Ellie is off at Girl Scout Camp this week with her BFF. Just for the days – neither one of us is ready for overnight camp. It’s good to have something to look forward to anyway.
On the front porch of the Dining Hall.
Tuesday was Twin Day.
Up until Wednesday they had a great time. Wednesday: “Boy Scouts came and all they did was talk all day it was super boring.” I said to be sure to put it in her evaluation. (They didn’t just talk all day, there was a ‘nature walk’ with disposable cameras to record stuff.)
These long long days with both hands free has finally given me the time to finish the sheep.
Just need to decide on the ear color.
I’ve never run out of yarn on a project like this before. It makes me feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I understand running out of chenille (it knits so much bigger than the listed gauge) but I should not be out of that dark grey. If my customer wants dark ears, I have to order more. The last scrap is in that too small example left ear.
Look what we did while we were cut off from civilization!
We’ve got these things here called “thunderstorms.” Maybe you’ve heard of them? On Tuesday morning, lightning came in through the phone line and took out the internet (and the land line but we don’t care as much about that). The internet just got fixed last night.
I’ve really gotten my $$ worth for this chalkboard.
Ellie had a some friends over to celebrate with make-your-own ice cream sundaes and water squirt things.
Squirters because I thought the kids would get LESS wet than the sprinkler. I was very very wrong.
And then took a nice nap.
So peaceful. So quiet.
We had a family meeting that night at dinner to talk about our plans for the next school year. The final vote was unanimous: we will not return to our Elementary School in the fall. If I hadn’t already made up my mind that this was a better choice for all of us, that last School Board meeting and subsequent resignation of the Superintendent would have sealed the deal. I have zero faith that this board is capable of affecting lasting change. Without drastic changes to the current maintenance system, a brand new building won’t help the situation – it’ll be right back in ruins fifteen years from now.
I’ve got my eye on an accredited distance learning program that sounds like it was made for Ellie.
It was Book Fair Week at school. I’m worn out. But it does mean that the end of the school year is near – just two more events and then summer!
I’m ashamed to tell you how many books we came home with. We were already low on shelf space…
The mold results (air quality tests – they didn’t grow anything just counted spores) arrived on Monday. Eleven rooms in the facility were tested randomly – it should be noted that none of the tested classrooms are the ones that flood regularly. Let me preface the rest of the discussion with: none of the majorly toxic types showed up in the samples. That way you can skip the next bit if if bores you. Google and I spent a couple hours together (that’s all I had time for during Book Fair Week) learning about mold types. I’m still not an expert, but I learned enough to make me feel like something is hinky. That and the way the company that analyzed the mold results hedged their bets with comments like, “Although a reasonable attempt has been made to locate suspect microbes (mold) in the areas identified, the inspection techniques used are inherently limited in the sense that only full demolition procedures will reveal all building materials of a structure and, therefore, all areas of potential microbial growth.”
The problem with mold testing is that there’s no set standard for “acceptable” amounts. So the testing companies set their own. This particular company decided that as long as there are more mold spores outside than inside, everything is fine. Regardless of type. Now, according to the letter from our Superintendent, “The environmental testing company reports that the numbers of detected mold spores was LESS inside than outside, as should be the case.” And that is accurate based on the total spores counted in the report. What isn’t taken into consideration is that there are two types of mold spores that are much higher in the outdoor sample: Basidiospores (released during periods of high humidity or rain and often found in forests and woodlands – radically higher concentration since it’d rained every day for more than a week) and Ascospores (grows well under a variety of conditions and found everywhere outside). There are several types (4-6 in eight of the rooms tested) found indoors in percentages greater than outside. Two of them – Cladiosporium (grows inside where the relative humidity is 50% or higher) and Pennicillium (often found growing in water damaged indoor areas) – have percentages that are higher in every room tested. Penicillium concentrations are triple or more in every room: 3% concentration outdoors compared to 8%-47% indoors. Since only one of those classrooms is near the ones that flood when it rains, I’ve got to wonder where all the other water damage is coming from. Super leaky ill-repaired roof perhaps? They finished putting new shingles on the roof (although they called it “getting a new roof”) when Ellie started kindergarten. Before that, the leak solution was to put big trashcans in the attic to catch the drips. I did not know that when Ellie started school there. Malaria anyone? Also, filled with water those would be really really heavy. I wonder if they ever came through the antique ceilings. Let me say just one more time (in the fine tradition of whoever wrote the opinion letter about the mold test), there’s a real good chance I just can’t read a mold report and I’ve got this all wrong.
However. They “relocated” three classrooms (Ellie’s, the one near the flooding and the one next door to that one) even though everything is FINE. Ellie’s teacher requested a new sink and countertop over a year ago. Mold grows (well, grew, since they took the sink out) up out of the sink in her classroom, she kills it with Clorox and it grows again. The facilities people came, measured the counter and were never heard from again. They recommendations from the mold people were that the countertop, back splash and cabinets underneath be replaced. They’ve only replaced the countertop – not the water damaged cabinets underneath. Which means that they have yet to treat the mold that’s growing back of the cabinets. I’ve got pictures. They are supposedly remediating (that means spraying some stuff while wearing haz-mat suits) in the other two classrooms and testing the classrooms that do actually flood when it rains.
My requests for meetings and documents* have been deferred, ignored and shuffled from person to person for the past two weeks. I let the superintendent know that the people he referred me to will not meet with me or answer my questions. This time, he referred me to the guy I’m pretty sure is responsible for the neglect of the building. We’ll just see how that goes. Everybody (including my new contact) that I’ve sent emails or that I have had short “I haven’t got time to meet with you” conversations with has until Monday afternoon to get back to me. Then I’m going to start calling them each and every day until I get my answers. I’m out of patience and I’m out of trust. Somebody is responsible for the neglect of the building. Somebody chose to neglect EPA requirements. Somebody chose to ignore basic fire safety. Somebody put my kid (and a whole bunch of others) in unsafe and unsavory conditions. I want to know who.
*anything that has anything to do with the fire safety system before it’s stunningly quick replacement in February (date of installation and service record particularly), the past 10 years of work orders for the school (date submitted and date addressed particularly) and the “regular asbestos and mold tests” that the PR guy is absolutely convinced they perform.
Ellie is out in the office visiting Washington with her mini. She keeps texting me videos.
Washington was up in a tree by the mailbox Saturday before last. I talked him into coming down but he ran away before I could pick him up. Two days later, he was in another tree out in the woods and refused to come down. The day after that, I found him way way up high in a live oak and got him to come down to where Michael could reach him with a ladder. Washington is out in the office with Michael and refuses to leave the indoors. He must have been someone’s best pet: he is extra affectionate, neutered (no chip), well-behaved and super soft. He’s going to need a home if we can’t locate his people. We already checked with the shelter, animal control and all the vets but no one is looking.
Related: if you come across a fat grey cat with a bad eye and a flea allergy, please send her home. Big Grey Kitty went walkabout (as Out Meows sometimes do) about a week ago and we really miss her.
As of Thursday afternoon sometime, our school was taken off fire watch. One more step towards accomplishing the primary goal of “Immediate Safety.” Secondary goals include: undeniably prove the pattern of neglect and make sure this neglect never happens again (that last bit should involve people getting fired and a lot of apologizing). Surely we’ll have mold results next week. I mean, I know there’s mold. All you have to do is look around to see it – I’m pretty sure mold fibers are what has been holding the school together all these years. But is it the kind that will kill you? Only the CDC can tell for sure!
Asbestos-free air means that we set up the book fair yesterday morning. It looks pretty good! If y’all are interested in supporting our locked-up library (I mentioned the exposed asbestos in there right?), give a shout and I’ll send along the on-line link to our Scholastic fair.
This morning we headed down to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo for a Girl Scout zoo day. I took only one picture because I am a terrible mother:
That’s Chucky. He is enormous. Ellie and I love him. We’ve never ever seen all of him at once so we were very excited.
I tell you what. There were some badly behaved scouts there today. I was embarrassed to be associated with them – especially since our own troop rocks the manners pretty hard.
Now that I’m writing again I bet y’all are already sick of me. Heehee.
The air quality tests for asbestos have been returned and the presence of asbestos is within the EPA’s “it’s all good” limits. Which is such a relief! I’m giddy glad that we aren’t all breathing through asbestos-lined lungs. The Big Question of the morning is: Is the return of one test (albeit the scariest one) enough to convince us it’s safe to send her to school? None of the mold tests will be back for a few days, no telling about lead and asbestos dust. I heard that the Fire Marshal would be there today. So is one enough? What if we send her back and the place has 9x the legal limit for lead contamination? I’m not particularly interested in using my child’s health to make a show of good faith.
The press knew this afternoon about the results of the asbestos in the air. They didn’t report it until their news programs, of course. Parents weren’t notified until 9:30 last night. There’s something really wrong with that. Again we were notified by email (I replied to the superintendent and reminded him that up this way we don’t all have internet), but the Superintendent did attach PDFs of the reports substantiating the results. He at least as figure out that assertions of safety aren’t enough. I am grateful for that.
There’s been a lot of trouble with the media and the school system’s PR guy. The PR guy keeps saying things like, “…Board of Education said it does regular testing for mold and asbestos levels to ensure the children stay safe.” And we keep saying, “Then where are the records of these tests? If these tests have been done, just show us the results! You could have saved yourself a lot of trouble if this were true just by just showing us the evidence!” And the press never ever questions the PR guy about it. Whatever happened to investigative journalism? I’ve told at least two reporters where to look for proof of that statement – all they have to do is make a phone call.
Traditional Build-a-Bear + Moe’s trip. She made a cat of course!
And she had a birthday party with a MAGICIAN. Which was pretty much the best thing ever. Even though her original magician ended up iced in (Remember when that ice storm happened in Nashville? That’s where he lived.), substitute magician was wonderful and the kids loved him!
This is my sign in the living room – the party was at our pizza place. Yes, there is a wagon in the living room.
I can’t show you many pictures since they are full of other people’s children (and most are seriously blurry), but watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!