Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Can You See Me Now?

Took Thing Two to the optometrist for his annual checkup today.  On the bright side, he cooperated admirably, but unfortunately, his prescription has deteriorated again (par for the course with farsightedness as kids grow, or so I am told--what the hell do I know?) and he needs new glasses.  He's the only one of our three kids who needs them *knock on wood* but this poor kid got every damn whammy in the collective genepool.  Learning disability?  Sure.  Aplasia cutis?  Bring it.  Kid doesn't have enough else going on??  Sure, let's make him wear glasses too.

We have no idea where the aplasia cutis came from; might have been a spontaneous mutation thing although one of our nephews (Himself's side) has a similar sort of spot in a different location.  The language processing problem came from me, no doubt.  Clearly his case is much worse than mine (considering that I got through high school, college and grad school without formally realizing that I can't remember shit unless I write it down as soon as I hear it, and I don't have the expressive language issues that he does) which does NOT make me feel any better about being the conduit.  His vision issues, thankfully, I can't blame myself for: those are 100% from my blind-as-a-bat-before Lasik husband.  Whatever you can say about brown eyes (and don't get me started about how all the songs except Van Morrison's are about blue-eyed girls), my brown ones work.

In the grand scheme of things, a prescription for new glasses shouldn't be the end of the world, and it isn't.  I just feel bad for the kid, since the glasses are just that last bit of insult heaped onto a shitload of genetic injury and I'm reminded of it every time he needs new ones.  Dammit all to hell.


Monday, July 21, 2014


Since July 9, 2013 I have found 1000 caches (1004, actually)...picked up #1000 on a bike ride yesterday afternoon.  My first time on a bike in a good 15 years, I might add, and boy, is my derriere having an opinion about that today.  Yikes.  Gives me a whole new level of appreciation for the Tour de France athletes!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Banged Up

Check out this beauty of a bruise!  One punch to a target with my fist aligned not-quite-right, and ouchouchouchouch.  Luckily I just broke a blood vessel, not my hand.  But doesn't this make me look like a badass??  Especially with the entirely incongruous girly red nails.

To add insult to injury, a couple of days before this incident, I jammed the heck out of the thumb on the other hand while sparring...I was moving toward my opponent for a strike just as he lunged in as well and he caught the end of my thumb straight on.  You don't think about how important it is to have two fully-functional hands until you don't!  My husband was kind enough to point out that this is a purely voluntary activity of mine and that injury is part of the package with martial arts, both of which are true, if not particularly helpful or sympathetic...we'll just see what this ninja mama has to say when he bellyaches about being sore after his next marathon.  :)

Friday, July 18, 2014


Happy birthday to me,
Camp and playdates times three,
Mama needs a vacation, 
or a glass of Chablis.

I'm not a big Chablis fan, but Sauvignon Blanc didn't rhyme....luckily, Himself only put five candles on my birthday cake, or the smoke alarm would have gone off for sure.

The kids attended the town's recreational camp this morning, as they have all week.  Since the afternoon schedule was open (a rare event), we had playdates as well, birthdays be darned...Thing One was invited to a friend's house and the other two had friends over to our house.  I left the camp with five children aged 11 and under in my car, took them to a local burger joint for lunch and ice cream, and then brought them back to the house.  Thing One's friend's mom picked him up, and the four smaller ones spent the afternoon playing games and swimming.

Not necessarily the way I would choose to spend my birthday, but it ended up working out fine.  I've found that when you are the one who makes celebrations happen in your house, it's a bit awkward being the one having the occasion, so to speak.  Not all that excited about getting older, either, but I guess it beats the alternative, and I did get to go to taekwondo this morning, where I creditably represented for the old ladies of the world.  (And let me tell you about craziness...I went to class even knowing that sparring was the theme of the week and that the [Muslim] Friday instructor was going to be both low on blood sugar and caffeine-deprived because of Ramadan!)

Happily, the kids all played well together.  In keeping with my recent post about Thing Two, I noted today how much easier it is on everyone involved for him to have a playdate these days...they used to be *tremendously* stressful because he had no idea how to interact appropriately with peers and needed constant supervision and guidance.  Today, while I still had to keep an eye on him (personal space is the biggest issue), he and his friend played Wii, had a great time in the pool, and even successfully played some sort of imaginative game with Thing Two's Angry Birds Jenga set.   And I didn't feel a dire need to start drinking as soon as the friend left.  Win!  As a birthday gift, that's a whopper...happy birthday to me, indeed.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Home Cooking Thursday

From the home I grew up in, anyway.  Simple fare, and these two recipes all or mostly vegetarian.  Boy, does it smell good in my house right now!

First: zucchini and tomatoes.  Fresh zucchini, cooked in crushed tomatoes with finely minced basil from my garden, eaten piping hot with a shower of Parmesan.  Yum!

Next up: pasta e fagioli, Mama D-style.  My Italian grandmother made this soup often; when I asked my aunt for the recipe, she sent me both Grandma's and another version cut out of her hometown newspaper.  Sad to say, mine is based on the newspaper's version!  Onions, garlic and celery sautéed till soft; add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, ditalini pasta, and small white beans; top with rosemary, parsley and sage fresh from the garden; add salt and pepper to taste, simmer till the pasta is done, and Bob's your uncle.  Piece of cake...serve with garlic bread and enjoy the raves of your children.  (Go figure: all three of my persnickety little eaters AND my mostly carnivorous husband actually ask me to make this!)  Don't inquire about a specific recipe: I don't actually have one.  (I can hear my mother laughing from here...after all the years I spent giving her grief about cooking by feel and taste, I've finally started doing it myself for some things.)

A few things I will say:

1) I deliberately make mine thicker than most: more pasta and beans and veggies than broth.  It started as a way to keep the mess down when I had three little ones trying to eat something red with spoons (it was easier for them to eat something with a more pasta-like consistency than a thin soup), and it makes for a more filling meal that way anyway.

2) If you don't have one of these fabulous multi-bladed contraptions, you need one.  Really.

Makes short work of mincing the herbs.  (Have YOU ever successfully convinced a two year-old to eat a large chunk of rosemary or sage?  Me either.)

3) Fresh herbs really make the difference: I rarely make this soup in cold months because dried herbs just don't taste the same.  I grow a pretty fair selection of herbs myself, but in a pinch buy them at the supermarket before using that dried sawdusty stuff.

Mangiar bene, stare bene, my friends.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Taking Stock Again

Had an epiphany today: I really need to stop bitching as much as I do.

I won't lie; it's been tough getting used to having the kids home for the summer this year.  Guess I'm having a crisis of patience.  All three kids are a little high maintenance in some way or another and sometimes I just want afewfreeminutesofpeaceandquietalonefortheloveofGodisthatTOOmuchtoask??  If I'm not cooking, I'm cleaning something or refereeing a squabble or shuttling them all over the place, and generally not to the same places at the same times, them being of different ages and genders and abilities and all.  The first week of September (school starts right after Labor Day around here) is starting to look really good, y'all.

All three of my kids having summer or summer-ish birthdays, this time of year we have a big round of annual well visits and eye exams and such, followed in quick succession by the annual checkup with Thing Two's neurodevelopmental pediatrician (NDP), which I hate with the blinding fierceness of the sun.  In fairness to the NDP, she is an absolutely lovely woman, but there is nothing quite like spending three hours with even the loveliest of human beings as she assesses your child and then details everything that isn't "right" in cold numbers and percentages and excruciating detail.  If he wasn't making so much progress year to year I swear I would have quit going long since...her annual visit with him really highlights his growth because she only sees him the once per year.  Everyone else who works with him sees him so often that the changes in him are not quite so apparent because of their gradual nature.  Kind of like not noticing that your kid is getting taller until he puts on a pair of old pants at the end of the summer and his shins are hanging out all of a sudden.

Before each NDP appointment a crap-ton of paperwork has to be filled out by everyone and their aunt Matilda and sent in.  Two of these forms are parent assessments, one general and one more specifically-targeted, and I gird my loins every year before Himself and I sit down to do them because we pretty much ALWAYS end up having significant differences of opinion and it sucks.  Part of the issue is that I am the stay-at-home parent and have two other kids to juggle as well, so I am outnumbered far more often than not and have to get all the regular daily shit DONE while outnumbered.  (See comment about patience, above.  Not my strong suit.)  When Himself is home, generally I am as well, so what he sees is not the one parent/three kids dynamic that is my daily life.  Besides which (and it pains me to admit this) Thing Two gets along much better with Himself than he does with me, hence Himself doesn't generally get the sass and attitude that comes my way.  Sadly, again, it is most likely because Thing Two and I are two of a kind in personality--Himself jokes that I shouldn't be surprised that he gets along so well with Thing Two because he picked me to marry, after all.

Anyhow, we did our forms the other night and only had one major issue, which was pretty good for us.  Then I had to find all the other stuff that gets sent in with them...the IEP paperwork, report card, therapists' evaluations, teacher forms, etc etc etc.  It isn't too often that I have all of that stuff in my hands at one time, so I flipped through the papers quickly and came across a paragraph in something--I think the IEP--that described Thing Two's abilities when the whole intervention/diagnosis process started, and it stopped me in my tracks.  Kid had staggeringly limited receptive and expressive language, no social skills, no classroom skills, and (not surprisingly) a lot of pent-up frustration that manifested as bad behavior.  Guess I hadn't thought back to those days in a while.

Whatever issues he may still be facing, and make no mistake, he's still got a steep uphill grade ahead of him, he's functioning just fine so far in a normal classroom with an aide to redirect him every once in a while.  His grammar and comprehension can still be banged all to hell sometimes but both the expressive and receptive language are orders of magnitude better than they used to be.  He has pretty decent social skills now, much more spatial awareness than he used to, and he plays basketball, travel-level soccer and the piano.  He even has perfect pitch, for crying out loud.  (The most amazing thing about that is that he understands a concept as abstract as 'this particular pitch has this particular name'...that blows my mind.)   Kid is wicked smart under all the crossed neurological wires, thank God, even if the NDP does repeatedly classify his language deficit as 'severe'.

He has been the single biggest source of stress in my life by far since the moment he was born (literally--maybe I'll tell that story sometime), almost nine years ago now.  I have cried more times than I care to discuss about things he can't or couldn't (or did, conversely) do.  But as it happens, recently I've come across a few blogs written by parents of children who have such significant medical issues that I simply have NO business complaining about my kid, who has legitimate problems but also gets a little 'better' every day.  Perspective is a gift, and it just smacked me upside my fool head.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Did I Call It Or What?

World Cup Final today.  90-plus minutes of regular time, no score for either team.  Next up: 30-plus minutes of extra time, in which Germany finally scored one beautiful goal somewhere around minute 113 and then held on to win the whole shebang 1-0.  What was it that I wrote yesterday??  Oh, yeah:

"In general, I have a hard time watching soccer matches in which my children aren't playing.  They go on for all eternity and end with scores like 1-0; the one goal invariably scored when I turn my head away for a second!"

I did actually see the winning goal, as it happens, but only because I knew ahead of time which part of the game to watch: we were viewing it on time delay because Thing One had a tournament this weekend.  (I happened to see the final score on CNN, but my menfolk did not.)  I can assure you that my attention would have wavered long before minute 113 otherwise, especially since I was also attempting to cook dinner at the time.

My menfolk, Germany fans all, were beyond ecstatic about the win.  There was some yelling and dancing involved.  Honestly, I could have cared less who won.  Back in the day, I participated in several college football pools, in which I ostensibly made my picks based on whose uniforms I liked better, much to the disgust of the hardcore guys making up the rest of the pool.  I won more often than not, primarily because my picks were actually based on the Vegas lines (!!), but it was fun to watch the aftermath.  In that spirit, I informed the gentlemen that I would be cheering for Germany as well but purely because their players were better looking.  Also in that spirit, I got a hell of a kick out of NOLA's daily post, in which she informed her readers that she was cheering for Argentina because she likes Pope Francis more than Pope Benedict!

To each his or her own, my friends.  Happy Sunday.