Fall woods

Fall woods

Saturday, July 16, 2016

All Choked Up

No Pokemon today, I promise.  At least in this post.

A couple of weeks ago, I ran into Thing Two's preschool teacher at the gym.  This woman, more than any other professional the one who pulled him kicking and screaming from behind the 8-ball of his severe language deficits, hasn't seen him since he was in kindergarten (he's going into fifth grade next year) although she asks about him whenever our paths happen to cross.  His two years in her class were huge for his development; she's one of those rare birds who manages to give every kid in her class what they need to flourish even when the needs are very disparate.  She is the undisputed queen of differentiation.  Anyway, as we were discussing his academic progress she mentioned that she's been doing some tutoring while her son naps (when she left teaching it was to be home with him.)  As it happens, I've been looking for somebody to work with Thing Two on his reading comprehension, so we are going to try to get him into her schedule in the fall and I am ecstatic.  Would absolutely love to have this woman back in his life!!

Back when she taught him, he had VERY limited language skills.  Neither his receptive or expressive language were anywhere close to functional, which basically means that he didn't understand most of what people said to him and couldn't put together a proper sentence of his own either.  As you can imagine, in that situation it's tough to have any kind of meaningful social interaction, so he was usually the kid off in the corner playing by himself.  Not that the other kids were mean to him, they just couldn't communicate with him and everyone ended up frustrated.  His primary deficit is language-based, but the secondary social deficit has been almost as much of a concern to me over the years.

Fortunately, as his language skills have improved, the social skills have improved along with them.  He still comes across as slightly immature and has some personal space issues, but the kids at his school are used to his idiosyncrasies and will gently correct him if he needs it.  More to the point, they seem to legitimately like and accept him idiosyncrasies and all, and as his mother, this fills my heart with joy.

I was thinking about this yesterday because he was invited to a sleepover at a friend's house last night.  When I dropped him off, I saw that three other boys had been invited as well.  There was a tent set up in the backyard of the house for their overnight adventure and when we arrived, Thing Two dropped his bags in the front hall and took off running to join the other four in the yard!  It struck me at that moment that Thing Two has a 'posse,' just like Thing One does.  The really amazing thing about it is that Thing Two's group of friends is actually the popular boys of the grade!  It helps that he is an outstanding athlete, but still.  Luckily they are also a very nice group of boys...one happens to be the younger brother of Thing One's best friend.

It occurred to me that the next time I see the preschool teacher, I need to fill her in on his social progress too.  I think that might even make her happier than hearing about the improvements in his language skills!  For so many years I just wanted that child to have even one real friend, and the fact that he is now an apparently welcome and valued part of a social group makes me want to happy-cry.





Friday, July 15, 2016

#TeamClefairy

For someone who could care less about Pokemon Go, it's funny that I'm writing about it twice within 24 hours.  Saw this article just now and absolutely had to share because it's priceless.  Apparently there is a virtual battle between the forces of good and evil going on at the headquarters of the Westboro Baptist Church!!




Thursday, July 14, 2016

Awesomeness

In the last two days, I've found two really good geocaches of two completely different varieties.

Cache 1: easy to get to, only one stage, right off a major public street at the back of a tiny park in a nearby town.  Also easy to find: a largish container simply attached with a magnet to the back of a metal gate.  What made this one so cool is that the 'gate' in question happened to be the original (rusted, scary-looking, dungeonlike) 200+ year-old doors to the town jail!  I've driven by that park literally hundreds of times and hadn't the slightest idea that gate was there until yesterday.

Cache 2: the omega to cache 1's alpha.  This one had three stages (it's a so-called 'multi' cache.)  At each of the first two stages you had to find a puzzle and solve it in order to proceed.  Getting to stage 1 required a bushwhack of about 100 feet through summer overgrowth in a park.  At the coordinates was a camouflaged plastic container, which when opened revealed a small plain silver metal box with a large red button on it.  Pressing the button caused the box to play a message in Morse code aloud.  In order to get the coordinates for stage 2, you had to first translate the Morse, and then further decrypt the code message the translation yielded.

The coordinates for stage 2 brought us to an abandoned section of railroad track a few miles from the first stage, only a couple of hundred feet from a busy road.  The puzzle message there was much harder to find.  The owner (I asked him how he managed it afterward) used a paper stencil, a hammer and a center punch to enscribe a Braille message directly onto one of the rails of the train track!  As with stage 1, the Braille translated to a code that then had to be solved to get the coordinates for stage 3.

Getting to stage 3 required another bushwhack, but mercifully no more puzzle solving.  In keeping with the overall theme of the cache, the final container was probably three feet long and built in the shape of a rocket!  Unscrewing the tail part allowed us to access and sign the logbook inside.

Caches like these two are what keep me playing this game.  Some take me to spots I might otherwise never find, like that gate, or a beautiful view, or a historic cemetery, or a gigantic ancient tree.  Others challenge me to find something that is well-hidden and/or to figure out what to do with it once I've found it.  (Another recent multi presented me with coordinates written on a long pole at stage 1: the coordinates took me to stage 2 and the hook on the other end of the pole was required to get the final container down out of a tree.)

Everywhere I look online right now, people are talking about Pokemon Go.  I'd rather find a real geocache than an imaginary Pokemon any day...more brainpower required and less chance of data breaches, traffic accidents or accidentally ending up in someone's yard!



Saturday, July 9, 2016

Basta

To paraphrase the old song, sometimes you just need to know when to fold 'em and walk away.  

Yesterday, I did.  Long story, not going into it here to protect the guilty.  I'll just say that it's been a long time in coming (should have been done months ago) and good riddance to bad rubbish.  If, as Coelho wrote, how people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves, this dude is one massively insecure son of a bitch and I should feel sorry for him.  Maybe I will when I get done being pissed off.  In the meantime, I'm just moving on.  

Enough. 



Sunday, July 3, 2016

Analogies

Summer vacation IS TO a stay-at-home parent AS tax season IS TO an accountant.

Holiday during summer vacation involving having company IS TO a stay-at-home parent AS April 10-14 is to an accountant.

Nothing like having all my normal jobs to do plus getting ready to entertain visitors while surrounded by the other four members of my family, all of whom would be content to live in a disaster area.

I fricking hate summer. Is it September yet??





Friday, July 1, 2016

Zombies

At one point over the weekend, my phone started beeping relentlessly.  Himself looked at me and sighed.  "The aikido girls are at it again?"  There are six of us, and when a group text string gets going I have to turn down the volume on my phone after a while.  

One of the girls is somewhat 'girlier' than the rest of us and loves clothes, makeup, jewelry, etc.  She somehow got her hands on a bunch of tester supplies for facials and decided that we all needed to stay after class one night this week and try them out.  The ladies' locker room at this place is actually very nice, and includes a lounge area with carpet, comfy sofas and a big coffee table.  After class, the five of us who could make it assembled downstairs in front of the mirrors, prepared to follow orders relating to face and lip scrubs, hair conditioners, and face masks.  

This was the result.  Don't I look just gorgeous??  (Ha.) 

  
Greasy hair, mask in place, paper 'cucumber slices' on eyes.  Not pictured: hysterical laughter or the prodigious amount of food on the coffee table in front of me.  


Group selfie!  Especially funny since none of us could see a thing from under the eye covers.  I did not ask their permission to put their photos on my blog but I'm not worried about that either, since I don't think their mothers would recognize them in this picture!  I showed it to Petunia and she commented that we all look like aliens.  Or zombies.  

Two of the girls celebrated birthdays recently, so we brought a small cake with us.  And juices.  And fruit, chocolate and nuts.  All of which were a challenge to eat while wearing the masks, let me just say.  Quite a celebration and SO much fun.  We left when the gym closed at 11 and then all still had to go home and shower, so it was a late night, especially for the woman who had to get up at 4AM the next day to take her son to swim practice!!  (Oh, how happy I am to have soccer players rather than swimmers or hockey players.)

I love my friends.  Wouldn't trade them for diamonds or rubies.

  
   

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Signs

The Antietam battlefield was very impressive.  For those possessed of any kind of imagination whatsoever, it's easy to visualize the desperate morning battles in the cornfield, the piled-up dead of Bloody Lane around midday, and the fight to the death for Burnside Bridge later in the afternoon.  Photographers followed the soldiers in this war, which resulted in some staggering images.

Bloody Lane then
Bloody Lane now

Wherever you go in the whole broad area of the battle, there are signs: some black and some yellow.  The yellow are the 30,000 foot level signs...the ones with maps with handy blue and red arrows denoting which side was located where and going in which direction.  Big-picture signs.  The black and white ones, on the other hand, probably ten or twenty times more numerous, get right down to the nitty-gritty.  If you had an ancestor in the 19th Kentucky, for instance (I am making that up as an example), you could follow that unit's movements across the battlefield almost hour by hour via the black signs.  For Civil War buffs like Himself, the black signs were the correct level of detail.  For those not quite so well versed in this particular period, like me, they were overkill to such a prodigious degree that eventually I gave up trying to keep all the states, units and commanders straight!  

A yellow sign
Another yellow sign

A black sign

Seriously, enlarge this third picture, read it, and imagine literally hundreds of them scattered everywhere you look!  Then imagine trying to actually remember all the information on them.  Yeesh.

Dotting the battlefield are also a huge number of concrete or stone monuments, many large and elaborate.  These were donated by individual states over the years since the war (some old, some recently) and memorialize places where particular state units fought.

130th Pennsylvania
20th New York
Texas
8th Connecticut
Literally hundreds of these dot the battlefield too, both large and small.  The battlefield is almost visually overwhelming. 

Then, there was this sign.


Stopped me in my tracks.  We had to make a detour to pay our respects.



Bloodiest single-day battle in American history.  Almost 23,000 dead, wounded or missing.  Truly fascinating place to spend a weekend, although very sad.