Monday, October 28, 2013

Another round...

Once again, it's my favorite time of year- parent-teacher conferences!!!  The kids' school offers conferences on Thursday evening and Friday morning.  Friday is my day off so I have always gone Friday morning.  Well, this year with two kids and 10 different teachers, I made Gene come with me Thursday.  The school has two gyms (the smaller one is used as a cafeteria) so 5th and 6th grade teachers are in one gym and 7th and 8th in the other.  The teachers sit at a table with 2 chairs in front and you line up and wait.  And for the chatty teachers, you wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and it takes all of your self-control to not just walk out and go get ice cream instead.  It's an awful system, but it works.

Thursday morning as we were driving into the school parking lot for drop-off, Logan told me I'd probably be disappointed with his grades.  I was teasing him and asked if he'd been playing too much Minecraft and not studying enough?  He completely flipped out and yelled "STUDY! I DO NOT STUDY!"  Then he muttered a bunch of stuff about how ridiculous I was being to think that he would study and then it was his turn to get out of the car.  I drove to work, part laughing, part stunned and part a little scared of seeing his report card.  We never have had a follow up conversation about studying, but I'm going to have to guess that my general definition of "study" that was encompassing all aspects of homework is NOT Logan's definition.  His report card was excellent other than his science grade and that was due to one late assignment and few grades overall.

For meet the teacher night in early September, Gene went to Kaylin's classes and I went to Logan's.  We switched for conferences.  Gene said that all of Logan's teachers said he was great to have in class.  He participates and isn't disruptive and does a good job.  (Haha, they will never know that he absolutely does not study!)  Kaylin's teachers said the same things I've been hearing since 3rd grade.  She's very quiet in class, very smart and understands all the material.  If she doesn't have an A in the class it is ALWAYS because she failed to turn in assignments.  She does the assignments, she just can't seem to locate them when she needs to. 

My biggest annoyance of the night was when I got home and showed Kaylin her report card.  Her first comment was "An A in gym? I wear Crocs every day and sit on the bleachers with my friends. I guess I'll keep doing what I'm doing."  Obviously, that's a terrible attitude, but how can I argue?  Seriously, if they are going to give her an A when she doesn't participate at all but she's not disruptive, she might as well keep doing what she's doing.  The gym teachers probably don't even know her name.  Whatever.  Another thing to add to my list of why I don't believe report card grades mean anything.

I'm glad conferences are over for a few more months.  I had no surprises about the kids and no teachers physically touched me in any way beyond a handshake.  Success!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Slow down, October!

Wow, once again I have fallen way, way behind on blogging!  The rest of my zoo keeper conference was fantastic.  They turned up the temperature in our main conference hall and it was cool but comfortable the rest of the week.  We spent one entire day at the North Carolina Zoo which was huge.  Most of the animal enclosures (at least for the hoofstock) were enormous, which is great for the animals, but the layout of the zoo was such that you walked and walked and walked between exhibits.  I compared it to if Peoria Zoo kept our same number of animals but increased the size of the grounds by about 10 times.  I would say about 80% of the time you were walking through the wooded grounds with no animal enclosures in sight.  I probably would have loved the zoo if not for my bad foot.  I mean, I DID love the zoo, but I didn't love walking the zoo.  Someone said it was 5 miles from one end to the other, but I have no idea if that is true.  It felt like 5 miles!

I missed the kids and Gene was planning to take them to a White Sox game in Chicago for the weekend, so I drove home in 15 hours on Friday.  It was a loooooooong drive all at once, but I was glad to be home all day on Saturday.  The White Sox plans went all wonky and Kaylin ended up staying home but spending the night with my parents and Logan and Gene went to the game but only on Sunday.  The boys had a great time at the Sox game where they got free tickets and $10 parking.  Their Sox game ended up being cheaper than a Chiefs game!

I returned to work on Sunday, September 30th.  I hadn't worn my boot cast since the last day I worked a week and a half before, but my doctor told me I should probably put it back on when I went back to work.  I did and it was a big mistake.  By lunch my calf was so cramped I could hardly walk.  I took off the boot for the rest of the day, but spent the rest of the week stretching and massaging the knots out of my calf.  I've now completed two weeks of work without the boot and while my foot is far from perfect, I can make it through the work day without icing.  It seems like my tendon tear pain is completely healed and gone, but my foot is still weak overall and the nerve pain by my pinkie toe is still flaring.  It's not ideal, but I've worked with much worse pain and it seems to get slightly better over time.

Work's been a bit crazy with preparing everything for the cold season and the zoo preparing for Howl-Zoo-Ween.  I had to round up the budgies in the aviary to bring them inside for the winter.  After a week of preparation, feeding the birds mostly inside, adjusting doors and waiting for cool  night time temperatures, the majority of the ~200 birds were locked inside last Saturday night.  My boss worked late at a special event and snuck down after dark and shut the door.  It was a surprisingly good catch!  I only had ~50 more birds to round up outside.  On Sunday, I hung sheets across half of the aviary and several coworkers came down and we netted birds until there were only 8 remaining outside.  I then set a food "trap" in one of the double-doored vestibules the zoo visitors use to enter the aviary.  It was basically like putting all their food into a closet.  I came in early Monday morning and all of the birds were happily eating.  I shut the door and then just had to net them in the small area.  It was sort of fun and definitely gave a sense of accomplishment when complete.

Kaylin and I worked at Howl-Zoo-Ween last night.  Our zoo keeper group was selling glow necklaces as a fundraiser and Kaylin came along to help.  I bought 450 necklaces online and felt it was a major financial risk.  Thursday night was for zoo members only and only 50 necklaces were sold.  I about panicked wondering how much money we would lose because of MY purchase.  I need not have worried.  The event was PACKED last night and the six of us working sold ~325 of the remaining necklaces, with ~25 defective and unsellable.  I'm sure they will have no problem selling 50 necklaces tonight!  Even if it pours rain and no one shows up, we will still make a good profit!  It was fun to see all of the costumed kids and Kaylin and I even had time to walk the trick-or-treat trail for candy.

Otherwise, almost everything is pretty normal.  The kids are doing their school thing and the pets are doing their pet things.  Gene had a lay-off week from work last week and will have at least one more before the end of the year.  I'm still keeping my eyes and ears open for other career opportunities, but am very much hoping to be able to remain a zoo keeper for a while longer.  I suppose only time will tell.  I was somewhat encouraged this week because while I was scrolling through some online want ads, just seeing what is available, I was interested in 3 different jobs I would currently qualify for and another job I had never thought of that I would probably only need a few classes to qualify.  I know competition is probably fierce and just because I'm interested doesn't mean I would actually get the jobs, but it is an incredible feeling to know there is something out there.