Summer 2017

In 2016, and all the years prior, the school year started the day after Labor Day. That would have been today if our county hadn’t changed the start date this year making it one week earlier. So today my daughter starts her second week of 10th grade.

I don’t know where the summer went. It was a good one! Just short. Really short. I really would have preferred longer.

We visited Pittsburgh twice — once for my cousin’s wedding and once for Pinburgh and ReplayFX.  Both were wonderful, amazing experiences (especially the wedding which was really a one-of-a-kind event). ReplayFX and Pinburgh, a pinball tournament, will be there again next year. But it was gobs of fun! Some people go to the beach, we go to Pittsburgh. (Okay, we like the beach too, we just didn’t fit that in quite yet. Hopefully it will still be there for a while.)

In August we visited South Carolina both to visit my dad and to witness the total solar eclipse.  My dad lives in an area that would have been about 99% eclipse but not quite total. We drove a little over an hour southwest landing us in a delightful town called Newberry, South Carolina. I am SO very glad we drove the extra distance to see the total eclipse. It is a different animal — the difference is literally like night and day.

Partial eclipses aren’t really that different from each other. Granted 99% is going to be more impressive than 85% but you still get an amazing amount of light even from a tiny sliver of the sun. We were impressed at how light it still was even when the sun was almost entirely covered.

Moments before totality


During a partial eclipse, it basically looks like daytime, but at high enough occlusion it’s a dimmer daytime with sharper shadows. It looks strange, and it’s pretty wild!

Totality is like somebody hit a light switch and turned the world to night for a couple of minutes. The crickets chirp. The air cools. You can see a few stars (maybe) and definitely see planets. We saw Venus. There is a glow around the entire horizon that looks like the last few glimmers of sunset before pitch blackness. But the sun itself is still overhead and covered by a black disk that is the moon.  The corona radiates from that sharp black disk. It is mind boggling! I want to do it again.

Totality – removing the eclipse glasses.


Between the fun out-of-town events, my daughter had several camps. Like many previous summers, this year I spent many a lunch hour driving her to or from camp and then drove back to the office. I love that she gets to do some fun and educational things like her orchestra camp and dance camp. But it makes for a busy, tiring day with less time than I’d like for things like eating or breathing. And there’s scant little time for blogging or even for visiting the pool. I want more summer! I guess it will be back next year.

So that’s about it for this update.

One more thing, I maybe had like 1.5 seconds of “fame.” Saturday, I went to a new eye doctor because I really needed new glasses (I haven’t gotten real, new glasses in YEARS), and I had some flex spending to use. When I gave the receptionist my email address she asked me if I blogged. Yes. So I asked if she’d just Googled me. She said, “no,” that her sister-in-law (or somebody like that) blogs, so she reads a lot of blogs and my email addy rang a bell (my email is similar to my blog name). So I guess that’s like a second and a half of fame, maybe, right? Though I’m still not convinced that she didn’t Google me or look me up on Yelp to see if I write reviews. Regardless, the eye doctor got me in that same day, I found frames I really liked and was able to get a reasonably okay deal after a little haggling. I’d have gladly gone to Walmart if their price was too high, so there’s that. Still waiting to get my new glasses… but I just had to share. It feels kind of weird, but maybe kind of good too.

The glow of the horizon during a total eclipse.

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Be Daring

 

The WordPress Daily Post’s Daily Prompt is Daring. Ha, that makes sense as a sentence.

WordPress bloggers dare to put it out there. They don’t just say they’re going to blog. They blog. Be like WordPress Daily Prompt bloggers. Be daring! Blog.

And dare to do other stuff too. At our recent back-to-school night, one of the teachers had this single slide up on the screen through the entire presentation for the class.

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Other teachers had PowerPoint presentations that covered lots of stuff. Each was many pages long. Class schedule. Topics covered. Projects. Grades. Contact information.

I took a few photos of information that I thought may be of value. But I liked what this single slide said the most. And it was for a math class no less! The teacher also said that when kids told her that they didn’t know how to do something, she corrected them by saying, “you don’t know how to do it YET.”

I hope the class goes well for my daughter. I’d hate to like the presentation so much only for her to have a bummer of a class experience. But I’m not going to worry for now.

So far, so good. The year is early. I’m sure not everything will be perfect. I’m going to enjoy these ideas while fresh on my mind. And perhaps my daughter may even learn more than just math in this class.

Students learn so many new things every day. I need to bust out of my own comfort zone more often!

I need to try some new ways.

I need to be daring!

 

Strike a Chord: A Yellow Cello

The Daily Post’s prompt is, “Strike a Chord.”

Do you play an instrument? Is there a musical instrument which you find particularly pleasing? Tell us a story about your experience or relationship with an instrument of your choice.

If I could add another thing to the post from two days ago, “Something New, Back of the Queue,” it would be to learn an instrument. Playing music on something other than a record, cassette, CD, or MP3 player is something I never learned.

When I was in fourth grade, I started clarinet at school, but one squeak too many, and I was done. I purchased a plastic ocarina, and managed “Happy Birthday” following the instructions on the back of the packaging. I’m sure I just need more practice.

So when my daughter came home from the “instrument petting zoo” at school and told us she like to play the cello, I was pleased. I really enjoy the sound of the cello. It’s easier on the ears than violin when kids are just learning, and I didn’t have to worry that she’d inherit my talent for squeaking on a woodwind instrument. We have neighbors to think about. So, cello!

I love the meditative sound it can produce. It’s as if it can pick up the hum of the earth and play a tune with it. Even for beginners, it’s not at all unpleasant, and I truly enjoy hearing my daughter practice.

We’re renting a 1/2 cello, and somehow ended up with one that’s more a lovely shade of yellow than the amber brown of most. We should really get a larger size, but the 1/2 has been easier for taking on a school bus. And we’ve grown very fond of the yellow.

My daughter has been playing at school for three years now. And I’m looking forward to what the next will bring.

Science Olympiad Invitational

Binks and her first partner are in their first event at the 2013 Science Olympiad Invitational meet. They’ll be here pretty much all day with three events and lots of fun. I am in sit and wait mode. Ack.

Camp Firefly

We survived day 1 of Camp Firefly. I say “we” because I sort of have my daughter double booked this week with Karate Camp during the day (I work) and a Girl Scout “day” camp in the evening because we’ve heard lots of good things about how much fun it is and I thought it might add to the summer fun experience. But this means we have back to back camps to the point where I don’t even know how we’re going to eat dinner all week. Perhaps I could be on to a new diet fad. No, actually, we *will* eat, but it may be less than standard dinner on several levels.

On another note, we’re just past the halfway mark for summer break. Don’t know where the summer is going. But even more shockingly I have friends whose children are already back in school! Yowsa!

Summer

It will be here soon. I can’t believe we’re only a few weeks away from the end of the school year. Seriously, time flies! So much to do. And I still haven’t finished Portal 2. By the time I have a few minutes to play, I’m just about nodding off to sleep because, well, it is time to sleep. In other news, my daughter just finished days 1 and 2 of the SOLs and our troop had its last “official” Brownie meeting of the year last night. Binks will test for her blue senior belt in Karate this weekend. Our small ghost shrimp may have munched on our even smaller guppy fry. (Oops!) My daughter’s Ballet recital is right around the corner, and I have yet to see her costume. Is there still time to get one last Scholastic book order in? We’ll go on a GS camping trip to Hershey Park in a few weeks. Then we pretty much belly flop right into summer. Ack. About now, it would be really good to have a better grasp on manipulating space-time. Maybe I should just get a better grasp on managing time? I think I’ll take either one for now.

Managed to get done since Saturday AM Friday Night

Sometimes daily life comes at us fast and furiously and I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above the torrent of tasks which I need to complete. The past week has been one of those times.

Friday night I managed to successfully take my daughter to her school’s Sock Hop. (I didn’t know anybody still had those.) Kids dressed 50s style and danced to modern tunes while the cafeteria served ice cream floats in plastic cups and the school’s library held the last day of the book fair. My daughter picked up, among other things, a copy of Mad Libs: Pirates which she played in the hall with some of her fellow, slightly dance shy classmates. So book fair, check. Mad Libs, check. Sock Hop, check. Ice Cream Float, check.

Saturday saw ballet lessons and karate lessons which were immediately followed by a trip to the vet with our slightly odd, old cat (he’s been sneezing). There we got him medicine and have, hopefully, put him on the road to recovery after a diagnosis of sinus congestion and infection likely brought on by seasonal allergies. Then we managed to head out to Ida Lee park where we were finally able to launch my daughter’s rocket, The Puffle Express! It was a crisp autumn day and the rockets’ red flare stood out nicely against the gray sky. We also got to see several other cool rocket launches! Great that we got to do it since I totally messed up managing to find the folks doing rocket launches the last time around. It was a cool day in more ways than one.

Sunday we got a little cleaning done (need to do more of that, but…) and then headed out to Cox Farms for the last day of their Fall Festival and Pumpkin Madness. Fun time! Multiple hayrides, apple cider, The Corn-undrum, farm animals and giant slides filled our time.

Both the Sock Hop and the the very last Hayride at Cox Farms finished up with the song, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which made a pretty rockin’ set of auditory bookends for the weekend in general.

Tons more to do this week, though. Monday we managed to get our daughter to karate while also starting preliminary shopping on a new TV and Tuesday made it to a book release party at Borders for Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, but we didn’t get to the cable company to exchange the cable box that spontaneously stopped working after a short power outage this weekend. Still need to do that and I need to get tons more work done of both the official and the unofficial kinds. Sigh. Back to work for me.

Way too much to do!

First Second week of school, birthday party thank you notes, paperwork, a broken tail light, a broken faucet, a homeowners’ meeting and a zillion other things I’m trying to take care of and keep track of and and all I want is a real dinner because I feel like I’ve been living off leftover birthday cake, veggie platter and cheese for days. Ack!

Weekend Begins

Today is the first day of the long weekend before school starts for my daughter. It is also the weekend before her birthday, her birthday party and before her first Brownie meeting of the year. I’ll repeat the age-old parental lament of, “I don’t know where the time goes,” ’cause while part of me knows darn well where it goes, the rest of me is shaking my head in disbelief.

I’m also enjoying that bright happy feeling that is plentiful at the start of a long weekend, but my to-do list is filling quickly. I have high hopes of getting a lot done today, tomorrow and Monday. At the top of my list sits plans to get more organized at home. This is going to help with everything else that happens this week and possibly into the school year, so it’s a biggie. Also high on the list is having some fun. Because this is the last weekend for water parks and we so need another infusion of water park fun.

Soon it will be Tuesday, the weekend will be done and part of how I feel will be determined by those things I get done now… I will also be feeling overwhelmed at sending my daughter off to school because it won’t only be her first day of third grade, but will also be her first day at a new school and I have a zillion conflicting feelings about that. She will have more homework not just because it’s third grade, but also because the new school gives more homework. It should be more of a challenge for her, but I also don’t want it to be too much of a challenge. I want her to be a kid and have fun! I also have another strange feeling about the new school that I can’t put my finger on. I don’t know if I’m just getting old and less amicable to change or if there is something which genuinely bothers me about the new school. I guess I’ll find out.

Weekend begin! Time to get something done besides blog.