May 23, 2007

The Good News...and not so good

First, Matt was elected Northern Oregon NFL Chair. This is good for a number of reasons; the most important one, however, is that it means he'll be the one in charge of organizing the 2008 National Qualifier tournament. The person who usually does it (our amazing friend Jane) will be out of the country next year at that time, and it was agreed by many that the job needed to be done by someone with experience, excruciatingly good organizing skills, and an obsessive desire to follow the rules. Those are always good things in a tournament director, but for NFL tournaments, they're absolutely required: the NFL is even more obsessive than Matt, and they demand that their tournaments be run "just so" (and the results submitted even more "just so-ly"). So, while it will certainly be a stressful task, we're glad he's been tapped to do it.

Second, Matt's district reached a tentative agreement in ONE short bargaining sesssion last week (the teachers know about it, so now I can tell the world.) It seems like a really good deal to me: a 4% raise this year, and a 3% raise next year, plus some other things (but the money is, of course, usually the biggest deal to make). The best part, though, is that it sounds like there were really no big contentious arguments; considering some, ah, other nearby districts, both the contract and the process seem pretty amazing. (On the other hand, I'm trying hard not to run in all directions, spending my $8 extra a month all at once. ;-) )

The not so good news is that our friend Jim has been in the hospital since last Friday night, and they're having a heck of a time figuring out what's the matter. One doctor thought it was liver failure, but then they changed a drug and he started perking up more today. Ironically, he's been responding really well recently to chemotherapy, had tumors shrinking away quicker than the docs expected, even regaining strength. It has been a trying time for his loved ones, and those of us not close enough (or well enough; the cold's slimy fingers linger here....) to visit wait anxiously for updates. Kudos to these folks for providing ill people and all their family and friends an easy place and way to communicate. I know most reading this don't know Jim...but this really bums me out.

May 18, 2007

Social May Butterflies

Weekend before last, we went to the Salem Saturday Market's 10th Anniversary opening. Matt and I enjoyed seeing what sorts of wares there were (and quickly snagged some crochet-hanger dishtowels, as ours have long since become almost worthlessly thin). The girls enjoyed free balloons, seeing Mama get her face painted with a ladybug (Laura declined the free offer, but was fine seeing me do it! Why a ladybug? Because I'm a gardener, and they are right up there with worms as Gardener's Best Friends, of course.), and--skeptically--watching the resident clown make them some balloon animals. It was a good time. Laura declared that she "liked Saturday Market, but Mama, I did NOT LIKE THE PEOPLE." Yeah, yeah, I know; you would have had to spend at least ten minutes one-on-one with each of them, and then you would have liked them, too. We plan to go back again sometime, whether she likes the people or not.

That night, since I had baked a ham, we randomly decided to see if the Pickerels were free to share it. And lo! they randomly were. As always, it was good to catch up a little bit with them, though it was a brief dinner since they had to get to church early, and so did we.

Church was a good lesson in how I always end up worrying about the wrong things. The Bishop was visiting on his annual circuit through the churches, and I was to teach Sunday school. So I had my lesson obsessively all ready (which took some time, since it was all about the order of service and had a lot of moving pieces to go with it), but the "door person" assigned for that day couldn't be there. As a result, the person who stepped up to be the helper was none other than the Director of Education for the whole diocese (who also happens to be in charge of our ed. stuff; she lives here and commutes). I had already chicken-heartedly offered to trade spots with her, but she declined.

So we get all assembled, children present, and the Bishop decides to check in with us before the service, just to say hi. He then announces that he'd like the kids to be in the sanctuary for the sermon, which is about 45 minutes earlier than they'd usually go. Thinking swiftly, I figure that gives us time *either* to really rush through the lesson, or to just have "work time" with a hasty wrap-up at the end. Door person and I conferred, and put it to a vote with the kids; they of course voted for "work time" and my lovingly prepped lesson did not have to be performed. What really ended up stretching my creativity was helping the ADHD child sit next to me--quietly!--through the sermon. But I managed that, too (never underestimate the benefits of being double-jointed, and goofy!). So next time I'm worried at all about teaching on Sunday, clearly, I should devise a way instead of sneaking playing cards into church.

Wednesday we spent some time in the morning with three of the four point eight Davisons. We went on a walk to see if the diggers were doing anything exciting; they were loud, but not moving much. Still, it was good to get outside, and we came back to play in the back yard some. Our slide has gotten a lot of use! It's fun for me to see Jonah and Laura playing more together as they get older (Elisha and Emily are pretty much still at the age of, "you play with that, and I'll play with this, and if we're lucky we can trade politely after a while.")

This last weekend we finally got to connect with the Borahs--it had been too long. As a bonus, they brought dinner (that has to be one of my favorite kind of guests--not that I mind cooking for the rest of you, of course, but the only way to have an even less-stressed host would be if you also showed up early to clean the house for us! ;-) ). We ate and made merry and managed to get in a few good conversations around the six little girls. Laura was fascinated to have Stephanie read to her a bit. I am certain this will only further cement the awe with which she regards that particular Borah (I think she wants glasses, now, too....which is probably just as well, considering the genetic heritage she's got.)

We spent Mother's Day at home, nursing our collective cold. There was, however, a temporary restraining order placed on Matt's food restrictions for the day, and the fettucine Alfredo I made was definitely...adequate.

And that brings us up to this week, which has mostly been spent sequestered from the world, trying to get better. We've had at least two other pieces of good news, but I should wait until they are more official and/or widely known before I mention them here.

Ooooh...suspense!

May 6, 2007

Falling Into Work Again

I have another job.

I'm working--telecommuting, really--for an old friend who decided to let her former bookkeeper go. Believe me when I say I was not really looking for another way to fill those long, empty hours (um, which hours would those be? The ones when--hopefully--I am asleep?), but it certainly seems like a good fit for both of us, for now at least.

We manage to get everything done via Internet, phone, and efax, including payroll tax quarterlies. Those babies flexed my muscles last week, since I hadn't done any since working as a Licensed Tax Preparer, eight or so years ago. Fortunately (for this), the IRS is a massive and slow-to-change beaureaucracy, no matter who is in power, so not much has changed in the interim (and the Oregon Department of Revenue, in this as in so many other things, follows in the IRS' footsteps.)

Speech: Fifth in State!

It's actually "old news", now, being two weeks old, but I figured I'd better note it here for those who don't already know from MySpace, etc. (or because they were there :-) ).

Yep, the team got fifth in its division (and no, there were not only five teams!) This was nice for a number of reasons. In no particular order:
~pretty much everybody who helped get that sweepstakes award, worked for it. I'm always pleased when hard work is acknowledged.
~it was Matt's first state sweeps award. (Not mine; Gresham got at least one? two? I can't remember if it was more, while I was there, and of course I have my prints on the one that is *still* in Matt's trophy case from 1989, when my beloved alma mater's team got, I think, second.)
~it is some external validation that having me help coach the team is, at the least, not detrimental. There were some entirely valid concerns (both ours and admin.'s) about how it all would work with two spouses together (we weren't worried about that, as we happen to love it) and with their small children part of the mix (that, we were worried about.) In the end, it seems to have gone pretty well.
~a significant number of the speechies who contributed to the award were juniors and sophomores. That means they'll be back next year. Woohoo!
~it's a testament to the impact speech has on those who participate, because another major contributing factor was the returning speechies who also helped coach in the weeks leading up to state. Kyle and Chris were both awesome to volunteer their time and expertise.

In other speech news, we are pretty excited because it looks like Matt will have *two* competitive speech classes next semester (probably diminishing to one for Spring Semester 2008). This will both lower the out-of-class English paper load that keeps him from playing with the girls as much as he'd like, and will give us a Rather Large team. (Though surely they will not all stick around when they find out what they're in for, 35+35=70. That's a lot of speechies, and a lot of speeches.) Partly because of that, and partly because--apparently!--we just can't go that long without our speech fix, we're planning to have a "speech camp" this summer. The goals are to help indoctrinate (oops. I probably shouldn't say that. Hmmm. Inform? Acclimatize? Assimilate!) the newbies (or "novii", as we call them--some sort of un-parented perversion of the Latin plural of "novice"); and, to give the returning kids a chance to focus on their speeches without being completely surrounded by all the novii and/or buried in homework.

Pincushion Kitty

Dudley's doing much better. The vet reports that his key number (it's BUN, and you medical types probably have some idea what that measures; not me.) is only 4 above normal, where before it was 16 above normal. I could game the numbers and give you the amazing percentage of improvement, but basically, he feels good enough to bonk a lot at family and to sass at the vet. (We are all in agreement that it's a sad Dudley indeed who cannot live up to the large red "DANGER!!!" printed on his medical file.)

This is a good thing, not least because there are several good reasons why I did not go into medicine. Many of them have shown themselves on Dudley's hide; while I'm pretty good at sewing, I would not call myself good with the other sort of needle! I hit veins; I accidentally have the needle poke back out of the skin at a different spot; I'm not always good at getting the fluid temperature comfortably right. Incredibly, he puts up with it all from me (mostly), and the vast majority of his prescribed fluid goes in (although, now that he's feeling better, he is not as inclined to stick around for the full dose. I occasionally have to use Persuasion.) Of course, that might also have to do with the treat that he always (and only) gets after the ordeal. Another good thing is that I only have to do it every three days, now, instead of every other. And finally, I am somewhat proud of myself in that I haven't had Matt (or anyone else) help me since that first time; it's Me, Myself, and I, all working him over.