Sunday, March 22, 2015

UC Davis

 We went on a tour of UC Davis today and my son really enjoyed it.  We've been so many times that he recognized many of the areas we visited.
 Lots of things are the same from 25 years ago when I graduated from here, but many areas are different.  They have torn down some buildings and put up lots of new ones.
 The dorms where my husband and I met are gone as is the building he proposed to me in.
 These egg head statures are all over the campus.  They weren't here when I went to school.  This one is Face Book.  Get it?
 Lots of the old buildings I spent a lot of time in were still the same and brought back a lot of memories.  I remember the area where I got in my first bike crash.  I couldn't decide if I should go left or right, so I went straight into the guy coming at me.  Nobody got hurt, but I felt pretty stupid.
 UC Davis has the most bikes on any campus, somewhere around 40,000.  I remember one time I came out of a class and couldn't find my bike.  I knew for sure someone had stolen it so I got back to my dorm and called the police.  I filled out a report and about 3 days later I found my bike.  I had not taken it to class that day, but had left it at another one of my classes the day before and just forgotten about it.  I felt really stupid and so I called the police back and told them I found my bike.  I wonder how many other people forget where they put their bikes.  With 40,000 bikes it's pretty hard to keep track of them all.
This building was the most surprising of them all.  When I went to school it was called Chem A.  The building is exactly the same, but now has a different name.  I wonder who Peter A. Rock is.  Probably someone famous.  I saw Nightmare on Elm Street here and it scared me so much I ran all the way back to my dorm room.  Ir you know me, I'm not a runner and it's a long way back to the dorm.  I knew for sure Freddy Kruger was coming after me.  I ran really fast!  I hate scary movies!

I'm not sure where my son will be going to school, but I loved UC Davis.  Lots of great memories here.  My son got offered a great scholarship, about $18,000 a year and also the Honors Program with lots of perks like special housing, access to a special library, mentoring by faculty and other things.

He's still waiting to hear back from two more schools before having to make a final decision by May 1.  It's an exciting time for him and I'm enjoying going through this again.  With each child it's getting less stressful and more enjoyable.  I sit through each presentation and hear many of the same things said by each recruiter (this is probably the 30th presentation I've listened to) and have to chuckle a bit as I watch the first time parents who are very nervous and who ask lots of questions.  I really should have more children so I can do this a few more times.  Maybe I will get to go through this with the grandchildren some day.  That is if my kids ever decide to have kids!  I don't think they have colleges for dogs.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Robotics

 Today was a robotics competition in Davis where my son's group participated.  They are team 701.
 The competition this year is called Recycle Rumble and the goal is to stack the grey totes and put the green trash cans on top of a stack of 6 totes.  The pool noodle goes into the trash can and you earn points for everything your team can do.  There are teams of 3 and you get a score for each team.  They average every round and the teams with the highest average at the end of the competition goes onto the final rounds.
 There is an autonomous round at the beginning where the program runs by itself and you earn extra points.  Then the drive team takes over and run the robot by a remote control.
 There is a lot of energy in the room with dancing, music, cheering and lots of kids making new friends.  Teams come from all over the US
 The team got the Engineering Inspiration award.
 During the initial competition, these yellow totes earn extra points if you can work together with your team mates to stack them on the white zones and then another team member can stack grey totes or the trash can on top.  Cooperation is always encouraged in these events.


 Here are a couple of the cans with the pool noodles inside them.


 My son's job was to write a computer program that helped them choose team members.  It analyzed how each team played, what they were good at and how they could help his team into the finals.  He is in charge of the students on the team who scout and collect the data on all of the other teams that are at the competitions.  It's like scouting a new team member for a sports team.  He knows everything about every robot and what each robot is good at and how it can benefit their team.



 They got the team they wanted and were very excited about their chances of winning.
 They ended up in 2nd place, but had a great time, but had a great time.  I love watching my son excel and enjoy spending time with like minded kids.
 He's excited about college and moving on with the next phase of his life and I'm happy he's enjoying this part of his high school experience.


Experimenting with sunflowers

 Yesterday I went to my son's classroom to help out with a science experiment.  I got a pound each of Red Wigglers and European Earthworms and four different types of sunflowers.  We divided up their garden plot and planted the sunflowers in each side of the plot.  Then we placed the worms on either side and the kids timed how long it took for their worm to dig itself into the ground.  It was 'boys vs girls' and the kids went back and calculated the average time for the different times for the worms to make it into the ground.  The will watch the garden grow and see if the worms have any affect on the grown of the flowers.  The teacher wanted something easy to grow and something that the birds could enjoy over the summer.  These should be ready to harvest next year when the kids come back to school and most of the kids live close to the school so they can come by during the summer and enjoy the flowers.  At first some of the kids weren't too sure about touching the worms, but after seeing that they wouldn't get bitten by the worms, they were all holding out their hands and enjoyed getting a whole hand full of the worms.  I believe in overdoing things and every kid had a great big hand full of worms to play with!  They all had a great time!
Then we came home and planted one packet of sunflower seeds in our little garden out back.  We planted the SkyScraper sunflowers in here.  They are supposed to be really tall and big.  I can't find the place I ordered them from, but I'm pretty sure it was ebay.  I thought I read they were supposed to be 50 feet tall (but then I never was very good at math :)

I hope the snails don't get them all.  We will have our own little experiment out here in the backyard and hopefully have something growing out here this summer.  We are having such a terrible drought that we aren't supposed to water anything so I hope I can keep them alive.  Maybe I will have to start saving the water from our showers to bring outside.  Wouldn't that be funny?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WoRMs

 My son's 5th grade class has a garden plot.  At his parent conference, his teacher asked if there was a science experiment they could do with the empty plot of land.  We talked about it and came up with an idea.
 I ordered two types of worms, European Earth Worms (you should hear their British Accents!) and Red Wigglers.  The kids will divide the plot of land into two sections and spread the worms out over the land.  The first experiment they will do is to time how long it will take for the worms to dig themselves into the ground.  We will do that on Friday afternoon.  I get out early and will go over there to help them.
 Then, I got lots of different types of sunflower seeds.  I got two packages of each type of seed and the kids will plant each half of the garden the same and they will see if the different types of worms will make a difference in sunflower growth.  That's going to take a long time to happen, but they can go out once a week and measure the growth of the plants and keep a chart on how much the plants are growing.
 That's a lot of worms!  I ordered a pound of each type.
 He's not really a kid who likes icky things, so this is a stretch for him.  I'm really proud of how much he's willing to try new things this year.
 Makes me want to start a worm composting bin in the backyard.  I wonder if I could keep it alive.  Probably not over the summer where it gets to be over 100 for weeks at a time.
 I guess if I started by burying my kitchen scraps in the backyard in my little garden that would be a good start.  I heard on the radio today about a lady who lived for two years so eco friendly that at the end of the two years all of the trash she ended up with fit into a quart jar.  I wonder what was not able to be recycled or reused and if she had a family, or if she lived alone.  http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-16168/i-havent-made-any-trash-in-2-years-heres-what-my-life-is-like.html  So I know you will want to read the article yourself.  I just did and it doesn't say how she did it, just that she stopped making trash.  I guess you have to sign up and give her money to find out her secrets since she started a company and now makes money off of not throwing things away :)
I still like my plastic bags for so many things and doubt I will ever go trash free, but do think about ways to reduce the amount of trash we make since I'm the one who has to take the trash out all the time and one less trip to the outdoor can each week is nice.  I'm not doing it for the planet, I'm doing it because I'm lazy!  Whatever it takes right?

Monday, March 16, 2015

botox update

This picture was taken one week after the botox injections.  You can see that I still have some wrinkles on my forehead and that I have some bruising where the doctor injected the botox above my right eye in two places.  See the wrinkles in the middle of my forehead?  I can still move my forehead there.  The botox works to imobolize the muscles.  After doing some more research into how botox is supposed to work, it inhibits some of the neurotransmitters that are overactive in people who get lots of migraines.  It blocks the extra chemicals our brains produce.  At least that's the theory.  Since I don't get a migraine in my forehead, but rather behind the left eye, I couldn't figure out how it was supposed to work for me.  After reading about the blocking the neurotransmitter part, it started to make some sense.

 Look ma, no wrinkles.  I'm doing the same thing with my forehead, trying to lift my eyebrows and now, at three weeks post botox, I can't.  I have lost all control over my eyebrow lifting muscles and cannot move my forehead.  I've lost my 'teacher look' and have had to resort to staring like a crazy person to get kids to listen to me.  Pretty effective still and the fact that the wrinkles are gone is a bonus.  Plus, the migraines are much less as well.  the last time I got botox it did nothing.  NOTHING!  This time I would say it is 75% effective.  That's pretty successful.  I've had two really bad ones in the last 3 weeks and I think 3-4 mild ones.  Not bad compared to the 35 days of continuous migraines I had before the botox.

Other side effects are a sore neck from where he injected the botox into the back of my head for about the first two weeks.  I would say the past 3 days have been better, but those first two weeks were rough.  It was hard to hold my head up straight and I'd find myself holding onto the back of my neck several times a day.

If you are considering getting botox for migraines or have tried it in the past and it didn't work for you, I say give it a try.  I was very skeptical the first time and very disappointed after it didn't work.  I thought for sure it wouldn't work again, but am happy with how much it has helped out this time around.

a new writer

http://mikestalesoffifthgrade.blogspot.com/

My son had his parent teacher conference last week and the subject he struggles with the most is writing.  He is doing much better than last year, but his teacher and I decided that the only way for him to get better is to practice more.  He has really taken a lot of chances this year by learning to ride a bike, learning to swim and trying harder in all subjects in school.

I was thinking that since he likes computers so much, he might like writing some blog posts.  I had him start a blog and will be encouraging him to write on it every day.  Hopefully he will be encouraged to write short stories about things he does every day and to look back over time to see how much his writing has improved.  With a sister who has a creative writing Masters and a grandpa who has written several books and a mom who loves to write, maybe he will find that love inside as well.

I'm back

I took a break from blogging for a couple of weeks and got a phone call from my mom yesterday reminding me that my dad has been checking on me, wondering where I have been.  It's nice to be missed!

Since I haven't been doing any quilting, or much sewing lately, there really hasn't been much to write about.  I'm walking most days and the dogs are loving the extra attention.  I'm trying to keep my step average up, but that doesn't happen every day.  I'd like to be able to brag that I reach 10,000 steps or 5 miles a day, but no matter how hard I try, I'm happy to reach 5,000 steps on a good day.  It seems walking around the classroom only gets me about a mile a day.  I must do more sitting than I thought.  I wonder why I'm so tired at the end of the day.  I should get steps for talking so much.  Maybe there is a meter for how many words you say.  I bet I get 10,000 words a day or more and half of those are "Be quiet and look at me."

My older son is starting to hear back from colleges.  Hence the scarf picture.  I've been working on this for over a year now.  It's a Doctor Who scarf from the Tom Baker years and is over 14 feet long.  I'm not a fast knitter and I can't say I worked on it every day.  I'm sure there were a couple of months where I didn't work on it at all, but I know I started it in November of 2013 and just finished it yesterday.  I gifted it to the school librarian who has written numerous letters of recommendation for my son this year.  I'm sure they helped him get into colleges and helped him get a couple of the scholarships so far.  He has asked her several times for a letter either the day before or the day it was due.  She was his English teacher and says she doesn't have favorites, but he is one of hers.

So far, he has gotten into UC Irvine, UC Davis, UC San Diego and Colorado School of Mines.  He got rejected from MIT and California Institute of Technology.  He's waiting to hear from UCLA (20th), UC Berkeley (26th), Harvey Mudd (end of the month) and Carnegie Mellon (end of the month).  He got into the honors program at UCI and got a $30,000 Regent's scholarship from UC Davis.  Although Davis is not a top choice for him (both mom and dad went there and it is very close to home!) it has moved up on the list because of the scholarship.  I mean how do you say no to $30,000?  School of Mines also offered about $50,000, but they are out of state and the money would only offset the cost of the out of state part, which only makes them slightly competitive with the other schools.  If only he could live with his grandparents and they could claim him on their taxes and he could become a Colorado resident, then that school might be more in the running.  Sometimes I think we give our kids too many choices.  When I went to college I had two options.  Davis and Long Beach State.  I knew what I was going to be, a Veterinarian (look how well that worked out) so of course Davis was my first choice.  There was none of this internet research and making charts and graphs and $30,000 scholarships.

So, once the other schools make their decisions, he has until May 1 to make his final choice.  There are no bad options and it's interesting watching all of this unfold.  I'm more laid back with child number 3 going through it all, knowing it will all work out perfectly.  He will end up at the perfect school where he is happy and I don't have to worry about the decision.

I should have had more kids.  It's getting easier being a parent with each one.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

learning to ride

 My youngest finally learned to ride his bike today.  That's a huge accomplishment.  I've tried getting him to learn for a really long time.  He just hasn't been interested.  And, on top of that, he's been really afraid of falling.  Just like swimming and the water, he has this fear of getting hurt or dying.
 I know, you look at these pictures and say, bad mom, no helmet.  If he's afraid of getting hurt, why isn't he wearing a helmet and knee pads and elbow pads?  He asked me to wear a helmet and every other time he's tried, he had the helmet on.  This time, I suggested he try without one.  I thought maybe he could get better balance without it.  After all, millions of kids around the world have survived riding a bike without a helmet.  I did.
Wouldn't you know, he survived too!  I don't know if it was trying without the helmet or not, but he actually was able to balance on the bike this time and managed to peddle around and go up and down the street about five times until a car pulled out.  Then he got scared and fell over.  That was it for the day.  He didn't get hurt because he wasn't going fast, but he was just so proud that he actually was able to ride the bike and stay upright.  Now we can start going on rides around the neighborhood together.

For those of you enjoying snow, sorry for these beautiful sunshine pictures.  I think it hit 70 today.  We were supposed to get some rain on Friday and yesterday so I waited to water my garden.  The mountains got some snow and boy were they happy.  We got about 4 drops of rain so I had to water.  My iris are coming up through the pile of dirt that was put on top of them and were happy for the drink of water I gave them today.  Should be an interesting spring around here.

crochet afghan

I've been working on this crochet afghan since before Christmas.  It's for my daughter.  She picked out the yarn and asked me to make it for her as a Christmas present.  I think she thought I could get it done in the week and a half she was home.  She didn't realize I can't crochet quite that fast!  It's made with Red Heart Soft and Red Heart Shimmer yarns and is really soft.  She wanted one that was big enough to cover her head to toe and she is really tall like me.  I like how it turned out and was a nice change from quilting, especially since my quilting machine is still broken.  I haven't heard back from the guy in Yuba City about when he is coming down to look at my machine and hopefully get me back in business and like I've said, I'm not holding my breath.

I'm hoping to get this in the mail this afternoon or tomorrow maybe.

My daughter found out on Friday that she got the job as a Resident Assistant for next year, which means her housing and food will be paid for next year and most likely her senior year as well.  There is also an RA who is leaving Spring quarter and she thinks she will be taking over her position so she will get some money back (about $5,000) she has paid for this year.  That's great news!  Since she borrows about $30,000 a year for college, the $15,000 she will save on housing will really help.  Especially since we have another one going off to college next year.  He's started hearing back from colleges and this month will be exciting as the next couple of weeks he will be hearing from almost all of them.

So far, he's gotten into Colorado School of Mines and UC Irvine.  There's so much paperwork to fill out for all of the financial aide stuff and unfortunately we make too much money as teachers (who would have thought?) that we really don't qualify for most of the scholarship stuff because we are just out of range for everything, but we still have to fill everything out.  It's an exciting time, but a little frustrating for my son, who is so ready to get out of high school and move on to the next stage of his life.  I have days like that too, but I'm stuck in high school until I retire :)

Monday, February 23, 2015

dr visit

This update is mostly for my dad, and so I can remember everything that happened at the Doctor visit today.  We talked for a long time about everything that is going on with this month long migraine.  I asked if there was any chance that something different was happening in my brain, not saying the words brain tumor, but I'm sure he knew that was what I was thinking.  I mean, how long can a migraine really last?  He said that any migraine that lasts longer than 2 days is considered a 'long' migraine, so this one is unusual, but not really that much, because once it passes the 2 day mark,, they really all fall into the same category.

He said they don't understand why people get them and as far as he knows, there aren't any local studies of migraines, but he gave me a website to check into.  I'm going to see if I can possibly try to join a study and maybe be on the cutting edge of new drugs or shock therapy or maybe surgery or something.  When he asked how things were before this migraine and I said that I had things under control with probably 3 migraines a week and I was happy with that he was really shocked.  3 a week?  That's good?  Wow, he didn't think that was acceptable, but then I told him I hadn't missed a day of work with having a really bad (level 8 almost every day) for the past month.  I'm one tough old gal.  I come from good stock.

So, after testing my strength and balance, he suggested we try the botox in more places and with more shots.  I got 9 shots across my forehead and on the bridge of my nose and then one in each temple and then 6 across the back of my head, right above my neck.  He says it will take 3-4 days for the full effect, but I can already feel it working.  The forehead is starting to go numb and the back of the head as well.  He says I could have some troubles lifting my head.  That's ok, I can walk around with a neck brace :)  I could make a nice quilted one, like the Elizabethan collars.


 I could start a new fashion trend.  You will see.  Or, maybe like the African necklaces that when the people take them off, their necks fall over because they don't have muscles to support them anymore.

I'm so desperate for anything to work I don't really care what I look like.  Tomorrow should be interesting because the small puncture wounds will really be visible.  Last time it looked like a cat got ahold of me.  I can see some of them already.  I have to come up with a good story for the kids.  They already know about the steroids and now botox.  Good thing they know I'm crazy.