Monday, August 13, 2012

It's August 13th? Already?

Really? Wow! The summer is almost gone... and I've been busy busy busy...
We've driven to Annapolis 3 times, Farmville (yes, it's a real place) twice, VMI three times, New London twice, Orkney Springs 3 times, Montreal, the Thousand Islands, and West Virginia. If I keep this up, Dad's car might actually hit 20k miles this year!
My LLB has been home a total of 9 days since June 2. She has had a great summer - it wasn't easy sometimes, but it is the stuff of which memories are made.  She did 7 camps - each one very different from the rest. She will look back on this summer as one of the best -- once her muscles stop hurting and she gets some serious sleep.
#1 spent most of the summer at VMI working on Calculus 3 and a Leadership class -- his 4.0 made it worth his time.  From there he went right to St. Elizabeth's camp to be a buddy and got his Shrine Mont fix. LLB was up there with him, so he did get some time with her.  He was home for one week and we weren't. Of course he was kinda happy about that! We were at Band Camp with LLB. She was marching her butt off and we were cooking 4 meals a day for 75 hungry souls. He, on the other hand was ensconced on the couch with his laptop, his TV, and his dog. He was supposed to be packing to go back to VMI... ahem.  That said, he did pick up the house and it was relatively spotless when we got home. I got less than 24 hours to spend with him - but we moms take what we can get, you know.  We spent a good 35 minutes packing his trunk -- why did that chore take all afternoon last year? He is back at VMI. He is Cadre and has a job: Company Clerk.  I miss him, but we have email and phone, so he isn't really all that far away.
Today my baby starts her "Behind The Wheel" driving lessons and in approximately one week, she will have her driver's license. This means that if I get her a parking spot at school, she will be driving my sweet CRV, and I will be left with the Civic or the Camry for wheels. Do I like this? Ummm... not so much.  I'd honestly prefer that she learn how to drive the Camry and take that. But it is a stick and we are out of time until she is home longer than it takes for her to do homework and crawl into bed at an unreasonably late hour. So - I have two choices.  I can either suck it up or make her take the bus... And since I really don't feel like driving to school every day at 6pm to pick her up from band practice, I'll be sucking it up - a lot.
If you need me this week, check the Uniform Room. I'll be stuffing kids into band uniforms and telling them not to grow until the season is over in November.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I wrote a letter to the editor, but I'm not sure it's going to make the paper, so I'm going to post it here for the world to see.

Dear Editor,

Dr. L and the School Board have instituted fees for participating in the music ensembles. If each ensemble has its own $60 fee this is going to get mighty expensive!

Let me break it down for you:

My daughter is involved in Marching Band, Brass Ensemble, Jazz Band, Percussion Ensemble, and Pep Band.  Do the Math: $60 x 5 = $300 just for music.  Add in Theatre, Spring Track, and Swim Team for another $180 and we’re up to $480 – this doesn’t even include the consumables fees I have to pay at the beginning of the year, nor does it include the incidental costs associated with each group like band camp ($350), instrument costs ($50 -$100), gloves ($3/pair), shoes ($35), uniform cleaning ($60), transportation costs ($??), track shoes ($95 - $145), warm ups ($150), swim suits ($60), and the fundraising imposed by each group. Basically, Dr. Lewis and the School Board have priced my daughter out of her activities.  I can only imagine how financially unattainable this is going to be for families with two or three students involved in these activities.

My daughter is a senior and that privilege comes with even more fees, if you can believe it!  The year starts with activity fees ($60), the consumables fees ($25) and the parking fees ($100), which must be paid in order to get her schedule.  Then there is the $100 for the yearbook (It’s her senior year and she should be allowed to have this one.), the graduation announcements ($75 - $100), the fee for the cap and gown ($25), the SAT and ACT costs ($50 each), and the application fees for college ($50 each).  The year finally ends with the fee for the National Honor Society stole ($20) and bill from guidance for the transcripts that were required by the colleges and scholarships to which she applied ($2 each).  Basically, I’ll spend the year writing checks to FHS. I thought that this was a “free” education paid for with my tax dollars. Yeah, I know - there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

I have one more tidbit – It said in the paper that Dr. L is “implementing” a $60 fee for swimming. Excuse me, but we have ALWAYS paid the activity fee for Swimming. This is nothing new! I keep paying fees, but when I ask where money goes, I can’t get an answer. They cash the checks, and the money just disappears into a dark hole!  It certainly never ended up in the Marching Band or the Swim Team coffers.

Friday, June 22, 2012

They just don't get it...

Those of you who know me personally know that I have been fighting city hall for some time. First it was to fight the $25 million to build a new school building that did not give the teachers and faculty what they needed -- more classrooms. Yes, for $25 million, you too, can gain ONE classroom. Yeah - like that's fiscally responsible spending... whatever.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people have no idea how their tax dollars are being spent.  Just today someone said to me, "Tell me what classrooms are in the new building. What's where? And, How many classrooms does the new building give us?" Are you kidding me? That's your tax dollar!!! Do you not pay attention to what is going on around you? Do you not read the paper?? It's no wonder the School Board doesn't like me and my cronies... they'd rather just do what they want without any questions or checks and balances and not be bothered with the nosy conservative parents that we are.

My kid has one year left in this school system and once she graduates, I'm going to have plenty of time to sit in meetings and irritate the crap out of our elected officials. And you know what? I'm kinda looking forward to it.

But really, you know what really has my knickers in a twist?

The middle school sports program went from a competitive program that served a few excellent athletes to an intramural program that serves far more students for far less cost. These parents think they've lost something. In effect, they still have a program at a cost of $86K and they saved $140k by doing this. The high school music program lost all of the Ensemble programs. The cost for that: $15k - that's $5k per school.  The sports people don't seem to care that we've lost it all. We have nothing. Nada. Zip. All they care about is that they don't have their competitive program. OMG! You people are ridiculous! You still have sports at the middle school level. We have NO ensembles at the high school level. No ensembles for the kids who play instruments. No ensembles that give leadership opportunities. No ensembles that allow some of the kids who can't take music classes because of scheduling conflicts to still play their instruments.

When you speak to people and you tell them that the sports programs still have some sort of a program - and it might not be a competitive program, they tell you that the athletics are important. They don't even listen! They just tell you that athletics is good for kids. Well -- you know what? So is music! Music makes a better math student. Music is a life long endeavor. How many 75 year olds do you see out there playing football?? Hmmm??

Think about it this way: What is a world without music? Think about a movie... no music? Boring movie. Even the silent movies had piano music! What is Disney World without music? Pretty dull, right? How about your radio stations? No music = all talk.  You sigh and think I'm crazy. Now, you go home and turn on the TV. Without music, your show would be mighty dull, right?  There is even music in the grocery store and your favorite restaurant's bathrooms! You go to see rock concerts - those stars started somewhere! You go to see the Fireworks on the 4th, The Nutcracker at Christmas, or you go to the Opera or the Symphony -- you can bet your bottom dollar that many of those musicians were in their high school jazz ensembles, pep bands, brass ensembles and more.

The latest bit of buzz from the school department is that we can have the high school ensembles back if we "Self Pay".  Excuse me, but why is it that the athletic programs are always funded by the school system - albeit some only partially - and the music students have the privilege of a self-pay program? That is absolutely ludicrous!    If the school department wants me to pay for the privilege of having my daughter in an ensemble, then they will be paying for the privilege of listening to her and her classmates play for Baccalaureate, Awards Night, GED Graduations, and more.  Fair's fair. Right?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Craziness (or where has the time gone?)

I cannot believe that I've not posted since February!
I'm such a slacker!

So let me catch you up on life here at The Crossing.

The pool is open. It's a really chilly 60 degrees in there right now.

I've stacked a few tons of wood.

I've weeded and mulched the front yard and planted some plants. Did you know that you can fit 30 bags of mulch in a Toyota Highlander? Well, you can.

Grandpa planted a bunch of plants out by the pool. We hope we get rain so that they grow into a lush little garden out there.

I've gotten the chair cushions down from the attic.  The weather turned, and I brought the cushions in. Petite Minou took them as her own little throne from which to survey all that is hers.
I've cleaned off the outdoor furniture -- only to have it immediately be re-covered with pollen.

I've vacuumed up more stink bug carcasses than I care to mention. I'm ready for them to go out and stay out.

We visited some colleges. LLB said more than once, "The campus is beautiful, but it's just not for me." She'll find her school. She's got a couple she loves and if ROTC comes through, she'll be a happy camper.

The VMI Boys came home for Easter.

LLB went to prom and Mr. and I chaperoned the overnight After Prom party. It was a fun night and I must admit that I'm getting better at All-Nighters.

I fought city hall a few dozen times.

We had visitors from our old home town. It was so nice to see them and spend some time chatting over dinner.  It was just like old times.

We are prepping for the overnight cast party. I've got a few pulled porks, a batch of cole slaw, some potato salad, and some s'more fixin's to prep. 

Grandpa made some outdoor umbrella stands out of my ingenious design. (FYI: You bang a piece of pipe into the ground, put some gravel in the bottom, and insert umbrella.  It's brilliant, I tell you! And I thought it up all by myself!)
LLB's got some SATs to take.
I've got some water to sell at graduation.
Then it's on to summer. We are definitely ready for summer.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

There's always one...

We went to see the movie, "Act of Valor" yesterday.
I bought our tickets online because I didn't want to have to sweat standing in line at the theater. It costs an extra $1.25 per ticket, but when you are driving as far as we are to see a movie, you want to be sure you've got a seat.
Anyway - at 11am, I pushed submit to purchase the tickets.
At 11:01, they printed out on my printer.
The show was due to start at 2:20.
We arrived at the theater at about 2pm.
We went to walk into the designated theater - Number 9 for those of you who care - when a lady yelled to us, "The show's not over! Line forms in the back down that hallway!"
We were a bit shocked that the previous showing wasn't over and that there was a line.
We decided that we'd just wait off to the side, and when the others had gone in, we'd mosey in and sit. We also decided that if we couldn't sit together, we'd just split up. LLB's friends were there and we had Gram and Grandpa with us, too. Finding 7 seats together might be more difficult than finding a group of 3 and a group of 4.

Another family came up and went to walk into the theater.  The lady yelled at them, "Hey!! Show's not over! Line's in the back! I got my tickets an hour ago and I've been waiting!"
I rolled my eyes at Gram and thought, "OMG, Lady!  Chillax.  It's a movie. I am sure there are seats available - besides... no offense, but really, I've had my tickets since 11:01am... but what.ever."
The family looked at her funny and moved aside.
As the Theater Staff went in to clean the theater, the Lady got her family and moved towards the door. She was GOING to be FIRST.
They finally opened the doors and the Lady sprinted in.
We hung back for a moment - we didn't want to be accused of cutting the line.  As we went in with other people, I asked (no one in particular), "Did that Lady get her seat? Heaven forbid she not be first in the theater and have her choice of seat - you know, she's been waiting for an hour..."
A few people around me giggled...
We never saw her after we went into the theater, but I will tell you that the theater was not full.
There were plenty of seats for everyone and everyone had a decent seat. No one was stuck in the front neck ache section.  There were empty seats all over the place.
As we sat down, I said to Gram, "That Lady is going on my blog." Gram snickered...
And here she is... The Crazy Lady from the movie theater.
FYI: The movie was phenomenal.  Act of Valor -- put it on your "must see" list.
Go see it.
And after you see it, say, "Thank you!" to your servicemen and women.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What a waste of time!

LLB's new glasses are in... I got a phone call to that effect.
I picked her up from school and took her to the eye doc's.
She put her new glasses on and they looked terrific. She had a look on her face that told me something wasn't quite right, but the lady said she'd have to get used to them.
We left.
We got on to the highway ramp.
Yes.. the ramp.
The ramp where you can't turn around.
The ramp that to turn on to it has a red light that lasts about 10 minutes... that one.
So - we got on the ramp and she says, "Mom, when I close my right eye, the left eye is blurry."
No problem - we'll just take the next exit.
The next exit is 8 miles up the highway.
We went up 8 miles, turned around, and came back 8 miles.
She told the lady that her left eye was blurry.
The lady checked it...
They didn't make the lens correctly - said it was a computer problem -- can you say TYPO???
It will be another week before she has her glasses.
I sure am glad I didn't send in her current frames!
So -- that trip cost me a half a tank of gas with nothing to show for it.
But when her glasses do come in, she's going to look great!

The Circus Coming!

Well, it's that time of year again! The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus is coming!
I've seen the TV ads for this show and it looks terrific.  I can honestly say that I've never had a bad time at the circus. We LOVE it.
My Daddy took me to see the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus when I was seven and we were living in Spain.  It was terrific! I can still remember it like it was yesterday.
So - go to the circus. Take your kids. Take your friends.  Heck, take your mom!
Here is the info:

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® presents Fully ChargedSMto Bring a Surge of Excitement to Washington, DC AreaThe Greatest Show On Earth arrives at the Verizon Center, March 15 – 18
and the Patriot Center, April 4 – 15

WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 23, 2012 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baileypresents Fully Charged is an all-new surge of circus entertainment where megawatts of thrills explode off of the arena floor with breathtaking dare-devilry, superhuman stunts and never-before-seen performances that energize Children Of All AgesFully Charged invites families to disconnect from the digital world and plug into a circus experience like no other. The 141st Edition of The Greatest Show On Earth is themost electrifying edition of Ringling Bros. ever to come to DC!

Fully Charged performs at two arenas in the Washington, DC area – the Verizon Center in the District from March 15 – 18 and the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va. from April 4 – 15. Fully Charged will also perform at the 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore, Md. from March 21 – April 1.

Fully Charged is lead by dynamo newcomer, Brian Crawford Scott, only the 36th Ringmaster in the 141-year history of Ringling Bros. The amazing acts of Fully Charged include Tabayara, a dynamic animal trainer whose rare ability to communicate with animals allows him to ride rearing stallions at a fully-charged gallop, orchestrate majestic four-ton Asian elephants in a symphony of dance, and stand eye to eye in a cage with 12 ferocious tigers.

Audiences will feel the earth shake when the strongman duo of Dmitry and Ruslan, who are as wide as they are tall, enter the arena. The fearless Fernandez Brothers dial up the thrills as they perform daring feats of athleticism on the Twin Turbines of Steel, including extreme jumps and twists inside the moving wheels! Ever wonder how many clowns it takes to change a light bulb? The hilarious hoopla continues to flow as the clowns from the world-famous Ringling Bros. Clown Alley, charge up the audiences’ funny bones with hysterical silly antics and clownish comedy. You can only experience this current of excitement at Ringling Bros. Fully Charged!

The All Access Power Up Pre-show Party is hosted one hour before show time and is free to ticket holders. The Pre-show allows audience members to meet and take photos with performers, try on circus costumes, learn circus skills and have the chance to win a painting created by Asia, a true pachyderm Picasso.
WASHINGTON, DC SHOW The Verizon Center | March 15 - 18, 2012

Show times:
·       Thursday, March 15 – 10:30 am, 7:30 pm·       Friday, March 16 – 7:30 pm·       Saturday, March 17 – 11:30 am, 3:30 pm, 7:30 pm·       Sunday, March 18 - 11:30 am, 3:30 pm, 7:30 pm

DC Ticket Prices:
 $35.00/$30.00/$18.00/$14.00 (Circus Celebrity, Front Row and VIP available)

Ticket Information: Tickets can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 800-551-SEAT, via , and the Verizon Center box office.
The Patriot Center | April 4 – April 15, 2012

Show times:
·       Wednesday, April 4 – 7:00 pm·       Thursday, April 5 – 7:00 pm·       Friday, April 6 – 1:00 pm, 7:30 pm·       Saturday, April 7 – 11:30 am, 3:30 pm, 7:30 pm·       Sunday, April 8 – 1:00 pm, 5:00 pm·       Thursday, April 12 – 7:00 pm·       Friday, April 13 – 10:30 am; 7:00 pm·       Saturday, April 14 – 11:30 am, 3:30 pm; 7:30 pm·       Sunday, April 15 – 1:00 pm, 5:00 pm

Fairfax Ticket Prices: $30.00/$18.00/$14.00 (Circus Celebrity, Front Row and VIP available)

Ticket Information: Tickets can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 800-551-SEAT, via , and the Patriot Center box office.

For additional information about Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, please visit  .

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Blind as a....

My LLB went for her annual eye checkup last week.  The doc said her eyes hadn't changed very much - just 1/4 step worse. This is really good news since just a few years ago she was stepping into the realm of the extremely nearsighted at a much faster pace.

We looked at frames, but decided to use the ones she has until next year when our VSP will cover new frames.  That was until they told us she'd have to leave her glasses at the shop so they could send them out to get the new lenses installed.  My first thought was, "You're kidding me, right?"and that's what popped out of my mouth. (I have trouble with that sometimes.) They assured me that they weren't kidding. I bit my tongue - hard. Obviously, the people who work in they optometrist's office, don't actually live their lives in the fuzzy world of diminished sight.

Even if LLB wasn't off the next day to USC for an Honor Band and there was NO WAY I could allow her to walk around for a week her without glasses!  She gets lost with them on - can you imagine what would happen if she didn't have them?? 
Fast forward to Saturday. We'd been trying to find out her vision number for a form for the USAF.  They wanted to know if her vision was worse than 20/50.  I knew it was because the kid can't see the big E on the top of the eye chart... But, what do I know?
Mr. called the optometrist to find out her number.  

Let's just say if her vision were an SAT, she'd be all set!

So - this morning, we were chatting about her vision or lack thereof and she wanted to know her numbers. I told her.  Her response, "Wow! That explains a whole lot."
"Yes, yes it does, but it does not explain why your room is a disaster."
"Oh, but it does. Technically, I can't see the mess." 
"Yeah... that's it."

Monday, February 20, 2012

What a busy weekend!

I was going to write about something completely different, yet related, but I'm not convinced that I'm still not being watched, stalked, talked about, and generally being spied upon.  Some of you are asking if I might be paranoid... Yeah... maybe a little. It's sad to think that I can't express my feelings on my own blog because people - and they know who they are - think they have the right to tell me what I can and can't write about.

I'll fill you in on the weekend instead.

As many of you know, LLB was off at USC for an Honor Band Clinic. She LOVED it! Her favorite part was having a master class with Allen Vezzutti. She learned a ton, had a great time, and arrived home at 3:15am this morning.

On Saturday, the rest of us went to VMI to see the boy and his girl.  We had a quick picnic lunch and then headed off to the basketball game. We got to sit with the band and it was awesome! Can I say that the band director is just as much of a kid as the college kids? He is a scream!  Heck, I want to be in his band. He is everything that the high school director isn't. And it just blows my mind every time I see him in action.  What a breath of fresh air! Anyway, it was a very close game and it was fun to be in the stands.  The band played a lot and I really wish that LLB had been there to see how much fun they all had. The best part? VMI actually won against William and Mary.

After the game, we unloaded the car of all the microwaveable mac and cheese and ramen noodles that one boy could eat in a week and most people could survive on for a month. I included in that care package a new ski jacket, a box of plastic spoons, a tiny bottle of dishwashing soap, a set of measuring cups and THE most awesome mug ever!
It's a 20oz Corning Ware microwaveable mug. FYI:  I found it at Walmart for less than half the price Amazon has it.  It's perfect for Easy Mac -- one packet of EM, 2/3c water, nuke it and you're done. He tried it out yesterday and even called to tell me how wonderful it is!  Mother of the Year!! Thankyouverymuch!!

Anyway, after that, we went to a great Italian sub place in Lexington. They had the best Italian sub I've had since we moved here.  I'm definitely going back and I'm going to try the Calzone and the Pizza and whatever else is on the menu. It was wonderful!  

We had coffee hour at church yesterday. When we do coffee hour, we do it up because we figure we've had lunch on others for the past few months and it's only fair.  I must say that our coffee hour rocked!  If there's one thing our family does well, it's food. We had Mr's chili with rice on the side, spinach and strawberry salad, ravioli, shrimp salad mini sandwiches, mini crab sandwiches, crunchy snacks, and more. Everyone seemed to enjoy their lunch and hopefully everyone went home with a full belly.

From that point in the day, my life becomes very ordinary again with making up LLB's bed, a bit of vacuuming,  putting laundry away, doing the dishes, and generally sitting around until 2:15am when LLB called to tell me she was a half an hour out from the school and to meet her there.

Today, I've hauled in some firewood, had a cup of tea, and driven LLB to meet her friends so she can go Snow Tubing.  My kitchen counter is awash with Calculus and History text books, a calculator, a few notebooks, pencils, and the remnants of her lunch.  So as much as life is busy, life is ordinary... and that's how I like it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

I can't believe it's already February 14th!  Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

I've kind of neglected this blog over the past couple of years. But I'm hoping to get back to it now that some things have changed and a few people have moved on to bother other people and have hopefully stopped stalking me and my writings.  (We shall see, won't we?)

We've had a great winter so far. LLB is starting to take her SATs and ACTs. She's thrilled with all of that -- NOT!  This week she's off to an Honor Band with some of her classmates -- we are hoping the weather will hold and that she can get to and from without hitting any snow or bad weather. Upon her return, she's got big plans that include tubing, visits from old friends, directing the pit orchestra for the musical, and more! She's one busy girl, but she wouldn't have it any other way.

My boy is doing well. VMI is a challenge, but he is enjoying his time there.  He made the Deans List for the first term-- no surprise there.  He's being inducted into the National Honor Society for College Freshmen. He's just received a letter stating that he is being considered for a scholarship, too! His hard work is paying off. We are so proud of him.

My boy is a great kid, unfortunately, another cadet doesn't appreciate him or his work ethic and has decided to try to make his life miserable. (I've got my eye on this person and I can make a phone call at any moment if I decide things have gone too far. For now, I'm watching it all play out.) This particular cadet has taken my boy's food stuffs, moved his things around, and even took a swing at him. This kid is on my list and those of you who know me well know that the one place nobody wants to be is on my list.

So now we have this:  My Cadet was given a Rat Ring by his senior when they had "breakout" at the end of January. It turns out that the ring is now missing - along with the ring given to him by his girl at Christmas. My Cadet - who is very careful with his things and is trying desperately not to wrongly accuse - doesn't want to say they were stolen, but will say that they are both missing and nobody seems to know anything. I'm a bit upset that this sort of thing happened - especially with such special items -- I can only hope that I am wrong about who I think took the rings, but my gut tells me that I'm right...  And my gut isn't wrong all that often.

We are all hoping that the rings just appear one day before the end of the term in May.  As I told my boy, we can replace both items. They won't be the same, but at least he'll have a Rat Ring to pass down to his Rat one day. I reminded him that those who love him and support him are what really matter -- stuff is just stuff...  (except when it's stuff that means something - then it's harder to remember that it's still just stuff.)

So as we move into spring, we'll be visiting colleges with LLB, getting ready for the musical and the HUGE cast party that goes with it, and generally being the busy people that we are. Stop by and I'll fill you in on our day to day excitement... well, I'll try for once a week, to start, ok??

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

He is a Cadet

My #1 son has finally broken out of the VMI Rat Line and become a full-fledged Cadet.  His girlfriend took this picture of him looking all "studly"... (her word, not mine).  He is a Cadet - he was a boy when he arrived in August... now -- now he is a Cadet.

Breakout was HARD.  They worked together and succeeded.

He is tired and dirty! Boy, am I glad I don't have to do his laundry!! Getting that red clay out of their clothes is not easy.

The Rat Mass is now officially the Class of 15!!

This honor comes with privileges! They can refer to themselves in the first person. They can walk through barracks in a normal fashion - no straining, no following the line, no pushups. They can call home whenever they want. They can eat like normal people and they can walk pretty much where and how they want. The best part? They can take afternoon naps! (Not that my boy can take naps, he's got class in the afternoons... doesn't it figure?)

Congrats, my boy!!
Thanks to Courtney and Jake for the use of their pictures!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fractals on the Pool

I love the way the ice formed on the pool cover. The texture is amazing.

I like the way you can see some leaves in the ice, too. It almost looks like the leaf is blowing off a branch.