Saturday, January 28, 2006

Busy Day!

Today we had to go back to Tom's school for him to take his placement exam. The test started at 10:00 AM and we were told that it would take about two hours. We also had an appointment to meet with the finance office at 1:00. Since we figured we had some time while Tom was taking his test, we decided to take the Metro and explore until it was time for our appointment at 1:00. Jerry, Tom and Andy have never ridden the Metro before and I thought it would be fun to see what we could see! The Rosslyn station is right across the street from Tom's school so it was very convenient.

The Smithsonian was pretty close so we thought we would go there. Andy did not like the escalator ride down to the track level at all. We had just gotten off the Metro at the Smithsonian station, reached street level again and were deciding which direction to go in first when my phone rang. It was Tom - he was finished his test. It was exactly 10:40. I had already bought him a Metro pass because when we first arrived we were a little early for his test so I thought we could get the farecard-buying out of the way. We had planned to do a little riding and sightseeing after our appointment, so we all had a pass. Anyway, we told Tom to ride the Metro to the Smithsonian stop and we would meet him there. There are two exits out of the Smithsonian station. We had taken the Independence Avenue exit and told him we would wait for him there. After a few minutes Jerry's phone rang. Tom said, "I'm at the Smithsonian stop. I'm looking at the monument. Where are you guys?" We looked around - we couldn't see the monument from where we were standing - it turns out he took the Mall exit - not the Independence Avenue exit. We told him to stay put and we would meet him. We finally met him on the Mall, so we got a great view of the capitol and the monument.

We didn't have too much time so we decided to head toward the Natural History museum. We were all getting hungry so we had decided that we were going to try to find something to eat in the vicinity. We saw that the museum had a food court so we decided to have lunch there. What a HUGE mistake. It's a buffet-type food court, so we walked around and picked out what we wanted and met back up at the checkout line to pay. Here's what we got - Jerry and I each got a slice of pizza and a Coke. Tom got a sub - not a whole sub, mind you, but a slice of a sub. He also got a small paper cup full of french fries and a Coke. Andy got two chicken tenders, a small paper cup of french fries and a Coke. Not much food, right? The lady rang it up and calmly said, "$42.50, please". I immediately gave away our tourist/Southern Maryland/not-citified-in-any-way status when I exclaimed "OHMYGOODNESS!!" rather loudly. I was embarrassed afterwards, but I truly was shocked at that price! I told everyone not to eat their food, but to frame it as a souvenir. Well, by the time we ate we didn't have hardly any time left, so we decided we'd better head back to the Metro station. So - we went to the Museum of Natural History - to eat. We decided that we definitely want to go back, though, on a day when we don't have any other appointments and just explore, but we'll brown-bag it!

Shortly after we arrived this morning and were waiting in the school lobby for Tom to be called for his test, Jerry's phone rang. It was his brother, Johnny, informing Jerry that their mom had been in a car accident. She and two friends were traveling together when they had the accident. Jerry's mom and one of the ladies was okay but the paramedics decided that they were going to take the third lady to the hospital to be checked out because her chest was hurting her. It turned out that they released her and that everyone was okay except for some bumps and bruises. Jerry's mom had been driving but not in her car. She was driving the car of one of the friends. She told Jerry later this afternoon that she has a small cut on the bridge of her nose where her glasses hit her when the airbag deployed and some small burns on her arm from that. She said she was a little shaken but okay. She said she's not sure that she wants to drive anytime soon, though! Apparently it was the opinion of the police that both cars involved were totaled. There were two people in the other vehicle. The man driving wasn't hurt at all and his female passenger just had a broken finger. Everyone was very fortunate.

Well, I am very tired and have stuff to do, so enough of this novel for today!

The escalator in the Rosslyn Metro station is very long and steep. My picture is a little dark but you can see people on it and get an idea how very long and steep it really is. Andy did NOT like this one bit and really wished he had an alternative! To be honest, I didn't care much for it myself.

It wouldn't be Washington, D.C. without the pigeons, would it?!

The staircase inside the Museum of Natural History.

Andy was impressed by the monument.

Andy thought the Metro station was okay, but was a little nervous about the whole underground thing!

We saw the capitol building.

The Smithsonian castle.

Andy's first Metro ride!

Looking down the track waiting for our carriage to arrive!

Tom's school again - Art Institute of Washington.

This is the very large building that is reflected in the glass of Tom's school building. I have no idea what it is, but it's very tall!

Here is the building of Tom's school.

Here is the studio of WJLA, channel 7.

The WJLA studio has a weather radar screen and a rolling headline screen!

Monday, January 23, 2006

The power is out at the main office for one of the companies I do work for, so I'll take this opportunity to update briefly. Yes, I could do work for the other company - no power outage there - and I will - soon! I am in the usual end-of-the-pay-period rush, although this time is a little more rushed than usual because both companies have their pay periods ending today. I can't remember the last time that happened. Anyway, what that means is that I'm trying to get in as much work as humanly possible so that my paycheck can be as large as humanly possible!

Andy and I had his homeschooling review at the board of education on Friday. Twice a year they review what we are doing and approve (or disapprove) of the education our children are getting. I was really shocked at the number of homeschooling families in this county. They had two separate conference rooms set up, one for elementary grades and the other for middle and high school grades. I saw that the elementary room was packed when I walked by and when I went into our room there were parents with every reviewer there, too. We had an appointment time of 9:30 but we were a little late being seen. I got a glimpse of our the reviewers' main schedule and saw that for a period of about five days, six reviewers had appointments from morning until evening. That's just for middle and high school. That's a lot of homeschoolers! When I registered Andy to homeschool back in August the lady there told me that this was a record year for homeschooling and that they couldn't keep up.'d think the county would wonder why!

Anyway, we are doing just fine. The reviewer said she was very impressed with my choices for his curriculum and that she really liked the education Andy was getting. The only thing she suggested was that we try to incorporate more writing into his work. I explained to her that Andy was an oral learner, as was Tom, and that he learns best by being read to, or reading independently and then narrating back to me what he's read. A lot of times I give him oral exams instead of making him write it out. The reviewer said that it was great that I had figured out the best way for Andy to learn (oral or written), but that's kind of the whole purpose of homeschooling - you know your child better than anyone! She suggested then just to have Andy start a journal and write in that each day, but she said that other than that to just continue with what we're doing. Then I threw a wrench in the works! Lately Andy has been asking about a computer curriculum, and I'll admit that I would like to have done that at the start, but trying to juggle his school work and my work on my computer wouldn't have worked too well. Now that he got a computer for Christmas, he asked if we could try the computer curriculum. I told him we could and so I'll be ordering that this week. When I told the reviewer that we intended to make this change, she said that she had LOTS of families that used this particular curriculum and that she couldn't say enough good things about it. She said that both Andy and I would really like using it, and the best part is that all of his grades and work are kept in a portfolio in the program which eliminates grading and paperwork for me. There is an option for lessons and tests in the program where you can choose whether to have the student read the lessons or the tests or you can click a button and a voice reads the lesson and/or the tests to the student - for those oral learners, you know! There's still a lot of parental involvement, which I like (Andy doesn't always, though!).

Well, enough for now. Guess I'd better get busy doing whatever work I can do. By the way, where did winter go?! I want SNOW - not rain!

Monday, January 16, 2006

It's That Time Again!

Yes, it was finally tree-tossing time here. As you can see from the pictures, it was a little different this year with everyone wanting a turn. If the neighbors questioned our mental stability, this event should have definitely confirmed their suspicions. With each toss and then subsequent drag up the steps to toss it yet again, the tree lost more and more of it's branches, growing smaller by the toss. Then the toss disintegrated into a brotherly battle with the tree as the weapon. No brothers were harmed during the making of this spectacle. Can't say the same for the tree, though.

We went to Arlington on Saturday and toured the Art Institute. What a cool place! We were very impressed with it and Tom is eager to start. We will be going back in two weeks to finalize the paperwork and for Tom to take his placement tests. They said there is a possibility that he may be able to test out of a few of the beginning courses since he already took a few college courses during his senior year of high school but they are looking into transferring his college credits first, but not all colleges accept credits in transfer. We have to wait for their decision on this. I brought my camera but Andy wanted to use it on the way to snap some pictures and of course, it got left behind in the truck which was parked four stories underground in the Hyatt down the road. I will remember to have it with me next time. Finding parking was not an easy task, and it was Saturday! They informed Tom that when he attends he should probably ride the Metro or something because parking will definitely be an adventure. Many of his beginning courses are offered online also, so he thinks he will take them this way and save the commute for the classes that aren't online. Actually, they told us that the online courses are more stringent and strict than the courses on campus. If you take an online course you are required to be logged in and actually participating for 5 hours on the days the online class is in session. The classes on campus are 4 hours each. The college goes in quarters, not in semesters, and it goes year-round without summers off. Tom will be completing his degree in 3 years - possibly sooner if he can get credit or test out of some of his courses. The entire top floor is their culinary school and they told Tom that honor students get served 12-course meals from there. I guess that's a good thing - assuming the students can cook well. In any case, it's probably better than anything he's used to around here!

Now I'd better get busy. Andy has assignments to do and it's been difficult getting back into the old routine around here again. Oh, well - back to the grind.

They began chasing each other through the yard with the tree...*sigh* I don't know about these boys.

Even Sam had a go at it. Look at that follow-though! We think she's secretly training for the Olympics.

It became a battering ram.

Now it's Andy's turn.

Tom takes turn tossing tree. Say that three times fast.

One of Andy's tosses came up a little short and didn't quite make it over the rail.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Happy New Year!

We now return you to our regularly scheduled posting. I was going to post earlier about Tom's career change before the whole stolen-credit-card-makes-us-temporarily-destitute thing happened. Now then - Tom has decided that he does not want to be a steamfitter and could not picture himself doing what he has been doing for the next 40 years or so. He said he knew he should have done this about two years ago, but he decided that he wants to go to college. He said he is afraid that it's kind of now or never - and we agree with him. All too soon he will be 20, and then the years go by quickly. When he was looking into colleges a couple of years ago he was interested in an arts college, and so now has found one that he wants to attend. He did all the necessary paperwork already for the Art Institute of Washington, which is actually located in Arlington, Virginia........! We have an appointment to go this Saturday to tour the campus and meet with the admissions advisor. He is trying to get housing on-campus, but we'll have to see how that works out. There are three apartment buildings nearby where the college houses students but they are VERY expensive - $2200 a month. The college puts four students in each apartment and the rent is split, but that's still a lot. He intends to major in graphic design. We'll see what all the options are this Saturday. Looking into the apartments available to the students brought back memories of visiting Grandma at Crystal Towers, because the student apartments are in Crystal City. I saw a web site with pictures of inside and outside of Crystal Towers and it sure brought back memories of her apartment. A couple of years ago Tom was looking at the Art Institute's campus in Canada, but I'm glad he decided to stick closer to home!

The bank situation is just about taken care of now. All of the money except for one charge has been returned to the account. Whew!

We had a very nice time at Mike and Linda's house. It was great to see everyone. All the children are growing up SO FAST!

I made a few New Year's resolutions this year, and along with sharing them, I would like to issue a challenge to any family members and friends who read this. My first resolution was what it always is - to lose weight! The second was to stop being so self-conscious about everything and stop worrying about what others will think of me. The third was to try to remember that each day is a gift, and live accordingly. Now for the challenge I mentioned. Frankly, I bore myself and would like to read about YOUR lives. Starting a blog is easy, free, fun and actually kind of therapeutic. I would like to keep up with what my family members and friends (that means you, Anita!) are up to. Ten minutes a couple of times a week is all it would take. Please?! Anyone?! Just think - you could have a forum to post all your kids' pictures and brag about them! Okay, I think I've gotten the point across.

Happy New Year! Kind of late, but the sentiment is genuine nonetheless.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Never A Dull Moment!

I was going to write about the holidays and what a wonderful Christmas and New Year's we had. I was also going to write about Tom's change in career plans. But those will wait until later.

Last night I was on the computer and signed onto the bank to look at our accounts. I was very surprised when I noticed Jerry's business account had it's balance in red. Uh, oh. I opened the account information screen and discovered that someone had stolen his business check card number and had been on a two-day online shopping spree, not only wiping out the entire account but overdrawing $4,000.00 on top of that. There were a few thousand dollars of charges for electronics from different places and even a charge for Victoria's Secret! I guess even felons need lingerie. We immediately called the bank who immediately cancelled the card and reassured us that they would handle everything. Our money is expected to be restored to the account within a few days and then the bank will be pursuing whoever did this. While Jerry was on the phone talking to the bank, I got on another line and called one of the places where some of the shopping had been done and let them know what was going on. The lady at this place said that there was an additional $567.00 order getting ready to be shipped. I told her again that this was not anything that we ordered and that the card was now cancelled. Out of curiosity I asked what that order was and she said it was a camera and a printer. I asked her to tell me the name and address that it was supposed to be shipped to, and she said she couldn't tell me that for security reasons! Security reasons?! I told Jerry this while he was still on the phone with the bank which he relayed to them and they told him not to worry about it - they would get all of that information. I am thankful that Jerry filled his truck up the day before this happened. Now if only I could get somebody to do something about the electric bill I received yesterday. It was $304.00 - that's for one month. Sure seems like theft to me!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

'Nuff said.

Meet Beulah.

The sunset was beautiful leaving Mike and Linda's house.

Buckingham Palace. Oh, no, wait. That's Mike and Linda's house! Gorgeous inside and out. Mike is an incredibly talented designer, and Linda is an incredibly talented decorator.

Three generations of lovely ladies.

Boomwhacker central.

Photo-itis. A condition in which the face contorts unnaturally when shown a camera.

Oh, and it's hereditary.

Shooting match at high noon.

Chef and Miss Thing in her peek-a-boo blouse.

Gathered around the table - as usual!

Before I get flamed from somebody, let me just say that I have lived in a mobile home, and probably will again if we find a piece of land that we like without a home on it already. That being said, we thought that this added a certain amount of Southern Maryland kitsch to the tree.

Here is our Christmas tree. Note the "star".


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