Jan 22, 2017: Rainy Week

 

Happy rainy weekend, all! At least, it’s rainy here. We’re having a very wet January, which I’m enjoying except for the fact that it means we’re stuck inside with a caged tiger every weekend. Normally we’d venture out to a kids’ museum or something, but I’m still on germ watch, so that nixes that idea. (The flu is going around like crazy here!) Only ten more days that I have to stay cold- and flu-free, though, and then I can go back to being more relaxed about things. I have to say, being a germ freak is rather exhausting….

Rather quiet week around here. Chris and I did have a date, though! Theo’s school and Sam’s school were both hosting Parent Night Out kinds of things, so Theo went to his (dinner and a showing of Aladdin in the MUR) and Sam went to his (hanging out with his school buddies and refusing the dinner of mac-and-cheese). Meanwhile, Chris and I went to the little local Italian restaurant in our town and had a nice dinner. He had minestrone soup and lasagna, and I had a beet-gorgonzola salad and spaghetti with spicy Italian sausage sauce. I took a picture of my salad because it was so pretty!

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And our drinks. Because Friday wasn’t exactly our favorite day ever, so we decided a drink was in order. 😉

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I spent the week working feverishly on book projects. One is for a new client who is proving to be rather challenging, and the other is for a repeat client who I’m comfortable with. The one for the repeat client is a series of books on immigration, which have been fascinating to research! I can now tell you a fair amount about immigration to the United States all the way from the early 1600s to the present. Sadly, that information will not stay in my brain much past when I write the books. I’ve learned over the years, having written more than two dozen books and edited more than two hundred, that I learn all kinds of fascinating information through my work, but that very little of it stays in my memory long-term. Kind of a shame, really. But I do enjoy learning it while I’m working, at least.

Chris spent much of Saturday installing an alarm system on our house. We’ve never had one before, but now we do. (So news flash, would-be criminals: If you try to break in our house, a loud alarm will now sound, and the police will be dispatched! Consider yourself warned. We only live about two blocks from the police station, too, so you won’t have much time to make your escape!)

Seriously, though, I’ve never felt we needed an alarm because we always have at least one dog—and our dogs have always been the sort to bark loudly at any unusual sounds. But Zoe is getting older and is now inclined to sleep through things, so she’s not the fabulous alarm she once was. And I had a weird experience this week that made us decide an alarm is in order.

I went out to get the mail, and there was a young guy standing in our shared driveway. (We share with three other townhomes.) He looked a bit surprised to see me and then blurted out some sort of very cheerful greeting that was very friendly but just seemed a bit odd to me. He had some story about doing some sort of sales thing for school, but I didn’t entirely buy it. So I just told him I wasn’t interested, and he said no problem and then asked if my neighbors were home so he could knock on their door.

Having a bit of an odd feeling about the guy despite him being perfectly nice, I said, “I’m sure they are.” I didn’t want to admit that while some probably were, others probably weren’t, it being the middle of a workday. He then sauntered up to the door of the unit that shares a wall with ours, and I headed back inside.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off. I’ve had solicitors doing school projects before—selling magazines to earn money for a school trip or whatnot. And it occurred to me what was different with this guy and thus what had made me suspicious, despite him being perfectly friendly:

  • He had nothing with him. No clipboard with magazine flyers and order forms, no pen. Nothing.
  • He took no for an answer way too easily. Those salespeople—even teens—are notoriously pushy, and he wasn’t.
  • He was covered in tattoos, and after the fact I realized that it would be very unusual for a high-school student to be covered in tattoos, since you can’t legally get one until you’re 18!

So I posted in a neighborhood Facebook group to ask if anyone else had had this experience, and what do you know? A bunch of people in our general area either had the same day as me, or had very recently. The guy who runs the FB group (a friend of ours) chimed in and said there’s a ring of people around here who drop off teens in neighborhoods and have them go up to houses with cockamamie stories, just for the chance to see inside the house so they can determine whether there’s a dog, an alarm, any obvious valuables, etc. The teens report the info back to the burglary ring, and someone comes back at a later time and robs houses that seemed to be easy targets. And another person chimed into this discussion and said that had happened to her—they came back to her house when only her elderly father was home, and they robbed them of a significant amount of valuables.

Sigh…

So, even though this guy didn’t get a peek in my house (since he had met me as I was walking out to the mailbox), I was unnerved. We’ve had a ton of mail and package theft around here, too, so he may have just been a mail/package thief who I happened to catch on the prowl. But either way, I was unnerved.

I got more unnerved when my next-door neighbor (the one whose door he went to after talking to me) came over with a picture to show me. We had alerted our neighbor to what happened, just in case anything odd happened, and it turns out our neighbor had his identity stolen before Christmas and had—through the idiocy of the thief and the wonders of social media—tracked down the thief to a guy in a neighboring town who has a Facebook page with pictures of him (the identity thief) on it. My neighbor wondered if it was the same guy I had met.

I couldn’t say for sure. The tattoos were certainly there, but I hadn’t gotten a close enough look at the tats to say specifically what they were. And the guy I met in the driveway had curly hair, whereas the FB picture my neighbor showed me had a guy with close-shaved hair. So it might be the same guy, it might not. But either way, I was sufficiently creeped out. (The identity thief’s FB page was rather disturbing.)

So now we have an alarm. And extra window locks. And I feel much better. It annoys me to pay a monthly monitoring fee for an alarm system (I hate useless monthly expenses!), but somehow I think this is a wise investment—for peace of mind if nothing else.

Not much noteworthy with the kiddos. Sam had an epic blowout at OT that left me longing for the day when the potty will be a big part of our daily routine, and we won’t be stinking up an entire waiting room and office building lobby. Oh my…

Theo enjoyed watching the inauguration with his class. That makes one member of our family who watched it. 😉 It’s important to us that our beliefs don’t rub off on Theo and that he make his own decisions about things, so we were glad for him to have the opportunity to watch a historic event. As for Chris and me…we opted not to.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t watch Obama’s inaugurations either, and I truly liked Obama as a president—voted for him both times and would’ve voted a third if it was possible. I also would’ve voted for Biden, had he chosen to run. I’m just not an inauguration person—I find televised ceremonies tedious and boring. So even if I were more of a fan of the president, I probably wouldn’t have watched. Chris might have, though. He likes things like that. But he chose not to watch out of principle.

But anyway, our kid did, and he said he enjoyed it, even though he’s probably a further-left liberal even than Chris and me. 😉

One good thing to come on Inauguration Day, though—the Senate confirmation of Betsy DeVos will be postponed for a week! Click here if you want to read something I wrote that describes a parallel to how I see her ideas for the Department of Education. It may seem like I’ve got a vendetta against this woman, and truly—I don’t mean to. It isn’t a partisan thing, and it doesn’t have anything to do with her being a Trump pick. I just truly feel she is completely unqualified for the position, and Sam’s education depends so heavily on IDEA that the fact that she doesn’t appear to understand what it is or how it works is terrifying to me—particularly because she’s talking about essentially dismantling the public school system.

I don’t worry as much about Theo because even though he does have a legitimate learning disability and a few other issues that somewhat complicate education, in general he does very well and requires very little extra support. Sam will require a great deal more support, which is why when I worry about these things, I tend to talk more about Sam.

Kind of a fun moment, though. A few weeks ago I spent a long time crafting a letter about DeVos to send to our U.S. senators. I researched it carefully, and I ran it by an attorney who is the senior policy advisor for a major national organization to make sure I had my legal facts straight. Once I finished, I sent it off on behalf of the California Down Syndrome Advocacy Coalition, which I co-chair. My co-chair also distributed it in a couple of nationwide advocacy groups, so it’s getting amended slightly and sent to senators in different states too. Today I went on Facebook, and I saw someone had a post that said, “If you’re concerned about the Department of Education nominee, you can do something! Copy this letter, personalize it, and send it to your senators!” I started reading the letter (being curious about anything DeVos), and lo and behold…it was my letter! So it was kind of cool to see it firsthand making the rounds in advocacy circles beyond our little California coalition! (If you’re curious, here’s a link to the letter.)

Anyway, I’ll bid you adieu now. Sorry there aren’t too many pictures—in this gloomy weather, the lighting isn’t exactly great for snapping pix of the kids! I do have a few speech therapy videos of Sam, though. I think his emerging voice is so cute that I always enjoy when his SLP sends me these videos. In this case, my favorite part is him saying “soap”: Pope!

Quinoa, roasted veggies, blood oranges, and burrata. SO yummy, although Chris didn’t care for the burrata (cheese) and scraped it off:

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He wasn’t feeling the paparazzi, but he looks so darn cute in his shirt!

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I totally should’ve taken this picture before Chris cut the pizza, as it was much prettier when it was whole. Anyway, it was a vodka-sauce pizza with roasted onions and yellow peppers, mozzarella, and a bit of pesto. Super yummy!

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Theo’s teacher sent me this picture of his art project this week:

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While we looked for pants for Theo (who is growing like a weed and has outgrown many of his!), I took Sam to the toy department at Kohl’s to see if I could get birthday ideas for him. (He’s super hard to buy for because he doesn’t really play with many toys!) He was enchanted by these books that make sounds when you press the buttons. The one he’s holding is an Eric Carle one with animal sounds, and he sat and looked at it for at least ten minutes! I can see what we’ll be ordered for his birthday. 🙂

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Three speech videos and then one video from lunch today, where he was identifying letters on a table sign while we waited for our tacos. He had actually done a bunch before I started filming; as usual, he lost interest once on camera!

 

 

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