Saturday, April 4, 2015

For MY Convenience

I found myself once again totally relating to a comic strip this week:

Baby Blues Comic Strip for April 03, 2015 | Comics Kingdom

See, over Spring Break, Jerry and I were running errands, and we needed to make a deposit at the bank.  We pulled up to the drive through lanes and found a big sign:  CLOSED.  We parked and headed inside to the lobby.  When we finally got up to the teller (long line, one teller) I inquired as to whether this was a temporary closure, and was informed that not only was this a permanent change, but that it was for my convenience.

Yes, MY convenience.  See, they upgraded the (single) ATM so that it can take deposits, and now we won't have to wait in line for one of the four tellers that used to run the drive-through lanes.  Nope, now I can conveniently wait behind eight other cars that used to use the drive-through that are now in the one and only ATM line.  Certainly smacks of convenience to me, no?

Not two days later, we received a request for documentation for a charge against our new FSA debit card.  You know, the one they gave us for our convenience this year.

Last year, our insurance company sent the amounts to the FSA service provider, and they automatically cut us a check.  I didn't have to send in anything, didn't have to file anything, zip, nada, nothing.  But it turns out that procedure wasn't convenient enough.  No, this year we have a debit card that we can use to pay for those expenses so that the money never even has to come out of our pocket to be reimbursed.  Only when we use the card, we then get the above mentioned notification that requires us to gather the itemized receipt from the doctor, the EOB statement from the insurance company, and either scan or photograph them and send those to the FSA provider.  Yes.  That's definitely more convenient.  (Not.)

So spring break ends, and I head back to work.  During one of my first lessons back, I am reading books about bones and skeletons to my Kindergarten classes.  I have a stack of four books on top of a four-foot bookshelf shelf, and when I reach for the second book, the book on the top of the stack slides off and disappears behind the bookshelf.  In my head I'm thinking a lot of words that I can't say aloud in front of my students, but I slap a smile on my face and come up with a new plan.  Yea, let's sing this song!  Let's dance this dance!  I fill the 10 minutes that should have been spent reading that book with other activity and make it through the lesson.

At the end of the day, I had to unload the books from two bookshelves full of non-fiction books, pull the shelves away from the wall, and retrieve the lost book to use in the lessons for the rest of the week.  As I was putting all the books back on the shelf, I thought to myself, "You know, this isn't so bad.  I'm sure that the bookshelf was just holding on to that book for my convenience."

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Woo-Hoo! Early Reviewer!! Nick and Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular: A Mystery with Animatronics, Alien Makeup, Camera Gear, and Other Movie Magic You Can Make Yourself!

LibraryThing Early Reviewers

 Well, after putting my name in the drawing for several months, I finally got a book from the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. Without further ado. . . my first review:

Nick and Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular:  A Mystery with Animatronics, Alien Makeup, Camera Gear, and Other Movie Magic You Can Make Yourself!

This is the fourth or fifth Nick and Tesla book, but only the second that I’ve read after the debut. I received this book as part of the Library Thing Early Reviewers program in return for my honest review, so here it is:

Nick and Tesla are a twin brother and sister team who have scientist parents who have suddenly disappeared on a business trip shrouded in mystery. While they are gone, Nick and Tesla have been sent to live with an eccentric uncle that is also a scientist. Nick and Tesla have a great interest in science and minimal adult supervision, so their adventures begin.

The thing that I really like about these books is that the kids use their science knowledge to solve their problems, and the authors have given detailed instructions for each project alongside the story. As an elementary school librarian, I love that I can use this book to get my non-fiction readers into a fiction book, and get my fiction readers interested in science.

In this story, Nick and Tesla are invited onto a movie set that has been plagued with troubles, which could cause their friend’s aunt’s producing career to take a nose-dive. They begin to search for clues and motive, creating several impressive gadgets along the way. In the end, the mystery is solved, the aunt’s career is saved, and Nick and Tesla are heroes of the day.

I was glad that the kids solved the mystery in this book by themselves, rather than having adults swoop in and save the day at the end like they did in the first book. That said, I’m not sure the significance of the clues was brought out enough to allow the intended reader to connect the dots along the way, rather than remaining confused until the pieces were put together for you at the end.

I liked the projects in this book, although not all projects / illustrations were present in the advance copy I received. They seemed doable for the age group that is targeted in this book. I thought that the subject of movie-making was a nice backdrop to the story, although the mystery of what Nick and Tesla’s parents are up to did not move forward at all.

All in all, this book is a great addition to the elementary library, with likeable characters and a quick-paced story.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Words Are Important

What a day!  

So, work has been busy this week, what with closing out our spring Book Fair, getting orders ready by the end-of-the-month, use-it-or-lose-it budget deadline, and various other things that must be done to keep the cogs of the media center running smoothly.  By noon on Tuesday, I informed my media assistant that I had done enough stuff to fill a whole week already, and that I would like to start my weekend early, please.  She just laughed.  So it was with great anticipation that I headed home today, Thursday, for my one night a week that is unscheduled, with nothing to do but change into my yoga pants and putter away the evening.  

But then. . . 

I got home and headed to the back of the house to slip into the aforementioned yoga pants, when our dog comes limping up to greet me.  

Uh oh.  

We've been dog owners for a couple of years now.  Oreo is actually my first dog, as we had a wide assortment of cats as I grew up.  I actually consider myself a cat person, but I promised Jerry that we could get a dog after our last cat had gone to kitty heaven.  So, we have Oreo, and although she doesn't purr and snuggle on my lap, I enjoy her company.  I do not, however, enjoy her vet bills.  

I've decided that Oreo is accident-prone.  Shortly after we got her, she cut her leg open (on what we still don't know for sure) and required staples.  So now, I'm watching her limp towards me and thinking, "Dog, what have you done to yourself now?"  I start running my eyes and hands over her legs to figure out what is wrong, when we see it: 

One of her toenails, or more correctly, her toe itself is sticking out at a 90 degree angle to her foot.  We call the vet, and he says he'll stay there until we get there, so we put the dog in the car and head over.  I send Jerry a text -- one of those that you can't ever imagine sending when you are thinking about how life might go next -- "The dog has broken her toe.  We are at the vet."  

After a closer examination, the vet decides that she has actually popped her toe bone out of joint, and that to pop whatever back into place, they will need to sedate her.  I decide to take Oreo home for the night, and bring her back in the morning, when we can be sure she hasn't eaten anything, and they can keep an eye on her as she recovers from the anesthetic.  Maggie and Gracie have been out in the main room looking at the cats awaiting adoption while I talked to the vet, but Maggie pops her head in the room and asks what is going on.  

And that is when I make a very unfortunate choice of words.  

"Oreo's toe is out of joint, so I'm going to bring her back tomorrow morning so they can put her to sleep and pop it back in."  Only Maggie hears "put her to sleep" and thinks I am talking about putting Oreo down.  For good.  

I wasn't looking at Maggie at the moment - I was still looking at the dog.  The vet says, "Um, I think we have a misunderstanding here. . ."   I look up, and Maggie is holding back sobs.  "No, no, no!  Not that kind of sleep. . . Good grief, it's a TOE.  We aren't going to put the dog to down for a TOE!  I may not be a dog person, but my goodness, I'm not that heartless!"  Now she's laughing and crying.  Gotta love those teenage years.   So we left, and I'll be back bright and early tomorrow for Oreo's "procedure".    

We got home, and started to work on dinner.  Maggie has become a big Pioneer Woman fan.  

I mean, I was already a fan, and have been ever since I saw a post many, many years ago where she contemplated the antics of her sons and wondered if it was nature or nurture that made them wrestle so.  That's neither here nor there.  The point is, I found out that Maggie can be swayed to eat (*gasp*) VEGETABLES if they are in a Pioneer Woman recipe!

Several months ago I was making a recipe for black beans, and Maggie came in and saw what I was cooking and begin that lovely commentary that all moms love so much, "What is that?  What are those green things?" when suddenly, she saw the recipe sitting beside the stove.  

(*Gasp*) "Is this a Pioneer Woman recipe?"    



She ate every bite.  Even the green things.  With no complaints.  She even liked it.  I began to contemplate printing all future recipes on letterhead with the Pioneer Woman logo at the top.  Deceptive?  Yes.  But desperate times call for desperate measures.  

This week she asked me if we could make Chicken Pot Pie -- PW's of course.  So tonight, she and I cooked from scratch, the Pioneer Woman's Chicken Pot Pie from the recipe in the book pictured above.  And for the very first time, I made a pie crust from scratch.  Here's the proof: 

Beautiful, it wasn't.  But yummy it was!  Everyone wolfed it down.  Even the green things!  It's amazing what the mere mention of PW will do.  

It's all about knowing the right words to use.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The No-Snow Snow Day

We were out of school today because of expected winter weather.  Key word there was "expected."

What has actually happened at my house today is lots of cold wind, moments of wintry mix (snow, sleet, and rain mixed together), and, for the most part, no accumulation.  The radar has shown the expected snow / sleet / ice all around us, but we've been in a band of nothing all day.  Now that it's 5:30, the snow has started to come down, and without the chance to melt off, we will probably have a snow day tomorrow too.

I am alternatively aggravated and delighted to have a snow day.  Aggravated, because today and tomorrow are book fair days at my school.  With funding cut the way it has been in recent years, book fair revenue makes up about half of what I get to spend on books and other items for our media program, so I am loathe to loose a penny of it.  Delighted, because snow days turn out to be great days for catching up on things I need to do since there are so many cancellations by those who are afraid to go out in the weather.  Today, before the roads got bad, I was able to get Maggie into the pediatrician for her well-child appointment, which I normally would have to book out three months from now.  Our last snow day, the roads were bad until noon.  In the afternoon I managed to get in to a cancellation slot at both the dentist and the CPA.  Score!!!  Who knew that snow days were such good days to get things done?

Our book fair theme this year is "Under the Sea".  I gave myself the ambitious project to create a skit/song to promote the book fair this time.  I announced my intention to enough people that I would definitely follow through, and got busy with my thesaurus and rhyming dictionary.  I had a great, very enthusiastic coworker who helped pull it off.  Here it is:

You know, when I took an elementary job, I wondered what it would be like to work with the very youngest ones, because I hadn't had that experience before.  Mrs. Cross and I had rubber-banded beach towels to look like mermaid tails as part of the "Under the Sea" theme, and the littlest ones closest to the stage were shouting, "Look, it's Ariel!!"  They are so fun, and so free with their smiles and enthusiasm - I enjoy them more than I ever thought I would.

So, back to snow days. . .  Maggie came in and asked what we were going to do for snow day.  I listed off at least five things I could do with my snow day:

1) Clean out the closet.
2) Write a blog post.
3) Decide what books to order for the library.
4) Read a book.
5) Scrapbook!!!

She looked unimpressed.   On well!  I only accomplished one of the five, so it's probably good that tomorrow is looking like another snow day -- this time with snow!