Friday, August 12, 2011

8/12/11 Last CDC day

Last day at the CDC for the kids! And only 3 weekdays until school starts! I'm taking the first 3 days off next week to do something fun with them, before school starts on Thursday. Wah!

I sure have a lot to think about over my extended weekend. Last week was almost certainly one of the worst weeks I've ever had in my career. But this week was much, much better, for numerous reasons. First, some outages meant I spent a lot of time on the phone -- and being involved and useful.

But mostly, some developments inside and outside the company mean that next week will be the last week that I am under the direct influence of Mr. Horrible!!!!! And I'll be gone for 3 of those 5 days! The sky is brighter, the air is fresher, food tastes better, my work world has gone from black-and-white to color. I feel like I'm coming out of a deep, dark well. That insipid, obnoxious imbecile will no longer have the power to insult and lecture and be so condescending. Best of all, I can do real work now, and be a productive contributing member of the working world. No more energy wasted on appearances and stupid busywork just so he can look good to his boss. Yay!

However, I have to brace myself, because starting a new job (whether or not it's in the company, and that's not sure yet), is usually pretty time and energy consuming. What timing -- school's starting next week! But I'm really really happy to finally have the opportunity to accomplish things and feel productive. That really was what drove me to want to go back to work to begin with.

No more work for a few days -- tomorrow, #1 objective is to get ready for camping! Spending the next few days bonding with my children might well be the number one thing that drives me back to work!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

8/11/11 Apparition

I was stunned a few days ago to walk into my house in the late afternoon and see this remarkable image projected upon the wall.

Somehow, it was light distorted by the decorative glass in our front door, but the door is covered by at least a 10' porch ceiling, and faces NorthEast and wouldn't be getting direct sunlight that time of day anyway.

But somehow, the sun was bouncing off something outside, then getting twisted through the door's glass to cast this shaped light on the wall.

Our house doesn't have a lot of bright sunny amazing windows or views, but it does have these unexpected weird little pockets of light and reflections and shadows in places. This was the first I'd ever seen of this after living with this beautiful door for 2-1/2 years. And to think, a copy company thought they could produce it for less money with fewer types of special glass -- no thanks!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

8/10/11 Score

Normally it's in poor taste to talk test scores, but regular readers of this blog know of the tremendous trials and tribulations we've been through with our firstborn. (Secondborn too, but of a different sort.)

One of the most baffling and frustrating things about Gabriel is that despite his early displays of talent in some areas, he's been a pretty mediocre student. Not to mention we're on first-name basis with the school principal regarding his disruptive behavior, and trying to figure out how to reach the kid.

Last year's STAR test scores really showed that too, in which he did about average for his school -- which is fine, I'm not worried about his academic development, but it's puzzling when other parents say things to you like, "please invite me to the party when he wins the Nobel Prize." They're all shocked when I tell them that his math grades were pretty eh.

So it was a relief to see that this year, he got a perfect score on the math section of the STAR test. Decent on the verbal, too, about average for his school. But for me, the math score is a rare data point confirming that we're not in denial or going crazy, he really is capable, despite his constant so-so math test grades last year.

I really don't put much stock in these test scores -- annual statewide tests, not a high bar to begin with -- but with Gabriel it is an unusual relief to finally get some good academic news.

I think that's the last I ever need to say on the matter, especially since this coming year, Julian will be taking the same tests too!


Monday, August 08, 2011

8/7/2011 Rafting Trip

I'm behind!! I took the boys on a one-night camping/rafting trip in the Sierra Foothills last weekend, and we had SUCH a great time!

This area is in the heart of Gold Country, with the closest town being Coloma CA -- mostly state historical campsites and private campsite resorts.

We had a reservation with a rafting company for an easy 1/2-day trip that accepted kids as young as 6. Many rafting companies understandably drew the line at 7, but this river fork is pretty tame. A perfect introduction.

The rafting company leases some private campground space from large resort, and that's where we camped (far left). Nothing wild; just dirt to set a tent up on. (Our site was in the far left where my car is in this photo.)

We could also buy dinner, lunch and breakfast -- and I was all for it!! Most of my past weekend camping had been with a motorcycle club in which all we brought for camping was bedding -- adding food and cooking gear is 70% of the work. So I was very happy to pay my way out of it this time.

Dinner wasn't formal, but with grilled tilapia, grilled vegetables and salad, I hardly suffered.

After dinner, the boys and I took a walk to look around the resort and other campsites. We were psyched to find this river access, so pretty in the setting sun.

I was quite certain we'd never go through a rapid like this, but little did I know -- it was coming the next day!

Of course, camping isn't complete without marshmallow-roasting.

The next morning, we had camp packed up and we were ready for breakfast in plenty of time. Then we piled onto a school bus for the 1/2-hour ride to the start point. There we got a safety talk and basic lessons in how to deal with the rafts and paddles.

Then it was time to get in the boats! It worked out with the groupings of people that the boys and I got our own boat. That meant they added an adult to our boat, so that there were two adults plus the guide. For us it was great that one of the "extra" adults also happened to be a guide!

They were very careful and conservative, letting the boys set their paddles aside early, especially when it became clear that they couldn't coordinate paddling with the adults (me and another woman guide).

Though Julian was hesitant at first -- and I love this photo of his face -- he totally got into it and really wasn't all that scared!

We stopped at a blackberry-picking spot. This little beach gave us access to a fully-lined bank of wild blackberries. Yum!

Right before the last rapid named "Troublemaker" -- the one we'd seen the night before and figured we wouldn't raft over -- and we did! Here comes the plunge!

We did it! What fun!! The boys were brave and tough and enthusiastic. Thank goodness, because so was I. I LOVED it, even with being blasted with cold water.

Yayyy! What fun!!

Can't wait to do it again -- and some real rapids next time. These were all "class 3" -- nothing to sneeze at as amateurs with a 7yo in the front of the boat, but I'm looking forward to the rough stuff -- with my boys!!