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Taking a walk

Mike and I have started something new.  The city of The Colony has recently put in some new walking/biking trails.  One of them happens to be at the end of our street.  We have walked on it down to the pool, but decided Wednesday evening to go the other way.  We ended up at the next major street south of us.  Mike mapped it,  and one way it came out to a little over a mile!  I was pretty proud of myself for walking that far!  The last time I walked two miles was before I got pregnant with Tara, so that would be about 16 years ago.  And I had to work myself up to that.  This evening we walked down to South Colony and went into a little diner called “Larry’s” and got ourselves something to eat.  The game plan is to go swimming two days a week and walk two days a week.  My eventual goal is to be able to go swimming in the morning and walk to and from “Larry’s” in the evening.  I hope I can stick with this.  I am  proud of my accomplishment.

I wanted to get the word out to anyone who is currently or considering going to Kaplan College on-line.  Be aware that they will lie to you.  Mike and I have had enough of it to walk.  Back in January we were told that we would be getting living expenses of $3,000, disbursed between three checks that we would get in February, March and May.  We both received a check in February to the tune of $1,111.43.  During this time frame I took a medical leave of absence, so the check I received was $223.54.  Then last week I got notification that a check had been mailed but Mike did not.  When I looked up my financial aid records I noticed that the amount on the check was $350.00.  Mike wrote to our financial aid adviser and he told us that Mike would not be getting any money because we were taking a class that was one credit more than the other and that the money was not available for anymore living expenses.  We were counting on that money to get the roof fixed on our house, get the plumbing under the kitchen sink fixed and get our car ready for the Texas summer.  We know the school got the money because we got a statement saying as much.  So it’s not like they did not get paid for our classes.  This was money that we are going to have to pay back eventually and were promised.   Mike emailed our financial adviser’s supervisor, who in the past, was quick to acknowledge Mike’s email and would look into the problem.   Whatever the issue was, the supervisor would get the issue resolved with an apology.  Mike has not gotten any acknowledgment of his email.  So we have decided we are going to walk.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not quitting for this issue alone.  Although I abhor people who lie to me, there are other issues that have gone on in the past.  We have had a teacher who admitted that she had never taught on-line before.  We have gotten the wrong Algebra book and had to wait a week to get the correct one.  This put us perpetually behind one week.  That teacher worked with us as much as she could, but we were struggling in that class to begin with (Algebra is not our subject) and being behind one week while trying to do the current weeks work was just too much for us. I have gotten out of date books with newer computer software, causing the work I am doing to look different than what the book shows.  I have reached out to teachers with questions and have been told to find something on-line or ask my fellow students for help.  One of our current classes, the teacher has us working out of either end of the book.  The chapters at the end of the book talk about material that we have not yet covered.

So not receiving the  money that is due to us is the final straw with this college.  While a part of me is bothered because we have invested three years with this college, I have to admit that a weight has been lifted.  I have gotten to the point where college school work is an emotional and physical drain.  I was not enjoying what I was doing, did not like having to choose my next round of classes two weeks into the current semester and could not motivate myself to do anything.  I would get frustrated at little problems and would have to walk away from the work.  But the next day I would dread having to attempt to figure out what the problem was.  I know some of you are thinking that is all part of going to college and life in general, however I have chronic health problems that were getting worse each day that past.  There was the fear that I could end up in the hospital.  It has happened in the past and I don’t want it to ever happen again.  Going to Kaplan use to be enjoyable, but for about a year it has become something to dread.  So Mike and I are taking a six month leave of absence from college.  We plan on going back, but not right away and definitely not at Kaplan.

There was an article in “The Dallas Morning News” Monday that had me fuming. In North Texas, school districts have what is called a minimum grade where most teachers are not allowed to give students grades below a 50 or a 60. In Dallas, one district has mandated that no grade below a 70 can be given. This means that any student can coast through school without applying themselves and still graduate. In Wednesday’s issue there was an article about how the Plano ISD has temporarily shut down a committee that was exploring a policy that would have discontinued docking grades for students who were found to be cheating or turned in late assignments. The reason why these kids are getting a free ride is because some moron got it into his head that failing a child would be too traumatic and would increase the chance of the child dropping out of school.

I graduated in 1983 from a Toledo, Ohio high school. At that time a student who did not do the work, did not turn it in, or turned it in late, would get a lower grade than if they had done and turned in the work when it was due. When I was in grade school I passed tests by reading the material and memorizing the facts. When I got into junior high I learned the hard way how to take notes and how to study for a mid-term and the final exam. I still vividly remember the first F I received in a class and the pride I felt when I brought that grade up to an A. I did this by buckling down, doing the work, finding better ways to study and asking the teacher if there was any extra work I could do to help bring up my failing grade. The only consideration I might receive from my teacher was an extension if I had missed a lot of school days due to illness. I certainly did not expect my teacher to “give” me a 70, knowing that was the lowest grade I could get. There was also the very real possibility that I could be held back a grade if I did not do what was expected of me.

Mike and I ran into the problem in Phoenix, when Sandy was in the 2nd grade. Sandy was living with her mother at the time and missed about ¾ of the year due to head lice. When she was in school she was a disruption to the class, she refused to do the in school work and did not do any of her homework. She could not add simple numbers together, print neatly or read at her grade level. Yet she was allowed to advance to the 3rd grade. When we got custody of her two years later, we found out that the school district felt that it was too traumatic to hold her back. Because of this silly notion, Sandy will be going into her senior year without the skills she needs to go to college or even have the appropriate work ethic she will need to hold down a job flipping burgers.

I honestly don’t know when it became acceptable to allow our children to skate through school. I find it a travesty that parents are not actively involved in the education of their children. Parents expect schools to babysit their kids, get upset when the teachers try to discipline their misbehaving children and feel that their kids are entitled to passing grades for work that was not completed. These kids are graduating without the skills necessary for them to get a college degree and will expect to skate through college like they did in high school. When the reality of college work hits them and they do not get a free pass, then yes they will drop out. We are doing our children no favors by mollycoddling them. School work is supposed to be hard. It prepares them for college. College work is even harder to prepare them for the real world. Life is hard and no one will hand them anything in the real world. It is our responsibility as their parents to prepare them for the realities of life and we are doing them a great injustice if we hand them what they need to become productive members in this world.

First day at the pool

On Thursday April 8 Mike and I went to The Colony’s local pool.  This is a very nice set up with a covered pool that is heated in the winter and two outdoor pools that are geared for the little ones.  Both of us see doctors who have recommended that we swim as exercise and to help Mike’s back and my hips.  We have been trying to walk regularly but we just could not make ourselves commit to it.  I got onto the scale Saturday night and found out that I had gained 12 pounds.  That was when I decided that I needed to get serious about exercising.

So on Wednesday we forced ourselves to walk down to the pool.  There had been a cold front that had moved through and we were both hurting pretty badly.  I almost talked myself out of it, but decided that I would be better off for making myself go.

The pool is just about a block and a half from where we live and The Colony has just put in a walking path down to the street where the pool is located.  I have been to the pool a few times with the girls (reference other blogs) but this was the first time that I have been there during the cold times of the year and this was only the second time Mike has been there.

They only charged us a $1.50 each and it is on the honor system that you pay because there is no one there to collect your money.  When we got into the pool there was two lanes roped off for lap swimming and the rest of the pool was free to do whatever you wanted.  There was only six people there, including Mike and I.  The water was a wonderful 84 degrees.  I don’t know how many laps Mike did but I did two before I stopped to catch my breath.  We stayed there for about 45 minutes and it was wonderful.

We were sore for the rest of the day and the next, but if felt good to have gotten out and done something good for ourselves.   We are going  in a few hours and I am looking forward to it.

The party that our church had Saturday February 7 was a lot of fun. Mike and I dressed up nice (if I do say so myself) and in Mike’s opinion, I was the best dressed lady there. And who am I to argue with my husband? The church had opened up several rooms which were decorated with white and red lights. There were several artificial trees that had lights and red ribbons draped over them. Someone had taken some brown paper and painted several different famous Paris landmarks. There was roughly ten round tables with red tablecloths and a candle in the middle. The tables sat eight couples and each place setting had a plate with five to seven of those little conversation hearts on them.

Once couples arrived they put on French music and turned off the overhead lights. The room was lit only by the burning candles and the Christmas lights placed around the room. The dinner was salad and a chicken spaghetti (I thought spaghetti was Italian) but it was very good none the less. For dessert there was a selection of different cheesecakes.

After everyone was done eating they passed around colored paper hearts. On one side you had to write your favorite color, book, movie, food, animal and your name. On the back you were suppose to write something that no one knew about you. The emcee would read out everything except the person’s name and the game was to guess who this person was. It was a shoe-in that only one person knew who it was when mine was read since I don’t attend this church on a regular basis. However, everyone seemed impressed with my so called secret. I wrote down that I had seen a one day old black leopard cub.

The next game we played was when the emcee passed out handfuls of hearts with words and names on them. The goal for the table was to come up with the strangest sentence using no less than 20 hearts. Some tables broke down into couples and made up sentences of about seven words. But it was a blast hearing what people put together. There was no dancing, which was probably just as well since Mike and I can’t dance to save our lives. The evening was a lot of fun with good food and even better company.

So Friday morning we went to Target first. We were lucky enough to find Mike a suit that we both liked at a price that we could live with. Target’s bra selection was about as fruitful as Wal-mart’s was. I was really beginning to get worried that I would be unable to wear my new dress on Saturday. The shoe department at Target had a better selection than Wal-mart but they did not trust their customers enough to allow them to walk around in the shoes they were trying on. The pairs of shoes were tied together with a piece of string so small that I could not even get my feet into the shoes and stand up. I honestly don’t know how anyone can try on shoes at Target. With the bra and shoe search a bust at Target we moved on to Sears.

Sears used to be the store where you could find just about anything you needed. That may still be the case for most people, but it was not for me. After looking around at Sears selection of bras, which were all sizes and styles mixed together, Mike went and found a sales clerk. She basically told us that they don’t carry the size I need. We mentioned Macys, and she told us that she doubted that they would carry what I needed. We moved on to the shoe department, but one look told me that we would be unsuccessful there too.

We moved onto Macys. Their selection was at least put into some semblance of order, but I had no luck finding my size. Fortunately Mike did. He found a size that fit perfectly when I tried it on. I had my dress with me and when I walked out of the dressing room wearing the dress, Mike’s jaw dropped. That was the first time he had seen me in it. I will admit that his look was what I was hoping for. We got a discount on the bra which made us even happier. We moved onto the shoe department. I found one that would have matched my dress perfectly; however it was not a good fit for my feet. We determined that I needed a wide width and Macys did not carry any wide widths. At that point I was glad that I had found a bra that fit, the shoes could be worked around if it came down to that.

We then went into the mall proper to find a shoe store that might have a pair of shoes that I liked that fit me. The first place we came to, and I don’t remember the name off the top of my head, said that they did carry some shoes in wide widths. I was trying on a pair, but it was not a pair that I was really thrilled over and really did not fit very well. While I was trying on this pair, Mike found one that I did like and was in a wide width. I tried it on and it is very comfortable and dressy enough to be worn with my new dress. We purchased that pair and called our shopping done.

Three days and six stores later I have finally completed my ensemble. Shopping for my dress was lots of fun, shopping for everything else was just one big headache. I had fun with my friend and Mike is to be commended for having the patience of a saint. I don’t know of too many guys who would have been as patient and understanding as he was. Most men hate shopping for themselves (that includes Mike) let alone going along with their wives/girlfriends to go shopping for bras and shoes. I know I have an extraordinary husband, but the past two days has reinforced just how lucky I am to have found him.

Mike and I are attending a gay Paree dinner and dance at our church tonight. I decided that since I have only one dress to my name, I needed to go out and do some shopping. I took along a friend of mine and we made a day of shopping at one of the malls. The following is an account of the three days it took us to get everything I need to look my very best.

My friend and I went out on Wednesday with no real idea of where I wanted to get my dress. The first place we ended up at was at Dillards. After wandering around for a few minutes, a friendly sales clerk came over and asked if we needed help. I told her what I was looking for and admitted that I was not sure what my dress size was or what exactly I was looking for. I had an idea of something red, but beyond that I had no clue. Now don’t get me wrong, this lady was very nice and did everything she could to find me something that I could wear. But most of what she picked was black and frumpy looking. It was something one could wear to a funeral as opposed to a festive dinner/dance. She did pick out a few dresses that had what I would call frills going around the dress, but it just hung on me like a sack and the colors  did not work. I think I spent at least an hour and a half with this woman and finally decided that Dillards did not have what I was looking for.

We then moved on to JC Pennys. I did a cursory look at what they had and was not sure I would find anything that would work. What they had out was mostly sundresses and jackets with slacks. While those items were nice, it just wasn’t what I wanted. Upon further digging I came across about five dresses that I figured to try on just to see how they looked on me. The second dress I tried on was red with straps that came up over the shoulders and crossed in the back. I slipped it on and immediately fell in love with it. I showed it to my friend and she agreed with me. I tried on another two dresses just to be sure but my eyes kept going back to the red dress. I was sold on that one.

The next problem we had to tackle was finding me a strapless bra. Now let me delicately state that I am no where near the IBTC (Itty Bitty Titty Committee). While not extremely well endowed (I knew a lady in Phoenix who wore a size J), I am a large breasted woman. I have had problems finding a bra that supports and is comfortable for me for about 15 years. I looked at what Pennys had to offer and it did not come close to fitting me. By then it was close to 7 p.m. and I had been going non-stop since 12:30. I had to call it a night.

On Thursday Mike & I started out at Wal-mart to look for shoes. The selection was very disappointing to say the least. It looked to me like Wal-mart is doing away with their entire shoe department. They had some black shoes, but there was no rhyme or reason to their selection or size. What little they did have was in boxes with the lids on them and no markings on the box. So I would have had to open each box to see what style shoe it held as well as the size. What they did have a large selection of was sneakers and summer type shoes. Shame on you Wal-mart, you used to have a better selection. While we were there we looked for bras. No luck on finding anything in my size. It was very disappointing and frustrating not finding what I needed on both the shoe and bra front. However I did get my hair cut while I was there so it was not a total bust. When we got home Mike did some looking for stores that might have the bra that I was looking for. We had no luck other than to order on-line. While that was a viable option, it would not arrive in time for me to wear the dress to the church dance. We figured we would go to Target and then on to Sears to find my bra and hopefully some shoes.

To be continued…………..