Fall woods

Fall woods

Monday, September 18, 2017

Can't Believe I Forgot To Mention This Given What It Has Done To My Stress Levels Lately

September is not a good month.  You would think, with the kids back in school, that it would be quieter, but nope.  Yes, during the day I can get things done or relax for a bit, but the evenings and weekends are absolutely insane.  Especially because of the high school soccer schedule involving either practice or a game every single freaking day of the week after school and some Saturdays as well.  Anything that I need to get done (dinner prep, shopping, errands, home maintenance, etc) has to get done during those few blessed hours while all are at school, since there's no way it's happening once the kids get home and have places to be and/or homework to be helped with!

Two years or so ago now, our taekwondo program began transitioning to pure International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) style from the TKD-based mixed martial arts hybrid we'd previously been doing.  The powers that be apparently decided about a month ago that we're finally ready to officially assimilate into the ITF fold. On September 30th, all of the instructors in our program (which includes me, gulp...) will be either regrading for their current belts or grading up to the next one in front of a fifth Dan black belt and a seventh Dan black belt!!  No pressure there.  Since my current plain black belt does not exist in the ITF world, I am one of those grading up.  If all goes well at testing, I will walk out of it a first Dan black belt, with a proper ITF black belt card and everything, assuming that I don't self-destruct from stress between now and then!!  Wish me luck, please...




Sunday, September 17, 2017

Jesus, Mary and Joseph. This Already??

Found a really unexpected message on my cell phone the other night: a girlfriend of mine from taekwondo asking if Thing One would be willing to go with her daughter (as a friend) to her daughter's Homecoming Dance next month.  The two kids are both freshmen but go to different high schools.

My first thought, given that this girl is both absolutely stunning and a sweetheart, was to wonder why she was having trouble getting a date to begin with. Before I called my friend back, I ran the idea past Thing One, who to his credit, did actually consider it, but clearly the thought was giving him a panic attack, and you can't blame the kid.  He's never been to a high school dance, doesn't know this girl well, and doesn't know anyone else from her high school at all...I'm sure there are a few 14 year-old boys in existence with the social confidence to pull off going to her dance under those circumstances, but he just isn't one of them and he knows it.  Like I said, I don't blame the kid.  I expected that to be his answer and I fully respect it.  As did my friend when I called her back, I should add.  She said that if the tables were turned, her daughter wouldn't have agreed either.

The upsetting part of the conversation came when I asked her why her daughter wasn't able to find a date herself.  Apparently it was because half the kids at her high school are already on drugs, and many other boys won't go with a girl to a dance if they don't think she'll "put out."  At *fourteen*, FFS.

I told my friend that I deeply appreciated the implied compliment to me, that she knew I wouldn't be raising a son who was either on drugs or pressuring girls sexually at 14 (Jesus god I can't believe I am typing those words.)  Worst part is that she is an ER nurse at the county hospital nearest to Thing One's high school, so she sees the kids coming in pregnant and with STDs and post-overdoses and knows that her daughter isn't just making this stuff up.

Needless to say, as soon as I hung up the phone, I had yet another conversation with my son about respecting women and staying away from people who use drugs and calling me to come get him at any time if he finds himself somewhere he doesn't want to be.  What a world.





Saturday, September 16, 2017

Interesting Factoid Of The Day

Despite the fact that our kittens Darcy and Bingley were from the same litter (as vouched for by the woman who trapped them, who happened to be at the shelter the first day we visited) they really don't look much alike.  Clearly both are part tabby, but Bingley has medium-length hair and Darcy's is short.  Bingley has the characteristic "old-man" ear hair (it sticks out a mile!) of Maine coons, while Darcy does not.  I was told at the shelter that kittens from the same litter often look very different, but didn't inquire further at the time.

Today, I brought them to the vet for their last round of kitten shots. While the tech was weighing them, I commented again on how different they look.  She told me that kittens in the same litter often have different fathers, as a function of how ovulation works in female cats.  I did not know that...very cool.  (More info here, for anyone interested.)  Yes, I'm a dork, but I'm ok with that.  I love learning new things!


Friday, September 15, 2017

Back To School

Went to Back To School Night at Thing One's high school this week.  Good GRIEF that place is huge.  They had kids in neon green shirts stationed at every corner and stairwell to give directions (sadly, in this day and age, for security reasons, they can't give out maps of the buildings) and that was a lifesaver.  We parents were allotted 12 minutes to get from class to class, given that we were without question going to get lost and need help, but the kids only have 5.  I went to all eight of his classes in order last night, and I have no idea how he gets from History to Math or from Intro to Technology to Gym on time without roller skates!  They are that far apart, although I suppose the skates would make the stairs a little challenging.    

With my current comfort zone being our tiny little school, I was intimidated by the idea of sending my eldest off into such a gigantic place.  At the local elementary/middle school, I know all the teachers and I know the building like the back of my hand.  I don't need to go to BTS Night to feel comfortable with having my children there in a particular grade anymore.  Despite the fact that he's adjusting well so far, not having any mental picture whatsoever of where he is or who is teaching him was a bit disconcerting.  (And yes, I know that college will be exactly like that, but I have four more years still before I have to worry about it!!)

As I mentioned, he has eight classes, seven of which are academic.  (Hard to get too excited about Gym one way or the other.)  Of those seven, four of the teachers made a very solid first impression on me, and the remaining three came across as so outstanding that I would really like to take their classes myself!  His Science teacher really understands that the kids need to learn to build and create and problem solve, not just memorize.  The Intro to Tech maker space was absolutely amazing.  You could build a rocket ship in there.  And the way that they will be learning to approach hands-on science and the supporting documentation??  Priceless.  The other teacher that impressed me, possibly even impressed me the most, oddly, was the Geography teacher.  He's maybe 25, overflowing with enthusiasm, a world traveler and absolutely dedicated to showing these kids that there is a whole exciting world out there beyond the confines of our white-bread, relatively homogenous county.  I love it.

As it happened, it took me about 30 seconds to get from the prior classroom to his since I was only one floor down, so I had a good ten minutes to talk with him before the other parents arrived.  When I introduced myself as Thing One's mother, he gave me a funny look, said "wait a minute," and went over to rifle through a stack of papers on his desk.  He pulled one out, looked at it, said, "Yeah, I thought that was his," and gave it to me.  I laughed out loud.  As an assignment on the first day, he'd given the kids a blank map of the world and asked them to name as many countries as they could.  He said that the average is usually in the 8-15 range and that the highest he'd ever seen was in the low hundreds.  Thing One correctly named 162 countries!!!  Guess all that Geography Bee studying in middle school paid off.

I walked out of the school tired and with a blister on my heel (wearing heeled sandals wasn't the brightest move I've made all week with all the walking!) but relieved.  Having a chance to see the facility and meet everyone was profoundly reassuring and I think my boy is in good hands.



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

NOPE*NOPE*HELLNOPE*

There's this one geocache not too far from me that I haven't found yet.  It sticks out on my map like the proverbial sore thumb...one green dot in a sea of smiley faces.  Of course, there's a good reason it's still unfound.  It's on a tiny island in the middle of a smallish river, sitting on top of the stone support pillar for a long-gone bridge maybe 20 feet up.  People usually do this one with a boat and climbing gear, neither of which I possess.

I haven't had an adventure for a while, so two of my friends and I decided to do some recon on this one yesterday.  We packed up an extension ladder and our waders and decided to see if we could wade across to the island with the ladder!  Sad to say, I've done much weirder things than that while geocaching. Anyway, we get ourselves and the ladder and waders to the shoreline after a nasty bushwhack, then wade in to see how deep the water is.

On our side of the river, it gets deep pretty quickly, so we realize that wading across there isn't going to work.  Two of us have chest waders like the kind fishermen use, while the third only has hip waders, so he stays on shore while the other guy and I wade upstream to a shallower area, cross and wade back down the other side of the river to case that side.  It's slow and mucky going, lots of silt and roots and slippery rocks on the bottom, but we make it back to the island without incident and start checking out the water level on the other side.  Unfortunately, we decide that it's probably too deep on that side as well, at least at current water levels.  Given that the mosquitoes are fierce anyway, we decide to come back and check it out again in winter.

As we turn to retrace our steps to the other side, the guy wading with me looks up and sees what he thinks is a head swimming toward us in the river at a distance.  Then another.  When he notices the second, he calls my attention to them.  Could have been debris, but he didn't think so and neither did I.  Odds are it was either swimming snakes (nonvenomous) or turtles, probably snakes.  That was the final straw!!  We got the hell out of Dodge at a good clip after that.

We'll be back another time, but not in summer!  We got our adventure, anyway, even if we didn't get the cache.  THIS time.  :)




Sunday, September 10, 2017

Curveballs

It's been a week, let me just tell you.

As my kids get older, I increasingly hesitate to write about the challenges they face. I wonder if I am crossing a line in writing about them at all.  But as their mother, what weighs on them and affects them burdens me as well by default.

Thing One is facing challenges relating to increased responsibility and independence and good decision-making.  (Growing pains of high school, fairly standard stuff, I imagine.)  Thing Two as well, in a different way.  His middle school teachers don't seem to have been prepared well to deal with him, which seems odd to me.  I'm glad I realized that early, but I had a lot of explaining to do on Friday.  At least it seems to have helped.  Petunia seems to be heading for a different sort of difficulty, one which may affect her self-confidence for a while and which may also affect decisions we make for her next spring or fall.  Throw in a crazy schedule full of time conflicts, and it's just one big mess overall.  

Oh well.  I keep being told that I'll miss these years.  Maybe so, but I sure won't miss this kind of stuff.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Call My Faith In Humanity Somewhat Restored

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has spent more than a quarter of an hour or so reading my scribblings here that I am no fan of the hostility, unkindness and racism that have felt justified in crawling out from under their slime-covered rocks since the Orange One was elected.

There still may be hope for the country, however.

Yesterday, I made the mistake of running to Target at exactly the same moment as what appeared to be the entire remainder of the local population.  When I went to check out, there were lines 8-10 people deep at every register.  I sighed in resignation and got into a line behind a woman a little older than me (probably early fifties) with a full cart.  The line crawled forward and eventually she got herself and her mountain of shopping to the front of our line.  As she was checking out, a large family passed us on their way to the exit from another register.  It looked like three or more generations all out together, including two little girls of perhaps four and six.  As they walked by, the younger girl took a candy bar from the display and asked her grandmother (I'm guessing) if she could have it.  The grandmother was kind, but pointed out how long the lines were and said that there was no way they were going back through again.

Without missing a beat, the woman in front of me told the cashier to add the little girl's candy to her purchases.  Then, to top it all off, she asked the other little girl if she would like one too!  (Clearly a devotee, like me, of the "what you do for one, you do for all" school of parenting.)  Both little girls thanked the woman profusely and the grandmother (?) actually gave her a hug.

Not that it should matter one iota, since kindness is kindness, but the woman in front of me in line was white.  The family was black.  The (black) cashier turned to me after all of them had gone and said how glad she was to see that there are still good people in the world.

I couldn't agree more.  That woman made my day.