Fall woods

Fall woods

Monday, November 30, 2015


With respect to lights on Christmas trees, do you prefer:

A) white/nonblinking
B) white/blinking
C) colored/nonblinking
D) colored/blinking??

Inquiring minds would love to know.  Himself and I are of diametrically opposed opinions on the subject (one of us prefers white/nonblinking, the other colored/blinking) so I'm curious as to which of us is more with the majority??

Yes, I know.  First world issue.  But still...I await your thoughts.  :)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

I Love My Nerdy Family

It's Sunday morning.  Himself and I have been sitting in the kitchen drinking our tea and coffee respectively and chatting for maybe half an hour, with the sounds of Petunia and Thing Two peacefully playing together in the basement for background accompaniment.  Thing One wanders into the kitchen, says good morning to us and then goes downstairs to join his siblings.  Not FIVE SECONDS later there is an uproar: "No!!  Leave that alone!! Go away!!  

Himself calls Thing One to the bottom of the basement stairs.  

H: "What are the three factors needed for an explosion?"
TO: "Fuel, oxygen and ignition."
H: "Don't be the ignition!"

I don't know what is going on with those two boys but they can't be anywhere near each other these days without all hell breaking loose immediately.  Half tempted to tell both of them to put on their protective taekwondo sparring gear and pitch them out into the backyard to work things out. Would be a reasonably fair fight and maybe they can ditch some of their excess testosterone that way!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

It's The Most Stressful Time Of The Year

Is there any better way to deal with a massive to-do list than just to put your head down and plow into it??

In the last two days I've done 90+% of the Christmas shopping and almost all the house decorating other than the tree (which is up and will be decorated tomorrow.)  Wrapping and baking and holiday carding and such are yet to be done, but will be tackled soon. My goal every year is to try and get the big stuff done by the beginning of December, the idea being that if I am not a total basket case I might actually ENJOY the damned holiday season.  Novel concept.  I have nothing against Christmas whatsoever, but its approach on the calendar reliably makes me vibrate with preemptive agita.

Oh well.  If I can't get everything done early, I can always go kick something hard in taekwondo class. That's a great stress-buster too.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful Today

For my beautiful daughter, who builds fairy houses in the backyard out of sticks and leaves, not just for any old fairies, but for the sick and homeless fairies so they have a safe and warm place to sleep.  

For my younger son, who tries so hard and has come so far, bless his rock hard, stubborn little head and his loving heart. 

For my older son, the one stuck between childhood and adolescence, the one with so many gifts and no clear path yet, who will still hug me at the school bus stop even in front of his friends.

For my mother, who understands me and loves me anyway.  
For my father, who says I'm perfect even though he knows better.
There are no better parents in the world. 

For my in-laws: she who has welcomed me as a daughter from day one, and he who would willingly take all three of my kids to the park by himself to give me a break even back when one or more of them were in diapers.  

For my husband, who is my rock in stormy seas.

For my friends, near and far, old and newer, who enrich my life and make me laugh.

I am blessed.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Full Praise To Teachers

For the second year running, I taught three sections of eighth grade science today.  A chance encounter with the science teacher at the soccer field last fall that started as a discussion about the curriculum (my BOE subcommittee) somehow took a detour into my professional background. Once he heard that I am a cancer biologist by training, he asked if I would come and talk to his kids about new types of targeted cancer therapies as an addition to their regular cancer unit.  Sure, no problem.  Right up my professional alley.  Not trivial to tailor that material to the eighth grade level (you get into the nitty gritty pretty quickly no matter how hard you try to stay at 30,000 feet) but apparently it went well last year since he asked me back again this year!  Made a few changes to my presentation and brought it and my prop box to school today as requested.

First class period: despite the fact that the presentation was virtually the same as the one that went over well last year, I got almost no response from the kids.  No questions and none of the kind of body language that says 'I'm listening.'  I might as well have been talking to an empty classroom.  Very disheartening.  Second class period: the total and complete opposite.  Interest, enthusiasm, really outstanding questions, one girl who actually came up to me after class to have a point clarified.  Third class period: somewhere in the middle but more like the second class.  Fewer kids with questions but still good questions and a couple of kids who were clearly very engaged.

When the last kids walked out, I looked at the teacher (who had to be in the room with me for all three periods because I'm not certified) and just shook my head.  I asked him what I got wrong with the first class and right with the second two!  He said absolutely nothing, that it is just the personality of the three classes. Then he told me to imagine tailoring my lectures to those three very different groups five days a week while still getting all the material across!  Wowza...that's a tall order.  Three cheers for him and all his professional brethren.

Thing One happens to have the same guy for seventh grade science this year; I believe he teaches five sections altogether.  Thing One's class walked in a few minutes after the third section of eighth graders left. Thing One gave a halfhearted wave when he saw me and then took off for the back of the room with his buddies.  In yet another alpha-omega moment, my best friend's daughter (two kids behind him walking in) ran straight up to me and gave me a bear hug.  Whiplash, thy name is middle school!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Thing, It Is Done

The new taekwondo belt, it is earned.  Fair and square.  Two and a half hours' worth of exertion.  They don't let you go into the test if you don't already know your material...the test is mostly to challenge you physically, which it did.

Only one more belt between me and Black now!  Never would have believed it when I started out.  Guess there really is something to the old joke about eating an elephant one bite at a time.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Direct, Guide Or Shut Up??

The everlasting parental conundrum.

When they were little, it was easy.  Less guiding and shutting up, more directing needed from me.  As Thing One in particular gets older, that balance is changing and both of us are feeling our way through it, may the universe help us stay sane while we do so.

He's 12 now and in seventh grade.  His second year of middle school.  Hard as it is to fathom, he has fewer than six more years with us and then he'll be gone.  Sometime between now and then, he's going to have to learn to navigate the world on his own.  A pretty tall order for somebody who doesn't even like staying home by himself at this stage of the game, I might add.

Ever mindful of the need for him to eventually become independent, I'm trying to back off. I suck mightily at this, by the way, but I'm trying nevertheless.

A couple of days ago, he came home upset about a social situation he's dealing with at school...it was pretty much the first thing out of his mouth when he walked in the door.  First and foremost, I'm grateful that he's still voluntarily talking to me, and I hope that continues.  I'm sure as hell not taking it for granted.  The details aren't important, and the situation is decidedly mundane in the grand scheme of things, but it does represent the first time he and his group of buddies have run into this particular scenario, so none of them have a clue how to handle it.  While I understand Thing One's initial reaction entirely, it came from a place of thinking more about his own feelings than those of others, which isn't really the pattern you want to reinforce as a parent, so I wasn't quite sure what to do.  I ended up having a quiet chat with him after he was done venting steam and calmer--just pointed out an alternative view of the situation and the likely feelings of the other kids involved and left it at that.  My attempt at the Guide approach.  Didn't want to tell him what I would do, just figured I'd see how he would handle things on his own given that little extra bit of non-accusatory input.

First thing he did was talk things over with his best friend.  I gather that the two of them together then went to the rest of their posse with their conclusions, after which the group dynamic changed and the situation resolved itself.  The eventual actions were more or less what I would have suggested had I been in Direct mode, so it was gratifying to see the boys get to pretty much the same place on their own.

I mentioned all of this to Himself after the fact, and he wondered aloud (not in a mean way at all, I hasten to add) if I should have just kept my mouth shut and left Thing One to his own devices entirely as a social learning experience.  There's something to be said for that, sure.  There will probably come a time when he won't want to listen to anything I say anyway, and if so, that will become the approach by default.  In the meantime, though, I'm going to aim for guiding as opposed to directing and listening more than either one (the whole two ears, one mouth thing)...please wish me luck with this because I'm going to need it!!