I’m the best mom (because my kids make it easy)

I parked towards the top of the driveway (I was suppposed to go out for lunch, but that didn’t happen), so Dad’s car wouldn’t fit. I’m sitting here on the couch, next to Alpha, and realize …

So I gave Alpha my car keys and said, “Hey, wanna move my car for me?”

She only freaked out for 10 seconds and then she was out the door with my keys. I told her to tell Dad to help her out.

She did it. She moved my car (20 feet down the driveway). Kid is flying high on success right now. I am SO proud of her!

ps – Go. Me.

In which Mom goes on a wild tear

We’ve all had that moment (or at least those of us who are the “fun,” read “irresponsible,” part of the couple), where our responsible half, they who keep roofs over our heads, food on our plates, and everyone mostly on task, sighs a sigh of wistful desire. Well, mine happened today. Dad’s mountain bike is 25 years old, and in need of so much TLC at this point, it would be cheaper to replace it. This offends his sensibilities, so he’s been effectively without a mountain bike for years. Until today.

Bones3 truck-mount bike rack on an 2011 Hyundai Elantra Touring
Bike, rack, and helmet #3.

I give you his new bike. Its another Specialized Rockhopper, and he loves it. The rack was pretty simple to put on, as far as trunk-mounted bike racks go. That means the swearing was kept to a minimum, and there was no blood spilt.

Keeping an eye on the bikes, because who needs a bike lock?

We took it out for a dry run with Beta. A traditional trip to the Panera downtown to grab some lunch and have some fun. Their kitchen sink cookies are not for the faint of heart, but oh so good if you share.

We hung out for a while, until the whinging from certain parties about going home became too much, got back on our (lovely, new) bikes and headed home. The ride is surprisingly flat (yay floodplain), which made testing out and finding gears so much easier.

After we got home, the statement was made: I want to go to the beach (guess who). After some digging to find a beach with other things to do. Apparently we were not doing bathing suits today. Some pretty slick Googling came up with Castle Island. Beach, walking trail, dog beach, perfect!

After some finagling, browbeating, and the promise to play Minecraft when we got back, we piled everyone (including the dog) into the car and took off for South Boston.

Handful of periwinkles, all still alive. One is poking its head out.

The place is surprisingly pretty. It is right next to the docks for the really big ships, so we got to watch a cruise ship put out to sea. Beta and I walked the beach, while Dad and Alpha walked the dog around the causeway. Beta turned out to be the periwinkle whisperer. We didn’t count how many she found, but they were all still alive. We put them someplace safe to wait for the tide to come back in.

Safe place for periwinkles (we hope)

We had a great walk, and found a couple of live oysters, too. After a while, we started down the causeway towards the open ocean. Beta walked back on the outside of the fence, only having to jump across about half way back (no more asphalt to walk on, and I lost my nerve). We met up with Dad, Alpha and the dog a little while later, and packed up to head home.

Not too shabby a day!

Beta and her oysers

That was one angry duck…

I’m sitting in the living room, minding my own business, working from home (as you do), when I see a large bird land in the neighbor’s yard, followed by a male mallard duck. Being me, and curious, I checked and sure enough, the first bird was a female duck.

After they finished doing … whatever it is they were doing in the neighbor’s yard, she popped up on the fence and started quacking. Loudly. For a LONG time.

She was up there for a good two minutes, quacking angrily. And then she moved…

Yes. That’s my car. With an angry duck on it. She flew off along with Mr. Duck. You can almost hear the “Honey! Wait for me!”

Teaching the dog about Santa

For the last month or two, Quinn and I have been going out for walks after the kids are in bed. Its quiet, the dog has a great time, and we get to talk for an hour (tonight it was iPad woes and trying to remember this story about the SR-71 and a Navy Hornet). I’ve been feeling better, and am a little smaller, so its a win all the way around!

It is now bunny season. They are everywhere, and they are not smart. They will sit very still, even after Butter sees them. They will sit very still until she’s almost convinced herself that they aren’t really there. That’s when they bolt, and Butter tries to take our arms off bolting after them. The worst part is that they never seem to run into cover, they run along it, so she can see them for the longest possible time.

Bunnies.

So, tonight there was a real winner. He sat, still as a stone, until Butter was about 6 feet away from him. Then he ran, along the road, for about 20 feet (if you’ve ever seen Butter run, you know that’s not nearly far enough) to the corner of a fence. And sat there staring at the dog, who was on high alert and at the very end of her leash. It would be worrying, but her ears flop into her eyes, so she just looks ridiculous.

Quinn says, “I wonder what she would do if I ran after the bunny, and pretended to catch it.” I can see the wheels turning in his head, even in the dark.

“Don’t you dare.”

But the bunny isn’t moving, even as we keep walking toward it (he was between us and home; I don’t torture bunnies for fun). Quinn keeps giggling to himself, thinking about chasing the bunny, and the dog’s reaction. And the bunny still isn’t moving and we’re back to a 6 foot lead.

I sighed. No way around it. “Please chase the bunny.”

So he does. He runs towards the bunny, who is completely confused, and takes a second to start running, too. Butter tried to take off with him, but I was ready for it and she didn’t get anywhere. The bunny high-tailed it towards the back of a house, and Quinn went after it, just into a shadow.

This is where the fun starts, you see. He made growly, eating noises. Butter could not believe it. Quinn caught the bunny and ate it. She spent the rest of the walk looking for her own bunny to catch and eat. (He did not really catch the bunny, but Butter was firmly convinced her dad was a mighty predator tonight.)

Quinn wants to get a toy bunny (safe for dogs) and carry it with him on our walks. He’s going to chase another bunny out of harm’s way, and bring back the toy to give to Butter. She will firmly believe that he’s sharing his kill with her. He says, “It will be like teaching her about Santa Clause!” because she will be firmly convinced that is was bunnies taste like.

I’m not sure if this is going to be hysterical, or the start of many bad times for the local bunnies.

Good thing there’s lots of them.

Butter has a terrible, no-good, very bad day.

Butter did not have a good day today. She’s been licking her paws and scratching her face to the point she’s starting to lose fur. Sprayed her with some anti-itch spray, and that didn’t help much (but she did put herself in her crate for an hour).

sad pitt bull
She looks so miserable

Off to the vet we go. He looks her over and says yes, it’s allergies, benadryl what she needs, and by the way her anal glands are full.

So, poor Butter is itchy, has been sprayed with nasty stuff, went to the vet, had a finger up her rear to express her gland, and is due to take two pills later.

I said I should just trim her nails to make it complete, but Quinn says that would be too cruel. I think he’s right.

We’ll just let her sleep for now.

Raiser’s Edge, love, what were you thinking

TL;DR: In the SQL Configuration Manager, set the TCP port to a static one, if is trying to use Dynamic, and remove the Dynamic port. On the Server, go into the Advanced settings for the Firewall, and set Inbound rules for both the TCP and UDP ports, allowing them to connect. On the client, set Outbound rules in the Firewall manager for the same. Support Articles at bottom of post.

So, I do third party tech support for a couple of independent schools. Several of them use a program called Raiser’s Edge to keep track of charitable donations, and solicitations. This is all well and good, and the program certainly does the job, but sometimes it makes you want to down a liter of vodka and go home.

The set up: We had to replace a machine that was hosting a networked install of a Raiser’s Edge database. We didn’t realize it was networked until we got the call that they couldn’t access it from their laptop (crap).

The initial troubleshooting: First, we needed to uninstall RE from the laptop (the client computer). It would not go. Finally decided to reboot the machine to make sure RE was not running anywhere. Suddenly, the uninstall went like a breeze.

Now we needed to install RE from the network share on the server. We can’t connect. That took turning off all the firewalls on both machines to fix, but still, we could not get to the “Deploy” folder, that should have been the only available network share on the machine.

Turns out that the installer does not set that folder to be “Available” across the network. There was no documentation for that. Set it to “Available” and boom. I can see the network share.

Run the setup.

Install RE.

Try to run RE.

Start getting database errors. Native Error 17 – Can’t connect to the Database. Call Support and they say “Yeah, its probably the firewall.”

I was too irritated to tell them there was no firewall turned on, at first, but when I mentioned it, they said that it was possible an antivirus had blocked the ports needed. Go to this KB article and open the ports.

Yeah. Fine.

I go through the directions, figure out that SQL has a dynamic port, and follow the directions for that configuration. It doesn’t work. Fantastic.

Finally, Darling Husband o’Mine says, “Why don’t you specify the port it uses?”

So in the end, this is what worked:

  • In the SQL Configuration Manager, set the IPALL port to 1433
  • Stop and restart the SQL service/reboot the machine (I wound up rebooting, but YMMV).
  • On the Server, in Firewall Management, under Advanced Settings, set up Inbound Rules for the following:
    • TCP port 1433 open (or some open port)
    • UDP port 1434 open
  • On the Client, set up Outbound Rules for the following:
    • TCP port 1433 open (or whatever port you used on the server. THEY HAVE TO MATCH)
    • UDP port 1434 open
  • Install RE on the client machine from the Deploy share on the Server.
  • Test the connections.

If any of this makes no sense, here is the supporting documentation for all of it:

Good luck, and may the force be with you on this one.

My new camera lens

Yesterday was spent at the Boston Museum of Science with the Mystic Joneses. Today, we took Beta back for the thing she loves most: The Butterfly Garden. (We couldn’t go yesterday because it was sold out. Pro-tip, avoid the MOS on Federal Holidays at all costs.)

For my birthday I got something I’ve been wanting for a while: a set of lenses for my phone. I went a little nuts with the macro lens. I can’t even say I’m sorry about it.

These butterflies fake being owls. Very successfully.
These butterflies fake being owls. Very successfully. There is a husband in the background for scale.
you cannot see me
This guy was just hanging out, playing the You-Can’t-See-Me game. Poorly.

Most of these were taken from just a couple of inches away. The butterflies and moths in this exhibit are so relaxed around people, its is amazing.

pretty white
Caught this butterfly mid-flutter. Very lucky shot.

I played with my settings, and found out that trying to use the macro lens on butterflies on swaying branches was a guaranteed failure.

The details I managed to get were astounding, though.

curled tongue
You can even see his little curled-up tongue!

Some pictures came out with some real drama. You can almost see his scales!

yummy flower
This guy was hanging out and sipping from the flowers.

I am really pleased with these little lenses.

battle hardened
This little guy has been pretty beaten up. I’m guessing he’s a couple days old.

And of course, I had to do a gratuitous, super-close-up of a flower. For Reasons.

pink flower

First Snow of the Year

bendy_trees
These trees normally stand straight. They did not last night.

This winter has been kind of a bust as far as snow goes. Thursday I was wandering around in a t-shirt because it was 60 degrees! And then The Snow Came. The kids had a snow day, I worked from home, and Dad decided to go into the office. He was sad that he missed the traditional breakfast of all snow days, french toast. I explained that you only get french toast if you stay home. Its in the rules. Really.

The snow is that heavy, wet kind that takes out trees. We only lost the one branchOops (at the front of the stairs, just for the extra drama), so it could have been much worse. After Dad got home (I made him send me a Glympse so I could watch him drive home), we decided to go out and brave the roads to honor our family tradition of Friday Night at the Mall (don’t ask. I don’t know how it started). We got dinner and toddled off to Newbury Comics to see what they had.

Dad and Alpha settling in to wait for Beta and I to finish. It was a while.
Dad and Alpha settling in to wait for Beta and I to finish. It was a while.

We had a grand time. Beta found some quidditch goggles, and had enough money for them, so now she is their proud owner. I found so much stuff I would love to own, but I don’t want to actually pay for/store somewhere in my house. Alpha swears she loves comics, but she never seems to find the one that sings to her. I’m waiting for her to discover Sandman.

The drive home was beautiful, because the trees were all spangled with snow. They glowed in the headlights. There were a few new branches on the ground, which was a little nerve-wracking, but it looks if it was going to fall, it has.

This afternoon, Dad had to go down to Willimantic to help out one of his old clients. Of course, we stopped by Panera first for lunch (because Panera). He left from there, and I wandered down to a display of snow pants on clearance. On the day after a snow storm. I love how this works.

One pair of snow pants for Alpha later, I dragged the girls and Beta’s friend Lambda out to sled. First at the Senior Center here in town (which seems to be frequented by the little kids), and then Woburn Street School. They had the whole place to themselves, and spent about an hour blazing trails, building jumps, and sledding.

Girls

Much fun was had.

 

Aspen How-to for Smart People

First: Find the email from the school. You can search your inbox for the name “Aspen Help”

Screenshot 2015-09-03 20.32.34

In that email, there is a username and password. I never change mine, because I am a ditz and will forget it if I do.

Screenshot 2015-09-03 20.32.11

Awesome. Keys to the kingdom and all that.

The URL for aspen is: https://ma-wilmington.myfollett.com/aspen/home.do but you can get to it from any of the schools’ websites (http://wpsk12.com/wms/).

Let the insanity begin.

Log in with the credentials they gave you.

Now we’re in the insanity that is the home page. It is almost as useless as you think. In case they dump you on a weird page other than the Home page, just click the “Home” button.

Screenshot 2015-09-03 20.33.38

To do the Emergency Info thing, you need to scroll down the page to see the “Tasks” area. Its below the To Do section.

Screenshot 2015-09-03 20.38.18

Click on Initiate. Because this makes so much sense.

At this point a dialog pops up with this totally sensible window. First one we’ve seen, right? Guess how you kick it off. Go ahead. (I gave you an arrow to help.)

Screenshot 2015-09-03 20.34.36

At this point, you’re in. There are several windows that need to be filled out. It won’t let you click Finish until they are complete, but it does tell you what still needs doing.

If you need to do more than one kiddo, you go back to the first dialog and click on the Search thingie to get the list of kids.

Hope this helps!