Thursday's Activities Include: half day, play date, play therapy, WHT

I cleaned part of the fridge today. Trash pickup was today, so part of this was getting rid of food that had been around too long, both somewhat recent, and things with expiration dates last year or earlier. Then, there was enough space that I could see how dirty the glass shelves were. You know where this is going. Turns out tossing out spoiled food with a little extra time on my hands is a Gateway Activity. I'm a little too chicken to pull all the shelves. They are glass, and I have broken fridge shelves before, so I do them one at a time and I don't do ones that look like my accident-proneness is going to interact badly with.

I also made banana nut muffins today. A. complained; she wanted banana bread. Maybe tomorrow. I had the muffins and some cole slaw for lunch, because we had dinner reservations at Woods Hill Table. I managed to refrain from having a second manhattan in favor of a glass of wine with dinner. Dinner was odd, even for me. We had oysters, and then R. had a salad and the chicken and I had the broccoli rabe and the salmon poke. We had bites of each others, but yeah, I had protein and veg for dinner. In my defense, there was some ciabatta bread at the beginning, and we did share a dessert. Which was awesome -- a vegan hazelnut paste and custard and coconut ice cream thing that was kind of incredible. It's so much fun eating things that I have never made -- I'm not saying I don't think I could learn how to make it, but this isn't a case where I'm comparing what I'm eating to what I could produce in my own kitchen. The wine was Ayres Pinot Noir (did not catch the year, if it was specified) from Willamette Valley. It's no Domaine Drouhin, but I love that terroir.

A. had a half day today, and a playdate. The girls laughed a lot, playing with rubber duckies in a house made from magna tiles. Lots of fun! It didn't start out so well -- they were watching the tail end of a Sponge Bob movie, I think, but once they got out the magna tiles, things really picked up.

My walking partner came by towards the end, and we hung out and played iPad games. Both kids had sitters after the play date, which is how R. and I got to go to Woods Hill Table. We had wanted to go to Bondir, but they have a message on the machine saying they are on spring break as of March 27; that's a little ominous. OTOH, restaurants have a tough time (well, the fancy end, anyway) in the spring, so I can't really blame them.

The sitter took A. to play therapy. Then they had dinner at Julie's, and went to Bowladrome. A. wanted to win the Barbie crimp and curl head, but that takes crazy points. The sitter took a picture of the prize, because we've said before that we're happy to buy her a toy that is sitting there as a prize, vs. playing for however many hours it takes to win the thing with tickets. Annoyingly, it is one of those toys that all the stores carry -- but you have to order it from anyone, because no one actually has it on the shelf. Oh well.

ETA: How could I forget! I had a lovely phone conversation with J. A. came home during it but was mostly patient.

Wednesday's Activities Include: T.'s half day, gymnastics, Whole Foods, taxes

I got the first quarter estimateds and extension form prepped to go. I'm not mailing them yet; I figure I would like to have a second set of eyes on them first. This may be the quickest in terms of when I first logged into TurboTax to when I was done for the April dance. I had spent some time earlier in the year as various pieces of paperwork arrived (property taxes, excise taxes, etc.), collecting them into the right place. Turns out that assembling the paperwork really is the big part of the job. I may post a few more comments on things I thought of while engaged in the process. Because there wasn't anything particularly new to figure out this year, I had more time to ruminate on how we do taxes in this country and why.

It was T.'s half day. So after doing a little vacation planning, watching NCIS and TRMS, it was time to go pick him up. I completely forgot everything for this: his outfit for gymnastics, his phone -- all of it. So we took our Starbucks beverages with us for a quick return home to retrieve the necessary items. Then off to the bank and then gymnastics. After that, we went to Whole Foods (I _HAD_ remembered my bags. Go figure.).

A. will be arriving home shortly and T. will be heading out with his sitter. I'm trying to decide whether I want to convince A. to go around the block with me, or if we should just vegetate. I feel like vegetating.

Tuesday's Activities Include: car, ewaste, cake, smoke, Julie's Place, TAXES!

Dutch lesson was canceled today, alas. However, I did get a lot done around the house. I downloaded some information into TurboTax, entered a bunch of other information, scurried around in search of Still More Information -- you know the drill. So far, so good. I haven't actually filled out the extension form yet, much less written checks, but the end is not too far distant (for this month, anyway -- there is still October).

R.'s jobsite was running an e-waste site (Bring Out Your Dead (Electronics)). I found an iPod, a couple cameras, and a pre-Apple Pay dongle thingie. Oh, and a never taken out of its box Body Bugg. *sigh* My life used to be filled with aspirations and absolutely no time for them. Now, I have few aspirations, but I get a lot more done. I prefer it this way. Infants and toddlers are really disruptive. Older kids are wonderful.

I finally made pineapple upside down cake. Of course the springform pan dribbled and caused huge smoke. I had to turn the oven off, clean the floor of smoking ash, open windows, etc. But the cake turned out okay despite the madness. More than okay -- I used Luxardo cherries in the middle of the pineapple slices. Pretty and tasty.

Last night and tonight, I've been reading _The Marvelous Land of Oz_ to A. I ordered hardcover Books of Wonder editions with the John R. Neil illustrations. *bliss* What I always wanted as a child, I get to inflict on my own children. Adulting is fantastic.

A. went to pick up my car from the dealer. They were evasive about what the check engine light problem was about, but they didn't charge me for it and the recall work did get done, so I'm not going to complain. After, we went to Julie's Place and met R. there.

I'm continuing to declutter A.'s drawers. I need to order her the next size up in paddock boots, also, if I can't find an old pair of T.'s.

Monday's Activities Include: car, dermatologist, two walks, roomba, decluttering

I took T. with me to drop off the car at the dealer to have a look at the check engine light and also do the recall work. Then we went to his dermatologist. Then I dropped him off at school.

I walked with M. (from playdate family and long time friends the B.'s) in the morning and M. (my usual walking partner) in the afternoon. Both were really pleasant conversations and the weather is great today. I did laundry, stripped a couple beds, ran roomba downstairs. I finished decluttering the downstairs hall closets and vacuumed them. I also got more of the size 10s out of A.'s drawers.

She wanted to play badminton when she got home, but she wanted to put on her spring dress first. I got pictures, including in the sun with sunglasses because who knows when I'll see that outfit again. We are both quite bad at badminton but we had a good time until her sitter arrived.

ETA: I finished watching Star Trek: Beyond. I sort of wish I'd noticed Simon Pegg's involvement in that movie _before_ I watched it. It is a really good Star Trek movie.

Sunday's Activities Include: Boss Baby, cheesecake factory, no horse, decluttering

I took T. to Boss Baby at Burlington. The horse was canceled (presumably due to poor footing from melting ice/mud in the paddock and on the trail), so we went to Cheesecake Factory after. Meanwhile, R. took A. to Costco, where he bought her a very cute springtime dress.

I decluttered A.'s closet, after I realized that last year's costco very cute springtime dress was never worn and definitely did not fit now. I packed up a bunch of things to send along to the next little girl who might enjoy very cute clothing in predominantly pink and purple colors.

I've been digging through several months of blog entries in an effort to reconstruct how I've been cleaning and decluttering since summer, when the cleaner was deteriorating and then was no longer with us. Over and above the obvious (boy, I don't consistently note down what I do -- I try, but I don't), it was interesting seeing the entries in which I described efforts to run roomba and how that failed.

I finished reading (the abridged/condensed and illustrated picture book adaptation of) Swiss Family Robinson to A. She really liked it. R. bought her a box of My Little Pony books. Those may be next, altho I may lobby for Land of Oz.

ETA: I also made a reservation that was involved enough people that the restaurant suggested one of their semi-private spaces and then said I'd need to sign a contract with a food and bev minimum. So that's kind of exciting -- I've done it before, but it has been a while. This is for a family reunion dinner.

Movie Review: Boss Baby

Boss Baby is apparently based on a book. It is a book I am completely unfamiliar with and was unaware of until the end credits of this movie. Sort of like Shrek, that way, for me, anyway.

The frame -- which is not exposed until the end so SPOILERS LOOK OUT PUPPY CO IS GOING TO TAKE ALL THE LOVE -- is that the 7 and a half year old Timothy Leslie within the frame is father Timothy Leslie (with a seven and a half year old daughter of his own) with brother Theodore Lindsey (who still throws cash around). The story is the story of Tim describing getting accustomed to the arrival of Ted -- the Boss Baby -- to reassure the daughter about her new baby sister.

The story itself is that Boss Baby and his crew are here to find out what Puppy Co is about to introduce as a new puppy that might take away the dwindling amount of love available to otherwise motivate people to have and show affection on human babies. This is a cut throat market competition story, and Alec Baldwin from Glengarry Glen Ross is here to pastiche/homage himself as the Boss Baby.

It is all very surreal.

There are more movie references than I could grasp, much less repeat. Standouts included a substantial Matrix sequence, a bit I suspect was from Catch Me If You Can, a "Scary Poppins" character, more Toy Story bits than can readily be believed. Stacy of the Boss's crew looks exactly like Agnes from Despicable Me.

The deal that Tim and Ted make is that Tim will help Ted accomplish his mission against Puppy Co, and then Ted will be promoted at Baby Co and his employer will come make everyone forget that Ted was ever a baby in the family. Interestingly, after a whole lot of wackiness including a flight full of Elvis Impersonators (and potentially adult jokes like the pacifier being automatically inserted into baby mouths only Boss Baby is turned round the wrong way), the deal is completed and fulfilled on. The family gets retconned or MIB style flashy thinged or whatever you want to call it. Ted gets the corner office he coveted, complete with his own golden potty (which is positioned too far from the TP to be accessible). And then Tim sends Ted a memo saying -- with bean from bean counting representing abacus beads as a metaphor for love -- how much he loves him. Ted joyously sends himself nekkid down the Heart Family chute and Tim recognizes him as soon as the 'rents show him off. Tim knows just how to tickle Ted's feet, and they love each other forever after, well, at least they still are hanging out when Tim's second daughter is born.

I don't quite know what to think of any of this. People in the audience laughed a lot, and my son worried that I didn't like it because I didn't laugh much (I think I chuckled at the fake vomit the kids set up to scare off Scary Poppins). My daughter adored it when she saw it on Friday. On some level, I feel like anyone who has been marinating in movies -- adult and kidvid -- for the last few decades probably owes it to themselves to sit through this just to see how many of the references they can identify. But maybe wait for it to be available streaming. That way you could turn it into a drinking game.

Saturday's Activities Include: Petlexa! Decluttering pantry, finished Wizard of Oz

A. and I have been reading the Wizard of Oz in a somewhat condensed form. R. bought it thinking it was unabridged, but no. They did a good job on it tho, and I liked the illustrations. A. really enjoyed it, and we talked about the differences between the book and the movie. I've ordered better copies of several next volumes in the series, because I still have my old Scholastic (Land of Oz) and Del Rey mass markets (and two paperback books of wonder editions).

Yesterday, as I was deleting email and updating my to do list (really, can you tell I'm avoiding taxes?), I read one of the What's New on Alexa emails and watched the Petlexa video a day early. Excellent April Fools! We don't have any pets, so it is extra funny for us, because we don't actually have to worry about re-ordering picture frames to replace the one the dog broke.

I went through the fridge (partially) and got rid of things which no one is going to be eating (better not! Some of it was moldy). Then I moved on to the pantry. I had already done a little research on what food banks would take in terms of expired foods. I used that as a guideline for, hey, if the food pantry won't take something that is a year less expired than this, we can probably get rid of it. I wasn't completely successful, but anything that involved onions (since R. can't eat those any more anyway) Went Into the Trash. R. then rearranged the remaining contents which included a shocking number of boxes of Club Crackers (6: 4 closed and 2 open; he consolidated the 2 open ones into 1). I also pulled everything out of the bottom of the pantry and vacuumed. And we got rid of a couple worn out lunch box type containers.

A. watched new episodes of Shimmer and Shine, and Sofia the First. T. watched Willie Wonka (again). R. played some bridges game on XBox at A.'s request (civil engineering for fun! House full of happy nerds).

Upon reflection, I tracked down the condensed Swiss Family Robinson in a similar size/format to the Wizard of Oz we just finished. I think A. might find some of the same things to love in it that I did.

ETA: She loves the Swiss Family Robinson (abridged, illustrated). We're over halfway through it already (it is not very long). Trying to think what would be good next; thinking maybe _Mad Scientists' Club_. R. wants to try _Treasure Island_, but I hated that book. I'm gonna go look at my shelves and see if anything pops up.

Friday's Activities Include: 2 sitters, long walk, True West, handbag decluttering, frame

I was so happy about how the shoe decluttering went, that I went back into that closet for another round: handbags. I knew it needed to be done, because it was crowded and all the handles kept hanging down and catching on things. Never a good sign (also, this is what happens when there is a TJ Max next to one of the grocery stores you go to; it's just way too easy to think, hmm, I wonder if there are any cute bags in there. There almost always are. Alas).

Because I am Middle-Aged, I have given up many delusions about the kinds of hand bags I might ever use. But I had one left that I finally figured out. There are a couple of distinctly different cross-body drop lengths. One falls at my waist and one falls at my hip. I _suspect_ that the one that falls at my waist would, on a much more petite woman, fall at her hip. But I am not her, and I am never going to be her, because no matter how much weight I might one day lose, my frame size isn't going to change. Despite the high quality, lovely colors and good design of several of these bags which had crept into my closet, they all went away and I firmly told myself that the next time I'm thinking about a cross body bag, be ruthless about the drop length. Because that's just wasting everyone's time/money/resources having it sit on a shelf in my closet growing increasingly dated.

I went to take the resulting bag of bags off to the Middle Class Guilt Reduction Station (I did keep one of the shorter drop bags, because I think A. is going to adore it, and I'm reasonably certain that Disney bags from that particular brand don't even qualify for Out Of Style from a kid perspective, or possibly anyone who can perceive the charm of Disney characters on a D&B bag), only to discover that the check engine light had gone on in my car. Hmmmm. So I called the dealer, and learned that they had no loaners (no surprise) and the techs were going home shortly anyway, so just wait until Monday. And as long as it didn't drive any different, just keep using it. OK, then -- I mean, the CEL on an i3 has become some kind of cosmic joke anyway, but wow. They need two levels of alerts, if even the service appointment scheduler at the dealer is this unconcerned about it coming on.

Later in the day, I also received a recall notice. Perhaps that is why the CEL went on? I called the dealer back to add the recall work because, why not?

So I dropped off the bag of bags, I picked up photos at CVS for a multi-photo frame that I am redoing. And I had a lovely long convo with my friend K. She told me about the "Wally" smart home gadget for water/moisture/leak detection. Sounds really wonderful and not difficult to install, but getting line of sight between the sensors and the hub can apparently be a bit tricky based on reviews.

R. and I went for a long walk in the "mixed precipitation". We got to True West, which was closed for 10 more minutes. We walked around West Acton while I listened to a financial advisor express his usual frustration with my perspective on things. We have a good relationship; we also arranged to have lunch on an upcoming visit. Lunch at True West was excellent and not too loud at the bar. R. saw some colleagues from work. The bartender made a perfect rye manhattan with a twist in front of me for someone else, and I was like, fine, I wasn't going to drink, but I ordered one for myself. No drink for me in the evening! In the event, I was so full, I barely ate an evening meal -- the cod sandwich was massive. I ate it with a fork because it wasn't clear I could pick it up and not wind up with it all over me.

M. and I hung out in lieu of a walk. Then I went to declutter some of A.'s shirts because I had noticed that there were some Disney branded 7/8s still hanging around. While I was busy doing that, A.'s sitter arrived and picked her up to see Boss Baby and have dinner at Julie's Place. T.'s sitter picked him up and they went to Papa Razzi. Everyone came back early, due to weather.

I rescheduled (again!) A.'s dentist appointment, because I'm too chicken to drive in the slushy stuff. T.'s first martial arts session was canceled due to weather.

ETA: Edited to correct the date. Ooops!

Thursday's Activities Include: half day, training, play date, play therapy, Raven, scooter

Both kids had a half day. I canceled my usual phone call with J., which made me sad, but I would have been a wreck if I attempted it because the kids would have been coming home, I would have had to get lunch into A. and I was expecting a phone call from a contractor. In the event, the contractor called while we were en route to the play date.

The play date went well. I wasn't sure how T. was going to be; he's no fan of change. But he hung in there and when we went down to the gym with the half court, he shot a few hoops. All the kids played duck duck goose, and the girls played some other games. We had a nice time.

We went straight home after the play date. I had thought about stopping at Whole Foods, but it would have been tight, and I wanted A. to get some down time before play therapy. A. and I scootered (I walk / ran) around the 1 mile loop. I probably should have put on better shoes. I was wearing some boat shoe inspired crocs, which are perhaps not the best choice for running. Not that I go very fast, but I'm heavy and the impact is noticeable.

The contractor arrived while we were out; he went around back and started measuring. T. had known he was coming, and we've hired this contractor before -- he's a really good guy so I wasn't worried at all. I was happy that T. remembered the don't-let-anyone-in-the-house rule. I'm feeling optimistic that the hand rails on the deck will be much better very soon. We're also going to try to get the deck painted this spring/summer. You know, if it ever stops snowing.

Play therapy went well. T. talked to the therapist for a while, which was nice. Then he left with B. The sitters had both had training that kept them at their regular employment until after 3. I left when the second sitter arrived, to go for a walk with M. By the time we were back, everyone had left and we had a nice half hour to hang out and relax with iPad games. R. arrived (because it was by now after 5). After M. left, we went to Raven for dinner.

I've saved the morning for last. I had intended to run Roomba (I did, in T.'s room and in the master bath) and vacuum the master bedroom (again, I did). But it turns out that vacuuming is a gateway activity. I wound up sitting on the floor of the closet, pulling out all the shoes. I was trying to get at the dust bunnies, but I figured, why not do a little decluttering while I'm here? Bags of shoes left, and I hope to get to the handbags next. Also, a lot less dust now! I even got the bags completely out of the house and to the Middle Class Guilt Reduction Station before all the excitement of the kids arriving home started.

Later in the evening, I went through the hall closets downstairs and bagged up costumes and backpacks that are too small.

I had intended to spend part of the day fiddling with photos, but the CVS website was having problems throughout the day. I didn't get to upload and order photos until fairly late in the evening. I'm trying to redo a small, multi-photo frame I took down from A.'s room to update.

FERPA: expect linkage and updates

Really, it's as much here for notes as anything else.

What is FERPA?

So, if you have a kid in school, you probably have seen those slips of paper go by asking for your permission to include kid name, parent names, email addresses, phone numbers, home address, etc. type of thing in a school directory. This is probably a FERPA opt-out form. Yes, you _can_ tell the school NO don't share this kind of information with anyone, and the result will be if someone asks the school if anything-at-all about you and/or your kid, then the school will say (if they are doing their job), "We have no releasable information."

The opt-out of directory information can be a biiiiig hammer.

FERPA is why teachers can no longer handed graded papers to students to return to the class. FERPA is why teachers can no longer post a list on the door with names in one column and grades in another column. If you are thinking, wait a second, FERPA is ooooold, older than me, and my teachers used to do something-that-is-against-FERPA, well, the answer to that is that we do better enforcement these days.

If you are thinking, but what about when the teachers have the kids grade each others stuff? Not an educational record yet! Once the teacher's marks are on that thing, no one else is supposed to see it, apparently. What about listing those codes on the door in one column and the grades in the other column? As long as it is a non-identifiable report code, go for it. Etc. I'm sort of wondering whether it matters if the graded item will be factored into a grade that goes into the record vs. a graded item that will not be factored into a grade in the record (pop quizzes which are

FERPA is why, when you are sitting in a parent-teacher conference, the teacher can barely formulate a sentence because they are attempting to tell you something involving your kid and some other child or children in the class, but they absolutely must not name or otherwise identify any other child than your own. The teacher actually might be a little confused here. They _can_ identify the other kid to you, if they saw whatever happen themselves personally. They cannot tell you if they got that information from an educational record. I am a little unclear on whether they can repeat what another employee of the school told them verbally, so I'm betting at least some of the teachers are hazy on this as well. And then of course there is school policy on top of all this.

FERPA is why, despite all the people who cannot have access to information without consent, student (directory) information is still available to military recruiters.

FERPA is why you can be on the hook for your kids' college tuition but not have access to their student records (altho there's some interesting edge rules here).

I'm still poking around at this, because student essays are a really interesting thing. Like personal letters, they are often out of the possession -- forever, or at least extended periods of time -- of the presumptive copyright holder (I say presumptive, because some of these suckers have really ambiguous copyrights -- especially if you bought one from someone else). If I write an extended letter, including composed for the purpose of the letter poetry to someone, and they publish it, they have violated my copyright. But fair use means they can definitely publish 10% or less of the thing, which might include an entire limerick, say. FERPA protects people from finding out what grade an identifiable student got on a paper. (Question: does FERPA in any way prevent the grade from being associated publicly with the otherwise not identifiably authored paper? And how does _that_ interact with copyright?) IP law protects the student's copyright. Fair use explores an interesting area in the middle.

And that's before we get into mandatory reporting requirements, which a particularly confessional student paper might trigger.