Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Some People

I went to Office Depot on Monday afternoon to make copies, and while I was there, I bought a 3 pack of HP refill printer cartridges for our printer that we now use only as a copier. Today I was copying a few things, and I changed out the black cartridge. My first clue something was wrong was when I opened the box and took out the first cartridge--and noticed that the HP plastic bag thing around it was all ripped. And upon closer examination of the cartridge, it had a Costco sticker on the side, where someone had written in pen "foiled". But, I gamely stuck it in the printer, where of course it was dry as a bone. So I took out the other 2 cartridges, which were also used ones. One of them wasn't even for my printer! So someone had bought new cartridges, put their 3 old cartridges back in the packaging, carefully glued the box back up, and returned the used ones to Office Depot, where they got a nice $85 refund.

I was so upset. I knew there was no way to prove that I hadn't done that myself, but I wanted Office Depot to know what had happened, so I called them up. I told my tale of woe to the clerk, and then to the manager. He was very nice and told me to come in so they could replace it. I leaped up and drove over right then! When I got there, the manager was talking with a man by the checkout counter. After the box was exchanged, he came over to talk to me. He said he had been talking with the HP sales rep, and he had told the guy what had happened. The HP guy said they were thinking about redesigning the box so that there was some kind of cardboard pull-thing, where it would be really obvious if it had been opened. Brilliant idea! In the meantime, you should open the packaging for printer cartridges while in the parking lot, just to make sure you are getting new ones!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cavity Filled!

You may recall that back in September we discovered that Faith had a cavity. Well, this morning was her big day to get that taken care of. I was nervous, but she was excited to go back to the dentist, so she went back with the nice hygenist with no problems.

I productively used my waiting time to calculate grades for the physical science class, as well as keep an ear on the DVD playing on the screen in the waiting room--"Diary of a Wimpy Kid". I thought it was annoying as could be, and I was delighted when it was finally over. If that is really how schools are these days, then that would be the strongest argument ever for homeschooling. How miserable! And don't get me started on the teen brother. Gah. Not a movie we'll ever be watching here, that's for sure.

It wasn't actually too long, maybe 30 minutes, before the hygenist appeared, carrying Faith. "Can we keep her? She was AMAZING?!" is what she said, which was a huge relief to me! She again said how cooperative Faith was, sitting there with her mouth open, not moving at all. So funny, since "cooperative" is really not the first word that comes to mind when I think of Faith, LOL. When I went back to pay, the dentist herself came out to tell me that in her 10 years of practicing, she had never had a 2 year old act as well as Faith. "Best 2 year old EVER!" were her exact words. Yay, Faith! So now the cavity is gone, and hopefully no more will appear.

Since Faith did so well, she got to pick out a "special" prize, out of a different box. She came out with this big stuffed elephant, which she has carried around the rest of the day and is sleeping with tonight.

She also came out with that slightly glassy-eyed look, along with the open mouth, LOL. She was not sure what to make up that numb lip feeling! When we got home, she watched a video on the couch while everyone else was eating lunch. But when that was over, she came over and asked me to make her a burrito (we were eating leftover taco stuff), of which she ate all. I thought she'd be really tired, but she ended up not even taking a nap! I guess the laughing gas didn't affect her too much! We had ice cream after dinner to celebrate her being such a big girl, and now she's sound asleep. Whew--I am glad that is over!

Friday, October 14, 2011

There May Be Business to Discuss . . .

Nathan and Luke went to a birthday party tonight for Christopher, another boy in our Rivendell co-op. The theme was a 20's/30's Mafia one, and we had quite a good time getting costumes and props to go along!
Since we were up in PA last weekend, we checked out a thrift store near Bob's parents' house, figuring (correctly!) that things would be cheaper in PA than in northern VA. We found a suit for Nathan for $6.00! We also found a shirt, black shoes, and a red tie--all (including the suit!) for the grand price of $11.50. You can't beat a deal like that! We couldn't find another suit that remotely fit Luke, but we did get shoes and a tie for him. We then went to one thrift store near here (not a Goodwill or Salvation Army, since those seem to be more expensive), and we were able to find a suit for $10.00 for him, along with a shirt and the 2 red pocket kerchiefs (is there a special name for those?). Bob did some magic "safety pin" tailoring, and voila! A transformation!

We hit upon the idea of wrapping the present in a brown paper bag and carrying it in Bob's old hard-side briefcase. Nathan googled "money clip art", and soon we were printing off stacks of $20 bills on green cardstock! A lot of dough for the boss, LOL.

Nathan and Luke along with Isaac and Caleb--definitely a scary looking mob!

The party was great fun--lots of "bumping people off" and other games, plus pizza and cake! The gang members are heading for bed right now, but I will ask them tomorrow if they have anything else to add . . .

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Never-Ending Story

Back on July 15, 2009, my wallet was stolen at the National Zoo. That September, we were welcomed by Chase Bank as new customers--but they also mentioned that the address on the account didn't seem to match our known address, so if I hadn't opened the account, to let them know immediately. We certainly did!

Then in January, 2010, I got a letter from the Penn Credit Corporation, detailing a scam that some former employees of theirs had been involved in, using the personal information of people like me. The guys had been caught, and the Manhatten District Attorney's office was investigating the case.

Yesterday, when we got home from PA, where we celebrated Bob's mom's 85th birthday with a lovely party Sunday afternoon, I got a letter from the Manhatten District Attorney's office. They are prosecuting the guy for "criminal activity. Investigation has determined that this defendant or a co-conspirator likely opened a Chase Bank account using your name, social secutiry number, and other personal identifying information in order to conduct fraudulent bank transactions without your consent."

The letter said to contact them at my earliest convenience, so I called them this morning before my co-op science class. The lady was very nice. Apparently the account the bad guys opened in my name was the first one where the DAs could see them transfer this fraudulent money into or something. The DA people are trying to get the defense to accept witness testimony on paper, where I would just type something and sign it, but if they don't, then I might have to go testify. Ha! I'm sure it won't come to that but seriously . . . over 2 years later, and I can't put that horrible wallet-stealing episode behind me! Testifying in New York?! Gah! Who would have ever thought?!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

More Tooth Troubles

Well, so far Fall has had a rather disturbing theme of teeth issues. Right around lunchtime Caleb and Jonathan were wrestling around in the entryway, and somehow . . . Jonathan's head wacked into the door and *voila* his front tooth chipped off. He never cried, and it didn't seem like anything else got injured at all, like his lip or anything. But it was a permanent tooth, so I called the dentist and made an appointment for later in the afternoon, after Luke's orthodonic appointment at 2:00. Of course, this meant we had to postpone Latin class again until tomorrow morning, but better to get Ol' Snaggletooth fixed up, LOL.

The dentist was able to glue the tooth part back on, so $160 later, Jonathan is almost as good as new! I am totally afraid of it chipping off again, though. Jonathan--our only boy who has broken a bone, and now our only boy to chip a tooth. What a record!

As I was checking out, the receptionist told me this is why her husband thinks they should only have one kid--2 will beat up on each other! I told her we have 8, and this was the only time we've had a problem like this, so really I would chalk it up to a fluke, rather than a cautionary tale! But I do have a new anti-horseplay saying: "Stop wrestling around! I don't want anymore chipped teeth!" After all, it's all fun and games until someone loses a tooth . . .

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


Micah is almost 6 months old! He's been busy this last week or so. His 6th tooth finally poked through Sunday, so he's been fussy and nippy again, which means I am also sore and crabby again, LOL. I am looking forward to some time without teething!

He is also sitting up by himself now, and he is pushing up on all fours and rocking back and forth. Surely it won't be too much longer until he is crawling! He also can now finally roll himself from his back to his front. This means he can roll to get himself to where he wants to go, although he prefers scootching along on his tummy, or pushing up and then falling forwards.

He started solid food a couple of weeks ago, and he loves it! I've been going slowly with introducing new foods, because he just seems like he is going to have more troubles than recent kids. He gets blotchy sometimes, and he definitely has eczema spots in his elbows, knees, and neck crease. So far he eats rice cereal, sweet potato, squash, and pears. I want to be sure he isn't allergic to anything I'm giving, so I'm waiting awhile in between starting new foods.

Sometimes, after all the new food, the new skills, and the new teeth . . . a fellow just needs to take a nap. How convenient to have so many people ready and willing to snuggle!


In a huge answer to prayer, the weather held, and we were able to go on our hike yesterday morning! Hooray! It was cloudy and a bit chilly in the morning, but it didn't rain--and the day got progressively nicer. Now the bad weather seems to have moved off for awhile, and we are all so thankful to see the sun again!

I took the 3rd graders over first (Jonathan's class). There were 10 of them, and 3 other parents. I wasn't exactly sure how the timing of the hike was going to go (since Luke and I had spent a lot more time stopped, identifying trees, than we did yesterday as a group), but it was fine. We ended up going up this path, then diverging onto a second path that goes up along a ridgetop. The forest up there is different than the one down at the bottom of the trail--primarily tall oaks and hickorys, as opposed to a ton of red cedars and shrubbier-type trees down at the bottom. We walked around the trail and started down, and then turned onto a different trail that heads back and meets up with the trail we were on originally (at the point where we diverged), so we didn't have to back-track the whole way. The timing was just perfect! Luke and I probably wouldn't have paid much attention to the second trail, if we hadn't run into those wasps, so it was all good that I knew how the trails connected and could go that route.

The park has planted a stand of trees in a little meadow, next to their nature center, so we started there. American chestnuts, sweetgums, and ash are planted there, and all those leaves were in the book we made last week, so we reviewed the identifying characteristics of the leaves (simple, compound, alternate, opposite, margins, etc). We looked at all the chestnuts that were on the ground in their big spiny cases ("Why would a chestnut not be a good shade tree to plant in your yard?"), and I talked about the chestnut blight that killed over 3 billion chestnut trees in the first part of the 1900s. Sad! We talked about how you can chew the sap of the sweetgum tree (not that you should ever wound the bark of trees!) and what sorts of things are made of the strong yet elastic wood of ash trees (baseball bats, bows, etc.). Then we moved onto the trail.

I talked about the 4 layers of the forest, and what sorts of living organisms are in all the layers. We saw dogwood trees, and a blackgum tree, with its characteristic square blocky bark. It's leaves are among the first to start changing colors, so we talked about why leaves change colors, the different pigments in leaves, and why only some trees can have leaves turn red (not all trees produce the pigment anthocyanin, which helps the tree regain the nutrients in the leaves when it is stilll producing sugar in the warm sunny days of fall, but the sap can't move the sugar back down the tree during the crisp, cool nights).

As we walked up the trail, we noticed how the forest changed in appearance. We looked at the ground to see the acorns and hickory nuts, which are so important for animals in the fall and winter months. We talked about moss, lichen, mushrooms, and bracket fungi, of which there were lots of examples to be noted! Some bracket fungi even have growth rings, which I didn't know before I started reseaching exactly what I was going to say! There were a lot of downed trees, and the ones which had been chopped gave us a chance to review the inner parts of the trunk, which we talked about last week--heartwood, sapwood, cambium, and bark.

We meandered our way along, and I think all the kids were just so happy to be outside, stretching their legs in the fresh, non-rainy air! I know I was! It was wonderful to be outside. The kids really remembered a lot of what we talked about last week, about the different tree types. I was pleasantly surprised! Of the 14 leaves we talked about last week, we saw 9 of those trees. I think they enjoyed recognizing the leaves on the trees!

So the timing worked out perfectly--we got back to the church a few minutes before 11:00, when they switch to their "aide-time" class, where they eat lunch, play games, take prayer requests, and do character time. They had plenty of time to wash their hands and drink some water. Then I picked up the 4th graders, and after their bathroom break, we were good to go! We took the same route, I said the same things, and it also worked out really well! That class (Caleb's class) had 13 kids go with us, and 2 extra parents. It was really fun!

We got back to church before pick-up time, which is at 12:30. Then I took the Rivendell kids over to the other church for the afternoon. I still had memory work and science left to teach! We got home about 5:15, and we had about 20 minutes before we all had to rush off to get Nathan and Luke over to their football practices. Whew! When we got home, Bob was home, and I made a quick dinner. The I sat on the couch and didn't move, LOL. It was a good day, but a long, tiring day. I was so thankful God kept it from raining!