Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Testing, Testing, 1 2 3 , Grade!

I've been very occupied this last month grading k-12 standardized tests for the New England States. It's a part time, seasonal job I've picked up working 5 hour evenings Monday through Friday at a computer "lab" with hundreds of other people. During the spring, I graded New Mexico and Massachusetts tests for a few months. It's a lot of work, boring and tedious at times, but also a lot of fun.

This year, I got to grade 5th, 7th, and 8th grade reading comprehension where I learned a bit about Slinkies, Stonehenge, Anne of Green Gables, bees, Jane Austen, a number of folk tales, and other such things. It was very interesting to see the thought processes behind the kids answers, decipher different spellings and handwriting, and enjoy the quirks when we saw them. Some kids were very literal, while others were extremely conversational. A number of them wrote about personal opinions and experiences to make their points or relate to the story prompt. Some even made up their own stories and ignored the question/prompt all together. Occasionally, we even got a picture to look at.

I also got to grade 4th and 5th grade math. Apparently, you can tell a child's comprehension of math much better with an open, written answer then multiple choice. Often, you could see the thought process the child went through to get their answer, which was very interesting when a large number of kids got the same wrong answer to a question. We did fractions, estimation, number orders, graphs, place value, addition/multiplication sentences, dollar signs and decimal points, and so forth. I loved comparing where Sierra was to these kids, as she is currently doing 4th grade math.

So yah, that's what I've been up to of late. Glad it's over until next spring.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I got to experience what is apparently a common phenomena first hand this last week or so.

I am currently 10 1/2 weeks pregnant, and last Thursday (at 10 weeks) I got to see my baby happily dancing away with a very strong heartbeat by ultrasound. Why the ultrasound? Maybe I should start from the beginning.

This pregnancy has been different from all of my others. My symptoms were stronger. I actually had morning sickness, cramping, and food cravings. What's more, I was very easily tired, often to the point of exhaustion where I'd spend a day or more in bed to recuperate. I thought it was probably due to me getting older, but at 7 1/2 weeks, something made me think differently. My uterus decided that it should be the size of a 10 week pregnancy. Twins?

By 9 weeks, it was the size it should be at 14-16 weeks and contained two separate, firm little lumps, one high and the other low. What's more, at 9 1/2 weeks, I started feeling fetal movement. Yes, that's early. Way early!!! I normally feel it at 12 weeks, which is still very early, but this . . . it seems impossibly early. Even so, I was definitely feeling it, loud and clear. I was having twins! I was sure of it.

Then the cramping started. Hard. No blood, but it felt just like labor. And it took hours to go away. I would have been very concerned if I couldn't feel the babies moving. As it was, it was past hours at the doctor's office on a Friday evening, and I knew from past experience, if I was miscarrying, there wasn't much that would or even could be done about it. There was no hemorrhaging, no blood at all, so there was no emergency. Rest and water. Eventually it went away. And since I still felt very pregnant, and the babies were moving, I let it go.

Come Tuesday morning, there was spotting. Very light and brown. Most likely from the cramping on Friday. I finally called the doctor, but again, I felt quite pregnant, so I wasn't too concerned. I'd come in if there was any more bleeding or cramping. I had a doctor' appointment in a week after all.

Wednesday, I started cramping again, not as bad, but bad enough. Now I was worried. Really worried. Was I going to loose the twins? My husband gave me a blessing, assuring me of a healthy pregnancy. That helped, but my anxiety wouldn't fully go away.

Thursday morning, I called the doctor and got an ultrasound appointment set up for early afternoon. Then it hit me. I was loosing/had lost one of the twins. My pregnancy symptoms were still there, but they wen't as strong. I had energy! I checked my uterus, and it was smaller then before. The lump on top had become hard. The bottom lump was busy buzzing away at my cervix. I had lost the top twin. Now to confirm it.

It was a relief to see my baby on the screen, kicking and dancing away. But there was no second baby. What there was, however, was a solid mass of . . . something. . . at the top of my uterus. Right where the other "twin" had been. I had experience what is called "vanishing twin syndrome". I had lost a twin.

Someone said it's like having a funeral and a birthday at the same time. It's so true. I'm very grateful for the dancing baby in my belly, but it hurts that the other was lost. A lot. A whole lot. I've wanted twins my entire life, and I'd been getting so excited anticipating it. All of it. Both the fun and the hard stuff. And then it was gone. I may never have the chance again. It's heartbreaking really. And then I feel my little one kicking, and I have to remember I haven't lost everything. I have a healthy baby on it's way, so why am I crying? I should be happy right? I am, and I will be eventually. Just give me time. But for now, I'm grieving.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Piece By Piece

Yes. It's coming. Together. Slowly.

Slowly, but surely my basement is getting there. I thought you might like to see the progress so far. . .

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fall Festival

This year, I decided to do a farm share with Miller Farms just outside of Longmont. I got to go fill a bushel sized basket every week from their farm stand at our farmer's market, choosing whatever I wanted from things like peas, rhubarb, asparagus, red peppers, watermelon, egg plant, basil, green beans, lettuce, hot peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, onions, corn, carrots, gourds, turnips, sweet potatoes, honeydew melons, garlic, spaghetti squash, pumpkins, and so forth. I've absolutely loved it, and we plan on doing it again.

In any case, as a part of out farm share, we got a free pass to Miller Farm's Fall Festival. The idea is, you go out to their farm, just miles down Hwy 66 from Longmont, play in their play area, go through the corn maze, take a hay ride, and pick your own vegetables. Sounds simple enough, but it was a lot of fun. I think our visit was over 3 hours long!

First off, their play area has a mountain of hay to climb,

Along with lots of other fun stuff.

There was a huge, inflated jumping pillow.

And you can't forget the chickens and goats,

Or the go-car track.

They even liked the corn maze, though they got tired of it toward the end, it was so big.

Finally, there was the hay ride and the vegetable picking. (We were allowed to pick 5 bags per person!)

I think we came home with 8 jack-o-lantern pumpkins, two bags of pie pumpkins, three bags of new potatoes, three bags of carrots, a bag of cabbage, two bags of onions (red, yellow and white), and a bag of popping corn. Quite the haul if you ask me.

The kids had a blast.

And yes, we'll definitely be doing it again!