenly, when I moved my hands away to get a drink of coffee and stretch, I wound up with a keyboard full of cat, and half a page of EVERY KEY mashed at least once.  EVERY key.  INCLUDING the number pad keys. 

Okay, then. 

I picked up the cat, deleted her masterwork, then moved the keyboard and held her for a while.  Then put her back down, and tried to go back to work. 

Nope.  She was back in my lap before I could pick the keyboard up. 

Okay.  Pet the kitty some more, and scratch her and tickle, to get her to go away because she's revved up and ready to play. 

Didn't work. 

So I got up and went to go get some more books out of the garage.  There are holes in my bookcases where I've moved inappropriate-for-kids books out of the library into the bookcase in the bedroom.  The kids are almost 10 (next month is the imp's birthday), and almost 8 (two and a half more months for the pixie's birthday).  They're getting interested in science fiction and fantasy, respectively.  So they raid my shelves (Oh, John Ringo, NO!!**) when they get bored with theirs. 

Shadow followed me.  And refused to come in when I did. 

So I shut her out there for a few minutes.  In the dark. Started organizing books in the bookcases in the living room.  Went back out to try to get the cat in. 

She was sitting on the bottom step in the garage, head cocked, watching the door.  And did the funny silent meow kitties do when they know they're being naughty. 

I left the door open and walked away.  Called. 

And she damn near took my feet out from under me, charging past. 

So, I sat back down and got back to work. 

And wound up having to delete ANOTHER half-page of gibberish when she jumped up and flopped on the keyboard again. 

At that point, I gave up, moved the keyboard out from under the cat, and started doing other things (math things regarding last month's pitiful take from Kindle, and household budget work) that didn't require both hands and the keyboard in my lap.  Because the cat wasn't moving.  She'd conked out. 

I wound up getting up about half an hour later to get more water, and set the cat down.  When I came back, she'd gotten up in my office chair and was defiantly curled up in it.

It wasn't my lap she wanted.  It was the chair.

So, I moved myself and my laptop back to my recliner, and let her have it.  And got some work done.  Not as much as I wanted, but better than I'd hoped.

That wasn't the end of the cat-weirdness for the day, but that, I think, is enough to be going on with.  


*One child eats french toast sticks and bacon for breakfast every morning; the other eats egg muffins (let me know if anyone wants the recipe) with salsa and bacon.  Takes about two minutes, total, to warm up breakfast for them, and half an hour for them to eat it. 

**I've removed the Paladin of Shadows books from the library the kids can access...Hamilton's Anita Blake series, some of Heinlein's books (including, but not limited to, most of his Lazarus Long books), Carey's Kushiel series...and the list goes on.