Archive for January, 2010

A good thing

I have decided that it’s a good thing we have home group in our house every two weeks, because it means that I am FORCED to clean things up at least that often.  Group starts in 15 minutes, and at this exact moment, I can claim that most portions of our home are clean enough for guests.  Now we just need to keep it this way.   The probabilities of that are not exceedingly high.

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Losing my marbles

Andrew’s math curriculum involves a textbook, a workbook, and a book of Challenging Word Problems.  He works in all three simultaneously, and the challenging word problems (CWPs) are, well, challenging – not just for Andrew, but for ME!

Singapore’s elementary math series doesn’t teach algebra per se,  but it does teach nifty ways to do problems that I would consider algebraic without actually using algebra.  Instead, you draw bars and blocks to set up equivalencies.  It’s quite visual, which I love, and it does let a kid SEE what’s going on without getting into x’s and y’s.  Frankly, I find the process amazing.  Josiah did Singapore Elementary Math before moving into Algebra 1, and I think Singapore gave him a good practical foundation.  I’m hoping Andrew will likewise benefit.

Although Andrew usually does okay (80%ish, on average) with the problems in the textbook and workbook, he is consistently completely overwhelmed by the challenging word problems.  Because Scott and I also consider them pretty intense for the average American 10 year-old (although I guess in Singapore they breed ’em to do these types of calculations at insanely young ages), we decided to count the CWPs as bonuses.  For each CWP, he can get up to three bonus points:  one for doing it alone, one for setting up the right logic, and one for doing the calculations correctly.

Right now, Andrew’s working with per cents, and while he’s doing pretty well wih the textbook and workbook per cent problems, as usual, he’s bombing the CWPs.  Today I was looking over two CWPs he missed so that I will be able to show him how to do them when we go over corrections.

Get a load of this little gem for 5th graders:  “Box A had 400 marbles.  Box B had 500 marbles.  30% of Box A’s marbles and 60% of Box B’s marbles were white, and the rest were blue.  30% of Box A’s blue marbles and 25% of Box B’s blue marbles were transferred to the other box at the same time.  How many more marbles were there in Box B than Box A at the end?”

I did correctly calculate the answer, but now I will need to explain the process to Andrew.  I feel like I’m losing my marbles.

Eight inches

Yes, we now have eight inches of the lovely, fluffy, white stuff in our front yard!  I went out to walk this morning, and it was just all so wonderfully glorious.  Nearly a lane’s worth had been cleared on some of the road, and since it’s Saturday (a low traffic day anyway), I was able to walk mainly on pavement in that lane.  When a vehicle approached, I just stepped off into the 15 or so inches of snow that the snow plow had thrown up, and slogged along till the car passed.   It was slow going, but so deliciously beautiful.  Snow plows passed me twice, so I have fond hope that today they’ll get 160 and 65 clear enough for us to go to church tomorrow.

Yesterday it was snowing steadily every waking moment! God must really love me a LOT to give us TWO such wonderful snowfalls in one month.  = )

Maybe it’s a BLIZZARD!!!

It is now 3:30 PM, and sometime between 1:45 AM and 7:20 AM today, the snow started.  Since that time it has been snowing NON-STOP!  Yes, this is one of the steadiest snowfalls we have ever experienced in our thirteen years in Walnut Shade.

Our official resident meteorologist (Josiah the Barefoot Wonder) reports that the current average depth of white stuff on our property is approximately four-and-one-half inches.  Furthermore Brandon Beck of KY3 fame advises that the snow is not expected to taper off till after midnight.

She squeals with glee.

We are all SO very happy!

How we spend our money

Or, maybe more accurately, how our money is spent.  I was reading some updates from our local state senator and representative and learned that 29% of Missouri’s annual expenditures is spent on education (~$3.7 billion) and 32% goes to SOCIAL SERVICES (~$4.1 billion)!!!

I must figure out a way to do something about this.

Hope Brandon’s right!

While I was walking and praying this morning, I was thanking God for the possibility of snow later this week.  The Tri-Lakes trash man picks up at the church on Wednesday mornings, and we usually wave to each other as I walk past.  This morning, while parked in the church driveway, he called to me that I wouldn’t be able to walk tomorrow, because there’d be 5-7 inches of SNOW!  He wasn’t too happy about, as he is looking forward to spring, but I was nearly ecstatic.

I came in to check the KY3 forecast, and here’s what our friendly meteorologist says:

UPDATED: Wednesday Morning at 6:00 a.m.

STRONG WINTER STORM TO BRING DEEP SNOW AND SOME ICE TO THE OZARKS

Good morning!  A major winter storm is headed for the Ozarks and should begin Thursday afternoon and go through at least early Friday.  I’ll get to that shortly, but let’s talk about today’s weather first.  Temperatures are starting in the low 20s up to the low 30s this morning.  Radar is picking up some activity moving in from Oklahoma and Kansas but there is a significant layer of dry air under this.  As such it will likely take some time to reach the ground, and by the time it does I think we’ll have warmed above freezing.  In fact despite plenty of cloud cover today high temperatures will reach near 40 over central Missouri, mid to upper 40s over southern Missouri, and near 50 in Arkansas.  Any precipitation we get will be very light.  A cold front will move through the area by about midnight tonight ushering in colder air and a north breeze.  This will also temporarily dry the atmosphere out.  Early morning temperatures Thursday will be in the 20s over Missouri and mid 30s over Arkansas.  There will be very little warming tomorrow before precipitation arrives from Oklahoma.  As this begins to fall it may start as rain but evaporation will cause cooling and this will likely change to freezing rain fairly quickly. As the evening wears on a mixture of freezing rain and sleet appears likely over extreme southern Missouri and northern Arkansas with snow becoming likely farther into southern Missouri.  The peak of this storm will be overnight Thursday and at this point the thermal structure of the atmosphere is forecast to support mostly snow.  As seems to be the case with nearly every major winter event in the Ozarks, there will be a layer of near-freezing air over Arkansas through at least the pre-dawn hours of Friday morning, leading to uncertainty about what type of precipitation will be falling.  Whatever is falling there, it should be intense for several hours with heavy snow well into southern and central Missouri.  Temperatures will continue to drop during the night with a gusty north wind.  All in all it does not look pretty around much of the region with travel becoming difficult into Friday.  Click the graphic on the left to see my preliminary forecast for amounts.  In areas where sleet and freezing rain occur accumulation amounts will be lower (but still significant).  However, it’s possible to see higher amounts than I have if the chance to snow occurs sooner.  Over much of southern Missouri, including Springfield, I expect 6-12” of snow.  There could easily be some higher totals over far southern Missouri.  Over central Missouri (the northern Ozarks) I expect amounts to range between 3-6 with the lightest amounts over Morgan and Benton Counties.  Given the expected snow cover temperatures will be very cold through the weekend with below zero lows likely Sunday morning.

Brandon Beck
KY3 Stormteam
Meteorologist

Lest that projected totals map is not clickable inside this post, let me assure you that we reside in the SIX to TWELVE INCH area!!!  Yee-hah!

“Not deemed medically necessary”

Some people spend lots of time doing fun things like playing football, or listening to music, or even writing in blogs, but we have entered into that newest form of recreation called, “Ante Up.”  It involves trying to get your health insurance company to cover your accident expenses at the highest possible rate.

We think that we will eventually be on a first name basis with at least 60% of the friendly customer service representatives at our local Blue Cross Blue Shield call center.  Today, Scott had the opportunity to talk with one of those fine folks about Blue Cross’ determination on one of the claims pertinent to his recent ski accident.

When his flesh experienced a severe and unplanned impact with one of the slopes at Breckenridge, his left hip was dislocated.  The ball was thrust backward out of the socket, fracturing the socket.  Scott was knocked unconscious by the fall, but once he had been stabilized and had taken a rather pricey ride (of which he has no memory) in an ambulance to the Summit County Medical Center, he came to enough to moan about the terrible pain in his hip. There were some x-rays and a number of CT scans.  Then they wheeled him into surgery to sedate him before reducing the hip (shoving the ball back into the socket).

In yesterday’s mail, we received a very nice bill from Colorado Surgical and Critical Care Associates for those services, and, as a bonus, we also received Blue Cross’ Explanation of Benefits (EOB) for those same charges.

I found it very interesting that Blue Cross approved the $132 for “Moderate Sedation >5, ” but denied the $1056 for “treatment of displaced hip,” because the latter was “not deemed medically necessary by the payer.”  So what’s with that?!? It seems like everyone agrees that reducing a hip is an extraordinarily painful procedure, and that the patient must be sedated in order to do it, but evidently actually putting the ball back into the socket is not really essential.

Now tell me, how would one be expected to get around on a dislocated hip? We shall appeal, and I’m sure Blue Cross will see it rationally, but I thought it was funny enough to laugh about.  A merry heart does good like a medicine, right?

Zales account

I remember that it was the day Oral Roberts died.  That day was significant because the Childs were visiting us.  Neal and Danette are ORU grads and their son, Trae is a freshman there.  We had gotten the news earlier that day (12/15/09) that Dr. Roberts had died.

Getting on toward suppertime, being in the kitchen near the microwave, I bent over to pick up something off the floor and suddenly noticed that my wedding ring was gone.  Hmmm. . . I never take it off, but for the past year or so I have had to hold it on when swimming, or doing dishes, or any number of other things.  The weather was cold and I had been losing some weight over the past six months, so the ring had gotten quite loose.

Historically, I’ve had trouble with rings.  When Scott and I got engaged, my friend, Cathie Dorsch, gave me a diamond ring that she no longer wore.  We used the diamond and had a jeweler melt down the gold to make a new ring for me.  In fact, maybe that gold was enough to make my engagement ring and my wedding band.  I can’t remember, but I do know that for the three rings (Scott’s one and my two) we didn’t have to put out much cash.  Cathie also gave us a vacuum cleaner that we used for over 15 years.  Thank you, Cathie!

One day in the second Birchwood house, we were sitting in the living room (blue carpet) talking with Scott’s folks, and the diamond suddenly popped out of my engagement ring and fell on the floor.  We all dug in the carpet and even used (Cathie’s) vacuum cleaner with a piece of pantyhose rubber-banded over the end of it to try to find the diamond, but we never did.  That was tough, but since I still had the wedding band, I was okay.

Then there were the pregnancies with all their associated weight gain, and during one of them (still in Little Rock), my fingers swelled so much that I had to wrench the ring off or face gangrene.  I don’t know what happened to that ring, but I know that I went many months without wearing one, and I felt naked.  We eventually bought another one at Service Merchandise for the princely sum of $120.

I think that’s the one that fell off a few years ago while Scott and I were walking on Coffee Road.  It later showed up in Josiah’s sock drawer.

The bottom line is that I have ceased being sentimental about wedding rings; I just like to wear one so that strangers will know I’m married.  My friends already know that.

So, when whichever generation ring it was went AWOL in the kitchen last month, I looked all over for it, was pretty frustrated with myself for not holding it on, and did in fact cry a few tears, but by the next day I was over it.  I figured I could live without a ring for a while, and someday we’d buy another one that actually fit.  Although, as I later mentioned to Jessica, considering fluid retention and such, maybe I really need a winter ring and summer ring. . .

The ring disappeared on December 15, and on December 19 Scott had a serious ski accident from which he is not yet fully recovered and which could – but hopefully won’t – cost us several arms and legs by the time all is said and done.  Imagine my surprise then, when (after we had agreed that we wouldn’t give each other gifts for Christmas) Scott gave me a card on Christmas morning saying he would buy me a replacement wedding ring.  Wow!

I have hesitated, mainly because we haven’t yet paid the ski accident bills and we don’t even know how much they will all be.  (Note: There are MANY health-care-providing entities there are in Summit County, Colorado, and every one of them claims to have done something to, for, or in relation to Scott!)  But on Saturday, Scott told me we were going to go buy a ring, and go we did.  To the local Zale’s outlet, where we bought a lovely white gold ring that was 40% off due to some sale or the other, and then, in order to save an additional 10%, we opened a Zale’s account.

This is almost a joke.  I am NOT into jewelry, and I will NEVER use my Zale’s account, but 10% is 10%, so we did it.  We will pay the bill (which is sure to be MUCH less than the ambulance, the critical care physicians, the surgical hip reduction, the “moderate sedation >5,” and the four CT scans) when it comes, and then we will promptly cancel the Zale’s account.

Which reminds of what Scott did with the Christmas tree.  We have always had a real tree, which Scott shops for with the kids.  We normally buy our tree a week or ten days before Christmas.  This works well, because we’d like it to  still look good for our second Christmas with my parents, which depending on how the days fall, can be as late as December 29 or so. An added benefit of delayed selection is that the prices tend to be lower.

However, this year, due to a number of situations, we had to get our tree rather early.  Scott took Jessica and Andrew to Home Depot, where they found a nice tree and picked up some other unrelated items.  The total bill came to about $50, but Scott was told that Home Depot would knock $25 off the bill if he opened a Home Depot account,  and that explains why we got a Home Depot bill the other day (along with a small collection of medical bills), when I didn’t even know we HAD a Home Depot account.  Actually, we won’t have it much longer, because Scott paid the bill and will cancel the account as soon as he gets the next statement with a zero balance.

Only my let’s-work-the-system-to-our-advantage husband would open a store charge account to buy a Christmas tree.  Or a wedding ring.   = )

Como esta?

All kids should learn a foreign language.

For  Katie, I picked Spanish, because that seemed the language she’d be most likely to use.  She worked her way through Rosetta Stone Spanish Levels 1 & 2, which, at that time, involved only hearing it and reading it.  As far as I know, she disliked it (maybe she hated it?), and she probably can’t carry on a simple conversation in Spanish; although in her defense she may well be able to understand portions of what someone else is saying.

Jessica started with Rosetta Stone Spanish, but quickly switched to Chinese.  She has now completed Rosetta Stone Chinese Levels 1 & 2 and is nearly through Level 3.  Unlike her sister, Jessica was highly motivated to learn her foreign language, because she had been to China and wanted to be able to communicate with people there.  She also practiced conversation with a Chinese tutor for a couple hours a week.

The boys have now been slogging through Rosetta Stone Spanish Level 1 for I-don’t-know-how-many years.  Josiah is almost done with it, and Andrew’s probably halfway through.  They both dislike it intensely, but I will force them to continue through Level 2.  I don’t think hatred would be too strong a term for their feelings about this.

Our friend and neighbor, Eva, is Mexican.  A couple weeks ago, I had the brilliant (?) idea that it would be nice for the boys to spend a few minutes with her several times a week for some Spanish immersion.  When I presented the concept, she was pleased to help.

Eva owns a horse that is boarded not far from here, and late every afternoon, she drives over there to feed Tom.  Some days she picks up the boys, and they go with her.  She talks to them in Spanish and they have to figure out what she’s saying and how to reply.  Andrew likes it okay, but Josiah . . . well. . .

Rosetta Stone teaches you really useful sentences like, “The boy is on the table,” and, “The ball is red.”  But it doesn’t teach you conversational things – questions like “When will we go?” or “What do you want to do?”  or even “Where’s the bathroom?”

Eva rides with us to the home group Scott leads, and this afternoon I called her to confirm what time we would pick her up.  When I started talking in English, she immediately said, “No!  En Espanol!”  Okay.  I struggled through, asking her how to spell some of the words she was saying (I’m an almost exclusively visual learner, which makes foreign language conversation really tough for me) and trying in my brain to sort out the Spanish words I was supposed to be using from the very similar but slightly different French and Latin ones I remember from my teen years AND from the Chinese ones I regularly hear around the supper table! Sheesh.  It’s enough to make my brain sweat.

So, Josiah and Andrew may not be learning much Spanish, but get a load of this amazing sentence I said to Eva on the phone (with the help of some hand-scribbled notes):

“Yo te recojo a dies minutos dispues de la seis estudiar la Biblia.”

I think this can be roughly translated, “I (will) pick you up at ten after six to study the Bible.”

Now, why is it that I, the one who enjoys deciphering languages, have no time or real reason to study Spanish, but my 15 year-old son, the one who NEEDS a couple of foreign language credits on his transcript, couldn’t be less motivated?

Sigh.

At least Andrew is somewhat interested, and Eva [will] recoja los muchachos a quatro [o’clock] cominar el caballo.

Never a dull day on Irene’s Lane

Faithful readers may remember crazy Wendell.  He’s the guy who married Carol (nice lady) after her husband of many years, Jim, died of cancer a few years back.  Wendell’s the guy who went nutso with a gun last January, with Carol and one of Carol’s grandsons in the house, prompting a swat-team-like surround of their house and a snatching of the boy to safety when Wendell threatened to shoot someone.

Earlier this month, Michael, one of Carol’s sons, evidently came to their home.  I have heard that he came with his girlfriend or wife.  Evidently he and Wendell don’t get along.  To say the least.

We had gone to church that evening, but while eating supper in Springfield, it began snowing so hard and sticking so much that Scott decided we should skip church and come home.  We inched our way home and arrived at about 7:20 PM.  Just after we pulled in, Andrew said he saw an ambulance pulling out of Coffee Road.  A few minutes later, I saw another ambulance leaving.  The lights inside it were on, and I could see an EMT man standing up doing something inside.  There were no sirens for either ambulance.

Our neighbors had been standing out in the snow and had seen one person come walking out of the house assisted and with a blanket wrapped around him or her.  They had also seen two gurneys taken into the house, but didn’t know who walked out or who came out on the gurneys.

The next day, we began getting answers.  Here are some of the links to the various news stories.

First Article

Second Article

Third Article

It’s such a nice neighborhood.  We just wish those folks down on Irene’s Lane would either calm down or move away.


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